THEY sat on two benches by themselves, the witnesses in the trial of Henri Mentone for the murder of Théophile Blondin. On one side of Raymond was Valérie, on the other was Mother Blondin; and there was Labbée, the station agent, and Monsieur Dupont, and Doctor Arnaud. And on the other bench were several of the villagers, and two men Raymond did not know, and another man, a crown surveyor, who had just testified to the difference in time and distance from the station to Madame Blondin's as between the road and the path—thus establishing for the prosecution the fact that by following the path there had been ample opportunity for the crime to have been committed by one who had left the station after the curé had already started toward the village and yet still be discovered by the curé on the road near the tavern. The counsel appointed by the court for the defence had allowed the testimony to go unchallenged. It was obvious. It did not require a crown surveyor to announce the fact—even an urchin from St. Marleau was already aware of it. The villagers too had testified. They had testified that Madame Blondin had come running into the village screaming out that her son had been murdered; and that they had gone back with her to her house and had found the dead body of her son lying on the floor.

It was stiflingly hot in the courtroom; and the courtroom was crowded to its last available inch of space.

There were many there from Tournayville—but there was all of St. Marleau. It was St. Marleau's own and particular affair. Since early morning, since very early morning, Raymond had seen and heard the vehicles of all descriptions rattling past the presbytère, the occupants dressed in their Sunday clothes. It was a jour de fête. St. Marleau did not every day have a murder of its own! The fields were deserted; only the very old and the children had not come. They were not all in the room, for there was not place for them all—those who had not been on hand at the opening of the doors had been obliged to content themselves with gathering outside to derive what satisfaction they could from their proximity to the fateful events that were transpiring within; and they had at least seen the prisoner led handcuffed from the jail that adjoined the courthouse, and had been rewarded to the extent of being able to view with intense and bated interest people they had known all their lives, such as Valérie, and Mother Blondin, and the more privileged of their fellows who had been chosen as witnesses, as these latter disappeared inside the building!

Raymond's eyes roved around the courtroom, and rested upon the judge upon the bench. His first glance at the judge, taken at the moment the other had entered the room, had brought a certain, quick relief. Far from severity, the white-haired man sitting there in his black gown had a kindly, genial face. He found his first impressions even strengthened now. His eyes passed on to the crown prosecutor; and here, too, he found cause for reassurance. The man was middle-aged, shrewd-faced, and somewhat domineering. He was crisp, incisive, and had been even unnecessarily blunt and curt in his speech and manner so far—he was not one who would enlist the sympathy of a jury. On the other hand—Raymond's eyes shifted again, to hold on the clean-cut, smiling face of the prisoner's counsel—Lemoyne, that was the lawyer's name he had been told, was young, pleasant-voiced, magnetic. Raymond experienced a sort of grim admiration, as he looked at this man. No man in the courtroom knew better than Lemoyne the hopelessness of his case, and yet he sat there confident, smiling, undisturbed.

Raymond's eyes sought the floor. It was a foregone conclusion that the verdict would be guilty. There was not a loophole for defence. But they would not hang the man. He clung to that. Lemoyne could at least fight for the man's life. They would not hang a man who could not remember. They had beaten him, Raymond, the night before last; and at first he had been like a man stunned with the knowledge that his all was on the table and that the cards in his hand were worthless—and then had come a sort of philosophical calm, the gambler's optimism—the hand was still to be played. They would sentence the man for life, and—well, there was time enough in a lifetime for another chance. Somehow—in some way—he did not know now—but in some way he would see that there was another chance. He would not desert the man.

Again he raised his eyes, but this time as though against his will, as though they were impelled and drawn in spite of himself across the room. That was Raymond Chapelle, alias Arthur Leroy, alias Three-Ace Artie, alias Henri Mentone, sitting there in the prisoner's box; at least, that gaunt, thin-faced, haggard man there was dressed in Raymond Chapelle's clothes—and he, François Aubert, the priest, the curé, in his soutane, with his crucifix around his neck, sat here amongst the witnesses at the trial of Raymond Chapelle, who had killed Théophile Blondin in the fight that night. One would almost think the man knew! How the man's eyes burned into him, how they tormented and plagued him! They were sad, those eyes, pitiful—they were helpless—they seemed to seek him out as the only friend amongst all these bobbing heads, and these staring, gaping faces.

“Marcien Labbée!”—the clerk's voice snapped through the courtroom. “Marcien Labbée!” The clerk was a very fussy and important short little man, who puffed his cheeks in and out, and clawed at his white side-whiskers. “Marcien Labbée!”

