Leaves from the Portfolio of a Practicing Lawyer
By Henry Legare
‘Save her! for the love of Heaven, sir, save her! she is innocent, I am sure she is innocent!’ passionately exclaimed a young man, the expression of whose features gave additional force to his words.
‘I hope I may be able to do so, Duncan,’ replied his listener, a young lawyer, very little older however, than his client, ‘but I fear I cannot—the evidence is too strong. But I will try. Can you find anyone that will go her bail? You are not a house-keeper, and cannot.’
‘I do not know, sir,’ replied the client; ‘perhaps my employer, Mr. Murphy, may be willing to do so.’
‘You had better see him at once,’ said Mr. Hartley—that was the attorney’s name—‘for Mary, poor girl, ou’t not to suffer the contamination of a prison.’
‘She would die there, indeed she would!’ was the passionate answer, and at the thought the speaker burst into tears. ‘Mr. Hartley,’ he continued, ‘forgive me, my heart is broken!’
‘Do not despond, Duncan,’ said the other, feelingly and kindly; ‘all may yet be well—at least I hope so!’
‘You believe her guilty, sir, I am sure you do,’ exclaimed the one we have called Duncan; ‘but she is not, indeed she is not.’
‘I don’t know what to believe,’ replied the lawyer, ‘I cannot conceive any motive for the offence.’
‘And today we were to have been married,’ thus soliloquized the young man. ‘It is too, too horrible!’
‘Do not despond, Duncan,’ said Hartley; ‘rather meet this untoward event with fortitude. Go, my good fellow, bring Mr. Murphy here. I will endeavor to persuade him to become her security.’
‘I will, sir,’ replied the client. ‘He shall be here in half an hour.’
‘In the meantime Mary will arrive,’ said Hartley. ‘I told the officer who had her in charge to stop here on his road to prison. Be quick, and I will detain him until you return.’
‘God bless you, sir!’ ejaculated the other, hurrying away as if life and death were in his speed.
It was a common case, one of larceny, which was just now presented to the notice of Hartley, and one, moreover, on which his mind was already made up, his client was guilty. Still, however, there remained a slight doubt—a doubt, which took its rise not only in the youth, beauty, and previous unexceptionable character of the prisoner, but in the fact that she was on the point of marriage with one who had been her playmate from infancy. —Could she, and at such a time, have risked everything, her own hopes and his happiness, from the gratification of a contemptible vanity? It seemed scarcely possible.
While Mr. Hartley was engaged in conning over the evidence that had just been given before the magistrate, the officer, with his prisoner, entered the room.
‘Good morning, again, sir,’ said the functionary. ‘I’ve brought you the young woman you wanted to see.’
‘I see you have,’ replied Hartley, rising from his chair and bowing to the girl, ‘and if you will do me another favor, I shall be still more obliged to you. This young lady’s friend has gone for her security, who will be here directly. I wish you to await until he arrives. You shall lose nothing by your compliance.’
‘In course I will, sir,’ returned the constable; ‘always happy to accommodate you, Master Hartley.’
‘Will you accommodate me a little further?’ asked Hartley, smiling. ‘Will you allow me a little private conversation with my client? Nay,’ he continued, ‘you need not be under any apprehension; for I will be answerable that she does not escape.’
‘It’s not exactly regular,’ replied the officer, ‘but seeing it’s you, sir—’
‘Thank you, that will do,’ said Hartley, as the officer arose and retired. ‘Now, Mary,’ he continued, drawing his chair a little closer to that of the girl, ‘I must ask you a few questions, I had but little time you know to confer with you before the magistrate.’
‘I am ready sir, to answer anything that you may ask,’ replied the young woman, ‘but before I do so, suffer me to assure you of my innocence.’
‘Had you not better lay aside your bonnet and shawl?’ said Hartley, without seeming to notice her remark; ‘the day is a warm one, and you may have to remain some time.’
‘Thank you, I will, sir,’ replied the girl, ‘I will, for I am faint.’
