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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 113, 15 June 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
A CLOSE SHAVE. i C CHAPTER X. j. From London to Folkestone, from < Folkstone to Paris, and from Dans, i to whatever place our fancy might < suggest—such was the plan of the i vacation outing which John Lloyd and ! I proposed to ourselves. John Lloyd was a “ rising barrister,” aged forty, a • member of the Outer Temp.e, and I—l was what I am now, the publics very obedient servant. Tired of work, tired of London, o. Londoners, of London streets and London associations, we resolved to shake the dust of the city from off our feet, and to fare forth in search of recreation for mind and body. . ' „ „ John was a curious fellow. He was a bachelor. Circumstances, for which he had the most honorable regard, prevented his marriage, and his affection, diverted from a sphere in which it Would have shone admirably, found occupation in strange channels. Old china, prints, out-of-the-way books, plants, all dumb animals, and the sick, maimed, and halt of the human kind, divided among them the love which a family would have monopolised. The older dramatists, too, were Lloyd’s familiars,the well worn leaves of his dramatic library, as well as his able ciiticisms in the daily papers on current theatrical art, testifying to the intimacy subsisting between him and his models. He was a member of ever so many societies for doing good to other people ; many and grateful were the men and women he had “unostentatious'y helped; genuine distress ever found a friend in him, while a cheat quailed before h;m, and told other cheats about him, so that in the end humbugs agreed they would have nothing to do with that righteous max. He was strong, too, physically as well as morally, took keen delight in sports of all kinds, and was even known in summer months, when resident in the Temple, to spend two morning hours on the river before the steamboats were awake, pulling about in a wherry he hired from Essex Stairs. He used to say I could have no idea of the beauty of the London river in early morning, and chicled me that, being an incorrigibly late riser, I was so content to take his assertion on trust. In his profession be was also a hard worker, though lack of connection among attorneys, and a certain look and manner which repelled strangers caused his business to be small. Some chance briefs on circuit had brought into notice his really great forensic and oratorial powers. One case especially, in which he had been employed about a month before we started away together, had made him rather notorious; the judge of the assize had handsomely commended him, his very rivals had praised him, and attorneys were beginning to think that in case anything happened to ]y£ r- ” who had done their circuit business for years, they might find an eminently worthy successor in Mr. Lloyd. The case was a remarkable one. A man named William Fother, of Preston, who up to that time had e ijoyed a good reputation in the town, was accused, on vehement suspicion, of having garrotted and robbed a Liverpool banker. There was no moral doubt of the prisoner’s guilt, but the evidence was wholly circ inistantial, and those who were interested for the prosecution despaii ed of getting a conviction. The absence of the counsel retained for the prosecution gave occasion for the employment of John Lloyd, who handled the case with such power and ability, that to the surprise of all concerned, the prisoner included, William Fother was convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years’ penal servitude. The prisoner, who had been loud in protesting his innocence while a chance still remained to him, was furious at the conviction, and swore if ever he got free again to be revenged on the jury and the judge, and especially on that ‘‘ugly, bigmouthed fellow ” who had caused him to be sentenced. The man had to be secured in the dock, so violent was he ; but the threats to which he had given utterance only served, so far as J ohn Lloyd was concerned, to form the subject of some jokes at John’s expense that night at the bar mess. CHAPTER IX. From the the train to the boat at Folkstone is but a step. We marched ourselves and our baggage over the interval, and, consigning the latte to the slippery p’ank down which all luggage must find its way to the steamer, John Lloyd and I crossed the gangway, and took our places on the deck of the Dolphin. There were many passengers. Some of them wore that resigned expression which is peculiar to travellers