The station agent rose from the bench, entered the witness box, and was sworn.

With a few crisp questions, the crown prosecutor established the time of the train's arrival, and the fact that the curé and another man had got off at the station. The witness explained that the curé had started to walk toward the village before the other man appeared on the platform.

“And this other man”—the crown prosecutor whirled sharply around, and pointed toward Henri Mentone—“do you recognise him as the prisoner at the bar?”

Labbée shook his head.

“It was very dark,” he said. “I could not swear to it.”

“His general appearance then? His clothes? They correspond with what you remember of the man?”

“Yes,” Labbée answered. “There is no doubt of that.”

“And as I understand it, you told the man that Monsieur le Curé had just started a moment before, and that if he went at once he would have company on the walk to the village?”


“What did he say?”

“He said that he was not looking for that kind of company.”

There was a sudden, curious, restrained movement through the courtroom; and, here and there, a villager, with pursed lips, nodded his head. It was quite evident to those from St. Marleau at least that such as Henri Mentone would not care for the company of their curé.

“You gave the man directions as to the short cut to the village?”


“You may tell the court and the gentlemen of the jury what was said then.”

Labbée, who had at first appeared a little nervous, now pulled down his vest, and looked around him with an air of importance.

“I told him that the path came out at the tavern. When I said 'tavern,' he was at once very interested. I thought then it was because he was glad to know there was a place to stay—it was such a terrible night, you understand? So I told him it was only a name we gave it, and that it was no place for one to go. I told him it was kept by an old woman, who was an excommuniée, and who made whisky on the sly, and that her son was——”

Misérable!”—it was Mother Blondin, in a furious scream. Her eyes, under her matted gray hair, glared fiercely at Labbée.

“Silence!” roared the clerk of the court, leaping to his feet.

Raymond's hand closed over the clenched, bony fist that Mother Blondin had raised, and gently lowered it to her lap.

“He will do you no harm, Madame Blondin,” he whispered reassuringly. “And see, you must be careful, or you will get into serious trouble.”

Her hand trembled with passion in his, but she did not draw it away. It was strange that she did not! It was strange that he felt pity for her when so much was at stake, when pity was such a trivial and inconsequent thing! This was a murder trial, a trial for the killing of this woman's son. It was strange that he should be holding the mother's hand, and—it was Raymond who drew his hand away. He clasped it over his other one until the knuckles grew white.

“And then?” prompted the crown prosecutor.

“And then, I do not remember how it came about,” Labbée continued, “he spoke of Madame Blondin having money—enough to buy out any one around there. I said it was true that it was the gossip that she had made a lot, and that she had a well-filled stocking hidden away somewhere.”

Crapule!”—Mother Blondin's voice, if scarcely audible this time, had lost none of its fury.

The clerk contented himself with a menacing gesture toward his own side-whiskers. The crown prosecutor paid no attention to the interruption.

“Did the man give any reason for coming to St. Marleau?”


“Did you ask him how long he intended to remain?”

“Yes; he said he didn't know.”

“He had a travelling bag with him?”


“This one?”—the crown prosecutor held up Raymond's travelling bag from the table beside him.

“I cannot say,” Labbée replied. “It was too dark on the platform.”

“Quite so! But it was of a size sufficient, in your opinion, to cause the man inconvenience in carrying it in such a storm, so you offered to have it sent over with Monsieur le Curé's trunk in the morning?”


“What did he say?”

“He said he could carry it all right.”

“He started off then with the bag along the road toward St. Marleau?”


The crown prosecutor glanced inquiringly toward the prisoner's counsel. The latter shook his head.

“You may step down, Monsieur Labbée,” directed the crown prosecutor. “Call Madame Blondin!” There was a stir in the courtroom now. Heads craned forward as the old woman shuffled across the floor to the witness box—Mother Blondin was quite capable of anything—even of throwing to the ground the Holy Book upon which the clerk would swear her! Mother Blondin, however, did nothing of the sort. She gripped at the edge of the witness box, mumbling at the clerk, and all the while straining her eyes through her steel-bowed spectacles at the prisoner across the room. And then her lips began to work curiously, her face to grow contorted—and suddenly the courtroom was in an uproar. She was shaking both scranny fists at Henri Mentone, and screaming at the top of her voice.

“That is the man! That is the man!”—her voice became ungovernable, insensate, it rose shrilly, it broke, it rose piercingly again. “That is the man! The law! The law! I demand the law on him! He killed my son! He did it! I tell you, he did it! He——”

Chairs and benches were scraping on the floor. Little cries of nervous terror came from the women; involuntarily men stood up the better to look at both Mother Blondin and the accused. It was a sensation! It was something to talk about in St. Marleau over the stoves in the coming winter. It was something of which nothing was to be missed.

