By Advice of Counsel (Arthur Train)/The Kid and the Camel
Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
The shortest street in the world, Edgar Street, connects New York's financial center with the Levant. It is less than fifty feet through this tiny thoroughfare from the back doors of the great Broadway office buildings to Greenwich Street, where the letters on the window signs resemble contorted angleworms and where one is as likely to stumble into a man from Bagdad as from Boston. One can stand in the middle of it and with his westerly ear catch the argot of Gotham and with his easterly all the dialects of Damascus. And if through some unexpected convulsion of Nature 51 Broadway should topple over, Mr. Zimmerman, the stockbroker, whose office is on the sixth story, might easily fall clear of the Greek restaurant in the corner of Greenwich Street, roll twenty-five yards more down Morris Street, and find himself on Washington Street reading a copy of Al-Hoda and making his luncheon off baha gannouge, majaddarah and milookeiah, which, after all, are only eggplant salad, lentils and rice, and the popular favorite known as Egyptian Combination.
To most New Yorkers this is a section of the city totally unknown and unsuspected, yet existing as in a fourth dimension within a stone's throw—and nearer—of our busiest metropolitan artery—and there within one hundred yards of the aforesaid Mr. Zimmerman's office above the electric cars of Broadway, and within earshot of the hoots of many a multimillionaire's motor, on a certain evening something of an Oriental character was doing in the hallway of a house on Washington Street that subsequently played a part in the professional lives of Tutt & Tutt.
Out of the literally Egyptian darkness of the tenement owned by Abadallah Shanin Khaldi issued curious smothered sounds, together with an unmistakable, pungent, circuslike odor.
There came an indignant grunt, followed by a flabby groan and a straining and squeaking of the jerry-built staircase as Kasheed Hassoun vigorously applied a lath to the horny backsides of Eset el Gazzar.
"Ascend, dog of a dog!" panted Kasheed. "Move thy accursed feet, O wizened hump! Daughter of Satan, give me room! Thou art squeezing out my life! Only go on, child of my heart! It is but a step upward, O Queen of the Nile. Hold the rope tight, Kalil!"
The camel obediently surged forward, breaking off a section of banister. Through the racket from the hallway above faintly came the voice of Kalil Majdalain.
"Her head is free of the ceiling. Quick, Kasheed! Turn her, thou, upon the landing!"
"Whack!" responded the lath in the hand of Kasheed Hassoun.
Step by step the gentle shaggy brute felt her way with feet, knees and nozzle up the narrow staircase. What was this but another of those bizarre experiences which any camel-of-the-world must expect in a land where the water wells squirted through a tube and men rode in chariots driven by fire?
"Go on, darling of my soul!" whispered Kasheed. "Curses upon thy father and upon the mother that bore thee! Wilt thou not move?"
"Ouch! She devil! Thou hast trod upon my foot!"
Outside, that the Western world might not suspect what was going on, Shaheen Mahfous and Shanin Saba unloaded with as much noise as possible a dray of paper for Meraat-ul-Gharb, the Daily Mirror. By and by a window on the fourth floor opened and the head of Kalil Majdalain appeared.
"Mahabitcum!" he grinned; which, being interpreted, means "Good fellowship to all!"
Then presently he and Kasheed joined the others upon the sidewalk, and, the rolls of paper having been delivered inside the pressroom, the four Syrians climbed upon the truck and drove to the restaurant of Ghabryel & Assad two blocks farther north, where they had a bit of awamat, coffee and cigarettes, and then played a game of cards, while in the attic of the tenement house Eset el Gazzar munched a mouthful of hay and tapped her interior reservoir for a drink of clear water, as she sighed through her valvelike nostrils and pouted with her cushioned lips, pondering upon the vagaries of quadrupedal existence.
Willie Toothaker, the office boy of Tutt & Tutt, had perfected a catapult along the lines of those used in the Siege of Carthage—form derived from the appendix of Allen and Greenough's Latin Grammar—which boded ill for the truck drivers of lower Gotham.
Since his translation from Pottsville Center, Willie's inventive genius had worked something of a transformation in the Tutt & Tutt offices, for he had devised several labor-saving expedients, such as a complicated series of pulleys for opening windows and automatically closing doors without getting up; which, since they actually worked, Mr. Tutt, being a pragmatist, silently, patiently and good-naturedly endured. To-day both partners were away in court and Willie had the office to himself with the exception of old Scraggs.
"Bet it'll shoot a block!" asserted Willie, replacing his gum, which he had removed temporarily to avert the danger of swallowing it in his excitement. "Caesar used one just like this—only bigger, of course. See that scuttle over on Washington Street? Bet I can hit it!"
"Bet you can't come within two hundred feet of it!" retorted the watery-eyed scrivener. "It's a lot further'n you think."
"'Tain't neither!" declared Willie. "I know how far it is! What can we shoot?"
Scraggs' eye wandered aimlessly round the room.
"Oh, I don't know."
"Got to be something with heft to it," said Willie. "'S got to overcome the resistance of the atmosphere."
"How about that paperweight?"
"'S too heavy."
"I know!" exclaimed William suddenly. "Gimme that little bottle of red ink. 'S just about right. And when it strikes it'll make a mark so's we can tell where we hit—like a regular target."
"Ink costs money," he protested.
"But it's just the thing!" insisted Willie. "Besides, you can charge me for it in the cash account. Give it here!"
Conscience being thus satisfied the two eagerly placed the ink bottle in the proper receptacle, which Willie had fashioned out of a stogy box, twisted back the bow and aimed the apparatus at the slanting scuttle, which projected from a sort of penthouse upon the roof of the tenement house across the street.
"Now!" he exclaimed ecstatically. "Stand from under, Scraggs!"
He pressed a lever. There was a whang, a whistle—and the ink bottle hurtled in a beautiful parabola over Greenwich Street.
"Gee! look at her go!" cried Willie in triumph. "Straight's a string."
At exactly that instant—and just as the bottle was about to descend upon the penthouse—the scuttle opened and there was thrust forth a huge yellow face with enormous sooty lips wreathed in an unmistakable smile. On the long undulating neck the head resembled one of the grotesque manikins carried in circus parades. Eset el Gazzar in a search for air had discovered that the attic scuttle was slightly ajar.
"Gosh! A camel!" gasped Willie.
"Lord of love!" ejaculated Scraggs. "It sure is a camel!"
There was a faint crash and a tinkle of glass as the bottle of red ink struck the penthouse roof just over the beast's head and deluged it with its vermilion contents. Eset reared, shook her neck, gave a defiant grunt and swiftly withdrew her head into the attic.
Sophie Hassoun, the wife of Kasheed, seeing the violent change in Eset's complexion, wrung her hands.
