George Henry Jessop.

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Judge Lynch

A Romance

of the



Household Library, N. Y. No. 44. Vol. 4. July 8, 1889. Annual Subscription $30.00. Issued semi-weekly.
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BY ^







LONDON, HENRY J. DRANE, Lovell's Court, Paternoster Row



x>ft Library
7 2 O > 3


I take pleasure in thanking here Mr. Brander Matthews
for permission to use in this novel the characters and sit-
uations of a play written by us in collaboration.

G. H. J.



THERE was a puzzled, grieved expression on the
sheriff's face as he stepped forward and laid his hand on
the young man's shoulder.

" Jack Scott, you are my prisoner."

Jack started and shivered a little. Arrest on a charge
of murder is fortunately a rare experience, and of a kind
to shock the strongest nerves. But arrest at this time
and place meant something worse than suspicion, con-
finement, and the long suspense of a trial. The young
man knew this, and his mind grasped in a moment the
whole significance of the situation, with the lightning
speed of thought in moments of peril.

For this isolated little community of San Pablo, forty
miles from railroad or telegraph, cut off by the precipi-
tous coast range from the rest of California even from
the rest of its own county was a law unto itself. The
village nestled in a narrow plain ; on one side the
broad Pacific, on the other the mountains clothed on
their western slope with the clustered vines*. A peaceful
settlement, to all appearance, and yet robbery, violence,



murder itself had stained San Pablo's record. Since
Mr. Byrne's vineyard gang Italian laborers mostly-
had struck, the place had been in confusion. Quarrels,
assaults, bloodshed had become matters of nightly
occurrence. Sheriff Starkweather had come over from
San Antonio and had taken up his residence temporarily
at the San Pablo House, but even his presence seemed
to have little effect on the lawless element. And then
the citizens of San Pablo had met ; they had discussed
the situation and arrived at a conclusion. The laws
sliould be administered by a committee of themselves,
and all infractions thereof should be visited with the
same punishment death ! It was hard measure for
petty offenders, and yet the men could scarcely be
blamed for adopting it. Riot and assassination had dis-
figured their town; the crowd of swarthy loafers who
hung around its plaza and its bar-rooms were little
better than banditti, living on plunder and making small
account of human life. In local phrase San Pablo was
" a bad place to bluff." San Pablo refused to be bluffed.
San Pablo, in an emergency, could hold life as cheaply
as the worst " dago " that ever hoed a vine, and the next
man that committed a crime be the offender who he
might should swing for it.

All this Jack Scott knew. He had been present at the
meeting of the vigilance committee and had even vent-
ured to preach moderation not that he altogether
blamed the exasperation of the other men, but he was a
popular young fellow and highly esteemed in the place,
and he had felt it to be his duty to use such influence
as he possessed in behalf of law and order. As he
expected, his protest went for nothing. He found no


support. Mr. Byrne sided with him at first, but soon
withdrew when he found he was championing a hopeless
cause. The Hon. Pat Byrne was too good a politician
to vote with the minority.

And the committee had proved itself in deadly earnest.
When Juan Estudillo, having taken a glass too much, had
started in, revolver in hand, to clean out the office of
the Independent, Judge Boone, Tom Smith and half a
dozen others had acted promptly. Estudillo was seized
before he could fire a shot ; his explanation of his diffi-
culty with Field, the editor, was not even listened to, and
the poor Mexican was ridden out of town on a rail.
Only Jack Scott's prompt intercession saved him from
the additional discomfort of a coat of tar and feathers.
Juan was forced to back his wooden steed all the way to
his ranch three miles up the valley, and he had been
left at his own door with an emphatic caution that if he
dared to show his face in San Pablo for six months
worse was in store for him. Evidently the vigilance
committee meant business.

Jack reviewed the situation as Sheriff Starkweather's
heavy hand fell on his shoulder a hand that had never
before been put forth to him save in the friendly spirit of
hearty greeting; His face paled a little, but he only
drew back a step and bowed his head in acknowledg-
ment of the official authority. Then, as he raised his
eyes, he saw that the group around him was growing
every moment, and he caught the flutter of pretty sum-
mer dresses as two ladies came on through the trees and
paused in wonder at the unwonted gathering. A crimson
flush rose to the young man's pale cheeks and he looked
down again. It was hard that she should see him like this.


