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had been detected with a pocket-book which Austin was staggered for an instant, was known to have belonged to Walker. but his answer was firm and decided-This boy had very frequently been em- “ This poor boy is certainly innocent; it ployed by the drover to assist him in driv- is too probable that I am not: hence it is ing his beeves. He accompanied him on just and right to save his life at the exhis last, fatal trip, but in returning home pense of my own. had started in advance of his master. “At all events," said his companion, Mike accounted for his possession of the “you can now have no objection to my pocket-book by saying that Mr. Walker seeing Walter Coward." gave it to him before they separated to "It will be useless," replied Austin, come back. The boy admitted that he “but I care not for your seeing him. Yet had kept it concealed for more than a stay, if he should possibly be guilty of year, but earnestly protested that he did Walker's death, his desperation at being so only from an apprehension of being discovered might provoke him to further suspected of theft. His story was not bloodshed—your life may be taken by the believed. No storekeeper could be found ruffian. The thought is horrible. Jessie, in the town who recollected having sold you must not see him." Walker a pocket-book about that time, But, Thomas, you are confident that and it was very improbable that he would you yourself slew the man.” have given away his old one without sup Austin here nodded assent. plying its place with another. Many She continued : “May it not be that if more suspicious facts were discovered, he saw you do it, he could give important which together made up a strong chain of testimony to establish the fact that you circumstantial evidence. He was arrested ; | did it in the frenzy of delirium ? Do not, the grand jury found a true bill against I pray you, forbid me to see him--I will him; and so generally was the community guard against any such consequence as you satisfied of his guilt, that there was little apprehend.” doubt what the issue of his trial must Austin gave a reluctant consent, prom. be.
ising besides not to deliver himself up This intelligence made Austin in some without further consultation with her. measure himself again. The unmanly Some days of great distress for the poor dread which for a time had stifled every girl now ensued. The marketman made generous sentiment, was now shaken off. his usual trips up and down the road, but He could not see the penalty of his own she felt an extreme reluctance to have the act visited upon another. His resolution interview which she had so long meditated. was formed; he would deliver himself up On that interview her last hope depended. to justice and confess his crime. Jessie If it failed to answer her expectations Rosse in rain remonstrated. His deter- (and her confidence that it would daily mination, he said, restored him the tran diminished) the fate of Thomas Austin quillity of which he had long been deprived, was sealed. The man was probably a and his purpose was fixed to adhere to it. hardened, wary villain. The conscience upShe urged the possibility that the mur on which she sought to operate might have der was not committed by bim.
been seared into callousness by a long He listened for a wbile with an air of succession of crimes, and what chance incredulity, and then replied—“Well, dear was there that she, a weak timid girl, Jessie, suppose that I am innocent; legal would be able to subdue the iron energies investigation cannot fail to make the fact of such a soul? Of Austin, it was possievident."
ble that Coward might stand in dread, “Does it,” said she, “make poor Mike but how could she make him tremble ? Burrows' innocence evident ? No, Thomas, A plan oceurred to her. She alterFour own confession will be regarded as nately adopted and rejected it a hunestablishing your guilt. You think it sin- dred times: finally, her mind was fully ful that any other person should be put made up to try it. It was attended with to death unjustly ;-can you be justitia- much difficulty, and by many circumble in causing your own execution for a stances which might well daunt a delicrime which you have not committed ?" cately nurtured female more than the dif
ficulty. Danger, too, there was in it—but had been designated for the meeting was upon this she did not bestow a thought, only half a mile distant, and by daylight and all other considerations gave way be- every foot of the intervening space was fore the earnest zeal of love.
familiar to her. She would even have unCoward was to stop overnight in the dertaken to find her way thither blindneighborhood. It was not now his cus fold. But
was frightened tom indeed to put up at the public house to find how completely the gloom of of old Mr. Austin, but the less respectable the night disguised the most familiar obwagon stand which he preferred, was jects. It was her intention to have struck only a mile distant. Jessie, having arrang-directly through a thick belt of chesnut ed her plan, sought out her lover. and pine. There was no road at all in that
Thomas,” she said, “I want you to direction, and no path that was discernible. give a note to Coward for me.
