A.G. Riddle.

Bart Ridgeley A Story of Northern Ohio online

. (page 19 of 22)
Online LibraryA.G. RiddleBart Ridgeley A Story of Northern Ohio → online text (page 19 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and worn, he must lie down and die. He had called after her until
his voice had sunk to a wail; and he finally died of a child's
heart-broken sense of abandonment and desertion.

"He was found one day, nearly unconscious, with the tears frozen in
his eyes, and on being cared for, wailed his life out in broken sobs.

"Let us not grieve that he has found rest.

"I am too sad to write of other things, and you will be melancholy
over this for a month.

"CASE."




CHAPTER XLV.

SOME THINGS PUT AT REST.


At the January term of the Court, the case of Ohio _vs._ Myers, came
up; and the defendant failing on his motion to continue, the case was
brought on for trial, and a jury was sworn. His principal counsel was
Bissell, of Painesville, a man of great native force and talent, and
who in a desperate stand-up fight, had no superior at that time in
Northern Ohio. He expected to exclude the confession, on the ground
that Myers had been induced to make it upon representations that it
would be for his advantage to do so; and if this could be got out of
the way, he was not without the hope of finding the other evidence of
the State too weak to work a conviction.

The interest in the case had not abated, and a great throng of people
were in attendance.

Hitchcock, with whom Henry Ridgeley was in company at the time of his
death, then an able lawyer, was the prosecuting officer, aided by the
younger Wilder, who had succeeded Henry as his partner.

Wilder was a young lawyer of great promise, and was the active man in
the criminal cases.

He stated the case to the court and jury, saying among other things,
that he would not only prove the larceny by ordinary evidence, but
by the confession of the prisoner himself. Bissell dropped his heavy
brows, and remarked in his seat, "that he would have a good time doing
that."

Wilder called one of the officers who made the arrest, proved that
fact, and then asked him the plump question, in a way to avoid
a leading form, whether the prisoner made a confession? Bissell
objected, on the ground that before he could answer, the defendant
had a right to know whether he was induced to make it, by any
representations from the witness or others.

Wilder answered, that it did not yet appear that a confession had been
made. If it should be shown that one had, it would be then time to
discuss its admissibility; and so the court ruled; and the witness
answered that Myers did make a full confession. Wilder directed him
to state it, Bissell again objected, and although Wilder urged that he
had a right to go through with his witness, and leave the other side
to call out the inducement, if any, on cross-examination, the court
ruled that the circumstances under which the confession was made was
a preliminary matter that the defendant had a right to show. When the
witness answered to Bissell, that he told Myers after his arrest that
they knew all about the larceny, but did not know who his accomplices
were, and that if he would tell all about them he would undoubtedly
be favored; and that then the defendant told his story. Upon this
statement, Wilder cross-examined the witness, and managed to extract
several items of the confession, when the court held that the
confession was inadmissible.

Myers drew a breath of relief, but Bissell's brow did not clear. He
knew that the State had gained all it expected to; it had proved
that a confession was made, which was about as bad as the confession
itself. Under this cloud, Wilder called his other evidence, which of
itself, was very inconclusive, and which, with the added weight that a
confession had been made, left much uncertainty as to the result, and
Bissell was girding himself for the final struggle. Wilder then
called the name of John T. Greer - when the head of Myers dropped, and
midnight fell upon the brow of Bissell.

Placidly and serenely, that gentleman answered the call, and took the
stand - seemingly the only unconcerned gentleman present. He said that
he knew Myers well - had known him for years; that on the morning
after the larceny, he saw him and another man, at McMillan's, near
Youngstown; that they brought with them a pair of horses, which he
described exactly as the stolen horses, and that Myers told him they
got them the night before, at Conant's barn in Troy; that he denounced
Myers to his face as a horse thief, and threatened to expose him.

This evidence produced a prodigious sensation. Bissell put the witness
through a savage cross-examination. In answer to the questions, he
said that Myers and himself, and others, belonged to an association,
of which Jim Brown was the head, for manufacturing paper currency and
coin, and supplying it at various points; had never passed a dollar
himself; that he broke with Myers because he was a thief, and no
gentleman; that the association had never had any connection with
running off horses, &c.

"To whom did you first disclose this act of Myers?"

