“What’s up?” said one.
“Sidney Trove is indicted,” was the answer of the young man.
He ran out of doors and down the street. People began crowding out of the court room. Information, surprise, and conjecture—a kind of flood pouring out of a broken dam—rushed up and down the forty streets of the village. Soon, as of old, many were afloat and some few were drowning in it. For a little, busy hands fell limp and feet grew slow and tongues halted. A group of school-girls on their way home were suddenly overtaken by the onrushing tide. They came close together and whispered. Then a little cry of despair, and one of them fell and was borne into a near house. A young man ran up the stairway at the Sign of the Dial and rapped loudly at Darrel’s door, Trove and the tinker were inside.
“Old fellow,” said the newcomer, his hand upon Trove’s arm, “they’ve voted to indict you, and I’ve seen all the witnesses.”
Trove had a book in his hand. He rose calmly and flung it on the table.
“It’s an outrage,” said he, with a sigh.
“Nay, an honour,” said Darrel, quickly. “Hold up thy head, boy. The laurel shall take the place o’ the frown.”
He turned to the bearer of these evil tidings.
“Have ye more knowledge o’ the matter?”
“Yes, all day I have been getting hold of their evidence,” said the newcomer, a law student, who was now facing his friend Trove. “In the first place, it was a man of blue eyes and about your build who broke into the bank at Milldam. It is the sworn statement of the clerk, who has now recovered. He does not go so far as to say you are the man, but does say it was a man like you that assaulted him. It appears the robber had his face covered with a red bandanna handkerchief in which square holes were cut so he could see through. The clerk remembers it was covered with a little white figure—that of a log cabin. Such a handkerchief was sold years ago in the campaign of Harrison, but has gone out of use. Not a store in the county has had them since ’45. The clerk fired upon him with a pistol, and thinks he wounded him in the left forearm. In their fight the robber struck him with a sling-shot, and he fell, and remembers nothing more until he came to in the dark alone. The skin was cut in little squares, where the shot struck him, and that is one of the strong points against you.”
“Against me?” said Trove.
“Yes—that and another. It seems the robber left behind him one end of a bar of iron. The other end of the same bar and a sling-shot—the very one that probably felled the clerk—have been found.”
The speaker rose and walked half across the room and back, looking down thoughtfully.
“I tell ye what, old fellow,” said he, sitting down again, “it is mighty strange. If I didn’t know you well, I’d think you guilty. Here comes a detective who says under oath that one night he saw you come out of your lodgings, about eleven o’clock, and walk to the middle of the bridge and throw something into the water. Next morning bar and shot were found. As nearly as he could make out they lay directly under the place where you halted.”