When we reached Bow Street, we were relieved to find that our prisoner, afte_ll, had _not_ evaded us. It was a false alarm. He was there with th_oliceman, and he kindly allowed us to make the first formal charge agains_im.
Of course, on Charles's sworn declaration and my own, the man was at onc_emanded, bail being refused, owing both to the serious nature of the charg_nd the slippery character of the prisoner's antecedents. We went back t_ayfair—Charles, well satisfied that the man he dreaded was under lock an_ey; myself, not too well pleased to think that the man I dreaded was n_onger at large, and that the trifling little episode of the ten per cen_ommission stood so near discovery.
Next day the police came round in force, and had a long consultation wit_harles and myself. They strongly urged that two other persons at least shoul_e included in the charge—Césarine and the little woman whom we had variousl_nown as Madame Picardet, White Heather, Mrs. David Granton, and Mrs. Elih_uackenboss. If these accomplices were arrested, they said, we could includ_onspiracy as one count in the indictment, which gave us an extra chance o_onviction. Now they had got Colonel Clay, in fact, they naturally desired t_eep him, and also to indict with him as many as possible of his pals an_onfederates.
Here, however, a difficulty arose. Charles called me aside with a grave fac_nto the library. "Seymour," he said, fixing me, "this is a serious business.
I will not lightly swear away any woman's character. Colonel Clay himself—or, rather, Paul Finglemore—is an abandoned rogue, whom I do not desire to scree_n any degree. But poor little Madame Picardet—she may be his lawful wife, an_he may have acted implicitly under his orders. Besides, I don't know whethe_ could swear to her identity. Here's the photograph the police bring of th_oman they believe to be Colonel Clay's chief female accomplice. Now, I as_ou, does it in the least degree resemble that clever and amusing and charmin_ittle creature, who has so often deceived us?"
In spite of Charles's gibes, I flatter myself I do really understand the whol_uty of a secretary. It was clear from his voice he did not _wish_ me t_ecognise her; which, as it happened, I did not. "Certainly, it doesn'_esemble her, Charles," I answered, with conviction in my voice. "I shoul_ever have known her." But I did not add that I should no more have know_olonel Clay himself in his character of Paul Finglemore, or of Césarine'_oung man, as _that_ remark lay clearly outside my secretarial functions.
Still, it flitted across my mind at the time that the Seer had made som_asual remarks at Nice about a letter in Charles's pocket, presumably fro_adame Picardet; and I reflected further that Madame Picardet in turn migh_ossibly hold certain answers of Charles's, couched in such terms as he migh_easonably desire to conceal from Amelia. Indeed, I must allow that unde_hatever disguise White Heather appeared to us, Charles was always tha_isguise's devoted slave from the first moment he met it. It occurred to me, therefore, that the clever little woman—call her what you will—might be th_older of more than one indiscreet communication.
"Under these circumstances," Charles went on, in his austerest voice, "_annot consent to be a party to the arrest of White Heather. I—I decline t_dentify her. In point of fact"—he grew more emphatic as he went on—"I don'_hink there is an atom of evidence of any sort against her. Not," h_ontinued, after a pause, "that I wish in any degree to screen the guilty.
Césarine, now—Césarine we have liked and trusted. She has betrayed our trust.
She has sold us to this fellow. I have no doubt at all that she gave him th_iamonds from Amelia's rivière; that she took us by arrangement to meet him a_chloss Lebenstein; that she opened and sent to him my letter to Lord Craig- Ellachie. Therefore, I say, we _ought_ to arrest Césarine. But not Whit_eather—not Jessie; not that pretty Mrs. Quackenboss. Let the guilty suffer; why strike at the innocent—or, at worst, the misguided?"
"Charles," I exclaimed, with warmth, "your sentiments do you honour. You are _an of feeling. And White Heather, I allow, is pretty enough and clever enoug_o be forgiven anything. You may rely upon my discretion. I will swear throug_hick and thin that I do not recognise this woman as Madame Picardet."
Charles clasped my hand in silence. "Seymour," he said, after a pause, wit_arked emotion, "I felt sure I could rely upon your—er—honour and integrity. _ave been rough upon you sometimes. But I ask your forgiveness. I see yo_nderstand the whole duties of your position."
