Chapter 65517868

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-04-24
Page Number5
Word Count10932
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEuroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 - 1920)
Trove TitleA Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia
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A FINAL IEC(KONING."" A TALE OF BUSH LIFE IN AUSTRALIA. B- G. A. HENTY. CHAPTER III.-T- E BRnoLanYY aT T?E Sournen's. " What is that woman Whitney going to do with her boy ?" the squire asked the school master when he happened to meet him in the v-illage about a month after she had left. "Have you heard ?" "N'othing is settled yet, sir. My wife had a laetter from her two or three days ago sayinmg that she had been disappointed in getting Pen fold the mill-wright to take him. He wanted fifty potinds premium, and she couldonlyafford fo pay twenty, so she is looking out for some hmn?else. %'ou have hearl nothing more that woufd throw any light on that affair, squire ?" " 'o, and don'tsuppose I ever shall. Have yon hy opinion about it ?" " My opinion is that of Reuben himself," the schoolmaster said. "lHe believes that someone did it who had a grudge against him, on purposeto throw suspicion on him." "Who should have a grudge against him? " the squire asked. - - Well, squire, there was one boy in the illage who had, rightly or wrongly, a grudge against Reuben. That im Tom Thorne. euben has not a shadow of evidence that it was this boy, hut the lad has certainly been his enemy over since that affair of beaking the windows of the school, just before I cams here. Thorns, you know, did it, but allowed Reuben to be Punished forthe offence, and the truth would never have been known had it not been, as I heard, thatyour daughter happened to see the stone thrown. Since that time there has been' bad blood between the boys. I do not for a moment say that Thorne poisoned your dog, atilltheboys are near enough of asize for one to be mistaken for the other in the dark, and Thorne knew that Reuben had been bitten by the dog, for Reuben spoke to another bey about it that afternoon while Thorns was stand. f""by. Of conurs this is but the nvag?nefekl..u prsnon. ---1, LTsyou aekmny opinion, £ should say that I consider, from what I have heard of -e character of Tom Thorne, that he would be pinuch more likely to poison the dog in order to -et Reuben into disgrace, than lrenben would be t do so out of revenge because the dog had b,?Pen him." " -:The squire took off his hat and passed his •ands through his hair in perplexity. '"I don't know what to think, Shrewsbury," ,e said. "It may be as you say. Ilookupon Thorne as the worst character in the village, and likely enough his son may take after him. That ale-house of his is the resort of all the idle fellows about. I have strong reason to believe ie is in alliance with the poachers. The first time6 Iget a chance outhe goes. I have only been waiting for some time for an opportunity. I can't very well turn him out of his house without some excuse. What did you say was the name of the mill-wright at Lewes Mrs. Whitney was wanting to get her son with?" SThe schoolmaster repeated the name, which the squire jotted down in a note-book. "Look here, Shrewsbury," he said, " don't you mention to Mrs. WVhitney that you spoke to se about this matter. Do you understand?" "I understand, sir," the schoolmaster said. And he was not surprised when, a few days afterwards, his wife received a letter from Mrs. Whitney saying that Mr. Penfold had come in to say that he had changed his mind, and that be would take Reuben as his apprentice for twenty pounds, adding, to her surprise, that he should give him half a crown a-week for the tirt year, and gradually raise his pay, as he osnaidered that toys ought to be able to earn a little money for thesuselves. - Reuben. therefore, was going to work on the btllowing week. The half a crown a-week which he was to earn was an important matter for his mother. For although she had found a cottage and opened a little shop as before, her •eceipts were extremely small, and she had already begun to fear that she should be obliged to make another move, Lewes being too well supplied with shops for a small concern like hers to flourish. The half-crown a-week, however, would pay her rent, and she expected that she onuld mhke at any-rate enough to provide food -for herself and e?enen. Mrs. Whitneyhad hoped hatalthough Lewes was but four miles from the village, the story about the dog would not-travel so far, for it was not often that anyonefromthevillage went over to the town. In this, however, she was -istaken, for a week after Rouben had gone to work, the foreman went to his master and said: "Idon't knowwhether you are aware, ?Mr. Penfold, about that new boy, but I hear that he had to leave Tipping, where he was employed by Squire Ellison, for poisoning the squire's -dog." "0ow did you hoar it?"' Mr. Penfold asked. - William ~ Jenklns heard it from a mannamed Thorns, who belongs to the village, and whom bmet at a pUblie-houme yesterday." " William Jenkins had bestnotspend so much time in public-houses," Mr. Penfold said shortly. "I heard the story before I saw the boy, and from what I bear I believe he was wrongfully accused. Just tell Jenink that, and say that if lhear of him or any of the hands throwing thething ? p in the boy's face, I will dismiss them instantly." And so Renben did not know till long after that the story of the killing of the dog was known to anyone at Lewes. For three years he worked in Mr. Penfold's yad, giving much satisfaction to his employer bhis seadiness andand handiness. He continued his studies of an evening under the advice of histformer master, who came over with his wife three or four times each year to spend a day with Mrs. Whitney. Reuben was now receiving ten shillings a-week, and although the receipts of the shop failed he and his mother were able to liovein considerable comfort. One day, about three years alter coming to Lewes, he was re turning to .work after dinner, when, as he -sed a carriage standing in front of oneof the .hops, he heard his name pronounced, and the olour flushed to his cheek as looking up hesaw ate Ellison. Timidly he touched his cap and ould have hurried on, but the girl called to 'him. " Stop a minute, Reuben, I want to speak to yea I am glad I have met you. I have ook ed for you every time I have come to Lewes. I wanted to tell you thatI am sure you did notkill Wolf; I know you wouldn't have -done it. Besides, you know, you told me that uo?never told stoines, so when I heard that yOu said you didn't, I was quite sure about it." -o' Thank you, miss," Reuben said gratefully. 5I did not kill the dog. I should never have thought of such a thing, though every one -eeed against me." S"Hot every one,Reuben. I didn't think so; and papa has told me since that he did not thi so, and thathe was afraid that he had -made a mistake.' " "I am-glad to hear that, mise," Reuben aid. "The squire had been very kind to me, 5Vabtldbv speelal asuagement with the anthoo