"What hast thou done, O daughter of devils? Thou art bleeding! Thou hast cut thyself! Alack, mayhap thou wilt die, and then we shall be ruined! Improvident! Careless one! Cursed be thy folly! Hast thou no regard? And I dare not send for Doctor Koury, the veterinary, for then thy presence would be discovered and the gendarmes would come and take thee away. Would that we had left thee at Coney Island! O, great-granddaughter of Al Adha—sacred camel of the Prophet—why hast thou done this? Why hast thou brought misery upon us? Awar! Awar!"
She cast herself upon the improvised divan in the corner, while Eset, blinking, licked her big yellow hind hump, and tumbled forward upon her knees preparatory to sitting down herself.
"A camel!" repeated Willie, round-eyed. He counted the roofs dividing the penthouse from where Morris Street bisected the block. "Whoop!" he cried and dashed out of the office.
In less than four minutes Patrolman Dennis Patrick Murphy, who was standing on post on Washington Street in front of Nasheen Zereik's Embroidery Bazaar talking to Sardi Babu, saw a red-headed, pug-nosed urchin come flying round the corner.
"One—two—three—four—five. That's the house!" cried Willie Toothaker. "That's it!"
"What yer talkin' 'bout?" drawled Murphy.
"There's a camel in there!" shouted Willie, dancing up and down.
"Camel—yer aunt!" sneered the cop. "They couldn't get no camel in there!"
"There is! I seen it stick its head out of the roof!"
Sardi Babu, the oily-faced little dealer in pillow shams, smiled slyly. He had thick black ringlets, parted exactly down the middle of his scalp, hanging to his shoulders, and a luxuriant black curly beard reaching to his middle; in addition to which he wore a blue blouse and carpet slippers. He was a Maronite from Lebanon, and he and his had a feud with Hassoun, Majdalain, and all others who belonged to the sect headed by the Patriarch of Antioch.
"Belki!" he remarked significantly. "Perhaps his words are true! I have heard it whispered already by Lillie Nadowar, now the wife of Butros the confectioner. Moreover, I myself have seen hay on the stairs."
"Huh?" exclaimed Murphy. "We'll soon find out. Come along you, Babu! Show me where you was seein' the hay."
By this time those who had been lounging upon the adjacent doorstep had come running to see what was the matter, and a crowd had gathered.
"It is false—what he says!" declared Gadas Maloof the shoemaker. "I have sat opposite the house day and night for ten—fifteen years—and no camel has gone in. Camel! How could a camel be got up such narrow stairs?"
"But thou art a friend of Hassoun's!" retorted Fajala Mokarzel the grocer. "And," he added in a lower tone, "of Sophie Tadros, his wife."
There was a subdued snicker from the crowd, and Murphy inferred that they were laughing at him.
"But this man," he shouted wrathfully, pointing at Sardi Babu, "says you all know there's a camel up there. An' this kid's seen it! Come along now, both of you!"
There was an angry murmur from the crowd. Sardi Babu turned white.
"I said nothing!" he declared, trembling. "I made no complaint. The gendarme will corroborate me. What care I where Kasheed Hassoun stables his camel?"
Maloof shouldered his way up to him, and grasping the Maronite by the beard muttered in Arabic: "Thou dog! Go confess thy sins! For by the Holy Cross thou assuredly hast not long to live!"
Murphy seized Babu by the arm.
"Come on!" he ordered threateningly. "Make good now!" And he led him up the steps, the throng pressing close upon his heels.
"What's all this?" inquired Magistrate Burke bewilderedly an hour later as Officer Murphy entered the police court leading a tall Syrian in a heavy overcoat and green Fedora hat, and followed by several hundred black-haired, olive-skinned Levantines. "Don't let all those Dagos in here! Keep 'em out! This ain't a moving-picture palace!"
"Them ain't Dagos, judge," whispered Roony the clerk. "Them's Turks."
"They ain't neither Turks!" contradicted the stenographer, whose grammar was almost sublimated by comparison with Roony's. "They're Armenians—you can tell by their complexions."
"Well, I won't have 'em in here, whatever they are!" announced Burke. "I don't like 'em. What have you got, Murphy?"
"Shoo! Get out of here!" ordered the officer on duty.
The crowd, however, not understanding, only grinned.
"Avanti! Alley! Mouch! Beat it!" continued the officer, waving his arms and hustling those nearest toward the door.
The throng obediently fell back. They were a gentle, simple-minded lot, used in the old country to oppression, blackmail and tyranny, and burning with a religious fervor unknown to the pale heterodoxy of the Occident.
"This here," began Murphy, "is a complaint by Sardi Babu"—he swung the cowering little man with a twist before the bench—"against one Kasheed Hassoun for violating the health ordinances."
"No, no! I do not complain! I am not one who complains. It is nothing whatever to me if Kasheed Hassoun keeps a camel! I care not," cried Babu in Arabic.
"What's he talkin' about?" interrupted Burke. "I don't understand that sort of gibberish."
"He makes the complaint that this here Hassoun"—he indicated the tall man in the overcoat—"is violating Section 1093d of the regulations by keeping a camel in his attic."
"Camel!" ejaculated the magistrate. "In his attic!"
"It's there all right, judge!" he remarked. "I've seen it."
"Is that straight?" demanded His Honor. "How'd he get it up there? I didn't suppose—"
Suddenly Sardi Babu threw himself fawning upon Hassoun.
"Oh, Kasheed Hassoun, I swear to thee that I made no complaint. It is a falsification of the gendarme! And there was a boy—a red and yellow boy—who said he had seen thy camel's head above the roofs! I am thy friend!"
He twisted his writhing snakelike fingers together. Hassoun regarded him coldly.
"Thou knowest the fate of informers and provocateurs—of spies—thou infamous Turk!" he answered through his teeth.
"A Turk! A Turk!" shrieked Sardi Babu frantically, beating the breast of his blue blouse. "Thou callest me a Turk! Me, the godson of Sarkis Babu and of Elias Stephan—whose fathers and grandfathers were Christians when thy family were worshipers of Mohammed. Blasphemy! Me, the godson of a bishop!"
"I also am godson of a bishop!" sneered Kasheed. "A properly anointed bishop! Without Tartar blood."
Sardi Babu grew purple.
"Ptha! I would spit upon the beard of such a bishop!" he shrieked, beside himself.
Hassoun slightly raised his eyebrows.
"Spit, then, infamous one—while thou art able!"
"Here, here!" growled Burke in disgust. "Keep 'em still, can't you? Now, what's all this about a camel?"
"That's the very scuttle, sir," asseverated Scraggs to the firm, as Tutt & Tutt, including Miss Wiggin, gazed down curiously out of their office windows at the penthouse upon the Washington Street roof which had been Willie's target of the day before. "I don't say," he continued by way of explanation, "that the camel stuck his head out because Willie hit the roof with the bottle—it was probably just a circumstance—but it looked that way. 'Bing!' went the ink bottle on the scuttle; and then—pop!—out came the camel like a jack-in-the-box."
