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   Chapter 4 No.4

A Final Reckoning By G. A. Henty Characters: 33632

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


There were three magistrates on the bench on the following morning, when Reuben was brought up. The justice room was crowded, for the series of burglaries had caused some excitement; and the news that the house of Mr. Ellison had been broken into, and that one of the men who had been taken turned out to belong to Lewes, had created quite a sensation.

Mr. Ellison was the first to give his evidence. He testified that, on waking on the previous morning, he found that someone had been in his room during the night. He was not in the habit of locking his door, and had not been awakened. He found that a box which stood on the dressing table, containing some valuable jewelry, was gone; that his watch and that of Mrs. Ellison had been taken; that the drawers had been opened, and a case containing the more valuable jewels of his wife had also been abstracted. This was not discovered till afterwards. He first missed his watch.

He rang the servants up, for it was still early; and it was then discovered that the lower premises had been broken into, the plate chest in the butler's pantry broken open, and a large quantity of plate stolen.

"What do you estimate the value of the articles stolen, Mr. Ellison?"

"The value of my wife's jewels I should put down, roughly, at two thousand pounds; the silver plate might have been worth three hundred more; the watches and other articles, so far as I yet miss them, say another hundred."

The servants proved that they found the kitchen window open, on going downstairs. It had been opened by the catch being forced back. It was not the custom to put up shutters. The pantry door, which was a strong one, had been cut with a saw round the lock. The butler testified to the plate having been safe, the night before, and the strong chest in which it was kept having been forced open.

Directly it was discovered, the constable of the village was placed in charge of the room, with orders to admit no one; and a man on horseback was sent off to Lewes, to the chief constable. The village constable gave evidence as to the state of the place, when he was put in charge.

The constable who had been sent over from Lewes then stepped into the witness box. He testified to the marks of entry of the thieves, and said that the manner in which they had gone to work, and in which the door had been sawn through, and the chest forced open, seemed to show that it was the work of practised hands. On examining closely the butler's pantry, he found a powerful screwdriver and a heavy chisel. These corresponded to marks in the lid, and had evidently been used for the purpose of forcing it open. They had the initials "R W." burnt in the handles. The inmates of the house all denied any knowledge of these tools.

Mr. Ellison had been present when he showed them to Mrs. Ellison. On looking at them she said at once:

"R. W. Why, that must be Reuben Whitney, that wicked boy, again."

Upon making inquiries, he found that the man named worked at Mr. Penfold's, the mill wright at Lewes. He returned there at once and, going to Mr. Penfold, found the prisoner was absent from work. The men identified the brand on the tools as that of the prisoner. Another constable proved the arrest.

The chief constable then read the statement that the prisoner had made to him. The magistrates conferred together for a few minutes, in an undertone.

"Mrs. Ellison," the senior of them said, addressing that lady, who was sitting on a chair placed at the upper end of the court, "we are sorry to trouble you, but we must ask you to go into the witness box.

"I wish to ask you," he went on, when she had taken her stand in the box, "how it was you at once connected the initials with the prisoner?"

"Because he had at one time lived in the village, and was employed assisting our gardener. He was discharged on suspicion of having poisoned a watchdog which had bit him; and as the three dogs about the place had all been poisoned, on the night when the house was broken into, his name had been in my mind and, on seeing the initials, I naturally recognized them at once."

There was a deep silence in the court, when Mrs. Ellison gave her evidence. Hitherto the impression had been rather favourable to the prisoner. His story, though strange, had been by no means impossible and, if true, would have completely accounted for the finding of the tools, which were the only evidence against him. The evidence of Mrs. Ellison, however, entirely altered the complexion of the case.

Reuben had stood, quiet and composed, during the hearing. His countenance had evinced no surprise or emotion, when the tools were produced. He had, indeed, upon thinking the matter over before coming into court, come to the conclusion that the tools, which he had in a small basket at the time he was attacked, had been found in or near the house; having been left there purposely, by Tom Thorne, in order to throw suspicion upon him. Their production, therefore, was no surprise to him.

A slight shade had passed over his face when Mrs. Ellison entered the witness box. Glancing at the squire as she gave her evidence, Reuben saw that Mr. Ellison looked greatly vexed and annoyed. As before, at the conclusion of the evidence of each witness, Reuben was asked if he had any question to put. He hesitated for a moment and then, as before, replied in the negative.

Again the magistrates consulted together.

