BETA

Verdict— “ Found Dead.”*

The Surgeon’s Tale.

’Twas on a dark December’s evening ;1
Loud the blast, and bitter cold :2
Downwards came the whirling waters ;3
Deep and black the river rolled :4
Not a dog beneath the tempest ;5
Not a beggar upon his beat ;6
Wind and Rain, and Cold and Darkness,7
Swept through every desert street.8
Muffled to the teeth, that evening9
I was struggling in the storm,10
Through pestilent lanes and hungry alleys :11
Suddenly,—an Ancient Form12
Peered from out a gloomy doorway,13
And, with trembling croak, it said14
In the left-hand empty garret15
You will find a woman— dead.”16
* About ten years ago, a paragraph appeared in some of the daily newspapers,
giving an account of an inquest held on the body of a young woman, “ found
dead,” in some obscure street or lane in London.  The body was discovered
frightfully emaciated, scantily clothed, and in a poor garret, which was entirely
destitute of every g#ticle of furniture comfort or otherwise, except a few ragged
love-letters of had preserved though every privation.  According to the
evidence, she been at one time a person of considerable beauty, and had
evidently died of hunger.
Never stepped a finer creature,17
When she was a simple maid ;18
But she did like many others,—19
Loved a man, and was betrayed.20
I have seen her in her carriage21
Riding, diamonds in her hair ;22
And I’ve seen her starving (starving,23
Do you hear ? ) and now—she’s there !24
Up the worn and slippery stair25
With a quickened pulse I sprung :26
Famine, Filth, and mean Despair,27
Round about the darkness hung :28
No kind vision met my glances,29
Friend or helper of the poor,30
So the crazy room I entered,31
And looked down upon the floor !32
There,—on the rough and naked boards,33
A long, gaunt, wasted figure lay,34
Murdered in its youth by Hunger,35
All its beauty—wrinkled clay.36
Life’s poor wants had left her nothing,37
Clothes nor fuel, food nor bed,38
Nothing—save some ragged letters39
Whereon lay the ghastly head.40

****

Nothing ! ”,—Yet, what more could Pity41
Crave, for one about to die,42
Than sweet words from one she worshipped,43
(Sweet, though every word a lie) ?44
In the morning of her pleasure,45
In the midnight of her pain,46
They were all, her wealth, her comfort,47
Treasured,—ay, and not in vain.48
And with her they now lie mouldering,49
And a date upon a stone50
Telleth where (to end the story)51
Love’s poor outcast sleeps alone.52
Mourn not ; for at length she sleepeth53
The soft slumber of the dead,54
Resting on her loved love-letters,55
Last, fit pillow for her head.56