|Newspaper Title||The Goulburn Herald and Chronicle (NSW : 1864 - 1881)|
|Trove Title||Experiences of a Detective|
S EXPERIENCES OF A DETECTIVE (From lic'_ ustrrlasia.J OITAPTEit III. "TmERE,". said the superintendent, after finishing the reading of the depositions and report, '" did. you over know it more dia ,bolical scoundrel, one who had a greater share of impudence than this oneo-after committing so foul a decd to try with an nijured innocent whine to face it down, ,although the evidence was so clear. I guess your London wits will be put to a severo test, if you hope to make anything out of this case.". I must confess I felt rather dumbfoundered; and certainly not sanguine about the result of the work before me. However, I.mado mymind easy, and determined to do my best. I at once desired to see the house; so, after dinner; I and the superintendent rode over to the station. I found the store of Mr. 'Robinson, who had sold the knife to the condemned man, on the road. He did not recollect, on my asking him, that anyone else remarkable had passed by on the same day as the alleged murderer. When I arrived at the station with the superintendent, I found the old man, or rather, an old man in appearance,: sitting gazing vacantly into the fire, although' it was a warm day. When the superintend oeat introduced me, he stared with an un meaning look into my face, gave me such a nod as hlie might have given his stockman, and again turned towards the fire. The son told me hlie had not left that place since the day of the murder, except 6nthe day of the inquest and on the day of.tliWtrial. SOn examining the window.in..tlio.?oiiter room, I felt sure. that unless.the prisoner (whom I lihad never seen) was very small across the shoulders and hips, hlie could not have got through. I immediately sent an order to town to htive the prisoner measured with a pair of trammels, the ieonsuruienits to be sent on to me directly. The superin tendent left me at the station, whore I had eiigaged to stay over-night. I entered into conversation with the son of Mr. Do Voro, whom I found a very intelligent young:man, and decidedly well-btired. He told me lihe entertained no doubt as to the guilt of the prisoner, although there' were one or two remarkable and unaccountable things blesides the prisoner's bearing. On the following morning, I asked him to saddle his best horse, and if, on hiis letting loose his dog the animal should take the bush, as lie liehad done on a former ocession, tie would follow him. The younger. Mr. De Vore informed me that the dog lihad never been loose since the night lie came home afterboing away all day on the morning the murder was com mitted. Ho saddled, after breakfist, his best horse, Prince, and when I was mounted hlie loosened the dog, which immediately took the bush in a westerly direction. I followed with ease for some time, and young Do Veore overtook me very soon; but it became warmi work, as the dog kept the same paco up hill as hlie did on the lovel ground. After follow ing the dog about five miles, I felt assured. the troolper could not have kept such a track for so great a distance without being thrown a good deal out of his way in going to Bur ramipoor. The dog kept- up pretty nearly the same pace for about twenty milo?, till our horses wore nearly knocked up; at last the Bamboo Creek brought him to a stand still. He persisted in howling at the water and barking at a big hollow tree, in which a large number of dry leaves were closely packed, as if some one had been sleeping on them. I was informed by Mr. Do Vere that there were no stations bfor at least twenty miles the other side of the creek, and having also learnt that there wore no stations up or, down the creek for several miles, I returned. The dog, after much calling, followed its home.
