An American Tragedy Chapter 24

Clyde testimony proceeded to the point where the family had removed from Quincy, Illinois (a place resorted to on account of some Salvation Army work offered his father and mother), to Kansas City, where from his twelfth to his fifteenth year he had browsed about trying to find something to do while still resenting the combination of school and religious work expected of him.

“Were you up with your classes in the public schools?”

“No, sir. We had moved too much.”

“In what grade were you when you were twelve years old?”

“Well, I should have been in the seventh but I was only in the sixth. That’s why I didn’t like it.”

“And how about the religious work of your parents?”

“Well, it was all right—only I never did like going out nights on the street corners.”

And so on, through five-and-ten cent store, soda and newspaper carrier jobs, until at last he was a bell-hop at the Green-Davidson, the finest hotel in Kansas City, as he informed them.

“But now, Clyde,” proceeded Jephson who, fearful lest Mason on the cross-examination and in connection with Clyde’s credibility as a witness should delve into the matter of the wrecked car and the slain child in Kansas City and so mar the effect of the story he was now about to tell, was determined to be beforehand in this. Decidedly, by questioning him properly he could explain and soften all that, whereas if left to Mason it could be tortured into something exceedingly dark indeed. And so now he continued:

“And how long did you work there?”

“A little over a year.”

“And why did you leave?”

“Well, it was on account of an accident.”

“What kind of an accident?”

And here Clyde, previously prepared and drilled as to all this plunged into the details which led up to and included the death of the little girl and his flight—which Mason, true enough, had been intending to bring up. But, now, as he listened to all this, he merely shook his head and grunted ironically, “He’d better go into all that,” he commented. And Jephson, sensing the import of what he was doing—how most likely he was, as he would have phrased it, “spiking” one of Mr. Mason’s best guns, continued with:

“How old were you then, Clyde, did you say?”

“Between seventeen and eighteen.”

“And do you mean to tell me,” he continued, after he had finished with all of the questions he could think of in connection with all this, “that you didn’t know that you might have gone back there, since you were not the one who took the car, and after explaining it all, been paroled in the custody of your parents?”

“Object!” shouted Mason. “There’s no evidence here to show that he could have returned to Kansas City and been paroled in the custody of his parents.”

“Objection sustained!” boomed the judge from his high throne. “The defense will please confine itself a little more closely to the letter of the testimony.”

“Exception,” noted Belknap, from his seat.

“No, sir. I didn’t know that,” replied Clyde, just the same.

“Anyhow was that the reason after you got away that you changed your name to Tenet as you told me?” continued Jephson.

“Yes, sir.”

“By the way, just where did you get that name of Tenet, Clyde?”

“It was the name of a boy I used to play with in Quincy.”

“Was he a good boy?”

“Object!” called Mason, from his chair. “Incompetent, immaterial, irrelevant.”

“Oh, he might have associated with a good boy in spite of what you would like to have the jury believe, and in that sense it is very relevant,” sneered Jephson.

“Objection sustained!” boomed Justice Oberwaltzer.

“But didn’t it occur to you at the time that he might object or that you might be doing him an injustice in using his name to cover the identity of a fellow who was running away?”

“No, sir—I thought there were lots of Tenets.”

An indulgent smile might have been expected at this point, but so antagonistic and bitter was the general public toward Clyde that such levity was out of the question in this courtroom.

“Now listen, Clyde,” continued Jephson, having, as he had just seen, failed to soften the mood of the throng, “you cared for your mother, did you?—or didn’t you?”

Objection and argument finally ending in the question being allowed.

“Yes, sir, certainly I cared for her,” replied Clyde—but after a slight hesitancy which was noticeable—a tightening of the throat and a swelling and sinking of the chest as he exhaled and inhaled.


“Yes, sir—much.” He didn’t venture to look at any one now.

“Hadn’t she always done as much as she could for you, in her way?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, then, Clyde, how was it, after all that, and even though that dreadful accident had occurred, you could run away and stay away so long without so much as one word to tell her that you were by no means as guilty as you seemed and that she shouldn’t worry because you were working and trying to be a good boy again?”

“But I did write her—only I didn’t sign my name.”

“I see. Anything else?”

“Yes, sir. I sent her a little money. Ten dollars once.”

“But you didn’t think of going back at all?”

“No, sir. I was afraid that if I went back they might arrest me.”

“In other words,” and here Jephson emphasized this with great clearness, “you were a moral and mental coward, as Mr. Belknap, my colleague, said.”

“I object to this interpretation of this defendant’s testimony for the benefit of the jury!” interrupted Mason.

“This defendant’s testimony really needs no interpretation. It is very plain and honest, as any one can see,” quickly interjected Jephson.

“Objection sustained!” called the judge. “Proceed. Proceed.”

“And it was because you were a moral and mental coward as I see it, Clyde—not that I am condemning you for anything that you cannot help. (After all, you didn’t make yourself, did you?)”

But this was too much, and the judge here cautioned him to use more discretion in framing his future questions.

“Then you went about in Alton, Peoria, Bloomington, Milwaukee, and Chicago—hiding away in small rooms in back streets and working as a dishwasher or soda fountain man, or a driver, and changing your name to Tenet when you really might have gone back to Kansas City and resumed your old place?” continued Jephson.

“I object! I object!” yelled Mason. “There is no evidence here to show that he could have gone there and resumed his old place.”

“Objection sustained,” ruled Oberwaltzer, although at the time in Jephson’s pocket was a letter from Francis X. Squires, formerly captain of the bell-hops of the Green-Davidson at the time Clyde was there, in which he explained that apart from the one incident in connection with the purloined automobile, he knew nothing derogatory to Clyde; and that always previously, he had found him prompt, honest, willing, alert and well-mannered. Also that at the time the accident occurred, he himself had been satisfied that Clyde could have been little else than one of those led and that if he had returned and properly explained matters he would have been reinstated. It was irrelevant.

Thereafter followed Clyde’s story of how, having fled from the difficulties threatening him in Kansas City and having wandered here and there for two years, he had finally obtained a place in Chicago as a driver and later as a bell-boy at the Union League, and also how while still employed at the first of these places he had written his mother and later at her request was about to write his uncle, when, accidentally meeting him at the Union League, he was invited by him to come to Lycurgus. And thereupon, in their natural order, followed all of the details, of how he had gone to work, been promoted and instructed by his cousin and the foreman as to the various rules, and then later how he had met Roberta and still later Miss X. But in between came all the details as to how and why he had courted Roberta Alden, and how and why, having once secured her love he felt and thought himself content—but how the arrival of Miss X, and her overpowering fascination for him, had served completely to change all his notions in regard to Roberta, and although he still admired her, caused him to feel that never again as before could he desire to marry her.

