Without a Home by Edward Payson Roe
Chapter XXXIV. "A Wise Judge"
When the interminable night would end Mildred could not guess, for no dawning was visible from her basement cell. The woman opposite gradually became stupid and silent. Other prisoners were brought in from time to time, but they were comparatively quiet. A young girl was placed in a cell not far away, and her passionate weeping was pitiful to hear. The other prisoners were generally intoxicated or stolidly indifferent, and were soon making the night hideous with their discordant respiration.
The place had become so terrible to Mildred that she even welcomed the presence of the policeman who had arrested her, and who at last came to take her to the police court. Must she walk with him through the streets in the open light of day? She feared she would faint on what, in her weakness, would be a long journey, and her heart gave a great throb of gratitude as she saw Eoger awaiting her in the large general room, or entrance, to the station-house. Nor was her appreciation of his kindness diminished when she saw a man in attendance--evidently a waiter from a restaurant--with a plate of sandwiches and a pot of coffee. Roger came forward, eagerly grasping her hand, and there was so much solicitude and sympathy in his dark eyes that her tears began to gather, and a faint color to suffuse the pallor that at first had startled him.
"Mr. Atwood," she murmured, "you are kindness itself, and I have not deserved it. Forgive me. I will try not to fail you to-day, for your respect sustains me, and I would not lose it."
"I knew your brave spirit would second all our efforts," he said in like low tones, and with a bright, grateful look. "Here, waiter--come, Miss Jocelyn, it's by just such prosaic means that soldiers sustain the fight. You'll dine at home."
"Yes, hurry up," added the officer; "we have no time now for words or ceremony."
She ate a few mouthfuls, and drank some coffee. "I cannot take any more now," she said to Roger.
Oh, how plainly her womanly instinct divined his unbounded loyalty; and, with bitter protest at her weakness, she knew with equal certainty that she shrank from his love with her old, unconquerable repugnance. With a dissimulation which even he did not penetrate, she looked her thanks as the officer led the way to the street, and said, "Since your friends provide the carriage, you can ride, miss; only we can't part company."
She stepped into the coach, the policeman taking the opposite seat.
"Oh, God, how pale and wan she is! This will kill her," Roger groaned, as she sprang up on the box with the driver.
It was so early that few were abroad, and yet Mildred would not look up. How could she ever look up again! The leaden clouds seemed to rest upon the steeples of the churches. Churches! and such scenes as she had witnessed, and such a wrong as hers, were taking place under the shadow of their spires!
Roger had passed as sleepless a night as had fallen to Mildred's lot, and bitterly he regretted that he had been able to accomplish so little. Mr. Wentworth was out of town, and would not be back for a day or two. Then he sought the judge before whom Mildred would appear the following morning, and learned, with dismay, that he, too, had gone to a neighboring city, and would return barely in time to open court at the usual hour! He had hoped that, by telling his story beforehand, the judge would adopt his plan of discovering the real culprit. This was still his hope, for, after long thought, he determined not to employ counsel, fearing it would lead to a prolongation of the case. His strong characteristic of self-reliance led him to believe that he could manage the affair best alone, and he was confident from his own inexperience. The rain had ceased, and for hours he paced the wet pavement near the station-house, finding a kind of satisfaction in being as near as possible to the one he loved, though utterly unable to say a reassuring word.
Having learned that the prisoners might ride to court if the means were provided, he had a carriage ready long before the appointed time, and his presence did much to nerve Mildred for the ordeal she so much dreaded.
On reaching the entrance at which the prisoners were admitted, he sprang down to assist Mildred to alight; but the officer said gruffly, "Stand back, young man; you must have your say in the court-room. You are a little too officious."
"No, sir; I'm only most friendly."
"Well, well, we have our rules," and he led the trembling girl within the stony portals, and she was locked up in what is termed "the box," with the other female prisoners, who were now arriving on foot.
This was, perhaps, the worst experience she had yet endured, and she longed for the privacy of her cell again. Never before had she come in contact with such debased wrecks of humanity, and she blushed for womanhood as she cowered in the furthest corner and looked upon her companions--brutal women, with every vice stamped on their bloated features. The majority were habitual drunkards, filthy in person and foul of tongue. True to their depraved instincts, they soon began to ridicule and revile one who, by contrast, proved how fallen and degraded they were. And yet, not even from these did the girl recoil with such horror as from some brazen harpies who said words in her ear that made her hide her face with shame. The officer in charge saw that she was persecuted, and sternly interfered in her behalf, but from their hideous presence and contact she could not escape.
