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in order that he might examine what was written on it. This he did very carefully with the aid of a magnifying-glass, referring now and again to the photographic copy which Doctor Probate had filed in the Registry.
"Thank you," he said presently; "that will do. I am afraid that the learned counsel below will wish to have an opportunity of inspection."
So Augusta had to descend and slowly walk along the ranks, stopping before every learned leader to be carefully examined, while hundreds of eager eyes in the background were fixed upon her unfortunate neck. However, at last it came to an end.
“That will do, Miss Smithers,” said the Judge, for whose consideration she felt deeply grateful; “you can put on your cloak again now."
Accordingly she did so, and re-entered the box.
“The document which you have just shown the Court, Miss Smithers," said James, “is the one which was executed upon you in Kerguelen Land on or about the 22nd day of December last year?”
“It was, I understand, executed in the presence of the testator and the two attesting witnesses, all three being present together, and the signature of each being tattooed in the presence of the other?”
“Was the testator, so far as you could judge, at the time of the dictation and execution of the will, of sound mind, memory, and understanding?"
“Most certainly he was.”
"Did you, beyond the suggestions of which you have already given evidence, in any way unduly influence the testator's mind, so as to induce him to make this will?”
“I did not.”
Then he passed on to the history of the death of the two sailors who had attested the will, and to the account of Augusta's ultimate rescue, finally closing his examination-in-chief just as the clock struck four, whereon the Court adjourned till the following day.
As may be imagined, though things had gone fairly well so far, nobody concerned of our party passed an over-comfortable night. The strain was too great to admit of it; and really they were all glad to find themselves in the court, which was, if possible, even more crowded on the following morning, filled with the hope that that day might see the matter decided one way or the other.
As soon as the Judge had come in, Augusta resumed her place in the witness-box, and the AttorneyGeneral rose to cross-examine her.
“You told the Court, Miss Smithers, at the conclusion of your evidence, that you are engaged to be married to Mr. Meeson, the plaintiff. Now, I am sorry to have to put a personal question to you, but I must ask
you- Were you, at the time of the tattooing of the will, in love with Mr. Meeson?”
This was a home-thrust, and poor Augusta coloured beneath it; however, her native wit came to her aid.
“If you will define, sir, what being in love is, I will do
my best to answer your question,” she said. Whereat the audience, including his Lordship, smiled.
The Attorney-General looked puzzled, as well he might; for there are some things which are beyond the learning of even an Attorney-General.
"Well,” he said, “were you matrimonially inclined towards Mr. Meeson?”
“Surely, Mr. Attorney-General,” said the Judge, “the one thing does not necessarily include the other?”
"I bow to your Lordship's experience," said Mr. Attorney tartly. “Perhaps I had better put my ques
. tion in this way–Had you, at that time, any prospect of becoming engaged to Mr. Meeson?”
“Did you submit to this tattooing, which must have been painful, with a view of becoming engaged to the plaintiff?"
“Certainly not. I may point out,” she added, with hesitation, “that such a disfigurement is not likely to add to anybody's attractions."
"Please answer my questions, Miss Smithers, and do not comment on them. How did you come, then, to submit yourself to such a disagreeable operation ?”
“I submitted to it because I thought it right to do
so, there being no other apparent means at hand of attaining the late Mr. Meeson's ends. Also”. -and she paused.
“Also, I had a regard for Mr. Eustace Meeson, and I knew that he had lost his inheritance through a quarrel about myself.”
“Ah! now we are coming to it. Then you were tattooed out of regard for the plaintiff, and not purely in the interests of justice?”
“Yes; I suppose so.”
“Well, Mr. Attorney," interposed the Judge, "and what if she was?”
“My object, my Lord, is to show that the young lady was not the purely impassive medium in this matter that my learned friend, Mr. Short, would lead the Court to believe. She was acting from motive.”
“Most people do,” said the Judge dryly. “But it does not follow that the motive was an improper one."
Then the learned gentleman continued his crossexamination, directing all the ingenuity of his practised mind to trying to prove by Augusta's admissions, first, that the testator was acting under the undue influence of herself; and secondly, that when the will was executed he was non compos mentis. To this end he dwelt at great length on every detail of the events between the tattooing of the will and the death of the testator on the following day, making as much as was possible out of the fact that he died in a fit of mania. But do what he would, he could not shake her evidence upon any material point, and when at last he sat down James Short felt that his case had not received any serious blow.
Then a few more questions having been asked in cross-examination by various other counsel, James rose to re-examine, and with the object of rebutting the presumption of the testator's mental unsoundness, caused Augusta to repeat all the details of the confession that the late publisher had made to her as regards his methods of trading. It was beautiful to see the fury and horror portrayed upon the countenances of the choleric Mr. Addison and the cadaverous Mr. Roscoe when they heard the most cherished secrets of the customs of the trade, as practised at Meeson's, thus paraded in the open light of day, while a dozen swiftpencilled reporters took every detail down.
Then at last Augusta was told to stand down, which she did thankfully enough, and Mrs. Thomas, the wife of Captain Thomas, was called. She proved the finding of Augusta on the island, and that she had seen the hat of one of the sailors, and the rum-cask twothirds empty, and also produced the shell out of which the men had drunk the rum (which shell the Judge recalled Augusta to identify). What was most important, however, was, that she gave the most distinct evidence that she had herself seen the remains of Mr. Meeson interred, and identified the body as that of the late publisher by picking out his photograph from among a