Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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his native wai-mth.

" After all," said Leonard, recalled by his sympathy, " it
is my own fault from beginning to end that I am in this
case. I see now that it was only God's mercy that prevented

T 2


my brother's blood being on me, and it was my unrepenting
obstinacy that brought me to the mill ; so there will be no
real injustice in my dying, and I expect nothing else."

" Hush, Leonard ; depend upon it, while there is Justice
in Heaven, the true criminal cannot go free," cried the doctor,
much agitated.

Leonard shook his head.

" Boyish hastiness is not murder," added the doctor.

" So I thought. But it might have been, and I never
repented. I brought all this on myself ; and while I cannot
feel guiltless in God's sight, I cannot expect it to turn out

" Turn out well," repeated the doctor. " We want Ethel
to tell us that this very repentance and owning of the sin, is
turning out well — better than going on in it."

" I can see that," said Leonard. " I do hope that if — if I
can take this patiently, it may show I am sorry for the real
thing — and I may be forgiven. Oh ! I am glad prisoners are
not cut off from church."

Dr. May pressed his hand in much emotion ; and there
was a silence before another question — whether there were
nothing that could be of service.

" One chance there is, that Sam might relent enough to
put that receipt where it could be found without implicating
him. He must know what it would do for me."

" You are convinced that he has it 1 "

" There must be papers in the book valuable to him ; per-
haps some that he had rather were not seen. Most likely
he secured it in the morning. You remember he was there
before the police."

" Ay ! ay ! ay ! the scoundrel ! But, Leonard, what pos-


sessed you not to speak out at the inquest, when we might
liave searched every soul on the premises ? "

" I did not see it then. I was stunned by the horror of
the thing — the room where I had been so lately, and that
blood on my own rifle too. It was all I could do at one time
not to faint, and I had no notion they would not take my
explanation ; then, when I found it rejected, and everything
closing in on me, I was in a complete maze. It was not till
yesterday, when I was alone again, after having gone over
my defence with Mr. Bramshaw, and shown what I could
prove, that I saw exactly how it must have been, as clear as
a somnambulist. I sometimes could fancy I had seen Sam
listening at the window, and have to struggle not to think
I knew him under the stable wall."

" And you are not such a — such a — so absurd as to sacrifice
yourself to any scruple, and let the earth be cumbered with
a rascal who, if he be withholding the receipt, is committing
a second murder ! It is not generosity, it is suicide."

"It is not generosity," said the boy, "for if there were
any hope, that would not stop me ; but no one heard nor saw
but myself, and I neither recognised him — no, I did not — nor
heard anything definite from my uncle. Even if I had, no
one — no one but you, believes a word I speak ; na}", even my
own case shows what probabilities are worth, and that I may
be doing him the same wrong that I am suffering. I should
only bring on myself the shame and disgrace of accusing

The steady low voice and unboyish language showed him
to be speaking from reflection, not impulse. The only tre-
mulous moment was when he spoke of the one friend who
trusted him, and whom his words were filling with a


tumult of hope and alarm, admiration, indignation, and per-

" Well, well," the doctor said, almost stammering, " I am
glad you have been open with me. It may he a clue. Can
there be any excuse for overhauling his papers ? Or can't
we pick a hole in that alibi of his ? Xow I recollect, he
had it very pat, and unnecessarily prominent. I'll find some
way of going to work without compromising you. Yes, you
may trust me ! I'll watcli, but say not a word without your

" Thank you," said Leonard. " I am glad it is you — you
who would never think a vague hope of saving me better
than disgrace and dishonour."

*' We will save you," said the doctor, becoming eager to
escape to that favourite counsellor, the lining of his brougham,
which had inspired him with the right theory of many a
perplexing symptom, and he trusted would show him how
to defend without betraying Leonard. " I must go and see
about it. Is there anything I can do for you — books, or
anything ? "

"l!^o, thank you — except — I suppose there would be no
objection to my having a few finer steel pens." And to ex-
plain his wants, he took up his Prayer-book, which his sister
had decorated with several small devotional prints. Copying
these minutely line by line in pen and ink, was the solace
of his prison hours ; and though the work was hardly after
drawing-masters' rules, the hand was not untaught, and
there was talent and soul enough in the work to strike the

" It suits me best," said Leonard. " I should go distracted
with nothing to do ; and I can't read much — at least, not


common books. And my sisters may like to have them.
AVill you let me do one for you 1 "

The speaking expression of those hazel eyes almost over-
came the doctor, and his answer was by bending head and
grasping hand. Leonard turned to the Collects, and mutely
opened at the print of the Son of Consolation, which he had
already outlined, looked up at his friend, and turned aw^ay,
only saying, " Two or three of the sort "with elastic nibs ;
they have them at the post-office."