"Mr. Ellison, we shall be obliged if you will enter the witness box again. In your former evidence, Mr. Ellison, you said nothing in any way relating to the prisoner; but it now seems you had a previous acquaintance with him. Will you tell the court what it is?"

"I have not much to say," the squire said. "As a boy he lived in the village with his mother, a most respectable person; and widow of Jacob Whitney, a miller in a good way of business, who, as it may be in your memory, was found drowned in his mill pond some seven or eight years ago. The widow, being in reduced circumstances, settled in Tipping. The boy was an intelligent lad and, when the boy employed in my garden left, I gave him the place. He gave every satisfaction. One day he was severely bitten by the watchdog and, three days later, the dog was found poisoned. My gardener saw a boy running away from the spot, a quarter of an hour before the dog died. He believed it to be the prisoner, but it was too dark for him to distinguish the features.

"At the time, I certainly suspected that he had been guilty of poisoning the dog and, in spite of his denying that he had anything to do with it, as he was unable to account for where he was at the time the boy was seen, I discharged him. I wish to say publicly that I have deeply regretted having done so, ever since, and that I consider I acted hastily and wrongly in so doing. Considering his previous good character, I ought not to have assumed his guilt without more positive evidence than I had before me. I may also say that the schoolmaster of our village will give the prisoner the highest character for truthfulness, and he has known him ever since. His present employer, Mr. Penfold, is also, I believe, ready to testify to his excellent conduct during his four years of apprenticeship."

"I suppose, Mr. Ellison," the senior magistrate said, "you have not, at any time since the poisoning of the dog, obtained any actual evidence which would show that you were mistaken in your first view, and that your subsequent change of opinion was due solely to your general view of the boy's character, so far as you knew it."

"That is so," the squire assented and, no further question being asked, he resumed his seat. His evidence had caused surprise and some little amusement in court. It was clear that there was a strong difference of opinion between him and his wife on the subject; and that, while the lady had something like an animus against the prisoner, the squire was strongly impressed in his favour. After some consultation, the magistrate said:

"The case will be remanded until this day week, to see if further evidence is forthcoming; but I may say that, under the present circumstances of the case, we shall feel ourselves obliged to send it for trial. The prisoner's account of his proceedings, from the time he left Lewes on the previous evening up to that of his return and arrest here, may be true; but so far it is entirely unsupported. On the other hand, we have the evidence of the tools, admitted to belong to him, being found on the scene of the burglary. We have the further important fact that he had been formerly employed upon the place; and had, it may be supposed, some knowledge of the premises. He had been discharged upon a suspicion, rightfully or wrongly entertained, of his having poisoned a dog belonging to Mr. Ellison, and there is reason for the belief that the dogs poisoned before the burglary were got at by some one acquainted with the place."

"Will it be any use my calling evidence as to character, at the next meeting?" Reuben asked.

"No," the magistrate said. "Evidence of that kind will be useful at the trial, when the matter will be thoroughly sifted. We only have to decide that there is prima facie evidence connecting you with the offence, and of that there can be no doubt."

At the sitting a week later, no fresh evidence was produced; and Reuben was committed for trial at the next assizes. Public opinion in Lewes ran high on the subject of Reuben's guilt or innocence. The other workmen at the mill wright's were strongly in his favour-he was very popular among his fellows-and they pointed out that several hands must have been concerned in the business, that he was never seen about in public houses of an evening, or was likely to have any connection with bad characters. Was it probable, if he had gone about such a job as that, he would have taken tools marked with his own initials; or if he had, that he would have been fool enough to leave them behind?

Upon the other hand, opinion in general ran strongly against him. His story was declared to be utterly improbable, and a fellow who had once been dismissed for poisoning a dog would be likely, at any future time, to revenge himself upon the employer who turned him off. As to Mr. Ellison's declaration of his subsequent opinion that he acted hastily, little weight was attached to it. Everyone knew Squire Ellison was a kind-hearted man, and as he acknowledged himself that he had obtained no evidence which would satisfy him that he had acted wrongly in the first case, it was clear that it was from mere kindness of heart that he had changed his mind on the subject.

At Tipping the subject was never mentioned. The squire and Mrs. Ellison had, on the drive home, had the most serious quarrel which had ever taken place during their wedded life; which had ended by the former saying:

"If anyone had ever told me before, Mary, that you were a vindictive woman, I should have knocked him down. I might do so now, but I should know in my heart that he had spoken truly. For some reason or other you took a prejudice against that boy, and you never forgave his mother for standing up in his defence. I was shocked, downright shocked, when you gave your evidence in court."