‘This is a very unpleasant business,’ said Hartley, fixing his eyes on her countenance. ‘You say that you did not take the bracelet.’
‘I did not,’ returned the girl; ‘I found it.’
‘Found it! Where?’
‘In the street, and when Miss Hargrave was in the country.’
‘When did you see Miss Hargrave have the bracelet last?’
‘The morning she went out of town, I clasped it on her arm.’
‘And when did you find it?’
‘A week afterward, sir.’
‘If your story is true, the bracelet cannot be hers.’
‘But she swears it is hers.’
‘When you picked it up, did you not think it was hers?’
‘I did not,’ returned the girl, decidedly, ‘although I thought it very like it.’
‘Miss Hargrave asserts that, when you first saw the bracelet, you were extravagant in your admiration of it.’
‘I think I said that I should like to own such a bracelet.’
‘Did you mention to anyone the fact of your having found it?’
‘I did not.’
‘How came Miss Hargrave to suspect you of having stolen it?’
‘I do not think she did suspect me,’ replied the girl. ‘She missed her bracelet, and Mr. Hargrave had the house searched. He it was who found it in my trunk.’
‘And do you now believe the bracelet to belong to Miss Hargrave?’
‘I do; has she not swore it does?’
‘Pray, Mary,’ asked Mr. Hartley, somewhat hesitatingly, for his client’s calm, quiet and truthful manner had impressed him in spite of himself, ‘are you quite certain that you found the bracelet?’
‘And you, sir!—do you too doubt me!’ —exclaimed the unfortunate girl, bursting into a passionate flood of tears. ‘What have I done that I should be thus oppressed?’
‘My good girl,’ replied Hartley, somewhat deprecatingly, ‘I did not mean to hurt your feelings, but—’
‘The evidence, as you call it, is so strong,’ returned the girl, recovering herself and resuming her former placid demeanor, ‘I know it, sir, it is positive; nevertheless I am innocent.’
‘I have no doubt—that is, very little doubt of it,’ returned Hartley, who, though desiring to credit his client’s statement, still believed Miss Hargrave’s direct testimony, which was most too plain, too positive, to be thus impeached.
‘Here’s Mr. Murphy, sir,’ said Duncan, ‘may we come in?’—at the same time opened Hartley’s door and entering with the former gentleman. ‘Ah, Mary!’
‘Certainly,’ replied Hartley. ‘Good morning Mr. Murphy. Excuse me, Mary. Good morning, sir,’ he continued, turning to his new visitor, ‘I am glad to see you, sir. Pray be seated.’
‘Bad business, this,’ said the newcomer, unceremoniously—‘very!’
‘Rather unfortunate,’ replied Hartley, with a smile.
‘Bad for Duncan,’ rather soliloquized than ejaculated the old gentleman, evidently forgetting that Mary was in the room.
‘Undoubtedly a great misfortune for both,’ said Hartley pointedly.
‘What is the character of the security required in this matter, sir?’
‘Miss Elmwood is charged with larceny—’
‘I know that, sir,’ testily interrupted the old man; ‘Duncan told me about it.’
‘It will be necessary for her to give bail for her appearance at Court,’ said Hartley, ‘otherwise, she will have to lie in prison.’
‘That I know too, sir,’ said the other. ‘How much is the bail? That’s what I want to get at. No danger of her running away? Hey, Duncan?’
‘O! Mr. Murpy.’
‘Well, I suppose not. What’s the amount, Mr. –––––– what’s your name?’
‘Hartley,’ returned the counsel, putting up with Mr. Murphy’s oddity. ‘The bail is large—fifteen hundred dollars.’
‘I’ll go it,’ was the emphatic rejoinder.
‘Walk with me then to the Magistrate’s’ said Hartley. ‘Mr. Graball, pray remain here with your prisoner, I will bring you her discharge.’
