“Oh, ’oly, ’oly, ’oly!” said Mr. Moses Gould.
The instant he had spoken all the rest knew they had been in an almost religious state of submission and assent. Something had bound them together; something in the sacred tradition of the last two words of the letter; something also in the touching and boyish embarrassment with which Inglewood had read them— for he had all the thin-skinned reverence of the agnostic. Moses Gould was as good a fellow in his way as ever lived; far kinder to his family than more refined men of pleasure, simple and steadfast in his admiration, a thoroughly wholesome animal and a thoroughly genuine character. But wherever there is conflict, crises come in which any soul, personal or racial, unconsciously turns on the world the most hateful of its hundred faces. English reverence, Irish mysticism, American idealism, looked up and saw on the face of Moses a certain smile. It was that smile of the Cynic Triumphant, which has been the tocsin for many a cruel riot in Russian villages or mediaeval towns.
“Oh, ’oly, ’oly, ’oly!” said Moses Gould.
Finding that this was not well received, he explained further, exuberance deepening on his dark exuberant features.
“Always fun to see a bloke swallow a wasp when ‘e’s corfin’ up a fly,” he said pleasantly. “Don’t you see you’ve bunged up old Smith anyhow. If this parson’s tale’s O.K.—why, Smith is ’ot. ’E’s pretty ’ot. We find him elopin’ with Miss Gray (best respects!) in a cab. Well, what abart this Mrs. Smith the curate talks of, with her blarsted shyness—transmigogrified into a blighted sharpness? Miss Gray ain’t been very sharp, but I reckon she’ll be pretty shy.”
“Don’t be a brute,” growled Michael Moon.
None could lift their eyes to look at Mary; but Inglewood sent a glance along the table at Innocent Smith. He was still bowed above his paper toys, and a wrinkle was on his forehead that might have been worry or shame. He carefully plucked out one corner of a complicated paper and tucked it in elsewhere; then the wrinkle vanished and he looked relieved.
The Round Road;
or, the Desertion Charge
Pym rose with sincere embarrassment; for he was an American, and his respect for ladies was real, and not at all scientific.
“Ignoring,” he said, “the delicate and considerable knightly protests that have been called forth by my colleague’s native sense of oration, and apologizing to all for whom our wild search for truth seems unsuitable to the grand ruins of a feudal land, I still think my colleague’s question by no means devoid of rel’vancy. The last charge against the accused was one of burglary; the next charge on the paper is of bigamy and desertion. It does without question appear that the defence, in aspiring to rebut this last charge, have really admitted the next. Either Innocent Smith is still under a charge of attempted burglary, or else that is exploded; but he is pretty well fixed for attempted bigamy. It all depends on what view we take of the alleged letter from Curate Percy. Under these conditions I feel justified in claiming my right to questions. May I ask how the defence got hold of the letter from Curate Percy? Did it come direct from the prisoner?”