But Jephson, anxious to divert the attention of the jury from the fact that Clyde was so very fickle—a fact too trying to be so speedily introduced into the case—at once interposed with:

“Clyde! You really loved Roberta Alden at first, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, then, you must have known, or at least you gathered from her actions, from the first, didn’t you, that she was a perfectly good and innocent and religious girl.”

“Yes, sir, that’s how I felt about her,” replied Clyde, repeating what he had been told to say.

“Well, then, just roughly now, without going into detail, do you suppose you could explain to yourself and this jury how and why and where and when those changes came about which led to that relationship which we all of us” (and here he looked boldly and wisely and coldly out over the audience and then afterwards upon the jurors) “deplore. How was it, if you thought so highly of her at first that you could so soon afterwards descend to this evil relationship? Didn’t you know that all men, and all women also, view it as wrong, and outside of marriage unforgivable—a statutory crime?”

The boldness and ironic sting of this was sufficient to cause at first a hush, later a slight nervous tremor on the part of the audience which, Mason as well as Justice Oberwaltzer noting, caused both to frown apprehensively. Why, this brazen young cynic! How dared he, via innuendo and in the guise of serious questioning, intrude such a thought as this, which by implication at least picked at the very foundations of society—religious and moral! At the same time there he was, standing boldly and leoninely, the while Clyde replied:

“Yes, sir, I suppose I did—certainly—but I didn’t try to seduce her at first or at any time, really. I was in love with her.”

“You were in love with her?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very much?”

“Very much.”

“And was she as much in love with you at that time?”

“Yes, sir, she was.”

“From the very first?”

“From the very first.”

“She told you so?”

“Yes, sir.”

“At the time she left the Newtons—you have heard all the testimony here in regard to that—did you induce or seek to induce her in any way, by any trick or agreement, to leave there?”

“No, sir, I didn’t. She wanted to leave there of her own accord. She wanted me to help her find a place.”

“She wanted you to help her find a place?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And just why?”

“Because she didn’t know the city very well and she thought maybe I could tell her where there was a nice room she could get—one that she could afford.”

“And did you tell her about the room she took at the Gilpins’?”

“No, sir, I didn’t. I never told her about any room. She found it herself.” (This was the exact answer he had memorized.)

“But why didn’t you help her?”

“Because I was busy, days and most evenings. And besides I thought she knew better what she wanted than I did—the kind of people and all.”

“Did you personally ever see the Gilpin place before she went there?”

“No, sir.”

“Ever have any discussion with her before she moved there as to the kind of a room she was to take—its position as regards to entrance, exit, privacy, or anything of that sort?”

“No, sir, I never did.”

“Never insisted, for instance, that she take a certain type of room which you could slip in and out of at night or by day without being seen?”

“I never did. Besides, no one could very well slip in or out of that house without being seen.”

“And why not?”

“Because the door to her room was right next to the door to the general front entrance where everybody went in and out and anybody that was around could see.” That was another answer he had memorized.

“But you slipped in and out, didn’t you?”

“Well, yes, sir—that is, we both decided from the first that the less we were seen together anywhere, the better.”

“On account of that factory rule?”

“Yes, sir—on account of that factory rule.”

And then the story of his various difficulties with Roberta, due to Miss X coming into his life.

“Now, Clyde, we will have to go into the matter of this Miss X a little. Because of an agreement between the defense and the prosecution which you gentlemen of the jury fully understand, we can only touch on this incidentally, since it all concerns an entirely innocent person whose real name can be of no service here anyhow. But some of the facts must be touched upon, although we will deal with them as light as possible, as much for the sake of the innocent living as the worthy dead. And I am sure Miss Alden would have it so if she were alive. But now in regard to Miss X,” he continued, turning to Clyde, “it is already agreed by both sides that you met her in Lycurgus some time in November or December of last year. That is correct, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, that is correct,” replied Clyde, sadly.

“And that at once you fell very much in love with her?”

“Yes, sir. That’s true.”

“She was rich?”

“Yes, sir.”


“I believe it is admitted by all that she is,” he said to the court in general without requiring or anticipating a reply from Clyde, yet the latter, so thoroughly drilled had he been, now replied: “Yes, sir.”

“Had you two—yourself and Miss Alden, I mean—at that time when you first met Miss X already established that illicit relationship referred to?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, now, in view of all that—but no, one moment, there is something else I want to ask you first—now, let me see—at the time that you first met this Miss X you were still in love with Roberta Alden, were you—or were you not?”

“I was still in love with her—yes, sir.”

“You had not, up to that time at least, in any way become weary of her? Or had you?”

“No, sir. I had not.”

“Her love and her companionship were just as precious and delightful to you as ever?”

“Yes, sir, they were.”

And as Clyde said that, he was thinking back and it seemed to him that what he had just said was really true. It was true that just before meeting Sondra he was actually at the zenith of content and delight with Roberta.

“And what, if any, were your plans for your future with Miss Alden—before you met this Miss X? You must have thought at times of that, didn’t you?”

“Well, not exactly,” (and as he said this he licked his lips in sheer nervousness). “You see, I never had any real plan to do anything—that is, to do anything that wasn’t quite right with her. And neither did she, of course. We just drifted kinda, from the first. It was being alone there so much, maybe. She hadn’t taken up with anybody yet and I hadn’t either. And then there was that rule that kept me from taking her about anywhere, and once we were together, of course we just went on without thinking very much about it, I suppose—either of us.”

“You just drifted because nothing had happened as yet and you didn’t suppose anything would. Is that the way?”

“No, sir. I mean, yes, sir. That’s the way it was.” Clyde was very eager to get those much-rehearsed and very important answers, just right.

“But you must have thought of something—one or both of you. You were twenty-one and she was twenty-three.”

“Yes, sir. I suppose we did—I suppose I did think of something now and then.”

“And what was it that you thought? Can you recollect?”

“Well, yes, sir. I suppose I can. That is, I know that I did think at times that if things went all right and I made a little more money and she got a place somewhere else, that I would begin taking her out openly, and then afterwards maybe, if she and I kept on caring for each other as we did then, marry her, maybe.”

“You actually thought of marrying her then, did you?”

“Yes, sir. I know I did in the way that I’ve said, of course.”

“But that was before you met this Miss X?”

“Yes, sir, that was before that.”