Mrs. Ellison had been too much offended to reply, and the rest of the drive had been passed in silence. Upon their return home the girls were full of eager questions, but the squire said shortly:

"My dears, the less we talk about it, the better. Your mother and I differ entirely on the subject. She believes that Reuben Whitney is guilty. I am absolutely convinced he is innocent. Therefore, if you please, we will not discuss it."

The following morning Kate Ellison went down to the school house.

"Mr. Shrewsbury," she said, putting her head in at the door, "could you come out for two or three minutes? I want particularly to speak to you.

"Have you heard what took place yesterday, at Lewes?" she asked when he came out.

"Yes, Miss Ellison. I saw Jones the constable last night, and he told me all that had been said in court."

"And you think Reuben Whitney is innocent?" she asked eagerly.

"I am quite sure of it, Miss Ellison-as sure as I am of my own existence. For anyone who knows him to have a doubt is absolutely absurd. A finer young fellow than Reuben it would be hard to find."

"But what did he say? How did he account for his tools being found there?"

The schoolmaster repeated the account Reuben had given, and said:

"When the trial comes off I shall, of course, go over; and testify both as to his general conduct and to the fact that he had, as he said, promised to bring over his tools to put up some shelves in my cupboards."

"Do you think he will get off, Mr. Shrewsbury?" she asked anxiously.

"I should hope so, Miss Ellison, but I can't disguise from myself that it is by no means certain. That unfortunate old business about the dog will tell terribly against him; and though I am perfectly sure that his account of what took place is correct, there is nothing to confirm it. It is just the sort of story, they will say, that he would naturally get up to account for his absence, and for the tools being found. Of course, if the jury knew him as well as I do the result would be certain; but I have been trying to look at the facts as if he were a stranger, and I can't say what decision I should come to, in such a case. Still, of course, the high character that will be given him, and the fact that there is no evidence whatever connecting him, in any way, with bad characters, must count immensely in his favour."

The assizes were to take place only a fortnight after the date of Reuben's committal. Mrs. Whitney had engaged a lawyer in the town to defend her son and, to the surprise of this gentleman, Mr. Ellison called upon him two or three days later, and said:

"Mr. Brogden, I hear that you have been engaged by Mrs. Whitney to defend her son. I don't believe the young fellow is guilty, and therefore I authorize you to spend any sum that may be necessary in getting up his defence; and I wish you to instruct a counsel to appear for him. Of course I cannot appear openly in the matter, and my name must not be mentioned, but I will guarantee all expenses.

"It seems to me that it would be desirable to find out, if possible, the village where he says he breakfasted, and asked the way to Lewes. In his story he says he didn't know the name of the village but, as he was told it was about twenty miles from Lewes, and he can describe the road he followed, there ought to be no difficulty in finding it.

"I should advise you to have a chat with Shrewsbury, the schoolmaster at Tipping. He is a great friend of the lad's, and a very intelligent fellow. He may be able to suggest some points to be followed up. At any rate, do all you can."

Reuben had another adherent who was also acting on his behalf. The afternoon before the trial, Kate Ellison stopped before the blacksmith shop in the village and, seeing that Jacob Priestley the smith was at work, alone, she entered.

"Is it true, Jacob, that you have been summoned on the jury at Lewes tomorrow?"

"Yes, miss, it bee true, sureley. It be four years since anyone in the village was summoned, and it be mighty hard that they should have picked upon me. Still, I have never been called before, so I suppose I mustn't grumble; but it be hard to be taken away from work, to waste one's time in a court, and they say the 'sizes ull last for three days."

"Well, Jacob, you know that Reuben Whitney is going to be tried for robbery at our house."

"Yes, miss; so they says."

"Well, what do you think about it, Jacob?"

"I don't think nothing one way or the other, miss. Most folks says as how he must have done it, 'cause as how he poisoned squire's dog afore."

"He didn't do anything of the sort, Jacob; and it's very wicked of people to say so. He is innocent, quite innocent. I am sure he is, and papa is quite sure, too; and he will be terribly put out if he is found guilty. So I want you to promise me that, whatever the others think, you will hold out that he is innocent."

"Well, miss," the smith said, scratching his head, "if you be sure of it, and squire be sure, I suppose there can't be no doubt about it, for who should know better than squire; and I am sure I wouldn't go to put him about, for a better landlord than squire ain't to be found in the county. So you tell him, miss, as I will hold out."

