Part 7 out of 11
inquiring after his father, passed on up-stairs. Then Mrs. Bolton
followed him, leaving Robert in the hall with Hester. 'I know that you
have turned against me,' said Hester.
'Indeed no. I have never turned against you. I have thought that you
would be better here than at Folking for the present.'
'That is being against me. A woman should be with her husband. You told
them to do this. And they have nearly killed me,--me and my baby.'
In the meantime William Bolton up-stairs was very decided in his opinion
that they must at once allow Caldigate to take her back to Folking. She
had, as he said, proved herself to be too strong for them. The
experiment had been tried and had failed. No doubt it would be
better,--so he thought,--that she should remain for the present at the
Grange; so much better that a certain show of force had been justified.
But as things were going, no further force would be justified. She had
proved her power, and must be allowed to go. Mrs. Bolton, however, would
not even yet acknowledge that she was beaten. In a few more hours, she
thought, Hester would allow herself to be taken to her bed, and then all
might be well. But she could not stand against the combined force of her
husband and his two sons; and so it was decided that the front door
should be opened for the prisoner, and that the chains should be removed
from the gate. 'I should be afraid of the people,' William Bolton said
to his father.
It was not till this decision had been given that Mrs. Bolton felt that
the struggle of the last three days had been too much for her. Now, at
last, she threw herself upon her bed, weeping bitter tears, tears of a
broken spirit, and there she lay prostrate with fatigue and misery. Nor
would she go down to say a word of farewell. How could she say adieu to
her daughter, leaving her house in such circumstances 'I will give her
your love,' said William Bolton.
'Say nothing to her. She does not care for my love, nor for the love of
her Father in heaven. She cares only for that adulterer.'
The door was opened from within, and the chains were taken away from the
gate. 'Oh, John,--oh, my husband,' she exclaimed, as she leaped down the
steps into his arms, 'never let me go again; not for a day,--not for an
hour!' Then her boxes were brought down, and the nurse came with the
child, whom the mother at once took and placed in his father's arms. And
the carriage was brought in, and the luggage was placed on it, and the
nurse and the baby were seated. 'I will go up to poor mamma for one
moment,' she said. She did go to her mother's room, and throwing herself
upon the wretched woman, wept over her and kissed her. But the mother,
though in some sort she returned the caress, said not a word as her
daughter left the room. And she went also to her father and asked his
blessing. He muttered a word or two, blessing her, no doubt, with
inarticulate words. He also had been thoroughly vanquished.
Then she got into the carriage, and was taken back to Folking lying in
John Caldigate's arms.
Again at Folking
Thus Hester prevailed, and was taken back to the house of the man who
had married her. By this time very much had been said about the matter
publicly. It had been impossible to keep the question John Caldigate's
recent marriage had been true or fraudulent,--out of the newspapers; and
now the attempt that had been made to keep them apart by force gave an
additional interest to the subject There was an opinion, very general
among elderly educated people, that Hester ought to have allowed herself
to be detained at the Grange. 'We do not mean to lean heavily on the
unfortunate young lady,' said the 'Isle-of-Ely-Church-Intelligencer';
'but we think that she would have better shown a becoming sense of her
position had she submitted her self to her parents till the trial is
over. Then the full sympathy of all classes would have been with her;
and whether the law shall restore her to a beloved husband, or shall
tell her that she has become the victim of a cruel seducer, she would
have been supported by the approval and generous regard of all men.' It
was thus for the most part that the elderly and the wise spoke and
thought about it. Of course, they pitied her; but they believed all evil
of Caldigate, declaring that he too was bound by a feeling of duty to
restore the unfortunate one to her father and mother until the matter
should have been set at rest by the decision of a jury.
But the people,--especially the people of Utterden and Netherden, and of
Chesterton, and even of Cambridge all on the side of Caldigate and
Hester as a married couple. They liked the persistency with which he had
claimed his wife, and applauded her to the echo for her love and
firmness. Of course the scene at Puritan Grange had been much
exaggerated. The two nights were prolonged to intervals varying from a
week to a fortnight. During that time she was said always to have been
at the window holding up her baby. And Mrs. Bolton was accused of
cruelties which she certainly had not committed. Some details of the
affair made their way into the metropolitan Press,--so that the expected
trial became one of those _causes celbres_ by which the public is from
time to time kept alive to the value and charm of newspapers.
During all this John Caldigate was specially careful not to seclude
himself from public view, or to seem to be afraid of his
fellow-creatures. He was constantly in Cambridge, generally riding
thither on horseback, and on such occasions was always to be seen in
Trumpington Street and Trinity Street. Between him and the Boltons there
was, by tacit consent, no intercourse whatever after the attempted
imprisonment. He never showed himself at Robert Bolton's office, nor
when they met in the street did they speak to each other. Indeed at this
time no gentleman or lady held any intercourse with Caldigate except his
father and Mr. Bromley the clergyman. The Babingtons were strongly of
opinion that he should have surrendered the care of his wife; and Aunt
Polly went so far as to write to him when she first heard of the affair
at Chesterton, recommending him very strongly to leave her at the
Grange. Then there was an angry correspondence, ended at last by a
request from Aunt Polly that there might be no further intercourse
between Babington and Folking till after the trial.
Caldigate, though he bore all this with an assured face, with but little
outward sign of inward misgiving suffered much,--much even from the
estrangement of those with whom he had hitherto been familiar. To be
'cut' by any one was a pain to him. Not to be approved of, not to be
courted, not to stand well in the eyes of those around him, was to him
positive and immediate suffering. He was supported no doubt by the full
confidence of his father, by the friendliness of the parson, and by the
energetic assurances of partisans who were all on his side,--such as Mr.
Ralph Holt, the farmer. While Caldigate had been in Cambridge waiting
for his wife's escape, Holt and one or two others were maturing a plan
for breaking into Puritan Grange, and restoring the wife to her husband.
All this supported him. Without it he could hardly have carried himself
as he did. But with all this, still he was very wretched. 'It is that so
many people should think me guilty,' he said to Mr. Bromley.
She bore it better--though, of course, now that she was safe at Folking,
she had but little to do as to outward bearing. In the first place, no
doubt as to his truth ever touched her for a moment,--and not much doubt
as to the result of the trial. It was to her an assured fact that John
Caldigate was her husband, and she could not realise the idea that, such
being the fact, a jury should say that he was not. But let all that be
as it might, they two were one; and to adhere to him in every word, in
every thought, in every little action, was to her the only line of
conduct possible. She heard what Mr. Bromley said, she knew what her
father-in-law thought, she was aware of the enthusiasm on her side of
the folk at Folking. It seemed to her that this opposition to her
happiness was but a continuation of that which her mother had always
made to her marriage. The Boltons were all against her. It was a
terrible sorrow to her. But she knew how to bear it bravely. In the
tenderness of her husband, who at this time was very tender to her, she
had her great consolation.
On the day of her return she had been very ill,--so ill that Caldigate
and his father had been much frightened. During the journey home in the
carriage, she had wept and laughed hysterically, now clutching her baby,
and then embracing her husband. Before reaching Folking she had been so
worn with fatigue that he had hardly been able to support her on the
seat. But after rest for a day or two, she had rallied completely. And
she herself had taken pleasure and great pride in the fact that through
it all her baby had never really been ill. 'He is a little man,' she
said, boasting to the boy's father, 'and knows how to put up with
troubles. And when his mamma was so bad he didn't peak and pine and cry,
so as to break her heart. Did he, my own, own brave little man?' And she
could boast of her own health too. 'Thank God I am strong, John. I can
bear things which would break down other women. You shall never see me
give way because I am a poor creature.' Certainly she had a right to
boast that she was not a poor creature.
Caldigate no doubt was subject to troubles of which she knew nothing. It
was quite clear to him that Mr. Seely, his own lawyer, did in truth
believe that there had been some form of marriage between him and
Euphemia Smith. The attorney had never said so much,--had never accused
him. It would probably have been opposed to all the proprieties in such
a matter that any direct accusation should have been made against him by
his own attorney. But he could understand from the man's manner that his
mind was not free from a strong suspicion. Mr. Seely was eager enough as
to the defence; but seemed to be eager as against opposing evidence
rather than on the strength of evidence on his own side. He was not
apparently desirous of making all the world know that such a marriage
certainly never took place; but that, whether such a marriage had taken
place or not, the jury ought not to trust the witnesses. He relied, not
on the strength of his own client, but on the weakness of his client's
adversaries. It might probably be capable of proof that Crinkett and
Adamson and the woman had conspired together to get money from John
Caldigate; and if so, then their evidence as to the marriage would be
much weakened. And he showed himself not averse to any tricks of trade
which might tend to get a verdict. Could it be proved that John Crinkett
had been dishonest in his mining operations? Had Euphemia Smith allowed
her name to be connected with that of any other man in Australia What
had been her antecedents? Was it not on the cards that Allan, the
minister, had never undergone any ceremony of ordination? And, if not,
might it not be shown that a marriage service performed by him would be
no marriage service at all? Could not the jury be made to think,--or at
least some of the jury,--that out there, in that rough lawless
wilderness, marriage ceremonies were very little understood? These were
the wiles to which he seemed disposed to trust; whereas Caldigate was
anxious that he should instruct some eloquent indignant advocate to
declare boldly that no English gentleman could have been guilty of
conduct so base, so dastardly, and so cruel! 'You see, Mr. Caldigate,'
the lawyer said on one occasion, 'to make the best of it, our own hands
are not quite clean. You did promise the other lady marriage.'
'No doubt. No doubt I was a fool; and I paid for my folly. I bought her
off. Having fallen into the common scrape,--having been pleased by her
prettinesses and clevernesses and women's ways,--I did as so many other
men have done. I got out of it as best I could without treachery and
without dishonour. I bought her off. Had she refused to take my money, I
should probably have married her,--and probably have blown my brains out
afterwards. All that has to be acknowledged,--much to my shame. Most of
us would have to blush if the worst of our actions were brought out
before us in a court of law. But there was an end of it. Then they come
over here and endeavour to enforce their demand for money by a threat.'
'That envelope is so unfortunate,' said the lawyer.
'Perhaps we shall get some one before the day comes who will tell the
jury that any marriage up at Ahalala must have been a farce.'
All this was unsatisfactory, and became so more and more as the weeks
went by. The confidential clerk whom the Boltons had sent out when the
first threat reached them early in November,--the threat conveyed in
that letter from the woman which Caldigate had shown to Robert
Bolton,--returned about the end of March. The two brothers, Robert and
William, decided upon sending him to Mr. Seely, so that any information
obtained might be at Caldigate's command, to be used, if of any use, in
his defence. But there was in truth very little of it. The clerk had
been up to Nobble and Ahalala, and had found no one there who knew
enough of the matter to give evidence about it. The population of mining
districts in Australia is peculiarly a shifting population so that the
most of those who had known Caldigate and his mode of life there were
gone. The old woman who kept Henniker's Hotel at Nobble had certainly
heard that they were married; but then she had added that many people
there called themselves man and wife from convenience. A woman would
often like a respectable name where there was no parson near at hand to
entitle her to it. Then the parsons would be dilatory and troublesome
and expensive and a good many people were apt to think that they could
do very well without ceremonies. She evidently would have done no good
to either side as a witness. This clerk had found Ahalala almost
deserted chiefly by a few Chinese, who were contented to search for the
specks of gold which more ambitious miners had allowed to slip through
their fingers. The woman had certainly called herself Mrs. Caldigate,
and had been called so by many. But she had afterwards been called Mrs.