(“Beautifully done!” observed Mason, sarcastically, under his breath to State Senator Redmond. “Excellent stage play,” replied Redmond in a stage whisper.)

“But did you ever tell her in so many words?” continued Jephson.

“Well, no, sir. I don’t recall that I did—not just in so many words.”

“You either told her or you didn’t tell her. Now, which was it?”

“Well, neither, quite. I used to tell her that I loved her and that I never wanted her to leave me and that I hoped she never would.”

“But not that you wanted to marry her?”

“No, sir. Not that I wanted to marry her.”

“Well, well, all right!—and she—what did she say?”

“That she never would leave me,” replied Clyde, heavily and fearsomely, thinking, as he did so, of Roberta’s last cries and her eyes bent on him. And he took from his pocket a handkerchief and began to wipe his moist, cold face and hands.

(“Well staged!” murmured Mason, softly and cynically. “Pretty shrewd—pretty shrewd!” commented Redmond, lightly.)

“But, tell me,” went on Jephson, softly and coldly, “feeling as you did aboout Miss Alden, how was it that upon meeting this Miss X, you could change so quickly? Are you so fickle that you don’t know your own mind from day to day?”

“Well, I didn’t think so up to that time—no, sir!”

“Had you ever had a strong and binding love affair at any time in your life before you met Miss Alden?”

“No, sir.”

“But did you consider this one with Miss Alden strong and binding—a true love affair—up to the time you met this Miss X?”

“Yes, sir, I did.”

“And afterwards—then what?”

“Well—afterwards—it wasn’t quite like that any more.”

“You mean to say that on sight of Miss X, after encountering her once or twice, you ceased to care for Miss Alden entirely?”

“Well, no, sir. It wasn’t quite like that,” volunteered Clyde, swiftly and earnestly. “I did continue to care for her some—quite a lot, really. But before I knew it I had completely lost my head over—over Miss—Miss——”

“Yes, this Miss X. We know. You fell madly and unreasonably in love with her. Was that the way of it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And then?”

“Well—and then—I just couldn’t care for Miss Alden so much any more.” A thin film of moisture covered Clyde’s forehead and cheeks as he spoke.

“I see! I see!” went on Jephson, oratorically and loudly, having the jury and audience in mind. “A case of the Arabian Nights, of the enscorcelled and the enscorcellor.”

“I don’t think I know what you mean,” said Clyde.

“A case of being bewitched, my poor boy—by beauty, love, wealth, by things that we sometimes think we want very, very much, and cannot ever have—that is what I mean, and that is what much of the love in the world amounts to.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Clyde, quite innocently, concluding rightly that this was mere show of rhetoric on Jephson’s part.

“But what I want to know is—how was it that loving Miss Alden as much as you say you did—and having reached that relationship which should have been sanctified by marriage—how was it that you could have felt so little bound or obligated to her as to entertain the idea of casting her over for this Miss X? Now just how was that? I would like to know, and so would this jury, I am sure. Where was your sense of gratitude? Your sense of moral obligation? Do you mean to say that you have none? We want to know.”

This was really cross-examination—an attack on his own witness. Yet Jephson was within his rights and Mason did not interfere.

“Well…” and here Clyde hesitated and stumbled, quite as if he had not been instructed as to all this beforehand, and seemed to and did truly finger about in his own mind or reason for some thought that would help him to explain all this. For although it was true that he had memorized the answer, now that he was confronted by the actual question here in court, as well as the old problem that had so confused and troubled him in Lycurgus, he could scarcely think clearly of all he had been told to say, but instead twisted and turned, and finally came out with:

“The fact is, I didn’t think about those things at all very much. I couldn’t after I saw her. I tried to at times, but I couldn’t. I only wanted her and I didn’t want Miss Alden any more. I knew I wasn’t doing right—exactly—and I felt sorry for Roberta—but just the same I didn’t seem able to do anything much about it. I could only think of Miss X and I couldn’t think of Roberta as I had before no matter how hard I tried.”

“Do you mean to say that you didn’t suffer in your own conscience on account of this?”

“Yes, sir, I suffered,” replied Clyde. “I knew I wasn’t doing right, and it made me worry a lot about her and myself, but just the same I didn’t seem to be able to do any better.” (He was repeating words that Jephson had written out for him, although at the time he first read them he felt them to be fairly true. He had suffered some.)

“And then?”

“Well, then she began to complain because I didn’t go round to see her as much as before.”

“In other words, you began to neglect her.”

“Yes, sir, some—but not entirely—no, sir.”

“Well, when you found you were so infatuated with this Miss X, what did you do? Did you go and tell Miss Alden that you were no longer in love with her but in love with some one else?”

“No, I didn’t. Not then.”

“Why not then? Did you think it fair and honorable to be telling two girls at once that you cared for them?”

“No, sir, but it wasn’t quite like that either. You see at that time I was just getting acquainted with Miss X, and I wasn’t telling her anything. She wouldn’t let me. But I knew then, just the same, that I couldn’t care for Miss Alden any more.”

“But what about the claim Miss Alden had on you? Didn’t you feel that that was enough or should be, to prevent you from running after another girl?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, why did you then?”

“I couldn’t resist her.”

“Miss X, you mean?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And so you continued to run after her until you had made her care for you?”

“No, sir, that wasn’t the way at all.”

“Well then, what was the way?”

“I just met her here and there and got crazy about her.”

“I see. But still you didn’t go and tell Miss Alden that you couldn’t care for her any longer?”

“No, sir. Not then.”

“And why not?”

“Because I thought it would hurt her, and I didn’t want to do that.”

“Oh, I see. You didn’t have the moral or mental courage to do it then?”

“I don’t know about the moral or mental courage,” replied Clyde, a little hurt and irritated by this description of himself, “but I felt sorry for her just the same. She used to cry and I didn’t have the heart to tell her anything.”

“I see. Well, let it stand that way, if you want to. But now answer me one other thing. That relationship between you two—what about that—after you knew that you didn’t care for her any more. Did that continue?”

“Well, no, sir, not so very long, anyhow,” replied Clyde, most nervously and shamefacedly. He was thinking of all the people before him now—of his mother—Sondra—of all the people throughout the entire United States—who would read and so know. And on first being shown these questions weeks and weeks before he had wanted to know of Jephson what the use of all that was. And Jephson had replied: “Educational effect. The quicker and harder we can shock ’em with some of the real facts of life around here, the easier it is going to be for you to get a little more sane consideration of what your problem was. But don’t worry your head over that now. When the time comes, just answer ’em and leave the rest to us. We know what we’re doing.” And so now Clyde added:

“You see, after meeting Miss X I couldn’t care for her so much that way any more, and so I tried not to go around her so much any more. But anyhow, it wasn’t so very long after that before she got in trouble and then—well——”

“I see. And when was that—about?”

