Those who were watching the self-contained Emily saw her turn very white and begin to tremble. Suddenly she gave a shriek: then after a second’s pause she began to sob. Every one listened in an icy stillness, their hearts in their mouths. Through her tears they heard, they all heard, the words: “…He was all lying in his blood…he was awful! He…he died, he said something and then he died !”
That was all that was articulate. Watkin sat down, thunderstruck. The effect on the court could hardly have been greater. As for Mathias, he did not show surprise: he looked more like a man who has digged a pit into which his enemy has fallen.
The judge leant forward and tried to question her: but she only sobbed and screamed. He tried to soothe her: but by now she had become too hysterical for that. She had already, however, said quite enough for the matter in hand: and they let her father come forward and lift her out of the box.
As he stepped down with her she caught sight for the first time of Jonsen and the crew, huddled up together in a sort of pen. But they were much thinner than the last time she had seen them. The terrible look on Jonsen’s face as his eye met hers, what was it that it reminded her of?
Her father hurried her home. As soon as she was in the cab she became herself again with a surprising rapidity. She began to talk about all she had seen, just as if it had been a party: the man asleep, and the man drawing funny faces, and the man with the bunch of flowers, and had she said her piece properly?
“Captain was there,” she said. “Did you see him?”
“What was it all about?” she asked presently. “Why did I have to learn all those questions?”
Mr. Thornton made no attempt to answer her questions: he even shrank back, physically, from touching his child Emily. His mind reeled with the many possibilities. Was it conceivable she was such an idiot as really not to know what it was all about? Could she possibly not know what she had done? He stole a look at her innocent little face, even the tear-stains now gone. What was he to think?
But as if she read his thoughts, he saw a faint cloud gather.
“What are they going to do to Captain?” she asked, a faint hint of anxiety in her voice.
Still he made no answer. In Emily’s head the Captain’s face, as she had last seen it…what was it she was trying to remember?
Suddenly she burst out:
“Father, what happened to Tabby in the end, that dreadful windy night in Jamaica?”
Trials are quickly over, once they begin. It was no time before the judge had condemned these prisoners to death and was trying some one else with the same concentrated, benevolent, individual attention.
Afterwards, a few of the crew were reprieved and transported.
The night before the execution, Jonsen managed to cut his throat: but they found out in time to bandage him up. He was unconscious by the morning, and had to be carried to the gallows in a chair: indeed, he was finally hanged in it. Otto bent over once and kissed his forehead; but he was completely insensible.
It was the negro cook, however, according to the account in the Times , who figured most prominently. He showed no fear of death himself, and tried to comfort the others.
“We have all come here to die,” he said. “ That ” (pointing to the gallows) “was not built for nothing. We shall certainly end our lives in this place: nothing can now save us. But in a few years we should die in any case. In a few years the judge who condemned us, all men now living, will be dead. You know that I die innocent: anything I have done, I was forced to do by the rest of you. But I am not sorry. I would rather die now, innocent, than in a few years perhaps guilty of some great sin.”
It was a few days later that term began, and Mr. and Mrs. Thornton took Emily to her new school at Blackheath. While they remained to tea with the head mistress, Emily was introduced to her new playmates.
“Poor little thing,” said the mistress, “I hope she will soon forget the terrible things she has been through. I think our girls will have an especially kind corner in their hearts for her.”
In another room, Emily with the other new girls was making friends with the older pupils. Looking at that gentle, happy throng of clean innocent faces and soft graceful limbs, listening to the ceaseless, artless babble of chatter rising, perhaps God could have picked out from among them which was Emily: but I am sure that I could not.