and it has always grievedmo very much thathe should think me capable of such a. thing.. I felt angry at the time, but I have not. felt angry since I have thought it over quietly, for the case seems so strong a"ainst me that I don't see how the squire could have thought other wise. Thank you, miss. I sh'n't forget your kindness,'' and Reuben went on with a lieht heart, just as Mrs. Ellison and her elder" daughter came out from the shop. " Who were you speaking to, Kate ?" she asked as she took her seat in the carriage. " I was talking tq Reuben Whitney, mamma. He was passing, so I called him to tell himthat I did not believe he had killed Wolf." " Then it was very improper behaviour on your part, Kate," her mother said annily, for she had never quite recovered from the shock Mrs. Wlntney had given to her dignity. "You know my opinion on the subject. I have told you before that it is one I do not care to have discussed, and that Iconsider it very im proper for a gilof your age to hold opinions different to those of your elders. I have no doubt whatever that boy poisoned the dog. I must beg of you that you will never speak to, him agas." " Kate leaned back in the carriage with a little sigh. She could not understand why her mother who was so kind to all the village people, should beso implacable on this subject. But Kate, who wasnow betweenfourteenandfifteen, know that when her mother had taken up cer tain opinions. theywere not to be shaken, and that her father himself always avoidedargu sment'onipoints on which he differed from her. Talkins alone with hie doaughter the squire had, in answer to her sturdy assertion of Reuben's' innocence, owned to her that he himself had his doubtsion the subject, and that he was sorry he had dismissed the boy from his service ; but she had never heard him do more than utter a pro. test against Reuben's guilt being held as being absolutely proved when her mother spoke of his delinquency. But Kate was not one to desert a protege, and having been the means of Reuben'siutroduction to her father's, she had always .regarded herself as his natural pro tector, and Mrs. Ellison would not have been pleased had she known that her daughter had seldom met the schoolmaster without inquiring if he had heard how Reuben was getting on She had even asked Mr. Shrewsbury to assure him of her belief in his innocence,' which liad been done; but she had resolved that should she ever meet him, she would herself tell him so; even at the risk of her mother's displeasure. Another: year passed. - Reuben - was now. seventeen, and. was a" tall, powerfully-built young fellow. - During those four years he had never beenover to Tipping in the daytiine, but had occasionally walked over after dark to visit the Shrewaburys; always goingn special invitation when he Lkew that nno' one else would be there. ' The Thoines io lbonger ocenu piedthelittle puiblichouse. -Tom Thorne'had a yearbeforebeencaptsuredwith twootherpoachers' in the squire's woods, and had had, six months' hard labour, and his father had at once been ejected from his house, and, had disappeared. from that part of the country.. Reuiben was glad that they had left, for he had long before heard that Thorne had spread theostory"in Lewes of the poisoning of the dog. He felt,. however, with their departure all chance of his ever being righted in that matter' was at "ani end. . One evening in winter 'when Reuben had done his work he said to his mother: " I shall go over and see Mr. Shrewsbury to night. I have not been over for some time, and as it is not his night fora class I am pretty sure not to find any one there. I told him when I was there last that I would take over a few tools and fix up those shelves for him. I don't suppose he;will stay very much: longer at Tipping ;his health is completely re stored now, and even his wife admits that ha could work at his' ownbuasmess again. He has already been doing a little for some of the. houses heo worked for in town, so as to get his connection back .again. I expect every time I seehim to hear that he has made up his mind to go. 1He'.would have done it.two years back, but his wife and the' tvo little ones are so well that he did not like the thought of taking .them up to London, till he was sure that his health was strong enough to stand steadywork. I shall miss them very, much; he has been a rood friend indeedto me." ' ' " He has indeed," Mrs. Whitney siid. ?'" I think, anyhow, Reuben, you would have got on at your trade,' but you would never have been what you are now if it hadn't been for him. -Your poorfather.woldbe proud of you if he essld . a.,aa.c...d Z'.tat'ieo"tt when' you take off that workman's suit and put on your Sunday clothes, you look as well as if the mill had never gone wrong, and you had been brought up ashe intended you to be. Mrs. Tylerwas saying only the other day that you looked quite the gentleman and lots of people have said the same." " Nonsense,' mother," neusem answered, " thereis nothing of the gentleman about me. Of course:people say things that they think will please you, knowing that you regard me as a sortof wonder:. I hope I shall make my way some day, and the' fact that I have had a better education than most young fellows in my position of life of course may make some little difference, and will, -I hope, help me to mount the ladder when once I put my foot upon it." But although, no doubt, Mrs. Whitney was a partial judge, her opinion 'as to her son was not an incorrect one,' for with his intelligent face and quiet self-assured bearing he- looked very much more like a gentleman than many young fellows in a far better position in life. The stars were shining brightly when he started at seven o'clock in the evening, and he walked with a brisk' step until he arrived within half a mile of the village.. As he passed by the end of a lhne which ran into the road, he heard 'a' horse impatiently pawing the ground, the sound being followed by a savage oath to the animal to stand quiet. Reuben walked on a few steps and then paused. The lane, as he knew, only led to some fields a short distance away. What could a horse be doing there? and who could be the man who spoke to it? There had lately been several burglaries on lonely houses in that part of the country, and the general belief was that these had been perpetrated by men from London. "I daresav it's nothing," Reuben said to himself; still it is certainly curious, and at any rate there can be no harm in having a look." Walking upon the grass at the side of the road he retraced his steps to the end of the lane and then stood and listened. He heard a murmur of voices, and determined to follow the matter up. He walked quietly down the lane. After going about a hundred yards he saw something dark in the road, and approach ing it very cautiously found that it was a horse harnessed- to a gig. As he was standing