"To a young lawyer at Jefferson, in his private room."

"Who was he?"

"Barton Ridgeley." Great sensation, and men looked at one another.

"Did he belong to your financial association?"

"Never!" Sensation.

"Why did you go to him?"

"I had a little acquaintance with him, and had great confidence in
him. I wanted to consult somebody, and I went to him." He went on to
say that he consulted him as a lawyer and not as a friend; that when
he told Ridgeley of the association, which was drawn out of him by a
cross-examination, Ridgeley told him at once, that while he would
not use this against the witness, he certainly would against his
associates. That soon after Mr. Wade came in, and he found out that
Ridgeley had managed to send for him. That Ridgeley then insisted
that he should tell the whole story to Mr. Wade, and he did. That Wade
called in a United States Deputy Marshal, and induced the witness to
make an affidavit, when the Marshal went to Columbus, got warrants,
and arrested Brown and others.

He was asked what fee he paid young Ridgeley, and he answered,
nothing. He offered him a liberal fee, and he refused it. He
understood Ridgeley had gone East, but did not know; nor who furnished
him with money.

The prosecution rested.

Wade was present, and Bissell called him; and in answer to Wilder,
said he proposed to contradict Greer. Wilder replied, that although
he was not entitled to such a privilege, yet he had no objection; and
Wade, in the most emphatic way, corroborated Greer throughout. He said
that Ridgeley was at that time at the Albany law-school, and would
soon be back to answer for himself; and when asked if he was not poor,
answered, that friends always came to such young men, with a glance at
the bench, where Markham sat with Humphrey. The perfect desperation of
his case alone warranted Bissell in calling Wade, with whose testimony
the trial closed; and on the verdict of guilty, Myers was sentenced
to the Penitentiary for ten years. And for the third or fourth time
Barton's acquaintances were disposed to regard him as a hero.




CHAPTER XLVI.

PRINCE ARTHUR.


It was not in nature, particularly in young man-nature, that such a
creature as Julia should ripen into womanhood without lovers. In her
little circle of Newbury, boys and girls loved her much alike, and
with few shades of difference on account of sex. No youth of them
dreamed of becoming her suitor; not even Barton, whom I have sketched
in vain, if it is not apparent that it would not have been over
presumption in him, to dream of anything.

Of the numerous, and more or less accomplished young men from
other places, who had met and admired her, two had somewhat singled
themselves out, as her admirers, both of whom, I fear, had a good way
passed the pleasant, though dangerous, line of admiration.

Young King, of Ravenna, a frank, handsome, high-spirited youth, had
for a long time been at no pains to conceal his partiality; so far
from that, he had sought many occasions to evince in a modest, manly
way, his devotion. His observing sister, Julia's warm and admiring
friend, had in vain looked wise, lifted her finger, and shaken her
warning head at him. He would inevitably have committed himself,
had not the high-souled and generous Julia, by her frank, ingenuous
woman's way with him, made him see and feel in time the uselessness of
a more ardent pursuit; and so content himself with the real luxury of
her friendship. The peril to him was great, and if for a time he was
not unhappy, he had a grave and serious mood, that lasted many months.
She had a real woman's warm, unselfish friendship for him, which
has much of the sweetness and all the purity and unselfishness of a
sister's love; and all unconscious as she seemed, that he could wish
for more or other, she succeeded in placing him in the position of a
devoted and trusted friend.

Thorndyke, the fourth or fifth of aristocratic generations, of a good
old colonial strain, elegant to a fault, and refined to uselessness,
of tastes and pursuits that took him out of the ordinary atmosphere;
languid more for the want of a spur, than from lack of nerve and
ability; and unambitious for want of an object, rather than from want
of power to climb, was really smothered by the softness and luxury of
his surroundings, rather than reduced by the poverty and feebleness of
his nature; had really the elements of manly strength and elevation,
and had misfortune or poverty fallen upon him, early, he would
undoubtedly have developed into a man of the higher type, like the
first generations of his family.

Like every man he was struck as much as he could be, with Julia, and
when he saw her in the rudeness of pioneer surroundings, he began
by pitying her, and finally ended by pitying himself. When it first
occurred to him to carry her out of the woods, to the actual world,
and real human life, he was not a little surprised. She was not born
in Boston, nor did her father's family date back to the flood, but her
mother's did. Indeed, that came over with it.

