One of Two, Chapter XLIX
Note: original spelling has been maintained.
ONE OF TWO;
A LEFT-HANDED BRIDE.
By Hain Friswell.
“ Miserable creature!
If thou perish in this, 'tis damnable;
Dost thou imagine thou canst slide on blood.
And not be tainted by the shameful fall?”
The White Devil (1612), actus iv.
ALL this time, when Lord Wimpole was undergoing great trials, and Mrs. Wade lay between life and death, the world went on as gaily as usual. Mr. Wrench, Mr. Kemble, and Miss Fanny Kemble, were acting to his Majesty’s lieges night after night; Miss Sherrifif and Miss Inverarity, the two rival Queens of Song, sang against each other, and were described as being engaged in an encounter, the humour of the thing consisting in criticizing the piece in pugilistic language. “ Both, we need scarcely say,” added the Luminary, “showed first-rate science, good training, and were in admirable condition. The fight lasted sometime, during which each underwent many rounds —of applause. The result of this contest between the rival nightingales was, that each left a higher opinion of her talents with the audience than before, and neither came off second best”
“Neat—very neat that;” said Mr. Rolt, as he read it. “ Funny dog, that critic. That’s what people like to read. What’s this about Taylor?
“ Miss Taylor’s legs enacted that chartered libertine, the Page. Oh, Miss T.! Miss T.!—do lengthen your skirts at least two inches.
“ Gad! a clever fellow. That will pull ’em in, sir—that will pull ’em in. I’ll give the fellow a lift by an extract.” And the ingenious editor ran his pencil down the page, and scored the passage for his “sub” to cut out. “ Humph! here is a small hit at Sir Charles Wetherall—eccentric, very; here an attack on Croker, of the Admiralty. Something about his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland—a dark horse that; and Lyndhurst and Ellenborough, two new caricatures—one by young Seymour, and the other by Cruikshank. Really, I don’t know how we should get on without these public people. They are food for the Press, sir—the Press, the palladium of British lib—”
But the reader has heard that phrase before. Mr. Rolt was in good spirits. The Argus w r as keeping its hundred eyes wide awake, and spreading its tail—or tales —like the bird into which that hero of mythology was changed.
“ And what’s the fashionable news? Let’s see. Ha, ha! An attack upon The State chimney-sweeps in sootable attire.’” Here Mr. Rolt looked at some copy that had been sent in. “ The King acknowledges the supremacy of the petticoats, and it is certain that his successor will be like him, only governed by an Addle-headl Coarse, very; won’t do to anticipate. Here, let us see: ‘Lady Jersey, Marchioness of Sly-go' Very poor joke. Countess Glengall’—’pon my soul!” cried the editor, “ the world is very censorious. Who would be a person in high station? How each rumour is caught hold of, and every crack in a reputation is made wider by these fellow-s. Crack, do I say? If a china vase is whole, and will ring like a bell, these fellows paint a crack w r here they do not find one.”
Upon coming to this reflection, the editor -—who had, at the bottom of his heart, some 1 feelings of the gentleman still left—sighed, lighted a cigar, and walked to the window.
“ Hallo ! who is that on the opposite side of the way? Old Tom Forster? I wonder where he is off to. No, 'tis some one else, but very like him.”
Mr. Forster was indeed far away from Wellington-street, and busy closeted with Mr. Horton; and the occasion was this, His inductive philosophy was for once, and once only, failing him; and new claimants for the notoriety of crime were springing up.
Upon the morning after the day upon which Old Daylight had visited Natalie, Mr. Samuel Brownjohn, passing along the corridor which led to the police cells, was interrupted and somewhat startled by a timid voice, which called out—
“Hi! hi! sir—hi! You, Mr. Pol-ease man.”
Upon which he turned round, and said—
“ Why, who are you?”
It was Master Patsy Quelch, looking warm and comfortable, seated in a barely furnished room, by the fire, and peering about, with restless eyes, for some fellowship in that lonely place.
