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"You are all absolutely wrong." Julia Delyse was speaking. She had been sitting mumchance at a general meeting of the Pettigrew confraternity held half an hour before Bench in a sitting-room of the Rose Hotel.

Simon had vetoed the idea of a solicitor to defend him—it would only create more talk, and from what he could make out his case was defenceless. He would throw himself on the mercy of the court. The rest had concurred.

"Throw yourself on the mercy of the court! Have you ever lived in the country? Do you know what these old magistrates are like? Don't you know that the Wessex Chronicle will publish yards about it, to say nothing of the local rag? I've thought out the whole thing. I've wired for Dick Pugeot."

"You wired?" said Bobby.

"Last night. You remember I asked you for his address—and there he is."

The toot of a motor-horn came from outside.

Julia rose and left the room.

Bobby followed and stopped her in the passage.

"Julia," said he, "if you can get him out of this and save his name being in the papers, you'll be a brick. You are a brick, and I've been a—a——"

"I know," said Julia, "but you could not help yourself—nor can I. I'm not Cerise. Love is lunacy and the world's all wrong. Now go back and tell your uncle to say nothing in court and to pretend he's a fool. If Pugeot is the man you say he is, he'll save his name. Old Mr. Pettigrew has got to be camouflaged."

"Good heavens, Julia," cried Bobby, the vision of gnus emulating zebras rising before him, "you can't mean to paint him?"

"Never mind what I mean," said Julia.

The Upton Bench was an old Bench. It had been in existence since the time of Mr. Justice Shallow. It held its sittings in the court-room of the Upton Police Court, and there it dispensed justice, of a sort, of a Wednesday morning upon "drunks," petty pilferers, poachers, tramps, and any other unfortunates appearing before it.

Colonel Grouse was the chairman. With him this morning sat Major Partridge-Cooper, Colonel Salmon, Mr. Teal, and General Grampound. The reporters of the local rag and the Wessex Chronicle were in their places. The Clerk of the Court, old Mr. Quail, half-blind and fumbling with his papers, was at his table; a few village constables, including Constable Copper, were by the door, and there was no general public.

The general public was free to enter, but none of the villagers ever came. It was an understood thing that the Bench discouraged idlers and inquisitive people.

The inalienable right of the public to enter a Court of Justice and see Themis at work had never been pushed. The Bench was much more than the Bench—it was the Gentry and the Power of Upton,[1] against which no man could run counter. Horn alone, in pot-houses and public places, had fought against this shibboleth; he had found a few agreers, but no backers.

At eleven to the moment the Pettigrew contingent filed in and took their places, and after them a big yellow man, the Hon. Dick Pugeot. He was known to the magistrates, but Justice is[Pg 246] blind and no mark of recognition was shown, whilst a constable, detaching himself from the others, went to the door and shouted:

"Richard Horn."

Horn, who had been caught and bailed, and who had evidently washed himself and put on his best clothes, entered, made for the dock, as a matter of long practice, and got into it.

"Simon Pettigrew," called the Clerk.

Simon rose and followed Horn. Instructed by Julia to say nothing, he said nothing.

Then Pugeot rose.

"I beg your pardon," said Pugeot; "you have got my friend's name wrong. Pattigraw, please; he's a Frenchman, though long resident in England; and it's not Simon—but Sigismond."

"Rectify the charge-sheet," said Colonel Grouse. "First witness."

Simon, dazed, and horrified as a solicitor by this line of action, tried to speak, but failed. The brilliant idea of Julia's, taken up with enthusiasm by Pugeot, was evidently designed to fool the newspaper men and save the name of Simon the Solicitor. Still, it was horrible, and he felt as though Pugeot were trying to carry him pick-a-back across an utterly impossible bridge.

He guessed now why this had been sprung on him. They knew that as a lawyer he would never have agreed to such a statement.

Then Copper, hoisting himself into the witness-stand, hitching his belt and kissing the Testament, began:

"I swear before A'mighty Gawd that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me Gawd, Amen on the evening of............
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