We went out again, better friends than we had been for months. I hoped, indeed, this pleasant little incident might help to neutralise the possibl_ll-effects of the ten per cent disclosure, should Finglemore take it into hi_ead to betray me to my employer. As we emerged into the drawing-room, Ameli_eckoned me aside towards her boudoir for a moment.
"Seymour," she said to me, in a distinctly frightened tone, "I have treate_ou harshly at times, I know, and I am very sorry for it. But I want you t_elp me in a most painful difficulty. The police are quite right as to th_harge of conspiracy; that designing little minx, White Heather, or Mrs. Davi_ranton, or whatever else we're to call her, ought certainly to b_rosecuted—and sent to prison, too—and have her absurd head of hair cut shor_nd combed straight for her. But—and you will help me here, I'm sure, dea_eymour—I _cannot_ allow them to arrest my Césarine. I don't pretend to sa_ésarine isn't guilty; the girl has behaved most ungratefully to me. She ha_obbed me right and left, and deceived me without compunction. Still—I put i_o you as a married man— _can_ any woman afford to go into the witness-box, to be cross-examined and teased by her own maid, or by a brute of a barriste_n her maid's information? I assure you, Seymour, the thing's not to be dream_f. There are details of a lady's life—known only to her maid—which _cannot_e made public. Explain as much of this as you think well to Charles, an_make_ him understand that _if_ he insists upon arresting Césarine, I shal_o into the box—and swear my head off to prevent any one of the gang fro_eing convicted. I have told Césarine as much; I have promised to help her: _ave explained that I am her friend, and that if _she'll_ stand by _me_ , _I'll_ stand by _her_ , and by this hateful young man of hers."
I saw in a moment how things went. Neither Charles nor Amelia could fac_ross-examination on the subject of one of Colonel Clay's accomplices. N_oubt, in Amelia's case, it was merely a question of rouge and hair-dye; bu_hat woman would not sooner confess to a forgery or a murder than to thos_oilet secrets?
I returned to Charles, therefore, and spent half an hour in composing, as wel_s I might, these little domestic difficulties. In the end, it was arrange_hat if Charles did his best to protect Césarine from arrest, Amelia woul_onsent to do her best in return on behalf of Madame Picardet.
We had next the police to tackle—a more difficult business. Still, eve_they_ were reasonable. They had caught Colonel Clay, they believed, bu_heir chance of convicting him depended entirely upon Charles'_dentification, with mine to back it. The more they urged the necessity o_rresting the female confederates, however, the more stoutly did Charle_eclare that for his part he could by no means make sure of Colonel Cla_imself, while he utterly declined to give evidence of any sort against eithe_f the women. It was a difficult case, he said, and he felt far from confiden_ven about the man. If _his_ decision faltered, and he failed to identify, the case was closed; no jury could convict with nothing to convict upon.
At last the police gave way. No other course was open to them. They had mad_n important capture; but they saw that everything depended upon securin_heir witnesses, and the witnesses, if interfered with, were likely to swea_o absolutely nothing.
Indeed, as it turned out, before the preliminary investigation at Bow Stree_as completed (with the usual remands), Charles had been thrown into such _tate of agitation that he wished he had never caught the Colonel at all.
"I wonder, Sey," he said to me, "why I didn't offer the rascal two thousand _ear to go right off to Australia, and be rid of him for ever! It would hav_een cheaper for my reputation than keeping him about in courts of law i_ngland. The worst of it is, when once the best of men gets into a witness- box, there's no saying with what shreds and tatters of a character he may a_ast come out of it!"
"In _your_ case, Charles," I answered, dutifully, "there can be no suc_oubt; except, perhaps, as regards the Craig-Ellachie Consolidated."
Then came the endless bother of "getting up the case" with the police and th_awyers. Charles would have retired from it altogether by that time, but, mos_nfortunately, he was bound over to prosecute. "You couldn't take a lump su_o let me off?" he said, jokingly, to the inspector. But I knew in my heart i_as one of the "true words spoken in jest" that the proverb tells of.
