Mendoza

Inside the court-room everything was very solemn and wonderful. It was a high, big room. Raised above the floor, against the wall was the judge’s desk; and here the judge was already sitting—an old, handsome man in a marvelous big wig of gray hair and a gown of black. Below him was another wide, long desk at which lawyers in white wigs sat. The whole thing reminded me of a mixture between a church and a school.

“Those twelve men at the side,” whispered the Doctor—“those in pews like a choir, they are what is called the jury. It is they who decide whether Luke is guilty—whether he did it or not.”

“And look!” I said, “there’s Luke himself in a sort of pulpit-thing with policemen each side of him. And there’s another pulpit, the same kind, the other side of the room, see—only that one’s empty.”

“That one is called the witness-box,” said the Doctor. “Now I’m going down to speak to one of those men in white wigs; and I want you to wait here and keep these two seats for us. Bob will stay with you. Keep an eye on him—better hold on to his collar. I shan’t be more than a minute or so.”

With that the Doctor disappeared into the crowd which filled the main part of the room.

Then I saw the judge take up a funny little wooden hammer and knock on his desk with it. This, it seemed, was to make people keep quiet, for immediately every one stopped buzzing and talking and began to listen very respectfully. Then another man in a black gown stood up and began reading from a paper in his hand.

He mumbled away exactly as though he were saying his prayers and didn’t want any one to understand what language they were in. But I managed to catch a few words: