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Witness for the Defence   By: (1865-1948)

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First Page:

THE WITNESS FOR THE DEFENCE

BY A.E.W. MASON

1914

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. HENRY THRESK

II. ON BIGNOR HILL

III. IN BOMBAY

IV. JANE REPTON

V. THE QUEST

VI. IN THE TENT AT CHITIPUR

VII. THE PHOTOGRAPH

VIII. AND THE RIFLE

IX. AN EPISODE IN BALLANTYNE'S LIFE

X. NEWS FROM CHITIPUR

XI. THRESK INTERVENES

XII. THRESK GIVES EVIDENCE

XIII. LITTLE BEEDING AGAIN

XIV. THE HAZLEWOODS

XV. THE GREAT CRUSADE

XVI. CONSEQUENCES

XVII. TROUBLE FOR MR. HAZLEWOOD

XVIII. MR. HAZLEWOOD SEEKS ADVICE

XIX. PETTIFER'S PLAN

XX. ON THE DOWNS

XXI. THE LETTER IS WRITTEN

XXII. A WAY OUT OF THE TRAP

XXIII. METHODS FROM FRANCE

XXIV. THE WITNESS

XXV. IN THE LIBRARY

XXVI. TWO STRANGERS

XXVII. THE VERDICT

THE WITNESS FOR THE DEFENCE

CHAPTER I

HENRY THRESK

The beginning of all this difficult business was a little speech which Mrs. Thresk fell into a habit of making to her son. She spoke it the first time on the spur of the moment without thought or intention. But she saw that it hurt. So she used it again to keep Henry in his proper place.

"You have no right to talk, Henry," she would say in the hard practical voice which so completed her self sufficiency. "You are not earning your living. You are still dependent upon us;" and she would add with a note of triumph: "Remember, if anything were to happen to your dear father you would have to shift for yourself, for everything has been left to me."

Mrs. Thresk meant no harm. She was utterly without imagination and had no special delicacy of taste to supply its place that was all. People and words she was at pains to interpret neither the one nor the other and she used both at random. She no more contemplated anything happening to her husband, to quote her phrase, than she understood the effect her barbarous little speech would have on a rather reserved schoolboy.

Nor did Henry himself help to enlighten her. He was shrewd enough to recognise the futility of any attempt. No! He just looked at her curiously and held his tongue. But the words were not forgotten. They roused in him a sense of injustice. For in the ordinary well to do circle, in which the Thresks lived, boys were expected to be an expense to their parents; and after all, as he argued, he had not asked to be born. And so after much brooding, there sprang up in him an antagonism to his family and a fierce determination to owe to it as little as he could.

There was a full share of vanity no doubt in the boy's resolve, but the antagonism had struck roots deeper than his vanity; and at an age when other lads were vaguely dreaming themselves into Admirals and Field Marshals and Prime Ministers Henry Thresk, content with lower ground, was mapping out the stages of a good but perfectly feasible career. When he reached the age of thirty he must be beginning to make money; at thirty five he must be on the way to distinction his name must be known beyond the immediate circle of his profession; at forty five he must be holding public office. Nor was his profession in any doubt. There was but one which offered these rewards to a man starting in life without money to put down the Bar.

So to the Bar in due time Henry Thresk was called; and when something did happen to his father he was trained for the battle. A bank failed and the failure ruined and killed old Mr. Thresk. From the ruins just enough was scraped to keep his widow, and one or two offers of employment were made to Henry Thresk.

But he was tenacious as he was secret. He refused them, and with the help of pupils, journalism and an occasional spell as an election agent, he managed to keep his head above water until briefs began slowly to come in... Continue reading book >>




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