“Next witness. Chemist. Funny little chap with two pairs of spectacles, one on his forehead and one on his nose. From Alton. Remembers distinctly sale of oxalic acid (produced) on Friday before the Saturday of the girl’s death. Remembers distinctly the purchaser, could identify him. Does he see him in court? Yes, there he is. Points at Sabre. Anything odd about purchaser’s manner? Couldn’t say exactly odd. Remembered he sat down while making the purchase. Ah, sat down, did he? Was it usual for customers to sit down when making a trifling purchase? No, not in his shop it wasn’t usual. Ah, it struck him then as peculiar, this sitting down? As if perhaps the purchaser was under a strain? No, not for that reason—customers didn’t as a rule sit in his shop, because he didn’t as a rule have a chair in front of the counter for them to sit on. Court howls with laughter in relief from tension. Humpo says sternly, ‘This is no laughing matter, sir. Stand down, sir.’ Glares after him as he goes to his seat. Jury glares. Buddha glares. General impression that little chemist has been trying to shield Sabre.
“Next witness. Chap I’d seen serve the divorce papers on Sabre at Brighton. Solicitor’s clerk. Humpo handles him very impressively—also very carefully. Informs him no need to tell the court on what business he went down to Sabre’s house on the fatal Saturday. ‘Sufficient,’ says Humpo, ’that it was legal business of a deeply grave nature implicating the deceased and the man Sabre?’ Witness agrees. Court nearly chokes itself whispering conjectures. ’And you saw the deceased but not the man Sabre?’ Witness agrees again. Goes on, led by Humpo, to state that he served certain papers on the deceased. That she looked noticeably unhappy, frightened, lonely, deserted, when she opened the door to him. Had great difficulty in obtaining from her the whereabouts of the man Sabre. At first refused to tell. No, didn’t actually say she had been told not to tell; but, yes, certainly gave that impression. Extracted from her at last that he was probably at Brighton. Couldn’t get anything more definite out of her.
“‘Look here—’, cries Sabre. ‘Look here—look here, she didn’t know!’
“‘I am not surprised,’ says Humpo, ‘I am not at all surprised.’ Court laughs cynically. ‘You have interrupted us a great deal,’ says Humpo. ’It is time we saw if you will be equally informative in the witness box.’
“Some one bawls, ‘Next witness. Mark Sabre.’
“Court draws an enormous breath and gets itself ready for butchery to make a Tidborough holiday.”
Hapgood went on: