An American Tragedy Chapter 25

The mood of Mason throughout the entire direct examination was that of a restless harrier anxious to be off at the heels of its prey—of a foxhound within the last leap of its kill. A keen and surging desire to shatter this testimony, to show it to be from start to finish the tissue of lies that in part at least it was, now animated him. And no sooner had Jephson concluded than he leaped up and confronted Clyde, who, seeing him blazing with this desire to undo him, felt as though he was about to be physically attacked.

“Griffiths, you had that camera in your hand at the time she came toward you in the boat?”

“Yes, sir.”

“She stumbled and fell and you accidentally struck her with it?”


“I don’t suppose in your truthful and honest way you remember telling me there in the woods on the shore of Big Bittern that you never had a camera?”

“Yes, sir—I remember that.”

“And that was a lie, of course?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And told with all the fervor and force that you are now telling this other lie?”

“I’m not lying. I’ve explained why I said that.”

“You’ve explained why you said that! You’ve explained why you said that! And because you lied there you expect to be believed here, do you?”

Belknap rose to object, but Jephson pulled him down.

“Well, this is the truth, just the same.”

“And no power under heaven could make you tell another lie here, of course—not a strong desire to save yourself from the electric chair?”

Clyde blanched and quivered slightly; he blinked his red, tired eyelids. “Well, I might, maybe, but not under oath, I don’t think.”

“You don’t think! Oh, I see. Lie all you want wherever you are—and at any time—and under any circumstances—except when you’re on trial for murder!”

“No, sir. It isn’t that. But what I just said is so.”

“And you swear on the Bible, do you, that you experienced a change of heart?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That Miss Alden was very sad and that was what moved you to experience this change of heart?”

“Yes, sir. That’s how it was.”

“Well, now, Griffiths, when she was up there in the country and waiting for you—she wrote you all those letters there, did she not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You received one on an average of every two days, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you knew she was lonely and miserable there, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir—but then I’ve explained——”

“Oh, you’ve explained! You mean your lawyers have explained it for you! Didn’t they coach you day after day in that jail over there as to how you were to answer when the time came?”

“No, sir, they didn’t!” replied Clyde, defiantly, catching Jephson’s eye at this moment.

“Well, then when I asked you up there at Bear Lake how it was that this girl met her death—why didn’t you tell me then and save all this trouble and suspicion and investigation? Don’t you think the public would have listened more kindly and believingly there than it will now after you’ve taken five long months to think it all out with the help of two lawyers?”

“But I didn’t think it out with any lawyers,” persisted Clyde, still looking at Jephson, who was supporting him with all his mental strength. “I’ve just explained why I did that.”

“You’ve explained! You’ve explained!” roared Mason, almost beside himself with the knowledge that this false explanation was sufficient of a shield or barrier for Clyde to hide behind whenever he found himself being too hard pressed—the little rat! And so now he fairly quivered with baffled rage as he proceeded.

“And before you went up—while she was writing them to you—you considered them sad, didn’t you?”

“Why, yes, sir. That is”—he hesitated incautiously—“some parts of them anyhow.”

“Oh, I see—only some parts of them now. I thought you just said you considered them sad.”

“Well, I do.”

“And did.”

“Yes, sir—and did.” But Clyde’s eyes were beginning to wander nervously in the direction of Jephson, who was fixing him as with a beam of light.

“Remember her writing you this?” And here Mason picked up and opened one of the letters and began reading: “Clyde—I shall certainly die, dear, if you don’t come. I am so much alone. I am nearly crazy now. I wish I could go away and never return or trouble you any more. But if you would only telephone me, even so much as once every other day, since you won’t write. And when I need you and a word of encouragement so.” Mason’s voice was mellow. It was sad. One could feel, as he spoke, the wave of passing pity that was moving as sound and color not only through him but through every spectator in the high, narrow courtroom. “Does that seem at all sad to you?”

“Yes, sir, it does.”

“Did it then?”

“Yes, sir, it did.”

“You knew it was sincere, didn’t you?” snarled Mason.

“Yes, sir. I did.”

“Then why didn’t a little of that pity that you claim moved you so deeply out there in the center of Big Bittern move you down there in Lycurgus to pick up the telephone there in Mrs. Peyton’s house where you were and reassure that lonely girl by so much as a word that you were coming? Was it because your pity for her then wasn’t as great as it was after she wrote you that threatening letter? Or was it because you had a plot and you were afraid that too much telephoning to her might attract attention? How was it that you had so much pity all of a sudden up at Big Bittern, but none at all down there at Lycurgus? Is it something you can turn on and off like a faucet?”

“I never said I had none at all,” replied Clyde, defiantly, having just received an eye-flash from Jephson.

“Well, you left her to wait until she had to threaten you because of her own terror and misery.”

“Well, I’ve admitted that I didn’t treat her right.”

“Ha, ha! Right! Right! And because of that admission and in face of all the other testimony we’ve had here, your own included, you expect to walk out of here a free man, do you?”

Belknap was not to be restrained any longer. His objection came—and with bitter vehemence he addressed the judge: “This is infamous, your Honor. Is the district attorney to be allowed to make a speech with every question?”

“I heard no objection,” countered the court. “The district attorney will frame his questions properly.”

Mason took the rebuke lightly and turned again to Clyde. “In that boat there in the center of Big Bittern you have testified that you had in your hand that camera that you once denied owning?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And she was in the stern of the boat?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Bring in that boat, will you, Burton?” he called to Burleigh at this point, and forthwith four deputies from the district attorney’s office retired through a west door behind the judge’s rostrum and soon returned carrying the identical boat in which Clyde and Roberta had sat, and put it down before the jury. And as they did so Clyde chilled and stared. The identical boat! He blinked and quivered as the audience stirred, stared and strained, an audible wave of curiosity and interest passing over the entire room. And then Mason, taking the camera and shaking it up and down, exclaimed: “Well, here you are now, Griffiths! The camera you never owned. Step down here into this boat and take this camera here and show the jury just where you sat, and where Miss Alden sat. And exactly, if you can, how and where it was that you struck Miss Alden and where and about how she fell.”

“Object!” declared Belknap.

A long and wearisome legal argument, finally terminating in the judge allowing this type of testimony to be continued for a while at least. And at the conclusion of it, Clyde declaring: “I didn’t intentionally strike her with it though”—to which Mason replied: “Yes, we heard you testify that way”—then Clyde stepping down and after being directed here and there finally stepping into the boat at the middle seat and seating himself while three men held it straight.

“And now, Newcomb—I want you to come here and sit wherever Miss Alden was supposed to sit and take any position which he describes as having been taken by her.”

“Yes, sir,” said Newcomb, coming forward and seating himself while Clyde vainly sought to catch Jephson’s eye but could not since his own back was partially turned from him.

“And now, Griffiths,” went on Mason, “just you show Mr. Newcomb here how Miss Alden arose and came toward you. Direct him.”

And then Clyde, feeling weak and false and hated, arising again and in a nervous and angular way—the eerie strangeness of all this affecting him to the point of unbelievable awkwardness—attempting to show Newcomb just how Roberta had gotten up and half walked and half crawled, then had stumbled and fallen. And after that, with the camera in his hand, attempting to show as nearly as he could recall, how unconsciously his arm had shot out and he had struck Roberta, he scarcely knowing where—on the chin and cheek maybe, he was not sure, but not intentionally, of course, and not with sufficient force really to injure her, he thought at the time. But just here a long wrangle between Belknap and Mason as to the competency of such testimony since Clyde declared that he could not remember clearly—but Oberwaltzer finally allowing the testimony on the ground that it would show, relatively, whether a light or heavy push or blow was required in order to upset any one who might be “lightly” or “loosely” poised.

