Then began the panic among the witnesses. Janki, the ayah, leering chastely behind her veil, turned grey, and the bearer left the Court. He said that his Mamma was dying, and that it was not wholesome for any man to lie unthriftily in the presence of ‘Estreekin Sahib’.
Biel said politely to Bronckhorst, ’Your witnesses don’t seem to work. Haven’t you any forged letters to produce?’ But Bronckhorst was swaying to and fro in his chair, and there was a dead pause after Biel had been called to order.
Bronckhorst’s Counsel saw the look on his client’s face, and without more ado pitched his papers on the little green-baize table, and mumbled something about having been misinformed. The whole Court applauded wildly, like soldiers at a theatre, and the Judge began to say what he thought.
* * * * *
Biel came out of the Court, and Strickland dropped a gut trainer’s-whip in the veranda. Ten minutes later, Biel was cutting Bronckhorst into ribbons behind the old Court cells, quietly and without scandal. What was left of Bronckhorst was sent home in a carriage; and his wife wept over it and nursed it into a man again. Later on, after Biel had managed to hush up the counter-charge against Bronckhorst of fabricating false evidence, Mrs. Bronckhorst, with her faint, watery smile, said that there had been a mistake, but it wasn’t her Teddy’s fault altogether. She would wait till her Teddy came back to her. Perhaps he had grown tired of her, or she had tried his patience, and perhaps we wouldn’t cut her any more, and perhaps the mothers would let their children play with ‘little Teddy’ again. He was so lonely. Then the station invited Mrs. Bronckhorst everywhere, until Bronckhorst was fit to appear in public, when he went Home and took his wife with him. According to latest advices, her Teddy did come back to her, and they are moderately happy. Though, of course, he can never forgive her the thrashing that she was the indirect means of getting for him.
* * * * *
What Biel wants to know is, ’Why didn’t I press home the charge against the Bronckhorst brute, and have him run in?’
What Mrs. Strickland wants to know is, ’How did my husband bring such a lovely, lovely Waler from your station? I know all his money affairs; and I’m certain he didn’t buy it.’
What I want to know is, ’How do women like Mrs. Bronckhorst come to marry men like Bronckhorst?’
And my conundrum is the most unanswerable of the three.
By Ella D’Arcy
(Monochromes, London: John Lane, 1893)