Happily there was no stain of murder on his soul: he had merely enticed the child away, and placed him, under an ingenious pretence, with an acquaintance at Camden-Town; and by this time both he and his mother were standing, awe-struck and weeping, by Henry Renshawe's deathbed. He had thrown the child's hat into the river, and his motive in thus acting appeared to have been a double one.
This I found from Renshawe's will, where it was recited as a reason that, having no relative alive for whom he cared, his property was bequeathed to Guy's Hospital, charged with L.100 a year to Ellen Irwin, as long as she lived unmarried.
An elderly man of the name of Tomlins was engaged as foreman; and it was hoped the business might still be carried on with sufficient profit. Mr Renshawe's manner, though at times indicative of considerable nervous irritability, was kind and respectful to the young widow; and I began to hope that the delusion he had for awhile laboured under had finally passed away. The hope was a fallacious one.
It was late; I had just returned home; my wife was in the sick-room, and I had entered it with two or three oranges: 'Oh, now I remember, I suddenly exclaimed, just above my breath; 'the picture in Mr Renshawe's room! What a remarkable coincidence! A low, chuckling laugh, close at my elbow, caused me to turn quickly towards the door.
We had not been a minute in the room, when his hurried step was heard approaching, and Mrs Waters and I stepped hastily into an adjoining closet, where we could hear and partly see all that passed. Renshawe's speech trembled with fervency and anger as he broke at once into the subject with which his disordered brain was reeling.
In reply to my hurried questioning, the astounded young matron told me in substance, that within the last two or three days Mr Renshawe's strange behaviour and disjointed talk had both bewildered and alarmed her.
Strange and unaccountable as it may at first appear, its general truth will hardly be questioned by those who have had opportunities of observing the fantastic delusions which haunt and dominate the human brain in certain phases of mental aberration. On arriving in London, in 1831, I took lodgings at a Mr Renshawe's, in Mile-End Road, not far from the turnpike-gate.
Before he could answer, another wailing sound ascended from the sick-room. Lightning leaped from Renshawe's lustrous, dilated eyes, and the exulting laugh again, but louder, burst from his lips: 'Ha! ha! he fiercely exclaimed. 'I know that cry! It is Death's! Death's! Thrice-blessed Death, whom I have so often ignorantly cursed!