"What became of the camel?" inquired Miss Wiggin, cherishing a faint hope that—pop!—it might suddenly appear again in the same way.
"The police took it away last night—lowered it out of the window with a block and tackle," answered the scrivener. "A sort of breeches buoy."
"I've heard of camel's-hair shawls but not of camel's-hair breeches!" murmured Tutt. "I suppose if a camel wore pants—well, my imagination refuses to contemplate the spectacle! Where's Willie?"
"He hasn't been in at all this morning!" said Miss Wiggin. "I'll warrant—"
"What?" demanded Mr. Tutt suspiciously.
"—he's somewhere with that camel," she concluded.
Now, Miss Minerva, as her name connoted, was a wise woman; and she had reached an unerring conclusion by two different and devious routes, to wit, intuition and logic, the same being the high road and low road of reason—high or low in either case as you may prefer. Thus logic: Camel—small boy. Intuition: Small boy—camel. But there was here an additional element—a direct personal relationship between this particular small boy and this particular camel, rising out of the incident of the ink bottle. She realized that that camel must have acquired for William a peculiar quality—almost that of a possession—in view of the fact that he had put his mark upon it. She knew that Willie could no more stay away from the environs of that camel than said camel could remain in that attic. Indeed we might go on at some length expounding further this profound law of human nature that where there are camels there will be small boys; that, as it were, under such circumstances Nature abhors an infantile vacuum.
"If I know him, he is!" agreed Mr. Tutt, referring to William's probable proximity to Eset el Gazzar.
"Speaking of camels," said Tutt as he lit a cigarette, "makes me think of brass beds."
"Yes," nodded his partner. "Of course it would, naturally. What on earth do you mean?"
"I mean this," began Tutt, clearing his throat as if he were addressing twelve good and true men—"a camel is obviously an unusual—not to say peculiar—animal to be roosting over there in that attic. It is an exotic—if I may use that term. It is as exotic as a brass bed from Connecticut would be, or is, in Damascus or Lebanon. Now, therefore, a camel will as assuredly give cause for trouble in New York as a brass bed in Bagdad!"
"The right thing often makes trouble if put in the wrong place," pondered Mr. Tutt.
"Or the wrong thing in the right place!" assented Tutt. "Now all these unassimilated foreigners—"
"What have they got to do with brass beds in Lebanon?" challenged Miss Wiggin.
"Why," continued Tutt, "I am credibly informed that the American brass bed—particularly the double bed—owing to its importation into Asia Minor was the direct cause of the Armenian massacres."
"Tosh!" said Miss Wiggin.
"For a fact!" asserted Tutt. "It's this way—an ambassador told me so himself—the Turks, you know, are nuts on beds—and they think a great big brass family bed such as—you know—they're in all the department-store windows. Well, every Turk in every village throughout Asia Minor saves up his money to buy a brass bed—like a nigger buys a cathedral clock. Sign of superiority. You get me? And it becomes his most cherished household possession. If he meets a friend on the street he says to him naturally and easily, without too much conscious egotism, just as an American might say, 'By the way, have you seen my new limousine?'—he says to the other Turk, 'Oh, I say, old chap, do you happen to have noticed my new brass bed from Connecticut? They just put it off the steamer last week at Aleppo. Fatima's taking a nap in it now, but when she wakes up—'"
"What nonsense!" sniffed Miss Wiggin.
"It's not nonsense!" protested the junior partner. "Now listen to what happens. Some Armenian—the Armenians are the pawnbrokers of Asia Minor—moves into that village and in three months he has a mortgage on everything in it, including that brass bed. Then the Turkish Government, which regards him as an undesirable citizen, tells him to move along; and Mister Armenian piles all the stuff the inhabitants have mortgaged to him into an oxcart and starts on his way, escorted by the Sultan's troops. On top of the load is Yusuf Bulbul Ameer's brass bed. Yusuf looks out of his doorway and sees the bed moving off and rushes after it to protect his property.
"'Look here!' he shouts. 'Where are you going with my brass bed?'
"'It isn't yours!' retorts Mister Pawnbroker. 'It's mine. I loaned you eighty-seven piasters on it!'
"'But I've got an equity in it! You can't take it away!'
"'Of course I can!' replies the Armenian. 'Where I goeth it will go. The Turkish Government is responsible.'
"'Not much,' says Yusuf, grabbing hold of it, trying to pull it off the cart.
"'Hands off there!' yells the Armenian.
"Then there is a mix-up and everybody piles in—and there is a massacre!"
"That's a grand yarn!" remarked Mr. Tutt. "Still, it may be—"
"Bunk!" declared Miss Wiggin. "And what has that got to do with camels?"
"My point is," affirmed Tutt, waving his index finger—"my point is that just as a Yankee brass bed in Turkey will make certain trouble, so a Turkish camel in New York is bound to do the same thing."
A door slammed behind them and Willie's voice interrupted the conversation.
"Mr. Tutt! Mr. Tutt!" he cried hysterically. "There's been a murder down there—and we—I'm—partly responsible. I spent the night with the camel and he's—she's—all right—in Regan's Boarding Stable. But Kasheed is in the Tombs, and I told them you'd defend him. You will, won't you?"
Mr. Tutt looked at the excited boy.
"Who killed whom?" he asked correctly. "And where does the camel come in?"
"Somebody killed Sardi Babu," explained Willie. "I don't know exactly who did it—but they've arrested Kasheed Hassoun, the owner of Eset el Gazzar."
"Who?" roared Tutt.
"The camel. You see, nobody knew she was in the attic until I saw her stick her head out of the hole in the roof. Then I told Murphy and he went up and found her there. But Kasheed thought Sardi had told on him, you see, and nobody would believe him when he said he hadn't. The judge fined Kasheed twenty-five dollars, and he—Kasheed—accused Sardi of being a Turk and they had a big row right there in court. Nothing happened until the cops had got Eset out of the window and she was over at Regan's. I stayed there. Her head is bright red from the ink, you know. Then somebody went over to the restaurant where Sardi was and killed him. So you see, in a way, I'm to blame, and I didn't think you'd mind defending Kasheed, because he's a corker and if they electrocute him Eset will starve to death."
"I see," said. Mr. Tutt thoughtfully. "You think that by rights if anybody was going to get killed it ought to have been you?"
"Yes, sir," he assented.
And that is how a camel was the moving cause of the celebrated firm of Tutt & Tutt appearing as counsel in the case of The People against Kasheed Hassoun, charged with the crime of murder in the first degree for having taken the life of Sardi Babu with deliberation and premeditation and malice aforethought and against the peace of the People of the State of New York.
