"No, sir. I had only seen him for one hour during the past twelve years, and the man who walked into my office not only looked like Sir Nicholas, but was wearing the same clothes as he had done on the previous occasion we'd met. He was also in possession of all the correspondence that had taken place between us over the years, and was wearing a gold ring bearing the family coat of arms as well as a silver chain and key that his grandfather had shown me some years before."
"So he was, in every sense, Sir Nicholas Moncrieff?"
"To the naked eye, yes, sir."
"Looking back over that time with the benefit of hindsight, did you ever suspect that the man you believed to be Sir Nicholas Moncrieff was in fact an impostor?"
"No. In all matters he conducted himself with courtesy and charm, rare in such a young man. In truth he reminded me more of his grandfather than any other member of the family."
"How did you eventually discover that your client was not in fact Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, but Danny Cartwright?"
"After he'd been arrested and charged with the offenses that are the subject of this current trial."
"Can I confirm for the record, Mr. Munro, that since that day, the responsibility for the Moncrieff estate has returned to your stewardship?"
"That is correct, Mr. Redmayne. However, I must confess that I have not conducted the day-to-day business with the flair that Danny Cartwright always displayed."
"Would it be right to say that the estate is in a stronger financial position now than it has been for some years?"
"Without question. However, the trust has not managed to maintain the same growth since Mr. Cartwright was sent back to prison."
"I do hope," interrupted the judge, "that you are not suggesting, Mr. Munro, that that diminishes the severity of these charges?"
"No, my lord, I am not," said Munro. "But I have discovered with advancing years that few things are entirely black or white, but more often different shades of gray. I can best sum it up, my lord, by saying that it was an honor to have served Sir Nicholas Moncrieff and it has been a privilege to work with Mr. Cartwright. They are both oaks, even if they were planted in different forests. But then, m'lord, we all suffer in our different ways from being prisoners of birth."
Sir Matthew opened both his eyes and stared at a man he wished he'd known for many years.
"The jury cannot have failed to notice, Mr. Munro," continued Alex, "that you retain the greatest respect and admiration for Mr. Cartwright. But with that in mind, they may find it hard to understand how the same man became involved in such a nefarious deception."
"I have considered that question endlessly for the past six months, Mr. Redmayne, and have come to the conclusion that his sole purpose must have been to fight a far bigger injustice that had-"
"Mr. Munro," interrupted the judge sternly, "as you well know, this is neither the time nor the place to express your personal opinions."
"I am grateful, my lord, for your guidance," said Munro, turning to face the judge, "but I took an oath to tell the whole truth, and I presume you would not wish me to do otherwise?"
"No, I would not, sir," snapped the judge, "but I repeat, this is not the appropriate place to express such views."
"My lord, if a man cannot express his honestly held views in the Central Criminal Court, perhaps you can advise me where else he is free to state that which he believes to be the truth?"
A ripple of applause ran around the public gallery.
"I think the time has come to move on, Mr. Redmayne," said Mr. Justice Hackett.
"I have no more questions for this witness, my lord," said Alex. The judge looked relieved.
As Alex resumed his seat, Sir Matthew leaned across and whispered, "I actually feel a little sorry for dear Arnold. He must be torn between taking on this giant at the risk of being humiliated, or avoiding him altogether and leaving the jury with an impression that they will regale their grandchildren with."
Mr. Munro didn't flinch as he stared resolutely at Pearson, who was deep in conversation with his junior, both of them looking equally perplexed.
"I don't wish to hurry you, Mr. Pearson," said the judge, "but is it your intention to cross-examine this witness?"
Pearson rose even more slowly than usual, and did not tug the lapels of his gown or touch his wig. He glanced down at the list of questions he had forfeited his weekend to prepare, and changed his mind.
"Yes, my lord, but I will not be detaining the witness for long."
"Just long enough, I hope," murmured Sir Matthew.
Pearson ignored the remark, and said, "I am at pains to understand, Mr. Munro, how a man as shrewd and experienced in legal matters as yourself could not have suspected even for a moment that his client was an impostor."
Munro tapped his fingers on the side of the witness box, and waited for as long as he felt he could get away with. "That's easy to explain, Mr. Pearson," he eventually said. "Danny Cartwright was at all times utterly plausible, though I confess that there was a single moment in our two-year-long relationship when he lowered his guard."
"And when was that?" Pearson asked.
"When we were discussing his grandfather's stamp collection and I had cause to remind him that he had attended the opening of an exhibition of that collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. I was surprised that he did not appear to recollect the occasion, which I found puzzling, as he was the only member of the Moncrieff family who had received an invitation."
"Did you not question him on the subject?" demanded Pearson.
"No," said Munro. "I felt that it would not have been appropriate at the time."
"But if you suspected, even for a moment, that this man was not Sir Nicholas," Pearson said, pointing a finger at Danny but not looking in his direction, "surely it was your responsibility to pursue the matter?"
"I did not feel so at the time."
"But this man was perpetuating a massive fraud on the Moncrieff family, which you had made yourself a party to."
"I didn't see it that way," responded Munro.
"But as you were the custodian of the Moncrieff estate, surely it was your duty to expose Cartwright for the fraud he was."
"No, I didn't consider that to be my duty," said Munro calmly.
"Did it not alarm you, Mr. Munro, that this man had taken up residence at the Moncrieffs' London town house when he had no right to do so?"
"No, it did not alarm me," replied Munro.
"Were you not appalled by the thought that this outsider now had control of the Moncrieff fortune, which you had guarded so jealously on behalf of the family for so many years?"
"No, sir, I was not appalled by that thought."
"But later, when your client was arrested on charges including fraud and theft, did you not feel that you had been negligent in the pursuance of your duty?" demanded Pearson.
"I do not require you to advise me whether I have or have not been negligent in my duty, Mr. Pearson."
Sir Matthew opened one eye. The judge kept his head down.
"But this man had stolen the family silver, to quote another Scot, and you had done nothing to prevent it," said Pearson, his voice rising with every word.