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   Chapter 14 No.14

The Trial, Or, More Links of the Daisy Chain By Charlotte M. Yonge Characters: 43911

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


Ah! I mind me now of thronging faces,

Mocking eyed, and eager, as for sport;

Hundreds looking up, and in high places

Men arrayed for judgment and a court.

And I heard, or seemed to hear, one seeking

Answer back from one he doomed to die,

Pitifully, sadly, sternly speaking

Unto one-and oh! that one, twas I.-Rev. G. E. Monsell

The 'Blewer Murder' was the case of the Assize week; and the court was so crowded that, but for the favour of the sheriff, Mr. and Mrs. Rivers, with Tom and Gertrude, could hardly have obtained seats. No others of the family could endure to behold the scene, except from necessity; and indeed Ethel and Mary had taken charge of the sisters at home, for Henry could not remain at a distance from his brother, though unable to bear the sight of the proceedings; he remained in a house at hand.

Nearly the whole population of Stoneborough, Whitford, and Blewer was striving to press into court, but before the day's work began, Edward Anderson had piloted Mrs. Pugh to a commodious place, under the escort of his brother Harvey, who was collecting materials for an article on criminal jurisprudence.

Some of those who, like the widow and little Gertrude, had been wild to be present, felt their hearts fail them when the last previous case had been disposed of; and there was a brief pause of grave and solemn suspense and silent breathless expectation within the court, unbroken, except by increased sounds of crowding in all the avenues without.

Every one, except the mere loungers, who craved nothing but excitement, looked awed and anxious; and the impression was deepened by the perception that the same feeling, though restrained, affected the judge himself, and was visible in the anxious attention with which he looked at the papers before him, and the stern sadness that had come over the features naturally full of kindness and benevolence.

The prisoner appeared in the dock. He had become paler, and perhaps thinner, for his square determined jaw, and the resolute mould of his lips, were more than usually remarkable, and were noted in the physiognomical brain of Harvey Anderson; as well as the keen light of his full dark hazel eye, the breadth of his brow, with his shining light brown hair brushed back from it; the strong build of his frame, and the determined force, apparent even in the perfect quiescence of his attitude.

Leonard Axworthy Ward was arraigned for the wilful murder of Francis Axworthy, and asked whether he pleaded Guilty or Not Guilty.

His voice was earnest, distinct, and firm, and his eyes were raised upwards, as though he were making the plea of 'Not Guilty' not to man alone, but to the Judge of all the earth.

The officer of the court informed him of his right to challenge any of the jury, as they were called over by name; and as each came to be sworn, he looked full and steadily at each face, more than one of which was known to him by sight, as if he were committing his cause into their hands. He declined to challenge; and then crossing his arms on his breast, cast down his eyes, and thus retained them through the greater part of the trial.

The jurymen were then sworn in, and charged with the issue; and the counsel for the prosecution opened the case, speaking more as if in pity than indignation, as he sketched the history, which it was his painful duty to establish. He described how Mr. Axworthy, having spent the more active years of his life in foreign trade, had finally returned to pass his old age among his relatives; and had taken to assist him in his business a great-nephew, and latterly another youth in the same degree of relation, the son of his late niece-the prisoner, who on leaving school had been taken into his uncle's office, lodged in the house, and became one of the family. It would, however, be shown by witnesses that the situation had been extremely irksome to the young man; and that he had not been in it many months before he had expressed his intention of absconding, provided he could obtain the means of making his way in one of the colonies. Then followed a summary of the deductions resulting from the evidence about to be adduced, and which carried upon its face the inference that the absence of the cousin, the remoteness of the room, the sight of a large sum of money, and the helplessness of the old man, had proved temptations too strong for a fiery and impatient youth, long fretted by the restraints of his situation, and had conducted him to violence, robbery, and flight. It was a case that could not be regarded without great regret and compassion; but the gentlemen of the jury must bear in mind in their investigation, that pity must not be permitted to distort the facts, which he feared were only too obvious.

The speech was infinitely more telling from its fair and commiserating tone towards the prisoner; and the impression that it carried, not that he was to be persecuted by having the crime fastened on him, but that truth must be sought out at all hazards.

'Even he is sorry for Leonard! I don't hate him as I thought I should,' whispered Gertrude May, to her elder sister. The first witness was, as before, the young maid-servant, Anne Ellis, who described her first discovery of the body; and on farther interrogation, the situation of the room, distant from those of the servants, and out of hearing-also her master's ordinary condition of feebleness. She had observed nothing in the room, or on the table, but knew the window was open, since she had run to it, and screamed for help, upon which Master Hardy had come to her aid.