Of course we could see now the whole building-up of the great intrigue. It ha_een worked out as carefully as the Tichborne swindle. Young Finglemore, a_he brother of Charles's broker, knew from the outset all about his affairs; and, after a gentle course of preliminary roguery, he laid his plans deep fo_ campaign against my brother-in-law. Everything had been deliberatel_esigned beforehand. A place had been found for Césarine as Amelia'_aid—needless to say, by means of forged testimonials. Through her aid th_windler had succeeded in learning still more of the family ways and habits, and had acquired a knowledge of certain facts which he proceeded forthwith t_se against us. His first attack, as the Seer, had been cleverly designed s_s to give us the idea that we were a mere casual prey; and it did not escap_harles's notice now that the detail of getting Madame Picardet to inquire a_he Crédit Marseillais about his bank had been solemnly gone through o_urpose to blind us to the obvious truth that Colonel Clay was already in ful_ossession of all such facts about us. It was by Césarine's aid, again, tha_e became possessed of Amelia's diamonds, that he received the lette_ddressed to Lord Craig-Ellachie, and that he managed to dupe us over th_chloss Lebenstein business. Nevertheless, all these things Charles determine_o conceal in court; he did not give the police a single fact that would tur_gainst either Césarine or Madame Picardet.
As for Césarine, of course, she left the house immediately after the arrest o_he Colonel, and we heard of her no more till the day of the trial.
When that great day came, I never saw a more striking sight than the Ol_ailey presented. It was crammed to overflowing. Charles arrived early, accompanied by his solicitor. He was so white and troubled that he looked muc_ore like prisoner than prosecutor. Outside the court a pretty little woma_tood, pale and anxious. A respectful crowd stared at her silently. "Who i_hat?" Charles asked. Though we could both of us guess, rather than see, i_as White Heather.
"That's the prisoner's wife," the inspector on duty replied. "She's waiting t_ee him enter. I'm sorry for her, poor thing. She's a perfect lady."
"So she seems," Charles answered, scarcely daring to face her.
At that moment she turned. Her eyes fell upon his. Charles paused for a secon_nd looked faltering. There was in those eyes just the faintest gleam o_leading recognition, but not a trace of the old saucy, defiant vivacity.
Charles framed his lips to words, but without uttering a sound. Unless _reatly mistake, the words he framed on his lips were these: "I will do m_est for him."
We pushed our way in, assisted by the police. Inside the court we saw a lad_eated, in a quiet black dress, with a becoming bonnet. A moment passed befor_ knew—it was Césarine. "Who is—that person?" Charles asked once more of th_earest inspector, desiring to see in what way he would describe her.
And once more the answer came, "That's the prisoner's wife, sir."
Charles started back, surprised. "But—I was told—a lady outside was Mrs. Pau_inglemore," he broke in, much puzzled.
"Very likely," the inspector replied, unmoved. "We have plenty that way.
_When_ a gentleman has as many aliases as Colonel Clay, you can hardly expec_im to be over particular about having only _one_ wife between them, ca_ou?"
"Ah, I see," Charles muttered, in a shocked voice. "Bigamy!"
The inspector looked stony. "Well, not exactly that," he replied, "occasiona_arriage."
Mr. Justice Rhadamanth tried the case. "I'm sorry it's him, Sey," my brother- in-law whispered in my ear. (He said _him_ , not _he_ , because, whateve_lse Charles is, he is _not_ a pedant; the English language as it is spoke_y most educated men is quite good enough for his purpose.) "I only wish i_ad been Sir Edward Easy. Easy's a man of the world, and a man of society; h_ould feel for a person in _my_ position. He wouldn't allow these beasts o_awyers to badger and pester me. He would back his order. But Rhadamanth i_ne of your modern sort of judges, who make a merit of being what they call
'conscientious,' and won't hush up anything. I admit I'm afraid of him. _hall be glad when it's over."
"Oh, _you'll_ pull through all right," I said in my capacity of secretary.
But I didn't think it.
The judge took his seat. The prisoner was brought in. Every eye seemed ben_pon him. He was neatly and plainly dressed, and, rogue though he was, I mus_onestly confess he looked at least a gentleman. His manner was defiant, no_bject like Charles's. He knew he was at bay, and he turned like a man to fac_is accusers.
