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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter XV

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"I am so sorry I gave you all so much trouble last night," said Ellinor, apologetically. "I was overtired, and much shocked by the news I heard."

"No trouble, no trouble, I am sure. Neither Mrs. Johnson nor I felt it in the least a trouble. Many ladies I know feel such things very trying, though there are others that can stand a judge's putting on the black cap better than most men. I'm sure I saw some as composed as could be under Judge Corbet's speech."

"But about Dixon? He must not die, Mr. Johnson."

"Well, I don't know that he will," said Mr. Johnson, in something of the tone of voice he would have used in soothing a child. "Judge Corbet said something about the possibility of a pardon. The jury did not recommend him to mercy: you see, his looks went so much against him, and all the evidence was so strong, and no defence, so to speak, for he would not furnish any information on which we could base defence. But the judge did give some hope, to my mind, though there are others that think differently."

"I tell you, Mr. Johnson, he must not die, and he shall not. To whom must I go?"

"Whew! Have you got additional evidence?" with a sudden sharp glance of professional inquiry.

"Never mind," Ellinor answered. "I beg your pardon . . . only tell me into whose hands the power of life and death has passed."

"Into the Home Secretary's--Sir Phillip Homes; but you cannot get access to him on such an errand. It is the judge who tried the case that must urge a reprieve--Judge Corbet."

"Judge Corbet?"

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"Yes; and he was rather inclined to take a merciful view of the whole case. I saw it in his charge. He'll be the person for you to see. I suppose you don't like to give me your confidence, or else I could arrange and draw up what will have to be said?"

"No. What I have to say must be spoken to the arbiter--to no one else. I am afraid I answered you impatiently just now. You must forgive me; if you knew all, I am sure you would."

"Say no more, my dear lady. We will suppose you have some evidence not adduced at the trial. Well; you must go up and see the judge, since you don't choose to impart it to any one, and lay it before him. He will doubtless compare it with his notes of the trial, and see how far it agrees with them. Of course you must be prepared with some kind of proof; for Judge Corbet will have to test your evidence."

"It seems strange to think of him as the judge," said Ellinor, almost to herself.

"Why, yes. He's but a young judge. You knew him at Hamley, I suppose? I remember his reading there with Mr. Ness."

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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