Circumstantial Evidence
by Inspector F.

A VERY painful and affecting case once came under my Detective cognizance in which a frightful injustice was, with the most righteous intentions, perpetrated by the agents and instruments, dignified and undignified, of the Law. I have changed the names of all the individuals concerned, as well as that of the localities where the sad incidents occurred, forasmuch that, although many years have elapsed since the curtain fell upon the last scene of the judicial drama, the wound inflicted upon an amiable family—incurable, however skinned over, or soothed by Time—would break forth and bleed afresh, if wantonly exposed to the public gaze.
A country gentleman of, we will say, the name of Conyers, Adam Conyers, residing at the Elms, Worcestershire, had, whilst leisurely riding home by a bridle-path, rather late one autumn evening, been shot at, and so grievously wounded that his life was despaired of, when I,—at the solicitation of the solicitor of the young gentleman in custody, charged with the crime, Mr. Marmaduke Ludlow, son of Peregrine Ludlow, of Stone Lodge, in the same county,—was dispatched to thoroughly investigate all the circumstances of the case.

The special reason which induced Mr. Vigors, the prisoner’s attorney, to procure my assistance was this:
About a year previously, I had gone down to the same locality to search into the causes, and, if possible, discover the perpetrators, of several supposed incendiary fires that had occurred there in quick succession. It was not long before I fully satisfied myself that the incendiary was the proprietor of the consumed stacks and other property, his object being to defraud the offices with whom he was heavily insured. The number of slight circumstances, singly considered, which indicated the real malefactor,—but the cumulative evidence of which was overwhelming—sufficed to enable the insurance offices to successfully defend the actions brought against them upon the policies, but did not, in a criminal court, prove sufficient to convince a jury of the prisoner’s guilt, a result which greatly astonished many besides myself present at the trial. This shows that I do not concur in the common cry which brands circumstantial evidence as wholly unreliable; on the contrary, I believe that a chain of circumstantial evidence in which there shall be no material break, that might be filled up, if all the circumstances were known, in a manner that would establish the accused’s innocence, by giving a new turn, a different colour to other parts of that chain—to be the most reliable testimony upon which human judgment can be based—since a circumstance cannot be perjured, or bear corrupt testimony. The sad story I am about to tell vividly illustrates the fundamental axiom, that important missing links in the chain of circumstantial evidence should never be supplied by inference, however apparently logica1 or well-founded the inference may be. And it neither illustrates nor teaches anything beyond that. The reader will, I hope, pardon this brief turning aside from the main current of the narrative I am about to pen.
My exertions upon the occasion just spoken of were so warmly appreciated by Mr. Vigors, that he thought he could not do better than engage me to seek out a solution of the terrible mystery by which he was himself utterly bewildered, though his conviction was unshaken that it could be cleared up; that is, if all the truth could be made known, the perfect innocence of his client, Marmaduke Ludlow, would be established beyond question. Mr. Vigors’ application to Scotland Yard was readily acceded to, and I forthwith set off for Worcestershire. Before going into my long interview with the attorney, and setting forth the full minute details of all that was known and deposed to, all that was surmised, or hinted at, in connexion with the case in hand, furnished by him for my instruction and guidance, it will clear the ground somewhat if I first put down what, from personal intercourse, gossip of servants and neighbours, obtained when I was before employed in the locality, I knew concerning the three families who were more or less mixed up in the public mind with the murderous attack upon Mr. Conyers. To the third family, not yet mentioned, we will give the name of Gainsford.

Mr. Conyers, of the Elms, whose life, as I have said, still trembled in the balance, was a gentleman farmer of ample means—by which I mean that he cultivated, with great success, some fifteen or sixteen hundred fertile and freehold acres, his own unencumbered property. Before the murderous attack upon him he was a hale man, of little more than fifty years of age. He had no ancestry, in the ordinary meaning of that word, to boast of, his own father having been the first of the family that had gathered together any considerable amount of wealth. The character of Mr. Conyers was unimpeachable—just, kind, charitable, considerate in all his dealings, and I need hardly say that he was respected and beloved by all dwellers thereabout, whose love and respect were worth having. This excellent man had, nevertheless, one defect of character; apart from matters of strict business, with respect to which a man would have to get up very early to overreach him, and then would be too late, he was the most credulous, persuadable of human beings, unendowed with the least firmness of will; in politics and other speculative opinions generally or always siding with the last speaker. When I add that it was a common thing when he was spoken of for the humbler folk to say—Squire Conyers had no more pride than a turnip, meaning by pride, haughtiness, I have jotted all that need be said of the worthy gentleman.

