Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clouds of Witness continued

Witness (scornfully): “Why should I? I thought it was probably only poachers, and I didn't want to make an unnecessary fuss at that unearthly hour.”
Where does the term poaching come from? poach means to "steal game," 1528, "to push, poke," from M.Fr. pocher "to thrust, poke," from O.Fr. pochier "poke out, gouge," from a Gmc. source (cf. M.H.G. puchen "to pound, beat, knock") related to poke (v.). Sense of "trespass for the sake of stealing" is first attested 1611.

The Coroner: “Did the shot sound close to the house?”
Witness: “Fairly, I think—it is hard to tell when one is awakened by a noise—it always sounds so extra loud.”
The Coroner: “It did not seem to be in the house or in the conservatory?”
Witness: “No, it was outside.”
The Coroner: “So you went downstairs by yourself. That was very plucky of you, Lady Mary. Did you go immediately?”
One “plucks” a flower or a chicken. Using “pluck” in the sense of having courage was first used in 1773.

Witness: “Not quite immediately. I thought it over for a few minutes; then I put on walking-shoes over bare feet, a heavy covert-coat, and a woolly cap.
Unlike overcoats, topcoats are usually made from lighter weight cloth such as gabardine or covert, while overcoats are made from heavier cloth or fur, because overcoats are more commonly used in winter when warmth is more important.

It may have been five minutes after hearing the shot that I left my bedroom. I went downstairs and through the billiard-room to the conservatory.”
The Coroner: “Why did you go out that way?”
Witness: “Because it was quicker than unbolting either the front door or the back door.”
At this point a plan of Riddlesdale Lodge was handed to the jury. It is a roomy, two-storied house, built in a plain style, and leased by the present owner, Mr. Walter Montague, to the Duke of Denver for the season, Mr. Montague being in the States.
Witness (resuming): “When I got to the conservatory door I saw a man outside bending over something on the ground. When he looked up I was astonished to see my brother.”
The Coroner: “Before you saw who it was, what did you expect?”
Witness: “I hardly know—it all happened so quickly. I thought it was burglars, I think.”
The Coroner: “His grace has told us that when you saw him you cried out, 'O God! you've killed him!' Can you tell us why you did that?”
Witness (very pale): “I thought my brother must have come upon the burglar and fired at him in self-defense—that is, if I thought at all.”
The Coroner: “Quite so. You knew that the Duke possessed a revolver?”
A revolver is a repeating firearm that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The modern revolver was invented by Samuel Colt. As the user cocks the hammer, the cylinder revolves to align the next chamber and round with the hammer and barrel, which gives this type of firearm its name.

Witness: “Oh yes—I think so.”
The Coroner: “What did you do next?”
Witness: “My brother sent me up to get help. I knocked up Mr. Arbuthnot and Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew-Robinson. Then I suddenly felt very faint, and went back to my bedroom and took some sal volatile.”
Ammonium carbonate (formerly known as sal volatile or salt of hartshorn) is a commercial salt with the chemical formula (NH4)2CO3. It is used when crushed as a smelling salt. It can be crushed when needed in order to revive someone who has fainted. It is also known as baker's ammonia and was a predecessor to the more modern leavening agents baking soda and baking powder.

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