wondering what to do next he started, for the silence was broken by some voices near him. "It was a stupid thing to get here so early, and to have to wait about for four hours in this ditch." " It was the best plan though," another voice replied. "Thetrap might have been noticed if we had been driving about the roads after dark, while in the daylight no one would give it a second thought." ."That's right enough," the first speaker said, ?but it's precious cold here. Hand me that flask again. I am blest if the wind does not come through the hedge like a knife." Thevoicescesnfeom othe other side of the hedge on the opposite side of the lane. Reuben roseed noiselessly. There was a gate just where the cart had stopped, and the men had evidently got over at to obtain the shelter of the hedge from the wind. Reuben felt the gats, which was old andrickety, thencautiously he placed his feet on the lower bar and leaned forward so as to look round the hedge. "What time are the others to be here, "They said they would he here at 9 o'clock. We passed them about six miles on the road, so they ought to be here to time." "I suppose there's no doubt about this here beiing a good businoss 1" "I will answer for that," the other said. "I don't suppose es there's much money in the house, but there's no end of silver plate, and their watches. and plenty of sparklers. Ihave heard say as there's no one in the county as has more jewels than the squire's wife.,' "You know the house well, don't you ?" " I never was inside," the other said, "but I have heard enough from them that has to know where the rooms lie. The plante chest is in the butler's pantry, and, as we are going to got in by the kitchen window, we are safe to be able to clear that out without being heard. I shall go on directly the others come and chuck this meat to the dogs-that will silence them. I know the way there, for I tried that on once before." Reuben had thought that the voice was familiar to him, and the words gave him the clue-the speaker was Tom Thorne!-and he and those with him were going to commit a burglary at the squire's. He was hesitating whether to make off at once to warn the squire of what was intended, or to listen and learn a little more'of their plan, when suddenly a light shone behind him, and a voice exelaimed with "W ho have we here-'" He leapt down, and was in the act of turning round to defend himself,'when a heavy blow with a cudgel struck him on the head and felled him insensible to the ground. While he had been listeningto the conversation two men had come quietlyup the lane, walking on the grassa as he ha done, and their footsttep hd

been unheard by him, for the horse continued at times impatiently to paw the ground. The sound of their comrades' voices had told them where they. were sitting, and turning on a bull's-eye lantern to show them the gate, they had seen Reuben loaning over it in the act of listening. When Reuben recovered consciousness he found that he was lying in the ditch, his hands tightly bound to his sides, and a handkerchief stuffed intolhis mouth. The four men were gathered close by talking in low tones. - "I ain't going to give up the job now we come so far to do it," one said, with an oath; "besides, it's not only the swag but the grudge I owe the squire. If I am ready to goon I suppose you needn't be afraid; besides, he don't know us." "Best cut his throat and 'a' done with it," a voice which Reuben recognised as that of his old enemy, said ::"I owe him one, and it will be safest to stop his mouth." "No, no," a third voice protested; "I ain't going to have nothing, to do with cutting throats. I: don't mind running, the risk of Botany Bay, but I ain't going to run- the chance of being scragged; but let's move a bit anay from here while we settle it; you hit him pretty. hard, but he will be coming round presently. I thought at first that you had killed him, but he's bleeding too free for that." The men moved some little distance away, and -for some' time Reuben could hear 'a murmured talk, but could make out nothing of what had been 'saed. It'.was, he judged, a' qluarter of an:hour.-sbeforo :the: enversation ceased; they did not return to' him, but re mained at some :distance. off, and 'Reuben thought that he heard 'the footateps of one -of them going down the lane. He could feel by a warm sensation across his cheek that the blood was flowing freely from the wound he had re ceived on his temple. A dull torpid feeling came over him, and after a time he again lost consciousness.' 'How long he'remained in this state he did not know,' but he was at' last aroused by being lifted and thrown-into the bottom of the cart. Four men then climbed up into it and the horse was started.: They drove at a quick pace, and Reuben wondered why they. wore taking him away with them. His bead ached terribly, and he suffered much from the. tightness of the cords which bound his arms. The men seemed in high'good-humour, and talked and laughed in low tones, but the noise of the vehicle pre-. vented Reuben hearing what wiis'said-.' , It was,' as faras he' could jiudge,:full two hours beforo the :vehicle. stopped. .Ho- was roughly taken out of, the cart, his arms.were unbound, and the men leaping up 'drove away at full speed. The spot where, he had been, left was very:dark, for trees overshadowed. it po both sides .' Where he, was lie had. inoidea, but ie judged that ho nmustbo fully- twenty miles from the.village. His first impulse was to take the haudkerchief fro?i his mouth, 'and? lie then 'walked slowly along the road in the direction from which he had come. ' It was, he felt sure, no use oliouting, for.they.woul-l have been certain tohave selected some. loiely spot to' set him down. and there . would be :no chance of awakening the -;inhabitants of any. distant cottage> He walked slowly, for he, wias faint with Inss of. blood. After priceeding about a quarter of a msile he einerged from. the .:wobd and ,came, upon aspot where' the" 'rdadt forked. :Having no elue whatever as to the direction in which Lewes lay, he sat down upon a heap 'of stones and waited patiently for morning. ! He had no'doubt that the burglary had::boen'"a' successful one, and' he bitterly regretted his neglect' to keep 'a watch 'down the :lane-to see that he was not surprised by the men:he had heard were coming. :-.At:any rate he': hoped that hoshould be able to give such in formation as would set the constables upon. the'track. ' 'It seemed to' him that some three hours Passed before a faint light began to' dawn iu By this he knew that it must be about' half-past six, and 'alculated, therefore, he must have set out in: the'trap about half past one.:i He now started to walk along the road, hoping that he should soon meet some labourer going to. work. Stopping by a small stream which ran across the' roa he washed his head and face; as he had lain on the ground after being struck the blood had not flowed on to his clothes. After the wash he proceeded with a