Stubberd, with a suppressed gaze of victorious rectitude at the old woman, continued: "Was standing myself. She was wambling about quite dangerous to the thoroughfare, and when I approached to draw near she committed the nuisance, and insulted me."
"""Insulted me.""... Yes, what did she say?"
"She said, ""Put away that dee lantern,"" she says."
"Says she, ""Dost hear, old turmit-head? Put away that dee lantern. I have floored fellows a dee sight finer-looking than a dee fool like thee, you son of a bee, dee me if I haint,"" she says."
"I object to that conversation!" interposed the old woman. "I was not capable enough to hear what I said, and what is said out of my own hearing is not evidence."
There was another stoppage for consultation, a book was referred to, and finally Stubberd was allowed to go on again. The truth was that the old woman had appeared in court so many more times than the magistrates themselves, that they were obliged to keep a sharp look-out upon their procedure. However, when Stubberd had rambled on a little further Henchard broke out impatiently, "Come - we don't want to hear any more of them cust dees and bees! Say the words out like a man, and don't be so modest, Stubberd; or else leave it alone!" Turning to the woman, "Now then, have you any questions to ask him, or anything to say?"
"Yes," she replied with a twinkle in her eye; and the clerk dipped his pen.
"Twenty years ago or thereabout I was selling of furmity in a tent at Weydon Fair - "
"""Twenty years ago"" - well, that's beginning at the beginning; suppose you go back to the Creation!" said the clerk, not without satire.
But Henchard stared, and quite forgot what was evidence and what was not.
"A man and a woman with a little child came into my tent," the woman continued. "They sat down and had a basin apiece. Ah, Lord's my life! I was of a more respectable station in the world then than I am now, being a land smuggler in a large way of business; and I used to season my furmity with rum for them who asked fo't. I did it for the man; and then he had more and more; till at last he quarrelled with his wife, and offered to sell her to the highest bidder. A sailor came in and bid five guineas, and paid the money, and led her away. And the man who sold his wife in that fashion is the man sitting there in the great big chair." The speaker concluded by nodding her head at Henchard and folding her arms.
Everybody looked at Henchard. His face seemed strange, and in tint as if it had been powdered over with ashes. "We don't want to hear your life and adventures," said the second magistrate sharply, filling the pause which followed. "You've been asked if you've anything to say bearing on the case."
"That bears on the case. It proves that he's no better than I, and has no right to sit there in judgement upon me."
"'Tis a concocted story," said the clerk. "So hold your tongue!"
"No--'tis true." The words came from Henchard. "'Tis as true as the light," he said slowly. "And upon my soul it does prove that I'm no better than she! And to keep out of any temptation to treat her hard for revenge, I'll leave her to you."
The sensation in the court was indescribably great. Henchard left the chair, and came out, passing through a group of people on the steps and outside that was much larger than usual; for it seemed that the old
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