Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/159

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



telephoned. He said he and some of your other friends were coming over."

He stopped, waiting for his brother to answer, but Boynton said nothing.

"I think I'll duck out before they come. I've a meeting in town I oughtn't to cut if I can help it. . . . But I'm glad! You know that. I'm tickled to death. I could sit down and cry, just out of plain relief. You'll say good-bye to Cara for me, won't you? And the next time you get accused of murder or arson or kidnapping——"

But Professor Boynton, though he held his brother's hand longer than was usual with him, did not respond to the joking. When he was alone, he went to one of the bookcases and took down from it a little shabby brown-bound volume and turned its familiar leaves. The passage he turned to he could have repeated as well without the book as with it:

"No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed; nor will we go upon him, nor send upon him, except by the legal judgment of his peers. . . ."

The telephone book was still open on the desk. His eyes went from the page in front of him to the checked names on its list—to the names of the garbage man and the odd-jobs man and the driver of the delivery wagon.

"'His peers!'" Boynton quoted under his breath. "'By legal judgment of [my] peers.'" The colour flooded his face, even to his rim of gray hair. "My superiors! The men I've left alone at Runnymede!"

He was still holding the book between his fingers when the doorbell sounded and he went out to let in his other peers—the recreant barons of West Brookins.