‘To false witnesses, and that before the trial!’ said the Secretary.
’And there may have been a hope that, in spite of what he said himself as to their staying, they would take themselves off when they had got the money. In that way he may have persuaded himself that, as an honest man, he ought to make the payment. Then as to the witnesses, there can be little doubt that they were willing to lie. Even if their main story were true, they were lying as to details.’
‘Then you would advise a pardon?’
‘I think so,’ said the barrister, who was not responsible for his advice.
‘Without waiting for the other trial?’
’If the perjury be then proved,—or even so nearly proved as to satisfy the outside world,—the man’s detention will be thought to have been a hardship.’ The Secretary of State thanked the barrister and let him go. He then went down to the House, and amidst the turmoil of a strong party conflict at last made up his mind. It was unjust that such responsibility should be thrown upon any one person. There ought to be some Court of Appeal for such cases. He was sure of that now. But at last he made up his mind. Early on the next morning the Queen should be advised to allow John Caldigate to go free.
How Mrs. Bolton Was Nearly Conquered
One morning about the middle of October, Robert Bolton walked out from Cambridge to Puritan Grange with a letter in his pocket,—a very long and a very serious letter. The day was that on which the Secretary of State was closeted with the barrister, and on the evening of which he at length determined that Caldigate should be allowed to go free. There had, therefore, been no pardon granted,—as yet. But in the letter the writer stated that such pardon would, almost certainly, be awarded.
It was from William Bolton, in London, to his brother the attorney, and was written with the view of proving to all the Boltons at Cambridge, that it was their duty to acknowledge Hester as the undoubted wife of John Caldigate; and recommended also that, for Hester’s sake, they should receive him as her husband. The letter had been written with very great care, and had been powerful enough to persuade Robert Bolton of the truth of the first proposition.
It was very long, and as it repeated all the details of the evidence for and against the verdict, it shall not be repeated here at its full length. Its intention was to show that, looking at probabilities, and judging from all that was known, there was much more reason to suppose that there had been no marriage at Ahalala than that there had been one. The writer acknowledged that, while the verdict stood confirmed against the man, Hester’s family were bound to regard it, and to act as though they did not doubt its justice;—but that when that verdict should be set aside,—as far as any criminal verdict can be set aside,—by the Queen’s pardon, then the family would be bound to suppose that they who advised her Majesty had exercised a sound discretion.