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[-251-] 

CHAPTER CCXII.

THE EXAMINATION AT THE HOME OFFICE.

    ON the arrival of the two prisoners and the two policemen at the Home Office, they were shown into a small room joining the one in which the Secretary of State for that Department was accustomed to receive individuals or deputations, and where we have already seen him in an earlier portion of this work.
    But on the present occasion the Home Secretary had to be fetched from the Foreign Office, where he was sitting with his colleagues in a Cabinet Council.
    The police officers and the prisoners were therefore left alone together for nearly half an hour in the room to which some subordinate official had ordered them to be conducted, upon the motives of their presence there being made known to him. The crime of which Holford was accused seemed too grave and serious for even the tamperings of policemen: still as these gentry are not merely content with having a finger in almost every pie, but must thrust a whole hand in when once they find the opportunity, it was impossible that either Mr. Crisp or his colleague could leave Crankey Jem as well as the would-be regicide unassailed with questions.
    The common policeman placed a chair against the outer door of the room, and seated himself in it with the air of a man who meant to say as plainly as he could, "Escape now if you can."
    Holford sank upon a seat and fell into a profound reverie; but it was impossible to gather the nature of his thoughts from the now passionless and almost apathetic expression of his countenance.
    Crankey Jem also took a chair; but his nervous manner, the pallor of his face, the quivering of his lip, and the unsettled glances of his eyes, betrayed the fearful condition of his mind. The poor wretch already imagined himself transported back amongst the horrors of Norfolk Island!
    As for Mr. Crisp, he walked once or twice up and down the room, surveying himself complacently in a mirror, and than advancing towards Crankey Jem, said with a sort of official importance, "Well, my fine feller, you've done it pretty brown again  you have."
    Jem Cuffin cast upon him a look of deep disgust.
    "Remember," continued Mr. Crisp, in no way abashed at this unequivocal expression of feeling, "whatever you says to me now will probably transpeer in another place, as we officials express it; but if you choose to tell me anything by way of unbuzziming yourself and easing your conscience, why, I don't think there'd be no harm in it, and it might do you good with the 'thorities. At the same time it's no part of my dooty to pump you."
    "I have nothing to say to you," observed Crankey Jem.
    "Well  p'rhaps that's prudent,  'cos I'm official after all," said Mr. Crisp. "But if so be you was to tell me how you got away from transportation, how long you've been in England, and what you've been doing with yourself since your return, I don't see that you could prejjudidge yourself."
    "As you've had the trouble of taking me, policeman, you'd better go to the extra trouble of finding out what you want to know about me," said Jem.
    "You needn't be uppish with me, because I did my dooty," returned Mr. Crisp. "Remember, I don't ask  but I s'pose you've been living in London  eh?"
    "Well  and if I have  "
    "There! I knowed you had," cried Crisp.
    "I didn't say so," observed Jem Cuffin, angrily.
    "No  but you can't deny it, though. Well, then  as you have been living in London, according to your own admission," continued Mr. Crisp, "in course you must have hung out in some partickler quarter. Remember, I don't ask you  but I dessay it was in the Holy Land."
    "I dare say it wasn't," returned Jem, drily.
    "Then it was in the Mint, I'll be bound," cried Crisp. "I don't ask, you know  but wasn't it in the Mint?"
    "No-it wasn't," said Crankey Jem, with a movement of impatience.
    "Not the Mint  eh? Well, if you says so, I must be true  'cos you should know best. But I s'pose you won't deny that it was somewhere in Clerkenwell!"
    "You're out again," returned Crankey Jem.
    "The devil I am!" exclaimed Crisp, rubbing his nose. "And yet I'm a pretty good hand at a guess too. Now it isn't my wish or my dooty to pump a prisoner  but I should like to be resolved as to whether you haven't been living in the Happy Valley!"
    [-252-] "No," cried Jem; "and now leave me alone."
    "Not the Happy Valley  eh?" proceeded the indefatigable Mr. Crisp: then, perceiving that his endeavours to find out the prisoner's place of abode were useless, he went upon another tack. "Well  it isn't my business to pump you; but I am really at a loss to think how you could have been such a fool as to go back to your old tricks and break into that house there  down yonder, I mean  you know where? Come now?"