Crinkett, when she and Crinkett had combined their means with the view
of buying the Polyeuka mine. She was described as an enterprising,
greedy woman, upon whom the love of gold had had almost more than its
customary effect. And she had for a while been noted and courted for her
success, having been the only female miner who was supposed to have
realised money in these parts. She had been known to the banks at
Nobble, also even at Sydney; and had been supposed at one time to have
been worth twenty or thirty thousand pounds. Then she had joined herself
with Crinkett, and all their money had been supposed to vanish in the
Polyeuka mine. No doubt there had been enough in that to create
animosity of the most bitter kind against Caldigate. He in his search
for gold had been uniformly successful,--was spoken of among the Nobble
miners as the one man who in gold-digging had never had a reverse. He
had gone away just before the bad time came on Polyeuka; and then had
succeeded, after he had gone, in extracting from these late unfortunate
partners of his every farthing that he had left them! There was ample
cause for animosity.
Allan, the minister, who certainly had been at Ahalala, was as certainly
dead. He had gone out from Scotland as a Presbyterian clergyman, and no
doubt had ever been felt as to his being that which he called
himself;--and a letter from him was produced which had undoubtedly been
written by himself. Robert Bolton had procured a photograph of the note
which the woman produced as having been written by Allan to Caldigate.
The handwriting did not appear to him to be the same, but an expert had
given an opinion that they both might have been written by the same
person. Of Dick Shand no tidings had been found. It was believed that he
had gone from Queensland to some of the Islands,--probably to the Fijis;
but he had sunk so low among men as to have left no trace behind him. In
Australia no one cares to know whence a shepherd has come or whither he
goes. A miner belongs to a higher class, and is more considered. The
result of all which was, in the opinion of the Boltons, adverse to John
Caldigate. And in discussing this with his client, Mr. Seely
acknowledged that nothing had as yet come to light sufficient to shake
the direct testimony of the woman, corroborated as it was by three
persons, all of whom would swear that they had been present at the
'No doubt they endeavoured to get money from you,' said Mr. Seely; 'and
I may be well assured in my own mind that money was their sole object.
But then it cannot be denied that their application to you for money had
a sound basis,--one which, though you might fairly refuse to allow it,
takes away from the application all idea of criminality. Crinkett has
never asked for money as a bribe to hold his tongue. In a matter of
trade between them and you, you were very successful; they were very
unfortunate. A man asking for restitution in such circumstances will
hardly be regarded as dishonest.'
It was to no purpose that Caldigate declared that he would willingly
have remitted a portion of the money had he known the true
circumstances. He had not done so, and now the accusation was made. The
jury, feeling that the application had been justifiable, would probably
keep the two things distinct. That was Mr. Seely's view; and thus, in
these days, Caldigate gradually came to hate Mr. Seely. There was no
comfort to be had from Mr. Seely.
Mr. Bromley was much more comfortable, though, unfortunately, in such a
matter less to be trusted.
'As to the minister's handwriting,' he said, 'that will go for nothing.
Even if he had written the note----'
'Which he didn't,' said Caldigate.
'Exactly. But should it be believed to have been his, it would prove
nothing. And as to the envelope, I cannot think that any jury would
disturb the happiness of a family on such evidence as that. It all
depends on the credibility of the people who swear that they were
present; and I can only say that were I one of the jury, and were the
case brought before me as I see it now, I certainly should not believe
them. There is here one letter to you, declaring that if you will comply
with her demands, she will not annoy you, and declaring also her
purpose of marrying some one else. How can any juryman believe her after
'Mr. Seely says that twelve men will not be less likely to think me a
bigamist because she has expressed her readiness to commit bigamy; that,
if alone, she would not have a leg to stand upon, but that she is amply
corroborated; whereas I have not been able to find a single witness to
support me. It seems to me that in this way any man might be made the
victim of a conspiracy.'
Then Mr. Bromley said that all that would be too patent to a jury to
leave any doubt upon the matter. But John Caldigate himself, though he
took great comfort in the society of the clergyman, did in truth rely
rather on the opinion of the lawyer.
The old squire never doubted his son for a moment, and in his
intercourse with Hester showed her all the tenderness and trust of a
loving parent. But he, too, manifestly feared the verdict of a jury.
According to him, things in the world around him generally were very
bad. What was to be expected from an ordinary jury such as
Cambridgeshire would supply but prejudice, thick-headed stupidity, or at
the best a strict obedience to the dictum of a judge. 'It is a case,' he
said, 'in which no jury about here will have sense enough to understand
and weigh the facts. There will be on one side the evidence of four
people, all swearing the same thing. It may be that one or more of them
will break down under cross-examination and that all will then be
straight. But if not, the twelve men in a box will believe them because
they are four, not understanding that in such a case four may conspire
as easily as two or three. There will be the Judge, no doubt; but
English judges are always favourable to convictions. The Judge begins
with the idea that the man before him would hardly have been brought
there had he not been guilty.'
In all this, and very much more that he said both to Mr. Bromley and
his son, he was expressing his contempt for the world around him rather
than any opinion of his own on this particular matter. 'I often think,'
said he, 'that we have to bear more from the stupidity than from the
wickedness of the world.'
It should be mentioned that about a week after Hester's escape from
Chesterton there came to her a letter from her mother.
'DEAREST HESTER,--You do not think that I do not love you because I
tried to protect you from what I believe to be sin and evil and
temptation? You do not think that I am less your mother because I
caused you suffering? If your eye offend you, pluck it out Was I not
plucking out my own eye when I caused pain to you? You ought to come
back to me and your father. You ought to do so even now. But whether
you come back or not, will you not remember that I am the mother who
bore you, and have always loved you? And when further distress shall
come upon you, will you not return to me?--Your unhappy but most
In answer to this Hester, in a long letter, acknowledged her mother's
love, and said that the memory of those two days at Chesterton should
lessen neither her affection nor her filial duty; but, she went on to
say that, in whatever distress might come upon her, she should turn to
her husband for comfort and support whether he should be with her, or
whether he should be away from her. 'But,' she added, concluding her
letter, 'beyond my husband and my child, you and papa will always be the
dearest to me.'
There was not much to enliven the house at Folking during these days.
Caldigate would pass much of his time walking about the place, applying
his mind as well as he could to the farm, and holding up his head among
the tenants, with whom he was very popular. He had begun his reign over
them with hands not only full but free. He had drained, and roofed, and
put up gates, and repaired roads, and shown himself to be an active man,
anxious to do good. And now in his trouble they were very true to him.
But their sympathy could not ease the burden at his heart. Though by his
words and deeds among them he seemed to occupy himself fully, there was
a certain amount of pretence in every effort that he made. He was always
affecting a courage in which he felt himself to be deficient. Every
smile was false. Every brave word spoken was an attempt at deceit. When
alone in his walks,--and he was mostly alone,--his mind would fix itself
on his great trouble, and on the crushing sorrow which might only too
probably fall upon that loved one whom he had called his wife. Oh, with
what regret now did he think of the good advice which the captain had
given him on board the Goldfinder, and of the sententious, timid wisdom
of Mrs. Callender! Had she,--his Hester, ever uttered to him one word of
reproach,--had she ever shuddered in his sight when he had acknowledged
that the now odious woman had in that distant land been in his own
hearing called by his own name,--it would have been almost better. Her
absolute faith added a sting to his sufferings.
Then, as he walked alone about the estate, he would endeavour to think
whether there might not yet be some mode of escape,--whether something
might not be done to prevent his having to stand in the dock and abide
the uncertain verdict of a jury With Mr. Seely he was discontented. Mr.
Seely seemed to be opposed to any great effort,--would simply trust to
the chance of snatching little advantages in the Court. He had money at
command, if fifty thousand pounds,--if double that sum,--would have
freed him from this trouble, he thought that he could have raised it,
and was sure that he would willingly pay it. Twenty thousand pounds two
months since, when Crinkett appeared at the christening would have sent
these people away. The same sum, no doubt, would send them away now. But
then the arrangement might have been possible. But now,--how was it now?
Could it still be done? Then the whole thing might have been hidden,
buried in darkness. Now it was already in the mouths of all men. But
still, if these witnesses were made to disappear this woman herself by
whom the charge was made would take herself away--then the trial must be
abandoned. There would be a whispering of evil,--or, too probably, the
saying of evil without whispering. A terrible injury would have been
inflicted upon her and his boy;--but the injury would be less than that
which he now feared.
And there was present to him through all this a feeling that the money
ought to be paid independently of the accusation brought against him.
Had he known at first all that he knew now,--how he had taken their all
from these people, and how they had failed absolutely in the last great
venture they had made,--he would certainly have shared their loss with
them. He would have done all that Crinkett had suggested to him when he
and Crinkett were walking along the dike. Crinkett had said that on
receiving twenty thousand pounds he would have gone back to Australia,
and would have taken a wife with him! That offer had been quite
intelligible, and if carried out would have put an end to all trouble.
But he had mismanaged that interview. He had been too proud, too
desirous not to seem to buy off a threatening enemy. Now, as the trouble
pressed itself more closely upon him,--upon him and his Hester,--he
would so willingly buy off his enemy if it were possible! 'They ought to
have the money,' he said to himself; 'if only I could contrive that it
should be paid to them.'
One day as he was entering the house by a side door, Darvell the
gardener told him that there was a gentleman waiting to see him. The
gentleman was very anxious to see him, and had begged to be allowed to
sit down. Darvell, when asked whether the gentleman was a gentleman,
expressed an affirmative opinion. He had been driven over from Cambridge
in a hired gig, which was now standing in the yard, and was dressed, as
Darvell expressed it, 'quite accordingly and genteel.' So Caldigate
passed into the house and found the man seated in the dining-room.
'Perhaps you will step into my study?' said Caldigate Thus the two men
were seated together in the little room which Caldigate used for his own
Caldigate, as he looked at the man, distrusted his gardener's judgment.
The coat and hat and gloves, even the whiskers and head of hair, might
have belonged to a gentleman; but not, as he thought, the mouth or the
eyes or the hands. And when the man began to speak there was a mixture
of assurance and intended complaisance, an effected familiarity and an
attempt at ease, which made the master of the house quite sure that his
guest was not all that Darvell had represented. The man soon told his
story. His name was Bollum, Richard Bollum, and he had connections with
Australia;--was largely concerned in Australian gold-mines. When
Caldigate heard this, he looked round involuntarily to see whether the
door was closed. 'We're tiled, of course,'said Bollum. Caldigate with a
frown nodded his head, and Bollum went on. He hadn't come there, he
said, to speak of some recent troubles of which he had heard. He wasn't
the man to shove his nose into other people's matters. It was nothing to
him who was married to whom. Caldigate shivered, but sat and listened in
silence. But Mr. Bollum had had dealings,--many dealings,--with Timothy
Crinkett. Indeed he was ready to say that Timothy Crinkett was his
uncle. He was not particularly proud of his uncle, but nevertheless
Timothy Crinkett was his uncle. Didn't Mr. Caldigate think that
something ought to be done for Timothy Crinkett?
