J. N. Prisoner at the bar, you have been fairly tried and found guilty by a jury of your fellow-countrymen of two most serious offences—crimes, I should say. If I had not to pronounce sentence upon one whose conscience is seared and case-hardened to an unexampled degree, I might have some words to say to you. (Aside: And also if I didn’t want to get out of this as quick as I can; for I’m sure there is some row going on.) As it is, I will add no words to my sentence. (Aside: I wish I were off, but let’s give it him hot and heavy!) I sentence you to six years’ penal servitude and to pay a fine of 100 pounds.
J. F. Well, its pretty much what I expected of you. As to the 100 pounds, don’t you wish you may get it; and as to the six years—
[Great noise; “Marseillaise” sung quite close; hammering on the doors.
J. F. Hark! what’s that?
J. N. (in a quavering voice). Remove the prisoner!
[Enter a SOCIALIST ensign with a red flag in his hand.
S. E. Remove the prisoner! Yes, that’s just what I’ve come to do, my lord. The Tables are Turned now!
J. N. (rising and prepared to go). Arrest that man!
S. E. Yes, do—if you can.
J. F. What does it all mean, Bill?
S. E. The very beginning of it, Jack. It seems we have not been sanguine enough. The Revolution we were all looking forward to had been going on all along, and now the last act has begun. The reactionists are fighting, and pretty badly too, for the soldiers are beginning to remember that they too belong to the “lower classes”—the lower classes—hurrah! You must come along at once, Freeman; we shall want you in our quarter. Don’t waste another minute with these fools.
J. N. (screaming). Help, help! Murder, murder!
S. E. Murder!—murder a louse! Who’s hurting you, old gentleman? Don’t make such a noise. We’ll try and make some use of you when we have time, but we must bustle now. Come on, Jack. Stop a bit, though; where’s the Clerk of the Court? Oh, there! Clerk, we shall want this Court-house almost directly to use for a free market for this district. There have been too many people starving and half-starving this long time; and the first thing that we’ve got to see to is that every one has enough to eat, drink, and wear, and a proper roof over his head.
J. N. Murder! thieves! fire!
S. E. There, there! Don’t make such a row, old fellow! Get out of this, and bellow in the fields with the horned cattle, if you must bellow. Perhaps they’ll want Courts of Justice now, as we don’t. And as for you, good fellows, all give a cheer for the Social Revolution which has Turned the Tables; and so—to work—to work!