Mr. Brownjohn went up to the boy, and put his hand on his head, quietly.
“ Why, man alive,” said he, “ I had nearly forgot you. I’m thinking of another boy—the tall one from Kensal-green. There’s I something wrong about him.”
“ Is he a bad boy?” asked Patsy, taking an interest, as boys do, in one of their own class. “There is many bad boys about, sir. Some on ’em swears dreadful.”
“ Bad enough, bad enough,” said the police-sergeant; “and bad boys grow up bad men. Don't you go and do it.”
“ I won't, sir,” returned Patsy, quickly. “ I am sorry t'other one is.”
“ I don't say he is,” said Brownjohn, good-humouredly. “ I say nothing about the boy. Only, you see, somehow I was in a hurry, and somehow I was pitched again' Old Daylight, and made a wrong jump.”
“ Hope you didn't go to hurt yourself, sir,” returned Patsy, innocently.
“Well, we shall see soon,” replied the sergeant. “ He’ll be here in a moment. I can’t see that the old man is guilty.”
“ He isn’t, sir,” cried Patsy, quickly, at a l venture. “ He is a good old man, sir.—looks like one, don't he, sir?”
“ Ah! my boy, when you get as old as I am, and have cut your eye-teeth, you will find that fine looks don't make fine hearts, I can tell you. So you don’t,” he added, looking down upon the urchin he had befriended, and whom, therefore, he felt welldisposed to—“ you don’t intend to turn out bad?”
“ Oh, no, sir.”
“ Well, Patsy—isn't that your name?— and what do you intend to do?”
“ Turn out good, sir.”
“ Aye! but how, my boy? London is a cruel, big, stony-hearted place for a boy like you.”
“ Gentleman promised to help me—Mr. Folaire, sir. Oh, such a nice man! Gave me a lift in his gig, with such a spanking 'orse in it. Gave me his card, sir.”
Here Patsy held up a card—“Messrs. Cooke and Company, St. Paul’s Churchyard”—in the corner of which was printed, “ Represented by Mr. Charles Folaire.”
“ Promised to help me,” continued Patsy, with beautiful faith; “and he’ll do it—sure to. Know by his face. He isn’t one as tells lies.”
“ Hope he will,” returned the officer. “Maybe he will. Some of those city fellows are uncommon good to sharp boys; and you’re a sharp un. Well, here’s a shilling, Patsy. You can go. If you don’t get anything, come back to me, and I’ll try to help you.”
“ But there’s t’other one, sir,” returned Patsy, making no signs to go. “T’other one, as broke my shin bone a’most—him you called Seizer .”
“ By George!” returned Brownjohn, “that old fellow’s evidence has put everything else out of my head. Where is Cesar, eh?”
“ Locked up, sir,” returned Patsy.
Brownjohn jumped to his feet.
“ Locked up! Why, they had no right to do that.”
“Well, when you was gone, sir, he first tried to bribe the hofficer with a bright, new 'alf-crown; and then, as he wouldn’t let him go, he made a rush for it. He was collared; and they put him for safety in a little room by himself.”
In a cell, in fact—for such was meant by Patsy’s pleasant “little room”—the ingenuous César was found by Samuel Brownjohn, who, using the privilege of the peephole, found the Maltese lying prone, like a Grecian statue, graceful in repose as he was I in action, and in an attitude of despair.
Solitude, accompanied by small warmth, did not suit the Maltese. He had, in the depth of his despair, stripped off the tops of his stockings, and formed a loop, which he held in his hand, as if he had contemplated escape, or putting an end to his too fervid existence.
“Hallo!” said Brownjohn to himself, “I have just come in time and taking his key, he unlocked the door, and called to Negretti.
The Maltese bounded to his feet, and his expressive face showed much delight.
“Ah! my Brownjohn,” said he, “I am glad you have come to take me from this beastly place. I am eager to get away, now you have done with me.”
“Come along, and warm yourself first,” said the sergeant, leading him into the room where Patsy was sitting.
