Part 14 out of 15
that. Only he called it rising, and used to speak with a shudder of when
he dabbled in the funds, and often told him to look sharp, and get a
crossing. And lo! one day when he was cleaned out, and desperate, and
hovering with the other ghosts of little capitalists about the tomb of
their money, he saw his countryman fall flat, and the broom fly out of
his hand. Instantly he made a rush, and so did a wooden-legged sailor;
but he got first to the broom, and began to sweep while others picked up
his countryman, who proved dead as a herring; and he succeeded to his
broom, and it made money by the Exchange, though he never could. Still,
one day he picked up a pocket-book in that neighbourhood, with a lump of
money, which he straightway advertised in--no newspapers. And now, Julia
thought it time to interpose the eighth commandment, the golden rule, and
such branches of learning.
He became a favourite of hers: he had so much to say: she even thought
she had seen his face before: but she could not tell where. She gave him
good books and tracts; and read to him, and ploughed his heart with her
sweet voice, and sowed the good seed in the furrows--seed which, like
wheat or other grain, often seems to fall flat and die, but comes out
green after many days.
One Saturday she invited him to dine with the servants next day. He came
during church time, and went away in the afternoon while she was with her
mother. But she asked Sarah, who proved eager to talk about him. "He was
a rum customer; kept asking questions all dinner time. 'Well,' says I,
'you're good company you are; be you a lawyer; for you examines us; but
you don't tell us nothing.' Ye see, Miss, Jane she is that simple, she
was telling him everything, and about Mr. Alfred's lawsuit with his
father and all."
Julia said that was indiscreet; but after all what did it matter?
"Who knows, Miss?" Sarah replied: "least said is soonest mended. If you
please, Miss, who is he? Where does he bide? Where does he come from?
Does he know Hardies?"
"I should think not. Why?"
"Because I'm much mistaken if he doesn't." Then putting on a stolid look,
she asked, "Does he know your papa?"
"Oh no, Sarah. How should he?"
"There now," said Sarah; "Miss, you are all in the dark about this old
man: I'll tell you something; I took him out of the way of Jane's temper
when she began a dishing up, and I had him into the parlour for a minute;
and in course there he sees the picture of your poor papa hung up. Miss,
if you'll believe me, the moment he claps eyes on that there picture, he
halloes out, and out goes his two hands like this here. 'It's him!' says
he; 'it's him!' and stares at the picture like a stuck pig. Forgot I was
close behind him, I do believe. 'She's _his_ daughter,' says he, in a
whisper, a curious whisper; seemed to come out of his stomack. 'What's
the matter now?' says I, just so. He gave a great start, as if my
speaking had wakened him from a dream, and says he, 'nothing,' as quiet
as a lamb. 'Nothing isn't much,' says I, just so. 'It usedn't to be
anything at all when I was your age,' says he, sneering. But I paid him a
good coin: says I, 'Old man, where you comes from do the folks use to
start and hallo out and cry "It's him! she's his daughter!" and fling
their two arms abroad like a wiumdmill in March, and all for--nothing?'
So at that he changed as white as my smock, and fell all of a tremble.
However, at dinner he perks up, and drew that poor simple Jane out a good
one. But he didn't look towards me much, which I set opposite to watch my
"Sarah," said Julia, "this is really curious, mysterious; you are a good,
watchful, faithful girl; and, to tell the truth, I sometimes fancy I have
seen Mr. Barkington's face. However, I will solve this little mystery
to-morrow; for I will ask him: thank you, Sarah."
On Monday she called on Mr. Barkington to solve the mystery. But, instead
of solving, her visit thickened it: for Mr. Barkington was gone bag and
baggage. When Edward was told of this business, he thought it remarkable,
and regretted he had not seen the old man.
So do I; for it is my belief Edward would have recognised him.
The history of a man is the history of his mind. And that is why you have
heard so little of late about the simplest, noblest, and most unfortunate
of all my personages. Insanity is as various as eccentricity. I have
spared the kind-hearted reader some of David's vagaries. However, when we
parted with him, he had settled into that strange phase of lunacy, in
which the distant past seems nearly obliterated, and memory exists, but
revolves in a narrow round of things present: this was accompanied with a
positive illusion, to wit, a fixed idea that he was an able seaman: and,
as usual, what mental power he retained came out strongest in support of
this idea. All this was marked by a bodily agility somewhat more than
natural in a man of his age. Owing to the wind astern, he was enabled to
run into Portsmouth before the steam-tug came up with him: and he did run
into port, not because he feared pursuit, but because he was desperately
hungry; and he had no suicidal tendencies whatever.
He made for a public-house, and called for some bread and cheese and
beer; they were supplied, and then lo! he had no money to pay for them.
"I'll owe you till I come back from sea, my bo," said he coolly. On this
the landlord collared him, and David shook him off into the road, much as
a terrier throws a rat from him; then there was a row, and a naval
officer, who was cruising about for hands, came up and heard it. There
was nothing at all unseamanlike in David's conduct, and the gentleman
took a favourable view of it, and paid the small demand; but not with
unleavened motives. He was the second lieutenant of H. M. frigate
_Vulture;_ she had a bad name, thanks to her last captain, and was short
of hands: he took David aside and asked him would he like to ship on
board the _Vulture._
David said yes, and suggested the foretop. "Oh yes," growled the
lieutenant, "you all want to be there." He then gauged this Jacky Tar's
intellects; asked him _inter alia_ how to send a frigate's foretop
gallant yard down upon deck: and to show how seamanship sticks in the
brain when once it gets there, David actually told him. "You are rather
old," said the lieutenant, "but you are a seaman:" and so took him on
board the _Vulture_ at Spithead, before Green began to search the town in
earnest. Nobody acts his part better than some demented persons do: and
David made a very tolerable sailor notwithstanding his forty-five years:
and the sea did him good within certain limits. Between him and the past
lay some intellectual or cerebral barrier as impenetrable as the great
wall of China; but on the hither side of that wall his faculties
improved. Of course, the crew soon found out the gap in his poor brain,
and called him Soft Billy, and played on him at first. But by degrees he
won their affection; he was so wonderfully sweet-tempered: and besides
his mind being in an abnormal state, he loathed grog, and gave his
allowance to his messmates. One day he showed an unexpected trait; they
were lying becalmed in southern latitudes, and, time hanging heavily,
each wiled it how he might: one fiddled, another wrote to his Polly,
another fished for sharks, another whistled for a wind, scores fell into
the form of meditation without the reality, and one got a piece of yarn
and amused himself killing flies on the bulwark. Now this shocked poor
Billy: he put out his long arm and intercepted a stroke. "What is the
row?" said the operator.
"You mustn't," said Billy solemnly, looking into his face with great
"You be----," said the other, and lent him a tap on the cheek with the
yarn. Billy did not seem to mind this; his skin had little sensibility,
owing to his disorder.
Jack recommenced on his flies, and the bystanders laughed. They always
laughed now at everything Billy said, as Society used to laugh when the
late Theodore Hook asked for the mustard at dinner; and would have
laughed if he had said, "You see me sad, I have just lost my poor
David stood looking on at the slaughter with a helpless puzzled air.
At last he seemed to have an idea, he caught Jack up by the throat and
knee, lifted him with gigantic strength above his head, and was just
going to hurl him shrieking into the sea, when a dozen strong hands
interfered, and saved the man. Then they were going to bind Billy hand
and foot; but he was discovered to be perfectly calm; so they
remonstrated instead, and presently Billy's commander-in-chief, a
ship-boy called Georgie White, shoved in and asked him in a shrill
haughty voice how he dared do that. "My dear," said Billy, with great
humility and placidity, "he was killing God's creatures, no allowance: *
so, ye see, to save their lives, I was _obliged._"
*Nautical phrase, meaning without stint or limit, or niggardly
admeasurement as there is of grog.
At this piece of reasoning, and the simplicity and gentle conviction with
which it was delivered, there was a roar. It subsided, and a doubt arose
whether Billy was altogether in the wrong.
"Well," said one, "I daresay life is sweet to them little creatures, if
they could speak their minds."
"I've known a ship founder in a fair breeze all along of killing 'em,"
said one old salt.
Finally, several sided with Billy, and intimated that "it served the
lubber right for not listening to _reason._" And, indeed, methinks it was
lovely and touching that so divine a ray of goodness and superior reason
should have shot from his heart or from Heaven across that poor benighted
But it must be owned his mode of showing his humanity was somewhat
excessive and abnormal, and smacked of lunacy. After this, however, the
affection of his messmates was not so contemptuous.
Now the captain of the _Vulture_ was Billy's cousin by marriage. Reginald
Bazalgette. Twenty years ago, when the captain was a boy, they were great
friends: of late Bazalgette had seen less of him; still it seems strange
he did not recognise him in his own ship. But one or two causes
co-operated to prevent that. In the first place, the mind when turned in
one direction is not so sharp in another; and Captain Bazalgette had been
told to look for David in a merchant ship bound for the East Indies. In
the next place, insanity alters the expression of the face wonderfully,
and the captain of a frigate runs his eye over four hundred sailors at
muster, or a hundred at work, not to examine their features, but their
dress and bearing at the one, and their handiness at the other. The worst
piece of luck was that Mrs. Dodd did not know David called himself
William Thompson. So there stood "William Thompson" large as life on the
ship's books, and nobody the wiser. Captain Bazalgette had a warm regard
and affection for Mrs. Dodd, and did all he could. Indeed, he took great
liberties: he stopped and overhauled several merchant ships for the
truant; and, by-the-by, on one occasion William Thompson was one of the
boat's crew that rowed a midshipman from the _Vulture_ alongside a
merchant ship to search for David Dodd. He heard the name and
circumstance mentioned in the boat, but the very name was new to him. He
remembered it, but only from that hour; and told his loving tyrant,
Georgie White, they had been overhauling a merchant ship and looking for
one David Dodd.
It was about Midsummer the _Vulture_ anchored off one of the South Sea
islands, and sent a boat ashore for fruit. Billy and his dearly beloved
little tyrant, Georgie White, were among the crew. Off goes Georgie to
bathe, and Billy sits down on the beach with a loving eye upon him. The
water was calm: but the boy with the heedlessness of youth stayed in it
nearly an hour: he was seized with cramp and screamed to his comrades.
They ran, but they were half a mile from the boat. Billy dashed into the
water and came up with Georgie just as he was sinking for the last time;
the boy gripped him; but by his great strength he disentangled himself
and got Georgie on his shoulders, and swam for the shore. Meantime the
sailors got into the boat, and rowed hastily towards them.
Now Billy was undermost and his head under water at times, and Georgie,
some thought, had helped strangle him by gripping his neck with both
arms. Anyway, by the boy's account, just as they were getting into
shallow water, Billy gave a great shriek and turned over on his back; and
Georgie paddled with his hands, but Billy soon after this sunk like a
dead body while the boat was yet fifty yards off. And Georgie screamed
and pointed to the place, and the boat came up and took Georgie in; and
the water was so clear that the sailors saw Billy lie motionless at the
bottom, and hooked him with a boat hook and drew him up; but his face
came up alongside a deadly white, with staring eyes, and they shuddered
and feared it was too late.
