The Conquest of Canaan eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Conquest of Canaan.

XXIII

JOE WALKS ACROSS THE COURT-HOUSE YARD

From within the glossy old walnut bar that ran from wall to wall, the eyes of the lawyers and reporters wandered often to Ariel as she sat in the packed court-room watching Louden’s fight for the life and liberty of Happy Fear.  She had always three escorts, and though she did not miss a session, and the same three never failed to attend her, no whisper of scandal arose.  But not upon them did the glances of the members of the bar and the journalists with tender frequency linger; nor were the younger members of these two professions all who gazed that way.  Joe had fought out the selection of the jury with the prosecutor at great length and with infinite pains; it was not a young jury, and it stared at her.  The “Court” wore a gray beard with which a flock of sparrows might have villaged a grove, and yet, in spite of the vital necessity for watchfulness over this fighting case, it once needed to be stirred from a trancelike gaze in Miss Tabor’s direction and aroused to the realization that It was there to Sit and not to dream.

The August air was warm outside the windows, inviting to the open country, to swimmin’-hole, to orchard reveries, or shaded pool wherein to drop a meditative line; you would have thought no one could willingly coop himself in this hot room for three hours, twice a day, while lawyers wrangled, often unintelligibly, over the life of a dingy little creature like Happy Fear, yet the struggle to swelter there was almost like a riot, and the bailiffs were busy men.

It was a fighting case throughout, fought to a finish on each tiny point as it came up, dragging, in the mere matter of time, interminably, yet the people of Canaan (not only those who succeeded in penetrating to the court-room, but the others who hung about the corridors, or outside the building, and the great mass of stay-at-homes who read the story in the Tocsin) found each moment of it enthralling enough.  The State’s attorney, fearful of losing so notorious a case, and not underestimating his opponent, had modestly summoned others to his aid; and the attorney for the defence, single-handed, faced “an array of legal talent such as seldom indeed had hollered at this bar”; faced it good-naturedly, an eyebrow crooked up and his head on one side, most of the time, yet faced it indomitably.  He had a certain careless and disarming smile when he lost a point, which carried off the defeat as of only humorous account and not at all part of the serious business in hand; and in his treatment of witnesses, he was plausible, kindly, knowing that in this case he had no intending perjurer to entrap; brought into play the rare and delicate art of which he was a master, employing in his questions subtle suggestions and shadings of tone and manner, and avoiding words of debatable and dangerous meanings;—­a fine craft, often attempted by blunderers to their

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The Conquest of Canaan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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