'Yes, I do,' said Caldigate, finding himself compelled to say something
at the moment, and feeling that he could say so much with positive
Then Bollum continued his story, showing that he knew all the
circumstances of Polyeuka. 'It was hard on them, wasn't it, Mr.
'I think it was.'
'Every rap they had among them, Mr. Caldigate! You left them as bare as
the palm of my hand!'
'It was not my doing. I simply made him an offer, which every one at the
time believed to be liberal.'
'Just so. We grants all that. But still you got all their money;--old
pals of yours too, as they say out there.'
'It is a matter of most intense regret to me. As soon as I knew the
circumstances, Mr. Bollum, I should have been most happy to have divided
the loss with them--'
'That's it,--that's it. That's what'd be right between man and man,'
said Mr. Bollum, inter-rupting him.
'Had no other subject been introduced.'
'I know nothing about other subjects. I haven't come here to meddle with
other subjects. I'm, as it were, a partner of Crinkett's. Any way, I am
acting as his agent. I'm quite above board, Mr. Caldigate, and in what
I say I mean to stick to my own business and not go beyond it. Twenty
thousand pounds is what we ask,--so that we and you may share the loss.
You agree to that?'
'I should have agreed to it two months since,' said Caldigate, fearing
that he might be caught in a trap,--anxious to do nothing mean, unfair,
or contrary to the law,--craving in his heart after the bold, upright
conduct of a thoroughly honourable English gentleman, and yet desirous
also to use, if it might be used, the instrumentality of this man.
'And why not now? You see,' said Bollum, becoming a little more
confidential, 'how difficult it is for me to speak. Things ain't
altered. You've got the money. They've lost the money. There isn't any
ill-will, Mr. Caldigate. As for Crinkett, he's a rough diamond, of
course. What am I to say about the lady?'
'I don't see that you need say anything.'
'That's just it. Of course she's one of them. That's all. If there is to
be money, she'll have her share. He's an old fool, and perhaps they'll
make a match of it.' As he said this he winked. 'At any rate they'll be
off to Australia together. And what I propose is this, Mr. Caldigate--'
Then he paused.
'What do you propose?'
'Make the money payable in bills to their joint order at Sydney. They
don't want to be wasting any more time here. They'll start at once. This
is the 12th April, isn't it? Tuesday the 12th?' Caldigate assented. 'The
old Goldfinder leaves Plymouth this day week.' From this he was sure
that Bollum had heard all the story from Euphemia Smith herself, or he
would not have talked of the 'old' Goldfinder. 'Let them have the bills
handed to them on board, and they'll go. Let me have the duplicates
here. You can remit the money by July to your agents,--to take up the
bills when due. Just let me be with you when the order is given to your
banker in London, and everything will be done. It's as easy as kiss.'
Caldigate sat silent, turning it over in his own mind, trying to
determine what would be best. Here was another opportunity. But it was
one as to which he must come to a decision on the spur of the moment. He
must deal with the man now or never. The twenty thousand pounds were
nothing. Had there been no question about his wife, he would have paid
the money, moved by that argument as to his 'old pals,'--by the
conviction that the result of his dealing with them had in truth been to
leave them 'as bare as the palm of his hand.' They were welcome to the
money; and if by giving the money he could save his Hester, how great a
thing it would be! Was it not his duty to make the attempt? And yet
there was in his bosom a strong aversion to have any secret dealing with
such a man as this,--to have any secret dealing in such a matter. To buy
off witnesses in order that his wife's name and his boy's legitimacy
might be half,--only half,--established! For even though these people
should be made absolutely to vanish, though the sea should swallow them,
all that had been said would be known, and too probably believed for
And then, too, he was afraid. If he did this thing alone, without
counsel, would he not be putting himself into the hands of these
wretches? Might he not be almost sure that when they had gotten his
money they would turn upon him and demand more? Would not the payment of
the money be evidence against him to any jury? Would it be possible to
make judge or jury believe, to make even a friend believe, that in such
an emergency he had paid away so large a sum of money because he had
felt himself bound to do so by his conscience?
'Well, squire,' said Bollum, 'I think you see your way through it; don't
'I don't regard the money in the least. They would be welcome to the
'That's a great point, anyway.'
'Ay; but! You're afraid they wouldn't go. You come down to Plymouth, and
don't put the bills into their hands or mine till the vessel is under
weigh, with them aboard. Then you and I will step into the boat, and be
back ashore. When they know the money's been deposited at a bank in
London, they'll trust you as far as that. The Goldfinder won't put back
again when she's once off. Won't that make it square?'
'I was thinking of something else.'
'Well, yes; there's that trial a-coming on; isn't there?'
'These people have conspired together to tell the basest lie.'
'I know nothing about that, Mr. Caldigate. I haven't got so much as an
opinion. People tell me that all the things look very strong on their
'Liars sometimes are successful.'
'You can be quit of them,--and pay no more than what you say you kind of
owes. I should have thought Crinkett might have asked forty thousand;
but Crinkett though he's rough,--I do own he's rough,--but he's honest
after a fashion. Crinkett wants to rob no man; but he feels it hard when
he's got the better of. Lies, or no lies, can you do better?'
'I should like to see my lawyer first,' said Caldigate almost panting in
'What lawyer? I hate lawyers.'
'Mr. Seely. My case is in his hands, and I should have to tell him.'
'Tell him when you come back from Plymouth, and hold your peace till
that's done. No good can come of lawyers in such a matter as this. You
might as well tell the town-crier. Why should he want to put bread out
of his own mouth? And if there is a chance of hard words being said,
why should he hear them? He'll work for his money, no doubt; but what
odds is it to him whether your lady is to be called Mrs. Caldigate or
Miss Bolton? He won't have to go to prison. His boy won't be!--you know
what.' This was terrible, but yet it was all so true! 'I'll tell you
what it is, squire. We can't make it lighter by talking about it all
round. I used to do a bit of hunting once; and I never knew any good
come of asking what there was the other side of the fence. You've got to
have it, or you've got to leave it alone. That's just where you are. Of
course it isn't nice.'
'I don't mind the money.'
'Just so. But it isn't nice for a swell like you to have to hand it over
to such a one as Crinkett just as the ship's starting, and then to bolt
ashore along with me. The odds are, it is all talked about. Let's own
all that. But then it's not nice to have to hear a woman swear that
she's your wife, when you've got another,--specially when she's got
three men as can swear the same. It ain't nice for you to have me
sitting here. I'm well aware of that. There's the choice of evils. You
know what that means. I'm a-putting it about as fair as a man can put
anything. It's a pity you didn't stump up the money before. But it's not
altogether quite too late yet.'
'I'll give you an answer to-morrow, Mr. Bollum.'
'I must be in town to-night.'
'I will be with you in London to-morrow if you will give me an address.
All that you have said is true; but I cannot do this thing without
thinking of it.'
'You'll come alone?'
'As a gentleman?'
'On my word as a gentleman I will come alone.'
Then Bollum gave him an address,--not the place at which he resided, but
a certain coffee-house in the City, at which he was accustomed to make
appointments. 'And don't you see any lawyer,' said Bollum, shaking his
finger. 'You can't do any good that way. It stands to reason that no
lawyer would let you pay twenty thousand pounds to get out of any
scrape. He and you have different legs to stand upon.' Then Mr. Bollum
went away, and was driven back in his gig to the Cambridge Hotel.
As soon as the front door was closed Hester hurried down to her husband,
whom she found still in the hall. He took her into his own room, and
told her everything that had passed,--everything, as accurately as he
could. 'And remember,' he said, 'though I do not owe them money, that I
feel bound by my conscience to refund them so much. I should do it, now
I know the circumstances, if no charge had been brought against me.'
'They have perjured themselves, and have been so wicked.'
'Yes, they have been very wicked.'
'Let them come and speak the truth, and then let them have the money.'
'They will not do that, Hester.'
'Prove them to be liars, and then give it to them.'
'My own girl, I am thinking of you.'
'And I of you. Shall it be said of you that you bought off those who had
dared to say that your wife was not your wife? I would not do that. What
if the people in the Court should believe what they say?'
'It would be bad for you, then, dearest.'
'But I should still be your wife. And baby would still be your own, own
honest boy. I am sometimes unhappy, but I am never afraid. Let the devil
do his worst, but never speak him fair. I would scorn them till it is
all over. Then, if money be due to them, let them have it.' As she said
this, she had drawn herself a little apart from him,--a little away from
the arm which had been round her waist, and was looking him full in the
face. Never before, even during the soft happiness of their bridal
tour, had she seemed to him to be so handsome.
But her faith, her courage, and her beauty did not alter the
circumstances of the case. Because she trusted him, he was not the less
afraid of the jury who would have to decide, or of the judge, who, with
stern eyes, would probably find himself compelled to tell the jury that
the evidence against the prisoner was overwhelming. In choosing what
might be best to be done on her account, he could not allow himself to
be guided by her spirit. The possibility that the whole gang of them
might be made to vanish was present to his mind. Nor could he satisfy
himself that in doing as had been proposed to him he would be speaking
the devil fair. He would be paying money which he ought to pay, and
would perhaps be securing his wife's happiness.
He had promised, at any rate, that he would see the man in London on the
morrow, and that he would see him alone. But he had not promised not to
speak on the subject to his attorney. Therefore, after much thought, he
wrote to Mr. Seely to make an appointment for the next morning, and then
told his wife that he would have to go to London on the following day.
'Not to buy those men off?' she said.
'Whatever is done will be done by the advice of my lawyer,' he said,
peevishly. 'You may be sure that I am anxious enough to do the best.
When one has to trust to a lawyer, one is bound to trust to him.' This
seemed to be so true that Hester could say nothing against it.
He had still the whole night to think about it,--and throughout the
whole night he was thinking about it. He had fixed a late hour in the
afternoon for his appointment in London, so that he might have an hour
or two in Cambridge before he started by the mid-day train. It was
during his drive into the town that he at last made up his mind that he
would not satisfy himself with discussing the matter with Mr. Seely, but
that he would endeavour to explain it all to Robert Bolton. No doubt
Robert Bolton was now his enemy, as were all the Boltons. But the
brother could not but be anxious for his sister's name and his sister's
happiness. If a way out of all this misery could be seen, it would be a
way out of misery for the Boltons as well as for the Caldigates. If only
he could make the attorney believe that Hester was in truth his wife,
still, even yet, there might be assistance on that side. But he went to
Mr. Seely first, the hour of his appointment requiring that it should be
But Mr. Seely was altogether opposed to any arrangement with Mr. Bollum.
'No good was ever done,' he said, 'by buying off witnesses. The thing
itself is disreputable, and would to a certainty be known to every one.'
'I should not buy them off. I regard the money as their own. I will give
Crinkett the money and let him go or stay as he pleases. When giving him
the money, I will tell him that he may do as he pleases.'
'You would only throw your money away. You would do much worse than
throw it away. Their absence would not prevent the trial. The Boltons
will take care of that.'
'They cannot want to injure their own side, Mr. Seely.'
'They want to punish you, and to take her away. They will take care that
the trial shall go on. And when it was proved, as it would be proved,
that you had given these people a large sum of money, and had so secured
their absence, do you think that the jury would refuse to believe their
sworn depositions and whatever other evidence would remain? The fact of
your having paid them money would secure a verdict against you. The
thing would, in my mind, be so disreputable that I should have to throw
up the case. I could not defend you.'
