Chapter 71922550

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-12-19
Page Number16
Word Count1153
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleA Drama in the Dark: A Tale of Two Christmas Eves
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CHAPTER V.— Aix's Well that Ends Well.

Within the select parlour of one of the lower kind of music halls in Manchester, about a dozen people, men and women, were sitting one nieht nearly a year later than the time indicated in the opening of this story. It was a nasty night outside : sheets of

half -rain half-snow had becu falling over the city for two or three hours, and the streets by this lime were in a fearfully slushy condition. As it was the middle of the week business watf not very brisk at The Feathers, the free and easy already alluded to, and the dozen or so of people gathered in the upper room represented half the audience. One of the ' lady professionals 1: engaged at the place had finished ber *' turn ;' the applause was still hanging in the air, for she bad been warmly received, and un she left the little platform dignified by the name of stage, and repaired to the select room alxive, her ears caught fragments of a conversation bciii' carried on by some of the men present. 'And he'd confessed to a murder a man named Johnaou was sentenced to -leatb for twelve months since I' the girl heard one man say. When that name fell upon her ears she btartcd, and ber pretty face flushed red and then grtv pale. With an effort she controlled herself, and listened. 'It was the murder of a pitman, wasn't it?' auotucr broke iu. 'It was »t iorne place near Wigan— Peinberley. they *iall it. 'here's a very lou« account of it iu the Echo. t tatis a nuradc that J'Jinsou wasn't lianged The pale-faced singer could restrain herself no longer. With a wild hope suddenly;

kindled in her heart, she arose, and drawing j her uleter around ber, for ahe was &t&l clad in r her etaj.*e costume, sbe passed from the room ' and made her way hurriedly into the street, - where she purchased the evening paper the - pmn inside nad named. Then she went back to the concert room, seated herself in the quietest corner, and i turned the sheet over until she found what she sought. The paragraph was headed in large ; tVDe — .'

THE OXENHURST MURDEB. CONVICTION OF THE MUBDEBE&; CONFESSION OF AKOTHKB CfiEHK. As we ventured to state in out first impres sion, at noon, William Blackford has been sentenced to death for the wilful murder of the gamekeeper at Oxenhurst. After the careful summing-up of Mr. Justice Hawkins, die Jury retired, and after an absence of only five iniuntes, found the prisoner guilty. Before delivering the dread sentence, the Judge put the usual question to the man«t the bar, and then Blackford confessed that he had killed the gamekeeper, lor whose death he had been tried. But this was not all that tbe prisoner confessed. To the amazement of «. the court he stated that he it was who had killed Jim Barry in the Walker House Pit at Pemberly, for which crime a man named Dick Johnson bad been condemned to die, but had afterwards been respited. After being removed to tbe cells tbe prisoner ex plained how be cauie to take Barry's life. They were both natives of the village named and had often been out poaching -together. During one of these expeditions, a. keeper got dangerously wounded, but bis assall&nt was not discovered. It was Blackford who struck the blow ; Barry knew of it, and he had often taunted bun with the crime, and threatened to hand him over to the police as a reward was offered. So frightened was Blackford of Barry 'splitting 'on him, that he resolved to kill him ; and be it was who bad found the

poacher asleep at the top of the sooth jig and struck him with tbe young fireman's hammer. Then be had placed the weapon by the dead man's side ; had crept away and resumed bis work without being missed by his workmates ; and when Johnson was arrested and con victed of the crime, he had migrated to another part of England. Such was Blackford's confession, and there is no reason to donbt it's accuracy. He gives as his reason for confession, a desire to do

justice to an innocent and greatly wronged When Cissy Scott bni&hed reading she sank back on ber Beat and covered ber face with her hands. She, like the rest of the world, had thought her lover guilty; she had imagined that Dick and Jim had quarrelled that night down the pit, and that the former ^_ had spuied the other's blood. _^ ? ^ ^^ And now her lover was proved to be innecent ; would be set free in a little while. Those thoughts set her brain -whirling, for the dark loveless future she bad seen before her £ was suddenly swept away and in its place a ' life of love and happiness loomed before her and Dick.

A week or two later Dick Johnson was set ' ? at liberty. On the scaffold Blackford bad maintained the miners innocence and his own guilt. : On that never to be forgotten morning when the free air of heaven teat chilly yet sweetly on Johnson's face the country was clothed in the fair mantle of white. ; And a& his feet gained the open ground beyond tbe gates of his prison ; as his shoes crunched the frozen snow underfoot, and his « eyes glanced joy:ul]y around upon the two or three friends who had come to greet him, bis J gaze rested on a veiled woman who stood' a little apart from the others. . ^ A moment's scrutiny, and then he ran forward with a great cry of ^adnffls. i ' Cissy I Yon here !' ?' Yes, Dick, it is I V die cried, taking his outstretched hand. ' I thought I ought not to be the last to welcome yon back to the world.' 14 You wQl come with me?' he asked, v*?yi?«wi5 5' d^ar»' ^ «*w«*d with * a little half-stifled sob. : On Christmas Day there was a wedding in the old church at Pembcrley, and Dick JoW thU briaCissy SooU Mrere Uie hride£n)Om *°d

Dick is doing well now. When he returned ? to his native place his old position of fireman was given to him, and shortly after he was * promoted to thc^position of oiider-manager. He is a manager now, and one of tiie best in Lancashire ; and all bis friends who visit him say that Dick Johuson'g wife is the prettiest womau iu the shire. Dick only shakes his head when he hears that, but he knows in his heart that the sweet girl he married from the music halls is one of tbe dearest and best of all God's fair