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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

A Perfect Chameleon

A Perfect Chameleon.

It would take pages to exhaust all the improbabilities, inconsistencies, and contradictions of Lambert's various narratives; but a few salient points must suffice to test the veracity of the only witness whom the Commisisoners have allowed to stand between Mr. Meikle and an ungrudging and unequivocal declaration of innocence. We say this not because the Commisioners say so, for though pages of evidence and argument are devoted to Lambert and his story, and though at the very opening of the enquiry the Commissioners ruled that Lambert was as much on his trial as Meikle, you will search their report in vain for any indication that Lambert's evidence was of any importance or presented any difficulties, or even that he gave any evidence at all before the Commission. We present a few samples of what the Commissioners might have exhibited if they had been as careful of elucidating the character of Meikle's accuser and the credibility of his story as of damning Meikle himself upon irrelevant matter.

The amazing manner in which Lambert's observation of the marks on the sheep that was killed in October, 1887, had town between November and December has already been expounded. (See pp. 12 and 13, supra.) If a single month's meditation had produced this wonderful development of his knowledge, .it was only to be expected that he would have learnt a great deal more after eighteen years, and the expectation was not disappointed. The absurdity of Meikle's melodramatic defiance of "the Company or anybody else" after moving the earmarks and the firebrand, while far more glaring evidence of his guilt remained in the paint-brand on the fleece, was naturally commented on by counsel for Meikle before the Commission (C. 5). But Lambert had his answer ready the paint-brand had really been removed as well as the minor marks, though he had not only failed to mention it his previous narratives, but had made statements absolutely irreconcilabIe with it. Though his first two statements have already been quoted in their proper context, it will be page 22 convenient to place them side by side with the revised versions:—
(1)1887, Nov. 19 (Justices).—" The sheep was killed in my presence. I cannot say what brands were on it. For all know it might have been one of Meikle's. I suppose it was one of the Company's sheep, but I did not look at the brands. I did not notice the ear-marks."—(C. 322.)

1887, Dec. 16 (Supreme Court).—" Elder prisoner had gone over to house. After sheep dressed he returned, told his son to cut fire-brand and ear-mark off, and to cut them up into small pieces. That was done. Ear-mark was two notches either back or front. That was Company's ear-mark. I did not see brand on sheep that was killed."—(P. 19.)

Cross-examined : "I saw sheep killed. Saw ear-mark. Did not say before that I had noticed ear-mark."—(P. 21.)

(3)1906, May 11 (Commission).—By Dr. Findlay: "When the elder Meikle came back what did he do or say?"—"He told Arthur Meikle to cut the ears and fire-brand off the skin."? "Was that done?"-" Yes."

. . . . . . . . . .

"Was anything else done by Arthur Meikle?"—"The skin was turned over on the bales, and with a knife he ran through the brand to take the paint off."

"Did you notice the brand on the skin that Arthur Meikle was working at?"—"It was red, I know that."

"You could swear it was the Company's brand ?"—" No."—(C) 164/151-3, 160-1.)

"In your cross-examination in the Court below you were pressed and you said the sheep killed might have been one of Meikle's? What have you to say about that?"—"It might have been. I only saw the ear-mark that was cut off very like the Company's ear-mark."—(C. 165/198.)