They took him into a house and stripped him, and rubbed him, and wrapped
him in blankets, and put him by the hot fire. But all would not do.
Then, having dried his clothes, they dressed the body again and laid him
in the boat, and cast the Union Jack over him, and rowed slowly and
unwillingly back to the ship, Georgie sobbing and screaming over the
body, and not a dry eye in the boat.
The body was carried up the side, and uncovered, just as Mrs. Dodd saw in
her dream. The surgeon was sent for and examined the body: and then the
grim routine of a man-of-war dealt swiftly with the poor skipper. He was
carried below to be prepared for a sailor's grave. Then the surgeon
walked aft and reported formally to the officer of the watch the death by
drowning of William Thompson. The officer of the watch went instantly to
the captain in his cabin and reported the death. The captain gave the
stereotyped order to bury him at noon next day; and the body was stripped
that night and sewed up in his hammock, with a portion of his clothes and
bedding to conceal the outline of the corpse, and two cannon balls at his
feet; and so the poor skipper was laid out for a watery grave, and
covered by the Union Jack.
I don't know whether any of my amorous young readers are much affected by
the catastrophe I have just related. If not, I will just remind them that
even Edward Dodd was prepared to oppose the marriage of Julia and Alfred,
if any serious ill should befall his father at sea, owing to Alfred's
imprudent interference in rescuing him from Drayton House.
MINUTE study of my fellow-creatures has revealed to me that there are
many intelligent persons who think that a suit at law commences in court.
This is not so. Many suits are fought and decided by the special
pleaders, and so never come into court; and, as a stiff encounter of this
kind actually took place in Hardie _v._ Hardie, a word of prefatory
explanation may be proper. Suitors come into court only to try an issue:
an issue is a mutual lie direct: and towards this both parties are driven
upon paper by the laws of pleading, which may be thus summed: 1. Every
statement of the adversary must either be contradicted flat, or confessed
and avoided: "avoided" means neutralised by fresh matter. 2. Nothing must
be advanced by plaintiff which does not disclose a ground of action at
law. 3. Nothing advanced by defendant, which, if true, would not be a
defence to the action. These rules exclude in a vast degree the pitiable
defects and vices that mark all the unprofessional arguments one ever
hears; for on a breach of any one of the said rules the other party can
demur; the demurrer is argued before the judges in Banco, and, if
successfully, the faulty plaint or faulty plea is dismissed, and often of
course the cause won or lost thereby, and the country saved the trouble,
and the suitors the expense of trying an issue.
So the writ being served by Plt.'s attorney, and an appearance put in by
Deft.'s, the paper battle began by Alfred Hardie, through his attorney,
serving on Deft.'s attorney "THE DECLARATION." This was drawn by his
junior counsel, Garrow, and ran thus, after specifying the court and the
_Middlesex to wit_ Alfred Hardie by John Compton his attorney sues Thomas
Hardie For that the Deft, assaulted Plt. gave him into custody to a
certain person and caused him to be imprisoned for a long space of time
in a certain place to wit a Lunatic Asylum whereby the Plt. was much
inconvenienced and suffered much anguish and pain in mind and body and
was unable to attend to his affairs and was injured in his credit and
And the Plt. claims L. 5000.
Mr. Compton conveyed a copy of this to Alfred, and said it was a sweet
"declaration." "What," said Alfred, "is that all I have suffered at these
miscreants' hands? Why, it is written with an icicle."
Mr. Compton explained that this was the outline: "Counsel will lay the
colours on in court as thick as you like."
The defendant replied to the above declaration by three pleas.
By statute 8 & 9 Vic., c. 100, s. 105.
1. The Deft. by Joseph Heathfield his attorney says he is not guilty. 2.
And for a further Plea the Deft, says that before and at the time of the
alleged imprisonment Plt, was a person of unsound mind and incompetent to
take care of himself and a proper person to be taken care of and detained
and it was unfit unsafe improper and dangerous that he should be at large
thereupon the Deft, being the uncle of the Plt. and a proper person to
cause the Plt. to be taken charge of under due care and treatment in that
behalf did cause the Plt. to be so taken charge of and detained under due
care and treatment, &c. &c.
The third plea was the stinger, but too long to cite _verbatim;_ it went
to this tune, that the plaintiff at and before the time &c. had conducted
himself like a person of unsound mind &c. and two certificates that he
was insane had been given by two persons duly authorised under the
statute to sign such certificates, and the defendant had believed and did
_bona fide_ believe these certificates to be true, &c. &c.
The first of these pleas was a mere formal plea, under the statute.
The second raised the very issue at common law the plaintiff wished to
The third made John Compton knit his brows with perplexity. "This is a
very nasty plea," said he to Alfred: "a regular trap. If we join issue on
it we must be defeated; for how can we deny the certificates were in
form; and yet the plaguy thing is not loose enough to be demurred to?
Colls, who drew these pleas for them?"
"Mr. Colvin, sir."
"Make a note to employ him in our next stiff pleading."
Alfred was staggered. He had thought to ride rough-shod over defendant--a
common expectation of plaintiffs; but seldom realised. Lawyers fight
hard. The pleas were taken to Garrow; he said there was but one course,
to demur to No. 3. So the plaintiff "joined issue on all the defendant's
pleas, and as to the last plea the plaintiff said the same was bad in
substance." Defendant rejoined that the same was good in substance, and
thus Hardie _v._ Hardie divided itself into two cases, a question of law
for the judges, and an issue for the mixed tribunal loosely called a
jury. And I need hardly say that should the defendant win either of them
he would gain the cause.
Postponing the history of the legal _question,_ I shall show how Messrs.
Heathfield fought off the _issue,_ and cooled the ardent Alfred and
sickened him of law.
In theory every Englishman has a right to be tried by his peers: but in
fact there are five gentlemen in every court, each of whom has by
precedent the power to refuse him a jury, by simply postponing the trial
term after term, until the death of one of the parties, when the action,
if a personal one, dies too; and, by a singular anomaly of judicial
practice, if a slippery Deft. can't persuade A. or B., judges of the
common law court, to connive at what I venture to call
THE POSTPONEMENT SWINDLE,
he can actually go to C., D., and B., one after another, with his
rejected application, and the previous refusal of the other judges to
delay and baffle justice goes for little or nothing; so that the
postponing swindler has five to one in his favour.
Messrs. Heathfield began this game unluckily. They applied to a judge in
chambers for a month to plead. Mr. Compton opposed in person, and showed
that this was absurd. The judge allowed them only four days to plead.
Issue being joined, Mr. Compton pushed on for trial, and the cause was
set down for the November term. Towards the end of the term Messrs.
Heathfield applied to one of the puisne judges for a postponement, on the
ground that a principal witness could not attend. Application was
supported by the attorney's affidavit, to the effect that Mr. Speers was
in Boulogne, and had written to him to say that he had met with a railway
accident, and feared he could not possibly come to England in less than a
month. A respectable French doctor confirmed this by certificate. Compton
opposed, but the judge would hardly hear him, and postponed the trial as
a matter of course; this carried it over the sittings into next term.
Alfred groaned, but bore it patiently; not so Dr. Sampson: he raged
against secret tribunals: "See how men deteriorate the moment they get
out of the full light of publeecity. What English judge, sitting in the
light of Shorthand, would admit 'Jack swears that Gill says' for legal
evidence. Speers has sworn to no facks. Heathfield has sworn to no facks
but th' existence of Speer's hearsay. They are a couple o' lyres. I'll
bet ye ten pounds t' a shilling Speers is as well as I'm."
Mr. Compton quietly reminded him there was a direct statement--the French
"A medical certificut!" shrieked Sampson, amazed. "Mai--dearr--sirr, a
medical certificut is just an article o' commerce like an attorney's
conscience. Gimme a guinea and I'll get you sworn sick, diseased,
disabled, or dead this minute, whichever you like best."
"Come, doctor, don't fly off: you said you'd bet ten pounds to a shilling
Speers is not an invalid at all. I say done."
"How will you find out?"
"How? Why set the thief-takers on um, to be sure."
He wrote off to the prefect of police at Boulogne, and in four days
received an answer headed "Information in the interest of families." The
prefect informed him there had been no railway accident: but that the
Sieur Speers, English subject, had really hurt his leg getting out of a
railway carriage six weeks ago, and had kept his room some days; but he
had been cured some weeks, and going about his business, and made an
excursion to Paris.
On this Compton offered Sampson the shilling. But he declined to take it.
"The lie was self-evident," said he; "and here's a judge wouldn't see't,
and an attorney couldn't. Been all their lives sifting evidence, too. Oh
the darkness of the profissional mind!"
The next term came. Mr. Compton delivered the briefs and fees, subpoenaed
the witnesses, &c., and Alfred came up with a good heart to get his
stigma removed by twelve honest men in the light of day: but first one
case was taken out of its order and put before him, then another, till
term wore near an end. Then Messrs. Heathfield applied to another judge
of the court for a postponement. Mr. Richard Hardie, plaintiff's father,
a most essential witness, was ill at Clare Court. Medical certificate and
Compton opposed. Now this judge was a keen and honourable lawyer, with a
lofty hatred of all professional tricks. He heard the two attorneys, and
delivered himself to this effect, only of course in better legal phrase:
"I shall make no order. The defendant has been here before on a doubtful
affidavit. You know, Mr. Heathfield, juries in these cases go by the
plaintiff's evidence, and his conduct under cross-examination. And I
think it would not be just nor humane to keep this plaintiff in suspense,
and _civiliter mortuum,_ any longer. You can take out a commission to
examine Richard Hardie."
To this Mr. Compton nailed him, but the commission took time; and while
it was pending, Mr. Heathfield went to another judge with another
disabled witness: Peggy Black. That naive personage was nursing her
deceased sister's children--in an affidavit: and they had
scarlatina--surgeon's certificate to that effect. Compton opposed, and
pointed out the blot. "You don't want the children in the witness-box,"
said he: "and we are not to be robbed of our trial because one of your
witnesses prefer nursing other people's children to facing the
The judge nodded assent. "I make no order," said he.
Mr. Heathfield went out from his presence and sent a message by telegraph
to Peggy Black. "You must have Scar. yourself, and telegraph the same at
once: certificate by post."
The accommodating maiden telegraphed back that she had unfortunately
taken scarlatina of the children: medical certificate to follow by post.
Four judges out of the five were now awake to the move. But Mr.
Heathfield tinkered the hole in his late affidavit with Peggy's telegram,
and slipped down to Westminster to the chief judge of the court, who had
had no opportunity of watching the growth and dissemination of disease
among Deft.'s, witnesses. Compton fought this time by counsel and with a
powerful affidavit. But luck was against him. The judge had risen to go
home: he listened standing; Compton's counsel was feeble; did not feel
the wrong. How could he? Lawyers fatten by delays of justice, as
physicians do by tardy cure. The postponement was granted.
Alfred cursed them all, and his own folly in believing that an alleged
lunatic would be allowed fair play at Westminster, or anywhere else.