I had to wait six days before I got the measurements of the prisoner's shoulders and hips-no telegraph then existing. Daring this interval I occupied my mind in endeavouring to account for the yet unac counted-for part of the story. I knew that, as a rule, prisoners and criminals generally invent some ingenious story to account for themselves when their liberty is likely to be jeopardised. The story of the accused was short and simple-not complicated enough to be a fabrication. Then it was next to impossible that ho could have got in at the window, and it was very unlikely he could have passed the dog without being bitten in some way-whereas he might have entered as he had said, which must have been almost immediately after young De Vere had left the station. The only way to get over all the difficulty was to believe what the accused said, and look for someone else. There tmhe task commenced. It must be a small man; his trousers torn at the bottom. Where had he gone? The dog went in a direction where no habitation was to be found for forty or fifty miles through the dense bush. Yet the tree on the creek, twenty miles away, seemed to silently corroborate the dog's strange indication. I determined to try that direction, so when the measurements came I was ready to start. On comparing the measurements with tmhe size of the window, I found that what the doctor had said was true-" that it was just possible tmhe prisoner might have entered by it, but very im probable ! "
CfAPTER IV. I informed the superintendent of my views and intentions. He introduced me to Mr. Middleton, a magistrate at Burrampoor, whom he said would be able to give me letters of introduction to nearly all the squatters in that direction. I changed my dress to that of a bushman, was supplied with a saddle and bridle of a less military description than the one I had, left off shaving, and started one hot morning with a stock-whip fastened to my saddle, flattering myself that the most fiastidious bushman could not find fault with my tout ensemble. I arrived late in the evening at Mr. O'Halloran's station, after thinking several times during the day that I went a great way round, which I have no doubt I did. Mr. O' falloran had of course heard of the dreadful murder of Mr. Do Vere's daughter. e, said that, apart from Mlr. Middleton's letter, he would do all in his power to assist me, as he had doubts as to the right man being in custody; one thing, however, lie felt sure of, and that was, that no now hand had arrived thereabouts for some time. But, he added, "I'll employ you as my overseer for a time, and send my own ito town out of the way; he'l he glad ý'.of the change ; then you'll have the opportunity of riding the counry round for .,fifty miles, and perhaps you may nad your 1;man; but mind, I don't think you'll brn'io
the crimehome to him, even if you arrost a suspicious character, because tho rascal has had such a splendid opportunity to obliter ate all traces; and again, the clear case against this one man would puzzle a jury, if another man were brought into the field, to such an extent that they would not believe in their senses." I nccepted the appointment as overseer, and was introduced to my predecessor as a. friend who would take his place until he had transacted some very important busi ness in town. HIo was sent to town on overy important business, with a. letter written by me, but addressed by Mr. O'Halloran, to the commissioner's private house at Richmond, oxplaining to that func tionary the ruse do guerro, and a request to keeop him there under some preotext or other till he was wanted. The .ex-overseer, I need hardly say, had no groat difficulty in resigning himself to the fate of such com fortable quarters asho 'hadd at the commins sioner's house. I tlhought I saw an impertinent young. rascal of a stock-keeper grinning veryheartily one day when I ondeavoured to crack my stock-whip, but still I felt sure I was onily credited with being a muff, not the.,Qteen's offlicor. Three weeks rolled by, andI got no; scont. One day in the fourth week I ,had occasion. to go several miles for letters, toy the post-office at Deep Crook. I called in at the liotel-the only one there-for a pint of booeer. Thero were two shepherds sitting in the bar, if such a shanty might have a bar, drinking, smoking, and swearing. I de termined to listen for a time to their con versation. Whether they had any meaning to convoy or not, I could not say, but I cer tainly did not "indorstand .one half they said.. One was a dark snhrivelled-up little man, with no tooth and .a sharp nose; the other a stout mati-hairy as Essu-whose cracked sore lips and blood-shot eyes told me lie had been drinking for some time. and.ho not been so dirty and dissipated; he would have been positively a handsome man. I hoard the following "dialogue :- " So help. me - , Tom, you know as when I get on the bust, I.always likes to have, a' chum. Well,' Tom, says I to that ere spooney-we've nhot had him long, that felleri as keeps the hut--says I to him, ' Jack; will yer go and have a spree? I'm off.' 'No,' says lie. ' Well, then,' says I, 'you can go to --.' And so help me - , Tom, that fool haven't been away from the hut since we've had him. .. "Now, Jom," replied Tom, " don't go on in that style; yer know as how some folks is hixcentrick.. If he' doesn't'wint to go on the spree why do you want to make him; hie's a retiring man, he likes the bush,. he does'nt like town life, like us gentlenien., I believe that's jatist why Mfr.'M IoKenzio likes him."
