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HOME > Short Stories > Sue, A Little Heroine > CHAPTER XXVII. DELAYED TRIAL.
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 It is quite true that Pickles had put on the torture screw. Harris felt exceedingly uncomfortable as he walked home. It was a fact, then, that Sue had been caught and put in prison. That disagreeable boy had seen it all; he had witnessed her rapid flight; he had heard her protestations of innocence; he had seen her carried off to prison. Sue, so good and brave and honest, would be convicted of theft and would have to bear the penalty of theft—of another's theft, not her own. What a foolish girl she had been to run away! Of course, it made her guilt seem all the plainer. There was not a loophole of escape for her. She was certain to be found guilty; probably to-day she would be brought before the magistrate and sentence pronounced upon her. He wondered what magistrate would try her; how long her punishment would last. Had he dared he would have attended her trial. But he did not dare. That red-haired boy—that most unpleasant, impudent boy—would probably be there. There was no saying what things he might say. He would probably appear as a witness, and nothing would keep that giddy tongue of his quiet. What a very queer boy he was, and how strange were his suspicions! When any one else in all the world would have accepted Sue's guilt as beyond doubt or question, he persisted in declaring her innocent. Nay, more than that, he had even declared that the man who had gone with her into the shop was the guilty person. Harris knew there was no proof against the man. No one had seen him take the locket;128 no one had witnessed its transfer into Sue's pocket. The man was safe enough. No one living could bring his guilt home to him.  
But stay a moment! A horrible fear came over him. Why did that boy speak like that? He saw Sue running away. Perhaps he had seen more than that. Perhaps he had come on the platform of events earlier in the narrative. Harris felt the cold sweat starting to his forehead as it occurred to him that that awful boy had reason for his talk—that he knew to whom he was speaking. When Harris took the locket he might have been flattening his nose against the window-pane at the pawnbroker's; he might have seen all that was taking place. What was to be done? He could not confess, and yet if he didn't he was in horrible danger; his present state was worse than any state he had been in before. Suppose Connie ever found out his meanness, his wickedness.
Harris was very fond of Connie just then. He had suffered during her absence. His home was pleasant to him—as pleasant as his guilty conscience would permit during those days, for little Giles was like no one else. Oh, could the awful moment ever come when Giles would look at him with reproachful eyes—when Giles would turn away from him? The miserable man felt that were such a time to arrive it would be almost as bad as the knowledge that God Himself could not forgive him. He was distracted, miserable; he must find a refuge from his guilty thoughts.
A public-house stood handy. He had not really taken too much for a long time now—not since that terrible night when, owing to drink, he had turned his child from his door. But he would forget his misery now in drink.
"That dreadful boy!" he muttered—"that dreadful, dreadful boy, with hair like a flame, and eyes that peered into you like gimlets!"
Harris passed through the great swing-doors. His good angel must almost have disappeared at that moment.
Meanwhile Connie and Giles watched and waited in vain for Sue. She was coming to-day—she was coming to-morrow. But the weary hours went by and no Sue arrived; there was no message from her. Harris went oftener and oftener to the public-house, and brought less and less of his wages home, and Giles faded and faded, and Connie also looked very sad and weary.
Once Connie said to Giles, when nearly a month had gone by:
"Yer'll 'ave to give up that notion 'bout the country, Giles, for 'tain't true."
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