Compton took snuff, and Sampson appealed to the press again. He wrote a
long letter exposing with fearless irony the postponement swindle as it
had been worked in Hardie _v._ Hardie: and wound up with this fiery
"This Englishman sues not merely for damages, but to recover lost rights
dearer far than money, of which he says he has been unjustly robbed: his
right to walk in daylight on the soil of his native land without being
seized and tied up for life like a nigger or a dog; his footing in
society; a chance to earn his bread; and a place among mankind: ay, among
mankind; for a lunatic is an animal in the law's eye and society's, and
an alleged lunatic is a lunatic till a jury clears him.
I appeal to you, gentlemen, is not such a suitor sacred in all wise and
good men's minds? Is he not defendant as well as plaintiff? Why, his
stake is enormous compared with the nominal defendant's; and, if I know
right from wrong, to postpone his trial a fourth time would be to insult
Divine justice, and trifle with human misery, and shock the common sense
The doctor's pen neither clipped the words nor minced the matter, you
see. Reading this the water came into Alfred's eyes. "Ah, staunch
friend," he said, "how few are like you! To the intellectual dwarfs who
conspire with my oppressors, Hardie _v._ Hardie is but a family squabble.
_Parvis omnia parva._" Mr. Compton read it too; and said from the bottom
of his heart, "Heaven defend us from our friends! This is enough to make
the courts decline to try the case at all."
And, indeed, it did not cure the evil: for next term another _malade
affidavitaire_ was set up. Speers to wit. This gentleman deposed to
having come over on purpose to attend the trial; but having inadvertently
stepped aside as far as Wales, he lay there stricken with a mysterious
malady, and had just strength to forward medical certificate. On this the
judge in spite of remonstrance, adjourned Hardie _v._ Hardie to the
summer term. Summer came, the evil day drew nigh: Mr. Heathfield got the
venue changed from Westminster to London, which was the fifth
postponement. At last the cause came on: the parties and witnesses were
all in court, with two whole days before them to try it in.
Dr. Sampson rushed in furious. "There is some deviltry afloat," said he.
"I was in the House of Commons last night, and there I saw the
defendant's counsel earwigging the judge."
"Nonsense," said Mr. Compton, "such suspicions are ridiculous. Do you
think they can talk of nothing but Hardie _v._ Hardie?"
"Mai--dearr sirr--my son met one of Heathfield's clerks at dinner, and he
let out that the trile was not to come off. Put this and that together
"It will come off," said Mr. Compton, "and in five minutes at farthest."
In less than that time the learned judge came in, and before taking his
seat made this extraordinary speech:
"I hear this cause will take three days to try; and we have only two days
before us. It would be inconvenient to leave it unfinished; and I must
proceed on circuit the day after to-morrow. It must be a remanet: no man
can do more than time allows."
Plaintiff's counsel made a feeble remonstrance; then yielded. And the
crier with sonorous voice called on the case of Bread _v._ Cheese, in
which there were pounds at stake, but no principle. Oh, with what zest
they all went into it; being small men escaping from a great thing to a
small one. Never hopped frogs into a ditch with more alacrity. Alfred
left the court and hid himself, and the scalding tears forced their way
down his cheeks at this heartless proceeding: to let all the witnesses
come into court at a vast expense to the parties: and raise the cup of
justice to the lips of the oppressed, and then pretend he knew a trial
would last more than two days, and so shirk it. "I'd have made that a
reason for sitting till midnight" said poor Alfred, "not for prolonging a
poor injured man's agony four mortal months." He then prayed God
earnestly for this great postponer's death as the only event that could
give him back an Englishman's right of being tried by his peers, and so
went down to Oxford broken-hearted.
As for Sampson he was most indignant, and said a public man had no
business with a private ear: and wanted to appeal to the press again: but
the doughty doctor had a gentle but powerful ruler at home, as fiery
houses are best ruled by a gentle hand. Mrs. Sampson requested him to
write no more, but look round for an M. P. to draw these repeated defeats
of justice to the notice of the House. Now there was a Mr. Bite, who had
taken a prominent and honourable part in lunacy questions; headed
committees and so on: this seemed the man. Dr. Sampson sent him a letter
saying there was a flagrant case of a sane man falsely imprisoned, who
had now been near a year applying for a jury, and juggled out of this
constitutional right by arbitrary and unreasonable postponements: would
Mr. Bite give him (Dr. Sampson) ten minutes and no more, when he would
explain the case and leave documentary evidence behind him for Mr. Bite
to test his statement. The philanthropical M. P. replied promptly in
these exact words:
"Mr. Bite presents his compliments to Dr. Sampson to state that it is
impossible for him to go into his case, nor to give him the time he
requests to do so."
Sampson was a little indignant at the man's insolence; but far more at
having been duped by his public assumption of philanthropy. "The little
pragmatical impostor!" he roared. "With what a sense o' relief th' animal
flings off the mask of humanity when there is no easy eclat to be gained
by putting't on." He sent the philanthropical Bite's revelation of his
private self to Alfred, who returned it with this single remark:
_"Homunculi quanti sunt!_"
Dishonest suitors all try to postpone; but they do not gain unmixed good
thereby. These delays give time for more evidence to come in; and this
slow coming and chance evidence is singularly adverse to the unjust
suitor. Of this came a notable example in October next, and made Richard
Hardie determined to precipitate the trial, and even regret he had not
fought it out long ago.
He had just returned from consulting Messrs. Heathfield, and sat down to
a nice little dinner in his apartments (Sackville Street), when a visitor
was announced; and in came the slouching little figure of Mr. Barkington,
_alias_ Noah Skinner.
DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND.
Mr. Hardie suppressed a start, and said nothing. Skinner bowed low with a
mixture of his old cringing way, and a certain sly triumphant leer, so
that his body seemed to say one thing, and his face the opposite. Mr.
Hardie eyed him, and saw that his coat was rusty, and his hat napless:
then Mr. Hardie smelt a beggar, and prepared to parry all attempts upon
"I hope I see my old master well," said Skinner coaxingly.
"Pretty well in body, Skinner; thank you."
"I had a deal of trouble to find you, sir. But I heard of the great
lawsuit between Mr. Alfred and you, and I knew Mr. Heathfield was your
solicitor; so I watched at his place day after day: and at last you came.
Oh, I was so pleased when I saw your noble figure; but I wouldn't speak
to you in the street for fear of disgracing you. I'm such a poor little
guy to be addressing a gentleman like you."
Now this sounded well on the surface, but below there was a subtle
something Mr. Hardie did not like at all: but he took the cue, and said,
"My poor Skinner, do you think I would turn up my nose at a faithful old
servant like you? Have a glass of wine with me, and tell me how you have
been getting on." He went behind a screen and opened a door, and soon
returned with a decanter, leaving the door open. Now in the next room
sat, unbeknown to Skinner, a young woman with white eyelashes, sewing
buttons on Mr. Hardie's shirts. That astute gentleman gave her
instructions, and important ones too, with a silent gesture; then
reappeared and filled the bumper high to his faithful servant. They drank
one another's healths with great cordiality, real or apparent. Mr. Hardie
then asked Skinner carelessly, if he could do anything for him. Skinner
said, "Well, sir, I am very poor."
"So am I, between you and me," said Mr. Hardie confidentially; "I don't
mind telling you; those confounded Commissioners of Lunacy wrote to
Alfred's trustees, and I have been forced to replace a loan of five
thousand pounds. That Board always sides with the insane. That crippled
me, and drove me to the Exchange: and now what I had left is all invested
in time-bargains. A month settles my fate: a little fortune, or absolute
"You'll be lucky, sir, you'll be lucky," said Skinner cheerfully; "you
have such a long head; not like poor little me; the Exchange soon burnt
my wings. Not a shilling left of the thousand pounds, sir, you were so
good as to give me for my faithful services. But you will give me another
chance, sir, I know; I'll take better care this time." Mr. Hardie shook
his head sorrowfully, and said it was impossible. Skinner eyed him
askant, and remarked quietly, and half aside, "Of course, I _could_ go to
the other party: but I shouldn't like to do that. They would come down
"What other party?"
"La, sir, what other party? Why Mrs. Dodd's, or Mr. Alfred's; here's the
trial coming on, you know, and of course if they could get me to go on
the box and tell all I know, or half what I know, why the judge and jury
would say locking Mr. Alfred up for mad was a conspiracy."
Mr. Hardie quaked internally: but he hid it grandly, and once more was a
Spartan gnawed beneath his robe by this little fox. "What," said he
sternly, "after all I and mine have done for you and yours, would you be
so base as to go and sell yourself to my enemies?"
"Never, sir," shouted Skinner zealously: then in a whisper, "Not if
you'll make a bid for me."
"How much do you demand?"
"Only another thousand, sir?"
"A thousand pounds!"
"Why, what is that to you, sir? you are rich enough to buy the eighth
commandment out of the tables of ten per cent.: and then the lawsuit,
Hardies _versus_ Hardies!"
"You have spoken plainly at last," said Mr. Hardie grimly. "This is
extorting money by threats. Do you know that nothing is more criminal,
nor more easy to punish? I can take you before a magistrate, and imprison
you on the instant for this attempt. I will, too."
"Try it," said Skinner coolly. "Where's your witness?"
"Behind that screen."
Peggy came forward directly with a pen in her hand. Skinner was
manifestly startled and disconcerted. "I have taken all your words down,
Mr. Skinner," said Peggy softly; then to her master, "Shall I go for a
Mr. Hardie reflected. "Yes," said he sternly: "there's no other course
with such a lump of treachery and ingratitude as this."
Peggy whipped on her bonnet.
"What a hurry you are in," whined Skinner: "a policeman ought to be the
last argument for old friends to run to." Then, fawning spitefully,
"Don't talk of indicting me, sir," said he; "it makes me shiver: why how
will you look when I up and tell them all how Captain Dodd was took with
apoplexy in our office, and how you nailed fourteen thousand pounds off
his senseless body, and forgot to put them down in your balance-sheet, so
they are not whitewashed off like the rest."
"Any witnesses to all this, Skinner?"
"Well; your own conscience _for one,_" said Skinner.
"He is mad, Peggy," said Mr. Hardie, shrugging his shoulders. He then
looked Skinner full in the face, and said, "Nobody was ever seized with
apoplexy in my office. Nobody ever gave me L. 14,000. And if this is the
probable tale with which you come here to break the law and extort money,
leave my house this instant: and if ever you dare to utter this absurd
and malicious slander, you shall lie within four stone walls, and learn
what it is for a shabby vagabond to come without a witness to his back,
and libel a man of property and honour."
Skinner let him run on in this loud triumphant strain till he had quite
done; then put out a brown skinny finger, and poked him lightly in the
ribs, and said quite quietly, and oh, so drily, with a knowing wink--
MR. HARDIE collapsed as if he had been a man inflated, and that touch had
punctured him. "Ah!" said he. "Ah!" said Skinner, in a mighty different
tone: insolent triumph to wit.
After a pause, Mr. Hardie made an effort and said contemptuously, "The
receipt (if any) was flung into the dusthole and carried away. Do you
think I have forgotten that?"
