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Madame Andrecht's the carpenter said, had belonged to his father, and made his appearance in his house, and had been left him as a legacy by an entreated him to delay proceedings, old lady in whose family he had been which he said would be his ruin, by coachman. It was at last agreed that bringing all his creditors on his back. the carpenter should take the plate “See," said he, “in what manner I at a certain value as a partial payam paid myself," putting a basket on ment, and it was accordingly brought the table, which contained a pair of to his house the same evening by the silver candlesticks and a silver coffee- dragoon. The latter advised him, in pot. “One of my debtors owes me the event of his wishing to dispose of upwards of sixty guldens: I have tried the plate, to take it to Amsterdam, as in vain to get payment, and have been the silversmiths of the place would glad to accept of these as the only not give him half the value for the chance of making anything of the articles. The carpenter asked him why debt. From the silversmiths here I he had not carried it to Amsterdam should not get the half the value himself. “So I would,” he answerfor them: I must keep them by me ed, “if you had given me time. As till I go to Amsterdam, where such it is, give me your promise not to disthings are understood; but I shall pose of it here—I have my own realeave them with you in pledge for my
sons for it." debt.” The wood-merchant at first If this statement was corrert-and declined receiving them, but at length, there seemed no reason to doubt the thinking that it was his only prospect fairness of the carpenter's storyof obtaining uitimate payment, he it pressed most heavily against the yielded, and the articles remained on accused. He was thus found in poshis bands.
session of part of the stolen property, A few days afterwards, the robbery and disposing of it, under the most became public; the list of the silver suspicious circumstances, to a third articles contained a coffee-pot and party. candlesticks; and the wood-merchant, He was examined anew, and the not doubting that the articles pledged beginning of his declaration correhad formed part of the abstracted sponded exactly with the deposition of eftects, had felt himself compelled to the carpenter. The latter had worked make known the way in which they for him: he was sixty guldens in his had been obtained, and to place them debt. He was asked if he had paid in the hands of the officers of justice. the account: he answered he had not He meant, he said, to convey no im- been in a condition to do so. He was putation against the carpenter, but it shown the silver plate, and was told would be easy to learn from his own what had been stated by the carpenlips who was the debtor from whom ter. He stammered, became pale, the articles had come.
and protested he knew nothing of the The court ordered the basket with plate; and in this statement he perthe plate to be placed, covered, upon sisted in the presence of witnesses. the table, and sent forth with for the He was then shown the gold which carpenter. He arrived in breathless had been found in his house. It behaste, but seemed prepared for what longed, he said, not to himself, but to followed, and without waiting for the his father-in-law. interrogatories of the judge, he pro This part of the statement, indeed, ceeded with his explanation.
was confirmed by the other inmates of Pressed by his creditor the wood- bis family; but, in other respects,
their merchant, the carpenter, in his turn, statements were calculated to increase proceeded to press his own debtors. the suspicions against him. Nicholas, Among these was the Blue Dragoon, for instance, had stated that no part Nicholas D who was indebted to of his debt to Isaac had been paid him in an account of sixty guldens for that in fact he had not been in a conwork done on his premises. Nicholas dition to do so-while the other three entreated for delay, but the carpenter members of the household, on the conbeing peremptory, he inquired whether trary, maintained that a few months he would not take some articles of old before he had made a payment of silver plate in payment, which, he twenty guldens to Isaac, expressly to
account of this claim. Nicholas be- had been apprehended along with him, came vastly embarrassed when this might be innocent of any participacontradiction between his own state- tion in his guilt; though, being naturment and the evidence of the witnesses ally anxious to save him, they might was pointed out to him. For the first somewhat have compromised the truth time his composure forsook him-he by their silence, or their statements. begged pardon for the falsehood he had The dragoon was removed from his uttered.' It was true, he said, that he provisional custody to the prison of had counted out twenty guldens, in the town; the others were subjected presence of the members of his family, to a close surveillance, that all comand told them it was intended as a munication between them might be payment to account of Isaac's claim; prevented. As all of them, however, but the money had not been paid to persisted in the story, exactly as it his creditor. He had been obliged to had at first been told, stronger meaappropriate it to the payment of some sures were at length resorted to. On old gambling debts, of which he could the motion of the burgomaster, as not venture to inform his wife.
