eBooks Cube

FROME. [With an irritated smile] Will you tell the jury what it

COKESON. "It's a matter of life and death."

FOREMAN OF THE JURY. Do you mean the woman said that?

COKESON. [Nodding] It's not the sort of thing you like to have said
to you.

FROME. [A little impatiently] Did Falder come in while she was
there? [COKESON nods] And she saw him, and went away?

COKESON. Ah! there I can't follow you. I didn't see her go.

FROME. Well, is she there now?

COKESON. [With an indulgent smile] No!

FROME. Thank you, Mr. Cokeson. [He sits down.]

CLEAVER. [Rising] You say that on the morning of the forgery the
prisoner was jumpy. Well, now, sir, what precisely do you mean by
that word?

COKESON. [Indulgently] I want you to understand. Have you ever
seen a dog that's lost its master? He was kind of everywhere at once
with his eyes.

CLEAVER. Thank you; I was coming to his eyes. You called them
"funny." What are we to understand by that? Strange, or what?

COKESON. Ye-es, funny.

COKESON. [Sharply] Yes, sir, but what may be funny to you may not
be funny to me, or to the jury. Did they look frightened, or shy, or
fierce, or what?

COKESON. You make it very hard for me. I give you the word, and you
want me to give you another.

CLEAVER. [Rapping his desk] Does "funny" mean mad?

CLEAVER. Not mad, fun----

CLEAVER. Very well! Now you say he had his collar unbuttoned? Was
it a hot day?

COKESON. Ye-es; I think it was.

CLEAVER. And did he button it when you called his attention to it?

COKESON. Ye-es, I think he did.

CLEAVER. Would you say that that denoted insanity?

He sits downs. COKESON, who has opened his mouth to reply, is
left gaping.

FROME. [Rising hastily] Have you ever caught him in that dishevelled
state before?

COKESON. No! He was always clean and quiet.

FROME. That will do, thank you.

COKESON turns blandly to the JUDGE, as though to rebuke counsel
for not remembering that the JUDGE might wish to have a chance;
arriving at the conclusion that he is to be asked nothing
further, he turns and descends from the box, and sits down next

FROME. Ruth Honeywill.

RUTH comes into court, and takes her stand stoically in the
witness-box. She is sworn.

FROME. What is your name, please?

RUTH. Ruth Honeywill.

FROME. How old are you?

RUTH. Twenty-six.

FROME. You are a married woman, living with your husband? A little

RUTH. No, sir; not since July.

FROME. Have you any children?

RUTH. Yes, sir, two.

FROME. Are they living with you?

RUTH. Yes, sir.

FROME. You know the prisoner?

RUTH. [Looking at him] Yes.

FROME. What was the nature of your relations with him?

RUTH. We were friends.

THE JUDGE. Friends?

RUTH. [Simply] Lovers, sir.

THE JUDGE. [Sharply] In what sense do you use that word?

RUTH. We love each other.

THE JUDGE. Yes, but----

RUTH. [Shaking her head] No, your lordship--not yet.

THE JUDGE. 'Not yet! H'm! [He looks from RUTH to FALDER] Well!

FROME. What is your husband?

RUTH. Traveller.

FROME. And what was the nature of your married life?

RUTH. [Shaking her head] It don't bear talking about.

FROME. Did he ill-treat you, or what?

RUTH. Ever since my first was born.

FROME. In what way?

RUTH. I'd rather not say. All sorts of ways.

THE JUDGE. I am afraid I must stop this, you know.

RUTH. [Pointing to FALDER] He offered to take me out of it, sir.
We were going to South America.

FROME. [Hastily] Yes, quite--and what prevented you?

RUTH. I was outside his office when he was taken away. It nearly
broke my heart.

FROME. You knew, then, that he had been arrested?

RUTH. Yes, sir. I called at his office afterwards, and [pointing
to COKESON] that gentleman told me all about it.

FROME. Now, do you remember the morning of Friday, July 7th?

RUTH. Yes.


RUTH. My husband nearly strangled me that morning.

THE JUDGE. Nearly strangled you!

RUTH. [Bowing her head] Yes, my lord.

FROME. With his hands, or----?

RUTH. Yes, I just managed to get away from him. I went straight to
my friend. It was eight o'clock.

THE JUDGE. In the morning? Your husband was not under the influence
of liquor then?

RUTH. It wasn't always that.

FROME. In what condition were you?

RUTH. In very bad condition, sir. My dress was torn, and I was half

FROME. Did you tell your friend what had happened?

RUTH. Yes. I wish I never had.

FROME. It upset him?

RUTH. Dreadfully.

FROME. Did he ever speak to you about a cheque?

RUTH. Never.

FROZE. Did he ever give you any money?

RUTH. Yes.

FROME. When was that?

RUTH. On Saturday.

FROME. The 8th?

RUTH. To buy an outfit for me and the children, and get all ready to

FROME. Did that surprise you, or not?

RUTH. What, sir?

FROME. That he had money to give you.

Ring. Yes, because on the morning when my husband nearly killed me
my friend cried because he hadn't the money to get me away. He told
me afterwards he'd come into a windfall.

FROME. And when did you last see him?

RUTH. The day he was taken away, sir. It was the day we were to
have started.

FROME. Oh, yes, the morning of the arrest. Well, did you see him at
all between the Friday and that morning? [RUTH nods] What was his
manner then?

RUTH. Dumb--like--sometimes he didn't seem able to say a word.

FROME. As if something unusual had happened to him?

RUTH. Yes.

FROME. Painful, or pleasant, or what?

RUTH. Like a fate hanging over him.

FROME. [Hesitating] Tell me, did you love the prisoner very much?

RUTH. [Bowing her head] Yes.

FROME. And had he a very great affection for you?

RUTH. [Looking at FALDER] Yes, sir.

FROME. Now, ma'am, do you or do you not think that your danger and
unhappiness would seriously affect his balance, his control over his

RUTH. Yes.

FROME. His reason, even?

RUTH. For a moment like, I think it would.

FROME. Was he very much upset that Friday morning, or was he fairly

RUTH. Dreadfully upset. I could hardly bear to let him go from me.

FROME. Do you still love him?

RUTH. [With her eyes on FALDER] He's ruined himself for me.

FROME. Thank you.

He sits down. RUTH remains stoically upright in the witness-

CLEAVER. [In a considerate voice] When you left him on the morning
of Friday the 7th you would not say that he was out of his mind, I

RUTH. No, sir.

CLEAVER. Thank you; I've no further questions to ask you.

RUTH. [Bending a little forward to the jury] I would have done the
same for him; I would indeed.

THE JUDGE. Please, please! You say your married life is an unhappy
one? Faults on both sides?

RUTH. Only that I never bowed down to him. I don't see why I
should, sir, not to a man like that.

THE JUDGE. You refused to obey him?

RUTH. [Avoiding the question] I've always studied him to keep
things nice.

THE JUDGE. Until you met the prisoner--was that it?

RUTH. No; even after that.

THE JUDGE. I ask, you know, because you seem to me to glory in this
affection of yours for the prisoner.

RUTH. [Hesitating] I--I do. It's the only thing in my life now.

THE JUDGE. [Staring at her hard] Well, step down, please.

RUTH looks at FALDER, then passes quietly down and takes her
seat among the witnesses.

FROME. I call the prisoner, my lord.

Justice by John Galsworthy
Nabou.com: the big site