She hesitated. The danger of getting into his hand quietly, and say not a word lost was obvious ; even the possibility of to him. Will you do all this?”
such a thing was to be guarded against. “Cheerfully,” replied Austin, “I am She could easily find her way to Mr. Ausglad to see you choose anything in prefer- tin's orchard, and from there a plain path ence to meeting him personally yourself.” led directly to the Willow Spring. The
The note was sealed, and addressed to route was circuitous, but she resolved to “ Mr. Walter Coward.” It was delivered follow it. by Austin safely and in silence, and the The spring was at length reached, and marketman, hastily burying it in his pocket, then, after ascending a pretty steep bank, proceeded on his way. No sooner had he she stood by the old coal-pit. gone over the hill which took him out of In no loud voice, yet firmly, she called : sight of the house, than he drew forth the “ Wat Coward !" note and perused it eagerly. It was writ “ Here. ten in a large, bold hand, which might The answer came from behind her. She easily have been mistaken for Thomas turned with a natural agitation, and beheld Austin's, and ran thus :
the tall, gaunt form of the marketman. “I want you to meet me alone at He spoke : twelve o'clock to-night, near the old char • I've tracked you from the orchard coal-pit above the Willow Spring. T. A.” fence. I was determined there should be
Mr. Rosse was accustomed to retire no snap game played. If you want more early in the evening, and by eleven the witnesses agin' me they don't hide their whole family was sunk in repose. It was ears around this pit.” Jessie's aim to appear to the marketman Jessie shuddered at the thought that as Thomas Austin. There was some dif this ruffian had been dogging her footsteps ference in height and great difference in for half a mile. She answered with combreadth of figure, but the darkness of posure, however, using care to speak as the night, she trusted, would effect nearly like Austin as possible. much. Clad in a suit of her brother Well, you see I am unaccompanied, Frederick's, and wearing his hat, she and may know from this that I am free stopped before her glass to observe the from any desire for your hurt. We have transformation. Her appearance startled no listeners, I trust, but as some one might her. Having extinguished the light, she come along, 'tis as well for us to alter our glided softly through the house. As she voices as much as we can." groped her way along the hall, her hand “The notion's good enough," said Cowtouched her father's cane ; she raised it and ard, “but let's talk about business. What carried it with her, a far weaker defense how have you brought me out here for ?” ever than her own courageous innocence. The few words that had dropped from
The watch-dog, thanks to her precau the man satisfied her that her supposition tion, was chained on the opposite side of of his guilt was well-founded, but there was the building, and she crept into the woods a hardness in the tones of his voice which in a stillness unbroken even by the cry of made her fear that he would prove insenthe whip-poor-will or the owl. An unex- sible to the influences which she designed pected obstacle met her. The spot which | bringing to bear. It was an article of her
faith, however, that every human being Coward suddenly changed his manhas a conscience, and she turned herself mer. “I tell you what, I'm not going to resolutely to her work. In answer to be fooled with. You've opened your Coward's question she said :
lips too wide this time. I judge they “Do you know that that poor boy, Bur- ought to be shet for good. I'm beholden rows, is likely to be hanged ?”
to you for coming out to this lonesome “I reckon I ought to,” was his gruff place, for how easy it is to put that in you reply; "everybody else knows it.” which will make you quiet till doomsday." “And are you pleased at it ?''
“ Man!” cried Jessie, in an undaunted No, I aint. To be sure I may be the and almost contemptuous tone.
“ You safer, but I don't like the thoughts of it." cannot do it!"
" Mike is altogether innocent, then ?" “I'll show you,” said Coward, extendshe inquired.
ing his arm towards her; “now say,
what's “Yes, to be sure he is, and it is wicked to keep me from pulling this little trigto hang a body for what he didn't do."
“Well, Coward, who will be to blame “ The murder which you have already if he is hung ?"
committed.” Why, the stupid jury to be sure. " How does that hinder ?” he inquired, They can save him, and no one else." in a tone of interest.”
“What, is there no one else that can “You already know," said she, "better save him ?”
than I can tell you; have you felt very Coward paused, and though the dark- happy since you killed Walker? Would ness prevented Jessie from discerning the it make your mind easier to take away working of his features, she doubted not another life ?” that he was engaged in busy reflection. The man slowly returned the pistol to After the interval of a few seconds, he an his bosom, saying in a solemn tone, “ How swered in a slow, unimpassioned manner : is it, Austin, that you know what's going on
“ How? I don't understand you.” in my heart ? Since that eighth day of
Jessie varied the interrogatory. “Do June, I've had no peace of my life.” you suppose that the jury would bring in “But, Walter Coward, something comes a verdict against Burrows, if they knew after life.” that another person killed the drover ?” “You needn't tell me that,” he said ; “In course not."
the dead has come back to let me know “ But you know, Coward, what the jury there's a judgment." do not know; that the boy is guiltless.” “ If you feel so now, wont you feel
“I do know that certain. I wish to worse after Mike Burrows is hanged ?" Heaven I didn't!"