"Don't you believe it, sir," was the reply. "While you turned your back
and sacked the money, I said to myself, 'Oho, is that the game?' and
nailed the receipt. What a couple of scoundrels we were! I wouldn't have
her know it for all your money. Come, sir, I see its all right; you will
shell out sooner than be posted."
Here Peggy interposed; "Mr. Skinner, be more considerate; my master is
really poor just now."
"That is no reason why I should be insulted and indicted and trampled
under foot," snarled Skinner all in one breath.
"Show me the receipt and take my last shilling, you ungrateful,
vindictive viper," groaned Mr. Hardie.
"Stuff and nonsense, said Skinner. "I'm not a viper; I'm a man of
business. Find me five hundred pounds; and I'll show you the receipt and
keep dark. But I can't afford to give it you for that, of course."
Skinner triumphed, and made the great man apologise, writhing all the
time, and wishing he was a day labourer with Peggy to wife, and fourteen
honest shillings a week for his income. Having eaten humble pie, he
agreed to meet Skinner next Wednesday at midnight, alone, under a certain
lamp on the North Kensington Road: the interval (four days) he required
to raise money upon his scrip. Skinner bowed himself out, fawning
triumphantly. Mr. Hardie stood in the middle of the room motionless,
scowling darkly. Peggy looked at him, and saw some dark and sinister
resolve forming in his mind: she divined it, as such women can divine.
She laid her hand on his arm, and said softly, "Richard, it's not worth
_that._" He started to find his soul read through his body so clearly. He
But it was only for a moment. "His blood be on his own head," he snarled.
"This is not my seeking. He shall learn what it is to drive Richard
Hardie to despair."
"No, no," implored Peggy; "there are other countries beside this: why not
gather all you have, and cross the water? I'll follow you to the world's
"Mind your own business," said he fiercely.
She made no reply, but went softly and sat down again, and sewed the
buttons on his shirts. Mr. Hardie wrote to Messrs. Heathfield to get
Hardie _v._ Hardie tried as soon as possible.
Meantime came a mental phenomenon: gliding down Sackville Street,
victorious Skinner suddenly stopped, and clenched his hands; and his face
writhed as if he had received a death-wound. In that instant Remorse had
struck him like lightning; and, perhaps, whence comes the lightning. The
sweet face and voice that had smiled on him, and cared for his body, and
cared for his soul, came to his mind, and knocked at his heart and
conscience. He went home miserable with an inward conflict; and it lasted
him all the four days; sometimes Remorse got the better, sometimes
Avarice. He came to the interview still undecided what he should do. But,
meantime, he had gone to a lawyer and made his will, leaving his little
all to Julia Dodd: a bad sign this; looked like compounding with his
It was a dark and gusty night. Very few people were about. Skinner waited
a little while, and shivered, for his avarice had postponed the purchase
of a greatcoat until Christmas Day. At last, when the coast seemed clear,
Mr. Hardie emerged from a side street. Skinner put his hand to his bosom.
They met. Mr. Hardie said quietly, "I must ask you, just for form, to
show me you have the Receipt."
"Of course, sir; but not so near, please: no snatching, if I know it."
"You are wonderfully suspicious," said Mr. Hardie, trying to smile.
Skinner looked, and saw by the lamplight he was deadly pale. "Keep your
distance a moment, sir," said he, and, on Mr. Hardie's complying, took
the Receipt out, and held it under the lamp.
Instantly Mr. Hardie drew a life-preserver, and sprang on him with a
savage curse--and uttered a shriek of dismay, for he was met by the long
shiny barrel of a horse-pistol, that Skinner drew from his bosom, and
levelled full in the haggard face that came at him. Mr. Hardie recoiled,
crying, "No! no! for Heaven's sake!"
"What!" cried Skinner, stepping forward and hissing, "do you think I'm
such a fool as to meet a thief unarmed? Come, cash up, or I'll blow you
"No, no, no!" said Mr. Hardie piteously, retreating as Skinner marched on
him with long extended pistol. "Skinner," he stammered, "th-this is n-not
"Cash up, then; that's business. Fling the five hundred pounds down, and
walk away. Mind it is loaded with two bullets; I'll make a double entry
on your great treacherous carcass."
"It's no use trying to deceive such a man as you," said Mr. Hardie,
playing on his vanity. "I could not get the money before Saturday, and so
I listened to the dictates of despair. Forgive me."
"Then come again Saturday night. Come alone, and I shall bring a man to
see I'm not murdered. And look here, sir, if you don't come to the hour
and do the right thing without any more of these unbusiness-like tricks,
by Heaven, I'll smash you before noon on Monday."
"I'll blow you to Mr. Alfred and Miss Dodd."
"I'll come, I tell you."
"I'll post you for a thief on every brick in the Exchange."
"Have mercy, Skinner. Have pity on the wretched man whose bread you have
eaten. I tell you I'll come."
"Well, mind you do, then, cash and all," said Skinner sulkily, but not
quite proof against the reminiscences those humble words awakened.
Each walked backwards a good dozen steps, and then they took different
roads, Skinner taking good care not to be tracked home. He went up the
high stairs to the hole in the roof he occupied, and lighted a rushlight.
He had half a mind to kindle a fire, he felt so chilly; but he had
blocked up the vent, partly to keep out the cold, partly to shun the
temptation of burning fuel. However, he stopped the keyhole with paper,
and also the sides of the window, till he had shut the wintry air all
out. Still, what with the cold and what with the reaction after so great
an excitement, his feeble body began to shiver desperately. He thought at
last he would light a foot-warmer he had just purchased for old iron at a
broker's; _that_ would only spend a halfpenneyworth of charcoal. No, he
wouldn't; he would look at his money; that would cheer him. He unripped a
certain part of his straw mattress and took out a bag of gold. He spread
three hundred sovereigns on the floor and put the candle down among them.
They sparkled; they were all new ones, and he rubbed them with an old
toothbrush and whiting every week. "That's better than any fire," he
said, "they warm the heart. For one thing, they are my own: at all
events, I did not steal them, nor take them of a thief for a bribe to
keep dark and defraud honest folk." Then remorse gripped him: he asked
himself what he was going to do. "To rob an angel," was the answer. "The
fourteen thousand pounds is all hers, and I could give it her in a
moment. Curse him, he would have killed me for it."
Then he pottered about and took out his will. "Ah," said he, "that is all
right so far. But what is a paltry three hundred when I help do her out
of fourteen thousand? Villain!" Then, to ease his conscience, he took a
slip of paper and wrote on it a short account of the Receipt, and how he
came by it, and lo: as if an unseen power had guided his hand, he added,
"Miss Dodd lives at 66, Pembroke Street, and I am going to take it to her
as soon as I am well of my cold." Whether this preceded an unconscious
resolve which had worked on him secretly for some time, or whether it
awakened such a resolve, I hardly know: but certain it is, that having
written it, he now thought seriously of doing it; and, the more seriously
he entertained the thought, the more good it seemed to do him. He got
"The Sinner's Friend" and another good book she had lent him, and read a
bit: then, finding his feet frozen, he lighted his chafer and blew it
well, and put it under his feet and read. The good words began to reach
his heart more and more: so did the thought of Julia's goodness. The
chafer warmed his feet and legs. "Ay," said he, "men don't want fires;
warm the feet and the body warms itself." He took out "The Receipt" and
held it in his hand, and eyed it greedily, and asked himself could he
really part with it. He thought he could--to Julia. Still holding it
tight in his left hand, he read on the good but solemn words that seemed
to loosen his grasp upon that ill-gotten paper. "How good it was of her,"
he thought, "to come day after day and feed a poor little fellow like
him, body and soul. She asked nothing back. She didn't know he could make
her any return. Bless her! bless her!" he screamed. "Oh, how cruel I have
been to her, and she so kind to me. She would never let me want, if I
took her fourteen thousand pounds. Like enough give me a thousand, and
help me save my poor soul, that I shall damn if I meet him again. I won't
go his way again. Lead us not into temptation. I repent. Lord have mercy
on me a miserable sinner." And tears bedewed those wizened cheeks, tears
of penitence, sincere, at least for the time.
A sleepy languor now came over him, and the good book fell from his hand;
but his resolution remained unshaken. By-and-by waking up from a sort of
heavy dose, he took, as it were, a last look at the receipt, and
murmured, "My head, how heavy it feels." But presently he roused himself,
full of his penitent resolution, and murmured again brokenly,
"I'll---take it to---Pembroke Street to---morrow: to---mor---row."
MR. HARDIE raised the money on his scrip, and at great inconvenience, for
he was holding on five hundred thousand pounds' worth of old Turkish
Bonds over an unfavourable settling day, and wanted every shilling to pay
his broker. If they did not rise by next settling day, he was a beggar.
However, being now a desperate gamester, and throwing for his last stake,
he borrowed this sum, and took it within a heavy heart to his appointment
with Skinner. Skinner never came. Mr. Hardie waited till one o'clock. Two
o'clock. No Skinner. Mr. Hardie went home hugging his five hundred
pounds, but very uneasy. Next day he consulted Peggy. She shook her head,
and said it looked very ugly. Skinner had most likely got angrier and
angrier with thinking on the assault. "You will never see him again till
the day of the trial: and then he will go down and bear false witness
against you. Why not leave the country?"
"How can I, simpleton? My money is all locked up in the bargains. No, I'm
tied, tied to the stake; I'll fight to the last: and, if I'm defeated and
disgraced, I'll die, and end it."
Peggy implored him not to talk so. "I've been down to the court," said
she softly, "to see what it is like. There's a great hall; and he must
pass through that to get into the little places where they try 'em. Let
me be in that hall with the five hundred pounds, and I promise you he
shall never appear against you. We will both go; you with the money, I
with my woman's tongue."
He gave her his hand like a shaky monarch, and said she had more wit than
Mr. Heathfield, who had contrived to postpone Hardie _v._ Hardie six
times in spite of Compton, could not hurry it on now with his
co-operation. It hung fire from some cause or another a good fortnight:
and in this fortnight Hardie senior endured the tortures of suspense.
Skinner made no sign. At last, there stood upon the paper for next day, a
short case of disputed contract, and Hardie _v._ Hardie.
Now, this day, I must premise, was to settle the whole lawsuit: for while
trial of the issue was being postponed and postponed, the legal question
had been argued and disposed of. The very Queen's counsel, unfavourable
to the suit, was briefed with Garrow's views, and delivered them in court
with more skill, clearness, and effect than Garrow ever could; then sat
down, and whispered over rather contemptuously to Mr. Compton, "That is
your argument, I think."
"And admirably put," whispered the attorney, in reply.
"Well; now hear Saunders knock it to pieces."
Instead of that, it was Serjeant Saunders that got maltreated: first one
judge had a peck at him: then another: till they left him scarce a
feather to fly with; and, when Alfred's counsel rose to reply, the judges
stopped him, and the chief of the court, Alfred's postponing enemy,
delivered his judgment after this fashion:
"We are all of opinion that this plea is bad in law. By the common law of
England no person can be imprisoned as a lunatic unless actually insane
at the time. It has been held so for centuries, and down to the last
case. And wisely: for it would be most dangerous to the liberty of the
subject, if a man could be imprisoned without remedy unless he could
prove _mala fides_ in the breast of the party incarcerating him. As for
the statute, it does not mend the matter, but rather the reverse; for it
expressly protects duly authorised persons acting under the order and
certificates, and this must be construed to except from the protection of
the statute the person making the order."