by sea, and which is an outward visible sign of great stomach tribulation to come ; others had that look of forced self-complacency, that appearance of extravagant ease which is so provoking to the postulants of sickness. There were men who, pending the unmooring of the steamer, smoked cheap cigars and talked of their sea-legs ; there were Frenchmen and Frenchwomen comporting themselves after their kind ; there were tourists in strange guises and accoutrements bagmen with their wares; several parsons each with ‘ 4 a damsel or two ; ” and a few seafaring folk who were going over to join their ships. There was but one passenger who drew our special attention, a woman about thirty years old, half shabbily dressed, who came on board by herself. She had a sharp-featured face, with small grey eyes, that seemed to take stock of everyone they gazed on. The face was pale and wistful-looking, with hard lines scored on it, and there was an expression of haughty disdain which, in spite of the wistfulnes,s rather checked than encouraged the approach of sympathy. A black leather bag was her only baggage, and seemed to be her only care. She packed it away, almost tenderly, at the back of the seat on which she was sitting, and then built herself comfortably into the place in front of it, taking no notice of anybody. She had no hook, no newspaper, but, seeming to be wholly occupied with her thoughts, kept her eyes intently fixed on the deck, her mouth moving now and then as if she spoke of some one not present. Even the porters engaged in loading the steamer found time to observe her, and to jerk their thumbs over the shoulder at her, winking to one another and uttering something about her being a “ rum ’nn,” whatever that might mean. Lloyd was greatly interested in her, and began to weave all sorts of stories to account for hor appearance and her solitariness. It so happened that when the boat got under weigh we were seated by the paddle-box, and directly in front of the place where the interesting stranger sat. Out of the basin, cut of the harbor, clear of the pier and landing-stage the Dolphin steamed. The sea was just a , little agitated, and soon from many throats exacted her due ; the cheap cigar men were nowhere ; the strutters of the 1 deck and the whilom owner of “ sea-legs ” i were as though they were not, and a 1 quietness that was full of anguish reigned i supreme over the passengers. i Lloyd and I, not over-bold and not ] fearful, sat and talked, and watched the ] solitary woman. She was immovable; J neither the agitation of the sea nor the i sufferings of her fellow creatures seemed ] to affect her ; with her eyes fixed on the £ deck, and with her hand resting on her s bag, she was seemingly indifferent to all a that was going on around her. After the t lapse of a short time it happened that I , a took from my pocket a newspaper, which t
D ring Escape of a Convict.—Two ± days ago Wi-li-un Fother, who was sentenced ( at lb; list as iz_s for Barnborough to iiftten , penal serv’tude, mule his efcape from , the county gaol, where he was awaiting orcieis , to proceed to Portland. The prisoner, whose convicten the public will lemembcr was mainly due to the exertions of our talented 1 townsman Mr. John L'oyd, of the New (_ i cu t, had been very violent ever since his trial, and it was found necessary to set a special warder over him. On Saturday Fother sprang suddenly on his guard, felled him to the ground, and, leaving him half dead, having first taken the man’s coat, trousers, and hat as a disguise, fi r himself, made his way out of the prison. One hundreds pounds have been offered as a reward for his re-capture. Nothing is at present krown of his whereabouts. — Barnborough Courant. “ How does our talented townsman like that ? ” 1 asked. “ Not too much,” replied John gravely. “Why not?” “For obvious reasons. Did not the fellow promise only a month ago to pay me some special attention in return for my services to him ? ” “ Many a prisoner has done that, and what has come of it ? ” said I. “Has many a prisoner had the same opportunity of carrying out his threat so soon after making it?” said John, his logical mind keeping him close to the rules of evidence. “ Unless you can show that, your many prisoners’ cases are not in point. ” “ Perhaps he’s on board this boat. , You’d better look out, old man. Look at | that hardened criminal by the paddle- ■ box,” I said, pointing John’s attention to an elderly gentleman who was exceedingly . s : ck, and was holding on by the bulwarks. „ ~ , , “ Don’t be an idiot,” was the only j response vouchsafed ; and then we > sat