‘Not to buy those men off?’ she said.
‘Whatever is done will be done by the advice of my lawyer,’ he said, peevishly. ’You may be sure that I am anxious enough to do the best. When one has to trust to a lawyer, one is bound to trust to him.’ This seemed to be so true that Hester could say nothing against it.
He had still the whole night to think about it,—and throughout the whole night he was thinking about it. He had fixed a late hour in the afternoon for his appointment in London, so that he might have an hour or two in Cambridge before he started by the mid-day train. It was during his drive into the town that he at last made up his mind that he would not satisfy himself with discussing the matter with Mr. Seely, but that he would endeavour to explain it all to Robert Bolton. No doubt Robert Bolton was now his enemy, as were all the Boltons. But the brother could not but be anxious for his sister’s name and his sister’s happiness. If a way out of all this misery could be seen, it would be a way out of misery for the Boltons as well as for the Caldigates. If only he could make the attorney believe that Hester was in truth his wife, still, even yet, there might be assistance on that side. But he went to Mr. Seely first, the hour of his appointment requiring that it should be so.
But Mr. Seely was altogether opposed to any arrangement with Mr. Bollum. ‘No good was ever done,’ he said, ’by buying off witnesses. The thing itself is disreputable, and would to a certainty be known to every one.’
’I should not buy them off. I regard the money as their own. I will give Crinkett the money and let him go or stay as he pleases. When giving him the money, I will tell him that he may do as he pleases.’
’You would only throw your money away. You would do much worse than throw it away. Their absence would not prevent the trial. The Boltons will take care of that.’
‘They cannot want to injure their own side, Mr. Seely.’
’They want to punish you, and to take her away. They will take care that the trial shall go on. And when it was proved, as it would be proved, that you had given these people a large sum of money, and had so secured their absence, do you think that the jury would refuse to believe their sworn depositions and whatever other evidence would remain? The fact of your having paid them money would secure a verdict against you. The thing would, in my mind, be so disreputable that I should have to throw up the case. I could not defend you.’