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Chapter 8
We passed a few sad hours until eleven o'clock, when the trial was to commence. My
father and the rest of the family being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied them
to the court. During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living
torture. It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would
cause the death of two of my fellow beings: one a smiling babe full of innocence and joy,
the other far more dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that could
make the murder memorable in horror. Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed
qualities which promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an
ignominious grave, and I the cause! A thousand times rather would I have confessed
myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed,
and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and
would not have exculpated her who suffered through me.
The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed in mourning, and her countenance,
always engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful.
Yet she appeared confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and
execrated by thousands, for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have
excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity
she was supposed to have committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evidently
constrained; and as her confusion had before been adduced as a proof of her guilt, she
worked up her mind to an appearance of courage. When she entered the court she threw
her eyes round it and quickly discovered where we were seated. A tear seemed to dim her
eye when she saw us, but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful affection
seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness.
The trial began, and after the advocate against her had stated the charge, several
witnesses were called. Several strange facts combined against her, which might have
staggered anyone who had not such proof of her innocence as I had. She had been out the
whole of the night on which the murder had been committed and towards morning had
been perceived by a market-woman not far from the spot where the body of the murdered
child had been afterwards found. The woman asked her what she did there, but she
looked very strangely and only returned a confused and unintelligible answer. She
returned to the house about eight o'clock, and when one inquired where she had passed
the night, she replied that she had been looking for the child and demanded earnestly if
anything had been heard concerning him. When shown the body, she fell into violent
hysterics and kept her bed for several days. The picture was then produced which the
servant had found in her pocket; and when Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it
was the same which, an hour before the child had been missed, she had placed round his
neck, a murmur of horror and indignation filled the court.
Justine was called on for her defence. As the trial had proceeded, her countenance had
altered. Surprise, horror, and misery were strongly expressed. Sometimes she struggled