"And then there's this here Syrian murder case," groaned the chief clerk of the district attorney's office plaintively to his chief. "I don't know what to do with it. The defendant's been six months in the Tombs, with all the Syrian newspapers hollering like mad for a trial. He killed him all right, but you know what these foreign-language murder cases are, boss! They're lemons, every one of 'em!"
"What's the matter with it?" inquired the D.A. "It's a regular knock-down-and-drag-out case, isn't it? Killed him right in a restaurant, didn't he?"
"Sure! That part of it's all right," assented the chief clerk. "He killed him—yes! But how are you going to get an American jury to choose between witnesses who are quite capable of swearing that the corpse killed the defendant. How in hell can you tell what they're talking about, anyway?"
"You can't!" said the D.A. "Send the papers in to Pepperill and tell him on the side it'll make him famous. He'll believe you."
"But it'll take ten weeks to try it!" wailed the chief clerk.
"Well, send it down to old Wetherell, in Part Thirteen. He's got the sleeping sickness and it will be sort of soothing for him to listen to."
"Might wake him up?" suggested the other.
"You couldn't!" retorted the D.A. "What's the case about, anyhow?"
"It's about a camel," explained the subordinate hesitatingly.
The D.A. grinned. Said he: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a just prosecutor to convict a Syrian of murder. Well, old top, send for a couple of dozen Korans and hire rooms for the jury over Kaydoub, Salone & Dabut's and turn 'em loose on kibbah arnabeiah, kashtah and halawee."
Mr. William Montague Pepperill was a very intense young person, twenty-six years old, out of Boston by Harvard College. He had been born beneath the golden dome of the State House on Beacon Street, and from the windows of the Pepperill mansion his infant eyes had gazed smugly down upon the Mall and Frog Pond of the historic Common. There had been an aloof serenity about his life within the bulging front of the paternal residence with its ancient glass window panes—faintly tinged with blue, just as the blood in the Pepperill veins was also faintly tinged with the same color—his unimpeachable social position at Hoppy's and later on at Harvard—which he pronounced Haavaad—and the profound respect in which he was held at the law school in Cambridge, that gave Mr. W. Montague Pepperill a certain confidence in the impeccability of himself, his family, his relatives, his friends, his college, his habiliments and haberdashery, his deportment, and his opinions, political, religious and otherwise.
For W.M.P. the only real Americans lived on Beacon Hill, though a few perhaps might be found accidentally across Charles Street upon the made land of the Back Bay. A real American must necessarily also be a graduate of Harvard, a Unitarian, an allopath, belong to the Somerset Club and date back ancestrally at least to King Philip's War. W. Montague had, however, decided early in life that Boston was too small for him and that he owed a duty to the rest of the country.
So he had condescended to New York, where through his real American connections in law, finance and business he had landed a job in a political office where the aristocrats were all either Irish, Jews or Italians, who regarded him as an outlandish animal. It had been a strange experience for him. So had the discovery that graft, blackmail, corruption, vice and crime were not mere literary conventions, existing only for the theoretical purposes of novelists and playwrights, but were actualities frequently dealt with in metropolitan society. He had secured his appointment from a reform administration and he had been retained as a holdover by Peckham, the new district attorney, by reason of the fact that his uncle by marriage was a Wall Street banker who contributed liberally without prejudice to both political parties. This, however, W.M.P. did not know, and assumed that he was allowed to keep his four-thousand-dollar salary because the county could not get on without him. He was slender, wore a mouse-colored waistcoat, fawn tie and spats, and plastered his hair neatly down on each side of a glossy cranium that was an almost perfect sphere.
"Ah! Mr. William Montague Pepperill, I believe?" inquired Mr. Tutt with profound politeness from the doorway of W.M.P.'s cubicle, which looked into the gloomy light shaft of the Criminal Courts Building.
Mr. Pepperill finished what he was writing and then looked up.
"Yes," he replied. "What can I do for you?"
He did not ask Mr. Tutt his name or invite him to sit down.
The old lawyer smiled. He liked young men, even conceited young men; they were so enthusiastic, so confident, so uncompromising. Besides, W.M.P. was at heart, as Mr. Tutt perceived, a high-class sort of chap. So he smiled.
"My name is Tutt," said he. "I am counsel for a man named Hassoun, whom you are going to try for murder. You are, of course, perfectly familiar with the facts."
He fumbled in his waistcoat, produced two withered stogies and cast his eye along the wall.
"Would you—mind—if I sat down? And could I offer you a stogy?"
"Sit down—by all means," answered W.M.P. "No, thanks!"—to the stogy.
Mr. Tutt sat down, carefully placed his old chimney pot upside down on the window ledge, and stacked in it the bundle of papers he was carrying.
"I thought you might forgive me if I came to talk over the case a little with you. You see, there are so many things that a prosecutor has to consider—and which it is right that he should consider." He paused to light a match. "Now in this case, though in all probability my client is guilty there is practically no possibility of his being convicted of anything higher than manslaughter in the first degree. The defense will produce many witnesses—probably as many as the prosecution. Both sides will tell their stories in a language unintelligible to the jury, who must try to ascertain the true inwardness of the situation through an interpreter. They will realize that they are not getting the real truth—I mean the Syrian truth. As decent-minded men they won't dare to send a fellow to the chair whose defense they cannot hear and whose motives they do not either know or understand. They will feel, as I do and perhaps you do, that the only persons to do justice among Syrians are Syrians."
"Well," replied Mr. Pepperill politely, "what have you to propose?"
"That you recommend the acceptance of a plea of manslaughter in the second degree."
Deputy Assistant District Attorney William Montague Pepperill drew himself up haughtily. He regarded all criminal practitioners as semicrooks, ignorant, illiterate, rather dirty men—not in the real American class.
"I can do nothing of the kind," he answered sternly and very distinctly. "If these men seek the hospitality of our shores they must be prepared to be judged by our laws and by our standards of morality. I do not agree with you that our juridical processes are not adequate to that purpose. Moreover, I regard it as unethical—un-eth-i-cal—to accept a plea for a lesser degree of crime than that which the defendant has presumptively committed."
Mr. Tutt regarded him with undisguised admiration.
"Your sentiments do you honor, Mr. Pepperill!" he returned. "You are sure you do not mind my smoke? But of course my client is presumed innocent. I am very hopeful—almost confident—of getting him off entirely. But rather than take the very slight chance of a conviction for murder I am letting discretion take the place of valor and offer to have him admit his guilt of manslaughter."
"I guess," answered Pepperill laconically, indulging in his only frequent solecism, "that you wouldn't offer to plead to manslaughter unless you felt pretty sure your client was going to the chair! Now—"
Mr. Tutt suddenly rose.