Adam Conyers, Esquire, had one child, Alice Conyers; who, when I first saw her, was about nineteen years of age, she had a general reputation for amiability, sweetness of temper, generosity, and as little firmness of will, perhaps less, than her father. Miss Conyers was a graceful, interesting young lady; certainly not beautiful, as regards feature-beauty, but a sweet, sunny, attractive face notwithstanding, almost always illumined by a radiant, charming smile. She also, though a considerable heiress, was no more tainted with haughtiness than her father. I need scarcely add that the young lady was a universal favourite.

The Ludlow family were persons of a very different stamp. The Ludlows had occupied Stone Hall time out of mind, and though Peregrine Ludlow, Esquire, could reckon as his own but a scant number of acres, he could count up a prodigious number of ancestors, his pedigree stretching back heaven knows how far. An estimable gentleman, withal, was Mr. Ludlow, and as such, respected by the commonalty, as in the rural parts of England a poor gentleman can be. He had two children, Maude Ludlow and Marmaduke Ludlow. Miss Ludlow was older than her brother. In person she was tall, well shaped, but, according to my ideas of such qualities, would, but for the mitigating effect of a pair of large, dark, brilliant eyes, and a profusion of fine black hair, have been positively plain,—not, when a lady is in the case, to use a harsher epithet. She was very clever, people said, and had been well educated by her mother, a superior woman—and “proud as a Ludlow.” Her brother Marmaduke’s character was a milder type of the Ludlow genus: proud enough, perhaps, in his secret heart, but shy, sensitive, shrinking from society, especially from contact with strangers; much addicted to field sports, and apparently without ambition to rise in the world beyond the condition and status of a wealthy country gentleman—a long-way-off goal even that to hope to reach. The Ludlow and Conyers families were, notwithstanding their very opposite characteristics, and perhaps for that very reason, intimate, cordial friends. Mr. Conyers listened with admiring interest to Mr. Ludlow’s long-winded story of his war-like and wealthy ancestors; Maude Ludlow dearly loved Alice Conyers, and Alice loved her next to her own father; and Marmaduke loved, or at least he was often seen strolling through the woods, meadows, and copses with, Alice Conyers; and if, as I heard from the servants, anything could make him give up his book or his gun, it was a walk with her, and to sit by her side listening to her songs, or singing duets with her.
The Gainsford family were two—Philip Gainsford and his son Henry. They lived at the Grange, an old-fashioned building about as distant from The Elms as Stone Lodge, but in the opposite direction, The Elms being midway between the Grange and Lodge. Mr. Gainsford rented about four hundred acres of land, was accounted a skilful farmer, and though people did not, as a rule, appear to greatly like Mr. Gainsford, who had not been in those parts many years, I never heard anyone demur to the general assent to his own oft repeated boast, that he was a ten thousand pound man. He was a rather speculative cattle breeder—a business which took him often to London, where he would sometimes remain for weeks together. His son Henry was a good-looking, good-humoured, gentle-minded young man, evidently regarding his father with great awe. I remember very well that the first time I saw and spoke with them, that never were father and son more unlike in person, manners, and disposition. You could not look upon Philip Gainsford’s square head, his iron jaw, his two sloe-black, gleaming, deep-set eyes, with a decided, and, to me, most unpleasant cast in them—without fancying that he was a man that would not long hesitate at thrusting aside, no matter much by what means, any obstacle to the attainment of any object he had set his mind upon, that he could not fairly overleap. It is possible, however, that this opinion of mine of Philip Gainsford has been to a considerable degree shaped by after events, though I now persuade myself it was formed, at first sight, by my own intuitive sagacity.
The two Gainsfords were frequent visitors at The Elms, though they and the Ludlows never came to be upon friendly terms with each other. It was hardly possible they should. Mr. Conyers liked the blunt-spoken prosperous farmer with a degree of warmth, first kindled, I was told, by the presence of mind and courage displayed by Philip Gainsford at a critical moment. Mrs. Conyers, with her then infant daughter, was out for an airing in a one-horse gig, when the animal, a powerful high-spirited one, took fright, and ran away at a prodigious speed. The danger to the lives of both mother and daughter was extreme. Fortunately Gainsford was at hand. He, a man of herculean strength and wonderful agility, rushed to seize the horse by the head, and either by dexterity or sheer force—both combined, I suppose—succeeded in stopping the horse before any mischief had been done, a service which Mr. Conyers never forgot. Mr. Gainsford, a cunning card, as I more than heard people say, with a wink, always solicited and acted upon Mr. Conyers’ advice in farming matters. The reader now knows as much as I did of the three families with respect to and amongst whom I was to zealously labour in my detective vocation, when I entered the office of Mr. Vigors to receive what may be called my Police Brief.

