Bradford reporter. (Towanda, Pa.) 1844-1884, February 25, 1858, Image 1

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flnrs&flS horning, febrnarg 25, 1858.
jiclecftit |)octrg.
AIR—" Hail to the Chief."
.j,;] the chief that in triumph advances!"
I Bearing in glury his crest through the crowd!
Firm is his step as the great Hal! he prances,
H s head high erect, with its full locks so proud !
Who can this chieftain be ?
Tall, wise and brave is he !
Look! how he strides through the ranks of his peers ?
Honored the name he bears!
I Long live the fame he wears !
I Grand is his march for a man of his years !
I - Hail to the chief," where in Congress assembled,
Sages and patriots come from afar !
I priding majestic, with hair undissernblcd.
Like Saul 'mid the prophets, he stands above par !
Scorning all Northern freaks,
Hark ! how the Southron speaks.
Shedding broadlight from his face to the ground !
Champion of equal laws,
Voice of the Nation's cause,
List! for the great Mississippian's 'round !
" Hail to the chief!" —but alas he had marched up,
Shielding brave KKITT, who knew not he was struck, j
AUk! while his comrade by GBOW was all starched up. j
His own gallant head felt a strong Yankee pluck ! j
Chivalry went on a rig,
Off went his curly wig.
All scalpless and queuless he fled the melee 1
Long shall the tale be tnlu,
OI WASHBURN, free and bold.
And BARKSDALK the running, bald-pated M. C !
IU isttllantoits.
"Then let him die."
It was uot the words, terrible as they were
in their simplicity ; nor was it the thought of
i. atli to one so young and manly, hitter as that
:i;ought was ; nor yet was it the fact that any
ie could speak thus of a fellow-being ; but it
was the voice, the tone, the suppressed but de
termined anger that I heard iu the words, and
it was tiie horrible truth that it was a father
speaking of his only son, that so shocked me.
"L 't him die." And wherefore should he
die ? He was young, and not ready—by years
or weariness—for death. He was not tired
of living, nor had he sought the end himself.
His eye was uot dim, his voice was not bro
ken, his ear was still attuned to the pleasant
sou:; Is of earth ; aud it was a beautiful earth,
too, that in which he was born, aud in which
he had grown to be a stout, strong mau ; and
he loved life, and knew how to enjoy it—and
why should he die? He was not one of the
worthless and useless men of this world either,
living for self, and heedless of all others, un
loving, unloved, in cold sensual selfishness.—
Not he. He was a noble man—young, ardent,
affectionate, full of the love of life nud of his j
fellows, beloved by all who knew hiin, and al- J
ways ready to aid friend or stranger with 1
purse, hand, and heart.
Why then should he die ?
There were many reasons why Stephen For
ster the elder was willing at that time that
Stephen Forster the younger should die.
Twenty-live years before the time at which
our history is dated, there lived in an obscure
village in the country, not far from the Hud
s)u river, a man, some thirty years of age,
with a young wife, not more than eighteen or
twenty. The latter was the daughter of the
wealthiest man in the county ; and, as it af
terward proved, by the death of her brother,
!ie and her children were his sole heirs. Ste
phen Forster was a lawyer, gifted with some
powers of mind ; not quick, bnt shrewd, in the
true acceptation of that word ; and making
money rapidly by speculations in farms and
farm lands. I shall not pause to relate the
painful circumstances through which he von
the hand of the young daughter of the old
Judge ; her heart he never had won. That
was not hers to give hiin ; and from the day
lie learned that fact, he hated her, with stea
dy, persevering hate. But he married her
nevertheless : and when the wedding ring was
placed, 1 should say forced on her finger, she
shuddered, and well-nigh fainted, for her eye
caught at that moment the sud gleam of an
eye that had once looked deeper into her own
than had any other person's, and she knew
then that as true a heart as man ever possess
ed was broken.