The three puisne judges concurred and gave similar reasons. One of them
said that if A. imprisoned B. for a _felon,_ and B. sued him, it was no
defence to say that B., in his opinion, had imitated felony. They cited
Elliot _v._ Allen, Anderdon _v._ Burrows, and Lord Mansfield's judgment
in a very old case, the name of which I have unfortunately forgotten.
Judgment was entered for the plaintiff; and the defendant's ingenious
plea struck off the record; and Hardie _v._ Hardie became the leading
case. But in law one party often wins the skirmish and the other the
battle. The grand fight, as I have already said, was to be to-day.
But the high hopes and ardour with which the young lovers had once come
into court were now worn out by the postponement swindle, and the adverse
events delay had brought on them. Alfred was not there: he was being
examined in the schools; and had plumply refused to leave a tribunal that
named its day and kept it--for Westminster, until his counsel should have
actually opened the case. He did not believe trial by jury would ever be
allowed him. Julia was there, but sad and comparatively listless. One of
those strange vague reports, which often herald more circumstantial
accounts, had come home, whispering darkly that her father was dead, and
buried on an island in the South Sea. She had kept this report from her
mother, contrary to Edward's wish: but she implored him to restrain his
fatal openness. In one thing both these sorely tried young people agreed,
that there could be no marriage with Alfred now. But here again Julia
entreated her brother not to be candid; not to tell Alfred this at
present. "Oh do not go and dispirit him just now," she said, "or he will
do something rash. No, he must and shall get his first-class, and win his
trial; and then you know any lady will be too proud to marry him, and,
when he is married and happy, you can tell him I did all I could for him,
and hunted up the witnesses, and was his loving friend, though I could
She could not say this without crying; but she said it for all that, and
meant it too.
Besides helping Mr. Compton to get up the evidence, this true and earnest
friend and lover had attended the court day after day, to watch how
things were done, and, womanlike, to see what _pleased_ and what
_displeased_ the court.
The witnesses subpoenaed on either side in Hardie _v._ Hardie began to
arrive at ten o'clock, and a tall stately man paraded Westminster Hall,
to see if Skinner came with them. All other anxieties had merged in this:
for the counsel had assured him if nothing unexpected turned up, Thomas
Hardie would have a verdict, or if not, the damages would be nominal.
At last the court crier cried, with a loud voice, "Hardie _v._ Hardie."
Julia's eyes roved very anxiously for Alfred, and up rose Mr. Garrow, and
stated to the court the substance of the declaration: "To this," he said,
"three pleas have been pleaded: first, the plea of not guilty, which is a
formal plea; also another plea, which has been demurred to, and struck
off the record; and, lastly, that at the time of the alleged imprisonment
the plaintiff was of unsound mind, and a fit person to be confined; which
is the issue now to be tried."
Mr. Garrow then sat down, very tired of this preliminary work, and
wondering when he should have the luck to conduct such a case as Hardie
_v._ Hardie; and leaned forward to be ready to prompt his senior, a
portly counsel, whom Mr. Compton had retained because he was great at
addressing juries, and no point of law could now arise in the Case.
Colt, Q. C., rose like a tower, knowing very little of the facts, and
seeming to know everything. He had a prodigious business, and was rather
indolent, and often skimmed his brief at home, and then mastered it in
court--if he got time. Now, it is a good general's policy to open a
plaintiffs case warily, and reserve your rhetoric for the reply; and Mr.
Colt always took this line when his manifold engagements compelled him,
as in Hardie _v._ Hardie, to teach his case first and learn it
afterwards. I will only add, that in the course of his opening he was on
the edge of seven distinct blunders; but Garrow watched him and always
shot a whisper like a bullet just in time. Colt took it, and glided away
from incipient error imperceptibly, and with a tact you can have no
conception of. The jury did not detect the creaking of this machinery;
Serjeant Saunders did, and grinned satirically; so did poor Julia, and
her cheeks burned and her eyes flashed indignant fire. And horror of
horrors, Alfred did not appear.
Mr. Colt's opening may be thus condensed: The plaintiff was a young
gentleman of great promise and distinction, on whom, as usual in these
cases of false imprisonment, money was settled. He was a distinguished
student at Eton and Oxford, and no doubt was ever expressed of his sanity
till he proposed to marry, and take his money out of his trustees hands
by a marriage settlement. On this his father, who up to that time had
managed his funds as principal trustee, showed him great personal
hostility for some time, and looked out for a tool: that tool he soon
found in his brother, the defendant, a person who, it would be proved,
had actually not seen the plaintiff for a year and a half, yet, with
great recklessness and inhumanity, had signed away his liberty and his
happiness behind his back. Then tools of another kind--the kind that
anybody can buy, a couple of doctors-- were, as usual, easily found to
sign the certificates. One of these doctors had never seen him but for
five minutes, and signed in manifest collusion with the other. They
decoyed this poor young gentleman away on his wedding morning-- on his
wedding morning, gentlemen, mark that--and consigned him to the worst of
all dungeons. What he suffered there he must himself relate to you; for
we, who have the happiness to walk abroad in the air of reason and
liberty, are little able to realise the agony of mind endured by a sane
man confined among the insane. What we undertake is to prove his sanity
up to the very hour of his incarceration; and also that he was quite sane
at the time when a brutal attempt to recapture him by violence was made
under the defendant's order, and defeated by his own remarkable
intelligence and courage. Along with the facts the true reason why he was
imprisoned will probably come out. But I am not bound to prove sinister
motives. It is for the defendant to prove, if he can, that he had lawful
motives for a lawless act; and that he exercised due precaution, and did
not lend himself recklessly to the dark designs of others. If he succeed
in this, that may go in mitigation of damages, though it cannot affect
the verdict. _Our_ principal object is the verdict, which will remove the
foul aspersion cast on my injured client, and restore him to society. And
to this verdict we are entitled, unless the other side can prove the
plaintiff was insane. Call Alfred Hardie.
And with this he sat down.
An official called Alfred Hardie very loud; he made no reply. Julia rose
from her seat with dismay painted on her countenance. Compton's,
Garrow's, and Colt's heads clashed together.
Mr. Colt jumped up again, and said, "My Lud, I was not aware the
gentleman they accuse of insanity is just being examined for high honours
in the University of Oxford." Aside to Compton, "And if he doesn't come
you may give them the verdict."
"Well," said the judge, "of course he will be here before you close your
On this the three heads clashed again, and Serjeant Saunders, for the
defendant, popped up and said with great politeness, and affectation of
sympathy, "My Lud, I can quite understand my learned friend's hesitation
to produce his, principal witness."
"You understand nothing about the matter," said Colt cavalierly. "Call
Mr. Harrington was Alfred's tutor at Eton, and deposed to his sanity
there; he was not cross-examined. After him they went on step by step
with a fresh witness for every six months, till they brought him close to
the date of his incarceration; then they put in one of Julia's witnesses,
Peterson, who swore Alfred had talked to him like a sane person that very
morning; and repeated what had passed. Cross-examination only elicited
that he and Alfred were no longer good friends, which rather strengthened
the evidence. Then Giles and Hannah, now man and wife, were called, and
swore he was sane all the time he was at Silverton House. Mr. Saunders
diminished the effect by eliciting that they had left on bad terms with
Mr. Baker, and that Alfred had given them money since. But this was half
cured on re-examination, by being set down to gratitude on Alfred's part.
And now the judge went to luncheon; and in came a telegraphic message to
say Alfred was in the fast train coming up. This was good news and bad.
They had hoped he would drop in before. They were approaching that period
of the case, when not to call the plaintiff must produce a vile
impression. The judge--out of good nature, I suspect--was longer at
luncheon than usual, and every minute was so much gained to Mr. Compton
and Julia, who were in a miserable state of anxiety. Yet it was equalled
by Richard Hardie's, who never entered the court but paced the hall the
livelong day to intercept Noah Skinner. And, when I tell you that Julia
had consulted Mr. Green, and that he had instantly pronounced Mr.
Barkington to be a man from Barkington who knew the truth about the
fourteen thousand pounds, and that the said Green and his myrmidons were
hunting Mr. Barkington like beagles, you will see that R. Hardie's was no
vain terror. At last the judge returned, and Mr. Colt was obliged to put
in his reserves; so called Dr. Sampson. Instantly a very dull trial
became an amusing one; the scorn with which he treated the opinion of Dr.
Wycherley and Mr. Speers, and medical certificates in general, was so
droll coming from a doctor, and so racily expressed, that the court was
convulsed. Also in cross-examination by Saunders he sparred away in such
gallant style with that accomplished advocate that it was mighty
refreshing. The judge put in a few intelligent questions after counsel
had done, and surprised all the doctors in court with these words: "I am
aware, sir, that you were the main instrument in putting down
bloodletting in this country."
What made Sampson's evidence particularly strong was that he had seen the
plaintiff the evening before his imprisonment.
At this moment three men, all of them known to the reader, entered the
court; one was our old acquaintance Fullalove, another was of course
Vespasian; and the third was the missing plaintiff.
A buzz announced his arrival; and expectation rose high. Mr. Colt called
him with admirably feigned nonchalance; he stepped into the box, and
there was a murmur of surprise and admiration at his bright countenance
and manly bearing.
Of course to give his evidence would be to write "Hard Cash" over again.
It is enough to say that his examination in chief lasted all that day,
and an hour of the next.
Colt took him into the asylum, and made him say what he had suffered
there to swell the damages. The main points his examination in chief
established were his sanity during his whole life, the money settled on
him, the means the doctors took to irritate him, and then sign him
excited, the subserviency of his uncle to his father, the double motive
his father had in getting him imprisoned; the business of the L. 14,000.
When Colt sat down at eleven o'clock on the second day, the jury looked
indignant, and the judge looked very grave, and the case very black.
Mr. Saunders electrified his attorney by saying, "My advice is, don't
Heathfield implored him not to take so strange a course.
On this Saunders shrugged his shoulders, rose, and cross-examined Alfred
about the vision of one Captain Dodd he had seen, and about his
suspicions of his father. "Had not Richard Hardie always been a kind and
liberal father?" To this he assented. "Had he not sacrificed a large
fortune to his creditors?" Plaintiff believed so. "On reflection, then,
did not plaintiff think he must have been under an illusion?" No; he had
gone by direct evidence.
Confining himself sagaciously to this one question, and exerting all his
skill and pertinacity, Saunders succeeded in convincing the court that
the Hard Cash was a myth: a pure chimera. The defendant's case looked up;
for there are many intelligent madmen with a single illusion.
The re-examination was of course very short, but telling; for Alfred
swore that Miss Julia Dodd had helped him to carry home the phantom of
her father, and that Miss Dodd had a letter from her father to say that
he was about to sail with the other phantom, the L. 14,000.
Here Mr. Saunders interposed, and said that evidence was inadmissible.
Let him call Miss Dodd.
_Colt._--How do you know I'm not going to call her?
