The Blind Goddess - Arthur Ch. Train - ebook

The Blind Goddess ebook

Arthur Ch. Train

0,0

Opis

1926. Arthur Cheney Train (1875-1945) was the former assistant district attorney in New York City. His interactions with clients, together with his experiences in the courtroom, provided the material for the more than 250 short stories and novels he would write during his lifetime. Train wrote dozens of stories about fictional lawyer Ephraim Tutt in the Saturday Evening Post. He also coauthored two science fiction novels with eminent physicist Robert W. Wood. After 1922, he devoted himself to writing. In „The Blind Goddess”, Hugh Dillon, a young lawyer, becomes a public prosecutor in New York City, and is soon forced to choose between his idealistic view of duty, and Moria Evans, the girl he loves, under circumstances, that seem to spell the end of his career.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 469

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION

The decision of my publishers to reissue, under the title of “The Criminal Court Series,” a set of five volumes made up of three of my novels and two collections of “Mr. Tutt” stories, is proof not only of the perennial interest of the public in the administration of criminal justice but of the vitality of the books themselves.

This interest arises in part from our realization that not only is the distinction between crime and sin often highly arbitrary, but that, save for the Grace of God and the statutes, we might easily find ourselves being hurried away to the Tombs in the Black Maria. Moreover, the criminal courts furnish the bulk of authentic drama in protected modern life, and the otherwise tranquil burgher finds in what goes on there a vicarious substitute for the sabre-toothed tiger hunts among his stone-age ancestors and the skirmishes with hostile Indians of covered-wagon days.

Every one enjoys watching a well-conducted criminal trial–particularly if it be that of a prisoner fighting for his life, where the struggle between the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s counsel is a last vestigial reflection of Roman gladiatorial combat. We even derive pleasure from the pallid and usually inaccurate reflection of similar scenes upon the stage or screen. For like reasons persons of both sexes and of all degrees of intelligence eagerly devour mystery novels, detective stories and narratives dealing with crime and its punishment, which, whether factual or fictitious, offer essential elements of drama or melodrama,–crime, pursuit, capture, and retribution. Each has a villain and ofttimes a hero, with whom the reader inevitably identifies himself, whether the latter be a young Galahad of a district attorney attacking the dragon of corruption or an innocent defendant unjustly accused. It is a first-class entertainment if nothing more,–but it ought to be very much more.

No one studying the administration of criminal justice can fail to be impressed, first, by the care with which the law ostensibly protects the liberties of the citizen, and second, by how valueless the law is if it be interpreted and applied by unjust or ignorant men.

That is the vital lesson to be learned in what we term “courts of justice.” We may have the best laws in the world, positive guarantees of freedom, but any tyrant or ignoramus upon the bench, or any corrupt or overzealous district attorney, while rendering them lip service, can set them at naught as ruthlessly as a Hitler or a Mussolini. When that happens–when, under the technical guise of law or by means of subtle guile, a judge or a prosecutor in fact circumvents or overrides the safeguards which the statutes have enacted to preserve a defendant’s rights, what is his lawyer to do? Must he tamely allow his client to be sent to the electric chair by a gullible jury who assume that every salaried officer of the state must be a white-robed angel, or is he not, under the circumstances, ipso facto released from his oath to support the laws which he took cojointly with them, and justified, to save his client’s life, in fighting fire with fire? This is the question I posed in the first story of “Mr. Tutt and Mr. Jefferson,” in the volume entitled “Old Man Tutt.”

If I have suggested some of the many ethical problems presented by the administration of the law, when either honestly or dishonestly administered, and particularly if I have succeeded in demonstrating the fundamental difference between law and justice, and that some of our present statutes, including our supposedly sacrosanct rules of evidence, are in themselves palpably unjust, as well as often absurd, I shall be content.

Regarding the five volumes comprising this set I may say that, of the nine original books about “Mr. Tutt,” the two included–“Old Man Tutt” and “Mr. Tutt Takes the Stand”–are probably the most representative. By the time they were written the old lawyer had been trying his cases nearly twenty years and had grown in wisdom and stature and in favor with man at least, if not with God.

“The Blind Goddess” is certainly my most comprehensive novel depicting the inner workings of the criminal courts and district attorney’s office. In fact I know of no other book that attempts to cover the whole panorama from arrest to conviction in the same way.

