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Chapter 63

  • The professional gentleman who had given Kit the consolatory piece o_nformation relative to the settlement of his trifle of business at the Ol_ailey, and the probability of its being very soon disposed of, turned out t_e quite correct in his prognostications. In eight days' time, the session_ommenced. In one day afterwards, the Grand jury found a True Bill agains_hristopher Nubbles for felony; and in two days from that finding, th_foresaid Christopher Nubbles was called upon to plead Guilty or Not Guilty t_n Indictment for that he the said Christopher did feloniously abstract an_teal from the dwelling-house and office of one Sampson Brass, gentleman, on_ank Note for Five Pounds issued by the Governor and Company of the Bank o_ngland; in contravention of the Statutes in that case made and provided, an_gainst the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity.
  • To this indictment, Christopher Nubbles, in a low and trembling voice, pleade_ot Guilty; and here, let those who are in the habit of forming hast_udgments from appearances, and who would have had Christopher, if innocent,
  • speak out very strong and loud, observe, that confinement and anxiety wil_ubdue the stoutest hearts; and that to one who has been close shut up, thoug_t be only for ten or eleven days, seeing but stone walls and a very few ston_aces, the sudden entrance into a great hall filled with life, is a rathe_isconcerting and startling circumstance. To this, it must be added, that lif_n a wig is to a large class of people much more terrifying and impressiv_han life with its own head of hair; and if, in addition to thes_onsiderations, there be taken into account Kit's natural emotion on seein_he two Mr Garlands and the little Notary looking on with pale and anxiou_aces, it will perhaps seem matter of no very great wonder that he should hav_een rather out of sorts, and unable to make himself quite at home.
  • Although he had never seen either of the Mr Garlands, or Mr Witherden, sinc_he time of his arrest, he had been given to understand that they had employe_ounsel for him. Therefore, when one of the gentlemen in wigs got up and said
  • 'I am for the prisoner, my Lord,' Kit made him a bow; and when anothe_entleman in a wig got up and said 'And I'm against him, my Lord,' Ki_rembled very much, and bowed to him too. And didn't he hope in his own hear_hat his gentleman was a match for the other gentleman, and would make hi_shamed of himself in no time!
  • The gentleman who was against him had to speak first, and being in dreadfull_ood spirits (for he had, in the last trial, very nearly procured th_cquittal of a young gentleman who had had the misfortune to murder hi_ather) he spoke up, you may be sure; telling the jury that if they acquitte_his prisoner they must expect to suffer no less pangs and agonies than he ha_old the other jury they would certainly undergo if they convicted tha_risoner. And when he had told them all about the case, and that he had neve_nown a worse case, he stopped a little while, like a man who had somethin_errible to tell them, and then said that he understood an attempt would b_ade by his learned friend (and here he looked sideways at Kit's gentleman) t_mpeach the testimony of those immaculate witnesses whom he should call befor_hem; but he did hope and trust that his learned friend would have a greate_espect and veneration for the character of the prosecutor; than whom, as h_ell knew, there did not exist, and never had existed, a more honourabl_ember of that most honourable profession to which he was attached. And the_e said, did the jury know Bevis Marks? And if they did know Bevis Marks (a_e trusted for their own character, they did) did they know the historical an_levating associations connected with that most remarkable spot? Did the_elieve that a man like Brass could reside in a place like Bevis Marks, an_ot be a virtuous and most upright character? And when he had said a grea_eal to them on this point, he remembered that it was an insult to thei_nderstandings to make any remarks on what they must have felt so strongl_ithout him, and therefore called Sampson Brass into the witness-box,
  • straightway.
  • Then up comes Mr Brass, very brisk and fresh; and, having bowed to the judge,
  • like a man who has had the pleasure of seeing him before, and who hopes he ha_een pretty well since their last meeting, folds his arms, and looks at hi_entleman as much as to say 'Here I am—full of evidence—Tap me!' And th_entleman does tap him presently, and with great discretion too; drawing of_he evidence by little and little, and making it run quite clear and bright i_he eyes of all present. Then, Kit's gentleman takes him in hand, but can mak_othing of him; and after a great many very long questions and very shor_nswers, Mr Sampson Brass goes down in glory.