“Order! Silence! Order!” bawled the clerk.

Valérie had caught Raymond's sleeve. He did not look at her. He was looking at Henri Mentone—at the look of dumb horror on the man's face—and then at a quite different figure in the prisoner's dock, whose head was bent down until it could scarcely be seen, and whose face was covered by his hands. He tried to force a grim complacence into his soul. It was absolutely certain that he had nothing to fear from the trial. Nothing! The other Henri Mentone, the other priest, was answering for the killing of that night, and—who was this speaking? The crown prosecutor? He had not thought the man could be so suave and gentle.

“Try and calm yourself, Madame Blondin. You have a perfect right to demand the punishment of the law upon the murderer of your son, and that is what we are here for now, and that is why I want you to tell us just as quietly as possible what happened that night.”

She stared truculently.

“Everybody knows what happened!” she snarled at him. “He killed my son!”

“How did he kill your son?” inquired the crown prosecutor, with a sudden, crafty note of scepticism in his voice. “How do you know he did?”

“I saw him! I tell you, I saw him! I heard my son shout 'voleur' and cry for help”—Mother Blon-din's words would not come fast enough now. “I was in the back room. When I opened the door he was fighting my son. He tried to steal my money. Some of it was on the floor. My son cried for help again. I ran and got a stick of wood. My son tried to get his revolver from the armoire. This man got it away from him. I struck the man on the head with the wood, then he shot my son, and I ran out for help.”

“And you positively identify the prisoner as the man who shot your son?”

“Yes, yes! Have I not told you so often enough!”

“And this”—the crown prosecutor handed her a revolver—“do you identify this?”

“Yes; it was my son's.”

“You kept your money in a hiding place, Madame Blondin, I understand—in a hollow between two of the logs in the wall of the room? Is that so?”

“Yes; it is so!”—Mother Blondin's voice grew shrill again. “But I will find a better place for it, if I ever get it back again! The police are as great thieves as that man! They took it from him, and now they keep it from me!”

“It is here, Madame Blondin,” said the lawyer soothingly, opening a large envelope. “It will be returned to you after the trial. How much was there?”

“I know very well how much!” she shrilled out suspiciously. “You cannot cheat me! I know! There were all my savings, years of savings—there was more than five hundred dollars.”

A little gasp went around the courtroom. Five hundred dollars! It was a fortune! Gossip then had not lied—it had been outdone!

“Now this hiding place, Madame Blondin—you had never told any one about it? Not even your son?”


“It would seem then that this man must have known about it in some way. Had you been near it a short time previous to the fight?”

“I told you I had, didn't I? I told Monsieur Dupont all that once.” Mother Blondin was growing unmanageable again. “I went there to put some money in not five minutes before I heard my son call for help.”

“Your son then was not in the room when you went to put this money away?”

“No; of course, he wasn't! I have told that to Monsieur Dupont, too. I heard him coming downstairs just as I left the room.”

“That is all, Madame Blondin, thank you, unless——” The crown prosecutor turned again toward the counsel for the defence.

Lemoyne rose, and, standing by his chair without approaching the witness box, took a small penknife from his pocket, and held it up.

“Madame Blondin,” he said gently, “will you tell me what I am holding in my hand?”

Mother Blondin squinted, set her glasses further on her nose, and shook her head.

“I do not know,” she said.

“You do not see very well, Madame Blondin?”—sympathetically.

“What is it you have got there—eh? What is it?” she demanded sharply.

Lemoyne glanced at the jury—and smiled. He restored the penknife to his pocket.

“It is a penknife, Madame Blondin—one of my own. An object that any one would recognise—unless one did not see very well. Are you quite sure, Madame Blondin—quite sure on second thoughts—that you see well enough to identify the prisoner so positively as the man who was fighting with your son?”

The jury, with quick meaning glances at one another, with a new interest, leaned forward in their seats. There was a tense moment—a sort of bated silence in the courtroom. And then, as Mother Blondin answered, some one tittered audibly, the spell was broken, the point made by the defence swept away, turned even into a weapon against itself.

“If you will give me a stick of wood and come closer, close enough so that I can hit you over the head with it,” said Mother Blondin, and cackled viciously, “you will see how well I can see!”

Madame Blondin stepped down.