I" wont out, fully deteiminad to make the -acqinaintance of Mr. MolConizie, and then, of Tom, who was comparatively a new hand on the station. On inquiry, I. found that the station was aboiit fifteen. miles distaint on the Deep roeek. I' rode:'back to Mir. O'Halloran's; gave him notice'before the shepherd to find some one else, wrote to, the 'c6mmissioher to send uip the overseer, packed up' a swag,, and found my way to Mr. Mc?Kenzie's. At this time it' was never hard" to gel' a-.situation; as' the men vwore in the hlbit of 'getting on' the spree,; which habit obliged the employers to keep. one or two extra hands. Iapplied to him,. and was engaged as stoclkman-as I. could by this time crack a whip pretty decently. I of course was sent to the out-station, where I found Tom, as the sheplierd had called him. He looked at me from under his shaggy eyebrows slyly. I made free. with him by offering my hand to himh, and told him I was the now stockman.: Quite a change passed over his'face when' I shook hands with him. His: little grey .eyes twinkled, and a grin, TI could not say a smile, passed over his face from ear to ear. He' stood 'about five feet six inches,, was thin and wiry, , much sunburnt, . and slightly grey. At first glance it might be supposed that he. had a .fair share of forehead, but on'closer obseri'ation it would be found that his, hair grew fai' up on a receding and shallow forehead. He had thin lips, no beard or moustache, and a nose that had evidently, been broken., I took up my quarters in a far corner of the long slab hot, bark roof, the bark being kept down by heavy timber.. Beside the door was built an enormous rubble chiumney, in which I saw several pots containing the evening's supper. Near the door stood a rough table, the legs of which were driven into the ground like stakes. : Two clumsy heavy log forms, three .buniks fixed up ship fashion, a rack of rough shelves, on which stood plates, &c., formed the furniture of this' hut, or out-station.
SThe cattle were handed over to my charge by youtig Mr. McKenzie, who had. been obliged 'to take charge of them on account of the main having gone on the spree. 'Late that night Jem, the man I had seen at'the hotel on the day before, came home. He did not recognise me in the morning, as he was too drunk when I visited' the hotel for him to take any notice of a stranger. I soon found out why Tom had been called, spooney. He carried a silver spoon about with him in his pocket, which hlie always produced at meal linies, but always 'care fully wiped it and put it away again in his pocket. One day when he was obliged to run to the fire to lift off the billy of tea which was boiling over, I glanced at it, and saw the initial " II " on the handle. This at once aroused my suspicions.: I wrote to Mr. Do Vero to make a strict search, and an inventory of all his propei'ty, and tax his memory as to what they lhad in the house before the murder.' I thought' it vory'pro bable that in their first search they had missed some trifle, as they would be, too much overcome with grief to be very exact. I soon received an answer to my note, stating that they had made an inventory, and that nothing was missing except some money they had forgotten until I wrote, that was in a box belonging to Miss De Yore, her savings, and a silver teaspoon. The amount of the money neither father nor son could state; but the -silver spoon which might be mislaid, was marked "II" Henrietta. It belonged to Miss Do Vere a keepsake from her cousin at home. They added, they could not be sure about the money, as she might have spent it on dress the last time she was in town-it would not amount to over £5. Now I felt sure I had my man. The " ý" on the spoon was at