  • To him succeeds Sarah, who in like manner is easy to be managed by Mr Brass'_entleman, but very obdurate to Kit's. In short, Kit's gentleman can ge_othing out of her but a repetition of what she has said before (only a littl_tronger this time, as against his client), and therefore lets her go, in som_onfusion. Then, Mr Brass's gentleman calls Richard Swiveller, and Richar_wiveller appears accordingly.
  • Now, Mr Brass's gentleman has it whispered in his ear that this witness i_isposed to be friendly to the prisoner—which, to say the truth, he is rathe_lad to hear, as his strength is considered to lie in what is familiarl_ermed badgering. Wherefore, he begins by requesting the officer to be quit_ure that this witness kisses the book, then goes to work at him, tooth an_ail.
  • 'Mr Swiveller,' says this gentleman to Dick, when he had told his tale wit_vident reluctance and a desire to make the best of it: 'Pray sir, where di_ou dine yesterday?'—'Where did I dine yesterday?'—'Aye, sir, where did yo_ine yesterday—was it near here, sir?'—'Oh to be sure—yes—just over th_ay.'—'To be sure. Yes. just over the way,' repeats Mr Brass's gentleman, wit_ glance at the court.—'Alone, sir?'—'I beg your pardon,' says Mr Swiveller,
  • who has not caught the question—'Alone, sir?' repeats Mr Brass's gentleman i_ voice of thunder, 'did you dine alone? Did you treat anybody, sir?
  • Come!'—'Oh yes, to be sure—yes, I did,' says Mr Swiveller with a smile.—'Hav_he goodness to banish a levity, sir, which is very ill-suited to the place i_hich you stand (though perhaps you have reason to be thankful that it's onl_hat place),' says Mr Brass's gentleman, with a nod of the head, insinuatin_hat the dock is Mr Swiveller's legitimate sphere of action; 'and attend t_e. You were waiting about here, yesterday, in expectation that this trial wa_oming on. You dined over the way. You treated somebody. Now, was tha_omebody brother to the prisoner at the bar?'—Mr Swiveller is proceeding t_xplain—'Yes or No, sir,' cries Mr Brass's gentleman—'But will you allow me—'
  • —'Yes or No, sir'—'Yes it was, but—'—'Yes it was,' cries the gentleman, takin_im up short. 'And a very pretty witness YOU are!'
  • Down sits Mr Brass's gentleman. Kit's gentleman, not knowing how the matte_eally stands, is afraid to pursue the subject. Richard Swiveller retire_bashed. Judge, jury and spectators have visions of his lounging about, wit_n ill-looking, large-whiskered, dissolute young fellow of six feet high. Th_eality is, little Jacob, with the calves of his legs exposed to the open air,
  • and himself tied up in a shawl. Nobody knows the truth; everybody believes _alsehood; and all because of the ingenuity of Mr Brass's gentleman.
  • Then come the witnesses to character, and here Mr Brass's gentleman shine_gain. It turns out that Mr Garland has had no character with Kit, n_ecommendation of him but from his own mother, and that he was suddenl_ismissed by his former master for unknown reasons. 'Really Mr Garland,' say_r Brass's gentleman, 'for a person who has arrived at your time of life, yo_re, to say the least of it, singularly indiscreet, I think.' The jury thin_o too, and find Kit guilty. He is taken off, humbly protesting his innocence.
  • The spectators settle themselves in their places with renewed attention, fo_here are several female witnesses to be examined in the next case, and it ha_een rumoured that Mr Brass's gentleman will make great fun in cross-examinin_hem for the prisoner.
  • Kit's mother, poor woman, is waiting at the grate below stairs, accompanied b_arbara's mother (who, honest soul! never does anything but cry, and hold th_aby), and a sad interview ensues. The newspaper-reading turnkey has told the_ll. He don't think it will be transportation for life, because there's tim_o prove the good character yet, and that is sure to serve him. He wonder_hat he did it for. 'He never did it!' cries Kit's mother. 'Well,' says th_urnkey, 'I won't contradict you. It's all one, now, whether he did it o_ot.'
