+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




That missing link which had been wanting
to connect Gabrielle Penmore with the foul deed
of which she was accused, was now found, and
when the adjourned inquest had brought its
labours to a close, the verdict arrived at by the
jury was unanimous. It was to the effect
that "Diana Carrington had died from the
effects of a certain poison called laudanum,
and that there was every reason to suppose that
the said poison had been administered by
Gabrielle Penmore;" in short, it was a verdict
of Wilful Murder.

Words are tame and ineffective instruments
when we have to deal with such a situation as
this which is now before us. We are used to
such phrases as " Wilful Murder." They are
found every day in our newspapers. We do not
realise the full meaning of half that we read.
We see, perhaps, at the head of a column,
"Awful ShipwreckLoss of One Hundred
Lives." But what does this really convey to
us? What do we see of the terrible struggling
with the icy dark water, the wild giddy whirling
of the waves sucking down each one of those
hundred men, rushing into his ears, his mouth?
What do we know of the pressure of the water
upon his chest with such dreadful weight?
What do we know of the convulsive sobs with
which he gasps for the breath which is to come
no more, or of the wild panic which shoots through
his mind with the conviction that this is the end.
We read the words which imply all this, but
they fail to convey to us the full horror of the

And how can any combination of phrases give,
in this present case, any idea of the full force of
the blow which had fallen upon Gabrielle
Penmore and her husband. In most cases, misery
such as this is approached gradually. Those on
whom the terrible machinery of justice is to be
exercised, get used to the sight of it first. They
are familiar with inquests, and prison-walls, and
custody. To be brought in contact with them
is a necessary part of their lives, one of the
accidents which they expect. But in this case
all was widely different. Here was a young lady
brought up from her earliest infancy in a house
where she was carefully sheltered from the very
approach of evilwhere violence and crime were
kept at such a distance that she had hardly
known of their existencehere was the same
young creature suddenly, and with no preparation
whatever, brought into a situation which
might well have shaken the most hardened
nerves, and caused even a veteran criminal to

From the moment of the finding of that
terrible verdict, Gabrielle Penmore became a
prisoner; not, indeed, a condemned prisoner
under punishment, but still an accused person,
suspected of a crime, and deprived of liberty.
Yes, the men came to take her away. They
were policemen, and they had their warrant.
There was nothing to be done. They were
perfectly civil men, but as insensible as if they had
been mere machines for executing justice.
"They must do their duty," they said, as
Gilbert looked at them with glaring, dangerous
eyes. He asked if he could at least go with
them to the prison? "Oh yes," the men
answered, "he could go if he liked. There was
a cab at the door. One of the constables must
go inside, the other might ride on the box."

And Gabrielle herself, how did she bear this
terrible ordeal? She shed no tear, nor uttered
any sound of lamentation. She only clung still
to her husband, nor ceased to hold his hand for
a moment. "You will not leave me till you
must," she whispered. "Ask them to let you
hold me." She was afraid of being literally
taken into custody. One of the men hastily
interposed to say that there was "no need to
hold that lady. He and his mate must keep
close alongside her, that was all." Even in
that moment of agony, Penmore felt that there
was delicacy in the behaviour of these men, and
was grateful.

Then they went on their way, the whole party
together. Gabrielle turned as she passed through
the door of the little dining-room, and lingered
for a moment, as if bidding her home farewell.
It was luckily dark now, and so they got into
the cab without attracting attention. The
cabman himself seemed but little interested in the
nature of his job. He was an old man, and it
was not the first tragic use to which his vehicle
had been put.

They were just about to start, when the poor
servant wench came running out of the house,
carrying a bundle. She had put up a few things