‘I don’t know much about law matters, sir,’ remarked Mr. Murphy, as soon as they had gotten into the street; ‘but that girl’s innocent.’
Hartley said nothing.
‘A thief never owned such a face as hers’ continued the old man.
Hartley still remained silent.
‘How much money has Duncan given you,’ asked the old man quite abruptly.
‘That is hardly a fair question, Mr. ––––––, let me think; what is your name? Pshaw, I have forgotten it!’ ejaculated Hartley.
‘No such thing, sir,’ returned the old gentleman, ‘no such a thing; you remember it very well, and, if you don’t it’s Murphy, sir! Do you hear?’
‘I do, sir,’ replied his listener.
‘Well, how much did you get?’
‘Excuse me, Mr. Murphy.’
‘Well, it’s your own business, I suppose,’ growled Mr. Murphy, ‘and I don’t want to pry into it; but I want to retain you—that’s what you call it, I believe—in the case too. Here’s your fee!’ and he handed Hartley a bank bill. ‘Need’nt look at it,’ he continued, ‘twenty dollars, sir, every cent of it; but no matter for that, I like the girl! I do, sir, I do, and I like Duncan. A good fellow—a very good, honest, trusty, faithful fellow! Served me; I’ll serve him! Do your best for her, sir, you shall be well paid. Not a word of thanks, sir; Jack Murphy doesn’t want ‘em.’
A few minutes brought the twain to the Magistrate’s office, and the usual preliminaries were arraigned, Mr. Murphy recognizing for Mary Elmwood’s appearance at the term of the Quarter Sessions to answer the charge of larceny.
‘Mary, dear Mary,’ said Duncan, the morning after the hearing, ‘listen to me, I beseech you!’
‘No, George, no!’ replied the girl, resolutely, ‘it is useless to ask such a thing. I will bring shame and disgrace inside of no honest man’s door! What, when in a few days I must appear in Court, and as a thief—a thief! O, it is too hard! You would make me your wife? George, I am grateful—very grateful; but I tell you again—it cannot be.’
‘But, Mr. Murphy wishes it,’ said Duncan, ‘I wish it. Give me the right to protect you!’
‘I am sorry to refuse Mr. Murphy, George; still sorrier to refuse you, but I must do my duty. Visit on your head the consequence of my infamy? Never!’
‘Be it as you will, Mary,’ replied Duncan. ‘You are right and I am wrong; but my heart bade me make this request.’
‘And a noble heart you have, George,’ replied the girl, ‘and one worth a loftier love than that of poor, heart-broken, Mary Elmwood. But where are you going?’ as she saw Duncan snatch his hat from the table, and prepare to leave the room.
‘To Mr. Hargrave’s.’
‘To beg him to drop this wicked prosecution.’
‘Do not stir a step—as you value my love, not a step,’ exclaimed the beautiful girl, springing to her feet, her eyes flashing through her tears;—she had been weeping. ‘I am innocent—most innocent. No, George, no; I will stand my trial, let the consequences be what they may. God help me! I have nothing but my character, and that is now well nigh gone.’
An hour afterward this conversation was detailed to Hartley; it satisfied him. ‘She is innocent,’ thought he, ‘I can doubt her no longer guilt never acts nobly even with its fellows,’ and he sat down to cogitate upon what still remained to be done. —After an interval, however, he arose, and for the first time of his professional career, dissatisfied with the result of his deliberations. Nothing but good character to offer in her defence, and against such testimony as the Commonwealth could and would bring to bear upon the prisoner. She would be convicted.
