As the defendant’s counsel went down the courthouse steps Rawlins came up to him to take note of his demeanour and anything else that might be going.
“Pretty stiff row to hoe you’ve got there, Lorne,” he said.
“Pretty stiff,” responded Lorne.
Imagination, one gathers, is a quality dispensed with of necessity in the practice of most professions, being that of which nature is, for some reason, most niggardly. There is no such thing as passing in imagination for any department of public usefulness, even the government of Oriental races; the list of the known qualified would be exhausted, perhaps, in getting the papers set. Yet neither poet nor philosopher enjoys it in monopoly; the chemist may have it, and the inventor must; it has been proved the mainspring of the mathematician, and I have hinted it the property of at least two of the Murchisons. Lorne was indebted to it certainly for his constructive view of his client’s situation, the view which came to him and stayed with him like a chapter in a novel, from the hour in which Ormiston had reluctantly accounted for himself upon the night of the burglary. It was a brilliant view, that perceived the young clerk the victim of the conspiracy he was charged with furthering; its justification lay back, dimly, among the intuitions about human nature which are part of the attribute I have quoted. I may shortly say that it was justified; another day’s attendance at the Elgin Courthouse shall not be compulsory here, whatever it may have been there. Young Ormiston’s commercial probity is really no special concern of ours; the thing which does matter, and considerably, is the special quality which Lorne Murchison brought to the task of its vindication, the quality that made new and striking appeal, through every channel of the great occasion, to those who heard him. It was that which reinforced and comforted every friend Ormiston had in the courtroom, before Lorne proceeded either to deal with the evidence of the other side, or to produce any jot or tittle of his own; and it was that which affected his distinguished opponent to the special interest which afterward showed itself so pleasantly superior to the sting of defeat. The fact that the defence was quite as extraordinarily indebted to circumstantial evidence as the prosecution in no way detracted from the character of Lorne’s personal triumph; rather, indeed, in the popular view and Rawlins’s, enhanced it. There was in it the primitive joy of seeing a ruffian knocked down with his own illegitimate weapons, from the moment the dropped formula was proved to be an old superseded one, and unexpected indication was produced that Ormiston’s room, as well as the bank vault, had been entered the night of the robbery, to the more glorious excitement of establishing Miss Belton’s connection—not to be quoted—with a cracksman at that moment being diligently inquired for by the New York police