Upon a return to the court house, at half past one, the jury, who had made up and sealed their verdict, were called; it was opened and read, and as anticipated, was for the defendant. This announcement was received with scarcely suppressed applause. The verdict was recorded by the clerk, and in due time followed by the judgment of the Court, and so ended Fisk vs. Cole. Cole went out of the court room, with one exception, the most observed man in the crowd.
Very naturally Barton and his last performance was the common theme of conversation in the region round about for many days. All over Newbury, as witnesses and other spectators returned, the whole thing was talked over, with such various eulogies as suited the exaggerated estimate his various admirers put upon his merits.
“What do you say now?” said Uncle Jonah to Uncle Josh, as the two had just listened to an account of the trial, in Parker’s bar room.
“It does beat hell amazingly!” answered that accomplished rhetorician.
“What did I tell you?” said Jo, at Jugville, to Uncle Cal, and that set.
“Oh, I was there,” said Uncle Cal. “I always said, ever since the trial here, that he had the stuff in him. But he went beyond anything I ever hearn,” and Uncle Cal relapsed into admiring silence.
Julia sat alone that evening in an elegantly, and, for that day, luxuriously furnished room, around which she had many times glanced, and in which her own hands had several times arranged and re-arranged the various articles. There was a bed in the room, which was large and airy, a vase filled with wild and hot-house flowers; yet it was evidently not a lady’s room, and unoccupied save at this moment by the fair Julia, who with an abundance of color in her cheeks and lips, and a liquid light in her eyes, was nevertheless pensive and seemingly not quite at ease. She held two letters in her hands, which she many times re-read. They ran as follows:
“CHARDON, Wednesday P.M.
“My Dear Wife:—Barton reached here on Monday P.M. I did not think it best to call upon him, and did not see him till yesterday morning in the court room, when, without looking me in the face save for a second, he bowed to me. He had so changed that I did not at first recognize him, and did not acknowledge his bow as I would. Later, when his case was called and he came to make a remark to the court, he looked me in the eye, calmly and steadily, and I thought I could see in his face regret, the shadow of suffering, and a very kindly, but sad expression, which seemed almost like a revelation.
“He is much changed and improved. The old boyish recklessness and dash is gone. His face is thinner, has much character, and is disfigured, as I think, with a moustache, which gives him the look of a foreigner. He is, of course, well dressed, and has the quiet, high-bred air of a thorough gentleman.