In the hands of such skillful manipulators the case grew blacker and blacker, and the face of my client reflected the anguish he saw his wife enduring, and he powerless to comfort. He saw his beautiful, idolized boy the son of a convict, and all that had made life worth the living shattered to the dust. Closer and closer the meshes were weaving about him. The jurors sat with fixed gaze as one by one the speeches were ended. At length the honorable counsel for the prosecution concluded a powerful argument, and I saw in the faces of the twelve men that it had told.
There was but one point left for me to make, and I wondered that my distinguished brethren had passed it by. They had dwelt upon the youth and good standing of the prisoner, and the uncalled-for persecution he had suffered. They pictured in graphic words the midnight attempt upon his life at his own house. A man’s house is his castle, and he has the supreme right to defend both it and himself. They appealed to the sympathies of the jurors in behalf of the young, helpless wife and innocent child. Still there was wanting the one link in the chain of positive evidence. Sympathy was well enough. The twelve sworn men required proof. How was it to be shown them?
I was young, and I felt all the nervousness attendant upon a maiden effort, but my heart was in the work and I launched forth. Nature had given me a good voice, and I felt a certain power as I spoke. But I had not the egotism to suppose that I could compete with the learned gentlemen who had preceded me unless I could make a decided hit in summing up the testimony. This I did. When I came to the hitherto unnoticed dog, I dwelt there with a tenacity that was determined to convince. I portrayed the well-known fidelity of the dog. No matter what the master, whether fortune’s pampered darling, or a beastly denizen of the gutter, his dog was always his friend. Be he kind and gentle, or cruel and pitiless, still his dog crouches in loving submission. And the animal, whether a high-bred, glossy-coated favorite, with golden collar and silken leash, for whom hundreds had been paid, or an ill-favored, ungainly brute picked up from nowhere and as thankful for a kick as for a crust, was loyal with a fidelity that puts to shame man’s boasted friendship.
This man’s dog had loved him. Drunk or sober, kind or cruel, his dog was not content out of his presence. Why was he not with the man on this fatal night? Because Belt had chained him in order to follow out his vengeance untraced. The master knew the sagacity of his dog. He wanted no companion on his midnight stroll. And when, restless and uneasy, the dog was let loose and shown the garment of his master, what did he do? He dashed away, nose to earth, in eager, loving pursuit, along the road to Grant’s cottage. There he sniffs the ground, where undoubtedly the familiar scent lay, jumps upon the window-ledge with his fore paws, whimpers, starts away, and follows the trail down the path to the beloved body now cold in death.