Leonard's counsel then elicited from her how low the window was, and how easily it could be entered from without.

James Hardy corroborated all this, giving a more minute account of the state of the room; and telling of his going to call the young gentlemen, and finding the open passage window and empty bed-room. The passage window would naturally be closed at night; and there was no reason to suppose that Mr. Ward would be absent. The bag shown to him was one that had originally been made for the keeping of cash, but latterly had been used for samples of grain, and he had last seen it in the office.

The counsel for the prisoner inquired what had been on the table at Hardy's first entrance; but to this the witness could not swear, except that the lamp was burning, and that there were no signs of disorder, nor was the dress of the deceased disarranged. He had seen his master put receipts, and make memorandums, in a large, black, silver-clasped pocket-book, but had never handled it, and could not swear to it; he had seen nothing like it since his master's death. He was further asked how long the prisoner had been at the mill, his duties there, and the amount of trust reposed in him; to which last the answer was, that about a month since, Mr. Axworthy had exclaimed that if ever he wanted a thing to be done, he must set Ward about it. Saving this speech, made in irritation at some omission on Sam's part, nothing was adduced to show that Leonard was likely to have been employed without his cousin's knowledge; though Hardy volunteered the addition that Mr. Ward was always respectful and attentive, and that his uncle had lately thought much more of him than at first.

Rebekah Giles gave her account of the scene in the sitting-room. She had been in the service of the deceased for the last four years, and before in that of his sister-in-law, Mr. Samuel's mother. She had herself closed the passage window at seven o'clock in the evening, as usual. She had several times previously found it partly open in the morning, after having thus shut it over-night; but never before, Mr. Ward's bed unslept in. Her last interview with Mr. Axworthy was then narrated, with his words-an imprecation against rifle practice, as an excuse for idle young rascals to be always out of the way. Then followed her communication to the prisoner at half-past nine, when she saw him go into the parlour, in his volunteer uniform, rifle in hand, heard him turn the lock of the sitting-room door, and then herself retired to bed.

Cross-examination did not do much with her, only showing that, when she brought in the supper, one window had been open, and the blinds, common calico ones, drawn down, thus rendering it possible for a person to lurk unseen in the court, and enter by the window. Her master had assigned no reason for sending for Mr. Ward. She did not know whether Mr. Axworthy had any memorandum-book; she had seen none on the table, nor found any when she undressed the body, though his purse, watch, and seals were on his person.

Mr. Rankin's medical evidence came next, both as to the cause of death, the probable instrument, and the nature of the stains on the desk and rifle.

When cross-examined, he declared that he had looked at the volunteer uniform without finding any mark of blood, but from the nature of the injury it was not likely that there would be any. He had attended Mr. Axworthy for several years, and had been visiting him professionally during a fit of the gout in the last fortnight of June, when he had observed that the prisoner was very attentive to his uncle. Mr. Axworthy was always unwilling to be waited on, but was unusually tolerant of this nephew's exertions on his behalf, and had seemed of late to place much reliance on him.

Doctor Richard May was the next witness called. The sound of that name caused the first visible change in the prisoner's demeanour, if that could be called change, which was only a slight relaxation of the firm closing of the lips, and one sparkle of the dark eyes, ere they were again bent down as before, though not without a quiver of the lids.

Dr. May had brought tone, look, and manner to the grave impartiality which even the most sensitive man is drilled into assuming in public; but he durst not cast one glance in the direction of the prisoner.

In answer to the counsel for the prosecution, he stated that he was at the Vintry Mill at seven o'clock on the morning of the 6th of July, not professionally, but as taking interest in the Ward family. He had seen the body of the deceased, and considered death to have been occasioned by fracture of the skull, from a blow with a blunt heavy instrument. The superintendent had shown him a rifle, which he considered, from the marks on it, as well as from the appearance of the body, to have produced the injury. The rifle was the one shown to him; it was the property of Leonard Ward. He recognized it by the crest and cipher H. E. It had belonged to his son-in-law, Hector Ernescliffe, by whom it had been given to Leonard Ward.

Poor Doctor! That was a cruel piece of evidence; and his son and daughters opposite wondered how he could utter it in that steady matter-of-fact way; but they knew him to be sustained by hopes of the cross-examination; and he soon had the opportunity of declaring that he had known Leonard Ward from infancy, without being aware of any imputation against him; but had always seen him highly principled and trustworthy, truthful and honourable, kind-hearted and humane-the last person to injure the infirm or aged.

