The Hampstead Mystery eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 406 pages of information about The Hampstead Mystery.
who did not know that there was not the slightest possibility of their gaining admittance to Number One Court.  The policeman who was invested with the duty of keeping the queue close to the wall of the building forbore to break this sad news to them.  Being faithful to the limitations of the official mind, he believed that the right thing to do was to let the people in the queue receive this important information from the sergeant inside.  How was he to know without authority from his superior officer that any of these people wanted to be admitted to Number One Court?  So the policeman pared his nails, gallantly “minding” the places of pretty girls in the queue who, worn out by hours of waiting in the cold, desired to slip away to a neighbouring tea-shop to get a cup of tea before the court opened, and sternly rebuking enterprising youths who endeavoured to wedge themselves in ahead of their proper place.

The body of the court was packed before the proceedings commenced.  The number of ladies present was even greater than on the first day, and the resources of the ushers were severely taxed to find accommodation for them all.  In the back row Crewe noticed Mrs. Holymead, accompanied by Mademoiselle Chiron.  They had not been in court on the previous day.  Mrs. Holymead seemed anxious to escape notice, but Crewe could see that although she looked anxious and distressed, she was buoyed up by a new hope, which doubtless had come to her since Kemp had given his evidence.

There was an expectant silence in the court when Mr. Justice Hodson took his seat and the names of the jurymen were called over.  Kemp entered the witness-box with a more confident air than he had worn the previous day.  Mr. Walters rose to begin his cross-examination, and the witness faced the barrister with the air of an old hand who knew the game, and was not to be caught by any legal tricks or traps.

“You said yesterday, witness,” commenced Mr. Walters, adjusting his glasses and glancing from his brief to the witness and from the witness back to the brief again, “that you saw the prisoner enter the gate at Riversbrook about 9.30 on the night of the 18th of August?”

“Yes.”  The monosyllable was flung out as insolently as possible.  The speaker watched his interrogator with the lowering eyes of a man at war with society, and who realised that he was facing one of his natural enemies.

“Did he see you?”


“You are quite sure of that?”

“Haven’t I just said so?”

“Do not be insolent, witness”—­it was the judge’s warning voice that broke into the cross-examination—­“answer the questions.”

“How long was it after the prisoner entered the carriage drive that you went to the edge of the plantation and heard voices upstairs?” continued Mr. Walters.

“I went as soon as Mr. Holymead passed me.”

“How far were you from the house?”

“About sixty yards.”

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The Hampstead Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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