Charlotte Mary Yonge.

The trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) online

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upon the table, and never lifted, his expression never varied ;
and Leonard's glance flashed inquiringly from one speaker to
another, and his countenance altered with every phase of the

The first witness was Anne Ellis, the young maid-servant,
who told of her coming down at ten minutes after five that
morning, the 6th of July, and on going in to clean the rooms,
finding her master sunk forward on the table. Supposing
him to have had a fit, she had run to the window and screamed
for help, when Master Hardy, the foreman, and Mrs. Giles,
the housekeeper, had come in.

James Hardy deposed to having heard the girl's cry while
he was unlocking the mill door. Coming in by the low sash
window, which stood open, he had gone up to his master, and
had seen the wound on the head, and found the body quite
cold. ISIrs. Giles coming in, they had carried it to the bed
in the next room ; and he had gone to call the young gentle-
men, but neither was in his room. He knew that it had been
left uncertain whether Mr. Samuel Avould return to sleep at


home between the two days of the county races, but he did
not expect Mr. Ward to be out ; and had then observed
that his bed had not been slept in, and that the passage
window outside his room was partly open. He had then
thought it best to go into Stoneborough to inform the

Eebecca Giles, the housekeeper, an elderly woman, crying
violently, repeated the evidence as to the discovery of the
body. The last time she had seen her master alive, was when
she had carried in his supper at nine o'clock, when he had
desired her to send Mr. Ward to him ; and had seemed much
vexed to hear that the young man had not returned from rifle
practice, little thinking, poor old gentleman ! — but here the
housekeeper was recalled to her subject. The window was
then open, as it was a sultry night, but the blind down. Her
master was a good deal crippled by gout, and could not at
that time move actively nor write, but could dress himself,
and close a window. He disliked being assisted ; and the
servants were not in the habit of seeing him from the time
his supper was brought in till breakfast next morning. She
had seen ^Iv. '\A'ard come home at twenty minutes or half
after nine, in uniform, carrying his rifle ; she had given the
message, and he had gone into the sitting-room without putting
down the rifle. She believed it to be the one on the table,
but could not say so on oath ; he never let any one touch it ;
and she never looked at such horrid murderous things. And
some remarks highly adverse to the volunteer movement were
cut short.

"William Andrews, groom, had been called by Anne Ellis,
had seen the wound, and the blood on the desk, and had gone
to fetch a surgeon and the poUce from Wliitford. On his


return, saw the rifle leaning against the shutter ; believed it to
be Mr. Ward's rifle.

Charles Rankin, surgeon, had been called in to see Mr.
Axworthy, and arrived at seven o'clock a.m. Found him dead,
from a fracture of the skull over the left temple, he should
imagine, from a blow from a heavy blunt instrument, such as
the stock of a gun. Death must have been instantaneous,
and had probably taken place seven or eight hours before
he was called in. The marks upon the rifle before him
were probably blood ; but he could not say so upon oath,
till he had subjected them to microscopic examination.
The hair was human, and corresponded with that of the

Samuel Axworthy had slept at the Three Goblets, in con-
sequence of finding himself too late for admission at home.
He had been wakened at half-past five, and found all as had
been stated by the previous witnesses ; and he corroborated
the housekeeper's account of his uncle's habits. The rifle he
believed to belong to his cousin, Leonard Ward. He could
not account for Leonard Ward's absence on that morning. IsTo
permission, as far as he was aware, had been given him to
leave home ; and he had never known his uncle give liim any
commission at that hour.

The difierent policemen gave their narrations of the state of
things — the open window, the position of the boat, &c. And
the ticket-clerk at the small Blewer Station stated that at about

.15 at night, Mr. Ward had walked in without baggage,
and asked for a second-class ticket to London.

Leonard here interposed an inquiry whether he had not
said a day ticket ; and the clerk recollected that he had done
so, and had spoken of returning by four o'clock ; but the


train, being reckoned as belonging to the previous day, no
return tickets were issued for it, and lie had therefore taken
an ordinary one, and started by the mail train.

The London policeman, who had come down with Leonard,
stated that, in consequence of a telegraphic message, he had
been at the Paddington Station at 6.30 that morning ; had
seen a young gentleman answering to the description sent to
him, asked if his name were Leonard AVard, and receiving a
reply in the affirmative, had informed him of the chai-ge, and
taken him into custody. The bag that he placed on the table
he had found on the young man's person.

