Sketches New and Old, Part 3. eBook: Page2

Mark Twain (2004)


  THE JUDGE'S "SPIRITED WOMAN"

  "I was sitting here," said the judge, "in this old pulpit, holding court,and we were trying a big, wicked-looking Spanish desperado for killingthe husband of a bright, pretty Mexican woman. It was a lazy summer day,and an awfully long one, and the witnesses were tedious. None of us tookany interest in the trial except that nervous, uneasy devil of a Mexicanwoman because you know how they love and how they hate, and this one hadloved her husband with all her might, and now she had boiled it all downinto hate, and stood here spitting it at that Spaniard with her eyes;and I tell you she would stir me up, too, with a little of her summerlightning, occasionally. Well, I had my coat off and my heels up,lolling and sweating, and smoking one of those cabbage cigars the SanFrancisco people used to think were good enough for us in those times;and the lawyers they all had their coats off, and were smoking andwhittling, and the witnesses the same, and so was the prisoner. Well,the fact is, there warn't any interest in a murder trial then, becausethe fellow was always brought in 'not guilty,' the jury expecting him todo as much for them some time; and, although the evidence was straightand square against this Spaniard, we knew we could not convict himwithout seeming to be rather high-handed and sort of reflecting on everygentleman in the community; for there warn't any carriages and liveriesthen, and so the only 'style' there was, was to keep your privategraveyard. But that woman seemed to have her heart set on hanging thatSpaniard; and you'd ought to have seen how she would glare on him aminute, and then look up at me in her pleading way, and then turn and forthe next five minutes search the jury's faces, and by and by drop herface in her hands for just a little while as if she was most ready togive up; but out she'd come again directly, and be as live and anxious asever. But when the jury announced the verdict--Not Guilty--and I toldthe prisoner he was acquitted and free to go, that woman rose up till sheappeared to be as tall and grand as a seventy-four-gun ship, and saysshe:

  "'Judge, do I understand you to say that this man is not guilty thatmurdered my husband without any cause before my own eyes and my littlechildren's, and that all has been done to him that ever justice and thelaw can do?'

  "'The same,' says I.

  "And then what do you reckon she did? Why, she turned on that smirkingSpanish fool like a wildcat, and out with a 'navy' and shot him dead inopen court!"

  "That was spirited, I am willing to admit."

  "Wasn't it, though?" said the judge admiringly.

  "I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I adjourned court right on thespot, and we put on our coats and went out and took up a collection forher and her cubs, and sent them over the mountains to their friends.Ah, she was a spirited wench!"