The attorney had prepared numerous memoranda, minutes of evidence which I was to take with me and con over at my leisure and convenience. But first I was to have the story from his own lips, so that the gaps in those written memoranda should be correctly supplied, and I be placed in possession of the narrative as a whole.
“I need not describe either the Conyers, the Ludlows, or the Gainsfords to you,” said Mr. Vigors; “you know them very well by sight and general report. I begin, therefore, with the occurrences on the night of the 22nd of September last. There had been, however, I must premise, a good deal of gossip about the rival pretensions of Marmaduke Ludlow and Henry Gainsford to the favour of the pretty heiress, Miss Alice Conyers, in which the chances of both were thought to be pretty equal; Mr. Conyers, favouring, though in his usual vacillating, changeful fashion, Henry Gainsford; the young lady, herself—not less undecidedly—Marmaduke Ludlow. How the affair would end was, in the opinion of most of us, a mere toss up; neither father nor daughter caring much, or at least not caring long together, whether, as one may say, heads or tails, Marmaduke Ludlow or Henry Gainsford, came uppermost.
“Late in the evening of the 22nd of September, the terrified, riderless horse of Mr. Conyers galloped into the yard of The Elms. The groom was there, waiting his master’s return, and he of course raised an immediate alarm. The horse, a very quiet one, though terrified, was not blown at all; and it was conjectured that the accident, of whatever nature it might prove to be, had occurred at no very great distance off. Isaac Cummings, the groom, remembered hearing Mr. Conyers say, that on his return from the market-town of —, he should call upon that fellow, Gainsford.”
“That fellow, Gainsford: I understood Gainsford and Mr. Conyers were intimate friends?”
“So they were up to the last moment, as far as anybody knew. Nevertheless, Isaac Cummings, a man of excellent character, and very intelligent for his class, has sworn that those were the words his master used, and sticks to it firmly. He moreover declares that Mr. Conyers spoke in an angry sort of way, altogether unusual with him. To go on. Several horses were immediately saddled, and men rode off to make search for the missing gentleman, Isaac Cummings taking the road to the Grange. The door was opened by Henry Gainsford, ‘who looked very white and was trembling,’ deposes Cummings, ‘in his limbs and his talk.’ I asked if he had seen master? He said, ‘No; Mr. Conyers had not called there.’ I said, ‘Is your father, Mr. Gainsford, at home? perhaps he may have seen master.’ Young Mr. Gainsford said, ‘his father was at home, and he would ask him.’ He then shut the hall door in my face, which I was surprised at. In about five minutes he returned, and said in the same trembling way as before, ‘that he found his father abed and asleep, but he waked him up, and he said he had not seen Mr. Conyers to speak with him since he left the market town of —.’ Furthermore, Isaac Cummings said, in answer to my question: ‘I told young Mr. Gainsford how master’s horse had come home without him.’ He answered, ‘he was sorry to hear it, and hoped nothing serious had happened.’”
“The son-in-law expectant did not offer to assist in the search after Mr. Conyers?’
“He did not. He again shut the hall door in Cummings’ face, and was not seen out of the house till late the following morning.”
“Strange—very strange! And did the father get up, to ascertain for himself what had become of his old friend?”

