|Chapter Title||GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY.|
|Newspaper Title||Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 - 1876)|
|Trove Title||Harry Linton's Downfall: A Story of Old Sydney|
HARRY LINTON'S DOWNFALL. A STORY OF OLD SYDNEY. By R.A.ATKINS. CHAPTER X. GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY. " With scale in hand Dame Justice passed along. Before her, each with clamour, pleads the laws. Explained the matter, and would win the cause." Pope. "The lopped tree in time may grow again, Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower, The sorriest wight may find release from pain, The driest soil suck in some moistening shower. li Time goes by turns, and chances change by course From foul to fair. Robert Southwell. After reading Harry's statement, Mr. Camp proceeded with his defence. He called attention to the absurdity of supposing that anyone, in his senses, would have committed a crime like that with which his client was charged, knowing that there was no possibility of escape. Had his client attempted to leave Sydney then, indeed, it would have looked suspicious, but the fact of his not attempting to do so was a very satisfactory indication of his innocence, and went far to prove the truth of the statement which he had made. There was nothing in any of the evidence, except that of Cash, that was at all irreconcilable with the statement made by Linton. The witness Thorpe had said that on the 23rd Cash had left shortly after e breakfast, or at daybreak, and returned a about three o'clock in the afternoon. Such being the case, there was ample time for Cash to ride into Sydney and be back by three o'clock in the afternoon. Thorpe had said that Cash's horse was grazing within sight of the house all day. If that were so, it proved nothing - were there not other horses procurable, and did it not seem reasonable to suppose that Cash would purposely take a strange horse, to keep his visit secret ? He also alluded to the strange man who had given Harry the warning on the morning of his arrest, and the strange disappearance of Wilkins at the same time. Mr. Camp doubtless said much more than this, but we in vain run over the columns of the New South Wales Gazette of that date for a verbatim report of what was allowed on all hands to be a masterpiece of eloquence. The witnesses for the defence were two men who had seen a man on horseback on the South Road, some distance from Sydney, on the 23rd November, at about midday. They were at work, about fifty yards from the track. The man was something like Mr. Cash in appearance, and was tiding in the direction of Stone Quarry, at a hand gallop. They did not see his face, and afterwards came to the conclusion that the horseman could not be Mr. Cash, as his dress was of the kind usually worn by farmers or bush-men. Then followed the Colonel and officers of Harry's regiment, who all spoke in the highest terms of the young man's character ; but several of whom, in cross-examination, were constrained to speak of his losses at the races - his excited behaviour on the morning of the 23rd November, previous to his visit to the bank, and of the strange expression he had made use of -" I am playing a bold stroke for a rich prize." The evidence for the defence turned out to be of such a nature as to strengthen the prosecution; and when Mr. Camp at length sat down he had but poor hopes of an acquittal. The Judge then, summed up ; and clearly pointed out to the jury their duty - not to be Influenced by anything they may have heard out of court, but be guided solely by the evidence before them. The jury retired to consider their verdict, and great excitement prevailed in court during their absence. On their return in about half an hour, they found the prisoner guilty, on both counts. The Judge then proceeded to pass sentence. < Court in Sydney during a portion of Macquarie's governorship. He succeeded Judge Bent, who was unjustly recalled, through the influence of the Governor; for refusing to admit Sager, Crossley, and Charters, three emancipists who had been transported for forgery and perjury, as Attorneys of the Supreme Court. Judge Field was troubled with caccethescribondi, that is, as far as poetry was concerned. He published a volume of wretched doggrel under the title of "Botany Bay Flowers." The foillowing, addressed to the kangaroo, is a specimen :- " Kangaroo, kangaroo, Spirit of Australia. " >>