Perhaps the good Doctor, less afraid of the sound of his own voice, and not so much in awe as some of the other witnesses, here in his eagerness overstepped the bounds of prudence. His words indeed brought a tremulous flicker of grateful emotion over the prisoner's face; but by carrying the inquiry into the region of character and opinion, he opened the door to a dangerous re-examination by the Crown lawyer, who required the exact meaning of his unqualified commendation, especially in the matter of humanity, demanding whether he had never known of any act of violence on the prisoner's part. The colour flushed suddenly into Leonard's face, though he moved neither eye nor lip; but his counsel appealed to the judge, and the pursuit of this branch of the subject was quashed as irrelevant; but the Doctor went down in very low spirits, feeling that his evidence had been damaging, and his hopes of any ray of light becoming fainter.

After this, the village policeman repeated the former statements, as to the state of the various rooms, the desk, locked and untouched, the rifle, boat, &c., further explaining that the distance from the mill to Blewer Station, by the road was an hour and half's walk, by the fields, not more than half an hour's.

The station-master proved the prisoner's arrival at midnight, his demand of a day-ticket, his being without luggage, and in a black suit; and the London policeman proved the finding of the money on his person, and repeated his own explanation of it.

The money was all in sovereigns, except one five and one ten-pound note, and Edward Hazlitt, the clerk of the Whitford Bank, was called to prove the having given the latter in change to Mr. Axworthy for a fifty-pound cheque, on the 10th of May last.

This same clerk had been at the volunteer drill on the evening of the 5th of July, had there seen the prisoner, had parted with him at dusk, towards nine o'clock, making an engagement with him to meet on Blewer Heath for some private practice at seven o'clock on Monday evening. Thought Mr. Axworthy did sometimes employ young Ward on his commissions; Mr. Axworthy had once sent him into Whitford to pay in a large sum, and another time with an order to be cashed. The dates of these transactions were shown in the books; and Hazlitt added, on further interrogation, that Samuel Axworthy could not have been aware of the sum being sent to the bank, since he had shortly after come and desired to see the account, which had been laid before him as confidential manager, when he had shown surprise and annoyance at the recent deposit, asking through whom it had been made. Not ten days subsequently, an order for nearly the entire amount had been cashed, signed by the deceased, but filled up in Samuel's handwriting.

This had taken place in April; and another witness, a baker, proved the having paid the five-pound note to old Mr. Axworthy himself on the 2nd of May.

Samuel Axworthy himself was next called. His florid face wore something of the puffed, stupefied look it had had at the inquest, but his words were ready, and always to the point. He identified the bag in which the money had been found, giving an account of it similar to Hardy's, and adding that he had last seen it lying by his cousin's desk. His uncle had no account with any London bank, all transactions had of late passed through his own hands, and he had never known the prisoner employed in any business of importance-he could not have been kept in ignorance of it if it had previously been the case. The deceased had a black shagreen pocket-book, with a silver clasp, which he occasionally used, but the witness had never known him give it out of his own hand, nor take a receipt in it. Had not seen it on the morning of the 6th, nor subsequently. Could not account for the sum found on the person of the prisoner, whose salary was £50 per annum, and who had no private resources, except the interest of £2000, which, he being a minor, was not in his own hands. Deceased was fond of amassing sovereigns, and would often keep them for a longtime in the drawer of his desk, as much as from £50 to £100. There was none there when the desk was opened on the 6th of July, though there had certainly been gold there two days previously. It was kept locked. It had a small Bramah key, which his uncle wore on his watch-chain, in his waistcoat pocket. The drawer was locked when he saw it on the morning of the 6th.

The Doctor, who had joined his children, gave a deep respiration, and relaxed the clenching of his hand, as this witness went down.

Then it came to the turn of Aubrey Spencer May. The long waiting, after his nerves had been wound up, had been a severe ordeal, and his delicacy of constitution and home breeding had rendered him peculiarly susceptible. With his resemblance to his father in form and expression, it was like seeing the Doctor denuded of that shell of endurance with which he had contrived to conceal his feelings. The boy was indeed braced to resolution, bat the resolution was equally visible with the agitation in the awe-stricken brow, varying colour, tightened breath, and involuntary shiver, as he took the oath. Again Leonard looked up with one of his clear bright glances, and perhaps a shade of anxiety; but Aubrey, for his own comfort, was too short-sighted for meeting of eyes from that distance.

