Chapter 39428844

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Chapter NumberXXVIII-(CONTINUED).
Chapter TitleTHE CHIEF WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39428844
Full Date1888-06-09
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1840
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

Hand, awl Ring.

Br ASXA Iv.VTHARlXE GREKN. I

CHA FIER, XXVIII-(COXTINUED).

THE CHIEF WITNESS FOB THE FEOSECUTION.

Mr. Ferris went on.

" Where do you live Î " " In this town ? "

" With whom do yon live ? "

" I am hoarding at present with a womal of the name of Kennedy. I support mysel ?by my needle," she hurriedly added, ai

though anxious to forestall his next question

Seeing the prisoner start at this. Imogene lifted her head still higher. Evidently thii

. former lover of hers knew little of her move ments since they parted so many weeks ago

" And bow long is it since you supportée yourself in this way ? " asked the District Attorney.

." For a few weeks only. Formerly," she said, making a slight inclination in the di- rection of the prisoner's counsel, " I lived in the household of Mr. Orcutt, where I occu- pied the position of assistant to the lady who looks after his domestic affairs." And hoi

eye met the lawyer's with a look of pride that made him inwardly cringe, though not even the jealous glance of thc prisoner could detect that an eyelash quivered or a flicker disturbed the studied serenity of his gaze.

The District Attorney opened his lips as if to pursue this topic, but, meeting his opponent's eye, concluded to waive further preliminaries and proceed at once to thc more serious part of the examination.

" Miss Dare," said he, " will you look at the prisoner and tell us if you have any acquain

tance with him ?"

Slowly she prepared to reply : slowly sh< turned her head and let her glance travers* that vast crowd till it settled upon hei former lover. The look which passed like lightning across her face as she encountered his gaze fixed for the first time steadily upoi her own, no one in that assemblage evci forgot.

" Yes," she returned quietly, bnt in a tone that made Mansell quiver and look away despite his iron self-command, " 1 know

him."

" Will yon be kind enough to say how long you have known him and where it was you first made his acquaintance ? "

"I met him first in Buffalo some foul

months since," waa the steady reply. " Ht was calling at a friend's house where I was staying."

" Did you at that time know of his rela- tion to your townswoman. Mrs. Clemmens ? "

" No, sir. It was not till I had seen him several times that I learned he had any con- nections in Sibley."

" Miss Dare, you will excuse me, but it is highly desirable for the Court to know if the prisoner ever paid his addresses to you."

KfTbe deep, almost agonising blush that coloured her white check answered as truly as the slow "Yes," that struggled painfully to her lips.

" And-excuse me again, Miss Dare-did he ever propose marriage to you ? "

"He did."

" Did yon accept him ? " " I did not."

" Diu you refuse him ? "

" I refused to engage myself to him."

" Miss Dare, will you tell us when you left

Buffalo?"

" On the nineteenth day of August last." . " Did the prisoner accompany you ? "

" He did not."

"Upon what sort of terms did you part ?" " Good terms, sir."

" Do you mean friendly terms, or such as are held by a man and a woman between whom an attachment exists which, under favourable circumstances may culminate in marriage ? "

" The latter, sir, I think."

"Did you receive any letters from thc prisoner after your return from Sibley ? "

" Yes, sir."

"And did you answer them ? "

" I did."

" Miss Dare, may I now ask what reasons you gave the prisoner for declining his offer -that is, if my friend does not object to the question?" added the District Attorney, turning with courtesy toward Mr. Orcutt.

The latter, who had started to his feet, bowed composedly and prepared to resume

his seat.

" I desire to put nothing in the way of your eliciting the whole truth concerning this matter," was his quiet, if somewhat con- strained, response.

Mr. Ferris at once turned back to Miss Dare. " You will, then, answer," he said.

Imogene lifted her head and complied.

" I told him," she declared, with thrilling distinctness, " that he was in no condition to marry. I am by nature an ambitious woman, and, not having reflected at that time, thought more of my position before the

world than of what constitutes the worth

and dignity of a man."

No one who heard these words could doubt

they were addressed to the prisoner. Haugh- tily as she held herself, there was a depreca- tory humility in her tone that neither judge nor jury could have elicited from her. Na- turally many eyes turned in the direction of the prisoner. They saw two white faces before them, that of the accused and that of his counsel, who sat near him. But the pallor of thc one was of scorn, and that of the other-well, no one who knew the re- lations of Mr.-Orcutt to thc witness could wonder that renowned lawyer shrank from hearing the woman he loved confess her partiality for another man.

