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counting slowly,’ said Hendon, with the expression of a man who asks but a
reasonable favor, and that a very little one.

‘It is my destruction!’ said the constable despairingly. ‘Ah, be reasonable, good
sir; only look at this matter, on all its sides, and see how mere a jest it ishow
manifestly and how plainly it is so. And even if one granted it were not a jest, it
is a fault so small that e’en the grimmest penalty it could call forth would be but
a rebuke and warning from the judge’s lips.’ Hendon replied with a solemnity
which chilled the air about him: ‘This jest of thine hath a name in law-wot you
what it is?’

‘I knew it not! Peradventure I have been unwise. I never dreamed it had a name-
ah, sweet heaven, I thought it was original.’ ‘Yes, it hath a name. In the law this
crime is called Non compos mentis lex talionis sic transit gloria Mundi.’ ‘Ah, my
God!’ ‘And the penalty is death!’ ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ ‘By
advantage taken of one in fault, in dire peril, and at thy mercy, thou hast seized
goods worth above thirteen pence ha’penny, paying but a trifle for the same; and
this, in the eye of the law, is constructive barratry, misprision of treason,
malfeasance in office, ad hominem expurgatis in statu quo-and the penalty is
death by the halter, without ransom, commutation, or benefit of clergy.’ ‘Bear me
up, bear me up, sweet sir, my legs do fail me! Be thou mercifulspare me this
doom, and I will turn my back and see naught that shall happen.’ ‘Good! now
thou’rt wise and reasonable. And thou’lt restore the pig?’ ‘I will, I will, indeed-
nor ever touch another, though heaven send it and archangel fetch it. Go-I am
blind for thy sake-I see nothing. I will say thou didst break in and wrest the
prisoner from my hands by force. It is but a crazy, ancient door-I will batter it
down myself betwixt midnight and the morning.’

‘Do it, good soul, no harm will come of it; the judge hath a loving charity for this
poor lad, and will shed no tears and break no jailer’s bones for his escape.’
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