“Along in the latter part of January last year.”

“And once that happened, then what? Did you or did you not feel that it was your duty under the circumstances to marry her?”

“Well, no—not the way things were then—that is, if I could get her out of it, I mean.”

“And why not? What do you mean by ‘as things were then’?”

“Well, you see, it was just as I told you. I wasn’t caring for her any more, and since I hadn’t promised to marry her, and she knew it, I thought it would be fair enough if I helped her out of it and then told her that I didn’t care for her as I once did.”

“But couldn’t you help her out of it?”

“No, sir. But I tried.”

“You went to that druggist who testified here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“To anybody else?”

“Yes, sir—to seven others before I could get anything at all.”

“But what you got didn’t help?”

“No, sir.”

“Did you go to that young haberdasher who testified here as he said?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And did he give you the name of any particular doctor?”

“Well—yes—but I wouldn’t care to say which one.”

“All right, you needn’t. But did you send Miss Alden to any doctor?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did she go alone or did you go with her?”

“I went with her—that is, to the door.”

“Why only to the door?”

“Well, we talked it over, and she thought just as I did, that it might be better that way. I didn’t have any too much money at the time. I thought he might be willing to help her for less if she went by herself than if we both went together.”

(“I’ll be damned if he isn’t stealing most of my thunder,” thought Mason to himself at this point. “He’s forestalling most of the things I intended to riddle him with.” And he sat up worried. Burleigh and Redmond and Earl Newcomb—all now saw clearly what Jephson was attempting to do.)

“I see. And it wasn’t by any chance because you were afraid that your uncle or Miss X might hear of it?”

“Oh, yes, I… that is, we both thought of that and talked of it. She understood how things were with me down there.”

“But not about Miss X?”

“No, not about Miss X.”

“And why not?”

“Well, because I didn’t think I could very well tell her just then. It would have made her feel too bad. I wanted to wait until she was all right again.”

“And then tell her and leave her. Is that what you mean?”

“Well, yes, if I still couldn’t care for her any more—yes, sir.”

“But not if she was in trouble?”

“Well, no, sir, not if she was in trouble. But you see, at that time I was expecting to be able to get her out of that.”

“I see. But didn’t her condition affect your attitude toward her—cause you to want to straighten the whole thing out by giving up this Miss X and marrying Miss Alden?”

“Well, no, sir—not then exactly—that is, not at that time.”

“How do you mean—‘not at that time’?”

“Well, I did come to feel that way later, as I told you—but not then—that was afterwards—after we started on our trip to the Adirondacks.”

“And why not then?”

“I’ve said why. I was too crazy about Miss X to think of anything but her.”

“You couldn’t change even then?”

“No, sir. I felt sorry, but I couldn’t.”

“I see. But never mind that now. I will come to that later. Just now I want to have you explain to the jury, if you can, just what it was about this Miss X, as contrasted with Miss Alden, that made her seem so very much more desirable in your eyes. Just what characteristics of manner or face or mind or position—or whatever it was that so enticed you? Or do you know?”

This was a question which both Belknap and Jephson in various ways and for various reasons—psychic, legal, personal—had asked Clyde before, and with varying results. At first he could not and would not discuss her at all, fearing that whatever he said would be seized upon and used in his trial and the newspapers along with her name. But later, when because of the silence of the newspapers everywhere in regard to her true name, it became plain that she was not to be featured, he permitted himself to talk more freely about her. But now here on the stand, he grew once more nervous and reticent.

“Well, you see, it’s hard to say. She was very beautiful to me. Much more so than Roberta—but not only that, she was different from any one I had ever known—more independent—and everybody paid so much attention to what she did and what she said. She seemed to know more than any one else I ever knew. Then she dressed awfully well, and was very rich and in society and her name and pictures were always in the paper. I used to read about her every day when I didn’t see her, and that seemed to keep her before me a lot. She was daring, too—not so simple or trusting as Miss Alden was—and at first it was hard for me to believe that she was becoming so interested in me. It got so that I couldn’t think of any one or anything else, and I didn’t want Roberta any more. I just couldn’t, with Miss X always before me.”

“Well, it looks to me as if you might have been in love, or hypnotized at that,” insinuated Jephson at the conclusion of this statement, the tail of his right eye upon the jury. “If that isn’t a picture of pretty much all gone, I guess I don’t know one when I see it.” But with the audience and the jury as stony-faced as before, as he could see.

But immediately thereafter the swift and troubled waters of the alleged plot which was the stern trail to which all this was leading.

“Well, now, Clyde, from there on, just what happened? Tell us now, as near as you can recall. Don’t shade it or try to make yourself look any better or any worse. She is dead, and you may be, eventually, if these twelve gentlemen here finally so decide.” (And at this an icy chill seemed to permeate the entire courtroom as well as Clyde.) “But the truth for the peace of your own soul is the best,”—and here Jephson thought of Mason—let him counteract that if he can.

“Yes, sir,” said Clyde, simply.

“Well, then, after she got in trouble and you couldn’t help her, then what? What was it you did? How did you act? …By the way, one moment—what was your salary at that time?”

“Twenty-five dollars a week,” confessed Clyde.

“No other source of income?”

“I didn’t quite hear.”

“Was there any other source from which you were obtaining any money at that time in any way?”

“No, sir.”

“And how much was your room?”

“Seven dollars a week.”

“And your board?”

“Oh, from five to six.”

“Any other expenses?”

“Yes, sir—my clothes and laundry.”

“You had to stand your share of whatever social doings were on foot, didn’t you?”

“Objected to as leading!” called Mason.

“Objection sustained,” replied Justice Oberwaltzer.

“Any other expenses that you can think of?”

“Well, there were carfares and trainfares. And then I had to share in whatever social expenses there were.”

“Exactly!” cried Mason, with great irritation. “I wish you would quit leading this parrot here.”

“I wish the honorable district attorney would mind his own business!” snorted Jephson—as much for Clyde’s benefit as for his own. He wished to break down his fear of Mason. “I’m examining this defendant, and as for parrots we’ve seen quite a number of them around here in the last few weeks, and coached to the throat like school-boys.”

“That’s a malicious lie!” shouted Mason. “I object and demand an apology.”