"My young friend," he interrupted, "when Ephraim Tutt says a thing man to man—as I have been speaking to you—he means what he says. I have told you that I expected to acquit my client. My only reason for offering a plea is the very slight—and it is a very slight—chance that an Arabian quarrel can be made the basis of a conviction for murder. When you know me better you will not feel so free to impugn my sincerity. Are you prepared to entertain my suggestion or not?"
"Most certainly not!" retorted W.M.P. with the shadow of a sneer.
"Then I will bid you good-day," said Mr. Tutt, taking his hat from the window ledge and turning to the door. "And—you young whippersnapper," he added when once it had closed behind him and he had turned to shake his lean old fist at the place where W.M.P. presumably was still sitting, "I'll show you how to treat a reputable member of the bar old enough to be your grandfather! I'll take the starch out of your darned Puritan collar! I'll harry you and fluster you and heckle you and make a fool of you, and I'll roll you up in a ball and blow you out the window, and turn old Hassoun loose for an Egyptian holiday that will make old Rome look like thirty piasters! You pinheaded, pretentious, pompous, egotistical, niminy-piminy—"
"Well, well, Mr. Tutt, what's the matter?" inquired Peckham, laying his hand on the old lawyer's shoulder. "What's Peppy been doing to you?"
"It isn't what he's been doing to me; it's what I'm going to do to him!" returned Mr. Tutt grimly. "Just wait and see!"
"Go to it!" laughed the D.A. "Eat him alive! We're throwing him to the lions!"
"No decent lion would want him!" retorted Mr. Tutt. "He might maul him a little, but I won't. I'm just going to give him a full opportunity to test his little proposition that the institutions of these jolly old United States are perfectly adapted to settle quarrels among all the polyglot prevaricators of the world and administer justice among people who are still in a barbarous or at least in a patriarchal state. He's young, and he don't understand that a New York merchant is entirely too conscientious to find a man guilty on testimony that he would discount heavily in his own business."
"Go as far as you like," laughed Peckham.
"Oh, I'm only going as far as Bagdad," answered Mr. Tutt.
Deputy Assistant District Attorney Pepperill complacently set about the preparation of his case, utterly unconscious of the dangers with which his legal path was beset. As he sat at his shiny oaken desk and pressed the button that summoned the stenographer it seemed to him the simplest thing in the world to satisfy any jury of what had taken place and the summit of impudent audacity on the part of Mr. Tutt to have suggested that Hassoun should be dealt with otherwise than a first-degree murderer. And it should be added parenthetically that W.M.P., in spite of his New England temperament, had a burning ambition to send somebody to the electric chair.
In truth, on its face the story as related by Fajala Mokarzel and the other friends of Sardi Babu the deceased pillow-sham vender was simplicity itself. Besides Sardi Babu and Mokarzel there had been Nicola Abbu, the confectioner; Menheem Shikrie, the ice-cream vendor; Habu Kahoots, the showman; and David Elias, a pedler. All six of them, as they claimed, had been sitting peacefully in Ghabryel & Assad's restaurant, eating kibbah arnabeiah and mamoul. Sardi had ordered sheesh kabab. It was about nine o'clock in the evening, and they were talking politics and drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
Suddenly Kasheed Hassoun, accompanied by a smaller and much darker man, had entered and striding up to the table exclaimed in a threatening manner: "Where is he who did say that he would spit upon the beard of my bishop?"
Thereupon Sardi Babu had risen and answered: "Behold, I am he."
Immediately Kasheed Hassoun, and while his accomplice held them at bay with a revolver, had leaned across the table and grabbing Sardi by the throat had broken his neck. Then the smaller man had fired off his pistol and both of them had run away. The simplest story ever told. There was everything the law required to send any murderer to the chair, and little Mr. Pepperill had a diagram made of the inside of the restaurant and a photograph of the outside of it, and stamped the indictment in purple ink: Ready for Trial.
Contemporaneously Mr. Tutt was giving his final instructions to Mr. Bonnie Doon, his stage manager, director of rehearsals and general superintendent of arrangements in all cases requiring an extra-artistic touch.
"It's too bad we can't cart a few hundred cubic feet of the Sahara into the court room and divert the Nile down Center Street, but I guess you can produce sufficient atmosphere," he said.
"I could all right—if I had a camel," remarked Bonnie.
"Atmosphere is necessary," continued Mr. Tutt. "Real atmosphere! Have 'em in native costume—beads, red slippers, hookahs, hoochi-koochis."
"I get you," replied Mr. Doon. "You want a regular Turkish village. Well, we'll have it all right. I'll engage the entire Streets of Cairo production from Coney and have Franklin Street crowded with goats, asses and dromedaries. I might even have a caravan pitch its tents alongside the Tombs."
"You can't lay it on too strong," declared Mr. Tutt. "But you don't need to go off Washington Street. And, Bonnie, remember—I want every blessed Turk, Greek, Armenian, Jew, Arab, Egyptian and Syrian that saw Sardi Babu kill Kasheed Hassoun."
"You mean who saw Kasheed Hassoun kill Sardi Babu," corrected Bonnie.
"Well—whichever way it was," agreed Mr. Tutt.
When at length the great day of the trial arrived Judge Wetherell, ascending the bench in Part Thirteen, was immediately conscious of a subtle Oriental smell that emanated from no one could say where, but which none the less permeated the entire court room. It seemed to be a curious compound of incense, cabbage, garlic and eau de cologne, with a suggestion of camel. The room was entirely filled with Syrians. One row of benches was occupied by a solemn group of white-bearded patriarchs who looked as if they had momentarily paused on a pilgrimage to Mecca. All over the room rose the murmur of purring Arabic. The stenographer was examining a copy of Meraat-ul-Gharb, the clerk a copy of El Zeman, and in front of the judge's chair had been laid a copy of Al-Hoda.
His honor gave a single sniff, cast his eye over the picturesque throng, and said: "Pst! Captain! Open that window!" Then he picked up the calendar and read: "'People versus Kasheed Hassoun—Murder.'"
The stenographer was humming to himself:
Bagdad is a town in Turkey
On a camel tall and jerky.
"Are both sides ready to try this case?" inquired Judge Wetherell, choking a yawn. He was a very stout judge and he could not help yawning.
Deputy Assistant District Attorney Pepperill and Mr. Tutt rose in unison, declaring that they were. At or about this same moment the small door in the rear of the room opened and an officer appeared, leading in Kasheed Hassoun. He was an imposing man, over six feet in height, of dignified carriage, serious mien, and finely chiseled features. Though he was dressed as a European there was nevertheless something indefinably suggestive of the East in the cut of his clothes; he wore no waistcoat and round his waist was wound a strip of crimson cloth. His black eyes glinted through lowering brows, wildly, almost fiercely, and he strode haughtily beside his guard like some unbroken stallion of the desert.