" Yes, I'll take care," said Dr. May, afraid to trust his self-
command any longer. " Good-bye, Leonard. Tom says I
adopt every one who gets through a bad enough fever ; so
what will you be to me after this second attack ? "

The result of the doctor's consultation with his brougham
was his stopping it at Mr. Bramshaw's door, to ascertain
whether the search for the receipt had extended to young Ax-
worthy's papers ; but he found that they had been thoroughly
examined, every facility having been given by their owner,
who was his uncle's executor, and residuary legatee, by a will
dated five years back, leaving a thousand pounds to the late
]\Irs. Ward, and a few other legacies, but the mass of the
property to the nephew.

Sam's " facilities " not satisfying the doctor, it was further
explained that every endeavour was being made to discover
what other documents were likely to have been kept in the
missing memorandum-book, so as to lead to the detection of
any person who might present any such at a bank ; and it
was made evident that everything was being done, short of
the impracticabihty of searching an unaccused man, but he
could not but perceive that ^Ir. Bramshaw's " ifs " indicated
great doubt of the existence of receipt and of pocket-book.


Throwing out a hint that the time of Sam's return should be
investigated, he learnt that this had been Edward Anderson's
first measure, and that it was clear, from the independent
testimony of the ostler at Whitford, the friend who had
driven Sam, and the landlord of the Three Goblets, that
there was not more than time for the return exactly as
described at the inquest ; and though the horse was swift
and poAverful, and might probably have been driven at
drunken speed, this was too entirely conjectural for anything
to be founded on it. K'or had the cheque by Bilson on the
AYhitford Bank come in.

" Something must assuredly happen to exonerate the guilt-
less, it would be profane to doubt," said Dr. May, continually
to himself and to the Wards ; but Leonard's secret was a
painful burthen that he could scarcely have borne without
sharing it with that daughter who was his other self, and
well proved to be a safe repository.

" That's my Leonard," said Ethel. " I know him much
better now than any time since the elf-bolt affair ! They
have not managed to ruin him among them."

" 'Ulial do you call this ? " said Dr. IMay, understanding
her, indeed, but willing to hear her thought expressed.

" Thankworthy," she answered, with a twitching of the
comers of her mouth.

" You will suffer for this exaltation" he said, sadly ; " you
know you have a tender heart, for all your flights." ^

" And you know you have a soul as well as a heart," said
Ethel, as well as the swelling in her throat would allow.

" To be sure, this world would be a poor place to live in,
if admiration did not make pity bearable," said the doctor ;
" but — but don't ask me, Ethel : you have not had that fine


fellow in his manly patience before your eyes. Talk of your
knowing him ! You knew a boy ! I tell you, this has made
him a man, and one of a thousand — so high-minded and so
simple, so clear-headed and well-balanced, so entirely resigned
and free from bitterness ! What could he not be ? It would
be grievous to see him cut off by a direct dispensation — sick-
ness, accident, battle ; but for him to come to such an end,
for the sake of a double murderer — Ethel — it would almost
stagger one's faith ! "

" Almost ! " repeated Ethel, with the smile of a conqueror.

" I know, I know," said the doctor. " If it be so, it will
be right; one will try to believe it good for him. Nay,
there's proof enough in what it has done for him already. If
you could only see him ! "

" I mean to see him, if it should go against him," said
Ethel, " if you will let me. I would go to him as I would if
he were in a decline, and with more reverence."

" Don't talk of it," cried her father. " For truth's sake,
for justice's sake, for the country's sake, I can not, ivill not,
believe it will go wrong. There is a Providence, after all,

And the doctor went away, afraid alike of hope and
despondency; and Ethel thought of the bright young face, of
De Wilton, of Job, and of the martyrs ; and when she was
not encouraging Aubrey, or soothing Averil, her heart would
sink, and the tears that would not come would have been
very comfortable.

It was well for all that the assizes were so near that the
suspense was not long protracted ; for it told upon all con-
cerned. Leonard, when the doctor saw him again, was of
the same way of thinking, but his manner was more agitated ;