brisker step. Half an hourlaterhe met a ploughman riding oneof his team to the fields. "ie ta i- the road to Lewes F" Reuben asked. "Lewe ? Noa, this baint the road to Lewes. I don't know nothing about the road to Lewes. This bee the road to Hastings,' if you goes further. So they tell me; I ain't never been the-e." " Is there a village anywhere about here?" Reuben asked. " Ay, half a mile orso on." Reuben walked on till he got to the village, and then going to a public-house obtained some refreshment and learned from the landlord 'the direction he should take to get to the main road leading to Lewes, which was, as he ex pected,- some twenty miles away. He found that the cart had not. followed the main road towards London, buthad driven by cross-roads for a considerable distance before turning north... It was late in the afternoon- before Reuben arrived at Lewes, for he had' been obliged to rest often by the way, and had made but slow progress. Whenowithin':a'few? doors of his mother's house, one of the constables of the town came up to him and touched him on the shoulder. "I arrest you in the king's name!" "Arrest me !. what for?" Reuben ex claimed.. "For breaking 'into' the house' 'of Squire Ellison, of Tipping, that's what it's for." Reuben laughed. " "''Yo have cot the wrong man this time. I have no more todo with the burglary than a child.".' "It's no laughing matter," the constable said. "If you aro innocent you have got to prove it; that ain't no business of mine. All I have got to do is to arrest you." So saying, and before Reuben knew what he was about, he slipped a pair of handcuffs over his wrists. Reuben flushed up. Hitherto he had scarcely taken the matter seriously, but to be marched handcuffed through the streets of Lewes was an indignitythich enraged him. " Take these off," he said angrily; " I will go quietly with you." "You may or you may not," the nsan said doggedly, "you are younger than I am, and maybe can run faster; I ain't agoing to chance it." Reuben saw it was no use to argue, and silent and pale he walked along by the side of the constable, who retained a tight hold of his collar. A little crowd gatherd speed ily round, for such a sight was unusual in Lewes, and Reuben felt thankful when they reached the cells and he wassheltered from the gaze of the public. A minute later the head-constable came "Now, my lad, don'tsay anything to crimi nateyouroelf,"hebegan; "the less you talk the better for you. Iam sorry to see you here, forI knew your father, and I have a good char acter of you from your employer; so I give you my advice-keep your mouth shut." "LBut lam not going to keep my mooth shut," Reuben said indignantly. "*Here am I arrested in the public streets, marched hand cuffed through the town upon a most monstrous charge, which bas been brught against me without a shadow of evidence." "Don't be talking, don't be talking," the constable said testily; "you will hear the evi dence in time enough." "But I will talk. I want to tell you what's happened,andyouwillsee thatI am innocent at once." "Very well, if you will; but mind, don't blame me afterwards." Reuben told the story of his adventures fror. the time of leaving. "There," he said when he had flnish,:d, " isn't that enough to show that am in necent?" "No," the chief constable said gravely, "it's not enousgh to prove anything one way ,rtho other. I am bound to say the story looks a-likely one, and if it weren't for two or three matters which I heard of from the constable who came overfrom Tippisig, I should have no doubt about it. Rowever, all that is for the mnagistrato to decide; there will be a meeting to-morrow..' "But can't I be taken before a magistrate at once. There's Captain Fidler within a mile." " What would be the good F' the chief cons tablesaid; "you don'tsuppose anyone would let you out on the story you have told me; he could only 'remand you, andyou could gain "Can I see my mother?" Reuben asked next. "Yes," the constable said, " I will send her down a message at once." Mrs. Whitney soon came up. A neighbour had brought her in the news when Reuben had been arrested,andshe was on the point of starting to inquire about it when the message arrived. She was more indignait than grievedL.when she heard the' charge which had been brought against Reuben. "The idea of such a thing!" she exelaimed. "Theee constables don't seem to have natural sense. The idea of charging any one who is known as a respectable yosng man with such a thing as that, and shutting lil up witlisat a

question. Why, there can't be any evideTnce against you." ' There's no saying, mother," Reuben re plied; "you mustn't be too sure of that. Don't you remember that affair of the dog? Well the same hand is at work now. Before I only suspected who had dosri it, but I ami sure now. However, whatever evidence they have got we know it isn't true. I have four years' good character here to speak for me. Still,-it is hard that I should get into positions of this sort without any fault of mine." "It's better that it is without any fault of yours, Reuben.". "That is right enough, mother, so we will both keep up our oririts." CHAPTER IV.-Tmn Terra. nero were three magistrates on the oench on the following mornming when Reuben was brought up. The justice,room was crowded, for the series of burglaries had caused some excitement, and the news that the house of Mr. Ellison had been broken into, and that one of the' men who had been taken turned out to belong to Lewes, had created quite a sensation. Mr. Ellison was the first to give his evidence. He testified that on waking on the previous morning he found that some one had been in his room during the night. te was not in the habit of locking his door, and had not been awakened. He found that a box which stood on the dressing-table, containing some valuable jewellery, was gone; that his watch and that of Mrs. Ellison had been taken; that the drawers hbad been opened and a ease ontaining the more valuable jewels of his wife had also been abstracted. This was not discovered till 'afterwards. He first missed his watch. He rang the servants up, for it was still early, and it was then discovered that the lower premises had been broken into, the plate-chest in the butler's pantry broken open, and a large quan tity of plate stolen. "What do you estimate the value of the articles stolen, Mr. Ellison?" " The value of my wife's jewels I should put down roughly at two thousand pounds, the silver plate might have been worth -three hun dred more, the watches. and other articles, :so for asI yet miss them, say another hundred." The servants :proved that they found the kitchen window open on going down-stairs. It had been opened by the catch beingforced back. It Was not the custom to lput up shutters; the pantry-ddor; which was a strong one.:had been cut with a saw rounid the lock. The butler testified to the plhit hltviug been safe the night before, hnd the stron?, chest in which it ,was kept having'been forced