“He did not; nor was he seen out till late the following morning.”

“A strong corroboration that Isaac Cummings is correct as to the angry words he heard his master use in speaking of the elder Gainsford—to say the very least.”

“True; but the suspicion suggested by such conduct is blown to the winds by the damning evidence of circumstances which, in the minds of almost everybody—I may say everybody except myself—and not excepting his own father and sister, who are overwhelmed with shame, grief, horror, proves that it was Marmaduke Ludlow who shot Mr. Conyers!”
“What are those damning circumstances?”
“These: but let us follow the incidents as they were discovered, or revealed themselves. My house being so near the Elms, and I so old a friend of her father, Miss Conyers ran here, in a state of pitiable alarm, and acquainted me with what had happened. You may be sure I did not lose one moment in getting to horse and joining the search after her father. That search was for a long time fruitless. The condition or aspect of the heavens baffled, and at last helped us. The moon was at the full and high up, but dark, broken clouds in large masses were being driven across the sky by a strong wind, by which the moon was at times for many minutes together completely blotted out as it were, and would then as suddenly burst forth in unveiled brilliancy. It is necessary to bear this in mind.
“Well, a dozen or more of us had searched all likely and unlikely spots without success, when close by the gate, in the bridle-path caned Hawk-lane, a lonesome spot, about a mile and a half from the Elms, which I myself had passed several times, the moon suddenly bursting out with a light as of day, we saw poor Conyers lying upon his face. He was quite insensible, and I could feel no pulse. We concluded he was dead, when Lawrence, the surgeon, who had joined us about an hour before, rode up. He applied the lancet; blood followed the puncture, and I could feel the heart beat weakly. He had been shot in the neck, partly from behind. We extemporized a litter, and the murdered man—for such he is, I feel no doubt—was borne tenderly home.
“I, Cummings, and Searle, the butler, remained to search about the spot, when the moon, that had again become obscured, should reappear. We had not to wait long. I was groping about on the other side of the gate, and presently spied a hat which had rolled into the ditch under some nettles, by which it was half hidden. God of Heaven! what I felt when I seized the hat, held it up to the light, and knew, without the evidence of the name written inside, that it was Marmaduke Ludlow’s !”

“Marmaduke Ludlow’s!”

“Marmaduke Ludlow’s. This was not all—very far from all. A few yards off, a glove—a right-hand glove—also unmistakably Marmaduke Ludlow’s—was picked up: worse, more damning evidence—a piece of paper, partly burned, black with powder, evidently the gun-wadding used by the assassin, was found close to where Mr. Conyers had fallen. What do you think that piece of paper was a portion of? Imagine, if you can!”
“How can you ask me such a question?”

“True. It was absurd, to do so. Well, it was a torn-off portion of a letter written to Marmaduke Ludlow by Alice Conyers, a letter expressed in terms of affection as warm as a modest maiden may permit herself to use. That that letter was received by Ludlow is unfortunately certain, for I, catching at the slightest twig of hope, suggested that it might have miscarried. It was the only letter, the only written communication, ever sent to Marmaduke Ludlow by Alice Conyers; and Searle, the butler, gave it himself to the unfortunate young man.”

“Unfortunate young man! Cowardly, brutal assassin would be the fitter phrase.”

“Hear all before you pronounce so positively. As we were still in the first dismay and wonder caused by these findings, Radford the constable came up; an energetic officer, as you know. He no sooner grasped, as it were, the facts which had come to light, than he determined to at once proceed to Stone Hall, and unless Marmaduke Ludlow could satisfactorily explain away the evidences against him, which we all feared was simply
impossible, arrest him upon the capital charge forthwith.

“We all four went together. The inmates of Stone Hall were in bed. No one, it seemed, had thought of going there to inform Mr. Ludlow or his son of the anxiety felt for the safety of Mr. Conyers.