Every one was startled at this unexpected corroboration of
the suspicion. It was a heavy looking bag, of reddish canvas,
marked with a black circle, containing the letters F. A. Gold ;
the neck tied with a string ; the contents were sovereigns,
and a note or two.

Dr. May looked piteously, despairingly, at Leonard; but
the brow was still open and unclouded, the eye glanced back
re-assurance and confidence.

The policeman added that he had cautioned the young man
to take care what he said, but that he had declared at once
that his uncle had sent him to lodge the sum in Drunimond's
Bank, and that he would show a receipt for it on his

The coroner then proceeded to examine Leonard, but still
as a witness. Edward Anderson spoke to him in an under
tone, advising him to be cautious, and not commit himself;
but Leonard, rather impatiently thanking him, shook him off,
and spoke "vvith freedom and openness.

" I have nothing to keep back," he said. " Of course I
know nothing of this frightful murder, nor what villain could


have got hold of the rifle, which, I am sorry to say, is really
mine. Last evening I used it at drill and practice on Blewer
Heath, and came home when it grew dusk, getting in at about
half-past nine. I was then told by Mrs. Giles that my uncle
wished to speak to me, and was displeased at my staying out
so late. I went into his room as I was, and put my rifle
down in a corner by the window, when he desired me to sit
down and listen to him. He then told me that he wished
to send me to town by the mail train, to take some cash to
Drummond's Bank, and to return by to-day's four o'clock
train. He said he had reasons for wishing no one to be aware
of his opening an account there, and he undertook to explain
my absence. He took the sum from the private drawer of
his desk, and made me count it before him, 124^. 12s. in
sovereigns and bank notes. The odd money he gave me for
my expenses, the rest I put in the bag that I fetched out of
the office. He could not hold a pen, and could therefore
give me no letter to Messrs. Drummond, but he made me
write a receipt for the amount in his memorandum book. I
wished him good-night, and left him still sitting in his easy
chair, with the window open and the bhnd down. I found
that I had forgotten my rifle, but I did not go back for it,
because he disliked the disturbance of opening and shutting
doors. While I was changing my dress, I saw fi'om the
window that some one was still about in the court, and know-
ing that my uncle wished me to avoid notice, I thought it
best to let myself out by the passage window, as I had some-
times done in early mornings to bathe or fish, and go across
the fields to Blewer Station. I got down into the garden,
crossed in the punt, and went slowly by Barnard's hatch ; I
believe I stopped a good many times, as it was too soon, and


a beautiful moonlight niglit, "but I came to Blewer soon after
twelve, and took my ticket. At Padclington I met this terrible

As the boy spoke, his bright eyes turned from one listener
to another, as though expecting to read satisfaction on their
faces ; but as doubt and disbelief clouded all, his looks
became almost constantly directed to Dr. May, and his voice
unconsciously passed from a sound of justification to one of
pleading. AYhen he ceased, he glanced round as if feeling
liis innocence established.

" You gave a receipt, ]\Ir. Ward," said the coroner. " TVill
you tell us where it is likely to be ?"

*' It must be either on or in my uncle's desk, or in his
pocket. Will some one look for if? I wrote it in his
memorandum book — a curious old black shagreen book, with
a silver clasp. I left it open on the desk to dry."

A policeman went to search for it ; and the coroner asked
what the entry had been.

"July 5th, 1860. Eeceived, 120/. L. A. Ward,"— was
the answer. " You will find it about the middle of the
book, or rather past it."

"At what time did this take place ?"

" It must have been towards ten. I cannot tell exactly,
but it was later than half-past nine when I came in, and he
was a good while bringing out the money."

The policeman returned, saying he could not find the
book ; and Leonard begging to show where he had left it,
the coroner and jury accompanied him to the room. At the
sight of the red stain on the desk, a shuddering came over
the boy, and a whiteness on his heated brow ; nor could he
at once recover himself so as to proceed -with the search,


wliicli was still in vain ; though with a voice lowered by the
sickness of horror, he pointed out the place where he had
laid it, and the pen he had used ; and desk, table, drawer,
and the dead man's dress were carefully examined.