It was clear to him that Bollum had understood his own side of the
question in deprecating any reference to an attorney. The money should
have been paid and the four witnesses sent away without a word to any
one,--if any attempt in that direction were made at all. Nevertheless he
went to Robert Bolton's office and succeeded in obtaining an interview
with his wife's brother. But here, as with the other attorney he failed
to make the man understand the state of his own mind. He had failed in
the same way even with his wife. If it were fit that the money should be
paid, it could not be right that he should retain it because the people
to whom it was due had told lies about him. And if this could be
explained to the jury, surely the jury would not give a verdict against
him on insufficient evidence, simply because he had done his duty in
paying the money!
Robert Bolton listened to him with patience and without any quick
expression of hot anger; though before the interview was over he had
used some very cruel words. 'We should think ourselves bound to prevent
their going, if possible.'
'Of course; I have no idea of going down to Plymouth as the man
proposed, or of taking any steps to secure their absence.'
'Your money is your own, and you can do what you like with it. It
certainly is not for me to advise you. If you tell me that you are going
to pay it, I can only say that I shall look very sharp after them.'
'Why should you want to ruin your sister?'
'You have ruined her. That is our idea. We desire now to rescue her as
far as we can from further evil. You have opposed us in every endeavour
that we have made. When in the performance of a manifest duty we
endeavoured to separate you till after the trial, you succeeded in
thwarting us by your influence.'
'I left it to her.'
'Had you been true and honest and upright, you would have known that as
long as there was a doubt she ought to have been away from you.'
'I should have sent her away?'
'So as to create a doubt in her mind, so as to disturb her peace, so as
to make her think that I, having been found out, was willing to be rid
of her? It would have killed her.'
'Better so than this.'
'And yet I am as truly her husband as you are the husband of your wife.
If you would only teach yourself to think that possible, then you would
'Not as to a temporary separation.'
'If you believed me, you would,' said Caldigate.
'But I do not believe you. In a matter like this, as you will come to
me, I must be plain. I do not believe you. I think that you have
betrayed and seduced my sister. Looking at all the evidence and at your
own confession, I can come to no other conclusion I have discussed the
matter with my brother, who is a clear, cool-headed, most judicious man,
and he is of the same opinion. In our own private court we have brought
you in guilty,--guilty of an offence against us all which necessarily
makes us as bitter against you as one man can be against another. You
have destroyed our sister, and now you come her and ask me my advice as
to buying off witnesses'
'It is all untrue. As there is a God above me I am her loyal, loving
husband. I will buy off no witness'
'If I were you I would make no such attempt. It will do no good. I do
not think that you have a chance of being acquitted,--not a chance; and
then how much worse it will be for Hester when she finds herself still
in your house!'
'She will remain there.'
'Even she will feel that to be impossible. Your influence will then
probably be removed, and I presume that for a time you will have no
home. But we need not discuss that. As you are here, I should not do my
duty were I not to assure you that as far as we are concerned,--Hester's
family,--nothing shall be spared either in trouble or money to insure
the conviction and punishment of the man whom we believe to have brought
upon us so terrible a disgrace.'
Caldigate, when he got out into the street, felt that he was driven
almost to despair. At first he declared to himself, most untruly, that
there was no one to believe him,--no, not one. Then he remembered how
faithful was his wife; and as he did so, in his misery, he told himself
that it might have been better for her had she been less faithful.
Looking at it all as he now looked at it, after hearing the words of
that hard man, he almost thought that it would have been so. Everybody
told him that he would be condemned; and if so, what would be the fate
of that poor young mother and her child? It was very well for her to
declare, with her arms round his neck, that even should he be dragged
away to prison, she would still be his true wife, and that she would
wait,--in sorrow indeed and mourning, but still with patience,--till the
cruel jailers and the harsh laws had restored him to her. If the law
declared him a bigamist, she could not then be his wife. The law must
decide,--whether rightly or wrongly, still must decide. And then how
could they live together? An evil done must be endured, let it be ever
so unendurable. But against fresh evils a man may guard. Was it not his
duty, his manifest, his chief duty, to save her, as far as she could be
saved, from further suffering and increased disgrace? Perhaps, after
all, Robert Bolton was right when he told him that he ought to have
allowed Hester to remain at Chesterton.
Whatever he might do when he got to London, he felt it to be his duty to
go up and keep his appointment with Bollum. And he brought with him from
home securities and certificates for stock by which he knew that he
could raise the sum named at a moment's warning, should he at last
decide upon paying the money. When he got into the train, and when he
got out of the train, he was still in doubt. Those to whom he had gone
for advice had been so hard to him, that he felt himself compelled to
put on one side all that they had said. Bollum had suggested in his
graphic manner, that a lawyer and his client stood upon different legs.
Caldigate acknowledged to himself that Bollum was right. His own lawyer
had been almost as hard to him as his brother-in-law who was his
declared enemy. But what should he do? As to precautions to be taken in
reference to the departure of the gang, all that was quite out of the
question. They should go to Australia or stay behind, as they pleased.
There should be no understanding that they were to go--or even that they
were to hold their tongues because the money was paid to them. It should
be fully explained to them that the two things were distinct. Then as he
was taken to the inn at which he intended to sleep that night, he made
up his mind in the cab that he would pay the money to Crinkett.
He got to London just in time to reach the bank before it was closed,
and there made his arrangements He deposited his documents and
securities, and was assured that the necessary sum should be placed to
his credit on the following day. Then he walked across a street or two
in the City to the place indicated by Bollum for the appointment. It was
at the Jericho Coffee House, in Levant Court,--a silent, secluded spot,
lying between Lombard Street and Cornhill. Here he found himself ten
minutes before the time, and, asking for a cup of coffee, sat down at a
table fixed to the ground in a little separate box. The order was given
to a young woman at a bar in the room. Then an ancient waiter hobbled up
to him and explained that coffee was not quite ready. In truth, coffee
was not often asked for at the Jericho Coffee House. The house, said the
waiter, was celebrated for its sherry. Would he take half a pint of
sherry? So he ordered the sherry, which was afterwards drunk by Bollum.
Bollum came, punctual to the moment, and seated himself at the table
with good-humoured alacrity. 'Well, Mr. Caldigate, how is it to be? I
think you must have seen that what I have proposed will be for the
'I will tell you what I mean to do, Mr. Bollum,' said Caldigate, very
gravely. 'It cannot be said that I owe Mr. Crinkett a shilling.'
'Certainly not. But it comes very near owing, doesn't it?'
'So near that I mean to pay it.'
'So near that I don't like to feel that I have got his money in my
pocket. As far as money goes, I have been a fortunate man.'
'Wonderful!' said Bollum, enthusiastically.
'And as I was once in partnership with your uncle, I do not like to
think that I enriched myself by a bargain which impoverished him.'
'It ain't nice, is it,--that you should have it all, and he nothing?'
'Feeling that very strongly,' continued Caldigate, merely shaking his
head in token of displeasure at Bollum's interruption, 'I have
determined to repay Mr. Crinkett an amount that seems to me to be fair.
He shall have back twenty thousand pounds.'
'He's a lucky fellow, and he'll be off like a shot;--like a shot.'
'He and others have conspired to rob me of all my happiness, thinking
that they might so most probably get this money from me. They have
invented a wicked lie,--a wicked damnable lie,--a damnable lie! They are
'Come, come, Mr. Caldigate.'
'Foul miscreants! But they shall have their money, and you shall hear me
tell them when I give it to them,--and they must both be here to take it
from my hands,--that I do not at all require their absence. There is to
be no bargain between us. They are free to remain and swear their false
oaths against me. Whether they go or whether they stay will be no affair
'They'll go, of course, Mr. Caldigate.'
'Not at my instance. I will take care that that shall be known. They
must both come; and into their joint hands will I give the cheque, and
they must come prepared with a receipt declaring that they accept the
money as restitution of the loss incurred by them in purchasing the
Polyeuka mine from me. Do you understand? And I shall bring a witness
with me to see them take the money.' Bollum who was considerably
depressed by his companion's manner, said that he did understand.
'I suppose I can have a private room here, at noon to-morrow?' asked
Caldigate, turning to the woman at the bar.
When that was settled he assured Bollum that a cheque for the amount
should be placed in the joint hands of Timothy Crinkett and Euphemia
Smith if he, and they with him, would be there at noon on the following
day. Bollum in vain attempted to manage the payment without the
personal interview but at last agreed that the man and the woman should
That night Caldigate dined at his Club, one of the University Clubs, at
which he had been elected just at the time of his marriage. He had
seldom been there, but now walked into the dinner-room, resolving that
he would not be ashamed to show himself. He fancied that everybody
looked at him, and probably there were some present who knew that he was
about to stand his trial for bigamy. But he got his dinner, and smoked
his cigar; and before the evening was over he had met an old College
friend. He was in want of a friend, and explained his wants. He told
something of his immediate story, and then asked the man to be present
at the scene on the morrow.
'I must have a witness, Gray,' said he, 'and you will do me a kindness
if you will come.' Then Mr. Gray promised to be present on the occasion.
On the following morning he met Gray at the Club, having the cheque
ready in his pocket, and together they proceeded to Levant Court. Again
he was a little before his time, and the two sat together in the gloomy
little room up-stairs. Bollum was the first to come, and when he saw the
stranger, was silent,--thinking whether it might not be best to escape
and warn Crinkett and the woman that all might not be safe. But the
stranger did not look like a detective; and, as he told himself, why
should there be danger? So he waited, and in a few minutes Crinkett
entered the room, with the woman veiled.
'Well, Caldigate,' said Crinkett, 'how is it with you?'
'If you please, Mrs. Smith,' said Caldigate, 'I must ask you to remove
your veil,--so that I may be sure that it is you.'
She removed her veil very slowly, and then stood looking him in the
face,--not full in the face, for she could not quite raise her eyes to
meet his. And though she made an effort to brazen it out, she could not
quite succeed. She attempted to raise her head, and carry herself with
pride; but every now and again there was a slight quiver,--slight, but
still visible. The effort, too, was visible. But there she stood,
looking at him, and to be looked at,--but without a word. During the
whole interview she never once opened her lips.
She had lost all her comeliness. It was now nearly seven years since
they two had been on the Goldfinder together, and then he had found her
very attractive. There was no attraction now. She was much aged; and her
face was coarse, as though she had taken to drinking. But there was
still about her something of that look of intellect which had captivated
him more, perhaps, than her beauty. Since those days she had become a
slave to gold,--and such slavery is hardly compatible with good looks in
a woman. There she stood,--ready to listen to him, ready to take his
money, but determined not to utter a word.
Then he took the cheque out of his pocket, and holding it in his hand,
spoke to them as follows: 'I have explained to Mr. Bollum, and have
explained to my friend here, Mr. Gray, the reasons which induce me to
pay to you, Timothy Crinkett, and to you, Euphemia Smith, the large sum
of twenty thousand pounds. The nature of our transactions has been such
that I feel bound in honour to repay so much of the price you paid for
the Polyeuka mine.'
'All right, Caldigate; all right,' said Crinkett.