A few days, however, made some alteration in his opinion. He remembered that Mary asserted that she had found the bracelet. If her story was true, the jewelry was certainly advertised; besides, she had declared that she clasped the bracelet on Miss Hargrave’s arm on the morn of her departure of the latter from the city. But there was no witness to that effect, if it was a fact, unless Miss Hargrave would admit it, and that she would do so, was a supposition preposterous in the extreme. Nevertheless, although his proceeding was an irregular one, he called on Miss Hargrave, with whom he was somewhat intimate. But he returned discomfited; the lady had no memory of the act whatever, indeed, she was positive that it had never taken place. Hartley’s next step was to examine the newspapers, and he searched them closely, they contained no advertisement on the subject. What could he think? A jewel as valuable as a diamond bracelet would never be abandoned by its owner without an effort for its recovery. Mary was undoubtedly guilty.—Unfortunate girl!—Nevertheless, he did not give up all hope, somehow, why, he knew not, an unaccountable interest in the defendant had taken complete possession of his mind. Had he left an important point in his case unexamined? Yes, an important one—the maker of the bracelet! He had no doubt it had been made in the city, and at one of the most fashionable establishments. That evening he dropped in at one of the most distinguished houses of the kind. The owner was his client.
‘Good evening, Mr. Hartley.’
‘Good evening, Mr. Bentley.’
‘Anything new, sir?’
‘Nothing; I only came in to examine some bracelets.’
The owner at once proceeded to exhibit his stock.
‘Talking about bracelets,’ said Mr. Bentley, ‘I am pestered to death about a bracelet. Here is a handsome one, Mr. Hartley—a sapphire. Pray, let me sell you that.’
‘Pestered about a bracelet!’ said Hartley, at once interested. ‘How?’
‘Why, you must know, Mr. Hartley, we made a bracelet for Miss Hargrave, daughter of old John Hargrave, an old skin-flint—and somehow she allowed it to be stolen. I shall be called upon to identify the article.’
‘Can you do so?’ asked Hartley.
‘Why, I don’t know,’ replied the jeweler, ‘I remember very little about it; I saw it, to be sure, but I left town directly after, and now I have almost forgotten the article.’
‘Have you any other of the same kind?’ inquired Hartley.
‘None,’ returned the jeweler. ‘We don’t often manufacture bracelets like that; at least, to keep on hand. Might do for Europe sir, but not for America.
‘And you have never made another like it since.’
‘No—that is, I am not certain; we might have done so. Someone seeing it in the case, might have ordered a similar one. William,’ turning to one of his clerks, ‘reach me the book of sales. Let me see—why, I declare there was another ordered. See here,’ and he handed Hartley the volume of accounts. It contained the following entry:
‘July 16th—Wm. Everhart, Esq.,
One diamond bracelet, $1000.’
‘But, Mr. Bentley,’ suggested Hartley, ‘the bracelet might have been dissimilar after all.’
‘Very true,’ returned the other, ‘William, hand me the other book. No—they were identical.’
‘July 10— Wm. Everhart, Esq.,
One diamond bracelet, same pattern as Miss Hargrave’s. To be done the 16th.
‘Who was this Mr. Everhart?’ inquired Hartley.
‘William,’ said Mr. Bentley, turning to his man of business, ‘do you know anything about this entry?’
‘Certainly, sir,’ replied the clerk, putting his pen behind his ear, ‘I made it.’
‘Where was the bracelet sent to?’
‘Mr. Everhart came for it himself, sir.’
‘Did he give you no address?’
‘A loose way of doing business,’ said the jeweler, ‘see that it doesn’t occur again.’
‘Did he seem like a stranger?’ asked Hartley.
‘No, sir, like a citizen.’
‘In what did he pay you?’ continued Hartley, grasping at what was only the possibility of a hope.
‘In notes on the Bank of North America,’ replied the clerk.
‘To be frank with you, Bentley,’ said Hartley, ‘I am much interested in this matter. I defend this girl who is charged with the larceny of this bracelet, and, although, until tonight, every circumstance has told against her, I have felt and still do feel considerable doubt as to her guilt.’
‘And you don’t want a bracelet?’
‘Not now, but when I marry, Bentley, you shall make up my wife’s wedding present.’
‘I hope it will be soon,’ returned the jeweler, laughing.
‘I hope so, too,’ replied Hartley, as he left the store.