" You must know it, Sam," said Leonard. " Don't you
remember his putting in the cheque — old Bilson's cheque
for his year's rent — twenty-five pounds 1 I brought it in,
and he put it away one day last week. You were sitting

Sam stammered something of " Yes ; he did recollect
something of it."

Inquiries were made of the other persons concerned with
Mr. Axworth}^ Hardy thought his master used such a
book, but had never seen it near ; Mrs. Giles altogether
disbelieved its existence ; and Sam could not be positive
— his uncle never allowed any one to touch his private

As, with deepened anxiety, Dr. May returned to the
dining-room, he caught a glimpse of Henry Ward's de-
sponding face, but received a sign not to disclose his presence.
Edward Anderson wrote, and considered ; and the coroner,
looking at his notes again, recui'red to Leonard's statement
that he had seen some one in the yard.

" I thought it was one of the men waiting to take my
cousin Axworthy's horse. I did not know whether he had
ridden or gone by train ; and I supposed that some one
would be looking out for him."

Questions were asked whether any of the servants had
been in the yard, but it was denied by all ; and on a more
particular description of the person being demanded, Leonard
replied that the figure had been in the dark shade of the

THE TEL\L. 253

stables, and that he only knew that it was a young man —
whether a stranger or not he did not know ; he supposed
now that it must have been the — the murderer, but at the
time he had thought it one of the stable men ; and as his
uncle had particularly ^vished that his journey should be a
secret, the sight had only made him hasten to put out his
light, and depart unseen. It was most unfortunate that he
had done so.

Others ironically whispered, " Most unfortunate."

The coroner asked ^Nlr. Anderson whether he had any-
thing to ask or observe ; and on his reply in the negative,
proceeded to sum up the evidence for the consideration of
the jury.

It seemed as if it were only here that Leonard perceived
the real gist of the evidence. His brow grew hotter, his
eyes indignant, his hands clenched, as if he with difficulty
restrained himself from breaking in on the coroner's speech ;
and when at length the question was put to the jury, he
stood, the colour fading from his cheek, his eyes set and
glassy, his lip fallen, the dew breaking out on his brow,
every limb as it were petrified by the shock of what was
thus first fully revealed to him.

So he stood, while the jury deliberated in low gruff
sorrowful murmurs ; and after a few minutes, turned round
to announce with much sadness that they could do no
otherwise than return a verdict of wilful murder against
Leonard Ward.

" Mr. Leonard Ward," said the coroner, a gentleman who
had well known his father, and who spoke with scarcely
concealed emotion, " it becomes my painful duty to commit
you to "\Miitford Gaol for trial at the next assizes."


Dr. May eagerly offered bail, rather as the readiest form
of kindness than in the hope of its acceptance, and it was of
course refused ; but he made his way to the prisoner, and
wrung his chill hand with all his might. The pressure
seemed to waken the poor lad from his frozen rigidit}'- ; the
warmth came flowing back into his fingers as his friend held
them ; he raised his head, shut and re-opened his eyes, and
pushed back his hair, as though trying to shake himself loose
from a too horrible dream. His face softened and quivered
as he met the doctor's kind eyes ; but bracing himself again,
he looked up, answered the coroner's question — that his
Christian name was Leonard Axworthy, his age within a few
weeks of eighteen ; and asked permission to fetch what he
should want from his room.

The policeman, in whose charge he was, consented both to
this, and to Dr. May being there alone with him for a short

Then it was that the boy relaxed the strain on his features,
and said in a low and strangled voice, " Dr. May, if you
had only let me die with them last year ! "

" It was not I who saved you. He who sent that ordeal,
will bring you through — this," said Dr. May, with a great sob
in his throat that belied his words of cheer.

" I thank Him at least for having taken her," said Leonard,
resting his head on the mantel-shelf beneath his mother's
picture, while his little dog sat at his foot, looking up at him,
cowed and wistful.

Dr. May strove for words of comfort, but broke utterly
down ; and could only cover his face with bis hands, and
struggle with his emotion, unable to utter a word.

Yet perhaps none would have been so comforting as his


genuine sympathy, although it was in a voice of extreme
distress that Leonard exclaimed, " Dr. May, Dr. ^Nlay, pray
don't ! you ought not to grieve for me ! "

" I'm a fool," said Dr. May, after some space, fighting
hard with himself. " Nonsense ! we shall see you out of
this ! "We have only to keep up a good heart, and we shall
see it explained."

