The judge did not check this kindly demonstration of homage and affection, but let it run its course unrebuked.
The old ladies stopped and shook hands with the twins with effusion, then gave the judge a friendly nod, and bustled into the seats provided for them. They immediately began to deliver a volley of eager questions at the friends around them: "What is this thing for?" "What is that thing for?" "Who is that young man that's writing at the desk? Why, I declare, it's Jack Bunce! I thought he was sick." "Which is the jury? Why, is that the jury? Billy Price and Job Turner, and Jack Lounsbury, and--well, I never!" "Now who would ever 'a' thought--"
But they were gently called to order at this point, and asked not to talk in court. Their tongues fell silent, but the radiant interest in their faces remained, and their gratitude for the blessing of a new sensation and a novel experience still beamed undimmed from their eyes. Aunt Patsy stood up and took the oath, and Mr. Allen explained the point in issue, and asked her to go on now, in her own way, and throw as much light upon it as she could. She toyed with her reticule a moment or two, as if considering where to begin, then she said:
"Well, the way of it is this. They are Luigi's legs a week at a time, and then they are Angelo's, and he can do whatever he wants to with them."
"You are making a mistake, Aunt Patsy Cooper," said the judge. "You shouldn't state that as a fact, because you don't know it to be a fact."
"What's the reason I don't?" said Aunt Patsy, bridling a little.
"What is the reason that you do know it?"
"The best in the world because they told me."
"That isn't a reason."
"Well, for the land's sake! Betsy Hale, do you hear that?"
"Hear it? I should think so," said Aunt Betsy, rising and facing the court. "Why, Judge, I was there and heard it myself. Luigi says to Angelo--no, it was Angelo said it to--"
"Come, come, Mrs. Hale, pray sit down, and--"
"Certainly, it's all right, I'm going to sit down presently, but not until I've--"
"But you must sit down!"
"Must! Well, upon my word if things ain't getting to a pretty pass when--"
The house broke into laughter, but was promptly brought to order, and meantime Mr. Allen persuaded the old lady to take her seat. Aunt Patsy continued:
"Yes, they told me that, and I know it's true. They're Luigi's legs this week, but--"
"Ah, they told you that, did they?" said the Justice, with interest.
"Well, no, I don't know that they told me, but that's neither here nor there. I know, without that, that at dinner yesterday, Angelo was as tired as a dog, and yet Luigi wouldn't lend him the legs to go up-stairs and take a nap with."
"Did he ask for them?"
"Let me see--it seems to me, somehow, that--that--Aunt Betsy, do you remember whether he--"
"Never mind about what Aunt Betsy remembers--she is not a witness; we only want to know what you remember yourself," said the judge.
"Well, it does seem to, me that you are most cantankerously particular about a little thing, Sim Robinson. Why, when I can't remember a thing myself, I always--"
"Ah, please go on!"
"Now how can she when you keep fussing at her all the time?" said Aunt Betsy. "Why, with a person pecking at me that way, I should get that fuzzled and fuddled that--"
She was on her feet again, but Allen coaxed her into her seat once more, while the court squelched the mirth of the house. Then the judge said:
"Madam, do you know--do you absolutely know, independently of anything these gentlemen have told you--that the power over their legs passes from the one to the other regularly every week?"
"Regularly? Bless your heart, regularly ain't any name for the exactness of it! All the big cities in Europe used to set the clocks by it." (Laughter, suppressed by the court.)
"How do you know? That is the question. Please answer it plainly and squarely."
"Don't you talk to me like that, Sim Robinson--I won't have it. How do I know, indeed! How do you know what you know? Because somebody told you.