HIS HONOUR AND BIJAH.
"Well, well -- did I ever !" sighed his Honour as he leaned back in his chair. "Only one prisoner in the cooler, and him nobody but an old man ! Bijah, what are we coming to ?"
"I'm afraid the world is taking a turn for the better, sir?"
"Is this a good old man with a kind face and a soft voice?"
"Just wait till you see him, sir ! He's pizen boiled down."
"Well, bring him out."
He was brought out. He was an old chap of 60 and answered to the name of James Banks. He wouldn't walk out, so Bijah brought him in his arms. He was scratching and kicking and sputtering like a cat, and when he was placed on the mark in front of the desk, he was red behind the ears with madness. He licked the saw-dust from under his feet, waved his long arms about his head, and cried out "I'll sue the hull tarnal pack of ye in less'n an hour!"
"Fellow mortal," began his Honour in a kind voice, "from whence do you come and to what point do you travel?"
"I won't tell ye! I won't tell ye a single blamed thing!" howled the old man.
"Pilgrim o'er life's troubled way, how camest thou to seek our city?"
"That's my bizness! I go where I please and come when I want to ! Go ahead with your law-suit and see how much you will make out of it!"
"I would," remarked the Court, after a long look at the prisoner. "I would that you were an old man with soft white locks."
"I don't keer if you would ! I prefer to be bald-headed!"
" I would that you had the soft voice of one who feels that he is slowly gliding down the path which leads to the unknown."
"Well, I wouldn't ! I've got the best voice for driving oxen of any man in America, and as for gliding down the path, I'm not on the glide."
"If you were only an old man who loved his pipe -- who ----"
"I'd give more for a chew of plug tobacco than all the pipes ever made."
"Old man, do you ever sit in the shadows of evening and think?"
"Never !! I do all my thinking alongside of hay-stacks and barns."
"You have not long to live."
"I haven't, eh ? Well, don't you bet any money on it ! I'm as tough as a copper-bottomed wash-boiler."
"Last night, when you should have been sitting in the twilight you were on a drunk."
"What of it? If men make whiskey to drink some one will be fool enough to drink it. Yes I was drunk."
"And fighting drunk. It took three officers to bring you down."
"It would have taken seven, if I had known what they were up to. They lied to me. they said I was invited to a strawberry festival, and when they got me down here they locked me up. This old fellow with the big feet whom you call Bijah had better look out for me when I get loose. I hollered for water over two hours and he wouldn't give me any. Judge, I'm cold pizen ! I'm the most cantankerous old grizzly on wheels ! I'm meanness over a hot fire !:
"I guess you are, and therefore I shall let you go."
"Ain't you going to try me ?"
"No, sir. You are too mean to be tried here."
"But, I insist."
"Can't help it. You are at liberty to go. It wouldn't be serving the other prisoners in the workhouse right to send you up there."
"Say, Judge, I was drunk."
"Don't believe it."
"Yes, I was, and I was infernally ugly to boot. I deserve at least thirty days in the jug."
"Well, you won't get 'em. It is my duty to respect the feelings of the Superintnedent of the work-house, and, what would I say to him after sending you up there?"
"Judge, it's your bizness to send me up, and if you don't do it I'll raise a row."
"Go ahead with your row. I refuse to pass sentence on such an ugly old man as you are. Please fall out-doors."
"I won't do it. I'm just as good as anybody, and I'll have my rights. I demand of you as a free-born citizen that I be sent to the work-house."
"And I reply as another free-born citizen that I won't send you there ! Go your way. Go off and be ugly and hateful and mean !"
"I won't ! "
But he had to. Bijah picked him up and carried him to the door and dropped him on the walk and held him there until the court adjourned.
A mean man stands no show iin Detroit -- not even to get into its prisons.