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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Dr. Findlay's Complete Sheep-stealer

Dr. Findlay's Complete Sheep-stealer.

If the fourteen days' delay in taking proceedings implies, on the supposition that Lambert's story was true, something like insanity on the part of the Company's staff, a similar deficiency must on the same hypothesis be attributed to the criminal. His engaging simplicity would at any rate be just as well fitted for opera-bouffe as the loving-kindness of those who were employed to trap him. It is true that he did not return those sheep with a polite note on the following morning, as Stuart had fondly hoped; and there was a sufficient reason, in he had not stolen them and did not know they were there But if Meikle betrayed no sign of that change of heart for which the Company's chief detective was praying, he at I rate justified that gentleman's good opinion in a fashion almost equally remarkable. For fourteen days those sheep remained on his land, and though Lambert did not think it worth while to look at them during the interval—(C. 180/724)—not a single one had been removed or tampered with when the police called Though Meikle's need was, according to Lambert, so urgent that he killed one as fast as he could lay his hands on it though he knew that there was a witness to his crime, that he had been previously suspected, and that there was a reward out for his conviction, he treated the other twenty-seven sheep exactly as though he had not known of their presence. By way of rebutting the natural presumption from this singular circumstance, Dr. Findlay described the practice of the sheep stealing expert as follows:—

"I understand that it is the recognised method of the practical sheep-stealer to bring upon his land a number—not a large number—say, twenty or thirty sheep, leave them there, and take them in one's or two's as they are required, so that if the owner comes along and the missing sheep are found, the thief may say, 'There they are in broad, open daylight. There's no concealment about their being here. I would not have left them there if I had stolen them, and you can take them away when you like.' That in practice has been page 29 found to be the method followed by the expert sheep-stealer, and so far as prima facie appearances are concerned, this is just precisely what was done here."—(C. III.)