John Caldigate eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 777 pages of information about John Caldigate.

The question was very natural, but it was one which Mr. Seely was not disposed to answer.  ‘I couldn’t give an opinion,’ he said.  ’In such cases I never do give an opinion.  The evidence is very clear, and has not been shaken; but the witnesses are people of a bad character.  Character goes a long way with a jury.  It will depend a good deal on the judge, I should say.  But I cannot give an opinion.’

No opinion one way or the other was expressed to the father or son,—­who indeed saw no one else the whole evening; but Robert Bolton, in discussing the matter with his father, expressed a strong conviction that Caldigate would be acquitted.  He had heard it all, and understood the nature of such cases.  ’I do not in the least doubt that they were married,’ said Robert Bolton.  ’All the circumstances make me sure of it.  But the witnesses are just of that kind which a jury always distrusts.  The jury will acquit him, not because they do not believe the marriage, but out of enmity to Crinkett and the woman.’

‘What shall we do, then?’ asked the old man.  To this Robert Bolton could make no answer.  He only shook his head and turned away.

Chapter XLII

The Second Day

The court had been very full on the first day of the trial, but on the following morning it was even more crowded, so that outsiders who had no friend connected with justice, had hardly a chance of hearing or seeing anything.  Many of the circumstances of the case had long been known to the public, but matters of new and of peculiar interest had been elicited,—­the distinct promise made by the woman to marry another man, so as to render her existing husband safe in his bigamy by committing bigamy herself,—­the payment to these people by Caldigate of an immense sum of money,—­the fact that they two had lived together in Australia whether married or not;—­all this, which had now been acknowledged on both sides, added to the romance of the occasion.  While it could hardly be doubted, on the one side, that Caldigate had married the woman,—­so strong was the evidence,—­it could not be at all doubted, on the other side, that the accusation had been planned with the view of raising money, and had been the result of a base conspiracy.  And then there was the additional marvel, that though the money had been paid,—­the whole sum demanded,—­yet the trial was carried on.  The general feeling was exactly that which Robert Bolton had attributed to the jury.  People did believe that there had been a marriage, but trusted nevertheless that Caldigate might be acquitted,—­so that his recent marriage might be established.  No doubt there was a feeling with many that anything done in the wilds of Australia ought not ‘to count’ here at home in England.

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John Caldigate from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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