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[-61-]

CHAPTER XXIV.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.

LET us  now return to Mr. Whittingham, whom we left in serious and unfeigned tribulation at the moment when his young master was taken into custody upon the charge of passing a forged note.
    The Bow Street runner whom the officer had left behind to search the house, first possessed himself of the two letters which were lying upon the table in Markham's library, and which were addressed respectively to Mrs. Arlington and Mr. Monroe. The functionary then commenced a strict investigation of the entire premises; and, at the end, appeared marvellously surprised that he had not found a complete apparatus for printing forged notes, together with a quantity of the false articles themselves. This search, nevertheless, occupied three hours; and, when it was over, he took his departure, quite sulky because he had nothing to offer as evidence save the two sealed letters, which might be valuable in that point of view, or might not.
    The moment this unwelcome guest had quitted the house, the butler, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour - for it was now dusk - ordered the market cart to be got ready; and, with the least possible delay, he proceeded into town.
    Upon his arrival in Bow Street, he found the police-office closed: but upon enquiry he learnt that the investigation of Richard Markham's case had been postponed until the following morning at eleven o'clock, the prisoner having declared that he could produce a witness who would satisfactorily show his (the prisoner's) entire innocence in the transaction. 
    In the meantime, he had been removed to Clerkenwell Prison.
    Without asking another question, Whittingham mounted his cart once more, and drove away at a rattling pace to Clerkenwell Prison. There he began to thunder like a madman at the knocker of the governor's private entrance, and could hardly believe his senses when a servant-girl informed him that it was past the hours to see the prisoners. Whittingham would have remonstrated; but the girl slammed the door in his face. He accordingly bad no alternative save to drive direct home again.
    The very next morning at nine o'clock Mr. Whittingham entered the Servants' Arms Tavern; and with but little of his usual circumlocution and verbosity, enquired the address of Mr. Mac Chizzle, the lawyer, who had been one of the party at that house the evening but one before.
    "Here is his card," said the landlord. "He uses my house reglar, and is a out-and-out practitioner."
    Whittingham did not wait to hear any further eulogium upon the attorney. It had struck him that his young master might require a "professional adviser:" and having the supreme felicity of being totally unacquainted with the entire fraternity, he had felt himself somewhat puzzled how to supply the desideratum. In this dilemma, he had suddenly bethought himself of Mac Chizzle; and, without waiting to ponder upon the propriety of the step he was taking, he rushed off in the manner described to procure that individual's address.
    "Well, what do you want?" cried the lawyer, who was astonished at the unceremonious manner in which Whittingham suddenly rushed into his office: "what do you want ?"
    "Law," was the laconic answer.
    "Well, you can have plenty of that here," said Mr.. Mac Chizzle. "But - I think you are the gentleman with whom I had the pleasure of passing a pleasant evening at the Servants' Arms, a day or two ago."
    "The indentical same," returned Whittinghain, flinging his hat upon the floor and himself into a chair.
    "Take time to breathe, sir," said the lawyer.
    "If you're come for advice you couldn't have selected a better shop; but I must tell you before-hand that mine is quite a ready money business."
   
"Very good, sir. I'll tell you my story first and foremost; and you can then explain the most legible means of preceeding. I want law and justice."
   
"Law you can have in welcome; but whether you will obtain justice is another consideration."
    "I'm bewildered in a labyrinth of mazes, sir," said the butler. "I always opiniated that law and justice was the same thing."
    "Quite the reverse, I can assure you. Law is a human invention: justice is a divine inspiration What is law to-day, is not law to-morrow, and yet everything is still denominated justice. A creditor salts for justice when he appeals to a tribunal against his debtor; and how is that justice awarded? Why - if a man can't pay five pounds, the law immediately makes his debt ten pounds; and if he can't live out of doors, the law immediately shuts him up in prison by way of helping him out of his difficulties. That is law, sir; but it is not justice."
    "Right, sir - very right."
   