open. - SDirectly it was disco~ered theconstable of the village was placed in charge of the room with orders to admit no one, and a man on horseback was sent off to Lswes-to the -chief constable. Thovillage constable gave' evidence as to~the state ofthe place when he was put in charge. The constable who had been sent over from Lewes then stopped into the witness-box. He testified to the marks of entry of the thieves, and said that the msnner in which they had gohe to'irork, and in which the door had been sawn throhgh, a''d the' chest' forced open, seemed to show that it was the workof practised hands. ~O ? dxbamiiiiliag closely the butler's antry he found a powerful screw-driver and a heav chisel; these correspondedto markasi the lid, and had evidently been used for the purpose of forcing it open. , They had the initials " W.' " iibrnit in the handles. -The inmates of the hoiise all' dehied any knowledge of these tools.. .Mr. Ellibon hiad been present when he sh?owved thicm tol Mrs. Ellison. On looking at theiashe said at once-: '- "- ' R. W. Why, that must be R?uben Whstney, that wicked boy again." " " - - SUponinaking inquiries he found that the man namedworked atMr. Penfold's, the mill-wright at Lewes.. . He returned there at once, and, going tol1r.: Penfold, found the prisoner was absent from work. The men identified the brand on the tools as that of the prisoner. Another constable pioved the arrest. The chief constable then read the statement that the prisoner had made to him. The magistrates conferred together for a few minutes in an undertone. "Mrs. Ellison," the senior of them said, ad- dressing that lady, who was sitting on a chair placed at the upper end of the court, "we are sorry to trouble you, but we must ask you to go into the witness-box. I wish to ask you," he went on when she had taken her stand in the box "how it was you at once connected the initials with the prisoner?" - "Because he hbad at one time lived in the village, and was employed assisting our gardener. He was discharged on suspicion of having poisoned a watch-dog which had bit him; and as the three dogs about the place had all been poisoned on the night when the house was broken into, his name had been in my mind, and, on seeing the initials, I naturally recognised them at once." There was a deep silence in the court when Mrs. Ellison gave her evidence. Hitherto the impression had been rather favourable to the prisoner. His story, though strange,' had been by no means impossible, and, if true, would have completely accounted for the find. ing of the tools, which were the only evidence against him. The evidence of Mrs. Ellison, however, entirely altered the complexion of the case. Reuben had stood quiet and composed during the hearing.. His countenance had evinced no surprise or emotion when the tools were pro duced. He had, indeed, upon thinking the matter over before coming into court, come to the conclusion that the tools, which he had in a small basket at the time he was attacked, had been found in or near the house, having been left there purposely by Tom Thorns in order to throw suspicion upon him; their production therefore was no surpise. A slight shade had passed over his face when Mrs. Ellison entered the witness-box. Glancing at the squire as she gave her evidence, Reubeir saw that Mr. Ellison looked greatly vexed and annoyed. As before, at the conclusion of the evidence of each witness, Reuben was asked if he had any question to put. He hesitated for a moment, and then as before replied in the negative. Again the magistrates consulted together. "Mr. Ellison, we shall be obliged if you will enter the witness-box again. In your former evidence, Mr. Ellison, you said nothing in any way relating to the prisoner, but it now seems you had a previous acquaintance with him. Will you tell the court what it is?" "I have not much to say," the squire said. " As a boy he lived in the village with his mother, a most respectable person, and widow' of Jacob Whitney, a miller in a good way of business, who as it may be in your memory, was found drowned in his mill-pond some seven or eight years ago. The widow being in reduced circumstances, settled in Tipping. The boy was an intelligent lad, and when the boy employed in my garden left I gave him the lace. e gave every satisfaction. One day e was severely bitten by the watch-dog, and three days later the dog was found poisoned. My gardener saw a boy running away from the spot a quarter of an hour before the dog died; he believed it tobe the prisoner, but it was two dark for him to distinguish the features. "' At the time I certainly suspected that he had been guilty of poisoning the dog, and -in spite of his denying that he had anything to do with it, as he was unable to asount for where he was atthe time the boy was seen, I di- - charged him. I wish to say publicly that I have deeply regretted having done so ever since, and that I consider I acted hastily and wrongly in so doing. Considering his previous good character I ought not to have assumed his guilt without more positive evsdence than I had before me. I may also say that the school master of our village will gsve the prisoner the highest character for truthfulness, and he has known him ever since. His present employer, Mr. Penfold, is also, I believe, ready to testify to his excellent conduct during his four years of I suppose, Mr. Ellison," the senior magis tratesaid, "you have not, at any time since the poisoning of the dog, obtained any actual evidence wich would show that you were mistaken in your first view, and that your subsequent change of opinion was due solely to your general view of the boy's character, so far as you knew it." "That is so," the squire assented, and no further question beinsg asked he resumed his seat. His evidence had caused surprise and some little amusement in court. It was clear that there was astrong difference of opinion between him and his wife on the subject. and that, while the lady had something like an animus against the prisoner, the squire was .strongly impressed in his favour. Afte: some consultation the magistrate said : "The case will be remanded until this day week to see if further evidence is forthcoming; butI maysay that, under the present circum stances of the case, we shall feel ourselves obliged to send it for trial. The prisoner's account of his proceedings from the time heleft Lewes on the previous evening up to that of his return and arrest here may be true, but so far it is entirely unsupported. On the other hand, we have the evidence of the tools, admitted to belong to him, being found on the scene of the burglary.- We have the further inportant fact that he had been formerly emlyed pon the place,andhaditmaybeenppose someknnwledge of the premises; he bad been discharged upon a suspisson, rightfully or wrongfully entertained. of ? having poisoned • dog beloning to Mr. the dogs poeisoned before the btralary were got at by .some ??i ait l, werit e tplaer . .