“But how in Heaven’s name are these antics as here demonstrated on a man of Mr. Newcomb’s build to show what would follow in the case of a girl of the size and weight of Miss Alden?” persisted Belknap.

“Well, then we’ll put a girl of the size and weight of Miss Alden in here.” And at once calling for Zillah Saunders and putting her in Newcomb’s place. But Belknap none-the-less proceeding with:

“And what of that? The conditions aren’t the same. This boat isn’t on the water. No two people are going to be alike in their resistance or their physical responses to accidental blows.”

“Then you refuse to allow this demonstration to be made?” (This was from Mason, turning and cynically inquiring.)

“Oh, make it if you choose. It doesn’t mean anything though, as anybody can see,” persisted Belknap, suggestively.

And so Clyde, under directions from Mason, now pushing at Zillah, “about as hard,” (he thought) as he had accidentally pushed at Roberta. And she falling back a little—not much—but in so doing being able to lay a hand on each side of the boat and so save herself. And the jury, in spite of Belknap’s thought that his contentions would have counteracted all this, gathering the impression that Clyde, on account of his guilt and fear of death, was probably attempting to conjure something that had been much more viciously executed, to be sure. For had not the doctors sworn to the probable force of this and another blow on the top of the head? And had not Burton Burleigh testified to having discovered a hair in the camera? And how about the cry that woman had heard? How about that?

But with that particular incident the court was adjourned for this day.

On the following morning at the sound of the gavel, there was Mason, as fresh and vigorous and vicious as ever. And Clyde, after a miserable night in his cell and much bolstering by Jephson and Belknap, determined to be as cool and insistent and innocent-appearing as he could be, but with no real heart for the job, so convinced was he that local sentiment in its entirety was against him—that he was believed to be guilty. And with Mason beginning most savagely and bitterly:

“You still insist that you experienced a change of heart, do you, Griffiths?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“Ever hear of people being resuscitated after they have apparently drowned?”

“I don’t quite understand.”

“You know, of course, that people who are supposed to be drowned, who go down for the last time and don’t come up, are occasionally gotten out of the water and revived, brought back to life by first-aid methods—working their arms and rolling them over a log or a barrel. You’ve heard of that, haven’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I think I have. I’ve heard of people being brought back to life after they’re supposed to be drowned, but I don’t think I ever heard just how.”

“You never did?”

“No, sir.”

“Or how long they could stay under water and still be revived?”

“No, sir. I never did.”

“Never heard, for instance, that a person who had been in the water as long as fifteen minutes might still be brought to?”

“No, sir.”

“So it never occurred to you after you swam to shore yourself that you might still call for aid and so save her life even then?”

“No, sir, it didn’t occur to me. I thought she was dead by then.”

“I see. But when she was still alive out there in the water—how about that? You’re a pretty good swimmer, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I swim fairly well.”

“Well enough, for instance, to save yourself by swimming over five hundred feet with your shoes and clothes on. Isn’t that so?”

“Well, I did swim that distance then—yes, sir.”

“Yes, you did indeed—and pretty good for a fellow who couldn’t swim thirty-five feet to an overturned boat, I’ll say,” concluded Mason.

Here Jephson waved aside Belknap’s suggestion that he move to have this comment stricken out.

Clyde was now dragged over his various boating and swimming experiences and made to tell how many times he had gone out on lakes in craft as dangerous as canoes and had never had an accident.

“The first time you took Roberta out on Crum Lake was in a canoe, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you had no accident then?”

“No, sir.”

“You cared for her then very much, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But the day she was drowned in Big Bittern, in this solid, round-bottomed row-boat, you didn’t care for her any more.”

“Well, I’ve said how I felt then.”

“And of course there couldn’t be any relation between the fact that on Crum Lake you cared for her but on Big Bittern——”

“I said how I felt then.”

“But you wanted to get rid of her just the same, didn’t you? The moment she was dead to run away to that other girl. You don’t deny that, do you?”

“I’ve explained why I did that,” reiterated Clyde.

“Explained! Explained! And you expect any fair-minded, decent, intelligent person to believe that explanation, do you?” Mason was fairly beside himself with rage and Clyde did not venture to comment as to that. The judge anticipated Jephson’s objection to this and bellowed, “Objection sustained.” But Mason went right on. “You couldn’t have been just a little careless, could you, Griffiths, in the handling of the boat and upset it yourself, say?” He drew near and leered.

“No, sir, I wasn’t careless. It was an accident that I couldn’t avoid.” Clyde was quite cool, though pale and tired.

“An accident. Like that other accident out there in Kansas City, for instance. You’re rather familiar with accidents of that kind, aren’t you, Griffiths?” queried Mason sneeringly and slowly.

“I’ve explained how that happened,” replied Clyde nervously.

“You’re rather familiar with accidents that result in death to girls, aren’t you? Do you always run away when one of them dies?”

“Object,” yelled Belknap, leaping to his feet.

“Objection sustained,” called Oberwaltzer sharply. “There is nothing before this court concerning any other accident. The prosecution will confine itself more closely to the case in hand.”

“Griffiths,” went on Mason, pleased with the way he had made a return to Jephson for his apology for the Kansas City accident, “when that boat upset after that accidental blow of yours and you and Miss Alden fell into the water—how far apart were you?”

“Well, I didn’t notice just then.”

“Pretty close, weren’t you? Not much more than a foot or two, surely—the way you stood there in the boat?”

“Well, I didn’t notice. Maybe that, yes, sir.”

“Close enough to have grabbed her and hung on to her if you had wanted to, weren’t you? That’s what you jumped up for, wasn’t it, when she started to fall out?”

“Yes, that’s what I jumped up for,” replied Clyde heavily. “but I wasn’t close enough to grab her. I know I went right under, and when I came up she was some little distance away.”

“Well, how far exactly? As far as from here to this end of the jury box or that end, or half way, or what?”

“Well, I say I didn’t notice, quite. About as far from here to that end, I guess,” he lied, stretching the distance by at least eight feet.

“Not really!” exclaimed Mason, pretending to evince astonishment. “This boat here turns over, you both fall in the water close together, and when you come up you and she are nearly twenty feet apart. Don’t you think your memory is getting a little the best of you there?”

“Well, that’s the way it looked to me when I came up.”

“Well, now, after that boat turned over and you both came up, where were you in relation to it? Here is the boat now and where were you out there in the audience, as to distance, I mean?”

“Well, as I say, I didn’t exactly notice when I first came up,” returned Clyde, looking nervously and dubiously at the space before him. Most certainly a trap was being prepared for him. “About as far as from here to that railing beyond your table, I guess.”

“About thirty to thirty-five feet then,” suggested Mason, slyly and hopefully.

“Yes, sir. About that maybe. I couldn’t be quite sure.”

“And now with you over there and the boat here, where was Miss Alden at that time?”

