“Just what is a criminologist?” The speaker, a girl of about eighteen, turned as she lightly asked the question, to glance over her shoulder toward several persons who followed them.
“One who seeks to apply to the criminal the methods of psychology, psychiatry and anthropology,” he answered with jesting impressiveness.
She laughed. “But you said this Mr. Steele comes from our part of the world, did you not, Captain Forsythe?”
“So I understand, Miss Jocelyn. Not much of a person to talk about himself, don’t you know,”—tentatively stroking an imposing pair of mustaches, tinged with gray,—“but he has mentioned, I believe, living in New Zealand; or was it Australia?”
“Australia?” the cold, metallic tones of the third person, a man of about three-and-thirty, inquired. “Most likely the other place, or we should have heard—”
“True, Lord Ronsdale!” said the other man, pausing before a great door. “But here we are.”
“‘All ye who enter, etc’” laughed the girl.
“Not if one comes just to ‘do’ it, you know,” was the protesting answer. “Quite the thing to take in the criminal courts!”
“When one is only a sort of country cousin, a colonial, just come to town!” she added, waving a small, daintily-gloved hand to the little group of friends who now approached and joined them. “Captain Forsythe is trying to persuade me it is a legitimate part of our slumming plan to take in murder trials, uncle,” she said lightly, addressing the foremost of the new-comers. “Just because it’s a fad of his! Speaking of this acquaintance or friend of yours, Mr. Steele,—you are something of a criminologist, too, are you not, Captain Forsythe?”
“Well, every man should have a hobby,” returned that individual, “and, although I don’t aspire to the long name you call me, I confess to a slight amateur interest.”
Lord Ronsdale shrugged his shoulders, as to say, every one to his taste; but the girl laughed.
“Slight?” she repeated. “Would you believe it, aunt”—to a portly lady among those who had approached—“he never misses a murder trial! I believe he likes to watch the poor fellows fighting for their lives, to study their faces, their expressions when they’re being sentenced, perhaps, to one of those horrible convict ships!”
“Don’t speak of them, my dear Jocelyn!” returned that worthy person, with a shudder. “When I think of the Lord Nelson, and that awful night—”
“You were three days in an open boat before being sighted and picked up, I believe, Lady Wray?” observed Captain Forsythe.
“Three days? Years!” returned the governor’s wife. “At least, they seemed so to me! I thought every moment would be our last and goodness knows why it wasn’t! How we managed to survive it—”
“Narrow squeak, certainly!” said Lord Ronsdale, his lids lowering slightly. “But all’s well that ends well, and—”