Hartley returned to his office and examined the directory. There were plenty of Everharts, but not the Everhart he wanted. He made enquiries afterward among the several families bearing that name, but no one knew anything of the purchaser of the bracelet. He was evidently a stranger.
[Concluded Next Week.]
Hartley was now fully embarked in the business, and determined to proceed. His next step was to various hotels and examine their registers, but William Everhart was an unknown name. All this required considerable time. Nothing daunted, however, by his ill success, he started for the wharves, determined if such a thing was at all practicable, to discover whether at any time after the purchase of the bracelet. He was again unsuccessful, for the way-bills of the various lines remained at their several places of destination. Almost out of heart he continued to make enquiries of the hack and cab men, but no one remembered such a name. Further search was therefore at an end.
As Hartley turned with the intention of retracing his steps homeward, some one accosted him with a “Good evening, Hartley.”
‘Ah! Hinton, my dear fellow, is that you?’ asked our attorney, recognizing his friend at once. ‘What the deuce are you doing here?’
‘Attending to a little business at the Transportation Co’s office.’
The Transportation Company’s office! an idea flashed across Hartley’s mind. What could Mr. Everhart want with a bracelet of such value unless to present to a wife, or a lady about to become so? Perhaps he was a Southener, making preparations for his wedding. If so, he might have selected some furniture and had it forwarded. It was still possible that Hartley might obtain his address.
‘Walk with me to the Baltimore Transportation Line,’ said Hartley, to his friend, ‘and I will walk up with you. It is but a step.’
‘Willingly,’ returned the other, ‘but what is your object?’
‘I am endeavoring to find the whereabouts of a man named Everhart.’
‘What Everhart? William Everhart?’
‘Yes, William Everhart! Do you know him?’
‘I should think I do; I was only his groomsman.’
‘Indeed! and where is he?’
‘At home by this time, on his estate in Virginia.’
‘Tell me, Hinton, for perhaps you may know—you say you were his groomsman—did you see a diamond bracelet he bought?’
‘Certainly I did. He clasped it on his wife’s arm on the night of his wedding.’
‘Would you recognize it again?’
‘Undoubtedly. It was a beautiful affair. He gave $1000 for it. It was made at Blakeley’s.’
‘When did Mr. Everhart leave Philadelphia?’
‘Oh—let me see, yes, it was—on the seventeenth of July, the morning succeeding his bridal.’
‘Excuse me for asking such a question, but did he walk or ride to the boat?’
‘He walked; a large company of us attended the new-married couple to the wharf.’
‘One more question and I have done; did you see the bracelet on his wife’s arm on the morning of their departure?’
‘No.’ replied the other, ‘I did not. Do you imagine a woman like Ellen Gleason would wear diamonds over a riding dress?’
‘Ellen Gleason! Why the Gleasons live only a few doors about the Hargrave’s,’ thought Hartley.
‘Perhaps there may be some truth in Mary Elmwood’s story, after all. At any rate, every thing that can be done shall be done.’
‘Pray, Hinton,’ continued Hartley, ‘can you give me Mr. Everhart’s address?’
‘Certainly, William Everhart, Poplar Grove, near Richmond, Va. And now what is the meaning of all this?’
‘I will tell you at another time—explain everything, but now I must write to your friend.’ said Hartley, as he ascended the steps which led into his office. ‘Won’t you walk in?’
‘No, thank you, I’ve an engagement,’ replied his friend. ‘Good evening Hartley.’
That night Hartley wrote to Everhart in Virginia.
‘Well, young man, getting on in this business?’ said the old, unceremonious Mr. Murphy to Hartley, a few days previous to that fixed on for the trial of Mary Elmwood. ‘What is your opinion now?’
‘I am perfectly satisfied of Mary’s innocence,’ returned Hartley, ‘and I hope for her acquittal.’
‘You don’t say so!’ —exclaimed the really excellent-hearted old man, ‘but do you think the court will be satisfied? The Court’s opinion is of more consequence than a lawyer’s any day.’
