“‘With regard to the broken engagement,’ continued the eminent counsel with a smile, ’it may have seemed a little heartless, certainly, but heartlessness is no crime in the eyes of the law. The accused has stated in her declaration that 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 busy shopping; she knew nothing of Mr. David Graham’s altered position. In no case was the breaking off of the engagement a proof that the accused had obtained possession of the jewels by so foul a deed.’
“It is, of course, impossible for me,” continued the man in the corner apologetically, “to give you any idea of the eminent advocate’s eloquence and masterful logic. It struck every one, I think, just as it did me, that he chiefly directed his attention to the fact that there was absolutely no proof against the accused.
“Be that as it may, the result of that remarkable trial was a verdict of ‘Non Proven.’ The jury was absent forty minutes, and it appears that in the mind of every one of them there remained, in spite of Sir James’ arguments, a firmly rooted conviction—call it instinct, if you like—that Edith Crawford had done away with Lady Donaldson in order to become possessed of those jewels, and that in spite of the pompous jeweller’s many contradictions, she had offered him some of those diamonds for sale. But there was not enough proof to convict, 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 judicial loophole of ‘Non Proven,’ would have been bound to acquit her. What do you think?”
There was a moment’s silence, for Polly did not reply immediately, and he went on making impossible knots in his bit of string. Then she said quietly—
“I think that I agree with those English people who say that an English jury would have condemned her.... I have no doubt that she was guilty. She may not have committed that awful deed herself. Some one in the Charlotte Square house may have been her accomplice and killed and robbed Lady Donaldson while Edith Crawford waited outside for the jewels. David Graham left his godmother at 8.30 p.m. If the accomplice was one of the servants in the house, he or she would have had plenty of time for any amount of villainy, and Edith Crawford could have yet caught the 9.10 p.m. train from the Caledonian Station.”
“Then who, in your opinion,” he asked sarcastically, and cocking his funny birdlike head on one side, “tried to sell diamond earrings to Mr. Campbell, the jeweller?”
“Edith Crawford, of course,” she retorted triumphantly; “he and his clerk both recognized her.”