Marvin Mandel has spent six hours on the witness stand over the last two days, and the strain was beginning to show.In the morning, a certain gruffness slipped into his tone as he talked of the gifts he got and gave over the years.

At 3 p.m., as the court session neared its end for the day, the Maryland governor closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. But there was still one more subject to pursue.

"I certainly recognize, sir, that this is a very personal subject for you," said defense attorney Arnold Weiner apologetically. "If it were not absolutely necessary to ask you about it, I wouldn't do it."

The painful topic: Mandel's separation from his wife, Barbara (Bootsie) Mandel.

It was a subject the governor had not discussed publicly since July 3, 1973, the day he walked away from his wife of 33 years to marry "the woman I love" - his present wife, Jeanne Dorsey Mandel. But it is also a subject that is central to his retrail on charges of political corruption.

And so Weiner asked questions, gingerly; Mandel answered them painfully.

"Can you tell us, sir, briefly whether the separation was an amicable one or whether it was other than amicable?"

"It was not under amicable circumstances."

"And is it a fact, sir, that you returned to the mansion on December the 20th or the 21st of 1973 after the separation agreement was signed?

"When the agreement was executed, I returned."

"Your wife agreed to move out of the mansion at that time?"

"Yes, sir."

Mandel was now biting his lip after every answer. He no longer looked at the jury, as he had done so artfully the day before. Nor would he look at his wife Jeanne, seated in the first row below the balcony. Ather, he gazed blankly at a side wall of the courtroom.

For the next 10 minutes, Mandel spoke of his salary as governor. He looked at the jury when he said he made $25,000 a year. He noted that this amount is the third lowest among the 50 governors. He said there was an unsuccessful attempt to double his salary to $50,000.

At 3:17, one of the jurors, a woman who had been holding her head in her hands for much of the afternoon's testimony, become ill and was taken from the courtroom. Judge Taylor ordered a short recess.

Mandell stepped down from the witness stand, as Weiner put a comforting hand on his client's shoulder. The governor walked around, nervously, for about 30 seconds before his wife approached.

"Go in there," she said, pointing at the witness room, "and rest for a few minutes." Mandel walked glumly to the witness room. Then just as the door was closing he brokeout in a broad smile.

Eight minutes later Mandel was back on the stand explaining that Barbara Mandel and her attorney during the divorce proceeding were demanding a lump sum settlement from him in 1974.

"And do you remember whether there was a figure that was demanded or asked for?"

"$200,000."

His reaction?

"I knew it was financially impossible for me to do."

Mandel said he met with Barbara's attorney several times and finally worked out a plan under which he would pay a lump sum total of $25,000 immediately after the divorce and another $135,000 over a period of nine years. But, he said, he had nowhere near that kind of money.

Mandel said Kovens agreed to lend him $135,000 worth of bonds to meet the settlement, only to learn a few weeks later that Barbara Mandel's attorney was now demanding $155,000 in bonds, claiming they had lost market value. Mandel argued the question, but gave in. "I had no choice," he said. Kovens put up another $20,000.

That done, the divorce decree was granted.

"And then you were free to marry your present wife?"

"That is correct."

"And you married her shortly thereafter, didn't you?"

"One hour."

Judge Taylor: "I didn't get that."

"One hour later, your honor."

Judge Taylor: "Why didn't you wait 45 minutes, governor?

"It took me that long to get from Annapolis to Baltimore."