American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The Revelations of a Private Detective by Andrew Forrester, Jr. London: Ward and Lock, 1863. 125-132.
The Reluctant Witness
by Andrew Forrester, Jr.

  He need scarcely inform them, as no doubt, if necessary, the learned judge would so rule, that if this reluctant witness should betray a feeling in the box adverse to the unfortunate plaintiff, he, the learned serjeant would have a right to cross-examine him, although he had called him as his own, or his client’s witness. This, however, he ventured to hope, would not be necessary. He could scarcely suppose that any gentleman having witnessed such an occurrence as that by which the plaintiff had been so dreadfully injured would attempt to colour, lighten, or give undue weight, for either suitor, to the facts of the case. Still there was, unquestionably, the circumstance—which did render him a little uncertain, notwithstanding the plain unvarnished story related in his brief, and which he had, to the best of his humble power, laid before them—that this witness, instead of manfully coming forward to tell the truth, without fear, favour, of affection for plaintiff or defendant, had hung back. They had been obliged to trace him out; they had got from him, and with difficulty, but an imperfect resumé . . .


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    ONE afternoon, about four years ago, the Court of Queen’s Bench, at Westminster, was called upon to try a running-down case, in which there appeared to be no special public interest, and the reporters had taken their departure, when a somewhat curious incident occurred.

The reader will please to understand that Mr. Serjeant Heavy, as counsel for the plaintiff, had made his opening speech, in which he had described the serious permanent injuries his unfortunate client had sustained through the very gross negligence of the defendant’s servants; and had called upon the jury to award substantial damages, to atone for the suffering and loss endured and to be endured. He intimated that he should be able, he believed, to prove his case to the satisfaction of the jury, although his principal witness, he must warn them, according to his instructions, was a man who had some reluctance to give evidence, who had only been brought there that day, by the force of a subpoena, and it might be the dread of consequences to himself if he stayed away.




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