Seeing his agitation, and reckoning on his evidence, the counsel gave him time, by minutely asking if his double Christian name were correctly given, his age, and if he were not the son of Dr. May.

'You were the prisoner's school-fellow, I believe?'

'No,' faltered Aubrey.

'But you live near him?'

'We are friends,' said Aubrey, with sudden firmness and precision; and from the utterance of that emphatic are, his spirit returned.

'Did you often see him?'

'On most Sundays, after church.'

'Did you ever hear him say he had any thoughts of the means of leaving the mill privately?'

'Something like it,' said Aubrey, turning very red.

'Can you tell me the words?'

'He said if things went on, that I was not to be surprised if I heard non est inventus,' said Aubrey, speaking as if rapidity would conceal the meaning of the words, but taken aback by being made to repeat and translate them to the jury.

'And did he mention any way of escaping?'

'He said the window and cedar-tree were made for it, and that he often went out that way to bathe,' said Aubrey.

'When did this conversation take place?'

'On Sunday, the 22nd of June,' said Aubrey, in despair, as the Crown lawyer thanked him, and sat down.

He felt himself betrayed into having made their talk wear the air of deliberate purpose, and having said not one word of what Mr. Bramshaw had hailed as hopeful. However, the defending barrister rose up to ask him what he meant by having answered 'Something like it.'

'Because,' said Aubrey, promptly, 'though we did make the scheme, we were neither of us in earnest.'

'How do you know the prisoner was not in earnest?'

'We often made plans of what we should like to do.'

'And had you any reason for thinking this one of such plans!'

'Yes,' said Aubrey; 'for he talked of getting gold enough to build up the market-cross, or else of going to see the Feejee Islands.

'Then you understood the prisoner not to express a deliberate purpose, so much as a vague design.'

'Just so,' said Aubrey. 'A design that depended on how things went on at the mill.' And being desired to explain his words, he added, that Leonard had said he could not bear the sight of Sam Axworthy's tyranny over the old man, and was resolved not to stay, if he were made a party to any of the dishonest tricks of the trade.

'In that case, did he say where he would have gone?'

'First to New Zealand, to my brother, the Reverend Norman May.'

Leonard's counsel was satisfied with the colour the conversation had now assumed; but the perils of re-examination were not over yet, for the adverse lawyer requested to know whence the funds were to have come for this adventurous voyage.

'We laughed a little about that, and he said he should have to try how far his quarter's salary would go towards a passage in the steerage.'

'If your friend expressed so strong a distaste to his employers and their business, what induced him to enter it?'

Leonard's counsel again objected to this inquiry, and it was not permitted. Aubrey was dismissed, and, flushed and giddy, was met by his brother Tom, who almost took him in his arms as he emerged from the passage.

'O, Tom! what have I done?'

'Famously, provided there's no miller in the jury. Come,' as he felt the weight on his arm, 'Flora says I am to take you down and make you take something.'

'No, no, no, I can't! I must go back.'

'I tell you there's nothing going on. Every one is breathing and baiting.' And he got him safe to a pastrycook's, and administered brandy cherries, which Aubrey bolted whole like pills, only entreating to return, and wanting to know how he thought the case going.

'Excellently. Hazlitt's evidence and yours ought to carry him through. And Anderson says they have made so much out of the witnesses for the prosecution, that they need call none for the defence; and so the enemy will be balked of their reply, and we shall have the last word. I vow I have missed my vocation. I know I was born for a barrister!'

'Now may we come back?' said the boy, overwhelmed by his brother's cheeriness; and they squeezed into court again, Tom inserting Aubrey into his own former seat, and standing behind him on half a foot at the angle of the passage. They were in time for the opening of the defence, and to hear Leonard described as a youth of spirit and promise, of a disposition that had won him general affection and esteem, and recommended to universal sympathy by the bereavement which was recent in the memory of his fellow-townsmen; and there was a glance at the mourning which the boy still wore.

'They had heard indeed that he was quick-tempered and impulsive; but the gentlemen of the jury were some of them fathers, and he put it to them whether a ready and generous spirit of indignation in a lad were compatible with cowardly designs against helpless old age; whether one whose recreations were natural science and manly exercise, showed tokens of vicious tendencies; above all, whether a youth, whose friendship they had seen so touchingly claimed by a son of one of the most highly respected gentlemen in the county, were evincing the propensities that lead to the perpetration of deeds of darkness.'