“The apology is to me and to this defendant, if your Honor pleases, and will be exacted quickly if your Honor will only adjourn this court for a few minutes,” and then stepping directly in front of Mason, he added: “And I will be able to obtain it without any judicial aid.” Whereupon Mason, thinking he was about to be attacked, squared off, the while assistants and deputy sheriffs, and stenographers and writers, and the clerk of the court himself, gathered round and seized the two lawyers while Justice Oberwaltzer pounded violently on his desk with his gavel:

“Gentlemen! Gentlemen! You are both in contempt of court, both of you! You will apologize to the court and to each other, or I’ll declare a mistrial and commit you both for ten days and fine you five hundred dollars each.” With this he leaned down and frowned on both. And at once Jephson replied, most suavely and ingratiatingly: “Under the circumstances, your Honor, I apologize to you and to the attorney for the People and to this jury. The attack on this defendant, by the district attorney, seemed too unfair and uncalled for—that was all.”

“Never mind that,” continued Oberwaltzer.

“Under the circumstances, your Honor, I apologize to you and to the counsel for the defense. I was a little hasty, perhaps. And to this defendant also,” sneered Mason, after first looking into Justice Oberwaltzer’s angry and uncompromising eyes and then into Clyde’s, who instantly recoiled and turned away.

“Proceed,” growled Oberwaltzer, sullenly.

“Now, Clyde,” resumed Jephson anew, as calm as though he had just lit and thrown away a match. “You say your salary was twenty-five dollars and you had these various expenses. Had you, up to this time, been able to put aside any money for a rainy day?”

“No, sir—not much—not any, really.”

“Well, then, supposing some doctor to whom Miss Alden had applied had been willing to assist her and wanted—say a hundred dollars or so—were you ready to furnish that?”

“No, sir—not right off, that is.”

“Did she have any money of her own that you know of?”

“None that I know of—no, sir.”

“Well, how did you intend to help her then?”

“Well, I thought if either she or I found any one and he would wait and let me pay for it on time, that I could save and pay it that way, maybe.”

“I see. You were perfectly willing to do that, were you?”

“Yes, sir, I was.”

“You told her so, did you?”

“Yes, sir. She knew that.”

“Well, when neither you nor she could find any one to help her, then what? What did you do next?”

“Well, then she wanted me to marry her.”

“Right away?”

“Yes, sir. Right away.”

“And what did you say to that?”

“I told her I just couldn’t then. I didn’t have any money to get married on. And besides if I did and didn’t go away somewhere, at least until the baby was born, everybody would find out and I couldn’t have stayed there anyhow. And she couldn’t either.”

“And why not?”

“Well, there were my relatives. They wouldn’t have wanted to keep me any more, or her either, I guess.”

“I see. They wouldn’t have considered you fit for the work you were doing, or her either. Is that it?”

“I thought so, anyhow,” replied Clyde.

“And then what?”

“Well, even if I had wanted to go away with her and marry her, I didn’t have enough money to do that and she didn’t either. I would have had to give up my place and gone and found another somewhere before I could let her come. Besides that, I didn’t know any place where I could go and earn as much as I did there.”

“How about hotel work? Couldn’t you have gone back to that?”

“Well, maybe—if I had an introduction of some kind. But I didn’t want to go back to that.”

“And why not?”

“Well, I didn’t like it so much any more—not that kind of life.”

“But you didn’t mean that you didn’t want to do anything at all, did you? That wasn’t your attitude, was it?”

“Oh, no, sir. That wasn’t it. I told her right away if she would go away for a while—while she had her baby—and let me stay on there in Lycurgus, that I would try to live on less and give her all I could save until she was all right again.”

“But not marry her?”

“No, sir, I didn’t feel that I could do that then.”

“And what did she say to that?”

“She wouldn’t do it. She said she couldn’t and wouldn’t go through with it unless I would marry her.”

“I see. Then and there?”

“Well, yes—pretty soon, anyhow. She was willing to wait a little while, but she wouldn’t go away unless I would marry her.”

“And did you tell her that you didn’t care for her any more?”

“Well, nearly—yes, sir.”

“What do you mean by ‘nearly’?”

“Well, that I didn’t want to. Besides, she knew I didn’t care for her any more. She said so herself.”

“To you, at that time?”

“Yes, sir. Lots of times.”

“Well, yes, that’s true—it was in all of those letters of hers that were read here. But when she refused so flatly, what did you do then?”

“Well, I didn’t know what to do. But I thought maybe if I could get her to go up to her home for a while, while I tried and saved what I could—well… maybe… once she was up there and saw how much I didn’t want to marry her——” (Clyde paused and fumbled at his lips. This lying was hard.)

“Yes, go on. And remember, the truth, however ashamed of it you may be, is better than any lie.”

“And maybe when she was a little more frightened and not so determined——”

“Weren’t you frightened, too?”

“Yes, sir, I was.”

“Well, go on.”

“That then—well—maybe if I offered her all that I had been able to save up to then—you see I thought maybe I might be able to borrow some from some one too—that she might be willing to go away and not make me marry her—just live somewhere and let me help her.”

“I see. But she wouldn’t agree to that?”

“Well, no—not to my not marrying her, no—but to going up there for a month, yes. I couldn’t get her to say that she would let me off.”

“But did you at that or any other time before or subsequent to that say that you would come up there and marry her?”

“No, sir. I never did.”

“Just what did you say then?”

“I said that… as soon as I could get the money,” stuttered Clyde at this point, so nervous and shamed was he, “I would come for her in about a month and we could go away somewhere until—until—well, until she was out of that.”

“But you did not tell her that you would marry her?”

“No, sir. I did not.”

“But she wanted you to, of course.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Had you any notion that she could force you so to do at that time—marry her against your will, I mean?”

“No, sir, I didn’t. Not if I could help it. My plan was to wait as long as I could and save all the money I could and then when the time came just refuse and give her all the money that I had and help her all I could from then on.”

“But you know,” proceeded Jephson, most suavely and diplomatically at this point, “there are various references in these letters here which Miss Alden wrote you”—and he reached over and from the district attorney’s table picked up the original letters of Roberta and weighed them solemnly in his hand—“to a plan which you two had in connection with this trip—or at least that she seemed to think you had. Now, exactly what was that plan? She distinctly refers to it, if I recall aright, as ‘our plan.’”

“I know that,” replied Clyde—since for two months now he, along with Belknap and Jephson, had discussed this particular question. “But the only plan I know of”—and here he did his best to look frank and be convincing—“was the one I offered over and over.”

“And what was that?”