In revolving this grave matter, the only factors to be considered,
were Mr. Thorndyke's own judgment, taste and inclinations, and Julia
has matured in these pages, to a small purpose, or Mr. T. was much
less a man than I have supposed, if these parties should not finally
unite in consenting to the alliance. Of course, Miss Julia could be
had, both of herself and parents, for the asking. But his fastidious
notions could alone be satisfied with a gentlemanly course of
gradually warming and more devoted attentions, with all the forms and
observances, so far as the disadvantages of her surroundings would
permit. It was some time in the last summer, that he had made up a
definite judgment in the premises under which he commenced his lambent
action. During the autumn he often met King at her father's, and the
young men occasionally made up small parties with Julia and Nell or
some other young ladies for rides and excursions. Towards winter, King
was less at Newbury; and as winter approached, Mr. Thorndyke seemed
left to monopolize the time and society of Julia. So gracious, frank
and open was her invariable manner to him, that he could not for a
moment doubt that after a gentlemanly lapse of time, and a course of
rides, calls, walks and teas, he might in his own way dispose of the
matter.

His splendid gray, "West Wind," was no mean companion for Prince, and
many a gallop they had together, and Thorndyke was a gentlemanly rider
and drove well, and during the winter he often drove Julia out in a
single sleigh.

In a moment of weakness it occurred to him that West Wind and Prince
would go well in double harness, and he proposed to Julia to match
them for a drive.

"What!" exclaimed that young lady, "put Prince in harness? make a
draught horse of him?"

"With West Wind - certainly. Why not?"

"Because I don't choose it. There is but one man in the world who
shall drive Prince, and I am sure he will not want to."

"I presume Judge Markham don't care to drive him?"

"I presume he don't;" laughing and blushing.

That was the end of that, and not overly pleasing to the gentleman. It
was apparent, that she was disinclined to match the horses.

And March was coming, and Julia was sweet and arch and gracious, and
at times as he came to know her better, he thought a little grave and
pensive. This was certainly a good sign; and somehow, he found himself
now often watching and calculating the signs, and somehow again they
did not seem to deepen or change, or indicate much. He could not on
the whole convince himself that he had made much progress, except that
he should ask her at some time and she would accept him, and he
was certainly approaching that time. The matter in hand had become
absorbing - very: and he knew he was very much interested in it; and
the laugh of the beautiful girl was as rich, musical and gay as ever,
though he some how fancied, that it was a little less frequent; and
once or twice something had been dropped about some day early in
April, at which there was a little flutter in Julia. What could it be?
did she think he was slow? He would speak, and put an end to it. But
he didn't, and somehow he could not. He might do it any day; but did
not. At any event, before that April, something should be asked and
answered - but how answered?

The sleigh was left under cover, the roads hardened in the March sun
and wind, and several horseback excursions had been made. Toward the
close of the month, on their return one day, Thorndyke, who had been
unusually silent, suddenly asked Julia if she would be at leisure
that evening, at about eight; and might he call? She answered that she
would be at home, and as he knew, he was quite at liberty to call. He
said that he had something quite particular which he wished to say to
her, and that of course she must know what it was.

"Indeed! If I must know what it is, you must, by the same rule, know
what I will say in reply. Let us consider the thing said and answered,
and then your business call can be one of pleasure."

"I had hoped that it might possibly be one of pleasure."

The girl, looked grave for a moment, and then turning in her best
manner to her escort -

"Mr. Thorndyke, I think I had better tell you the little story of my
horse. If we ride slow, I will have time before we reach the gate."
With a little increase of color, "It is not much of a story, but you
may see a little moral in it."

"Certainly, I shall be glad to hear it. No doubt it will interest me."

"You see his name is Prince."

"I hear that is his name."

"You will see presently that is not his whole name."

"Silvertail?"

"Silver-sticks! Please attend, sir. His name is Prince Arthur."

"Named after a gentleman who lived a few years ago; who dined off 'a
table round,' and who was thought to be unfortunate in his lady."

