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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 94, 1 May 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
A MIDNIGHT VISITOR. ( Concluded) “Poor creature,” said my wife; “I hope he will escape. Of course we can do no more, Edward.” “ Yes, we can,” I said. “ What, dear ! ” said my wife. “Go to to bed again,” I said ; which, by the way, we did not do, but went up to our room to dress again more comfortably, Jane looking very hard at us, as I told her to let us have breakfast as soon as possible. I was just ready to descend, and was examining the revolver our visitor seemed to have left me for a keepsake, when there was another knock at the bedroom door. “ What is it ? ” said my wife. “ The plate basket, if you please ma’am,” said Jane, our house and parlormaid. “ Oh,” said my wife, “ I did not bring it up last night, Jane.” It being our custom for the maid to bring in the basket every night ready for my wife to take up to our bedroom when we retired. “Didn’t bring it up?” I said, for she had never made such an omission before, and would as soon have thought of leaving her keys about. “No dear,” she said “it would have looked so strange and suspicious.” “I’m ”1 was going to say something very sad for a strange suspicion had shot across my mind ; but I was interrupted by another knock from the returned Jane. “Please ’ni, tain’t down-stairs,” said Jane. And it was quite true, the basket was not down-stairs, and we did not see it till the next day, when a boy carried it by the gate, having found it in an unfinished house lower down the road—but it was empty. “ And don’t you really think he was a Fenian ? ” said my wife, “so gentlemanly and ” “ Fenian !” I exclaimed savagely. “A common thief ? ” On the following day I had caused an advertisement, describing the plate marked with my initials, to be inserted in the Hue and Cry, and had prepared a description of it to be forwarded to every pawnbroker within some miles round. There was not much chance of a thief so adroit falling into so obvious a trap, but to my surprise scarcely a week had elapsed when a police constable brought me information of the missing property. Iwo spoons had been offered to a silversmith which were undoubtedly mine, although the initials had been carefully filed off. The man had been detained on suspicion, and my wife and X hastened to the shop to identify him. “ Our Fenian friend will look rather chapfallen at the sight of us, I fancy,” said I to my wife as we stepped into our cab. “An artful villain,” exclaimed my wife. “ An impudent scoundrel,” I added. “And what a canting rogue too,” remarked my wife. “ But I thought he was a hypocrite when he asked you if you were a Christian.” “No doubt you did, my dear,” Ireplied, for I was in a sarcastic mood ; “ but you know you afterwards thought he was only * a poor misguided Fenian,’ and implored me to take him in. ” Recriminations of this kind rarely come to a satisfactory ending, and perhaps it was as well that our cab at this point arrived at the silversmith’s door, where we alighted with the constable. ‘‘Now for our Fenian hero,” I whispered to my wife; but I looked round the shop, and could see nothing of him. A man was seated on a chair at the further end, guarded by a stout shopman ; but he was not at all like our mysterious visitor. There was not the slightest doubt about it. The stranger was John Thompson, the lurking cousin of our servant Jane. “ I see,” said I; “ one of the gang, n doubt. Where’s your accomplice ? ” “ I had no accomplice, sir,” replied the culprit, falling on his knees. “I did it all myself. O pray have mercy. ” “ Do you mean to say,” I asked, “ that you are not in league with that pretended Fenian ? ” “Not at all, sir,” said the man. “ I’ll confess everything, if you’ll have mercy. ” “Go on,” I answered sternly, “and let me judge whether you deserve any. ” “ It was your taking in that stranger, sir, that put it all in my head,” he went on. “I was waiting about that night and heard it all.”
“ But how did that enable you to get at my plate-basket ? ” I asked. “Ay,” chimed in my wife triumphantly, “ answer that. ” “ Why, I was there again waiting about the next morning—l generally did wait about there of a morning—and I saw him escape from the window, and I tapped at the door to tell Jane. But I didn’t tell her ; for as soon as she let me in I spied that plate basket, and somehow, I don’t know how it was, I think the evil one himself must have put it into my head, but it struck me that if I could carry off those valuables, you’d just lay the blame on your midnight visitor with the revolver, and nothing more would be heard of it.”
