Chapter 18942995

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Chapter NumberXXII
Chapter TitleSAVED
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18942995
Full Date1885-01-10
Page Number14
Corrections0
Word Count2755
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

CHAPTER XXII,

SAVED.

Señor Prnquelin saw that he had a woman of spirit to deal with, that she was on the alert, was keen- witted and not lacking in decision of character.

He saw, too, that she was comparatively helpless in this disagreeable predicament, and that from the lack of witnesses in her favour, the case was likely to prove a hard battle,

But he was willing to undertake almost anything for money, while it was not often that he bad to deal with so pretty nnd interesting a client, and he at once bestirred himself zealously in Arley's cause

He was a popular, sharp-witted lawver, though unecrnpuious as th» sequel will show, and he was not long in discovering Philip Paxton's motive for seeking this divorce,

He studied bim, he watched him, be followed him constantly. There was nothing he did that escaped the crafty lawyer's notice, and Philip knew

it,

He also was very keen at reading character, and he was not long in taking the measure of his opponent, He saw that he was very clever-that a case in his hands would be made the most of, and that he was as persistent aa a bull-dog at carrying a point ; but one glance at that ill-shapen head showed him that cupidity was the etrongest element of hia sharacter, and one morning he took the crafty man by surprise by paying him a visit in his office.

The two were closeted for a long time with doors locked and curtains drawn close, and when at last Philip arose to gorthere was a look of relief and sat- isfaction on his face, while Senor Proquelin followed him to the door with an obsequious bow, clinking a parse full of ruddy gold in his hands.

Alas! olas! for poor persecuted Arley's cause I

********

The day of the trial arrived, and the young husband and wife met for the first time since their separation.

Arley was thinner than when Philip last saw her, and her color was not as brilliant, but as he glanced up, upon her entrance to the court-room, he started and actually held his breath, for never had he sees her so lovely before.

" Why on earth couldn't she have been reasonable about that money ?" he muttered, with a deep-drawn sigh, " it's almost more than a fellow can stand to lose both her and her fortune."

Arley was elad in tne same rich dress that she had worn when she went to call on the consul, with simple ruffles of lace at the neck and wrists, no color, no ornaments ; but she needed none, for she was like some sweet flower, and needed no adorning,

The juáge looked surprised when he saw her, and as if be wondered how any man could be willing to put away so beautiful a wife ; and when Arley for a moment lifted her eyes to his face as if to rend what manner of man was set there to pass judgment upon her, he saw in them a look of appeal which touched bim deeply.

The court was opened, Philip's case presented with all due form, and then the trial proceeded.

Of course it was all like Greek to Arley ; she could not understand one word, and was obliged to depend entirely upon her counsel for an interpretation of the proceedings, and, although whatever he told her ap- peared plausible, yet she had not been there long be- fore a strange feeling of uneasiness and foreboding took possession of her.

The courtroom waa not large, but there were a number of people present who appeared to be inter-

ested in tbe case.

One in particular Arley noticed seated in the far- ther corner of the room, and her heart throbbed and her cheak burned when her glance first fell upon him, for she felt quite sure that he was an English

man,

How could she bear to have him sit there and lis- ten to bit wretched story, and then go back to Eng- land, peihaps even to London, and proclaim it there ?

Several times she found herself looking at bim and wonderiag who he could be, BB well as what motive could heve induced him to come into that place, that morning of all others, and sa often she found bim intently regarding her.

He had a frank, noble face, a manly form and such kind, sympathetic blue eyes. She longed to go and apeak te him ; and once she had almost beckoned to him to come to her ; then, with a sudden ringing in her ears, a sense Blmost of faintneaa at the boldnees of the act, she thought perhaps he might be some one whom Philip knew, and whom he had enlisted

.in hia'service.

When Philip gave his evidence, she noticed that the stranger frequently glanced from him to her while a puzzled expression began to settle over his face, anl she found herself wondering with increas- ing uneisiness what WBB being said regarding her.

Whet she waa ealled up to be questioned, ehe saw him leaa eagerly forward and prepare to listen in. tently.

" WbJ can he be?" she asked herself, « and what possible interest can he have in this affair?" then she gow herself up to the task before her.