he could not sleep, or if he slept, the anticipations chased
away in the day-time revenged themselves in his dreams ;
and he was very unhappy, also, about his sister, whose illness
continued day after day. She was not acutely ill, but in a
constant state of low fever ; every faculty in the most painful
state of tension, convinced that she was quite able to get up
and go to Leonard, and that her detention was mere cruelty ;
and then, on trying to rise, refused by fainting. Her search-
ing questions and ardent eyes made it impossible to keep any
feature in the ease from her knowledge. Sleep was impossible
to her ; and once when Henry tried the effect of an anodyne,
it produced a semi-delirium, which made him heartily repent
of his independent measure. At all times she was talking —
nothing but the being left with a very stolid maid-servant
ever closed her lips ; and she so greatly resented being thus
treated, that the measure was seldom possible. Henry seldom
left her. He was convinced that Leonard's sentence would
be hers likewise, and he watched over her with the utmost
tenderness and patience with her fretfulness and wayward-
ness, never quitting her except on their brother's behalf,
when Ethel or Mary would take his place. Little Minna
was always to be found on her small chair by the bed-side, or
moving about like a mouse, sometimes whispering her one
note, "They can't hurt him, if he has not done it," and still
quietly working at the pair of slippers that had been begun
for his birthday present. Mary used to bring Ella, and take
them out walking in the least-frequented path ; but though
the little sisters kissed eagerly, and went fondly hand in
hand, they never were sorry to part : Ella's spirits oppressed
Minna, and Minna's depression vexed the more volatile sister ;
moreover, Minna always dreaded Mary's desire to carry her


away — as, poor child, she looked paler, and her eyes heavier
and darker, every day.

Xo one else, except, of course. Dr. May, was admitted.
Henry would not let his sister see Mr. Scudamore or ^Ir.
Wilmot, lest she should be excited ; and Averil's " Xo one "
was vehement as a defence against Mrs. Pugli or ]\[rs. Led-
wich, whom she suspected of wanting to see her, though she
never heard of more than their daily inquiries.

Mrs. Pugh was, in spite of her exclusion, the great autho-
rity with the neighbourhood for all the tidings of " the poor
Wards," of whom she talked ^\ the warmest commisera-
tion, relating every touching detail of their previous and
present history, and continually enduring the great shock of
meeting people in shops or in the streets, whom she knew to
be reporters or photographers. In fact, the catastrophe had
taken a strong hold on the public mind ; and " Murder of
an Uncle by his Xephew," " The Blewer Tragedy," figured
everywhere in the largest type ; newsboys on the railway
shouted, "To-day's paper — account of inquest;" and the
illustrated press sent down artists, whose three-legged cameras
stared in all directions, from the Yintry Mill to Bankside,
and who aimed at the school, the Minster, the volunteers,
and Dr. Hoxton himself. Tom advised Ethel to guard ^lab
carefully from appearing stuffed in the chamber of horrors at
Madame Tussaud's ; and the furniture at the mill would
have commanded any price. Xay, ]S[rs. Pugh was almost
certain she had seen one of the " horrid men " bargaininf?
with the local photographer for her own portrait, in her
weeds, and was resolved the interesting injury should never
be forgiven !

She really had the " trying scenes " of two interviews with


both Mr. Eramsliaw and the attorney from Whitford who was
getting up the prosecution, each having been told that she
was in possession of important intelligence. Mr. Bramshaw
was not sanguine as to what he might obtain from her, but
flattered her with the attempt, and ended by assuring her,
like his opponent, that there was no need to expose her to
the unpleasantness of appearing in court.

Aubrey was not to have the same relief, but was, like his
father, subpoenaed as a witness for the prosecution. He had
followed his father's advice, and took care not to disclose his
evidence to the enemy, as he regarded the Whitford lawyer.
He was very miserable, and it was as much for his sake
as that of the immediate family, that Ethel rejoiced that the
suspense was to be short.

Counsel of high reputation had been retained ; but as the
day came nearer, without bringing any of the disclosures on
which the doctor had so securely reckoned, more and more
stress was laid on the dislike to convict on circumstantial
evidence, and on the saying that the English law bad rather
acquit ten criminals than condemn one innocent man.



*' Ah ! 1 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. Ilo 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 remark-
able, 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 quies-
cence of his attitude.

Leonard Axworthy Ward was arraigned for the wilful
murder of Francis Axworthy, and asked whether he pleaded
Guilty or ^N'ot guilty.

His voice was earnest, distinct, and firm ; and his eyes
were raised upwards, as though he were making the plea
of "!N"ot guilty," not to man alone, but to the Judge of all
the earth.


The officer of the court informed him of his right to chal-
lenge 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
dovm 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 in 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 earned upon its
face the inference that the absence of the cousin, the remote-
ness 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 theu* 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

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 ofifice.

The counsel for the prisoner inquired what had been on
the table at Hardy's first entrance ; but to this the "witnes
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
Iklill, 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 respect-
ful and attentive, and that his uncle had lately thought much
more of him than at first.

Eebekah Giles gave her account of the scene in the sitting-
room. She had been in the sendee 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 ^vith Mr. Axwortliy 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 commimicatioii to the
prisoner at half -past nine, when she saw him go into the par-
lour, in his volunteer uniform, rifle in hand, heard him turn
the lock of the sitting-room door, and then herself retired to

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

Mr. Eankin'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.

"WTien 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 ^dsiting 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

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 21)