" I don't know ; I can't understand," said Leonard, passing
his hand over his weary forehead. " ^^hy could they not
beheve when I told them just how it was ?"

At that moment the policeman opened the door, saying,
" Here, Sir ; " and Henry hurried in, pale and breathless, not
looking in his brother's face, as he spoke fast and low.

" Xed Anderson says there's nothing at all to be made of
this defence of yours ; it is of no use to try it. The only
thing is to own that he found fault with you, and in one of
your rages — you know — "

"You too, Henry !" said Leonard, in dejected reproach.

"Why — why, it is impossible it could have been other-
wise — open window, absconding, and all. We all know you
never meant it ; but your story won't stand ; and the only
chance, Anderson says, is to go in for manslaughter. K you
could only tell anything that would give him a clue to pick
up evidence while the people are on the spot."

Leonard's face was convulsed for a moment while his
brother was speaking ; but he recovered calmness of voice,
as he mournfully answered, "I have no right to wonder at
your suspicion of me."

Henry for the first time really looked at him, and in-
stinctively faltered, " I beg your pardon."

" Lideed," said Leonard with the same subdued manner,


" I cannot believe that any provocation could make me strike
a person like that old man ; and here there was none at all.
Except that he was vexed at first a^- my being late, he had
never been so near kindness."

" Then is this extraordinary^ story the truth ?"

" Why should I not tell the truth 1 " was the answer, too
mournful for indignation.

Henry again cast down his eyes, Leonard moved about
making preparations, Dr. May leant against the wall — all too
much oppressed for speech ; till, as Leonard stooped, poor
little Mab, thrusting her black head into his hand, drew from
him the words, " My doggie, what is to become of you ?"

A sort of hoarse explosion of "Ave" from Henry was
simultaneous with the doctor's "I tried to get her home
with me in the morning, but she waited your orders."

"IMiss May would not liave her now. After all, prussic
acid would be the truest mercy," said Leonard, holding the
little creature up to his face, and laying his cheek against her
silken coat with almost passionate affection.

" iSTot while there are those who trust your word, Leonard ;
as Ethel said this morning."

He raised the face which he had hidden against the dog,
and looked earnestly at the doctor as if hardly venturing to
understand him ; then a ray of real gladness and comfort
darted into his eyes, which so enlivened Dr. May, that he
was able to say cheerfully, " We will take good care of her
till you come for her."

" Then, Henry," said Leonard, *' it is not unkindness, nor
that I remember things, but indeed I think it will be better
for you all, since Dr. May is so — so — " The word kind was
so inadequate, that it stuck in liis throat. "Take this to


Ave," putting his motlier's likeness in his hand, " and tell
her I wiU write."

" Poor Ave ! "

Leonard imploringly shook his head; the mention of his sister
shook him more than he could bear ; and he asked the time.

" Xearly six."

*' Only six ! 'V\"hat an endless day ! There, I am ready.
There is no use in delaying. I suppose I must show what
I am taking with me."

"Wait," said his brother. "Cannot you say anything to
put us on the track of the man in the yard ? "

" I did not see him plain/'

"You've no notion?" said Henry, with a movement of

" "No I only looked for a moment ; for I was much more
anxious to get off quietly, than to make any one out. If I
had only waited ten minutes, it might have been the saving
of his life ; but my commission was so like fun, and so im-
portant too, that I thought of nothing else. Can it be not
twenty-four hours ago ?"

" And why don't you explain why he sent you ? "

" I cannot say it so certainly as to be of the slightest use,"
said Leonard. " He never expressed it either j and I have
no right to talk of my suspicions."

" Eh ! was it to put it out of Sam's way 1 "

" So I suppose. Sam used to get all he chose out of the
poor old man ; and I believe he thought this the only chance
of keeping anything for himself; but he never told me so.
Stay ! Bilson's cheque might be tracked. I took it myself,
and g^ive the receipt ; you will find it entered in the books
— paid on either the twenty -third or fourth,"

VOL. I. s


" Then there's something to do, at any rate," cried Henry,
invigorated. " Anderson shall hunt out the balance and
Sam's draughts on it. I'll spare no expense, Leonard, if it
is to my last farthing ; and you shall have the best counsel
that can be retained."