By some affinity not yet wholly obliterated, the girl she had heard weeping in the night shrank to her side, and her swollen eyes and forlorn appearance could not hide the fact that she was very young, and might be very pretty. Mildred knew not what to say to her, but she took her hand and held it. This silent expression of sympathy provoked another outburst of grief, and the poor young creature sobbed on Mildred's shoulder as if her heart were breaking. Mildred placed a sustaining arm around her, but her own sustaining truth and purity she could not impart.
A partition only separated her from the "box"--which was simply a large wooden pen with round iron bars facing the corridor--to which the male prisoners were brought, one after another, by the policemen who had arrested them. The arrival of the judge was somewhat delayed, and may the reader never listen to such language as profaned her ears during the long hour and a half before the opening of the court.
Fortunately her turn came rather early, and she at last was ushered to the doorway which looked upon the crowded court-room, and her heart throbbed with hope as she singled out her mother, Belle, Mrs. Wheaton, and Roger, from among long lines of curious and repulsive faces. The former kissed their hands to her, and tried to give wan, reassuring smiles, which their tears belied. Roger merely bowed gravely, and then, with an expression that was singularly alert and resolute, gave his whole attention to all that was passing. After recognizing her friends, Mildred turned to the judge, feeling that she would discover her fate in his expression and manner. Was he a kindly, sympathetic man, unhardened by the duties of his office? She could learn but little from his grave, impassive face. She soon feared that she had slight cause for hope, for after what seemed to her an absurdly brief, superficial trial, she saw two of her companions of the "box" sentenced to three months' imprisonment. The decision, which to her had such an awful import, was pronounced in an off-hand manner, and in the matter-of-fact tone with which one would dispose of bales of merchandise, and the floods of tears and passionate appeals seemingly had no more effect on the arbiter of their fates than if he had been a stony image. She could not know that they were old offenders, whose character was well known to the judge and the officers that had arrested them. Such apparent haphazard justice or injustice had a most depressing effect upon her and the weeping girl who stood a little in advance.
The next prisoner who appeared before the bar received very different treatment. He was a middle-aged man, and had the appearance and was clothed in the garb of a gentleman. With nervously trembling hands and bowed head, he stood before the judge, who eyed him keenly, after reading the charge of intoxication in the streets.
"Have you ever been arrested before?" he asked.
"No indeed, sir," was the low, emphatic reply. "Come up here; I wish to speak with you."
The officer in attendance took the half-comprehending man by the elbow and led him up within the bar before the long desk which ran the whole width of the court-room, and behind which the judge sat with his clerks and assistants.
"Now tell me all about it," said the judge, and the man in a few words told his story without any palliation. With a gleam of hope Mildred saw the expression of the judge's face change as he listened, and when at last he replied, in tones so low that none could hear them save he to whom they were addressed, she saw that look which wins all hearts--the benignant aspect of one who might condemn for evil, but who would rather win and save from evil. The man slowly lifted his eyes to the speaker's face, and hope and courage began to show themselves in his bearing. The judge brought his extortation to a practical conclusion, for he said, "Promise me that with God's help you will never touch the vile stuff again."
The promise was evidently sincere and hearty. "Give me your hand on it," said his Honor.
The man started as if he could scarcely believe his ears, then wrung the judge's hand, while his eyes moistened with gratitude. "You are at liberty. Good-morning, sir;" and the man turned and walked through the crowded court-room, with the aspect of one to whom manhood had been restored.