I think the court’s opinion will be the same as mine,’ replied Hartley.
‘A’nt you certain of it?’ inquired Mr. Murphy with some trepidation.
‘Well, you must be,’ exclaimed the old man. ‘Here’s another fee for you. You need’nt look at it; twenty more good dollars as I’m a Christian. Awful thing this law is; awful, awful!’
‘Thank you, thank you,’ said Hartley, pocketing the additional twenty. You may depend on my doing my best. Be ready for Tuesday morning, the grand jury meet on Monday, and they will no doubt find a bill.’
‘Good bye,’ returned the old man, walking off without another word.
The terrible morning—terrible for poor Mary—at last arrived, and Hartley took his seat in court beside his client.
‘Be comforted, Mary,’ said Hartley, with a pleasant smile, which went to the heart of the girl. ‘The darkest of hours is the hour before day.’
‘It’s a dark hour for me now, sir,’ said Mary resignedly, but with a tear in her eye, ‘a very dark hour, but I trust in God. He will not forsake the innocent.’
‘Continue your well-founded trust,’ said Hartley, ‘for those who trust in Him shall never be confounded.’
‘Commonwealth vs. Mary Elmwood,’ interrupted the Attorney General, rising from his seat. —‘Ready for trial in this case, Mr. Hartley?’
‘We are, sir.’
‘Stand up Mary Elmwood.’
‘Stand up, Mary, “fear nothing, God protects the innocent.”’
‘You are charged in this bill of indictment, Mary, with the larceny of a diamond bracelet, the property of Eliza Hargrave; value one thousand dollars, lawful money of the United States of America. How say you—guilty or not guilty?’
‘Not guilty!’ replied Mary, in so loud; clear, and vehement a voice, that every eye in the court room were fixed upon her.
‘You may sit down now, Miss Elmwood,’ said the Attorney General, evidently struck with her manner. ‘Any objections to the Jury, Mr. Hartley.’
‘Then I will open.’ And the Att’y General arose and addressed the jury. He alluded to the youth and beauty of the defendant, trusting that they would have no effect where the great ends of justice were concerned. He spoke of the situation held by Mary in Mr. Hargrave’s family, the confidence which up to the time of the larceny, had always been reposed in her, and admitted her previous estimable character. It was no doubt her first offence—an offence brought about, he believed, more for the gratification of a foolish vanity, than from a desire for the possession of unhallowed wealth. She was about to be married, he continued, when the larceny took place, and the discovery of guilt only prevented her nuptuals. He was sorry for her, very; but he must perform his duty, painful as he should find the task; and he went on with the particulars of the case, evidently making a most powerful impression both upon court and jury.
‘Why, Hartley,’ said a friend, ‘What’s the matter with you? Why didn’t you cross-examine Miss Hargrave more closely?’
‘You will see,’ was Hartley’s quiet reply.
Mr. Bentley took the stand and was sworn. He detailed the fact of the purchase of the bracelet by Miss Hargrave; but could not speak positively as to its identity. Miss Hargrave and her father, however, had done so, and their testimony was quite sufficient for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
‘No questions,’ replied Hartley. ‘Nevertheless, Mr. Bentley, you will please remain in court.’
‘We close,’ said the Attorney General, wondering in common with everyone else at Hartley’s lukewarmedness. ‘Our case is fully made out.’
‘Go on with the defence,’ said the Judge.
Hartley arose, stating in a calm, quiet, but emphatic manner, Mary Elmwood’s simple story, only adding, that, if he could account, as he hoped to be able to do, for the honorable possession of the bracelet alleged to belong to Miss Hargrave, any idea of larceny by his client must necessarily fall to the floor.
A titter round the Bar at the triteness and lameness of the story of the defence, while both Judge and Attorney General smiled at its improbability. Old Mr. Murphy fidgeted and fidgeted, and, we verily believe, vowed to knock Hartley down, the instant he left the court-room. Duncan trembled for the safety of his Mary. Hartley, casting a stern and dignified look around, sat down.