Tom patted Aubrey on the shoulder; and Aubrey, though muttering 'humbug,' was by some de

grees less wretched.

'Men did not change their nature on a sudden,' the counsel continued; 'and where was the probability that a youth of character entirely unblemished, and of a disposition particularly humane and generous, should at once rush into a crime of the deep and deadly description, to which a long course of dissipation, leading to perplexity, distress, and despair, would be the only inducement?'

He then went on to speak of Leonard's position at the mill, as junior clerk. He had been there for six months, without a flaw being detected, either in his integrity, his diligence, or his regularity; indeed, it was evident that he had been gradually acquiring a greater degree of esteem and confidence than he had at first enjoyed, and had been latterly more employed by his uncle. That a young man of superior education should find the daily drudgery tedious and distasteful, and that one of sensitive honour should be startled at the ordinary, he might almost say proverbial, customs of the miller's trade, was surprising to no one; and that he should unbosom himself to a friend of his own age, and indulge together with him in romantic visions of adventure, was, to all who remembered their own boyhood, an illustration of the freshness and ingenuousness of the character that thus unfolded itself. Where there were day-dreams, there was no room for plots of crime.

Then ensued a species of apology for the necessity of entering into particulars that did not redound to the credit of a gentleman, who had appeared before the court under such distressing circumstances as Mr. Samuel Axworthy; but it was needful that the condition of the family should be well understood, in order to comprehend the unhappy train of events which had conducted the prisoner into his present situation. He then went through what had been traceable through the evidence-that Samuel Axworthy was a man of expensive habits, and accustomed to drain his uncle's resources to supply his own needs; showing how the sum, which had been intrusted to the prisoner, to be paid into the local bank, had been drawn out by the elder nephew as soon as he became aware of the deposit; and how, shortly after, the prisoner had expressed to Aubrey May his indignation at the tyranny exercised on his uncle.

'By and by, another sum is amassed,' continued Leonard's advocate. 'How dispose of it? The local bank is evidently no security from the rapacity of the elder nephew. Once aware of its existence, he knows how to use means for compelling its surrender; and the feeble old man can no longer call his hard-earned gains his own except on sufferance. The only means of guarding it is to lodge it secretly in a distant bank, without the suspicion of his nephew Samuel; but the invalid is too infirm to leave his apartment; his fingers, crippled by gout, refuse even to guide the pen. He can only watch for an opportunity, and this is at length afforded by the absence of the elder nephew for two days at the county races. This will afford time for a trustworthy and intelligent messenger to convey the sum to town, deposit it in Messrs, Drummond's bank, and return unobserved. When, therefore, supper is brought in, Mr. Axworthy sends for the lad on whom he has learnt to depend, and shows much disappointment at his absence. Where is he? Is he engaged with low companions in the haunts of vice, that are the declivity towards crime? Is he gaming, or betting, or drinking? No. He has obeyed the summons of his country; he is a zealous volunteer, and is eagerly using a weapon presented to him by a highly respected gentleman of large fortune in a neighbouring county; nay, so far is he from any sinister purpose, that he is making an appointment with a fellow-rifleman for the ensuing Monday. On his return at dark, he receives a pressing summons to his uncle's room, and hastens to obey it without pausing to lay aside his rifle. The commission is explained, and well understanding the painfulness of the cause, he discreetly asks no questions, but prepares to execute it. The sum of £124 12s. is taken from the drawer of the desk, the odd money assigned to travelling expenses, the £120 placed in a bag brought in from the office for the purpose, bearing the initials of the owner, and a receipt in a private pocket-book was signed by him for the amount, and left open on the table for the ink to dry.

'Who that has ever been young, can doubt the zest and elevation of receiving for the first time a confidential mission? Who can doubt that even the favourite weapon would be forgotten where it stood, and that it would only be accordant to accredited rules that the window should be preferable to the door? Had it not already figured in the visions of adventure in the Sunday evening's walk? was it not a favourite mode of exit in the mornings, when bathing and fishing were more attractive than the pillow! Moreover, the moonlight disclosed what appeared like a figure in the court-yard, and there was reason at the time to suppose it a person likely to observe and report upon the expedition. The opening of the front door might likewise attract notice; and if the cousin should, as was possible, return that night, the direct road was the way to meet him. The hour was too early for the train which was to be met, but a lighted candle would reveal the vigil, and moonlight on the meadows was attractive at eighteen. Gentlemen of soberer and maturer years might be incredulous, but surely it was not so strange or unusual for a lad, who indulged in visions of adventure, to find a moonlight walk by the river-side more inviting than a bed-room.

