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MURDER PREVENTED BY THE INTERPOSITION OF
The following singular narrative, written down at the dictation of one of the parties, presents, if true, one of the most extraordinary instances of the interposition of Providence we ever remember to have heard of. It purports to be the narrative of a remarkable adventure, which befell James Dickinson and Jane Fearon, two members of the Society of Friends, who were travelling on a religious mission through Scotland many years ago, and is derived from a work, the circulation of which, is limited entirely to Quakers. The account is defective in some particulars, but, as its authors were well known to have been incapable of any misrepresentation, the story has been, and is still implicitly believed, by the respectable class of persons to which they belonged. The language, although quaint, is characteristic, and we have, therefore, been induced to give it exactly as we find it. Its simple and unexaggerated tone will go far to secure it the belief of our readers.
James Dickinson and Jane Fearon had travelled the whole of a very rainy day, when, evening coming on, they inclined to stop at a little public-house, in order to lodge there that night; but a guide they had hired, discovered, as far as they could understand his Scotch manners and dialect, his unwillingness for them to stay there; informing them there was a place, about three miles further, where they might conveniently lodge, and whither he wanted to go; and that if they stayed, he would go on himself. But they being wet and weary, concluded to stay ; so, discharging the guide, he went forward, being only hired for the day.
After they had been a short time in the house, their minds were struck with a painful apprehension that the people of the inn had a design upon their lives ; and notwithstanding they behaved to them with apparent kind. ness and attention, their apprehension continued and increased. On the woman helping Jane Fearon to a piece of pie, and urging her to eat it, these words struck her mind: • She intends to serve thee otherwise before morning. Jane, believing the pie to be filled with human flesh, could not taste it.
There was another woman or two in the same room with them, who appeared to belong to the house; the Friends also saw three men in and about the house, who were frequently in the same room observing them; but in what capacity these men were, or what proper business or employment they had there, they could form nojudgment.
Jane Fearon also heard the men say one to another, They have good horses, and good bags. To which another added, “Aye, and good clothes. The lonely situation of the house, and these appearances, which the painful feelings attending their minds led them to observe, tended to increase the apprehensions they had of these people's wicked designs, which the friends endeavoured to conceal from each other; each concluding not to discourage the other.
James Dickinson having seen the horses taken care of, and their saddles taken off, inquired for beds; and they were shewn into a room wherein were two beds. After shutting the door, Jane sat down on the bed-side, being no longer able to conceal her terror, burst into tears, saying,
MURDER PREVENTED BY THE INTERPOSITION OF PROVIDENCE.
• I fear these people have a design to take our lives. Upon which, James, after walking sometime across the room, came towards her and said : • They have mischief in their hearts, but I hope the Lord will preserve our lives.') He also endeavoured to encourage Jane; and, after a pause, said, I hope the Lord will deliver us, but if so we must fly.'
Upon this, Jane replied; “Alas ! how can we fly! or whither shall we go!
Then James Dickinson taking the candle, and carefully examining the room, discovered a door, which he opened; and, on searching, perceived a pair of back stone stairs that led to the outside of the house. Upon this discovery, putting off their shoes, they went softly down, leaving the candle burning in the room. On going down stairs, James saw, through an open place in the stairs, a woman with a large knife in her hand.
After running for a considerable time, they met with an out-building, into which they went; but when they had stopped there a few minutes, James Dickinson said to Jane Fearon, · We are not safe here; we must proceed further:' to which Jane replied ; 'I am so weary, I think I cannot go any further :' but James pointing out the necessity, she endeavoured, and they ran again till they came to a river near the south coast.
On going a short distance along the side of it, they came to a bridge; but on their attempting to go over it, James Dickinson felt a presentiment in his mind and said, “We must not go over this bridge, but must go further up the river side;' which they did, and then sat down. After some time, James Dickinson grew uneasy, and said, “We are not safe here, we must wade through the river.'
Jane Fearon replied, “ Alas! how can we cross it, knowing not its depth ?' also adding, · Rather let us wait here, and see what they are permitted to do. It will be better for them to take our lives, than for us to drown ourselves;' apprehending the river to be exceedingly deep.
James replied, Fear not, I will go before thee :' upon which they entered, and got safe through. Walking onwards some distance, they came to a sand-bank. Here again sitting down, James said to Jane Fearon, I am not yet easy, we must go further :' upon which Jane said, “Well, I must go by thy faith; I know not what to do.'