And Clyde now sensed that Mason must have some geometric or mathematic scheme in mind whereby he proposed to establish his guilt. And at once he was on his guard, and looking in the direction of Jephson. At the same time he could not see how he was to put Roberta too far away either. He had said she couldn’t swim. Wouldn’t she be nearer the boat than he was? Most certainly. He leaped foolishly—wildly—at the thought that it might be best to say that she was about half that distance—not more, very likely. And said so. And at once Mason proceeded with:

“Well, then she was not more than fifteen feet or so from you or the boat.”

“No, sir, maybe not. I guess not.”

“Well then, do you mean to say that you couldn’t have swum that little distance and buoyed her up until you could reach the boat just fifteen feet beyond her?”

“Well, as I say, I was a little dazed when I came up and she was striking about and screaming so.”

“But there was that boat—not more than thirty-five feet away, according to your own story—and a mighty long way for a boat to move in that time, I’ll say. And do you mean to say that when you could swim five hundred feet to shore afterwards that you couldn’t have swum to that boat and pushed it to her in time for her to save herself? She was struggling to keep herself up, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, sir. But I was rattled at first,” pleaded Clyde, gloomily, conscious of the eyes of all the jurors and all the spectators fixed upon his face, “and… and…” (because of the general strain of the suspicion and incredulity now focused as a great force upon him, his nerve was all but failing him, and he was hesitating and stumbling) …“I didn’t think quite quick enough I guess, what to do. Besides I was afraid if I went near her…”

“I know. A mental and moral coward,” sneered Mason. “Besides very slow to think when it’s to your advantage to be slow and swift when it’s to your advantage to be swift. Is that it?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, then, if it isn’t, just tell me this, Griffiths, why was it, after you got out of the water a few moments later you had sufficient presence of mind to stop and bury that tripod before starting through the woods, whereas, when it came to rescuing her you got rattled and couldn’t do a thing? How was it that you could get so calm and calculating the moment you set your foot on land? What can you say to that?”

“Well… a… I told you that afterwards I realized that there was nothing else to do.”

“Yes, we know all about that. But doesn’t it occur to you that it takes a pretty cool head after so much panic in the water to stop at a moment like that and take such a precaution as that—burying that tripod? How was it that you could think so well of that and not think anything about the boat a few moments before?”

“Well… but…”

“You didn’t want her to live, in spite of your alleged change of heart! Isn’t that it?” yelled Mason. “Isn’t that the black, sad truth? She was drowning, as you wanted her to drown, and you just let her drown! Isn’t that so?”

He was fairly trembling as he shouted this, and Clyde, the actual boat before him and Roberta’s eyes and cries as she sank coming back to him with all their pathetic and horrible force, now shrank and cowered in his seat—the closeness of Mason’s interpretation of what had really happened terrifying him. For never, even to Jephson and Belknap, had he admitted that when Roberta was in the water he had not wished to save her. Changelessly and secretively he insisted he had wanted to but that it had all happened so quickly, and he was so dazed and frightened by her cries and movements, that he had not been able to do anything before she was gone.

“I… I wanted to save her,” he mumbled, his face quite gray, “but… but… as I said, I was dazed… and… and and…”

“Don’t you know that you’re lying!” shouted Mason, leaning still closer, his stout arms aloft, his disfigured face glowering and scowling like some avenging nemesis or fury of gargoyle design—“that you deliberately and with cold-hearted cunning allowed that poor, tortured girl to die there when you might have rescued her as easily as you could have swum fifty of those five hundred feet you did swim in order to save yourself?” For by now he was convinced that he knew just how Clyde had actually slain Roberta, something in his manner and mood convincing him, and he was determined to drag it out of him if he could. And although Belknap was instantly on his feet with a protest that his client was being unfairly prejudiced in the eyes of the jury and that he was really entitled to—and now demanded—a mistrial—which complaint Justice Oberwaltzer eventually overruled—still Clyde had time to reply, but most meekly and feebly: “No! No! I didn’t. I wanted to save her if I could.” Yet his whole manner, as each and every juror noted, was that of one who was not really telling the truth, who was really all of the mental and moral coward that Belknap had insisted he was—but worse yet, really guilty of Roberta’s death. For after all, asked each juror of himself as he listened, why couldn’t he have saved her if he was strong enough to swim to shore afterwards—or at least have swum to and secured the boat and helped her to take hold of it?

“She only weighed a hundred pounds, didn’t she?” went on Mason feverishly.

“Yes, I think so.”

“And you—what did you weigh at the time?”

“About a hundred and forty,” replied Clyde.

“And a hundred and forty pound man,” sneered Mason, turning to the jury, “is afraid to go near a weak, sick, hundred-pound little girl who is drowning, for fear she will cling to him and drag him under! And a perfectly good boat, strong enough to hold three or four up, within fifteen or twenty feet! How’s that?”

And to emphasize it and let it sink in, he now paused, and took from his pocket a large white handkerchief, and after wiping his neck and face and wrists—since they were quite damp from his emotional and physical efforts—turned to Burton Burleigh and called: “You might as well have this boat taken out of here, Burton. We’re not going to need it for a little while anyhow.” And forthwith the four deputies carried it out.

And then, having recovered his poise, he once more turned to Clyde and began with: “Griffiths, you knew the color and feel of Roberta Alden’s hair pretty well, didn’t you? You were intimate enough with her, weren’t you?”

“I know the color of it or I think I do,” replied Clyde wincing—an anguished chill at the thought of it affecting him almost observably.

“And the feel of it, too, didn’t you?” persisted Mason. “In those very loving days of yours before Miss X came along—you must have touched it often enough.”

“I don’t know whether I did or not,” replied Clyde, catching a glance from Jephson.

“Well, roughly. You must know whether it was coarse or fine—silky or coarse. You know that, don’t you?”

“It was silky, yes.”

“Well, here’s a lock of it,” he now added more to torture Clyde than anything else—to wear him down nervously—and going to his table where was an envelope and from it extracting a long lock of light brown hair. “Don’t that look like her hair?” And now he shoved it forward at Clyde who shocked and troubled withdrew from it as from some unclean or dangerous thing—yet a moment after sought to recover himself—the watchful eyes of the jury having noted all. “Oh, don’t be afraid,” persisted Mason, sardonically. “It’s only your dead love’s hair.”

And shocked by the comment—and noting the curious eyes of the jury, Clyde took it in his hand. “That looks and feels like her hair, doesn’t it?” went on Mason.

“Well, it looks like it anyhow,” returned Clyde shakily.

“And now here,” continued Mason, stepping quickly to the table and returning with the camera in which between the lid and the taking mechanism were caught the two threads of Roberta’s hair put there by Burleigh, and then holding it out to him. “Just take this camera. It’s yours even though you did swear that it wasn’t—and look at those two hairs there. See them?” And he poked the camera at Clyde as though he might strike him with it. “They were caught in there—presumably—at the time you struck her so lightly that it made all those wounds on her face. Can’t you tell the jury whether those hairs are hers or not?”

“I can’t say,” replied Clyde most weakly.

“What’s that? Speak up. Don’t be so much of a moral and mental coward. Are they or are they not?”

“I can’t say,” repeated Clyde—but not even looking at them.

“Look at them. Look at them. Compare them with these others. We know these are hers. And you know that these in this camera are, don’t you? Don’t be so squeamish. You’ve often touched her hair in real life. She’s dead. They won’t bite you. Are these two hairs—or are they not—the same as these other hairs here—which we know are hers—the same color—same feel—all? Look! Answer! Are they or are they not?”