“The constable knocked loudly, and the door was at last opened by Barnes, who, you know, acts as gardener, groom, and make-himself-useful-man.
“‘Hallo, Master Radford!’ said Barnes, exceedingly cross at being obliged to turn out of his warm bed at that unseemly hour ‘It was hardly worth while to knock a poor, tired body up at this time in the morning, just to hand in Master Marmaduke’s hat, which I see
you have found.’
“‘How did you know Mr. Marmaduke Ludlow had lost his hat?’
“‘How do I know? Because I seed him come home last night without one; and pretty much surprised I were, I can tell ye!’
“‘Did your young master say he had lost his hat?’

‘“Not he. He let himself in the back way, and went straight on upstairs to bed. Nobody seed him come in but me; and he couldn’t know I seed him.’
“‘What time was it when he came home?’
“‘Zounds and the devil! Master Radford; don’t keep a body shivering here in his shirt, only to ask such silly questions. Just give me the hat and have done with it.’
“The constable drew forth his staff, and I said— ‘You must answer the question sooner or later, Barnes. We are here upon very serious, awful business. At what time did Mr. Marmaduke return? It may be important for his sake that the hour should be known.’

“‘Well, then, if I must say,’ replied Barnes, much subdued in tone by the sight of the staff, ‘the church clock had chimed ten two or three minutes before.’
‘“Mr. Marmaduke Ludlow is still in bed, I suppose?’ said Master Constable.
“‘He is so, Mr. Radford.’

“‘Then please to conduct us to his bedroom.’
“The foregoing, Mr. Detective, I took down at the time, exactly as I have read it to you. All that is essential has been since deposed to on oath. In reply to a question of mine, as we quietly ascended the stairs, Barnes said Mr. Marmaduke Ludlow had his fowling-piece in his hand when he came home the previous evening.

“The constable tapped at the chamber-door. Marmaduke Ludlow could not have been asleep, as he immediately called out, ‘Who’s there?’

“The constable replied that he was there, and must see young Mr. Ludlow immediately.
“‘Come in,’ was the prompt reply, and in we went. I will not dwell upon the tumult of terror and violence which followed, and which soon brought the father and sister upon the scene. Marmaduke Ludlow, who either was, or affected to be, stricken with horror and consternation upon hearing that Mr. Conyers had been murdered, presently burst into a fury of rage, and but that we were so many, would have broken away. He furiously protested his entire innocence; but the ownership of the hat, the glove, could not be denied, and in his coat pocket, the coat he had worn the previous evening, was found the letter, a portion of which had been used as wadding for the gun. He was taken away in custody, and after one examination only, fully committed for trial on the capital charge at the next March assizes. At my earnest request, Marmaduke Ludlow reserved his defence. It was with great difficulty I persuaded him to do so.”

“Has he the ghost of a defence?”
“An unanswerable defence could it only be substantiated,—which unfortunately it cannot. I thoroughly believe every syllable he says, though I could give no reason satisfactory to you or anyone else for the faith that is in me. I will give you presently his version of what took place within his own knowledge on the evening of the 22ud of September. First, however, I must .tell you that Alice Conyers deposed at the first and last examination of the prisoner before the magistrates, that she had for the first time in her life written a note to Marmaduke Ludlow. The piece of scorched and blackened paper produced was part of that note, in which she appointed to meet Marmaduke Ludlow at a place distant about half a mile nearer the Elms than where her father was found. She had reluctantly acceded to Marmaduke Ludlow’s urgent entreaties that she would privately meet him, as her father about a fortnight previously had suddenly expressed himself decidedly hostile to her encouragement of his addresses, and spoken in that sense and with an acerbity very unusual in him, to the accused himself. Repenting of her rash promise, she had mentioned it to her father, who forbade her to keep the appointment, but spoke in a friendly way of Marmaduke Ludlow. This was on the morning of the 22nd of September. Of course she did not keep the appointment, but did not find an opportunity of acquainting the accused that she had changed her mind.”
“Worse and worse. All the facts cohere and support each other.”
“So urges the solicitor for the prosecution. His theory is, that instead of meeting with Miss Conyers as he hoped and expected, the indignant father confronted him, that a quarrel ensued, and that in a transport of rage he shot Mr. Conyers. The fact that the deed was committed at a considerable distance from the place of assignation was of no weight, except that it seemed to show, conjoined with the fact that he had used a portion of Miss Conyers’ letter for wadding, which he would hardly have done before meeting and quarrelling with her father—that he had followed the ill-fated gentleman, who was probably retracing his steps to Gainsford’s house, the lane being his road thither from the place of assignation—and committed the crime with more of premeditated, deliberate malice than would otherwise be supposable.”
“And what, Mr. Vigors, could you oppose to such reasoning as that?”