"Law, you see, sir," continued MacChizzle who was particularly fond of hearing himself talk -"law is omnipotent, and beats justice to such an extreme, that justice would be justified in bringing an action of assault and battery against law. Law even makes religion, sir; and gives the attributes of the Deity, for no one dares assert that God possesses a quality or a characteristic, unless in conformity with the law. And as these laws are always changing, so of course does the nature of the deity, as established by the law, vary too; so that men may be said to go to heaven or to another place by the turnpike roads laid down by the law."
    "I like your reasonable powers amazingly," said the butler, somewhat impatiently; "and I will now proceed to unfold the momentary object of my visit."
    "Give yourself breathing time, my dear sir. As I was observing, Law is more powerful than even Justice and Religion; and I could now show that it exercises the same predominating influence over Morality also. For instance, Law, and not Conscience, defines virtues and vices. If I murder you, I commit a crime; but the executioner who puts me to death for the action, does not commit a crime. Neither does the soldier who kills his fellow creature in battle. Thus, murder is only a crime when it is not legalised by human statutes, - or, in plain terms, when it is not according to law."
    "I comprehend, sir," said Whittingham and, seeing that Mr. Mac Chizzle now paused at length, he narrated the particulars of his master's arrest upon an accusation of passing a forged note for five hundred pounds.
    "This is an ugly case, Mr. Whittingham."
    "You must go down to him at Bow-Street his case comes on at eleven o'clock."
    "Well, there is plenty of time: It is only half-past nine o'clock. I think we had better instruct counsel."
    [-62-] "Construct counsel!" ejaculated Whittingham; "I want you to get him liberated at once."
    "Ah I dare say you do, said the lawyer, coolly. "That is often more easily said than done. From what you have told me I should not wonder if your master was committed for trial."
    "But he is innocent, sir - he is innocent - as the young lamb in the meadows which is unborn!" cried Whittingham. "Master Richard would no more pass a fictious note than I should endeavour to pass a race-horse if I was mounted on a donkey."
    Mr. Mac Chizzle smiled, and summoned his clerk by the euphonious name of "Simcox". Mr. Simcox was somewhat slow in making his appearance; and when he did, a very comical one it was - for his hair was red, his eyes were green, his countenance was studded with freckles, and his eye-lashes were white. 
    "Simcox," said Mr. Mac Chizzle, "I am going out for a few hours. If the gentleman calls about the thousand pound bill, tell him that I can get it discounted for him, for fifty pounds in money and eight hundred in wine - which allows a hundred and fifty for discount and my commission, If the lady calls whose husband has run away from her, tell her that I've sent to Paris to make enquiries after him, and that if she'll leave another fifty pounds, I'll send to Vienna. By-the-bye, that bothering fellow Smith is certain to call : tell him I'm gone into the country, and shall be away for a fortnight. If Jenkins calls, tell him I shall be home at five and he must wait, as I want to see him."
    "Very well, sir, said Simcox. "And if the gentleman calls about the loan."
    "Why, that I shall sees party about it this evening. The first party declines; but I have another party in view."
    Somehow or another, men of business have always got a particular "party" in view to accomplish a particular purpose, and they are always being disappointed by their "parties" - whom, by-the-bye, they never condescend to name. To be "deceived by a party;" or "having a party to meet;" or "being engaged so long with a particular party," are excuses which will last as long as business itself shall exist, and will continue to be received as apologies as long as any apologies are received at all. They will wear out every other lie.
    Whittingham was too much occupied by the affairs of his master, to pay any attention to the orders which the solicitor gave his clerk; and be was considerably relieved when he found himself by the aide of his professional adviser, rolling along the streets in a cabriolet.
    At length the lawyer and the faithful domestic were set down at the Police-Office in Bow Street; and in a few moments they were admitted, in tin presence of a policeman, to an interview with Markham in one of the cells attached to the establishment.
    Richard's countenance was pale and care-worn: his hair was dishevelled; and his attire seemed put on slovenly. But these circumstances scarcely attracted the eyes of Whittingharn :- a more appalling and monstrous spectacle engrossed all the attention of that faithful old dependant; and this was the manacle which confined his revered master's hands together.
    Whittingham wept.
    "Oh! Master Richard," he exclaimed in a voice broken by sobs, "what an unforseen and perfidious adventure is this! You surely nevar could - no, I know you didn't!"
    "Do not grieve yourself, my faithful friend," said Richard, deeply affected: "my innocence will soon be proved. I have sent for Mr. Chichester, who will be here presently: and he can show to one moment how I became possessed of the two notes."
