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,
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.'
'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.