We had two or three counts on the charge, and, after some formal business, Si_harles Vandrift was put into the box to bear witness against Finglemore.
Prisoner was unrepresented. Counsel had been offered him, but he refused thei_id. The judge even advised him to accept their help; but Colonel Clay, as w_ll called him mentally still, declined to avail himself of the judge'_uggestion.
"I am a barrister myself, my lord," he said—"called some nine years ago. I ca_onduct my own defence, I venture to think, better than any of these m_earned brethren."
Charles went through his examination-in-chief quite swimmingly. He answere_ith promptitude. He identified the prisoner without the slightest hesitatio_s the man who had swindled him under the various disguises of the Reveren_ichard Peploe Brabazon, the Honourable David Granton, Count von Lebenstein, Professor Schleiermacher, Dr. Quackenboss, and others. He had not th_lightest doubt of the man's identity. He could swear to him anywhere. _hought, for my own part, he was a trifle too cocksure. A certain amount o_esitation would have been better policy. As to the various swindles, h_etailed them in full, his evidence to be supplemented by that of ban_fficials and other subordinates. In short, he left Finglemore not a leg t_tand upon.
When it came to the cross-examination, however, matters began to assume quit_ different complexion. The prisoner set out by questioning Sir Charles'_dentifications. Was he sure of his man? He handed Charles a photograph. "I_hat the person who represented himself as the Reverend Richard Peplo_rabazon?" he asked persuasively.
Charles admitted it without a moment's delay.
Just at that moment, a little parson, whom I had not noticed till then, ros_p, unobtrusively, near the middle of the court, where he was seated besid_ésarine.
"Look at that gentleman!" the prisoner said, waving one hand, and pouncin_pon the prosecutor.
Charles turned and looked at the person indicated. His face grew still whiter.
It was—to all outer appearance—the Reverend Richard Brabazon in propriâ personâ.
Of course I saw the trick. This was the real parson upon whose outer ma_olonel Clay had modelled his little curate. But the jury was shaken. And s_as Charles for a moment.
"Let the jurors see the photograph," the judge said, authoritatively. It wa_assed round the jury-box, and the judge also examined it. We could see a_nce, by their faces and attitudes, they all recognised it as the portrait o_he clergyman before them—not of the prisoner in the dock, who stood ther_miling blandly at Charles's discomfiture.
The clergyman sat down. At the same moment the prisoner produced a secon_hotograph.
"Now, can you tell me who _that_ is?" he asked Charles, in the regular brow- beating Old Bailey voice.
With somewhat more hesitation, Charles answered, after a pause: "That i_ourself as you appeared in London when you came in the disguise of the Gra_on Lebenstein."
This was a crucial point, for the Lebenstein fraud was the one count on whic_ur lawyers relied to prove their case most fully, within the jurisdiction.
Even while Charles spoke, a gentleman whom I had noticed before, sittin_eside White Heather, with a handkerchief to his face, rose as abruptly as th_arson. Colonel Clay indicated him with a graceful movement of his hand. "An_this_ gentleman?" he asked calmly.
Charles was fairly staggered. It was the obvious original of the false Vo_ebenstein.
The photograph went round the box once more. The jury smiled incredulously.
Charles had given himself away. His overweening confidence and certainty ha_uined him.
Then Colonel Clay, leaning forward, and looking quite engaging, began a ne_ine of cross-examination. "We have seen, Sir Charles," he said, "that w_annot implicitly trust your identifications. Now let us see how far we ca_rust your other evidence. First, then, about those diamonds. You tried to bu_hem, did you not, from a person who represented himself as the Reveren_ichard Brabazon, because you believed he thought they were paste; and if yo_ould, you would have given him 10 pounds or so for them. _Do_ you think tha_as honest?"
"I object to this line of cross-examination," our leading counsel interposed.
"It does not bear on the prosecutor's evidence. It is purely recriminatory."
Colonel Clay was all bland deference. "I wish, my lord," he said, turnin_ound, "to show that the prosecutor is a person unworthy of credence in an_ay. I desire to proceed upon the well-known legal maxim of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. I believe I am permitted to shake the witness's credit?"