“Ambition” has always been my favorite novel. While its emphasis is upon the civil side of the law rather than the criminal, it shows clearly enough the temptations to which a young lawyer is exposed in either branch and the vagueness of the line that separates what is regarded as ethical from what is denounced as crime.

“Manhattan Murder” is a story of the gangster era in New York City, now effectually terminated. It might well seem fantastic but for the familiar accounts in the press of the activities of such gory criminals as “Dutch” Schultz, Derringer, “Legs” Diamond, and “Al” Capone.

Taken together, these five books present in fictionized form a fairly complete and accurate picture of the procedure by which those indicted for crime are convicted or acquitted.

ARTHUR TRAIN

CHAPTER I

In that part of Cosmos men call “The Universe,” and on the dust speck known as “Earth,” a ray from the sun, now travelling in Aquarius, fell through ninety-three million miles of ether upon the gray wall of the Tombs prison, in which were herded several hundred human monads awaiting either trial or sentence by their fellows. The sunlight did not penetrate the wall, for it was enormously high and thick, designed to keep prisoners in at any cost, but its gleam was reflected to the other side of Franklin Street through the grimy windows of the Criminal Trial Term, dazzling the eyes of policemen, clerks, and court attendants, and crowning with a nimbus of red flame the head of a young girl who sat high above the spectators upon the dais beside the judge.

It was only three o’clock, yet already the electric cluster in the centre of the ceiling had been lighted, for darkness gathers early about those engaged in delving into human motives, and in assessing human responsibility, even when their deliberations are not already clouded by ignorance, cupidity, or vindictiveness. The blinding shaft of light which shot into the court-room beneath the partially lowered shades made the old judge blink.

“Pull down those shades if you please, Mr. Gallagher!” he said to the ancient officer who sat bowed in the corner behind the jury box. “You gentlemen have the advantage of not facing the light!” he added with a smile to the twelve assorted citizens who sat there charged with the duty of according to the unfortunates brought to the bar of justice what is known to the law as “a trial by their peers.” “Thank you!” he murmured as the officer, having carried out his instructions, tottered back to his seat.

The judge was a timorous, kindly man whose thin white hair was brushed in streaks over a pink skull dotted with liver spots. When he became angry or confused–which often happened, since he was slow of understanding–his skull grew red and glistened with a film of perspiration. “Thank you, Mr. Gallagher,” he repeated. “What is next on the calendar, Mr. Dollar?”

The clerk, a pompous person with a horse’s face, whose steel gray hair was waved to resemble whitecaps advancing upon a sandy shore, arose and bowed to the judge with ceremony, since in honoring the bench Mr. Dollar honored himself.

“A sentence, Yoronner. John Flynn for two convictions, murder in the second degree. You set three-thirty, you remember, at the request of Mr. O’Hara, his counsel.”

The judge nodded, adjusted his spectacles, and reached for his sentence book. Then he looked over the clerk’s desk to the row of chairs reserved for counsel, just inside the rail.

“Is Mr. O’Hara here, Mr. Quirk?” The man addressed got to his feet. He was a rickety figure, physically repellent, yet with something of attraction in his voice and manner. He was dressed in dusty ochre with a crimson tie; his face was yellow, cadaverous, and destitute of hair; he had pale green eyes, and an [5] auburn wig which slanted across his forehead like an ill-fitting skullcap slipped awry. Yet his smile, except for his discolored teeth, was engaging. In his hand, which shook as with palsy, he held a book.

“Yes, Yoronner,” he replied. “Mr. O’Hara is just outside. I’ll go fetch him.”

“Very well. Send for the defendant, Mr. Dollar.”

Mr. Dollar, elegant in a blue cutaway suit bound with braid, and with a heavy gold chain across his abdomen, resumed his seat, carefully dipped his pen, and inscribed something laboriously in a heavy volume. Then looking up at the officer standing by the rail, he called cheerfully in a resonant voice slightly reminiscent of County Cork:

“Captain Lynch! Kindly have John Flynn brought to the bar for sentence.”

The captain, who wore a white goatee, turned to the rear of the room, where another and younger officer lounged beside a closed door.

“John Flynn to the bar!” he called across the intervening space.

The officer in the rear opened the door and thrust his head into the black abyss behind it.

“Bring up Flynn!”

Distance and indirection muffled his voice, as it did also the ultimate order of the sheriff’s officer in the pit below.