Mr. Ferris, who understood the situation ' as well as any. one, but who had passed the

point where sympathy could interfere with his action, showed a disposition to press his advantage. .

" Miss Dare," he inquired, " in declining the proposals of the prisoner, did you state to him in so many words these objections you have here mentioned ? "

"I did."

" And what answer did he give you ? "

" He replied that he was also ambitious, and hoped and intended to make a success

in life."

"And did he tell you how he hoped and

intended to make a success ?"

.. He did."

" Hiss Dare, were these letters written by yon ?" ?

She looked at the packet he held toward her, started as she saw the broad black ribbon that encircled it, and bowed her head. " I have no doubt these are my letters," she rejoined, a little tremulously for her. And unbinding the packet, she examined its con- tents. "Yes," she answered, "they are. These letters were all written bj me."

And she handed them back with such haste that the ribbon which bound them re- mained in her fingers, where consciously or unconsciously she held it clutched all through the remaining time of her examination.

"Now," said the District Attorney, "I propose to read two of these letters. Does my friend wish to look at them before I offer them in evidence?" holding them out to

Mr. Orcutt.

Every eye in the court-room was fixed upon thc latter's face, as thc letters address- ed to his rival by the woman he wished to make his wife were tendered in this public manner to his inspection. Even tho iron face of Mansell relaxed into an expression of commiseration as he turned and surveyed he man who, in despite of .the anomalous position they held toward each other, was thus engaged in battling for his life before the eyes of the whole world. At that instant there was not a spectator who did not feel tliat Tremont Orcutt was the hero of the moment.

He slowly turned to tbs prisoner : " Have you any objection to these letters being

read?"

" No, "returned thc other, in a low tone.

Mr. Orcutt returned firmly to the District I Attorney, "You may read them, if you think proper," said he.

Mr. Ferris bowed ; the letters were maik

I ed us exhibits by the stenographic reporter I who was taking the minutes or testimony, ' and handed back to Ferris, who proceeded

to read the following in a clear voice to the jury.

" SIBLET, N.Y., September 7,1882.

DEAR FEIEND-YOU show signs of impatience, and ask for a word to help you through this period of uncertainty and unrest. What can I say more than I hare said ? That 1 believe in you and your inven- tion, and proudly wait for the hour when you will come to claim me with the fruit of your labours in your hand. I am impatient myself, but 1 have more trust than you. Someone will seo the value of your work before long, or else your aunt will interest her- self in your success, and lend you that practical as- sistance which you need to start you in the way of fortune and fame. I cannot think you are going to fail/ I will not allow myself to look forward to any- thing less than success for yon and happiness for.my. self. For tile one involves the other, as yon must know by this time, or else believe me to be the moat heartless of coquettes. .

" Wishiug to see you, but of the opinion that fur- ther meetings between us wonld be unwise till our future looks more settled, I remain, hopefully yours,

"IMOC.ESE DIRE."

" The other letter I propose to read," con- tinued Mr. Ferris, " is dated September 23rd, three days before the widow's death."

"DEAR CRAIK,-Since you insist upon seeing me, and say that you have reasons of your own for not visiting me openly, I will consent to meet you at tho trysting spot you mention, though all such underhand dealings aro as foreign to my nature as I believe them to be to yours.

.' Trusting; that fortune will soon favour us as to make it unnecessary for us to meet iu this way more than once, I wait iu anxiety for your coming."

"iMoaiNF. DARE,"

These letters, unfolding relations that, up to this time, had been barely surmised by the persons congregated before her, created a great impression. To those especially who knew her and believed her to be engaged to Mr. Orcutt the surprise was well-nigh thrill- ing. The ;witness seemed to feel this, and bestowed a short, quick irlance upon the lawyer, that may have partially recompensed him for the unpleasantness of the general curiosity.

The prosecuting Attorney went on without

pause.

"Miss Dare," said he, " did you meet the prisoner as you promised ? "

"I did."

" Will you tell me when and where ? "

" On the afternoon of Monday, September 27th, in the glade back of Mrs. Cleininens'

house."

"Miss Dare, we fully realise the pain it must cost you to refer to these matters, but I must request you to tell us what passed between you at this interview ? " I

" If yon ask me questions, sir, I will | answer them with the truth the subject

demands."

TO BE CONTINUED.