Hope sprang up in Mildred's heart, for she now saw that her fate was not in the hands of a stony-hearted slave of routine. She looked toward her relatives, and greeted their tearful smiles with a wan glimmer of light on her own face, and then she turned to watch the fortunes of the weeping girl who followed next in order. She did not know the charge, but guessed it only too well from the judge's face, as the officer who had arrested her made his low explanation. She, too, was summoned within the rail, and the judge began to question her. At first she was too greatly overcome by her emotions to answer. As she cowered, trembled, and sobbed, she might well have been regarded as the embodiment of that shame and remorse which overwhelm fallen womanhood before the heart is hardened and the face made brazen by years of vice. Patiently and kindly the judge drew from her faltering lips some pitiful story, and then he talked to her in low, impressive tones, that seemed to go straight to her despairing soul. A kind, firm, protecting hand might then have led her back to a life of virtue, for such had been her bitter foretastes of the fruits of sin that surely she would have gladly turned from them, could the chance have been given to her. The judge mercifully remitted her punishment, and gave her freedom. Who received her, as she turned her face toward the staring throng that intervened between her and the street? Some large-hearted woman, bent on rescuing an erring sister? Some agent of one of the many costly charities of the city? No, in bitter shame, no. Only the vile madam who traded on the price of her body and soul, and who, with vulture-like eyes, had watched the scene. She only had stood ready to pay the fine, if one had been imposed according to the letter of the law. She only received the weak and friendless creature, from whom she held as pledges all her small personal effects, and to whom she promised immediate shelter from the intolerable stare that follows such victims of society. The girl's weak, pretty face, and soft, white hands were but too true an index to her infirm will and character, and, although fluttering and reluctant, she again fell helpless into the talons of the harpy. Hapless girl! you will probably stand at this bar again, and full sentence will then be given against you. The judge frowned heavily as he saw the result of his clemency, and then, as if it were an old story, he turned to the next culprit. Mildred had been much encouraged as she watched the issue of the two cases just described; but as her eyes followed the girl wistfully toward the door of freedom she encountered the cold, malignant gaze of the man who had charge of her department at the shop, and who she instinctively felt was the cause of her shameful and dangerous position. By his side sat the two women who had searched her and the leading foreman of the store. Sick and faint from apprehension, she turned imploringly toward Roger, who was regarding the floor-walker with such vindictive sternness that she felt the wretch's hour of reckoning would soon come, whatever might be her fate. This added to her trouble, for she feared that she was involving Roger in danger.
No time was given for thoughts on such side issues, for the prisoner preceding her in the line was sentenced, after a trial of three minutes--a summary proceeding that was not hope-inspiring.
The name of Mildred Jocelyn was now called, and there was a murmur of expectant interest in the court-room, for she was not by any means an ordinary prisoner in appearance, and there were not a few present who knew something of the case. The young girl was pushed before the bar, and would gladly have clung to it, in order to support her trembling form. But while she could not infuse vigor into her overtaxed muscles, her brave spirit rallied to meet the emergency, and she fixed her eyes unwaveringly upon the judge, who now for the first time noticed her attentively, and it did not escape her intensely quickened perceptions that his eyes at once grew kindly and sympathetic. Sitting day after day, and year after year, in his position, he had gained a wonderful insight into character, and in Mildred's pure, sweet face he saw no evidence of guilt or of criminal tendencies. It was, indeed, white with fear, and thin from wearing toil and grief; but this very pallor made it seem only more spiritual and free from earthliness, while every feature, and the unconscious grace of her attitude, bespoke high breeding and good blood.
First, the officer who arrested her told his story, and then the elder of the two women who searched her was summoned as the first witness. The judge looked grave, and he glanced uneasily at the prisoner from time to time; but the same clear, steadfast eyes met his gaze, unsullied by a trace of guilt. Then the second woman corroborated the story of her associate, and the judge asked, "How came you to suspect the prisoner so strongly as to search her?" and at this point the floor-walker was summoned.
The vigilant magistrate did not fail to note the momentary glance of aversion and horror which Mildred bestowed upon this man, and then her eyes returned with so deep and pathetic an appeal to his face that his heart responded, and his judgment led him also to believe that there was error and perhaps wrong in the prosecution. Still he was compelled to admit to himself that the case looked very dark for the girl, who was gaining so strong a hold on his sympathy.
"I must inform your Honor," began the witness plausibly, after having been sworn, "that laces had been missed from the department in which this girl was employed, and I was keenly on the alert, as it was my duty to be. Some suspicious circumstances led me to think that the prisoner was the guilty party, and the search proved my suspicions to be correct."
"What were the suspicious circumstances?"
The man seemed at a loss for a moment. "Well, your Honor, she went to the cloak-room yesterday afternoon," he said.
"Do not all the girls go to the cloak-room occasionally?"
"Yes, but there was something in her face and manner that fastened my suspicions upon her."
"What evidences of guilt did you detect?"
"I can scarcely explain--nothing very tangible. The evidences of guilt were found on her person, your Honor."
"Yes, so much has been clearly shown."
"And she was very reluctant to be searched, which would not have been the case had she been conscious of innocence."
The woman who searched her was now asked, "Did she shrink from search, in such a manner as to betoken guilt?"
"I can't say that she did show any fear of being searched by us," was the reply. "She refused to be searched in the private office of the firm."