Broken hearts are not always followed by
death. It is a romantic uotion that supposes
it necessary. 1 have known men that lived
many years with what in common parlance
would he called a broken heart. Nay, I have
known men that had lived thus for scores of
years, wandering restlessly, almost hopelessly,
U P and down the paths of this miserable world,
yet bearing about with them cool, quiet faces,
and eyes speaking no sort of passion whatever.
cry much such a man was William Nor
ton after the marriage of Ellen Dnseuberry,
R fid lie was never seen again in the little vil
lage, where he had been his father's clerk in
the only store, until after all the events occur
red which I am now about to relate.
As years crept along Stephen Forstcr's fa
mi'y increased, and four children sat at his
board when he was forty years old. But there
* : s no love between the father and his family.
He was harsh, cold, stern, unforgiving in his
treatment, and they rebelled, as children will
Once, when he was punishing the oldest boy
■or some fancied offense, a neighbor who was
passing, and overheard the occurrence, enter
e ! and remonstrated with Forster for his bru
tality. The result might have been anticipat
ed. He was turned out of doors without cere
®oty, and left to console himself by relating
J?e story to his neighbors, whose opinion of
WUS ne ' t^er i m P rore d tior injured
Death came into the household, and the
? avcyard gate was opened three times within
a year, to admit children of Stephen and El
len Forster. When the first one died, the
wife, broken down by the terrible blow, sought
comfort in the sympathy of her husbaud, and
lifted her eyes from the dead boy only to meet
the cold, stony eyes of the man that hated
when he married her, and she pressed back in
to her heart the feelings that were well-nigh
flowing toward him for the first time. When
the next—her darling namesake—shut her
eyes on life and love, and went the dark way
whither no mother's love may prevail to fol
low until God permit, she sought no sympathy
from her husband, but bowed her head in lone
some agony. And when the third blow came,
she bore it with the firmness of the mother of
old times who scorned to weep. There was
semething terrible iu her gaze, as she now
looked into the face of her husband. That
third trial, and his continued coldness and
sternness, had made a new person of his once
gentle wife, and she now repaid his scorn with
scorn—his hate with unforgiving, unrelenting
In the brief limits assigned to this sketch, I
can not pause to explain the mental process by
which this gentle, lovely girl became trat s
formcd. It was no slow process. It was like
a lightning flash. She had been calm, placid,
bowed down with grief iu the morning, when
she stood by her dying boy, and talked with
him of the land that was shining dimly through j
the clouds and cuists of death on his eyes, that j
was shining even through her sca'ding tears j
on her own faithful vision ; but the light of
heaven was gone when the boy was dead, and !
the angels that had lingered around his couch j
were gone with the light, and fiends came in !
the darkness and possessed her ; and she was
changed—how changed !
Imagine if you can that household for the
next ten years, while young Stephen grew up
to manhood. It was in the most beautiful of
valleys, with rich fields around it, and deep
forests full of the forest glory close at hand,
and a brawling stream dashing over rocks, and
birds, and flowers, and all that God gave to
Eden except only innocence Yet there was
one long war in that house, the father on the
one side and the mother and son on the other
—for she won the boy from him. They eon
tended long for him and his love. Even in his
childhood he learned that he could not love
both, and that he must select one or the other '
to attach himself to. He hesitated and varied
from day to day, as children do, and it was
months, even years, before he fully decided ;
but when he chose it was forever. Nothing
could move, shake, or change him. At the
first, after this determination became manifest,
the father, with his accustomed malignity, sent
him away to school a hundred miies from home.
But the six months of his absence convinced
the hard-hearted man that his house was un
bearable if he and his wife were to have no
one between thorn, and he recalled the boy,
and contented himself with hating both him
and his mother. And so the boy grew to man
hood, ignorant, save as his mother had taught
him, yet marvelously gentle and lovely. He
at length became the light of the house to
those who knew the family, and his presence
was welcomed every where. In all the conn
try gatherings he was the star ; and at length
he began to extend his limits, and once in a
while ventured as far as the city. Here or
somewhere, it matters not where, he began
for the first time to appreciate the importance
of knowledge, and to understand his own in
feriority to young meu of his class and stand
iug Grieved and abashed at the discovery
of his ignorance, he set about repairing the
loss, and for two vears he was a book-worm,
devouring everything that came within his
his reach. It is astonishing how much an ac
tive mind may accomplish in so brief a space
of time ; and at the end of these two years
he had learned as much as most boys would
in teu. But lie was not satisfied with this
brief period of study. He had learned to love
study for its own sake, and he confined him
self now to his room ; and strange stories got
abroad of the events that were passing in the
old house, to which no one had access.
At last the old Judge died, leaving his en
tire fortune to Stephen Forster the younger,
subject oidy to a life estate of his mother in
the real property. This was more than a year
before Stephen entered Ins majority, and when
his life was most closely devoted to his books
and studies. ;\ nd this brings us to the period
at which I first became acquainted with the
father and son.
A rumor flies in the country with windlike
velocity It was one of those soft spring moru
iugs when the sky seems immeasurably deep,
and the air is laden with life and health ; when
the birds sing loudest, and the wind's voice is
softest, and the gurgle of the spring brook is
most musical ; it was on such a morning that
a terrible rumor spread over county, and
even on the opposite side ol the river. The
story was that Mrs. Forster had been poison
ed by her son for the sake of having his for
tune unencumbered, and that he had also poi
soned his father in the same bowl. The ru
mor added a thousand horrors to the tale, of
which no more was actually established truth
than the fact that Mrs. Forster was poisoued
the evening previous, and was already dead.
The young man had returned from the city
the day before with a package of various arti
cles, which he had brought professedly for
chemical purposes. It was supposed he had
procured some deadly poison uiuong these, for
the effect had been swift and certain.
Certainly the internal state of that house
hold was no worse than it had been for years.
For her. the care-worn, weary mother, doubt
less that repose was profound and welcome af
ter the long storm. She seemed to be resting
in peace as she lay there, aud the angry waves
of the sea of her life had heard the " Peace,
be still " of a heaverdy voice, and had obeyed.
The husband stood near her while strangers
came in and looked with far more interest than
he on the placid countenauce of the dead wife,
and bis countenance wore a steady, motion
less look, in which no trace of suffering, or of
emotion, or regret could be found. He nei
ther wept nor smiled ; bat occasionally strode
I up and down the long room in which her body
lay, and uttered some expression of discontent
at the tardiness of the coroner and his jury,
and then resumed his position near a window,
and near his dead companion. Stephen was
in strict confinement in an upper room by order
of his father, and no one knew what was go
ing on there. No one that knew him and his
love for that mother, would believe it possi
ble that he had murdered her, and yet the
case was said to be even clearer than circum
stancial evidence, for the father himself had
seen the son mingling ihe fatal draught, and
had not dreamed of its nature till the catas
trophe proclaimed it.
1 was visiting at a friend's house in the
neighborhood and heard of the occurrence. I
may be pardoned for adding that the daughter
of my friend was not visible that morning at
breakfast, having heard the terrible history
from a servant, and having been a very close
friend of young Stephen.
Why need 1 disguise the truth. This is in
tended to be a simple history, without plot or
plan, other than to relate each incident as it
occurred, and I may therefore say at once that
she loved him with a woman's adoring love,
and that she was not unloved in return. That
she scorned the story of his guilt you will not
doubt, and it was at her suggestion that I rode
over to the inquest.