He noticed that, when Negretti saw the boy, a diabolical expression passed over his face—succeeded indeed by one of pretended pleasure, as he said—
“ Ah! our little friend—he, too, is here. Well, I am glad I am not alone.”
Patsy said nothing, but looked sharply to his protector; to whose side he edged himself.
“ What are you afraid of, boy?” asked I the sergeant. “ Negretti aint a-goin* to kick you again, while I am here.”
“ ’Tisn’t that,” whispered Patsy, scorning to appear afraid of a kick. Then he nudged Brownjohn, and said, in a yet lower whisper, “Overhaul his bundle, sir—do, please.”
‘“Gad,” returned the sergeant, “I’d forgot that. Let me see—where did I put it? Oh! I know—in the locker.”
Luckily, the locker was in the very room they were then sitting in; and, while Cesar was sitting rocking himself moodily to and fro, Brownjohn produced the key, unlocked the door, and secured it. Then, putting it on the table, he proceeded slowly to untie ( the knots.
The Maltese exhibited a strange restlessness—looked to the door between which and himself was the figure of the stalwart policeman; then, tightening his muscles for a spring, he jumped suddenly to the table, snatched the bundle from the policeman’s hands, and threw it on the fire, stamping it down with his foot.
The action was one of a moment. In a moment, also, Brownjohn’s great hand was twisted in his collar, and Negretti was dexterously twisted into the middle of the room; while Patsy, who had come to the rescue, picked the singed bundle from the fire.
“Cleverly done, boy,” said the policeman. “Now, look here, Negretti,” headded, “ this won’t do. Don’t be foolish. You know I can hold you till all is blue—at least your face would be if I throttled ! you. But I hate hard measures. Theremust be something in that bundle, or you wouldn't be so anxious to burn it.” 11
“ Nothing that concerns you,” returned the Maltese, savagely. “What right have you with my property? You engage me to help you to find a man, and I do so. You bring me up to London against my will, » because that Irish imp, that pig there, told you. You lock me up when I want to go away; and now you try and search my bundle. What have you to do with it?”
Mr. Cesar Negretti, being released from Brown john’s hands, here drew himself up in an injured way.
“ Why, you see,” returned the officer, with imperturbable good-humour, “ you led me a pretty dance till you got to the seaside, when you wanted to get off. But I had my suspicions, and this boy turned up just in time. He had his suspicions as well., He was your fellow-servant at the Café, and no doubt he knows of your prigging a thing or two.”
Here the boy’s eyes twinkled with an extraordinary intelligence.
“ Yes, sir,” he said, “there’s a spoon or two of the padrone’s there. I see ’im take ’em.”
“ And he must answer for it,” ejaculated:j the police officer. “ People are not to be robbed because they are poor foreigners.”
“ They are my own, cursed pig!” replied the Italian, to Patsy. “ Devil’s imp—I was right to hate you as I did.”
“ That may be,” continued Brownjohn, as Patsy was silent. “ Besides, Negretti, you are not with clean hands. You remember your pilferings from Lord Wimpole? and I’m doubtful whether something won’t turn I up here.”
“ Where’s your warrant?” asked the Maij tese. “ We are in a free country here.”
“ Very free,” said Brownjohn; “but I take I this on myself. And here’s the man that’ll back me up if I am wrong. I’ll report to my superior officer.”
A step was heard pacing along the corridor, in the measured tread which betokens a police officer; and as Brownjohn, standing firmly at the door, partially opened it and gave a low whistle, the owner of the strongly ( made boots, and the stalwart legs that put them down so firmly, entered. It was no one less than Inspector Stevenson.
“ Hallo! Brownjohn, what’s up?” he said.
“ Nothing much, sir,” answered that officer. “ I told Negretti here I should pinch him, and I think I shall. Only a petty theft”
“ It’s all a mistake, sir,” pleaded the Maltese, in his most winning tones, to the Inspector. “ Mr. Brownjohn has a spite against me—”
“ I scorn the action,” said that officer. “ —And he is anxious to hunt up something against me, because I got out of his hands once.”
