“This is Mr. Marchmont, Doctor,” said the former, introducing me; and the solicitor, having thanked me for the trouble I had taken in attending at the inquest, led us to a bench, at the farther end of which was seated a gentleman whom I recognised as Mr. Hurst.
Mr. Bellingham recognised him at the same moment and glared at him wrathfully.
“I see that scoundrel is here!” he exclaimed in a distinctly audible voice, “pretending that he doesn’t see me, because he is ashamed to look me in the face, but—”
“Hush! hush! my dear sir,” exclaimed the horrified solicitor; “we mustn’t talk like that, especially in this place. Let me beg you—let me entreat you to control your feelings, to make no indiscreet remarks; in fact, to make no remarks at all,” he added, with the evident conviction that any remarks that Mr. Bellingham might make would be certain to be indiscreet.
“Forgive me, Marchmont,” Mr. Bellingham replied contritely. “I will control myself; I will really be quite discreet. I won’t even look at him again—because, if I do, I shall probably go over and pull his nose.”
This particular form of discretion did not appear to be quite to Mr. Marchmont’s liking, for he took the precaution of insisting that Miss Bellingham and I should sit on the farther side of his client, and thus effectually separate him from his enemy.
“Who’s the long-nosed fellow talking to Jellicoe?” Mr. Bellingham asked.
“That is Mr. Loram, K.C., Mr. Hurst’s counsel; and the convivial-looking gentleman next to him is our counsel, Mr. Heath, a most able man and”—here Mr. Marchmont whispered behind his hand—“fully instructed by Doctor Thorndyke.”
At this juncture the judge entered and took his seat; the usher proceeded with great rapidity to swear in the jury, and the Court gradually settled down into that state of academic quiet which it maintained throughout the proceedings, excepting when the noisy swing-doors were set oscillating by some bustling clerk or reporter.
The judge was a somewhat singular-looking old gentleman, very short as to his face and very long as to his mouth; which peculiarities, together with a pair of large and bulging eyes (which he usually kept closed), suggested a certain resemblance to a frog. And he had a curious frog-like trick of flattening his eyelids—as if in the act of swallowing a large beetle—which was the only outward and visible sign of emotion that he ever displayed.
As soon as the swearing-in of the jury was completed Mr. Loram rose to introduce the case; whereupon his lordship leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, as if bracing himself for a painful operation.