I had never seen them before. Never
heard of them indeed. Yet I was struck with
both faces ; of the father quite as much as
that of the son. Tne latter was noble and
manly—a keen black eye gleamed with the
look of conscious innocence, not unrningled
with hatred of the father, who had suffered
him to stand bound by his dead mother, accus
ed of murdering her. The father's face was
pale, calm, even lofty. But he avoided the
eye of his son, and looked only where he was
certain of receiving no answering look, even
into the face of the sleeping woman who had
been his wife and that boy's mother. She
looked neither lovingly nor reproachfully at
him now. It was never thus before, and some
how he had no difficulty in keeping his gaze
fixed on her, so wonderful was that placid si
I shall not pause here to describe the cu- J
rious evidence which was presented to the |
coroner's jury going to establish the guilt of
the son. It is incredible to one uot accustom
ed to these scenes, the amount of evidence
that may be amassed against even an innocent
man. Aud in this case, as step by step, with
out aid or suggestion, the testimony revealed
itself, oue by one the friends of young Ste
phen dropped away from him, aud I was left,
as lawyers often are, alone by the side of my i
client, for such he had now become.
On my word, 1 believe that but for the !
clear, confident tones of Mary Wilson's voice j
assuring me of his innocence, I should have i
believed the story myself, and left the matri- j
cide to his fate.
The jury adjourned till evening, to allow a ;
post mortem examination to take place, during :
this interval I sough) a meeting with the fa
ther. The result of it is given in the words j
with which this history commences. It was ,
iny last argument to a father's heart, that at
tempt to move him, by the love of his son, to
some exertion on behalf of the boy.
•' If you do not aid him he will perish.''
" Then let him die."
1 looked suddenly into the man's counte
nance. He was a tall thin man, of even com
manding appearance, and the eye did not dis
pute the stories I had heard of his former life,
that he had been dissolute, and that of l ite he
had resorted again at times to the companions
aud employments of his younger years. As I i
looked into his face the idea came over me i
with lightning force that the motive for niur- '
der was quite as great on his part as on that
of the son, for could he but kill the mother and ;
hang the son, the inheritance of ample farms i
and funds would be his alone. Could it be
possible? It was a terrible thought, but the
life of a city practitioner had even then ac
customed me to sueh ideas, though it was in
the younger years of my practice.
I returned to Stephen, and talked with him.
Ills a>tonishmeiit at his position had by this
time given away to grief for his motlier, and
he was weeping bitterly, yet such tears as no
murderer ever wi pt. I paused while he recover
ed calmness, and the deep screnetyof his grief
overpowered me for a moment, while I looked
at hiin. The conviction of lis innocence grew
on nie as I talked with him. but the weight of
evidence against him was overpowering, and
the examination which was now concluded,
had confirmed the worst aspect of the case.—
It needed only the proof, furnished within a
few days, of the chemist in New York from
whom tie had purchased the article, to com
plete as strong a chain of evidence as ever
bound a mau to the prospect of ignomiuious
I pass over all the incidental history in con
nection with this sorrowful affair. The effect
iu the family of my friend Wilson—where, if
I desired it, I should go to find a spice of ro
mance and sentiment to add to this history—l
shall leave for the imagination of those who
have defended friends against the verdict of a
harsh world. Let me therefore pass on im
mediately to the court-room and the trial of
Stephen Forster, which took place some two
months after the death of the mother.
It was a hot summer day. The day was
oopressive at the early hour when I was arous
ed to go over to the court-house, and as I rode
across the country, the sultry air was exceed
ingly dispiriting. I had not taken charge of
the defense myself. Two eminent counsel
were engaged, familiar with criminal practice,
men of keen intellect, and whose experience
in that branch of the profession enabled them
to catch at every chance for life, aud to de
tect every flaw, however minute, in the links
of the evidence opposed to them.
It was a very old court-room in which the
trial took place. The bench for the court was
at the end opposite to the entrance, and con
sisted of a raised platform, with a table on it.
and a rail in front of it, which looked as if it
I might bare done service in a colonial eonrt.—.
