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piracy in general; piracy in the times of the Greeks, piracy in the times of William the Conqueror
pirata nequissima Eustachio, and thanking God that a case of the sort had not been heard in that court for an immense lapse of years. Below me was an array of wigs, on each side a compressed mass of humanity, squeezed so tight that all the eyeballs seemed to be starting out of the heads towards me. From the wig below, a translation of the florid phrases of the Spanish papers was coming:
" His very Catholic Majesty, out of his great love for his ancient friend and ally, his Britannic Majesty, did surrender the body of the notorious El Demonio, called also ...
I began to wonder who had composed that precious document, whether it was the Juez de la Primeria Instancia, bending his yellow face and sloe-black eyes above the paper, over there in Havana-or whether it was O'Brien, who was dead since the writing.
All the while the barrister was droning on. I did not listen because I had heard all that before—in the room of the Judge of the First Instance at Havana. Suddenly appearing behind the backs of the row of gentlefolk on the bench was the pale, thin face of my father. I wondered which of his great friends had got him his seat. He was nodding to me and smiling faintly. I nodded, too, and smiled back. I was going to show them that I was not cowed. The voice of the barrister said:
“M’luds and gentlemen of the jury, that finishes the Spanish evidence, which was taken on commission on the island of Cuba. We shall produce the officer of H. M. S. Elephant, to whom he was surrendered by the Spanish authorities at Havana, thus proving the prisoner to be the pirate Nikola, and no other. We come, now, to the specific instance, m'luds and gentlemen, an instance as vile
It was some little time before I had grasped how absolutely the Spanish evidence damned me. It was as if, once I fell into the hands of the English officer on Havana quays, the identity of Nikola could by no manner of means be shaken from round my neck. The barrister came to the facts.
A Kingston ship had been boarded .. and there was the old story over again. I seemed to see the Rio Medio schooner rushing
towards where I and old Cowper and old Lumsden looked back from the poop to see her come alongside; the strings of brown pirates pour in empty-handed, and out laden. Only in the case of the Victoria there were added the ferocities of "the prisoner at the bar, m'luds and gentlemen of the jury, a fiend in human shape, as we shall prove with the aid of the most respectable wit
The man in the wig sat down, and, before I understood what was happening, a fat, rosy man—the Attorney-General—whose cheerful gills gave him a grotesque resemblance to a sucking pig, was calling “Edward Sadler," and the name blared like sudden fire leaping up all over the court. The Attorney-General wagged his gown into a kind of bunch behind his hips, and a man, young, fair, with a reddish beard and a shiny suit of clothes, sprang into a little box facing the jury. He bowed nervously in several directions, and laughed gently; then he looked at me and scowled. The Attorney-General cleared his throat pleasantly ..
“Mr. Edward Sadler, you were, on May 25th, chief mate of the good ship Victoria. .
The fair man with the beard told his story, the old story of the ship with its cargo of coffee and dye-wood; its good passage past the Gran Caymanos; the becalming off the Cuban shore in latitude so and so, and the boarding of a black schooner, calling itself a Mexican privateer. I could see all that.
The prisoner at the bar came alongside in a boat, with seventeen Spaniards," he said, in a clear, expressionless voice, looking me full in the face.
I called out to the old judge, “ My Lord I protest. This is perjury. I was not the man. It was Nichols, a Nova Scotian.”
Mr. Baron Garrow roared, Silence," his face suffused with blood.
Old Lord Stowell quavered, “You must respect the proced
Am I to hear my life sworn away without a word?” I asked. He drew himself frostily into his robes. “God forbid," he said ; " but at the proper time you can cross-examine, if you think fit.”
The Attorney-General smiled at the jury-box and addressed himself to Sadler, with an air of patience very much tried:
"You swear the prisoner is the man?' The fair man turned his sharp blue eyes upon me. I called, For God's sake, don't perjure yourself. You are a decent man.' “No, I won't swear,'
," he said slowly. “I think he was. He had his face blacked then, of course. When I had sight of him at the Thames Court I thought he was; and seeing the Spanish evidence, I don't see where's the room.
“The Spanish evidence is part of the plot," I said.
The Attorney-General snickered. “Go on, Mr. Sadler," he said. Let's have the rest of the plot unfolded."
A juryman laughed suddenly, and resumed an abashed sudden silence. Sadler went on to tell the old story. . I saw it all as he spoke; only gaunt, shiny-faced, yellow Nichols was chewing and hitching his trousers in place of my Tomas, with his sanguine oaths and jerked gestures. And there was Nichols' wanton, aimless ferocity.