‘Mr. Bentley, take the stand. You have been sworn, sir,’ said Hartley. ‘I think you said, sir, that your establishment made the bracelet alleged to belong to Miss Hargrave. Did it ever manufacture a similar one?’
‘It did, sir.’
‘For Mr. William Everhart.’
‘At what time?’
‘It was delivered on the 16th of July.’
‘How are you so precise as to the time?’
‘By my books, sir, which I have with me.’
‘No matter, Mr. Bentley.’
‘No questions,’ replied the Attorney General.
‘Take the stand.’
A tall, stately, dark-complexioned gentleman, stepped forward, and was sworn.
‘Mr. Everhart, oblige me,’ said Hartley, while a smile of recognition passed between them, oblige me by stating what you know of a bracelet purchased by you at the establishment of Mr. Blakelely.’
‘Certainly, sir. I came on to Philadelphia in July, for the purpose of fulfilling a matrimonial engagement, subsisting between Miss Gleason and myself. Stopping at Mr. Bentley’s I saw a bracelet made for Miss Hargrave, and I ordered a similar one, intending it as a present for my bride.’
‘Examine this bracelet, sir,’ said Hartley, handing him the jewel.
‘It is either Miss Hargrave’s or the one made for me,’ said the witness. “I cannot say which.’
‘Was your bracelet lost sir’ enquired Hartley.
‘My wife, to whom I presented it, tells me-----‘
‘Stop, sir,’ exclaimed the Attorney General. —‘Now, may it please the Court, I object to this testimony. I have already allowed the evidence more than the usual latitude, but hearsay evidence–––––’
‘We do not press the question,’ said Hartley, ‘Mrs. Everhart is in Court. Will you lead forward Mrs. Everhart?’ continued Hartley turning to the witness. Mrs. Everhart came forward. ‘Your name, madam?’
‘My husband,’ said the witness, after she had been sworn, ‘presented me with this, or a similar bracelet, on the evening of our wedding. The next morning, in the hurry of my departure, I neglected placing it in my jewel case, and clasped it on my arm. It was not until after my arrival in Virginia, that I missed my ornament, and not wishing to excite Mr. Everhart’s anxiety on the subject, at so early a period of our union, concluded to keep the matter an entire secret from him, and submit to my loss.’
‘Where did you reside in Philadelphia, madam?’
‘In Chestnut, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets.’
‘Near Miss Hargrave?’
‘A few doors above her.’
‘Did you pass her house on your road to the steamboat?’
There was no cross-examination, except as to the identity of the bracelet, to which, like her husband, Mrs. Everhart could not speak positively.
‘All very nice, Hartley, very,’ said the Attorney General soto voce; ‘but it won’t do—you haven’t touched Miss Hargrave’s testimony.’
‘Perhaps not,’ replied his hearer with a smile; ‘but I have not finished. Crier, call Edward Grey.’
The witness was sworn.
‘Your occupation, Mr. Grey?’
‘A jeweler, sir.’
‘For whom do you work?’
‘Pray examine this bracelet, Mr. Grey,’ continued Hartley, handing him the jewel, ‘and tell the court and jury whether you have ever seen it before.’
‘I have, sir,’ replied the witness, ‘it is my work.’
‘Was it the first or second bracelet of the kind you made, sir.’
‘The second!’ reiterated the Attorney General, astonished.
‘The second and last, sir—I never made but two of the pattern.’
‘And will you please to examine this bracelet?’ said Hartley, taking a case from his pocket and handing it to the witness.
‘I made this bracelet for Miss Hargrave, this is the first bracelet.’
‘Any doubt on the subject?’
‘None at all, sir. The workmanship on the last bracelet is the better of the two. Besides, sir, my engraving iron slipped on the first and made this scratch,’ and he exhibited a slight abrasion of the gold.
