A door was opened on the left of the Judge’s Bench, and the handsome Highland girl was led in by a sheriff’s officer. She was dressed in a dark-blue merino suit, with a black felt hat and blue feather to match, and dark-blue gloves. Her long light hair flowed down her shoulders, a cataract of gold. She stepped with an elastic and imperial step as natural to her as to the reindeer. A very Juno of stately beauty she seemed as she rolled her large, fearless eyes over the crowded court-room, until, at length, they fell on the form of the young Duke of Hereward, seated on a front seat.
She started and flushed. Then recovered herself, caught his eyes, and fixed them with her bold, steady gaze, smiled a vindictive, deadly smile, and so passed with stately steps to her place on the witness stand.
A STARTLING CHARGE.
The Duke of Hereward was quite unable to account for the look of vindictive and deadly hatred and malice cast on him by Rose Cameron. He could only suppose that she mistook him for some one else, or that she unreasonably resented his active share in the prosecution of the search for the murderers of Sir Lemuel Levison.
He sat back in his seat and watched her while she stepped upon the witness-stand and turned to face the jury.
Every pair of eyes in the court-room were also fixed upon her. For it was believed that she had been an accomplice in the murder, as well as in the robbery, at Castle Lone, and that she had turned Queen’s evidence in order to escape the extreme penalty of the law. And all there who looked upon her were as much dazzled by her wondrous beauty, as appalled by her awful guilt.
The Clerk of the Court administered the oath. The assistant Queen’s Counsel proceeded to examine her.
“Your name is Rose Cameron?”
“Na! I’m nae Rose Cameron. I’m Rose Scott, and an honest, married woman,” said the witness, turning a baleful look upon the Duke of Hereward, and letting her large, bold, blue eyes rove defiantly, triumphantly over the sea of human faces turned toward her. She never blenched a bit under the fire of glances fixed upon her. These glances would have pierced like spears any finer and more sensitive spirit. They never seemed to touch hers.
“What a handsome quean it is!” said some.
“What a diabolical malignity there is in her looks. Eh, sirs! The vera cut of her ’ee wad convict her, handsome as she is!” whispered another.
“Ay, she looks as if she could ha ta’en a hand in the murther as well as in the robbery,” muttered a third. And so on.
These comments were made in so low a tone that they did not in the least disturb the decorum of the court.
“Your name is Rose Scott, then?” proceeded Counsellor Keir.
“Ay, it is.”
“What is your age?”
“Twenty-six come next Michael-mas.”