The cuestiona were put in Bpaniah to Senor Pro- quelin, who repeated them in French to her, and

then twnalataa her replies for the benefit of the I

court, . '

Arley had not a suspicion of foul play.

Her counsel appeared to be interested in her case, to throw all his energies into it, and aftnr those first feelings of distrust, before referred to, had passed,

she had come to rely upon him fully. I

But now, as she occasionally glanced toward the stranger seated »t the back of the room, ehe perceived that after a question bad been put to ber and her reply repeated by 8enor Prbquelin, his face grew dark and stern, while his eyes blazed with fierce in- dignation and contempt

Once or twice he half-arose from his seat as if to speak, then w<th an apparent effort at self-control, be settled back again, and listened more intently

than ever.

What did it mean P

Arley waa beginning to feel very nervous and uncomfortable, while a sense of helplessness and desolation began to creep over her making her

almost ill.

Philip told his story glibly enough ; stating that ho had married Arley believing her to be a Miss Went- worth, of London, with afortune of twenty thousand pounds, but that be had since discovered that ehe hud no right whatever to either name or fortune and that a disagreeable mystery hung over her parentage. More than all this, be made it appear that throughout their travels she had conducted herself in an improper manner, and particularly so since coming to Madrid where he could prove she had made appointments with a gentleman receiving both attentions and money from him, which no true and loyal wife should do ; and finally, to cap all, she had deserted him entirely, and hidden herself away in an obscure por- tion of the city, yet all the time continuing to meet the gentleman referred to before.

It was a story calculated to blacken the fairest character, and Philip Paxton, with his fine face and figure, and with all his eloquence called into exercise did not fail to enlist the sympathies of most of his

listeners.

This cunning story, howeve» was very imperfectly translated to Arley by her treacherous counsel, and she could not understand the leers and peculiar, euspiciouB lookB which were cast upon her when what appeared to be her defence was repeated in

tarn before the court,

Bhe could not know that all her testimony, every question put to her, had been distorted and perver- ted in a way to blacken her fair name forever-until übe stood there- before the court self-condemned, having been made to admit all that Philip claimed

against her.

Several times her cheeks reddened hotly, end her lovely eyes drooped as she caught sight of a smile which now and then curled her lips of a member of the jury, or marked the half-triumphant leer of Philip's counsel after her reply to some disagreeable question bad been given, \

Ob, it was wretched ; and she wlshod a hundred times that she had never attempted any defence, while she seemed to feel intuitively that everything had gone wrong for her and her case would be lost.

But through it all ehe never once suspected the treachery of Senor Proquelin ; she believed that he was doing his very best for her, and not once gave him a reproachful word or look-she was patient and gentle until the end, "

The evidence was all in at last, and having been summed up, it was evident to all that Philip Paxton would get his case, and poor Arley would be obliged to go back to England a divorced woman, and with a dark cloud hanging over her fair fame,

But juat as the judge was about to deliver his charge to the jury, there was a stir in the back part of the room, and a stern, inflexible voice cried ou', in excellent Spanish :

" Hold 1 I demand a hearing before this case goes into the bands of the jury."

The next instant the gentleman whom Arley had noticed listening so eagerly strode forward and stood before the judge.

" May it please your honor," he continued, in a clear, musical tone, " I speak four languages with ease-English, French, German, and Spanish,"

Philip Paxton started violently at this, and ex- changed an anxious glance with Senor Proquelin,

"I ask you to stay the proceedings of this court," the stranger continued, "or you will be guilty of a terrible wrong to an innocent woman. Have I j our honor's permission to give evidence in favor of the

defendant?"

Philip's lawyer here interposed, objecting very strongly, The evidence bad all been given and summed up, he said, and if the stranger bad anything to offer he should have spoken before.

Senor Proquelin turned of a mahogany color, and grew exceedingly lOBtless ; but of course he could offer no objections, since the revelations were to be in favor of his client,

The Judge however, WOB impressed by the manner of the stranger, and waving Philip's lawyer back to hiB seat, courteously told him to go on.

" My marne is Charlea Herbert, and I am a baronet of Kent County, England," the new-comer resumed. " The merest accident brought me hither this morn, ing-I might say that I came out of idle curiosity just to see how your courts are conducted ; but I thank heaven that by coming I shall be able to save an innocent woman from becoming the victim of deeply dyed villians. Your honour and the gentle- men of the jury do not understand the French language, I percieve."

