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Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

1 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



STORIES OF WALES. BY W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, Author of Gwilym a Benni Bach" Gwr y Dolau," &c." II.-BOBBY JONES'S FIRST DEFENCE. Copyright 1905 by W. Llewelyn Williams in the United States of America. A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate Of mighty monarchs. —THOMSON'S Seasons. To-day, the name of Bobby Jones is known from Anglesea to Monmouth. He is recognised as the coming man on the Welsh Circuit, and it was only last week that his name was mentioned (with eleven others) by the Cumskwt Weekly Advertiser as a possible Liberal Candidate for the Radnor Boroughs. But five years ago Bobby was in sad case. Year after year he had gone circuit, and not a brief had come his way. He had seen others pushing past him-men whom Bobby in his heait considered his in- feriors in native wit and-acquired wisdom. His heart was sore within him, and he began to despair; of himself and his fortunes. He grew careless in his dress, pungent in his speech, and even surly at times in his manner. His friends remonstrated with him. His time would come, they said everybody had to go through the mill. But Bobby thought only of the high hopes with which he had started, the sacrifices the old folk at home had made to send him to the 'Varsity and the Bar, and the utter failure of all his plans and ambitions. It is the leisure of the law that killeth," he said, in bitter mockery, as he sat idly in the Assize Court one day in August, 1 goo. His neighbour, a bright- faced young barrister with a pile of b iefs in front of him, laughed good humouredly at the sour morsel of wit. "Cheer up, Bobby," he sa d, "every dog has his day." No sooner had he said so, than a policeman tapped Bobby on the shoulder. "John Smith, plisoner A 30, wants you to defend him, sir," said the policeman, handing Bobby a docker's guinea in a slip of paper. Bobby looked in a startled way at the paper, then mechanically he opened it and slipped the guinea--his first guinea—into his pocket, t He wondered why John Smith had se'ected him, or had the policeman made a mistake ? But there was no time for reflection. John Smith, a young fellow with an unmis- takeably hor sey air about him, was in the dock, pleading not guilty" to a charge of attempted robbery with violence. he story of the prose- cution was brief and simple. Eaily one morning in the previous July a-ffian walked into a shoe- maker's shop in the little village of Penbont, and asked to be shown a pair of boots. The shop- keeper at once produced a pair. The man looked at them carefully, tested their soundness in a knowing way, and then asked the shopman to show him a stronger and better paT. The shopkeeper turned round to pull down from a shelf another pair. No sooner was his back turned than the man made a dash fur the door, with the boots in his hands. The shopkeeper was an active man with a valiant heart. With a leap and a bound-that would not have disgraced "the bold Anapaest" of our school days-he was up with the thief before he had quite got clear of the doorway. A s ruggle ensued, but the shopkeeper succeeded in wrenching the boots from the man's hands, and the thief fled, leaving behind him, however, his hat, which had fallen down in the course of the scuffle. The panting tradesman was not dis- posed to follow now that he had rescued his goods and chattels. He picked up the hat, sent for the police, and told his exciting story. The village was immediately scoured, and in a short time John Smith was arrested on suspicion while he was wal k ng bare-headed at a brisk pace away from the village. He was placed among six or seven others in the police station, and the shoemaker had no difficulty in picking him out as the man he had seen in his shop a short time before. The chain of evidence was com- plete the police felt that they had covered themselves with glory; the local newspaper spoke in eulogistic terms of the smart capture the prisoner was committed for trial at the ensuing assizes; the Bench complimented Police-con- stable Evan Rees, who had effected the arrest; and thus it was that Bobby Jones for the first time in his life, was briefed,—briefed to defend a prisoner, who, omnium consensu, had not a dog's chance of an acquittal, even before a Welsh jury. Bobby was far too excited to know exactly what was happening as the case for the prosecu- tion developed. John Smith, it seems, had been a groom in the employ of a local doctor. He had been dismissed, and for six weeks previous to his arrest he had been out of em- ployment. Mr. Justice Blake, like the good Irishman he is, was anxious to give the prisoner every chance of escaping from the meshes of an unsympathetic law. He suggested lines of defence to Bobby, which poor Bobby was too nervous and excited to adopt. Judges are but human, and Mr. Justice Blake shook his head and frowned when Bobby refused or failed- to act upon his hints. The half-audible comments