W. J. Well, old acquaintance, to want a prison all to your own cheek! This is individualism, with a vengeance! It beats Auberon Herbert. But who is going to shoot you?
C. N. Why, you. He said shoot the dog (weeping).
W. J. Well, citizen, I must say that either your estimate of yourself is modest, or your conscience is bad, that you must take that title to yourself! No; it is a bad business, but not so bad as that. It’s not you that we’re going to shoot, but a poor devil of a dog—a real dog, with a tail, you know—who has taken to killing sheep. And I’m sorry to say that social ethics have given me the job of shooting him. But come, now, you shall do it for me: you used to be a great upholder of capital punishment.
C. N. But what are you going to do with me, then? How are you going to punish me?
J. F. Punish you? how can we punish you? who do you think is going to do such work as that! People punish others because they like to; and we don’t like to. Once more, learn to live decently.
G. N. But how am I to live?
J. F. You must work a little.
C. N. But what at, since you object to lawyers?
J. F. Look round you, friend, at the fields all yellowing for harvest,—we will find you work to do.
C. N. (Aside: Ah, I see. This means hard labour for life, after all. Well, I must submit. Unhappy Nupkins! To FREEMAN) But who is to employ me? You will have to find me a master; and perhaps he won’t like to employ me.
J. F. My friend, we no more have masters than we have prisons: the first make the second. You must employ yourself: and you must also employ something else.
C. N. What? I don’t understand.
J. F. Mother Earth, and the traditions and devices of all the generations of men whom she has nourished. All that is for you, Nupkins, if you only knew it.
C. N. I still do not comprehend your apologue.
J. F. No? Well, we must put aside abstractions and get to the concrete. What’s this, citizen? (showing a spade.)
C. N. That is an instrument for effodiation.
J. F. Otherwise called a spade. Well, to use your old jargon, citizen, the sentence of this court is that you do take this instrument of effodiation, commonly called a spade, and that you do effodiate your livelihood therewith; in other words, that you do dig potatoes and other roots and worts during the pleasure of this court. And, to drop jargon, since you are so badly educated our friend Robert Pinch—Mary’s husband—will show you how to do it. Is that agreed to, neighbours?
All. Agreed, agreed.
W. J. (rather surlily). I don’t think he will get on well. Now he knows we are not going to serve him out, he is beginning to look sour on us for being happy. You see, he will be trying some of his old lawyers’ tricks again.