"Will it be any use ly calling evidence asto character at the next meeting ?" Reuben asked. "No," the magistrate said; " evidence of that kind will be useful at the trial, when the matter will be thoroughly sifted. We have only to decide that there is prima facic evidence connecting you with the offence, and of that there can be no doubt." At the sitting a week later no fresh evidence was produced, and Reuben was committed for trial at the next assizes. .Public opinion in Lewes ran high on the subject of Reuben's guilt or innocence. The other workmen at the nill-wright's were strongly in his favour-he was very popular among his fellows-and they pointed out that several hands must have been concerned in the bhusiness, that he was never seen about in public-houses of an evening, or was likely to have any connection with bad characters. Was it probable, if he had gone about sunn a job as that, he would have taken tools marked with his own initials, or, if he had, that he would have been fool enough to leave them behind ? Upon the other hand, opinion in general ran strongly against him. His story was declared to be utterlyimprobable, and a fellow who had once been dismissed for poisoning a dog would be likely at any future time to revenge himself upon the employer who turned him off. As to Mr. Ellison's declar.tion of his subsequent opinion that he acted hastily, little weight was attached to it. Everyone know Squire Ellison was :a kind-hearted man, and as he acknow ledged himself that he had obtained no evidence which would satisfy him that he had acted wronglyin the first case, it was clear that it was from mere kindness of heart that he had changed his mind on the subject. At Tipping the subject was never mentioned. The squire and Mrs. Ellison. on the drive home, had the most serious quarrel which had ever taken place 'during their wedded life, which had ended by the former saying: "If anyone had ever told me before, Mary, that you were a vindictive woman I should have knocked him down. I might do so now, but I should know in my heart that he had spoken truly. For some reason or other you took a prejudice against that boy, and you never forgave his mother for standing up in his defence. I was shocked, downright shocked, whien you gave your evidence in court." Mrs. Ellison had been too much offended to reply, and the rest. of the drive had been passed in silence. -Upon their return home the girls were full of; eager qluestins, but the squire said shortly:. "My dears, the less we talk about it the better.- Your mother and I differ entirely on the-subject.. She believes that Reuben Whit ney is guilty. I am absolutely convinced he is innocent; therefore, if you please, we will not discuss it." . The following morning Kate Ellison went down to the svhoolhonse. "Mr. Shrewsbury," she said, putting her head in at the door, " "could you come out for two or-three minutes?. I want speak to you: Have you heard what took place yesterday at Lewes?', she asked when he came out. - S"Yes, Miss Ellison, I-saw Jones the con stable last night, and he told me all' that had been said in court." "And you think Reuben Whitney is. lnio cent?" she asked eagerly. . ; " I am quite sure of it, Miss Ellison-as-sure as I am of my own existence. For anyone who knows him to have a doubt is absolutely absurd. A finer young fellow than Reuben it would be hard to find.1' "But-what did he-say? HIow did he account for his tools being found there?" The schoolmaster repeated the account Reuben had given. and said : " When the trial comes off I shall, of course, go over, and testify both as to his general conduct and to the fact that he had, as he said, promised to bring over his tools to put up some shelves in my cupboards." S"Do you think he will get off, Mr. Shrews bury?"-she asked anxiously. "I should hope so, Miss Ellison, but I can't disguise from myself that it is by no means certain. That unfortunate old business about the dog will tell terribly against him, and, though I am" perfectly sure that his account of what took place is correct, there is nothing to confirm it. It is just the sort of story, they will say, that he would naturally get ip to account for his absence and tor the tools being found. Of course if the jury knew him ns wei as Ido the result would be certain; but I have been trying to look at the facts as if he were a stranger, and I can't say what decision I should come to in such a case. Still, of course, the high character that will be given him, and the fact that there is no evidence whatever connecting him in any way with bad characters, must count immensely in his favour." The assizes were to take place only a fort night after the date of Reuben's committal. Mrs. Whitney had engaged a lawyer in the town to defend her son, and, to the surprise of this gentleman, Mr. Ellison called upon him two or three days later and said: "Mr. Brogden, I hear that you have been engaged by Mrs. Whitney to defend her son, I don't believe the young fellow is guilty, and therefore I authorise you to spend any sum that may be necessary in getting up his defence, and I wish you to instruct a counsel to appear for him. Of coarse I cannot appear openly in the matter, and my name must not be mentioned, but I will guarantee all expenses. It seems to me that it would be desirable to find out, if possible, the village where he save he breakfasted and asked the way to Lewes. In his story he says he didn't know the name of the village, but, as he was told it was about twenty miles from Lewes, and he can describe the road he followed, there ought to be no difficulty in finding it. I should advise you to have a chat with Shrewsbury, the schoolmaster at Tipping. He is a great friend of the lad's and a very intelligent fellow; he may be able to suggest some points to be followed up. At anyrate do all you can." Reuben had another adherent who was also acting on his behalf. The afternoon before the trial Kate Ellison stopped before the black. smith shop in the village, and seing that Jacob Priestley the Smith was at work alone she entered. "Is it true, Jacob, that you have been summoned on the jury at Lewes, to-morrow ?" "Yes, miss, it bee true, sureley. It be four years since anyone in the village was summoned, and it be mighty hard that they should have picked neon me. Still I have never been called before, so I suppose I mustn't grumble; but it be hard to be taken away from work to waste one's time in a court, and they sav the 'sizes ull last for three days." " Well, Jacob, you know that Reuben Whitney is going to be tried for robbery at our house." "' Yes, miss; so they says." "Well, what do you think about it, Jacobs ' "I don't think nothing one way or the other, niss.. Most folks says as how he must have done it,'cause as how he poisoned squire's dog afore." "lHe didn't do anything of the sort, Jacob, and it's very wicked of people tosay so. Ho is innocent, quite innocent, I am sure he is; and papa is sute aure too; and he will be terribly puut t hlue is found guilty; so I want you to promnise me that, whatever the others think, you will hold out that he is innocent." " Well, miss," the smith said, scratching his head, "if you be sure of it, and squire be sure, I suppose there can't be no doubt about it, for who should know better than squire; and I am sure I wouldn't go to put him about, for a better landlord than squire ain't to be found in the countr, so you tell him, miss, as I will hold out." "But papa doesn't know that I have come down here, Jacob. It wouldn't do for him to nterfere you know, especially as he is a magistrate himself. You mustn't mention to anyone that I have spoken to you about it tot to anyone, Jacob, not even to your wife; but I can tell you the squire will be heartily pleased if hlie is found innacent, and he will be terribly put out if he is found guilty." "All right, miss," the smith replied. "I understand; and no one shan't know as you hve spoken to me aboot it. It be quite enough for I to know as the squire knows as he's innocent It ain't likely as I should stick my opinion up against his." "The day after he heard of Reuben's arrest the schoolmaster went over to see him, and as he was the bearer of a letter from Mr. Ellison to the Governor of the jald he was able to obtain admittance. '"Was there ever such an unfortunate fellow as I am ?" Reuben exclaimed after the first hearty greeting. "Here amI for the second time saused of a crime of which I am innocent, and from which, indeed, in the present case I ani a asufferer, and all this has come about simply because I went out of my way to inquire into what seemed to be a suspicious business." " Tell me all about it, Reuben. I have heard the statement you made to the chief constable; but tell it me again, with every detail you can think of. Some circumstance which appears to you as trifling may furnish a clue." '"I .have seen. Mr. Brogdsea the lawyer. I have told him all that happened," leuben said; " but of course I wil gladly tell you again." - Aind Reuben repeated the story of the ad venture with ever detail that he could think of, dpeaking low yath "chooinaster wrote as~~ waa

