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Wacousta: A Tale of the Pontiac Conspiracy--Volume 1 By John Richardson Characters: 36904

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The hour fixed for the trial of the prisoner Halloway had now arrived, and the officers composing the court were all met in the mess-room of the garrison, surrounding a long table covered with green cloth, over which were distributed pens, ink, and paper for taking minutes of the evidence, and such notes of the proceedings as the several members might deem necessary in the course of the trial. Captain Blessington presided; and next him, on either hand, were the first in seniority, the two junior occupying the lowest places. The demeanour of the several officers, serious and befitting the duty they were met to perform, was rendered more especially solemn from the presence of the governor, who sat a little to the right of the president, and without the circle, remained covered, and with his arms folded across his chest. At a signal given by the president to the orderly in waiting, that individual disappeared from the room, and soon afterwards Frank Halloway, strongly ironed, as on the preceding night, was ushered in by several files of the guard, under Ensign Fortescue himself.

The prisoner having been stationed a few paces on the left of the president, that officer stood up to administer the customary oath. His example was followed by the rest of the court, who now rose, and extending each his right hand upon the prayer book, repeated, after the president, the form of words prescribed by military law. They then, after successively touching the sacred volume with their lips, once more resumed their seats at the table.

The prosecutor was the Adjutant Lawson, who now handed over to the president a paper, from which the latter officer read, in a clear and distinct voice, the following charges, viz.-

"1st. For having on the night of the -th September 1763, while on duty at the gate of the Fortress of Detroit, either admitted a stranger into the garrison himself, or suffered him to obtain admission, without giving the alarm, or using the means necessary to ensure his apprehension, such conduct being treasonable, and in breach of the articles of war.

"2d. For having been accessary to the abduction of Captain Frederick de Haldimar and private Harry Donellan, the disappearance of whom from the garrison can only be attributed to a secret understanding existing between the prisoner and the enemy without the walls, such conduct being treasonable, and in breach of the articles of war."

"Private Frank Halloway," continued Captain Blessington, after having perused these two short but important charges, "you have heard what has been preferred against you; what say you, therefore? Are you guilty, or not guilty?"

"Not guilty," firmly and somewhat exultingly replied the prisoner, laying his hand at the same time on his swelling heart.

"Stay, sir," sternly observed the governor, addressing the president; "you have not read ALL the charges."

Captain Blessington took up the paper from the table, on which he had carelessly thrown it, after reading the accusations above detailed, and perceived, for the first time, that a portion had been doubled back. His eye now glanced over a third charge, which had previously escaped his attention.

"Prisoner," he pursued, after the lapse of a minute, "there is a third charge against you, viz. for having, on the night of the -th Sept. 1763, suffered Captain De Haldimar to unclose the gate of the fortress, and, accompanied by his servant, private Harry Donellan, to pass your post without the sanction of the governor, such conduct being in direct violation of a standing order of the garrison, and punishable with death."

The prisoner started. "What!" he exclaimed, his cheek paling for the first time with momentary apprehension; "is this voluntary confession of my own to be turned into a charge that threatens my life? Colonel de Haldimar, is the explanation which I gave you only this very hour, and in private, to be made the public instrument of my condemnation? Am I to die because I had not firmness to resist the prayer of my captain and of your son, Colonel de Haldimar?"

The president looked towards the governor, but a significant motion of the head was the only reply; he proceeded,-

"Prisoner Halloway, what plead you to this charge? Guilty, or not guilty?"

"I see plainly," said Halloway, after the pause of a minute, during which he appeared to be summoning all his energies to his aid; "I see plainly that it is useless to strive against my fate. Captain de Haldimar is not here, and I must die. Still I shall not have the disgrace of dying as a traitor, though I own I have violated the orders of the garrison."

"Prisoner," interrupted Captain Blessington, "whatever you may have to urge, you had better reserve for your defence. Meanwhile, what answer do you make to the last charge preferred?-Are you guilty, or not guilty?"

"Guilty," said Halloway, in a tone of mingled pride and sorrow, "guilty of having listened to the earnest prayer of my captain, and suffered him, in violation of my orders, to pass my post. Of the other charges I am innocent."