'And I have explained also to both of them that this payment has nothing
whatever to do with the base, false, and most wicked charge which you
are bringing against me. It is not because that woman, by a vile
perjury, claims me as her husband, and because I wish to buy her silence
or his, that I make this restitution. I restore the money of my own free
will, without any base bargain. You can go on with your perjury or
abstain from it, as you may think best.'
'We understand, squire,' said Crinkett, affecting to laugh. 'You hand
over the money,--that's all.' Then the woman looked round at her
companion, and a frown came across her face; but she said nothing,
turning her face again upon Caldigate, and endeavouring to keep her eyes
steadfastly fixed upon him.
'Have you brought a receipt signed by both of you?' Then Bollum handed
him a receipt signed 'Timothy Crinkett, for self and partners.' But
Caldigate demanded that the woman also should sign it.
'There is a difficulty about the name, you see,' said Bollum. There was
a difficulty about the name, certainly. It would not be fair, he
thought, that he should force her to the use of a name she disowned, and
he did not wish to be hindered from what he was doing by her persistency
in calling herself by his own name.
'So be it,' said he. 'There is the cheque. Mr. Gray will see that I put
it into both their hands.' This he did, each of them stretching out a
hand to take it. 'And now you can go where you please and act as you
please. You have combined to rob me of all that I value most by the
basest of lies; but not on that account have I abstained from doing what
I believe to be an act of justice.' Then he left the room, and paying
for the use of it to the woman at the bar, walked off with his friend
Gray, leaving Crinkett, Bollum, and the woman still within the house.
Waiting For The Trial
As he returned to Cambridge Caldigate was not altogether contented with
himself. He tried to persuade himself, in reference to the money which
he had refunded, that in what he had done he had not at all been
actuated by the charge made against him. Had there been no such
accusation he would have felt himself bound to share the loss with these
people as soon as he had learned the real circumstances The money had
been a burden to him. For the satisfaction of his own honour, of his own
feelings it had become necessary that the money should be refunded. And
the need of doing so was not lessened by the fact that a base conspiracy
had been made by a gang of villains who had thought that the money might
thus be most readily extracted from him. That was his argument with
himself, and his defence for what he had done. But nevertheless he was
aware that he had been driven to do it now,--to pay the money at this
special moment,--by an undercurrent of hope that these enemies would
think it best for themselves to go as soon as they had his money in
their hands. He wished to be honest, he wished to be honourable, he
wished that all that he did could be what the world calls 'above board';
but still it was so essential for him and for his wife that they should
go! He had been very steady in assuring these wretched ones that they
might go or stay, as they pleased. He had been careful that there should
be a credible witness of his assurance. He might succeed in making
others believe that he had not attempted to purchase their absence; but
he could not make himself believe it.
Even though a jury should not convict him, there was so much in his
Australian life which would not bear the searching light of
cross-examination! The same may probably be said of most of us. In such
trials as this that he was anticipating, there is often a special
cruelty in the exposure of matters which are for the most part happily
kept in the background. A man on some occasion inadvertently takes a
little more wine than is good for him. It is an accident most uncommon
with him, and nobody thinks much about it. But chance brings the case
to the notice of the police courts, and the poor victim is published to
the world as a drunkard in the columns of all the newspapers. Some young
girl fancies herself in love, and the man is unworthy. The feeling
passes away, and none but herself, and perhaps her mother, are the
wiser. But if by some chance, some treachery, a letter should get
printed and read, the poor girl's punishment is so severe that she is
driven to wish herself in the grave.
He had been foolish, very foolish, as we have seen, on board the
Goldfinder,--and wicked too. There could be no doubt about that. When it
would all come out in this dreaded trial he would be quite unable to
defend himself. There was enough to enable Mrs. Bolton to point at him
with a finger of scorn as a degraded sinner. And yet,--yet there had
been nothing which he had not dared to own to his wife in the secrecy of
their mutual confidence, and which, in secret, she had not been able to
condone without a moment's hesitation. He had been in love with the
woman,--in love after a fashion. He had promised to marry her. He had
done worse than that. And then, when he had found that the passion for
gold was strong upon her, he had bought his freedom from her. The story
would be very bad as told in Court, and yet he had told it all to his
wife! She had admitted his excuse when he had spoken of the savageness
of his life, of the craving which a man would feel for some feminine
society, of her undoubted cleverness, and then of her avarice. And then
when he swore that through it all he had still loved her,--her, Hester
Bolton,--whom he had but once seen, but whom, having seen, he had never
allowed to pass out of his mind, she still believed him, and thought
that the holiness of that love had purified him. She believed him;--but
who else would believe him? Of course he was most anxious that those
people should go.
Before he left London he wrote both to Mr. Seely and to Robert Bolton,
saying what he had done. The letter to his own attorney was long and
full. He gave an account in detail of the whole matter, declaring that
he would not allow himself to be hindered from paying a debt which he
believed to be due, by the wickedness of those to whom it was owing.
'The two things have nothing to do with each other,' he said, 'and if
you choose to throw up my defence, of course you can do so. I cannot
allow myself to be debarred from exercising my own judgment in another
matter because you think that what I decide upon doing may not tally
with your views as to my defence.' To Robert Bolton he was much shorter.
'I think you ought to know what I have done,' he said; 'at any rate, I
do not choose that you should be left in ignorance.' Mr. Seely took no
notice of the communication, not feeling himself bound to carry out his
threat by withdrawing his assistance from his client. But Robert and
William Bolton agreed to have Crinkett's movements watched by a
detective policeman. They were both determined that if possible Crinkett
and the woman should be kept in the country.
In these days the old Squire made many changes in his residence,
vacillating between his house in Cambridge and the house at Folking. His
books were at Cambridge, and he could not have them brought back; and
yet he felt that he ought to evince his constancy to his son, his
conviction of his son's innocence, by remaining at Folking. And he was
aware, too, that his presence there was a comfort both to his son and
Hester. When John Caldigate had gone up to London, his father had been
in Cambridge but on his return he found the old Squire at his old house.
'Yes,' he said, telling the story of what he had just done, 'I have paid
twenty thousand pounds out of hand to those rascals, simply because I
thought I owed it to them!' The Squire shook his head, not being able
to approve of the act.' I don't see why I should have allowed myself to
be hindered from doing what I thought to be right because they were
doing what they knew to be wrong.'
'They won't go, you know.'
'I daresay not, sir. Why should they?'
'But the jury will believe that you intended to purchase their absence.'
'I think I have made all that clear.'
'I am afraid not, John. The man applied to you for the money, and was
refused. That was the beginning of it. Then the application was repeated
by the woman with a threat; and you again refused. Then they present
themselves to the magistrates, and make the accusation; and, upon that,
you pay the money. Of course it will come out at the trial that you paid
it immediately after this renewed application from Bollum. It would have
been better to have defied them.'
'I did defy them,' said John Caldigate. But all that his father said
seemed to him to be true, so that he repented himself of what he had
He made no inquiry on the subject, but, early in May he heard from Mr.
Seely that Crinkett and the woman were still in London, and that they
had abandoned the idea of going at once to Australia. According to Mr.
Seely's story,--of the truth of which he declared himself to be by no
means certain had wished to go, but had been retained by the woman. 'As
far as I can learn,' said Mr. Seely, 'she is in communication with the
Boltons, who will of course keep her if it be possible. He would get off
if he could; but she, I take it, has got hold of the money. When you
made the cheque payable to her order, you effectually provided for their
remaining here. If he could have got the money without her name, he
would have gone, and she would have gone with him.'
'But that was not my object,' said Caldigate angrily. Mr. Seely
thereupon shrugged his shoulders. Early in June the man came back who
had been sent out to Sydney in February on behalf of Caldigate. He also
had been commissioned to seek for evidence, and to bring back with him,
almost at any cost, whatever witness or witnesses he might find whose
presence in England would serve Caldigate's cause. But he brought no
one, and had learned very little. He too had been at Ahalala and at
Nobble. At Nobble the people were now very full of the subject and were
very much divided in opinion. There were Crinketters and
anti-Crinketters, Caldigatites and anti-Caldigatites. A certain number
of persons were ready to swear that there had been a marriage, and an
equal number, perhaps, to swear that there had been none. But no new
fact had been brought to light. Dick Shand had not been found,--who had
been living with Caldigate when the marriage was supposed to have been
solemnised. Nor had that register been discovered from which the copy of
the certificate was supposed to have been taken. All through the
Colony,--so said this agent,--a very great interest was felt in the
matter. The newspapers from day to day contained paragraphs about it.
But nobody had appeared whom it was worth while to bring home. Mrs.
Henniker, of the hotel at Nobble, had offered to swear that there had
been no marriage. This offer she made and repeated when she had come to
understand accurately on whose behalf this last agent had come to the
Colony. But then, before she had understood this, she had offered to
swear the reverse; and it became known that she was very anxious to be
carried back to the old country free of expense. No credible witness
could be found who had heard Caldigate call the woman Mrs. Smith after
the date assigned to the marriage. She no doubt had used various names,
had called herself sometimes Mrs. Caldigate, sometimes Mrs. Smith, but
generally, in such documents as she had to sign in reference to her
mining shares, Euphernia Cettini. It was by that name that she had been
known in Sydney when performing on the stage, and it was now alleged on
her behalf that she had bought and sold shares in that name under the
idea that she would thus best secure to herself their separate and
undisturbed possession. Proof was brought home that Caldigate himself
had made over to her shares in that name; but Mr. Seely did not depend
much on this as proof against the marriage.
Mr. Seely seemed to depend very little on anything little that Caldigate
almost wished that he had carried out his threat and thrown up the case.
'Does he not believe you when you tell him?' his wife asked. Caldigate
was forced to confess that apparently the lawyer did not believe him. In
fact, Mr. Seely had even said as much. 'In such cases a lawyer should
never believe or disbelieve; or, if he does, he should never speak of
his belief. It is with your acquittal or conviction that I am concerned,
in which matter I can better assist you by cool judgment than by any
fervid assurance.' All this made Caldigate not only angry but unhappy,
for he could not fail to perceive that the public around him were in the
same mind as Mr. Seely. In his own parish they believed him, but
apparently not beyond his parish. It might be possible that he should
escape,--that seemed to be the general opinion; but then general opinion
went on to declare that there was no reason for supposing that he had
not married the woman merely because he said that he had not done so.
Then gradually there fell upon poor Hester's mind a doubt,--and, after
that, almost a conviction. Not a doubt as to her husband's truth! No
suspicion on that score ever troubled her for a moment. But there came
upon her a fear, almost more than a fear, that these terrible enemies
would be strong enough to override the truth, and to carry with them
both a judge and a jury. As the summer months ran on, they all became
aware that for any purpose of removing the witnesses the money had been
paid in vain. Crinkett was living in all opulence at a hotel at
Brighton; and the woman, calling herself Mrs. Caldigate, had taken
furnished apartments in London, Rumour came that she was frequently seen
at the theatres, and that she had appeared more than once in an open
carriage in the parks. There was no doubt but that Caldigate's money had
made them very comfortable for the present. The whole story of the money
had been made public, and of course there were various opinions about
it. The prevailing idea was, that an attempt had been made to buy off
the first wife, but that the first wife had been clever enough to get
the money without having to go. Caldigate was thought to have been very
foolish; on which subject Bollum once expressed himself strongly to a
friend. 'Clever!' he said; 'Caldigate clever! The greatest idiot I ever
came across in my life! I'd made it quite straight for him,--so that
there couldn't have been a wrinkle. But he wouldn't have it. There are
men so soft that one can't understand 'em'. To do Bollum justice it
should be said that he was most anxious to induce his uncle and the
woman to leave the country when they had got the money.
