Chapter 115568102

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Chapter Number1. IX.
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-07-04
Page Number4
Word Count3480
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleFreeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text


? o ? By A. K. Green.


|||| Truth tangible and palpable 5 such truth $pnf A a may be weighed and measured ; truth deduced ' By logical conclusion — close, severe — From premises incontrovertibla, Moultrie. The escitement induced by the foregoing an nouncement had, in a degree, subsided. The coroner, who appeared to be aa much stavUed as nay ono at the Jesuit of the day's proceedings, bad manifested his desire of putting certoin qu9otions to the youag man, and had began by oaefo inqairies into his antecedents, and his oon mnnMnn tnif.h IVTra flinmmnna ng nlimfn-3 f.!io mrinsh

complete conoboration of all Misa Fi&'maa's Dtotements. Ah investigation into Hildpeth's motives for coming East at tbis timo next followed, in the coaroe off which ha acknowledged that he un dertook the journey solely fop the purpose of cssiag Mco. Clemmens. And when aaked why he vyinhed to oae he? &fc this time, admitted, mth aome manifestations of chnmo, that ha de sired to oee for bimsalf whether she wos really in QD otroag ond healthy d condition as he had olv7Dys beeo told ; bis pecuniary embDVE'aPs SHeota being onoh that he could not prevent; his laied feom dwelling upon possibilities which, Bndsii? any othei1 circnnigtanoGG, he would have lbesn ashamed fco cocsicleF. ' You admit that you ware iri the widow's bouso the moFnisg she wqs murdered, and that you bed on interview with heu a few miautes before the fatal blow was struck ?' ?' I do.' ' Did you approach the widow's house by the Food ciod eotei' into it by means of the front doo? overlooking the Ions ?' c I did ° ' And did you moefc no one id the lane, op see ao oae at the windows oiE any of the houses as yos com© by ?' ' JNTo, sis.*

5 How long did you stay in this house, and wisest waa the rconlfc of the interview which you hod with Mis. Clemmens ?' e i stayed, perhaps, ten minutes, and Ilea?ned aothing horn Mrs. Cleaamons, save that she wss well end hearty, end likely to live out her tbsoQscore years and ten for all hint that her conversation or oppeasonce gave me.' ' You will tall me what was said in this inter view, ii you please, and whether the widow knew ^foo yon wore ; and, if so, whethee any words of QQger passed between you ?' The £aee of the yonng mao burned, and he looked at the coronet? and then at the jurymen, 00 if he would like to challenge the whole crow, bat the colour that showed in his face was the blaoh olt shame, or, oo thought Mr. Byrd, and in his reply, when he gave if, there was a bittev aesQ of Qelf-scora that reminded the detective more of the mortification of a gentleman caught in oo act of meanness than the secret alarm of a man who hod been beguiled into committing a dastardly crime. 4 Mro. Clemmetis wos evidently a woman of oorne spirit,' scid hea forcing out his words with |. QBllen desperation. ' She may have used sharp language ; I believe indeed oh© did ; but she did BOt know who I wa?, foe— for I pretended to be d seller of patent medicine, warranted to cure all ills, and she told me she bad no ills, and — and— Do you wont a man to disgrace himsalf in you? presence P' he suddenly flashed oat, cringing uodor the gaze of the many carious and un oympathetic eyes fixed upon him. ' What did the widow say,' rejoined tha coroner, l and with what words did you leave p' 8 Tbo widow said she abominated drugs, and ; aeves? took them. I replied that ohe mnde a ' great mistake, if ehe had any ailments. Upon which she retorted that she had do ailment, and politely Ghowed me the door. I do not re member that anything else possed between us.' ? In what jcora waa the conversation held, ond by what door did yon come in and go out?' ' I came in by the front door, nnd we stood in that room,' pointing to the oitting-room from which he had jnot issued, 'Stood! Did you not sit dowE P' ; 'WO.' i ' Stood all the time, and in fchat room to which ! you have jut-t pointed ?' | 'YiS.' : The coroner drew a deep breath, and looked i at the witneoo long and senzchiDgly. Mr. ! Hildrefch'Q way of uttering this word had been anything but pleasant, and conQequently any i thing but oatiafoctory. 1 You say that in coming through the lane you encountered no ono. Was thia equally tine of your rehivn ?' ? Tod, sir ; I believe oo. I don't nemembe?, 1 was not looking up,' waa the slightly eon fused reply, ? You passed, however, through the lane, and entered tho main street by the uanal path ?' ' Yea.' ' And whess did you go thoa P'

