Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy (Complete) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Wacousta .

The hour fixed for the trial of the prisoner Halloway had now arrived, and the officers composing the court were all met in the mess-room of the garrison, surrounding a long table covered with green cloth, over which were distributed pens, ink, and paper for taking minutes of the evidence, and such notes of the proceedings as the several members might deem necessary in the course of the trial.  Captain Blessington presided; and next him, on either hand, were the first in seniority, the two junior occupying the lowest places.  The demeanour of the several officers, serious and befitting the duty they were met to perform, was rendered more especially solemn from the presence of the governor, who sat a little to the right of the president, and without the circle, remained covered, and with his arms folded across his chest.  At a signal given by the president to the orderly in waiting, that individual disappeared from the room, and soon afterwards Frank Halloway, strongly ironed, as on the preceding night, was ushered in by several files of the guard, under Ensign Fortescue himself.

The prisoner having been stationed a few paces on the left of the president, that officer stood up to administer the customary oath.  His example was followed by the rest of the court, who now rose, and extending each his right hand upon the prayer book, repeated, after the president, the form of words prescribed by military law.  They then, after successively touching the sacred volume with their lips, once more resumed their seats at the table.

The prosecutor was the Adjutant Lawson, who now handed over to the president a paper, from which the latter officer read, in a clear and distinct voice, the following charges, viz.—­

“1st.  For having on the night of the —­th September 1763, while on duty at the gate of the Fortress of Detroit, either admitted a stranger into the garrison himself, or suffered him to obtain admission, without giving the alarm, or using the means necessary to ensure his apprehension, such conduct being treasonable, and in breach of the articles of war.

“2d.  For having been accessary to the abduction of Captain Frederick de Haldimar and private Harry Donellan, the disappearance of whom from the garrison can only be attributed to a secret understanding existing between the prisoner and the enemy without the walls, such conduct being treasonable, and in breach of the articles of war.”

“Private Frank Halloway,” continued Captain Blessington, after having perused these two short but important charges, “you have heard what has been preferred against you; what say you, therefore?  Are you guilty, or not guilty?”

“Not guilty,” firmly and somewhat exultingly replied the prisoner, laying his hand at the same time on his swelling heart.

“Stay, sir,” sternly observed the governor, addressing the president; “you have not read all the charges.”

Captain Blessington took up the paper from the table, on which he had carelessly thrown it, after reading the accusations above detailed, and perceived, for the first time, that a portion had been doubled back.  His eye now glanced over a third charge, which had previously escaped his attention.

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Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy (Complete) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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