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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Suspicious Chronology

Suspicious Chronology.

The presence of the Company's sheep on Meikle's land was properly treated before the Commission as of secondary importance, since they might easily have strayed there been put there without his knowledge by Lambert or some other person. Nevertheless this subsidiary issue is of the utmost value as a test of probability, and it will be convenient to examine it before proceeding further with the "crux of the case." It is the chronology of this part of Lambert's story that constitutes its most suspicious feature, and suspicion deepens into conviction when its light is brought to bear upon the meaning of that mysterious visit which Lambert is unable to explain. If he had really seen what he says he saw on the 18th October, half-a-dozen witnesses might have been brought from the Company's station that very night to find in the earless head of the decapitated sheep and in the paint-brand on the fleece, whether tampered with or not, irrebuttable confirmation of Lambert's story; and the police might have been in with a warrant soon after daylight next morning. Instead of that, no attempt whatever was made to seize the prisoner practically redhanded; on the contrary, he was given a clear fortnight within which to dispose of his booty and to cover up the traces of his crime. The exact date of Lambert's communication to Stuart, his superior officer on the Company's detective staff, page 27 cannot be fixed; but it was somewhere between a day or two after the alleged crime, and a day or two before the muster—(147/154-7)—i.e., anywhere from the 19th or 20th to the 24th or 25th October. Of this, however, Stuart is certain—that he got the information at the hut—(147/158)—in the course of his ordinary rounds, and that Lambert had not considered the matter of sufficient importance to justify a journey to the homestead in order to convey the news, though the sole object of his employment was to secure a conviction, and his £50 could be earned in no other way.