“ Don’t make another mistake,” said the Inspector, somewhat sternly, to the sergeant. “I’m very much afraid that the old man you’ve picked up has had nothing to do with the matter. There’s something about ( ! him that looks very much like innocence.”
“ That may be,” returned Brownjohn, somewhat despondingly. “ Nobody’s always right, ’cept your friend, Mr. Tom Forster. He always hits the right nail on the head.”
“ Well, that may be,” said Stevenson, good-naturedly. “ He has a happy knack, to be sure. This has got nothing to do with it, has it?”
“ Oh, no—not that I know of. Boy says that there were some spoons in the bundle as belonged to the keeper of the coffee-house where I picked up this Italian here.”
“ Well, there’s no harm in looking,” returned the Inspector. Then, seeing the resdess manner and glaring eyes of Negretti, he added, “ Now, you just keep quiet, and you’ll come to no harm. A man comes to harm always by himself. If you’re right, then you may go; if you’re wrong, then you must answer for it. That’s our way here.”
“ ’Sh!” hissed the Maltese, as if he were weary of the altercation. “ Do as you like— I am weary of the business. Poor, friendless, and innocent!” and he threw himself down on the wooden stool before the fire, a statuesque and graceful picture of despair.
So the bundle was opened.
Patsy, with bright eyes, leant over the table as the bundle was opened. The Inspector carelessly turned over the contents. There were two silver spoons.
“There’s the spoons,” cried Patsy, with glee. “ I told you so!”
“Phew!” whistled the Inspector, as he looked at the other contents; “this looks serious, by jingo! I wonder what will come of this!”
“ O Verities! again, what ravishments have you to consolatc the soules of the most afflicted!”— The Mirrour which flatters net . By the Sieur de la Serre. p. 27.
MR. JASPER SNAPE, Tailor and Pigeon Fancier, was the only one, perhaps, who mourned over the victim of the tragedy. It was barely a week since the crime, and the murdered person had been almost forgotten. Now and then, some bold foot-travellers would pass over the fields from Kilbum to gaze at Acacia Villa, which was shut up, and bore in its front garden a black board on which, in white letters, this desirable residence was described as “to be let.”
“Ah!” said Jasper to himself—“poor creature! They don’t care much for her. They forget her, and rake up what they can against her. Now, for my part, she was, to my mind, a nice woman.”
Here the old man pulled a quantity of threads from his round shoulders—bent with working at his board—straightened his hollow chest as well as he could, combed his dusty hair from his forehead, cast his shopboard slippers into the corner, and put on his bluchers and his hat. The hat was turned up at the brim at the back of his head, and greasy with rubbing on his coat collar, looking after his pigeons and the “ strays.”
“ She was a nice woman,” reiterated Jasper. “ She didn’t talk too much. She could keep her own house and her counsel. She knew her own way, and had it. She knew what a good drop of wine was. She had none of the wheedling ways and follies of her sex.”
Mr. Snape was not exactly a mysogynist, but he limited his admiration to strongminded women.
“ I wouldn’t have minded marryin’ her myself,” he continued; “but there, she’s in her grave, and they’ve forgotten her. By George,” he said to himself, after a little while, “ if I had married her, they might have murdered me.” And a cold shudder 1 passed through the little man’s frame as he thought this.
“At any rate, there’s something mysteriI ous about this case,” he said, as he walked into his garden, and pulled a string which let the grating fall from his pigeon house, and the young birds fly a little. “ Whir-r-r! Whoop!” He threw up a tassel made of thrums and threads, and set the birds wheeling round and round before he fed them. That done, he walked through his house, looked at the work at his shop-board, felt disgusted at it—as most workmen now and then do—and determined, as he said, “to have a skulk.”
