PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.
11y Upward J. Goodman, Author of 'Too Curious.'
YOL. 111.-CHAPTER XIII.
A GREAT CASK. At last he had gratified his grim ambition, and Oliver Crayke stood in the dock, the central figure, and the hero of a great trial for murder. And was it not a great and famous case ? The fact alone that he stood there arraigned for the killing of the man who had occupied the same position, on the same spot, charged with the same onme, not many months before, imparted a strange glamor of interest to the oase. All England rang with it; the attention of all olasses of Bociety was absorbed by it. Day after day the Court was crowded to the topmost row of the gallery-that gallery where he himself had watched so long and patiently the trial of his victim, Abel Wynd. The same spectators, or their like, were there—the briefless barristers, the reporters and their messengers, the clerks and idlers, the fine ladies with their fanoy work and opera glasses, the students of crime and mystery —all the miscellaneous orowd of those who hunger after the food of morbid sensation were gathered there to watch the progress of that trial for the murder of a man who had himself been tried for murder. All eyes were fixed upon the prisoner in the dock—that tall, gaunt figure, with stooping shoulders, thin white hands, long yellowred hair, and pale, immobile, passionless face. He showed no air of defiance, or of indifference. He simply stood there, to all appearance calm and self-possessed, quietly attentive to the progress of the case, just as he had sat many a time watchinq the trial of some other man. His whole aspeot was In itself a problem, and the object of the widest diversity of opinion. Some regarded it asevidenoeof conscious innocence; others pronounced it to be indicative of shameless guilt. To the one class he seemed the victim of a strange mistake; to the other a base and crafty criminal. But to all he was the centre of a mystery, full of horrible fascination; and he felt, with exultation, that it was so. Out of Court he puaried those with whom his position brought him in contaot as much as in the Court itself. His legal advisers oould not understand him. He would give them no instructions, no information; he oontented himself with a simple denial of the charge, and for the rest, briefly and vaguely answered the questions put to him. " I declare," said his leading counsol to the solicitor defending him, " I don't know what to make of the man. I think he must be mad- Yet it would be hopeless to set up a plea of insanity." They brought medical men to see and examine him—great doctors experienced in mental disorders—but they could not pronounce him insane. He replied to their test questions laconioally but courteously, and with logical coherence. He showed no sign of mania or delusion ; there was nothing remarkable in his language except its strange sententionsneas, nothing extraordinary in his manner save his extreme taciturnity. He was as much a puzzle to the medical as to the legal mind.
The evidence given in Court covered all the ground of the narrative set forth in these pages so far as the facta were known to the persona who have figured in it. Every act and movement of the man was marshalled forth to prove the case againßt him ; his singular habit of attending murder trials, hia taate for murder literature, his relations with the Musgrave family and the Wynda from first to last. One after another, all who had known him were put into the witness box and examined and crossexamined as to his words and actions, and the evidenced the aggregate seemed to tell as much in his favor aa against him, It were needless to recapitulate the depositions. Let those who have followed this narrative recall the facts which came under the cognisance of the persons who were brought in contact with Oliver Crayke from time to time, and it will readily be ■een that a mass of testimony was accumulated, at once singular and perplexing. Jane Wynd, and her devoted servant Sarah, every member of the Musgrave family, Mark Elliot, and Mr Copple the publisher, the doctors who had conducted the post mortem examination, the P°li ce who had been concerned in the case, officials of that and other Courts who had observed the prisoner's habit of attendance at murder trials, and many an expert consulted on matters having a collateral bearing on the main point at issue, were all placed in the witness box in succession. How far their testimony cast li&ht on the case, or tended to obscure it, will presently be seen. But one episode of the trial, which excited profound sensation in the Court, demands especial notioe. Suddenly there was placed in the witness box the strangest object ever seen in a court of justice—a hideous, deformed dwarf, with ape-like features, a head of bushy hair, and wild, wandering eyes, A murmur of astonishment and horror spread through the audience at sight of this grim spectacle, and the dwarf gazed around him with a dazed, bewildered look, which changed to one of abject terror as hia eyes met those of the prisoner in the dopk. He had appeared at the inquest, and at the examination before the magistrate, bnt nothing could be made of his evidence. Mo word could be got from him except those unintelligible expressions which he had nsed at Gore Houße on the day when Abel Wynd had been discovered lying dead.
•• He did it—he made him dream," the dwarf repeated again and again; but no ingenuity of counsel or magisterial authority could succeed in elioiting from the witness any explanation of those mystic worAs. *• The man must be mad, or at the beet halfwitted," eaid everyone, and his evidence was cast aside as absurd and worthless. Meanwhile, the dwarf had been taken in hand by subtler minds than those that had dealt with him in the preliminary stages of the case, and it was only at the trial itself that his strange evidence was ripe for hearing. The form of oath was administer?! to him, and he " kissed the book " as ordered. Then the counsel for the prosecution propeeded to question him* »' What is your name f asked the learned gentleman. "Jabe«." " Have you no other name f "No." ''You are, or were, the prisoner's servant V "Teg." "Do you remember the night when the man died in your master's house ?" "Yes." " Well, what took place ?" "He woke me." " Who woke you ?' "The master —him," pointing at the prisoner. " Where did he wake yon ?" if In the kitchen." f»Did he speak to you ?" ••Yes." " What did he say?" The witness made no reply, but glanced with terror at the prisoner, and it was long before bis attention could be diverted to his questioner. " Well," repeated the counsel, *' what did he say?" *• He asked me " again the frightene* Jabez paused. " Yes, he asked you—what f "For a knife." A thrill of excitement ran through Ihe Court at this startling statement. All eyes were turned to the prisoner, but he stood impassive as a block of stone. Then followed a series of questions which elicited the facts that the knife given by the witness to the prisoner was long and sharply pointed, and that the latter hid it under his eoat. " What didjyour master do next ?" ««Went away." "But before that?" No answer. It was difficult to get him to understand what the counsel required to know; but at last it was ascertained that the prisoner had beckoned the witness to follow him. • • • '" -,," And did you follow him ? "Yes." " Where to ?" •' Up the stairs." " To the top of the stairs?" "Yes." Further questions brought out tl» MOT-
mation that the prisoner carried a candle; that he entered the room in which the body of Abel Wynd was afterwards found, while the dwarf waited outside. The witness iieard no sound proceeding from the
chamber until his master again turned the handle of the door. Then Oliver Crayke imssed him and descended the staircase, eaving him in the passage in the dark. The dwarf, evidently in a state of intense terror, crept back into the kitchen, where he remained for the rest of the sight until the morning broke. " What did you do then ?" asked counsel. " Went up." "Where?" "To the man." " Did you enter his room ?" "Yes." "What did you see'" " The man." "Where was he?" " On the bed." 44 Was he alive ?" 44 No."
44 How do you know that S" There was no answer. It seemed impossible to extract from the creature any spontaneous statement. So the counsel asked:
41 Did you touch him?" 44 No." 44 Hut you thought he was dead ?" " Yes."
41 What made you think he was dead '!"
44 He," cried the witness, pointing again to the prisoner, "he did it—he made him dream !
And cow further efforts were attempted to induce the dwarf to explain this mysterious expression. The counsel put every conceivable question that might seem calculated to elicit an intelligible answer; but all was in vain. No reply could be obtained except an endless repetition of the words: "He made him dream."
At last the Judge interposed, and pointed out that, after all, this strange phrase of the witness was not evidence. The dwarf had seen his master enter and quit the room of the deceased, but whatever construction the witness may have put upon the prisoner's proceedings, it could not be accepted as proof of any fact. Then the counsel for the defenoe took Jabea in hand, and, without much difficulty, succeeded effectually in confusing him and making nonsense of his fantastio story. The line of the learned gentleman evidently was to show that the dwarf himself had been dreaming, and that the whole tale had been concocted or imagined by him when his mind, or such mind as he possessed, had become disordered by terror at sight of the man lying dead. At length this Btrange inoident came to an end, and Jabea shambled out of the witness box, muttering once more: "He did it—he did it—he made him dream."
Here was the oase, the investigation of which occupied several days, and became each daymore and more involved in mystery. From the conflicting facts which it disclosed, counsel for the prosecution and for the defence each severally built up a picture of the prisoner and his acts and motives. These opposite views presented a startling contrast.
Thus was the story of Oliver Crayke set before the Court from the standpoint of the accuser:
Oliver Crayke was the accomplice of the deceased in crime. For what purpose he Bought the acquaintance of Abel Wynd, associated with him and assisted him in his nefarious designs, was an admitted mystery. But that he did so conspire with the deceased there could be no reasonable doubt. Many of hia acts certainly seemed quite unaccountable by any theory of human motive, and among these the most surprising fact was, that the prisoner should have administered poison to Matthew Musgrave, a man with whom he was on the most friendly terms. That such poison was administered, and in the medicine supplied by Dr Wynd, could not be denied, but it was no part of the case for the prosecution that the prisoner wilfully attempted Mr Musgrave's life. He may have done bo as the agent and confederate of Dr Wynd, or independently of him. Only one thing was clear, and that was that the deceased had accused him of making the attempt, and bad threatened to denounce him for it. He atood in terror of this threat, and, with a view to silence hia accuser, who might or might not have been hia confederate in this matter, he enticed him to hia house under promise of assisting him to take the life of Dr Mark Elliot, who had displayed such energy in endeavoring to get at the facts of the attempt on Mr Musgrave. In taking this step the prisoner had a twofold design, which would in either case have served hia purpose. He might destroy Abel Wynd, who could give evidence against him; or he might kill Dr Elliot, who waa endeavoring to obtain such evidence. As a matter of fact he found it easier to commit the former crime, and this he did. How he did it could only be surmised. That strange story of the dwarf might be ridiculed as the dream of a half-witted person, but it was not improbable. If the theory of the prosecution were correct, the prisoner intended originally to kill the deceased with the knife, and hoped to gain the assistance of his servant, who seemed to stand in such abject terror of him, to aid him in concealing the traces of the crime. Ho afterwards altered his plans, and adopted a safer method, He must have come upon Dr Wynd in his sleep, and found upon his person that phial of poison, labelled with Wynd's name and address, and dropped sufficient of it between the sleeping man's lips to produce that deeper sleep from which there is no waking. No trace of it could be discovered in the body of the deceased ; but it is often impossible to detect, after death, the presence of vegetable poisons when once absorbed in the blood. At the Bame time it was proved that the deceased was in a perfectly healthy condition, and there was not the faintest ground for believing that his death had boen due to natural causes. It must have been brought about by poison, and the poison used must have been originally in his own possession, for within the breast pocket of his coat was found an old manuscript, fully describing the nature of the drug, hitherto unknown to the Pharmacopceia, and the mode of its administration. For what purpose had Dr Wynd bought it ? It must have been at the prisoner's request in order to destroy the life of Dr Elliot, this was not done and why ? Because the prisoner found it expedient to use it on the witness instead of the accuser. Then consider the strange conduct of the prisoner on the occasion of that unexpected gathering at his house. VA hy did he deny that Dr Wynd was under his roof, when all the while he must have known that the man was lying dead upstaitß ? Again, why, when Mrs Wynd accused him of having murdered her husband, did he not repudiate such a crime? Why, when the police asked him if he had anything to say, did he Bimply reply " Nothing " ? Much in the case was no doubt very mysterious, indeed almost, if not quite, inexplicable; but it was certain that Abel Wynd was I found dead in the prisoner's house, and i under circumstances that clearly pointed to the fact that he had met his death at the prisoner's hands. On the part of the defence a very different view of Oliver Crayke's character and conduct was presented. Rightly or wrongly, he had formed an idea that Abel Wynd was a falsely accused man, and genuinely believed in his innocence. The prisoner was a person of undoubtedly eccentric character, and his acts were not to be measured by the rules applied to those of ordinary mortals. He seemed to take a peculiar interest in cases of crime; but there was no ground whatever for the imputation that he waa a criminal himself. His whole conduct towards the Wynda, and especially towarda the Musgrave family, belied such an accusation ; and that he should have had any hand whatever in an attempt on the life of Mr Musgrave, with whom be had no quarrel, and whom he had, indeed, befriended in the kindest and most delicate way, waa a charge that should be too preposterous to be entertained for a moment. That he was the medium— the wholly unconscious and innocent medium—of administering a noxious drug to Musgrave, was no doubt the fact;, but this was only an accident of the situation. The poison might just as well have, been administered by one of Mr Musgrave's own children, if it had been feloniously mixed with the medicine sent to him. -But tho fact opened the eyes of the prisoner at once to the true oharaoter of the man in whose innocence he