And then there came upon Raymond a thrill, a weakness, a quick tightening of his muscles. The clerk had called his name. He walked mechanically to the witness stand. It was coming now. He must be on his guard. But he had thought out everything very carefully, and—no, almost before he knew it, he was back in his seat again. He had been asked only if he had followed the road all the way from the station, to describe how he had found the man, and to identify the prisoner as that man. He was to be recalled. Le-moyne had not asked him a single question.

“Mademoiselle Valérie Lafleur!” called the clerk.

“Oh, Monsieur le Curé!” she whispered tremulously. “I—I do not want to go. It—it is such a terrible thing to have to say anything that would help to send a man to death—I—-”

“Mademoiselle Valérie Lafleur!” snapped the clerk. “Will the witness have the goodness to——”

Raymond did not hear her testimony; he knew only that she, too, identified the man as the one she had seen lying unconscious in the road, and that the note she had found was read and placed in evidence—in his ears, like a dull, constant dirge, were those words of hers with which she had left him—“it is such a terrible thing to have to say anything that would help to send a man to death.” Who was it that was sending the man to death? Not he! He had tried to save the man. It wasn't death, anyway. The man's guilt would appear obvious, of course—Lemoyne, the lawyer, could not alter that; but he had still faith in Lemoyne. Lemoyne would make his defence on the man's condition. Lemoyne would come to that.

“My son!” croaked old Mother Blondin fiercely, at his side. “My son! What I know, I know! But the law—the law on the man who killed my son!”

“Pull yourself together, you fool!” rasped that inner voice. “Do you want everybody in the courtroom staring at you. Listen to the incomparable Dupont telling how clever he was!”

Yes, Dupont was on the stand now. Dupont was testifying to finding the revolver and money in the prisoner's pockets. He verified the amount. Dupont had his case at his fingers' tips, and he sketched it, with an amazing conciseness for Monsieur Dupont, from the moment he had been notified of the crime up to the time of the attempted escape. He was convinced that, in spite of all precautions, the prisoner's accomplice had taken alarm—since he, Dupont, had sat the night in the room waiting for the unknown's appearance, and neither he nor his deputy, who had remained until daylight hiding in the shed where he could watch the prisoner's window, had seen or heard anything. On cross-examination he admitted that pressure had been brought to bear upon the prisoner in an effort to trip the man up in his story, but that the prisoner had unswervingly held to the statement that he could remember nothing.

The voices droned through the courtroom. It was Doctor Arnaud now identifying the man. They were always identifying the man! Why did not he, the saintly curé of St. Marleau—no, it was Three-Ace Artie—why did not he, Three-Ace Artie, laugh outright in all their faces! It was not hard to identify the man. He had seen to that very thoroughly, more thoroughly than even he had imagined that night in the storm when all the devils of hell were loosed to shriek around him, and he had changed clothes with a dead man. A dead man—yes, that was the way it should have been! Did he not remember how limply the man's neck and head wagged on the shoulders, and how the body kept falling all over in grotesque attitudes instead of helping him to get its clothes off! Only the dead man had come to life! That was the man over there inside that box with the little wood-turned decorations all around the railing—no, he wouldn't look—but that man there who was the colour of soiled chalk, and whose eyes, with the hurt of a dumb beast in them, kept turning constantly in this direction, over here, here where the witnesses sat.

“Doctor Arnaud”—it was the counsel for the defence speaking, and suddenly Raymond was listening with strained attention—“you have attended the prisoner from the night he was found unconscious in the road until the present time?”

“Yes, monsieur.”

“You have heard me in cross-examination ask Mademoiselle Lafleur and Monsieur Dupont if at any time during this period the prisoner, by act, manner or word, swerved from his statement that he could remember nothing, either of the events of that night, or of prior events in his life. You have heard both of these witness testify that he had not done so. I will ask you now if you are in a position to corroborate their testimony?”

“I am,” replied Doctor Arnaud. “He has said nothing else to my knowledge.”

“Then, doctor, in your professional capacity, will you kindly tell the court and the gentlemen of the jury whether or not loss of memory could result from a blow upon the head.”

“It could—certainly,” stated Doctor Arnaud. “There is no doubt of that, but it depends on the——”

“Just a moment, doctor, if you please; we will come to that”—Lemoyne, as Raymond knew well that Le-moyne himself was fully aware, was treading on thin and perilous ice, but on Lemoyne's lips, as he interrupted, was an engaging smile. “This loss of memory now. Will you please help us to understand just what it means? Take a hypothetical case. Could a man, for example, read and write, do arithmetic, say, appear normal in all other ways, and still have lost the memory of his name, his parents, his friends, his home, his previous state?”

“Yes,” said Doctor Arnaud. “That is quite true. He might lose the memory of all those things, and still retain everything he has acquired by education.”

