The Hampstead Mystery eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about The Hampstead Mystery.

Dr. Slingsby was allowed to leave the box, and Inspector Chippenfield took his place.  Inspector Chippenfield did not display any professional reticence about giving his evidence—­at least, not on the surface, though he by no means took the court completely into his confidence as to all that had passed between him and Hill.  On the other hand he told the judge and jury everything that his professional experience prompted him as necessary and proper for them to know in order to bring about a conviction.  In the course of his evidence he made several attempts to introduce damaging facts as to Birchill’s past, but Mr. Holymead protested to the judge.  Counsel for the defence protested that he had allowed his learned friend in opening the case a great deal of latitude as to the relations which had previously existed between the witness Hill and the prisoner, because the defence did not intend to attempt to hide the fact that the prisoner had a criminal record, but he had no intention of allowing a police witness to introduce irrelevant matter in order to prejudice the jury against the prisoner.  His Honour told the witness to confine himself to answering the questions put to him, and not to volunteer information.

After this rebuke Inspector Chippenfield resumed giving evidence.  He related what Birchill had said when arrested, and declared that he was positive that the footprints found outside the kitchen window were made by the boots produced in court which Birchill had been wearing at the time he was arrested.  He produced a jemmy which he had found at Fanning’s flat, and said that it fitted the marks on the window at Riversbrook which had been forced on the night of the 18th of August.

Inspector Chippenfield’s evidence was followed by that of the two tramway employees, who declared that to the best of their belief Birchill was the man who boarded their tram at half-past nine on the night of the 18th of August, and rode to the terminus at Hampstead, which they reached at 10.4 p. m.  Both the witnesses showed a very proper respect for the law, and were obviously relieved when the brief cross-examination was over and they were free to go back to their tram-car.

CHAPTER XVII

“James Hill!” called the court crier.

The butler stepped forward, mounted the witness-stand, and bowed his head deferentially towards the judge.  He was neatly dressed in black, and his sandy-grey hair was carefully brushed.  His face was as expressionless as ever, but a slight oscillation of the Court Bible in his right hand as he was sworn indicated that his nerves were not so calm as he strove to appear.  He looked neither to the right nor left, but kept his glance downcast.  Only once, as he stood there waiting to be questioned, did he cast a furtive look towards the man whose life hung on his evidence, but the malevolent vindictive gaze Birchill shot back at him caused him to lower his eyelids instantly.

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The Hampstead Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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