The Evil Shepherd HTML version
There was a good deal of speculation at the Sheridan Club, of which he was a popular
and much envied member, as to the cause for the complete disappearance from their
midst of Francis Ledsam since the culmination of the Hilditch tragedy.
"Sent back four topping briefs, to my knowledge, last week," one of the legal luminaries
of the place announced to a little group of friends and fellow-members over a before-
"Griggs offered him the defence of William Bull, the Chippenham murderer, and he
refused it," another remarked. "Griggs wrote him personally, and the reply came from the
Brancaster Golf Club! It isn't like Ledsam to be taking golfing holidays in the middle of
"There's nothing wrong with Ledsam," declared a gruff voice from the corner. "And don't
gossip, you fellows, at the top of your voices like a lot of old women. He'll be calling
here for me in a moment or two."
They all looked around. Andrew Wilmore rose slowly to his feet and emerged from
behind the sheets of an evening paper. He laid his hand upon the shoulder of a friend, and
glanced towards the door.
"Ledsam's had a touch of, nerves," he confided. "There's been nothing else the matter
with him. We've been down at the Dormy House at Brancasterand he's as right as a trivet
now. That Hilditch affair did him in completely."
"I don't see why," one of the bystanders observed. "He got Hilditch off all right. One of
the finest addresses to a jury I ever heard."
That's just the point," Wilmore explained "You see, Ledsam had no idea that Hilditch was
really guilty, and for two hours that afternoon he literally fought for his life, and in the
end wrested a verdict from the jury, against the judge's summing up, by sheer magnetism
or eloquence or whatever you fellows like to call it. The very night after, Hilditch
confesses his guilt and commits suicide."
"I still don't see where Ledsam's worry comes in," the legal luminary remarked. "The fact
that the man was guilty is rather a feather in the cap of his counsel. Shows how jolly good
his pleading must have been."
"Just so," Wilmore agreed, "but Ledsam, as you know, is a very conscientious sort of
fellow, and very sensitive, too. The whole thing was a shock to him."
"It must have been a queer experience," a novelist remarked from the outskirts of the
group, "to dine with a man whose life you have juggled away from the law, and then have