|Chapter Title||THE GREAT TRIAL.|
|Newspaper Title||Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Hand and Ring|
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-
" 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
" 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.
"I think.she willi be called as a witness
"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.