Part 10 out of 11
advocate,--certainly beneath any forensic advocate employed otherwise
than in addressing a jury. He, Judge Bramber, had never himself talked
of 'demanding' a verdict even from a jury. He had only endeavoured to
win it. But that a man who had been Attorney-General,--who had been the
head of the bar,--should thus write to a Secretary of State, was to him
disgusting. To his thinking, a great lawyer, even a good lawyer, would
be incapable of enthusiasm as to any case in which he was employed. The
ignorant childish world outside would indulge in zeal and hot
feelings,--but for an advocate to do so was to show that he was no
lawyer,--that he was no better than the outside world. Even spoken
eloquence was, in his mind, almost beneath a lawyer,--studied eloquence
certainly was so. But such written words as these disgusted him. And
then he came across allusions to the condition of the poor lady at
Folking. What could the condition of the lady at Folking have to do with
the matter? Though the poor lady at Folking should die in her sorrow,
that could not alter the facts as they had occurred in Australia! It was
not for him, or for the Secretary of State, to endeavour to make things
pleasant all round here in England. It had been the jury's duty to find
out whether that crime had been committed, and his duty to see that all
due facilities were given to the jury. It had been Sir John Joram's duty
to make out what best case he could for his client,--and then to rest
contented. Had all things been as they should be, the Secretary of State
would have had no duty at all in the matter. It was in this frame of
mind that Judge Bramber applied himself to the consideration of the
case. No juster man ever lived;--and yet in his mind there was a bias
against the prisoner.
Nevertheless he went to his work with great patience, and a resolve to
sift everything that was to be sifted. The Secretary of State had done
no more than his required duty in sending the case to him, and he would
now do his. He took the counter-evidence as it came in the papers. In
order that the two Bagwaxian theories, each founded on the same small
document, might be expounded, one consecutively after the other, Dick
Shand and his deposition were produced first. The judge declared to
himself that Dick's single oath, which could not now be tested by
cross-examination, amounted to nothing. He had been a drunkard and a
pauper,--had descended to the lowest occupation which the country
afforded, and had more than once nearly died from delirium tremens. He
had then come home penniless, and had--produced his story. If such
evidence could avail to rescue a prisoner from his sentence, and to
upset a verdict, what verdict or what sentence could stand? Poor Dick's
sworn testimony, in Judge Bramber's mind, told rather against Caldigate
than for him.
Then came the postmarks,--as to which the Bagwaxian theory was quite
distinct from that as to the postage-stamp. Here the judge found the
facts to be somewhat complicated and mazy. It was long before he could
understand the full purport of the argument used, and even at last he
hardly understood the whole of it. But he could see nothing in it to
justify him in upsetting the verdict;--nothing even to convince him that
the envelope had been fraudulently handled. There was no evidence that
such a dated stamp had not been in use at Sydney on the day named.
Copies from the records kept daily at Sydney,--photographed
copies,--should have been submitted before that argument had been used.
But when it came to the postage-stamp, then he told himself very quickly
that the envelope had been fraudulently handled. The evidence as to the
date of the manufacture of the stamp was conclusive. It could not have
served to pay the postage on a letter from Sydney to Nobble in May 1873,
seeing that it had not then been in existence. And thus any necessity
there might otherwise have been for further inquiry as to the postmarks
was dissipated. The envelope was a declared fraud, and the fraud
required no further proof. That morsel of evidence had been fabricated,
and laid, at any rate, one of the witnesses in the last trial open to a
charge of perjury. So resolving Judge Bramber pushed the papers away
from him, and began to think the case over in his mind.
There was certainly something in the entire case as it now stood to
excuse Sir John. That was the first line which his thoughts took. An
advocate having clearly seen into a morsel of evidence on the side
opposed to him, and having proved to himself beyond all doubt that it
was maliciously false, must be held to be justified in holding more than
a mere advocate's conviction as to the innocence of his client. Sir John
had of course felt that a foul plot had been contrived. A foul plot no
doubt had been contrived. Had the discovery taken place before the case
had been submitted to the jury, the detection of that plot would
doubtless have saved the prisoner, whether guilty or innocent. So much
Judge Bramber admitted.
But should it necessarily serve to save him now? Before a jury it would
have saved him, whether guilty or innocent. But the law had got hold of
him, and had made him guilty, and the law need not now subject itself to
the normal human weakness of a jury. The case was now in his hands,--in
his, and those of the Secretary, and there need be no weakness. If the
man was innocent, in God's name let him go;--though, as the judge
observed to himself, he had deserved all he had got for his folly and
vice. But this discovered plot by no means proved the man's innocence.
It only proved the determination of certain persons to secure his
conviction, whether by foul means or fair. Then he recapitulated to
himself various cases in which he had known false evidence to have been
added to true, with the object of convincing a jury as to a real fact.
It might well be that this gang of ruffians,--for it was manifest that
there had been such a gang,--finding the envelope addressed by the man
to his wife, had fraudulently,--and as foolishly as fraudulently,--
endeavoured to bolster up their case by the postage-stamp and the
postmark. Looking back at all the facts, remembering that fatal
twenty thousand pounds, remembering that though the postmarks were
forged on that envelope the writing was true, remembering the
acknowledged promise and the combined testimony of the four persons,--he
was inclined to think that something of the kind had been done in this
case. If it were so, though he would fain see the perpetrators of that
fraud on their trial for perjury, their fraud in no way diminished
Caldigate's guilt. That a guilty man should escape out of the hands of
justice by any fraud was wormwood to Judge Bramber. Caldigate was
guilty. The jury had found him so. Could he take upon himself to say
that the finding of the jury was wrong because the prosecuting party had
concocted a fraud which had not been found out before the verdict was
given? Sir John Joram, whom he had known almost as a boy, had 'demanded'
the release of his client. The word stuck in Judge Bramber's throat. The
word had been injudicious The more he thought of the word the more he
thought that the verdict had been a true verdict, in spite of the fraud.
A very honest man was Judge Bramber;--but human.
He almost made up his mind,--but then was obliged to confess to himself
that he had not quite done so. 'It taints the entire evidence with
perjury,' Sir John had said. The woman's evidence was absolutely so
tainted,--was defiled with perjury. And the man Crinkett had been so
near the woman that it was impossible to disconnect them. Who had
concocted the fraud? The woman could hardly have done so without the
man's connivance. It took him all the morning to think the matter out,
and then he had not made up his mind. To reverse the verdict would
certainly be a thorn in his side,--a pernicious thorn,--but one which,
if necessary, he would endure Thorns, however, such as these are very
At last he determined to have inquiry made as to the woman by the
police. She had laid herself open to an indictment for perjury, and in
making inquiry on that head something further might probably be learned.
How the Conspirators Throve
There had been some indiscretion among Caldigate's friends from which it
resulted that, while Judge Bramber was considering the matter, and
before the police intelligence of Scotland Yard even had stirred itself
in obedience to the judge's orders, nearly all the circumstances which
had been submitted to the judge had become public. Shand knew all that
Bagwax had done. Bagwax was acquainted with the whole of Dick's
evidence. And Hester down at Folking understood perfectly what had been
revealed by each of those enthusiastic allies. Dick, as we know, had
been staying at Folking, and had made his presence notable throughout
the county. He had succeeded in convincing uncle Babington, and had been
judged to be a false witness by all the Boltons In that there had
perhaps been no great indiscretion But when Bagwax opened a
correspondence with Mrs. John Caldigate and explained to her at great
length all the circumstances of the postmark and the postage-stamps, and
when at her instance he got a day's holiday and rushed down to Folking,
then, as he felt himself, he was doing that of which Sir John Joram and
Mr. Jones would not approve. But he could not restrain himself. And why
should he restrain himself when he had lost all hope of his journey to
Sydney? When the prospect of that delight no longer illumined his days,
why should he not enjoy the other delight of communicating his tidings,
--his own discoveries,--to the afflicted lady? Unless he did so it would
appear to her that Joram had done it all, and there would be no
reward,--absolutely none! So he told his tale,--at first by letter and
then with his own natural eloquence. 'Yes, Mrs. Caldigate the postmarks
are difficult. It takes a lifetime of study to understand..all the ins
and outs of postmarks To me it is A B C of course. When I had spent a
week or two looking into it I was sure that impression had never been
made in the way of business Bagwax was sitting out on the lawn at
Folking and the bereaved wife, dressed in black, was near him, holding
in her hand one of the photographed copies of the envelope. 'It's A B C
to me; but I don't wonder you shouldn't see it.'
'I think I do see a good deal,' said Hester.
'But any babe may understand that,' said Bagwax, pressing forward and
putting his forefinger on the obliteration of the postage-stamp. 'You
see the date in the postmark.'
'I know the date very well.'
'We've had it proved that on the date given there, this identical
postage-stamp had not yet been manufactured The Secretary of State can't
get over that. I'll defy him.'
'Why don't they release him at once then?
'Between you and me, Mrs. Caldigate, I think it's Judge Bramber.'
'He can't want to injure an innocent man.
'From what I've heard Sir John say, I fancy he doesn't like to have the
verdict upset. But they must do it. I'll defy them to get over that.'
And again he tapped the queen's-head. Then he told the story of his love
for Jemima, and of his engagement. Of course he was praised and
petted,--as indeed he deserved; and thus, though the house at Folking
was a sad house, he enjoyed himself,--as men do when much is made of
them by pretty women.
But the result of all this was that every detail of the story became
known to the public, and was quite common down at Cambridge. The old
squire was urgent with Mr. Seely, asking why it was that when those
things were known an instant order had not come from the Secretary of
State for the liberation of his son. Mr. Seely had not been altogether
pleased at the way in which Sir John had gone to work, and was still
convinced of the guilt of his own client. His answer was therefore
unsatisfactory, and the old squire proclaimed his intention of
proceeding himself to London and demanding an interview with the
Secretary of State. Then the Cambridge newspapers took up the
subject,--generally in the Caldigate interest from thence the matter was
transferred to the metropolitan columns,--which, with one exception were
strong in favour of such a reversal of the verdict as could be effected
by a pardon from the Queen. The one exception was very pellucid, very
unanswerable, and very cold-blooded. It might have been written by Judge
Bramber himself, but that Judge Bramber would sooner have cut his hand
off than have defiled it by making public aught that had come before him
judicially or officially. But all Judge Bramber's arguments were there
set forth. Dick wished his father at once to proceed against the paper
for libel because the paper said that his word could not be taken for
much. The postmark theory was exposed to derision. There was no doubt
much in the postage-stamp, but not enough to upset the overwhelming
weight of evidence by which the verdict had been obtained. And so the
case became really public, and the newspapers were bought and read with
the avidity which marks those festive periods in which some popular
criminal is being discussed at every breakfast-table.
