The Old Man in the Corner
XXIII. A Memorable Day
"Two days later the police applied for a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Percival Brooks on a
charge of forgery.
"The Crown prosecuted, and Mr. Brooks had again the support of Mr. Oranmore, the
eminent K.C. Perfectly calm, like a man conscious of his own innocence and unable to
grasp the idea that justice does sometimes miscarry, Mr. Brooks, the son of the
millionaire, himself still the possessor of a very large fortune under the former will, stood
up in the dock on that memorable day in October, 1908, which still no doubt lives in the
memory of his many friends.
"All the evidence with regard to Mr. Brooks' last moments and the forged will was gone
through over again. That will, it was the contention of the Crown, had been forged so
entirely in favour of the accused, cutting out every one else, that obviously no one but the
beneficiary under that false will would have had any motive in forging it.
"Very pale, and with a frown between his deep-set, handsome Irish eyes, Percival Brooks
listened to this large volume of evidence piled up against him by the Crown.
"At times he held brief consultations with Mr. Oranmore, who seemed as cool as a
cucumber. Have you ever seen Oranmore in court? He is a character worthy of Dickens.
His pronounced brogue, his fat, podgy, clean-shaven face, his not always immaculately
clean large hands, have often delighted the caricaturist. As it very soon transpired during
that memorable magisterial inquiry, he relied for a verdict in favour of his client upon
two main points, and he had concentrated all his skill upon making these two points as
telling as he possibly could.
"The first point was the question of time, John O'Neill, cross-examined by Oranmore,
stated without hesitation that he had given the will to Mr. Percival at eleven o'clock in the
morning. And now the eminent K.C. brought forward and placed in the witness-box the
very lawyers into whose hands the accused had then immediately placed the will. Now,
Mr. Barkston, a very well-known solicitor of King Street, declared positively that Mr.
Percival Brooks was in his office at a quarter before twelve; two of his clerks testified to
the same time exactly, and it was _impossible_, contended Mr. Oranmore, that within
three-quarters of an hour Mr. Brooks could have gone to a stationer's, bought a will form,
copied Mr. Wethered's writing, his father's signature, and that of John O'Neill and Pat
"Such a thing might have been planned, arranged, practised, and ultimately, after a great
deal of trouble, successfully carried out, but human intelligence could not grasp the other
as a possibility.