Lucy Starkweather was a handsome girl, tall, dark-
haired, dark-eyed, with a certain queenliness about her
that even the rough vineyard men and rancheros recog-
nized. Jack had recognized it long since, and perhaps
but for it he would have put in words the admiration with
which the dark eyes and bright face inspired him. Her
friends in San Antonio called her Lady Lucy, and Jack
Scott, with the winning diffidence of a young man in
love, thought that no one was worthy of her himself
least of all. And now she saw him arrested, arrested by
her own father. Jack noticed her start of astonishment
as she turned and said something to her companion. He
knew her too this pretty, fair-haired girl Lucy had
introduced him to her. She was a Miss Carrie
Van Zandt, an Eastern young lady who had been educated
at the same school in New York as Miss Lucy had
attended; and he stood, arrested for a brutal crime,
under the eyes of those two high-bred girls. It was ail
very hard to bear.

The Hon. Pat Byrne saw the ladies coming and
detached himself from the group to meet them. Now
they would hear it all. Jack strained his ears to try'and
catch the conversation, but the girls had stopped too far
off. He saw Mr. Byrne remove his tall hat the only
tall hat in San Antonio County and make a sweeping
bow as he approached them. Then the sheriff spoke to
his prisoner.

" You can sit down, Jack, if you want," he said kindly.
" I must stay till they get back up the gully with Dick."

" Sam Starkweather," said Jack, facing round on him.
" Do you believe that I shot Dick Morley ? "

" No," answered the sheriff, " I don't ; but that's


neither here nor there. With the proof that's in my
hand it's my duty to arrest you, and I've done it."

Jack said no more. He stepped forward at Mr.
Starkweather's side and peered into the gully. The
ground was rocky and broken. It was part of a deep
ravine that cut into the coast range ; and along it and
at the spot where it opened into the plain half a mile
below, straggled the village of San Pablo. The only
level piece of ground in the neighborhood was that on
which they were standing a little plateau of barely an
acre in extent, covered thickly with red dust, as was the
road which led from the town past it, through the ravine
and over the mountains toward San Antonio. The month
was September, but no rain had fallen yet, and all nature
was parched and dry after the long summer. A single
house was in sight, built on the little plain a kind of
general store kept by the man whose fate all San Pablo
was investigating. Just "behind the house there was an
immense rock partly earth covered and overgrown with
climbing plants, but bare and flat above. It was on top
of this that Morley had last been seen alive. The rock
overhung the gully, and from its summit there was a
-sheer drop of 100 feet or more into the abyss below.
From the level spot on which the men were gathered,
however, the descent was much easier and the depth not
so great. This gorge was to the right of the San Pablo
road, and continued close to it till the church was reached
a primitive wooden structure, which marked the limits
of the village proper, a quarter of a mile below. Beyond
the little clearing on which Morley's house stood the trees
grew thickly, and the course of the road could not be
traced more than a few yards in either direction. The


church and the village, which straggled on beyond, were,
of course, invisible, but the rapid fall of the ravine showed
that it would soon reach the level of the gully, which
made this portion of the track dangerous even for the
little wagons of the place. In fact, about a quarter of a
mile lower down the valley spread out and showed few
inequalities. But at the spot on which the men were
looking down, the gorge, clothed by climbing plants and
overgrown with brushwood, looked deep and dismal

The news reached the village and people were coming
up every moment. They came by twos and threes and
singly storekeepers, laborers, bar-room loafers, and
each, after a rapid question or two, pressed forward
and looked into the ravine. Some of them climbed down
the steep banks and joined those below. The latter were
hidden in the tangle of underbush, but the movement of
the stems and the rustle of the parched leaves showed
that the search was over and that the dead man he could
but be dead after such a fall was being carried up to
the plateau.

Jack leaned over and gazed down among the waving
branches. The sheriff, with one hand resting on the
young man's arm, seemed to be holding him back from
the dangerous brink; but Jack knew that that touch
meant the jailor's grasp on the prisoner.

And the two girls stood with Mr. Byrne near the edge
of the clearing, with parted lips and straining eyes

" Are they sure, Mr. Byrne ? " asked Carrie Van Zandt.
" Has Colonel Morley certainly been " she broke off
as if her lips refused to syllable the awful word, murder.


" It's sorry I am to say it," answered Byrne, " but
there can't be no manner o' doubt o' it. Mrs. Morley
heard the shot with her own ears, and run out in time to
see the poor fellow whirling down off o' his rock like a
broken-winged crow."

" Poor woman ! " murmured Carrie.

" An' Judge Boorie an' Mr. Field, that had passed, as
it might be, two minutes afore, come runnin' back to
the report oh, it was a cruel murder, not a doubt o'

" And why have they fastened the crime on Mr.
Scott ? "

Lucy had made one or two attempts to speak before
she brought out this question, but it came from her lips
now, hard and clear as steel and without a tremor of the
voice or a shade of expression in the tone. It was so
unlike Lucy's usual utterance that Byrne looked from
one of the girls to the other as if uncertain which had

"Well," he said, hesitatingly, "there was a many
little things pointin' toward Jack. He was on the spot
where the shot come from his pistol was found lyin'
close by ; he'd been in high words with poor Dick not
more'n five minutes before oh, I've no manner o' doubt
Jack had nothin' to do wid it. He's not that kind o'
man. But sarcumstances bein' as it were corroborative
evidence, if I may say so in course they tuk him into
custody on the spur o' the moment not but what he'll
establish his innocence aisy enough.

