Trial by Jury

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Trial by Jury

The action throughout  takes place in a Court of Justice. As the curtain rises the hour is at hand for the hearing of an action for breach of promise. The Jurymen are in their places and barristers, attorneys, and members of the public await the arrival of the leading figures in the case.

The first to appear is the Usher. He makes haste to have a few words with the Jury and breaks all rules of procedure by a barefaced attempt to prejudice them in favour of the fair Plaintiff. So successful is he that when the Defendant appears it is at once apparent to him that the Jurymen are already hostile.  Venturing to remind them that they have not vet heard his version of the affair, the luckless youth tells the Jury the story of his love and how it came to pass that eventually he became another’s love-sick boy. The jurymen are not much impressed by the tale, it reminds them too closely of their own youthful escapades and merely tends to make them harden their hearts.

As the jury enter their box the Usher proclaims the entrance of the Judge. His Lordship, good jovial soul, at once sets everyone at his ease by condescending to give a brief but highly flavoured account of the means adopted by him in attaining his present position. His advancement,  the Jurymen learn, has been entirely due to the judge’s shrewdness in becoming engaged for a time to a "rich attorney’s elderly, ugly daughter,” and later, when over-loaded with briefs and wealth, in having the courage to throw her over. This tale being much to the taste of all his hearers the trial begins in the most genial of atmospheres.

Counsel for the Plaintiff enters and the Jury being sworn, the Plaintiff’s bridesmaids come into Court. At once the Judge, attracted by her good looks, sends a note to the First Bridesmaid; but a moment later, on seeing Angelina, the Plaintiff, he directs the Usher to transfer the note to her. Both Judge and Jury are at one in their admiration for this ill-treated maiden and it would seem that no evidence is necessary as the only question that seems to occupy the minds of the Jurymen is the amount of the damages they are bent upon awarding. As Plaintiff’s Counsel pleads her case, describing her as the victim of a heartless wile” the feeling in Court becomes ever stronger and as she enters the witness-box the shrinking maiden so overcomes the Judge that he extends to her the comfort of a seat by him upon the Bench, where she falls sobbing on his breast.

No one is now much inclined to hear the Defendants side of the story and an offer by him to marry, first the Plaintiff and then her rival, is at once brushed aside by Counsel, although at first the Judge is inclined to agree. Angelina, still with an eye upon the damages, now embraces the Defendant proclaiming her love for him in the most extravagant terms. She is repelled by the guilty wretch, who at once attempts to depreciate his own value by a public confession of his unworthiness. ‘When he announces that in liquor he would thrash and kick the Plaintiff, the jury are inclined to think that in this confession there lies an abatement, whereas the Judge is anxious to make the Defendant tipsy and put the matter to the test.

As all save the Defendant himself are opposed to this experiment, the Judge loses all patience and casting his books and papers from him announces that he will marry the girl himself. This solution of such a difficult case is heartily acclaimed, and when the judge protests that even if his law is fudge, of beauty he’s a judge, the members of the Court feel bound to admit that he’s a good Judge too!