It is a very natural feeling this, with hard workers. The wonder is that we do not see more of it; and that, as a rule, the working classes—especially the small masters—are to be found so constantly at work. For three hundred and ten days out of the three hundred and sixty-five, Jasper Snape was to be found at his board, cross-legged, with his 1 pale face peering out of his window—blue I with cold in the winter, and wet with perspiration in the summer. His very flowers— his nettle and scarlet geraniums, his spindly mignonnette, and his musk plant—turned away their brightest leaves from the poor worker’s gaze, and looked out of the window to cheer the passers-by.
Mr. Jasper Snape, calling out to a humbler help, who was somewhere about his little house, “to look sharp”—which was a ! hopeless task on her part, poor creature— adjured her to say that, if any one called, he had gone round to wait on a customer—which was in one sense true. The ! landlord of the public-house—to which the reader and Mr. Brownjohn were introduced I in an early chapter—was certainly a customer, and Jasper waited on him for business purposes; but it was for business of his own. He wanted a pipe, a glass of ale, and a gossip; wanted to take the wrinkles from his mind, and the stiffness from his knees; wanted to straighten out his back, and relieve himself of his cares.
As he sat down in the sunny parlour of the country public-house, with a fragrant pipe of bird's-eye and a good glass of ale, his vision seemed brighter, and he looked upon the world in a less invidious way. Presently the bustling landlord came in.
“Mornin’, Mr. Snape; mornin’!” said he. “How are all things your way, now?”
“Pretty good,” returned the tailor. “You aint doing badly, neither.”
“No—thank Heaven!” returned the publican, devoutly, recounting something that would make a teetotaller blush at the weakness and sin of the world. “No, ’tisn’t bad. We had three trade dinners i and one weddin’ party within the week, and I’m blessed if they didn’t drink usnearly dry. I ought to be very thankful, Mr.Snape,” continued the landlord, who was a pious man—“very thankful indeed, for such favours.”
“So you ought,” returned the tailor; “and you’re the man to do it, Mr. Points. A very grateful heart you must have; for yours is a very pleasant business, and does good to humanity.”
“Entertains both man and beast,” said Points, chiming in with his tailor and customer. “And I’m glad to hear you say so; because, Mr. Snape, you aint of the or’nary sort, you aint.”
“You’re very good,” returned the tailor, blowing his cloud of tobacco smoke through the window.
“ I’ve a favour to ask of you, Mr. Snape,sir,” said the landlord. “And it is, sir, that you will take half a pint with me.” '
Mr. Points, like a true gentleman, made it appear that he was accepting a favour I when he was conferring one; and Mr. Snape felt flattered.
“Mr. Points, sir,” he said, “I am your i very humble servant, sir. I am not accus, tomed to take anything so early in the 1 morning, sir; but, as you insist—”
Hereat, Mr. Points rang the bell, andordered something of the best; which dis cussing, the two boon companions fell to [ talking of the story of the crime, which was fresh upon the minds of both. .
“They don’t do much in London, Mr. Points, with all their new-fangled police, with their swallow-tailed coats and pewter buttons, like military officers.”
“ I wish you had the contract for the men’s coats,” said the publican, nudging the tailor, whereat they both laughed.
“And I wish you had the supply of the beer what the whole force drinks,” returned the tailor. Never were two persons in a more friendly state of mind. Mr. Points had just informed his friend that the police had been stirring, “ because,” said he, “ one on ’em gave notice to that tall boy to be up to the office before twelve this morning;” and
Mr. Snape had ventured his opinion that it was the old story—they were going over the evidence again, like a dog over his bones; when a gruff voice was heard at the bar, ejaculating—
“ I am a honest ’ard labrin’ workin’ man, dash my old bones, and all I wants is a pint 0’ beer.”
Points rang the bell for the barman; but before the man could serve the beer, the rough voice again bawled out—
“ I labors for my bread, and I'll have my ! beer. I'm on land and water. I am a workin* man, I am; d’ye hear, I’maworkin’ roan? Come, draw the beer, yer skulkin’ feller. You aint a workin' man, are yer?”
