Great Expectations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 554 pages of information about Great Expectations.

“I know you do,” said the stranger; “I knew you would.  I told you so.  But now I’ll ask you a question.  Do you know, or do you not know, that the law of England supposes every man to be innocent, until he is proved — proved — to be guilty?”

“Sir,” Mr. Wopsle began to reply, “as an Englishman myself, I—­”

“Come!” said the stranger, biting his forefinger at him.  “Don’t evade the question.  Either you know it, or you don’t know it.  Which is it to be?”

He stood with his head on one side and himself on one side, in a bullying interrogative manner, and he threw his forefinger at Mr. Wopsle — as it were to mark him out — before biting it again.

“Now!” said he.  “Do you know it, or don’t you know it?”

“Certainly I know it,” replied Mr. Wopsle.

“Certainly you know it.  Then why didn’t you say so at first?  Now, I’ll ask you another question;” taking possession of Mr. Wopsle, as if he had a right to him.  “Do you know that none of these witnesses have yet been cross-examined?”

Mr. Wopsle was beginning, “I can only say—­” when the stranger stopped him.

“What?  You won’t answer the question, yes or no?  Now, I’ll try you again.”  Throwing his finger at him again.  “Attend to me.  Are you aware, or are you not aware, that none of these witnesses have yet been cross-examined?  Come, I only want one word from you.  Yes, or no?”

Mr. Wopsle hesitated, and we all began to conceive rather a poor opinion of him.

“Come!” said the stranger, “I’ll help you.  You don’t deserve help, but I’ll help you.  Look at that paper you hold in your hand.  What is it?”

“What is it?” repeated Mr. Wopsle, eyeing it, much at a loss.

“Is it,” pursued the stranger in his most sarcastic and suspicious manner, “the printed paper you have just been reading from?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“Undoubtedly.  Now, turn to that paper, and tell me whether it distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that his legal advisers instructed him altogether to reserve his defence?”

“I read that just now,” Mr. Wopsle pleaded.

“Never mind what you read just now, sir; I don’t ask you what you read just now.  You may read the Lord’s Prayer backwards, if you like — and, perhaps, have done it before to-day.  Turn to the paper.  No, no, no my friend; not to the top of the column; you know better than that; to the bottom, to the bottom.” (We all began to think Mr. Wopsle full of subterfuge.) “Well?  Have you found it?”

“Here it is,” said Mr. Wopsle.

“Now, follow that passage with your eye, and tell me whether it distinctly states that the prisoner expressly said that he was instructed by his legal advisers wholly to reserve his defence?  Come!  Do you make that of it?”

Mr. Wopsle answered, “Those are not the exact words.”

“Not the exact words!” repeated the gentleman, bitterly.  “Is that the exact substance?”

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Great Expectations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.