"The prisoner is entirely within his rights," Rhadamanth answered, lookin_everely at Charles. "And I was wrong in suggesting that he needed the advic_r assistance of counsel."
Charles wriggled visibly. Colonel Clay perked up. Bit by bit, with dexterou_uestions, Charles was made to acknowledge that he wanted to buy diamonds a_he price of paste, knowing them to be real; and, a millionaire himself, woul_ladly have diddled a poor curate out of a couple of thousand.
"I was entitled to take advantage of my special knowledge," Charles murmure_eebly.
"Oh, certainly," the prisoner answered. "But, while professing friendship an_ffection for a clergyman and his wife, in straitened circumstances, you wer_repared, it seems, to take three thousand pounds' worth of goods off thei_ands for ten pounds, if you could have got them at that price. Is not tha_o?"
Charles was compelled to admit it.
The prisoner went onto the David Granton incident. "When you offered t_malgamate with Lord Craig-Ellachie," he asked, "had you or had you not hear_hat a gold-bearing reef ran straight from your concession into Lord Craig- Ellachie's, and that his portion of the reef was by far the larger and mor_mportant?"
Charles wriggled again, and our counsel interposed; but Rhadamanth wa_damant. Charles had to allow it.
And so, too, with the incident of the Slump in Golcondas. Unwillingly, shamefacedly, by torturing steps, Charles was compelled to confess that he ha_old out Golcondas—he, the Chairman of the company, after repeate_eclarations to shareholders and others that he would do no such thing—becaus_e thought Professor Schleiermacher had made diamonds worthless. He ha_ndeavoured to save himself by ruining his company. Charles tried to brazen i_ut with remarks to the effect that business was business. "And fraud i_raud," Rhadamanth added, in his pungent way.
"A man must protect himself," Charles burst out.
"At the expense of those who have put their trust in his honour an_ntegrity," the judge commented coldly.
After four mortal hours of it, all to the same effect, my respected brother- in-law left the witness-box at last, wiping his brow and biting his lip, wit_he very air of a culprit. His character had received a most serious blow.
While he stood in the witness-box all the world had felt it was _he_ who wa_he accused and Colonel Clay who was the prosecutor. He was convicted on hi_wn evidence of having tried to induce the supposed David Granton to sell hi_ather's interests into an enemy's hands, and of every other shady trick int_hich his well-known business acuteness had unfortunately hurried him durin_he course of his adventures. I had but one consolation in my brother-in-law'_isfortunes—and that was the thought that a due sense of his own shortcoming_ight possibly make him more lenient in the end to the trivial misdemeanour_f a poor beggar of a secretary!
_I_ was the next in the box. I do not desire to enlarge upon my ow_chievements. I will draw a decent veil, indeed, over the painful scene tha_nsued when I finished my evidence. I can only say I was more cautious tha_harles in my recognition of the photographs; but I found myself particularl_orried and harried over other parts of my cross-examination. Especially was _haken about that misguided step I took in the matter of the cheque for th_ebenstein commission—a cheque which Colonel Clay handed to me with the utmos_oliteness, requesting to know whether or not it bore my signature. I caugh_harles's eye at the end of the episode, and I venture to say the expressio_t wore was one of relief that I too had tripped over a trifling question o_en per cent on the purchase money of the castle.
Altogether, I must admit, if it had not been for the police evidence, we woul_ave failed to make a case against our man at all. But the police, I confess, had got up their part of the prosecution admirably. Now that they knew Colone_lay to be really Paul Finglemore, they showed with great cleverness how Pau_inglemore's disappearances and reappearances in London exactly tallied wit_olonel Clay's appearances and disappearances elsewhere, under the guise o_he little curate, the Seer, David Granton, and the rest of them. Furthermore, they showed experimentally how the prisoner at the bar might have got himsel_p in the various characters; and, by means of a wax bust, modelled by Dr.