'To tho depot.' 1 Ah !' * I wiohod to leave the town, I hod done with it' * Aad did you do so, Mr, HildrethP' ?I did.' 6 Where did you go P' ' To Albany, t?horo I had loft mj? tg&pBi' I .' You took the aooa tyaio, th©a P'

' Yes, sir.' ? Which leaves precisely five minutes affcos1 1 twelve P' ' 1 supprsueo.' 'Took it without stopping anywho?s on the way p' ' Yes, sir.' ' Did you bay a ticket at tho office ?' 'No, sir.' ' Why ?' ' I did not have time.' ' Ab, the train wan at tho station, then P' Mi', Hildveth did cofc reply ; he had evidently boon drivoia almost to the end of his potienoe, or possibly of his courage, by this quick fire o£ small questions. The coroner saw thia ond pressed his advan tage. ' Wq? the train at the station or not when you arrived there, Mr. Hildreth P' ' I do not sea why it can interact you to know,' tho witneoa retorted, witlt u flash of somewhat aoturai anger ; ' but yiacs you iasisi', I v?ill tell you that it waa juat going out, aud thnt I had to pun to roach it, and only goto footbold upon the platform of the sear car at the risk of my life.' He looked as if he wished it had bean at the coat o£ hio lifs, oad eomps?eaned bio lipa and moved restlessly from side to side as if the battery of eysa levelled upoo his face weea so many points of sed-hot steel burning into hio bpain. Bufcthf? coroner, intent upon his duty, released not one jot of the steady hold he had taken npon his victim. 6 Mr. flildi'eth,' said he, * your position an the only pes'soa who aeli Howled ge? hirasolf to have been in thia house during the half-!) our that pre ceded the assault snakes everything yoa can tell us in reference to the visit of thahigheot impor tance0 Was the widow alone, do you think, or did jou see aajihing -tanas bow and consider wall— anything that would lead you to suppose there was anyone besides her and yom'solf in the house P' It wao the saggostioa of a juat Ejan, and Ms\ JByrd looked to aes the witness groep with all the energy of despair at the prospect of Felease it held out. But Mr. Hildretb. either felt his cause beyond the reach of any oach assistance, or his understanding wes so dulled by misery he could not oee the advantage of acknowledging the presence of a third party in the cottage. Giving a dreary shake of the head, he slowly an swered : ' There may. have been somebody else in fche honse, I don't know ; bat if so, I didn't heag or see him. I thoaght we wore alone.' Tbe franfenesg with which ho made tho admis sion vvao in his favour, bafc the qaick aad over powering flash that rose to his face betrayed bo unmiatakeable a eonsciousneao of what the ad mission implied that the effect was immediately reversed.

' Mr. Hikketh,' Intimated the coroner, rising, ' wili you be kind enough to step with me into the adjoining room ?' With a look of wonder, not ?anmisad with alarm, the young mtsn prepared to comply. ' I should like the attention of the jury,' Df. Tredwell signified as he pssssd through the door. There waa no need to give them this hint. Wot a man of them but was already on his feet in eager curiosity ao to what theie presiding officer was about to do. ' I wish you to tell me now,' the coseoner de manded of Mr. Hildreth, as they paused in tbe centre of the sitting-room, s where it woq you stood during your interview with Mrs. Clera mens, and, if possible, take the very position now which you held at thot time.' ' Here !' exclaimed the young mail, taking a position near the centre of the room. 'And the widow?' 'Stood there.' ' Pncing yon P' ? Yes.' ' I see,' intimated the coroner, pointing to ward the windows. ' Her back waa fo the yard while you stood with your face, toward it.' Then with a quick motion, Rummoning the witness back iDto the other room, be asked, amid the breathless attention of tbe crowd, whom this bit of by-ploy had wrought up to expecta tion : ' Did you observe anyone go around to the back door while yoa atood tbere, and go away again without attempting to knock P' Mr. Hildroth. knitted his bvow and seemed to think. 'Answer,' persisted the coroner; 'it is not a question that requires thought.' ' Well, then, I did net/ cried the witness, looking the olher directly in the aye, with tho fi?st glaam of real manly faeling which he had yet displayed. ' Did you not oee a tramp come into the yard, walk around to the Ixitehon doos% wait a moment sa if hesitating whether ho would sap, and then tura and come bnok again without doing so?' ' No, sir.' Tho coroner drew a piece of paper before him and began figuring on it. Earnestly, almost wildly, the young man watched him, drawing a deep breath and turning quite pole as tho othes? paused and looked up. ' Yot,' affirmed the coroner, do i£ oo delay had occurred oince he received his last answer, 'such a perooa did approach fcho house while you wero in it, and if you had stood where you say, you muit have Been him,' It was a vital thrust, a relentless presentation of fact, and ao such ehook tho witneos out of his lately acquired composure. (3-lGneing hastily about bo f ought tho assistance of aomoono both capable aad williag to advise him in thin orisin, bat Boeing no one, ho made a vigorous offos?t oad called together hia ovn faculties. ' Sir,' ho pvoteotod, a tremor of uadioguiacd anxiety finding way into hio voice, ' I do not see how you make all that oat. What proof have you that bhio tamp of whom you speak. came into tho house wMlo I was m it P Could

he not Iidvo Gonna befoL'e P Op, what was better, could he not hove ooras af to? P' 1 Tha riEging torse with v7hic'Q the last quo5tion ! visa put stflHlod c'7-rif-vbody. No sucli a o is nth hud ironed h*uui hi? lij;s before. Had he caragiu . a glimpQs of hope, os? wua .ha driven to i\n ex~ tt'emifcy ia bio defence that forced him to anBoet himself p Tiao oyoo of Miso Firsaun anci of a i few other v^omea baguu to eoften, and oven the 1 face of M?. Byrd betvaysd to at a change was on i the verge of taking place in his feeliogn. ' ' It is only a matter of subtraction und oddi- * tion, Me. Hildretb,' said tbe ooronex1. 'Yon i have said that upon quitting this house you vyetit ' directly to the depot, where you arrived bavsly i io time to jump on the train aa it wes lec.ving i the station. Now, io walk from thia place to * the depot afc any pace yoa would be likely to - urq woald occupy — well, let us say seven minutes. At two minutes before fcwolve, than, - yoa were still- in that house. Well !' he epeu- .' iated, iu*orrupting himself as ths nthor ' opened his lip?, ' have you as?y thing to s*y ?' * ' No,' was thedejscted end hesitating reply. ) Tho coronei1 at once roaumed : ] I But at five minutes before twelve1, M?. Eil- ' dvofch, tho t?amp walked into the widow's yard. - Now, allowiag only two eiinatep for your interview i with that lady, the conclusion reratiina that vou were in the house when he cams cp to i1'. Yet ( you declare that although yen stood in full viaw of the yerd, you did not neo him.' r ' ' You figure eloper than ?.n astronomer calcu lating an eclipse,' burst from tho young roan's j ( lips, in a flash of that resolution which had, for ? the last few minutes animated him. 'How do you knoiv your witnesses have boon so exact fco a second, when they say this end thet of the goiago and comings you are pleased (o put ( into aa arithmetical problem P A minute or , two one way or ths other would Ea&ko a sad dis- : ci'epiincy in your calculatio-'S, Mr. Coroner.' ' I know it,' assented Dr. Tredwell, quietly ; ignoring the other's host ; ' bat if the jury will I'etasmboi1, thare were four witoe^saac, at least, . who testified to the striking of tho town clock jaat as the tramp fiaally iusued from tho lane, and one witness, of well-known aecuvecy in mattero of detail, who declaved on oath that oho had just deopped hs? oyes from t'sat same olook when she observed the tramp go into tbe widow's gate, and that it wasi five minutes to twelve exactly. But, lest I seem too nice in my calculations,' the coronw inexombly pursued, 'I will take the trouble of putting it another way. At what time did you leave the hotel, Mr. Hildreth ?' I 1 don't know,' was the testy response. 'Well, I can tell yon,' the coroner assured hira. 'It was about twenty minutes to twelve, or possibly earlier, but no later.' 'Well,' the fierce look of the other ssemed to Boy, 'and what if it was P' ' Mr. Hildreth/ continued tbe coroner, ' if you were in this house at a quaitar to twelve, and did not loave it till two minutes before, and the interview wos, as you say, a more interchange of a dozen of words or so, that could not pos. aibly have occupied more than three minutes ; where were you during all the rest of the time that mast have elapsed after you finished soar interview, up to the moment you left the house ?' It was a knock-down queGtion. This aristo cratic-looking young gentleman, whohad hitherta held himself erect before them, notwithstanding the humiliating nature of the inquiries which had been propounded to him, cringad visibly, and bowed big head aa it a stroke of vital force had descended upon him. 'It ianot pleasant for a gentlemen to acknovy ledgo himsielf caught ot a time like this in a decided equivocation ; but you have cornered mo fairly and squarely, and I am bound to tell the ttufch. Gentlemen, I did not leave the widow's house aa immediately as I said. I sliayed for fully five minutes or 00, alone, in the anaall hall that leads to tho front door.' ' What doing P' 'Thinking, but whatever I did, or of whatever I waa thinking, one thing I here declare to bo true, and that is, that I did Hot see the widow again after she left my side, and went back to her kitchen in the rear of tho hou^e.' It waa the fiist attempt at direct disavowal which he had made, and it had ifcg effect. The coroner ooftened a trifle of his austerity, and the jurymen glanced at each other relieved. Bat the weight of suspicion againat this young man was too heavy, and hia manner had been too unfortunate for thia efiocfc to last long. Glad as many would have baen to credit this denial, if only for the name he bore, ond a coy tain fine aspect of gentlemanhood that sur roundad him, in spite of hia present humiliation, it waa no longer possible to do bo without qaea tion ; and ha seamed to feel this oad do his baat to accept the situation with p&tienco. An inquiry which waa put co him at fcfoie; time by a juryman showed the existent state oS; foel ing against him, 'May I ask,' that individual drily interro gated, ' why you came back to Sibloy after hav ing left ?' The yesponso como clear and fall. Evidently the gravity of his position had at last awakened the latent resources of Mr. Hildreth's mind. ' I heard of the death os. this woman, and my ourprise caused me to return.' ' How did you hear of it P' 'Through the newspapers.' ' So then it v/as curiosity that brought yon to the iaqaest to-day P' ?It WQS.' 'The jury man looked at him astonished ; ao did all the rest. Hio manao? woo so changed, Mo onswoffQ 00 prompt aad ringing. { And what wao it,' bi'oko in tho coroner, ' that lod you to rocjiaieif yourself at the hotel nader a false name ?' ' I aoaxoely know,' wr.a ths anchor, givoa with leoa fire and aomo ahow o£ embnvk'aaament. ' Per haps I thought that, undo? tho circosaQtanoeo, it would, bo bottos fog m® aot fco uoo jssy or/B BQm©.8