But Clyde, under such pressure and in spite of Belknap, being compelled to look and then feel them too. Yet cautiously replying, “I wouldn’t be able to say. They look and feel a little alike, but I can’t tell.”

“Oh, can’t you? And even when you know that when you struck her that brutal vicious blow with that camera—these two hairs caught there and held.”

“But I didn’t strike her any vicious blow,” insisted Clyde, now observing Jephson—“and I can’t say.” He was saying to himself that he would not allow himself to be bullied in this way by this man—yet, at the same time, feeling very weak and sick. And Mason, triumphant because of the psychologic effect, if nothing more, returning the camera and lock to the table and remarking, “Well, it’s been amply testified to that those two hairs were in that camera when found in the water. And you yourself swear that it was last in your hands before it reached the water.”

He turned to think of something else—some new point with which to rack Clyde and now began once more:

“Griffiths, in regard to that trip south through the woods, what time was it when you got to Three Mile Bay?”

“About four in the morning, I think—just before dawn.”

“And what did you do between then and the time that boat down there left?”

“Oh, I walked around.”

“In Three Mile Bay?”

“No, sir—just outside of it.”

“In the woods, I suppose, waiting for the town to wake up so you wouldn’t look so much out of place. Was that it?”

“Well, I waited until after the sun came up. Besides I was tired and I sat down and rested for a while.”

“Did you sleep well and did you have pleasant dreams?”

“I was tired and I slept a little—yes.”

“And how was it you knew so much about the boat and the time and all about Three Mile Bay? Hadn’t you familiarized yourself with this data beforehand?”

“Well, everybody knows about the boat from Sharon to Three Mile Bay around there.”

“Oh, do they? Any other reason?”

“Well, in looking for a place to get married, both of us saw it,” returned Clyde, shrewdly, “but we didn’t see that any train went to it. Only to Sharon.”

“But you did notice that it was south of Big Bittern?”

“Why, yes—I guess I did,” replied Clyde.

“And that that road west of Gun Lodge led south toward it around the lower edge of Big Bittern?”

“Well, I noticed after I got up there that there was a road of some kind or a trail anyhow—but I didn’t think of it as a regular road.”

“I see. How was it then that when you met those three men in the woods you were able to ask them how far it was to Three Mile Bay?”

“I didn’t ask ’em that,” replied Clyde, as he had been instructed by Jephson to say. “I asked ’em if they knew any road to Three Mile Bay, and how far it was. I didn’t know whether that was the road or not.”

“Well, that wasn’t how they testified here.”

“Well, I don’t care what they testified to, that’s what I asked ’em just the same.”

“It seems to me that according to you all the witnesses are liars and you are the only truthful one in the bunch…. Isn’t that it? But, when you reached Three Mile Bay, did you stop to eat? You must have been hungry, weren’t you?”

“No, I wasn’t hungry,” replied Clyde, simply.

“You wanted to get away from that place as quickly as possible, wasn’t that it? You were afraid that those three men might go up to Big Bittern and having heard about Miss Alden, tell about having seen you—wasn’t that it?”

“No, that wasn’t it. But I didn’t want to stay around there. I’ve said why.”

“I see. But after you got down to Sharon where you felt a little more safe—a little further away, you didn’t lose any time in eating, did you? It tasted pretty good all right down there, didn’t it?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I had a cup of coffee and a sandwich.”

“And a piece of pie, too, as we’ve already proved here,” added Mason. “And after that you joined the crowd coming up from the depot as though you had just come up from Albany, as you afterwards told everybody. Wasn’t that it?”

“Yes, that was it.”

“Well, now for a really innocent man who only so recently experienced a kindly change of heart, don’t you think you were taking an awful lot of precaution? Hiding away like that and waiting in the dark and pretending that you had just come up from Albany.”

“I’ve explained all that,” persisted Clyde.

Mason’s next tack was to hold Clyde up to shame for having been willing, in the face of all she had done for him, to register Roberta in three different hotel registers as the unhallowed consort of presumably three different men in three different days.

“Why didn’t you take separate rooms?”

“Well, she didn’t want it that way. She wanted to be with me. Besides I didn’t have any too much money.”

“Even so, how could you have so little respect for her there, and then be so deeply concerned about her reputation after she was dead that you had to run away and keep the secret of her death all to yourself, in order, as you say, to protect her name and reputation?”

“Your Honor,” interjected Belknap, “this isn’t a question. It’s an oration.”

“I withdraw the question,” countered Mason, and then went on. “Do you admit, by the way, that you are a mental and moral coward, Griffiths—do you?”

“No, sir. I don’t.”

“You do not?”

“No, sir.”

“Then when you lie, and swear to it, you are just the same as any other person who is not a mental and moral coward, and deserving of all the contempt and punishment due a person who is a perjurer and a false witness. Is that correct?”

“Yes, sir. I suppose so.”

“Well, if you are not a mental and moral coward, how can you justify your leaving that girl in that lake—after as you say you accidentally struck her and when you knew how her parents would soon be suffering because of her loss—and not say one word to anybody—just walk off—and hide the tripod and your suit and sneak away like an ordinary murderer? Wouldn’t you think that that was the conduct of a man who had plotted and executed murder and was trying to get away with it—if you had heard of it about some one else? Or would you think it was just the sly, crooked trick of a man who was only a mental and moral coward and who was trying to get away from the blame for the accidental death of a girl whom he had seduced and news of which might interfere with his prosperity? Which?”

“Well, I didn’t kill her, just the same,” insisted Clyde.

“Answer the question!” thundered Mason.

“I ask the court to instruct the witness that he need not answer such a question,” put in Jephson, rising and fixing first Clyde and then Oberwaltzer with his eye. “It is purely an argumentative one and has no real bearing on the facts in this case.”

“I so instruct,” replied Oberwaltzer. “The witness need not answer.” Whereupon Clyde merely stared, greatly heartened by this unexpected aid.

“Well, to go on,” proceeded Mason, now more nettled and annoyed than ever by this watchful effort on the part of Belknap and Jephson to break the force and significance of his each and every attack, and all the more determined not to be outdone—“you say you didn’t intend to marry her if you could help it, before you went up there?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That she wanted you to but you hadn’t made up your mind?”


“Well, do you recall the cook-book and the salt and pepper shakers and the spoons and knives and so on that she put in her bag?”

“Yes, sir. I do.”

“What do you suppose she had in mind when she left Biltz—with those things in her trunk—that she was going out to live in some hall bedroom somewhere, unmarried, while you came to see her once a week or once a month?”

Before Belknap could object, Clyde shot back the proper answer.

“I can’t say what she had in her mind about that.”

“You couldn’t possibly have told her over the telephone there at Biltz, for instance—after she wrote you that if you didn’t come for her she was coming to Lycurgus—that you would marry her?”

“No, sir—I didn’t.”

“You weren’t mental and moral coward enough to be bullied into anything like that, were you?”

“I never said I was a mental and moral coward.”

“But you weren’t to be bullied by a girl you had seduced?”

“Well, I couldn’t feel then that I ought to marry her.”

“You didn’t think she’d make as good a match as Miss X?”

“I didn’t think I ought to marry her if I didn’t love her any more.”