"But papa doesn't know that I have come down here, Jacob. It wouldn't do for him to interfere, you know; especially as he is a magistrate himself. You mustn't mention to anyone that I have spoken to you about it-not to anyone, Jacob, not even t

o your wife-but I can tell you the squire will be heartily pleased if he is found innocent, and he will be terribly put out if he is found guilty."

"All right, miss," the smith replied. "I understand, and no one sha'n't know as you have spoken to me aboot it. It be quite enough for I to know as the squire knows as he's innocent. It ain't likely as I should stick my opinion up against his."

The day after he heard of Reuben's arrest, the schoolmaster went over to see him; and as he was the bearer of a letter from Mr. Ellison to the governor of the jail, he was able to obtain admittance.

"Was there ever such an unfortunate fellow as I am?" Reuben exclaimed, after the first hearty greeting. "Here am I for the second time accused of a crime of which I am innocent; and from which, indeed, in the present case I am a sufferer; and all this has come about, simply because I went out of my way to inquire into what seemed to me a suspicious business."

"Tell me all about it, Reuben. I have heard the statement you made to the chief constable; but tell it me again, with every detail you can think of. Some circumstance, which appears to you as trifling, may furnish a clue."

"I have seen Mr. Brogden, the lawyer. I have told him all that happened," Reuben said; "but of course, I will gladly tell you again."

And Reuben repeated the story of the adventure, with every detail that he could think of; speaking slowly, as the schoolmaster wrote it down at length.

"I will see what I can make of it, when I think it over," Mr. Shrewsbury said. "Of course, as it stands, it is so natural and probable that it would clear you at once; had it not been for that unfortunate dog business before, and the supposition, excited by it, that you had a feeling of hostility to the squire. I shall be able partly to dispose of that, for I can swear that you have frequently spoken to me of the squire in tones of respect and liking; and that, although you regretted the manner in which you left his service, you felt no ill will against him on account of it. Moreover, I shall be able to prove that the reasons you gave for having your tools with you was a true one; and although I cannot swear that I expected you specially on that evening, the fact that you were in the habit of coming over, at times, to see me, cannot but corroborate your story.

"I shall get leave for two or three days, and will hunt up the village where you breakfasted."

"Thank you very much," Reuben said, "though I have been thinking it over, and do not see that the evidence of the people at the public house would help me much. It will simply prove that I passed through there in the morning; but will not show, in any way, whether I went willingly as far as that, as one of the party who broke into the house, or whether I was taken there."

"They can probably prove that you looked pale and exhausted," the schoolmaster said.

"I fancy I should look pale, in any case," Reuben said, "if I had gone through such a night's work as that of breaking into the squire's."

"Well, keep up your courage, Reuben. You may be quite sure that your friends will do all in their power for you. I shall go now and have a chat with your mother. I am afraid that she will want comforting more than you do."

"Yes," Reuben agreed, "I am afraid so. Somehow I don't seem to take it to heart much. I shall feel it more afterwards, perhaps; but at present, the whole thing seems so extraordinary that I can't quite realize that I am in danger of being sent to Botany Bay. The worst of it is that, even if I am acquitted, lots of people will still think I am guilty. There is only one thing that can really prove my innocence, and that is the arrest of Tom Thorne, and his father."

"I hear," the schoolmaster said, "that the chief constable has written up to Bow Street, for them to put the runners on the traces of those two scoundrels. Whether they believe your story or not, it is quite evident that more than one person was concerned in the affair. Their theory, of course, is that you quarrelled with the others over the division of the spoil; and got that knock on the head, which is a very severe one. I went down yesterday with Jones, to see the spot where you said you were assaulted. There were marks where the horse stopped, and marks of feet in the field, and a patch of blood; all of which goes to prove that your story may be true, but unfortunately it doesn't prove that it was because, according to the theory against you, you might have been assaulted after the robbery, as well as before it."

"But in that case," Reuben said, "why should they have taken the trouble to carry me twenty miles away?"

"Yes, there is of course that question," the schoolmaster said thoughtfully; "but then, on the other hand, why did they take the trouble in case you were not an accomplice? In both cases the answer is the same-they did it to prevent your giving the alarm, until they had got far away from the scene. They didn't like to murder you, because of the consequences to themselves; but they would not risk your recovering consciousness and getting up an early pursuit. It cuts both ways, you see."

"So it does," Reuben assented. "It's just a question of belief; and I own, myself, that that old dog business is very much against me; and that I can't blame anyone who considers me guilty."

