Chapter 39420343

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Chapter NumberXXVIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39420343
Full Date1888-06-06
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1189
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

CHAPTER XX Tm.

THE CHEEP WITNESS FOE, THE PROSECUTION.

" Oh, wliile yon lire tell the truth and shame the devil."-HEXET IV.

Mr. Byrd's countenance after the depar- ture of his companion was anything but cheerful. The fact is, he was secretly uneasy.

He dreaded the morrow. He dreaded the

testimony of Miss Dare. He had not yet escaped so fully from under the dominion of her fascinations as to regard with equanimity this unhappy woman forcing herself to give testimony compromising to the man she

loved.

Yet when the morrow came he was among the first to secure a seat in the court-room. Though the scene was likely to be harrow- ing to his feelings, he had no wish to lose it, und, indeed, chose such a position as would give him the best opportunity for observing the prisoner and surveying the witnesses.

He was not the only one on the look-out for the testimony, of Miss Dare. The in- creased number of the spectator* and the general air of expectation visible in more than one of the chief actors in this terrible

drama gave suspicious proof of the fact; even if the deadly-pallor of the lady herself had not revealed her own feelings in regard to the subject.

The entrance of the prisoner was more marked, too, than usual. His air and man- ner were emphasised, so to speak, and his face, when he turned it toward the jury, wore an iron look of resolution that would have made him conspicuous had he occupied a less prominent position than that of the

dock.

Miss Dare, who had flashed her eyes to ard him at the moment of his first appear- ance, dropped them a<,ain, contrary to her usual custom. Was it because she knew the moment was at hand when their glances would be obliged to meet ?

Mr. Orcutt, whom no movement on the part of Miss Dare ever escaped, leaned over and spoke to the prisoner.

" Mr. Mansell," said he, " are you pre- pared to submit with composure to the ordeal of confronting Miss Dare ?"

" Tes," was the stern reply.

" I would then advise you to look at her now," proceeded his counsel. " She is net turned thiB way, and you can observe her withont encountering her glance. A quick look at thia moment may save you from be- traying any undue emotion when you see her upon the stand."

The accused smiled with a bitterness Mr. Orcutt thought perfectly natural, and slowly prepared to obey. As he raised his eyes

and allowed them to traverse the room until they settled upon thc countenance of the woman he loved, this other man who, out of a still more absorbing passion for imogene, WM at that very moment doing ali

that lay in his power for the saving of this hia openly acknowledged rival, watched him

with the closest and most breathless atten- tion. It was another instance of that

peculiar fascination which a successful

rival has for an unsuccessful one. It was

as if this greut lawyer's thoughts reverted to his love, and he asked himself: "What is there in this Hansell that she should prefer

him to me J"

And Orcutt himself, though happily unaware of the fact, was at that same instant under a scrutiny as narrow as that he be- stowed upon his client. Hr. Ferris, who knew his secret, felt a keen interest in watching how he would conduct himself at this juncture. Not an expression of the lawyer's keen and puzzling eye but was seen by the District Attorney and- noted,

even if it was not understood.

Of the three, Mr. Ferris was the first to

turn away, and his thoughts, if they could have been put into words, might have run something like this : " That man"-mean- ing Orcutt-"is doing the noblest work one human being can perform for another, and yet there is something in his face I do not comprehend. Can it be he hopes to win Miss Dare by his effort to save his rival ?"

As for the thoughts of the person thus un- consciously subjected to the criticism of his dearest friend, let our knowledge of the springs thot govern his action serve to in- terpret both the depth and bitterness of his curiosity ; while the sentiments of Mansell -But who can read what lurks behind the iron of that sternly composed countenance ? Not Imogene, not Orcutt, not FerriB. His secret, if he owns one, he keeps well, and his lids scarcely quiver as he drops them over the eyes that but a moment before reflected the grand beauty of the unfortunate woman for whom he so lately protested the

most fervent love.

The next moment the Court was opened and Miss Dare's name was called by the

District Attornev.

With a last look at the unresponsive prisoner, Imogene rose, took her place on the witness stand and faced the jury.

It was a memorable moment. If the curious

and impressible crowd of spectators about her had been ignorant of her true relations to the accused, the deadly stillness and immobility of her bearing would have con- vinced them that emotion of the deepest nature lay behind the still, white mask she had thought fit to assume. That she was beautiful, And confronted them from that common stand as from a throne, did not serve to lessen the impression she made.

The officer held the Bible toward her. With a look that Mr. Byrd was fain to con- sider one of natural shrinking only, she laid her white hand upon it; but at the intiuia I tion from the officer, ",The right hand if you please, miss," she started and made the exchange he suggested, while at the same I moment there rang upon her ear the voice

! of the clerk as he administered the awful adjuration that she should, as she believed and hoped in Eternal mercy, tell the truth as between this man and the law and keep not one tittle back. The book was then lifted to her lips by the officer, and with-

drawn.

" Take your seat, Hiss Dare," said the District Attorney. And the examination began.

" Your name if you please ? " " Imogene Dare."

" Are you married or single ? " " I am single."

" Where were you born ? ",

Now, this was a painful question to one of her history. Indeed, she showed it to be so by the flush which rose to her cheek and by the decided trembling of her proud lip. But

she did not seek to evade it.

" Sir," she said, " I cannot answer you. I never heard any of the particulars of my birth. I was a fondling."

The mingled gentleness and dignity with

.wliic.li yhc mad«* thia.^»okiiowleda;m«rafc won

for her the instantaneous sympathy of al present. Mr. Orcutt saw this, and tho fiasl of indignation that had involuntarily passed between him and the prisoner subsided ai quickly as it arose.

TO BE CONTINUED.