    "Two notes!" cried Whittingham.
    "Yes - I had another of fifty pounds value in my purse, which I also received from Chichester, and which has turned out to be a spurious one. Doubtless he has been deceived himself —"
    "Oh! that ere Winchester, or Kidderminster - or - whatever his name may be," interrupted the butler, a strange misgiving oppressing his mind " I'm afeard he won't do the thing that's right. But here is a profound adwiser, Master Richard, that I've brought with me; and he'll see law done, he says - and I believe him too."
    Markham and Mac Chizzle then entered into conversation together: but scarcely had the unfortunate young man commenced his account of the peculiar circumstances in which he was involved, when the jailor entered, to conduct him into the presence of the magistrate. 
    Markham was placed in the felon's dock, and Mr. Mac Chizzle intimated to the sitting magistrate, in a simpering tone, that he appeared for the prisoner.
    Now we must inform our readers that Mac Chizzle was one of those low pettifoggers, who, without being absolutely the black sheep of the profession, act upon the principle that all are fish that come to their net, and practise indiscriminately in the civil and the criminal courts - conduct a man's insolvency, or defend him before the magistrate - discount bills and issue no end of write - act for loan societies and tally shops - in a word, undertake anything that happens to fall in their way, so long as it brings grist to the mill.
    Mr. MacChizzle was not, therefore, what is termed "a respectable solicitor ;" and the magistrate's countenance assumed an appearance of austerity - for he had previously been possessed in Markham's favour - when that individual announced that he appeared for the prisoner. Thus poor Whittingham, in his anxiety to do his beloved master a great deal of good, actually prejudiced his case materially at its outset.
    Though unhappy and care-worn, Richard was not downcast. Conscious innocence supported him.  Accordingly when he beheld Mr. Chichester enter the witness-box, he bowed to him in a friendly and even grateful manner; but, to his ineffable surprise, that very fashionable gentleman affected not to notice the salutation.
    It is not necessary to enter into details. The nature of the evidence against Markham was that he had called at his guardian's bankers the day but one previously, to receive a sum of money; that he requested the cashier to change a five hundred pound Bank of England note; that, although an unusual proceeding, the demand was complied with; that the prisoner wrote his name at the back of the note, and that in the course of the ensuing morning it was discovered that the said note was a forgery. The prisoner was arrested; and upon his person was found a second note, of fifty pounds' value, which was also a forgery. Two letters were also produced one to Mrs. Arlington, and another to Mr. Monroe, which not only proved that the, prisoner had intended to leave the country with strange abruptness, but the contents of which actually appeared to point at the [-63-] crime now alleged against him, as the motive of his flight. 
    Markham was certainly astounded when be heard the stress laid upon those letters by the solicitor for the prosecution, and the manner in which their real meaning was made to tell against him.
    The Magistrate called upon him for his defence, and Markham, forgetful that Mac Chizzle was there to represent him, addressed himself in an earnest tone to Mr. Chichester, exclaiming, " You can now set me right in the eyes of the magistrate, and in the opinion of even the prosecuting counsel, who seems so anxious to distort every circumstance to my disadvantage."
    "I really am not aware," said Mr. Chichester caressing his chin in a very nonchalant manner, "that I can throw any light upon this subject."
    "All I require is the truth," ejaculated Richard surprised at the tone and manner of his late friend "Did you not give me that note for five hundred pounds to change for you? and did I not receive the second note from you in exchange for fifty sovereigns ?"
    Mr. Chichester replied in an indignant negative.
    The magistrate shook his head: the prosecuting solicitor took snuff significantly ;- Mac Chizzle made a memorandum ;- and Whittingham murmured, "Ah! that mitigated villain Axminster."
    "What do I hear!" exclaimed Richard' "Mr Chichester, your memory must fail you sadly I suppose you recollect the occasion upon which Mr Talbot gave you the five hundred pound note ?"
    "Mr. Talbot never gave me any note at all," answered Chichester, in a measured and determined manner.
    "It is false - false as hell!" cried Markham more enraged than alarmed; and he forthwith detailed to the magistrate the manner in which he had been induced to change the one note, and had be come possessed of the other.
    "This is a very lame story, indeed," said the magistrate; "and you must try and see if you can get a jury to believe it. You stand committed."
    Before Richard could make any reply, he was lugged out of the dock by the jailor; the next case was called on; and he was hurried back to his cell, whither Mac Chizzle and the butler were permitted to follow him.

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