“Why, that she go away and take a room somewhere and let me help her and come over and see her once in a while.”

“Well, no, you’re wrong there,” returned Jephson, slyly. “That isn’t and couldn’t be the plan she had in mind. She says in one of these letters that she knows it will be hard on you to have to go away and stay so long, or until she is out of this thing, but that it can’t be helped.”

“Yes, I know,” replied Clyde, quickly and exactly as he had been told to do, “but that was her plan, not mine. She kept saying to me most of the time that that was what she wanted me to do, and that I would have to do it. She told me that over the telephone several times, and I may have said all right, all right, not meaning that I agreed with her entirely but that I wanted to talk with her about it some more later.”

“I see. And so that’s what you think—that she meant one thing and you meant another.”

“Well, I know I never agreed to her plan—exactly. That is, I never did any more than just to ask her to wait and not do anything until I could get money enough together to come up there and talk to her some more and get her to go away—the way I suggested.”

“But if she wouldn’t accede to your plan, then what?”

“Well, then I was going to tell her about Miss X, and beg her to let me go.”

“And if she still wouldn’t?”

“Well, then I thought I might run away, but I didn’t like to think about that very much.”

“You know, Clyde, of course, that some here are of the opinion that there was a plot on your part which originated in your mind about this time to conceal your identity and hers and lure her up there to one of those lone lakes in the Adirondacks and slay her or drown her in cold blood, in order that you might be free to marry this Miss X. Any truth in that? Tell this jury—yes or no—which is it?”

“No! No! I never did plot to kill her, or any one,” protested Clyde, quite dramatically, and clutching at the arms of his chair and seeking to be as emphatic as possible, since he had been instructed so to do. At the same time he arose in his seat and sought to look stern and convincing, although in his heart and mind was the crying knowledge that he had so plotted, and this it was that most weakened him at this moment—most painfully and horribly weakened him. The eyes of all these people. The eyes of the judge and jury and Mason and all the men and women of the press. And once more his brow was wet and cold and he licked his thin lips nervously and swallowed with difficulty because his throat was dry.

And then it was that piecemeal, and beginning with the series of letters written by Roberta to Clyde after she reached her home and ending with the one demanding that he come for her or she would return to Lycurgus and expose him, Jephson took up the various phases of the “alleged” plot and crime, and now did his best to minimize and finally dispel all that had been testified to so far.

Clyde’s suspicious actions in not writing Roberta. Well, he was afraid of complications in connection with his relatives, his work, everything. And the same with his arranging to meet her in Fonda. He had no plan as to any trip with her anywhere in particular at the time. He only thought vaguely of meeting her somewhere—anywhere—and possibly persuading her to leave him. But July arriving and his plan still so indefinite, the first thing that occurred to him was that they might go off to some inexpensive resort somewhere. It was Roberta who in Utica had suggested some of the lakes north of there. It was there in the hotel, not at the railway station, that he had secured some maps and folders—a fatal contention in one sense, for Mason had one folder with a Lycurgus House stamp on the cover, which Clyde had not noticed at the time. And as he was so testifying, Mason was thinking of this. In regard to leaving Lycurgus by a back street—well, there had been a desire to conceal his departure with Roberta, of course, but only to protect her name and his from notoriety. And so with the riding in separate cars, registering as Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Golden, and so on indefinitely throughout the entire list of shifty concealments and evasions. In regard to the two hats, well, the one hat was soiled and seeing one that he liked he bought it. Then when he lost the hat in the accident he naturally put on the other. To be sure, he had owned and carried a camera, and it was true that he had it at the Cranstons’ on his first visit there on the eighteenth of June. The only reason he denied having it at first was because he was afraid of being identified with this purely accidental death of Roberta in a way that would be difficult to explain. He had been falsely charged with her murder immediately upon his arrest in the woods, and he was fearful of his entire connection with this ill-fated trip, and not having any lawyer or any one to say a word for him, he thought it best to say nothing and so for the time being had denied everything, although at once on being provided counsel he had confided to his attorneys the true facts of the case.

And so, too, with the missing suit, which because it was wet and muddy he had done up in a bundle in the woods and after reaching the Cranstons’ had deposited it behind some stones there, intending to return and secure it and have it dry-cleaned. But on being introduced to Mr. Belknap and Mr. Jephson he had at once told both and they had secured it and had it cleaned for him.

“But now, Clyde, in regard to your plans and your being out on that lake in the first place—let’s hear about that now.”

And then—quite as Jephson had outlined it to Belknap, came the story of how he and Roberta had reached Utica and afterwards Grass Lake. And yet no plan. He intended, if worst came to worst, to tell her of his great love for Miss X and appeal to her sympathy and understanding to set him free at the same time that he offered to do anything that he could for her. If she refused he intended to defy her and leave Lycurgus, if necessary, and give up everything.

“But when I saw her at Fonda, and later in Utica, looking as tired and worried as she was,” and here Clyde was endeavoring to give the ring of sincerity to words carefully supplied him, “and sort of helpless, I began to feel sorry for her again.”

“Yes, and then what?”

“Well, I wasn’t quite so sure whether in case she refused to let me off I could go through with leaving her.”

“Well, what did you decide then?”

“Not anything just then. I listened to what she had to say and I tried to tell her how hard it was going to be for me to do anything much, even if I did go away with her. I only had fifty dollars.”


“And then she began to cry, and I decided I couldn’t talk to her any more about it there. She was too run-down and nervous. So I asked her if there wasn’t any place she would like to go to for a day or two to brace herself up a little,” went on Clyde, only here on account of the blackness of the lie he was telling he twisted and swallowed in the weak, stigmatic way that was his whenever he was attempting something which was beyond him—any untruth or a feat of skill—and then added: “And she said yes, maybe to one of those lakes up in the Adirondacks—it didn’t make much difference which one—if we could afford it. And when I told her, mostly because of the way she was feeling, that I thought we could——”

“Then you really only went up there on her account?”

“Yes, sir, only on account of her.”

“I see. Go on.”

“Well, then she said if I would go downstairs or somewhere and get some folders we might be able to find a place up there somewhere where it wasn’t so expensive.”

“And did you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, and then what?”

“Well, we looked them over and we finally hit on Grass Lake.”

“Who did? The two of you—or she?”

“Well, she took one folder and I took another, and in hers she found an ad about an inn up there where two people could stay for twenty-one dollars a week, or five dollars a day for the two. And I thought we couldn’t do much better than that for one day.”

“Was one day all you intended to stay?”

“No, sir. Not if she wanted to stay longer. My idea at first was that we might stay one or two days or three. I couldn’t tell—whatever time it took me to talk things out with her and make her understand and see where I stood.”

“I see. And then…?”

“Well, then we went up to Grass Lake the next morning.”

“In separate cars still?”

“Yes, sir—in separate cars.”

“And when you got there?”

“Why, we registered.”


“Clifford Graham and wife.”

“Still afraid some one would know who you were?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you try to disguise your handwriting in any way?”

“Yes, sir—a little.”

“But just why did you always use your own initials—C. G.?”

“Well, I thought that the initials on my bag should be the same as the initials on the register, and still not be my name either.”

“I see. Clever in one sense, not so clever in another—just half clever, which is the worst of all.” At this Mason half rose in his seat as though to object, but evidently changing his mind, sank slowly back again. And once more Jephson’s right eye swiftly and inquiringly swept the jury to his right. “Well, did you finally explain to her that you wanted to be done with it all as you had planned—or did you not?”

“I wanted to talk to her about it just after we got there if I could—the next morning, anyhow—but just as soon as we got off up there and got settled she kept saying to me that if I would only marry her then—that she would not want to stay married long—that she was so sick and worried and felt so bad—that all she wanted to do was to get through and give the baby a name, and after that she would go away and let me go my way, too.”

“And then?”

“Well, and then—then we went out on the lake——”

“Which lake, Clyde?”

“Why, Grass. Lake. We went out for a row after we got there.”

“Right away? In the afternoon?”

“Yes, sir. She wanted to go. And then while we were out there rowing around——” (He paused.)

“She got to crying again, and she seemed so much up against it and looked so sick and so worried that I decided that after all she was right and I was wrong—that it wouldn’t be right, on account of the baby and all, not to marry her, and so I thought I had better do it.”

“I see. A change of heart. And did you tell her that then and there?”

“No, sir.”

“And why not? Weren’t you satisfied with the trouble you had caused her so far?”

“Yes, sir. But you see just as I was going to talk to her at that time I got to thinking of all the things I had been thinking before I came up.”

“What, for instance?”

“Why, Miss X and my life in Lycurgus, and what we’d be up against in case we did go away this way.”


“And… well… and then I couldn’t just tell her then—not that day, anyhow.”

“Well, when did you tell her then?”

“Well, I told her not to cry any more—that I thought maybe it would be all right if she gave me twenty-four hours more to think things all out—that maybe we’d be able to settle on something.”

“And then?”

“Well, then she said after a while that she didn’t care for Grass Lake. She wished we would go away from there.”

“She did?”

“Yes. And then we got out the maps again and I asked a fellow at the hotel there if he knew about the lakes up there. And he said of all the lakes around there Big Bittern was the most beautiful. I had seen it once, and I told Roberta about it and what the man said, and then she asked why didn’t we go there.”

“And is that why you went there?”

“Yes, sir.”

“No other reason?”

“No, sir—none—except that it was back, or south, and we were going that way anyhow.”

“I see. And that was Thursday, July eighth?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, now, Clyde, as you have seen, it has been charged here that you took Miss Alden to and out on that lake with the sole and premeditated intent of killing her—murdering her—finding some unobserved and quiet spot and then first striking her with your camera, or an oar, or club, or stone maybe, and then drowning her. Now, what have you to say to that? Is that true, or isn’t it?”

“No, sir! It’s not true!” returned Clyde, clearly and emphatically. “I never went there of my own accord in the first place, and I only went there because she didn’t like Grass Lake.” And here, because he had been sinking down in his chair, he pulled himself up and looked at the jury and the audience with what measure of strength and conviction he could summon—as previously he had been told to do. At the same time he added: “And I wanted to please her in any way that I could so that she might be a little more cheerful.”

“Were you still as sorry for her on this Thursday as you had been the day before?”

“Yes, sir—more, I think.”

“And had you definitely made up your mind by then as to what you wanted to do?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, and just what was that?”

“Well, I had decided to play as fair as I could. I had been thinking about it all night, and I realized how badly she would feel and I too if I didn’t do the right thing by her—because she had said three or four times that if I didn’t she would kill herself. And I had made up my mind that morning that whatever else happened that day, I was going to straighten the whole thing out.”

“This was at Grass Lake. You were still in the hotel on Thursday morning?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you were going to tell her just what?”

“Well, that I knew that I hadn’t treated her quite right and that I was sorry—besides, that her offer was fair enough, and that if after what I was going to tell her she still wanted me, I would go away with her and marry her. But that I had to tell her first the real reason for my changing as I had—that I had been and still was in love with another girl and that I couldn’t help it—that probably whether I married her or not——”

“Miss Alden you mean?”

“Yes, sir—that I would always go on loving this other girl, because I just couldn’t get her out of my mind. But just the same, if that didn’t make any difference to her, that I would marry her even if I couldn’t love her any more as I once did. That was all.”

“But what about Miss X?”

“Well, I had thought about her too, but I thought she was better off and could stand it easier. Besides, I thought perhaps Roberta would let me go and we could just go on being friends and I would help her all I could.”

“Had you decided just where you would marry her?”

“No, sir. But I knew there were plenty of towns below Big Bittern and Grass Lake.”

“But were you going to do that without one single word to Miss X beforehand?”

“Well, no, sir—not exactly. I figured that if Roberta wouldn’t let me off but didn’t mind my leaving her for a few days, I would go down to where Miss X lived and tell her, and then come back. But if she objected to that, why then I was going to write Miss X a letter and explain how it was and then go on and get married to Roberta.”

“I see. But, Clyde, among other bits of testimony here, there was that letter found in Miss Alden’s coat pocket—the one written on Grass Lake Inn stationery and addressed to her mother, in which she told her that she was about to be married. Had you already told her up there at Grass Lake that morning that you were going to marry her for sure?”

“No, sir. Not exactly, but I did say on getting up that day that it was the deciding day for us and that she was going to be able to decide for herself whether she wanted me to marry her or not.”

“Oh, I see. So that’s it,” smiled Jephson, as though greatly relieved. (And Mason and Newcomb and Burleigh and State Senator Redmond all listening with the profoundest attention, now exclaimed, sotto voce and almost in unison: “Of all the bunk!”)

“Well, now we come to the trip itself. You have heard the testimony here and the dark motive and plotting that has been attributed to every move in connection with it. Now I want you to tell it in your own way. It has been testified here that you took both bags—yours and hers—up there with you but that you left hers at Gun Lodge when you got there and took your own out on the lake in that boat with you. Now just why did you do that? Please speak so that all of the jurymen can hear you.”