“Not even to save her honor—and your own decency?”

“Well, I didn’t think we could be happy together then.”

“That was before your great change of heart, I suppose.”

“It was before we went to Utica, yes.”

“And while you were still so enraptured with Miss X?”

“I was in love with Miss X—yes.”

“Do you recall, in one of those letters to you that you never answered” (and here Mason proceeded to take up and read from one of the first seven letters), “her writing this to you; ‘I feel upset and uncertain about everything although I try not to feel so—now that we have our plan and you are going to come for me as you said.’ Now just what was she referring to there when she wrote—‘now that we have our plan’?”

“I don’t know unless it was that I was coming to get her and take her away somewhere temporarily.”

“Not to marry her, of course.”

“No, I hadn’t said so.”

“But right after that in this same letter she says: ‘On the way up, instead of coming straight home, I decided to stop at Homer to see my sister and brother-in-law, since I am not sure now when I’ll see them again, and I want so much that they shall see me respectable or never at all any more.’ Now just what do you suppose, she meant by that word ‘respectable’? Living somewhere in secret and unmarried and having a child while you sent her a little money, and then coming back maybe and posing as single and innocent or married and her husband dead—or what? Don’t you suppose she saw herself married to you, for a time at least, and the child given a name? That ‘plan’ she mentions couldn’t have contemplated anything less than that, could it?”

“Well, maybe as she saw it it couldn’t,” evaded Clyde. “But I never said I would marry her.”

“Well, well—we’ll let that rest a minute,” went on Mason doggedly. “But now take this,” and here he began reading from the tenth letter: “‘It won’t make any difference to you about your coming a few days sooner than you intended, will it, dear? Even if we have got to get along on a little less, I know we can, for the time I will be with you anyhow, probably no more than six or eight months at the most. I agreed to let you go by then, you know, if you want to. I can be very saving and economical. It can’t be any other way now, Clyde, although for your own sake I wish it could.’ What do you suppose all that means—‘saving and economical’—and not letting you go until after eight months? Living in a hall bedroom and you coming to see her once a week? Or hadn’t you really agreed to go away with her and marry her, as she seems to think here?”

“I don’t know unless she thought she could make me, maybe,” replied Clyde, the while various backwoodsmen and farmers and jurors actually sniffed and sneered, so infuriated were they by the phrase “make me” which Clyde had scarcely noticed. “I never agreed to.”

“Unless she could make you. So that was the way you felt about it, was it, Griffiths?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’d swear to that as quick as you would to anything else?”

“Well, I have sworn to it.”

And Mason as well as Belknap and Jephson and Clyde himself now felt the strong public contempt and rage that the majority of those present had for him from the start—now surging and shaking all. It filled the room. Yet before him were all the hours Mason needed in which he could pick and choose at random from the mass of testimony as to just what he would quiz and bedevil and torture Clyde with next. And so now, looking over his notes—arranged fan-wise on the table by Earl Newcomb for his convenience—he now began once more with:

“Griffiths, in your testimony here yesterday, through which you were being led by your counsel, Mr. Jephson” (at this Jephson bowed sardonically). “You talked about that change of heart that you experienced after you encountered Roberta Alden once more at Fonda and Utica back there in July—just as you were starting on this death trip.”

Clyde’s “yes, sir,” came before Belknap could object, but the latter managed to have “death trip” changed to “trip.”

“Before going up there with her you hadn’t been liking her as much as you might have. Wasn’t that the way of it?”

“Not as much as I had at one time—no, sir.”

“And just how long—from when to when—was the time in which you really did like her, before you began to dislike her, I mean?”

“Well, from the time I first met her until I met Miss X.”

“But not afterwards?”

“Oh, I can’t say not entirely afterwards. I cared for her some—a good deal, I guess—but still not as much as I had. I felt more sorry for her than anything else, I suppose.”

“And now, let’s see—that was between December first last say, and last April or May—or wasn’t it?”

“About that time, I think—yes, sir.”

“Well, during that time—December first to April or May first you were intimate with her, weren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Even though you weren’t caring for her so much.”

“Why—yes, sir,” replied Clyde, hesitating slightly, while the rurals jerked and craned at this introduction of the sex crime.

“And yet at nights, and in spite of the fact that she was alone over there in her little room—as faithful to you, as you yourself have testified, as any one could be—you went off to dances, parties, dinners, and automobile rides, while she sat there.”

“Oh, but I wasn’t off all the time.”

“Oh, weren’t you? But you heard the testimony of Tracy and Jill Trumbull, and Frederick Sells, and Frank Harriet, and Burchard Taylor, on this particular point, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, were they all liars, or were they telling the truth?”

“Well, they were telling the truth as near as they could remember, I suppose.”

“But they couldn’t remember very well—is that it?”

“Well, I wasn’t off all the time. Maybe I was gone two or three times a week—maybe four sometimes—not more.”

“And the rest you gave to Miss Alden?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is that what she meant in this letter here?” And here he took up another letter from the pile of Roberta’s letters, and opening it and holding it before him, read: “‘Night after night, almost every night after that dreadful Christmas day when you left me, I was alone nearly always.’ Is she lying, or isn’t she?” snapped Mason fiercely, and Clyde, sensing the danger of accusing Roberta of lying here, weakly and shamefacedly replied: “No, she isn’t lying. But I did spend some evenings with her just the same.”

“And yet you heard Mrs. Gilpin and her husband testify here that night after night from December first on Miss Alden was mostly always alone in her room and that they felt sorry for her and thought it so unnatural and tried to get her to join them, but she wouldn’t. You heard them testify to that, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And yet you insist that you were with her some?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yet at the same time loving and seeking the company of Miss X?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And trying to get her to marry you?”

“I wanted her to—yes, sir.”

“Yet continuing relations with Miss Alden when your other interests left you any time.”

“Well… yes, sir,” once more hesitated Clyde, enormously troubled by the shabby picture of his character which these disclosures seemed to conjure, yet somehow feeling that he was not as bad, or at least had not intended to be, as all this made him appear. Other people did things like that too, didn’t they—those young men in Lycurgus society—or they had talked as though they did.

“Well, don’t you think your learned counsel found a very mild term for you when they described you as a mental and moral coward?” sneered Mason—and at the same time from the rear of the long narrow courtroom, a profound silence seeming to precede, accompany and follow it,—yet not without an immediate roar of protest from Belknap, came the solemn, vengeful voice of an irate woodsman: “Why don’t they kill the God-damned bastard and be done with him?”—And at once Oberwaltzer gaveling for order and ordering the arrest of the offender at the same time that he ordered all those not seated driven from the courtroom—which was done. And then the offender arrested and ordered arraigned on the following morning. And after that, silence, with Mason once more resuming:

“Griffiths, you say when you left Lycurgus you had no intention of marrying Roberta Alden unless you could not arrange in any other way.”

“Yes, sir. That was my intention at that time.”

“And accordingly you were fairly certain of coming back?”

“Yes, sir—I thought I was.”

“Then why did you pack everything in your room in your trunk and lock it?”

“Well… well… that is,” hesitated Clyde, the charge coming so quickly and so entirely apart from what had just been spoken of before that he had scarcely time to collect his wits—“well, you see—I wasn’t absolutely sure. I didn’t know but what I might have to go whether I wanted to or not.”