Mr. Points rose indignantly, and would have argued with the intruder—although, poor fellow, he often heard such language— but the “ land and water labourer” had by this time got his beer; and, like a goodhumoured Caliban as he was, blew the froth from the pot into the face of the potman, smiled over a large expanse of counte, nance, letting the smile steal gradually, as over a vast landscape, and then drank Mr. Points’s health.
Points was bound to return this politeness, and the monster was pacified. He quaffed a deep draught, and drew a long breath.
“Well, you’re an honest man,” said he; “ and that's honest good stuff; but it’s been the death o’ too many.” i Here he sighed.
He was a big, hairy fellow, with a brick-red face; a fur cap, with ears to it, tied under the chin; a waistcoat which had broken out into an irregular rash of white pearl buttons; and thick corduroy trousers, tied up round his knees, to enable him to work without, draggling them about a pair of stalwart anklej acks, that looked as if they could stand any kind of weather, and would last for years. It is time, they had obstinately assumed one set shape, and were as innocent of bending to the foot or of any suppleness as a stone jug, or a copper mould for a jelly; but of this their wearer was somewhat proud.
He stood firmly in these boots, swaying ] backwards and forwards—not by any means tipsy, but rather quarrelsome. Happily, the fit passed off. The beer really had a somewhat sobering effect upon him, ar.d he called for his pipe in a pleasanter mood.
The potboy, as full of fight as an intelligent young cockney of eighteen generally is—or was —had been measuring his opponent, as he wiped his face, as one dog measures another; but he found that it was, as he said, “no go;” so he put up with the insult.
“ Well, mate,” said the bargee, “didn’t go to hurt you—not a bit. Have a drop.”
“ No, thank you,” returned the young fellow. “ I’ve had enough of it outside.”
“ Then pluck up your spirits, and put a little inside,” said bargee.
To this invitation, the reply was an indignant silence; and the bargee addressed Mr. Points.
“ So, landlord, you’re been carryin’ on a pleasant game in this little village: murderin’ of a woman, eh ! I heerd of it down in the country.”
Mr. Snape came forward at this.
“ So you’ve heard of it, have you?” he said, in his sharp, authoritative way.
“ Heerd of it, yes. I mind it well enough, 'cos on the very day I gave a chap a lift in my wessel, the Lively Kate, up to Lunnon.”
“ The very man,” whispered the landlord, “that one of the policemen went after.” Mr. Snape inclined his head on one side, his bright eyes twinkling like a blackbird’s when he looks up sideways.
“ Why, my man, do you know anything of that fellow ? If you do, there’s money to be made. They’re after that man.”
“ Aer they? He was a nice, innocent old fellow—a Proosian or a Roosian, or some furrineer. There was no harm in him,” said bargee. “ I took 'im on board 'cos he was used to the water, and felt safer.”
“ Ah! ” said Snape, disposing himself to listen, and nudging Mr. Points, as if to say, “ This is important, now.”
“ Well, I felt lonely. You heerd me say just now that beer was good, on’y it wor the death o’ many. It was the death o’ my old woman. She was a good woman, she was, a main too good for Bill Bulger, and I’m sorry I lick’d her ever, now she’s gone.”
Mr. Bulger’s regret came too late, like the regrets of most of us. What could he do now—now poor Molly was gone? He put up his huge hands, knotted with muscles, to his eyes, and exhibited on the back of them some strange tattooing.
“ You see,” he said, “ 'twas down in the country, where the canal runs for miles in the fields; and I was away on the path, mindin’ the old boss, and Molly was at the tiller. We were at a bend o’ the canal, and I was trudgin’ on, head down’ards, a-thinkin’. I thought I heard a splash, but didn’t mind it till the old hoss was jerked off his legs a’most, by the barge cornin’ ashore. I went back to swear a bit at Molly, and saw the tiller swingin’ a-one side with no-but nobody there. Then a cold sweat come over me. I pulled up, and run back. There warn’t no Molly. I never see her more till she turned up, three days arterwards, at one of the lock gates. Poor Molly!”