He had two pistols, which he fired twice each, while we were hoisting the studding-sails by his order, to keep up with the schooner. He fired twice into the crew. One of the men hit died afterwards. ..."
Later, another vessel, an American, had appeared in the offing, and the pirates had gone in chase of her. He finished, and Lord Stowell moved one of his ancient hands. It was as if a gray lizard had moved on his desk, a little toward me.
Now, prisoner," he said. I drew a deep breath. I thought for a minute that, after all, there was a little of fair play in the game that I had a decent, fair, blue-eyed man in front of me. He looked hard at me; I hard at him; it was as if he were going to wrestle for a belt. The young girl on the bench had her lips parted and leant forward, her head a little on one side. I said, “You won't swear I was the man
Nikola el Escoces?”
He looked meditatively into my eyes; it was a duel between US.
“I won't swear," he said. “You had your face blacked, and didn't wear a beard.”
A soft growth of hair had come out over my cheeks whilst I lay in prison. I rubbed my hand against it, and thought that he had drawn first blood. “ You must not say 'you,'
I said. “I swear I was not the man. Did he talk like me?” Can't say that he did," Sadler answer
vered, moving from one foot to the other.
Had he got eyes like me, or a nose, or a mouth?” “Can't say,” he answered again. His face was blacked.” “Didn't he talk Blue Nose—in the Nova Scotian way?"
"Well, he did,” Sadler assented slowly. “But anyone could for a disguise. It's as easy as
Beside me, the turnkey whispered suddenly, “ Pull him up; stop his mouth.”
I said, “Wasn't he an older man? Didn't he look between forty and fifty?"
What do you look like? " the chief mate asked. “I'm twenty-four," I answered; “I can prove it." “Well, you look forty and older,” he answered negligently. So did he.”
His cool, disinterested manner overwhelmed me like the blow of an immense wave; it proved so absolutely that I had parted with all semblance of youth. It was something added to the immense waste of waters between myself and Seraphina; an immense waste of years. I did not ask much of the next witness; Sadler had made me afraid. Septimus Hearn, the master of the Victoria, was a man with eyes as blue and as cold as bits of round blue pebble; a little goat's beard, iron-gray; apple-colored cheeks, and small gold earrings in his ears. He had an extraordinarily mournful voice, and a retrospective melancholy of manner. just such another master of a trader as Captain Lumsden had been; and it was the same story over again, with little different touches, the hard blue eyes gazing far over the top of my head; the gnarled hands moving restlessly on the rim of his hat.
“Afterwards the prisoner ordered the steward to give us a drink of brandy. A glass was offered me, but I refused to drink it, and
he said, “Who is it that refuses to drink a glass of brandy?' He asked me what countryman I was, and if I was an American.'
There were two others from the unfortunate Victoriaa Thomas Davis, boatswain, who had had one of Nikola's pistolballs in his hip; and a sort of steward—I have forgotten his name -who had a scar of a cutlass wound on his forehead.
It was horrible enough; but what distressed me more was that I could not see what sort of impression I was making. Once the judge who was generally asleep woke up and began to scratch furiously with his quill; once three of the assessors—the men in short wigs-began an animated conversation; one man with a thin, dark face laughed noiselessly, showing teeth like a white waterfall. A man in the body of the court on my left had an enormous swelling, blood-red, and looking as if a touch must burst it, under his chin; at one time he winked his eyes furiously for a long time on end. It seemed to me that something in the evidence must be affecting all these people. The turnkey beside me said to his mate, “Twig old Justice Best making notes in his stud-calendar,” and suddenly the conviction forced itself upon me that the whole thing, the long weary trial, the evidence, the parade of fairness, was being gone through in a spirit of mockery, as a mere formality; that the judges and the assessors, and the man with the goiter took no interest whatever in my case.
It was a foregone conclusion.
A tiny, fair man, with pale hair oiled and rather long for those days, and with green and red signet rings on fingers that he was forever running through that hair, came mincingly into the witness-box. He held for a long time what seemed to be an amiable conversation with Sir Robert Gifford, a tall, portentous-looking man, who had black beetling brows, like tufts of black horsehair sticking in the crannies of a cliff. The conversation went like this:
“You are the Hon. Thomas Oldham?”
“You know Kingston, Jamaica, very well?"
“I was there four years—two as the secretary to the cabinet of his Grace the Duke of Manchester, two as civil secretary to the admiral on the station.”