“Nothing; as I have told you, I reserved the defence. I rely upon your vulpine sagacity to hunt up materials for a valid one.”
“A pretty task, upon my word. Why don’t you ask me to hunt up proofs that Queen Anne has come to life, and is living somewhere in Worcestershire?”
“I don’t know. Magna est veritas et prevalibet. I feel a positive, unshakeable conviction that Marmaduke’s story is literally, exactly the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He says that he, taking his gun with him in case he should get a chance shot by the way, was early at the place of assignation; that he waited—waited, at first with patience, then impatiently—read and re-read her note to make sure he could have made no mistake as to time and place,—finally believing himself to have been duped, mocked, tore it in halves, cast away one portion, but instantly restraining himself with a fond lover’s caprice, replaced that which he had not flung away in his pocket. Night had by that time fallen—the night I have before described to you, alternately bright and dark, with a high wind blowing, which high wind blew off his hat. He searched for but could nowhere find it, gave up the search, went a good part of the way home, and as the night was becoming brighter, and his temper cooling down, he thought it was folly to lose an almost new hat without at least another attempt to find it, and retraced his steps for that purpose. The search was again unsuccessful, but whilst engaged in it, Marmaduke Ludlow distinctly heard the report of a fowling-piece in the direction of Hawk-lane. He then went home without his hat, as described by Barnes.”
“A very pretty story, upon my word, to set before a judge and twelve jurymen with heads on their shoulders.”
“Truth, for all that, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
“The only circumstance it appears to me, Mr. Vigors, that suggests the shadow of a shade of doubt of Marmaduke Ludlow’s guilt is the strange behaviour of the two Gainsfords, as deposed to by Cummings.
Yet, after all, what does that really amount to? You think it certain that Mr. Conyers will die of the wound he received?”
“I think so; but the doctors differ in opinion. One or two, I believe, say it is probable he will live; but all agree that intellect, memory is gone for ever.”
“Poor gentleman! Well, Mr. Vigors, I shall set to work, but with no hope of weakening, much less of rebutting, the case made out against the prisoner.”
I had made acquaintance when I was before in Worcestershire with a decent sort of man—a gardener, who lived in the house with the Gainsford. He did so still, I found. I contrived to appoint a private meeting with this man, John Stillwell, on the following evening. Before seeing him I determined to visit the market town of —, and find if I could upon what terms, friendly or otherwise, Mr. Conyers and Gaiusford had appeared to be upon on the 22nd of September. The substance of all I learned was, that early in the day the two had appeared to be on exceedingly bad terms with each other, but that towards evening they became more friendly, and at parting were seen to shake hands with each other. For all that, one man remarked, Mr. Conyers did not seem to be cordial with Gainsford.

Late in the evening I had a long confab with John Stillwell. He was shy at first, but at last, with help of the good ale and tolerably adroit questioning, I contrived to elicit certain facts, which, though not worth twopence as legal evidence, were morally very suggestive. Henry Gainsford since the 22nd of September had never held up his head, seldom spoke, and seemed to shun his father, of whom he lived in mortal fear. Everybody believed at first that Mr. Conyers had been killed outright; but when it was found the doctor had brought him to, and folks said he would get over it, there seemed to be a curious sort of flurry come over the Gainsfords, especially the father. He immediately had the horse put to. Stillwell drove him to the market-town of —, and from thence he started at once for London. He didn’t come back for two or three weeks—but then he had been away longer before—he didn’t return till it was positively known that the poor gentleman, if his life was saved, would never speak, nor never have his mind again. “I suppose you know,” added Stillwell, “that the stock is being sold as fast as possible, and that maister is trying to sell the lease of the farm.”

