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No. 8.

W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. LXVI, No. 2 (Aug 1887)
pp. 142-145.


. . . .



No. 8.

The Trial. – Innocence Triumphant. – Tragic Fate or the Real Assassin. – Brown Cow Season.

      Bryant was able, during the day, to tell all he knew about his assailant, which was simply a repetition of his former account. He thought he must have been out, at least, an hour and a half before he was wounded, so that he must have been found by Warner very soon after he fell.

      As Morgan had requested, we visited his place at night, when his gang had returned from work. The Cholo, as he was called (a name given to Spanish-Indian half-breeds), seemed perfectly willing to be held under arrest, when made to understand the charge, of which he protested entire innocence. The surgeon thought his patient would be able to give his statement to a jury, if the court were convened at the Woodlark's Nest.

      McDougal presided, not only as being the oldest officer, but also by unanimous request. Fielding acted as prosecuting attorney, and a young Englishman, one of Pedro's shipmates, appeared as his counsel. The jury were drawn in the usual manner, from among all the seamen on the beach who were thought capable of understanding the testimony.

      The statement of Bryant was repeated in the hearing of the whole court. I was next summoned, and detailed my adventure and quarrel with the prisoner. The poor man could prove no alibi, for it was admitted by himself and shipmates, that he was on the beach that night, and that he remained out until four o'clock. He could only reiterate his innocence, calling upon every saint in the calendar. I felt really anxious about the result of the trial; for I believed him to be innocent, but feared the jury might feel it their duty to convict him on the circumstantial evidence, as nothing was offered to rebut it.

      But at that point the prisoner's counsel took me by surprise, by calling upon Morgan. He responded to the summons, and being sworn, declared that he left his house at half-past two on the morning in question, and that he went directly down the hill to the beach, and there he met his man, Pedro, going up toward the Glacier. He spoke to him, inquired as to his success, and passed on down. When near the head of the Wreck, he saw a man with a lance on his shoulder, whom he believed to be Dave Bryant, from his figure and dress. He was standing near the stern, apparently talking with some one on board. But at Morgan's approach the voices ceased, and the man moved on.

      At the same moment, another man—'-a small man in a dark jacket and sou'wester "—darted out from the shadow of the vessel, where he appeared to have been crouched down, and dashed away inland, running as if in great haste. Morgan turned towards home again, and once more crossed the prisoner's track, saluting him again. He gave him orders to finish out his watch between the Glacier and the Wreck, as he


thought he would do as well as by cruising the whole length of the Point. Within twenty minutes thereafter he heard of the "murder," from one of the "Adelaide's" men. He did not himself go below the Wreck that night, and did not believe the prisoner did, after half-past two o'clock. He had reason to think that, at the time the assault was committed, Pedro was not within two miles of the spot where Bryant had been picked up.

      "It is difficult to fix the exact time at which the deed was committed," said McDougal. "But, as all the evidence thus far is merely circumstantial, this testimony is important."

      "I wish to ask the witness," said Fielding, "why he has kept silent about this matter until this moment? It would seem that he had some special object in doing so, as all the evidence of the other witnesses is, I may say, but a formal repetition of what was already known, at least, to all the officers."

      "I had an object in keeping silent," answered Morgan, promptly. "I thought that when the proper time arrived, I could save Pedro, by pointing out the real murderer."

      "Did you know the man who ran out from the shadow of the Wreck?" inquired Shaw, the young man who was defending the prisoner.

      "I could hardly say, under oath, that I knew him, though I may be well satisfied in my own mind. I knew him better than the man whom I called Bryant; though not so well, perhaps, as I did Pedro. But," he continued, regardless of all court forms, " if I was not certain of his identity then, I am now! Look! there he stands! Thomas Martin is the man who did this foul deed!"

      He pointed, as he spoke, to where the guilty wretch stood, trembling, near the door. We needed no further evidence, though, as afterwards appeared, more was ready. A single glance was enough for the hot-headed Burdick, who made a rush for the accused, and was followgd by Warner, thus adjourning the court without waiting for forms.

      But Martin had been too quick for any of us. He had already backed out at the door near which he stood, and fled like a deer, not towards his own quarters, but in the direction of the ice-mountain. Burdick and Warner, with several others, pressed the pursuit; but the fugitive, who seemed gifted with the strength of desperation, outran them all, and his purpose seemed to be to cross the Glacier and take refuge under the protecting wing of Captain Proctor.

      Carrie McDougal had sat, during the trial, in the room with Bryant, a silent listener to all the proceedings of the court. When Fielding and I entered, having, for the present, abandoned the chase of Martin, she showed us a knife, discolored and rusty, requesting us to look at the initials cut in the corner.

