At first there was a dead silence in the Court. Then everybody began whispering or giggling at the same time, till the whole room sounded like a great hive of bees. Many people seemed to be shocked; most of them were amused; and a few were angry.
Presently up sprang the nasty lawyer with the long nose.
“I protest, Your Honor,” he cried, waving his arms wildly to the judge. “I object. The dignity of this court is in peril. I protest.”
“I am the one to take care of the dignity of this court,” said the judge.
Then Mr. Jenkyns got up again. (If it hadn’t been such a serious matter, it was almost like a Punch-and-Judy show: somebody was always popping down and somebody else popping up).
“If there is any doubt on the score of our being able to do as we say, Your Honor will have no objection, I trust, to the Doctor’s giving the Court a demonstration of his powers—of showing that he actually can understand the speech of animals?” I thought I saw a twinkle of amusement come into the old judge’s eyes as he sat considering a moment before he answered.
“No,” he said at last, “I don’t think so.” Then he turned to the Doctor.
“Are you quite sure you can do this?” he asked.
“Quite, Your Honor,” said the Doctor—“quite sure.”
“Very well then,” said the judge. “If you can satisfy us that you really are able to understand canine testimony, the dog shall be admitted as a witness. I do not see, in that case, how I could object to his being heard. But I warn you that if you are trying to make a laughing-stock of this Court it will go hard with you.”