_The Judge._-- If you are, it is superfluous; if not, it is inadmissible.
Mr. Compton cast an inquiring glance up at a certain gallery. A beautiful
girl bowed her head in reply, with a warm blush and such a flash of her
eye, and Mr. Colt said, "As my learned friend was afraid to cross-examine
the plaintiff on any point but this, and as I mean to respond to his
challenge, and call Miss Dodd, I will not trouble the plaintiff any
Through the whole ordeal Alfred showed a certain flavour of Eton and
Oxford that won all hearts. His replies were frank and honest, and under
cross-examination he was no more to be irritated than if Saunders had
been Harrow bowling at him, or the Robin sparring with him. The serjeant,
who was a gentleman, indicated some little regret at the possible
annoyance he was causing him. Alfred replied with a grand air of good
fellowship, "Do not think so poorly of me as to suppose I feel aggrieved
because you are an able advocate and do your duty to your client, sir."
_The Judge._--That is very handsomely said. I am afraid you have got an
awkward customer, in a case of this kind, Brother Saunders.
_Serjt. S._--It is not for want of brains he is mad, my lord.
_Alfred._--That is a comfort, any way. (Laughter.)
When counsel had done with him, the judge used his right, and put several
shrewd and unusual questions to him: asked him to define insanity. He
said he could only do it by examples: and he abridged several intelligent
madmen, their words and ways; and contrasted them with the five or six
sane people he had fallen in with in asylums; showing his lordship
plainly that _he_ could tell any insane person whatever from a sane one,
and _vice versa._ This was the most remarkable part of the trial, to see
this shrewd old judge extracting from a real observer and logical thinker
those positive indicia of sanity and insanity, which exist, but which no
lawyer has ever yet been able to extract from any psychological physician
in the witness-box. At last, he was relieved, and sat sucking an orange
among the spectators; for they had parched his throat amongst them, I
Julia Dodd entered the box, and a sunbeam seemed to fill the court. She
knew what to do: her left hand was gloved, but her white right hand bare.
She kissed the book, and gave her evidence in her clear, mellow, melting
voice; gave it reverently and modestly, for to her the court was a
church. She said how long she had been acquainted with Alfred, and how
his father was adverse, and her mother had thought it was because they
did not pass for rich, and had told her they were rich, and with this she
produced David's letter, and she also swore to having met Alfred and
others carrying her father in a swoon from his father's very door. She
deposed to Alfred's sanity on her wedding eve, and on the day his
recapture was attempted.
Saunders, against his own judgment, was instructed to cross-examine her;
and, without meaning it, he put a question which gave her deep distress.
"Are you now engaged to the plaintiff?" She looked timidly round, and saw
Alfred, and hesitated. The serjeant pressed her politely, but firmly.
"Must I reply to that?" she said piteously.
"If you please."
"Then, no. Another misfortune has now separated him and me for ever."
"What is that, pray?"
"My father is said to have died at sea: and my mother thinks _he_ is to
_The judge to Saunders._--What on earth has this to do with Hardie
_Saunders._--You are warmly interested in the plaintiff's success?
_Julia._--Oh yes, sir.
_Colt_ (aside to Garrow).--The fool is putting his foot into it: there's
not a jury in England that would give a verdict to part two interesting
_Saunders._--You are attached to him?
_Julia._--Ah, that I do.
This burst, intended for poor Alfred, not the court, baffled
cross-examination and grammar and everything else. Saunders was wise and
generous, and said no more.
Colt cast a glance of triumph, and declined to re-examine. He always let
well alone. The judge, however, evinced a desire to trace the fourteen
thousand pounds from Calcutta; but Julia could not help him: that
mysterious sum had been announced by letter as about to sail, and then no
more was heard about it till Alfred accused his father of having it. All
endeavours to fill this hiatus failed. However, Julia, observing that in
courts material objects affect the mind most, had provided herself with
all the _pieces de conviction_ she could find, and she produced her
father's empty pocket-book, and said, when he was brought home senseless,
this was in his breast-pocket.
"Hand it up to me," said the judge. He examined it, and said it had been
in the water.
"Captain Dodd was wrecked off the French coast," suggested Mr. Saunders.
"My learned friend had better go into the witness-box, if he means to
give evidence," said Mr. Colt.
"You are very much afraid of a very little truth," retorted Saunders.
The judge stopped this sham rencontre, by asking the witness whether her
father had been wrecked. She said "Yes."
"And that is how the money was lost," persisted Saunders.
"Possibly," said the judge.
"I'm darned if it was," said Joshua Fullalove composedly.
Instantly, all heads were turned in amazement at this audacious
interruption to the soporific decorum of an English court. The
transatlantic citizen received this battery of eyes with complete
"Si-lence!" roared the crier, awaking from a nap, with an instinct that
something unusual had happened. But the shrewd old judge had caught the
sincerity with which the words were uttered, and put on his spectacles to
examine the speaker.
"Are you for the plaintiff or the defendant?"
"I don't know either of 'em from Adam, my lord. But I know Captain Dodd's
pocket-book by the bullet-hole."
"Indeed! You had better call this witness, Mr. Colt."
Your lordship must excuse me; I am quite content with my evidence," said
the wary advocate.
"Well then, I shall call him as _amicus curiae;_ and the defendant's
counsel can cross-examine him."
Fullalove went into the box, was sworn, identified the pocket-book, and
swore he had seen fourteen thousand pounds in it on two occasions. With
very little prompting, he told the sea-fight, and the Indian darkie's
attempt to steal the money, and pointed out Vespasian as the rival darkie
who had baffled the attempt. Then he told the shipwreck to an audience
now breathless--and imagine the astonished interest with which Julia and
Edward listened to this stranger telling them the new strange story of
their own father!--and lastly, the attempt of the two French wreckers and
assassins, and how it had been baffled. And so the mythical cash was
tracked to Boulogne.
The judge then put this question, "Did Captain Dodd tell you what he
intended to do with it?"
_Fullalove_ (reverently).--I think, my lord, he said he was going to give
it to his wife. (Sharply.) Well, what is it, old hoss? What are you
making mugs at me for? Don't you know it's clean against law to telegraph
a citizen in the witness-box?
_The Judge._--This won't do; this won't do.
_The Crier._--Silence in the court.
"Do you hyar now what his lordship says?" said Fullalove, with ready
tact. "If you know anything more, come up hyar and swear it like an
enlightened citizen; do you think I am going to swear for tew?" With this
Vespasian and Fullalove proceeded to change places amidst roars of
laughter at the cool off-hand way this pair arranged forensicalities; but
Serjeant Saunders requested Fullalove to stay where he was. "Pray sir,"
said he slowly, "who retained you for a witness in this cause?"
Fullalove looked puzzled.
"Of course somebody asked you to drop in here so very accidentally: come
now, who was it?"
"I'm God Almighty's witness dropped from the clouds, I cal'late."
"Come, sir, no prevarication. How came you here just at the nick of
"Counsellor, when I'm treated polite, I'm ile; but rile me, and I'm
thunder stuffed with pison: don't you raise my dander, and I'll tell you.
I have undertaken to educate this yar darkie,"--here he stretched out a
long arm, and laid his hand on Vespasian's woolly pate--"and I'm bound to
raise him to the Eu-ropean model." (Laughter.) " So I said to him, coming
over Westminster Bridge, 'Now there's a store hyar where they sell a very
extraordinary Fixin; and it's called Justice; they sell it tarnation
dear; _but_ prime. So I make tracks for the very court where I got the
prime article three years ago, against a varmint that was breaking the
seventh and eighth commandments over me, adulterating my patent and then
stealing it. Blast him!" (A roar of laughter.) "And coming along I said
this old country's got some good pints after all, old hoss. One is
they'll sell you justice dear, _but_ prime in these yar courts, if you
were born at Kamschatkee; and the other is, hyar darkies are free as air,
disenthralled by the univarsal genius of British liberty; and then I
pitched Counsellor Curran's bunkum into this darkie, and he sucked it in
like mother's milk, and in we came on tiptoe, and the first thing we
heard was a freeborn Briton treated wus than ever a nigger in Old
Kentuck, decoyed away from his gal, shoved into a darned madhouse--the
darbies clapped on him----"
"We don't want your comments on the case, sir."
"No, nor any other free and enlightened citizen's, I reckon. Wal,
Vespasian and me sat like mice in a snowdrift, and hid our feelings out
of good manners, being strangers, till his lordship got e-tarnally fixed
about the Captain's pocket-book. Vesp., says I, this hurts my feelings
powerful. Says I, this hyar lord did the right thing about my patent: he
summed up just: and now he is in an everlasting fix himself: one good
turn deserves another, I'll get him out of this fix, any way." Here the
witness was interrupted with a roar of laughter that shook the court.
Even the judge leaned back and chuckled, genially though quietly. And
right sorrowful was every Briton there when Saunders closed abruptly the
cross-examination of Joshua Fullalove.
His lordship then said he wished to ask Vespasian a question.
Saunders lost patience. " What, another _amicus curiae,_ my lud! This is
"Excuse my curiosity, Brother Saunders," said the judge ironically. "I
wish to trace this L. 14,000 as far as possible. Have you any particular
objection to the truth on this head of evidence?"
"No, my lud, I never urge objections when I can't enforce them."
"Then you are a wise man." (To Vespasian, after he had been sworn), "Pray
did Captain Dodd tell you what he intended to do with this money?"
"Is, massa judge, massa captan told dis child he got a branker in some
place in de old country, called Barkinton. And he said dis branker bery
good branker, much sartiner not to break dan the brank of England. (A
howl.) De captan said he take de money to dis yer branker, and den hab no
more trouble wid it. Den it off my stomach, de captan say, and dis child
heerd him. Yah!"
The plaintiff's case being apparently concluded, the judge retired for a
In the buzz that followed, a note was handed to Mr. Compton; _"Skinner!_
On a hot scent. Sure to find him to-day.--_N.B._ He is wanted by another
party. There is something curious a-foot."
Compton wrote on a slip, "For Heaven's sake, bring him directly. In half
an hour it will be too late."
Green hurried out and nearly ran against Mr. Richard Hardie, who was
moodily pacing Westminster Hall at the climax of his own anxiety. To him
all turned on Skinner. Five minutes passed, ten, fifteen, twenty: all the
plaintiff's party had their eyes on the door; but Green did not return;
and the judge did. Then to gain a few minutes more, Mr. Colt, instructed
by Compton, rose and said with great solemnity, "We are about to call our
last witness: the living have testified to my client's sanity, and now we
shall read you the testimony of the dead."
_Saunders._--That I object to, of course.
_Colt._--Does my learned friend mean to say he objects at random?
_Saunders._--Nothing of the kind. I object on the law of evidence--a
matter on which my learned friend seems to be under a hallucination as
complete as his client's about that L. 14,000.
_Colt._--There's none ever feared
That the truth should he heard
But they whom the truth would indict.
_Saunders._--A court of justice is not the place for old songs; and new
_Colt._--Really, my learned friend is the objective case incarnate. (To
Compton.--I can't keep this nonsense up for ever. Is Skinner come?) He
has a Mania for objection, and with your lordship's permission I'll buy a
couple of doctors and lock him up in an asylum as he leaves the court
this afternoon. (Laughter.)