      "T. M.," said Fielding. "That is Martin's knife. I have often seen it before. Where did you get it?"

      "I found it on the beach, near the spot where—it happened."

      "You had this evidence ready, then, before the court opened?"

      "Yes," she said. "Only Mr. Morgan and the prisoner's counsel knew of it, besides myself. I was to have been called, the next witness after Morgan, but there is no need of it now."

      We now learned that the girl had been sitting at the stern window of the brig, and had spoken a few words with Dave at the time stated by Morgan; that she had seen the man who ran up the beach, and was almost sure that it was Martin, but, of course, could not say so with certainty. That Morgan, after parting with me and the surgeon next morning, had directly sought out the girl, and their interview served to strengthen the suspicions of both, almost to conviction. That soon afterwards, while walking near the spot where Dave had been found, she had picked up the knife.

      By Morgan's advice, the matter had been made known to Shaw only. He had intended to produce this evidence at the last moment, in such a way as to carry conviction to every mind of the guilt of the real culprit; while, at the same time, Pedro would be triumphantly acquitted, as his innocence would be shown up in the presence of every man. Morgan's zeal had, however, precipitated matters, and made it unnecessary to call the girl upon the stand at all.

      She merely hinted at Martin's offensive attentions to her; but, reticent as she was, I was able to guess the whole. She had kept this secret both from her father and Bryant, for fear of serious consequences. Jealousy, with a desire of revenge for the rough handling he had met with on the night of Proctor's drunken attack upon us,


had furnished motives sufficient for the deed, to a man of Martin's character.

      Meanwhile, the fugitive, hotly pursued by Warner and Burdick, had ascended the mountain, leaping from rock to rock with the agility of a goat, and keeping beyond the reach of his pursuers, who still hesitated to fire upon him, as their object was to capture him alive, that he might be dealt with "according to law." He still clung to his lance, and it was supposed that he also carried a pistol about him. There was no doubt that, if hard pressed, he would fight desperately, rather than be taken.

      Fielding and I stood on the beach, watching the progress of the pursuit; but it seemed useless to join in it. If those who had the first start had not overtaken him, we should stand no chance.

      He came into view on the highest part of the Glacier, keeping well out to the sea-face, and making frantic signals to those on board the bark, by waving his hat, and swinging his lance high in the air. Thus he held his way, seemingly insensible to fatigue, keeping between his wary pursuers and the sea.

      "There's a boat pushing off from the 'Garrick!'" said I. "He'll escape us yet, and get under Proctor's protection."

      "I think he will, too," Fielding answered. "I presume Warner and Burdick will be for making a general attack, and taking him by force. But I should rather hesitate about doing that. It's wonderful how the little fellow's strength holds out! You see he keeps in motion all the time, while the others are obliged to stop and blow."

      He seemed incited to fresh efforts at sight of the boat coming to his rescue; while Burdick, who had kept in advance of the other pursuers, was proportionally discouraged, and halted for his followers to come up. Martin, on reaching the pinnacle where the mountain sloped most abruptly to the sea, also stopped, faced about, and shook his lance in defiance. While doing so, he suddenly vanished, as if he had stepped upon a trap-door.

      We thought he had merely stepped down to a lower spot, so as to be hidden by the eminence on which he had lately stood. But, at the same moment, we saw Burdick rush eagerly onward, signaling the others; and soon the whole party from the beach were in motion, we, ourselves, falling in with the current.

      On reaching the spot where many were assembled ahead of us, the sudden disappearance of Martin was fearfully explained. We stood on the brink of one of the cracks, or fissures, by which the Glacier was at various points intersected. The chasm was not so wide but that a man might leap across it, if he were on his guard and saw it in time. But the spot where a loose fragment of rock had been dislodged by his foot was plainly to be noted; and, in the chasm, more than a hundred feet below us, lay the crushed remains of the murderer. His lance rested across the fissure, like a mockery of a bridge; and it was evident that he had thus caught and hung his weight by his hands for an instant, ere he let go; for the shank was bent like a bow, and the pole shattered, by his momentary downward jerk upon it.

      No one had touched it, to change its position. We all stood gazing down from the giddy verge, but no words were spoken. But mingled with the natural feeling of horror at the awful tragedy, there was, I may safely say, one of satisfaction, that justice had been meted out to the criminal, with no direct act of violence on the part of us, his fellow-men. The case had been taken out of our hands, and He who has said " Vengeance is mine," had relieved us all of a fearful responsibility.

