Mr. Saunders said coolly, "Mr. Richard Hardie is not the defendant," and flowed on; nor would any but a lawyer have suspected what a terrible stab the judge had given him so quietly.
The surgeon of Silverton House was then sworn, and produced the case book; and there stood the entries which had been so fatal to Alfred with the visiting justices. Suicide, homicide, self-starvation. But the plaintiff got to Mr. Colt with a piece of paper, on which he had written his view of all this, and cross-examination dissolved the suicide and homicide into a spirited attempt to escape and resist a false imprisonment As for the self-starvation, Colt elicited that Alfred had eaten at six o'clock though not at two. "And pray, sir," said he, contemptuously, to the witness, "do you never stir out of a madhouse? Do you imagine that gentlemen in their senses dine at two o'clock in the nineteenth century?"
"What _do_ you say, then? Is forcible imprisonment of a bridegroom in a madhouse the thing to give a _gentleman_ a _factitious_ appetite at _your_ barbarous dinner-hour?"
In a word, Colt was rough with this witness, and nearly smashed him. Saunders fought gallantly on, and put in Lawyer Crawford with his draft of the insane deed, as he called it, by which the erotic monomaniac Alfred divested himself of all his money in favour of the Dodds. There was no dissolving this deed away; and Crawford swore he had entreated the plaintiff not to insist on his drawing so unheard-of a document; but opposition or question seemed to irritate his client, so that he had complied, and the deed was to have been signed on the wedding-day.
All the lawyers present thought this looked really mad. Fancy a man signing away his property to his wife's relatives!! The court, which had already sat long beyond the usual time, broke up, leaving the defendant with this advantage. Alfred Hardie and his friends made a little knot in the hall outside, and talked excitedly over the incidents of the trial. Mr. Compton introduced Fullalove and Vespasian. They all shook hands with them, and thanked them warmly for the timely and most unexpected aid. But Green and a myrmidon broke in upon their conversation. "I am down on Mr. Barkington _alias_ Noah Skinner. It isn't very far from here, if you will follow me." Green was as excited as a foxhound when Pug has begun to trail his brush: the more so that another client of his wanted Noah Skinner; and so the detective was doing a double stroke of business. He led the way; it was dry, and they all went in pairs after him into the back slums of Westminster; and a pretty part that is.
Now as they went along Alfred hung behind with Julia, and asked her what on earth she meant by swearing that it was all over between her and him. "Why your last letter was full of love, dearest; what could you be thinking of to say that?"
She shook her head sadly, and revealed to him with many prayers for forgiveness that she had been playing a part of late: that she had concealed her father's death from him, and the fatal barrier interposed.
"I was afraid you would be disheartened, and lose your first class and perhaps your trial. But you are safe now, dear Alfred; I am sure the judge sees through them; for I have studied him for you. I know his face by heart, and all his looks and what they mean. My Alfred will be cleared of this wicked slander, and happy with some one----Ah!"