“Are you all agreed upon your verdict, gentlemen?”
“We are,” replied the foreman.
“What do you say, gentlemen? Is the prisoner guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty,” replied the foreman, raising his voice and glancing at Reuben.
A storm of applause burst from the gallery and was, for the moment, disregarded by the judge. Mrs. Hornby laughed aloud—a strange, unnatural laugh—and then crammed her handkerchief into her mouth, and so sat gazing at Reuben with the tears coursing down her face, while Juliet laid her head upon the desk and sobbed silently.
After a brief space the judge raised an admonitory hand, and, when the commotion had subsided, addressed the prisoner, who stood at the bar, calm and self-possessed, though his face bore a slight flush—
“Reuben Hornby, the jury, after duly weighing the evidence in this case, have found you to be not guilty of the crime with which you were charged. With that verdict I most heartily agree. In view of the evidence which has been given, I consider that no other verdict was possible, and I venture to say that you leave this court with your innocence fully established, and without a stain upon your character. In the distress which you have recently suffered, as well as in your rejoicing at the verdict of the jury, you have the sympathy of the Court, and of everyone present, and that sympathy will not be diminished by the consideration that, with a less capable defence, the result might have been very different.
“I desire to express my admiration at the manner in which that defence was conducted, and I desire especially to observe that not you alone, but the public at large, are deeply indebted to Dr. Thorndyke, who, by his insight, his knowledge and his ingenuity, has probably averted a very serious miscarriage of justice. The Court will now adjourn until half-past two.”
The judge rose from his seat and everyone present stood up; and, amidst the clamour of many feet upon the gallery stairs, the door of the dock was thrown open by a smiling police officer and Reuben came down the stairs into the body of the court.
“We had better let the people clear off,” said Thorndyke, when the first greetings were over and we stood around Reuben in the fast-emptying court. “We don’t want a demonstration as we go out.”
“No; anything but that, just now,” replied Reuben. He still held Mrs. Hornby’s hand, and one arm was passed through that of his uncle, who wiped his eyes at intervals, though his face glowed with delight.
“I should like you to come and have a little quiet luncheon with me at my chambers—all of us friends together,” continued Thorndyke.
“I should be delighted,” said Reuben, “if the programme would include a satisfactory wash.”
“You will come, Anstey?” asked Thorndyke.