" I will see what I can make of it when I think it over," Mr. Shrowsdury said. " Of course as it stands it is so natural and probable that it would clear you at once had it not been for that unfortunate dog business before, and the suposition excited by it that you had a fcel ing of hostility to the squire. I shall be able partly to dispose of that, for I can swear that you have frequently spoken to me of the squire in tones of respect and liking, and that, al though you regretted the manner in which you left his service, you felt no ill-will against him on account of it. Moreover, I shall be able to prove that the seasons you gave for having your tools with you was a true one; and al though I cannot swear that I expected you specially on that evening, the fact that you were in the habit of coming over at times to see me cannot but corroborate your story. I shall get leave for two or three days, and will hunt up the village where you breakfasted." "Thank you very much," Reuben said, "though I have been thinking it over, and do not see that the evidence of the people at the public-house would help me much. It will simply prove that I passed through there in the morning, but will not show in any way whether I went willingly as far as that, as one of the party who broke into the house, or whether I was taken there." "They can probably prove that you looked pale andaexhausted," the schoolmastersaid. "I fancy I should look pale in any case," Reuben said, " if I had gone through such a night's work as that of breaking into the squire's." "WVell, keey up your conrage, euonben. Yo?n maybe quite sure that the friends will do all in their power for you. I shall go now and have a chat with your mother. I am afraid that she will want comforting more than you do." "Yes," Reuben agreed, "I am afraid so. Somehow I don't seem totake it to heart much. 'I shall feel it more afterwards,Terhaps; but at present the whole thing seems so extraordinary, that I can't quite realise that I am in danger of being sent to Botony Bay. The worst of i is that, even if I am acquitted, lots of people will still thinkI am guilty. There is only onie thing that can really prove my innocence, and that is the arrest of Tom Thorne and his father." "I hear," the schoolmaster said, "that the chief constable has written up to Bow Street for them to put the runners on the traces of those two scoundrels. Whether they believe your story or not, it is quite evident that more than one person was concerned in the affair. Their theory, of course, is that you quarrelled with the others over thodivision of the spoil,aind got that knock on the head, which is a very severe one. I went down yesterday withJones to see the spot where you said you were assaulted. Therewere marks where the horse stopped, and marks of feet in the field, and a patch of blood, all of which goes to prove that your story maybe true, but unfortunately it' doesn't prove that it was; because, according to the theory against you, you might have been assaulted after the robbery as well as' before ' But in that case," Rcuben said;, why should they have taken the trouble to.carry me twentymiles away?"' " - "Yes, there is, of course, that question,"" the schoolms?ter`said' thcughtfdlls- ." bunt then, on:the other hand, why did they take the trouble; n'case you were not an accomplice? In both cases the answeris the same-they did it to pirevent your giving the alarm initil they had got far away from the scene. :They didn't like to murderyou because of the consequences to themselves, but they would not risk your recovering consciousness and- getting up an early oursuit. It cuts both'ways; you see." " Si it does," Reuben assented.'" It's just a' question of belief, and I own myself that that old dog business is very much against -me, and that I can't blame anyones 'who 'considers me guilty." Reuben's was the last case taken at thi assizes, and occasioned a good deal of 'interest in that part of Sussex, partly owing to the position of Squire Ellison, partly to the nature of the defence set up, asto which opinion was a good deal divided. The evidence for the prosecution was to a great extent similar to that given at the in quiry before the magistrates. Unfortunately forReuben, the judge was notoriously a severe one, and his bias from the first appeared to be against the prisoner. Mr. Ellison was closely questioned by the prosecutor as to the poisoning of his dog, as this was considered to show a particular animus on the part of Reuben; he again repeated his conviction of Reuben's innocence in that affair. "But what reason have you, Mr. Ellison," the counsel for the prosecution asked blandly "for changine your opinion on the subject ?" This was just the question which the squire mould not answer satisfactorily, and was a par ticularlyirritating one, because it had often beeon triumphantly asked by his wife. "I can really give no particular reason," he said, " except that on reflection the boy's pre vious character and antecedents convinced me that he could not have done such an act." "In fact," the counsel said evsvely, "you were influenced by your own goodness of heart, Mr. Ellison, m thus laying aside a con viction which the facts had at the time forced upon you." "I don't look upon it in that light," the squire replied shortly. "I consider that in the first instance I acted hastily and unadvisedly, and on consideration I saw that I had done so." "I am afraid, Mr. Ellison," the counsel said, "that you will not persuade the jury to agree with you." "I have only one or two questions to ask you," the counsel for the defence said when he rose to cross-examine, "for indeed your evi dence is, as I think the jury will agree, alto. gether in favour of the prisoner. In the first ilace, was the lad, when in your employment, ever upstairs in your house?" "Not that I know of," the squire replied. "' Certainly in the course of his duties he would never be there. Indeed it would be very seldom that he would even enter the kitchen, except to bring in vegetables. Certainly 'he sould never pass through to go upstairs; he could not possibly have done so without ex citing attention and remarks." "He would, therefore, Mr. Ellison, have no means of possessing any knowledge as to the internal arrangements of your house beyond that possessed by the other people in the village." '"None whatever," Mr. Ellison replied. " Now, as to that unfortunate affair of the poisoning of your dog. Your opinion as to the innocence of the prisoner in that matter is not a recent one-not the outcome of his after good conduct and character?" "Not at all," Mr. Ellison said. "I changed my opinion on the matter very shortly indeed after the affair." "Within a few days I think I may say?" the counsel asked. "Within a very few days; I may almost ay within a few hours." the squire replied. :The boy's story, told not to me but to mother, that he believed the dog was poisoned by another lad in the village who owed him a grudge, and who has since turned out an exceedingly