The rest of the press corps bolted for the door.



CHAPTER SEVENTY-SEVEN



DANNY SPENT ANOTHER sleepless night in his cell at Belmarsh, and it wasn't just Big Al's snoring that kept him awake.



Beth sat up in bed trying to read a book, but she never turned a page as her mind was more concerned with the ending of another story.



Alex Redmayne didn't sleep, because he knew that if they failed tomorrow, he would not be given a third chance.



Sir Matthew Redmayne didn't even bother to go to bed, but went over the order of his questions again and again.



Spencer Craig tossed and turned as he tried to work out which questions Sir Matthew was most likely to ask, and how he could avoid answering them.



Arnold Pearson never slept.



Mr. Justice Hackett slept soundly.



Court number four was already packed by the time Danny took his place in the dock. He glanced around the courtroom, and was surprised to see a melee of senior barristers and solicitors attempting to find vantage points from which to follow proceedings.



The press benches were filled with crime correspondents who for the past week had written hundreds of column inches, and had warned their editors to expect a lead story for tomorrow's first editions. They couldn't wait for the encounter between the greatest advocate since F. E. Smith and the most brilliant young QC of his generation (The Times), or the Mongoose versus the Snake (The Sun).



Danny looked up at the public gallery and smiled at Beth, who was sitting in her usual place next to his mother. Sarah Davenport was seated at the end of the front row, her head bowed. On counsel's bench Mr. Pearson was chatting to his junior. He looked more relaxed than at any time during the trial; but then today he would only be a spectator, not a participant.



The only empty seats to be found in the well of the courtroom were at the far end of counsel's bench awaiting the entrance of Alex Redmayne and his junior. Two extra policemen had been stationed on the door to explain to latecomers that only those on official business could now be accommodated in the courtroom.



Danny sat in the center of the dock, the best seat in the house. This was one performance for which he would like to have read the script before the curtain went up.



There was a babble of anticipation in the room as everyone awaited the four remaining participants who still had to make their entrance. At five minutes to ten, a policeman opened the courtroom door and a hush fell over the assembled gathering as those who had been unable to find a seat stood aside to allow Alex Redmayne and his junior to make their way to counsel's bench.



This morning Sir Matthew made no pretense of slumping in a corner and closing his eyes. He didn't even sit down. He stood bolt upright and looked around the courtroom. It was many years since he'd appeared as an advocate in any court. Once he'd found his bearings, he unfolded a small wooden stand that his wife had retrieved from the loft the night before, and which hadn't seen service for a decade. He placed it on the desk in front of him, and from his bag he removed a sheaf of papers on which he had written in his neat hand the questions Spencer Craig had spent all night trying to anticipate. Finally he handed Alex two photographs that they both knew could decide the fate of Danny Cartwright.



Only after everything was in place did Sir Matthew turn and smile at his old adversary. "Good morning, Arnold," he said. "I do hope that we won't be troubling you too much today."



Pearson returned the smile. "A sentiment with which I am fully able to concur," he said. "In fact, I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime, Matthew, and wish you luck, despite the fact I have never once during all my years at the Bar wanted my opponent to win. Today is the exception."



Sir Matthew gave a slight bow. "I will do my best to fulfill your wishes." He then sat down, closed his eyes and began to compose himself.



Alex busied himself preparing documents, transcripts, photographs and other miscellaneous material in neat piles so that when his father shot out his right hand, like an Olympic relay runner, the baton would be passed instantly.



The noise of uninvolved chatter ceased when Mr. Justice Hackett made his entrance. He ambled across to the three chairs on the center of the stage, attempting to give an impression that nothing untoward was about to take place in the court that morning.



Having amply filled the center chair, he spent longer than usual arranging his pens and checking his notebook while he waited for the jury to take their places.



"Good morning," he said once they had settled, the tone of his voice rather avuncular. "Members of the jury, the first witness today will be Mr. Spencer Craig QC. You will recall his name being raised during the cross-examination of Sir Hugo Moncrieff. Mr. Craig does not appear as a witness for either the prosecution or the defense, but has been subpoenaed to attend this court, meaning that he does not do so willingly. You must remember that your only duty is to decide if the evidence Mr. Craig presents has any bearing on the case being tried in this court, namely, did the defendant unlawfully escape from custody? On that count, and that count alone, you will be asked to deliver your verdict."



Mr. Justice Hackett beamed down at the jury before turning his attention to junior counsel. "Sir Matthew," he said, "are you ready to call the witness?"



Matthew Redmayne rose slowly from his place. "I am indeed, my lord," he responded, but did not do so. He poured himself a glass of water, then placed a pair of spectacles on the end of his nose, and finally opened his red leather folder. Having satisfied himself that he was ready for the encounter, he said, "I call Mr. Spencer Craig," his words sounding like a death knell.



A policeman stepped out into the corridor and bellowed, "Mr. Spencer Craig!"



Everyone's attention was now focused on the courtroom door as they awaited the entrance of the final witness. A moment later, Spencer Craig, dressed in his legal garb, strode into the courtroom as if it was just another day in the life of a busy advocate.



Craig stepped into the witness box, picked up the Bible and, facing the jury, delivered the oath in a firm and confident manner. He knew that it was they, and they alone, who would decide his fate. He handed the Bible back to the usher, and turned to face Sir Matthew.



"Mr. Craig," Sir Matthew began in a quiet, lulling tone, as if it was his desire to assist the witness in every possible way. "Would you be kind enough to state your name and address for the record?"



"Spencer Craig, forty-three Hambledon Terrace, London SW3."



"And your occupation?"



"I am a barrister at law and a Queen's Counsel."



"So there is no need for me to remind such an eminent member of the legal profession of the significance of the oath, or the authority of this court."



"No need at all, Sir Matthew," replied Craig, "although you appear to have done so."



"Mr. Craig, when did you first discover that Sir Nicholas Moncrieff was in fact Mr. Daniel Cartwright?"



"A friend of mine who had been at school with Sir Nicholas bumped into him at the Dorchester Hotel. He soon realized that the man was an impostor."



Alex placed a tick in the first box. Craig had clearly anticipated his father's first question, and delivered a well-prepared answer.



"And why should this friend decide to inform you, in particular, of this remarkable discovery?"



"He didn't, Sir Matthew; it simply arose in conversation over dinner one night."