Lucy stood looking at the ground as if in deep thought.
Suddenly she turned and raised her great dark eyes to
Mr. Byrne's face " may I never ate another bit if they


weren't burnin' like two coals o' fire," that gentleman
stated when he came to speak of the scene.

" Mr. Byrne," she said earnestly, " Mr. Scott has
been in your employment ever since he came here you
owe it to him you owe it to yourself, you owe it to all
his friends to stand by him in his trouble, and help him
to clear his name of this odious suspicion."

Byrne looked somewhat taken aback. " Surely, surely,
Miss Lucy," he replied ; " I've a great wish for Jack, an'
I'll do me utmost."

Carrie Van Zandt clutched Lucy's arm.

" Oh, see, see, Lucy," she cried. "They have found
the body, and are bringing it up here. Oh, do, do,
please come away."

Lucy hesitated a moment. "I don't like to seem to
turn my back on my friends when they are in difficulty,"
she said.

" Ye'd better go, Miss Lucy. Sure your pa's there, an'
he wouldn't like to have you round."

" I shall certainly faint if I see a dead man, so choose,"
added Carrie, dragging on her friend's arm.

While Lucy still hesitated, a figure detached itself
from the curious group gathered on the plateau, and
came swiftly toward them. He was a tall, spare man,
shabbily dressed in clothes of a semi-clerical cut, and he
walked with rapid, nervous steps* He had narrow,
stooping shoulders and white hands, and a very pale face
the face of a visionary an ascetic, framed in whiskers
of lusterless black, and lit up by dark, deeply-sunken
eyes. In the robust, open air, unimaginative life of San
Pablo such a man seemed strangely out of place.
Neither in dress nor appearance nor habits of thought


would he seem to have anything in common with his sur-
roundings. And yet he was popular in a certain way;
respected, too, though many people called him a "crank,"
for he was the schoolmaster and the most efficient man
who had ever held that office in San Pablo.

Byrne hailed him as he approached. " Poor Dick's
dead, of course, Mr. Jeffries ? "

Jeffries joined the little group, lifting his hat to the
ladies as he did so.

" I suppose there cannot be a doubt of it, Mr. Byrne,"
he said, " but I didn't wait to see. You know I can't
bear the sight of blood and death by violence ! " he
broke off with a shudder, and his face seemed to take on
an added shade of pallor. " Shall we go on, ladies ? " he
resumed after a moment.

" Ay, do, young ladies," urged Byrne. " Mr. Jeffries
will see yez down to the hotel, an' I'll stay on the spot,
an' if there's anything I can do, sure I'll spind me day
doin' it."

This time Lucy made no objection. She followed the
schoolmaster and Carrie down the steep track, while the
Hon. Pat Byrne joined the group that bore to his home
the mangled remains of Dick Morley.


As the melancholy procession moved toward the little
store many eyes were fixed on Kate Morley, the widow of
the murdered man. She had been the first to rush down
the ravine when the ringing report of the pistol had
called her from the piazza in time to witness her hus-
band's death. Now she returned, walking behind the
men who carried his dead body. Her gown of coarse
blue calico had been torn here and there by thorny
shrubs, her magnificent auburn hair had become dishev-
elled in her haste and hung over her shoulders; the
exertion of climbing from the ravine had brought a bright
color into her cheeks her complexion was one of Mrs.
Morley's chief beauties. She looked handsome, and
though she was silent and kept her eyes bent on the
ground, she had not the aspect of a mourner.

Hank Dollett of the livery stable, dropped behind and
made a remark to that effect, but he spoke in a low tone,
for the afternoon's tragedy had dashed San Pablo's
usual spirits.

Tom Smith answered him, and the reply showed the
reputation the deceased had left behind him in the com-
munity where he had lived for twelve years.

" 'Twouldn't be in human nature for any one to be
particular cut up because Drunken Dick passed in his
checks an' as for his wife it's a good riddance for her
I should say."



"Ay, but it's kinder rough on her all the same,"
answered Hank. " A man's a man even if he never
drew a sober breath. What's the poor woman goin' to
do now, I'd like to know ? "

" She'll worry along all right," was the reply. " There's
many that u'd help her now that wouldn't a looked the
same side of the street with her while she was tied to
that sot."

At the same moment all that was mortal of " that sot "
was carried into the house he had left scarce an hour
before with all the life that years of dissipation had
spared him.

A bright-eyed eager boy came out and ran to Mr.

