A very terrible groan was broken out of him.
They took him along.
The court was crammed. In two thirds of its space were crowded benches. At the upper end of the room was a dais, a schoolmaster’s desk. Flanking it on one hand were forms occupied by the men Sabre had seen shuffling out of the mortuary. On the other hand a second dais stood. Facing the central dais was a long table at which men were seated on the side looking towards the dais. Two men sat also at the head of this table, facing the jury. As Sabre entered they were in deep conversation with a stunted, hunchbacked man who sat next them at the corner.
Every face in the room turned towards the door as Sabre entered. They might have belonged to a single body and they appeared to have a single expression and a single thought: a dark and forbidding expression and a thought dark and hostile. There was again that murmur that had greeted him when he stepped from the cab. At the sight of him one of the two men at the head of the table started to his feet. A very big man, and with a very big and massive face and terrific eyes who started up and raised clenched fists and had his jaws working. Old Bright. His companion at the head of the table restrained him and drew him down again. A tall, spare, dark man with a thin mouth in a deeply lined face,—Twyning. The hunchbacked man beside them twisted about in his chair and stared long and narrowly at Sabre, a very faint smile playing about his mouth; a rather hungry sort of smile, as though he anticipated a bit of a game out of Sabre.
They led Sabre to a seat on the front of the benches.
From a door behind the central dais a large, stout man entered and took his seat. Whispers about the court said, “Coroner.” Some one bawled “Silence.”
The coroner fiddled with some papers, put pince-nez on his nose and stared about the court. He had a big, flat face. He stared about. “Is the witness Sabre in attendance?”
The coroner’s officer said, “Yes, sir.”
Some one jogged Sabre. He stood up.
The coroner looked at him. “Are you legally represented?”
Sabre’s mind played him the trick of an astoundingly clear recollection of the officer at the recruiting station who had asked him, and at whom he had wondered, “Any complaints?” He wondered now. He said, “Represented? No. Why should I be represented?”
The coroner turned to examine some papers. “That you may perhaps discover,” he remarked drily.
The court tittered. The hunchbacked man, little more than whose huge head appeared above the table, laughed out loud and rubbed his hands between his knees and made a remark to Twyning. He seemed pleased that Sabre was not legally represented.
A man seated not far from the hunchback rose and bowed and said, “I am watching the interests of Mrs. Sabre.”