Much of this had occurred before the intelligence of Scotland Yard had
been set to work in obedience to Judge Bramber. The papers had been a
day or two in the Home Office, and three or four days in the judge's
hands before he could look at them. To Hester and the old squire at
Folking the incarceration of that injured darling was the one thing in
all the world which now required attention. To redress that terrible
grievance, judges, secretaries, thrones, and parliaments, should have
left their wonted tracks and thought of nothing till it had been
accomplished. But Judge Bramber, in the performance of his duties, was
never hurried; and at the Home Office a delay but of three or four days
amounted to official haste. Thus it came to pass that all that Bagwax
had done and all that Shand had said were known to the public at large
before the intelligence of Scotland Yard was at work,--before anybody
had as yet done anything.
Among the public were Euphemia Smith and Mr. Crinkett,--Adamson also,
and Anna Young, the other witness. Since the trial, this confraternity
had not passed an altogether fraternal life. When the money had been
paid, the woman had insisted on having the half. She, indeed, had
carried the cheque for the amount away from the Jericho Coffee-house. It
had been given into her hands and those of Crinkett conjointly, and she
had secured the document. The amount was payable to their joint order,
and each had felt that it would be better to divide the spoil in peace.
Crinkett had taken his half with many grumblings, because he had, in
truth, arranged the matter and hitherto paid the expenses. Then the
woman had wished to start at once for Australia, taking the other female
with her. But to this Crinkett had objected. They would certainly, he
said, be arrested for breaking their bail at whatever port they might
reach,--and why should they go, seeing that the money had been paid to
them on the distinct understanding that they were not pledged to abandon
the prosecution. Most unwillingly the woman remained did so fearing lest
worse evil might betide her. Then there had arisen quarrels about the
money between the two females, and between Crinkett and Adamson. It was
in vain that Crinkett showed that, were he to share with Adamson, there
would be very little of the plunder left to him. Adamson demanded a
quarter of the whole, short of a quarter of the expenses, declaring that
were it not paid to him, he would divulge everything to the police. The
woman, who had got her money in her hand, and who was, in truth,
spending it very quickly, would give back nothing for expenses, unless
her expenses in England also were considered. Nor would she give a
shilling to Anna Young, beyond an allowance of L2 a week, till, as she
said, they were both back in the colony again. But Anna Young did not
wish to go back to the colony. And so they quarrelled till the trial
came and was over.
The verdict had been given on the 20th July, and it was about the middle
of September when the newspapers made public all that Shand and Bagwax
between them had said and done. At that time the four conspirators were
still in England. The two men were living a wretched life in London, and
the women were probably not less wretched at Brighton. Mrs. Smith, when
she learned that Dick Shand was alive and in England, immediately
understood her danger,--understood her danger, but did not at all
measure the security which might come to her from the nature of Dick's
character. She would have flown instantly without a word to any one, but
that the other woman watched her day and night. They did not live under
the same roof, nor in similar style. Euphemia Smith wore silk, and
endeavoured to make the best of what female charms her ill mode of life
had left to her; while Young was content with poor apparel and poor
living,--but spent her time in keeping guard on the other. The woman in
silk knew that were she to leave her lodgings for half a day without the
knowledge of the woman in calico, the woman in calico would at once
reveal everything to the police. But when she understood the point which
had been raised and made as to the postmark,--which she did understand
thoroughly,--then she comprehended also her own jeopardy, and hurried up
to London to see Crinkett. And she settled matters with Young. If Young
would go back with her to Australia, everything there should be made
pleasant. Terms were made at the Brighton station. Anna Young was to
receive two thousand pounds in London, and would then remain as
companion with her old mistress.
In London there was a close conference, at first between the two
principals only. Crinkett thought that he was comparatively safe. He had
sworn to nothing about the letter; and though he himself had prepared
the envelope, no proof of his handiwork was forthcoming that he had done
so. But he was quite ready to start again to some distant portion of the
earth's surface,--to almost any distant portion of the earth's
surface,--if she would consent to a joining of purses. 'And who is to
keep the joint purse?' asked Mrs. Smith, not without a touch of grand
'Me, of course,' said Crinkett. 'A man always must have the money.'
'I'd sooner have fourteen years for perjury, like the Claimant,' said
Mrs. Smith, with a grand resolve that, come what might, she would stick
to her own money.
But at last it was decided. Adamson would not stir a step, but consented
to remain with two thousand pounds, which Crinkett was compelled to pay
him. Crinkett handed him the money within the precincts of one of the
city banks not an hour before the sailing of the Julius Vogel from the
London Docks for Auckland in New Zealand. At that moment both the women
were on board the Julius Vogel, and the gang was so far safe. Crinkett
was there in time, and they were carried safely down the river. New
Zealand had been chosen because there they would be further from their
persecutors than at any other spot they could reach. And the journey
would occupy long, and they were pervaded by an idea that as they had
been hitherto brought in question as to no crime, the officers of
justice would hardly bring them back from so great a distance.
The Julius Vogel touched at Plymouth on her outward voyage. How terribly
inconvenient must be this habit of touching to passengers going from
home, such as Euphemia Smith and Thomas Crinkett! And the wretched
vessel, which had made a quick passage round from the Thames, lay two
days and two nights at Dartmouth, before it went on to Plymouth. Our
friends, of course, did not go on shore. Our friends, who were known as
Mr. Catley and his two widowed sisters, Mrs. Salmon and Mrs. York, kept
themselves very quiet, and were altogether well-behaved. But the women
could not restrain some manifestation of their impatience. Why did not
the vessel start? Why were they to be delayed Then the captain made
known to them that the time for starting had not yet come. Three o'clock
on that day was the time fixed for starting. As the slow moments wore
themselves away, the women trembled, huddled together on the poop of the
vessel; while Crinkett, never letting the pipe out of his mouth, stood
leaning against the taffrail, looking towards the port, gazing across
the waters to see whether anything was coming towards the ship which
might bode evil to his journey. Then there came the bustle preparatory
to starting, and Crinkett thought that he was free, at any rate, for
that journey. But such bustle spreads itself over many minutes. Quarter
of an hour succeeded quarter of an hour, and still they were not off.
The last passenger came on board, and yet they were not off. Then
Crinkett with his sharp eyes saw another boat pushed off from the shore,
and heard a voice declare that the Julius Vogel had received a signal
not to start. Then Crinkett knew that a time of desperate trouble had
come upon him, and he bethought himself what he would do. Were he to
jump overboard, they would simply pick him up. Nor was he quite sure
that he wished to die. The money which he had kept had not been obtained
fraudulently, and would be left to him, he thought, after that term of
imprisonment which it might be his fate to endure. But then, again, it
might be that no such fate was in store for him. He had sworn only to
the marriage and not to the letter. It might still be possible that he
should be acquitted, while the woman was condemned. So he stood
perfectly still, and said not a word to either of his companions as to
the boat which was coming. He could soon see two men in the guise of
policemen, and another who was certainly a policeman, though not in that
guise. He stood there very quiet, and determined that he would tell his
own name and those of the two women at the first question that was asked
him. On the day but one following, Crinkett and Euphemia Smith were
committed in London to take their trial for perjury.
Adamson, when he had read the reports in the newspapers, and had learned
that the postage-stamp had been detected, and that Shand was at home,
also looked about him a little. He talked over the matter at great
length with Crinkett, but he did not tell Crinkett all his own ideas.
Some of them he did make known to Crinkett. He would not himself go to
the colonies with Crinkett, nor would he let Crinkett go till some share
of the plunder had been made over to him. This, after many words, had
been fixed at two thousand pounds; and the money, as we have seen, had
been paid. Crinkett had been careful to make the payment at as late a
moment as possible. He had paid the amount,--very much to his own regret
when he saw that boat coming,--because he was quite sure that Adamson
would at once have denounced him to the police, had he not done so.
Adamson might denounce him in spite of the payment;--but the payment
appeared to him to be his best chance. When he saw the boat coming, he
knew that he had simply thrown away his two thousand pounds.
In truth, he had simply thrown it away. There is no comfort in having
kept one's word honestly, when one would fain have broken it
dishonestly. Adamson, with the large roll of bank-notes still in his
pocket, had gone at once to Scotland Yard and told his story. At that
time all the details had been sent by the judge to the police-office,
and it was understood that a great inquiry was to be made. In the first
place, Crinkett and Euphemia Smith were wanted. Adamson soon made his
bargain. He could tell something,--could certainly tell where Crinkett
and the women were to be found; but he must be assured that any little
peccadillo of which he himself might have been guilty would be
overlooked. The peccadillo on his part had been very small, but he must
be assured. Then he was assured, and told the police at once that they
could stop the two travellers at Plymouth. And of course he told more
than that. There had been no marriage,--no real marriage. He had been
induced to swear that there had been a marriage, because he had regarded
the promise and the cohabitation as making a marriage,--'in heaven.'
So he had expressed himself, and so excused himself. But now his eyes
had been opened to the error of his ways, and he was free to acknowledge
that he had committed perjury. There had been no marriage;--certainly
none at all. He made his deposition, and bound himself down, and
submitted to live under the surveillance of the police till the affair
should be settled. Then he would be able to go where he listed, with two
thousand pounds in his pocket. He was a humble, silent, and generally
obedient man, but in this affair he had managed to thrive better than
any of the others. Anna Young was afterwards allowed to fill the same
position; but she failed in getting any of the money. While the women
were in London together, and as they were starting, Euphemia Smith had
been too strong for her companion. She had declared that she would not
pay the money till they were afloat, and then that she would not pay it
till they had left Plymouth. When the police came on board the Julius
Vogel, Anna Young had as yet received nothing.
The Boltons Are Very Firm
While all this was going on, as the general opinion in favour of
Caldigate was becoming stronger every day, when even Judge Bramber had
begun to doubt, the feeling which had always prevailed at Puritan Grange
was growing in intensity and converting itself from a conviction into a
passion. That the wicked bigamist had falsely and fraudulently robbed
her of her daughter was a religion to Mrs. Bolton;--and, as the matter
had proceeded, the old banker had become ever more and more submissive
to his wife's feelings. All the Cambridge Boltons were in accord on this
subject,--who had never before been in accord on any subject. Robert
Bolton, who understood thoroughly each point as it was raised on behalf
of Caldigate, was quite sure that the old squire was spending his money
freely, his own money and his son's, with the view of getting the
verdict set aside. What was so clear as that Dick Shand and Bagwax, and
probably also Smithers from the Stamps and Taxes, were all in the pay of
old Caldigate? At this time the defection of Adamson was not known to
him, but he did know that a strong case was being made with the
Secretary of State. 'If it costs me all I have in the world I will
expose them,' he said up in London to his brother William, the London
The barrister was not quite in accord with the other Boltons. He also
had been disposed to think that Dick Shand and Bagwax might have been
bribed by the squire. It was at any rate possible. And the twenty
thousand pounds paid to the accusing witnesses had always stuck in his
throat when he had endeavoured to believe that Caldigate might be
innocent. It seemed to him still that the balance of evidence was
against the man who had taken his sister away from her home. But he was
willing to leave that to the Secretary of State and to the judge. He did
not see why his sister should not have her husband and be restored to
the world,--if Judge Bramber should at last decide that so it ought to
be. No money could bribe Judge Bramber. No undue persuasion could weaken
him. If that Rhadamanthus should at last say that the verdict had been a
wrong verdict, then,--for pity's sake, for love's sake, in the name of
humanity, and for the sake of all Boltons present and to come,--let the
man be considered innocent.