Then proceeding a little further, they found another sand-bank, wherein was a cavity, where they sat down. After awhile, James said, 'I am now easy, and believe we are here perfectly safe; and feel in my heart a song of thanksgiving and praise.'
Jane replied, “I am so far from that, I cannot so much as say, the Lord have mercy upon us.'
When they had been here some time, they heard the noise of some people on the other side of the river; upon which James Dickinson finding Jane alarmed, and thence fearing they should be discovered, softly said, • Our lives depend upon our silence.' Then attentively hearkening, they heard them frequently say, “Seek them, Keeper ;' and believed they were the men they had seen at the house, accompanied by a dog; that the dog refusing to go over the bridge, had followed the scent of their feet up the river side to the place they crossed.
Stopping at this place, the people again repeatedly cried : “Seek them Keeper :' which they not only heard, but saw the people with a lantern. They also heard one of them say they had crossed the river ; upon which another replied, “That's impossible, unless the d- took them over, for 146
MURDER PREVENTED BY THE INTERPOSITION OF PROVIDENCE.
the river is brink full.' After wearying themselves a considerable time in their search, they went away; and James Dickinson and Jane Fearon saw them no more.
When day light appeared, they saw a man on a high hill at some distance, looking about him every way, apparently with an intent of discovering something, and they apprehended it was them.
They continued quiet in their retreat, till some time after sunrise ; when upon taking a view of their situation, they discovered, that under the first sand bank from whence they removed, they could have been seen from the other side of the river; and that the place they continued in, shaded them from being seen on the opposite side, which they had been insensible of, as they could not make the observation the night before.
Upon considering what they should do to recover their horses, saddle bags, &c. James said: 'I incline to go to the house.' But Jane proposed to go to a neighbouring town, in order to get assistance to go with them to the house; to which James Dickinson replied, that the town from whence assistance was likely to be procured was about ten miles off; that they were strangers; their reasons for taking such precaution in returning to the house, implied a high charge which they might not be able to prove; that thence occasion might be taken to throw them into prison by magistrates; and might more dispose the civil power to seek occasion against them, than to search into the cause of their complaints, or redress their wrongs.'*
Jane still hesitating, James said: 'I still incline to return to the house, fully believing our clothes, bags, &c. will be ready for us without our being asked a question, and that the people we saw last night, we shall see no more.'
Jane remarked: I dare not go back.' James replied: • Thou mayest Jane safely; for I have seen that which never failed me.' Upon which they returned to the house, and found their horses standing in the stable, and their bags upon them; their clothes dried and ready to put on; and saw no person but on old woman sitting in a nook by the fire side, whom they did not remember to have seen the night before. They asked her what they had to pay, discharged it, and proceeded on their journey.
Some time after, James travelling that way, made some inquiry respecting the people of the inn; and was informed that upon some occasion they had been taken up, and the house searched; that a quantity of men and women's apparel was found in some parts of the house, also a great number of human bones; that some of the people were executed, and the place ordered to be pulled down, which remained, when he saw it, a heap of rubbish.
* It would seem from the passage that the period to which this narrative refers, was some time during the life of George Fox, this founder of the Society of Friends.-Ed. Lil. Mag.
THE MERRY WIVES OF MADRID.
A SPANISH STORY. *
No sooner was Senora Clara, the wife of the painter, acquainted with the success of her friend's stratagem, than she, too, began to make preparations for the execution of her own scheme, nothing doubting but that, if it worked well, she should bear away the prize from both her competitors. The first step she took in furtherance of her plans, was to cause a false door to be made to the entrance of her house, upon such a principle that it could be substituted for the old one at a very short notice. The new door having been brought home at night, with great secresy, duly furnished with the necessary appendages of locks, bolts, and hinges, was carefully stowed away in a cellar until it should be wanted. She next communicated to her brother the nature of the trick she meditated, and having obtained ; not only his entire approval, but also his consent to co-operate with her, secreted him, with two or three of his companions, in the garret. About two hours after she had matured her plans, Fabricio, for such was the painter's name, returned home for the evening, leaving his apprentices at the monastery to grind colors for the ensuing day, in order to save time; for he had stipulated that his painting should be exhibited in a finished state on Easter-day, which was now very near at hạnd. Clara received him with unusual kindness, and after supper they retired to rest, in order that the painter might be able to rise and repair to his work in good time the next morning. They slept soundly until just as the clock was striking the midnight hour, when Clara began to scream with extreme violence, and declare that she was positively dying. “My dear Fabricio,' said she, “get up this instant, if you love me, and fetch my confessor, for my last hour is at hand.'