“Here you Flynn!”

Thus in inverse ratio to the square of the distance between the judge and the turnkey did the consideration shown to the prisoner diminish, until, indeed, had it extended across the Bridge of Sighs to the prison yard it might have vanished altogether.

“Are you going to sentence somebody for murder?” whispered the girl on the dais. “How terrible!” The white luminous spot of her face moved closer to the judge. “Don’t you hate to?”

The judge was a little afraid of her, for, besides the fact that she was rather imperious, her father was a very important person. He always strove to please everybody.

“Yes, of course it’s unpleasant–but one gets used to it. One gets used to everything, Miss Moira.”

“I should never get used to sending men to prison. I think all prisons ought to be abolished!”

The judge smiled at her tolerantly, thinking–in spite of the flaming glory of her hair that swept so low across her white brow–how much her intense blue eyes, her short, straight nose, her capable mouth with its full red lips were like the “Old Man’s.” He did not recall ever having seen her mother.

“That is easy to say, my dear! You must have been reading Bernard Shaw!”

“I haven’t. What does he say?” she inquired.

“That so long as we have prisons it doesn’t make much difference who occupy the cells.”

“Well, that’s just what I think!”

The judge fidgeted and pretended to examine the book before him. He wished that they would hurry along with Flynn. The girl was already becoming something of a nuisance. She made him uneasy. And she might so easily ask him a question that he couldn’t answer! So very easily! Still, he couldn’t very well have refused her request to be allowed to see him administer justice, for the all-powerful Richard Devens, her father, was one of his stanchest backers. Another thirteen months, and the judge would be up for re-election, going around soliciting campaign contributions, with his hat in his hand, if he were fortunate, or, if he were not, trying to enlist influence for a renomination–but in either case with his hat in his hand.

Moira Devens leaned back in her chair, leaving the judge momentarily in peace. Although she had never been in a court-room before, much less elevated upon a dais in full view of several hundred spectators, she was not in the least embarrassed. On the contrary, she rather enjoyed being there. As her father’s daughter she was used to receiving attention wherever she happened to be, and that she should be given a box seat at this particular drama seemed wholly natural.

Yet the performance was not at all like what she had expected. From what she had read in the newspapers she had always supposed a criminal trial to be a sort of gladiatorial combat, where wild beasts in the shape of bull-necked prosecutors and shyster lawyers fought with one another amid frenzied roars from the onlookers and bloodthirsty growls from the pens below; not a quiet, decorous affair like this, where if a juror coughed he covered his mouth with his hand, and where the only sound was the crackle made by Mr. Dollar as he turned the stiff leaves of the court record. So quiet and decorous, in fact, that she almost wondered if they were alive, these motionless figures in jury-box and on the benches.

One face in particular–a woman’s on the front bench–staring at her. A dead woman–or did she move? Out there–above–beyond–in the sunlight–there was air. But here–!

“May I?” she asked faintly, and filled a tumbler from the frosted silver ice-water pitcher beside the judge.

What a relief! Her forehead cooled. The blur lifted and the faces on the benches became definite. She could see the individual jurymen now–which of them had beards and which were bald–and the group of lawyers at the table outside the rail, with their books and brief-cases, and the rows of benches, one behind the other, filled with witnesses, relatives of prisoners, law students, persons waiting to see the judge, semi-respectables of all sorts, idlers, and “bums.” Some of the faces were grotesque, others jovial and mirth-provoking, some honest and direct, some cynical, crafty, and shifty-eyed–a haphazard collection of human animals. And all silent–all waiting for something.

It is getting darker. From outside at irregular intervals comes the clanging rush of an electric car, the distant roar of the elevated, the rumble of a mail-truck–inside only the soft rustle of papers and the murmur of the judge as he speaks to Mr. Dollar. The Quick and the Dead!

Somewhere in the subterranean caverns of the building a door bangs, and the woman on the front row of benches stifles a cry.

The judge looks up.

“Order there! Please see that there is quiet, Mr. Officer!”

The woman looks at him fearfully, one trembling hand covering the lower part of her mouth. She is emaciated, her lower lip sagging; but her face holds traces of beauty and she carries herself with a certain distinction. The judge beckons to the officer. “Who is that woman?” he asks curiously.

“Never saw her before, Yoronner. She’s a hop-head. All shot to pieces. Shall I put her out?”