down in the most amicable manner on , a pile of luggage, and discussed the trial ; of William Fother ani the reputation , John had gained by it. We talked 5 “ shop,” as lawyers are wont, conned the merit of extradition treaties, and joined ’ in a hearty expression of hope that by ’ their aid William Fother, late of Barn- ’ borough gaol, and now no one knew 3 where might be returned to the place , whence he came out. , The place where we sat was in full view ( of the bench on which the remarkable I female passenger was seated, and I noticed once or twice she looked up in our ’ direction as John and I continued to talk. But that might have been accident, might have been curiosity to see the men who talked so glibly and indifferently upon j topics that had a keen personal interest for so many. j CHAPTER 111. The steamer Dolphin ran into Boulogne, the “douaniers” came on board, \ the passengers were beseiged by clamorous and importunate porters, who fought ' for their luggage, while hotel-touters ’ wrangled for their persons ; gendarmes j looked severe and field-marshal-liko at their posts on the quay ; the railway hell 0 began to ring, the engines to scream from ? afar, and a man with a loud voice bade the Dolphin’s living cargo disembark, and II exhibit their passports (it was before the ( Abolition Act) to whomsoever it might concern to see them. There was much 1 shouting from sailors on board the Dolphin to quaymen on the wharf, on the q subject of warps and holdfasts ; there was 1 some swearing on the part of the irrascible 6 Britons at the stupidity of the French, s who “did not understand their own language,” and some muttered expressions r of disgust on the part of the Fi cnch at I the awkwardness of the Englishmen. There was a great confusion. 1 John Lloyd and I being in no hurry—i we were not “ going about our business,” 1 but our pleasure—stood back with our portmanteaus beside us, and waited for a clearance of the. deck before we.biidged. ’ We saw all that went on, and everybody j who went off. The remarkable female * passenger followed our example, and re--3 mained with her black leather bag on the 3 bench. She had gathered herself together, 3 donned shawl and wraps, and was ready “ for a start. “ Queer old girl that,” said John. “I , wonder what she’s after ? ” * “You’d better inquire. Go and offer 3 to carry her bag ashore for her. ” 3 “ And get rim through by jealous husband of the period, who will be on board 3 directly to meet her? No thank you,” 3 said John. The stranger at this moment turned her eyes up the wharf, and scanned the crowd. ■ Without any hesitation or embarrasment, ' she quitted her place, and, coming across i to where we stood, said to John, in a r quiet, thorough self-possessed way— I “ May I take the liberty of asking you [ to pass my luggage through the Custom J House? There is no one here to meet me, and I am not accustomed to the ways of f the place. If you will kindly treat the 1 luggage as your own, and give it me after--1 wards, 1 shall feel yery much obliged.” 1 “ How much luggage have you ? ” asked t John, who was quite taken aback by the * request. “ There is only this bag,” said the stranger. “ Here is the key. Very * likely they won’t look at it.” > There was something so singular, and * withal so fascinating in the woman’s manner and appearance, that there was 1 no refusing her ; and in three minutes’ time John Lloyd the cautious, the jealous I husband-fearer, the woman scorner, was ■ marching up the plank leading to the > shore with a strange and remarkable-look-ing female in tow, and with her bag, which, for aught he knew, might be ■ crammed with treason against the French Majesty of the day, in his hand. I followed with our two portmanteaus. Our passports were scrutinised, so was our companion’s. They were quite correct. We were allowed to pass. The officer who examined our luggage professed himself satisfied with a search of the trunks, and, much to John’s disappointment, did not offer to overhaul the black bag. At the entrance to the railway station the stranger, who had a ticket for Paris, relieved John of his burden, and thanking him for his kindness, tripped off somewhat unceremoniously, and was lost in the throng. We were not going to Paris till the next morning, so, having left our luggage at the Hotel de la Lune, we sauntered about the town and suburbs, the little incident in the morning’s experience furnishing us with food for talk and speculation. [to be continued.]
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 113, 15 June 1880
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