least a good clue, but I resolved to wait my time. I contracted a very had habit of leaving money about on the shelves while a stock man, and I generally found that it grew less and less; and I noticed also that sundry bottles of gin wore brought in from town and drunk at night. I took no notice beyond carelessly saying "I spend a tro mendous lot of money when I am in town. I keep no account of it, so anyone might think I had a bank to go to." I generally ploaded- being tired, and as a ruso went to bed about ten, snoring heavily. Of course I shouted gin in return for what they brought in. While I was snoring heartily one night, I heard tho'e following remarks made by the shepherd to the butkeeper. "Tom, you're not the man yer used to be. Whliat's the matter? Why don't you tell me what's sticking in yer gizzard? I've told yor what I was lagged for. Come, make me yer bosom friend. I always likes to tell some one what little games I've been up to. ,I feel asif I: was casting all my sins off when I tells anybody all about To ,thesoe' ntreaties Tom said, "0! its nothing. Its just a way I've got of sulking. Yer needn't take any notice of me, if you've got Christian feeling." " I continued to leave plenty of money about, and if they had not been complete idiots they would have known tlat'they took more money than my wages. would amount to. However, they helped themselves, and cared little as long as they got the drink. Nearly every night they had gin, which now became a rage; nearly every night I snored very hard; nearly every night some allusion was made, to.Tom's low spirits, and Tonm's peculiarities. I still loft money in the way. The drink was regularly brought now, and although they drank so. much it did little else than make them talkative and careless. One night the shepherd said, "I say,'.Tom, whalt made you come here without any ihoos?" Tomni looked towards the bed where I was'lying; but my snoring was so heavy that hlie was reassured. The reader may imagine my mortification when Tom settled down into one of his sullen moods that night, and siid nothing. One night I brought home to the but a bottle of very strong rum, two lemons, and some nutmegs and cloves. I made the punch myself. It was strong and fiery, without being sharp. I poured myself out ,a glass, got a book, and laid on the bed. Instead of reading much, I watched what effect it had on the two men, and soon'found that it' was 'working admirably.. I threw down my book, put out the light I had used, and rolled' myself up in the bed clothes. Of course I soon snored. The first lot of punch quickly disappeared, and Jem undertook to brew a fresh lot, although I could see the first was doing its work in the cold veins of these ancient sons of Bacchus. "Now, can't you open that tatec trap of your'n Tom ?. Don't think you're going to get.out of it. ' I'll let you have no'peaicetill I' know what you've been up to. ' D'ye not thiinlkTI Seo the diffeirence in yboti' eince.I saw yer in town, 'in :the Ist3ie jug ? eh ! You came here shoeless, nearly hard up, aid ye?? trousers torn at the bottomni, and now we can get nothing out of yer but that there spoon yer shVws us'at feed times--I suppose as a".substitute for jaw. Como on, Tonm; make. me yer busum friend." Tom glanced at miy bank, but I was snoring hard.
" Well, Jem," said Tom, with tears in his eyes-the spirit had evidently softened what there was left tender in the man's nature-"I'll tell you something I've never told any other; mortal soul, if you'll swear never to peach-mind, mum's the word." Jem swore an oath too fearful for me to give here, and I must say the most frightful oath I have ever heard in the whole course of my life. It was sufficiently binding, if anything is binding to hell's own subjects, to satisfy Tom, who had taken another strong draught of rum. Jem now sat in front of Tom on the opposite side of thetable, his chin resting on his fists, evidently having made up his mind for something horrid. His head .thus facing Tom, kept the light of the candle from my bed, so I was able to keep my. eyes open without. being seen. Another advan tagea-I could see the little man plainly, while Jem's head kept the light off my bed, and consequently out of the mind of the half-drunken man. "I've made a reselushun, Jem, to re form," said Tom.. ..... -"I don't want to know what yer resolved to do, I want to know whatyer've done. I thought you awere going to tell some story - something to make one's blood warm."