“I see. And so if you had decided up there unexpectedly—as you did—” (and here Mason smirked on him as much as to say—you think any one believes that?) “you wouldn’t have had time to come back and decently pack your things and depart?”

“Well, no, sir—that wasn’t the reason either.”

“Well then, what was the reason?”

“Well, you see,” and here for lack of previous thought on this subject as well as lack of wit to grasp the essentiality of a suitable and plausible answer quickly, Clyde hesitated—as every one—first and foremost Belknap and Jephson—noted—and then went on: “Well, you see—if I had to go away, even for a short time as I thought I might, I decided that I might need whatever I had in a hurry.”

“I see. You’re quite sure it wasn’t that in case the police discovered who Clifford Golden or Carl Graham were, that you might wish to leave quickly?”

“No, sir. It wasn’t.”

“And so you didn’t tell Mrs. Peyton you were giving up the room either, did you?”

“No, sir.”

“In your testimony the other day you said something about not having money enough to go up there and take Miss Alden away on any temporary marriage scheme—even one that would last so long as six months.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When you left Lycurgus to start on the trip, how much did you have?”

“About fifty dollars.”

“‘About’ fifty? Don’t you know exactly how much you had?”

“I had fifty dollars—yes, sir.”

“And while you were in Utica and Grass Lake and getting down to Sharon afterwards, how much did you spend?”

“I spent about twenty dollars on the trip, I think.”

“Don’t you know?”

“Not exactly—no, sir—somewhere around twenty dollars, though.”

“Well, now let’s see about that exactly if we can,” went on Mason, and here, once more, Clyde began to sense a trap and grew nervous—for there was all that money given him by Sondra and some of which he had spent, too. “How much was your fare from Fonda to Utica for yourself?”

“A dollar and a quarter.”

“And what did you have to pay for your room at the hotel at Utica for you and Roberta?”

“That was four dollars.”

“And of course you had dinner that night and breakfast the next morning, which cost you how much?”

“It was about three dollars for both meals.”

“Was that all you spent in Utica?” Mason was taking a side glance occasionally at a slip of paper on which he had figures and notes, but which Clyde had not noticed.

“Yes, sir.”

“How about the straw hat that it has been proved you purchased while there?”

“Oh, yes, sir, I forgot about that,” said Clyde, nervously. “That was two dollars—yes, sir.” He realized that he must be more careful.

“And your fares to Grass Lake were, of course, five dollars. Is that right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then you hired a boat at Grass Lake. How much was that?”

“That was thirty-five cents an hour.”

“And you had it how long?”

“Three hours.”

“Making one dollar and five cents.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And then that night at the hotel, they charged you how much? Five dollars, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And then didn’t you buy that lunch that you carried out in that lake with you up there?”

“Yes, sir. I think that was about sixty cents.”

“And how much did it cost you to get to Big Bittern?”

“It was a dollar on the train to Gun Lodge and a dollar on the bus for the two of us to Big Bittern.”

“You know these figures pretty well, I see. Naturally, you would. You didn’t have much money and it was important. And how much was your fare from Three Mile Bay to Sharon afterwards?”

“My fare was seventy-five cents.”

“Did you ever stop to figure this all up exactly?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, will you?”

“Well, you know how much it is, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I do. It was twenty-four dollars and sixty-five cents. You said you spent twenty dollars. But here is a discrepancy of four dollars and sixty-five cents. How do you account for it?”

“Well, I suppose I didn’t figure just exactly right,” said Clyde, irritated by the accuracy of figures such as these.

But now Mason slyly and softly inquiring: “Oh, yes, Griffiths, I forgot, how much was the boat you hired at Big Bittern?” He was eager to hear what Clyde would have to say as to this, seeing that he had worked hard and long on this pitfall.

“Oh—ah—ah—that is,” began Clyde, hesitatingly, for at Big Bittern, as he now recalled, he had not even troubled to inquire the cost of the boat, feeling as he did at the time that neither he nor Roberta were coming back. But now here and in this way it was coming up for the first time. And Mason, realizing that he had caught him here, quickly interpolated a “Yes?” to which Clyde replied, but merely guessing at that: “Why, thirty-five cents an hour—just the same as at Grass Lake—so the boatman said.”

But he had spoken too quickly. And he did not know that in reserve was the boatman who was still to testify that he had not stopped to ask the price of the boat. And Mason continued:

“Oh, it was, was it? The boatman told you that, did he?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well now, don’t you recall that you never asked the boatman at all? It was not thirty-five cents an hour, but fifty cents. But of course you do not know that because you were in such a hurry to get out on the water and you did not expect to have to come back and pay for it anyway. So you never even asked, you see. Do you see? Do you recall that now?” And here Mason produced a bill that he had gotten from the boatman and waved it in front of Clyde. “It was fifty cents an hour,” he repeated. “They charge more than at Grass Lake. But what I want to know is, if you are so familiar with these other figures, as you have just shown that you are, how comes it that you are not familiar with this figure? Didn’t you think of the expense of taking her out in a boat and keeping the boat from noon until night?” The attack came so swiftly and bitterly that at once Clyde was confused. He twisted and turned, swallowed and looked nervously at the floor, ashamed to look at Jephson who had somehow failed to coach him as to this.

“Well,” bawled Mason, “any explanation to make as to that? Doesn’t it strike even you as strange that you can remember every other item of all your expenditures—but not that item?” And now each juror was once more tense and leaning forward. And Clyde noting their interest and curiosity, and most likely suspicion, now returned:

“Well, I don’t know just how I came to forget that.”

“Oh, no, of course you don’t,” snorted Mason. “A man who is planning to kill a girl on a lone lake has a lot of things to think of, and it isn’t any wonder if you forget a few of them. But you didn’t forget to ask the purser the fare to Sharon, once you got to Three Mile Bay, did you?”

“I don’t remember if I did or not.”

“Well, he remembers. He testified to it here. You bothered to ask the price of the room at Grass Lake. You asked the price of the boat there. You even asked the price of the bus fare to Big Bittern. What a pity you couldn’t think to ask the price of the boat at Big Bittern? You wouldn’t be so nervous about it now, would you?” and here Mason looked at the jurors as much as to say: You see!

“I just didn’t think of it, I guess,” repeated Clyde.

“A very satisfactory explanation, I’m sure,” went on Mason, sarcastically. And then as swiftly as possible: “I don’t suppose you happen to recall an item of thirteen dollars and twenty cents paid for a lunch at the Casino on July ninth—the day after Roberta Alden’s death—do you or do you not?” Mason was dramatic, persistent, swift—scarcely giving him time to think or breathe, as he saw it.

At this Clyde almost jumped, so startled was he by this question and charge, for he did not know that they had found out about the lunch. “And do you remember, too,” went on Mason, “that over eighty dollars was found on you when you were arrested?”

“Yes, I remember it now,” he replied.

As for the eighty dollars he had forgotten. Yet now he said nothing, for he could not think what to say.

“How about that?” went on Mason, doggedly and savagely. “If you only had fifty dollars when you left Lycurgus and over eighty dollars when you were arrested, and you spent twenty-four dollars and sixty-five cents plus thirteen for a lunch, where did you get that extra money from?”

“Well, I can’t answer that just now,” replied Clyde, sullenly, for he felt cornered and hurt. That was Sondra’s money and nothing would drag out of him where he had gotten it.