'Shortly after, perhaps as soon as the light was extinguished, the murder must have been committed. The very presence of that light had been guardianship to the helpless old man below. When it was quenched, nothing remained astir, the way from without was open, the weapon stood only too ready to hand, the memorandum-book gave promise of booty and was secured, though nothing else was apparently touched. It was this very book that contained the signature that would have exonerated the prisoner, and to which he fearlessly appealed upon his arrest at the Paddington Station, before, for his additional misfortune, he had time to discharge himself of his commission, and establish his innocence by the deposit of the money at the bank. He has thus for a while become the victim of a web of suspicious circumstances. But look at these very circumstances more closely, and they will be found perfectly consistent with the prisoner's statement, never varying, be it remembered, from the explanation given to the policeman in first surprise and horror of the tidings of the crime.

'It might have been perhaps thought that there was another alternative between entire innocence and a deliberate purpose of robbery and murder-namely, that reproof from the old man had provoked a blow, and that the means of flight had been hastily seized upon in the moment of confusion and alarm. This might have been a plausible line of defence, and secure of a favourable hearing; but I beg to state that the prisoner has distinctly refused any such defence, and my instructions are to contend for his perfect innocence. A nature such as we have already traced is, as we cannot but perceive, revolted by the bare idea of violence to the aged and infirm, and recoils as strongly from the one accusation as from the other.

'The prisoner made his statement at the first moment, and has adhered to it in every detail, without confusion or self-contradiction. It does not attempt to explain all the circumstances, but they all tally exactly with his story; he is unable to show by whom the crime could have been committed, nor is he bound in law or justice so to do; nay, his own story shows the absolute impossibility of his being able to explain what took place in his absence. But mark how completely the established facts corroborate his narrative. Observe first the position in which the body was found, the head on the desk, the stain of blood corresponding with the wound, the dress undisturbed, all manifestly untouched since the fatal stroke was dealt. Could this have been the case, had the key of the drawer of gold been taken from the waistcoat pocket, the chain from about the neck of the deceased, and both replaced after the removal of the money and relocking the drawer! Can any one doubt that the drawer was opened, the money taken out, and the lock secured, while Mr. Axworthy was alive and consenting? Again, what robber would convey away the spoil in a bag bearing the initials of the owner, and that not caught up in haste, but fetched in for the purpose from the office? Or would so tell-tale a weapon as the rifle have been left conspicuously close at hand? There was no guilty precipitation, for the uniform had been taken off and folded up, and with a whole night before him, it would have been easy to reach a more distant station, where his person would not have been recognized. Why, too, if this were the beginning of a flight and exile, should no preparation have been made for passing a single night from home? why should a day-ticket have been asked for? No, the prisoner's own straightforward, unvarnished statement is the only consistent interpretation of the facts, otherwise conflicting and incomprehensible.

'That a murder has been committed is unhappily too certain. I make no attempt to unravel the mystery. I confine myself to the far more grateful task of demonstrating, that to fasten the imputation on the accused, would be to overlook a complication of inconsistencies, all explained by his own account of himself, but utterly inexplicable on the hypothesis of his guilt.

'Circumstantial evidence is universally acknowledged to be perilous ground for a conviction; and I never saw a case in which it was more manifestly delusive than in the present, bearing at first an imposing and formidable aspect, but on examination, confuted in every detail. Most assuredly,' continued the counsel, his voice becoming doubly earnest, 'while there is even the possibility of innocence, it becomes incumbent on you, gentlemen of the jury, to consider well the fearful consequences of a decision in a matter of life or death-a decision for which there can be no reversal. The facts that have come to light are manifestly incomplete. Another link in the chain has yet to be added; and when it shall come forth, how will it be if it should establish the guiltlessness of the prisoner too late? Too late, when a young life of high promise, and linked by close family ties, and by bonds of ardent friendship with so many, has been quenched in shame and disgrace, for a crime to which he may be an utter stranger.

'The extinction of the light in that upper window was the sign for darkness and horror to descend on the mill! Here is the light of life still burning, but a breath of yours can extinguish it in utter gloom, and then who may rekindle it! Nay, the revelation of events that would make the transactions of that fatal night clear as the noonday, would never avail to rekindle the lamp, that may yet, I trust, shine forth to the world-the clearer, it may be, from the unmerited imputations, which it has been my part to combat, and of which his entire life is a confutation.'