" Wait, yer fool," retorted Tom, "you're like a d-- boy ; I'm going to tell ye. fact,.no lies." :(The hasty remark of Jem's hadthe effect of irritating Tom, and causing him to raise his voice, which I was very glad of.) "I believe the devil got hold of my body as I was coming from Castlemaine, for although I've done many wicked things in my wicked life, I never did anything to come up to what I'm going to toll yer. The devil actually gave me a knife. When I struck the Walla road, I hadn't walked thirty yards before I picked up a small parcel that had a bran-new knife in it. I wrapped it up and put it in my pocket, I struck off the road on a track at about five o'clock, and soon saw smoke rising from a chimney. I made for it-I knew it was a station. When I got there I found only a gal on the place. Oh, such a beautiful creature,: Jim; I see her looking ,at me every night, but.not smiling."" "Now, Tom;i don't., be sentimental; to business. Of course yoi 'robbed the place?" " Stop, youfool," replied Tom. "I asked her for a feed in the best way as I knew how, calling her grecious miss, and telling her I hadn't anything all day. ' Oh, cer tainly,' she said, and smiled at me like the sun; she showed me her pretty white teeth when she smiled and looked at me with such a pitying look. She gave me a fine supper, and I felt in no way disposed to go away. But I can tell you she didn't forget to tell me. She came to me like an angel, and said, laughing, 'I think you'd better go now and make your house, its getting late.' 'Can't I stop hero all night,' says I. You should have seen her face then-first crim son, then pale-and didn't her eyes shine. 'Sir I have treated you like a goatloeman;
I expect you to go about your business at once, at my request.' " I can tell yor, Jom, although she put on such a mighty fino air, and appeared so brave, I could see her little hands trembling ike leaves. 'Of course, mum,' says I; I hope no offence.' ' None whatever; good night, sir,' she said, but with such a sihaky voice. I saw her loose the dog lirectly I had gone and fasten him near the door; but says I to myself, 'old gal, thero's more than one door for this child; I don't want a big ono.' I went aboutfive hundred yards and built a mia-mia, and had a slooeep, but soon awolre. I pulled off my boots, hid them under the leaves, pulled off the paper from the knIife the devil hlad given me, and nade a start back to see thle young lady. It was quite dark. I approached so quietly in mny stockings that not even the dog heard ne. I got up on a pile of wood to look through a little window, and there I saw her sitting with a book in her hand, looking up every minute, so scared like and pale. I saw the door was barred, and I knew it would be a tight fit for me to get through the window; so I made up my mind to wait till she had gone to bed. I thought she would never go-there she sat, reading and starting like a ghost, and I knew if I at tempted to get in at the window while she was there she would have done something. At last she went. I waited half an hour, when I got up on the wood and pushed in the window, but the d-- thing went right through and smashed on the ground witlh a thundering sound. The dog barked as if it was mad, and rattled on the chain as if tlhe hlousoe was on fire. I wasobliged to go doirn head first, falling on my hands, my heels coming after over my head, making another row. I heard one fearful scream in the inner room, and no more. I had a hard job to find matches to get a light; when I did get them I lit the candle and wont into her room, where I found her sitting up in the fur corner of the bed looking out of her eyes as if she was dead. I said 'never fear, miss, I am only come in for a feed.' She didn't answer, but sat still, staring in a way that quite frightened me. I went out and found some wine, and took a good swig to keep up my courage. I offered her somo, but she wouldn't lot me come near her. I then mode up my mind to take what I could get, so I went to her work-box and found three half-sovereigns and 35s. in silver. Of course, I didn't leave it there. I then went out to get a feed, and took a squint all round, but found only plate that had evidently seen better days, and was the worse for wear, and too heavy to carry about. Ifound this (producing from his pocket the silver spoon), and that's all I took. I went back and said good-bye to the gal, and went near her bed to give her a hiss, but was soon glad to got back; she few at rme like a cat,
her hair stood up, and her teeth were set closely. I turned away, intending to go, and I wish I had gone away then; but I am sure the devil was in the door, for just as I pat my hand on it two thoughts flashed on my mind, and the wine I had drunk just began to warm me-' beaten by a woman! the knife!' flashed through my nut.. I didn't think after that. Turning round sharply, I said, 'now, look here, I'm not going to be done by you like this; I never was beaten by a woman yet, and I'm not going to now.' I drew my knife-the one the devil gave me-and showed her. the edge. She burst into tears, folded her hands, and prayed more earnestly than ever she prayed to God for me to spare her life. I felt my heart soften. She looked at me with such' a look I never saw before, and such a look I never wish to see again. It had more effect than her words. But just as I was going to put the knife down, that same devil, I'm sure it wasn't my own thoughts, said, ' don't be beaten.' I raised the knife again, and advanced towards her. I had no idea women were so strong. She grasped the hand that had the knife with fearfal force, but her strength did not last long." Hiere the villain made a start, pushed Jem aside, held his breath, and gazed hard at me, but my steady gentle snore recomposed him. He took another glass of punch, and looked down again in one of his sulky moods.