"No, sir. He was named for a man who may have been called after that
personage; and whose life shows that the old legend may have been
true, and this Arthur is not unfortunate in his lady," with a
softening voice, and deepening blush on her averted face.

"Have you never heard the story of the lost girl? who less than a year
ago, bewildered and distracted, wandered away into the endless woods,
in the night, mid darkness and storm; and who, o'ercome with fright
and weariness and cold, lay down to die, and was covered over with
snow; and that a young man with strength and courage, was conducted by
God to her rescue, and carried her over an icy stream, and revived and
restored her to her father and mother. Did you ever hear of that?" Her
voice was low, deep, and earnest. He bowed.

"My father gave him this horse, and he gave him to me, and I gave him
that young man's name. Prince is a prince among horses, and that youth
is a prince among men," proudly, and with increasing color.

"I thought that young man's name was Bart Ridgeley," very much
disgusted.

"Arthur Barton Ridgeley. Prince bears his first name, and he bears
me;" lowering her voice and turning away.

"A very pleasant arrangement, no doubt," querulously.

"Very pleasant to me," very sweetly.

"It seems to me I have heard something else about this Arthur Barton
Ridgeley, Esq.; and not quite so much to his credit." Oh dear! But
then he was hardly responsible.

"I presume you have. And you heard it with the same ears with which
you hear everything disconnected with your precious self. Were their
acuteness equal to their length, you would also have heard, that in
this, as in everything else, he was true and noble." The voice was
shaken a little by two or three emotions, and tears sprang to her eyes
and dried there.

When Thorndyke recovered, they had reached Judge Markham's gate; and
springing unaided from her saddle, Julia turned to him with all her
grace and graciousness fully restored.

"Many thanks for your escort, Mr. Thorndyke. I shall expect you at
eight."

At about that hour, a boy from Parker's brought her the following
note:

"THURSDAY EVENING.

"_Miss Markham_: - Pardon, if you can, my rudeness of this afternoon.
Kindly remember the severity of my punishment. Believe me capable of
appreciating a heroic act; and the womanly devotion that can alone
reward it. From my heart, I congratulate you.

"With the profoundest respect.

"W. THORNDYKE."

As she read, a softer light, almost a mist, came into the eyes of the
young girl.

"I fear I have done this man a real injustice."




CHAPTER XLVII.

THE TRIAL


The March term of the Court at Chardon was at the beginning of its
third and last week. The important case in ejectment of Fisk _vs_.
Cole, was reached at the commencement of the second, and laid over for
the absence of defendant's counsel. This directly involved the title
of Cole to his land; a title that had been loosely talked about, and
generally supposed to be bad.

In the fall of 1837, a stranger by the name of Fisk appeared in the
country, placed a deed of the land in question on record; gave Cole
notice to quit, commenced his suit, and leisurely proceeded to take
his evidence in Conn, and Mass., and get ready for the trial. Bart's
trial of Coles's first case had rendered the latter an object of
interest; and it was generally felt that the new case was one of great
oppression and hardship; and popular opinion and sympathy were wholly
with Cole, and all the more so, as the impression was that he would
lose his land.

The people of Newbury, however, really believed that if Bart would
return and take the case in hand, in some way, he would win it; but
the Court had commenced, the case was called, and he still lingered in
the East. In the spring before he left Newbury, he had spent much time
in examining the case, looking up the witnesses, and with such aid as
his brother, the Colonel, could give, their names had been obtained
and they were all subpoenaed to attend. Among them were two or three
old hunters and soldiers, on the Western frontier.

Ford was in the case, and had made up the issue, and at the trial,
Bart had intended to secure the aid of Wade or Hitchcock. Except
himself, no one knew much of the case, and none had confidence that
Cole would prevail in the trial, and a general feeling of despondency
prevailed as to his prospect. On the afternoon of the third Monday,
Bart reached Chardon, from Albany, secured a room, assembled his
witnesses, talked up the matter with the old hunters, and by his
quiet, modest confidence, and quick, ready knowledge of all the
details, he at once put a new aspect upon the defence. Wade was also
in Chardon, and on that evening, Bart laid his programme before him
and Ford, who were not more than half convinced, and it was arranged
that Bart should go forward with the case, to be backed and sustained
by his seniors.

