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  A Singular Verdict

The circumstances detailed in the following narrative fell sufficiently under the writer’s observation to enable him to vouch for their correctness.

In the year 18—, in a secluded portion of one of the Western States, an aged couple named S. resided on a small farm of which the husband was the proprietor. They lived alone, their children having all married and removed to a distance. The cabin in which they dwelt stood remote from the public road, and the small tract of cleared ground on which it was situated was surrounded by forest.

Toward the fall of the year in which occurred the events about to be related, a stranger came into the neighborhood, stating his object to be the purchase of land. He was a large, athletic man, of prepossessing appearance, and apparently about thirty years of age. He represented himself as having a sum of money loaned at a place some sixty miles distant, which he was desirous of investing in a farm already stocked and partially improved.

S. had previously determined, should a favorable opportunity offer, to sell out and remove to the vicinity of his children; and M., for that was the name the stranger assumed, being apprised of this intention, presented himself as a purchaser. A bargain was speedily concluded, M. agreeing to pay a stipulated sum, by a certain day, for the land, together with the farming utensils and stock upon it. It was part of the agreement that M., who was unmarried, should be boarded and lodged by S. and his wife till the period arrived for the consummation of the contract, which had been fixed with reference to the date at which M. would be entitled to call for his money from the party who had borrowed it.

The new-comer, in the meantime, became a decided favorite in the settlement. He appeared frank and good-natured; ever ready to lend a helping hand at house-raising and log-rollings; exhibiting, in short,… Read More