Reuben's was the last case taken at the assizes, and occasioned a good deal of interest in that part of Sussex, partly owing to the position of Squire Ellison, partly to the nature of the defence set up, as to which opinion was a good deal divided. The evidence for the prosecution was, to a great extent, similar to that given at the inquiry before the magistrates. Unfortunately for Reuben, the judge was notoriously a severe one; and his bias, from the first, appeared to be against the prisoner. Mr. Ellison was closely questioned by the prosecutor as to the poisoning of his dog, as this was considered to show a particular animus on the part of Reuben. He again repeated his conviction of Reuben's innocence in that affair.

"But what reason have you, Mr. Ellison," the counsel for the prosecution asked blandly, "for changing your opinion on the subject?"

This was just the question which the squire could not answer satisfactorily; and was a particularly irritating one, because it had often been triumphantly asked by his wife.

"I can really give no particular reason," he said, "except that, on reflection, the boy's previous character and antecedents convinced me that he could not have done such an act."

"In fact," the counsel said suavely, "you were influenced by your own goodness of heart, Mr. Ellison, in thus laying aside a conviction which the facts had, at the time, forced upon you."

"I don't look upon it in that light," the squire replied shortly. "I consider that in the first instance I acted hastily and unadvisedly, and on consideration I saw that I had done so."

"I am afraid, Mr. Ellison," the counsel said, "that you will not persuade the jury to agree with you."

"I have only one or two questions to ask you," the counsel for the defence said, when he rose to cross-examine, "for indeed your evidence is, as I think the jury will agree, altogether in favour of the prisoner. In the first place, was the lad, when in your employment, ever upstairs in your house?"

"Not that I know of," the squire replied. "Certainly in the course of his duties he would never be there. Indeed, it would be very seldom that he would even enter the kitchen, except to bring in vegetables. Certainly he would never pass through to go upstairs. He could not possibly have done so without exciting attention and remarks."

"He would therefore, Mr. Ellison, have no means of possessing any knowledge as to the internal arrangements of your house, beyond that possessed by the other people in the village?"

"None whatever," Mr. Ellison replied.

"Now, as to that unfortunate affair of the poisoning of your dog. Your opinion, as to the innocence of the prisoner in that matter, is not a recent one-not the outcome of his after good conduct and character?"

"Not at all," Mr. Ellison said. "I changed my opinion on the matter very shortly, indeed, after the affair."

"Within a few days, I think I may say?" the counsel asked.

"Within a very few days; I may almost say within a few hours," the squire replied. "The boy's story, told not to me but to another, that he believed the dog was poisoned by another lad in the village who owed him a grudge, and who has since turned out an exceedingly bad character, struck me as being very much more probable than that he should do it, himself."

Mrs. Ellison was next called. Her evidence as to the robbery was a mere repetition of that given by the squire. The counsel then turned to the question of the poisoning.

"I would rather say nothing about it," Mrs. Ellison said. "It is a matter which has been productive of much pain to me, and I would rather say nothing about it."

"But you must, madam," the judge said sharply. "You are here to answer any question which may enable the jury to form an opinion on this case."

"I am sorry to press you, Mrs. Ellison," the counsel continued, "but I really must do so. You took a different opinion to that held by your husband?"

"I regret to say that I did. Mr. Ellison told me the reasons he had for suspecting the boy. I thought those reasons sufficient, and have seen no cause for changing my opinion."

After the evidence for the prosecution had been given, the counsel for the defence pointed out that there was, in fact, no evidence whatever connecting Reuben with the robbery, beyond the discovery of his tools on the premises; and that, as to this trumpery story of the poisoning a dog, four years before, apparently only for the purpose of showing some sort of animus, he regarded it as altogether contemptible. When a man meant to commit a burglary in a house, he did so in order to obtain possession of the goods, and not from any spite against the owner. Had this young fellow felt any malice, for this ridiculous charge on which he had been dismissed, he would not have allied himself with burglars to rob the house; but would probably have vented his spite in the usual fashion, by setting fire to a stack or outhouse; but so far as he could see, there was no foundation for the charge brought against him, and they had already heard Mr. Ellison declare that he regretted he had suspected him, and that he believed him to be innocent.

But even had it been proved, up to the hilt, that the prisoner had poisoned the dog, he should still hold it as wholly unconnected with the present matter. If he had poisoned the dog, what then? It was not a heinous sin, nor would it affect his moral character. No boy likes having a piece taken out of his calf by a savage dog, and there would have been nothing so very dreadful had he revenged himself. It was probable that, even among the jury, there was one or more who, if he had not absolutely set poison for his neighbour's cats, for destroying his young chickens or scratching up his flower beds, had threatened to do so, and would not have regarded it as a very serious crime had he done so.

