MoboReader> Literature > The Lost Lady of Lone

   Chapter 22 AT LONE.

The Lost Lady of Lone By Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Sout Characters: 16961

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:02

The Duke of Hereward went out to the close cab that was waiting for him before the door.

He found his valet standing by it, with a pair of railroad rugs over his arm.

He directed the man to mount to a seat beside the cabman, and gave the latter orders where to drive.

Then he entered the cab and closed all the doors and windows, that he might not be seen by any chance acquaintance.

He was supposed by all the world of London to be away on his wedding tour, and he was willing to let them continue to believe so, until they should be enlightened by a report of the great trial, when they would learn the fact and the explanation at once, and thus be prevented from making undesirable conjectures and speculations concerning his presence at such a time in England.

He leaned back on his seat, and the cabman, having received directions from the valet, drove rapidly off toward the Great Northern Railway Station at Kings Cross.

An hour's fast drive brought them to their destination.

The duke dispatched his valet to the ticket office to engage a coupe on the express train, so that he might be entirely private.

And he remained in the cab with closed doors and windows until the servant had secured the coupe, and conveyed all the light luggage into it.

Then he left the cab, and passed at once into the coupe, leaving his servant to pay and discharge the cab, and to follow him on the train.

James Kerr, after performing these duties, went to the door of his master's little compartment to ask if he had any further orders, before going to take his place in the second-class carriages.

"No, Kerr, but come in here with me. I want you at hand during the journey," replied the duke, who, much as he confided in the young man's devotion and loyalty, could not quite trust his discretion, and therefore desired to keep him from talking.

The valet bowed and entered the coupe, taking the seat that his master pointed out.

The train moved slowly out of the station, but gaining speed as it left the town, soon began to fly swiftly on its northern course.

The October sun was setting as the train flew along the margin of the "New River," as Sir Hugh Myddellen's celebrated piece of water-engineering is called.

The October evening was chill, and the swift flight of the train drawing a strong draught that could not be kept out, increased the chilliness.

The duke leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.

The valet attentively tucked the railway rug around his master's knees.

The sun had set. The long twilight of northern latitudes came on.

At the first station where the express stopped, the guard opened the door and offered to light the lamps, but the duke forbade him, saying that he preferred the darkness.

The guard closed the door and retired, and the train started again, and flew on northward through the deepening night.

It stopped only at the largest towns and cities on its route-at Peterboro', at York, at Newcastle, and Edinboro'.

It was sunrise when the train reached Lone, the only small station at which it stopped on the route.

The guard opened the door of the coupe, and the young duke got out, attended by his valet.

The train stopped but one minute, and then shot out of the station and flew on toward Aberdeen.

The distance between the railway station and the "Hereward Arms," was very short, so the duke preferred to walk it, followed by his valet and a railway porter carrying his light luggage.

The sun had risen indeed, although it was nowhere visible.

A Scotch mist had risen from the lake, and settled over the mountains, vailing all the grand features of the landscape.

Early as the hour was, the hamlet, as they passed through it, seemed deserted by all its male inhabitants. None but women and children were to be seen, and even they, instead of being at work, were loitering about their own doors or gossiping with each other.

Though the duke and his servant were the only passengers that got off the train at Lone, the whole force of the "Hereward Arms,"-landlord, head-waiter, hostler, boots and stable boys-turned out to meet them.

"Your grace is unco welcome to the 'Hereward Arms,'" said Donald Duncan, the worthy host, bowing low before his distinguished guest.

And all his underlings followed his example by pulling their red forelocks and scraping their right feet backwards.

"Your hamlet seems to be deserted to-day, landlord. What fair or what else is going on?" inquired the young duke, as he followed the bowing host to the neat little parlor of the inn.

"Ah! wae's the day! Dinna your grace ken! It will be the trial at Banff-the trial of yon grand villain, Johnnie Potts, for the murder of his master."

"Oh, yes, I know the trial will be commenced to-day; but I did not think that the people here would take so much interest in it as to leave their work and go such a distance to see it," remarked the duke.

"Would they nae? They'd gae to the North Pole to see it, if necessary, and they'd gae farrer still to see the murtherer weel hanggit! Ay, your grace, and what will make it a' the mair exciting, is the rumor whilk goes round to the effect that the ne'er-do-well, hizzie, Rose Cameron, hae turnit Crown's evidence to save her ain life, and will gie up all her accomplices. Sae we are a' fain to hear the mystery of the murther cleared up."

"Indeed! Is that so? The girl has turned Crown's witness? Then, we shall get at the truth!" exclaimed the duke, with more interest than he had hitherto shown.

"It is a' true, your grace! And your grace may weel ken how the report drawed the heart of the hamlet out to gae to Banff, and hear a' aboot the murther."