" Oh, pop," he cried, "you wouldn't never know him
he's all scratched an' tore to pieces, an' awful white in
the face considerin' its Dick Morley."

Mr. Byrne turned on the boy indignantly. "An' what
call have ye, Pat Byrne, to be lingerin' round an' takin'
art or part in the like. Go home wid ye, an' larn yer

" There's no school to-morrow, pop it's a holiday, an'
I tell you this here is exciting," remonstrated the boy.

" Go home now, and do as I bid ye," said Mr. Byrne,
severely. The youngster withdrew, but paused as soon
as he was out of his father's sight, and hung round the
edge of the group waiting to see what would happen

But the excitement was nearly over. Judge Boone and
the other men, who had carried up_the body, trooped out
of the house, their heavy boots clattering on the wooden
steps of the veranda. The Judge closed the door as he


came out, but seeing Kate Morley outside he opened it
again and held it for her to enter. She did not seem to
notice the attention, but stood leaning against the wall,
silent, with downcast eyes.

" Where's the doctor ? " asked Mr. Field, as if he had
just thought of something.

" The doctor's up to Orvietas' ranch and can't be back
much before midnight," answered Boone. " But what do
we want of a doctor ? To tell us the man's dead ? I can
tell you that much myself."

" Still, it would be more regular," persisted Field. He
was the editor of the local paper, a sharp, shrewd, med-
dlesome little man from Connecticut. His close-set gray
eyes and fluffy, straggling, red whiskers, combined with
an alert, inquisitive manner, involuntarily reminded
people of a terrier. To this apt adjustment of manner
and appearance he owed his universal nickname, " Foxy

" Well, Jack," said the sheriff, rousing himself, " come
along. I can't let you out of my sight till I lodge you
in San Antonio jail, and that'll be to-morrow morning
bright and early."

Judge Boone linked his arm in Field's and drew him
over to a little group of men Hank Dollett, Smith, and
a few others who stood apart conversing in low tones.

Kate Morley looked up suddenly. The babble of
comment and conversation around her had seemingly
passed her by, but the sheriff's deep voice awakened and
commanded her attention.

" What's that, Mr. Starkweather ? " she asked, coming
a few steps forward.

" Nothing, nothing, Mrs. Morley," answered the sheriff


kindly. " Dear heart, how wild you look ! Won't you
go in and and rest ? It'll be lonesome for you, I sup-
pose, too, but tell you what ; you go in and lie down for
an hour and I'll send my daughter Lucy to sit with you
as soon as I get down to the hotel."

" What's that ? " she persisted. " What were you say-
ing to Mr. Scott about jail ? For heaven's sake, man,"
she went on, raising her voice as the sheriff did not
reply, " you don't suspect him of " She pointed to the
house with an eloquent gesture which completed her
meaning better than words.

" I believe they do, Mrs. Morley," said Jack ; " and it
can't be denied that there are a good many ugly looking
facts to be explained. There's one you can help me on.
You must have known that poor Dick had my pistol yes-

"Had he?" inquired Kate; "I don't know. He
never tells I mean he never told me anything." Then,
noticing Jack's look of disappointment, she hastened to
add : " I know he had a pistol he was fussing over the
lock of one all the morning."

" See, Mrs. Morley," said Starkweather : " you know
Jack Scott, and I know him, and we neither of us believe
that it lies inside of his skin to commit a cowardly mur-
der like that. All it wants is a few days to clear up
things, for it can't be denied as he says himself that
there are queer circumstances. Look at here ! Jack here
and Dick Morley had high words "

" My poor husband was always qu-arrelling with every-
body," interrupted the widow.

" You're right, he was ; but this was an especially pep-
pery quarrel, for Foxy Field and Judge Boone heard it.


They heard it, and saw Jack enter the chaparral by the
path under the live oak yonder. And out of that very
path, not two minutes after, comes a shot that picks the
old man off the rock where he was lounging, and tumbles
him head first down the gully."

" I heard it, I heard it," groaned Kate, " and I saw "
She broke off and hid her face in her hands.

" Of course you saw. And right around the very spot
where the shot came from Hank Dollett picks up a pistol
which Jack Scott acknowledges for his own."

" That is true," said Scott. " It is my pistol, and I don't
believe there's another like it in San Antonio County."

" So there you see, ma'am," said the sheriff, spreading
out the fingers of one hand and ticking off the evidence,
point by point, with the other, " there's the quarrel,
there's the shot, there's the point it comes from ; there's
the fact that no one else was seen in that direction, and
there's the pistol, the biggest point of all."

There was a moment's pause, and the voices of men, a
dozen paces off, came across the clearing. Jack glanced

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry JessopJudge Lynch; a romance of the California vineyards → online text (page 1 of 15)