Edward Kane and The Letters of Comfort, Chapter 12: 'To Put Her Away Privily'

Kane’s adversary in the case, Charles Cod, was well-set, well-meaning and well-liked. They began to promenade up and down the long narrow floors of Parliament Hall. Cod chuckled: ‘Edward – what is this I hear that you are now representing a Russian millionaire? Something about the Scott Monument?’

Edward Kane and The Letters of Comfort, Chapter 12: 'To Put Her Away Privily' ILLUSTRATION: Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane
Edward Kane and The Letters of Comfort, Chapter 12: 'To Put Her Away Privily' ILLUSTRATION: Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane

Kane laughed: ‘I have the pleasure of being instructed by a certain Mikhail Lermontov – a man determined to get himself into trouble.’

‘From what I hear, Edward, your Russian friend is out on the town every night doing just that. Your client appears to be out on the town every evening spending money as if there is no tomorrow.’

Hide Ad

Edward Kane nodded. He decided not to tell his friend – as far as Mikhail Lermontov was concerned – that in a mere matter of months, there would be no tomorrow: ‘He arrived here with a number of suitcases. All of which, as I understand it, were packed with roubles.’

‘That must have been jolly heavy! I’ve seen those Russian coins…’

Kane interjected: ‘PAPER roubles…’

His opponent laughed: ‘I’ve seen those too. Money guaranteed by the state! Oh, Edward, you lucky blighter! I hope you’re charging double. For the inconvenience.’

‘I see no inconvenience.’

‘Keep looking, my friend. Keep looking – you’ll find something.’ They laughed.

Hide Ad

In the Faculty of Advocates, fierce opponents are often firm friends and so it was with Edward Kane and Charles Cod. The conversation turned to this and that and finally to the case in hand. Cod gave a sly smile: ‘Edward, I wonder if I might test a theory with you.’

‘Of course.’

‘The substance of your case – and beautifully pled, by the way…’

‘Thank you…’

‘The substance of your case is that my client, Joseph Blakemore, went out to Madras with the East India Company and he came back – how shall we put it politely – ‘a changed man’.’

Hide Ad

‘Well put, Charles.’

Charles Cod said nothing for a time and stared at the floor in concentration as they walked down the Hall. Kane interrupted his thinking: ‘Do I require to proffer a penny for those thoughts, Charles?’

‘Edward, you and I have had a great number of clients…’ (Cod was being generous here – Kane had only managed a few so far), ‘…but can I just say that I have seldom met a chap more genuine than Joseph Blakemore.’

Kane responded: ‘The issue here is not whether he’s ‘a genuine chap’, Charles – it’s whether he is the genuine Joseph Blakemore.’

Cod laughed: ‘Bull’s-eye, Edward – bull’s-eye! But my theory is this – or perhaps it’s more instinct – the wife left behind, sorry, I’ve forgotten her name…’

‘Esme Blakemore – nee Fordyce’

Hide Ad

‘The lovely young Esme Fordyce is not the principal agitator here, is she?’

Kane was silent. Cod continued: ‘It’s granny, isn’t it?’ Kane looked up. Charles Cod went on: ‘I’ve seen that woman here at every hearing, at every stage. I saw her this morning. What on earth is she doing here?’

Hide Ad

‘Granny holds the purse strings. She is not entirely trusting of the process. Apparently, she wants to understand the mechanism of how her pocket is being picked today.’

Cod laughed: ‘Well, I have a number of criminal clients who would be only too willing to give her a tutorial.’ He looked over to the fireplace: ‘Ah – ecce homo – behold the man, Edward – by the fireplace there, one Joseph Blakemore.’

Kane looked over and saw a well-dressed, earnest-looking figure in greatcoat and top hat warming his hands by the fire. He turned to Cod: ‘What is he doing here?’

‘I plan to consult with him after the motion. Edward – before you go, I’ll let you into a secret. Joseph Blakemore there loves your young lady. He seems an awfully tender-hearted husband. He says that he will do anything to spare the young Esme the ordeal and the shame of giving evidence in public on the stand. Speak to your client.’ He laughed: ‘More importantly – speak to granny. If we were to, for example, sist the case – kick it into the long grass – we can arrange for a judicial separation here. That kind of thing – not opposed – all affidavits – we can work out the details later.’

This unexpected proposition stopped Kane dead in his tracks. Now the other Advocates walking behind them began to walk around them, like the waters of a stream moving around a stone.

‘He knows he’s changed, Edward. He’s not denying that. But he’s also a good husband – he loves her so much – he wants only good for her. Obviously, he has come back a different man. And if she can’t accept him as he now is, then, rather than disgrace her with this – if I may say, rather sensational – court action…’

Hide Ad

Odd – the things that strike one out of the blue. Edward Kane had a sudden flash of his father, a church Minister, on the pulpit on Christmas Day: ‘Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily…’

But it was then that Kane realised that his opponent was no longer looking at him. Rather, he was staring through the crowd to the fireplace. Kane looked over. A roaring fire – but Joseph Blakemore was gone now. ’Everything alright, Charles?’

Hide Ad

Cod smiled: ‘I just thought…I could have sworn…aaaah,’ he nodded his head ‘…makes perfect sense now.’

Edward raised his eyes in expectation, seeking an answer. Cod laughed: ‘My client has just gone off with some pretty little dollymop. The mystery of why he would like a quick ‘divorce’, as it were, is quickly solved. Of course – he has come back and formed a new connexion…’

Their conversation was interrupted by the cry of a small figure bellowing through a window high up on the wall: ‘Call the case – Esme Fordyce or Blakemore against Joseph Andrews Blakemore…’

Charles Cod straightened his wig and smiled: ‘You’ve seen who our judge is today?’

Kane nodded: ‘‘Clever Dick’.’

‘He’s not a bad sort, but I always feel that with him, there’s always the feeling of Daniel in the Lions’ Den.’

Hide Ad

Kane had an unkind thought: In that case, Daniel actually survived.

Tomorrow: The Lions’ Den