      Our party was soon afterwards increased by the arrival of a boat's crew from the "Garrick," who had climbed the mountain on the north side; and to those, of whom our old friend Rawlings was in command, it was necessary to explain the circumstances which had led to the death of their shipmate. They were not slow in acknowledging, like ourselves, the hand of Omnipotent justice in the matter.

      Meanwhile, the remaining crews of the two vessels at anchor beneath us, diminished to pigmies by distance, were to be seen grouped together and gazing upward in an ecstasy of wonder and curiosity. Well they might, at the unwonted gathering of men in this strange place, on the beetling summit of the eternal ice-blulf.

      And no one, of all the party there assembled, seemed more relieved in mind at this termination of the affair, than the warmhearted, impulsive mate of the "Ripple," who had been foremost in the pursuit.

      "I didn't want to fire upon him," he said, "but I believe I should ha' done it, rather than let him get off the beach. But I'm so glad that his blood isn't on my hands! and that


all hands were looking on to see that he met his death by accident, with no one near him."

      "It is well," said Doctor Churchill, reverently. "Had he been taken and brought back, we should have had the most delicate and difficult part of our duty before us—to fix the penalty. But, Mr. Rawlings," he asked, as if desirous to change the subject, "how did you manage to get ashore? I didn't think Captain Proctor would have allowed you to land at all."

      "He sent me," returned Rawlings. "We made out Martin's signals, and, of course, he was anxious to know what the matter was. I don't know why he sent me, unless it was to get rid of the sight of me for awhile. But, now that this vacancy occurs, I think I had better stay ashore myself, and send the boat back."

      "No," said McDougal, "that won't do. But I'll go off with you, in the boat, for I ought, really, to see Captain Proctor at once, and explain this unfortunate business. And I think, while I am there, we can manage him, so as to have you sent ashore to take the place of Mr. Martin."

      The " Daphnes " at once became clamorous in favor of this arrangement, and some even went so far as to enter their protest against working under any other officer than Rawlings, as second in command. The surgeon also accompanied them on board, and when, at sundown, the boat returned, it was found that the conspirators had carried their point.

      The interview had been a stormy one, but McDougal was firm and fearless, and, backed up by Rawlings and the doctor, as well as by the protests of the crew, he had compelled Proctor to listen to reason. The whole party crowded down to the beach to learn the result; and a round of hearty cheers expressed their joy at having carried their point, and got the worthy mate back to his post, as leader, or, at least, as second in command, of the beach-gang.

      Matters now went on in our little settlement as smoothly as had the course of true love in the case of Dave Bryant and Carrie. My friend recovered more rapidly than could have been expected; and, as he gained strength frem day to day, of course we saw less of the devoted girl at the Woodlark's Nest. But, as Dave was soon able to walk out, the lovers met often, and, with perfect confidence in each other's truth, indulged in dreams of happiness, and waited patiently the time when they should again return to the world.

      The tenders returned in due time from Three Island Harbor, having discharged their cargoes into their respective ships, and the " Woodlark" brought down a reinforcement of ten men for beach work. She also brought Captain King of the "Cerberus" ("the Admiral," as we termed him), who had come down to take a look at the lay of the land, and to see that the work was progressing all right.

      The young bulls, such as had escaped the hunters, had all gone to sea, and were succeeded by the cows which had left the beach with their young at the opening of the spring in September. These, once more in sleek and fat condition, return about the first of January, which time is known among hunters as the " brown cow season." They do not, as in the season of parturition, herd together, or "pod" near the beach, but go up higher, among the turf-knolls, where, if undisturbed, they remain several weeks, living on their own fat, and "shedding," as it is termed. The short hair falls off from their hides, and they lose all their sleek, glossy appearance.

      For several days the " haul " of "brown cows" was large, and the work was profitable to all of us. But the system of indiscriminate massacre soon began to tell. No elephant would be allowed an opportunity to "shed " on the north side of the Point, for all were slaughtered and stripped of their fat as soon as they landed. It became evident that we must work the south-west beach, and, strong-handed as we now were, we could do it, though, of course, our labor would be greatly increased.

      More lumber was landed, and a small shanty erected, far beyond the Rookery, and sheltered under the western spur of the Glacier. Casks were also rolled over to be filled; for, as it was unsafe for a vessel to approach the land on that side, it would be necessary to transport everything across the island. A part of our force was detailed to occupy this branch establishment, of which I was placed in charge for the present. Our example was soon followed by other parties; and the whole Point, on both sides, became a vast slaughter-pen. It was now midsummer, and the weather was no longer cold, though still windy and boisterous, as is the case, with trifling exceptions, all the year.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Beyond Desolation - No. 8.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol. 66, No. 2 (Aug 1887)
Pages: 142-145