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Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Caesar's Column.

“But now that I have told you who I am, will you be good enough to tell me something about yourself?”

“Certainly,” he replied, “and with pleasure.  I am a native of this city; my name is Maximilian Petion; by profession I am an attorney; I live in this house with my mother, to whom I shall soon have the pleasure of introducing you.”

“Thank you,” I replied, still studying the face of my new acquaintance.  His complexion was dark, the eyes and hair almost black; the former very bright and penetrating; his brow was high, broad and square; his nose was prominent, and there was about the mouth an expression of firmness, not unmixed with kindness.  Altogether it was a face to inspire respect and confidence.  But I made up my mind not to trust too much to appearances.  I could not forget the transformation which I had witnessed, from the rags of the ancient beggar to this well-dressed young gentleman.  I knew that the criminal class were much given to such disguises.  I thought it better therefore to ask some questions that might throw light upon the subject.

“May I inquire,” I said, “what were your reasons for hurrying me away so swiftly and mysteriously from the gate of the Park?”

“Because,” he replied, “you were in great danger, and you had rendered me a most important service.  I could not leave you there to be arrested, and punished with a long period of imprisonment, because, following the impulse of your heart, you had saved my life and scourged the wretch who would have driven his horses over me.”

“But why should I be punished with a long term of imprisonment?  In my own country the act I performed would have received the applause of every one.  Why did you not tell me to throw away that whip on the instant, so as to avoid the appearance of stealing it, and then remain to testify in my behalf if I had been arrested?”

“Then you do not know,” he replied, “whose driver it was you horsewhipped?”

“No,” I said; “how should I?  I arrived here but yesterday.”

“That was the carriage of Prince Cabano, the wealthiest and most vindictive man in the city.  If you had been taken you would have been consigned to imprisonment for probably many years.”

“Many years,” I replied; “imprisoned for beating an insolent driver!  Impossible.  No jury would convict me of such an offense.”

“Jury!” he said, with a bitter smile; “it is plain to see you are a stranger and come from a newly settled part of the world, and know nothing of our modern civilization.  The jury would do whatever Prince Cabano desired them to do.  Our courts, judges and juries are the merest tools of the rich.  The image of justice has slipped the bandage from one eye, and now uses her scales to weigh the bribes she receives.  An ordinary citizen has no more prospect of fair treatment in our courts, contending with a millionaire, than a new-born infant would have of life in the den of a wolf.”

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