Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

above his forehead absently, then laid And he had laughed at them just as down the pad. That was the last Rodenbaugh would laugh at him now finding of fact. He would dictate the if he heard him. Only Rodenbaugh whole and his conclusions of law before did n't laugh, that was the trouble. Court to-morrow.

He only smiled — a slow spreading of It must be nearly five, he thought. unparted lips, a narrowing of his eyes, The sunlight had shrunk to a dusty which — the judge sighed — was inorange bar across the red carpet at tensely distasteful. But — maybe it his feet; through the open window he was just as well. If Rodenbaugh once could hear the cooing of the pigeons, began to laugh he might laugh at himthe soft rustle of their wings as they self all day moved upon the stone sill. Against the A step sounded on the marble outopposite wall the yellow bindings of side, and the curtain was pushed the books ran in converging rows to a tentatively back. Old Walrath apwell of still gray light that seemed to peared, his watery blue eyes searching gather at the end of the room; the the chamber with vague apology. surface of the table in the centre shone ‘Judge Rodenbaugh been here, Judge?' like a ruddy disk above its dark carven he asked. He moved forward, then legs; through the curtains that hung hobbled down the steps. 'I looked in above the doorway to his right he his room and he was n't there. He said could hear the voices of the tipstaves he wanted to see Mr. Mercer at halftalking in the empty courtroom out- past three. Mr. Mercer 's in the courtside.

room now.' Rodenbaugh was late. Evidently he 'He's still trying the Minturn case, was going to finish the Minturn case Enoch. He's coming here, though, this afternoon. A driving young man, before he goes home. I don't know Rodenbaugh — he swept uncommon what he wants with Mercer. If he's clean for a new broom. The judge been waiting long I think you 'd smiled a little grimly, glanced down better let him go. You can call him at his knees, unpleasantly sharp and when the judge gets back.' narrow beneath the neat fold of his ‘All right, sir.' The old man paused, trousers. Old age did queer tricks to and a look of doubt crept into his the body, things that he did n't like. mildly truculent face. “You think he No doubt it did the same things to the won't mind? I should n't like to get mind. He was seventy-three. That him mad just after he's come off the was a warning in itself. He rose and bench. You know, Judge, he's got a walked to the window, sniffed the way, when he's mad, of smiling just dusty May air. He was sorry he did n't like a Chessy cat, and passing that get on better with Rodenbaugh. It tongue of his over you fit to take off was hard, at first, to like anyone who your skin!' He pulled at his long had taken Langdon's place on the white walrus moustache and gazed at bench.

the judge. 'I've been thinking he acts There was a difference now, a very pretty fiery for a young man that ain't great difference. He shook his head, seen too much of court before he turned and walked stifly to his chair. become a judge. I reckon' — his eyes The fact that he felt the difference so moved solemnly to and fro – ‘I reckon keenly was a sign of his age. In his that 's why.' youth the old lawyers had always Judge Avery looked at his knees; it complained about the decay of the bar. was difficult to conceal his smile. Of

new broom. The onon what he wants home. I don't know

Enock, he'd have. The old be white wrote Demosthenes

course, he ought n't to let Walrath time to linger in the clerk's office, in talk to him that way. He ought to those days; time to do many things reprove him sharply, and the fact that that were forgotten now. Law was a he could n't was clearly just another profession then, not a business; the sign of his age. He straightened his lawyer reached out toward art and letface, looked up. Walrath was smiling ters rather than toward certified pubat him in a curious way. Yes, by lic accounting. Then Bricknell transGeorge, he was actually smiling at lated Demosthenes and Judge Haynes him paternally underneath that white wrote Horatian Echoes. Very faint walrus moustache. The old beggar! but quite scholarly. And everyone, Really, he'd have to say something! strangely enough, spoke and wrote 'Enoch!” He stroked his chin, gazed English. It seemed to be the mother through his spectacles at the bent tongue. He sighed. Even the law had figure standing in the doorway. “You changed: it had lost its pattern, its ’re becoming too philosophical, I'm design; the fine threads of continuity afraid, in your later years. I have a were gone. Nowadays you matched suspicion you ’ve taken to psycho facts as you matched silk, and exanalysis.'

tracted legal principles like a dentist 'No, sir!' Walrath grunted. "I pulling teeth. He rose, straightened never yet heard of it. Them experts his coat across his slender shoulders. talks of electrolysis in the accident He was old, quite out of date. In the cases, but I never yet heard of the hurry and press of modern life there is sister you speak of. No, Judge – it no time, and so forth — Any young ain't science — you know that.' He man could finish the sentence. shook his head and began climbing the He gathered the papers from the steps. 'It's just putting a long time in chair, slipped an elastic about them, the courtroom, the same as you and and thrust them into a green-baize me's both done — that, and a little bag. There was no use in waiting any looking round, as Judge Langdon used longer for Rodenbaugh; he might as to say.' He paused, the curtain well take his walk and go home. The clasped in his big bony hand. 'I'm evening dreariness was coming over going out now and tell Mr. Mercer him; it made him peevish and irritable; he can leave, and then I 'll come back he was likely to bite, to say something and get what papers you want for he did n't mean, if Rodenbaugh proyour bag.'