Therefore he contended that the jury should put this trumpery affair altogether out of their minds; on the double ground that, in the first place, the prisoner at the bar did not poison the dog; and that, had he done so, it would have had nothing whatever to do with the present affair.

"Why, gentlemen," he said, "it is an insult to your understanding to ask you to credit that this young fellow-whose character, which I shall presently prove to you, by unimpeachable evidence, is of the highest kind-has, for four years, cherished such malice against his employer, for dismissing him mistakenly, that he has become the consort of thieves and burglars, has stained his hands in crime, and rendered himself liable to transportation, for the purpose merely of spiting that gentleman. Such a contention would be absolutely absurd. I must beg you to dismiss it altogether from your mind, and approach it from a different standpoint, altogether. Divested of this extraneous business, the matter is a most simple one.

"The prisoner left his mother's cottage, at seven o'clock in the evening, to go over for an hour or two to his friend Mr. Shrewsbury, the schoolmaster of Tipping. He took with him a few tools, as he had promised to put some shelves in his friend's house. On the way he heard some talking down a lane, which he knew led to only a field. Thinking it strange, he went to see who it was and, some distance down, he found a horse and cart standing and, listening to the conversation of two men who were sitting under the hedge, he heard enough to inform him that a burglary was intended upon the house of Mr. Ellison. He was about to make off to give the alarm, when he was suddenly attacked by some men who had come up behind, and was felled to the ground. While lying insensible, he was bound hand and foot and left in a ditch; where he remained till the burglars returned from completing the work on hand. They then threw him into the cart, and put him down some twenty miles away. Being greatly exhausted by loss of blood, it was late in the afternoon before he arrived at Lewes, when he was at once arrested.

"This, gentlemen, is the prisoner's story, as related to the chief constable when he was taken to the lockup. Nothing can be simpler or more probable; and in some points, at least, I shall be able to confirm it by independent testimony. Mr. Shrewsbury will tell you that the prisoner had arranged to come over to see him, and bring his tools. He will also tell you that, two days after the prisoner's arrest, he went with Jones, the village constable, and found the marks where the horse and trap had stood; while, just inside the field, the grass was trampled with feet; and in the bottom of the dry ditch was a great dark patch, which he was able to ascertain to be blood. Doctor Hewitt will tell you that he was called in to strap up the prisoner's head, after his arrest; and that the cut was a very severe one, and must have been inflicted by a heavy weapon, with great force.

"I am convinced, gentlemen, that after hearing this evidence you will agree with me, not only that the prisoner is perfectly innocent of the charge, but that he is a most ill-used person; and that it is a matter of surprise and regret that the magistrates should have committed him for trial, when the only shadow of evidence against him was the discovery of these tools, a discovery which he at once explained. Of other evidence, there is not one jot or tittle. No attempt has been made to prove that the prisoner was in the habit of consorting with bad characters; no attempt has been made to show any connection, whatever, between him and the men who came in a horse and trap across the hills, for the purpose of effecting a burglary at Mr. Ellison's; and who, as we know, did effect it. No scrap of the property stolen from the house has been found upon him and, in order to account for the severe wound on his head, the counsel for the prosecution has started the hypothesis that it was given in the course of a quarrel, during the division of the plunder.

"But had that been the case, gentlemen, the prisoner would not have been standing here alone. Robbed and ill-treated by these companions of his, he would naturally have put the officers of justice on their track and, as he must have been in communication with them, and well acquainted with their ways and haunts, he could have given information which would have led to their early arrest. He could well have done this, for the crown would have made no difficulty, whatever, in promising a lad like this a free pardon, on condition of his turning evidence against these burglars; whose mode of procedure shows them to have been old hands, and who are, no doubt, the same who have committed the various robberies which have lately taken place in this part of the country.

"The prisoner is the son of highly respectable parents. His employer will come before you, and give you evidence of the extremely high character he bears. Mr. Shrewsbury will tell you that he has, for the last four years, devoted no inconsiderable portion of his leisure time to improve his education, and enable him to recover the position occupied by his father, who was a much-respected miller in this neighbourhood. I shall leave the case in your hands, gentlemen, with an absolute confidence that you will, without a moment's hesitation, find a verdict proclaiming the innocence of my client; and enable him to leave the dock, without a stain upon his character."

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