    And Mr. Crisp fixed a searching eye upon Crankey Jem's countenance.
    "I tell you what it is," exclaimed the prisoner, seriously irritated at length; "you want to entrap me, if you can  but you can't. And for a very good reason too  because I haven't broken into any house at all, or done a thing I'm ashamed of since I came back to England."
    With these words, Crankey Jem turned his back upon the baffled Mr. Crisp, and looked out of the window.
    Almost at the same moment an inner door was thrown open, and one of the Under Secretaries for the Home Department beckoned Mr. Crisp into the adjacent room, where the principal Secretary was already seated, he having arrived by the private entrance.
    Crisp remained with the Minister for about ten minutes, and then returned to the ante-room, but it was merely to conduct Henry Holford and Crankey Jem into the presence of the Home Secretary and the Chief Magistrate of Bow Street.
    "You may withdraw, Mr.  ahem?" said the Home Secretary, addressing the police-officer.
    "Crisp, my lord  Crisp is my name."
    "Oh! very good, Mr. Frisk. You may withdraw, Mr. Frisk," repeated the Minister.
    And the police-officer retired accordingly, marvelling how the examination could possibly be conducted in a proper manner without his important presence.
    The magistrate commenced by informing Henry Holford of the accusation laid against him by Crisp, and then cautioned him in the usual manner to beware of what he said, as any thing he uttered might be used in evidence against him.
    "I have no desire to conceal or deny a single particle of the whole truth," returned Holford. "I acknowledge that I fired at the Queen and Prince Albert-and with pistols loaded with ball, too."
    "No-there you are wrong," exclaimed Jem; "for I loaded the pistols myself, and I took good care only to put powder into them."
    Holford cast a glance of unfeigned surprise on his friend.
    "Yes," continued the latter, "what I say is the truth. Your manner was so strange when you came to me to borrow the pistols, that I feared you meant to make away with yourself. I did not like to refuse to lend you the weapons  particularly as I knew that if you was really bent on suicide, you could do it in other ways. But I was resolved that my pistols should not help you in the matter; and I only charged them with powder. Then I followed you all the way down to the Park; and as you did not stop anywhere, I know that you couldn't have either bought balls or altered the charge of the pistols."
    "This is important," said the magistrate to the Home Secretary.
    "Very important," answered the latter functionary, who, from the first moment that Holford entered the room, had never ceased to gaze at him in the same way that one would contemplate an animal with two heads, or four tails, in the Zoological Gardens.
    "It is very evident that the man was no accomplice in the proceeding," remarked the magistrate, in an under tone.
    The words did not, however, escape Holford's ears.
    "He an accomplice, sir!" cried the youth, as if indignant at the bare idea. "Oh! no-he has been a good friend to me, and would have advised me quite otherwise, had I mentioned my purpose to him. He was the first to rush upon me, and  I remember now  knocked up my arm when I was about to fire the second pistol."
    Crisp and the other policeman were called in separately, and examined upon this point. Their evidence went entirely to prove that James Cuffin could not have been an accomplice in the deed.
    When the policemen had withdrawn, the Home Secretary and the magistrate conversed together in a low tone.
    "This man Cuffin's evidence will be absolutely necessary, my lord," said the magistrate; "and yet, as a condemned felon, and with another charge  namely, that of returning from transportation  hanging over him, he cannot be admitted s a witness."
    "You must remand him for farther examination," returned the Home Secretary; "and in the mean time I will advise Her Majesty to grant him a free pardon."
    "And Henry Holford will stand committed to Newgate, my lord?" said the magistrate, inquiringly.
    The Minister nodded an assent.
    The policemen were re-admitted, the depositions were signed, and the necessary instructions were given for the removal of the prisoners.
    Two cabs were procured: Holford was conducted to one, and conveyed to Newgate,  but not before he had shaken hands with Crankey Jem, who shed tears when he took so sad a farewell of the lad, whom he really liked.
    He himself was shortly afterwards removed in the other cab to the New Prison, Clerkenwell.

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