voked him. He glanced at the table to Judge Avery watched the curtain see whether he had left any papers, settle behind him, heard the slow then at the desk. For an instant he stump of his footsteps across the paused, a bent delicate figure, very marble. Old Walrath had stumped up clear against the square of ruddy light. and down those steps and across that The evening dreariness was, after all, marble for nearly fifty years; he had a little more than age. He gazed at the been a tipstaff when the judge first pictures standing in leather frames came to the bar. A gay ribald young within a shadowy recess of the desk. fellow, then, with a rough tongue and a The bright knife-like sorrow of the surprising knowledge of human nature, past was gone, but in its place was a but good company, sitting on a table numb loneliness, a darkening vision, a in the clerk's office, swinging his legs dim sense of drifting with blurred, and imitating Melchior Van Zandt loosened feeling toward some unblowing his nose at a jury. There was fathomable end. It would have been VOL. 134 NO. 4

different if they had lived. He would 'That, or atmosphere, answered have understood these youngsters Judge Avery. 'It's sometimes fatal better then. Old age had always to to litigants, although we lawyers look through others' eyes; the vistas survive it. Well — what did Kardos of its own past were overwhelming. do?

A sharp footstep sounded outside 'Oh, he'd just smile that sickly and the curtain rings jangled angrily. smile of his, and move his hands to and Judge Rodenbaugh's body filled the fro and wipe his face, and begin again. doorway, descended with an abrupt He'd have been funny if he had n't heaviness into the room. 'I hope you taken up so much time. You know have n't waited, Judge,' he said. His that fellow Moran is a great trialsmall eyes moved obscurely beneath lawyer! I never realized it so comhis thin eyebrows, his tall clumsy pletely until to-day. I'd never tried presence seemed to permeate the place, against him — I did n't try cases, the to pervade it like a harsh dominating way you did, before I came on the breath. 'I wanted counsel to finish bench. It does n't bother me, though.' their speeches this afternoon, so I He smiled and his dark heavy face could charge the jury the first thing in seemed to widen slowly. 'It 's easy to the morning.' He seated himself in the handle things from back here, is n't it, chair by the table, his thick shoulders Judge?' . thrown forward, his legs stretched out. 'Yes,' said Judge Avery. His thin *That little Kardos is a pitiful apology,' mouth closed, he leaned forward a he said.

little, his elbow upon the table, and 'Was he trying for the plaintiff?' surveyed his companion with still

'Yes. He tries a case as if he were luminous eyes. . selling shoestrings on State Street. 'Well!' Rodenbaugh stretched back He's all tongue and no head. I've had his shoulders, ran his hand through the to listen to him now for two days, unparted hair that lay like a wig above fumbling and backing and filling, his forehead. 'I put an oar in myencumbering the record with all sorts self now and then. Yesterday, after of useless questions. Moran is against Kardos had floundered about for a him — you know what a good one he while, I told him he ought to get a is! I think he was saying things to lawyer to try his case. Up jumped Kardos under his breath all through Moran with that friendly manner of the trial. I was n't sure. Every now his and said he'd be delighted to and then Kardos would stop and get furnish his learned friend with a list sort of gray and ask his questions in case he were not acquainted with again. Each time he repeated he got the bar. The jury laughed and Kardos worse, and then Moran would get up stood there wiping his face and moving with that suave easy manner of his, his lips like a fish and then sat down. and suggest that his friend first make I told him to go ahead and he pulled known to himself what he wanted to up his chair and began shooting ask, and, after a moment's silent com- questions at the witness as if he were munion, make it known to the witness, crying a sale. It was awful!' He who, in spite of his lawyer, seemed like leaned back, took some cigars from his quite an intelligent man. He's a quick pocket and pushed one across the one, Moran.' The judge shook his head. table. 'I don't know what we 're going 'I like him. He gives a case something to do with these fellows, Judge.' - color, I guess you 'd call it.'

'Neither do I.' Judge Avery ignored

don State St mere luminous e his companion

and ink, put more him

the cigar. "Was there something you look in his clear blue eyes. Yes. wanted to discuss with me? If not, I Rodenbaugh deserved something. think I 'll go home.'

With the exercise of a little imagination ‘Yes, there was. I wanted to see he could give it to him completely in a Mercer too. He rose, thrust his head way that he would thoroughly underthrough the curtains. Walrath!' he stand. He paused, his mind penetrat

ing — invading the man before him. “Yes, sir!'

Then he leaned back, put his finger ‘Did you get Mr. Mercer?'

tips together, and the little smile on “Yes, sir. He was here. He waited his lips grew sharp. There was a certain till half-past four.' Judge Avery heard pleasure in the exercise of the imagithe clump of Walrath's feet on the nation. Quite justifiable in this case. marble. "Then I let him go, Judge. I He would tell Rodenbaugh exactly told him I'd call him to-morrow what he was. morning.'