Beddersley from observations at Bow Street, and aided by additions in th_utta-percha composition after Dolly Lingfield's photographs, they succeede_n proving that the face as it stood could be readily transformed into th_aces of Medhurst and David Granton. Altogether, their cleverness and traine_cumen made up on the whole for Charles's over-certainty, and they succeede_n putting before the jury a strong case of their own against Paul Finglemore.
The trial occupied three days. After the first of the three, my respecte_rother-in-law preferred, as he said, not to prejudice the case against th_risoner by appearing in court again. He did not even allude to the littl_atter of the ten per cent commission further than to say at dinner tha_vening that all men were bound to protect their own interests—as secretarie_r as principals. This I took for forgiveness; and I continued diligently t_ttend the trial, and watch the case in my employer's interest.
The defence was ingenious, even if somewhat halting. It consisted simply of a_ttempt to prove throughout that Charles and I had made our prisoner th_ictim of a mistaken identity. Finglemore put into the box the ingenuou_riginal of the little curate—the Reverend Septimus Porkington, as it turne_ut, a friend of his family; and he showed that it was the Reverend Septimu_imself who had sat to a photographer in Baker Street for the portrait whic_harles too hastily identified as that of Colonel Clay in his personificatio_f Mr. Richard Brabazon. He further elicited the fact that the portrait of th_ount von Lebenstein was really taken from Dr. Julius Keppel, a Tyroles_usic-master, residing at Balham, whom he put into the box, and who was wel_nown, as it chanced, to the foreman of the jury. Gradually he made it clea_o us that no portraits existed of Colonel Clay at all, except Doll_ingfield's—so it dawned upon me by degrees that even Dr. Beddersley coul_nly have been misled if we had succeeded in finding for him the allege_hotographs of Colonel Clay as the count and the curate, which had been show_s by Medhurst. Altogether, the prisoner based his defence upon the fact tha_o more than two witnesses directly identified him; while one of those two ha_ositively sworn that he recognised as the prisoner's two portraits whic_urned out, by independent evidence, to be taken from other people!
The judge summed up in a caustic way which was pleasant to neither party. H_sked the jury to dismiss from their minds entirely the impression created b_hat he frankly described as "Sir Charles Vandrift's obvious dishonesty." The_ust not allow the fact that he was a millionaire—and a particularly shad_ne—to prejudice their feelings in favour of the prisoner. Even th_ichest—and vilest—of men must be protected. Besides, this was a publi_uestion. If a rogue cheated a rogue, he must still be punished. If a murdere_tabbed or shot a murderer, he must still be hung for it. Society must se_hat the worst of thieves were not preyed upon by others. Therefore, th_roved facts that Sir Charles Vandrift, with all his millions, had meanl_ried to cheat the prisoner, or some other poor person, out of valuabl_iamonds—had basely tried to juggle Lord Craig-Ellachie's mines into his ow_ands—had vilely tried to bribe a son to betray his father—had directly tried, by underhand means, to save his own money, at the risk of destroying th_ealth of others who trusted to his probity—these proved facts must not blin_hem to the truth that the prisoner at the bar (if he were really Colone_lay) was an abandoned swindler. To that point alone they must confine thei_ttention; and _if_ they were convinced that the prisoner was shown to b_he self-same man who appeared on various occasions as David Granton, as Vo_ebenstein, as Medhurst, as Schleiermacher, they must find him guilty.
As to that point, also, the judge commented on the obvious strength of th_olice case, and the fact that the prisoner had not attempted in any one ou_f so many instances to prove an alibi. Surely, if he were _not_ Colone_lay, the jury should ask themselves, must it not have been simple and eas_or him to do so? Finally, the judge summed up all the elements of doubt i_he identification—and all the elements of probability; and left it to th_ury to draw their own conclusions.
They retired at the end to consider their verdict. While they were absen_very eye in court was fixed on the prisoner. But Paul Finglemore himsel_ooked steadily towards the further end of the hall, where two pale-face_omen sat together, with handkerchiefs in their hands, and eyes red wit_eeping.
Only then, as he stood there, awaiting the verdict, with a fixed white face, prepared for everything, did I begin to realise with what courage and pluc_hat one lone man had sustained so long an unequal contest against wealth, authority, and all the Governments of Europe, aided but by his own skill an_wo feeble women! Only then did I feel he had played his reckless game throug_ll those years with _this_ ever before him! I found it hard to picture.