Though very miserable, Hester was very brave. In the presence of her
husband she would never allow herself to seem to doubt. She would speak
of their marriage as a thing so holy that nothing within the power of
man could disturb it. Of course they were man and wife, and of course
the truth would at last prevail. Was not the Lord able, in His own good
time, to set all these matters right? And in discussing the matter with
him she would always seem to imply that the Lord's good time would be
the time of the trial. She would never herself hint to him that there
might be a period of separation coming. Though in secrecy she was
preparing for what might befall him, turning over in her woman's mind
how she might best relieve the agony of his jail, she let no sign
escape her that she looked forward to such misery. She let no such sign
escape her in her intercourse with him. But with his father she could
speak more freely. It had, indeed, come to be understood between her and
the old Squire, that it would be best that they should discuss the
matter openly. Arrangements must be made for their future life, so that
when the blow came they might not be unprepared. Hester declared that
nothing but positive want of shelter should induce her to go back to
Chesterton, 'They think him to be all that's bad,' she said. 'I know him
to be all that's good. How is it possible that we should live together?'
The old man had, of course, turned it over much in his mind. If it could
be true that that woman had in truth become his son's wife, and that
this dear, sweet, young mother had been deceived, betrayed, and cheated
out of her very existence, then that house at Folking could be no proper
home for her. Her grave would be best, but till that might be reached
any home would be better than Folking. But he was almost sure that it
was not so, and her confidence,--old as he was, and prone to be
suspicious,--made him confident.
When the moment came he could not doubt how he would answer her. He
could not crush her spirit by seeming for a moment to have a suspicion.
'Your home, of course, shall be here,' he said. 'It shall be your own
'It shall be my house too. If it should come to that, we will be, at any
rate, together. You shall not be left without a friend.'
'It is not for myself,' she said; 'but for his boy and for him;--what
will be best for them. I would take a cabin at the prison-gate, so as to
be nearest to him,--if it were only myself.' And so it was settled
between them, that should that great misery fall upon them, she would
remain at Folking and he would remain with her. Nothing that judge or
jury could do would deprive her of the right to occupy her husband's
In this way the months of May and June and the first fortnight of July
wore themselves away, and then the time for the trial had come. Up to
the last it had been hoped that tidings might be heard either by letter
or telegram from Dick Shand; but it seemed that he had vanished from the
face of the earth. No suggestion of news as to his whereabouts was
received on which it might have been possible to found an argument for
the further postponement of the trial. Mr. Seely had been anxious for
such postponement,--perhaps thinking that as the hotel at Brighton and
the carriages in the park were expensive, Crinkett and the lady might
take their departure for Australia without saying a word to the lawyer
who had undertaken the prosecution. But there was no adequate ground for
delay, and on Tuesday the 17th July the trial was to be commenced. On
the previous day Caldigate, at his own request, was introduced to Sir
John Joram, who had been brought down special to Cambridge for his
defence. Mr. Seely had advised him not to see the barrister who was to
defend him, leaving it, however, quite at his option to do so or not as
he pleased. 'Sir John will see you, but I think he had rather not,' said
Mr. Seely. But Caldigate had chosen to have the interview. 'I have
thought it best to say just one word to you,' said Caldigate.
'I am quite at your service,' said Sir John.
'I want you to hear from my own lips that a falser charge than this was
never made against a man.'
'I am glad to hear it,' said Sir John,--and then he paused. 'That is to
say, Mr. Caldigate, I am bound in courtesy to you to make some such
civil reply as I should have made had I not been employed in your case,
and had circumstances then induced you to make such a statement to me.
But in truth, as I am so employed, no statement from your lips ought to
affect me in the least. For your own sake I will say that no statement
will affect me. It is not for me to believe or disbelieve anything in
this matter. If carried away by my feelings, I were to appeal to the
jury for their sympathy because of my belief, I should betray your
cause. It will be my duty not to make the jury believe you, who, in your
position, will not be expected even to tell the truth; but to induce
them, if possible, to disbelieve the witnesses against you who will be
on their oath. Second-hand protestations from an advocate are never of
much avail, and in many cases have been prejudicial. I can only assure
you that I understand the importance of the interests confided to me,
and that I will endeavour to be true to my trust.'
Caldigate, who wanted sympathy, who wanted an assurance of confidence in
his word, was by no means contented with his counsellor; but he was too
wise at the present moment to quarrel with him.
The First Day
Then came the morning on which Caldigate and Hester must part. Very
little had been said about it, but a word or two had been absolutely
necessary. The trial would probably take two days, and it would not be
well that he should be brought back to Folking for the sad intervening
night. And then,--should the verdict be given against him, the prison
doors would be closed against her, his wife, more rigidly than against
any other friend who might knock at them inquiring after his welfare.
Her, at any rate, he would not be allowed to see. All the prison
authorities would be bound to regard her as the victim of his crime and
as the instrument of his vice. The law would have locked him up to
avenge her injuries,--of her, whose only future joy could come from that
distant freedom which the fraudulent law would at length allow to him.
All this was not put into words between them, but it was understood. It
might be that they were to be parted now for a term of years, during
which she would be as a widow at Folking while he would be alone in his
There are moments as to which it would be so much better that their
coming should never be accomplished! It would have been better for them
both had they been separated without that last embrace. He was to start
from Folking at eight that he might surrender himself to the hands of
justice in due time for the trial at ten. She did not come down with him
to the breakfast parlour, having been requested by him not to be there
among the servants when he took his departure; but standing there in her
own room, with his baby in her arms, she spoke her last word, 'You will
keep up your courage, John?'
'I will try, Hester.'
'I will keep up mine. I will never fail, for your sake and his,'--here
she held the child a moment away from her bosom,--'I will never allow
myself to droop. To be your wife and his mother shall be enough to
support me even though you should be torn from both of us for a time.'
'I wish I were as brave as you,' he said.
'You will leave me here,' she continued, 'mistress of your house; and if
God spares me, here you will find me. They can't move me from this. Your
father says so. They may call me what they will, but they cannot move
me. There is the Lord above us, and before Him they cannot make me other
than your wife,--your wife,--your wife.' As she repeated the name, she
put the boy out to him, and when he had taken the child, she stretched
out her hands upwards, and falling on her knees at his feet, prayed to
God for his deliverance. 'Let him come back to us, O my God. Deliver
him from his enemies, and let him come back to us.'
'One kiss, my own,' he said, as he raised her from the ground.
'Oh yes;--and a thousand shall be in store for you when you come back to
us. Yes; kiss him too. Your boy shall hear the praises of his father
every day, till at last he shall understand that he may be proud of you
even though he should have learned why it is that you are not with him.
Now go, my darling. Go; and support yourself by remembering that I have
got that within me which will support me.' Then he left her.
The old Squire had expressed his intention of being present throughout
the trial, and now was ready for the journey. When counselled to remain
at home, both by Mr. Seely and by his son, he had declared that only by
his presence could he make the world around him understand how confident
he was of his son's innocence. So it was arranged, and a place was kept
for him next to the attorney. The servants all came out into the hall
and shook hands with their young master; and the cook, wiping her eyes
with her apron, declared that she would have dinner ready for him on the
following day. At the front door Mr. Holt was standing, having come over
the ferry to greet the young squire before his departure. 'They may say
what they will there, squire, but they won't make none of us here
believe that you've been the man to injure a lady such as she up there.'
Then there was another shaking of hands, and the father and son got into
The court was full, of course. Mr. Justice Bramber, by whom the case was
to be tried, was reputed to be an excellent judge, a man of no
softnesses,--able to wear the black cap without convulsive throbbings,
anxious also that the law should run its course,--averse to mercy when
guilt had been proved, but as clear-sighted and as just as Minos; a man
whom nothing could turn one way or another,--who could hang his friend,
but who would certainly not mulet his enemy because he was his enemy. It
had reached Caldigate's ears that he was unfortunate in his judge; by
which, they who had so said, had intended to imply that this judge's
mind would not be perverted by any sentiments as to the prisoner, as to
the sweet young woman who called herself his wife at home, or as to want
of sweetness on the part of the other woman who claimed him.
The jury was sworn in without more than ordinary delay, and then the
trial was commenced. That which had to be done for the prosecution
seemed to be simple enough. The first witness called was the woman
herself, who was summoned in the names of Euphemia Caldigate _alias_
Smith. She gave her evidence very clearly, and with great
composure,--saying how she had become acquainted with the man on board
the ship; how she had been engaged to him at Melbourne; how he had come
down to her at Sydney; how, in compliance with his orders, she had
followed him up to Ahalala; and how she had there been married to him by
Mr. Allan. Then she brought forth the documents which professed to be
the copy of the register of the marriage, made by the minister in his
own book; and the envelope,--the damning envelope,--which Caldigate was
prepared to admit that he had himself addressed to Mrs. Caldigate and
the letter which purported to have been written by the minister to
Caldigate, recommending him to be married in some better established
township than that existing at Ahalala. She did it well. She was very
correct, and at the same time very determined, giving many details of
her early theatrical life, which it was thought better to get from her
in the comparative ease of a direct examination than to have them
extracted afterwards by an adverse advocate. During her evidence in
chief, which was necessarily long, she seemed to be quite at ease; but
those around her observed that she never once turned her eyes upon him
whom she claimed as her husband except when she was asked whether the
man there before her was the man she had married at Ahalala. Then,
looking at him for a moment in silence, she replied, very steadily,
'Yes; that is my husband, John Caldigate.'
To Caldigate and his friends,--and indeed to all those collected in the
court,--the most interesting person of the day was Sir John Joram. In a
sensational cause the leading barrister for the defence is always the
hero of the plot,--the actor from whom the best bit of acting is
expected,--the person who is most likely to become a personage on the
occasion. The prisoners are necessarily mute, and can only be looked at,
not heard. The judge is not expected to do much till the time comes for
his charge, and even then is supposed to lower the dignity of the bench
if he makes his charge with any view to effect on his own behalf. The
barrister who prosecutes should be tame, or he will appear to be
vindictive. The witnesses however interesting they may be in detail, are
but episodes. Each comes and goes, and there is an end of them. But the
part of the defending advocate requires action through the whole of the
piece. And he may be impassioned. He is bound to be on the alert.
Everything seems to depend on him. They who accuse can have or should
have no longing for the condemnation of the accused one. But in regard
to the other, an acquittal is a matter of personal prowess, of
professional triumph, and possibly of well simulated feeling.
