He arose and faced the court. A deathlike stillness hushed the room, crowded with Socialists, reporters, emissaries of Flint, private detectives and hangers-on of the System. Heavily veiled, lest some of her father’s people recognize her, Catherine herself sat in a back seat, very pale yet calm.
“Prisoner at the bar, have you anything to say, why sentence should not be pronounced upon you?”
Gabriel, also a little pale, but with a steadfast and fearless gaze, looked at the legal prostitute upon the bench, and shook his head in negation. He deigned not, even, to answer this kept puppet of the ruling class.
Judge Harpies frowned a trifle, cleared his throat, glanced about him with pompous dignity; and then, in a sonorous and impressive tone—his best asset on the bench, for legal knowledge and probity were not his—announced:
“It is the judgment of this court that you do stand committed to pay a fine of three thousand dollars into the treasury of the United States, and to serve five years at hard labor in the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta!”
BACK IN THE SUNLIGHT.
Four years and two months from the day when this iniquitous verdict fell from the lips of the “bought and paid for” judge, a sturdily built and square jawed man stood on the steps of the Atlanta Penitentiary and, for the first time in all these weary months and years, faced the sun.
Pale with the prison-pallor that never fails to set its seal on the victims of a diseased society, which that society retaliates upon by shutting away from God’s own light and air, this man stood there on the steps, a moment, then advanced to meet a woman who was coming toward him in the August glare. As he removed his cheap, convict-made cap, one saw his finely shaped head, close cropped with the infamous prison badge of servitude. Despite the shoddy miserable prison-suit that the prostituted government had given him—a suit that would have made Apollo grotesque and would have marked any man as an ex-convict, thus heavily handicapping him from the start—Gabriel Armstrong’s poise and strength still made themselves manifest.
And the smile as they two, the woman and he, came together and their hands clasped, lighted his pale features with a ray brighter than that of the blistering Southern sunshine flooding down upon them both.
“I knew you’d come, Catherine,” said he, simply, his voice still the same deep, vibrant, earnest voice which, all that time ago, had thrilled and inspired her at the hour of her great conversion. Still were his eyes clear, level and commanding; and through his splendid body, despite all his jailers had been able to do, coursed an abundant life and strong vitality.