Page images
PDF
EPUB

print of many feet; there were vestiges also, which might be those of human blood. At any rate, it was certain that several persons must have forced their passage among the oaks, hazels, and underwood, with which they were mingled ; and in some places appeared traces, as if a sack full of grain, a dead body, or something of that heavy and solid description, had been dragged along the ground. In one place of the thicket there was a small swamp, the clay of which was whitish, be. ing probably mixed with marl. The back of Kennedy's coat appeared besmeared wtih stains of the same colour. .

At length, about a quarter of a mile from the brink of the fatal precipice, the traces conducted them to a small open space of ground, very inuch trampled, and plainly stained with blood, although withered leaves had been strewed upon the spot, and other means hastily taken to efface the marks, which seemed obviously to have been derived from a desperate affray. On

one side of this patch of open ground was found the sufferer's naked hanger, wbich seemed to have been thrown into the thicket; on the other, the belt and sheath, which appeared to have been hidden with more leisurely care and precaution.

The magistrate caused the foot-prints which "marked this spot to be carefully measured and examined. Some corre. sponded to the foot of the unhappy victim ; some were larger, some less; indicating, that at least four or five men had been busy around him. Above all, here, and here only, were observed the vestiges of a child's foot; and, as it could be seen no where else, and the hard horse-track which traversed the wood of Warroch was contiguous to the spot, it was natural to think that the boy might have escaped in that direction during the confusion. But as he was never heard of, the Sheriff, who made a careful entry of all these memoranda, did not suppress his opinion, that the deceased had met with foul play, and that the murderers, whoever they

were, had possessed themselves of the person of the child Harry Bertram. i - Every exertion was now made to discover the criminals. Suspicion hesitated between the smugglers and the gypsies. The fate of Dirk riatteraick's vessel was certain. Two men from the opposite side of Warroch Bay (so the inlet on the southern side of the Point of Warroch is called) had seen, though at a great distance, the lugger drive eastward, after doubling the head-land, and, as they judged from her inaneuvres, in a disabled state. Shortly after, they perceived that she grounded, smoked, and, finally, took fire. She was, as one of them expressed himself, in a light low, (bright flame,) when they observed a king's ship, with her colours up, heave in sight from behind the cape. The guns of the buro ng vessel discharged themselves as the fire reached them; and they saw her, at length; blow up with a great explosion. The sloop of war, kept aloof for her own safety, and, after hovering till the other ship exploded, stood away southward under a press of sail. The Sheriff anxiously interrogated these men whether any boats had left the ves sel. They could not say—they had seen none-but they might have put off in such a direction as placed the burning vessel between their course and the witnesses.

That the ship destroyed was Dirk Hatteraick's no one doubted. His lugger was well known on the coast, and had been expected just at this time. A letter from the commander of the king's sloop, to whom the Sheriff made application, put the matter beyond doubt; he sent also an extract from his log-book of the transactions of the day, which intimated their being on the outlook for a smuggling luge ger, Dirk Hatteraick, master, upon the information and requisition of Francis Kennedy, of his majesty's excise-service; and that Kennedy was to be upon the outlook on the shore, in case Hatteraick, who was known to be a desperate fellow, and had

been repeatedly outlawed, should attempt to run his sloop- aground. About nine o'clock A. M. they discovered a sail, whichi answered the description of Hatteraick's vessel, chased her, and, after repeated signals to her to show colours or bring-to, fired upon her. The chase then showed Hamburgh colours, and returned the fire; and, a running fight was maintained for three hours, when, just as the lugger was doubling the Point of Warroch, they observed her main-yard was shot in the slings, and that the vessel. was disabled. It was not in their power for some time to profit by this circumstance, owing to their having kept too much in shore for doubling the headland. After two tacks they accomplished this, and observed the chase on fire, and apparently deserted. The fire having reached some casks of spirits, which were placed on the deck, with other combustibles, probably on purpose, burned with such fury, that no boats durst approach the vessel, especially as

« PreviousContinue »