Sir John Joram was at this time a man of considerable dignity, above
fifty years of age, having already served the offices of Solicitor and
Attorney-General to his party. To his compeers and intimate friends it
seemed to be but the other day since he was Jacky Joram, one of the
jolliest little fellows ever known at an evening party, up to every kind
of fun, always rather short of money, and one of whom it was thought
that, because he was good-looking, he might some day achieve the success
of marrying a woman with money. On a sudden he married a girl without a
shilling, and men shook their heads and sighed as they spoke of poor
Jacky Joram. But, again, on a sudden,--quite as suddenly,--there came
tidings that Jacky had been found out by the attorneys, and that he was
earning his bread. As we grow old things seem to come so quickly! His
friends had hardly realised the fact that Jacky was earning his bread
before he was in Parliament and had ceased to be Jacky. And the celerity
with which he became Sir John was the most astonishing of all. Years no
doubt had passed by. But years at fifty are no more than months at
thirty,--are less than weeks in boyhood. And now while some tongues, by
dint of sheer habit, were still forming themselves into Jacky, Sir John
Joram had become the leading advocate of the day, and a man renowned for
the dignity of his manners.
In the House,--for he had quite got the ear of the House,--a certain
impressive good sense, a habit of saying nothing that was not necessary
to the occasion, had chiefly made for him the high character he enjoyed;
but in the law courts it was perhaps his complaisance, his peculiar
courtesy, of which they who praised him talked the most. His aptitude to
get verdicts was of course the cause of his success. But it was observed
of him that in perverting the course of justice,--which may be said to
be the special work of a successful advocate,--he never condescended to
bully anybody. To his own witnesses he was simple and courteous, as are
barristers generally. But to adverse witnesses he was more courteous,
though no doubt less simple. Even to some perjured comrade of an
habitual burglar he would be studiously civil: but to a woman such as
Euphemia Caldigate, _alias_ Smith, it was certain that he would be so
smooth as to make her feel almost pleased with the amenities of her
He asked her very many questions, offering to provide her with the
comfort of a seat if it were necessary. She said that she was not at all
tired, and that she preferred to stand. As to the absolute fact of the
marriage she did not hesitate at all. She was married in the tent at
Ahalala in the presence of Crinkett and Adamson, and of her own female
companion, Anna Young,--all of whom were there to give evidence of the
fact. Whether any one else was in the tent, she could not say, but she
knew that there were others at the entrance. The tent was hardly large
enough for more than five or six. Dick Shand had not been there, because
he had always been her enemy, and had tried to prevent the marriage And
she was quite clear about the letter. There was a great deal said about
the letter. She was sure that the envelope with the letter had come to
her at Ahalala by post from Sydney when her husband was at the latter
place. The Sydney postmark with the date was very plain. There was much
said as to the accuracy and clearness of the Sydney postmark, and
something as to the absence of any postmark at Nobble. She could not
account for the absence of the Nobble postmark. She was aware that
letters were stamped at Nobble generally. Mr. Allan, she said, had
himself handed to her the copy of the register almost immediately after
the marriage but she could not say by whom it had been copied. The
letter purporting to be from Mr. Allan to her husband was no doubt, she
said, in the minister's handwriting. Caldigate had showed it to her
before their marriage, and she had kept it without any opposition from
him. Then she was asked as to her residence after her marriage, and here
she was less clear. She had lived with him first at Ahalala and then at
Nobble, but she could not say for how long. It had been off and on.
There had been quarrels, and after a time they had agreed to part. She
had received from him a certain amount of mining shares and of money,
and had undertaken in return never to bother him any more. There was a
great deal said about times and dates, which left an impression upon
those around her in the court that she was less sure of her facts than a
woman in such circumstances naturally would have been.
Then Sir John produced the letter which she had written to Caldigate,
and in which she had distinctly offered to marry Crinkett if the money
demanded were paid. She must have expected the production of this
letter, but still, for a few moments, it silenced her. 'Yes,' she said,
at last, 'I wrote it.'
'And the money you demanded has been paid?'
'Yes, it has been paid. But not then. It was not paid till we came
'But if it had been paid then you would have--married Mr. Crinkett?' Sir
John's manner as he asked the question was so gentle and so soft that it
was felt by all to contain an apology for intruding on so delicate a
subject. But when she hesitated, he did, after a pause, renew his
inquiry in another form. 'Perhaps this was only a threat, and you had no
purpose of carrying it out.'
Then she plucked up her courage. 'I have not married him,' she said.
'But did you intend it?'
'I did. What were the laws to me out there? He had left me and had taken
another wife. I had to do the best for myself. I did intend it. But I
didn't do it. A woman can't be tried for her intentions.'
'No,' said Sir John. 'But she may be judged by her intentions.'
Then she was asked why she had not gone when she had got the money,
according to her promise. 'He defied us,' she said, 'and called us bad
names,--liars and perjurers. He knew that we were not liars. And then we
were watched and told that we might not go. As he said that he was
indifferent, I was willing enough to stay and see it out.'
'You cannot give us,' he asked again,--and this was his last
question,--'any clearer record of those months which you lived with your
'No,' she said, 'I cannot. I kept no journal.' Then she was allowed to
go, and though she had been under examination for three hours, it was
thought she had escaped easily.
Crinkett was the next, who swore that he had been Caldigate's partner in
sundry mining speculations--that they had been in every way
intimate,--that he had always recommended Caldigate to marry Mrs. Smith,
thinking, as he said, 'that respectability paid in the long run,'--and
that, having so advised him, he had become Caldigate's special friend at
the time, to the exclusion of Dick Shand, who was generally drunk, and
who, whether drunk or sober, was opposed to the marriage. He had been
selected to stand by his friend at the marriage, and he, thinking that
another witness would be beneficial, had taken Adamson with him. His
only wonder was that any one should dispute a fact which was at the time
so notorious both at Ahalala and at Nobble. He held his head high during
his evidence in chief, and more than once called the prisoner
'Caldigate,'--'Caldigate knew this,'--and 'Caldigate did that.' It was
past four when he was handed over for cross-examination but when it was
said that another hour would suffice for it, the judge agreed to sit for
that other hour.
But it was nearly two hours before the gentleman who was with Sir John
had finished his work, during which Mr. Crinkett seemed to suffer much.
The gentleman was by no means so complacent as Sir John, and asked some
very disagreeable questions. Had Crinkett intended to commit bigamy by
marrying the last witness, knowing at the time that she was a married
woman? 'I never said that I intended to marry her,' said Crinkett.
'What she wrote to Caldigate was nothing to me.' He could not be made to
own, as she had done in a straightforward way, that he had intended to
set the law at defiance. His courage failed him, and his presence of
mind, and he was made to declare at last that he had only talked about
such a marriage, with the view of keeping the woman in good humour, but
that he had never intended to marry her. Then he was asked as to
Bollum;--had he told Bollum that he intended to marry the woman? At last
he owned that he might have done so. Of course he had been anxious to
get his money, and he had thought that he might best do so by such an
offer. He was reduced to much misery during his cross-examination; but
on the one main statement that he had been present at the marriage he
was not shaken.
At six o'clock the trial was adjourned till the next day, and the two
Caldigates were taken in a fly to a neighbouring inn, at which rooms had
been provided for them. Here they were soon joined by Mr. Seely, who
explained, however, that he had come merely to make arrangements for the
morrow. 'How is it going?' asked Caldigate.
The question was very natural, but it was one which Mr. Seely was not
disposed to answer. 'I couldn't give an opinion,' he said. 'In such
cases I never do give an opinion. The evidence is very clear, and has
not been shaken; but the witnesses are people of a bad character.
Character goes a long way with a jury. It will depend a good deal on the
judge, I should say. But I cannot give an opinion.'
No opinion one way or the other was expressed to the father or son,--who
indeed saw no one else the whole evening; but Robert Bolton, in
discussing the matter with his father, expressed a strong conviction
that Caldigate would be acquitted. He had heard it all, and understood
the nature of such cases. 'I do not in the least doubt that they were
married,' said Robert Bolton. 'All the circumstances make me sure of
it. But the witnesses are just of that kind which a jury always
distrusts. The jury will acquit him, not because they do not believe the
marriage, but out of enmity to Crinkett and the woman.'
'What shall we do, then?' asked the old man. To this Robert Bolton could
make no answer. He only shook his head and turned away.
The Second Day
The court had been very full on the first day of the trial, but on the
following morning it was even more crowded, so that outsiders who had no
friend connected with justice, had hardly a chance of hearing or seeing
anything. Many of the circumstances of the case had long been known to
the public, but matters of new and of peculiar interest had been
elicited,--the distinct promise made by the woman to marry another man,
so as to render her existing husband safe in his bigamy by committing
bigamy herself,--the payment to these people by Caldigate of an immense
sum of money,--the fact that they two had lived together in Australia
whether married or not;--all this, which had now been acknowledged on
both sides, added to the romance of the occasion. While it could hardly
be doubted, on the one side, that Caldigate had married the woman,--so
strong was the evidence,--it could not be at all doubted, on the other
side, that the accusation had been planned with the view of raising
money, and had been the result of a base conspiracy. And then there was
the additional marvel, that though the money had been paid,--the whole
sum demanded,--yet the trial was carried on. The general feeling was
exactly that which Robert Bolton had attributed to the jury. People did
believe that there had been a marriage, but trusted nevertheless that
Caldigate might be acquitted,--so that his recent marriage might be
established. No doubt there was a feeling with many that anything done
in the wilds of Australia ought not 'to count' here at home in England.
Caldigate with his father was in court a little before ten, and at that
hour punctually the trial was recommenced. The first business was the
examination of Adamson, who was quite clear as to the marriage. He had
been concerned with Crinkett in money operations for many years, and had
been asked by him to be present simply as a witness. He had never been
particularly intimate with Caldigate, and had had little or nothing to
do with him afterwards. He was cross-examined by the second gentleman,
but was not subjected to much annoyance. He had put what little money he
possessed into the Polyeuka mine, and had come over to England because
he had thought that, by so doing, he might perhaps get a portion of his
money back. Had there been a conspiracy, and was he one of the
conspirators? Well, he rather thought that there had been a conspiracy,
and that he was one of the conspirators. But then he had only conspired
to get what he thought to be his own. He had lost everything in the
Polyeuka mine; and as the gentleman no doubt had married the lady, he
thought he might as well come forward,--and that perhaps in that way he
would get his money. He did not mind saying that he had received a
couple of thousand pounds, which was half what he had put into Polyeuka
He hoped that, after paying all his expenses, he would be able to start
again at the diggings with something above a thousand. This was all
straight sailing. The purpose which he had in view was so manifest that
it had hardly been worth while to ask him the questions.
Anna Young was the next, and she encountered the sweet courtesies of Sir
John Joram. These sweet courtesies were prolonged for above an hour,
and were not apparently very sweet to Miss Young. Of the witnesses
hitherto examined she was the worst. She had been flippantly confident
in her memories of the marriage ceremony when questioned on behalf of
the prosecution, but had forgotten everything in reference to her
friend's subsequent married life. She had forgotten even her own life,
and did not quite know where she had lived. And at last she positively
refused to answer questions though they were asked with the most
engaging civility. She said that, 'Of course a lady had affairs which
she could not tell to everybody.' 'No, she didn't mean lovers;--she
didn't care for the men at all.' 'Yes; she did mean money. She had done
a little mining, and hoped to do a little more.' 'She was to have a
thousand pounds and her expenses, but she hadn't got the money
yet,'--and so on. Probably of all the witnesses yet examined Miss Young
had amused the court the most.
There were many others, no doubt necessary for the case, but hardly
necessary for the telling of the story. Captain Munday was there, the
captain of the Goldfinder, who spoke of Caldigate's conduct on board,
and of his own belief that they two were engaged when they left the
ship. 'As we are prepared to acknowledge that there was an engagement, I
do not think that we need trouble you, Captain Munday,' said Sir John.