But Robert Bolton was more intent on his purpose, and was a man of
stronger passion. Perhaps some real religious scruple told him that a
woman should not live with a man who was not her true husband,--let any
judge say what he might. But hatred, probably had more to do with it
than religion. It was he who had first favoured Caldigate's claim on
Hester's hand, and he who had been most grievously deceived. From the
moment in which the conviction had come upon him that Caldigate had even
promised his hand in marriage to Euphemia Smith, he had become
Caldigate's enemy,--his bitter enemy; and now he could not endure the
thought that he should be called upon again to receive Caldigate as his
brother-in-law Caldigate's guilt was an idea fixed in his mind which no
Secretary of State, no Judge Bramber, no brother could expel.
And so it came to pass that there were hard words between him and his
brother. 'You are wrong,' said William.
'How wrong? You cannot say that you believe him to be innocent.'
'If he receives the Queen's pardon he is to be considered as innocent.'
'Even though you should know him to have been guilty?'
'Well,--yes,' said William, slowly, and perhaps indiscreetly. 'It is a
matter in which a man's guilt or innocence must be held to depend upon
what persons in due authority have declared. As he is now guilty of
bigamy in consequence of the verdict, even though he should never have
committed the offence, so should he be presumed to be innocent, when
that verdict has been set aside by the Queen's pardon on the advice of
her proper officers,--even though he committed the offence.'
'You would have your sister live with a man who has another wife alive?
It comes to that.'
'For all legal purposes he would have no other wife alive.'
'The children would be illegitimate.'
'There you are decidedly wrong,' said the barrister. 'The children would
be legitimate. Even at this moment, without any pardon, the child could
claim and would enter in upon his inheritance.'
'The next of kin would claim,' said the attorney.
'The burden of proving the former marriage would then be on him,' said
'The verdict would be evidence,' said the attorney.
'Certainly,' said the barrister; 'but such evidence would not be worth a
straw after a Queen's pardon, given on the advice of the judge who had
tried the former case. As yet we know not what the judge may say,--we do
not know the facts as they have been expounded to him. But if Caldigate
be regarded as innocent by the world at large, it will be our duty so to
'I will never look on him as Hester's husband,' said the attorney.
'I and Fanny have already made up our minds that we would at once ask
them to come to us for a month,' said the barrister.
'Nothing on earth will induce me to speak to him,' said the attorney.
'Then you will be very cruel to Hester,' said the barrister.
'It is dreadful to me,' said the attorney, 'that you should care so
little for your sister's reputation.' And so they quarrelled. Robert,
leaving the house in great dudgeon, went down on the following morning
At Puritan Grange the matter was argued rather by rules of religion than
of law; but as the rules of law were made by those interested to fit
themselves to expediency, so were the rules of religion fitted to
prejudice. No hatred could be more bitter than that which Mrs. Bolton
felt for the man whom she would permit no one to call her son-in-law.
Something as to the postage-stamp and the postmarks was told her; but
with a woman's indomitable obstinacy she closed her mind against all
that,--as indeed did also the banker. 'Is her position in the world to
depend upon a postage-stamp?' said the banker, intending to support his
wife. Then she arose in her wrath, and was very eloquent. 'Her position
in the world!' she said. 'What does it matter? It is her soul! Though
all men and all women should call her a castaway, it would be nothing if
the Lord knew her to be guiltless. But she will be living as an
adulteress with an adulterer. The law has told her that it is so. She
will feel every day and every night that she is a transgressor, and will
vainly seek consolation by telling herself that men have pardoned that
which God has condemned.' And again she broke forth. 'The Queen's
pardon! What right has the Queen to pardon an adulterer who has crept
into the bosom of a family and destroyed all that he found there? What
sense of justice can any Queen have in her bosom who will send such a
one back, to heap sin upon sin, to fasten the bonds of iniquity on the
soul of my child?' Postage-stamps and postmarks and an old envelope! The
triviality of the things as compared with the importance of everlasting
life made her feel that they were unworthy to be even noticed. It did
not occur to her that the presence of a bodkin might be ample evidence
of murder. Post-marks indeed,--when her daughter's everlasting life was
the matter in question! Then they told her of Dick Shand. She, too, had
heard of Dick Shand. He had been a gambler. So she said,--without much
truth. He was known for a drunkard, a spendthrift, a penniless idle
ne'er-do-well who had wandered back home without clothes to his
back;--which was certainly untrue, as the yellow trousers had been
bought at San Francisco;--and now she was told that the hated miscreant
was to be released from prison because such a one as this was ready to
take an oath! She had a knack of looking on such men,--ne'er-do-wells
like Dick Shand and Caldigate,--as human beings who had, as it were,
lost their souls before death, so that it was useless to think of them
otherwise than as already damned. That Caldigate should become a good,
honest, loving husband, or Dick Shand a truth-speaking witness, was to
her thinking much more improbable than that a camel should go through
the eye of a needle. She would press her lips together and grind her
teeth and shake her head when any one about her spoke of a doubt. The
man was in prison, at any rate for two years,--locked up safe for so
much time, as it might be a wild beast which with infinite trouble had
been caged. And now they were talking of undoing the bars and allowing
the monster to gorge himself again with his prey!
'If the Queen were told the truth she would never do it,' she said to
her amazed husband. 'The Queen is a mother and a woman who kneels in
prayer before her Maker. Something should be done, so that the truth may
be made known to her.'
To illuminate all the darkness which was betrayed by this appeal to him
was altogether beyond Mr. Bolton's power. He appreciated the depth of
the darkness. He knew, for instance, that the Queen herself would in
such a matter act so simply in accordance with the advice of some one
else, that the pardon, if given, would not in the least depend on her
Majesty's sentiments. To call it the Queen's pardon was a simple figure
of speech. This was manifest to him, and he was driven to endeavour to
make it manifest to her. She spoke of a petition to be sent direct to
the Queen, and insinuated that Robert Bolton, if he were anything like a
real brother, would force himself into her Majesty's presence. 'It isn't
the Queen,' said her husband.
'It is the Queen. Mercy is the prerogative of the Crown. Even I know as
much as that. And she is to be made to believe that this is mercy!'
'Her Majesty does what her Ministers tell her.'
'But she wouldn't if she was told the truth. I do not for a moment
believe that she would allow such a man as that to be let loose about
the world like a roaring lion if she knew all that you and I know. Mercy
'It won't be meant for mercy, my dear.'
'What then? Do you not know that the man has another wife alive,--a wife
much more suited to him than our poor darling? Nobody would hear my
voice while there was yet time. And so my child, my only one, was taken
away from me by her own father and her own brothers, and no one now will
exert himself to bring her back to her home!' The poor old man had had
but little comfort in his home since his daughter's marriage, and was
now more miserable than ever.
Then there came a letter from Hester to her mother. Since Mrs. Bolton's
last visit to Folking there had been some correspondence maintained. A
few letters had passed, very sad on each side, in which the daughter had
assured the mother of her undying love, and in which the mother had
declared that day and night she prayed for her child. But of Caldigate,
neither on one side nor on the other had mention been made. Now Hester,
who was full of hope, and sick with hope deferred, endeavoured to
convince her mother that the entire charge against her husband had been
proved by new evidence to be false. She recapitulated all the little
details with which the diligent reader must by this time be too well
acquainted. She made quite clear, as she thought, the infamous plot by
which the envelope had been made to give false evidence, and she added
the assurance that certainly before long her dear, dearest, ill-used
husband would be restored to her. Then she went on to implore her
mother's renewed affection both for herself and him and her boy,
promising that bygones should all be bygones; and then she ended by
declaring that though the return of her husband would make her very
happy, she could not be altogether happy unless her parents also should
be restored to her.
To this there came a crushing answer, as follows:---
'Puritan Grange, _28th September_.'
'Dearest Hester,--It was unnecessary that you should ask for a
renewal of your mother's love. There has never been a moment in
which she has not loved you,--more dearly, I fear, than one human
creature should ever love another. When I was strongest in opposing
you, I did so from love. When I watched you in the hall all those
hours, endeavouring to save you from further contact with the man
who had injured you, I did it from love. You need not doubt my love.
'But as to all the rest, I cannot agree to a word that you say. They
are plotting with false evidence to rescue the man from prison. I
will not give way to it when my soul tells me that it is untrue. As
your mother, I can only implore you to come back to me, and to save
yourself from the further evil which is coming upon you. It may be
that he will be enabled to escape, and then you will again have to
live with a husband that is no husband,--unless you will listen to
your mother's words.
'You are thinking of the good things of this world,--of a home with
all luxuries and ease, and of triumph over those who, for the good
of your soul, have hitherto marred your worldly joys. Is it thus
that you hope to win that crown of everlasting life which you have
been taught to regard as the one thing worthy of a Christian's
struggles? Is it not true that, since that wretched day on which you
were taken away from me, you have allowed your mind to pass from
thoughts of eternity to longings after vain joys in this bitter,
fruitless vale of tears? If that be so, can he who has so encouraged
you have been good to you? Do you remember David's words; "Some
trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name
of the Lord our God"? And then, again; "They are brought down and
fallen; but we are risen and stand upright." Ask yourself whether
you have stood upright or have fallen, since you left your father's
house; whether you have trusted in the Lord your God, or in horses
and chariots,--that is, in the vain comforts of an easy life? If it
be so, can it be for your good that you have left your father's
house? And should you not accept this scourge that has fallen upon
you as a healing balm from the hands of the Lord?
'My child, I have no other answer to send you. That I love you till
my very bowels yearn after you is most true. But I cannot profess to
believe a lie, or declare that to be good which I know to be evil.
'May the Lord bless you, and turn your feet aright, and restore you
to your loving mother,
When Hester read this she was almost crushed. The delay since the new
tidings had come to her had not, in truth, been very great. It was not
yet quite a month since Shand had been at Folking, and a shorter period
since the discoveries of Bagwax had been explained to her. But the days
seemed to her to be very long; and day after day she thought that on
that day at least the news of his promised release would be brought to
her. And now, instead of these news, there came this letter from her
mother, harder almost in its words than any words which had hitherto
been either written or spoken in the matter. Even when all the world
should have declared him innocent,--when the Queen, and the great
officer of State, and that stern judge, should have said that he was
innocent,--even then her cruel mother would refuse to receive him! She
had been invited to ask herself certain questions as to the state of her
soul, and as to the teaching she had received since her marriage. The
subject is one on which there is no possible means of convergence
between persons who have learned to differ. Her mother's allusions to
chariots and horses was to her the enthusiasm of a fanatic. No doubt,
teaching had come to her from her husband, but it had come at the period
of life at which such lessons are easily learned. 'Brought down and
fallen!' she said to herself. 'Yes, we are all brought down and fallen;'
for she had not at all discarded the principles of her religious
faith;--'but a woman will hardly raise herself by being untrue to her
husband.' She, too, yearned for her mother;--but there was never a
moment's doubt in her mind to which she would cling if at last it should
become necessary that one should be cast off.