He was not a man who could see far ahead, but formed his opinions on the visible - on what he understood. He would never have made a detective, for he would have been too ready to judge from appearances, and never have been able to find out the motive which may be supposed to actuate any person committing a crime. To him the guilt of the prisoner was as clear as the day. He attached no weight to the fact that the alleged crime had been done in so open a manner as to insure certain detection ; he only knew that the prisoner had, in his own words, "played a bold stroke for a rich prize," and lost. The bold stroke, of course, was the forgery, the rich prize, the fifteen hundred pounds. Therefore, in passing sentence on the prisoner, the judge declared himself perfectly satisfied as to his guilt, and declaimed loudly on the terrible results which would accrue to society if rigorous measures were not taken to put down crimes of this kind. Harry Linton was sentenced to fourteen years hard labour upon the roads and public works of the colony, the first two years in irons. When the news of that sentence got abroad, it entered into some places as a pestilence. Poor Dora was stricken down by it, and lay on the bed of sickness tossing from side to side wildly, and continually raving cf gambling ling debts and "chained prisoners." On the day of Harry's arrest Mr. Camp had written a letter to his sister, asking her to break the news to Dora. This the old lady had done, bravely - for surely it requires bravery in one not naturally cruel to perform a duty which will wreck a young heart, and drive it out of the calm sea of hope and happiness into the tempestuous gulf of misery and despair. The poor girl bore the shock firmly. She was confident of Harry's innocence, and so, a poor simple child, thought his escape certain. She believed that virtue would meet its reward in this world, and that the right must conquer. What did she know of stupid jurymen, or the truth-hiding glitter of circumstantial evidence? So she hoped on - nay, before the trial commenced she had nearly entirely put away doubt as to the result of this terrible ordeal. Mrs. Grey trembled as she saw this, yet had not, with all her firmness, courage sufficient to undermine the girl's hope-built castles. At length the news reached them of Harry's conviction, and then, indeed, came grief, heavy, inconsolable. Dora sank under that horrible sentence, as though each word had been pestiferous. She knew no one, not even her father. It had been deemed expedient by Mrs. Grey not to allow her to depart from Parramatta until the result of the trial was known, so that it was in the house of her old friend that Dora was seized with illness. For weeks she hovered between life and death - knowing no one - heedful of nothing. The doctor said it was brain fever, - Mrs. Grey said heart fever. At length the crisis was past, and she was a once more able to rise from what at one time seemed doomed to be her death bed. But her spirit was broken, and she felt no pleasure, no enjoyment - nothing but an incurable pain, that all the drugs in the world would have been unable to relieve. Yet her illness, painful though it was, had been productive of good - it had been the means of eradicating thoroughly all her father's gambling propensities. What common sense, naturally honourable feelings, and repeated humiliations had failed to accomplish, the sight of his daughter's wasted form, and the sound of her fever-weakened voice had achieved. His cure had not been miraculous, i.e. doubtful, like that of an Inveterate drunkard, who in a single hour becomes a total abstainer, not even giving way to that heinous anti-teetotal sin, moderate drinking - but he had boldly and sternly set himself face to face with the evil of years growth, and conquered it, as ' such evils always must be conquered - after a hard, prolonged, and stubborn fight. After the trial he had disposed of his house in Macquarie-street, and bought a cottage close to the residence of Mr. Camp. And there the old friends would talk over the trial ; and the strange events which had caused the punishment of one whom they all believed to be innocent. Yes, they all believed Harry innocent. Colonel de Vere, and his brother officers were confident of it ; and ready to fight any man, at twelve paces, who would dare to utter a doubt on the subject. Indeed Captain Lambert, who, being the owner of Hector, looked upon himself as partly the cause of Harry's misfortunes, denounced the judge, jury, and crown prosecutor, in language more emphatic than polite. One evening, after mess, whilst swaggering up George-street, he met Mr. Cash, who was becoming rather presssng for the 'payment of certain monies, which the gallant captain owed him. Unforturtunately Harry's name was introduced into the conversation, how no one knows, but Mr. Cash expressed his sorrow that "a gentleman like Mr. Linton, should so far forget himself." He had no sooner uttered the words than the captain seized him by the collar and, with a horse-whip which he carried, administered a severe castigation. In consequence of this the gallant captain had to appear before the magistrates and was fined £20 for the assault. "The defendant," says the police court reporter of the day, " borrowed the money from the chairman, and paid the fine ; causing great laughter by inquiring if the court would allow him, to horse-whip the complainant again at the same price. " The news of the trial spread far and fast, as bad news always will, and finally reached the ears of old Squire Linton. I will not attempt to describe the mingled sorrow and indignation ; the misery which entered the hitherto jovial household of the fine old gentleman. Suffice it here to say that he declared that nothing should make him believe in his son's guilt. The thousand pounds worth of missing bank notes, had not yet been discovered, and Mr. Camp, who had put off his journey to England sine die, so as to do all that lay in his power to prove his client's innocence, had emploped private detectives to keep a watch on Cash, so as to discover, it possible, where he had hidden them. These men had managed, in Mr.Cash's temporary absence, to Institute a pretty rigorous search of his house and premises, but without finding anything. Mr. Cash had, in the mean time brought an action against the bank directors, and forced them to refund him fifteen hundred pounds. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Twelve months passed away, and still nothing occurred to change the positions of the various characters. Harry was working in the chain gang ; Cash, who had of late taken to "hard drinking," was filled with
triumph at his enemy's downfall, and chagrin at the impossibility of supplanting him in Dora's affections ; Mr. Camp and Colonel Winter were still watching and hoping for something to "turn up " to prove their friend's innocence ; Dora was dragging through life with a chilled heart, and Mrs Grey was acting towards her like a mother ; old Peggy had come with her master to Parramatta, and was continually " dratting" the judge, jury, and supreme court of New South Wales ; whilst thousands of miies away in the fair old county of Salop, in a fine old mansion, a white-headed, grief-worn country-gentleman, pondered on the hard fate of his only son, far from him, a captive in a strange land. One morning in the beginning of December, Mr. Camp and the Colonel were sitting beneath the verandah at the house of the latter, speaking on the one subject that was ever present to their minds, when a man who came from the direction of Sydney stood in the road, regarding them for some time as though undecided whether or not to address them. He had the appearance of a seaman, and had a certain watchful air about him, as though he were afraid of something. After a time, he came op to the side of the road nearest the house and enquired : " Does Sir John Winter live here ?" " Yes my man !" answered the Colonel, " I am Sir John Winter, what do you want ?" The man did not immediately answer the question, but appcared to be in a brown study : at length he asked looking at Mr. Camp : " Be that gentleman a friend of yours ? " "Certainly !" exclaimed the Colonel, whose face began to redden at these repeated questions. " Beg pardon !" said the man again, " but I've heard as how you be friends of young Luftenant Linton's, and I've suffin to tell you about him." Mr. Camp then rose and invited the man to a seat. He then asked anxiously ; "Am I wrong in supposing you to be Wilkin., Cash's late servant, who was missed ? " " You beant sir!" said Wilkins, for it was indeed he, " It's me safe enough, no thanks to Mr. Cash though, who tried to murder me." After the Colonel and Mr. Camp had expressed their astonishment at the man's sudden, and unexpected comment, the barrister said : " Something struck me when I heard the Shropshire accent that it must be you, for I remember what you said to Mr. Linton on the morning of his arrest. Now we are friends of the Lieutenant's, I was his lawyer ai the trial, and we want you to explain to us all you know of the case ; but first of all tell us how you disappeared." The man proceeded to narrate the occurrence that took place in Mr. Cash's house on the night of the 23rd of November, with which the reader is already acquainted. He then went on to explain that Cash had taken him into deep water, and there thrown him overboard. The fresh air had already partially restored Wilkins to consciousness, but he had too much sense to show it in his then weak state, as he doubted not Cash would have murdered him with his knife, had he shown symptoms of reviving. The sudden plunge into the cold water had further revived the man, and, as he was swept away by the current, he had managed to seize a cable by which a vessel was moored to a buoy. Here he held on ; and made himselt heard by some of the crew, who lowered a boat and relieved him from his perilous position. The vessel sailed at day break, and as they were short-handed, and Wilkins was a good. cook, they transferred their " doctor" to the forecastle, and Wilkins reigned in his stead. Arriving in England, it had been his intention to settle down on the land of his nativity, but the thoughts of Harry's probable fate, and a desire to be revenged on Mr. Cash, were too strong to be resisted ; so after a short stay "at home" he had again returned to Sydney. Alter Wilkins had told his story, an earnest conversation took place between the three, as to how they had best proceed to prove Harry's innocence ; Wilkins declared that he would postpone his own "settling up with auld Cash" until the " Luftenant were sale and sound ;" and the end of the conference was that, as Mr. Camp declared it necessary that the missing notes should be found, Wilkins should, at his own request, be empowered to take what steps he thought proper towards discovering where Cash had hidden them, and that the old soldier and lawyer should defray all expenses. Things being thus arranged, Wilkins who refused to give any idea of what his plans were to be, walked in the direction of Sydney.