“That is a medical fact?”

“Yes, certainly, it is a medical fact.”

“And is it not also a medical fact, doctor, that this condition has been known to have been caused by a blow—I will not say so slight, for that would be misleading—but by a blow that did not even cause a wound, and I mean by wound a gash, a cut, or the tearing of the flesh?”

“Yes; that, too, is so.”

Lemoyne paused. He looked at Henri Mentone, and suddenly it seemed as though a world of sympathy and pity were in his face. He turned and looked at the jury—at each one of the twelve men, but almost as though he did not see them. There was a mist in his eyes. It was silent again in the courtroom. His voice was low and grave as he spoke again.

“Doctor Arnaud, are you prepared to state professionally under oath that it is impossible that the blow received by the prisoner at the bar should have caused him to lose his memory?”

“No.” Doctor Arnaud shook his head. “No; I would not say that.”

Lemoyne's voice was still grave.

“You admit then, Doctor Arnaud, that it is possible?”

Doctor Arnaud hesitated. “Yes,” he said. “It is possible, of course.”

“That is all, doctor”—Lemoyne sat down.

“One moment!”—the crown prosecutor, crisp, curt, incisive, was on his feet. “Loss of memory is not insanity, doctor?”


“Is the prisoner in your professional judgment insane?”

“No,” declared Doctor Arnaud emphatically. “Most certainly not!”

With a nod, the crown prosecutor dismissed the witness.

A buzz, whisperings, ran around the room. Raymond's eyes were fixed sombrely on the floor. Relief had come with Lemoyne's climax, but now in Doctor Arnaud's reply to the crown prosecutor he sensed catastrophe. A sentence for life was the best that could be hoped for, but suppose—suppose Lemoyne should fail to secure even that! No, no—they would not hang the man! Even Doctor Arnaud had been forced to admit that he might have lost his memory. That would be strong enough for any jury, and—they were calling his name again, and he was rising, and walking a second time to the witness stand. Surely all these people knew. Was not his face set, and white, and drawn! See that ray of sunlight coming in through that far window, and how it did not deviate, but came straight toward him, and lay upon the crucifix on his breast, to draw all eyes upon it, upon that Figure on the Cross, the Man Betrayed. God, he had not meant this! He had thought the priest already dead that night. It was a dead man he had meant should answer for the killing of that ugly, scarred-faced, drunken blackguard, Théophile Blondin. That couldn't do a dead man any harm! It was a dead man, a dead man, a dead man—not this living, breathing one who——

“Monsieur le Curé,” said the crown prosecutor, “you were present in the prisoner's room with Monsieur Dupont and Doctor Arnaud, when Monsieur Dupont made a search of the accused's clothing?”

“Yes,” Raymond answered.

“Do you identify this revolver as the one taken from the prisoner's pocket?”

What was it Valérie had said—that it was such a terrible thing to have to say anything that would help to send a man to death? But the man was not going to death. It was to be a life sentence—and afterwards, after the trial, there would be time to think, and plot, and plan.

“It is the same one,” said Raymond in a low voice.

“You also saw Monsieur Dupont take a large number of loose bills from the prisoner's pocket?”


“Do you know their amount?”

“No. Monsieur Dupont did not count them at the time.”

“There were a great many, however, crumpled in the pocket, as though they had been hastily thrust there?”


Why did that man in the prisoner's dock look at him like that—not in accusation—it was worse than that—it was in a sorrowful sort of wonder, and a numbed despair. Those devils were laughing in his ears—he was telling the truth!

“That is all, I think, Monsieur le Curé,” said the crown prosecutor abruptly.

All! There came a bitter and abysmal irony. Puppets! All were puppets upon a set stage—from the judge on the bench to that dismayed thing yonder who wrung his hands before the imposing majesty of the law! All! That was all, was it—the few words he had said? Who then was the author of every word that had been uttered in the room, who then had pulled the strings that jerked these automatons about in their every movement! Ah, here was Lemoyne this time, the prisoner's counsel. This time there was to be a cross-examination. Yes, certainly, he would like to help Lemoyne, but Lemoyne must not try to trap him. Lemoyne, too, was a puppet, and therefore Lemoyne could not be expected to know how very true it was that “Henri Mentone” was on trial for his life, and that “Henri Mentone” would fight for that life with any weapon he could grasp, and that Lemoyne would do the prisoner an ill turn to put “Henri Mentone” on the defensive! Well—he brushed his hand across his forehead, and fixed his eyes steadily on Lemoyne—he was ready for the man.