On each side of the doorway the seats wore
elevated ODe above the other, rising toward
the rear of the room, so that you entered be
tween two walls which grew lower as you ad
vanced to the bar. The only bar was a high,
close board fence—l cau call it nothing else —
sweeping in a semicircle around the room, in
closing the seats and tables for the gentlemen
of the profession. The prisoner's box was
outside of this fence to the impossibility of an
escape. The audience occupied the elevated
seats in the rear, and siuie vacant places be
hind the jury box, which was on the judges
left. The latter mentioned space wasgeneral
ly occupied by ladies, when any case was on
trial which interested thero.
On the occasion of which 1 now write there
was not room there for thein. Long before
the hour of opening, the court-room was throng
ed with the female population of the country,
almost to the exclusion of the men who came
from all quarters to attend this, the first mur
der trial in their neighborhood. The Jurors
were in their places an hour before the time, j
as if they feared that the crowd would prevent I
their being admitted. The bar was, as usual,
thronged with lawyers and their clerks, chat
ting, laughing, and joking, as if the most im
portant question of the day were how to keep
cool, and no one had anything to do with the
life or death of a young, strong man.
The prisoner was brought in before the court'
was opened, and took his seat iu the box. lie
turned his gaze for a moment around the crowd-;
ed room, catching the eyes of many that he
had known and loved for years. There was
one face that he knew as that of one of his
mother's friends, a kindly woman who had held
him on her knees a hundred times. She look
ed iuto his face with a longing gaze, that ask
ed him as plainly us if he had heard the words,
whether indeed he were guilty of that horrible
crime. And the reply was as plain, as legi
ble, or audible, whichever you choose to call
it, as was the question. Every one who knew
the relation of that boy to the good woman,
knew that his answer was true, and if there
had been doubt before, it Hed before that clear,
bright look of rectitude and calmness.
And now the presiding Judge entered the
court-room. For a little while there was a
gathering near him, and lie chatted pleasantly
with the members of the bar whom he knew,
and then took his seat. Before opening court,
and while the clerk was calling the jury, he
occupied himself iu reading a newspaper from
the city, interrupting himself occasionally, or
allowing himself to be interrupted, to grant an
order ot sign a paper thrust before him by an
audacious attorney.
At the moment when Stephen Forster was
arraigned and pleaded to the indictment, avail
ed lady, leaning on the arm of a well-known
country gentleman, entered the private door
of the court-room from the sheriff's apartments,
and took a seat near the judge, and within the
bar. 1 need not conceal the fact that this was
Miss Wilson, whose faith remained unshaken
to the Inst., although I doubt much whether
the prisoner recognized her at first, or until
his vision had penetrated the filds of her vail,
at a moment when she was remarkably occu
pied in listening to the opening counsel.
There is one prominent fault in our system
of administering justice, which is derived from
old times in England. I allude to the pre
scribed course of conduct on the part of the
prosecuting officer. I know by experience
how difficult it is for the attorney for the
State to get rid of the professional idea of an
tagonism which requires him, if possible, to be
successful in the contest. But it is manifest
at a glance that the whole duty of the district
attorney consists in having a fair, impartial
statement presented to the jury, and then lay
ing before them the entire testimony, while he
takes care that no illegal course is pursued by
defense. The custom of suppressing testimony
of not subpetiaing witnesses whose evidence is
likely to favor tiie prisoner, of stretching rules
of law to their utmost tension, or with the aid
of an easy court, even beyond all legitimate
bounds —the laboring assiduously with all the
force talent, trickery of the profession combin
ed, to procure a conviction, and the opposing
every effort of the prisoner to establish in
nocence and good character, all this is an of
fense against justice which prevails to a great
extent among officers of the State in our
courts, and which by no means tends to pro
cure justice or to secure the punishment of
crime, since it reduces trials at the bar to a
skirmish between opposing counsel, and leaves
justice to be administered according to the
skill of the contestants.