Mrs. Bolton, when the letter had been despatched, sat brooding over it
in deep regret mixed with deeper anger. She was preparing for herself an
awful tragedy. She must be severed for ever from her daughter, and so
severed with the opinion of all her neighbours against her! But what was
all that if she had done right? Or of what service to her would be the
contrary if she were herself to think,--nay, to know,--that she had done
Squire Caldigate at the Home Office
When October came no information from the Secretary of State's office
had yet reached Folking, and the two inhabitants there were becoming
almost despondent as well as impatient. There was nobody with whom they
could communicate. Sir John Joram had been obliged to answer a letter
from the squire by saying that, as soon as there was anything to tell
the tidings would assuredly be communicated to him from the Home Office.
The letter had seemed to be cold and almost uncivil; but Sir John had in
truth said all that he could say. To raise hopes which, after all, might
be fallacious, would have been, on his part, a great fault. Nor, in
spite of his bet, was he very sanguine, sharing his friend Honybun's
opinion as to Judge Bramber's obstinacy. And there was a correspondence
between the elder Caldigate and the Home Office, in which the letters
from the squire were long and well argued, whereas the replies, which
always came by return of post, were short and altogether formal. Some
assistant under-secretary would sign his name at the end of three lines,
in which the correspondent was informed that as soon as the matter was
settled the result would be communicated.
Who does not know the sense of aggravated injustice which comes upon a
sufferer when redress for an acknowledged evil is delayed? The wronged
one feels that the whole world must be out of joint in that all the
world does not rise up in indignation. So it was with the old squire,
who watched Hester's cheek becoming paler day by day, and who knew by
her silence that the strong hopes which in his presence had been almost
convictions were gradually giving way to a new despair. Then he would
abuse the Secretary of State, say hard things of the Queen, express his
scorn as to the fatuous absurdities of the English law, and would make
her understand by his anger that he also was losing hope.
During these days preparations were being made for the committal of
Crinkett and Euphemia Smith, nor would Judge Bramber report to the
Secretary till he was convinced that there was sufficient evidence for
their prosecution. It was not much to him that Caldigate should spend
another week in prison. The condition of Hester did not even come
beneath his ken. When he found allusion to it in the papers before him,
he treated it as a matter which should not have been adduced,--in
bringing which under his notice there had been something akin to
contempt of court, as though an endeavour had been made to talk him over
in private. He knew his own character, and was indignant that such an
argument should have been used with himself. He was perhaps a little
more slow,--something was added to his deliberation,--because he was
told that a young wife and an infant child were anxiously expecting the
liberation of the husband and father. It was not as yet clear to Judge
Bramber that the woman had any such husband, or that the child could
claim his father.
At this crisis, when the first weeks in October had dragged themselves
tediously along, Mr. Caldigate, in a fit which was half rage and half
moodiness, took himself off to London. He did not tell Hester that he
was going till the morning on which he started, and then simply assured
her that she should hear from him by every post till he returned.
'You will tell me the truth, father.'
'If I know it myself, I will tell you.'
'But you will conceal nothing?'
'No;--I will conceal nothing. If I find that they are all utterly
unjust, altogether hard-hearted, absolutely indifferent to the wrong
they have done, I will tell you even that.' And thus he went.
He had hardly any fixed purpose in going. He knew that Sir John Joram
was not in London, and that if he were in town he ought not to be made
subject to visits on behalf of clients. To call upon any judge in such a
matter would be altogether out of place, but to call upon such a judge
as Judge Bramber would be very vain indeed. He had in his head some hazy
idea of forcing an answer from the officials in Downing Street; but in
his heart he did not believe that he should be able to get beyond the
messengers. He was one of a class, not very small in numbers, who, from
cultivating within their bosom a certain tendency towards suspicion,
have come to think that all Government servants are idle, dilatory,
supercilious and incompetent. That some of these faults may have existed
among those who took wages from the Crown in the time of George III. is
perhaps true. And the memory of those times has kept alive the
accusation. The vitality of these prejudices calls to mind the story of
the Nottinghamshire farmer who, when told of the return of Charles II.,
asked what had become of Charles I. Naseby, Worcester, and the fatal day
at Whitehall had not yet reached him. Tidings of these things had only
been approaching him during these twelve years. The true character of
the Civil Service is only now approaching the intelligence of those who
are still shaking their heads over the delinquencies of the last
century. But old Mr. Caldigate was a man peculiarly susceptible to such
hard judgments. From the crown down to the black helmet worn by the
policeman who was occasionally to be seen on Folking causeway, he
thought that all such headpieces were coverings for malpractices. The
bishop's wig had, he thought, disappeared as being too ridiculous for
the times; but even for the judge's wig he had no respect. Judge Bramber
was to him simply pretentious, and a Secretary of State no better than
any other man. In this frame of mind how was it probable that he should
do any good at the Home Office?
But in this frame of mind he went to the Home Office, and asked boldly
for the great man. It was then eleven o'clock in the morning and neither
had the great man, nor even any of the deputy great men, as yet made
their appearance. Mr. Caldigate of course fell back upon his old opinion
as to public functionaries, and, mentally, applied opprobrious epithets
to men who, taking the public pay, could not be at their posts an hour
before mid-day. He was not aware that the great man and the first deputy
great man were sitting in the House of Commons at 2 A.M. on that
morning, and that the office generally was driven by the necessity of
things to accommodate itself to Parliamentary exigencies.
Then he was asked his business. How could he explain to a messenger that
his son had been unjustly convicted of bigamy and was now in prison as a
criminal? So he left his card and said that he would call again at two.
At that hour precisely he appeared again and was told that the great man
himself could not see him. Then he nearly boiled over in his wrath,
while the messenger, with all possible courtesy, went on to explain that
one of the deputies was ready to receive him. The deputy was the
Honourable Septimus Brown, of whom it may be said that the Home Office
was so proud that it considered itself to be superior to all other
public offices whatever simply because it possessed Brown. He had been
there for forty years, and for many sessions past had been the salvation
of Parliamentary secretaries and under-secretaries. He was the uncle of
an earl, and the brother-in-law of a duke and a marquis. Not to know
Brown was, at the West End, simply to be unknown. Brooks's was proud of
him; and without him the 'Travellers'' would not have been such a
Travellers' as it is. But Mr. Caldigate, when he was told that Mr.
Brown would see him, almost left the lobby in instant disgust. When he
asked who was Mr. Brown, there came a muttered reply in which
'permanent' was the only word audible to him. He felt that were he to go
away in dudgeon simply because Brown was the name of the man whom he was
called upon to see, he would put himself in the wrong. He would by so
doing close his own mouth against complaint, which, to Mr. Caldigate,
would indeed have been a cutting of his own nose off his own face. With
a scowl, therefore he consented to be taken away to Mr. Brown.
He was, in the first place, somewhat scared by the room into which he
was shown, which was very large and very high. There were two clerks
with Mr. Brown, who vanished, however, as soon as the squire entered the
room. It seemed that Mr. Brown was certainly of some standing in the
office, or he would not have had two arm-chairs and a sofa in his room.
Mr. Caldigate, when he first consented to see Mr. Brown, had expected to
be led into an uncarpeted chamber where there would have been
half-a-dozen other clerks.
'I have your card, Mr. Caldigate,' said the official. 'No doubt you have
called in reference to your son.'
The squire had determined to be very indignant,--very indignant even
with the Secretary of State himself, to whose indifference he attributed
the delay which had occurred;--but almost more than indignant when he
found that he was to be fobbed off with Mr. Brown. But there was
something in the gentleman's voice which checked his indignation. There
was something in Mr. Brown's eye, a mixture of good-humour and
authority, which made him feel that he ought not to be angry with the
gentleman till he was quite sure of the occasion. Mr. Brown was a
handsome hale old man with grey whiskers and greyish hair, with a
well-formed nose and a broad forehead carefully dressed with a light
waistcoat and a checked linen cravat, wearing a dark-blue frockcoat,
and very well made boots,--an old man, certainly, but who looked as
though old age must naturally be the happiest time of life. When a man's
digestion is thoroughly good and his pockets adequately filled, it
probably is so. Such were the circumstances of Mr. Brown, who, as the
squire looked at him, seemed to partake more of the nature of his nephew
and brothers-in-law than of the Browns generally.
'Yes, sir,' said Mr. Caldigate; 'I have called about my son who, I think
I may undertake to say, has been wrongly condemned, and is now wrongly
retained in prison.'
'You beg all the questions, Mr. Caldigate,' said the permanent
under-secretary, with a smile.
'I maintain that what you call the questions are now so clearly proved
as not to admit of controversy. No one can deny that a conspiracy was
got up against my son.'
'I shall not deny it, certainly, Mr. Caldigate. But in truth I know very
little or nothing about it.' The squire, who had been seated, rose from
his chair,--as in wrath,--about to pour forth his indignation. Why was
he treated in this way,--he who was there on a subject of such tragic
interest to him? When all the prospects, reputation, and condition of
his son were at stake, he was referred to a gentleman who began by
telling him that he knew nothing about the matter! 'If you will sit down
for a moment, Mr. Caldigate, I will explain all that can be explained,'
said Mr. Brown, who was weather-wise in such matters, and had seen the
signs of a coming storm.
'Certainly I will sit down.'
'In such cases as this the Secretary of State never sees those who are
interested. It is not right that he should do so.'
'There might be somebody to do so.'
'But not somebody who has been concerned in the inquiry. The Secretary
of State, if he saw you, could only refuse to impart to you any portion
of the information which he himself may possess, because it cannot be
right that he should give an opinion in the matter while he himself is
in doubt. You may be sure that he will open his mouth to no one except
to those from whom he may seek assistance, till he has been enabled to
advise her Majesty that her Majesty's pardon should be given or
'When will that be?'
'I am afraid that I cannot name a day. You, Mr. Caldigate, are, I know,
a gentleman of position in your county and a magistrate. Cannot you
understand how minutely facts must be investigated when a Minister of
the Crown is called upon to accept the responsibility of either
upsetting or confirming the verdict of a jury?'
'The facts are as clear as daylight.'
'If they be so, your son will soon be a free man.'
'If you could feel what his wife suffers in the meantime!'
'Though I did feel it,--though we all felt it; as probably we do, for
though we be officials still we are men,--how should that help us? You
would not have a man pardoned because his wife suffers!'
'Knowing how she suffered, I do not think I should let much grass grow
under my feet while I was making the inquiry.'
'I hope there is no such grass grows here. The truth is, Mr. Caldigate,
that, as a rule, no person coming here on such an errand as yours is
received at all. The Secretary of State cannot, either in his own person
or in that of those who are under him, put himself in communication with
the friends of individuals who are under sentence. I am sure that you,
as a man conversant with the laws, must see the propriety of such a
'I think I have a right to express my natural anxiety.'
'I will not deny it. The post is open to you, and though I fear that
our replies may not be considered altogether satisfactory, we do give
our full attention to the letters we receive. When I heard that you had
been here, and had expressed an intention of returning, from respect to
yourself personally I desired that you might be shown into my room. But
I could not have done that had it not been that I myself have not been
concerned in this matter.' Then he got up from his seat, and Mr.