‘No questions,’ said the Attorney General, dumb with astonishment.
‘One more witness, may it please your honor,’ said Raleigh, ‘but only to account for my possession of the jewel; I don’t want to be indicted as a receiver of stolen goods. Edward Moreland! Edward, take the stand. You are Mr. Hargrave’s coachman, I believe?’
The witness assented.
‘Now, my man, look at these jewels; do you recognize either of them?’
‘I am sorry to say I do, sir, this,’ and he held up Miss Hargrave’s bracelet. ‘I found it in the carriage when it returned from Mr. Hargrave’s country house,—under the cushion, sir, it met my eye–––––’ and the witness paused.
‘Go on, Edward, and tell the court why you didn’t mention the matter before. Nay, never fear, my dear fellow; an evil act repented of is half atoned for.’
‘Well, you see, I had kind of a sneaking notion after Mary, but she didn’t take kindly to me, and I hated her for it. I didn’t find the bracelet till after she was taken for a thief, and I thought I’d have my satisfaction out of her if I kept the jewel out of sight. But I couldn’t do it, Judge, I couldn’t do it, I loved Mary, and when I found that Mr. Hartley, there, was pleading for her, I went to him and told him all.’
‘We close here,’ said Raleigh, addressing the Attorney General. ‘Now, sir, I propose leaving this case to the jury without argument.’
‘I think you can do so, sir,’ replied the Attorney General.
The Judge smiled, while a hum of approbation passed from mouth to mouth.
‘Gentlemen of the Jury,’ said he, ‘if you think you have sufficient evidence in this case to convict, you can do so, but if you do,’ and this time he paused to laugh; ‘I fear the court will set aside your verdict.’
‘How say you, Gentlemen of the Jury,’ said the clerk, ‘is the defendant Mary Elmwood guilty of the charge of which stands indicted or not guilty?’
‘Not Guilty!’ said the foreman, and as the words rang on the breathless court-room, a clear, loud and emphatic burst of applause disturbed the dignity of the place.
‘Silence! silence!’ said the Judge. ‘Crier, call silence. Gentlemen, such conduct will never do.’
‘Mr. Everhart,’ said Hartley, turning to that gentleman, ‘permit me to return your bracelet and to express my client’s thanks, and mine, for your generous attention to my request. And Mr. Hargrave, allow me to hand you your daughter’s jewel, and say to you, sir, and her, that we should never be too positive; human testimony, no matter how direct, may sometimes err.’
Is there any use in protracting our story? —in dilating on Mary Elmwood’s happiness, as she stood, clasped in Duncan’s manly arms, who, we regret to say, also outraged the dignity of the court by such unprecedented proceedings? Is there any use in mentioning, that old, odd Mr. Murphy, passed his hand across his eyes, to wipe away certain moist testimonials of feeling? We think not—but one or two other matters require some slight degree of attention. A few days after the trial saw an advertisement inserted in the public prints; that of the firm of “Murphy & Duncan, Wholesale Grocers,’ and the same day, perhaps the list of marriages contained another, and, we imagine, not unexpected announcement. And another little item, which we had well nigh forgotten, that the first check drawn by the new firm, was in favor of their (and our) friend, the counsellor, payable to his order, and for the trifling sum of five hundred dollars, which said check was afterward returned (through the Bank of course,) bearing on its back the very well-written signature of “Henry Hartley.”
Mr. Hargrave and his daughter, taking their bracelet, departed, much chagrined, the latter especially so, for she had actually forgotten that Mary put the bracelet on her arm; and, having no occasion for such a jewel in the country, presumed it was safe at home. Besides, she had never wished Mary’s prosecution, not that she believed her innocent, for she did not—but because she did not wish to see one whom she really liked placed in a dungeon; furthermore, she would rather have put up with the loss of the bracelet than made her appearance in a court-room. Her father, however, insisted on making an example of Mary, and she was compelled to accede to his commands. Her confusion at the denouement was consequently extreme.