1 de October de 1839 - Un profesor de francés corta en pedazos a un joyero (873)

An Englishman had for some time resided in Barcelona, who taught English, and gave lessons to my children; he was associated with a Frenchman, who also instructed several families and these two lived together in a house with a Swiss jeweller; they had no servant, and none but these three occupied the mansion. The jeweller suddenly disappeared; he was nowhere to be found, and no trace remained of him, and there was no appeal to the police, as they never take any trouble in such cases. One morning the Englishman came to my house, and begged to see me. I found him hardly able to speak; and what he did say was so incoherent, I fancied he had either been drinking, or had lost his senses. He stated that what he had to impart was so dreadful, he could not bring himself to relate it. However, by degrees, he became more intelligible, and after a great many small details, I collected that in the room he occupied with the Frenchman there was a small closet, with an opening in it to admit light from the room near the ceiling. The night before, as he was sitting alone, he fancied he perceived a disagreeable smell in that part of the room he tried to open the door of the closet, but found it locked he then climbed upon a chair, and with a candle looked in at the little opening, and, to his horror, saw a corpse in fragments on the floor part of a leg in one place, an arm in another, and a large sledge-hammer lying by them he nearly dropped with horror and at that moment (it was just twelve o’clock) he heard the knock of the Frenchman at the door. As they were alone in the house, he had no resource but to appear as calm and easy as if he had seen nothing. When he let him in, he remarked that he was late that night, as he had to begin giving his lessons early the next morning, which was Monday the other answered, «Oh, it does not happen often, never mind» and they went to bed. Their two beds were so close that they were only separated by a little division at the head. The man said that the agony in which he passed the night was indescribable, as, in addition to the original horror of finding the dead body, he dreaded that the Frenchman would suspect his being aware of it, and murder him also and there was no escape from the house, nor means to call for help. In this dreadful state he remained till morning, when the Frenchman going out to give his lessons, the other rushed straight to my house to apprise me of what had happened. I was much puzzled what to do, as the police, I knew, would give very little assistance. However, after taking down his statement shortly in writing, I applied there. They said they could have nothing to do with it; and as the supposed criminal was French, I must go to the French consul. All they would do was to give me a little humped-backed man, to assist in catching the murderer. I went to the French consul and after conferring with him we proceeded together, with our humped-backed companion, to the house where the Englishman lived. We went up stairs, and found the Frenchman at his door. We told him there was a little matter to be settled with the police, on which he answered—»Ah oui! pour la contrebande, n’est-ce pas ?» (he had a good deal to do with the contrabandista concerns), and rushed to a table, pulled open a drawer, from whence we saw him extract a pair of pistols, which proved to be loaded; he, however, seemed to lose his head and be quite bewildered, saying, » Il s’agit de ces pistolets, n’est-ce pas ? ils sont Français, et de la contrebande.» He then put his hand farther into the drawer, and was dragging out a sword, when my colleague and I sprang upon and seized him. The hump-backed man then said it was not that we wanted, but that we must have him open the door of the closet; he turned deadly pale, and drawing himself up with a peculiar emphasis and theatrical air, exclaimed, » Très volontiers, monsieur.» He then instantly rushed to the open window, and from the balcony dashed himself to the ground; it was a fourth story, and he died in twelve hours after. He would make no confession but frequently repeated, in a sort of delirium, «Il est coupé en petits morceaux.» The investigation of the mutilated corpse, which proved to be that of the jeweller, was dreadful. Under the coat of the Frenchman was found, close to his side, a small hatchet and an enormous knife, with which he must have hacked and hewed the dead body, to carry portions of it from the house when he went out, as the only way in which he could dispose of it. It was supposed he had killed the man with the sledge-hammer which was found in the closet. None of the jeweller’s property was ever found or heard of.

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