"I You're a fool, Tom," said Jem, "why didn't you set the house on fire? . It wouldn't have done any harm. It warn't your fault if the gal would be killed. How did you get out ?" " "-I opened the door and made the dog go back with a big stick, but as I rushed out he bit a piece out of my breeches at the bottom." "Why didn't you burn the mia-mia ?" said'Jem. "Why didn't you go away with those trousers and that spoon, you fool?" "There's no need," returned Tom, with a fiendish grin; "I heard them saying at the house that a manwas going to be hung for the murder who had been clearly proved to be the man." "Take my advice,". said Jem, too late, "burn them trousers, and do away with that there spoon." "I'm more uneasy about the mia-mia," replied he. "Put the spoon in the ashes now, and burn your trousers when that feller's gone out to-morrow," said Jem, pointing to me. "Now, Tom, keep up your pecker, take another glass, and let's turn in." I felt too much excited to feel sleepy, although I know I forgot several times to keep up the snore. I felt somewhat startled when Tom staggered to my bunk and held the candle near my face; but by long ex perience and use to danger I was able to keep the serene appearance of sleep on my face. "No fear," said Tom, "the - is asleep." I feel sure that had I shown any symptoms of wakefulness it would have cost me my life. I was glad, as may be sup posed, when those doubly-dyed villains got into bed and put the light out. When I felt sure they were asleep, I got my revolver, rolled out of bed quietly, and went to the fire-place and secured the ashes. I went quietly out and proceeded towards the home station, knocked up Mr. Mc Kenzie, showed him my warrant, told him the whole story, and asked his assistance. He, his son, and two of the men on whom he could rely, accompanied me to the hut or out-station. When we arrived at the hut the day was just breaking. A l1ght was struck. We all entered. The whole bottle of strong rum had been drunk. The work of securing the two men was quite easy, as they were still drunk, and very sleepy. I found the corduroy trousers with the rent under the Jeoad of the murderer.
CIIAPTER V. The men were taken by an escort I sent for to Burrampoor. The affair had occu pied me three months, and I never felt so glad as when this work, laborious, danger ous, and loathsome, was ended; the men I had been compelled to associate with were the worst specimens of humanity, whose every thought and word was foreign to me and found no sympathy in my mind, to say nothing of their dirty habits. The mia-mia was soon found in a grove of wattles; the boots under the leaves exactly fitted the murderer; his body, it was shown, could easily have passed through the win dow; the piece of rent corduroy exactly fitted the torn trousers I took from under the prisoner's head; a piece of paper with writing on it was found in the mia-mia, which James Robinson proved to be his own handwriting, though he could not be sure he had packed up the knife in it. Jem, the shepherd, was put into the box, but he was firm to his oath. "Don't you believe," said he, "that I'll peach against a chum mum's the word; that's all you'll get from me." I need hardly say the case was fully proved without him; the time of the mur derer coming to Mr. M'Kenizie's station agreeing with that of the murder-two days after-and so many items which made the case more plain than the first, and at the same time cleared up all the mysteries of that first hasty and dreadful proceeding. The victim of circumstantial evidence was, of course, liberated immediately after the discovery I had been the instrument of making, but he did not appear to be pleased or surprised. His hair in a few months had grown quite grey. The government gave him £100, and an appointment in one of the up-country post-offices, but he never reco vered himself; his heart was broken, and he died three years afterwards. I was looked upon as a lien in Melbourno for some time afterwards; but as fortune will not always favor the assiduous, I did not continue long so great a man. The criminal met a dreadful death. The priest could not persuade him by anything he could say to pray; he would insist on saying that "' she mocked him when he tried to fold his hands; that when he tried to say the words of prayer . her prayer rose to hisi lips, and nothing else would enterhis head." E. O.M.