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room, exclaimed, " I am killed !” Rosalie rushed to support her; felt the warm blood trickling, and screamed for help. The first who answered her screams was Gerstenberg, the secretary, and Polizer. They found the princess dying. “ This has my son Max done,” she said. When reminded that he was not at home, she replied with great distinctness, “Yes, he has threatened me;" and in less than an hour from the time of the shot being fired, she was dead. On the post mortem examination, it appeared that two bullets had penetrated the right shoulder-blade in an upward direction, and passed through the neck and upper portions of the breast, wounding the lung. Both bullets were found near the stove, but widely apart from each other.
Now, it is to be observed, that the window through which the shot passed was too high to admit of any one firing into the room unless he had raised himself on a stool, or something of the like nature. One hole only being made in the window (although two balls were fired), proved, to those experienced in fire-arms, that it was one piece which had been fired, and that its mouth was close to the sash. Although rumour confidently affirmed that the murderer was, as the princess had said, her son, yet it was clearly demonstrated that he was at the time present in Vienna, nor could he personally have clandestinely crossed the frontier ; yet the authorities were “morally certain ” that he was the originator of the murder. But the revolutionary period already referred to had set in, and the extraordinary condition of affairs interfered with the usual order of proceedings and investigations. Max Sulkowski mingled in the vehement political movement of the day, joining the revolutionary party at Vienna, and acting with them during the eventful period extending from March to October, 1848. On the 6th of October, however, during the siege of Vienna, he was killed at one of the barricades by a cannon-ball striking his head-at least, this was beliered to have
A corpse was there found, which a Dr. Mankowski and Flora Tschaskalek (who had accompanied Max to Vienna) identified as that of Max Sulkowski; but only by the clothes, for the countenance had been destroyed by the wound. Dr. Mankowski,
however, affirmed, that on the very day—viz., the 6th of October, he met Max in the street, who said — “I am, indeed, glad to
I must now confess that I am the real cause of my mother's death. I have no more peace or desire of life. I am responsible, too, for my wife's death, and that of Augusta (Baron Gustavus). Protect my son.”
Over this piece of evidence, which, if true, was conclusive, some doubt appears to hang. While, on the one hand, the scene of danger and horror on which Max Sulkowski was entering, might have extorted from him the above confession whilst he contemplated his immediate violent death in the bloody conflict then raging in the streets; yet, on the other, the demeanour of the witness was not altogether satisfactory, and a suspicion had sprung up that the prince was really still living, and that it was part of a conspiracy to put his clothes on the body of one whose features could not be recognized. Nevertheless, the inquiry would probably have dropped; and it would have been assumed, in default of fresh evidence, that the chief miscreant was dead, had not other circumstances arisen in connection with it which reopened the investigation.
It had so happened that, two days after the murder, a gun was found in the river close by the castle ; and in the bushes, also hard by, was discovered a common block, which would have been adapted for raising any one to the level of the window through which the fatal shot was fired. On the very same day occurred an incident very curious, both in itself and in relation to the criminal jurisprudence of the locality to which our story relates. It came to the knowledge of the authorities—how will be presently explained—that Charles Obst, formerly a saddler, but now a "navvy," was proceeding along a road, accompanied by a woman named Dziedzitz, towards a neighbouring village ; on the way they turned into a dram-shop, where the talk naturally was of nothing but the murder, and the gun which had been just found. The woman says she observed her companion hereupon grow dumb, "perhaps turn pale," appear uncomfortable, and leave the place earlier than they had arranged. Very different from
his previous demeanour, he became peculiarly silent, when suddenly, as they reached the open country, he broke out, “ Precious stupid of those people there to think that the princess was killed with two discharges! How could the murderer have had time to fire twice ? once was enough. Why, it was only that there were two bullets in one barrel !” The woman was naturally astonished to hear this assertion. It would seem, however, as if within the man there was a force which was involuntarily driving him to betray himself. He proceeded bitterly to regret that the gun should have been found. When questioned as to what it was to him whether it was found or no, he replied that it mattered much to him, for the gun was not his own but borrowed, and “every thing might in this way be discovered." No sooner had he uttered these words than he must have felt that he had committed himself; he was suddenly silent—then, seizing his companion by the arm, he continued, “Hark'ee, if thou'lt not betray me I'll tell thee something- I am the man who murdered the princess !', Frightened at this news, the woman protested that it was impossible, and that he was joking—"True as God's in heaven," rejoined he; “it was I who shot her!” “But,” said she, “what could have led you to do it ? ” “Ah!” he answered, "for money and good words a man will do much.” He then stated that he had been ordered to repair to Konigshütte, and there had met the Prince Maximilian and Franke. When alone with the former, who plied him with wine, and was himself very familiar and kind to him, the prince proposed to Obst that he should undertake to despatch the princess. For this purpose, three months' time was to be given, and a bribe of two thousand dollars promised. Obst further mentioned, that his wife was now off on her journey to get the money from the prince, and that he destined this accession of wealth to be the means of setting himself up as a saddler again, and in quite a grand way; and he promised his companion that, if she would not betray him, he would reward her handsomely ; but, if she split on him, he would do for her too. Obst, however, according to the same testimony as the above, related certain details, viz. :-that, after he had fired, a dog
had bitten him through his breeches, and he showed the woman the hole in his dress (one which had been given him by the prince) as a corroboration of his statement; and also that he had thrown his gun into the water, and, in so doing, had himself fallen in over head and ears.
