--How like a hateful ape, Detected grinning 'midst his pilfer'd hoard, A cunning man appears, whose secret frauds Are open'd to the day! Count Basil.
There was a great movement at Woodbourne early on the following morning, to attend the examination at Kippletringan. Mr. Pleydell, from the investigation which he had formerly bestowed on the dark affair of Kennedy's death, as well as from the general deference due to his professional abilities, was requested by Mr. Mac-Morlan and Sir Robert Hazlewood, and another justice of peace who attended, to take the situation of chairman, and the lead in the examination. Colonel Mannering was invited to sit down with them. The examination, being previous to trial, was private in other respects.
The counsellor resumed and re-interrogated former evidence. He then examined the clergyman and surgeon respecting the dying declaration of Meg Merrilies. They stated, that she distinctly, positively, and repeatedly, declared herself an eye-witness of Kennedy's "death by the hands of Hatteraick" and two or three of his crew; that her presence was accidental; that she believed their resentment at meeting him, when they mere in the act of losing their vessel through 'the means of his information, led to the commission of the crime; that she said there was one witness of the murder, but who refused to participate in it, still alive,--her nephew, Gabrie Faa; and she had hinted at another person, who was an accessory after not before, the fact; but her strength there failed her. They did not forget to mention her declaration, that she had saved the child, and that he was torn from her by the smugglers, for the purpose of carrying him to Holland.--All these particulars were carefully reduced to writing.
Dirk Hatteraick was then brought in, heavily ironed; for he had been strictly secured and guarded, owing to his former escape. He was asked his name; he made no answer--His profession; he was silent :--Several other questions were put, to none of which he returned any reply. Pleydell wiped the glasses of his spectacles, and considered the prisoner very attentively. "A very truculent-looking fellow," he whispered to Mannering; "but, as Dogberry says, I'll go cunningly to work with him.--Here, call in Soles--Soles the shoemaker.--Soles, do you remember measuring some footsteps imprinted on the mud at the wood of Warroch, on--November 17--, by my orders?" Soles remembered the circumstance perfectly. "Look at that paper--is that your note of the measurement?"--Soles verified the memorandum--"Now, there stands a pair of shoes on that table; measure them, and see if they correspond with any of the marks you have noted there." The shoemaker obeyed, and declared, "that they answered exactly to the largest of the footprints."
"We shall prove," said the counsellor, aside to Mannering, "that these shoes, which were found in the ruins of Derncleugh, belonged to Brown, the fellow whom you shot on the lawn at Woodbourne.--Now, Soles, measure that prisoner's feet very accurately."
Mannering observed Hatteraick strictly, and could notice a visible tremor. "Do these measurements correspond with any of the foot-prints?"
The man looked at the note, then at his foot-rule and measure--then verified his former measurement by a second. "They correspond," he said, "within a hair-breadth, to a foot-mark broader and shorter than the former."
Hatteraick's genius here deserted him--"Der deyvil!" he broke out, "how could there be a foot-mark on the ground, when it was a frost as hard as the heart of a Memel log?"