The jury filed slowly back. There was dead silence in court as the clerk pu_he question, "Do you find the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?"
"We find him guilty."
"On all the counts?"
"On all the counts of the indictment."
The women at the back burst into tears, unanimously.
Mr. Justice Rhadamanth addressed the prisoner. "Have you anything to urge," h_sked in a very stern tone, "in mitigation of whatever sentence the Court ma_ee fit to pass upon you?"
"Nothing," the prisoner answered, just faltering slightly. "I have brought i_pon myself—but—I have protected the lives of those nearest and dearest to me.
I have fought hard for my own hand. I admit my crime, and will face m_unishment. I only regret that, since we were both of us rogues—myself and th_rosecutor—the lesser rogue should have stood here in the dock, and th_reater in the witness-box. Our country takes care to decorate each accordin_o his deserts—to him, the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George; to me, the Broad Arrow!"
The judge gazed at him severely. "Paul Finglemore," he said, passing sentenc_n his sardonic way, "you have chosen to dedicate to the service of frau_bilities and attainments which, if turned from the outset into a legitimat_hannel, would no doubt have sufficed to secure you without excessive effort _ubsistence one degree above starvation—possibly even, with good luck, _ordid and squalid competence. You have preferred to embark them on a lawles_ife of vice and crime—and I will not deny that you seem to have had a goo_un for your money. Society, however, whose mouthpiece I am, cannot allow yo_ny longer to mock it with impunity. You have broken its laws openly, and yo_ave been found out." He assumed the tone of bland condescension which alway_eralds his severest moments. "I sentence you to Fourteen Years' Imprisonment, with Hard Labour."
The prisoner bowed, without losing his apparent composure. But his eye_trayed away again to the far end of the hall, where the two weeping women, with a sudden sharp cry, fell at once in a faint on one another's shoulders, and were with difficulty removed from court by the ushers.
As we left the room, I heard but one comment all round, thus voiced by _chool-boy: "I'd a jolly sight rather it had been old Vandrift. This Cla_hap's too clever by half to waste on a prison!"
But he went there, none the less—in that "cool sequestered vale of life" t_ecover equilibrium; though I myself half regretted it.
I will add but one more little parting episode.
When all was over, Charles rushed off to Cannes, to get away from th_mpertinent stare of London. Amelia and Isabel and I went with him. We wer_riving one afternoon on the hills beyond the town, among the myrtle an_entisk scrub, when we noticed in front of us a nice victoria, containing tw_adies in very deep mourning. We followed it, unintentionally, as far as L_rand Pin—that big pine tree that looks across the bay towards Antibes. There, the ladies descended and sat down on a knoll, gazing out disconsolatel_owards the sea and the islands. It was evident they were suffering very dee_rief. Their faces were pale and their eyes bloodshot. "Poor things!" Ameli_aid. Then her tone altered suddenly.
"Why, good gracious," she cried, "if it isn't Césarine!"
So it was—with White Heather!
Charles got down and drew near them. "I beg your pardon," he said, raising hi_at, and addressing Madame Picardet: "I believe I have had the pleasure o_eeting you. And since I have doubtless paid in the end for your victoria, _may_ I venture to inquire for whom you are in mourning?"
White Heather drew back, sobbing; but Césarine turned to him, fiery red, wit_he mien of a lady. "For _him_!" she answered; "for Paul! for our king, who_you_ have imprisoned! As long as _he_ remains there, we have both of u_ecided to wear mourning for ever!"
Charles raised his hat again, and drew back without one word. He waved hi_and to Amelia and walked home with me to Cannes. He seemed deeply dejected.
"A penny for your thoughts!" I exclaimed, at last, in a jocular tone, tryin_eebly to rouse him.
He turned to me, and sighed. "I was wondering," he answered, "if _I_ ha_one to prison, would Amelia and Isabel have done as much for me?"
For myself, I did _not_ wonder. I knew pretty well. For Charles, you wil_dmit, though the bigger rogue of the two, is scarcely the kind of rogue t_nspire a woman with profound affection.