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MOTHERHOOD.

SHE softly sings, and paces to and fro,

Patient, unwearied, bearing in her arms
The fretful, sickly child, with all his harms,
Deformed and imbecile, her love and woe.
Croons, with caressing intonation, low,

Some sweet, old minor melody, that charms
The ear that listens, and the sufferer calms,
And her own sorrow soothes with silver flow.

O holy tenderness of motherhood!

Most pitiful and patient to the child,
Foolish, unlovely, seemingly defiled

By powers of death and darkness. The All Good
Alone so loveth and remembereth,
And, like a tender parent, pitieth.

Abby S. Hinckley.

THE GRAYSONS: A STORY OF ILLINOIS.*

BY EDWARD EGGLESTON,

Author of "The Hoosier Schoolmaster," "The Circuit Rider," "Roxy," etc.

XVI.

THE CORONER'S INQUEST.

yond which there was a surging mass of peo-
ple blindly gravitating towards the center of
excitement, though all the proceedings were
invisible and inaudible to them.

HE murder of George Lock-
wood furnished a powerful On two boards supported by kegs and boxes
counter-excitement, which lay the lifeless body of Lockwood. The pitiful
quite broke the continuity sight of the pallid face and the eyes sunken in
of religious feeling, and their sockets exasperated the spectators to re-
lacked little of complete- venge. Between the body and the hay-mow
ly breaking up the camp- the coroner took his place on the only chair
meeting. Hundreds of in the barn; at the opposite side of the corpse
the jury was seated on improvised benches.
Markham, the sheriff's deputy, assisted by a
constable, kept back the press, whose centrip-
etal force threatened at every moment to over-
whelm the innocent jurymen.

men and women thronged about the place of
the shooting and discussed all the probable
and possible details of the affair, of which sev-
eral versions were already current. The cor-
oner ordered the body removed to a new
hay-barn in the neighborhood; whereupon
the people rushed thither to get a sight of the
dead man, for there is no source of excite-
ment so highly prized by the vulgar as the
ghastly. At 3 in the afternoon, the barn was
crowded. The people jostled one another
closely upon the wide threshing-floor, and
the wheat-mow alongside contained, among
others, at least twenty women whose appetite
for the horrible had led them to elbow their way
early to this commanding situation. The hay-
mow at the other end of the floor was full of
men and boys, and the cross-beams were occu-
pied by curious spectators, perched like rows of
chimney-swifts at the time of autumnal flitting.
More adventurous youth had managed to climb
even into the dizzy collar-beams under the
comb of the barn, to the dismay of the mason-
swallows whose young were sheltered in adobe
houses attached to the rafters. There were
heads, and pendent legs, and foreshortened
arms enough in the upper part of the barn to
suggest a ceiling-fresco of the Last Judgment
by an old Italian master. Yet other curious
people had crowded into the horse stables be-
low the wheat-mow, and were peering over the
manger into the threshing-floor and interming-
ling their heads with those of the beasts of
the stall, much as the aforementioned old
Italian painters mixed up brute and human
figures in their Nativity pieces. The crowd
upon the floor itself stretched out of the
wide-open double doors on each hand, be- It is one of the strong points of a coroner
*Copyright, 1887, by Edward Eggleston. All rights reserved.

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As a matter of course, the first witness sworn was a doctor. Coroners begin at the beginning by first proving that the deceased is duly dead, and so within their jurisdiction; and by finding out by just what means the knife, rope, poison, or pistol ball severed the thread of existence. The human passion for completeness is as much prone to show itself in law proceedings as in art performances; coroners' inquests like to go down to the physiological principles that underlie the great fact of practical importance, and to inquire what was the name and function of the particular artery the severance of which put an end to consciousness in a set of ganglia which, with their complicated adjuncts, constitute what we call a man. It was in this case settled very promptly that the unfortunate deceased came to his death by a charge of buckshot. I shall not entertain the reader with the anatomical particulars, although these proved to be of the most pungent interest to the auditory at the inquest, and were scientifically expounded in every cross-roads grocery in the county for months afterward. There are old men in Illinois who have n't got done explaining the manner of it yet. But the important thing was accomplished when the coroner and his jury were convinced that the man was not only apparently, but scientifically, and therefore legally, dead: thus a basis was laid for the subsequent proceedings.

that he knows nothing about what is held to be competent testimony,- nothing of the strict laws of relevancy and irrelevancy. He therefore goes to work to find out the truth in any way that seems good to him, without being balked by that vast network of regulations which are sure to embarrass the best endeavors of a more learned court. Markham was sworn immediately after the doctor had finished. It was his business to identify Tom's pistol. I fancy a lawyer might have insisted that no foundation had been laid for this testimony; but to the coroner it seemed the most orderly way, immediately after proving that Lockwood had been killed, to show the weapon with which he might have been killed. Markham swore to finding this pistol in Tom's room; and the ocular proof of the existence of such a weapon, in juxtaposition with the ghastly evidence before them of Lockwood's violent death, went far to establish Tom's guilt in the minds of the people. Then other witnesses swore to Tom's presence on the camp-ground; and two young men from Moscow had heard him threaten, some weeks before, that he would shoot George Lockwood.

