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- Yollop - 10/15 -
you, Cash, but she's made up her mind to attend your trial next Monday. She's going to bring the children and--"
He was interrupted by the string of horrific oaths that issued, pianissimo, through the twisted lips of the prisoner. After a time, Cassius interrupted himself to murmur weakly:
"If she does that, I'm lost. We got to head her off somehow, Mr.--er--Bill."
"I don't see how it can be managed. She has a perfect right to attend the pro--"
"Wait a minute, Bill," broke in the other eagerly. "I got an idea. If you give her that roll of mine, maybe she'll stay away."
"What roll are you talking about?"
"My roll of bills,--you remember, don't you?"
"My good man, I haven't got your roll of bills. And besides I couldn't put myself in the position of--of--er--what is it you call it?--tinkering with witnesses to defeat the ends of justice."
"But she ain't a witness, Bill. You couldn't possibly get in wrong. What's more, it's my money, and I got a right to give it to my wife, ain't I? Ain't I got a right to give money to my own wife,--or to one of my wives, strictly speakin',--and to my own children? Ain't I?"
"That isn't the point. I refuse to be a party to any such game. We need not discuss it any farther. As I said before, I haven't your roll of bills, and if I had it I--"
"Oh, yes, you have. You got it right up there in your apartment. I stuck it away behind a--"
"Stop! Not another word, Cassius. I don't want to know where it is. If you persist in telling me, I'll--I'll ask the judge to let you off with the lightest sentence he can--"
"Oh, Lord, you WOULDN'T do that, would you?"
"Yes, I would. What do you mean by secreting stolen property in my apartments?"
"I didn't steal it. I found it, I tell you."
"Hope I may die if I didn't."
"Well, it may stay there till it rots, so far as I am concerned."
"No danger of that," said Smilk composedly. "A friend of mine is comin' around some night soon to get it. What else did she say?"
"What else did my wife say?"
"Oh! Well, among other things, she wondered if it would be possible to get an injunction against the court to prevent him from depriving her of her only means of support. She says everybody is getting injunctions these days and--"
"Bosh!" said Smilk, but not with conviction. An anxious, inquiring gleam lurked in his eyes.
Mr. Yollop continued:
"I told her it was ridiculous,--and it is. Then she said she was going to see your lawyer and ask him to put her on the witness stand to testify that you are a good, loyal, hard-working husband and that your children ought to have a father's hand over them, and a lot more like that."
"She tried that once before and the court wouldn't let her testify," said Smilk. "But anyhow, I'll tell my lawyer to kick her out of the office if she comes around there offering to commit perjury."
"I rather fancy she has considered that angle, Cassius. She says if she isn't allowed to testify, she's going to attempt suicide right there in the court-room."
"By gum, she's a mean woman," groaned Smilk.
"I'm obliged to agree with you," said Mr. Yollop, compressing his lips as a far-away look came into his eyes. "If I live to be a thousand years old, I'll never forget the way she talked to me when I finally succeeded in telling her I was busy and she would have to excuse me. It was something appalling."
"Course. I suppose I got myself to blame," lamented Cassius ruefully. "I don't know how many times I come near to doin' it and didn't because I was so darned chicken-hearted."
"I have decided, Cash, that you ought to go up for life,--or for thirty years, at least. So when I go on the stand I intend to do everything in my power to secure the maximum for you. At first, I was reluctant to aid you in your efforts to lead a life of ease and enjoyment but recent events have convinced me that you are entitled to all that the law can give you."
"It won't do much good if she's to set there in the Courtroom, snivelling and lookin' heart-broke, with a pack of half-starved kids hangin' on to her. Like as not, she won't give 'em anything to eat for two or three days so's they'll look the part. I remember two of them kids fairly well. The Lord knows I used to take all kinds of risks to provide clothes and all sorts of luxuries for them,--and for her too. I used to give 'em bicycles and skates and gold watches,--yes, sir, we had Christmas regularly once a month. And she never was without fur neck-pieces and muffs and silk stockings and everything. The trouble with that woman is, she can't stand poverty. She just keeps on hopin' for the day to come when she can wear all sorts of finery and jewels again, even if I do have to go to the penitentiary for it. All this comes of bein' too good a provider, Bill. You spoil 'em."
Mr. Yollop was thinking, so Cassius, after waiting a moment, scratched his head and ventured:
"That guy's beginnin' to fidget, Bill. I guess your time's about up. What are you thinkin' about?"
"I was thinking about your other wives. How many did you say you have?"
"Three, all told. The other two don't bother me much."
"Haven't you ever been divorced from any of them?"
"Not especially. Why?"
"Where do the other two live, and what are their names?"
"Elsie Morton and Jennie Finch. I mean, those are their married names. I use a different alias every time I get married, you see. Course, my first wife,--the one you met,--her name is Smilk. I married her when I was young and not very smart. Elsie lives in Brooklyn and Jennie keeps a delicatessen up on the West Side."
"Do they know where you are?"
"I don't think so. I forgot to tell 'em I was out on parole last year."
"And they have never been divorced from you?"
"No. They couldn't prove anything on me as long as I was locked up in the penitentiary."
"Does either one of them know about the other two?"
"I should say not! What do you think I am?"
"Don't lose your temper, Cassius. I am trying to think of some way to help you,--and I believe I see a ray of hope. You were regularly married to Elsie and Jennie,--I mean, by a minister, and so on?"
"Sure. They both got their marriage certificates. I always believe in doin' things in the proper legal way. It's only fair and right. They--"
"Never mind. Give me their addresses."
There were quite a number of people in the court room when the case of the State vs. Smilk was called. It was a bitterly cold day outside and considerable of an overflow from the corridors had seeped into the various court rooms. But little delay was experienced in obtaining a jury. The regular panel was stuck, with a few exceptions. Only one member was able to declare that he had formed an opinion, and he did not form it until after he had had a good look at the prisoner,--although he did not say so. Two were challenged by counsel and one got off because he admitted that he was acquainted with a man who used to be connected with the District Attorney's office,--he couldn't think of his name.
Smilk's attorney succeeded in executing a very clever piece of strategy at the outset. No sooner had the jury been sworn than he ordered the bailiffs to crowd three or four more chairs alongside his table, and then blandly invited a considerable portion of the audience to take their seats inside the railing. The persons indicated included a tall, shabbily dressed woman and seven ragged, pinched children, ranging in years from twelve down to three. Immediately the prosecution fell into the trap. Two agitated Assistant District Attorneys jumped to their feet and barked out an objection to the presence of the accused's wife and family on the inside of the fence, and the court promptly sustained them. He also
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