Page:Manhattan Transfer (John Dos Passos, 1925).djvu/403

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The Burthen of Nineveh


round until she thought she would throw up. She couldn't hear a word that was said, she kept blinking to get the blur out of her ears. She could feel Dutch behind her hunched up with his head in his hands. She didnt dare look back. Then after hours everything was sharp and clear, very far away. The judge was shouting at her, from the small end of a funnel his colorless lips moving in and out like the mouth of a fish.

". . . And now as a man and a citizen of this great city I want to say a few words to the defendants. Briefly this sort of thing has got to stop. The unalienable rights of human life and property the great men who founded this republic laid down in the constitootion have got to be reinstated. It is the dooty of every man in office and out of office to combat this wave of lawlessness by every means in his power. Therefore in spite of what those sentimental newspaper writers who corrupt the public mind and put into the head of weaklings and misfits of your sort the idea that you can buck the law of God and man, and private property, that you can wrench by force from peaceful citizens what they have earned by hard work and brains . . . and get away with it; in spite of what these journalistic hacks and quacks would call extentuating circumstances I am going to impose on you two highwaymen the maximum severity of the law. It is high time an example was made. . . ."

The judge took a drink of water. Francie could see the little beads of sweat standing out from the pores of his nose.

"It is high time an example was made," the judge shouted. "Not that I dont feel as a tender and loving father the misfortunes, the lack of education and ideels, the lack of a loving home and tender care of a mother that has led this young woman into a life of immorality and misery, led away by the temptations of cruel and voracious men and the excitement and wickedness of what has been too well named, the jazz age. Yet at the moment when these thoughts are about to temper with mercy the stern anger of the law, the importunate recollection rises of other young girls, perhaps hundreds of them at this moment in this great city about to fall