of his learned brethren at the Bar increased Bobby's confusion. He felt he was making a fool of himself, and for the life of him he could see no way to retrieve his position. When the case for the prosecutinn closed, one or two friends who saw and pitied his state advised, Bobby not to call his client to give evidence on his own behalf, but to trust entirely to his own speech to the jury. Bobby felt it was sound advice, but, truth to tell, he had no speech to make. He could think of nothing to say. For the first time in his life he felt utterly without resource. He had been fluent and eloquent enough in his College Debating Society and on the platform, but here—just when it was needed —when his whole future depended on it—Oh it was humiliating! He determined, at all costs, to have a little time to collect his thoughts. I shall cill the prisoner, m'lud," he said. Meaning glances, were' exchanged among his learned brethren. His lordship looked glum and gloomy. "Use your own discretion, Mr. Jones," he said, with a comminatory frown. "John Smith," called Bobby, with all the confidence he could command. John Smith walked round fr -Ill the dock, past the reporter's box, and into the witness box. Be:ween the two boxes lay a broad ledge upon which still rested the pair of boots and the hat which had been produced by the police. Bobby had an anxious time of it, examining his first and only witness. The judge was j n displeased with him for calling the prisoner, the prisoner was either stupid or reluctant to give evidence, and a grim smile overspread the severely legal face of Mr. Henry Lewis, the counsel for the prosecution. After a few preliminary questions, Bobby plunged into the gist of the case. Were you in the prosecutor's shop on the day in question ? he asked No," replied John Smith. Did you ever see the prosecutor before he identified you at the police station ? Never," said John Smith. "Is that your hat?" asked counsel for the defence, pointing to the hat on the ledge between the reporters' box and the witness. John Smith just glanced at it hurriedly, and hastily answered, "No." "Look at it man," cried Bobby, "take it in your hand. Now, what do YOU say, is it your hat ? No," said John Smith, in a sullen voice. Put it on your head," said counsel, feeling that the prisoner's manner was tying the rope (as it were) round his neck. Put it on your hea 1." Beg pardon, sir, what did you say ? asked John Smith, looking very frightened. "Can't you hear what- I say?" exclaimed Bobby, now in a perfect fever of confused irritation. Can't you 'hear? Do listen and try to do yourself justice. "Justice is the last, thing he wants," whispered a waggish barrister to his neighbour. Mr. Jones," said his lordship, somewhat severely, "you should not adopt that tone with your own witness. "Heg pardon, m'lud," murmured poor Bobby. Then turning to the prisoner, he said to him, more mildly, I asked you to put that hat on your head." A groan, half-suppressed, escaped, his lord- ship's lips, as he saw the prisoner's last chance disappearing. John Smith evidently felt his position acutely, as the reporters say. Great beads- of perspira- tion stood on his brow -as he gingerly, reluc- tantly, rebelliously plaf-ed.,the fatal hat on his head. No sooner, however, had, it touched his crown than a "look of astonishment, followed by one of relief, .came into his face. He even giggled hysterically, for the hat was three sizes too small for him There was a. buzz of excitement in court. Mr. Justice Blake for the first ume looked pleased. He turned a beaming face on Bobby. Is that your case., Mr. Jones ? he asked. Bobby had just enough presence of mind to say, "Yes, m'lud," and sit down. Do you wish, to cross-examine the witness ?" asked his lordship of the prosecuting counsel. Though I confess it seems to me to be a waste of time, after what we have just seen, to ask this witness any questions." "I agree with your lordship, if I may respect- fully say so," suavely replied counsel, as he pro- ceeded to tie up his papers. You, Mr. Lewis, will not. I suppose, address the jury, since the prisoner has called no wit- nesses," said his lordship. Mr. Lewis shook a deprecating head. "Mr. Jones, do you want to ? he added, turning to Bobby. A bright inspiration seized Bobby. As he had nothing to say, he thought he had better not say it. "No, m'lud," he murmured, his head buzzing with bewilderment. Gentlemen of the jury," said his lordship, addressing the twelve good men and true, "this case has been narrowed down to a very plain and simple issue of fact. There was undoubtedly an attempt at robbery. You will, I think, as intelligent men of the world (here the jury nodded a pleased assent), "believe that some man did try to steal a pair of boots from this shop on the day in question. The question for you to determine is Was that man the prisoner ? The prosecutor says he is the prisoner says he is not. Which are you going t > believe? The thie', whoever he was, was wearing this hat, but the prisoner could-not have worn the hat. as it is, as you saw, much too small for him. Can