“They pushed off the case with the obvious witnesses—police, doctor, and so on. Then the thing hardened down. Then Sabre saw what was coming at him—saw it at a clap and never had remotely dreamt of it; saw it like a tiger coming down the street to devour him; saw it like the lid of hell slowly slipping away before his eyes. Saw it! I was watching him. He saw it; and things—age, greyness, lasting and immovable calamity—I don’t know what—frightful things—came down on his face like the dust of ashes settling on a polished surface.
“You see, what this Humpo fiend was laying out for was, first that Sabre was the father of the girl’s child, second that he’d deliberately put the poison in her way, and brutally told her he was done with her, and gone off and left her so that she should do what she had done and he be rid of her. Yes. Yes, old man. And he’d got a case! By the living Jingo, he’d got such a case as a Crown prosecutor only dreams about after a good dinner and three parts of a bottle of port. There wasn’t a thing, there wasn’t an action or a deed or a thought that Sabre had done for months and months past but bricked him in like bricking a man into a wall, but tied him down like tying a man in a chair with four fathoms of rope. By the living Jingo, there wasn’t a thing.
“Listen. Just listen and see for yourself. Worked off the police evidence and the doctor, d’you see? Then—’Mr. Bright!’ Old man comes up into the box. Stands there massive, bowed with grief, chest heaving, voice coming out of it like an organ in the Dead March. Stands there like Lear over the body of Cordelia. Stands there like the father of Virginia thinking of Appius Claudius.
“Like this, his evidence went: Was father of the deceased woman (as they called her). Was employed as foreman at Fortune, East and Sabre’s. Had seen the body and identified it. So on, so on.
“Then Humpo gets on to him. Was his daughter the sort of girl to meditate taking her life?—’Never! Never!’ Great rending cry that went down to your marrow.
“Touching the trouble that befell her, the birth of her child—had she ever betrayed signs of loose character while living beneath his roof?—’Never! Never!’
“How came she first to leave his house? Was any particular individual instrumental in obtaining for her work which first took her from beneath his roof?—’There! There!’ Clenched fist and half his body over the box towards Sabre.
“‘Look here!’ bursts out old Sabre. ‘Look here—!’
“They shut him up.
“’Answer the question, please, Mr. Bright.’—’Mr. Sabre led to her first going from me. Mr. Sabre!’
“Had this Mr. Sabre first approached him in the matter or had he solicited Mr. Sabre’s help?—’He came to me! He came to me! Without rhyme, or reason, or cause, or need, or hint, or suggestion he came to me!’