Circumstances confirmed John Thompson’s story. He was afterwards convicted. This being a first offence, and the whole of the property being recovered, he received a comparatively mild sentence. Jane, on hearing of her “follower’s” misconduct, went off into hysterics ; and on recovering, received a full pardon on condition of her renouncing followers’ from that time forward —a promise which she gave, and, I believe, very cheerfully, having, as she said, “had enough of’em.” My wife’s recollection of having from the first thought our midnight visitor a rogue and a hypocrite has become less distinct ; but, on the whole, we have determined not to let in a mysterious stranger again. CONCLUDED. OAST THY BREAD UPON THE WATERS. It was a bitter cold night. All day long the ice-king had been closing his frigid jaws upon everything within reach, and now the sentinel stars had made their appearance as if anxious to witness the sway of his icy sceptre. James Yamey gathered the robes closer around him, and urged his horse to a quicker pace. On turning a corner, the horse shied at some object beside the road, and nearly upset the sleigh. Looking around to ascertain the cause of the horse’s fright, he saw a man stretched at full length on the snow. Stopping his horse, he went to the man and tried to rouse him, but in vain. A closer scrutiny revealed the fact that he was suffering from a broken leg, and had fainted from pain and exposure. James Yarney carried him to his sleigh, and carefully covering him up, took him to his' own house. A surgeon was called, the broken limb set, and the sufferer made as comfortable as possible. With careful nursing he rapidly gained strength, and when he was able to leave he offered to pay for his board and nursing. But his kind host refused to take pay, saying that he had done nothing but his duty, and that was pay enough. The young man was deeply affected, and when he took leave of his benefactor, he said, “ Heaven will reward you for all your kindness to me, sir.” ******
Ten years passed, bringing joys and sorrows, and the little village of Glenfall Jjad developed into a thriving manufactur-
ing town. Public improvements had been steadily going on, and James Varney awoke to the fact that his farm had boon increasing in value from the rapid growth of the town. Thera was one piece of land, of about five acres, which had been the object of dispute in the cbiys of James Varney’s father and his next neighbor, father to the present owner. They had settled the matter by each taking half the land. This land was now the most, valuable part of the farm, and more than once his neighbor had cast a longing eye on it. Finding that Varney’s title was not very strong, he laid claim to the land and opened a suit at law to recover it. The case was laid over from time to time under various pretexts, and consequently the costs of court began to assume large proportions. . James Varney had a small amount of ready money laid by, and this was soon gone; more followed, and as a last result he had been obliged to mortgage his fine farm, to raise money to contest his opponent’s claim. At last the case came to trial. Able counsel had been retained by the plaintiff, and everything which ingenuity could devise or money accomplish had been done, and now they came into court, each sure of a verdict in their favour. The counsel for the plaintiff opened the case in a very masterly manner ; he brought forward evidence to prove that the land in question belonged to his client, and after summing up the evidence, closed with a powerful plea, in which he presented the claims of his client in so strong a light, that nearly all present felt he had won the case. The counsel for the defence brought out his witnesses, and in a feeble manner set forth the claims of his client. But the strong arguments, and eloquent pica of the opposing counsel had made such an impression on the minds of all pi’esent, that the defence was a mere farce. All eyes were turned on James Varney, as, sad and dejected, he kept his seat. If he lost the case he was ruined. The evidence was all in, and the judge was about to give the case to the jury, when a stranger, who had listened to the trial with the closest attention, arose and addressed the court. As he proceeded with his arguments the court listened with the most earnest attention. The witnesses for the prosecution were recalled and subjected to the most rigid cross examination, and one of the principal ones confessed that for one hundred dollars he had sworn to what he knew was false. Then the stranger attacked the arguments of the prosecution, tore them into shreds and stripped them of their sophistry, at the same time laying bare their sinister designs, that of defrauding an honest man of his lawful rights. Then he quoted precedent after precedent to prove the falsity of their position, and, after summing up the evidence, closed with a powerful plea, which was so convincing and exhaustive that the erosecutorwas effectually silenced. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant without leaving their seats, and all were convinced that justice and truth had triumphed at last. Janies Varney made his way to the strangei’’s side, that he might thank him for his valuable services, and was greatly surprised to find that it was the young man whom he had found by the road-side with a broken leg, ten years before. And thus the bread which had been cast on the waters returned an hundred fold.
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 94, 1 May 1880
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