Caldigate found himself compelled to leave the room with thanks rather
than with indignation.
He walked out of the big building into Downing Street, and down the
steps into the park. And going into the gardens, he wandered about them
for more than an hour, sometimes walking slowly along the water-side,
and then seating himself for a while on one of the benches. What must he
say to Hester in the letter which he must write as soon as he was back
at his hotel? He tried to sift some wheat out of what he was pleased to
call the chaff of Mr. Brown's courtesy. Was there not some indication to
be found in it of what the result might be? If there were any such
indication, it was, he thought, certainly adverse to his son. In whose
bosom might be the ultimate decision,--whether in that of the Secretary,
or the judge, or of some experienced clerk in the Secretary's
office,--it was manifest that the facts which had now been proven to the
world at large for many days, had none of the effects on that bosom
which they had on his own. Could it be that Shand was false, that Bagwax
was false, that the postage-stamp was false,--and that he only believed
them to be true? Was it possible that after all his son had married the
woman? He crept back to his hotel in Jermyn Street, and there he wrote
'I think I shall be home to-morrow, but I will not say so for certain. I
have been at the Home Office, but they would tell me nothing. A man was
very civil to me, but explained that he was civil only because he knew
nothing about the case. I think I shall call on Mr. Bagwax at the
Post-office to-morrow, and after that return to Folking. Send in for the
day-mail letters, and then you will hear from me again if I mean to
At ten o'clock on the following day he was at the Post-office, and there
he found Bagwax prepared to take his seat exactly at that hour.
Thereupon he resolved, with true radical impetuosity, that Bagwax was a
much better public servant than Mr. Brown. 'Well, Mr. Caldigate,--so
we've got it all clear at last,' said Bagwax.
There was a triumph in the tone of the clerk's voice which was not
intelligible to the despondent old squire. 'It is not at all clear to
me,' he said.
'Of course you've heard?'
'Heard what? I know all about the postage-stamp, of course.'
'If Secretaries of State and judges of the Court of Queen's Bench only
had their wits about them, the postage-stamp ought to have been quite
sufficient,' said Bagwax, sententiously.
'What more is there?'
'For the sake of letting the world know what can be done in our
department, it is a pity that there should be anything more.'
'But there is something. For God's sake tell me, Mr. Bagwax.'
'You haven't heard that they caught Crinkett just as he was leaving
'Not a word.'
'And the woman. They've got the lot of 'em, Mr. Caldigate. Adamson and
the other woman have agreed to give evidence, and are to be let go.'
'When did you hear it?'
'Well;--it is in the "Daily Tell-tale." But I knew it last night,--from
a particular source. I have been a good deal thrown in with Scotland
Yard since this began, Mr. Caldigate, and, of course, I hear things.'
Then it occurred to the squire that perhaps he had flown a little too
high in going at once to the Home Office. They might have told him more,
perhaps, in Scotland Yard. 'But it's all true. The depositions have
already been made. Adamson and Young have sworn that they were present
at no marriage. Crinkett they say, means to plead guilty; but the woman
sticks to it like wax.'
The squire had written a letter by the day-mail to say that he would
remain in London that further day. He now wrote again, at the
Post-office, telling Hester all that Bagwax had told him, and declaring
his purpose of going at once to Scotland Yard.
If this story were true, then certainly his son would soon be liberated.
Mr. Smirkie Is Ill-used
It was on a Tuesday that Mr. Caldigate made his visit to the Home
Office, and on the Thursday he returned to Cambridge. On the platform
whom should he meet but his brother-in-law Squire Babington, who had
come into Cambridge that morning intent on hearing something further
about his nephew. He, too, had read a paragraph in his newspaper, 'The
Snapper,' as to Crinkett and Euphemia Smith.
'Thomas Crinkett, and Euphemia Smith, who gave evidence against Mr. John
Caldigate in the well-known trial at the last Cambridge assizes, have
been arrested at Plymouth just as they were about to leave the country
for New Zealand. These are the persons to whom it was proved that
Caldigate had paid the enormous sum of twenty thousand pounds a few days
before the trial. It is alleged that they are to be indicted for
perjury. If this be true, it implies the innocence of Mr. Caldigate,
who, as our readers will remember, was convicted of bigamy. There will
be much in the whole case for Mr. Caldigate to regret, but nothing so
much as the loss of that very serious sum of money. It would be idle to
deny that it was regarded by the jury, and the judge, and the public as
a bribe to the witnesses. Why it should have been paid will now probably
remain for ever a mystery.'
The squire read this over three times before he could quite understand
the gist of it, and at last perceived thought that he perceived,--that
if this were true the innocence of his nephew was incontestable But
Julia, who seemed to prefer the paternal mansion at Babington to her own
peculiar comforts and privileges at Plum-cum-Pippins, declared that she
didn't believe a word of it; and aunt Polly, whose animosity to her
nephew had somewhat subsided, was not quite inclined to accept the
statement at once. Aunt Polly expressed an opinion that newspapers were
only born to lie, but added that had she seen the news anywhere else she
would not have been a bit surprised. The squire was prepared to swear by
the tidings. If such a thing was not to be put into a newspaper, where
was it to be put? Aunt Polly could not answer this question, but
assisted in persuading her husband to go into Cambridge for further
'I hope this is true,' said the Suffolk squire, tendering his hand
cordially to his brother-in-law. He was a man who could throw all his
heart into an internecine quarrel on a Monday and forget the
circumstance altogether on the Tuesday.
'Of what are you speaking?' asked the squire of Folking, with his usual
placid look, partly indifferent and partly sarcastic, covering so much
contempt of which the squire from Suffolk was able to read nothing at
'About the man and the woman, the witnesses who are to be put in prison
at Plymouth, and who now say just the contrary to what they said
'I do not think that can be true,' said Mr. Caldigate.
'Then you haven't seen the "Snapper"?' asked Mr. Babington, dragging the
paper out of his pocket. 'Look at that.'
They were now in a cab together, going towards the town, and Mr.
Caldigate did not find it convenient to read the paragraph. But of
course he knew the contents. 'It is quite true,' he said, 'that the
persons you allude to have been arrested, and that they are up in
London. They will, I presume, be tried for perjury.'
'It is true?'
'There is no doubt of it.'
'And the party are splitting against each other?' asked Mr. Babington
'Two of them have already sworn that what they swore before was false.'
'Then why don't they let him out?'
'Why not, indeed?' said Mr. Caldigate.
'I should have thought they wouldn't have lost a moment in such a case.
They've got one of the best fellows in the world at the Home Office. His
name is Brown. If you could have seen Brown I'm sure he wouldn't have
let them delay a minute. The Home Office has the reputation of being so
In answer to this the squire of Folking only shook his head. He would
not even condescend to say that he had seen Brown, and certainly not to
explain that Brown had seemed to him to be the most absurdly-cautious
and courteously-dilatory man that he had ever met in his life. In
Trumpington Street they parted, Mr. Caldigate proceeding at once to
Folking, and Mr. Babington going to the office of Mr. Seely the
attorney. 'He'll be out in a day or two,' said the man of Suffolk, again
shaking his brother-in-law's hand; 'and do you tell him from me that I
hope it won't be long before we see him at Babington. I've been true to
him almost from the first, and his aunt has come over now. There is no
one against him but Julia, and these are things of course which young
women won't forget.'
Mr. Caldigate almost became genial as he accepted this assurance,
telling himself that his brother magistrate was as honest as he was
Mr. Babington, who was well known in Cambridge asked many questions of
many persons. From Mr. Seely he heard but little. Mr. Seely had heard of
the arrest made at Plymouth, but did not quite know what to think about
it. If it was all square, then he supposed his client must after all be
innocent. But this went altogether against the grain with Mr. Seely. 'If
it be so, Mr. Babington,' he said, 'I shall always think the paying away
of that twenty thousand pounds the greatest miracle I ever came across.'
Nevertheless, Mr. Seely did believe that the two witnesses had been
arrested on a charge of perjury.
The squire then went to the governor of the jail, who had been connected
with him many years as a county magistrate. The governor had heard
nothing, received no information as to his prisoner from any one in
authority; but quite believed the story as to Crinkett and the woman.
'Perhaps you had better not see him, Mr. Babington,' said the governor,
'as he has heard nothing as yet of all this. It would not be right to
tell him till we know what it will come to.' Assenting to this, Mr.
Babington took his leave with the conviction on his mind that the
governor was quite prepared to receive an order for the liberation of
He did not dare to go to Robert Bolton's office, but he did call at the
bank. 'We have heard nothing about it, Mr. Babington,' said the old
clerk over the counter. But then the old clerk added in a whisper, 'None
of the family take to the news, sir; but everybody else seems to think
there is a great deal in it. If he didn't marry her I suppose he ought
to be let out.'
'I should think he ought,' said the squire, indignantly as he left the
Thus fortified by what he considered to be the general voice of
Cambridge, he returned the same evening to Babington. Cambridge,
including Mr. Caldigate, had been unanimous in believing the report. And
if the report were true, then, certainly, was his nephew innocent. As he
thought of this, some appropriate idea of the injustice of the evil done
to the man and to the man's wife came upon him. If such were the
treatment to which he and she had been subjected,--if he, innocent, had
been torn away from her and sent to the common jail, and if she,
certainly innocent, had been wrongly deprived for a time of the name
which he had honestly given her,--then would it not have been right to
open to her the hearts and the doors at Babington during the period of
her great distress? As he thought of this he was so melted by ruth that
a tear came into each of his old eyes. Then he remembered the attempt
which had been made to catch this man for Julia--as to which he
certainly had been innocent,--and his daughter's continued wrath. That a
woman should be wrathful in such a matter was natural to him. He
conceived that it behoved a woman to be weak, irascible, affectionate,
irrational, and soft-hearted. When Julia would be loud in condemnation
of her cousin, and would pretend to commiserate the woes of the poor
wife who had been left in Australia, though he knew the source of these
feelings, he could not be in the least angry with her. But that was not
at all the state of his mind in reference to his son-in-law Augustus
Smirkie. Sometimes, as he had heard Mr. Smirkie inveigh against the
enormity of bigamy and of this bigamist in particular, he had determined
that some 'odd-come-shortly,' as he would call it, he would give the
vicar of Plum-cum-Pippins a moral pat on the head which should silence
him for a time. At the present moment when he got into his carriage at
the station to be taken home, he was not sure whether or no he should
find the vicar at Babington. Since their marriage, Mr. Smirkie had spent
much of his time at Babington, and seemed to like the Babington claret.
He would come about the middle of the week and return on the Saturday
evening, in a manner which the squire could hardly reconcile with all
that he had heard as to Mr. Smirkie's exemplary conduct in his own
parish. The squire was hospitality itself, and certainly would never
have said a word to make his house other than pleasant to his own girl's
husband. But a host expects that his corns should be respected, whereas
Mr. Smirkie was always treading on Mr. Babington's toes. Hints had been
given to him as to his personal conduct which he did not take altogether
in good part. His absence from afternoon service had been alluded to,
and it had been suggested to him that he ought sometimes to be more
careful as to his language. He was not, therefore ill-disposed to resent
on the part of Mr. Smirkie the spirit of persecution with which that
gentleman seemed to regard his nephew. 'Is Mr. Smirkie in the house,' he
asked the coachman. 'He came by the 3.40, as usual,' said the man. It
was very much 'as usual,' thought the squire.
