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Within the Law   By: (1869-1943)

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From The Play Of Bayard Veiller

By Marvin Dana



I. The Panel of Light II. A Cheerful Prodigal III. Only Three Years IV. Kisses and Kleptomania V. The Victim of the Law VI. Inferno VII. Within the Law VIII. A Tip from Headquarters X. A Legal Document X. Marked Money XI. The Thief XII. A Bridegroom Spurned XIII. The Advent of Griggs XIV. A Wedding Announcement XV. Aftermath of Tragedy XVI. Burke Plots XVII. Outside the Law XVIII. The Noiseless Death XIX. Within the Toils XX. Who Shot Griggs? XXI. Aggie at Bay XXII. The Trap That Failed XXIII. The Confession XXIV. Anguish and Bliss


The lids of the girl's eyes lifted slowly, and she stared at the panel of light in the wall. Just at the outset, the act of seeing made not the least impression on her numbed brain. For a long time she continued to regard the dim illumination in the wall with the same passive fixity of gaze. Apathy still lay upon her crushed spirit. In a vague way, she realized her own inertness, and rested in it gratefully, subtly fearful lest she again arouse to the full horror of her plight. In a curious subconscious fashion, she was striving to hold on to this deadness of sensation, thus to win a little respite from the torture that had exhausted her soul.

Of a sudden, her eyes noted the black lines that lay across the panel of light. And, in that instant, her spirit was quickened once again. The clouds lifted from her brain. Vision was clear now. Understanding seized the full import of this hideous thing on which she looked.... For the panel of light was a window, set high within a wall of stone. The rigid lines of black that crossed it were bars prison bars. It was still true, then: She was in a cell of the Tombs.

The girl, crouching miserably on the narrow bed, maintained her fixed watching of the window that window which was a symbol of her utter despair. Again, agony wrenched within her. She did not weep: long ago she had exhausted the relief of tears. She did not pace to and fro in the comfort of physical movement with which the caged beast finds a mocking imitation of liberty: long ago, her physical vigors had been drained under stress of anguish. Now, she was well nigh incapable of any bodily activity. There came not even so much as the feeblest moan from her lips. The torment was far too racking for such futile fashion of lamentation. She merely sat there in a posture of collapse. To all outward seeming, nerveless, emotionless, an abject creature. Even the eyes, which held so fixedly their gaze on the window, were quite expressionless. Over them lay a film, like that which veils the eyes of some dead thing. Only an occasional languid motion of the lids revealed the life that remained.

So still the body. Within the soul, fury raged uncontrolled. For all the desolate calm of outer seeming, the tragedy of her fate was being acted with frightful vividness there in memory. In that dreadful remembrance, her spirit was rent asunder anew by realization of that which had become her portion.... It was then, as once again the horrible injustice of her fate racked consciousness with its tortures, that the seeds of revolt were implanted in her heart. The thought of revenge gave to her the first meager gleam of comfort that had lightened her moods through many miserable days and nights. Those seeds of revolt were to be nourished well, were to grow into their flower a poison flower, developed through the three years of convict life to which the judge had sentenced her.

The girl was appalled by the mercilessness of a destiny that had so outraged right. She was wholly innocent of having done any wrong. She had struggled through years of privation to keep herself clean and wholesome, worthy of those gentlefolk from whom she drew her blood... Continue reading book >>

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