|Newspaper Title||Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)|
|Trove Title||Who Was the Thief? A Story Founded on Fact|
WHO WAS THE THIEF?
A STORY FOUNDED ON A FACT.
AND DEDICATED TO T. H. BY " CORINDA;"
" I DON'T care ! I left the money on the table and it is gone. I accuse nobody, but no one but Peter was in the room."
" I am sure, father, Peter would never have taken the money.'
"Very well, my girl, stick to that opinion; but until the matter is cleared to my own satisfaction, Peter does not darken my door- way," and so saying" Mr. Samuel Hawkins, of Barrenjoey, selector, took up his pipe and walked out, leaving his daughter, to whom his remark had been addressed, to the conso- lation of a good cry.
Cælia Hawkins was the belle of Barren-, joey, and Peter Bell, her " bloke," as the population of the place irreverently termed him, was a fine, hard-working, young man. Peter, however, was poor, and had wisely determined not to marry until his selection showed signs of repaying him for the time and labour spent upon it. They were young, Peter sensibly argued, and there was time enough to meet the troubles of married life when there were a few pounds to the good to
meet them with.
Peter's mother was living, and he corres- ponded with her regularly ; and his his humpy
did not furnish the means of writing conveni- ently, he had, since his engagement to Cælia,. been in the habit of availing himself of the facilities afforded by a large table in Mr. Hawkins' best room. On the evening prior to that on which the conversation above
quoted took place, he had written as usual, late in the evening, and had taken his letter
home with him.
The next morning a five pound note which Hawkins had left upon the table was missing. No one had entered the room after Peter's departure, and none of the papers on the table had been disturbed. Hawkins was in a state of great perplexity. He had always had confidence in Peter, yet the nature of the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the money left little doubt as to its having been taken by him. He called Cælia, and a conversation ensued which terminated in the words with which this chapter commences.
Mr. Hawkins on leaving the house walked in the direction of Peter's clearing. He was a man who hated all underground work, as he termed it, and was resolved to let Peter know that he suspected him, and at the same time to forbid him his house. He had not gone far, however, when he met the subject of his thoughts on, horseback, and when the young man addressed him, the frankness of his demeanour, and the steady look in his honest eyes quite disarmed him.
"Is Cælia at home, Mr. Hawkins? I've got an invitation for her to the picnic," said Peter
out of breath.
"What picnic ? Yes, she's at home," an- swered Hawkins, who was wrapped in a confusion of ideas, and did not know how to get out of it.
"Well, I'll make tracks ; so long," said Peter, and he, without further ceremony, dashed off at a hand gallop in the direction of Mr. Hawkins' abode; leaving the owner
thereof to follow at his leisure.
Hawkins gazed at the retreating forms of Peter and his mare until they disappeared, and then sitting on a log filled his pipe—which having lighted, he puffed at vigorously, mus- ing the while over the disappearance of his money and the circumstantial evidence against Peter.
"That face," he thought as he pondered over the liniments of Peter, " is not the face of a man who would stoop to the commission of a paltry theft. Eyes that meet the gaze of a fellowman as steadily and boldly as those, are not the restless optics of a miserable prig, or of a crawling hypocrite; but yet common sense tells me that Peter took that "blue back," and unless he can clear himself he shall never be a son-in-law of mine. I suppose by this time Cælia has told him what I said, and there will be a shindy."
He started for home after having indulged in these reflections, but his pipe becoming foul, again sat down on a log and choosing a suitable grass stem proceeded to clean it out.
"No," he said to himself, " you can always tell a man by his eyes. I never knew a rogue who could look an honest man straight in the
Ah, Mr. Hawkins, your experience in this respect is only the experience of the world. Have you, reader, ever met men who when you have been talking to them seemed to be always gazing at something far away ? Whose eyes, all the time you were looking into them were wandering round you, above you, on to the earth, into the skies, anywhere, everywhere, while you were speaking, but never for one second returning the steadfast glances of your own. If so, shun such men, for their eyes are infallible indices to the falseness and the meanness of their owner's infinitesimal soul.