As his eyes wandered over the body of the court below, Crewe saw that Mrs. Holymead and Mademoiselle Chiron were sitting in one of the back seats, but that they were not accompanied by Miss Fewbanks. It was evident to him by the way in which Mrs. Holymead followed the proceedings that her interest in the case was something far deeper than wifely interest in her husband’s connection with it as counsel for the defence. Leaning forward in her seat, with her hands clasped in her lap, she listened eagerly to every word. During the day his gaze went back to her at intervals, and on several occasions he became aware that she had been watching him while he watched her husband.
The first witness for the defence was Doris Fanning. The drift of her evidence was to exonerate the prisoner at the expense of Hill. She declared that she had not gone to Riversbrook to see Hill after the final quarrel with Sir Horace. Hill had come to her flat in Westminster of his own accord and had asked for Birchill. She went out of the room while they discussed their business, but after Hill had gone Birchill told her that Hill had put up a job for him at Riversbrook. Birchill showed her the plan of Riversbrook that Hill had made, and asked her if it was correct as far as she knew. Yes, she was sure she would know the plan again if she saw it.
The judge’s Associate handed it to Mr. Holymead, who passed it to the witness.
“Is this it?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied emphatically, almost without inspecting it.
“I want you to look at it closely,” said Counsel. “When Birchill showed you the plan immediately after Hill’s departure, what impression did you get regarding it?”
She looked at him blankly.
“I don’t understand you,” she said.
“You can tell the difference between ink that has been newly used and ink that has been on the paper some days. Was the ink fresh?”
“No, it was old ink,” she said.
“How do you know that?”
“Because ink doesn’t go black till a long while after it is written. At least, the letters I write don’t.” She shot a veiled coquettish glance at the big K.C. from under her long eyelashes.
The K.C. returned the glance with a genial smile.
“What do you write your letters on, Miss Fanning?”
She almost giggled at the question.
“I use a writing tablet,” she replied.
“Ruled or unruled?”
“Ruled. I couldn’t write straight if there weren’t lines.” She smiled again.
“And what colour do you affect—grey, rose-pink or white paper?”
“Is that all the paper you have at your flat for writing purposes?”
“Then what did Birchill write on when he wanted to write a letter?”
“He used mine.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“Yes. When he wanted to write a letter he used to ask me for my tablet and an envelope. And generally he used to borrow a stamp as well.” She pouted slightly, with another coquettish glance.