'There isn't a doubt about it,' said the squire to his wife as he was
dressing. 'The poor fellow is as innocent as you.'
'He can't be,--innocent,' said aunt Polly.
'If he never married the woman whom they say he married he can't be
'I don't know about that, my dear.'
'He either did marry her or he didn't, I suppose.'
'I don't say he married her, but,--he did worse.'
'No, he didn't,' said the squire.
'That may be your way of thinking of it. According to my idea of what
is right and what is wrong, he did a great deal worse.'
'But if he didn't marry that woman he didn't commit bigamy when he
married this one,' argued he, energetically.
'Still he may have deserved all he got.'
'No; he mayn't. You wouldn't punish a man for murder because he doesn't
pay his debts.'
'I won't have it that he's innocent,' said Mrs. Babington.
'Who the devil is, if you come to that?'
'You are not, or you wouldn't talk in that way. I'm not saying anything
now against John. If he didn't marry the woman I suppose they'll let him
out of prison, and I for one shall be willing to take him by the hand;
but to say he's innocent is what I won't put up with!'
'He has sown his wild oats, and he's none the worse for that. He's as
good as the rest of us, I dare say.'
'Speak for yourself,' said the wife. 'I don't suppose you mean to tell
me that in the eyes of the Creator he is as good a man as Augustus.'
'Augustus be----.' The word was spoken with great energy. Mrs. Babington
at the moment was employed in sewing a button on the wristband of her
husband's shirt, and in the start which she gave stuck the needle into
'Humphrey!' exclaimed the agitated lady.
'I beg your pardon, but not his,' said the squire, rubbing the wound.
'If he says a word more about John Caldigate in my presence, I shall
tell him what I think about it. He has got his wife, and that ought to
be enough for him.'
After that they went down-stairs and dinner was at once announced. There
was Mr. Smirkie to give an arm to his mother-in-law. The squire took his
married daughter while the other two followed. As they crossed the hall
Julia whispered her cousin's name, but her father bade her be silent for
the present 'I was sure it was not true,' said Mrs. Smirkie.
'Then you're quite wrong,' said the squire, 'for it's as true as the
Gospel.' Then there was no more said about John Caldigate till the
servants had left the room.
Mr. Smirkie's general appreciation of the good things provided, did not
on this occasion give the owner of them that gratification which a host
should feel in the pleasures of his guests. He ate a very good dinner
and took his wine with a full appreciation of its merits. Such an
appetite on the part of his friends was generally much esteemed by the
squire of Babington, who was apt to press the bottle upon those who sat
with him, in the old-fashioned manner. At the present moment he eyed his
son-in-law's enjoyments with a feeling akin to disappointment. There was
a habit at Babington with the ladies of sitting with the squire when he
was the only man present till he had finished his wine, and, at Mrs.
Smirkie's instance, this custom was continued when she and her husband
were at the house. Fires had been commenced, and when the dinner-things
had been taken away they clustered round the hearth. The squire himself
sat silent in his place, out of humour, knowing that the peculiar
subject would be introduced, and determined to make himself
'Papa, won't you bring your chair round?' said one of the girls who was
next to him. Whereupon he did move his chair an inch or two.
'Did you hear anything about John?' said the other unmarried sister.
'Yes, I heard about him. You can't help hearing about him in Cambridge
now. All the world is talking about him.'
'And what does all the world say?' asked Julia, flippantly. To this
question her father at first made no answer. 'Whatever the world may
say, I cannot alter my opinion,' continued Julia. 'I shall never be able
to look upon John Caldigate and Hester Bolton as man and wife in the
sight of God.'
'I might just as well take upon myself to say that I didn't look upon
you and Smirkie as man and wife in the sight of God.'
'Papa!' screamed the married daughter.
'Sir!' ejaculated the married son-in-law.
'My dear, that is a strange thing to say of your own child,' whispered
'Most strange!' said Julia, lifting both her hands up in an agony.
'But it's true,' roared the squire. 'She says that, let the law say what
it may, these people are not to be regarded as man and wife.'
'Not by me,' said Julia.
'Who are you that you are to set up a tribunal of your own? And if you
judge of another couple in that way, why isn't some one to judge of you
after the same fashion?'
'There is the verdict,' said Mr. Smirkie. 'No verdict has pronounced me
'But it might for anything I know,' said the squire, angrily. 'Some
woman might come up in Plum-cum-Pippins and say you had married her
before your first wife.'
'Papa, you are very disagreeable,' said Julia.
'Why shouldn't there be a wicked lie told in one place as well as in
another? There has been a wicked lie told here; and when the lie is
proved to have been a lie, as plain as the nose on your face, he is to
tell me that he won't believe the young folk to be man and wife because
of an untrue verdict! I say they are man and wife;--as good a man and
wife as you and he;--and let me see who'll refuse to meet them as such
in my house?'
Mr. Smirkie had not, in truth, made the offensive remark. It had been
made by Mrs. Smirkie. But it had suited the squire to attribute it to
the clergyman. Mr. Smirkie was now put upon his mettle, and was obliged
either to agree or to disagree. He would have preferred the former, had
he not been somewhat in awe of his wife. As it was, he fell back upon
the indiscreet assertion which his father-in-law had made some time
back. 'I, at any rate, sir, have not had a verdict against me.'
'What does that signify?'
'A great deal, I should say. A verdict, no doubt, is human, and
therefore may be wrong.'
'So is a marriage human.'
'I beg your pardon, sir;--a marriage is divine.'
'Not if it isn't a marriage. Your marriage in our church wouldn't have
been divine if you'd had another wife alive.'
'Papa, I wish you wouldn't.'
'But I shall. I've got to hammer it into his head somehow.'
Mr. Smirkie drew himself up and grinned bravely. But the squire did not
care for his frowns. That last backhander at the claret-jug had
determined him. 'John Caldigate's marriage with his wife was not in the
least interfered with by the verdict.'
'It took away the lady's name from her at once,' said the indignant
'That's just what it didn't do,' said the squire, rising from his
chair;--'of itself it didn't affect her name at all. And now that it is
shown to have been a mistaken verdict, it doesn't affect her position.
The long and the short of it is this, that anybody who doesn't like to
meet him and his wife as honoured guests in my house had better stay
away. Do you hear that, Julia?' Then without waiting for an answer he
walked out before them all into the drawing-room and not another word
was said that night about the matter. Mr. Smirkie, indeed, did not utter
a word on any subject, till at an early hour he wished them all
good-night with dignified composure.
How The Big-Wigs Doubted
It's what I call an awful shame.' Mr. Holt and parson Bromley were
standing together on the causeway at Folking, and the former was
speaking. The subject under discussion was, of course, the continued
detention of John Caldigate in the county prison.
'I cannot at all understand it,' said Mr. Bromley.
'There's no understanding nothing about it, sir. Every man, woman, and
child in the county knows as there wasn't no other marriage, and yet
they won't let 'un out. It's sheer spite, because he wouldn't vote for
their man last 'lection.'
'I hardly think that, Mr. Holt.'
'I'm as sure of it as I stands here,' said Mr. Holt, slapping his thigh.
'What else 'd they keep 'un in for? It's just like their ways.'
Mr. Holt was one of a rare class, being a liberal farmer,--a Liberal,
that is, in politics; as was also Mr. Bromley, a Liberal among
parsons,--_rava avis._ The Caldigates had always been Liberal, and Mr.
Holt had been brought up to agree with his landlord. He was now beyond
measure acerbated, because John Caldigate had not been as yet declared
innocent on evidence which was altogether conclusive to himself The
Conservatives were now in power, and nothing seemed so natural to Mr.
Holt as that the Home Secretary should keep his landlord in jail because
the Caldigates were Liberals. Mr. Bromley could not quite agree to this,
but he also was of opinion that a great injustice was being done. He was
in the habit of seeing the young wife almost daily, and knew the havoc
which hope turned into despair was making with her. Another week had
now gone by since the old squire had been up in town, and nothing yet
had been heard from the Secretary of State. All the world knew that
Crinkett and Euphemia Smith were in custody, and still no tidings
came,--yet the husband, convicted on the evidence of these perjurers,
was detained in prison!
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, and Hester's heart was very sick
within her. 'Why do they not tell me something?' she said when her
father-in-law vainly endeavoured to comfort her. Why not, indeed? He
could only say hard things of the whole system under which the
perpetration of so great a cruelty was possible, and reiterate his
opinion that, in spite of that system, they must, before long, let his
son go free.
The delay in truth was not at the Home Office. Judge Bramber could not
as yet quite make up his mind. It is hoped that the reader has made up
his, but the reader knows somewhat more than the judge knew. Crinkett
had confessed nothing,--though a rumour had got abroad that he intended
to plead guilty. Euphemia Smith was constant in her assertion to all
those who came near her, that she had positively been married to the man
at Ahalala. Adamson and Anna Young were ready now to swear that all
which they had sworn before was false; but it was known to the police
that they had quarrelled bitterly as to the division of the spoil ever
since the money had been paid to the ring-leaders. It was known that
Anna Young had succeeded in getting nothing from the other woman, and
that the man had unwillingly accepted his small share, fearing that
otherwise he might get nothing. They were not trustworthy witnesses, and
it was very doubtful whether the other two could be convicted on their
evidence. The judge, as he turned it all over in his mind, was by no
means sure that the verdict was a mistaken verdict. It was at any rate a
verdict. It was a decision constitutionally arrived at from a jury. This
sending back of the matter to him hardly was constitutional.
It was abhorrent to his nature,--not that a guilty man should escape,
which he knew to be an affair occurring every day,--but that a guilty
man, who had been found to be guilty, should creep back through the
meshes of the law. He knew how many chances were given by the practice
of British courts to an offender on his trial, and he was quite in
favour of those chances. He would be urgent in telling a jury to give
the prisoner the benefit of a doubt. But when the transgressor, with all
those loopholes stopped, stood before him convicted, then he felt a
delight in the tightness of the grip with which he held the wretch, and
would tell himself that the world in which he lived was not as yet all
astray, in that a guilty man could still be made to endure the proper
reward of his guilt.
It was with him as when a hunter has hunted a fox after the approved
laws of venery. There have been a dozen ways of killing the animal of
which he has scorned to avail himself. He has been careful to let him
break from his covert, regarding all who would stop him as enemies to
himself. It has been a point of honour with him that the animal should
suffer no undue impediment. Any ill-treatment shown to the favoured one
in his course, is an injury done to the hunter himself. Let no man head
the fox, let no man strive to drive him back upon the hounds. Let all be
done by hunting law,--in accordance with those laws which give so many
chances of escape. But when the hounds have run into their quarry, not
all the eloquence of all the gods should serve to save that doomed one's
So it was with Judge Bramber and a convicted prisoner. He would give the
man the full benefit of every quibble of the law till he was convicted.
