"There is no doubt," continued the man in the corner, "that what littl_ympathy the young girl's terrible position had aroused in the public mind ha_ied out the moment that David Graham left the witness-box on the second da_f the trial. Whether Edith Crawford was guilty of murder or not, the callou_ay in which she had accepted a deformed lover, and then thrown him over, ha_et every one's mind against her.
"It was Mr. Graham himself who had been the first to put the Procurator Fisca_n possession of the fact that the accused had written to David from London,
breaking off her engagement. This information had, no doubt, directed th_ttention of the Fiscal to Miss Crawford, and the police soon brought forwar_he evidence which had led to her arrest.
"We had a final sensation on the third day, when Mr. Campbell, jeweller, o_igh Street, gave his evidence. He said that on October 25th a lady came t_is shop and offered to sell him a pair of diamond earrings. Trade had bee_ery bad, and he had refused the bargain, although the lady seemed ready t_art with the earrings for an extraordinarily low sum, considering the beaut_f the stones.
"In fact it was because of this evident desire on the lady's part to sell a_any_ cost that he had looked at her more keenly than he otherwise would hav_one. He was now ready to swear that the lady that offered him the diamon_arrings was the prisoner in the dock.
"I can assure you that as we all listened to this apparently damnator_vidence, you might have heard a pin drop amongst the audience in that crowde_ourt. The girl alone, there in the dock, remained calm and unmoved. Remembe_hat for two days we had heard evidence to prove that old Dr. Crawford ha_ied leaving his daughter penniless, that having no mother she had bee_rought up by a maiden aunt, who had trained her to be a governess, whic_ccupation she had followed for years, and that certainly she had never bee_nown by any of her friends to be in possession of solitaire diamond earrings.
"The prosecution had certainly secured an ace of trumps, but Sir Jame_enwick, who during the whole of that day had seemed to take little interes_n the proceedings, here rose from his seat, and I knew at once that he ha_ot a tit-bit in the way of a 'point' up his sleeve. Gaunt, and unusuall_all, and with his beak-like nose, he always looks strangely impressive whe_e seriously tackles a witness. He did it this time with a vengeance, I ca_ell you. He was all over the pompous little jeweller in a moment.
"'Had Mr. Campbell made a special entry in his book, as to the visit of th_ady in question?'
"'Had he any special means of ascertaining when that visit did actually tak_lace?'
"'What record had he of the visit?'
"Mr. Campbell had none. In fact, after about twenty minutes of cross-
examination, he had to admit that he had given but little thought to th_nterview with the lady at the time, and certainly not in connection with th_urder of Lady Donaldson, until he had read in the papers that a young lad_ad been arrested.
"Then he and his clerk talked the matter over, it appears, and together the_ad certainly recollected that a lady had brought some beautiful earrings fo_ale on a day which _must have been_ the very morning after the murder. If Si_ames Fenwick's object was to discredit this special witness, he certainl_ained his point.
"All the pomposity went out of Mr. Campbell, he became flurried, then excited,
then he lost his temper. After that he was allowed to leave the court, and Si_ames Fenwick resumed his seat, and waited like a vulture for its prey.
"It presented itself in the person of Mr. Campbell's clerk, who, before th_rocurator Fiscal, had corroborated his employer's evidence in every respect.
In Scotland no witness in any one case is present in court during th_xamination of another, and Mr. Macfarlane, the clerk, was, therefore, quit_nprepared for the pitfalls which Sir James Fenwick had prepared for him. H_umbled into them, head foremost, and the eminent advocate turned him insid_ut like a glove.
"Mr. Macfarlane did not lose his temper; he was of too humble a frame of min_o do that, but he got into a hopeless quagmire of mixed recollections, and h_oo left the witness-box quite unprepared to swear as to the day of th_nterview with the lady with the diamond earrings.
"I dare say, mind you," continued the man in the corner with a chuckle, "tha_o most people present, Sir James Fenwick's cross-questioning seeme_ompletely irrelevant. Both Mr. Campbell and his clerk were quite ready t_wear that they had had an interview concerning some diamond earrings with _ady, of whose identity with the accused they were perfectly convinced, and t_he casual observer the question as to the time or even the day when tha_nterview took place could make but little difference in the ultimate issue.
"Now I took in, in a moment, the entire drift of Sir James Fenwick's defenc_f Edith Crawford. When Mr. Macfarlane left the witness-box, the second victi_f the eminent advocate's caustic tongue, I could read as in a book the whol_istory of that crime, its investigation, and the mistakes made by the polic_irst and the Public Prosecutor afterwards.
"Sir James Fenwick knew them, too, of course, and he placed a finger upon eac_ne, demolishing—like a child who blows upon a house of cards—the entir_caffolding erected by the prosecution.
"Mr. Campbell's and Mr. Macfarlane's identification of the accused with th_ady who, on some date—admitted to be uncertain—had tried to sell a pair o_iamond earrings, was the first point. Sir James had plenty of witnesses t_rove that on the 25th, the day after the murder, the accused was in London,
whilst, the day before, Mr. Campbell's shop had been closed long before th_amily circle had seen the last of Lady Donaldson. Clearly the jeweller an_is clerk must have seen some other lady, whom their vivid imagination ha_ictured as being identical with the accused.
"Then came the great question of time. Mr. David Graham had been evidently th_ast to see Lady Donaldson alive. He had spoken to her as late as 8.30 p.m.
Sir James Fenwick had called two porters at the Caledonian Railway Station wh_estified to Miss Crawford having taken her seat in a first-class carriage o_he 9.10 train, some minutes before it started.
"'Was it conceivable, therefore,' argued Sir James, 'that in the space of hal_n hour the accused—a young girl—could have found her way surreptitiously int_he house, at a time when the entire household was still astir, that sh_hould have strangled Lady Donaldson, forced open the safe, and made away wit_he jewels? A man—an experienced burglar might have done it, but I conten_hat the accused is physically incapable of accomplishing such a feat.
"'With regard to the broken engagement,' continued the eminent counsel with _mile, 'it may have seemed a little heartless, certainly, but heartlessness i_o crime in the eyes of the law. The accused has stated in her declaratio_hat at the time she wrote to Mr. David Graham, breaking off her engagement,
she had heard nothing of the Edinburgh tragedy.
"'The London papers had reported the crime very briefly. The accused was bus_hopping; she knew nothing of Mr. David Graham's altered position. In no cas_as the breaking off of the engagement a proof that the accused had obtaine_ossession of the jewels by so foul a deed.'
"It is, of course, impossible for me," continued the man in the corne_pologetically, "to give you any idea of the eminent advocate's eloquence an_asterful logic. It struck every one, I think, just as it did me, that h_hiefly directed his attention to the fact that there was absolutely n_proof_ against the accused.
"Be that as it may, the result of that remarkable trial was a verdict of 'No_roven.' The jury was absent forty minutes, and it appears that in the mind o_very one of them there remained, in spite of Sir James' arguments, a firml_ooted conviction—call it instinct, if you like—that Edith Crawford had don_way with Lady Donaldson in order to become possessed of those jewels, an_hat in spite of the pompous jeweller's many contradictions, she had offere_im some of those diamonds for sale. But there was not enough proof t_onvict, and she was given the benefit of the doubt.
"I have heard English people argue that in England she would have been hanged.
Personally I doubt that. I think that an English jury, not having the judicia_oophole of 'Non Proven,' would have been bound to acquit her. What do yo_hink?"