The Ends Of Justiceby Fred M White
"My God!" George Cathcart cried
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It was nothing but a dream. He would wake up presently, with the heaving deck under his feet and the salt of the sea pungent in his nostrils. Meanwhile the dream was horribly realistic; so were the prison bars, the acrid smell of fresh whitewash, the tramp of heavy feet in the clanging corridors, the rattle of keys in distant locks.
"My God!" George Cathcart cried. "I shall go mad. I shall—"
He paused, overcome with the crushing burden of it all. He paced up and down the narrow cell, backwards and forwards, restlessly, like a tiger in a cage, his magnificent chest heaving like that of a distressed runner.
A criminal? Well, perhaps. But there was nothing criminal about the clear-cut brown face, nothing furtive in those clear, blue eyes. And yet, unless some miracle happened, George Cathcart stood face to face with the certainty of a long term of penal servitude. A victim of circumstances, the tool and scapegoat of rascals who walked unscathed in the broad light of day. One moment it seemed impossible that he could be convicted, yet another moment and the damning evidence on which he had been committed for trial caused him to tremble with something worse than fear.
In the face of that evidence, who would believe his story? He might as well stand up in court and denounce the learned judge who tried him, as attack the name of those who had brought him to this pass.
Cathcart flung himself down at length, utterly worn out and exhausted. He turned to his breakfast, and then away again with a loathing and disgust. A foggy November sun struggled through the narrow window; outside, in the street beyond, some boys were squabbling over a game of marbles. The little assize town of Lewton took but faint interest in the legal function annually held there. Lewton 'gaol' was little more than a lock-up. The court accommodation was of the vilest, and loud were the complaints of Bench and Bar that the whole assize had not been transported to Beachmouth years before. It was all the same to Cathcart. On the whole, he could hide his shame better there.
Cathcart could hear the sounds of bustle and pomp outside. He heard the judge's carriage drive up presently; he could catch the thud of dogged, patient footsteps of witnesses as they shuffled up and down the pavement outside. Then the door of the cell opened, and the warder in charge came in. Lewton gaol was not of sufficient importance to boast of a governor. Samuel Gem nodded to the prisoner.
"Your case will be called next," he said. "If you want to see a lawyer—"
"I want to see nothing." George replied doggedly. "When all the powers of hell are allied against me, what does one paltry servant of the devil matter?"
"Going to plead guilty, eh?"
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