"That is, in the presence of men? Quite naturally she did." Then to the floor-walker, "Have your relations with this girl been entirely friendly?"
"I am glad to say I have no relations with her whatever. My relations are the same that I hold to the other girls--merely to see that they do their duty."
"You are perfectly sure that you have never cherished any ill-will toward her?"
"So far from it, I was at first inclined to be friendly."
"What do you mean by the term friendly?"
"Well, your Honor" (a little confusedly), "the term seems plain enough."
"And she did not reciprocate your friendship?" was the keen query.
"After I came to know her better, I gave her no occasion to reciprocate anything; and, pardon me, your Honor, I scarcely see what bearing these questions have on the plain facts in the case."
A slight frown was the only evidence that the judge had noted the impertinent suggestion that he did not know his business.
"Are you perfectly sure that you cherish no ill-will toward the prisoner?"
"I simply wish to do my duty by my employers. I eventually learned that her father was an opium-eater and a sot, and I don't fancy that kind of people. That is my explanation," he concluded, with a large attempt at dignity, and in a tone that he evidently meant all should hear.
"Her father is not on trial, and that information was uncalled for. Have you any further testimony?" the judge asked coldly.
"No, sir," and he stepped down amid a suppressed hiss in the court-room, for the spectators evidently shared in the antipathy with which he had inspired the keen-eyed but impassive and reticent magistrate, who now beckoned Mildred to step up close to him, and she came to him as if he were her friend instead of her judge. He was touched by her trust; and her steadfast look of absolute confidence made him all the more desirous of protecting her, if he could find any warrant for doing so. She said to him unmistakably by her manner, "I put myself in your hands."
"My child," the judge began seriously, yet kindly, "this is a very grave charge that is brought against you, and if it is your wish you can waive further trial before me at this stage of proceedings, for unless you can prove yourself innocent at this preliminary examination, your case must be heard before a higher court. Perhaps you had better obtain counsel, and have the whole matter referred at once to the grand jury."
"I would rather be tried by you, sir," Mildred replied, in a vibrating voice full of deep, repressed feeling; "I am innocent. It would be like death to me to remain longer under this shameful charge. I have confidence in you. I know I am guiltless. Please let me be tried now, now, for I cannot endure it any longer."
"Very well, then;" and he handed her a small, grimy Bible, that, no doubt, had been kissed by scores of perjured lips. But Mildred pressed hers reverently upon it, as she swore to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
After a few preliminary questions as to age, etc., the justice said, reassuringly, "Now tell your story briefly and clearly."
It was indeed a brief story, and it had the impress of truth; but his Honor looked very grave as he recognized how little there was in it to refute the positive testimony already given. "Have you witnesses?" he asked.
"My mother and sister are present, and--and--a young man who thinks he knows something in my favor."
"I will hear your mother first," said the judge, believing that in her he would find the chief source of character; and when the sad, refined gentlewoman stood beside her daughter, he was all the more convinced that the girl ought to be innocent, and that all his insight into character and its origin would be at fault if she were not. In low, eager tones, Mrs. Jocelyn spoke briefly of their misfortunes, and testified as to Mildred's conduct. "She has been an angel of patience and goodness in our home," she said, in conclusion; "and if this false charge succeeds, we shall be lost and ruined indeed. My daughter's pastor is out of town, and in our poverty we have few friends who could be of any service. An old neighbor, Mrs. Wheaton, is present, and will confirm my words, if you wish; but we would thank your Honor if you will call Mr. Roger Atwood, who says he has information that will aid my child."
"Very well, madam," responded the judge kindly, "we will hear Mr. Atwood."
Roger was now sworn, while Mrs. Jocelyn returned to her seat. In the young fellow's frank, honest face the judge found an agreeable contrast with the ill-omened visage of the floor-walker, whose good looks could not hide an evil nature.
"I must beg your Honor to listen to me with patience," Roger began in a low tone, "for my testimony is peculiar, and does not go far enough unless furthered by your Honor's skill in cross-questioning;" and in eager tones, heard only by the judge, he told what he had seen, and suggested his theory that if the girl, whom he had followed two evenings before, could be examined previous to any communication with her accomplice, she would probably admit the whole guilty plot.
The judge listened attentively, nodding approvingly as Roger finished, and said, "Leave me to manage this affair. I wish you to go at once with an officer, point out this girl to him, and bring her here. She must not have communication with any one. Nor must anything be said to her relating to the case by either you or the officer. Leave her wholly to me."
