“Did this man in the kind of er—a—frenzy he describes and to which witnesses agree he was subject, deliberately strain back the Ross woman’s head until the nail penetrated?
“If so, remember the law takes knowledge only of self-defense.
“On the other hand, ask of yourselves well, did the defendant, in the frenzy which he claims had hold of him when he committed this unusual crime, know that the nail was there?
“Would Winnie Ross have met her death if the nail had not been there?
“Gentlemen, in the name of the law, solemnly and with a fear of God in your hearts, I charge you.”
It was a quick verdict. Three hours and forty minutes.
In the front row there, with the titillating folderols on her bonnet and her hand at her throat as if she would tear it open for the mystery of the pain of the heartbeat in it, Sara Turkletaub heard, and, hearing, swooned into the pit of her pain and her joy.
Her son, with brackets of fatigue out about his mouth, was standing over her when she opened her eyes, the look of crucifixion close to the front of them.
“Mother,” he said, pressing her head close to his robes of state and holding a throat-straining quiver under his voice, “I—I shouldn’t have let you stay. It was too—much for you.”
It took her a moment for the mist to clear.
“I—Son—did somebody strike? Hit? Strange. I—I must have been hurt. Son, am I bleeding?” And looked down, clasping her hand to the bosom of her decent black-silk basque.
“Son, I—It was a good verdict, not? I—couldn’t have stood it—if—if it wasn’t. I—Something—It was good, not?”
“Yes, mother, yes.”
“Don’t—don’t let that boy get away, son. I think—those tempers—I can help—him. You see, I know—how to handle—Somehow I—”
“Yes, mother, only now you must sit quietly—”
“Promise me, son, you won’t let him get away without I see him?”
“Yes, dear, only please now—a moment—quiet—”
You see, the judge was very tired, and, looking down at the spot where her hand still lay at her bosom as if to press down a hurt, the red of her same obsession shook and shook him.
Somehow it seemed to him, too, that her dear heart was bleeding.