_The judge._--A very good plan: then you'll no longer feel the weight of
his abilities. I conclude, Mr. Colt, you intend to call a witness who
will swear to the deceased person's hand-writing and that it was written
in the knowledge Death was at hand.
_Colt._--Certainly, my lord. I can call Miss Julia Dodd.
_Saunders._--That I need not take the trouble of objecting to.
_The judge_ (with some surprise).--No, Mr. Colt. That will never do. You
have examined her, and re-examined her.
I need hardly say Mr. Colt knew very well he could not call Julia Dodd.
But he was fighting for seconds now, to get in Skinner. "Call Edward
Edward was sworn, and asked if he knew the late Jane Hardie.
"I knew her well," said he.
"Is that her handwriting?"
"Where was it written?"
"In my mother's house at Barkington."
"Under what circumstances?"
"She was dying--of a blow given her by a maniac called Maxley."
"Maxley!" said the judge to counsel. "I remember the Queen _v._ Maxley. I
tried him myself at the assizes: it was for striking a young lady with a
bludgeon, of which she died. Maxley was powerfully defended; and it was
proved that his wife had died, and he had been driven mad for a time, by
her father's bank breaking. The jury _would_ bring in a verdict that was
no verdict at all; as I took the liberty to tell them at the time. The
judges dismissed it, and Maxley was eventually discharged."
_Colt._--No doubt that was the case, my lord. To the witness.--Did Jane
Hardie know she was dying?
"Oh yes, sir. She told us all so."
"To whom did she give this letter?"
"To my sister."
"Oh, to your sister? To Miss Julia Dodd?"
"Yes, sir. But not for herself. It was to give to Alfred Hardie."
"Can you read the letter? It is rather faintly written. It is written in
pencil, my lord."
"I _could_ read it, sir; but I hope you will excuse me. She that wrote it
was very, very dear to me."
The young man's full voice faltered as he uttered these words, and he
turned his lion-like eyes soft and imploring on the judge. That venerable
and shrewd old man, learned in human nature as well as in law,
comprehended in a moment, and said kindly, "You misunderstand him.
Witnesses do not read letters _out_ in court. Let the letter be handed up
to me." This was fortunate, for the court cuckoo, who intones most
letters, would have read all the sense and pathos out of this, with his
The judge read it carefully to himself with his glasses, and told the
jury it seemed a genuine document: then the crier cried "Silence in the
court," and his lordship turned towards the jury and read the letter
slowly and solemnly:
_"DEAR, DEAR BROTHER,--Your poor little Jane lies dying, suddenly but not
painfully, and my last earthly thoughts are for my darling brother. Some
wicked person has said you are insane. I deny this with my dying breath
and my dying hand. You came to me the night before the wedding that was
to be, and talked to me most calmly, rationally and kindly; so that I
could not resist your reasons, and went to your wedding, which, till
then, I did not intend. Show these words to your slanderers when I am no
more. But oh! Alfred, even this is of little moment compared with the
world to come. By all our affection, grant me one request. Battered,
wounded, dying in my prime, what would be my condition but for the
Saviour, whom I have loved, and with whom I hope soon to be. He smoothes
the bed of death for me, He lights the dark valley; I rejoice to die and
be with Him. Oh, turn to Him, dear brother, without one hour's delay, and
then how short will be this parting. This is your dying sister's one
request, who loves you dearly._"
With the exception of Julia's sobs, not a sound was heard as the judge
read it. Many eyes were wet: and the judge himself was visibly affected,
and pressed his handkerchief a moment to his eyes. "These are the words
of a Christian woman, gentlemen," he said. And there was silence. A
girl's hand seemed to have risen from the grave to defend her brother and
rend the veil from falsehood.
Mr. Colt, out of pure tact, subdued his voice to the key of the sentiment
thus awakened, and said impressively, "Gentlemen of the jury, that is our
case:" and so sat down.
SERGEANT SAUNDERS thought it prudent to let the emotion subside before
opening the defendant's case: so he disarranged his papers, and then
rearranged them as before: and, during this, a person employed by Richard
Hardie went out and told him this last untoward piece of evidence. He
winced: but all was overbalanced by this, that Skinner had not come to
bear witness for the Plaintiff.
Sergeant Saunders rose with perfect dignity and confidence,. and
delivered a masterly address. In less than ten minutes the whole affair
took another colour under that plausible tongue. The tactician began by
declaring that the plaintiff was perfectly sane, and his convalescence
was a matter of such joy to the defendant, that not even the cruel
misinterpretation of facts and motives, to which his amiable client had
been exposed, could rob him of that sacred delight "Our case, gentlemen,
is, that the plaintiff is sane, and that he owes his sanity to those
prompt, wise, and benevolent measures, which we took eighteen months ago,
at an unhappy crisis of his mind, to preserve his understanding and his
property. Yes, his property, gentlemen; that property which in a paroxysm
of mania, he was going to throw away, as I shall show you by an
unanswerable document. He comes here to slander us and mulet us out of
five thousand pounds; but I shall show you he is already ten thousand
pounds the richer for that act of ours, for which he debits us five
thousand pounds instead of crediting us twice the sum. Gentlemen, I
cannot, like my learned friend, call witnesses from the clouds, from the
United States, and from the grave; for it has not occurred to my client
strong in the sense of his kindly and honourable intentions, to engage
gentlemen from foreign parts, with woolly locks and nasal twangs, to drop
in accidentally, and eke out the fatal gaps in evidence. The class of
testimony we stand upon is less romantic; it does not seduce the
imagination nor play upon the passions; but it is of a much higher
character in sober men's eyes, especially in a court of law. I rely, not
on witnesses dropped from the clouds, and the stars, and the stripes--to
order; nor even on the prejudiced statements of friends and sweethearts,
who always swear from the heart rather than from the head and the
conscience; but on the calm testimony of indifferent men, and on written
documents furnished by the plaintiff', and on contemporaneous entries in
the books of the asylum, which entries formally describe the plaintiff's
acts, and were put down at the time--at the time, gentlemen--with no idea
of a trial at law to come, but in compliance with the very proper
provisions of a wise and salutary Act. I shall also lay before you the
evidence of the medical witnesses who signed the certificates, men of
probity and honour, and who have made these subtle maladies of the mind
the special study of their whole life. I shall also call the family
doctor, who has known the plaintiff and his ailments, bodily and mental,
for many years, and communicated his suspicions to one of the first
psychological physicians of the age, declining, with a modesty which we,
who know less of insanity than he does, would do well to
imitate--declining, I say, to pronounce a positive opinion unfavourable
to the plaintiff, till he should have compared notes with this learned
man, and profited by his vast experience.
In this strain he continued for a good hour, until the defendants case
seemed to be a thing of granite. His oration ended, he called a string of
witnesses: every one of whom bore the learned counsel out by his evidence
But here came the grand distinction between the defendants case and the
plaintiff's. Cross-examination had hardly shaken the plaintiff's
witnesses: it literally dissolved the defendant's. Osmond was called, and
proved Alfred's headaches and pallor, and his own suspicions. But then
Colt forced him to admit that many young people had headaches without
going mad, and were pale when thwarted in love, without going mad: and
that as to the L. 14,000 and the phantom, he _knew_ nothing; but had
taken all that for granted on Mr. Richard Hardie's word.
Dr. Wycherley deposed to Alfred's being insane and abnormally irritable,
and under a pecuniary illusion, as stated in his certificate: and to his
own vast experience. But the fire of cross-examination melted all his
polysyllables into guesswork and hearsay. It melted out of him that he, a
stranger, had intruded on the young man's privacy, and had burst into a
most delicate topic, his disagreement with his father, and so had himself
created the very irritation he had set down to madness. He also had to
admit that he knew nothing about the L. 14,000 or the phantom, but had
taken for granted the young man's own father, who consulted him, was not
telling him a deliberate and wicked falsehood.
_Colt._--In short, sir, you were retained to make the man out insane,
just as my learned friend there is retained.
_Wycherley._--I think, sir, it would not be consistent with the dignity
of my profession to notice that comparison.
_Colt._--I leave defendant's counsel to thank you for that. Come, never
mind _dignity;_ let us have a little _truth._ Is it consistent with your
dignity to tell us whether the keepers of private asylums pay you a
commission for all the patients you consign to durance vile by your
Dr. Wycherley fenced with this question, but the remorseless Colt only
kept him longer under torture, and dragged out of him that he received
fifteen per cent. from the asylum keepers for every patient he wrote
insane; and that he had an income of eight hundred pounds a year from
that source alone. This, of course, was the very thing to prejudice a
jury against the defence: and Colt's art was to keep to their level.
Speers, cross-examined, failed to conceal that he was a mere tool of
Wycherley's, and had signed in manifest collusion, adhering to the letter
of the statute, but violating its spirit for certainly, the Act never
intended by "separate examination," that two doctors should come into the
passage, and walk into the room alternately, then reunite, and do the
signing as agreed before they ever saw the patient. As to the illusion
about the fourteen thousand pounds, Speers owned that the plaintiff had
not uttered a word about the subject, but had peremptorily declined it.
He had to confess, too, that he had taken for granted Dr. Wycherley was
correctly informed about the said illusion.
"In short," said the judge, interposing, "Dr. Wycherley took the very
thing for granted which it was his duty to ascertain; and you, sir, not
to be behind Dr. Wycherley, took the thing for granted at second hand."
And when Speers had left the box, he said to Serjeant Saunders, "If this
case is to be defended seriously, you had better call Mr. Richard Hardie
without further delay."
"It is my wish, my lud; but I am sorry to say he is in the country very
ill; and I have no hope of seeing him here before to-morrow."
"Oh, well; so that you _do_ call him. I shall not lay hearsay before the
jury: hearsay gathered from Mr. Richard Hardie--whom you will call in
person if the reports he has circulated have any basis whatever in
Mr. Saunders said coolly, "Mr. Richard Hardie is not the defendant," and
flowed on; nor would any but a lawyer have suspected what a terrible stab
the judge had given him so quietly.
The surgeon of Silverton House was then sworn, and produced the case
book; and there stood the entries which had been so fatal to Alfred with
the visiting justices. Suicide, homicide, self-starvation. But the
plaintiff got to Mr. Colt with a piece of paper, on which he had written
his view of all this, and cross-examination dissolved the suicide and
homicide into a spirited attempt to escape and resist a false
imprisonment As for the self-starvation, Colt elicited that Alfred had
eaten at six o'clock though not at two. "And pray, sir," said he,
contemptuously, to the witness, "do you never stir out of a madhouse? Do
you imagine that gentlemen in their senses dine at two o'clock in the
"No. I don't say that."
"What _do_ you say, then? Is forcible imprisonment of a bridegroom in a
madhouse the thing to give a _gentleman_ a _factitious_ appetite at
_your_ barbarous dinner-hour?"
In a word, Colt was rough with this witness, and nearly smashed him.