A subpoena was made out immediately and given to a policeman, with a few whispered and emphatic injunctions, and Roger was told to accompany him.
"This case is adjourned for the present. You may sit with your mother within the railing," he added kindly to Mildred.
The floor-walker had been watching the turn that the proceedings were taking with great uneasiness, and now was eager to depart, in order to caution the girl that Roger was in pursuit of against admitting the least knowledge of the affair; but the judge was too quick for him, and remarked that he was not through with him yet, and requested that he and the representative of the firm should remain. The two women who had testified against Mildred were permitted to depart. Then, as if dismissing the case from his mind, he proceeded to dispose of the other prisoners.
Belle joined her sister, and greeted her with great effusiveness, looking ready to champion her against the world; but they at last quieted her, and waited with trembling impatience and wonder for the outcome of Roger's mission.
The girl who had been led to wrong Mildred so greatly returned to the shop that morning with many misgivings, which were much increased when she learned what had occurred. She also felt that her accomplice had dealt treacherously in allowing such serious proceedings against Mildred, for he had promised that she should be merely taxed with theft and warned to seek employment elsewhere. "If he deceives in one respect he will in another, and I'm not safe from arrest either," she said to herself, and she made so many blunders in her guilty preoccupation that she excited the surprise of her companions. As she was waiting on a customer she heard a voice remark, "That's the girl," and looking up she grew faint and white as she saw, standing before her, a policeman, who served his subpoena at once, saying, "You must go with me immediately."
Frightened and irresolute, she stammered that she knew nothing about the affair.
"Well, then, you must come and tell his Honor so."
"Must I go?" she appealed to one of the firm, who happened to be near.
"Certainly," he replied, examining the subpoena; "go and tell all you know, or if you don't know anything, say so."
"I don't see why I should be dragged into the case--" she began brazenly.
"There's the reason," said the officer impatiently; "that subpoena has the power of bringing any man or woman in the city."
Seeing that resistance was useless, she sullenly accompanied them to a street-car, and was soon in readiness to be called upon for her testimony. The judge having disposed of the case then on trial, Mildred was again summoned to the bar, and the unwilling witness was sent for. She only had time to cast a reproachful glance at the man who, she feared, had betrayed her, and who tried, by his manner, to caution her, when the judge demanded her attention, he having in the meantime noted the fellow's effort.
"Stand there," he said, placing her so that her back was toward the man who sought to signal silence. "Officer, swear her. Now," he resumed severely, "any deviation from the truth, and the whole truth, will be perjury, which, you know, is a State-prison offence. I can assure you most honestly that it will be better for you, in all respects, to hide nothing, for you will soon discover that I know something about this affair."
After the preliminary questions, which were asked with impressive solemnity, he demanded, "Did you not leave the shop on Tuesday evening, and pass up the Avenue to----Street?"
"Did you not look back twice, to see if you were followed?"
"I may have looked back."
"You don't deny it, then?"
"Did not Mr. Bissel, the floor-walker, join you in----Street, before you had gone very far?"
"Ye--yes, sir," with a start.
"Did he not say something that agitated you very much?"
"He may have frightened me," she faltered.
"Yes, he probably did; but why? Did you not make a strong gesture of protest against what he said?"
"Yes, sir," with a troubled stare at the judge.
"Did you not go on with him very quietly and submissively, after a moment or two?"
"Yes, sir," and her face now was downcast, and she began to tremble.
"Did you not enter a covered alley-way, that led to tenements in the rear?"
"Yes, sir," with increasing agitation.
"Well, what did you do there?"
"Has he told on me, your Honor?" she gasped, with a sudden flood of tears.
"What he has done is no concern of yours. You are under oath to tell the whole truth. There was a single gas-jet burning in the covered passage-way, was there not?"
"Yes, sir," sobbing violently.
"Has Miss Mildred Jocelyn ever wronged you?"
"N--no, sir, not that I know of."
"Now tell me just what occurred under that gas-jet."
"I'll tell your Honor the whole truth," the girl burst out, "if your Honor'll let me off this time. It's my first offence, and we're poor, and I was driven to it by need, and he promised me that Miss Jocelyn wouldn't suffer anything worse than a warning to find another place."
Believing that her accomplice had betrayed her, she told the whole story without any concealment, fully exonerating Mildred. Although the judge maintained his stern, impassive aspect throughout the scene, he hugely enjoyed the floor-walker's dismay and confusion, and his tortured inability to warn the girl to deny everything.