There is no more painful scene of an idle
looker on, than the anxiety to some district
attorneys to procure the conviction of criminals;
and, indeed, it is at the first a painful employ
ment to the attorneys themselves ; but the ea
ger excitement of prefesrional labor soon re
moves all thought of pain ; arid the eagerness
with which the victim is hunted to the death,
while every avenue of escape is guarded and
stopped, is absolutely appalling. Let us look
and labor for improvement in these customs of
the courts, and for a substitution of impartial,
substantial justice in the place of the two-sided
contests which now assume the name of jus
tice, and in which court and jurors vainly
strive not to enlist their feelings with one or
the other side, and which result necessarily in
the escape of the guilty, or the punishmeut of
the iunoceut, quite as often as in correct ver
In the trial of which I now write, the prose
cuting attorney was a man of undoubted talent,
whose life had been devoted to his profession,
and who regarded a verdict of not guilty as in
all cases a triumph over himself, which he
must strive against with might and main.
He o{>ened the case to the jury with delib
eration, but with tremendous force. Ho de
tailed the simple incidents of the family his
tory with telling effect. He hail not spoken
ten minutes before the audience begau to look
dark, and a gloom settled on the countenances
of all present; for there were few iu that
crowd who had not loved Stephen Forster, aud
who did not feel deeply his awful position.
As the counsel stated the testimony which
be proposed to offer, there was a hopeless
| look in the eyes of the whole assembly which
' I have never seen before nor since iu all my
practice, and when he closed their was a feel
ing of relief, a momentary breathing, as if a
weight were removed from the breast of every
Then came the testimony, slowly piling up
its mountain-load on the young man's fate.
First of all was the medical testimony, de
scribing minutely, aud in terms which physicians
alone know how how to use, the death and the
causes of death. Then followed the !oug arid
cross examination, which failed to shake the
calm medical men, and the State called its
next witness.
The day wore along slowly and painfully,
and the evening approached. The court had
taken a short recess for dinner, and an inter
ruption of a few minutes now occurred, daring
which I approached the prisoner and conversed
with him. He seemed to have made up his
mind to a verdict of guilty, aud to be weary
of the delay.
" I wish it were over," he said ; " why tor
ture me in this way ? I do not love life
enough to pay this price for it. I have had
but one wish since I sat here to-day, and that
was, that I had died like my old frieud, three
years ago.
" It was a summer night like this ; the clouds
lay even as now in the west when he died.—
He had not lived long enough to know that
the world is a poor place to live, a hard place
to suffer, a pleasant enough to die out of. To
him it seemed agony to go, and he longed for
life aud its experiences. How blessed to go !
away thus, and yet he knew it not. How j
blessed to die in the young spring of life, and
yet he would have l-ngered till tie summer !
heats overpowered him, or the wiuter frosts I
chilled his very soul.
" And here am I, the mock and gaze of the
crowd, waiting to hear the doom which is soon
to be pronounced, and which you lawyers are
postponing hour by hour, only to increase my
pain. Let it be over at once aud forever, 1
beg of von. Let—"
" Mr. Phillips—one moment, if you please."
I hastened to the counsel for the defense,
who were calling, and found them deep in con
sultation about a proposition suddenly started. I
The object of the elder Forster iu convicting j
his son of murder was to my mind very clear. !
lie had doubtless expected to inherit the really
splendid landed estates of Judge Dusenhu-y,
and the motive appeared by uo means insuffi
cient, when tiie eumity and hatred which had ;
existed for years between him aud his wife and
sou is taken into consideration. The testimo
ny for the prosecution was now all in, except
ing only the clinching evidence, namely, that
of Stephen Forster, the father, on close exam
ination, proved to be the sole evidence which
connected his son with the poisoning. The
proofs thus far had been complete, to the ef
fect that Mrs. Forster had been poisoned and
war dead, but no idea was given that her son
had committed the deed, except in the fact that
he had purchased the article iu the city short
ly before the death ; bat this was relieved by
the circumstance that lie had purchased other
articles for chemical experiments at the same
time, and had several times, at least twice pre
viously, purchased the same poisonous drug.
