“Mr. Vernon is an old friend of mine,” Jimmie explained, “and I am going to see him through this thing. I will stake my life on his innocence!”
“I am glad to hear you say that,” replied Sir Lucius. “I am convinced myself that he is guiltless—that his story is true in every particular. His face is a warranty of that. I am deeply interested in the young man, Mr. Drexell. I have taken a fancy to him—and I insist on aiding in his defense. Don’t refuse, sir. Expense is no object to me!”
“Nor to me,” said Jimmie. “But it shall be as you wish.”
This understanding being reached, the matter was further gone into. The solicitor, by adroit questioning, drew from Jimmie various bits of information relating to the accused man’s past life. His own opinion—he had read all the papers—Mr. Tenby held in reserve behind a sphinx-like countenance, nor did he vouchsafe it when it was finally settled that he should defend the case.
“The circumstantial evidence appears strong—very strong,” he said drily. “The situation looks black for Mr. Vernon. But I trust that the police will find the foreign-looking individual whom the accused met coming out of the house, if it is certain that—” He broke off sharply.
“At all events, gentlemen,” he added, “be assured that I shall do my best.”
This promise from the great Mr. Tenby meant everything. He dismissed his visitors, and they walked as far as Morley’s Hotel together, discussing the situation as hopefully as they could. It was evident to both, however, that the solicitor was not disposed to credit Jack’s innocence or the truth of his statement.
“I’ll spend every dollar I have to get him free,” Jimmie vowed, as he went sadly on to the Albany. And much the same thing was in the mind of Sir Lucius, though he wondered why it should be. He was the creature of a whim that dominated him.
The next day was Sunday, and on Monday the coroner held his inquest. The accused was not present, but he was represented by Mr. Tenby, who posed mainly as a listener, however, and asked very few questions. Nothing fresh was solicited. Mrs. Rickett repeated her story, and the letter from the murdered woman, which the prisoner admitted having lost, was put in evidence. The proceedings being merely a prelude to a higher court, the jurors rendered an undecisive verdict. They found that the deceased had been murdered by a person or persons unknown, but that suspicion strongly pointed to her husband, John Vernon. They advised, moreover, that the police should try to find the stranger whom the accused alleged to have seen coming from the house.