“ Dropp’d over,” cried the landlord.
“ Just so,” said the bargee.
“ Well,” cried Jasper, hurriedly, “we can't bring poor Mrs. Bulger back to life again.”
“ No, we can’t,” said the bereaved widower; “ else I would. Molly liked a drop of somethin’ short. She and I had been havin’ arow, as most people would as lived so close I together as we do aboard a barge. She had been comfortin’ herself, and she’s—gone !”
This was her simple epitaph. The poor bargee had a hoarse voice and moist eyes as he pronounced it.
“ But we can serve some one else. They’ve I got that Frenchman, no doubt. You can I say when he went away, can’t you ?”
“To the'minit,” said Mr. Bulger, look! ing up at the call of duty; “ but I sha’n’t tell I y°u.”
“Never mind me—tell it the magistrate,” said Snape. “ You don’t mind coming with me?”
“Not a bit, if I can help a man, and get a bit o’ money,” said bargee.
Thus it was that, about twelve o’clock, Mr. Jasper Snape and Mr. William Bulger presented themselves—Mr. Snape for the second time—at the door of the police court.
Mr. Horton, Mr. Tom Forster, and the Inspector were at the time somewhat doubtful as to how to proceed. The tall boy had given his evidence, had recognized the Pere Martin—who had not, indeed, denied his presence, but had remembered giving him the sixpence—how spent the reader knows; but the tall boy had filled up a blank of great importance, which he had left open in the evidence given by him to Brownjohn, at Kensal-green. The French sailor had departed about five o’clock—for the tall boy had come away from school at half-past four; and there was positively nothing against old Martin. But, then, on Mr. Brownjohn’s mind there was the not unlikely fact that the tall boy had been tampered with; and Mr. Horton himself was for detaining the foreign gentleman in honourable seclusion for some days, until another witness could be procured.
That witness was nobody less than the bargee; and at the very nick of time— ushered by Inspector Stevenson, who had been sent for—in walked the witness.
“ Ah, my friend!” said old Martin, with a sigh of relief, “ the good Heaven is kind. It does not altogether desert the innocent.”
“ No,” thought Tom Forster, “ but it lets them get into strange scrapes. A wonderful provision in this world of trial. Let us hear what this man’s evidence is.”
Mr. Bulger, who had taken his hairy cap off a bristly, bullet-shaped head, was looking round the office—up at the ceiling, down at the floor, at the magistrate; then, on meetj ing his eyes, throwing his own glance in thecontrary direction. He held his cap very, tightly in both hands, as if he expected that Justice or the Police would snatch it off*. He recognized Martin with a nod, and said, gruffly—
“ That’s the chap I gave a lift to.” ,
“ Let him be sworn,” said the magistrate. “ You know the nature of an oath, my man?” ,
“ Rather,” said Mr. Bulger, with a grin.
“ You will speak the truth, the whole truth, and—”
“ I’ll take my Solomon’s oath I will,” said the bargee, with great solemnity, kissing the book.
On the 29th of September, at half-past four, Mr. Bulger, according to his evidence, was standing on the towing-path, thinking of his lost wife, and feeling “werry lonesome,” when “this genel'm’, Mr. Martin, ! came up, got talking of seafaring matters,” spoke about his barge, and finally said he would like a ride. They set off exactly at five, after drinking and lighting up their“baccy.”
“ How do you know the time?” asked Mr. Horton.
“ Well, you see, gov’nor,” returned Mr. Bulger—pulling out of his corduroy fob, by a broad, flat steel chain, an ancient silver watch, as round almost as a Dutch cheese— !
“ ’taint none of your leavers, as is made for ! the pop-shop; but I’ll back un agin Sen Pall’s!”
Mr. Martin was free!
He shook hands with his captor, thanked the magistrate, and preferred a modest request—only one favour for all his trouble. Justice must be served; he was the victim, that's all. Here he sighed, but looked up brightly. Where did the great Seigneur live, Milord Chesterton? Le Pere Martin had something to tell his lordship.