It was therefore with no small degree of
risk, and yet with a cool and well-advised pro
fessional determination, that the counsel enga
ged for the defense determined to direct all
their force towards breaking down the evidence
of the elder Forster, and abandoning all other
chances. It was, in point of fact, a new idea,
suggested by the junior counsel at this stage
of the case, and involved the abandonment of
the previously adopted theory of defense,which
had been that the harrassed and weary wife
hud committed suicide. The moment of time
in which this consultation took place may well
afford to readers of this history au iuea of the
momentous responsibilities under which law
yers labor. The cool face, the smiling coun
tenance, the quick sparkling retorts, the gay,
ti ding manners, which lead the bystander to
imagine that the lawyer is enjoying his con
test as he might a game of chess or of billiards,
often to cover the deepest anxiety, the most
fearful tremblings for the fate of the client
whose life hangs on the quickness or skill of
that apparently thoughtless intellect. I think
there is no other consideration needed to con
vince me that the profession is one of most terri
ble labor and responsibility, than the idea that
in such a trial as this I am now describing
there may be several moments when it is ne
i cessary to determine, again and again, what
new theory of defense shall now be adopted,
what new plan of action devised, to save the
life of a man whose innocence is clear to the
mind of the lawyer, but whose guilt appears
almost established to the minds of the jury.
Such was the responsibility which I now
felt, for the senior counsel had not yet seen
the dreaded witness, and made up his mind on
my brief description. It was decided in an in
stant, and the first blow to be struck was de
vised by the junior counsel, who had indeed
formed the idea of this plan of defense from
the fact that he had learned a few moments
before that young Forster was that day twen
ty-one years of age.
In five minutes I had prepared a brief but
comprehensive last will and testament for the
prisoner to execute, giving his entire fortune
to Mary Wilson and heirs. We begged the
indulgence of the court a moment, while it was
duly executed, and theu announced our readi
ness to proceed.
it was strange that Sephen Forster the el
der had never thought of this. It afterwards
appeared that he had made an error of an en
tire year iu his sou's age, and had not dream
ed of his being able to devise real estate with
in a twelve-month.
As Forster took the stand at the opening
of court after the recess, a cloud came up and
obscured the setting sun, while the low mut
tering of a distant thunder foretold a coming
storm. I did not notice the face of the senior
counsel of the prisoner when the distriet-attor
ney commenced his examination, and when my
attention was first called to it, I was appalled
at the expression which I saw coming over it.
Slowly, steadily, it grew pale, fierce, and calm.
There was a fined stare into iLe eyes of the
witness, which ma le him uneasy, aud he avcrt-
VOL. XVIII. —NO. 38.
Ed his gaze. Otherwise Fonder was cold aud
firm. But my associate followed him which
ever way he turned, with a fixed icy gaze that
might have frozeu him with horror had he bat
caught it.
I He related his storv, with enongh apparent
reluctauce to gve an idea of bis suffering ; and
some, indeed ail, pitied the broken down man
so soon to be childless and desolate. They
did not know the fiend.
At length came the cross-examination.whicti
was to have been conducted by myself. But
the seuior laid his hand on my arm, and turn
ing to him, I shrauk from his now ghastly
countenance. He essayed to speak, but his
iips emitted only a husky sound ; and he mo
tioned to me that he would go on if I would
pass the paper 1 held in my hand to the wit
ness. While 1 did so, he drank a glass of wa
When I passed the will of his son to Stephen
Forster, he looked at it, swept his eyes over
it, stared a moment in rny face, lifted his eyes,
and thought in silence. Through what tempest
uous years did that fierce soul sweep back to
the spring morning when his boy lay, a young
babe in his arms 1 How did he count them—
one by one —those years of bitterness, of hate,
of want—want of love, bitter poverty of affec
tion, hatred, malice, and all mauner of house
hold anguish, up to this last and blackest year
in all the twenty-one ! And when he counted
the last—when the lawyer's intellect had done
the child's problem in subtraction, aud taken
the year 18—from 18—, and found the differ
ence proved that he had made the most awful
error of his life in his former count—he utter
ed a cry, a howl of agony, that startied the si
lent court-room more than the thunder crush
which followed it.
