‘You must come with me, Mr. Shand,’ he said, ’and we must take your story down in writing. Then you must swear to it before a magistrate.’
‘All right, Mr. Seely.’
‘We must be very particular, you know.’
’I needn’t be particular at all;—and as to what Sir John Joram said, I felt half inclined to punch his head.’
‘That wouldn’t have helped us.’
’It was only that I thought of Caldigate in prison that I didn’t do it. Because I have been roaming about the world, not always quite as well off as himself, he tells me that he doesn’t believe my word.’
‘I don’t think he said that.’
’He didn’t quite dare; but what he said was as bad. He told me that some one else wouldn’t believe it. I don’t quite understand what it is they’re not to believe. All I say is, that they two were not married in May ‘73.’
‘But about your never having heard of the case till you got home?’
’I never had heard a word about it. One would think that I had done something wrong in coming forward to tell what I know.’ The deposition, however was drawn out in due form, at considerable length, and was properly attested before one of the London magistrates.
Dick Shand Goes To Cambridgeshire
The news of Shand’s return was soon common in Cambridge. The tidings, of course, were told to Mr. Caldigate, and were then made known by him to Hester. The old man, though he turned the matter much in his mind,—doubting whether the hopes thus raised would not add to Hester’s sorrow should they not ultimately be realised,—decided that he could not keep her in the dark. Her belief could not be changed by any statement which Shand might make. Her faith was so strong that no evidence could shake it,—or confirm it. But there would, no doubt, arise in her mind a hope of liberation if any new evidence against the Australian marriage were to reach her; which hope might so probably be delusive! But he knew her to be strong to endure as well as strong to hope, and therefore he told her at once. Then Mr. Seely returned to Cambridge, and all the facts of Shand’s deposition were made known at Folking. ‘That will get him out at once, of course,’ said Hester, triumphantly, as soon as she heard it. But the Squire was older and more cautious, and still doubted. He explained that Dick Shand was not a man who by his simple word would certainly convince a Secretary of State;—that deceit might be suspected;—that a fraudulent plot would be possible; and that very much care was necessary before a convicted prisoner would be released.
’I am quite sure, from Mr. Seely’s manner, that he thinks I have bribed the young man,’ said Caldigate.
’Yes;—I. These are the ideas which naturally come into people’s heads. I am not in the least angry with Mr. Seely, and feel that it is only too likely that the Secretary of State and the judge will think the same. If I were Secretary of State I should have to think so.’