From this moment the boy knew that Tryst’s fate was sealed. What did all those words matter, those professional patterings one way and the other; the professional jeers: ‘My friend has told you this’ and ’My friend will tell you that.’ The professional steering of the impartial judge, seated there above them all; the cold, calculated rhapsodies about the heinousness of arson; the cold and calculated attack on the characters of the stone-breaker witness and the tramp witness; the cold and calculated patter of the appeal not to condemn a father on the evidence of his little child; the cold and calculated outburst on the right of every man to be assumed innocent except on overwhelming evidence such as did not here exist. The cold and calculated balancing of pro and con; and those minutes of cold calculation veiled from the eyes of the court. Even the verdict: ‘Guilty’; even the judgment: ‘Three years’ penal servitude.’ All nothing, all superfluity to the boy supporting the tragic gaze of Tryst’s eyes and making up his mind to a desperate resort.
“Three years’ penal servitude!” The big laborer paid no more attention to those words than to any others spoken during that hour’s settlement of his fate. True, he received them standing, as is the custom, fronting the image of Justice, from whose lips they came. But by no single gesture did he let any one see the dumb depths of his soul. If life had taught him nothing else, it had taught him never to express himself. Mute as any bullock led into the slaughtering-house, with something of a bullock’s dulled and helpless fear in his eyes, he passed down and away between his jailers. And at once the professional noises rose, and the professional rhapsodists, hunching their gowns, swept that little lot of papers into their pink tape, and, turning to their neighbors, smiled, and talked, and jerked their eyebrows.
The nest on the Spaniard’s Road had not been able to contain Sheila long. There are certain natures, such as that of Felix, to whom the claims and exercise of authority are abhorrent, who refuse to exercise it themselves and rage when they see it exercised over others, but who somehow never come into actual conflict with it. There are other natures, such as Sheila’s, who do not mind in the least exercising authority themselves, but who oppose it vigorously when they feel it coming near themselves or some others. Of such is the kingdom of militancy. Her experience with the police had sunk deep into her soul. They had not, as a fact, treated her at all badly, which did not prevent her feeling as if they had outraged in her the dignity of woman. She arrived, therefore, in Hampstead seeing red even where red was not. And since, undoubtedly, much real red was to be seen, there was little other color in the world or in her cheeks those days. Long disagreements with Alan, to whom she was still a magnet but whose Stanley-like nature stood firm against the blandishments of her revolting tongue, drove her more and more toward a decision the seeds of which had, perhaps, been planted during her former stay among the breezy airs of Hampstead.