THE twenty-first of December was an eventful night. In the fashionable part of the town of Brightstone, in a house opposite the corner house of Brunswick Terrace, and just two doors from the Catholic chapel, sat two ladies, one about forty-five, the other a young girl of some fifteen years.
“It is late, Arabella,” said the older lady; “we had better go to bed. Cuthbert will not arrive to-night.”
“Very well, Aunt Alice,” replied Arabella.
“But hark!–what is that noise in the street opposite?” Just as the clock of the Catholic chapel was striking 12 there rose on the still night air a fearful cry–“Murder! murder!”–and Lady Alice St. John, tearing aside the curtain, looked from the window. Lights were flashing in the corner house, and a crowd was fast gathering; and she could see one man in the grasp of a policeman, “Oh, heavens!” she said, “what has happened? What is the matter?” she cried aloud to a man hurrying past.
“Murder!” he answered with a face of horror. “There has been murder done there to-night.”
“Who–who?” said Lady Alice. “I know the family–in pity speak.”
“It is the foreign lady, Lady Egerton; they’ve taken the murderer under her window; he’s an Italian,” said the man, and mingled with the crowd.
A few days after this event, the following paragraph appeared in the local paper: “A terrible murder has been committed at Brightstone, on the night of the 21st instant. The murdered lady was the Lady Egerton, and the deed was perpetrated in the most cruel and deliberate manner, the unfortunate lady having been first stabbed and then shot with a pistol. The guilty party was arrested under the very window, one pistol in his hand, and its fellow on his person. He is a foreigner, and gave his name Giulio Doria, strongly protesting his innocence, and said he saw a man run round the corner; but though he had none of the quantity of missing jewels (the supposed temptation to the deed) on his person, he was at once secured and taken before the magistrates. The most singular part of the affair is, that Sir Angelo Egerton, the murdered lady’s son, is reluctant to prosecute, asserting his belief in the prisoner’s innocence; and a little girl, his ward, who was in the bedroom at the moment of the fearful deed, maintains that the man was not its perpetrator, but her tender age, only six years, renders her evidence, especially at a time of such terror and agitation, of comparatively little weight. The Bench thought there was strong presumptive evidence against the prisoner, and fully committed him for trial.”
Some weeks after another paragraph appeared in the same journal on the subject. It ran thus:–
“A most daring escape was made last night from Brightstone goal, by Giulio Doria, who was awaiting his trial for the murder of Lady Jesuita Maria Egerton. The night previous a woman, a foreigner, calling herself his mother, was allowed to visit him, and it is supposed that she supplied him with means of escape. He was located in a cell on the third story of the prison, the base of which was about twenty-five feet from the ground, the window protected by stout iron bars. He got hold of a rope fifty feet long, and a kind of drag similar to a butcher’s hook, and this he fastened in the centre of the rope, which was sufficiently long for him to reach the ground from his cell by its aid. In order to get out of his cell he had, however, to remove one of the iron bars, which, by some means or other, he managed to do by cutting it at the bottom clean through with a knife, probably also obtained from his mother. Once outside, he wended his way noiselessly to the west front of the building; but there an obstruction to his progress presented itself in the shape of a boundary wall, twenty-five feet high. Getting on to a coal heap, about four feet from the ground, he doubled his rope, the hook before mentioned being in the centre, and threw it over the top of the wall, working it about until the drag got fast underneath the stone coping, which projects some two or three inches from the bricks. He then drew himself up to the top, and slid down outside, pulling the rope after him. After that he got over a wall about ten feet high, and was once more at liberty. It is supposed that Doria had some accomplice, as not the remotest trace of him has been found.”