CHAPTER LII 

 court-room on the morning the trial began was no 
different from that of any other where cases of this 
kind are tried, though because of the notoriety of the fact 
and the importance of the personages involved the room 
was crowded. Judge Payderson was not in the room 
when Cowperwood and his lawyer and his father and 
President Davison arrived—the latter separately, but 
at the same hour, seeing that he had been summoned as 
a witness. But the scene was hardly less vivid than if 
Payderson had arrived, for there was an expectant hush 
over the place and an air of intense curiosity. The large- 
ness of the amount involved in Stener's defalcation, Cow- 
perwood's share in it, the lurid background of fire and 
panic, the subsequent newspaper comment—all had com- 
bined to whet that native human curiosity which has so lit- 
tle to feed itself on in the ordinary drift of humdrum affairs. 
Besides, the moment you introduce the elements of chance, 
accident, or fate into any human situation such as this 
you immediately arouse human curiosity to the fullest. 
Fate, chance, accident in the guise of the Chicago fire 
had made Cowperwood and Stener alleged felons. The 
newspapers had already freely commented on how strange 
it was, and yet how true to life that a fire in Chicago, 
nearly a thousand miles away, should have made a crimi- 
nal of a man here in Philadelphia. Now the public wanted 
to see the man who had made a fortune out of the cu- 
pidity of Stener, and who had thus inauspiciously lost it. 
When Cowperwood entered with Harper Steger and 
his father, quite fresh and jaunty (looking the part of the 
shrewd financier, the resourceful manipulator, the man 
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