The court was crowded and many of the prisoner's clients had attended to show their sympathy.
"Is this case defended?" asked Mr. Melrose.
"Yes, your worship," said Summerway Jones. "May I, before it opens, make an objection?"
"If you think it worth while, Mr. Jones."
"I beg to respectfully request your ruling before the case is proceeded with. My client is not a vagrant, but a respectable member of the community, living in his own house, paying rates and taxes, and on the same footing as every other citizen. He is now prosecuted under the fourth section of the Vagrancy Act of 1824, which is styled, 'An Act for punishing idle and disorderly persons, and rogues and vagabonds'. The Act was intended, as the words imply, to restrain lawless gipsies and others, who at that time infested the country. I ask your worship to rule that my client is clearly not a person within the purview of this Act or liable to its penalties."
The magistrate shook his head.
"I fear, Mr. Jones, that there have been too many precedents for the Act to be now interpreted in this limited fashion. I will ask the solicitor prosecuting on behalf of the Commissioner of Police to put forward his evidence." A little bull of a man with side-whiskers and a raucous voice sprang to his feet.
"I call Henrietta Dresser."
The elder policewoman popped up in the box with the alacrity of one who is used to it. She held an open notebook in her hand.
"You are a policewoman, are you not?"
"I understand that you watched the prisoner's home the day before you called on him?"
"How many people went in?"
"Fourteen people. And I believe the prisoner's average fee is ten and sixpence."
"Seven pounds in one day! Pretty good wages when many an honest man is content with five shillings."
"These were the tradespeople!" cried Linden.
"I must ask you not to interrupt. You are already very efficiently represented" said the magistrate severely.
"Now, Henrietta Dresser," continued the prosecutor, wagging his pince-nez. "Let's hear what occurred when you and Amy Bellinger visited the prisoner."
The policewoman gave an account which was in the main true, reading it from her book. She was not a married woman, but the medium had accepted her statement that she was. He had fumbled with several names and had seemed greatly confused. The name of a dog -- Pedro had been submitted to him, but he had not recognized it as such. Finally, he had answered questions as to the future of her alleged daughter, who was, in fact, no relation to her, and had foretold that she would be unhappy in her marriage.
"Any questions, Mr. Jones?" asked the magistrate.
"Did you come to this man as one who needed consolation? And did he attempt to give it?"
"I suppose you might put it so."
"You professed deep grief, I understand."
"I tried to give that impression."
"You do not consider that to be hypocrisy?"
"I did what was my duty."
"You saw no signs of psychic power, or anything abnormal?" asked the prosecutor.
"No, he seemed a very nice, ordinary sort of man."
Amy Bellinger was the next witness. She appeared with her notebook in her hand.
"May I ask, your worship, whether it is in order that these witnesses should read their evidence?" asked Mr. Jones.
"Why not?" queried the magistrate. "We desire the exact facts" do we not?"
"We do. Possibly Mr. Jones does not," said the prosecuting solicitor.
"It is clearly a method of securing that the evidence of these two witnesses shall be in accord," said Jones. "I submit that these accounts are carefully prepared and collated."
"Naturally, the police prepare their case," said the magistrate. "I do not see that you have any grievance, Mr. Jones. Now, witness, let us hear your evidence."
It followed on the exact lines of the other.
"You asked questions about your fiance? You had no fiance," said Mr. Jones.
"That is so."
"In fact, you both told a long sequence of lies?"
"With a good object in view."
"You thought the end justified the means?"
"I carried out my instructions."
"Which were given you beforehand?"
"Yes, we were told what to ask."
"I think," said the magistrate, "that the policewomen have given their evidence very fairly and well.