had character, struck me as being very much more probable than that he should do ,t himself." Mrs. Ellison was next called. Her evidence as to the robbery was a mere repetition of that given by the squire. The counsel then urned to the question of the poisoning. " I would rather soy nothing about it,"' MIrs. Eilison said. "It is a matter which has been productive of much pain to me, and I would ather say nothing about t." "But you must, madam," the judge said sharply. "You are here to answer any ques tion which may enable the jury to form an opinion on this case." "I am sorry to press you, Mrs. Ellison," the counsel continued. "but I really must do so. You took a different'opinion to that held by ;our husband ?" "I regret to say that I did. Mr. Ellison old me the reasons he had for asuspecting the oy. I thought those reasons sufficient, and ave seen no cause for changing my opinion." After the evidence for the prosecution had been given, the counsel for the defence pointed out that there was in fact no evidence what ever connectini Reuben with the robbery beyond the discovery of his tools on the premises; and that as to this trumpery story of the poisoning a dog four years before, appa rently only for the purpose of showing some sort of animus, he regarded it as altogether contemptible. When a man meant to commit a burglary in a house, he did so in order to obtlin possession of the goods, and not from any spite against the owner. Had this young fellow felt any malice for this ridiculous charge on which he had been dismissed, he would not have allied himself with burglars to rob the house, but would probably have vented his spite in the usual fashion by setting fire to a stack or outhouee; but so far as he could see, there was no foundation for the charge brought against him, and they had already heard Mr. Eltison declare that he regretted he had suspected him, and that he believed him to be innocent. But even had it been proved up to the hilt that the prisoner had poisoned the dog, he should still hold it as wholly unconnected 'with the present matter.' If he had poisoned the dog, what then? It was not a heinous sin, nor would it affect his moral character. No boy likes having a piece taken out of his calf by a savage dog, and there wouldhave been nothing so very dreadful bad he revenged him self.. It was probable that even among the jury there was one or more who, if he hadnot

absolutely set poison for his neighbour's cats, for destroying his young chickens or scratching up his flower-beds, har threatened to do so, and would not have regarded it as a very serious crime had he done so. Therefore eq contended that the jury shbuld put this trumpery affair altogether out of their minds, on the double ground that; in the first place the prisoner at the bar did not poison the dog, and that had he done so it would have had nothing whatever to do with the present affair. " Why, gentlemen," he said, "it is aninsult to your understanding to ask you to credit that this young fellow, whose character, which I shall presently prove to you by unimpeachable evidence, is of the highest kind, has for four years cherished such malice against his em ployer for dismissing him mistakenly, that he has become the consort of thieves and burglars, has stained his hands in crime, and rendered himself liable to transportation for the purpose merely of spiting that gentleman. Such a con. tention would be absolutely absurd. I must beg you to dismiss it altogether from your mind, and approach it from a different stand oint altogether. Divested of this extraneous usiness the matter is a most simple one. The prisoner left his mother's cottage at seven o'clock in the evening to go over for an hour or two to his friend Mr. Shrewsbury, the schoolmaster of Tipping. He took with him a few tools, as he had promised to put some shelves in his friend's house. On the- way he heard some talking down a lane, which he knew led to only-a field. Thinking it strange he went to see who it was, and some distance down he found a horseund cart standing, and, listening to the conversation of two men who were sitting under the hedge, he heard enough to inform him that a burglary was intended upon the house of Mr. Ellison. He was about to make off to give the alarm, when he was suddenly attacked by some men who had come up behind, and was felled to the ground. While lying insensible he was bound hand and foot and lent in a ditch, where he remained till the burglars returned from completing the work on hand. They then threw him into the cart, and pu t him down some twenty milesaway. Being greatly exhausted by loss or blood it was late in the afternoon before he arrived at Lewes, when he was at once arrested. This gentlemen, is the prisoner's story as relates to the chief constable when he was taken to the lock-up. Nothing can be simpler or more probable, and in some points at least I shall be able to confirm it by independent testimony. DIr. Shrewsbury will tell you that the prisoner had arranged to come over to see him and bring his tools; he will also tell you that tiwo days after the prisoner's arrest he went. with Jones, the village constable, and found the marks where the horse and trap had steodsvliileojust inside the field. the grass was tra"msled with feet, and in the bottom of the dry ditch was sr great dark patch, which he was able to ascertain to be blood. Dr. Hewitt will tollyou that he was called in to strap up the .prisoiier's. head after his arrest. and that thecut was averysevereone, and musthrvebeen iiflicted by a heavy weapon with great force. I. am'con?viced, gentlemen, that after hearing this e?idence you will agree with me not only bhiit the prisoner is perfectly innocent of the choirge, but that he is a most ill-used person it? that it is a matter of sutrprise and regre_ that the. ma-strates should have committed hin.for trial, when the only shadow of evi dence against him was the alscovery of these tools-a discovery which he at once explained. Of other evidencethere is not one jot or tittle. No attempt has been made to prove that the prisoner was in the habit of consorting with badcharacters; noattempt has been made to show any connection whatever between him and the men who came in a horse and trap across the hills for the purpose of effecting a burglary at Mr. Ellison's, and who, as we know, did effect it. No scrap of the property stolen from the house has been found upon bim, and, in order to account for the severe wound on his head, the counsel for the prose. cution has started the hypothesis that it was given in the course of a quarrel during the division of the plunder. lBut had that been the case, gentlemen, the prisoner would not have been standing here alone. Robbed and ill-treated by these companions of his, he would naturally have put the oflicers of justice on their track, and, as he must have been in communication with them and well acquainted with their ways and haunts, he could have given information which would have led to their early arrest. He could well have done this, for the Crown would have madena.dii eultywhatever in promising a lad like this a free pardon on condition of his turning evi-. dence against these burglars, whose mode of procedure shows them to have been oli hands, and who are no doubt the same who have com mitted the various robberies which have lately taken place in this part of the country. " The prisoner is the son of highly respect able parents. HIis employer will come before :ou and give you evidence of the extremely oigh character he bears. Mr. Shrewsbury will tell you that he has for the last four years devoted no inconsiderable portion of his leisure time to improve his education, and enable him to recover the position occupied by his father, who was a much-respected miller in thisneighbourhood. Ishall leave the case in your hands, gentlemen, with an absolute con fdence that you will without a moment's hesitation find a verdict proclaiming the inno cence of my client, and enable him to leave the dock without a stain upon his character." (TO nBE COS-m-TxO.)