At this moment the jailor made his appearance with a light. Great was his surprise, and even horror, to observe Glossin's body lying doubled across the iron bar, in a posture that excluded all idea of his being alive. Hatteraick was quietly stretched upon his pallet within a yard of his victim. On lifting Glossin, it was found he had been dead for some hours. His body bore uncommon marks of violence. The spine where it joins the skull had received severe injury by his first fall. There were distinct marks of strangulation about the throat, which corresponded with the blackened state of his face. The head was turned backward over the shoulder, as if the neck had been wrung round with desperate violence. So that it would seem that his inveterate antagonist had fixed a fatal gripe upon the wretch's throat, and never quitted it while life lasted. The lantern, crushed and broken to pieces, lay beneath the body.
Mac-Morlan was in the town, and came instantly to examine the corpse. "What brought Glossin here?" he said to Hatteraick.
"The devil!" answered the ruffian.
"Sent him to hell before me!" replied the miscreant.
"Wretch," said Mac-Morlan, "you have crowned a life spent without a single virtue, with the murder of your own miserable accomplice!"
"Virtue?" exclaimed the prisoner; "donner! I was always faithful to my shipowners--always accounted for cargo to the last stiver. Hark ye! let me have pen and ink, and I'll write an account of the whole to our house; and leave me alone a couple of hours, will ye--and let them take away that piece of carrion, donner wetter!"
Mac-Morlan deemed it the best way to humour the savage; he was furnished with writing materials and left alone. When they again opened the door, it was found that this determined villain had anticipated justice. He had adjusted a cord taken from the truckle-bed, and attached it to a bone, the relic of his yesterday's dinner, which he had contrived to drive into a crevice between two stones in the wall at a height as great as he could reach, standing upon the bar. Having fastened the noose, he had the resolution to drop his body as if to fall on his knees, and to retain that posture until resolution was no longer necessary. The letter he had written to his owners, though chiefly upon the business of their trade, contained many allusions to the younker of Ellangowan, as he called him, and afforded absolute confirmation of all Meg Merrilies and her nephew had told.
To dismiss the catastrophe of these two wretched men, I shall only add, that Mac-Guffog was turned out of office, notwithstanding his declaration (which he offered to attest by oath), that he had locked Glossin safely in his own room upon the night preceding his being found dead in Dirk Hatteraick's cell. His story, however, found faith with the worthy Mr. Skreigh, and other lovers of, the marvellous, who still hold that the Enemy of Mankind brought these two wretches together upon that night, by supernatural interference, that they might fill up the cup of their guilt and receive its meed, by murder and suicide.