Leonard signed thanks with some heartiness, and was
going to the door, when Henry detained him. "Tell me,
Leonard, have you no suspicion ? "

" It must have been the person I saw in the court, and,
like a fool, did not watch. The window was open, and he
could have easily got in and come out. Can't they see that
if it had been me, I should have made off at once that way 1 "

" If you could only tell what the fellow was like ! "

*' I told you he was in the dark," said Leonard ; and with-
out giving time for more, he called in the man outside,
showed the clothes and books he had selected, put them
into his bag, and declared himseK ready, giving his hand to
the doctor, who drew him near and kissed his brow, as if he
had been Harry setting forth on a voyage.

" Good-bye, my dear fellow ; God bless you ; I'll soon
come to see you."

" And I," said Henry, " will bring Bramshaw to see what
is to be done."

Leonard wrung his brother's hand, murmuring something
of love to his sisters ; then put Mab into Dr. May's arms,
with injunctions that the little creature understood and
obeyed, for though trembling and whining under her breath,
she was not resisting.

It might be to shorten her distress as well as his own that
Leonard passed quickly down-stairs, and entered the carriage
that was to take him to the county gaol.



" Tears are not always fruitfal ; their hot drops

Sometimes but scorch the cheek and dim the eye
Despairing murmurs over blackened hopes,

Not the meek spirit's calm and chastened cry.
Oh, better not to weep, than weep amiss I

For hard it is to learn to weep aright ;
To weep wise tears, the tears that heal and bless,

The tears which their own bitterness requite."


To one of the most tender-hearted of human beings had the
office of conveying ill tidings been most often committed,
and again Dr. May found himself compelled to precede
Henry Ward into the sister's presence, and to break to her
the result of the inquest.

He was no believer in the efficacy of broken news, but he
could not refuse when Henry in his ^^Tetchedness entreated
not to be the first in the infliction of such agony ; so he left
the carriage outside, and walked up to the door ; and there
stood Averil, with Ethel a few steps behind her. His
presence was enough revelation. Had tilings gone well, he
would not have been the forerunner ; and Averil, meaning
perhaps to speak, gave a hoarse hysterical shriek, so frightful
as to drive away other anxieties, and summon Henry in from
his watch outside.



All day the poor girl liad kept up an imnatural strain on
her powers, vehemently talking of other things, and, with
burning cheeks and shining eyes, moving incessantly from
one employment to another ; now her needle, now her pencil
— roaming round the garden gathering flowers, or playing
rattling polkas that half stunned Ethel in her intense listen-
ing for tidings. Ethel, who had relieved guard and sent
Mary home in the afternoon, had vainly striven to make Ave
rest or take food ; the attempt had brought on such choking,
that she could only desist, and wait for the crisis. The
attack was worse than any ordinary hysterics, almost amount-
ing to convulsions ; and all that could be done was to
prevent her from hurting herself, and try to believe Dr. Ma;y''s
assurance that there was no real cause for alarm, and that the
paroxysms would exhaust themselves.

In time they were spent, and Ave lay on her bed half
torpid, feebly moaning, but with an instiactive dread of
being disturbed. Henry anxiously watched over her, and
Dr. May thought it best to leave the brother and sister to
one another. Absolute quiet was best for her, and he had
skill and tenderness enough to deal with her, and was evi-
dently somewhat relieved by the necessity of waiting on her.
It was the best means, perhaps, of uniting them, that they
should be thus left together; and Dr. May would have
taken home little pale frightened !Minna, who had been very
helpful all the time.

" Oh, please not. Dr. May," she said, earnestly. " Indeed
I will not be troublesome, and I can give Henry his tea, and
carry Ave's cup. Please, Henry, don't send me :" and she
took hold of his hand, and laid it against her cheek. He
bent down over her, and fondled her ; and there were tears


that he could not hide as he tried both to thank Dr. May,
and tell her that she need not leave him.

" No," said Dr. May ; "it would be cruel to both of you.
— Good-bye, little Minna ; I never wanted to carry away a
little comforter."

" I believe you are right, papa," said Ethel, as she went
out with him to the carriage ; " but I long to stay, it is like
doing something for that boy."

" The best you did for liim, poor dear boy ! was the saying

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 21)