Her husband, scarcely half awake, begged to know what was the matter; but all the answer he could extract, was a renewal of her entreaties that he would procure for her a confessor, and the most solemn asseverations that she was actually at the point of death. Her cries soon brought her niece, who lived with her in the capacity of a seryant, to her bedside. This young damsel, having chafed her mistress's stomach with hot towels without effect, mulled as much wine, with cinnamon and other spices, as would have cured all the cholics in Madrid for an entire twelvemonth. It was, how. ever, no part of Senora Clara's intention to be cured too hastily, and she, accordingly, continued to scream and rave to so outrageous a degree, that Fabricio was at length reluctantly compelled to get out of bed.
As he attributed his wife's illness to her having eaten sallad for supper, for he knew that vinegar was but too apt to disagree with her, he began, instead of sympathizing with her in her sufferings, to rate her soundly for her imprudence.
To this appeal Senora Clara replied in a very weak tone of voice : · Alas! my dear, it is of no use to reproach me now for what cannot be helped. In. stead of wasting your time in idle complaints, employ it in summoning my confessor, for I assure you I have only a few moments longer to live. Go first, however, to my nurse, Juana, for, as she is well acquainted with my
* Concluded from page 66 of our last Number.
constitution, she is the most likely to be of service to me in my present distressing emergency.' 'My dear love,' rejoined the painter, ‘your nurse has lately removed from her lodging in this neighbourhood, and is gone to live at the other end of Madrid, in the Fuencarnal, which is, at least, as you well know, two good hours' walk from this. You must be aware also, that we are now in the depth of winter, and if the gutters and waterspouts do not strangely belie the night, it is raining as if heaven and earth would come together. He was proceeding to give several other reasons why he did not consider it expedient to set out on the expedition upon which he was ordered, when his consort cut him short by complaining bitterly of his brutal insensibility. I know what you want, you vile assassin,' continued she, 'you want to be the death of your unfortunate wife, in order that you may take up with another. Get into bed again at your peril; for if I die, I will swear, with my latest breath, that you have mixed poison with my sallad.' • My dear wife,' said the painter, I would have you remember that the cholic is no excuse whatever for calumny; and if you drive me to extremities, it will be strange if I do not contrive to transfer your pains from your stomach to your shoulders.' “You strike my aunt! You had better not, sir,' cried the maid. “Just touch a hair of her head, and I will scratch twice five runnels in your face with my nails, which, St. Ursula be praised, have not been pared for these six weeks.'
This interruption did but add fuel to the fiery wrath of the painter, and he was exploring the corners of the room for a stick wherewith to chastise the girl's impertinence, when his wife renewed her outcries in the most clamorous manner, screaming and calling upon Juana and her confessor, and protesting that she was expiring from the effects of poison, administered to her by her husband! The poor painter began at length to be seriously apprehensive of the consequences to himself, if his wife should die with so extraordinary a declaration in her mouth, and therefore, having appeased her by alternate entreaties and caresses, took a lantern, and wrapping himself carefully in his cloak, sallied out into the street in a shower of rain which penetrated to his skin before he had proceeded a hundred yards. All that he knew of his errand was, that Juana now resided in the Fuencarnal, but in a heavy shower of rain, an hour after midnight, it was not likely that he would meet with many people to direct him to the residence of a poor old woman, of whom he could give no better account than that she lived at the bottom of a street, at least a mile in length. Whilst he was cursing the day on which he became a husband, and disturbing the whole neighbourhood with his inquiries, his afflicted wife was on her part scarcely less active. No sooner was the painter fairly out of the house than Senora Clara called down her brother and his friends from the garret, and in a few minutes the old door disappeared from its station, and the new one, differently constructed, was fixed upon its hinges. Over the gateway they then proceeded to hang the bush, the usual appendage of a Spanish house of entertainment, with a large sign-board appended thereto, upon which was painted a dolphin, with the following motto underneath it: The Dolphin Inn; good entertainment for man and mule.' Clara next sent for a party of her friends of both sexes, according to appointment, and having partaken of an excellent supper, the violins and guitars struck up a brisk air, and they began to dance with infinite spirit and hilarity.
In the mean time the painter had travelled up the whole length of the Fuencarnal without having been able to obtain any information as to the object