Mrs. Pugh was sobbing under her veil; Gertrude felt the cause won. Tom noiselessly clapped the orator behind his brother's back, and nodded his approval to his father. Even Leonard lifted up his face, and shot across a look, as if he felt deliverance near after the weary day, that seemed to have been a lifetime already, though the sunbeams were only beginning to fall high and yellow on the ceiling, through the heated stifling atmosphere, heavy with anxiety and suspense. Doctor May was thinking of the meeting after the acquittal, of the telegram to Stoneborough, of the sister's revival, and of Ethel's greeting.

Still the judge had to sum up; and all eyes turned on him, knowing that the fate of the accused would probably depend on the colouring that the facts adduced would assume in his hands. Flora, who met him in society, was struck by the grave and melancholy bracing, as it were, of the countenance, that she had seen as kindly and bright as her father's; and the deep, full voice, sad rather than stern, the very tone of which conveyed to every mind how heavy was the responsibility of justice and impartiality. In effect, the very force of the persuasions made for the defence, unanswered by the prosecution, rendered it needful for him to give full weight to the evidence for the other side; namely, the prisoner's evident impatience of his position, and premeditated flight, the coincidence of the times, the being the last person seen to enter the room, and with the very weapon that had been the instrument of the crime; the probability that the deceased had himself opened the drawer, the open window, the flight, and the missing sum being found on his person, the allegation that the receipt would be found in the pocket-book, unsupported by any testimony as to the practice of the deceased; the strangeness of leaving the premises so much too early for the train, and, by his own account, leaving a person prowling in the court, close to his uncle's window. No opinion was given; but there was something that gave a sense that the judge felt it a crushing weight of evidence. Yet so minutely was every point examined, so carefully was every indication weighed which could tend to establish the prisoner's innocence, that to those among his audience who believed that innocence indubitable, it seemed as if his arguments proved it, even more triumphantly than the pleading of the counsel, as, vibrating between hope and fear, anxiety and gratitude, they followed him from point to point of the unhappy incident, hanging upon every word, as though each were decisive.

When at length he ceased, and the jury retired, the breathless stillness continued. With some, indeed, there was the relaxation of long-strained attention, eyes unbent, and heads turned, but Flora had to pass her arm round her little sister, to steady the child's nervous trembling; Aubrey sat rigid and upright, the throbs of his heart well-nigh audible; and Dr. May leant forward, and covered his eyes with his hand; Tom, who alone dared glance to the dock, saw that Leonard too had retired. Those were the most terrible minutes they had ever spent in their lives; but they were minutes of hope-of hope of relief from a burthen, becoming more intolerable with every second's delay ere the rebound.

Long as it seemed to them, it was not in reality more than a quarter of an hour before the jury returned, and with slow grave movements, and serious countenances, resumed their places. Leonard was already in his; his cheek paler, his fingers locked together, and his eyes scanning each as they came forward, and one by one their names were called over. His head was erect, and his bearing had something undaunted, though intensely anxious.

The question was put by the clerk of the court, 'How find you? Guilty or Not guilty?'

Firmly, though sadly, the foreman rose, and his answer was, 'We find the prisoner guilty; but we earnestly recommend him to mercy.'

Whether Tom felt or not that Aubrey was in a dead faint, and rested against him as a senseless weight, he paid no visible attention to aught but one face, on which his eyes were riveted as though nothing would ever detach them-and that face was not the prisoner's.

Others saw Leonard's face raised upwards, and a deep red flush spread over brow and cheek, though neither lip nor eye wavered.

Then came the question whether the prisoner had anything to say, wherefore judgment should not be passed upon him.

Leonard made a step forward, and his clear steady tone did not shake for a moment as he spoke. 'No. I see that appearances are so much against me, that man can hardly decide otherwise. I have known from the first that nothing could show my innocence but the finding of the receipt. In the absence of that one testimony, I feel that I have had a fair trial, and that all has been done for me that could be done; and I thank you for it, my Lord, and you, Gentlemen,' as he bent his head; then added, 'I should like to say one thing more. My Lord, you would not let the question be asked, how I brought all this upon myself. I wish to say it myself, for it is that which makes my sentence just in the sight of God. It is true that, though I never lifted my hand against my poor uncle, I did in a moment of passion fling a stone at my brother, which, but for God's mercy, might indeed have made me a murderer. It was for this, and other like outbreaks, that I was sent to the mill; and it may be just that for it I should die-though indeed I never hurt my uncle.'