· I can't feel worse.” “ Then,” said Jessie, gently, “will not "But if, instead, you should save the you be the cause of Burrows' death? For wretched boy's life, would you not feel you could save him if
beller ?” “Only by putting my own head in the “I would, I would--it is true, sir-I halter, and no man's bound to do the like know I would. God bless you, Mr. Ausof that ; I'd see the nigger swing first." tin, for talking so to me-give me your
“Ay, but Walter Coward, ”replied Jes- hand before I go.” sie, whose spirit was now thoroughly So saying, and without allowing her roused
up, “there is another witness be time for thought, he seized her right hand sides you who can save the boy's life; in his. He dropped it instantly however, shall he too be silent, and join in murder- exclaiming in an agitated tone, “This is ing Burrows ?"
not Tom Austin's hand, nor his voice. The marketman's agitation was evident; Good heaven! has that ghost again—or he answered, supplicatingly: “You aint is it an angel come to warn me?" going to tell on me, Mr. Austin, are you?” While he was speaking, Jessie glided
"Think for yourself,” said our disguised away amongst the thick pines. He stared heroine, “ can you expect or ask that I in the direction which she had taken, but should take on my conscience the death of showed no inclination for pursuit. Her the poor lad ?”
thoughts were all occupied with the scene
through which she had just passed, but his home, and specially when he propoinstinct the best guide she could sitioned to unload the waggon, which have had, and she reached home by the would have shown the carpet valeese shortest route as safely as she left it. plain. Again I was frightened at your
The next day, Jessie learned at the house. I didn't know what to do. I was dinner-table that Coward had delivered afeared Smith was suspecting, and might himself up to a magistrate, and had con serch the waggon in the night so I took fessed having been the unassisted murderer the travling bag in the big room rapped of the drover. Not long after, Thomas in my bed. But I judged (for I was all Austin called and took her out to walk in an agony of fears) that they might with him. After they had gone a little look about me while I slept. Your room distance, he told her that Coward, while was next I knew, and they said you on his way to the magistrate's, had called would'nt be home till the day after. So by and put into his hands a small bundle when no folks were in the big room I and a letter. This letter he now showed crept into yours, and stuck the carpet her. It read as follows -- copying the bag behind a chist. In the mornin' I spelling and syntax :
woke before day. My horses had little
rest, but I didn't care for that, so I steps “ MR. THOMAS AUSTEN :
into your room, and felt behind the chist Sir—Whether it was you that talked till I got hold of a carpet-bag. It was all with me last night, or an unearthly being, dark, and there were other waggoners is too much for me to say. However, it sleeping, like I had been, round the fireis right Mike Burrows should not die, and place. Therefore I was in a hurry, and I would rather tell on myself than you rolling the bed clothes round the bag, should. May be God Almighty may have toated them off to my waggon. mercy if I confess; but how can I look “I hitched up, and was a couple of miles mercy when I showed
on my way when I thought to look at the Walker? I don't mean to tell the law- carpet-bag, and was dumfoundered to see people any more than will save Mike, that that I'd got the wrong one, for it had no is, that I did the cruel act, but you, Mr. tear in it. I thinks a little, and then ties Austen, I want to let know what makes my critters to a tree and sets off back on me tell anything
foot. My coat was big and covered the When I was driving my waggon down valcese well, so that nobody could tell the road by the stable on Carter's old what it was. Folks were at breakfast field, I seed Walker going on slow ahead when I got to the house, so I slipped right
I knew he had sold a large drove, into your room. I looks behind the chist and the devil put it into my heart to take -no bag was there. I was ready to one out of a lot of axhelves which were for drop down. Just then you came in, and market. Walker turned his head to look I could see by your eye you knew all what waggon was coming, and then went about it. I hardly thought what I was on unsuspecting. As soon as I got close doing, but I darsn't leave your carpetI fetched him a knock on the skull at bag, (for I knew then it was yours,) and which he dropped senseles. I then car hurried back with it to the waggon. Sence ried him around the stable and stuck him then I have never had an instant when I with his own knife. But it seems the draw could shet my eyes in peace. I was.cering of blood kind of brought him to, and tain you could hang me with a word, for I he rises half
