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The Coquette's Victim Everyday Life Library No. 1   By: (1836-1884)

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Published by EVERYDAY LIFE, Chicago





The Trial.

Mr. Kent was a very able magistrate. He had sat on the bench for many years and was considered a man of great legal attainments and skill. He very seldom erred in his judgment, and being gifted with a natural shrewdness, he saw the difference at once between a guilty and an innocent man.

He rarely erred; long practice had made him an adept in reading faces.

But on this morning, the fourteenth of May, he was puzzled. Many cases had been brought before him. Drunken men dismissed with a fine and a reprimand, thieves sentenced to weeks or months of imprisonment, wives with pale faces and bruised arms had given reluctant evidence against husbands who had promised to love and cherish them until death.

It was a bright May morning, and the sun did his best to pour through the dusky windows of the police court; a faint beam fell on the stolid faces of the policemen and ushers of the court, the witnesses and the lookers on; a faint beam that yet, perhaps, brought many messages of bright promise to those present.

A little boy had been sent on an errand with sixpence and had stolen the money; with many sobs and tears he confessed that he had spent it in cakes. Mr. Kent looked at the tear stained face; the untidy brown head scarcely reached to the table, and the good magistrate thought, with something like pain at his heart, of a fair haired boy at home. So he spoke kindly to the poor, trembling prisoner, and while he strongly reprimanded, still encouraged him to better ways. The boy was removed, and then Mr. Kent was puzzled by the prisoner who took his place.

A tall, handsome young man, apparently not more than twenty, with a clear cut aristocratic face, and luminous dark gray eyes. A face that no one could look into without admiration that irresistibly attracted man, woman and child. He was a gentleman there could be no mistake about it. That clear cut Norman face had descended to him from a long line of ancestors; the well built, manly figure, with its peculiar easy grace and dignity told of ancient lineage and noble birth.

His hands were white, slender and strong, with almond shaped nails hands that had never been soiled with labor, and surely never stained with crime.

He carried his handsome head high; it was proudly set on a firm, graceful neck, and covered with clusters of dark hair. He would have looked in his place near the throne of a queen, or, on the back of a war horse, leading a forlorn hope; but no one could understand his being prisoner in a dock. Mr. Kent looked at him, wondering with what he was charged. Surely, with that noble face and gentlemanly bearing, he had never been guilty of a common assault. Magistrate as he was, Mr. Kent listened to the recital of the charge, with some curiosity.

Jules St. Croix, Count of the French Empire, charged the prisoner at the bar with having broken into his rooms for the purpose of robbery. He had been discovered in the count's drawing room, where he had forced open an ivory casket and stolen the contents, which were an ancient and valuable gold watch and a gold ring, also of considerable value. At the moment that the count, followed by his servant, entered the room, the prisoner had these articles in his hand. He dropped them immediately, but the count, hastily calling for the police, gave him in charge.

There was a smell of burned paper in the room and it was nearly eleven at night.

The magistrate asked if the prisoner had made any resistance. Policeman C. No. 14, answered, "No, he gave in at once; and came straight away."

Mr. Kent asked again: "Was there anything in the casket beside the jewelry?"

It seemed to be a very insignificant question, but the prisoner and the count looked steadfastly at each other and both answered: "No... Continue reading book >>

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