"Well, you may as well proceed to select a jury," directed the court, putting on his glasses and studying his copy of Al-Hoda with interest. Presently he beckoned to Pepperill.
"Have you seen this?" he asked.
"No, Your Honor. What is it?"
"It's a newspaper published by these people," explained His Honor. "Rather amusing, isn't it?"
"I didn't know they had any special newspaper of their own," admitted Pepperill.
"They've got eight right in New York," interjected the stenographer.
"I notice that this paper is largely composed of advertisements," commented Wetherell. "But the advertisers are apparently scattered all over the world—Chicago; Pittsburgh; Canton; Winnipeg; Albuquerque; Brooklyn; Tripoli; Greenville, Texas; Pueblo; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Fall River; Detroit—"
"Here's one from Roxbury, Massachusetts, and another from Mexico City," remarked the clerk delightedly.
"And here's one from Paris, France," added the stenographer. "Say! Some travelers!"
"Well, go on getting the jury," said the judge, yawning again and handing the paper to the clerk.
At that moment Mr. Salim Zahoul, the interpreter procured by Mr. Pepperill, approached, bowed and, twisting his purple mustache, addressed the court: "Your Excellence: I haf to zay dat dees papaire eet haf articles on zis affair—ze memkaha—zat are not diplomatique."
Judge Wetherell blinked at him.
"Who's this man?" he demanded.
"That's the interpreter," explained W.M.P.
"Interpreter!" answered the court. "I can't understand a word he says!"
"He was the best I could get," apologized Pepperill, while the countenance of Mr. Zahoul blazed with wrath and humiliation. "It's very difficult to get a fluent interpreter in Arabic."
"Well, just interpret what he says to me, will you?" kindly requested His Honor.
"I zay," suddenly exploded Zahoul—"dees papaire eet half contemptuous article on ze menkaha zat dees Kasheed Hassoun not kill dees Sardi Babu!"
"He says," translated Pepperill, "that the newspaper contains an indiscreet article in favor of the defense. I had no idea there would be any improper attempt to influence the jury."
"What difference does it make, anyway?" inquired His Honor. "You don't expect any juryman is going to read that thing, do you? Why, it looks as if a bumblebee had fallen into an ink bottle and then had a fit all over the front page."
"I don't suppose—" began Pepperill.
"Go on and get your jury!" admonished the court.
So the lion and the lamb in the shape of Mr. Tutt and Pepperill proceeded to select twelve gentlemen to pass upon the issue who had never been nearer to Syria than the Boardwalk at Atlantic City and who only with the utmost attention could make head or tail of what Mr. Salim Zahoul averred that the witnesses were trying to say. Moreover, most of the talesmen evinced a profound distrust of their own ability to do justice between the People and the defendant and a curious desire to be relieved from service. However, at last the dozen had been chosen and sworn, the congestion of the court room slightly relieved, Mr. Zahoul somewhat appeased, and Mr. William Montague Pepperill rose to outline his very simple case to the jury.
There was, he explained, no more difficulty in administering justice in the case of a foreigner than of anyone else. All were equal in the eyes of the law—equally presumed to be innocent, equally responsible when proved guilty. And he would prove Kasheed Hassoun absolutely guilty—guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt. He would produce five—five reputable witnesses who would swear that Hassoun had murdered Sardi Babu; and he prophesied that he would unhesitatingly demand at the end of the trial such an unequivocal, fearless, honest expression of their collective opinion as would permanently fix Mr. Kasheed Hassoun so that he could do no more harm. He expressed it more elegantly but that was the gist of it. He himself was as sincere and honest in his belief in his ability to establish the truth of his claim as he was in the justice of his cause. Alas, he was far too young to realize that there is a vast difference between knowing the truth and being able to demonstrate what it is!
In proper order he called the photographer who had taken the picture of the restaurant, the draftsman who had made the diagram of the interior, the policeman who had arrested Hassoun, the doctor who had performed the official autopsy upon the unfortunate Babu, and the five Syrians who had been present when the crime was perpetrated. Each swore by all that was holy that Kasheed Hassoun had done exactly as outlined by Assistant District Attorney Pepperill—and swore it word for word, verbatim et literatim, in iisdem verbis, sic, and yet again exactly. Their testimony mortised and tenoned in a way to rejoice a cabinet-maker's heart. And at first to the surprise and later to the dismay of Mr. Pepperill, old man Tutt asked not one of them a single question about the murder. Instead he merely inquired in a casual way where they came from, how they got there, what they did for a living, and whether they had ever made any contradictory statement as to what had occurred, and as his cross-examination of Mr. Habu Kahoots was typical of all the rest it may perhaps be set forth as an example, particularly as Mr. Kahoots spoke English, which the others did not.
"And den," asserted Mr. Kahoots stolidly, "Kasheed Hassoun, he grab heem by ze troat and break hees neck."
He was a short, barrel-shaped man with curly ringlets, fat, bulging cheeks, heavy double chin and enormous paunch, and he wore a green worsted waistcoat and his fingers were laden with golden rings.
"Ah!" said Mr. Tutt complaisantly. "You saw all that exactly as you have described it?"
"Where were you born?"
"How long have you been in the United States?"
"Where do you live?"
"What's your business?"
Mr. Kahoots visibly expanded.
"I have street fair and carnival of my own. I have electric theater, old plantation, Oriental show, snake exhibit and merry-go-round."
"Well, well!" exclaimed Mr. Tutt. "You are certainly a capitalist! I hope you are not financially overextended!"
Mr. Pepperill looked pained, not knowing just how to prevent such jocoseness on the part of his adversary.
"I object," he muttered feebly.
"Quite properly!" agreed Mr. Tutt. "Now, Mr. Kahoots, are you a citizen of the United States?"
Mr. Kahoots looked aggrieved.
"Me? No! Me no citizen. I go back sometime Acre and build moving-picture garden and ice-cream palace."
"I thought so," commented Mr. Tutt. "Now what, pray, were you doing in the Washington Street restaurant?"
"Eating kibbah arnabeiah and mamoul."
"I mean if you live in Augusta how did you happen to be in New York at precisely that time?"
"How you come in New York?" translated Mr. Tutt, while the jury laughed.
"Yes, yes; but you didn't come on just to be present at the murder, did you?"
"I just come to walk up and down."
"Where—walk up and down?"
"On Washington Street. I spend the winter. I do nothing. I rich man."
"How long did you stay when you just came on?"
"Tree days. Then I go back."
"Why did you go back?"
"I dunno. Just go back."
Mr. Tutt sighed. The jury gave signs of impatience.
"Look here!" he demanded. "How many times have you gone over your story with the district attorney?"
"I nevvair see heem."
"Never see whom?"
"I'm not talking about the judge."
"I nevvair see no one."