"Yes, yes," murmured the duke to himself.

"And now, will your grace please to have a room? And what will your grace please to have for breakfast?" inquired the landlord, remembering his duty, and again bowing to the ground.

"You may show me to a bed-room, where I may get rid of this railway dust, and-for breakfast, anything you please, so that it is quickly prepared. Also, landlord, have a chaise at the door, with a good pair of horses. I must start for Banff within half an hour," said the traveller.

"Save us and sain us! Your grace, also! A' the warld seem ganging to Banff!" cried honest Donald Duncan.

"I am summoned there as a witness on the trial, landlord."

"Ay, to be sure. Sae your grace maun be. For it is weel kenned that your grace was amung the first to discover the dead body of the murthered man, Heaven rest him! And noo, your grace, I will show ye till your room," said the landlord, leading the way to a neat bedchamber on the same floor.

"Be good enough to send my servant here with my luggage," said the duke.

The landlord bowed and went out to deliver the message.

And in another minute the valet entered the room with the valise, dressing-case, and so forth.

The duke made a rapid morning toilet, and then returned to the parlor, where the little breakfast table was already laid-coffee, rolls, oat-meal cake, broiled haddock, broiled black cock, and Dundee marmalade, formed the bill of fare.

The duke forced himself to partake of some solid food in addition to the two cups of coffee he hastily swallowed.

And then, as the chaise was announced, he arose to depart.

"I desire to keep these rooms until further notice, landlord. I shall return here this evening, and stop here during my attendance upon the trial at Banff," said the duke, as he got into the chaise, followed by the valet.

The driver cracked his whip and the horses started.

"Aweel," said the landlord to himself, as he watched the chaise winding its way up the mountain-pass. "Aweel, I waur e'en just confounded to see the dook here away without the doochess; and I just after reading in the Times how they were married o' the day before yesterday, and gane for their wedding trip to Paris! Aweel, I suppose, it will be this witness business as hae broughten him back. But where's the young doochess? Ay, to be sure, he hae left her in her grand toon house in London. He wad na be bringing her here at siccan a painfu' time and occasion as the trial of her ain father's murtherer. Nae, indeed! that is nae likely," concluded honest Donald Duncan, as he returned into his house.

Banff was but ten miles north-east of Lone. But the mountain road was difficult; and now that the morning mist lay heavy on the landscape, it

was necessary for our travelers to drive slowly and carefully to avoid precipitating themselves over some rocky steep, into some deep pool or stony chasm.

They were, thus, an hour in getting safely through the mountain-pass.

At the end of that time, they came out upon a good road, through a forest of firs, covering a hilly country.

Then the mist began to roll away before the bright beams of the advancing sun.

And another hour of fast driving brought them into the town of Banff.

The duke directed the driver to turn into the street where was situated the town-hall, where the court was being held.

The very looks of the street must have informed any stranger that some event of unusual interest was then transpiring. The sidewalks were filled with pedestrians, whose steps were all bent in one direction-toward the town hall.

As our travellers drew up before the front of the building, the duke alighted and beckoned to a bailiff to come and clear the way for his passage into the court-room.

The officer hurried to the duke, and using his official authority, soon made a narrow path through the dense crowd that choked up every avenue into the edifice.

So, elbowing, pushing and wedging his way, the bailiff led the duke into the court-room, which was even more closely packed than the ante-rooms. Pressing through this solid mass of human beings, the bailiff led him to a seat directly in front of the bench of judges, and there left him.

The duke bowed to the Bench, sat down and looked around upon the strange and painful scene.

The famous Scotch judge, Baron Stairs, presided. On his right and left sat Mr. Justice Kinloch and Mr. Justice Guthrie.

Quite a large number of lawyers, law officers, and writers to the seal were present.

Mr. James Stuart, Q.C., was the prosecutor on the part of the crown. He was assisted by Messrs. Roy and McIntosh.

Mr. Keir and Mr. Gordon, two rising young barristers from Aberdeen, were counsel for the prisoner.

John Potts, alias Peters, the accused man, stood alone in the prisoner's dock.

He was a tall, gaunt, dark man, whose pallid face looked ghastly in contrast with his damp, lank, black hair, that seemed pasted to his cheeks by the thick perspiration, and with his black coat and pantaloons that hung loosely on his emaciated form.

The young duke thought he had never seen a man so much broken down in so short a time.

While the duke was looking at him, the poor wretch turned caught his eye and bowed. And then he quickly grasped the front railing of the dock with both his hands, as if to keep himself from falling.

The young duke turned away his eyes. The sight was too painful. He looked around him over the densely packed crowd, in which he recognized many of his old friends and neighbors, a great number of his clansmen and nearly all the old servants of his family.

