Rawlins of the Express did not overdo the sensation which was caused in the courtroom when the name of this lady herself was called to summon her to the witness box. It was indeed the despair of his whole career. He thought despondingly ever after of the thrill, to which he himself was not superior and which, if he had only been able to handle it adequately, might have led him straight up the ladder to a night editorship. Miss Belton appeared from some unsuspected seat near the door, throwing back a heavy veil, and walking as austerely as she could, considering the colour of her hair. She took her place without emotion and there she corroborated the evidence of the servants of the hotel. To the grave questions of the prosecution she fluently replied that the distraction of these evenings had been cards—cards played, certainly, for money, and that she, certainly, had won very considerable sums from the defendant from time to time. In Elgin the very mention of cards played for money will cause a hush of something deeper than disapproval; there was silence in the court at this. In producing several banknotes for Miss Belton’s identification, Mr Cruickshank seemed to profit by the silence. Miss Belton identified them without hesitation, as she might easily, since they had been traced to her possession. Asked to account for them; she stated, without winking, that they had been paid to her by Mr Walter Ormiston at various times during the fortnight preceding the burglary, in satisfaction of debts at cards. She, Miss Belton, had left Elgin for Chicago the day after the burglary. Mr Ormiston knew that she was going. He had paid her the four fifty-dollar notes actually traced, the night before she left, and said. “You won’t need to break these here, will you?” He seemed anxious that she should not, but it was the merest accident that she hadn’t. In all, she had received from Mr Ormiston four hundred and fifty dollars. No, she had no suspicion that the young man might not be in a position to make such payments. She understood that Mr Ormiston’s family was wealthy, and never thought twice about it.
She spoke with a hard dignity, the lady, and a great effect of doing business, a kind of assertion of the legitimate. The farmers of Fox County told each other in chapfallen appreciation that she was about as level-headed as they make them. Lawyer Cruickshank, as they called him, brought forth from her detail after detail, and every detail fitted damningly with the last. The effect upon young Ormiston was so painful that many looked another way. His jaw was set and his features contorted to hold himself from the disgrace of tears. He was generally acknowledged to be overwhelmed by the unexpected demonstration of his guilt, but distress was so plain in him that there was not a soul in the place that was not sorry for him. In one or two resolute faces hope still glimmered, but it hardly survived the cross-examination of the Crown’s chief witness by the counsel for the defence which, as far as it went, had a perfunctory air and contributed little to the evidence before the Court. It did not go all the way, however. The case having opened late, the defence was reserved till the following day, when proceedings would be resumed with the further cross-examination of Miss Belton.