He would be severe on witnesses, harsh to the police, apparently a very
friend to the man standing at the bar,--till the time came for him to
array the evidence before the jury. Then he was inexorable; and when the
verdict had been once pronounced, the prisoner was but as a fox about to
be thrown to the hounds.
And now there was a demand that this particular fox should be put back
into his covert! The Secretary of State could put him back, if he
thought fit. But in these matters there was so often a touch of
cowardice. Why did not the Secretary do it without asking him? There had
arisen no question of law. There was no question as to the propriety of
the verdict as found upon the evidence given at the trial. The doubt
which had arisen since had come from further evidence, of which the
Secretary was as well able to judge as he. No doubt the case was
difficult. There had been gross misdoing on both sides. But if Caldigate
had not married the woman, why had he paid those twenty thousands? Why
had he written those words on the envelope? There was doubt enough now,
but the time for giving the prisoner the benefit of the doubt was gone.
The fox had been fairly hunted, and Judge Bramber thought that he had
But he hesitated;--and while he was hesitating there came to him a
little reminder, a most gentle hint, in the shape of a note from the
Secretary of State's private secretary. The old squire's visit to the
office had not seemed to himself to be satisfactory but he had made a
friend for himself in Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown looked into the matter, and
was of opinion that it would be well to pardon the young man. Even
though there had been some jumping over a broomstick at Ahalala, why
should things not be made comfortable here at home? What harm would a
pardon do to any one?--whereas there were so many whom it would make
happy. So he asked the Secretary whether that wasn't a hard case of
young Caldigate. The Secretary whispered that it was in Bramber's hands,
upon which Mr. Brown observed that, if so, it was certainly hard. But
the conversation was not altogether thrown away, for on that afternoon
the private secretary wrote his note.
Judge Bramber when he received the note immediately burned it,--and this
he did with considerable energy of action. If they would send him such
cases as that, what right had they to remind him of his duty? He was not
going to allow any private secretary or any Secretary of State, to hurry
him! There was no life or death in this matter. Of what importance was
it that so manifest an evil-doer as this young Caldigate should remain
in prison a day or two more,--a man who had attempted to bribe four
witnesses by twenty thousand pounds? It was an additional evil that such
a one should have such a sum for such a purpose. But still he felt that
there was a duty thrown upon him; and he sat down with all the papers
before him, determined to make up his mind before he rose from his
He did make up his mind, but did so at last by referring back the
responsibility to the Secretary of State. 'The question is one
altogether of evidence,' he said, 'and not of law. Any clear-headed man
is as able to reach a true decision as I am. It is such a question as
should be left to a jury,--and would justify a trial on appeal if that
were practicable. It would be well that the case should stand over till
Thomas Crinkett and Euphemia Smith shall have been tried for perjury,
which, as I understand, will take place at the next winter assizes. If
the Secretary of State thinks that the delay would be too long, I would
humbly suggest that he should take her Majesty's pleasure in accordance
with his own opinion as to the evidence.'
When that document was read at the Home Office by the few who were
privileged to read it, they knew that Judge Bramber had been in a very
ill humour. But there was no help for that. The judge had been asked for
advice and had refused to give it; or had advised,--if his remark on
that subject was to be taken for advice,--that the consideration of the
matter should be postponed for another three months. The case, if there
was any case in favour of the prisoner, was not one for pardon but for
such redress as might now be given for a most gross injustice. The man
had been put to a very great expense, and had been already in prison for
ten or eleven weeks, and his further detention would be held to have
been very cruel if it should appear at last that the verdict had been
wrong. The public press was already using strong language on the
subject, and the Secretary of State was not indifferent to the public
press. Judge Bramber thoroughly despised the press,--though he would
have been very angry if his 'Times' had not been ready for him at
breakfast every morning. And two or three questions had already been
asked in the House of Commons. The Secretary of State, with that
habitual strategy, without which any Secretary of State must be held to
be unfit for the position which he holds, contrived to answer the
questions so as to show that, while the gentlemen who asked them were
the most indiscreet of individuals, he was the most discreet of
Secretaries. And he did this, though he was strongly of opinion that
Judge Bramber's delay was unjustifiable. But what would be thought of a
Secretary of State who would impute blame in the House of Commons to one
of the judges of the land before public opinion had expressed itself so
strongly on the matter as to make such expression indispensable? He did
not think that he was in the least untrue in throwing blame back upon
the questioners and in implying that on the side of the Crown there had
been no undue delay, though, at the moment he was inwardly provoked at
the dilatoriness of the judge.
Public opinion was expressing itself very strongly in the press. 'The
Daily Tell-Tale' had a beautifully sensational article, written by their
very best artist. The whole picture was drawn with a cunning hand. The
young wife in her lonely house down in Cambridge which the artist not
inaptly called The Moated Grange! The noble, innocent, high-souled
husband, eating his heart out within the bars of a county prison, and
with very little else to eat! The indignant father, driven almost to
madness by the wrongs done to his son and heir! Had the son not been an
heir this point would have been much less touching. And then the old
evidence was dissected, and the new evidence against the new culprits
explained. In regard to the new culprits, the writer was very loud in
expressing his purpose to say not a word against persons who were still
to be tried;--but immediately upon that he went on and said a great many
words against them. Assuming all that was said about them to be true, he
asked whether the country would for a moment endure the idea that a man
in Mr. Caldigate's position should be kept in prison on the evidence of
such miscreants. When he came to Bagwax and the postmarks, he explained
the whole matter with almost more than accuracy. He showed that the
impression could not possibly have been made till after the date it
conveyed. He fell into some little error as to the fabrication of the
postage-stamp in the colony, not having quite seized Bagwax's great
point. But it was a most telling article. And the writer, as he turned
it off at his club, and sent it down to the office of the paper, was
ready to bet a five-pound note that Caldigate would be out before a week
was over. The Secretary of State saw the article, and acknowledged its
power. And then even the 'Slipper' turned round and cautiously expressed
an opinion that the time had come for mercy.
There could be no doubt that public opinion was running very high in
Caldigate's favour, and that the case had become thoroughly popular.
People were again beginning to give dinner-parties in London and at
every party the matter was discussed.
It was a peculiarly interesting case because the man had thrown away so
large a sum of money! People like to have a nut to crack which is
'uncrackable,'--a Gordian knot to undo which cannot even be cut. Nobody
could understand the twenty thousand pounds. Would any man pay such a
sum with the object of buying off false witnesses,--and do it in such a
manner that all the facts must be brought to light when he was tried? It
was said here and there that he had paid the money because he owed
it;--but then it had been shown so clearly that he had not owed any one
a penny! Nevertheless the men were all certain that he was not guilty,
and the ladies thought that whether he were guilty or not did not matter
much. He certainly ought to be released from prison.
But yet the Secretary doubted. In that unspoken but heartfelt accusation
of cowardice which the judge had made against the great officer of State
there had been some truth. How would it be if it should be made to
appear at the approaching trial that the two reprobates, who had turned
Queen's evidence against their associates, were to break down altogether
in their assertions? It might possibly then become quite apparent that
Caldigate had married the woman, and had committed bigamy, when he would
already have been pardoned for the last three months! The pardon in that
case would not do away with the verdict,--and the pardoned man would be
a convicted bigamist. What, then, would be the condition of his wife and
child? If subsequent question should arise as to the boy's legitimacy,
as might so probably be the case, in what light would he appear, he who
had taken upon himself, on his own responsibility, to extort from her
Majesty a pardon in opposition to a righteous and just verdict,--in
opposition to the judge who had tried the case? He had been angry with
Judge Bramber for not deciding, and was now frightened at the necessity
of deciding himself.
In this emergency he sent for the gentleman who had managed the
prosecution on the part of the Crown, and asked him to read up the case
again, 'I never was convinced of the prisoner's guilt,' said the
'It was one of those cases in which we cannot be convinced. The
strongest point against him was the payment of the money. It is possible
that he paid it from a Quixotic feeling of honour.'
'To false witnesses, and that before the trial!' said the Secretary.
'And there may have been a hope that, in spite of what he said himself
as to their staying, they would take themselves off when they had got
the money. In that way he may have persuaded himself that, as an honest
man, he ought to make the payment. Then as to the witnesses, there can
be little doubt that they were willing to lie. Even if their main story
were true, they were lying as to details.'
'Then you would advise a pardon?'
'I think so,' said the barrister, who was not responsible for his
'Without waiting for the other trial?'
'If the perjury be then proved,--or even so nearly proved as to satisfy
the outside world,--the man's detention will be thought to have been a
hardship.' The Secretary of State thanked the barrister and let him go.
He then went down to the House, and amidst the turmoil of a strong party
conflict at last made up his mind. It was unjust that such
responsibility should be thrown upon any one person. There ought to be
some Court of Appeal for such cases. He was sure of that now. But at
last he made up his mind. Early on the next morning the Queen should be
advised to allow John Caldigate to go free.
How Mrs. Bolton Was Nearly Conquered
One morning about the middle of October, Robert Bolton walked out from
Cambridge to Puritan Grange with a letter in his pocket,--a very long
and a very serious letter. The day was that on which the Secretary of
State was closeted with the barrister, and on the evening of which he at
length determined that Caldigate should be allowed to go free. There
had, therefore, been no pardon granted,--as yet. But in the letter the
writer stated that such pardon would, almost certainly, be awarded.
It was from William Bolton, in London, to his brother the attorney, and
was written with the view of proving to all the Boltons at Cambridge,
that it was their duty to acknowledge Hester as the undoubted wife of
John Caldigate; and recommended also that, for Hester's sake, they
should receive him as her husband. The letter had been written with very
great care, and had been powerful enough to persuade Robert Bolton of
the truth of the first proposition.
It was very long, and as it repeated all the details of the evidence for
and against the verdict, it shall not be repeated here at its full
length. Its intention was to show that, looking at probabilities, and
judging from all that was known, there was much more reason to suppose
that there had been no marriage at Ahalala than that there had been one.
The writer acknowledged that, while the verdict stood confirmed against
the man, Hester's family were bound to regard it, and to act as though
they did not doubt its justice;--but that when that verdict should be
set aside,--as far as any criminal verdict can be set aside,--by the
Queen's pardon, then the family would be bound to suppose that they who
advised her Majesty had exercised a sound discretion.
'I am sure you will all agree with me,' he said, 'that no personal
feeling in regard to Caldigate should influence your judgment. For
myself, I like the man. But that, I think, has had nothing to do with my
opinion. If it had been the case that, having a wife living, he had
betrayed my sister into all the misery of a false marriage, and had made
her the mother of a nameless child, I should have felt myself bound to
punish him to every extent within my power. I do not think it
unchristian to say that in such a case I could not have forgiven him.