Although the month was October, and the weather cool in that northern climate, the atmosphere of such a packed crowd would have been unbearable but for the fact that the six tall windows that flanked the court-room on each side were let down from the top for ventilation.

The duke turned his attention to the Bench.

There seemed to be some pause in the proceedings. The judges were sitting in perfect silence. The prosecuting counsel were arranging papers and occasionally speaking to each other in low tones.

The duke turned to a gentleman, a stranger, who was sitting on his left, and inquired:

"I have heard that the girl Cameron is not to be arraigned. I have also heard that she is held as a witness for the crown. Can you inform me whether it is so?"

"Yes, sir, it is so. You perceive that she is not in the dock with the other prisoner. She is in custody, however, in the sheriff's room. The prosecution cannot afford to arraign her, because they cannot do without her testimony," answered the stranger.

A buzz of conversation passed like a breeze through the impatient crowd.

"Silence in the court!" called out the crier.

And all became as still as death.

Mr. Roy, assistant counsel for the crown, arose and read the indictment, charging the prisoner at the bar with the willful murder of Sir Lemuel Levison, at Castle Lone, on the twenty-first day of June, Anno Domini, so and so. Without making any comment, the prosecutor sat down.

The Clerk of Arraigns then arose, and demanded of the accused-

"Prisoner at the bar, are you guilty or not guilty of the crimes with which you stand indicted?"

Potts, who stood pale and trembling and clutching the rails in front of the dock, replied earnestly though informally:

"Not guilty, upon my soul, my lords and gentlemen, before Heaven, and as I hope for salvation."

And overpowered by fear, he sank down on the narrow bench at the back of the dock.

The trial proceeded.

Queen's Counsel, Mr. James Stuart, took the indictment from the hands of his assistant, and proceeded to open it with a short, pithy address to the judges and the jury, and closed by requesting that Alexander McRath, house-steward of Castle Lone, in the service of the deceased, should be called.

The venerable, gray-haired old Scot, being duly called, came forward and took the stand.

Mr. McIntosh, assistant Queen's Counsel, conducted his examination.

Being duly sworn, Alexander McRath testified as to the facts within his own knowledge relating to the case, and which have already been laid before our readers-briefly, they referred to the finding of the dead body of the late Sir Lemuel Levison in his bed-chamber, to which no one except his confidential valet, the prisoner at the bar, had a pass-key, or could have gained admittance during the night.

The witness was cross-examined by Mr. Keir of the counsel for the prisoner, but without having his testimony weakened.

Other domestic servants were called, who corroborated the evidence given by the last one as to the finding of the dead body, and the intimate and confidential relations which had subsisted between the deceased and the prisoner at the bar, who always carried a pass-key to his master's private apartments.

Then the boy, Ferguson, a saddler's apprentice from the village of Lone, was called to the stand; and being sworn and examined, testified to the meeting and the conspiracy at midnight before the murder, under the balcony, near Malcolm's Tower, at Castle Lone, to which he had been an eye and ear-witness.

This witness was subjected to a very severe cross-examination, which rather developed and strengthened his testimony than otherwise.

McNeil, the ticket agent of the railway station at Lone, was next called, sworn, and examined. He testified to having sold a ticket just after midnight on the night of the murder to a vailed woman, who carried a small but very heavy leathern bag, which she guarded with jealous care. His description corresponded with that given by young Ferguson of the vailed woman, and the bag he had seen given to her by the balcony at Castle Lone on the same night.

This witness, also, was sharply cross-examined without effect.

"Now, my lords and gentlemen of the jury," began Queen's Counsel Stuart, speaking more gravely than he had ever done before, "I shall proceed to call a witness whose testimony will assuredly fix the deep guilt in the case we are trying where it justly belongs. Let Rose Cameron be placed upon the stand."

There was a great sensation in the court-room. The dense crowd was stirred with emotion as thick forest leaves are stirred with the wind.

"Silence in the court!" called out the crier.

And silence fell like a pall upon the crowd.

A door was opened on the left of the Judge's Bench, and the handsome Highland girl was led in by a sheriff's officer. She was dressed in a dark-blue merino suit, with a black felt hat and blue feather to match, and dark-blue gloves. Her long light hair flowed down her shoulders, a cataract of gold. She stepped with an elastic and imperial step as natural to her as to the reindeer. A very Juno of stately beauty she seemed as she rolled her large, fearless eyes over the crowded court-room, until, at length, they fell on the form of the young Duke of Hereward, seated on a front seat.

She started and flushed. Then recovered herself, caught his eyes, and fixed them with her bold, steady gaze, smiled a vindictive, deadly smile, and so passed with stately steps to her place on the witness stand.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top