On the next morning he made his first appearance in Court, and in
person, air and manner, he had become one to arrest attention, in a
crowd, such as thronged the court room; and when his name transpired,
he was at once identified as a prominent person in the detection and
arrest of Brown & Co., whose name had become widely known; and men
scanned him with unusual interest. Some noticed and commented upon the
brown moustache, that shaded the rather too soft and bland mouth; and
observed the elegant tone of his dress, which, when it was examined,
resolved itself rather into the way his clothes were worn. Ford
introduced him to the lawyers present, with whom his quiet, modest
manner deepened the impression made by his person. As he took his
seat, his eye fully met the eager gaze of Judge Markham, from the
bench. Bart felt the earnest, anxious look of the Judge, and the Judge
thought he saw a shadow of sadness in the frank eyes of Bart.

A case on trial ran until late in the afternoon, when Fisk _vs_. Cole
was called, was ready, and a jury sworn. Mr. Kelly, of Cleveland,
appeared for the plaintiff, a very accomplished lawyer and a courteous
gentleman. He produced the record of the old Conn. Land Co., an
allotment and map of the lands showing that the tract in dispute was
originally the property of one John Williams. He then made proof of
the death of Williams, and that certain parties were his heirs-at-law;
and produced and proved a deed from these to the plaintiff. This made
what lawyers call a paper title, when the plaintiff rested his case.

For the defendant, Barton said he would produce and prove a deed
from John Williams, junior, only child of Williams, mentioned by the
plaintiff, to the defendant, directly, dated January, 1816, under
which he took possession of the land in January, 1817; and that he
also found a man in possession of the premises, who had possessed and
claimed the land for years, and whose right he purchased. It would
thus appear, whatever might be said of his written title, that he had
complete right by possession, adverse to the plaintiff, for twenty
years.

"You will do well if you sustain that claim," said Kelly,
incredulously.

"I shall labor for your commendation," was Bart's pleasant reply.

The deed was proven, as well as the relationship of John and John,
Jr. Bart also produced a book of the Probate records of Geauga County,
which he said contained a record of the administration of one Hiram
Fowler, which he might want to refer to, for a date, thereafter, and
if the Court would permit, he would refer to, if it became necessary.
He wished the record to be considered in evidence, for what it was
competent to prove.

"Certainly," from the Court, who made a note of it.

He then proved that Cole left Massachusetts early in the spring of
1817, but failed to show when he reached Ohio, whether in 1817, or
1818. One man remembered to have seen Hiram Fowler at work for him
on a tree fence, along the back line of it, during the summer of his
arrival on the land. He also made proof, that at a very early day,
tree fences were about at least three sides of the land, thus forming
a cattle range, and evidencing possession and occupancy. He then
called McConough, of Bainbridge, and men bent eagerly forward to
gaze at the old Indian hunter, who had been a sharp-shooter on the
ill-fated "Lawrence," in Perry's sea fight, off Put-in-Bay, and who
was also with Gen. Harrison at the Thames; a quiet, compact, athletic,
swarthy man, a little dull and taciturn. He said he was first on the
ground in 1810 or 1811, and found a man by the name of Basil Windsor,
who lived in a small cabin by the spring, near which he had then two
small apple trees. He was there again, with John Harrington, in 1816.
They drove a herd of elk through an opening, into and through Basil's
yard, at the south side, and back into the woods north, until they
came to a tree fence, when they turned east, and were headed off by
another hedge, and the elk were too tired to get over; and there
in the angle they killed two or three, when it came on dark. That
Harrington lit a fire, staid by the slaughtered elk through the night,
to keep the wolves from devouring them, and that he, McConough, went
and staid with Basil. That Basil was a sort of hermit, who lived in
the woods and kept two or three cows. That on their way to Court a few
days ago, he and Harrington went to the premises of Cole, and found
his house near the old Basil spring, and that one of the apple trees
was still standing there. The other had been recently cut down.

Harrington, a still more celebrated hunter and pioneer, and who
furnished a good idea of old Leatherstocking, and who was with
Winchester at the battle of River Raisin, from which he escaped,
and was one of Harrison's scouts, had been often at Basil Windsor's.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22

Online LibraryA.G. RiddleBart Ridgeley A Story of Northern Ohio → online text (page 19 of 22)