‘I am glad to hear it,’ said Sir John,—and then he paused. ’That is to say, Mr. Caldigate, I am bound in courtesy to you to make some such civil reply as I should have made had I not been employed in your case, and had circumstances then induced you to make such a statement to me. But in truth, as I am so employed, no statement from your lips ought to affect me in the least. For your own sake I will say that no statement will affect me. It is not for me to believe or disbelieve anything in this matter. If carried away by my feelings, I were to appeal to the jury for their sympathy because of my belief, I should betray your cause. It will be my duty not to make the jury believe you, who, in your position, will not be expected even to tell the truth; but to induce them, if possible, to disbelieve the witnesses against you who will be on their oath. Second-hand protestations from an advocate are never of much avail, and in many cases have been prejudicial. I can only assure you that I understand the importance of the interests confided to me, and that I will endeavour to be true to my trust.’
Caldigate, who wanted sympathy, who wanted an assurance of confidence in his word, was by no means contented with his counsellor; but he was too wise at the present moment to quarrel with him.
The First Day
Then came the morning on which Caldigate and Hester must part. Very little had been said about it, but a word or two had been absolutely necessary. The trial would probably take two days, and it would not be well that he should be brought back to Folking for the sad intervening night. And then,—should the verdict be given against him, the prison doors would be closed against her, his wife, more rigidly than against any other friend who might knock at them inquiring after his welfare. Her, at any rate, he would not be allowed to see. All the prison authorities would be bound to regard her as the victim of his crime and as the instrument of his vice. The law would have locked him up to avenge her injuries,—of her, whose only future joy could come from that distant freedom which the fraudulent law would at length allow to him. All this was not put into words between them, but it was understood. It might be that they were to be parted now for a term of years, during which she would be as a widow at Folking while he would be alone in his jail.
There are moments as to which it would be so much better that their coming should never be accomplished! It would have been better for them both had they been separated without that last embrace. He was to start from Folking at eight that he might surrender himself to the hands of justice in due time for the trial at ten. She did not come down with him to the breakfast parlour, having been requested by him not to be there among the servants when he took his departure; but standing there in her own room, with his baby in her arms, she spoke her last word, ’You will keep up your courage, John?’