Henry Clay Burchard came from the far South, and followed a style of oratory long since gone out of date. He wore his heavy black hair a little long, and when he mounted the platform he would pull out the tremulo stop, stretching out his hands and saying in tones of quivering emotion: “The ladies, God bless them!” Also he would say: “I am a friend of the common man. My heart beats with sympathy for those who constitute the real backbone of America, the toilers of the shop and farm.” And then all the banqueters of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association would applaud, and would send their checks to the campaign fund of this friend of the common man. Mr. Burchard’s deputy, Mr. Stannard, was a legal fox who told his chief what to do and how to do it; a dried-up little man who looked like a bookworm, and sat boring you thru with his keen eyes, watching for your weak points and preparing to pierce you thru with one of his legal rapiers. He would be quite friendly about it—he would joke with you in the noon hour, assuming that you would of course understand it was all in the line of business, and no harm meant.
The two men heard Peter’s story and changed it a little, and then heard him over again and pronounced him all right, and Peter went back to his hotel room and waited in trepidation for his hour in the limelight. When they took him to court his knees were shaking, but also he had a thrill of real importance, for they had provided him with a body-guard of four big huskies; also he saw two “bulls” whom he recognized in the hallway outside the court-room, and many others scattered thru the audience. The place was packed with Red sympathizers, but they had all been searched before they were allowed to enter, and were being watched every moment during the trial.
When Peter stepped into the witness box he felt as Tom Duggan and Donald Gordon must have felt that night when the white glare from thirty or forty automobiles was beating upon them. Peter felt the concentrated Red hate of two or three hundred spectators, and now and then their pent-up fury would break restraint; there would be a murmur of protest, or perhaps a wave of sneering laughter, and the bailiff would bang on the table with his wooden mallet, and the judge would half rise from his seat, and declare that if that happened again he would order the court-room cleared.
Not far in front of Peter at a long table sat the seventeen defendants, looking like trapped rats, and every one of their thirty-four rat eyes were fixed upon Peter’s face, and never moved from it. Peter only glanced that way once; they bared their rats’ teeth at him, and he quickly looked in another direction. But there also he saw a face that brought him no comfort; there sat Mrs. Godd, in her immaculate white chiffons, her wide-open blue eyes fixed upon his face, her expression full of grief