“All well. Good day, Afy.”
Spacious courts were the assize courts of Lynneborough; and it was well they were so, otherwise more people had been disappointed, and numbers were, of hearing the noted trial of Sir Francis Levison for the murder of George Hallijohn.
The circumstances attending the case caused it to bear for the public an unparalleled interest. The rank of the accused, and his antecedents, more especially that particular local antecedent touching the Lady Isabel Carlyle; the verdict still out against Richard Hare; the length of time which had elapsed since; the part played in it by Afy; the intense curiosity as to the part taken in it by Otway Bethel; the speculation as to what had been the exact details, and the doubt of a conviction—all contributed to fan the curiosity of the public. People came from far and near to be present—friends of Mr. Carlyle, friends of the Hares, friends of the Challoner family, friends of the prisoner, besides the general public. Colonel Bethel and Mr. Justice Hare had conspicuous seats.
At a few minutes past nine the judge took his place on the bench, but not before a rumor had gone through the court—a rumor that seemed to shake it to its centre, and which people stretched out their necks to hear—Otway Bethel had turned Queen’s evidence, and was to be admitted as a witness for the crown.
Thin, haggard, pale, looked Francis Levison as he was placed in the dock. His incarceration had not in any way contributed to his personal advantages, and there was an ever-recurring expression of dread upon his countenance not pleasant to look upon. He was dressed in black, old Mrs. Levison having died, and his diamond ring shone conspicuous still on his white hand, now whiter than ever. The most eminent counsel were engaged on both sides.
The testimony of the witnesses already given need not be recapitulated. The identification of the prisoner with the man Thorn was fully established—Ebenezer James proved that. Afy proved it, and also that he, Thorn, was at the cottage that night. Sir Peter Levison’s groom was likewise re-examined. But still there wanted other testimony. Afy was made to re-assert that Thorn had to go to the cottage for his hat after leaving her, but that proved nothing, and the conversation, or quarrel overheard by Mr. Dill was now again, put forward. If this was all the evidence, people opined that the case for the prosecution would break down.
“Call Richard Hare” said the counsel for the prosecution.
Those present who knew Mr. Justice Hare, looked up at him, wondering why he did not stir in answer to his name—wondering at the pallid hue which overspread his face. Not he, but another came forward—a fair, placid, gentlemanly young man, with blue eyes, fair hair, and a pleasant countenance. It was Richard Hare the younger. He had assumed his original position in life, so far as attire went, and in that, at least, was a gentleman again. In speech also—with his working dress Richard had thrown off his working manners.