up. I took hold of the carpet wasn't otherwise liked by the people. If bag, but as I snatched hard the old rotten I cleared off, something told me they'd carpet gives way, and a piece was left in be sure to follow and catch me. I felt his hand. He fell back right off, and after altogether broken up. Every child that giving another stab to make him safe I spoke to me made me tremble. This was rummaged his pockets, but found nothing not all. Every time I crossed that old of account. The carpet bag I put in the field on the ridge by night or by day, I waggon to serch on the road. Afterward met Walker just as he looked alive, exDick Smith scart me by saying Walker cept that the blood was running out of his might come to life if I took him along to breast. He would frown, and make as if
to push me away with his band. At last ried away by the horror of the situation, I had to take the other road when I went you immediately went about actions which up so high, which wasn't often. But stay were indisputably real, and which yet it ing away did no good. Everywhere I seemed impossible that any not guilty of heard death-bells ringing in my ears, and murder would have thought of performvoices whispering about the day of judg-ing.” ment, and torments that will never end. Your head is clear, dear Jessie,” anGod have pity on me. I can hardly write, swered Austin, “and the explanation you but as you, or, if not you, the goast told give must be correct. The whole of that me last night—that poor boy mustn't die day, after I left my uncle's, was passed in for nothing
such distraction that when I tried to recall “I herewith return your carpet-bag. its occurrences it seemed but a blank. It Nothing is taken out, but that's no credit not surprising therefore that the bloody to me. If I hadn't learnt to steal first I picture of the murder, whether made vivid mightn't ever have done what is so much by a dream, or only the natural impression worse. I heard a preacher say once that left on memory by the conversation beno one is so bad but can be saved providing tween your father and Smith, appeared to he repents; but how can a cruel murderer 'my disordered mind an event in which I like me be forgiven?
had been personally engaged. But how “I am greatly beholden for your good- was it that you were able to detect so ness in not giving me up right away to readily the real state of the case ?” the gallows. I go there now myself, but “I cannot recollect,” said Jessie, “all I know it's best. WALTER COWARD." the minute circumstances in your account
which struck me; but I had one great first Jessie, as she returned the crumpled principle which led unerringly to the truth. sheet of foolscap to Austin, observed, I knew you, Thomas, and that knowledge “ All is now clear, dear Thomas, and I made me confident that you could not was right.”
have committed such a deed.” “Yes," replied he, “I thank God that Austin mused for a while and then said: in his mercy he has kept my hands clear “There was only one thing that affected of blood. May the same awful Being give me with any doubt, and that was the abme strength to restrain hereafter that wild sence of those feelings of remorse which I swell of passion which is so capable of supposed must always follow the shedding drowning both conscience and reason! of human blood.” Yet, Jessie, does it not seem incredible “ And now," returned Jessie, “ you can that I should have labored under such a see from this letter of poor Coward's, the delusion ?"
difference between the murderer in imagi“ No, Thomas the fact is indeed nation and the murderer in reality. Your strange, but it is not inexplicable. You excited fancy made you almost as sensible got home that night in a state of violent of mere affright as he was, but it is the mental agitation; you were awakened out conscience that inflicts the keenest torture.” of a troubled slumber by a conversation in This reference to the paper which he the adjoining apartment; oppressed though had in his hand reminded Austin to point you were by bodily exhaustion, as well as out to Jessie some passages in it which by the stupor which succeds violent emo he did not comprehend-particularly the tion, your senses were still active; what first sentence. Was the interview there you heard was of such a nature that it mentioned a mere illusion, like the visions could not but leave a strong impression which the marketman thought he had on the mind ; when you afterwards fell seen of the murdered drover ? asleep it was probably the subject of your
Jessie found herself compelled to give dreams; and these dreams were in the an account of her midnight conversation at morning connected with actual light by the the coal-pit. discovery of the drover's carpet-bag in Austin listened with admiration, and the place where you laid your own. Every felt that no love nor kindness on his part circumstance conspired against you. No could ever be an equivalent for the devoted time was allowed for calm reflection. Hur service of that intrepid girl. Yet he could