The court listened with the most profound attention and interest to the words of the prisoner, and they glanced at each other in a manner that marked their sense of the truth they attached to his declaration.

"Halloway, prisoner," resumed Captain Blessington, mildly, yet impressively; "recollect the severe penalty which the third charge, no less than the others, entails, and recall your admission. Be advised by me," he pursued, observing his hesitation. "Withdraw your plea, then, and substitute that of not guilty to the whole."

"Captain Blessington," returned the prisoner with deep emotion, "I feel all the kindness of your motive; and if any thing can console me in my present situation, it is the circumstance of having presiding at my trial an officer so universally beloved by the whole corps. Still," and again his voice acquired its wonted firmness, and his cheek glowed with honest pride, "still, I say, I scorn to retract my words. Of the two first charges I am as innocent as the babe unborn. To the last I plead guilty; and vain would it be to say otherwise, since the gate was found open while I was on duty, and I know the penalty attached to the disobedience of orders."

After some further but ineffectual remonstrance on the part of the president, the pleas of the prisoner were recorded, and the examination commenced. Governor de Haldimar was the first witness.

That officer, having been sworn, stated, that on the preceding night he had been intruded upon in his apartment by a stranger, who could have obtained admission only through the gate of the fortress, by which also he must have made good his escape. That it was evident the prisoner had been in correspondence with their enemies; since, on proceeding to examine the gate it had been found unlocked, while the confusion manifested by him on being accused, satisfied all who were present of the enormity of his guilt. Search had been made every where for the keys, but without success.

The second charge was supported by presumptive evidence alone; for although the governor swore to the disappearance of his son, and the murder of his servant, and dwelt emphatically on the fact of their having been forcibly carried off with the connivance of the prisoner, still there was no other proof of this, than the deductions drawn from the circumstances already detailed. To meet this difficulty, however, the third charge had been framed.

In proof of this the governor stated, that the prisoner, on being interrogated by him immediately subsequent to his being relieved from his post, had evinced such confusion and hesitation, as to leave no doubt whatever of his guilt; that, influenced by the half promise of communication, which the court had heard as well as himself, he had suffered the trial of the prisoner to be delayed until the present hour, strongly hoping he might then be induced to reveal the share he had borne in these unworthy and treasonable practices; that, with a view to obtain this disclosure, so essential to the safety of the garrison, he had, conjointly with Major Blackwater, visited the cell of the prisoner, to whom he related the fact of the murder of Donellan, in the disguise of his master's uniform, conjuring him, at the same time, if he regarded his own life, and the safety of those who were most dear to him, to give a clue to the solution of this mysterious circumstance, and disclose the nature and extent of his connection with the enemy without; that the prisoner however resolutely denied, as before, the guilt imputed to him, but having had time to concoct a plausible story, stated, (doubtless with a view to shield himself from the severe punishment he well knew to be attached to his offence,) that Captain de Haldimar himself had removed the keys from the guard-room, opened the gate of the fortress, and accompanied by his servant, dressed in a coloured coat, had sallied forth upon the common. "And this," emphatically pursued the governor, "the prisoner admits he permitted, although well aware that, by an order of long standing for the security of the garrison, such a fragrant dereliction of his duty subjected him to the punishment of death."

Major Blackwater was the next witness examined. His testimony went to prove the fact of the gate having been found open, and the confusion manifested by the prisoner. It also substantiated that part of the governor's evidence on the third charge, which related to the confession recently made by Halloway, on which that charge had been framed.

The sergeant of the guard, and the governor's orderly having severally corroborated the first portions of Major Blackwater's evidence, the examination on the part of the prosecution terminated; when the president called on the prisoner Halloway for his defence. The latter, in a clear, firm, and collected tone, and in terms that surprised his auditory, thus addressed the Court:-