“Why can’t you answer it?” roared Mason. “Where do you think you are, anyhow? And what do you think we are here for? To say what you will or will not answer? You are on trial for your life—don’t forget that! You can’t play fast and loose with law, however much you may have lied to me. You are here before these twelve men and they are waiting to know. Now, what about it? Where did you get that money?”

“I borrowed it from a friend.”

“Well, give his name. What friend?”

“I don’t care to.”

“Oh, you don’t! Well, you’re lying about the amount of money you had when you left Lycurgus—that’s plain. And under oath, too. Don’t forget that! That sacred oath that you respect so much. Isn’t that true?”

“No, it isn’t,” finally observed Clyde, stung to reason by this charge. “I borrowed that money after I got to Twelfth Lake.”

“And from whom?”

“Well, I can’t say.”

“Which makes the statement worthless,” retorted Mason.

Clyde was beginning to show a disposition to balk. He had been sinking his voice and each time Mason commanded him to speak up and turn around so the jury could see his face, he had done so, only feeling more and more resentful toward this man who was thus trying to drag out of him every secret he possessed. He had touched on Sondra, and she was still too near his heart to reveal anything that would reflect on her. So now he sat staring down at the jurors somewhat defiantly, when Mason picked up some pictures.

“Remember these?” he now asked Clyde, showing him some of the dim and water-marked reproductions of Roberta besides some views of Clyde and some others—none of them containing the face of Sondra—which were made at the Cranstons’ on his first visit, as well as four others made at Bear Lake later, and with one of them showing him holding a banjo, his fingers in position. “Recall where these were made?” asked Mason, showing him the reproduction of Roberta first.

“Yes, I do.”

“Where was it?”

“On the south shore of Big Bittern the day we were there.” He knew that they were in the camera and had told Belknap and Jephson about them, yet now he was not a little surprised to think that they had been able to develop them.

“Griffiths,” went on Mason, “your lawyers didn’t tell you that they fished and fished for that camera you swore you didn’t have with you before they found that I had it, did they?”

“They never said anything to me about it,” replied Clyde.

“Well, that’s too bad. I could have saved them a lot of trouble. Well, these were the photos that were found in that camera and that were made just after that change of heart you experienced, you remember?”

“I remember when they were made,” replied Clyde, sullenly.

“Well, they were made before you two went out in that boat for the last time—before you finally told her whatever it was you wanted to tell her—before she was murdered out there—at a time when, as you have testified, she was very sad.”

“No, that was the day before,” defied Clyde.

“Oh, I see. Well, anyhow, these pictures look a little cheerful for one who was as depressed as you say she was.”

“Well—but—she wasn’t nearly as depressed then as she was the day before,” flashed Clyde, for this was the truth and he remembered it.

“I see. But just the same, look at these other pictures. These three here, for instance. Where were they made?”

“At the Cranston Lodge on Twelfth Lake, I think.”

“Right. And that was June eighteenth or nineteenth, wasn’t it?”

“On the nineteenth, I think.”

“Well, now, do you recall a letter Roberta wrote you on the nineteenth?”

“No, sir.”

“You don’t recall any particular one?”

“No, sir.”

“But they were all very sad, you have said.”

“Yes, sir—they were.”

“Well, this is that letter written at the time these pictures were made.” He turned to the jury.

“I would like the jury to look at these pictures and then listen to just one passage from this letter written by Miss Alden to this defendant on the same day. He has admitted that he was refusing to write or telephone her, although he was sorry for her,” he said, turning to the jury. And here he opened a letter and read a long sad plea from Roberta. “And now here are four more pictures, Griffiths.” And he handed Clyde the four made at Bear Lake. “Very cheerful, don’t you think? Not much like pictures of a man who has just experienced a great change of heart after a most terrific period of doubt and worry and evil conduct—and has just seen the woman whom he had most cruelly wronged, but whom he now proposed to do right by, suddenly drowned. They look as though you hadn’t a care in the world, don’t they?”

“Well, they were just group pictures. I couldn’t very well keep out of them.”

“But this one in the water here. Didn’t it trouble you the least bit to go in the water the second or third day after Roberta Alden had sunk to the bottom of Big Bittern, and especially when you had experienced such an inspiring change of heart in regard to her?”

“I didn’t want any one to know I had been up there with her.”

“We know all about that. But how about this banjo picture here. Look at this!” And he held it out. “Very gay, isn’t it?” he snarled. And now Clyde, dubious and frightened, replied:

“But I wasn’t enjoying myself just the same!”

“Not when you were playing the banjo here? Not when you were playing golf and tennis with your friends the very next day after her death? Not when you were buying and eating thirteen-dollar lunches? Not when you were with Miss X again, and where you yourself testified that you preferred to be?”

Mason’s manner was snarling, punitive, sinister, bitterly sarcastic.

“Well, not just then, anyhow—no, sir.”

“What do you mean—‘not just then’? Weren’t you where you wanted to be?”

“Well, in one way I was—certainly,” replied Clyde, thinking of what Sondra would think when she read this, as unquestionably she would. Quite everything of all this was being published in the papers every day. He could not deny that he was with her and that he wanted to be with her. At the same time he had not been happy. How miserably unhappy he had been, enmeshed in that shameful and brutal plot! But now he must explain in some way so that Sondra, when she should read it, and this jury, would understand. And so now he added, while he swallowed with his dry throat and licked his lips with his dry tongue: “But I was sorry about Miss Alden just the same. I couldn’t be happy then—I couldn’t be. I was just trying to make people think that I hadn’t had anything to do with her going up there—that’s all. I couldn’t see that there was any better way to do. I didn’t want to be arrested for what I hadn’t done.”

“Don’t you know that is false! Don’t you know you are lying!” shouted Mason, as though to the whole world, and the fire and the fury of his unbelief and contempt was sufficient to convince the jury, as well as the spectators, that Clyde was the most unmitigated of liars. “You heard the testimony of Rufus Martin, the second cook up there at Bear Lake?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You heard him swear that he saw you and Miss X at a certain point overlooking Bear Lake and that she was in your arms and that you were kissing her. Was that true?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And that exactly four days after you had left Roberta Alden under the waters of Big Bittern. Were you afraid of being arrested then?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Even when you were kissing her and holding her in your arms?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Clyde drearily and hopelessly.

“Well, of all things!” bawled Mason. “Could you imagine such stuff being whimpered before a jury, if you hadn’t heard it with your own ears? Do you really sit there and swear to this jury that you could bill and coo with one deceived girl in your arms and a second one in a lake a hundred miles away, and yet be miserable because of what you were doing?”

“Just the same, that’s the way it was,” replied Clyde.

“Excellent! Incomparable,” shouted Mason.

And here he wearily and sighfully drew forth his large white handkerchief once more and surveying the courtroom at large proceeded to mop his face as much as to say: Well, this is a task indeed, then continuing with more force than ever:

“Griffiths, only yesterday on the witness stand you swore that you personally had no plan to go to Big Bittern when you left Lycurgus.”

“No, sir, I hadn’t.”

“But when you two got in that room at the Renfrew House in Utica and you saw how tired she looked, it was you that suggested that a vacation of some kind—a little one—something within the range of your joint purses at the time—would be good for her. Wasn’t that the way of it?”