public prosecutor, “ that the principal This departure from truth on the party accused, Nicholas Dpart of the accused had apparently should be delivered over to undergo but slender bearing on the question of the usual preparatory process for the robbery; but it excited a general compelling confession," namely the doubt as to his statements, which torture, the court, after consideration further inquiry lended to confirm. The of the state of the evidence, unanicarpenter, anxious to remove anymously issued the usual warrant suspicion as to the truth of his own against him to that effect. Some story, produced a sort of account-book pitied him, though none doubted his kept by himself, in which, under guilt. The general impression in the the date of 23 June, there was town was, that the courage of the innthe following entry,—“ The inn- keeper would soon give way, and keeper, Nicholas D has this that, in fact, he would probably conday paid me the value of thirty fess the whole upon the first applicagoldens in old silver.” The house- tion of the torture. keeper and apprentice of the carpenter The preparations were completealso deponed that they had been pre- the torture was to take place the next sent on one occasion when the dragoon day, when the following letter, bearing had proposed that their master should the post-mark of Rotterdam, was retake the silver in payment.
ceived by the court,If, on the one hand, the innkeeper “ Before I leave the country, and had handed over to the carpenter the betake myself where I shall be beyond silver plate, it was plain he was the reach either of the court of Meither the thief or the receiver: if he or the military tribunal of the garrihad not done so, the carpenter had son, I would save the poor unfortunot only been guilty of a calumnious nate persons who are now prisoners at accusation, but the suspicion of a M Beware of punishing the guilty connexion with the robbery innkeeper, his wife, his father, and became turned against himself. All brother, for a crime of which they are presumptions, however, were against not guilty. How the story of the the innkeeper. He had admittedly carpenter is connected with theirs, I been guilty of a decided falsehood as to cannot conjecture. I have heard of the payment, he could not or yould it with the greatest surprise. The not give the names of any one of those latter may not himself be entirely into whom his gambling debts had been nocent. Let the judge pay attention paid, as he alleged,—and the fact to this remark. You may spare that he had brought the plate to the yourselves the trouble of inquiring after carpenter's was attested by three me. If the wind is favourable, by creditable witnesses.
the time you read this letter I shall be The general opinion in the town on my passage to England. was decidedly against him. The utmost *" Joseph Christian Ruhler, length that any one ventured to go, “Former Corporal in the Company was, to suggest that tis relations, who of Le Lery."
The court gladly availed themselves torture was put off, when two other of the opportunity afforded by this important witnesses made their apletter to put off the torture. At first pearance on the stage. Neither had sight it did not appear a mere device the least connexion with the other; to obtain delay. A company under nay, the circumstances which they Captain Le Lery was in garrison in narrated appeared in some respects the town; in that company there was contradictory, and while they threw a corporal of the name of Ruhler, light on the subject in one quarter, who some weeks before had deserted they only served to darken it in and disappeared from his quarters. another. All inquiries after him since had proved A merchant in the town, who dealt in vain. The court subsequently in different wares, and lived in the learned from the report of the officer neighbourhood of Madame Andrecht's in command, that he had disappeared house, had been absent on a journey the evening before the day when the of business during the discovery news of the robbery became public. of the robbery, and the course of He had been last seen by the guard in the subsequent judicial proceedings. the course of the forenoon before his Scarcely had he returned and heard disappearance. Some connexion be- the story of the robbery, when he tween the events appeared extremely voluntarily presented himself next probable.