'In other words, yon wore DfeoidP' oscloiBQQdl the coroner, with the full impreaaivenens o£ his somawhafc weighty voice and manner. ' I w.i a not swore of fo&v ; thoua;!), to bo sure, I had so pvsaionition of the t?oatment I should be called apou to-soffar hai'ti? to«dav/ Ths flash (old ; tha coroner oat an if doubtful, 3.sid lo^kod bom man to man of tho jury as i£ b.o would qucatioa thois feelings on this vital subject. Meantime the full abame o£ hia pooi don Bottled heavier and heavier upon Mr. Hil 3?eth ; hia hand foil slowly forward and ho seemed io bo asking himself how he waa to meet the jioasibly iaapeading ignominy of d dhect iceuoation. Suddenly he drew himself erect, and a gleam tshot from hia oyeo, that for the first fcirao rovoaled him a mam olt latent pluck and coarajje. 4 Goatlemeu,' he began, looking first at the ?o?on0t' and then at the jury, 'you have not said you conaidei1 mo guilty of thia crime, but yon stridently harbour ths suopicion, I do not won iei1 ; my own words have given me away, and any m&n woald fiad it difficult to believe in my' innocence after what has boeu testified to in - his place. Do not hesitate then. The shook of finding myself suspected of a horrible murdef it) past. I am willing to bo be arrested. In deed, after what has hero taken place 1 am not only willing but oven anxious. I want to be tried, if only to prove tj the woiid my complete end entire innocence.' Tho effect of this apoeeh, uttered at a moment 30 critical, may ba easily imagined. All the im pressible people preeent at once signified theie belief in hia honesty, oad gave him looks of sym pathy, if aot approval; while the cooler and posfjibiy tho more judicious of his auditors eolsaly woighod these cssei'tiono agoinat the evi dence that had been advanced, and finding the result uns&tit factory, shook their iieods as ii unconvinced, and awaited fartfoes? devolop= mezito. Ttioy did not come, Tho iaqmry had reached it-i climns, and little, if anything, wos left to b© DDld!. Ms1. By?d, who frosa tho attitude oi the ooro° ncr could not fail to see Mr. Hildreth waa looked upon with a suspicion that would tilfci° mately end in arrest, decided tLofe his interest in the inquost wes at an end, and beiag &fcigaed0 gave up bis position at ths window aad qiietly gtol© auoy. (To he continued.)