“Monsieur le Curé”—Lemoyne had come very close to the witness stand, and Lemoyne's voice was soberly modulated—“Monsieur le Curé, I have only one question to ask you. You have been with this unfortunate man since the night you found him on the road, you have nursed him night and day as a mother would a child, you have not been long in St. Marleau, but in that time, so I am told, and I can very readily see why, you have come to be called the good, young Father Aubert by all your parish. Monsieur le Curé, you have been constantly with this man, for days and nights you have scarcely left his side, and so I come to the question that, it seems to me, you, of all others, are best qualified to answer.” Lemoyne paused. He had placed his two hands on the edge of the witness box, and was looking earnestly into Raymond's face. “Monsieur le Curé, do you believe that when the prisoner says that he remembers nothing of the events of that night, that he has no recollection of the crime of which he is accused—do you believe, Monsieur le Curé, that he is telling the truth?”

There had been silence in the courtroom before—it was a silence now that seemed to palpitate and throb, a living silence. Instinctively the crown prosecutor had made as though to rise from his chair; and then, as if indifferent, had changed his mind. No one else in the room had moved. Raymond glanced around him. They were waiting—for his answer. The word of the good, young Father Aubert would go far. Lemoyne's eyes were pleading mutely—for the one ground of defence, the one chance for his client's life. But Lemoyne did not need to plead—for that! They must not hang the man! They were waiting—for his answer. Still the silence held. And then Raymond raised his right hand solemnly.

“As God is my judge,” he said, “I firmly believe that the man is telling the truth.”

Benches creaked, there was the rustle of garments, a sort of unanimous and involuntary long-drawn sigh; and it seemed to Raymond that, as all eyes turned on the prisoner, they held a kindlier and more tolerant light. And then, as he walked back to the other witnesses and took his seat, he heard the crown prosecutor speak—as though disposing of the matter in blunt disdain:

“The prosecution rests.”

Valérie laid her hand over his.

“I am so glad—so glad you said that,” she whispered.

Monsieur Dupont leaned forward, and clucked his tongue very softly.

“Hah, Monsieur le Curé!” He wagged his head indulgently. “Well, I suppose you could not help it—eh? No, you could not. I have told you before that you are too soft-hearted.”

There were two witnesses for the defence—Doctor Arnaud's two fellow-practitioners in Tournayville. Their testimony was virtually that of Doctor Arnaud in cross-examination. To each of them the crown prosecutor put the same question—and only one. Was the prisoner insane? Each answered in the negative.

And then, a moment later, Lemoyne, rising to sum up for the defence, walked soberly forward to the jury-box, and halted before the twelve men.

“Gentlemen of the jury,” he began quietly, “you have heard the professional testimony of three doctors, one of them a witness for the prosecution, who all agree that the wound received by the prisoner might result in loss of memory. You have heard the testimony of that good man, the curé of St. Marleau, who gave his days and nights to the care and nursing of the one whose life, gentlemen, now lies in your hands; you have heard him declare in the most solemn and impressive manner that he believed the prisoner had no remembrance, no recollection of the night on which the crime was committed. Who should be better able to form an opinion as to whether, as the prosecution pretends, the prisoner is playing a part, or as to whether he is telling the truth, than the one who has been with him from that day to this, and been with him in the most intimate way, more than any one else? And I ask you, too, to weigh well and remember the character of the man, whom his people call the good, young Father Aubert, who has so emphatically testified to this effect. His words were not lightly spoken, and they were pure in motive. You have heard other witnesses—all witnesses for the defence, gentlemen—assert that they have seen nothing, heard nothing, that would indicate that the prisoner was playing a part. Gentlemen, every scrap of evidence that has been introduced but goes to substantiate the prisoner's story. Is it possible, do you believe for an instant, that a man could with his first conscious breath assume such a part, and, sick and wounded and physically weak, play it through without a slip, or sign, or word, or act that would so much as hint at duplicity? But that is not all. Gentlemen, I will ask you to come with me in thought to a scene that occurred this morning an hour before this trial began, and I would that the gift of words were mine to make you see that scene as I saw it.” He turned and swept out his hand toward the prisoner. “That man was in his cell, on his knees beside his cot. He did not look up as I entered, and I did not disturb him. We were alone together there. After a few minutes he raised his head. There was agony in his face such as I have never seen before on a human countenance. I spoke to him then. I told him that professional confidence was sacred, I warned him of the peril in which he stood, I pleaded with him to help me save his life, to tell me all, everything, not to tie my hands. Gentlemen of the jury, do you know his answer? It was a simple one—and spoken as simply. 'When you came in I was asking God to give me back my memory before it was too late.' That is what he said, gentlemen.”

