Japhet, in Search of a Father eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

Sunday passed away, not as it ought to have passed, certainly.  I attended prayers, but my thoughts were elsewhere—­how, indeed, could it be otherwise?  Who can control his thoughts?  He may attempt so to do, but the attempt is all that can be made.  He cannot command them.  I heard nothing, my mind was in a state of gyration, whirling round from one thing to the other, until I was giddy from intensity of feeling.

On Monday morning the gaoler came and asked me whether I would have legal advice.  I replied in the negative.  “You will be called about twelve o’clock, I hear,” continued he; “it is now ten, and there is only one more trial before yours, about the stealing of four geese and half a dozen fowls.”

“Good God!” thought I, “and am I mixed up with such deeds as these?” I dressed myself with the utmost care and precision, and never was more successful.  My clothes were black, and fitted well.  About one o’clock I was summoned by the gaoler, and led between him and another to the court-house, and placed in the dock.  At first my eyes swam, and I could distinguish nothing, but gradually I recovered.  I looked round, for I had called up my courage.  My eyes wandered from the judge to the row of legal gentlemen below him; from them to the well-dressed ladies who sat in the gallery above; behind me I did not look.  I had seen enough, and my cheeks burned with shame.  At last I looked at my fellow-culprit, who stood beside me, and his eyes at the same time met mine.  He was dressed in the gaol clothes, of pepper and salt coarse cloth.  He was a rough, vulgar, brutal looking man, but his eye was brilliant, his complexion was dark, and his face was covered with whiskers.  “Good heavens,” thought I, “who will ever imagine or credit that we have been associates?”

The man stared at me, bit his lip, and smiled with contempt, but made no further remark.  The indictment having been read, the clerk of the court cried out, “You, Benjamin Ogle, having heard the charge, say, guilty or not guilty?”

“Not guilty,” replied the man, to my astonishment.

“You, Philip Maddox, guilty or not guilty?” I did not answer.

“Prisoner,” observed the judge in a mild voice, “you must answer, guilty or not guilty.  It is merely a form.”

“My lord,” replied I, “my name is not Philip Maddox.”

“That is the name given in the indictment by the evidence of your fellow-prisoner,” observed the judge; “your real name we cannot pretend to know.  It is sufficient that you answer to the question of whether you, the prisoner, are guilty or not guilty.”

“Not guilty, my lord, most certainly,” replied I, placing my hand to my heart, and bowing to him.

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Japhet, in Search of a Father from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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