Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/359

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The Green Bag But whither? Why not, without delay, go home and seek his bed? The thought of some engagement spun dimly through his head. Let's see. I think I promised — Oh now, indeed, I know; I'm due in twenty minutes to play Bassanio In that fool drama Katharyn wrote. But stay, it Wasn't Kate; 'twas Shakespeare. Very well, I'll play it. I wouldn't, had she wrote it, because her kind of verse Would make the angel Israfel throw down his harp and curse. Who says I cannot talk? By William Jennings Thor, I'll show these Greenville people what vocal cords are for! And some day, mark me, some day, these folk will hang in awe Upon my slightest utterance in the forums of the law —" In silken hose and trappings, in doublet slashed and gored, In plumed and rakish bonnet, and girt with glittering sword, He spoke his lines so nobly, so effectively withal, That sighs of admiration were heard throughout the hall; And oft, as cues recalled him, there was a moment's pause Of wondering, spellbound silence — then torrents of applause. And Portia, flushed and happy, she worshiped from afar This bolt from out the azure, this new dramatic star; And Lucius, loosing powers no man can twice reveal, For him, in all its phases, the passing show was real. Perhaps, in all the ages, neither profligate nor monk Was e'er so sweetly, grandly, smoothly, super-excellently drunk. Three glorious Acts as hitchless ran their appointed course As e'er was staged in Reno an action for divorce; And 'mid handclaps and stamping like nearby breakers' roar, Arose the painted curtain upon Scene 1, Act IV. Therein grim Shylock at the ducal judgment-seat, Presses his legal claim to one even pound of meat The which — here follows the contract's startling part — He with a knife shall sever near Antonio's generous heart. The Duke refuses judgment and hedges for delay, Then turns the problem over to a youth from Padua. So, mid a thrilling uproar of trumpets and of drums, To render final judgment the beauteous Portia comes. She came. And Lucius, with a now whirring head, Gave heed with rapt attention to what each witness said. His own part in the drama had wholly left his mind, And in its stead was interest of the purely legal kind. Beside Antonio standing, he weighed each separate clause Of Shylock's bloody contract, while Portia judged the cause. Into his brain came flooding a wave of legal light : "By all the laws of contracts, the plaintiff's in the right! "