  • Kit's mother can reach his hand through the bars, and she clasps it— God, an_hose to whom he has given such tenderness, only know in how much agony. Ki_ids her keep a good heart, and, under pretence of having the children lifte_p to kiss him, prays Barbara's mother in a whisper to take her home.
  • 'Some friend will rise up for us, mother,' cried Kit, 'I am sure. If not now,
  • before long. My innocence will come out, mother, and I shall be brought bac_gain; I feel confidence in that. You must teach little Jacob and the baby ho_ll this was, for if they thought I had ever been dishonest, when they gre_ld enough to understand, it would break my heart to know it, if I wa_housands of miles away.—Oh! is there no good gentleman here, who will tak_are of her!'
  • The hand slips out of his, for the poor creature sinks down upon the earth,
  • insensible. Richard Swiveller comes hastily up, elbows the bystanders out o_he way, takes her (after some trouble) in one arm after the manner o_heatrical ravishers, and, nodding to Kit, and commanding Barbara's mother t_ollow, for he has a coach waiting, bears her swiftly off.
  • Well; Richard took her home. And what astonishing absurdities in the way o_uotation from song and poem he perpetrated on the road, no man knows. He too_er home, and stayed till she was recovered; and, having no money to pay th_oach, went back in state to Bevis Marks, bidding the driver (for it wa_aturday night) wait at the door while he went in for 'change.'
  • 'Mr Richard, sir,' said Brass cheerfully, 'Good evening!'
  • Monstrous as Kit's tale had appeared, at first, Mr Richard did, that night,
  • half suspect his affable employer of some deep villany. Perhaps it was but th_isery he had just witnessed which gave his careless nature this impulse; but,
  • be that as it may, it was very strong upon him, and he said in as few words a_ossible, what he wanted.
  • 'Money?' cried Brass, taking out his purse. 'Ha ha! To be sure, Mr Richard, t_e sure, sir. All men must live. You haven't change for a five-pound note,
  • have you sir?'
  • 'No,' returned Dick, shortly.
  • 'Oh!' said Brass, 'here's the very sum. That saves trouble. You're ver_elcome I'm sure.—Mr Richard, sir—' Dick, who had by this time reached th_oor, turned round.
  • 'You needn't,' said Brass, 'trouble yourself to come back any more, Sir.'
  • 'Eh?'
  • 'You see, Mr Richard,' said Brass, thrusting his hands in his pockets, an_ocking himself to and fro on his stool, 'the fact is, that a man of you_bilities is lost, Sir, quite lost, in our dry and mouldy line. It's terribl_rudgery—shocking. I should say, now, that the stage, or the—or the army, M_ichard—or something very superior in the licensed victualling way—was th_ind of thing that would call out the genius of such a man as you. I hop_ou'll look in to see us now and then. Sally, Sir, will be delighted I'm sure.
  • She's extremely sorry to lose you, Mr Richard, but a sense of her duty t_ociety reconciles her. An amazing creature that, sir! You'll find the mone_uite correct, I think. There's a cracked window sir, but I've not made an_eduction on that account. Whenever we part with friends, Mr Richard, let u_art liberally. A delightful sentiment, sir!'
  • To all these rambling observations, Mr Swiveller answered not one word, but,
  • returning for the aquatic jacket, rolled it into a tight round ball: lookin_teadily at Brass meanwhile as if he had some intention of bowling him dow_ith it. He only took it under his arm, however, and marched out of the offic_n profound silence. When he had closed the door, he re-opened it, stared i_gain for a few moments with the same portentous gravity, and nodding his hea_nce, in a slow and ghost-like manner, vanished.
  • He paid the coachman, and turned his back on Bevis Marks, big with grea_esigns for the comforting of Kit's mother and the aid of Kit himself.
  • But the lives of gentlemen devoted to such pleasures as Richard Swiveller, ar_xtremely precarious. The spiritual excitement of the last fortnight, workin_pon a system affected in no slight degree by the spirituous excitement o_ome years, proved a little too much for him. That very night, Mr Richard wa_eized with an alarming illness, and in twenty-four hours was stricken with _aging fever.