Next the judge made a very long speech to the jury; and when it was over all the twelve jurymen got up and went out into the next room. And at that point the Doctor came back, leading Bob, to the seat beside me.
“What have the jurymen gone out for?” I asked.
“They always do that at the end of a trial—to make up their minds whether the prisoner did it or not.”
“Couldn’t you and Bob go in with them and help them make up their minds the right way?” I asked.
“No, that’s not allowed. They have to talk it over in secret. Sometimes it takes—My Gracious, look, they’re coming back already! They didn’t spend long over it.”
Everybody kept quite still while the twelve men came tramping back into their places in the pews. Then one of them, the leader—a little man—stood up and turned to the judge. Every one was holding his breath, especially the Doctor and myself, to see what he was going to say. You could have heard a pin drop while the whole court-room, the whole of Puddleby in fact, waited with craning necks and straining ears to hear the weighty words.
“Your Honor,” said the little man, “the jury returns a verdict of Not Guilty.”
“What’s that mean?” I asked, turning to the Doctor.
But I found Doctor John Dolittle, the famous naturalist, standing on top of a chair, dancing about on one leg like a schoolboy.
“It means he’s free!” he cried, “Luke is free!”
“Then he’ll be able to come on the voyage with us, won’t he?”