The woman gives them a look of agonized appeal.

“Poor thing! Please! Oh, please don’t put her out!” Moira intercedes for her.

The judge hesitates and at that instant the door in the rear opens, and Flynn, the little murderer, enters, shambling along between two stalwart officers. They are so far away that they make no sound–mere moving figures on a film–as they skirt the edge of the room along a sort of runway.

“Order in the court!”

A burly, red-faced man with side-chops steps to the bar beside the defendant, who clutches the rail, cowering like a dog awaiting the lash. A murmur weaves along the benches. The Dead are coming to life. They sway forward in unison. The judge regards the prisoner almost affectionately. He feels sure that the defendant can harbor no personal animosity against him.

“Mr. Flynn,” he says in a soothing tone, “have you anything to say why judgment should not be pronounced against you?”

The prisoner appears dazed.

“Didn’t you hear His Honor’s question?” asks Mr. Dollar.

Still, Flynn makes no reply, and his counsel bends over and whispers in his ear.

“He has nothing to say, Yoronner,” replies Mr. O’Hara.

The judge gives a propitiatory rap with his ivory gavel. The Dead are harkening.

“James Flynn, you have been twice convicted of murder in the second degree, for the killing of William Fox and Arthur Brady, both police officers, in the performance of their duty. You are to be congratulated that the jury, in their mercy, did not find you guilty of murder in the first degree. There is nothing for me to say. The law gives me no discretion. The sentence of the court is that upon the first indictment, number 949,671, for the killing of William Fox, you be confined in the state’s prison at hard labor for the term of your natural life, and upon the second indictment, number 949,672, for the killing of Arthur Brady, that you be confined in the state’s prison at hard labor for the term of your natural life–the second sentence to begin immediately upon the completion of the first.”

Nobody apparently sees anything peculiar about the affair. Mr. O’Hara steps back, the officers take the prisoner by the shoulders, steer him into the runway again, and they start away rapidly. “They are hanging Danny Deever, you can hear the quick-step play!” As they reach the door in the rear there is a little disturbance. Two men are shaking hands with Flynn–now civilly dead–bidding him good-by. There is hardly a pause. “Good luck, Jim!” The door closes without sound. Presently, from the depths below comes the muffled clang of iron. The officer on guard leans over and spits into a cuspidor. For an instant it seems to the girl upon the dais as if all the lights had grown dim. She forces herself to appear calm.

“Are there any other sentences, Mr. Dollar?” inquires the judge, smiling at his fair amica curiæ. “If not, call the next case.”

The Goddess of Justice, pictured upon the wall above the judge’s dais as a beautiful and stately woman, holding in her right hand a crystal ball representing “Truth,” and in her left the scales in which guilt is balanced against innocence, gazes fearlessly over the heads of the spectators in the general direction of Sing Sing prison. The artist, a justly celebrated painter, has seen fit to depict the lady without the customary bandage across her eyes, in order to indicate that Justice no longer needs to be blinded to insure her impartiality. It may be that he is quite right, and that in this respect modern differs from ancient justice, but if his taste for originality has, perchance, outrun his accuracy, those who have a fondness for tradition may solace themselves with the reflection that blindness may exist without blinders, that the most beautiful of eyes are sometimes sightless, and that by light alone may the vitality of the optic nerve be tested. There is little light in the Criminal Trial Term of the New York Supreme Court. Who dare say whether the goddess upon the western wall be blind or not? Let us be satisfied to note that her eyes are apparently fixed upon distance–and not upon the crowding suppliants beneath her–no, nor upon any one of them.

It was this fact that had always filled Hugh Dillon with such a smouldering resentment and induced a cynical wondering upon his part if, after all, she personified anything more “just” than the figures of the Parcæ–the inexorable Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos–who spun, and measured and cut the thread of life, upon the panel to her left; or, even than the muscular male figures of Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality upon her right. It was, he thought, as he sat there waiting beside his associate, O’Hara, rather ironical that the last vision of the poor wretch Flynn, just sentenced to jail for life–for two lives!–should be that of a joyous athlete bursting his chains while his two robust companions, representing the Brotherhood of Man, and obviously bursting with the Milk of Human Kindness, beamed upon him with such delight. Sympathy? A joke! Justice? There was no such thing! At best it was nothing but a haphazard human makeshift; at worst, a cant phrase, like making the world “safe for democracy.”