'It's about myself,' he said slowly. 'You did! What did you do that “Old men are given to telling stories for?'

about themselves. I suppose that 's the ‘Judge -'

reason they ’re bores. But I think this 'Well, get him now if you 're able to will interest you as a younger man: handle the phone! And remember, Do you mind?' when I send for a man I want him to Judge Rodenbaugh turned and wait! Exercise the authority of your stared at him. “Not at all,' he said. age and position, Walrath, but don't “That's very kind!' The words exercise discretion. When the vessels dropped like acid from the sardonic of the law become old crockery, they lips. 'I've been in a reminiscent mood should n't go to the well too often. all afternoon. As you 're my defenseMove along now — don't stand there less colleague, - brother, as the Relooking at me like a fool.' He turned ports call us, — I'm afraid I 'll have to and descended the steps. 'Doddering impose on you.' old ass, Walrath,' he said.

II 'I told him to let Mercer go,' said: Judge Avery. 'I thought you would n't 'It's curious,' he continued, ‘how

the memories of childhood come to the ‘Oh!' The judge paused, a sulky surface in old age. It 's rather the way look on his face. 'I see. I don't believe an ebbing stream discloses the soft Mercer's so busy that an hour's wait formless ooze that lies beneath it. I would injure his practice.' He sat can remember now just how I felt as a down heavily in the chair. “What I youngster, remember all my desires wanted to talk to you about was and fears with a surprising vividness. this —'

And I had plenty of fears.' He paused, ‘Do you mind' — Judge Avery's nodded his head. “I think I must have voice had a curious lingering drawl — been afraid of everything, when I was ‘if we wait a minute? There's some- young. In that way’ — he lifted his thing I want to tell you, first.'

'No,' said Rodenbaugh shortly, 'go from you. Of course, I never let anyone on.' He drummed on the table im- know I was afraid. I buried it all deep patiently. 'Old Walrath 's an ass,' he down, created an image over it — an muttered under his breath.

image of myself as a valiant, aggressive, Judge Avery smiled, a still frosty reckless youngster. But I knew it was

Jude him to wait-ce paused, a believe

an ebb

there all the time, and the very “It was little Immanuel Pleasants thought of it seemed to give me a the last term. I seem to remember him savage desire to show my strength. better than any of the others. He was And yet I could n't when it came to the son of Agamemnon Pleasants, the the test. I was afraid to fight. The teacher of Latin - a thin, frightened, other boys knew I was and so I never large-eared man with a white face and made friends with boys of my own age. eyes like a Sealyham terrier. ImI always went about with the younger manuel's mother was named Lucilla, boys; they could n't destroy this image and, of course, we always called her I had created; on the contrary, it Clytemnestra. They lived in a little seemed to grow larger the more I was house near the main building and were with them. I used to bully them like a constantly asking unwilling boys in to regular little cad. You know' – he tea. Even as youngsters we recognized shook his head - 'what boys are, their “inferiority complex,” as I believe Judge. Queer little animals; just as the psychologists nowadays call it. eager to maintain their prestige as any Old Aggie – I suppose he was thirtyfull-grown man, and just as clever five - used to call us "young barabout it, too.' He leaned back, barians” in a timid jocular voice, and crossed his sharp narrow knees. “Did give us little half-hearted pats on the that thought ever occur to you?' shoulder and look at us with his doubt.

'I can't say it has,' Judge Roden- ful evasive eyes. We thought he baugh answered. His eyes searched his was n't much of a man, and I daresay companion's face with a veiled waver- he was n't; and as for Clytemnestra we ing glance, then fell away. Judge liked her still less; there was something Avery lifted his hand to his mouth, depressing about her red swollen eyesmoothed his upper lip.

lids and the soft pink of her nose — as 'I suppose old men, like dead men, if she were always having a cold. should tell no tales.' His smile seemed I think even Immanuel, at times, to vanish into a lurking shadow. 'I doubted the worldly value of his must tell you a little story and then parents, and I know some of us used to we 'll take up the matters you want to encourage him in his attitude of undiscuss. At boarding school – I pre- belief. It was always easy to encourage sume you went to Saint Thomas?' Immanuel on any subject. He was The judge moved his head.

susceptible to every influence about 'It might have been better if I'd him; a pathetic, eager little fellow, gone there, too. They sent me to filled with an unreasoning desire to Milford. Well, I was n't a great suce please; one of those boys that hang cess. I was quick enough in class, but about the older boys and do things for that did n't count; for some reason the them and talk about them a little boys did n't like me. I was n't good at breathlessly. I thought him quite abathletics, I could n't play football, and surd, with his weasel face and his silly the cold punishment of the track hat and his big translucent ears. I've simply filled me with dread. There often wondered’ — the judge stared at was nothing of that sort that I could the bookcase as if he had forgotten do and, naturally, I did n't become a his companion – 'what became of Im. leader, and I did n't want friendship manuel. He was manifestly unfitted on any other terms. So I put up my for this world. I suppose' – he looked image and looked around for some at Judge Rodenbaugh — 'you knew younger boy to keep it in place. boys like that at school?'

« ElőzőTovább »