"Didn't you tell the Grand Jury that Hassoun stabbed Babu with a long knife?"
"I dunno heem!"
"Didn't you go into a big room and put your hand on a book and swear?"
"I no swear—ever!"
"And tell what you saw?"
"I tell what I saw."
"What did you see?"
"I saw Hassoun break heem hees neck."
"Didn't you say first that Hassoun stabbed Babu?"
"Then didn't you come back and say he shot him?"
"And finally, didn't you say he strangled him—after you had heard that the coroner's physician had decided that that was how he was killed?"
"Yes—he break heem hees neck."
Mr. Kahoots was apparently very much bored, but he was not bored in quite the same way as the judge, who, suddenly rousing himself, asked Mr. Tutt if he had any basis for asking such questions.
"Why, certainly," answered the old lawyer quietly. "I shall prove that this witness made three absolutely contradictory statements before the Grand Jury."
"Is that so, Mister District Attorney?"
"I don't know," replied Pepperill faintly. "I had nothing to do with the proceedings before the Grand Jury."
Judge Wetherell frowned.
"It would seem to me," he began, "as if a proper preparation of the case would have involved some slight attention to—Well, never mind! Proceed, Mr. Tutt."
"Kahoots!" cried the lawyer sternly. "Isn't it a fact that you have been convicted of crime yourself?"
The proprietor of the merry-go-round drew himself up indignantly.
"Weren't you convicted of assault on a man named Rafoul Rabyaz?"
"Me? Look here, sir! I tell you 'bout dat! This Rafoul Rabyaz he my partner, see, in pool, billiard and cigar business on Greenwich Street. This long time ago. Years ago. We split up. I sell heem my shares, see. I open next door—pool table, café and all. But I not get full half the stock. I not get the tablecloth, see. I was of the tablecloth you know short. It don't be there. I go back there that time. I see heem. I say, 'We don't count those tablecloth.' He say, 'Yes.' I say,'No.' He say,'Yes.' I say 'No.' He say, 'Yes.' I say, 'No'—"
"For heaven's sake," exclaimed Judge Wetherell, "don't say that again!"
"Yes, sair," agreed the showman. "All right. I say, 'No.' I say, 'You look in the book.' He say, 'No.' We each take hold of the cloth. I have a knife. I cut cloth in two. I give heem half. I take half. I say, 'You take half; I take half.' He say, 'Go to hell!'"
He waved his hand definitively.
"Well?" inquired Mr. Tutt anxiously.
"Dat's all!" answered Mr. Kahoots.
One of the jurymen suddenly coughed and thrust his handkerchief into his mouth.
"Then you stuck your knife into him, didn't you?" suggested Mr. Tutt.
Mr. Tutt shrugged his shoulders and pursed his lips.
"You were convicted, weren't you?"
"I call twenty witness!" announced Mr. Kahoots with a grand air.
"You don't need to!" retorted Mr. Tutt. "Now tell us why you had to leave Syria?"
"I go in camel business at Coney Island," answered the witness demurely.
"What!" shouted the lawyer. "Didn't you run away from home because you were convicted of the murder of Fatima, the daughter of Abbas?"
"Me? No!" Mr. Kahoots looked shocked.
Mr. Tutt bent over and spoke to Bonnie Doon, who produced from a leather bag a formidable document on parchment-like paper covered with inscriptions in Arabic and adorned with seals and ribbons.
"I have here, Your Honor," said he, "the record of this man's conviction in the Criminal Court in Beirut, properly exemplified by our consuls and the embassy at Constantinople. I have had it translated, but if Mr. Pepperill prefers to have the interpreter read it—"
"Show it to the district attorney!" directed His Honor.
Pepperill looked at it helplessly.
"You may read your own translation," said the court drowsily.
Mr. Tutt bowed, took up the paper and faced the jury.
"This is the official record," he announced. "I will read it.
"'In the name of God.
"'On a charge of the murder of the gendarmes Nejib Telhoon and Abdurrahman and Ibrahim Aisha and Fatima, daughter of Hason Abbas, of the attack on certain nomads, of having fired on them with the intent of murder, of participation and assistance in the act of murder, of having shot on the regular troops, of assisting in the escape of some offenders and of having drawn arms on the regular troops, during an uprising on Sunday, January 24, 1303—Mohammedan style—between the inhabitants of the Mezreatil-Arab quarter in Beirut and the nomads who had pitched their tents near by, the following arrested persons, namely—Metri son of Habib Eljemal and Habib son of Mikael Nakash and Hanna son of Abdallah Elbaitar and Elias Esad Shihada and Tanous son of Jerji Khedr and Habib son of Aboud Shab and Elias son of Metri Nasir and Khalil son of Mansour Maoud and Nakhle son of Elias Elhaj and Nakhle son of Berkat Minari and Antoon son of Berkat Minari and Lutfallah son of Jerji-Kefouri and Jabran Habib Bishara and Kholil son of Lutf Dahir and Nakhle Yousif Eldefoumi, all residents of the said quarter and Turkish subjects, and their companions, sixty-five fugitives, namely—Isbir Bedoon son of Abdallah Zerik and Elias son of Kanan Zerik and Amin Matar and Jerji Ferhan alias Baldelibas and Habu son of Hanna Kahoots and—'"
Deputy Assistant District Attorney Pepperill started doubtfully to his feet.
"If the court please," he murmured in a sickly voice, "I object. In the first place I don't know anything about this record—and I object to it on that ground; and in the second place a trial and conviction in the absence of a defendant under our law is no conviction at all."
"But this man is a Turkish subject and it's a good conviction in Turkey," argued Mr. Tutt.
"Well, it isn't here!" protested Pepperill.
"You're a little late, aren't you?" inquired His Honor. "It has all been read to the jury. However, I'll entertain a motion to strike out—"
"I should like to be heard on the question," said Mr. Tutt quickly. "This is an important matter."
Unexpectedly a disgruntled-looking talesman in the back row held up his hand.
"I'd like to ask a question myself," he announced defiantly, almost arrogantly, after the manner of one with a grievance. "I'm a hard-working business man. I've been dragged here against my will to serve on this jury and decide if this defendant murdered somebody or other. I don't see what difference it makes whether or not this witness cut a tablecloth in two or murdered Fatima, the daughter of What's his Name. I want to go home—sometime. If it is in order I'd like to suggest that we get along."
Judge Wetherell started and peered with a puzzled air at this bold shatterer of established procedure.
"Mister Juryman," said he severely, "these matters relate directly to the credibility of the witness. They are quite proper. I—I—am—surprised—"
"But, Your Honor," expostulated the iconoclast upon the back row, "I guess nobody is going to waste much time over this Turkish snake charmer! Ain't there a policeman or somebody we can believe who saw what happened?"
"Bang!" went the judicial gavel.
