Timotheus and Ben were busy cleaning out the coach house, putting tables and seats into it, and generally preparing for the inquest. Mr. Bangs, at the coroner’s request, empanelled the jury, consisting of the Squire, the captain, and the two clergymen, the three Richards, the three cited jurors, with old Styles from the post office, and Ben Toner. The charred masses of humanity, pervaded by a sickening smell of spirits, were taken from the waggon, and placed in rough board shells, decently covered over with white cloths. The woman called Flower was brought from the post office, and kept in custody, till she gave her evidence; and Bangs himself, with Messrs. Terry, Coristine, and Bigglethorpe, Sylvanus, Rufus, and Timotheus were cited as witnesses. Some evidence was also expected from Matilda and her son. When the coach house doors were thrown open, all hilarity ceased—even the children seemed to realize that something very solemn was going on. A weight of trouble and danger was lifted off many hearts by the terrible tragedy, yet in no soul was there the least feeling of exultation. The fate of the victims was too awful, too sudden for anyone to feel aught but horror at the thought of it, and deep sorrow for one at least who had perished in his sins. The light-hearted lawyer took one look at the remains of him, whom, within the past few days, he had seen so often in the full enjoyment of life and health, and resolved that never again, in prose or verse, would he speak of the person, whose crimes and cunning had returned so avengingly upon his own head, as the Grinstun man. Mr. Pawkins joked no more, for, with all his playful untruthfulness, he had a feeling heart. The most unconcerned man outwardly was Mr. Bangs, and even he said that he would willingly have given a hundred dollars to see his prisoner safely in gaol with the chaplain, and afterwards decently hanged. The doctor was carefully carried out, and set in the presiding chair as coroner over the third inquest within two days.
Inquest and Consequences—Orther
Service—Mr. Pawkins and the Constable—Two Songs—Marjorie, Mr.
Biggles and the Crawfish—Coristine Falls Foul of Mr. Lamb—Mr.
Lamb Falls Foul of the Whole Company—The Captain’s Couplet—Miss
Carmichael Feels it Her Duty to Comfort Mr. Lamb.
It is unnecessary to relate the details of the inquest. By various marks, as well as by the testimony of the woman Flower and of Mr. Bangs and his party, the remains were identified as those of Rawdon and his wounded henchman Flower. Some of the jurymen wished to bring in a verdict of “Died from the visitation of God,” but this the Squire, who was foreman, would not allow. He called it flat blasphemy; so it was altered to: “Died by the explosion of illicit spirits, through a fire kindled by the wife of the principal victim, Altamont Rawdon.”