He paused a moment and lifted bis eyes with a questioning glance to the judge.

" No," that dignitary eaid, " they did not."

"Then"-and the scorn and indignation which rang out in Sir Charles Herbert's tones thrilled even Arley, though she did not know one word that be wes aaying-" you cannot know that all the evidence of the fair defendant yonder has been perverted and distorted in a way to make her appear the vilest of women-in a way to criminate herself, so that the jury could not possibly grant to her the least sym-

pathy or consideration. Listen, and I will show you '

what has been done."

Then from a paper on which he had taken notes, be read abrief summary of the CBBB, presenting Arley's defence as she had given it-her modeBt straightfor- ward replies having been worded in an entirely different way from what had been repressnted by her treacherous counsel-until both judge and jury looked grave and stern at the fraud which had been perpetrated upon them, and grew to regard the beautiful, wronged woman before them in an entirely

different light.

" Now," contir ued the young Englishman, after he had read the notes he had taken, " I am myeelf a lawyer and for the time being I will constitute my- self this young young lady's counsel, although I have never exchanged a word with her, nor havo I ever seen her before coming into this room. I perceive that she is ignorant of Spanish, and ehe does not even know what I am saying before this court ; but if your honor has a desire to cross-question her further, I pledge my word that every sentence shall be faithfully translated both to her and to you."

The face of the judge was black with wrath, '

His dignity had bean insulted, his office outrogadt by the shameless trick whioh had been played upon him and the court, not to mention the crime of t attempting to rain the character, of a toautiful

J woman,

He turned to Arley, and his stern face aatteoed al .nostto tenderness ; but he proceeded to crosa-quea tion her again, sa the >oung baronet had proposed,

he acting as interpreter.

After one or two questions she began to look uneasy and finally lifting her proud head haughtly,

demanded of her new interrogator.

" What doea this mean P-why am I asked these questions twice over ?"

Abrilliant amil» wreothed Sir Charles lips at this query, but without answoting it, he turned directly

to the judge, saying :

" The Benora ia indignant-she does not under- stand why she is subjected to this second croaa examination. Shall I explain to her?"

"No,"his honor replied; tell her to exercise a little patience, nnd it shall bo explained to her

later."

He hid seen Arley'a gesture and knew by her ton« that she had said something of this kind, but he admired the honor of the Englishman for telling her nothing without hia 8anction ; it proved to him that he was, as he had said, a stranger to her-that there woe no conspiracy between them and that the young mon was simply espousing the cause o£

truth and right,

A half hour was spent in going over old ground, and every word which Arley uttered went to prove how sha had been misrepresented ; and, at the end of that time, the jury, without retiring, gave a unanimous verdict against the plaintiff, who, with his counsel, felt as if tbey would like the earth to open and swallow them, while Sonor Froquelin skulked out of sight, swearing vigorous Spanish oaths to himself-ina then the case WBS dismissed.

Then Sir Charles Herbert went directly to Arley. Holding out hia hand to her with a frank, genial smile, he said in English :

" I congratulate you, madam, upon the decision of the court, which is wholly in your favor. But," he added, seeing the tears spr'og to her eyes, and that she wos near losing her composure, " you came very nearly having to suffer a foul wrong,"

Then he explained to her how her evidence had been misconstrued and falsified and made to tell against her,

A crimsen flush of slwme and indignation shot up to the waves of brown bair that lay upon her fore« head, and bitter tears rolled down her cheeks, as she listened, and understood something of the trap that had been set for her unconscious feet.

" I cannot te thankful enough," Sir Charles said, in conclusion, " that I was impelled to come into I this court-room this morning-it has saved you

from becoming the victim of unprincipled men."

" You are on entire stranger to me," Arley said, lifting a pair of brimming, grateful eyes to his, " but I shall always feel that I owe you a debt which I can never rep^y."

"Do not speak that way," he returned gently» "you owe me nothing; I rejoice that I was here and able, by my knowledge of different languages, to save you from a very unpleasant position. Allow me to introduce myself, however, end to ask if I can be of any further service to you ?"

He handed her a oard as he spoke, and Ârley read the name, Charles J. Herbert, Bart, Allendale, Kent Co., England.