It was just when the evidence of these two was finished that the people on the threshold of the south door of the barn began to sway to and fro in a sort of premonitory wavemotion, for outside of the door Sheriff Plunkett, having just arrived from Moscow with Tom Grayson, was battling with the condensed crowd in an endeavor to reach the presence of the coroner.

"You can't git through, Sher'f," said one man. "This crowd 's so thick you could bore a nauger into it."

But the sheriff's progress was aided by the interest of the people in Tom. They could not resist turning about to look at him, and every movement displaced some human molecules; so that Plunkett, aided by the respect shown to him as an officer, was able to push a little farther in at every budge. But the people were not content with looking at Tom.

"You've got to swing fer it, you young rascal," said one man as Tom passed. "Coward, to shoot a man in the dark!" muttered another.

And ever as in this slow progress Tom came nearer to the center he felt the breath of the mob to be hotter. When he got within the door there was a confused rustle among the people on the threshing-floor, a murmur from those who jostled one another in the hay-mows, and a sound of indignation from the people seated on the cross-beams and clinging to the girders; mutterings even came down from those

lodged like overhanging angels in the dizzy collar beams, fast by the barn-swallows' nests. Such excited crowds are choruses who wait for some one to give them the key; the pitch of the first resolute voice determines the drift of feeling. If somebody had called out at this moment for fair play, the solvent feeling of the crowd might have crystallized about this one. But indignation got tongue first.

"Hang him!" The words came from the corner of the threshing-floor farthest from the coroner, and in an instant the tide of feeling ran swiftly to that side. Tom recognized the harsh voice, and realized his danger in perceiving that the resentful Jake Hogan was leading those who sought to lynch him.

When the sheriff, with Grayson, had penetrated to the neighborhood of the coroner, the inquest was continued by calling David Sovine. This young man, with stylish trousers strapped down to patent-leather shoes, came forward chewing tobacco and affecting a self-confident swagger. He took the oath nonchalantly.

"Tell us what you know of the murder of George Lockwood," said the coroner.

"Well, me an' George had been together, an' we parted. He was goin' to-wards his horse an' me to-wards the camp-meetin'. I was about twenty foot, or maybe twenty-five foot, away from 'im when along come Tom Grayson an' says, says he, ' I 'm boun' to git even with you wunst fer all.' I looked aroun', an' Tom was aimin' his pistol. George Lockwood says, says he, 'Don't shoot me, Tom'; but Tom he up an' fired, an' George jist keeled over like, an' never said another word. Tom run off as fast as his legs could carry him. I run up to George, an' he was layin' there dead 's a door-nail. Then the crowd come a-runnin', an' that's about all I know about it.” "D' you remember the pistol?” "Yes."

"Was it like this?"

"Yes; an ole-fashioned big bore single-barrel like that, I should say."

"That'll do. You can stand aside," said the coroner.

"Hang him!" cried Jake Hogan; and there were other cries that showed how swiftly and terribly the current was setting in the direc tion indicated by Jake.

Tom Grayson was sworn.

"Now," said the coroner, "you don't have to criminate yourself. If you cannot answer any question asked of you without criminating you, you can decline to give an answer."

For how many ages have Anglo-Saxons made their criminal law ridiculous by this rule!

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Now," the coroner went on, "tell us just

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what you know about the shooting at the camp-meeting."

"I don't know anything at all about it," said Tom with agitation. "I have n't seen George Lockwood since I quarreled with him in Moscow till I saw him here." And he pointed with a trembling finger to the stark form of the man he had hated.

"Lie!" cried Hogan. The coroner called, "Order!"

"Aw!" said one of the women in the wheat-mow. " To think he could have the im pedence to hole up his head an' talk that away un the corpse right there afore his eyes!"

"Do you know that pistol?" asked the

coroner.

Tom took it up and looked at some marks on the butt of it.

"It's mine," he said.

"Did you have it at the camp-meeting?" "No, nor any other."

"You are not obliged to criminate yourself," said the coroner again; "but did n't you see Lockwood killed?"

"No," said Tom. "It's all a lie that Dave Sovine swore to, and he knows it. I was n't on that part of the ground."

"Hang him!" interjected Hogan. "The bah-y is awful plucky, upon me sowl," said Magill, who was standing on a plow

beam in order to see over the heads of the crowd. "It would be a pity to hang a man of such good stuff."

"The bare-faced villain!" growled the man next to him, and the unfavorable impression evidently had way with the crowd. When people have once made up their mind as to how a thing has happened, they do not like to have their fixed notions disturbed. Tom's heart sank; he could see that the chance for his getting back to the jail alive was growing smaller. Hiram Mason had attached himself to Tom and the sheriff, and had elbowed his way to the front in their wake; the people, supposing that he had some official function, made way for him. He now got the ear of the sheriff.

"If you don't get Tom away at once he'll be lynched," he said.

"I know it; but I don't know what to do," said Plunkett. "If I make any move, I'll fetch the crowd down on Tom."

"Get him down into the cow-stable under the barn, and let Markham take him off. You stay here and they won't suspect that he 's gone."

There was something pitiable about the sheriff's inability to make a decision at a critical moment. He looked at the angry crowd, who were paying little attention to the testi

mony of unimportant witnesses, and he looked at the coroner. He did n't like to bear the responsibility of having a prisoner taken from his hands; still more he disliked to offend so many voters.

"Settle it with Markham and the coroner," he said, sneaking out of the decision he could not bring himself to make.

"Mr. Markham," whispered Hiram, "the sheriff wants you and me to get Tom off. I'll get the horses ready, and you and Tom are to come out through the cow-stable. Speak to the coroner about it, and don't let the crowd see it. If we don't get him away before this thing breaks up he 'll never get to town alive."

"All right," said Markham. "I'll be in the cow-stable with Tom when you 're ready."

Jake Hogan had already gone out to muster his men, and Hiram was very impatient at the long time it took him to work his way outward. He was a little annoyed when Magill, getting down from the plow-beam, stopped him to whisper:

"I say, you 're Tom's friend. Now what can I do for the bah-y? I s'pose he 's guilty, but I don't want to see such a bowld gintleman as he is lynched by such a set of howlin' blackguards as these."

"Go over there and stand in front of Tom, so that the people won't see him and Markham when they get down into the cow-stable." Having whispered this between his teeth, Mason painfully worked his way out of the door, while Magill pushed forward towards the coroner. For Magill the people made way as best they could, supposing that the clerk was one of the functionaries without whom the performance could not proceed. The coroner had acceded to Markham's proposition and was contriving to protract the session. Magill called Sheriff Plunkett to him and made that worthy stand in unimportant conversation with him, so that they two covered from all observers first Markham's descent and then Tom's. The deputy sheriff and then his prisoner had to climb over a hayrack and thence down to the ground. The cow-stable was beneath that end of the barn which jutted over a steep hill-side descending to a brook. As nothing was to be seen from this stable, there was nobody in it but a few boys. When Mason came to say that he was ready, Markham passed out with his prisoner and down the hill-side to the bed of the brook, where Mason had brought the deputy's horse and old Blaze. Tom had been brought to the inquest in a wagon; but as it was necessary to avoid the main road, Mason had unharnessed Blaze for Tom to ride. As the hoofs of the horses clattered down over the stones in the VOL. XXXV.- 114-115.

bed of the stream, Tom felt as a man might who had but just eluded the coils of a boaconstrictor. In a little while the two were galloping over the open prairie towards Moscow by by-roads and short cuts.

The prisoner's absence was observed; but, as the sheriff remained, it was not at first suspected that he had got entirely away. People looked for him and inquired of one another where "they had put him." At length the testimony was all in, and the case was given to the jury. These "good men and true," as the old English law supposes them to be, retired for consultation; that is, they changed places with the coroner and stood with their faces towards the wall in the corner and their backs towards the crowd, which now buzzed like a nest of indignant bumble-bees. After a few minutes, the jury turned and their foreman read the verdict:

"We find that George Lockwood came to his death by being shot with buckshot, fired from a pistol by Thomas Grayson, Junior, and we recommend that the said Thomas Grayson be committed to answer to the charge of murder."

When this formal condemnation had been read, the passions of the crowd broke over all bounds, and the words of the coroner, formally ordering the commitment of the prisoner, were not heard. Cries of "Hang him! Hang him to the first tree!" mingled with curses, broke forth. Men swung themselves down from the high beams and there was a rush from the mows, while the women among the wheat-sheaves drew back in terror as they might have done in a rising hurricane. The crowd surged hither and thither about the outside of the barn, and surrounded the sheriff and the coroner, demanding the prisoner. It was more than five minutes after the verdict was in before it was believed that Tom had been taken away, and then the mob were bewildered by the certainty that nobody had seen him taken down the Moscow road. Foiled in their purpose, they fell away, and the tide of passion began to ebb. But the more determined rallied about Hogan, and agreed to meet him at the Broad Run grocery after dark, to make arrangements for a trip to the county-seat during the night.

XVII.

A COUNCIL OF WAR.

AS SOON as Zeke had eaten the frugal supper of mush and milk that Mrs. Britton set out for him, he sought the dilapidated little Broad Run grocery. The building was of logs, and had a pair of deer's antlers over the door for a sign that it was in one sense a public house. The low door, with its threshold on the level

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