Who were these tax-eating judges and prosecutors that they should play fast and loose with human life and liberty! He hated all of them–self-seeking political sycophants like that curly-haired loafer Redmond, the assistant district attorney, pusillanimous time-servers like that fat-headed judge, with their rascally crew of fawning attendants and process-servers feeding out of the public crib, police officers and detectives looking for promotion and a “record,” ready to swear your life away for a flat bottle, doddering clerks and henchmen pensioned off at the municipal expense “for services rendered”–the whole machine grinding along, “knock down and drag out,” hit or miss–one man sent up for life while another, more guilty, went free–the public money poured into the gutters to make a Roman triumph for any ambitious prosecutor who might hope to leap to political eminence from the corpses of his electrocuted victims–a spectacle for the idle and favored rich like that hard young fool upon the bench beside the judge.

“Paul Renig to the bar! Hoyle and O’Hara–Mr. Dillon.”

His case. Sullenly he arose and took his seat at the counsel table beside the pallid young German he was to defend. What business had they to stick a flossy young girl up there as if she were at the opera? God, but she must be callous!–And of course, the judge was introducing Redmond to her! They were shaking hands. Bah! He need expect no mercy from Redmond now! They would turn a solemn trial involving a man’s liberty into a joust–a tournament for a lady’s glove.

“Is the jury satisfactory?”

Mr. Dollar was bowing as usual. Hugh nodded without looking at them. It made no difference. They were nothing but sheep! The jury would do exactly what the judge intimated they should do. Old fox! It was the emphasis, not the words that he used–the way in which he said, “Naturally, gentlemen, if you have any reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt you must, of course, give it to him!”–was enough to send any man straight to the chair. It was the practical equivalent of: “Nobody but a moron could have any question but that this defendant is one of the guiltiest men alive, and I shall expect you promptly to convict him.” Justice!

He raised his eyes to the beautiful face of the goddess. She was looking away from him–from all of them–far over their heads. A lot she cared!

Mr. Dollar had sworn the jury, who were settling back into their seats. Redmond got up and half turned to the bench–a handsome devil.

“If the Court please–Gentlemen of the Jury. The defendant, Paul Renig, is indicted for assault in the second degree, for attacking Wilhelm Ganz with a dangerous weapon. The assault was unprovoked and the complainant severely injured before he could do anything to defend himself. The simplest and quickest thing is to let him tell his own story. Mr. Ganz, take the stand.”

The foreman of the jury signified his approval of the assistant district attorney with a glance. That was the way to do things–smartly! No use wasting the time of busy men. How was it that Redmond always succeeded, somehow, in taking them all into his confidence, in making them feel that the unfortunate necessity of keeping such important citizens as themselves away from their much more important affairs really worried him?

The girl on the dais seemed to have forgotten her resentment against the prison system in her admiration for Mr. Redmond’s technic and, like the rest of them, clearly to understand that everything could be safely left to him. Certainly he was very handsome! He made Hugh think of one of those outline sketches of the Olympians in the back of an Allen and Greenough’s Latin Vocabulary–a curly-haired Hermes in a blue suit, lounging gracefully against Mr. Dollar’s desk–a complementary figure to those upon the wall–only superior! “Order in the court!”

The judge thought he had better show a little more attention to Miss Devens.

“I’m afraid this won’t amuse you much. It’s just an ordinary assault case, sent in from another Part–the calendars are so crowded,” he apologized.

But he need not have worried. The girl had become a woman in the last ten minutes. The sentencing of Flynn had done something to her. She had been brought face to face for the first time with the realities of life. There was a movement of general relief throughout the rows–a scuffling of feet echoing those of the complainant against Renig, as he sought to find his way to the witness-chair. Mr. Gallagher rescued him in the maze behind the jury-box.

“This way, sir.–Name?–William Ganz?–Mr. Wilhelm Ganz. Face the jury, please.” Mr. Dollar swore the witness: and Mr. Gallagher retired once more to his obscurity.

The girl shifted her glance. What a horrible looking man! She could not remember ever having seen anybody with such a face–like a chimpanzee. When he answered he bared his teeth in a gummy grin.

Suavely, ingratiatingly, Mr. Redmond began to question him:

“You are employed by the Eureka Gas Company of Richmond?”

“Yeh. Claim adjuster.”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.