There were tears in Lemoyne's eyes—there were tears in other eyes throughout the courtroom. There was a cry in Raymond's heart that went out to Le-moyne. He had not failed! He had not failed! Le-moyne had not failed!

“Gentlemen, he did not know.” Lemoyne's voice rose now in impassioned pleading—and he spoke on with that eloquence that is born only of conviction and in the soul. It was the picture of the man's helplessness he drew; the horror of an innocent man entangled in seemingly incontrovertible evidence, and doomed to a frightful death. He played upon the emotions with a master touch—and as the minutes passed sobs echoed back from every quarter of the room—and in the jury box men brushed their hands across their eyes. And at the end he was very quiet again, and his words were very low.

“Gentlemen of the jury, I believe in my soul that this man is innocent. I ask you to believe that he is innocent. I ask you to believe that if he could tell of the events of that night he would stand before you a martyr to a cruel chain of circumstance. And I ask you to remember the terrible responsibility that rests upon you of passing judgment upon a man, helpless, impotent, and alone, and who, deprived of all means of self-defence, has only you to look to—for his life.”

There was buoyancy in Raymond's heart. Lemoyne had not failed! He had been magnificent—triumphant! Even the judge was fumbling awkwardly with the papers on his desk. What did it matter now what the crown prosecutor might say? No one doubted perhaps that the man was guilty, but the spell that Lemoyne had cast would remain, and there would be mercy. A chill came, a chill like death—if it were not so, what would he have to face!

“Gentlemen of the jury”—the crown prosecutor was speaking now—“I should do less than justice to my learned friend if I did not admit that I was affected by his words; but I should also do less than justice to the laws of this land, to you, and to myself if I did not tell you that emotion has no place in the consideration of this case, and that fact alone must be the basis of your verdict. I shall not keep you long. I have only a few words to say. The court will instruct you that if the prisoner is sane he is accountable to the law for his crime. We are concerned, not with his loss of memory, though my learned friend has made much of that, but with his sanity. The court will also instruct you on that point. I shall not, therefore, discuss the question of the prisoner's mental condition, except to recall to your minds that the medical testimony has been unanimous in declaring that the accused is not insane; and except to say that, in so far as loss of memory is concerned, it is plainly evident that he was in full possession of all his faculties at the time the murder was committed, and that I am personally inclined to share the opinion of his accomplice in crime—a man, gentlemen, whom we may safely presume is even a better judge of the prisoner's character than is the curé of St. Marleau—who, from the note you have heard read, has certainly no doubt that the prisoner is not only quite capable of attempting such a deception, but is actually engaged in practising it at the present moment.

“I pass on to the facts' brought out by the evidence. On the night of the crime, a man answering the general description of the prisoner arrived at the St. Marleau station. It was a night when one, and especially a stranger, would naturally be glad of company on the three-mile walk to the village. The man refused the company of the curé. Why? He, as it later appears, had very good reasons of his own! It was such a night that it would be all one would care to do to battle against the wind without being hampered by a travelling bag. He refused the station agent's offer to keep the bag until morning and send it over with the curé's trunk. Why? It is quite evident, in view of what followed, that he did not expect to be there the next morning! He drew from the station agent, corroborating presumably the information previously obtained either by himself or this unknown accomplice, the statement that Madame Blondin was believed to have a large sum of money hidden away somewhere in her house. That was the man, gentlemen, who answers the general description of the prisoner. Within approximately half an hour later Madame Blondin's house is robbed, and, in an effort to protect his mother's property, Théophile Blondin is shot and killed. The question perhaps arises as to how the author of this crime knew the exact hiding place where the money was kept. But it is not material, in as much as we know that he was in a position to be in possession of that knowledge. He might have been peering in through the window when Madame Blondin, as she testified, was at the hiding place a few minutes before he broke into her house—or his accomplice, still unapprehended, may, as I have previously intimated, already have discovered it.

“And now we pass entirely out of the realm of conjecture. You have heard the testimony of the murdered man's mother, who both saw and participated in the struggle. The man who murdered Théophile Blondin, who was actually seen to commit the act, is identified as the prisoner at the bar. He was struck over the head by Madame Blondin with a stick of wood, which inflicted a serious wound. We can picture him running from the house, after Madame Blondin rushed out toward the village to give the alarm. He did not, however, get very far—he was himself too badly hurt. He was found lying unconscious on the road a short distance away. Again the identification is complete—and in his pocket is found the motive for the crime, Madame Blondin's savings—and in his pocket is found the weapon, Théophile Blondin's revolver, with which the murder was committed. Gentlemen, I shall not take up your time, or the time of this court needlessly. No logical human being could doubt the prisoner's guilt for an instant. I ask you, gentlemen of the jury, to return a verdict in accordance with the evidence.”

