Q. During the time you were sweeping in the drive, did you hear the sound of a shot ?
A. A'many, sir. The gentlemen was out with their guns.
Q. Did any one shot sound to you nearer than the others ?
A. One sounded pretty loud. Q. As if comparatively close by? A. Yes, it might be.
Q. From the direction of the Bishop's Walk?
A. I couldn't rightly say, sir. It wasn't a carrying day. Sounds on such a day travel very deceptive. It might have come from across the road, or further.
Q. At what time did you hear this particular shot?
A. It might have been three o'clock, or a little later ; I couldn't be sure. Q. Think again.
A. No, I couldn't be sure, sir. I shouldn't hke to swear.
Q. Might it have been nearer half-past three?
A. Very like. I dare say it might.
This point was urged, but the witness persisted in refusing to commit himself to any more definite statement.
John Tugwood, coachman, Edward Noakes, groom, and Martha Jolly, lodge-keeper, were called and examined on the same subject. They had all distinguished, or thought they had distinguished, the louder shot in question; but their evidence as to its precise time was so hopelessly contradictory that no reliance whatever could be placed on it.
Sergeant-Detective Ridgway deposed that, having been put in charge of the case by Sir Calvin Kennett, he had proceeded to make an examination of the spot where the body had been found. This was some twenty-four hours after the commission of the alleged crime, and it might be thought possible that certain local changes had occurred during the interval. He understood, however, that the police had, when first called in, conducted an exhaustive investigation of the place, and that their conclusions differed in no material degree from his own, so that he was permitted to speak for them in the few details he had to place before the jury. Briefly, his notes comprised the following observations:-The measured distance from the wicket in the boundary hedge to the tree against which the witness, Mr Hugo Kennett, had stated that he rested his gun was nineteen and a quarter yards: thence to the beech-tree by which the body had been found was another fifteen feet. Between the wicket and the first tree there was a curve in the track, sufficient to conceal from any one standing by the second, or inner, tree the movements of one approaching from the direction of the gate. All about this part of the copse, down to the hedge, was very dense thicket, which in one place, in close proximity to the first tree supporting the gun, bore some tokens as of a person having been concealed there. If such were the case, the movements of the person in question had been presumably stealthy, the growth showing only slight signs of disturbance, not easily detected. His theory was that this person had entered possibly by the gate from the road, had crept along the path, or track, until he had caught a glimpse through the trees of the deceased in conversation with Mr Kennett, had then slipped into the undergrowth and silently worked his way to the point of concealment first-mentioned, where he would be both eye and ear witness of what was passing between the two, and had subsequently, whether torn by the passion of revenge or of jealousy, issued noiselessly forth, some few minutes after Mr Kennett's departure, seized up the gun, and either at once, or following a brief altercation, shot the deceased dead as she was moving to escape from him. Conformably with this theory, there was no sign of any struggle having occurred; but there were signs that the murderer had moved and conducted himself with great caution and circumspection. Unfortunately no evidence as to footprints could be adduced, the ground being in top hard and dry a state to record their impression. Finally, he was bound to say that there was nothing in his theory incompatible with the assumption that the prisoner was the one responsible for the deed. On the other hand, it was true that the man's movements between the time when the witness Henstridge had seen him descending towards the road, and the time of the commission of the crime- which could not have been earlier than three o'clock -had still to be accounted for. But it was possible, of course, that he had occupied this interval of three-quarters of an hour in stalking, and in finally running to earth his victim. If he could produce witnesses to prove the contrary, the theory of course collapsed.
The Sergeant delivered his statement with a hard, clear-cut precision which was in curious and rather deadly contrast with the nervous hesitation displayed by other witnesses. There was a suggestion about him of the expert surgeon, demonstrating, knife in hand, above the operating table; and in a voice as keen and cold as his blade.
Raymond, Baron Le Sage, was the next witness called. It was noticed once or twice, during the course of the Baron's evidence, that the prisoner looked as if reproachfully and imploringly towards his master.
Q. The prisoner is your servant?
A. He is my servant.
Q. Since when, will you tell me?
A. He has been in my service now over a year.
Q. You took him with a good character?
A. An excellent character.
Q. He is a Gascon, I believe ?
A. Yes, a Gascon.
Q. A hot-blooded and vindictive race, is it not? A. A warm-blooded people, certainly. Q. Practising the vendetta?
A. You surprise me.
Q. I am asking you for information.
A. I have none to give you.
Q. Very well; we will leave it at that. On the afternoon of the murder, about half-past two, you entered the Bishop's Walk?
A. I had been out driving with Miss Kennett, and, passing the gate, asked her whither it led. She told me, and I decided to go by the path, leaving her to drive on to the house alone.
Q. Why did you so decide?
A. I had caught a glimpse among the trees, of, as I thought, the maid, Annie Evans, and I wished to speak with her.