As I have said, these facts did not furnish a particle of legal evidence against the Gainsfords; yet they strongly inclined me to believe, with Mr. Vigors, that Marmaduke Ludlow might be innocent of the crime imputed to him, after all.
I remained about three weeks in Worcestershire, but I could ferret nothing more bearing in the remotest degree upon the case. I noticed that the Gainsfords were instinctively shunned by the people of the district. They were suspected of being in some way implicated, but no one could have defined the reasons for his suspicion. The change of manner observable in both was no doubt the chief cause of that vague, but general distrust of Gainsford and his son. They left Worcestershire soon after the following Christmas, whither bound no one knew. America, it was supposed. I should have stated in its proper place that Mr. Conyers had not been robbed; I mean, that his purse and watch had not been taken, and that ·his pocket-book, for what anyone knew, was in the same state as when he left the market-town of —.

The March assize for Worcestershire was held in due course. Marmaduke Ludlow was arraigned for shooting at Adam Conyers with intent to kill and murder him, convicted, and sentenced to transportation for life. The degradation, the disappointment of all his hopes in life, the cruel wrong inflicted upon him, broke down poor Marmaduke Ludlow at once. Brain fever supervened within two or three days after sentence had been passed, and he died after but a few hours’ suffering in the gaol infirmary.

The doctors were, as often happens, totally in error as to the impossibility of the recovery of  Mr. Conyers’ mental health. Slowly but surely speech, memory, all his faculties, were restored to full vigour; and the first act of the deeply-sorrowing gentleman was to go before the bench of magistrates, and declare upon oath that he distinctly saw Philip Gainsford take aim at him and fire the gun. He had discovered, a very few days before the fatal 22nd of September, that the reputedly wealthy farmer was next door to a pauper; that he was, moreover, an inveterate gambler; and his frequent journeys to London made for the purpose of secret indulgence in that vice. He, Mr. Conyers, had lent Gainsford four thousand pounds, for which he held his note of hand, payable on demand. Mr. Conyers pressed angrily for a settlement: Gainsford, driven to extremity, finding all hope of the marriage of his son with Alice Conyers at an end, asked Mr. Conyers to bring the note of hand with him to the market-town of — on the 22nd of September, and he would endeavour to effect some arrangement. Easy-going Mr. Conyers did so, and even believed the fellow’s assurance, that though a friend had unexpectedly disappointed him, on the following market-day he would be sure to make a satisfactory settlement. That note of hand was not found in the pocket-book.

Five or six years passed away, when a desperate convict, sentenced to penal servitude for life, in attempting, for the third or fourth time, to escape from the works at Portland, was fired at by a sentry, and mortally wounded. This ruffian, sentenced in the name of Jenkins, finding he had but a few hours to live, and terrified by the picture drawn by the Catholic priest of the dread punishment that awaited him in the next world unless he truly repented and made all the atonement possible for his crimes in this world,—he was a Catholic, at least, he was baptized and educated as a child in that faith—that his real name was Philip Gainsford; that, whilst waylaying Mr. Conyers of the Elms, with intent to murder him, and abstract from his pocket-book a note of hand for four thousand pounds, he had himself, unobserved, watched the movements of Marmaduke Ludlow, saw him tear a letter, one part of which he threw away, and he, Gainsford, marked where it lodged. By and by the young man’s hat blew off; which he could not find, and dropped his white glove whilst searching for it, and ultimately went off towards his own home. The cunning villainy of Gainsford perceiving at once the use that could be made of those articles to ward off suspicion from himself, gathered them quickly up, drew the wadding from his already loaded gun, substituted the fragment of letter, and hurried off to place himself in ambush, where he was pretty sure Mr. Conyers would soon pass. Gainsford added that Marmaduke Ludlow was, he believed, still undergoing the sentence passed upon him for a crime of which he was innocent as an unborn babe. A strange blunder of a world this, my masters, were there not a compensation hereafter; with which quite new reflection I conclude this story of Circumstantial Evidence.

From Experiences of a Real Detective by Inspector F.
Edited by “Waters,” author of Recollections of a Police Officer, Leonard Harlowe, etc.
London: Ward, Lock, & Tyler, 1862. 121-42.