Saunders fought gallantly on, and put in Lawyer Crawford with his draft
of the insane deed, as he called it, by which the erotic monomaniac
Alfred divested himself of all his money in favour of the Dodds. There
was no dissolving this deed away; and Crawford swore he had entreated the
plaintiff not to insist on his drawing so unheard-of a document; but
opposition or question seemed to irritate his client, so that he had
complied, and the deed was to have been signed on the wedding-day.
All the lawyers present thought this looked really mad. Fancy a man
signing away his property to his wife's relatives!! The court, which had
already sat long beyond the usual time, broke up, leaving the defendant
with this advantage. Alfred Hardie and his friends made a little knot in
the hall outside, and talked excitedly over the incidents of the trial.
Mr. Compton introduced Fullalove and Vespasian. They all shook hands with
them, and thanked them warmly for the timely and most unexpected aid. But
Green and a myrmidon broke in upon their conversation. "I am down on Mr.
Barkington _alias_ Noah Skinner. It isn't very far from here, if you will
follow me." Green was as excited as a foxhound when Pug has begun to
trail his brush: the more so that another client of his wanted Noah
Skinner; and so the detective was doing a double stroke of business. He
led the way; it was dry, and they all went in pairs after him into the
back slums of Westminster; and a pretty part that is.
Now as they went along Alfred hung behind with Julia, and asked her what
on earth she meant by swearing that it was all over between her and him.
"Why your last letter was full of love, dearest; what could you be
thinking of to say that?"
She shook her head sadly, and revealed to him with many prayers for
forgiveness that she had been playing a part of late: that she had
concealed her father's death from him, and the fatal barrier interposed.
"I was afraid you would be disheartened, and lose your first class and
perhaps your trial. But you are safe now, dear Alfred; I am sure the
judge sees through them; for I have studied him for you. I know his face
by heart, and all his looks and what they mean. My Alfred will be cleared
of this wicked slander, and happy with some one----Ah!"
"Yes, I mean to be happy with some one," said Alfred. "I am not one of
your self-sacrificing angels; thank Heaven! Your shall not sacrifice us
to your mother's injustice nor to the caprices of fate. We have one
another; but you would immolate me for the pleasure of immolating
yourself. Don't provoke me too far, or I'll carry you off by force. I
swear it, by Him who made us both."
"Dearest, how wildly you talk." And with this Julia hung her head, and
had a guilty thrill. She could not help thinking that eccentric little
measure would relieve her of the sin of disobedience.
After making known to her his desperate resolution, Alfred was silent,
and they went sadly side by side; so dear, so near, yet always some
infernal thing or other coming between them. They reached a passage in a
miserable street. At the mouth stood two of Green's men, planted there to
follow Skinner should he go out: but they reported all quiet. "Bring the
old gentleman up," said Green. "I appointed him six o'clock, and it's on
the stroke." He then descended the passage, and striking a light led the
way up a high stair. Skinner lived on the fifth story. Green tapped at
his door. "Mr. Barkington."
"Mr. Barkington, I've brought you some money."
"Perhaps he is not at home," said Mr. Compton.
"Oh, yes, sir, I sent a sharp boy up, and he picked the paper out of the
keyhole and saw him sitting reading."
He then applied his own eye to the keyhole. "I see something black," said
he, "I think he suspects."
While he hesitated, they became conscious of a pungent vapour stealing
through the now open keyhole.
"Hallo!" said Green, "what is this?"
Fullalove observed coolly that Mr. Skinner's lungs must he peculiarly
made if he could breathe in that atmosphere. "If you want to see him
alive, let me open the door."
"There's something amiss here," said Green gravely.
At that Fullalove whipped out a tool no bigger than a nutcracker, forced
the edge in, and sent the door flying open. The room or den was full of
an acrid vapour, and close to them sat he they sought motionless.
"Keep the lady back," cried Green, and threw the vivid light of his
bull's eye on a strange, grotesque, and ghastly scene. The floor was
covered with bright sovereigns that glittered in the lamp-light. On the
table was an open book, and a candle quite burnt down: the grease had run
into a circle.
And, as was that grease to the expired light, so was the thing that sat
there in human form to the Noah Skinner they had come to seek. Dead this
many a day of charcoal fumes, but preserved from decomposition by those
very fumes, sat Noah Skinner, dried into bones and leather waiting for
them with his own Hard Cash, and with theirs; for, creeping awestruck
round that mummified figure seated dead on his pool of sovereigns, they
soon noticed in his left hand a paper: it was discoloured by the vapour,
and part hid by the dead thumb; but thus much shone out clear and
amazing, that it was a banker's receipt to David Dodd, Esq., for L.
14,010, drawn at Barkington, and signed for Richard Hardie by Noah
Skinner. Julia had drawn back, and was hiding her face; but soon
curiosity struggled with awe in the others: they peeped at the Receipt:
they touched the weird figure. Its yellow skin sounded like a drum, and
its joints creaked like a puppets. At last Compton suggested that Edward
Dodd ought to secure that valuable document. "No no," said Edward: "it is
too like robbing the dead."
"Then I will," said Compton.
But he found the dead thumb and finger would not part with the Receipt;
then, as a trifle turns the scale, he hesitated in turn: and all but
Julia stood motionless round the body that held the Receipt, the soul of
the lost Cash, and still, as in life, seemed loth to part with it.
Then Fullalove came beside the arm-chair, and said with simple dignity,
"I'm a man from foreign parts; I have no interest here but justice: and
justice I'll dew." He took the dead arm, and the joint creaked: he
applied the same lever to the bone and parchment hand he had to the door:
it creaked too, but more faintly, and opened and let out this:--
No. 17. BARKINGTON, Nov. 10, 1847.
_Received of_ DAVID DODD, Esq., _the sum of Fourteen Thousand and Ten
Pounds Twelve Shillings and Six Pence,
to account on demand
_For_ RICHARD HARDIE,
L. 14,010: 12: 6.
A stately foot came up the stair, but no one heard it. All were absorbed
in the strange weird sight, and this great stroke of fate; or of
"This is yours, I reckon," said Fullalove, and handed the receipt to
Edward. "No, no!" said Compton. "See: I've just found a will, bequeathing
all he has in the world, with his blessing, to Miss Julia Dodd. These
sovereigns are yours, then. But above all, the paper: as your legal
adviser, I insist on your taking it immediately. Possession is nine
points. However, it is actually yours, in virtue of this bequest."
A solemn passionless voice seemed to fall on them from the clouds,
"No; it is Mine."
MY story must now return on board the _Vulture._ Just before noon, the
bell the half hours are struck on was tolled to collect the ship's
company; and soon the gangways and booms were crowded, and even the yards
were manned with sailors, collected to see their shipmate committed to
the deep. Next came the lieutenants and midshipmen and stood reverently
on the deck: the body was brought and placed on a grating. Then all heads
being uncovered below and aloft, the chaplain read the solemn service of
Many tears were shied by the rough sailors, the more so that to most of
them, though not to the officers, it was now known that poor Billy had
not always been before the mast, but had seen better days, and commanded
vessels, and saved lives; and now he had lost his own.
The service is the same as ashore, with this exception: that the words
"We commit his body to the ground, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," &c.,
are altered at sea, thus: "We commit his body to the deep, to be turned
into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body, when the sea
shall give up her dead; and the life of the world to come." At these
words the body is allowed to glide off the grating into the sea. The
chaplain's solemn voice drew near those very words, and the tears of pity
fell faster; and Georgie White, an affectionate boy, sobbed violently,
and shivered beforehand at the sullen plunge that he knew would soon
come, and then he should see no more poor Billy who had given his life
At this moment the captain came flying on deck, and jumping on to a gun,
cried sharply, "Avast! Haul that body aboard."
The sharp voice of command cut across the solemn words and tones in the
most startling way. The chaplain closed his book with a look of amazement
and indignation: the sailors stared, and for the first time did not obey
an order. To be sure it was one they had never heard before. Then the
captain got angry, and repeated his command louder, and the body was
almost jerked in board.
"Carry him to my cabin; and uncover his face."
By this time nothing could surprise Jackey Tar. Four sailors executed the
"Bosen, pipe to duty."
While the men were dispersing to their several stations, Captain
Bazalgette apologised to the chaplain, and explained to him and to the
officers. But I give his explanation in my own words. Finding the ship
quiet, the purser went to the captain down below, and asked him coolly
what entry he should make in the ship's books about this William
Thompson, who was no more William Thompson than he was. "What do you
mean?" said the captain. Then the purser told him that Thompson's
messmates, in preparing him last night for interment, had found a little
bag round his neck, and inside it, a medal of the Humane Society, and a
slip of paper written on in a lady's hand; then they had sent for him;
and he had seen at once that this was a mysterious case: this lady spoke
of him as her husband, and skipper of a merchant vessel.
What is that?" roared the captain, who hitherto had listened with scarce
half an ear.
Skipper of a merchant vessel, sir, as sure as you command her majesty's
frigate _Vulture:_ and then we found his shirt marked with the same name
as the lady's."
"What was the lady's name?"
"Lucy Dodd; and David Dodd is on the shirt."
"Why didn't you tell me this before?" cried the captain.
"Didn't know it till last night."
"Why it is twelve o'clock. They are burying him."
"Lucy would never forgive me," cried the captain. And to the purser's
utter amazement he clapped on his cocked hat, and flew out of the cabin
on the errand I have described.
He now returned to the cabin and looked: a glance was enough: there lay
the kindly face that had been his friend man and boy.
He hid his own with his hands, and moaned. He cursed his own blindness
and stupidity in not recognising that face among a thousand. In this he
was unjust to himself. David had never looked _himself_ till now.
He sent for the surgeon, and told him the whole sad story: and asked him
what could be done. His poor cousin Lucy had more than once expressed her
horror of interment at sea. "It is very hot," said he; "but surely you
must know some way of keeping him till we land in New Zealand: curse
these flies; how they bite!"
The surgeon's eyes sparkled; he happened to be an enthusiast in the art
of embalming. "Keep him to New Zealand?" said he contemptuously, "I'll
embalm him so that he shall go to England looking just as he does now--
by-the-by, I never saw a drowned man keep his colour so well before--ay,
and two thousand years after that, if you don't mind the expense."
"The expense! I don't care, if it cost me a year's pay. I think of
nothing but repairing my blunder as far as I can."
The surgeon was delighted. Standing over his subject, who lay on the
captain's table, he told that officer how he should proceed. "I have all
the syringes," he said; "a capital collection. I shall inject the veins
with care and patience; then I shall remove the brain and the viscera,
and provided I'm not stinted in arsenic and spices----"
"I give you carte blanche on the purser: make your preparations, and send
for him. Don't tell me how you do it; but do it. I must write and tell
poor Lucy I have got him, and am bringing him home to her--dead."
The surgeon was gone about a quarter of an hour; he then returned with
two men to remove the body, and found the captain still writing his
letter, very sorrowful: but now and then slapping his face or leg with a
hearty curse as the flies stung him.
The surgeon beckoned the men in softly, and pointed to the body for them
to carry it out.
Now, as he pointed, his eye, following his finger, fell on something that
struck that experienced eye as incredible: he uttered an exclamation of
astonishment so loud that the captain looked up directly from his letter;
and saw him standing with his finger pointing at the corpse, and his eyes