Raymond did not look up, as the crown prosecutor sat down. “No logical human being could doubt the prisoner's guilt for an instant.” That was true, wasn't it? No human being—save only one. Well, he had expected that—it was even a tribute to his own quick wit. Puppets! Yes, puppets—they were all puppets—all but himself. But if there was guilt, there was also mercy. They would show mercy to a man who could not remember. How many times had he said that to himself! Well, he had been right, hadn't he? He had more reason to believe it now than he had had to believe it before. Lemoyne had, beyond the shadow of a doubt, convinced every one in the courtroom that the man could not remember.

“Order! Attention! Silence!” rapped out the clerk pompously.

The judge had turned in his seat to face the jury.

“Gentlemen of the jury,” he said impassively, “it is my province to instruct you in the law as it applies to this case, and as it applies to the interpretation of the evidence before you. There must be no confusion in your minds as to the question of the prisoner's mental condition. The law does not hold accountable, nor does it bring to trial any person who is insane. The law, however, does not recognise loss of memory as insanity. There has been no testimony to indicate that the prisoner is insane, or even that he was not in an entirely normal condition of mind at the time the crime was committed; there has been the testimony of three physicians that he is not insane. You have therefore but one thing to consider. If, from the evidence, you believe that the prisoner killed Théophile Blondin, it is your duty to bring in a verdict of guilty; on the other hand, the prisoner is entitled to the benefit of any reasonable doubt as to his guilt that may exist in your minds. You may retire, gentlemen, for your deliberations.”

There was a hurried, whispered consultation amongst the twelve men in the jury box. It brought Raymond no surprise that the jury did not leave the room. It brought him no surprise that the figure with the thin, pale face, who was dressed in Raymond Chapelle's clothes, should be ordered to stand and face those twelve men, and hear the word “guilty” fall from the foreman's lips. He had known it, every one had known it—it was the judge now, that white-haired, kindly-faced man, upon whom he riveted his attention. A sentence for life... yes, that was terrible enough... but there was a way... there would be some way in the days to come... he had fastened this crime upon a dead man to save his own life... not on this living one whose eyes now he could not meet across the room, though he could feel them upon him, feel them staring, staring at his naked soul... he would find some way... there would be time, there was all of time in a sentence for life... he would not desert the man, he would——-

“Henri Mentone”—the judge was speaking again—“you have been found guilty by a jury of your peers of the murder of one Théophile Blondin. Have you anything to say why the sentence of this court should not be passed upon you?”

There was no answer. What was the man doing? Was he crying? Trembling? Was there that old nameless horror in the face? Were his lips quivering as a child's lips quiver when it is broken-hearted? Raymond dared not look; dared not look anywhere now save at the white-haired, kindly-faced—yes, he was kindly-faced—judge. And then suddenly he found himself swaying weakly, and his shoulder bumped into old Mother Blondin. Not that—great God—not that! That kindly-faced man was putting a black hat on his head, and standing up. Everybody was standing up. He, too, was standing up, only he was not steady on his feet. Was Valérie's hand on his arm in nervous terror, or to support him! Some one was speaking. The words were throbbing through his brain. Yes, throbbing—throbbing and clanging like hammer blows—that was why he could not hear them all.

“... the sentence of this court... place of confinement... thence to the place of execution... hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

And then Raymond looked; and through the solemn silence, and through the doom that hung upon the room, there came a cry. It was Henri Mentone. The man's hands were stretched out, the tears were streaming down his cheeks. And was this mockery—or a joke of hell! Then why did not everybody howl and scream with mirth! The man was calling upon himself to save himself! No, no—he, Raymond, was going mad to call it mockery or mirth. It was ghastly, horrible, pitiful beyond human understanding, it tore at the heart and the soul—the man was doing what that Figure upon the Cross had once been bade to do—his own name was upon his own lips, he was calling upon himself to save himself. And the voice in agony rang through the crowded room, and people sobbed.

“Father—Father Francois Aubert, help me, do not leave me! I do not know—I do not understand. Father—Father François Aubert, help me—I do not understand!”

And Raymond, groping out behind him, flung his arm across the back of the bench, and, sinking down, his head fell forward, and his face was hidden.

Tiens,” said Mother Blondin sullenly, as though forced to admit it against her will, “he has a good heart, even if he is a priest.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook