The Shadow of a Crime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 362 pages of information about The Shadow of a Crime.

“You’re wrong there; I cannot but say you’re wrong there.  I know the man, and as I’ve told you there’s nothing in the world he dare not do.  Why, would you credit it, I saw ’im one day—­”

“Tut, haud yer tongue.  Ye’d see him tremble one day if this sheriff of yours were not flayt by his own shadow.  Ye’d see him on Haribee; aye, and maybe ye will see him there yet, sheriff or no sheriff.”

This was said with a bitterness indicative of fierce and deadly hatred.

Shifting uneasily under the close gaze of his companion, the other said,—­

“What for do you look at me like that?  I’ve no occasion to love him, have I?”

“Nor I, nor I,” said the first speaker, his face distorted with evil passions; “and you shall spit on his grave yet, Master Scroope, that you shall; and dance on it till it does yer soul good; you shall, you shall, sheriff or none.”

Just then a flourish of trumpets fell on the ear.  Conversation was interrupted while the men, with the bookseller, stepped to the door.  Numbers of townspeople were crowding into the Market Place.  Immediately afterwards there came at a swift pace through Scotch Street a gayly bedecked carriage, with outriders in gold lace and a trumpeter riding in front.

“The judges—­going through to King’s Arms Lane,” observed the bookseller.

“What o’clock do the ’sizes start, Mr. Pengelly?” asked a loiterer outside.

“Ten in the morning, that’s when the grand jury sit,” the bookseller answered.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PEINE FORTE ET DURE.

The court was densely packed at ten next morning.  Every yard of available space was thronged with people.  The crown court lay on the west of the Town Hall.  It was a large square chamber without galleries.  Rude oak, hewn with the axe straight from the tree, formed the rafters and principals of the roofs.  The windows were small, and cast a feeble light.  A long table like a block of granite, covered with a faded green cloth and having huge carved legs, stood at one end of the court, and stretched almost from side to side.  On a dais over this table sat the two judges in high-backed chairs, deeply carved and black.  There was a stout rail at one end of the table, and behind it were steps leading to a chamber below.  This was the bar, and an officer of the court stood at one side of it.  Exactly opposite it were three rows of seats on graduated levels.  This was the jury box.  Ranged in front of the table were the counsel for the King, the clerk of the court, and two or three lawyers.  An ancient oak chest, ribbed with iron and secured by several massive padlocks, stood on the table.

The day was cold.  A close mist that had come from the mountains hovered over the court and crept into every crevice, chilling and dank.

There was much preliminary business to go through, and the people who thronged the court watched it with ill-concealed impatience.  True bills were found for this offence and that:  assaults, batteries, larcenies.

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The Shadow of a Crime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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