“Yes, sir. That was the way of it,” replied Clyde.

“But up to that time you hadn’t even thought of the Adirondacks specifically.”

“Well, no sir—no particular lake, that is. I did think we might go to some summer place maybe—they’re mostly lakes around there—but not to any particular one that I knew of.”

“I see. And after you suggested it, it was she that said that you had better get some folders or maps, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And then it was that you went downstairs and got them?”

“Yes, sir.”

“At the Renfrew House in Utica?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not anywhere else by any chance?”

“No, sir.”

“And afterwards, in looking over those maps, you saw Grass Lake and Big Bittern and decided to go up that way. Was that the way of it?”

“Yes, we did,” lied Clyde, most nervously, wishing now that he had not testified that it was in the Renfrew House that he had secured the folders. There might be some trap here again.

“You and Miss Alden?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you picked on Grass Lake as being the best because it was the cheapest. Wasn’t that the way of it?”

“Yes, sir. That was the way.”

“I see. And now do you remember these?” he added, reaching over and taking from his table a series of folders all properly identified as part and parcel of the contents of Clyde’s bag at Bear Lake at the time he was arrested and which he now placed in Clyde’s hands. “Look them over. Are those the folders I found in your bag at Bear Lake?”

“Well, they look like the ones I had there.”

“Are these the ones you found in the rack at the Renfrew House and took upstairs to show Miss Alden?”

Not a little terrified by the care with which this matter of folders was now being gone into by Mason, Clyde opened them and turned them over. Even now, because the label of the Lycurgus House (“Compliments of Lycurgus House, Lycurgus, N. Y.”) was stamped in red very much like the printed red lettering on the rest of the folder, he failed to notice it at first. He turned and turned them over, and then having decided that there was no trap here, replied: “Yes, I think these are the ones.”

“Well, now,” went on Mason, slyly, “in which one of these was it that you found that notice of Grass Lake Inn and the rate they charged up there? Wasn’t it in this one?” And here he returned the identical stamped folder, on one page of which—and the same indicated by Mason’s left forefinger—was the exact notice to which Clyde had called Roberta’s attention. Also in the center was a map showing the Indian Chain together with Twelfth, Big Bittern, and Grass Lakes, as well as many others, and at the bottom of this map a road plainly indicated as leading from Grass Lake and Gun Lodge south past the southern end of Big Bittern to Three Mile Bay. Now seeing this after so long a time again, he suddenly decided that it must be his knowledge of this road that Mason was seeking to establish, and a little quivery and creepy now, he replied: “Yes, it may be the one. It looks like it. I guess it is, maybe.”

“Don’t you know that it is?” insisted Mason, darkly and dourly. “Can’t you tell from reading that item there whether it is or not?”

“Well, it looks like it,” replied Clyde, evasively after examining the item which had inclined him toward Grass Lake in the first place. “I suppose maybe it is.”

“You suppose! You suppose! Getting a little more cautious now that we’re getting down to something practical. Well, just look at that map there again and tell me what you see. Tell me if you don’t see a road marked as leading south from Grass Lake.”

“Yes,” replied Clyde, a little sullenly and bitterly after a time, so flayed and bruised was he by this man who was so determined to harry him to his grave. He fingered the map and pretended to look as directed, but was seeing only all that he had seen long before there in Lycurgus, so shortly before he departed for Fonda to meet Roberta. And now here it was being used against him.

“And where does it run, please? Do you mind telling the jury where it runs—from where to where?”

And Clyde, nervous and fearful and physically very much reduced, now replied: “Well, it runs from Grass Lake to Three Mile Bay.”

“And to what or near what other places in between?” continued Mason, looking over his shoulder.

“Gun Lodge. That’s all.”

“What about Big Bittern? Doesn’t it run near that when it gets to the south of it?”

“Yes, sir, it does here.”

“Ever notice or study that map before you went to Grass Lake from Utica?” persisted Mason, tensely and forcefully.

“No, sir—I did not.”

“Never knew the road was on there?”

“Well, I may have seen it,” replied Clyde, “but if so I didn’t pay any attention to it.”

“And, of course, by no possible chance could you have seen or studied this folder and that road before you left Utica?”

“No, sir. I never saw it before.”

“I see. You’re absolutely positive as to that?”

“Yes, sir. I am.”

“Well then, explain to me, or to this jury, if you can, and under your solemn oath which you respect so much, how it comes that this particular folder chances to be marked, ‘Compliments of the Lycurgus House, Lycurgus, N. Y.’” And here he folded the folder and presenting the back, showed Clyde the thin red stamp in between the other red lettering. And Clyde, noting it, gazed as one in a trance. His ultra-pale face now blanched gray again, his long thin fingers opened and shut, the red and swollen and weary lids of his eyes blinked and blinked to break the strain of the damning fact before him.

“I don’t know,” he said, a little weakly, after a time. “It must have been in the Renfrew House rack.”

“Oh, must it? And if I bring two witnesses here to swear that on July third—three days before you left Lycurgus for Fonda—you were seen by them to enter the Lycurgus House and take four or five folders from the rack there, will you still say that it ‘musta been in the rack at the Renfrew House’ on July sixth?” As he said this, Mason paused and looked triumphantly about as much as to say: There, answer that if you can! and Clyde, shaken and stiff and breathless for the time being was compelled to wait at least fifteen seconds before he was able sufficiently to control his nerves and voice in order to reply: “Well, it musta been. I didn’t get it in Lycurgus.”

“Very good. But in the meantime we’ll just let these gentlemen here look at this,” and he now turned the folder over to the foreman of the jury, who in turn passed it to the juryman next to him, and so on, the while a distinct whisper and buzz passed over the entire courtroom.

And when they had concluded—and much to the surprise of the audience, which was expecting more and more attacks and exposures, almost without cessation—Mason turned and explained: “That’s all.” And at once many of the spectators in the room beginning to whisper: “Trapped! Trapped!” And Justice Oberwaltzer at once announcing that because of the lateness of the hour, and in the face of a number of additional witnesses for the defense, as well as a few in rebuttal for the prosecution, he would prefer it if the work for the day ended here. And both Belknap and Mason gladly agreeing. And Clyde—the doors of the courtroom being stoutly locked until he should be in his cell across the way—being descended upon by Kraut and Sissel and by them led through and down the very door and stairs which for days he had been looking at and pondering about. And once he was gone, Belknap and Jephson looking at each other but not saying anything until once more safely locked in their own office, when Belknap began with: “…not carried off with enough of an air. The best possible defense but not enough courage. It just isn’t in him, that’s all.” And Jephson, flinging himself heavily into a chair, his overcoat and hat still on, and saying: “No, that’s the real trouble, no doubt. It musta been that he really did kill her. But I suppose we can’t give up the ship now. He did almost better than I expected, at that.” And Belknap adding: “Well, I’ll do my final best and damnedest in my summing up, and that’s all I can do.” And Jephson replying, a little wearily: “That’s right, Alvin, it’s mostly up to you now, I’m sorry. But in the meantime, I think I’ll go around to the jail and try and hearten ’im up a bit. It won’t do to let him look too winged or lame tomorrow. He has to sit up and make the jury feel that he, himself, feels that he isn’t guilty whatever they think.” And rising he shoved his hands in the side pockets of his long coat and proceeded through the winter’s dark and cold of the dreary town to see Clyde.