Chapter 39421947

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Chapter NumberXXVII
Chapter TitleTHE GREAT TRIAL.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39421947
Full Date1888-06-02
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count825
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

I . CHAPTER XXVn. I

I THE GREAT TRIAL. I

OTOELLO. What dost thou think F

Iioo. Think, my ¬°ord? OTHELLO. By heav'n, he echoes me,

As if there was some monster in his thought Too hideous to be shown."-OTHELLO.

Sibley was in a stir. Sibley was the central point of interest for the whole country. The great trial was in progress and the curiosity of the populace knew no bounds.

In a room of the hotel sat our two detec- tives. They had just come from the court- house. Both seemed inclined to talk, both showed an indisposition to open the conver- sation. A hesitation lay between them ; a certain thin veil of embarrassment that either one would have found it hard to explain, and yet which sufficed to make their intercourse a trifle uncertain in its character, though Hickory's look had lost none of its rude good humour, and Byrd's manner was the same mixture of easy nonchalance and quiet self-possession it had always been.

It was Hickory who spoke at last.

" Well, Byrd," was his suggestive excla-

mation.

" Well, Hickory," was the quiet reply.

" What do you think of the case so far ?"

"I think"-the words came somewhat slowly-" I think that it looks bad. Bad for the prisoner, I mean," he explained *;he next moment, with a quick flush.

"Your sympathies are evidently with Mansell," Hickory quietly remarked.

" Yes," was the slow reply. " Not that I think him innocent, or would turn a hair's breadth from tho truth to serve him."

" He is a a manly fellow," Hickory bluntly admitted, after a moment's puff at the pipo he was smoking. " Do you remember the peculiar straightforwardness of his look when he uttered his plea of ' Not guilty,' and the tone be used, too, so quiet, yet so emphatic? You could have heard a pin drop."

" Yes," returned Mr, Byrd, with a quick contraction of his usually smooth brow.

" Have yon noticed," the other broke forth, after another puff, " a certain curious

air of disdain that he wears ?"

" Yes," was again the short reply.

" I wonder what it means ? " queried Hickory, carelessly, knocking the ashes out of his pipe.

Mr. Byrd flashed a quick askance look at his colleague from under his half-fallen lids,

but made no answer.

" It is not pride alone," resumed the rough-and-ready detective, half-musingly ; " though he's as proud as the best of 'em. Neither is it any sort of make-believe, or J wouldn't be caught by it. 'Tis-'tis what ? " And Hickory rubbed his nose with his thoughtful forefinger, and looked inquiringly at Mr. Byrd.

" How should I jenow ? " remarked the other, tossing his stiunp of a cigar into the fire. " Mr. ManseU is too deep a problem

for me."

" And Miss Dare too ? " *' And Miss Dare.

Silence followed this admission, which Hickory broke at last by observing :

" The day that sees her on the witness j stand will be interesting, eh ? "

I " It is not far off," declared Mr. Byrd.

"No?"

"I think.she willi be called as a witness

to-morrow."

"Have you noticed," began Hickory again, after another short interval of quiet contemplation, " that it is only when Miss Dare is present that Mansell wears the look of scorn I have just mentioned."

" Hickory," said Mr. Byrd, wheeling directly about in his chair, and, for the first time, surveying his coUeague squarely, " I have noticed this. That ever since the day she made her first appearance in the court- room, she has sat with her eyes fixed earnestly upon the prisoner, and that he has I never answered her look by so much as a

glance in her direction. This hos but one explanation as I take it. He never forgets that it is through her ho has been brought

to trial for his Ufe."

Mr. Byrd uttered this very distinctly, and with a decided emphasis. But the impervious Hickory only settled himself farther back ir his chair, and, stretching his feet out toward the fire remarked dryly :

"Perhaps I am not much of a judge ot human nature, but I should have said non that this ManseU was not a man to treat hei contemptuously for that. Rage he might show or hatred, but this quiet ignoring ol her presence seems a little too dignified foi a criminal facing a person he has everj reason to believe is convinced of his guilt."

" Ordinary rules don't apply to this man.

Neither you nor I can sound his nature. Anc if he displays contempt, it is because he is

of the sort to feel it for the woman who has betrayed him."

" You make him out mean-spirited, then

as weU as wicked ? "

TO BB CONTINUED.