Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/360

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Little Tin Pan No unit of the audience in gallery or parquet Now watched with more absorption the progress of the play, And none but knew as fully as did "Bassanio" The outcome of the action, Shylock v. Antonio. Shylock has lost the case. The Court of Last Review Now heaps its hot invectives on the defeated Jew, Who wing-ward sidles, cringes, slinks, — but hold! Bassanio's voice comes booming in protest stern and bold: "'O wise and upright Judge,' one moment wait, I pray, Nor let this aged Jew, your plaintiff, slink away Thus beaten, from the bar. Was his case here presented By proper counsel? No; no lawyer has consented To guaranteee to Shylock, wronged mark for public fury, His double right: an advocate, and civil trial by jury. Now, by Your Honor's leave, I soon shall prove to you That justice, in this matter, lies mainly with the Jew." "Antonio's pact with Shylock is simply, in effect, 'I'll pay three thousand ducats; which failing, I expect, And hereby authorize Shylock, with a poniard to reduce My weight a dozen ounces.' How can this Court deduce That Shylock in the cutting may shed no drop of gore, And take one pound exact, not one small hair's-heft more? Of all our legal maxims this is the weightiest one : 'The law compels no man to do what can't be done' : Then how require of Shylock, poor cheated, harried Jew A thing no Jew or Gentile by any chance could do? Besides, 'O upright Judge,' it's not to be denied Where contracts call for carving, some blood's of course impl—" He paused. Swift as the bursting of some grim cannon's shell Came sobered realization. He staggered, nearly fell, Then, for one awful moment, his face one carmine blush, Stood staring at the audience whose slightest whispers hush; He gazed upon the players; and then, as one that yields To sudden, headlong panic on bloody battlefields, In silken hose and trappings, in doublet slashed and gored, In plumed and rakish bonnet, and girt with shining sword, He fled the glittering stage, he thundered to the doors, — And on the stair those footfalls are L. T. Penselgore's. And so the huge drop-curtain too soon came rolling down On the Local Talent Drama in astonished Greenville town. Some freak of fancy led him, all trembling, spent, dismayed, To flee straight to his sanctum in the office of the Blade. He stumbled through the doorway, turned on the shaded light, And there, upon his table, piled lawbooks met his sight; He turned away in sorrow, in swift heartsickness; then