Manalive HTML version

II.1. The Eye of Death; or, the Murder Charge
The dining-room of the Dukes had been set out for the Court of Beacon with a
certain impromptu pomposity that seemed somehow to increase its cosiness.
The big room was, as it were, cut up into small rooms, with walls only waist high--
the sort of separation that children make when they are playing at shops. This
had been done by Moses Gould and Michael Moon (the two most active
members of this remarkable inquiry) with the ordinary furniture of the place. At
one end of the long mahogany table was set the one enormous garden chair,
which was surmounted by the old torn tent or umbrella which Smith himself had
suggested as a coronation canopy. Inside this erection could be perceived the
dumpy form of Mrs. Duke, with cushions and a form of countenance that already
threatened slumber. At the other end sat the accused Smith, in a kind of dock; for
he was carefully fenced in with a quadrilateral of light bedroom chairs, any of
which he could have tossed out the window with his big toe. He had been
provided with pens and paper, out of the latter of which he made paper boats,
paper darts, and paper dolls contentedly throughout the whole proceedings. He
never spoke or even looked up, but seemed as unconscious as a child on the
floor of an empty nursery.
On a row of chairs raised high on the top of a long settee sat the three young
ladies with their backs up against the window, and Mary Gray in the middle; it
was something between a jury box and the stall of the Queen of Beauty at a
tournament. Down the centre of the long table Moon had built a low barrier out of
eight bound volumes of "Good Words" to express the moral wall that divided the
conflicting parties. On the right side sat the two advocates of the prosecution, Dr.
Pym and Mr. Gould; behind a barricade of books and documents, chiefly (in the
case of Dr. Pym) solid volumes of criminology. On the other side, Moon and
Inglewood, for the defence, were also fortified with books and papers; but as
these included several old yellow volumes by Ouida and Wilkie Collins, the hand