"Please, your Honor, forgive me this time," sobbed the trembling witness in conclusion, "and I'll never do wrong again."
"I have no right or power to punish you," replied the judge; "it rests wholly with your employers whether they will prosecute you or not. Send that floor-walker here" (to an officer). "Well, sir, what have you to say to this testimony?" he asked, as the fellow shuffled forward, pale and irresolute. "Remember, you are still under oath."
The wily villain, caught in his own trap, hesitated. He was tempted to deny that the plot against Mildred was at his instigation; but, like the girl, he saw that the judge had mysterious information on the subject, and he could not tell how far this knowledge went. If he entered on a series of denials he might be confronted by another witness. The young man who had been sent to identify the girl, and whose unexpected presence had brought such disaster, might have been concealed in the passage-way, and so have seen and heard all. With the fear of an indictment for perjury before his eyes the fellow began to whine.
"I was only trying to protect the interests of my employers. I had suspected the Jocelyn girl--" At this there arose from the court-room a loud and general hiss, Which the judge repressed, as he sternly interposed,
"We have nothing to do with your suspicions. Do you deny the testimony?"
"No, sir; but--"
"That's enough. No words; step down." Then turning to Mildred, he said kindly and courteously, "Miss Jocelyn, it gives me pleasure to inform you that your innocence has been clearly shown. I should also inform you that this man Bissel has made himself liable to suit for damages, and I hope that you will prosecute him. I am sorry that you have been subjected to so painful an ordeal. You are now at liberty."
"I thank--oh, I thank and bless your Honor," said Mildred, with such a depth of gratitude and gladness in her face that the judge smiled to himself several times that day. It was like a burst of June sunshine after a storm. While the witness was admitting the facts which would prove her guiltless, Mildred was scarcely less agitated than the wretched girl herself; but her strong excitement showed itself not by tears, but rather in her dilated eyes, nervously trembling form, and quickly throbbing bosom. Now that the tension was over she sank on a bench near, and covering her eyes, from which gushed a torrent of tears, with her hands, murmured audibly, "Thank God! oh, thank God! He has not deserted me after all."
Looks of strong sympathy were bent upon her from all parts of the room, and even the judge himself was so much affected that he took prompt refuge in the duties of his office, and summoning the foreman of the shop, said, "You may inform your employers how matters stand." This functionary had been regarding the later stage of the proceedings in undisguised astonishment, and now hastened to depart with his tidings, the floor-walker following him with the aspect of a whipped cur, and amid the suppressed groans and hisses of the spectators. The girl, too, slunk away after them in the hope of making peace with her employers.
The judge now observed that Roger had buttonholed a reporter, who had been dashing off hieroglyphics that meant a spicy paragraph the following day. Summoning the young man, he said, as if the affair were of slight importance, "Since the girl has been proved innocent, and will have no further relation to the case, I would suggest that, out of deference to her friends and her own feelings, there be no mention of her name," and the news-gatherer good-naturedly acceded to the request.
A new case was called, and new interests, hopes, and fears agitated the hearts of other groups, that had been drawn to the judgment-seat by the misfortunes or crimes of those bound to them by various ties.
Mrs. Jocelyn would not leave the place, which she had so dreaded, until Roger could accompany them, and they chafed at every moment of delay that prevented their pouring out their thanks. But Mildred's heart was too full for words. She fully understood how great a service he had rendered her. She bitterly reproached herself for all her prejudice in the past, and was in a mood for any self-sacrifice that he would ask. Tears of deep and mingled feeling fell fast, and she longed to escape from the staring crowd. Not before such witnesses could she speak and look the gratitude she felt.
With downcast eyes and quivering lips she followed her mother--to whom Roger had given his arm--from the court-room. A carriage stood at the door, into which Mrs. Jocelyn was hurried before she could speak; then turning so promptly that there was no chance even for exuberant Belle or the effervescing Mrs. Wheaton to utter a syllable, Roger seized Mildred's hand, and said earnestly, "Thanks for your aid, Miss Jocelyn. I thought you were the bravest girl in the world, and you have proved it. I am as glad as you are, and this is the happiest moment in my life. I've just one favor to ask--please rest, and don't worry about anything--not anything. That's all. Good-by, for I must be off to business;" and before she or any of them could speak he caught a swiftly passing street-car and disappeared.