"Mr. President, and gentlemen,-Although, standing before you in the capacity of a private soldier, and, oh! bitter and humiliating reflection, in that most wretched and disgraceful of all situations, a suspected traitor, I am not indeed what I seem to be. It is not for me here to enter into the history of my past life; neither will I tarnish the hitherto unsullied reputation of my family by disclosing my true name. Suffice it to observe, I am a gentleman by birth; and although, of late years, I have known all the hardships and privations attendant on my fallen fortunes, I was once used to bask in the luxuries of affluence, and to look upon those who now preside in judgment over me as my equals. A marriage of affection,-a marriage with one who had nothing but her own virtues and her own beauty to recommend her, drew upon me the displeasure of my family, and the little I possessed, independently of the pleasure of my relations, was soon dissipated. My proud soul scorned all thought of supplication to those who had originally spurned my wife from their presence; and yet my heart bled for the privations of her who, alike respectable in family, was, both from sex and the natural delicacy, of her frame, so far less constituted to bear up against the frowns of adversity than myself. Our extremity had now become great,-too great for human endurance; when, through the medium of the public prints, I became acquainted with the glorious action that had been fought in this country by the army under General Wolfe. A new light burst suddenly upon my mind, and visions of after prosperity constantly presented themselves to my view. The field of honour was open before me, and there was a probability I might, by good conduct, so far merit the approbation of my superiors, as to obtain, in course of time, that rank among themselves to which by birth and education I was so justly entitled to aspire. Without waiting to consult my Ellen, whose opposition I feared to encounter until opposition would be fruitless, I hastened to Lieutenant Walgrave, the recruiting officer of the regiment,-tendered my services,-was accepted and approved,-received the bounty money,-and became definitively a soldier, under the assumed name of Frank Halloway.

"It would be tedious and impertinent, gentlemen," resumed the prisoner, after a short pause, "to dwell on the humiliations of spirit to which both my wife and myself were subjected at our first introduction to our new associates, who, although invariably kind to us, were, nevertheless, ill suited, both by education and habit, to awaken any thing like congeniality of feeling or similarity of pursuit. Still we endeavoured, as much as possible, to lessen the distance that existed between us; and from the first moment of our joining the regiment, determined to adopt the phraseology and manners of those with whom an adverse destiny had so singularly connected us. In this we succeeded; for no one, up to the present moment, has imagined either my wife or myself to be other than the simple and unpretending Frank and Ellen Halloway.

"On joining the regiment in this country," pursued the prisoner, after another pause, marked by much emotion, "I had the good fortune to be appointed to the grenadier company. Gentlemen, you all know the amiable qualities of Captain de Haldimar. But although, unlike yourselves, I have learnt to admire that officer only at a distance, my devotion to his interests has been proportioned to the kindness with which I have ever been treated by him; and may I not add, after this avowal of my former condition, my most fervent desire has all along been to seize the first favourable opportunity of performing some action that would eventually elevate me to a position in which I might, without blushing for the absence of the ennobling qualities of birth and condition, avow myself his friend, and solicit that distinction from my equal which was partially extended to me by my superior? The opportunity I sought was not long wanting. At the memorable affair with the French general, Levi, at Quebec, in which our regiment bore so conspicuous a part, I had the good fortune to save the life of my captain. A band of Indians, as you all, gentlemen, must recollect, had approached our right flank unperceived, and while busily engaged with the French in front, we were compelled to divide our fire between them and our new and fierce assailants. The leader of that band was a French officer, who seemed particularly to direct his attempts against the life of Captain de Haldimar. He was a man of powerful proportions and gigantic stature-"

"Hold!" said the governor, starting suddenly from the seat in which he had listened with evident impatience to this long outline of the prisoner's history. "Gentlemen," addressing the court, "that is the very stranger who was in my apartment last night,-the being with whom the prisoner is evidently in treacherous correspondence, and all this absurd tale is but a blind to deceive your judgment, and mitigate his own punishment. Who is there to prove the man he has just described was the same who aimed at Captain de Haldimar's life at Quebec?"

A flush of deep indignation overspread the features of the prisoner, whose high spirit, now he had avowed his true origin, could ill brook the affront thus put upon his veracity.

"Colonel de Haldimar!" he proudly replied, while his chains clanked with the energy and force with which he drew up his person into an attitude of striking dignity; "for once I sink the private soldier, and address you in the character of the gentleman and your equal. I have a soul, Sir, notwithstanding my fallen fortunes, as keenly alive to honour as your own; and not even to save my wretched life, would I be guilty of the baseness you now attribute to me. You have asked," he pursued, in a more solemn tone, "what proof I have to show this individual to be the same who attempted the life of Captain de Haldimar. To Captain de Haldimar himself, should Providence have spared his days, I shall leave the melancholy task of bearing witness to all I here advance, when I shall be no more. Nay, Sir," and his look partook at once of mingled scorn and despondency, "well do I know the fate that awaits me; for in these proceedings-in that third charge-I plainly read my death-warrant. But what, save my poor and wretched wife, have I to regret? Colonel de Haldimar," he continued, with a vehemence meant to check the growing weakness which the thought of his unfortunate companion called up to his heart, "I saved the life of your son, even by your own admission, no matter whose the arm that threatened his existence; and in every other action in which I have been engaged, honourable mention has ever been made of my conduct. Now, Sir, I ask what has been my reward? So far from attending to the repeated recommendations of my captain for promotion, even in a subordinate rank, have you once deemed it necessary to acknowledge my services by even a recognition of them in any way whatever?"

"Mr. President, Captain Blessington," interrupted the governor, haughtily, "are we met here to listen to such language from a private soldier? You will do well, Sir, to exercise your prerogative, and stay such impertinent matter, which can have no reference whatever to the defence of the prisoner."

"Prisoner," resumed the president, who, as well as the other members of the court, had listened with the most profound and absorbing interest to the singular disclosure of him whom they still only knew as Frank Halloway, "this language cannot be permitted; you must confine yourself to your defence."

"Pardon me, gentlemen," returned Halloway, in his usual firm but respectful tone of voice; "pardon me, if, standing on the brink of the grave as I do, I have so far forgotten the rules of military discipline as to sink for a moment the soldier in the gentleman; but to be taxed with an unworthy fabrication, and to be treated with contumely when avowing the secret of my condition, was more than human pride and human feeling could tolerate."

"Confine yourself, prisoner, to your defence," again remarked Captain Blessington, perceiving the restlessness with which the governor listened to these bold and additional observations of Halloway.

Again the governor interposed:-"What possible connexion can there be between this man's life, and the crime with whic

h he stands charged? Captain Blessington, this is trifling with the court, who are assembled to try the prisoner for his treason, and not to waste their time in listening to a history utterly foreign to the subject."

"The history of my past life-Colonel de Haldimar," proudly returned the prisoner, "although tedious and uninteresting to you, is of the utmost importance to myself; for on that do I ground the most essential part of my defence. There is nothing but circumstantial evidence against me on the two first charges; and as those alone can reflect dishonour on my memory, it is for the wisdom of this court to determine whether that evidence is to be credited in opposition to the solemn declaration of him, who, in admitting one charge, equally affecting his life with the others, repudiates as foul those only which would attaint his honour. Gentlemen," he pursued, addressing the court, "it is for you to determine whether my defence is to be continued or not; yet, whatever be my fate, I would fain remove all injurious impression from the minds of my judges; and this can only be done by a simple detail of circumstances, which may, by the unprejudiced, be as simply believed."

Here the prisoner paused: when, after some low and earnest conversation among the members of the court, two or three slips of written paper were passed to the President. He glanced his eye hurriedly over them, and then directed Halloway to proceed with his defence.

"I have stated," pursued the interesting soldier, "that the officer who led the band of Indians was a man of gigantic stature, and of apparently great strength. My attention was particularly directed to him from this circumstance, and as I was on the extreme flank of the grenadiers, and close to Captain de Haldimar, had every opportunity of observing his movements principally pointed at that officer. He first discharged a carbine, the ball of which killed a man of the company at his (Captain de Haldimar's) side; and then, with evident rage at having been defeated in his aim, he took a pistol from his belt, and advancing with rapid strides to within a few paces of his intended victim, presented it in the most deliberate manner. At that moment, gentlemen, (and it was but the work of a moment,) a thousand confused and almost inexplicable feelings rose to my heart. The occasion I had long sought was at length within my reach; but even the personal considerations, which had hitherto influenced my mind, were sunk in the anxious desire I entertained to preserve the life of an officer so universally beloved, and so every way worthy of the sacrifice. While yet the pistol remained levelled, I sprang before Captain de Haldimar, received the ball in my breast, and had just strength sufficient to fire my musket at this formidable enemy when I sank senseless to the earth.

"It will not be difficult for you, gentlemen, who have feeling minds, to understand the pleasurable pride with which, on being conveyed to Captain de Haldimar's own apartments in Quebec, I found myself almost overwhelmed by the touching marks of gratitude showered on me by his amiable relatives. Miss Clara de Haldimar, in particular, like a ministering angel, visited my couch of suffering at almost every hour, and always provided with some little delicacy, suitable to my condition, of which I had long since tutored myself to forget even the use. But what principally afforded me pleasure, was to remark the consolations which she tendered to my poor drooping Ellen, who, already more than half subdued by the melancholy change in our condition in life, frequently spent hours together in silent grief at the side of my couch, and watching every change in my countenance with all the intense anxiety of one who feels the last stay on earth is about to be severed for ever. Ah! how I then longed to disclose to this kind and compassionating being the true position of her on whom she lavished her attention, and to make her known, not as the inferior honored by her notice, but as the equal alike worthy of her friendship and deserving of her esteem; but the wide, wide barrier that divided the wife of the private soldier from the daughter and sister of the commissioned officer sealed my lips, and our true condition continued unrevealed.

"Gentlemen," resumed Halloway, after a short pause, "if I dwell on these circumstances, it is with a view to show how vile are the charges preferred against me. Is it likely, with all the incentives to good conduct I have named, I should have proved a traitor to my country? And, even if so, what to gain, I would ask; and by what means was a correspondence with the enemy to be maintained by one in my humble station? As for the second charge, how infamous, how injurious is it to my reputation, how unworthy to be entertained! From the moment of my recovery from that severe wound, every mark of favour that could be bestowed on persons in our situation had been extended to my wife and myself, by the family of Colonel de Haldimar; and my captain, knowing me merely as the simple and low born Frank Halloway, although still the preserver of his life, has been unceasing in his exertions to obtain such promotion as he thought my conduct generally, independently of my devotedness to his person, might claim. How these applications were met, gentlemen, I have already stated; but notwithstanding Colonel de Haldimar has never deemed me worthy of the promotion solicited, that circumstance could in no way weaken my regard and attachment for him who had so often demanded it. How then, in the name of heaven, can a charge so improbable, so extravagant, as that of having been instrumental in the abduction of Captain de Haldimar, be entertained? and who is there among you, gentlemen, who will for one moment believe I could harbour a thought so absurd as that of lending myself to the destruction of one for whom I once cheerfully offered up the sacrifice of my blood? And now," pursued the prisoner, after another short pause, "I come to the third charge,-that charge which most affects my life, but impugns neither my honour nor my fidelity. That God, before whom I know I shall shortly appear, can attest the sincerity of my statement, and before him do I now solemnly declare what I am about to relate is true.

"Soon after the commencement of my watch last night, I heard a voice distinctly on the outside of the rampart, near my post, calling in a low and subdued tone on the name of Captain de Haldimar. The accents, hastily and anxiously uttered, were apparently those of a female. For a moment I continued irresolute how to act, and hesitated whether or not I should alarm the garrison; but, at length, presuming it was some young female of the village with whom my captain was acquainted, it occurred to me the most prudent course would be to apprize that officer himself. While I yet hesitated whether to leave my post for a moment for the purpose, a man crossed the parade a few yards in my front; it was Captain de Haldimar's servant, Donellan, then in the act of carrying some things from his master's apartment to the guard-room. I called to him, to say the sentinel at the gate wished to see the captain of the guard immediately. In the course of a few minutes he came up to my post, when I told him what I had heard. At that moment, the voice again repeated his name, when he abruptly left me and turned to the left of the gate, evidently on his way to the rampart. Soon afterwards I heard Captain de Haldimar immediately above me, sharply calling out 'Hist, hist!' as if the person on the outside, despairing of success, was in the act of retreating. A moment or two of silence succeeded, when a low conversation ensued between the parties. The distance was so great I could only distinguish inarticulate sounds; yet it seemed to me as if they spoke not in English, but in the language of the Ottawa Indians, a tongue with which, as you are well aware, gentlemen, Captain de Haldimar is familiar. This had continued about ten minutes, when I again heard footsteps hastily descending the rampart, and moving in the direction of the guard-house. Soon afterwards Captain de Haldimar re-appeared at my post, accompanied by his servant Donellan; the former had the keys of the gate in his hand, and he told me that he must pass to the skirt of the forest on some business of the last importance to the safety of the garrison.

"At first I peremptorily refused, stating the severe penalty attached to the infringement of an order, the observation of which had so especially been insisted upon by the governor, whose permission, however, I ventured respectfully to urge might, without difficulty, be obtained, if the business was really of the importance he described it. Captain de Haldimar, however, declared he well knew the governor would not accord that permission, unless he was positively acquainted with the nature and extent of the danger to be apprehended; and of these, he said, he was not himself sufficiently aware. All argument of this nature proving ineffectual, he attempted to enforce his authority, not only in his capacity of officer of the guard, but also as my captain, ordering me, on pain of confinement, not to interfere with or attempt to impede his departure. This, however, produced no better result; for I knew that, in this instance, I was amenable to the order of the governor alone, and I again firmly refused to violate my duty.

"Finding himself thwarted in his attempt to enforce my obedience, Captain de Haldimar, who seemed much agitated and annoyed by what he termed my obstinacy, now descended to entreaty; and in the name of that life which I had preserved to him, and of that deep gratitude which he had ever since borne to me, conjured me not to prevent his departure. 'Halloway,' he urged, 'your life, my life, my father's life,-the life of my sister Clara perhaps, who nursed you in illness, and who has ever treated your wife with attention and kindness,-all these depend upon your compliance with my request. 'Hear me,' he pursued, following up the impression which he clearly perceived he had produced in me by this singular and touching language: 'I promise to be back within the hour; there is no danger attending my departure, and here will I be before you are relieved from your post; no one can know I have been absent, and your secret will remain with Donellan and myself. Do you think,' he concluded, 'I would encourage a soldier of my regiment to disobey a standing order of the garrison, unless there was some very extraordinary reason for my so doing? But there is no time to be lost in parley. Halloway! I entreat you to offer no further opposition to my departure. I pledge myself to be back before you are relieved.'"

"Gentlemen," impressively continued the prisoner, after a pause, during which each member of the court seemed to breathe for the first time, so deeply had the attention of all been riveted by the latter part of this singular declaration, "how, under these circumstances, could I be expected to act? Assured by Captain de Haldimar, in the most solemn manner, that the existence of those most dear to his heart hung on my compliance with his request, how could I refuse to him, whose life I had saved, and whose character I so much esteemed, a boon so earnestly, nay, so imploringly solicited? I acceded to his prayer, intimating, at the same time, if he returned not before another sentinel should relieve me, the discovery of my breach of duty must be made, and my punishment inevitable. His last words, however, were to assure me he should return at the hour he had named, and when I closed the gate upon him it was under the firm impression his absence would only prove of the temporary nature he had stated.-Gentlemen," abruptly concluded Halloway, "I have nothing further to add; if I have failed in my duty as a soldier, I have, at least, fulfilled that of a man; and although the violation of the first entail upon me the punishment of death, the motives which impelled me to that violation will not, I trust, be utterly lost sight of by those by whom my punishment is to be awarded."

The candid, fearless, and manly tone in which Halloway had delivered this long and singular statement, however little the governor appeared to be affected by it, evidently made a deep impression on the court, who had listened with undiverted attention to the close. Some conversation again ensued, in a low tone, among several members, when two slips of written paper were passed up, as before, to the president. These elicited the following interrogatories:-

"You have stated, prisoner, that Captain de Haldimar left the fort accompanied by his servant Donellan. How were they respectively dressed?"

"Captain de Haldimar in his uniform; Donellan, as far as I could observe, in his regimental clothing also, with this difference, that he wore his servant's round glazed hat and his grey great coat."

"How then do you account for the extraordinary circumstance of Donellan having been found murdered in his master's clothes? Was any allusion made to a change of dress before they left the fort?"

"Not the slightest," returned the prisoner; "nor can I in any way account for this mysterious fact. When they quitted the garrison, each wore the dress I have described."

"In what manner did Captain de Haldimar and Donellan effect their passage across the ditch?" continued the president, after glancing at the second slip of paper. "The draw-bridge was evidently not lowered, and there were no other means at hand to enable him to effect his object with promptitude. How do you explain this, prisoner?"

When this question was put, the whole body of officers, and the governor especially, turned their eyes simultaneously on Halloway, for on his hesitation or promptness in replying seemed to attach much of the credit they were disposed to accord his statement. Halloway observed it, and coloured. His reply, however, was free, unfaltering, and unstudied.

"A rope with which Donellan had provided himself, was secured to one of the iron hooks that support the pullies immediately above the gate. With this they swung themselves in succession to the opposite bank."

The members of the court looked at each other, apparently glad that an answer so confirmatory of the truth of the prisoner's statement, had been thus readily given.

"Were they to have returned in the same manner?" pursued the president, framing his interrogatory from the contents of another slip of paper, which, at the suggestion of the governor, had been passed to him by the prosecutor, Mr. Lawson.

"They were," firmly replied the prisoner. "At least I presumed they were, for, I believe in the hurry of Captain de Haldimar's departure, he never once made any direct allusion to the manner of his return; nor did it occur to me until this moment how they were to regain possession of the rope, without assistance from within."

"Of course," observed Colonel de Haldimar, addressing the president, "the rope still remains. Mr. Lawson, examine the gate, and report accordingly."

The adjutant hastened to acquit himself of this laconic order, and soon afterwards returned, stating not only that there was no rope, but that the hook alluded to had disappeared altogether.

For a moment the cheek of the prisoner paled; but it was evidently less from any fear connected with his individual existence, than from the shame he felt at having been detected in a supposed falsehood. He however speedily recovered his self-possession, and exhibited the same character of unconcern by which his general bearing throughout the trial had been distinguished.

On this announcement of the adjutant, the governor betrayed a movement of impatience, that was meant to convey his utter disbelief of the whole of the prisoner's statement, and his look seemed to express to the court it should also arrive, and without hesitation, at the same conclusion. Even all authoritative as he was, however, he felt that military etiquette and strict discipline prevented his interfering further in this advanced state of the proceedings.

"Prisoner," again remarked Captain Blessington, "your statement in regard to the means employed by Captain de Haldimar in effecting his departure, is, you must admit, unsupported by appearances. How happens it the rope is no longer where you say it was placed? No one could have removed it but yourself. Have you done so? and if so, can you produce it, or say where it is to be found?"

"Captain Blessington," replied Halloway, proudly, yet respectfully, "I have already invoked that great Being, before whose tribunal I am so shortly to appear, in testimony of the truth of my assertion; and again, in his presence, do I repeat, every word I have uttered is true. I did not remove the rope, neither do I know what is become of it. I admit its disappearance is extraordinary, but a moment's reflection must satisfy the court I would not have devised a tale, the falsehood of which could at once have been detected on an examination such as that which has just been instituted. When Mr. Lawson left this room just now, I fully expected he would have found the rope lying as it had been left. What has become of it, I repeat, I know not; but in the manner I have stated did Captain de Haldimar and Donellan cross the ditch. I have nothing further to add," he concluded once more, drawing up his fine tall person, the native elegance of which could not be wholly disguised even in the dress of a private soldier; "nothing further to disclose. Yet do I repel with scorn the injurious insinuation against my fidelity, suggested in these doubts. I am prepared to meet my death as best may become a soldier, and, let me add, as best may become a proud and well born gentleman; but humanity and common justice should at least be accorded to my memory. I am an unfortunate man, but no traitor."

The members were visibly impressed by the last sentences of the prisoner. No further question however was asked, and he was again removed by the escort, who had been wondering spectators of the scene, to the cell he had so recently occupied. The room was then cleared of the witnesses and strangers, the latter comprising nearly the whole of the officers off duty, when the court proceeded to deliberate on the evidence, and pass sentence on the accused.

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