Some days later, he mentioned to the same woman that his wife had returned, but had only obtained a hundred dollars, and was to fetch the rest in three weeks. Obst, moreover, mentioned who was with the princess, and the relative position of the respective persons in the room when he fired, and that the gun had been borrowed in Gleiwitz or Beuthen.
Now the good woman Dziedzitz naturally found she could not, in spite of the promises and threats held out to her, retain the secrets which had been confided to her; and in the first place she communicated them to her husband, and finally the woman was examined by the police authorities, and repeated her tale as we have above rendered it.
In consequence of the information Obst was taken into custody. When searched, there was found in his possession a banknote of twenty-five dollars (Prussian), and some Austrian money. Of this, Obst and his wife gave unsatisfactory and entirely different accounts; nor was it unremarked that, shortly before, these people had been in very different circumstances, but were now living much better, and were paying off their debts.
Obst declared positively that the evidence of Dziedzitz was altogether false--mere idle gossip and invention on her part; and there was no doubt a prima facie improbability in parts of the story: as that a nobleman should pick up, in such a way as stated, a common fellow and hire him as a murderer; moreover, it would appear unlikely that Obst should choose to enter into a detailed confession of the crime to a casual acquaintance picked up on the road. On whichever side the balance of probability might be, however, it was rendered of less consequence, because, according to the old criminal law of the country which then was in force, such a confession was not evidence under which a conviction could be obtained. So these good people, husband and wife, were let out of prison.
The crime, however, was of too grave a character to admit of the authorities relinquishing all further investigation, and, furthermore, a new criminal code was now introduced, under which the administration of justice was not hampered by rules, which excluded valuable testimony of the above character from having its proper force. Time, too, revealed further circumstances connected with the mystery.
In the year 1850, therefore, criminal proceedings were renewed, and were directed against Michael Passy as an accessory before the act, and against Charles Obst and Joseph Franke as having been engaged in carrying out the murder, and against the wife of Obst also as an accessory.
On these proceedings evidence was adduced which, in each particular, supported the statements made by Obst in his supposed confession. Thus, the man in Gleiwitz was found who had lent the gun spoken of. He had lent it to Franke. The gun had two barrels; but one had burst and was plumbed up; and only one explosion had been heard. The tear in Obst's breeches had been remarked at the time. Again, his wife had been absent, and could give no satisfactory explanation of her absence, and he had been heard to say he “should now have money. He had mentioned in fact to various parties, that he should ere long have two thousand dollars, with which he should set up his new saddler's shop. He had been observed about the castle for some days before the murder, and certain clothes which he wore were identified as the prince's. No better explanation than before was offered as to their increase of fortune; besides which, other passing remarks of the man had been heard by various witnesses, which were scarcely consistent with his innocence.
With regard to the complicity of Franke and Passy, and the wife of Obst, several facts of suspicion were proved which in an English court of justice would, where admissible at all, have carried no great weight, but which we need not here further enumerate; and the court, after due deliberation, pronounced this verdict-as regarded Passy and the wife of Obst, NOT GUILTY; against Charles Obst, GUILTY.