“Well, the reason for that was,” and here once more his throat became so dry that he could scarcely speak, “we didn’t know whether we could get any lunch at Big Bittern, so we decided to take some things along with us from Grass Lake. Her bag was packed full of things, but there was room in mine. Besides, it had my camera with the tripod outside. So I decided to leave hers and take mine.”

“You decided?”

“Well, I asked her what she thought and she said she thought that was best.”

“Where was it you asked her that?”

“On the train coming down.”

“And did you know then that you were coming back to Gun Lodge after going out on the lake?”

“Yes, sir, I did. We had to. There was no other road. They told us that at Grass Lake.”

“And in riding over to Big Bittern—do you recall the testimony of the driver who drove you over—that you were ‘very nervous’ and that you asked him whether there were many people over that that day?”

“I recall it, yes, sir, but I wasn’t nervous at all. I may have asked about the people, but I can’t see anything wrong with that. It seems to me that any one might ask that.”

“And so it seems to me,” echoed Jephson. “Then what happened after you registered at Big Bittern Inn and got into that boat and went out on the lake with Miss Alden? Were you or she especially preoccupied or nervous or in any state different from that of any ordinary person who goes out on a lake to row? Were you particularly happy or particularly gloomy, or what?”

“Well, I don’t think I was especially gloomy—no, sir. I was thinking of all I was going to tell her, of course, and of what was before me either way she decided. I wasn’t exactly gay, I guess, but I thought it would be all right whichever way things went. I had decided that I was willing to marry her.”

“And how about her? Was she quite cheerful?”

“Well—yes, sir. She seemed to feel much happier for some reason.”

“And what did you talk about?”

“Oh, about the lake first—how beautiful it was and where we would have our lunch when we were ready for it. And then we rowed along the west shore looking for water lilies. She was so happy that I hated to bring up anything just then, and so we just kept on rowing until about two, when we stopped for lunch.”

“Just where was that? Just get up and trace on the map with that pointer there just where you did go and how long you stopped and for what.”

And so Clyde, pointer in hand and standing before the large map of the lake and region which particularly concerned this tragedy, now tracing in detail the long row along the shore, a group of trees, which, after having lunch, they had rowed to see—a beautiful bed of water lilies which they had lingered over—each point at which they had stopped, until reaching Moon Cove at about five in the afternoon, they had been so entranced by its beauty that they had merely sat and gazed, as he said. Afterwards, in order that he might take some pictures, they had gone ashore in the woods nearby—he all the while preparing himself to tell Roberta of Miss X and ask her for her final decision. And then having left the bag on shore for a few moments while they rowed out and took some snapshots in the boat, they had drifted in the calm of the water and the stillness and beauty until finally he had gathered sufficient courage to tell her what was in his heart. And at first, as he now said, Roberta seemed greatly startled and depressed and began crying a little, saying that perhaps it was best for her not to live any longer—she felt so miserable. But, afterwards, when he had impressed on her the fact that he was really sorry and perfectly willing to make amends, she had suddenly changed and begun to grow more cheerful, and then of a sudden, in a burst of tenderness and gratefulness—he could not say exactly—she had jumped up and tried to come to him. Her arms were outstretched and she moved as if to throw herself at his feet or into his lap. But just then, her foot, or her dress, had caught and she had stumbled. And he—camera in hand—(a last minute decision or legal precaution on the part of Jephson)—had risen instinctively to try to catch her and stop her fall. Perhaps—he would not be able to say here—her face or hand had struck the camera. At any rate, the next moment, before he quite understood how it all happened, and without time for thought or action on his part or hers, both were in the water and the boat, which had overturned, seemed to have struck Roberta, for she seemed to be stunned.

“I called to her to try to get to the boat—it was moving away—to take hold of it, but she didn’t seem to hear me or understand what I meant. I was afraid to go too near her at first because she was striking out in every direction—and before I could swim ten strokes forward her head had gone down once and come up and then gone down again for a second time. By then the boat had floated all of thirty or forty feet away and I knew that I couldn’t get her into that. And then I decided that if I wanted to save myself I had better swim ashore.”

And once there, as he now narrated, it suddenly occurred to him how peculiar and suspicious were all the circumstances surrounding his present position. He suddenly realized, as he now said, how bad the whole thing looked from the beginning. The false registering. The fact his bag was there—hers not. Besides, to return now meant that he would have to explain and it would become generally known—and everything connected with his life would go—Miss X, his work, his social position—all—whereas, if he said nothing (and here it was, and for the first time, as he now swore, that this thought occurred to him), it might be assumed that he too had drowned. In view of this fact and that any physical help he might now give her would not restore her to life, and that acknowledgment would mean only trouble for him and shame for her, he decided to say nothing. And so, to remove all traces, he had taken off his clothes and wrung them out and wrapped them for packing as best he could. Next, having left the tripod on shore with his bag, he decided to hide that, and did. His first straw hat, the one without the lining (but about which absent lining he now declared he knew nothing), had been lost with the overturning of the boat, and so now he had put on the extra one he had with him, although he also had a cap which he might have worn. (He usually carried an extra hat on a trip because so often, it seemed, something happened to one.) Then he had ventured to walk south through the woods toward a railroad which he thought cut through the woods in that direction. He had not known of any automobile road through there then, and as for making for the Cranstons’ so directly, he confessed quite simply that he would naturally have gone there. They were his friends and he wanted to get off somewhere where he could think about this terrible thing that had descended upon him so suddenly out of a clear sky.

And then having testified to so much—and no more appearing to occur either to Jephson or himself—the former after a pause now turned and said, most distinctly and yet somehow quietly:

“Now, Clyde, you have taken a solemn oath before this jury, this judge, all these people here, and above all your God, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You realize what that means, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“You swear before God that you did not strike Roberta Alden in that boat?”

“I swear. I did not.”

“Or throw her into the lake?”

“I swear it. I did not.”

“Or willfully or willingly in any way attempt to upset that boat or in any other fashion bring about the death that she suffered?”

“I swear it!” cried Clyde, emphatically and emotionally.

“You swear that it was an accident—unpremeditated and undesigned by you?”

“I do,” lied Clyde, who felt that in fighting for his life he was telling a part of the truth, for that accident was unpremeditated and undesigned. It had not been as he had planned and he could swear to that.

And then Jephson, running one of his large strong hands over his face and looking blandly and nonchalantly around upon the court and jury, the while he compressed his thin lips into a long and meaningful line, announced: “The prosecution may take the witness.”