PHINEAS IN PRISON.
Too Long; Didn't ReadPhineas Finn himself, during the fortnight in which he was carried backwards and forwards between his prison and the Bow Street Police-office, was able to maintain some outward show of manly dignity,—as though he felt that the terrible accusation and great material inconvenience to which he was subjected were only, and could only be, temporary in their nature, and that the truth would soon prevail. During this period he had friends constantly with him,—either Mr. Low, or Lord Chiltern, or Barrington Erle, or his landlord, Mr. Bunce, who, in these days, was very true to him. And he was very frequently visited by the attorney, Mr. Wickerby, who had been expressly recommended to him for this occasion. If anybody could be counted upon to see him through his difficulty it was Wickerby. But the company of Mr. Wickerby was not pleasant to him, because, as far as he could judge, Mr. Wickerby did not believe in his innocence. Mr. Wickerby was willing to do his best for him; was, so to speak, moving heaven and earth on his behalf; was fully conscious that this case was a great affair, and in no respect similar to those which were constantly placed in his hands; but there never fell from him a sympathetic expression of assurance of his client's absolute freedom from all taint of guilt in the matter. From day to day, and ten times a day, Phineas would express his indignant surprise that any one should think it possible that he had done this deed, but to all these expressions Mr. Wickerby would make no answer whatever. At last Phineas asked him the direct question. "I never suspect anybody of anything," said Mr. Wickerby. "Do you believe in my innocence?" demanded Phineas. "Everybody is entitled to be believed innocent till he has been proved to be guilty," said Mr. Wickerby. Then Phineas appealed to his friend Mr. Low, asking whether he might not be allowed to employ some lawyer whose feelings would be more in unison with his own. But Mr. Low adjured him to make no change. Mr. Wickerby understood the work and was a most zealous man. His client was entitled to his services, but to nothing more than his services. And so Mr. Wickerby carried on the work, fully believing that Phineas Finn had in truth murdered Mr. Bonteen.
But the prisoner was not without sympathy and confidence. Mr. Low, Lord Chiltern, and Lady Chiltern, who, on one occasion, came to visit him with her husband, entertained no doubts prejudicial to his honour. They told him perhaps almost more than was quite true of the feelings of the world in his favour. He heard of the friendship and faith of the Duchess of Omnium, of Madame Goesler, and of Lady Laura Kennedy,—hearing also that Lady Laura was now a widow. And then at length his two sisters came over to him from Ireland, and wept and sobbed, and fell into hysterics in his presence. They were sure that he was innocent, as was every one, they said, throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. And Mrs. Bunce, who came to see Phineas in his prison, swore that she would tear the judge from his bench if he did not at once pronounce a verdict in favour of her darling without waiting for any nonsense of a jury. And Bunce, her husband, having convinced himself that his lodger had not committed the murder, was zealous in another way, taking delight in the case, and proving that no jury could find a verdict of guilty.