'We only deny the marriage.' Then the cheque for twenty thousand pounds
was produced, and clerks from the bank to prove the payment, and the old
waiter from the Jericho Coffee-house,--and others, of whom Sir John
Joram refused to take any notice whatever. All that had been
acknowledged. Of course the money had been paid. Of course the intimacy
had existed. No doubt there had been those interviews both at Folking
and up in London. But had there ever been a marriage in that tent at
Ahalala? That, and that only, was the point to which Sir John Joram
found it necessary to give attention.
A slight interval was allowed for lunch, and then Sir John rose to begin
his speech. It was felt on all sides that his speech was to be the great
affair of the trial. Would he be able so to represent these witnesses as
to make a jury believe that they had sworn falsely, and that the
undoubted and acknowledged conspiracy to raise money had been concocted
without any basis of truth? There was a quarter of an hour during which
the father remained with his son in the precincts of the prison, and
then the judge and the lawyers, and all they whose places were assured
to them trooped back into court. They who were less privileged had fed
themselves with pocketed sandwiches not caring to risk the loss of their
Sir John Joram began by holding, extended in his fingers towards the
jury, the envelope which had undoubtedly been addressed by Caldigate to
'Mrs. Caldigate, Ahalala, Nobble,' and in which a certain letter had
been stated to have been sent by him to her. 'The words written on that
envelope,' said he, 'are to my mind the strongest evidence I have ever
met of the folly to which a man may be reduced by the softness of
feminine intercourse. I acknowledge, on the part of my client, that he
wrote these words. I acknowledge that if a man could make a woman his
wife by so describing her on a morsel of paper, this man would have made
this woman his wife. I acknowledge so much, though I do not acknowledge,
though I deny, that any letter was ever sent to this woman in the
envelope which I hold in my hand. His own story is that he wrote those
words at a moment of soft and foolish confidence, when they two together
were talking of a future marriage,--a marriage which no doubt was
contemplated, and which probably had been promised. Then he wrote the
address, showing the woman the name which would be hers should they ever
be married;--and she has craftily kept the document. That is his story.
That is my story. Now I must show you why I think it also should be your
story. The woman,--I must describe her in this way lest I should do her
an injustice by calling her Mrs. Smith, or do my client an injustice by
calling her Mrs. Caldigate,--has told you that this envelope, with an
enclosure which she produced, reached her at Nobble through the post
from Sydney. To that statement I call upon you to give no credit. A
letter so sent would, as you have been informed, bear two postmarks,
those of Sydney and of Nobble. This envelope bears one only. But that is
not all. I shall call before you two gentlemen experienced in affairs of
the post-office, and they will tell you that the postmarks on this
envelope, both that of the town, Sydney, and that by which the postage
stamp is obliterated, are cleaner, finer, and better perceived than they
would have been had it passed in ordinary course through the
post-office. Letters in the post-office are hurried quickly through the
operation of stamping, so that one passing over the other while the
stamping ink is still moist, will to some extent blot and blur that with
which it has come in contact. He will produce some dozens taken at
random, and will show that with them all such has been the case. This
blotting, this smudging, is very slight, but it exists; it is always
there. He will tell you that this envelope has been stamped as one and
alone,--by itself,--with peculiar care;--and I shall ask you to believe
that the impression has been procured by fraud in the Sydney
post-office. If that be so; if in such a case as this fraud be once
discovered, then I say that the whole case will fall to the ground, and
that I shall be justified in telling you that no word that you have
heard from these four witnesses is worthy of belief.
'Nothing worthy of belief has been adduced against my client unless that
envelope be so. That those four persons have conspired together for the
sake of getting money is clear enough. To their evidence I shall come
presently, and shall endeavour to show you why you should discredit
them. At present I am concerned simply with this envelope, on which I
think that the case hangs. As for the copy of the register, it is
nothing. It would be odd indeed if in any conspiracy so much as that
could not be brought up. Had such a register been found in the archives
of any church, however humble, and had an attested copy been produced,
that would have been much. But this is nothing. Nor is the alleged
letter from Mr. Allan anything. Were the letter genuine it would show
that such a marriage had been contemplated, not that it had been
solemnised. We have, however, no evidence to make us believe that the
letter is genuine. But this envelope,'--and he again stretched it out
towards the jury,--'is evidence. The impression of a post-office stamp
has often been accepted as evidence. But the evidence may be false
evidence, and it is for us to see whether it may not probably be so now.
'In the first place, such evidence requires peculiar sifting, which
unfortunately cannot be applied to it in the present case, because it
has been brought to us from a great distance. Had the envelope been in
our possession from the moment in which the accusation was first made,
we might have tested it, either by sending it to Sydney or by obtaining
from Sydney other letters or documents bearing the same stamp, affixed
undoubtedly on the date here represented. But that has not been within
our power. The gentlemen whom I shall bring before you will tell you
that these impressions or stamps have a knack of verifying themselves,
which makes it very dangerous indeed for fraudulent persons to tamper
with them. A stamp used in June will be hardly the same as it will be in
July. Some little bruise will have so altered a portion of the surface
as to enable detection to be made with a microscope. And the stamp used
in 1870 will certainly have varied its form in 1871. Now, I maintain
that time and opportunity should have been given to us to verify this
impression. Copies of all impressions from day to day are kept in the
Sydney post-office, and if it be found that on this day named, the 10th
of May, no impression in the Sydney office is an exact facsimile of this
impression then I say that this impression has been subsequently and
fraudulently obtained, and that the only morsel of corroborative
evidence offered to you will be shown to be false evidence. We have been
unable to get impressions of this date. Opportunities have not been
given to us. But I do not hesitate to tell you that you should demand
such opportunities before you accept that envelope as evidence on which
you can send my client to jail, and deprive that young wife, whom he has
made his own, of her husband, and afford the damning evidence of your
verdict towards robbing his son of his legitimacy.'
He said very much more about the envelope, clearly showing his own
appreciation of its importance and declaring again and again that if he
could show that a stain of perjury affected the evidence in any one
point all the evidence must fall to the ground, and that if there were
ground to suspect that the envelope had been tampered with, then that
stain of perjury would exist. After that lie went on to the four
conspirators, as he called them, justifying the name by their
acknowledged object of getting money from his client. 'That they came to
this country as conspirators, with a fraudulent purpose, my learned
friend will not deny.'
'I acknowledge nothing of the kind,' said the learned friend.
'Then my learned friend must feel that his is a case in which he cannot
safely acknowledge anything I do not doubt, gentlemen, but that you have
made up your mind on that point.' He went on to show that they clearly
were conspirators;--that they had confessed as much themselves. 'It is
no doubt possible that my client may have married this female
conspirator, and she is not the less entitled to protection from the law
because she is a conspirator. Nor, because she is a conspirator, should
he be less amenable to the law for the terrible injury he would then
have done to that other lady. But if they be conspirators,--if it be
shown to you that they came to this country,--not that the woman might
claim her husband, not that the others might give honest testimony
against a great delinquent,--but in order that they might frighten him
out of money, then I am entitled to tell you that you should not rest on
their evidence unless it be supported, and that the fact of their
conspiracy gives you a right, nay, makes it your imperative duty, to
The remainder of the day was taken up with Sir John's speech, and with
the witnesses which he called for the defence. He certainly succeeded in
strengthening the compassion which was felt for Caldigate and for the
unfortunate young mother at Folking. 'It was very well,' he said, 'for
my learned friend to tell you of the protection which is due to a
married woman when a husband has broken the law, and betrayed his trust
by taking another wife to himself, as this man is accused of having
done. But there is another aspect in which you will regard the question.
Think of that second wife and of her child, and of the protection which
is due to her. You well know that she does not suspect her husband, that
she fears nothing but a mistaken verdict from you,--that she will be
satisfied, much more than satisfied, if you will leave her in possession
of her home, her husband, and the unalloyed domestic happiness she has
enjoyed since she joined her lot with his. Look at the one woman, and
then at the other. Remember their motives, their different lives, their
different joys, and what will be the effect of your verdict upon each of
them. If you are satisfied that he did marry that woman, that vile
woman, the nature of whose life has been sufficiently exposed to you,
of course your verdict must be against him. The law is the law, and must
be vindicated. In that case it will be your duty, your terrible duty, to
create misery, to destroy happiness, to ruin a dear innocent young
mother and her child, and to separate a loving couple, every detail of
whose life is such as to demand your sympathy. And this you must do at
the bidding of four greedy, foul conspirators. Innocent, sweet,
excellent in all feminine graces as is the one wife,--unlovely
unfeminine, and abhorrent as is the other,--you must do your duty. God
forbid that I should ask you to break an oath, even for the sake of that
young mother. But in such a case, I do think, I may ask you to be very
careful as to what evidence you accept. I do think that I may again
point out to you that those four witnesses, bound as they are together
by a bond of avarice, should be regarded but as one,--and as one to
whose sworn evidence no credit is due unless it be amply corroborated. I
say that there is no corroboration. This envelope would be strong
corroboration if it had been itself trustworthy.' When he sat down the
feeling in court was certainly in favour of John Caldigate.
Then a cloud of witnesses were brought up for the defence, each of whom,
however, was soon despatched. The two clerks from the post-office gave
exactly the evidence which Sir John had described, and exposed to the
jury their packet of old letters. In their opinion the impression on the
envelope was finer and cleaner than that generally produced in the
course of business. Each of them thought it not improbable that the
impression had been surreptitiously obtained. But each of them
acknowledged, on cross-examination, that a stamp so clean and perfect
might be given and maintained without special care; and each of them
said that it was quite possible that a letter passing through the
post-office might escape the stamp of one of the offices in which it
would be manipulated.
Then there came the witnesses as to character, and evidence was given as
to Hester's determination to remain with the man whom she believed to be
her husband. As to this there was no cross-examination. That Caldigate's
life had been useful and salutary since his return to Folking no one
doubted,--nor that he had been a loving husband. If he had committed
bigamy, it was, no doubt, for the public welfare that such a crime
should be exposed and punished. But that he should have been a bigamist,
would be a pity,--oh, such a pity! The pity of it; oh, the pity of it!
For now there had been much talk of Hester and her home at Folking, and
her former home at Chesterton; and people everywhere concerned
themselves for her peace, for her happiness, for her condition of life.
The Last Day
After Sir John Joram's speech, and when the work of the second day had
been brought to a close, Caldigate allowed his hopes to rise higher than
they had ever mounted since he had first become aware that the
accusation would in truth be brought against him. It seemed to be almost
impossible that any jury should give a verdict in opposition to
arguments so convincing as those Sir John had used. All those details
which had appeared to himself to be so damning to his own cause now
melted away, and seemed to be of no avail. And even Mr. Seely, when he
came to see his client in the evening, was less oppressive than usual.
He did not, indeed, venture to express hope, but in his hopelessness he
was somewhat more hopeful than before. 'You must remember, Mr.
Caldigate,' he said, 'that you have not yet heard the judge, and that
with such a jury the Judge will go much further than any advocate. I
never knew a Cambridgeshire jury refuse to be led by Judge Bramber.'
'Why a Cambridgeshire jury?' asked old Mr. Caldigate; 'and why Judge
Back to Full Books