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« on: August 23, 2023, 10:57:49 am »

4 - 3

THE next witness called was the late Mrs. Goodge’s married daughter, Mrs. Jeeveson: she, too, was questioned by Mr. Tankersley.

‘I suppose you saw your mother pretty frequently, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘Constant, sir! Which it would be at least once a week, regular.’

‘Did she talk much to you about the murder of Mrs. Clayton?’

‘She talked of little else, sir, after it happened. Leastways, not so much about the murder, but about that man she see leaving the flats.’

‘What did she say about him?’

‘That she’d know him again, right enough, if she ever see him, sir.’

‘But---I am looking at your mother’s evidence, given at the inquest of Mrs. Clayton---she said then that she never saw his face.’

‘No, sir---but she see his back!’

‘She thought she’d be able to recognize him by that, eh?’

‘What she always say to me and my husband, sir, was this here---If she see that man again, dressed as he was that night, with his big black hat, and his white muffler, and his black clothes she’d know him among a thousand, sir. And there was another thing she’d know him by.’

‘What was that, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘She said he walked very soft and stealthy, sir---like one o’ them animals in the Zoological.’

‘Like a cat, eh?’

‘Or a tiger, sir!’

‘Do you think the man your mother was seen with last Thursday night was the man she saw on the night of Mrs. Clayton’s murder, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘I do that, sir! And I wish I could see him!’

‘What do you think he was doing down there in your mother’s living-room?’

‘Well, sir, me and my husband---not to speak of the policemen---has talked that over, frequent. I think he went down there to try and get round her. What did he give her money for?’

‘You think he gave her the bank-notes that were found in her hand?’

‘I’m sure he did, sir! Where else would she get all that money? It’s plain enough to me, sir. He tried to square her---then he bethought himself it would be better to quieten her once for all---and he did! And I wish I’d the chance of quietening him!’

‘Was your mother in the habit of keeping money in the cupboard before which she was lying, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘Yes, sir, I’m aware of that. She kep’ it in an old tea-caddy.’

‘You don’t think she’d taken those notes out of the tea-caddy, do you? The idea’s been that she was struck down when she was about to put them into the tea-caddy. But---she may have been taking them out?’

‘No, sir, I’m very certain she wasn’t. I know what was in that tea-caddy at four o’clock that very afternoon!’

‘How do you know?’

‘For this reason, sir. I went to see my mother that afternoon---and little did I think what was a-going to befall her that very night. I’d my little boy with me, sir---Gerald Henry, his name is---and it was his birthday. And his grandma said she must give him a nice birthday present, and she brought out the tea-caddy and give Gerald Henry a ten-shilling note out of it. I see what was in it. “My gracious, Ma!” I says, “What a lot o’ money you’ve got there!---it isn’t safe to keep all that in the place---why don’t you put it in the P.O.?” I says. And----’

‘What’s the P.O., Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘Post Office Savings Bank, sir. And she says “Oh, I always keep it by me till it gets to £20, and then I puts it in the P.O.: it’s safe enough there in the cupboard,” she says, “I always have the key on me.” “Well, Ma,” I says, “I should think you’ve £20 there now.” “Might be,” she says. “You can count it if you like.” And I did count it, sir, and there was getting on to £17. And there weren’t no five-pound notes, I can take my solemn oath, like what they found in my poor mother’s hand! No, sir, that there reptile had given them to her!’

‘What do you suppose he’d given them to her for, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘Why, to make her hold her tongue, sir! To square her, of course.’

‘Would she have held her tongue, do you think?’

‘No, sir, I do not! Far be it from me to think that my mother ’ud ha’ done any such thing! I think she was---I ain’t got the proper word for it.’

‘Temporizing with him, eh, Mrs. Jeeveson?’

‘That’s it, sir---I ain’t no good at them fine words, but such is my meaning. I think she was playing cat-and-mouse with him, and that when he left, she’d ha’ followed him and given him in charge. However, she didn’t get no chance, as you’re aware, sir.’

One more witness was called---Samuel John Trotter, taxi-cab driver, to whose evidence, it was obvious, the police attached considerable importance. He gave the impression of being a sharp-witted, observant young fellow, whose testimony could be relied on as regards accuracy. Mr. Tankersley began on him with a direct question:

‘Do you remember the night of Thursday last, Trotter?’

‘I do, sir!’

‘Where were you and your cab at a quarter to twelve that night?’

‘On a rank in Oxford Street, sir.’

‘Whereabouts---exactly?’

‘Oxford Street end of Berners Street, sir.’

‘Were you hailed there?’

‘Yes, sir---just after the three-quarters had gone.’

‘By whom?’

‘Man who came down Berners Street, sir---walking very fast.’

‘Can you describe him?’

‘Some of him, sir. He was wearing a big black hat, a slouch hat with uncommon wide brim, and he’d a big white muffler round his neck and throat, drawn right over his chin and mouth and up to his nose, and the rest of him was in black clothes. Also, he’d a pair of dark spectacles on. Couldn’t see much of his face, sir.’

‘Was he an Englishman?’

‘I took him for a foreigner, sir. He spoke like one.’

‘What did he say?’

‘Nothing but “Liverpool Street”.’

‘He got into your cab?’

‘There and then, sir.’

‘And you drove him to Liverpool Street Station?’

‘That’s where I thought he wanted to go, sir. But when I’d got to the corner of New Broad Street and Liverpool Street he pulled me up sharp. I stopped, and he got out. He muttered something about walking over, and then asked what I wanted.’

‘Broken English, Trotter?’

‘Well, sir, he just said “How mooch”, like these foreigners do. I told him, and he paid me, and set off across the road towards Liverpool Street Station. At least, as if he was going there. But he didn’t---I saw him again, as I was turning my cab round.’

‘What was he doing?’

‘He turned sharp back when he’d got half across the road and went into the Metropolitan station, sir. There’s an entrance to that, sir, right opposite the gates of the big main-line station.’

‘You saw him actually enter the Metropolitan station?’

‘I did, sir.’

‘That’s the underground, of course. And that would be about---what time, Trotter?’

‘About ten past twelve---midnight, sir.’

‘Trains would still be running, eh?’

‘Oh, yes, sir.’

‘East and west?’

‘Both, sir.’

‘Could you recognize that man if you saw him again, Trotter?’

‘Well, sir, it’s hard to say. If he was dressed just as he was then, I should have a pretty good idea. But these here foreigners, at least a lot of ’em, they’re very fond of those big black hats, and black clothes, and white mufflers. I took this chap for a musician or something of that sort.’

‘And you feel certain he was a foreigner?’

‘He didn’t speak English, sir. Not to me, anyway.’

‘Are you pretty well acquainted with foreigners?’

‘I’d driven a good many, sir.’

‘Can you tell one from the other?’

‘Well, I think I can, sir. I know a German from a Frenchman, and a Spaniard from an Italian.’

‘What would you say this man was?’

‘None of them, sir!’

‘What, then?’

‘Can’t say, sir. Some sort that I don’t know.’

‘Have you ever driven a Russian, Trotter?’

‘Not to my knowledge, sir.’

‘Nor a Pole?’

‘Not that I know of, sir.’

‘At any rate, you feel sure that this man we’ve been talking of, whom you drove from Oxford Street to Liverpool Street last Thursday midnight was a foreigner of some sort?’

‘That’s my impression, sir.’

At this stage of the proceedings the coroner, after some consultation with the police authorities, adjourned the further hearing for ten days.

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