With its red brick façade, the High Court may be the most majestic building in all of Calcutta, but I’ve no time to look at it today. I had an urgent note from Mr. Carruthers this morning: Justice Norris has moved the case up. I climb the stairs to the second level. The case is in one of the smaller courtrooms. The Gothic windows face east, which might make the afternoon more comfortable, but at eleven o’clock, it’s stifling. The punkah wallahs keep the air moving with various degrees of enthusiasm.
I have dressed carefully for my appearance in court. I am wearing a new fitted black dress with a white fichu, and a modest hat. My outfit is already drenched, of course. My boots squeak as I walk to the plaintiff’s table. Reverend Hastie, wearing his academic robes, sits at the defendant’s table writing furiously. I look away. Mr. Carruthers stands to greet me. I notice he’s wearing a short black robe with a stiff collar that has bands coming down and a white wig that doesn’t entirely cover his head. A smiling middle-aged man stands beside him in a court robe with gathered sleeves and a wig with tight curls above his ears on either side of his head and a small sort of tail coming onto his collar. I’ve never seen anyone dressed for court before. Both men are sweating profusely.
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