morning before the authorities, for the But a new discovery seemed sud- purpose, as he said, of making imdenly to demolish the conclusions portant revelations, which might founded on the letter. It had been have the effect of averting destruction laid before the commanding officer, from the innocent. In the public who at once declared the handwriting coach he had already heard some was counterfeited; it was not that of particulars of the case, and had Ruhler, which was well known, nor formed his own conjectures; but since had it the least resemblance to it. his return, these conjectures had with The evidence of several of his com- him grown into convictions, and he rades, and a comparison of the hand- had not closed an eye from the apprewriting with some regimental lists, hension that his disclosures might undoubtedly in the handwriting of come too late. Had he returned Ruhler, proved this beyond a doubt. sooner, matters would never have
The letter from Rotterdam thus reached this length. was merely the device of some un At the time when the robbery must known friend or confederate, and pro- have taken place, he had been in the bably resorted to only to put off the town. The carpenter, Isaac Van C-, punishment of the accused. How called upon him one day, begging the indeed, if Ruhler was really impli- loan of the boat, which he was in the cated in the robbery, should he have custom of using for the transport of thus cast suspicion upon himself? If bales and heavy packages to difhis object had been merely to pre- ferent quarters of the town. The boat serve the innkeeper and his friends generally lay behind the merchant's from the torture, he would have house, close to his warehouse, which assumed some other name. In all was situated on the bank of the town probability, therefore, third fosse already alluded to. Isaac asparty, implicated in the robbery, had sured him he would require the boat availed himself of the accidental dis- only for a night or two, and would appearance of the corporal to throw take care that it was returned in the the suspicion of the robbery upon him, morning in good condition. To the and to exculpate the guilty parties, question why he wanted the boat at who, if brought to the torture, might night, he, after some hesitation, rebe induced to disclose the names of all turned for answer, that he had entheir associates. To prevent this was gaged to transport the furniture of probably the object of the letter. This, some people who were removing, and at least, was the prevailing opinion. who had their own reasons for not
The strongest efforts were now doing so in daylight, implying that made to discover the true writer they were taking French leave of their of the letter; and meantime the creditors. “And you propose to lend
yourself to such a transaction ?" said town quietly, to remove their furnithe merchant, peremptorily refusing ture and effects.” As the transaction the loan of the boat. The carpenter was unquestionably not of the most interrupted him; assured him he had creditable character, this might aconly jested ; that his real object was count for the visible embarrassment only to amuse himself in fishing with they betrayed; when he demanded, some of his comrades; and that he however, the names of the parties had only not stated that at first, as whose effects they had been removing, the merchant might be apprehensive no answer was forthcoming. that the operation would dirty his carpenter at last told him he was not boat. The merchant at last yielded at liberty to disclose them then, but to the continued requests of the car- that he should learn them afterwards. penter, and agreed to lend him the All three pressingly entreated him to boat, but upon the express condition be silent as to this matter. He was that it should be returned to its place so; but in the meantime made inquiry in the morning. In this respect the quietly as to who had left the town, carpenter kept his word; when the though without success. Shortly after, merchant went to his warehouse in his journey took place, and the tranthe morning, he saw the carpenter saction had worn out of mind, till and his apprentice engaged in fasten- recalled to his recollection on his ing the boat. They went away with return, when he was made aware of out observing him. It struck him, the whole history of the robbery; and however, as singular, that they ap- forthwith came to the conclusion, that peared to have with them neither nets there lay at the bottom of the matter nur fishing tackle of any kind. He some shameful plot to implicate the examined the boat, and was surprised innocent, and to shield those whom to find it perfectly clean and dry, he believed to be the true criminals, whereas, if used for fishing, it would namely, Isaac Van C-, his apprentice, probably have been found half-filled and housekeeper,the leading witnesses, with water, and dirty enough. In in fact, against the unfortunate drathis particular, then, the carpenter had goon. been detected in an untruth. The The criminal proceedings, in conboat had not been fastened to its usual sequence of these disclosures, took a place; the merchant jumped into it completely different turn. The merfor that purpose, and from a crevice chant was a witness entirely above in the side he saw something protrud- suspicion. True, there was here only ing; he took it out; it was a couple the testimony of one witness, either to of silver forks wrapped in paper. the innocence of the dragoon, or the Thus the carpenter's first version guilt of the carpenter; but the moral of the story—as to the purpose for conviction to which his statement gave which he wanted the boat-was the rise in the mind of the judge was so true one after all. He had been assist- strong, that he did not hesitate to ing some bankrupt to carry off his issue an immediate order for the effects. Angry at having been thus arrest of the carpenter and his comdeceived, the merchant put the forks panions, before publicity should be in his pocket, and set out forth with given to the merchant's disclosures. on his way to Isaac's. The carpenter, No sooner were they apprehended, his apprentice, and his housekeeper, than a strict scrutiny was made in the were in the workshop. He produced carpenter's house. the forks. “These," said he,“ This measure was attended with what
you have left in my boat. Did the most complete success. With the you use these to eat your fish with ?" exception of a few trifles, the whole
The three were visibly embarrassed. of the effects which had been ab They cast stolen glances upon one
stracted from Madame Andrecht's, another; no one ventured to speak. were found in the house. The exaThe housekeeper first recovered her mination of the prisoners produced composure. She stammered out, a very different result from those of " that he must not think ill of them; Nicholas, and his comrades. True, that her master had only been assisting they denied the charges, but they did some people who were leaving the so with palpable confusion, and their
statements abounded in the grossest grave points of doubt remain unexcontradictions of each other and even plained. That the carpenter had himof themselves. They came to recrimi- self pledged the silver plate with the nations and mutual accusations; and, wood-merchant, without having rebeing threatened with the torture, they ceived it from Nicholas, was now likely at last offered to make a full confes- enough; he had accused him, prosion. The substance of their admis- bably, only to screen himself. But sions was as follows:
how came Nicholas's handkerchief to Isaac Van C-, his apprentice, and be found at the side of the hedge ? his housekeeper, were the real perpe- How came the excise receipt, which trators of the robbery at Madame belonged to him, to be used as a match Andrecht's. Who had first suggested by the thieves? The carpenter and to them the design does not appear his comrades declared that as to these from the evidence. But with the old facts they knew nothing; and as they lady's house and its arrangements they had now no inducement to conceal the were as fully acquainted as the dra- truth, there could be no reasonable goon. The apprentice, when for. doubt that their statement might, merly in the service of another master, in these particulars, be depended had wrought in it, and knew every upon. corner of it thoroughly. They had The suspicion again arose that other borrowed the boat for the purpose of accomplices must be concerned in the getting access across the canal into affair; and the subject of the letter the garden, and used it for carrying from the corporal who had deserted, off the stolen property, as already became anew the subject of attention. mentioned. On the morning when If not written by himself, it might the robbery became public, the master have been written by another at his and the apprentice had mingled with suggestion, and in one way or other the crowd to learn what reports were he might have a connexion with the in circulation on the subject. Among mysterious subject of the robbery. other things the apprentice had heard In fact, while the proceedings that the woolspinner's wife had un- against the carpenter and his assohesitatingly expressed her suspicions ciates were in progress, an incident against the Blue Dragoon. Of this had occurred, which could not fail to he informed his comrades, and they, awaken curiosity and attention with delighted at finding so convenient a regard to this letter. The schoolscapegoat for averting danger from master of a village about a league themselves, forth with formed the in- from the town presented himself befernal design of directing, by every fore the authorities, exhibited means in their power, the suspicions scrap of paper on which nothing apof justice against the innkeeper.
peared but the name Joseph Christian The apprentice entered the drinking- Ruhler, and inquired whether, shortly room of the innkeeper, and called for before, a letter in this handwriting some schnaps, at the same time asking and subscribed with this name, had for a coal to light his pipe. While not been transmitted to the court ? the innkeeper went out to fetch the On comparing the handwriting of the coal, the apprentice took the oppor- letter with the paper exhibited by the tunity of slipping the widow's memo- schoolmaster, it was unquestionable randum-book, which he had brought that both were the production of the in his pocket, betwixt the drawers.
same hand. He succeeded, and the consequences The statement of the schoolmaster followed as the culprits had foreseen: was this, the house was searched, the book
In the village where he resided, found, and, in the eyes of many, the there was a deaf and dumb young dragoon's guilt established.
man, named Henry Hechting, who If these confessions were to be had been sent by the parish to the trusted, the dragoon and his family schoolmaster for board and education. seemed exculpated from any actual He had succeeded in imparting to the participation in the robbery. Still
, unfortunate youth the art of writing; there were circumstances which these
so perfectly, indeed, that he could confessions did not clear up; some communicate with any one by means