had too weakly believed, and he did his best to bring him to justice. He promised Dr Elliot to give him every assistance in his power, and there can be no doubt that he formed in his mind a most ingenious plan for Droving the guilt of the deceased. On the occasion of his last visit to Dr
Wynd's house, he himself must have accused that person of the attempt on Mr Mußgrave, and the counter accusation was nothing niore than the endeavor of an unscrupulous villain to shift his own crime on to the shoulders of another. Owing to Dr atrocious proceeding, the prisoner might seem to be placed in an equivocal position—a position indeed of some danger, and, in the interests of justice, he feigned to act as the accomplice of the man who had deceived him. So he professed to fall in with Wynd's design to kill Dr Elliot in order to bring him to Gore House with the actual proofs of his guilt upon him. Once there, Wynd found himself caught in a trap. What passed between him and the prisoner could not be known, as the mouth of the latter was closed; but if he could speak, he would probably tell the jury that it was his intention to give Abel Wynd up to justice, and that the guilty man, knowing that his fate was sealed, took his own life with the very poison he had brougtn for the destruction of another. As for the tale of that almost idiotic witness, it was too absurd to be listened to, and the theory based upon it was extravagant to the verge of impossibility. Was it likely that a man intending to commit a murder would act as the prisoner had done, and in the attempt to gain an assistant in his crime create a witness of his guilt ? The story about the knife and that midnight visit to the room of the deceased was a fiction of the crazed creatureV brain; besides, the body of the deceased bore no mark of external injury, and no such knife as that described could be found. Moreover, if the prisoner had poisoned the deceased, was he likely to have left the instrument of his crime, the phial of poison, lying by the dead man's aide ? Then as to the prisoner's so called | denial that the deceased was in his house. It is true he used an equivocal expression, 1 but he did not know at that moment what had happened in the room above the suicide of the man he was about to deliver up to justice ; and for obvious reasons lie did not wish to reveal the fact of his presence there to the wife of the suspected criminal. Altogether, the prisoner, though his conduct was marked by great eccentricity and a singular conception of his duty, was wholly innocent of any share in causing Abel Wynd's death, except so far as the means he employed to bring home to the deceased a crime of which he had been guilty drove the wretched man to desperation, and prompted him to take his own life with his own poison. Once more the placid tones of Mr Justice Bland were heard in that same Court, summing up the case for and against a prisoner on trial for his life. Carefully did the learned Judge hold the balance of evidence and argument, according to his wont. No charge more free from bias was ever put before a jury, and it was hard to say—if he had formed an opinion on the case to which side the feeling of His Lordship leaned. Then the jury retired to consider their verdict, and a murmur of discussion and excitement pervaded the crowded audience, as when the dock was occupied by the man whose death was now the subject of a trial for murder.
Many of the witnesses remained in Court during the long and anxious interval that now elapsed; Mr Musgrave, with his wife and Tessie, sorely perplexed by the conflicting evidence, but loath to believe that their kind friend Crayke was guilty; Mark Elliot, forming a theory of his own, that Oliver Crayke had acted as the confederate of Abel Wynd ; and Jane Wynd listening to the consoling words of her beloved cousin as Helen expressed her earnest belief that justice would be done. As for the dwarf, Jabez, he had shrunk away and disappeared, none knew whither, and, sooth to say, all felt relieved by hia departure.
Hour after hour passed by, and still the jury remained deliberating. The Judgo retired to hia room, the prisoner was removed from the dock, but few of the spectators seemed inclined to quit their places, and so .th'Bß the hearing of that verdict which all so eagerly awaited. Twilight set in, the gas was lit, and still the jury oontinued absent. Waa it possible that they would not be able to agree, and that all the labor of this long investigation would prove in vain? Suoh were the doubts that the spectators in that dense throng interchanged; and expectancy and anxiety had been vrought up to the highest pitch when a sudden commotion and a cry of "Silence!" announced that the issue of the case was close at hand.
The Judge returned to his place. Oliver Crayke stood once more in the dock, still wholly unmoved, not a muscle at work in his mask-like face; his hand steady, as all noted who saw him pass his fingers through hia long, yellow-red hair, while ho awaited the verdict, apparently less excited than any other person in the Court. Then, amidst the profonndest silence, the jury answered to their names, and their foreman replied to the usual formal questions.
" Gentlemen, are you agreed upon your verdict ?" " We are."
"How say you? Do you find the prisoner, Oliver Crayke, guilty or not guiltv V" " Not guilty." ( To be continued.)
Permanent link to this item
PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Evening Star, Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement
PAID IN HIS OWN COIN. Evening Star, Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement
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