"The juryman will please be silent!" shouted Judge Wetherell. "This is entirely out of order!" Then he quickly covered his face with his handkerchief. "Proceed!" he directed in a muffled tone.
"Where were we?" asked Mr. Tutt dreamily.
"Fatima, the daughter of Abbas," assisted the foreman, sotto voce.
"And I objected to Fatima, the daughter of Abbas!" snapped Pepperill.
"Well, well!" conceded Mr. Tutt. "She's dead, poor thing! Let her be. That is all, Mr. Kahoots."
It is difficult to describe the intense excitement these digressions from the direct testimony occasioned among the audience. The reference to the billiard-table cover and the murder of the unfortunate Fatima apparently roused long-smoldering fires. A group of Syrians by the window broke into an unexpected altercation, which had to be quelled by a court officer, and when quiet was restored the jury seemed but slightly attentive to the precisely similar yarns of Nicola Abbu, Menheem Shikrie, Fajal Mokarzel and David Elias, especially as the minutes of the Grand Jury showed that they had sworn to three entirely different sets of facts regarding the cause of Babu's death. Yet when the People rested it remained true that five witnesses, whatever the jury may have thought of them, had testified that Hassoun strangled Sardi Babu. The jury turned expectantly to Mr. Tutt to hear what he had to say.
"Gentlemen," he said quietly, "the defense is very simple. None of the witnesses who have appeared here was in fact present at the scene of the homicide at all. I shall call some ten or twelve reputable Syrian citizens who will prove to you that Kasheed Hassoun, my client, with a large party of friends was sitting quietly in the restaurant when Sardi Babu came in with a revolver in his hand, which he fired at Hassoun, and that then, and only then, a small dark man whose identity cannot be established—evidently a stranger—seized Babu before he could fire again, and killed him—in self-defense."
Mr. William Montague Pepperill's jaw dropped as if he had seen the ghost of one of his colonial ancestors. He could not believe that he had heard Mr. Tutt correctly. Why, the old lawyer had the thing completely turned round! Sardi Babu hadn't gone to the restaurant. He had been in the restaurant, and it had been Kasheed Hassoun who had gone there.
Yet, one by one, placidly, imperturbably, the dozen witnesses foretold by Mr. Tutt, and gathered in by Bonnie Doon, marched to the chair and swore upon the Holy Bible that it was even as Mr. Tutt had said, and that no such persons as Mokarzel, Kahoots, Abbu, Shikrie and Elias had been in the restaurant at any time that evening, but on the contrary that they, the friends of Hassoun, had been there eating Turkish pie—a few might have had mashed beans with taheenak—when Sardi Babu, apparently with suicidal intent, entered alone to take vengeance upon the camel owner.
"That is all. That is our case," said Mr. Tutt as the last Syrian left the stand.
But there was no response from the bench. Judge Wetherell had been dozing peacefully for several hours. Even Pepperill could not avoid a decorous smile. Then the clerk pulled out the copy of Al-Hoda and rustled it, and His Honor, who had been dreaming that he was riding through the narrow streets of Bagdad upon a jerky white dromedary so tall that he could peek through the latticed balconies at the plump, black-eyed odalisques within the harems, slowly came back from Turkey to New York.
"Gentlemen of the jury," said he, pulling himself together, "the defendant here is charged by the Grand Jury with having murdered Fatima the daughter of Abbas—I beg your pardon! I mean—who was it?—one Sardi Babu. I will first define to you the degrees of homicide—"
One day three months later, after Kasheed Hassoun had been twice tried upon the same testimony and the jury had disagreed—six to six, each time—Mr. Tutt, who had overstayed his lunch hour at the office, put on his stovepipe hat and strolled along Washington Street, looking for a place to pick up a bite to eat. It was in the middle of the afternoon and most of the stores were empty, which was all the more to his liking. He had always wanted to try some of that Turkish pie that they had all talked so much about at the trial. Presently a familiar juxtaposition of names caught his eye—Ghabryel & Assad. The very restaurant which had been the scene of the crime! Curiously, he turned in there. Like all the other places it was deserted, but at the sound of his footsteps a little Syrian boy not more than ten years old came from behind the screen at the end of the room and stood bashfully awaiting his order.
Mr. Tutt smiled one of his genial weather-beaten smiles at the youngster and glancing idly over the bill of fare ordered biklama and coffee. Then he lit a stogy and stretched his long legs comfortably out under the narrow table. Yes, this was the very spot where either Sardi Babu and his friends had been sitting the night of the murder or Kasheed Hassoun and his friends—one or the other; he wondered if anybody would ever know which. Was it possible that in this humdrum little place human passions had been roused to the taking of life on account of some mere difference in religious dogma? Was this New York? Was it possible to Americanize these people? A door clattered in the rear, and from behind the screen again emerged the boy carrying a tray of pastry and coffee.
"Well, my little man," said Mr. Tutt, "do you work here?"
"Oh, yes," answered the embryonic citizen. "My father, he owns half the store. I go to school every day, but I work here afterward. I got a prize last week."
"What sort of a prize?"
"I got the English prize."
The lawyer took the child's hand and pulled him over between his knees. He was an attractive lad, clean, responsive, frank, and his eyes looked straight into Mr. Tutt's.
"Sonny," he inquired his new friend, "are you an American?"
"Me? Sure! You bet I'm an American! The old folks—no! You couldn't change 'em in fifty years. They're just what they always were. They don't want anything different. They think they're in Syria yet. But me—say, what do you think? Of course I'm an American!"
"That's right!" answered Mr. Tutt, offering him a piece of pastry. "And what is your name?"
"George Nasheen Assad," answered the boy, showing a set of white teeth.
"Well, George," continued the attorney, "what has become of Kasheed Hassoun?"
"Oh, he's down at Coney Island. He runs a caravan. He has six camels. I go there sometimes and he lets me ride for nothing. I know who you are," said the little Syrian confidently, as he took the cake. "You're the great lawyer who defended Kasheed Hassoun."
"That's right. How did you know that, now?"
"I was to the trial."
"Do you think he ought to have been let off?" asked Mr. Tutt whimsically.
"I don't know," returned the child. "I guess you did right not to call me as a witness."
Mr. Tutt wrinkled his brows.
"Eh? What? You weren't a witness, were you?"
"Of course I was!" laughed George. "I was here behind the screen. I saw the whole thing. I saw Kasheed Hassoun come in and speak to Sardi Babu, and I saw Sardi draw his revolver, and I saw Kasheed tear it out of his hand and strangle him."
Mr. Tutt turned cold.
"You saw that?" he challenged.
"How many other people were there in the restaurant?" inquired Mr. Tutt.
"Nobody at all," answered George in a matter-of-fact tone. "Only Kasheed and Sardi. Nobody else was in the restaurant."