" What paper is that ?" demanded the dis
trict-attorney, furiously.
" Merely a menorandum we have prepared
to help your ease. We have made your wit
ness disinterested by giving bis son's property
to another person."
The effect of this snggestion was instantane
ous, and was visible to the jury box as well as
iu the audience A hundred curious eyes were
turned toward the witness, whose countenance
was ashy, and whose disturbed, bewildered air
was precisely was what we anticipated from the
somewhat extraordinary course we have adopt
ed. The whole aim and object of his terrible
occupation being removed instantly and forev
er, he knew not what course to pursue, and
while he hesitated and perplexed himself witli
doubts and uncertainties, the first question of
my associate, asked in a low voice, scarcely
audible tone, reached his ear.
" Where were you born ?"
A gloom almost like night suddenly came
over the room, and the storm bursts on the
village with furious violence. The witness
sprang from his seat at the question, and siuk
ing back. j>eered into gloom with curious, anx
ious eyes, as if striving to connect that voice
with the face of some known persons, but ho
made no reply.
" You were boru in England," continued
the same low voice.
The witness trembled from head to foot. I
could see it, and I observed it, overwhelmed
as I was with anxiety aud astonishment at the
course of the leader.
' Your father's name was Gordon ; he was
a lawyer in Loudou."
Still no reply.
" Your mother—who was your mother ?"
For a moment there was profouud silence.
Even the sharp district-attorney, in his sur
prise, forgot to object, and the judge leaned
eagerly forward to watch the strange scene.
At length Stephen Forster rose from his
chair, and gazed across the bar, and uttered
a strange sentence for a witness :
I "In God's name, who are you ?"
The counselor rose to his feet, and stretch
ed his tall form to its utmost height. The
look of fierceness that I had seen was still
there, and a flash of lightning illuminated the
room, throwing a wild light on his face, at
which the witness in the box uttered a cry of
horror, and sunk motionless to the floor, while
torrents of blood gushed from his nostrils and
The court was instantly adjourned to the
next morning ; and the astonished crowd sepa
rated, each relating his own fauciful idea of
the cause of th's curious scene.
My companion walked out leaning or. my
arm, which scurcely supported him, hanging
on it as he did.
That uight we stood together by the bed of
Stephen Farster, now going fast by the dark
" George, George I—Mother of God, is it
you ?"
"It is none other, Stephen Gordon. And
I thank that Holy Mother's Son that I was
here in time to save you this last and mort
awful crime."
" George—our mother V
" Head, thirty years ago 1"
A deep groan and a gush of blood Were the
response from the dying man.
" And Lucy ?" muttered he, as soon as be
was able.
" Her grave is by my mother."
" And father did thev know—"
" All—everything—even to the weapon you
used. He lived long cnongh to curse yon,
and died with a curse half uttered on Lis
"It is enough. If there be ho hell for
others there is one for me."
" The apostate returns to the faith of his
youth," said my associate, with a sneer that
I never forgave.
" The apostate has no hope ori earth, or in
heaven, or hell. 1 attx dyiug, George. For
give me ! Forgive me I',
" Stephen, Gordon, my brotb^. ( murderer
of my father, ray mother, sister, of four
! own wife and son, destroyer of my own once
bright home, of my honor, of my all in life, if
God forgive you in the day of jndgment I will,
" No, no ! j have not yet murdered my
son. Tb* rent is true, all true ; hut I can
save Mm yet. Let that be some atonement.''
" Atonement for what ? Can you call the