Perhaps there was something in the tone of that one word, indeed, which, by recalling his extreme youth, touched all hearts more than even the manly tone of his answer, and his confession. There was a universal weeping and sobbing throughout the court; Mrs. Pugh was on the verge of hysterics, and obliged to be supported away; and Gertrude was choking between the agony of contagious feeling and dread of Flora's displeasure; and all the time Leonard stood calm, with his brave head and lofty bearing, wound up for the awful moment of the sentence.

The weeping was hushed, when the crier of the court made proclamation, commanding all persons on pain of imprisonment to be silent. Then the judge placed on his head the black cap, and it was with trembling hands that he did so; the blood had entirely left his face, and his lips were purple with the struggle to contend with and suppress his emotion. He paused, as though he were girding himself up to the most terrible of duties, and when he spoke his voice was hollow, as he began:

'Leonard Axworthy Ward, you have been found guilty of a crime that would have appeared impossible in one removed from temptation by birth and education such as yours have been. What the steps may have been that led to such guilt, must lie between your own conscience and that God whose justice you have acknowledged. To Him you have evidently been taught to look; and may you use the short time that still remains to you, in seeking His forgiveness by sincere repentance. I will forward the recommendation to mercy, but it is my duty to warn you that there are no such palliating circumstances in the evidence, as to warrant any expectation of a remission of the sentence.

And therewith followed the customary form of sentence, ending with the solemn 'And may God Almighty have mercy on your soul!'

Full and open, and never quailing, had the dark eyes been fixed upon the judge all the time; and at those last words, the head bent low, and the lips moved for 'Amen.'

Then Tom, relieved to find instant occupation for his father, drew his attention to Aubrey's state; and the boy between Tom and George Rivers was, as best they could, carried through the narrow outlets, and laid down in a room, opened to them by the sheriff, where his father and Flora attended him, while Tom flew for remedies; and Gertrude sobbed and wept as she had never done in her life.

It was some time before the swoon yielded, or Dr. May could leave his son, and then he was bent on at once going to the prisoner; but he was so shaken and tremulous, that Tom insisted on giving him his arm, and held an umbrella over him in the driving rain.

'Father,' he said, as soon as they were in the street, 'I can swear who did it.'

Dr. May just hindered himself from uttering the name, but Tom answered as if it had been spoken.

'Yes. I saw the face of fiendish barbarity that once was over me, when I was a miserable little school-boy! He did it; and he has the receipt.'

Dr. May squeezed his arm. 'I have not betrayed the secret, have I!'

'You knew that he knew it!'

'Not knew-suspected-generosity.'

'I saw him! I saw him cast those imploring earnest eyes of his on the scoundrel as he spoke of the receipt-and the villain try to make himself of stone. Well, if I have one wish in life, it is to see that fellow come to the fate he deserves. I'll never lose sight of him; I'll dog him like a bloodhound!'

And what good will that do, when-Tom, Tom, we must move Heaven and earth for petitions. I'll take them up myself, and get George Rivers to take me to the Home Secretary. Never fear, while there's justice in Heaven.'

'Here's Henry!' exclaimed Tom, withholding his father, who had almost ran against the brother, as they encountered round a corner.

He was pale and bewildered, and hardly seemed to hear the Doctor's hasty asseverations that he would get a reprieve.

'He sent me to meet you,' said Henry. 'He wants you to go home-to Ave I mean. He says that is what he wants most-for you to go to her now, and to come to him to-morrow, or when you can; and he wants to hear how Aubrey is,' continued Henry, as if dreamily repeating a lesson.

'He saw then-?'

'Yes, and that seems to trouble him most.'

Dr. May was past speaking, and Tom was obliged to answer for him-that Aubrey was pretty well again, and had desired his dearest, dearest love; then asked how Leonard was.

'Calm and firm as ever,' said Henry, half choked. 'Nothing seems to upset him, but speaking of-of you and Aubrey, Dr. May-and poor Ave. But-but they'll be together before long.'

'No such thing,' said Dr. May. 'You will see that certainty cures, when suspense kills; and for him, I'll never believe but that all will be right yet. Are you going home?'

'I shall try to be with-with the dear unhappy boy as long as I can, and then I'll come home.'

Dr. May grasped Henry's hand, gave a promise of coming, and a message of love to the prisoner, tried to say something more, but broke down, and let Tom lead him away.

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