End of the Crown Piece changed into A Withered Leaf

When, pale and limping, she re-entered the Court of Justice, she was greeted by a general murmur of pleasure— arising on the part of the public from that feeling of satisfied impatience experienced at the theatre at the expiration of the last entr’ acte of a play, when the curtain rises and one knows that the end is about to begin; and on the part of the judges from the hope of soon getting their supper. The little goat, too, bleated with joy. She would have run to her mistress, but they had tied her to the bench.

Night had now completely fallen. The candles, which had not been increased in number, gave so little light that the walls of the court were no longer visible. Darkness enveloped every object in a kind of mist, through which the apathetic faces of the judges were barely distinguishable. Opposite to them, at the extremity of the long hall, they could just see a vague white point standing out against the murky background. It was the prisoner.

She had dragged herself to her place. When Charmolue had magisterially installed himself in his, he sat down, then rose and said, without allowing all too much of his satisfaction at his success to become apparent: “The prisoner has confessed all.”

“Bohemian girl,” said the President, “you have confessed to all your acts of sorcery, of prostitution, and of assassination committed upon the person of Phœbus de Châteaupers?”

Her heart contracted. They could hear her sobbing through the darkness. “What you will,” she returned feebly, “only make an end of me quickly!”

“Monsieur the King’s Attorney in the Ecclesiastical Court, the court is ready to hear your requisitions.”

Maître Charmolue drew forth an appalling document, and commenced reading with much gesticulation and the exaggerated emphasis of the Bar a Latin oration, in which all the evidences of the trial were set out in Ciceronian periphrases, flanked by citations from Plautus. We regret being unable to offer our readers this remarkable composition. The author delivered it with marvellous eloquence. He had not concluded the exordium before the perspiration was streaming from his brow and his eyes starting from his head.

Suddenly, in the very middle of a rounded period, he broke off short, and his countenance, usually mild enough not to say stupid, became absolutely terrible.

“Sirs!” he cried (this time in French, for it was not in the document), “Satan is so profoundly involved in this affair, that behold him present at our councils and making a mock of the majesty of the law. Behold him!”

So saying, he pointed to the goat, which, seeing Charmolue gesticulate, thought it the right and proper thing to do likewise, and seated on her haunches was mimicking to the best of her ability with her fore- feet and bearded head the impressive pantomime of the King’s Attorney in the Ecclesiastical Court. This, if you will remember, was one of her most engaging performances.

This incident— this final proof— produced a great effect. They bound the goat’s feet, and Charmolue resumed the thread of his eloquence.

It was long indeed, but the peroration was admirable. The last sentence ran thus— let the reader add in imagination the raucous voice and broken-winded elocution of Maître Charmolue:

Ideo, domini, coram stryga demonstrata, crimine patente, intentione criminis existente, in nomine sanctœ ecclesiœ Nostrœ-Dominœ Parisiensis, quœ est in saisina habendi omnimodam altam et bassam, justitiam in illa hac intemerata Civitatis insula, tenore prœsentium declaramus nos requirere, primo, aliquandam pecuniariam indemnitatem; secundo, amendationem honorabilem ante portalium maximum Nostrœ-Dominœ, ecclesiœ cathedralis; tertio, sententiam, in virtute cujus ista stryga cum sua capella, seu in trivio vulgariter dicto ’la Grève,’ seu in insula exeunte in fluvio Sequanœ, juxta pointam jardini regalis, executœ sint.”1

  By PanEris using Melati.

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