But presuming it to be otherwise,--as we all shall be bound to do if he
be pardoned,--then, for Hester's sake, we should receive the man with
whom her lot in life is so closely connected. She, poor dear, has
suffered enough, and should not be subjected to the further trouble of
'Nor, if we acknowledge the charge against him to be untrue, is there
any reason for a quarrel. If he has not been bad to our sister in that
matter, he has been altogether good to her. She has for him that
devotion which is the best evidence that a marriage has been well
chosen. Presuming him to be innocent, we must confess, as to her, that
she has been simply loyal to her husband,--with such loyalty as every
married man would desire. For this she should be rewarded rather than
'I write to you thinking that in this way I may best reach my father and
Mrs. Bolton. I would go down and see them did I not know that your words
would be more efficacious with them than my own. And I do it as a duty
to my sister, which I feel myself bound to perform. Pray forgive me if I
remind you that in this respect she has a peculiar right to a
performance of your duty in the matter. You counselled and carried out
the marriage,--not at all unfortunately if the man be, as I think,
innocent. But you are bound at any rate to sift the evidence very
closely, and not to mar her happiness by refusing to acknowledge him if
there be reasonable ground for supposing the verdict to have been
Sift the evidence, indeed! Robert Bolton had done that already very
closely. Bagwax and the stamps had not moved him, nor the direct
assurance of Dick Shand. But the incarceration by Government of Crinkett
and Euphemia Smith had shaken him, and the fact that they had
endeavoured to escape the moment they heard of Shand's arrival. But not
the less had he hated Caldigate. The feeling which had been impressed on
his mind when the first facts were made known to him remained. Caldigate
had been engaged to marry the woman, and had lived with her, and had
addressed her as his wife! The man had in a way got the better of him.
And then the twenty thousand pounds! And then, again, Caldigate's manner
to himself! He could not get over his personal aversion, and therefore
unconsciously wished that his brother-in-law should be guilty,--wished
at any rate that he should be kept in prison. Gradually had fallen upon
him the conviction that Caldigate would be pardoned. And then of course
there had come much consideration as to his sister's condition. He, too,
was a conscientious and an affectionate man. He was well aware of his
duty to his sister. While he was able to assure himself that Caldigate
was not her husband, he could satisfy himself by a conviction that it
was his duty to keep them apart. Thus he could hate the man, advocate
all severity against the man, and believe the while that he was doing
his duty to his sister as an affectionate brother. But now there was a
revulsion. It was three weeks since he and his brother had parted, not
with the kindest feelings, up in London, and during that time the
sifting of the evidence had been going on within his own breast from
hour to hour. And now this letter had come,--a letter which he could not
put away in anger, a letter which he could not ignore. To quarrel
permanently with his brother William was quite out of the question. He
knew the value of such a friend too well, and had been too often guided
by his advice. So he sifted the evidence once again, and then walked off
to Puritan Grange with the letter in his pocket.
In these latter days old Mr. Bolton did not go often into Cambridge. Men
said that his daughter's misfortune had broken him very much. It was
perhaps the violence of his wife's religion rather than the weight of
his daughter's sufferings which cowed him. Since Hester's awful
obstinacy had become hopeless to Mrs. Bolton, an atmosphere of sackcloth
and ashes had made itself more than ever predominant at Puritan Grange.
If any one hated papistry Mrs. Bolton did so; but from a similar action
of religious fanaticism she had fallen into worse that papistical
self-persecution. That men and women were all worms to be trodden under
foot, and grass of the field to be thrown into the oven, was borne in so
often on poor Mr. Bolton that he had not strength left to go to the
bank. And they were nearer akin to worms and more like grass of the
field than ever, because Hester would stay at Folking instead of
returning to her own home.
She was in this frame of mind when Robert Bolton was shown into the
morning sitting-room. She was sitting with the Bible before her, but
with some domestic needlework in her lap. He was doing nothing even
having a book ready to his hand. Thus he would sit the greater part of
the day, listening to her when she would read to him, but much
preferring to be left alone. His life had been active and prosperous,
but the evening of his days was certainly not happy.
His son Robert had been anxious to discuss the matter with him first,
but found himself unable to separate them without an amount of ceremony
which would have filled her with suspicion. 'I have received a letter
this morning from William,' he said, addressing himself to his father.
'William Bolton is, I fear, of the world worldly,' said the step-mother.
'His words always savour to me of the huge ungodly city in which he
But that this was not a time for such an exercise he would have
endeavoured to expose the prejudice of the lady. As it was he was very
gentle. 'William is a man who understands his duty well,' he said.
'Many do that, but few act up to their understanding she rejoined.
'I think, sir, I had better read his letter to you. It has been written
with that intention, and I am bound to let you know the contents.
Perhaps Mrs. Bolton will let me go to the end so that we may discuss it
But Mrs. Bolton would not let him go to the end. He had not probably
expected such forbearance. At every point as to the evidence she
interrupted him, striving to show that the arguments used were of no
real weight. She was altogether irrational, but still she argued her
case well. She withered Bagwax and Dick with her scorn; she ridiculed
the quarrels of the male and female witnesses; she reviled the Secretary
of State, and declared it to be a shame that the Queen should have no
better advisers. But when William Bolton spoke of Hester's happiness,
and of the concessions which should be made to secure that, she burst
out into eloquence. What did he know of her happiness? Was it not
manifest that he was alluding to this world without a thought of the
next? 'Not a reflection as to her soul's welfare has once come across
his mind,' she said;--'not an idea as to the sin with which her soul
would be laden were she to continue to live with the man when knowing
that he was not her husband.'
'She would know nothing of the kind,' said the attorney.
"She ought to know it," said Mrs. Bolton, again begging the whole
But he persevered, as he had resolved to do when he left his house upon
this difficult mission. 'I am sure my father will acknowledge,' he said,
'that however strong our own feelings have been, we should bow to the
conviction of others who--'
But he was promulgating a doctrine which her conscience required her to
stop at once. 'The conviction of others shall never have weight with me
when the welfare of my eternal soul is at stake.'
'I am speaking of those who have had better means of getting at the
truth than have come within our reach. The Secretary of State can have
no bias of his own in the matter.'
'He is, I fear, a godless man, living and dealing with the godless. Did
I not hear the other day that the great Ministers of State will not even
give a moment to attend to the short meaningless prayers which are read
in the House of Commons?'
'No one,' continued Robert Bolton, trying to get away from sentiment
into real argument,--'no one can have been more intent on separating
them than William was when he thought that the evidence was against him.
Now he thinks the evidence in his favour. I know no man whose head is
clearer than my brother's. I am not very fond of John Caldigate.'
'Nor am I,' said the woman with an energy which betrayed much of her
'But if it be the case that they are in truth man and wife--'
'In the sight of God they are not so,' she said.
'Then,' he continued, trying to put aside her interruption, and to go on
with the assertion he had commenced, 'it must be our duty to acknowledge
him for her sake. Were we not to do so, we should stand condemned in the
opinion of all the world.'
'Who cares for the opinion of the world?'
'And we should destroy her happiness.'
'Her happiness here on earth! What does that matter? There is no such
It was a very hard fight, but perhaps not harder than he had expected.
He had known that she would not listen to reason,--that she would not
even attempt to understand it. And he had learned before this how
impregnable was that will of fanaticism in which she would entrench
herself,--how improbable it was that she would capitulate under the
force of any argument. But he thought it possible that he might move his
father to assert himself. He was well aware that, in the midst of that
apparent lethargy, his father's mind was at work with much of its old
energy. He understood the physical infirmities and religious vacillation
which, combined, had brought the old man into his present state of
apparent submission It was hardly two years since the same thing had
been done in regard to Hester's marriage. Then Mr. Bolton had asserted
himself, and declared his will in opposition to his wife. There had
indeed been much change in him since that time, but still something of
the old fire remained. 'I have thought it to be my duty, sir,' he said,
'to make known to you William's opinion and my own. I say nothing as to
social intercourse. That must be left to yourself. But if this pardon be
granted, you will, I think, be bound to acknowledge John Caldigate to be
'Your father agrees with me,' said Mrs. Bolton, rising from her chair,
and speaking in an angry tone. 'I hope you both will agree with me. As
soon as tidings of the pardon reach you, you should, I think, intimate
to Hester that you accept her marriage as having been true and legal. I
shall do so, even though I should never see him in my house again.'
'You of course will do as you please.'
'And you, sir?' he said, appealing to the old man.
'You have no right to dictate to your father,' said the wife angrily.
'He has always encouraged me to offer him my advice.' Then Mr. Bolton
shuffled in his chair, as though collecting himself for an effort,--and
at last sat up, with his head, however, bent forward, and with both his
arms resting on the arms of his chair. Though he looked to be old, much
older than he was, still there was a gleam of fire in his eye. He was
thin, almost emaciated, and his head hung forward as though there were
not strength left in his spine for him to sit erect. 'I hope, sir, you
do not think that I have gone beyond my duty in what I have said.'
'She shall come here,' muttered the old man.
'Certainly, she shall,' said Mrs. Bolton, 'if she will. Do you suppose
that I do not long to have my own child in my arms?'
'She shall come here, and be called by her name,' said the father.
'She shall be Hester,--my own Hester,' said the mother, not feeling
herself as yet called upon to contradict her husband.
'And John Caldigate shall come,' he said.
'Never!' exclaimed Mrs. Bolton.
'He shall be asked to come. I say he shall. Am I to be harder on my own
child than are all the others? Shall I call her a castaway, when others
say that she is an honest married woman?'
'Who has called her a castaway?'
'I took the verdict of the jury, though it broke my heart,' he
continued. 'It broke my heart to be told that my girl and her child were
nameless,--but I believed it because the jury said so, and because the
judge declared it. When they tell me the contrary, why shall I not
believe that? I do believe it; and she shall come here, if she will, and
he shall come.' Then he got up and slowly moved out of the room, so that
there might be no further argument on the subject.
She had reseated herself with her arms crossed, and there sat perfectly
mute. Robert Bolton stood up and repeated all his arguments, appealing
even to her maternal love,--but she answered him never a word. She had
not even yet succeeded in making the companion of her life submissive to
her! That was the feeling which was now uppermost in her mind. He had
said that Caldigate should be asked to the house, and should be
acknowledged throughout all Cambridge as his son-in-law. And having said
it, he would be as good as his word. She was sure of that. Of what avail
had been all the labour of her life with such a result?
'I hope you will think that I have done no more than my duty,' said
Robert Bolton, offering her his hand. But there she sat perfectly
silent, with her arms still folded, and would take no notice of him.
'Good-bye,' said he, striving to put something of the softness of
affection into his voice. But she would not even bend her head to
him;--and thus he left her.
She remained motionless for the best part of an hour. Then she got up,
and according to her daily custom walked a certain number of times round
the garden. Her mind was so full that she did not as usual observe every
twig, almost every leaf, as she passed. Nor, now that she was alone, was
that religious bias, which had so much to do with her daily life, very
strong within her. There was no taint of hypocrisy in her character; but
yet, with the force of human disappointment heavy upon her, her heart
was now hot with human anger, and mutinous with human resolves. She had
proposed to herself to revenge herself upon the men of her husband's
family,--upon the men who had contrived that marriage for her
daughter,--by devoting herself to the care of that daughter and her
nameless grandson, and by letting it be known to all that the misery of
their condition would have been spared had her word prevailed. That they
should live together a stern, dark, but still sympathetic life, secluded
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