CHAPTER 3. END OF THE CROWN WHICH WAS TURNED INTO A DRY LEAF.
When she re-entered the audience hall, pale and limping,
she was received with a general murmur of pleasure. On the
part of the audience there was the feeling of impatience
gratified which one experiences at the theatre at the end of
the last entr'acte of the comedy, when the curtain rises and
the conclusion is about to begin. On the part of the judges,
it was the hope of getting their suppers sooner.
The little goat also bleated with joy. He tried to run
towards his mistress, but they had tied him to the bench.
Night was fully set in. The candles, whose number had not
been increased, cast so little light, that the walls of the hall
could not be seen. The shadows there enveloped all objects
in a sort of mist. A few apathetic faces of judges alone could
be dimly discerned. Opposite them, at the extremity of the
long hail, they could see a vaguely white point standing out
against the sombre background. This was the accused.
She had dragged herself to her place. When Charmolue
had installed himself in a magisterial manner in his own, he
seated himself, then rose and said, without exhibiting too
much self-complacency at his success,--"The accused has
"Bohemian girl," the president continued, "have you avowed all
your deeds of magic, prostitution, and assassination on
Phoebus de Châteaupers."
Her heart contracted. She was heard to sob amid the darkness.
"Anything you like," she replied feebly, "but kill me quickly!"
"Monsieur, procurator of the king in the ecclesiastical
courts," said the president, "the chamber is ready to hear you
in your charge."
Master Charmolue exhibited an alarming note book, and began to
read, with many gestures and the exaggerated accentuation of the
pleader, an oration in Latin, wherein all the proofs of the suit
were piled up in Ciceronian periphrases, flanked with quotations
from Plautus, his favorite comic author. We regret that we are
not able to offer to our readers this remarkable piece. The
orator pronounced it with marvellous action. Before he had
finished the exordium, the perspiration was starting from his
brow, and his eyes from his bead.