Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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heads and sleep. . . .  If only Derek is not brooding over that poor man!  Poor man—­all alone in the dark, with months of misery before him!  Poor soul!  Oh!  I am sorry for all the unhappiness of people!  I can’t bear to think of it.  I simply can’t.”  And dropping her pen, Nedda went again to her window and leaned out.  So sweet the air smelled that it made her ache with delight to breathe it in.  Each leaf that lived out there, each flower, each blade of grass, were sworn to conspiracy of perfume.  And she thought:  ’They must all love each other; it all goes together so beautifully!’ Then, mingled with the incense of the night, she caught the savor of woodsmoke.  It seemed to make the whole scent even more delicious, but she thought, bewildered:  ’Smoke!  Cruel fire—­burning the wood that once grew leaves like those.  Oh! it is so mixed!’ It was a thought others have had before her.

CHAPTER XXIV

To see for himself how it fared with the big laborer at the hands of Preliminary Justice, Felix went into Transham with Stanley the following morning.  John having departed early for town, the brothers had not further exchanged sentiments on the subject of what Stanley called ’the kick-up at Joyfields.’  And just as night will sometimes disperse the brooding moods of nature, so it had brought to all three the feeling:  ’Haven’t we made too much of this?  Haven’t we been a little extravagant, and aren’t we rather bored with the whole subject?’ Arson was arson; a man in prison more or less was a man in prison more or less!  This was especially Stanley’s view, and he took the opportunity to say to Felix:  “Look here, old man, the thing is, of course, to see it in proportion.”

It was with this intention, therefore, that Felix entered the building where the justice of that neighborhood was customarily dispensed.  It was a species of small hall, somewhat resembling a chapel, with distempered walls, a platform, and benches for the public, rather well filled that morning—­testimony to the stir the little affair had made.  Felix, familiar with the appearance of London police courts, noted the efforts that had been made to create resemblance to those models of administration.  The justices of the peace, hastily convoked and four in number, sat on the platform, with a semicircular backing of high gray screens and a green baize barrier in front of them, so that their legs and feet were quite invisible.  In this way had been preserved the really essential feature of all human justice—­at whose feet it is well known one must not look!  Their faces, on the contrary, were entirely exposed to view, and presented that pleasing variety of type and unanimity of expression peculiar to men keeping an open mind.  Below them, with his face toward the public, was placed a gray-bearded man at a table also covered with green baize, that emblem of authority.  And

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