Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Guilty Or Not Guilty

She stood at the bar of justice,
A creature wan and wild;
In form, too small for a woman,
In features, too old for a child,
For a look, so worn, and pathetic,
Was stamped on her pale young face,
It seemed long years of suffering,
Must have left that silent trace.

"Your name," said the Judge, as he eyed her,
With a kindly look, yet keen,
"Is Mary McGuire, if you please, sir."
"And your age?" "I'm turned fifteen."
"Well, Mary," and from a paper he slowly and gravely read.
"Y ou are charged here, I am sorry to say it,
With stealing three loaves of bread.
You don't look like an old offender,
And I hope that you can show
The charge is false-Now tell me
Are you guilty of this or no?"

A passionate burst of weeping was,
at first, her sole reply,
But she dried her tears in a moment
and looked in the judge's eye.
"I will tell you just how it was, sir,
My father and mother are dead,
and my little brothers and sisters were hungry,
and asked me for bread.

At first I earned it for them,
by working hard all day,
But somehow the times grew hard, sir,
and work all fell away.
I could get no more employment,
the weather was bitter cold,
The little ones cried and shivered,
Little Johnnie's but four years old.

So what was I to do, sir,
I am guilty, but do not condemn,
I took, (0 God was it stealing)
the bread to give to them.
one so learned in such matters,
so wise in dealing with men,
seemed on a simple sentence,
sorely puzzled just then.

And no one blamed him or wondered,
when he went to her and smiled
And kindly led from the court room himself,
the Guilty Child.
Everyone in the courtroom,
grey-bearded and thoughtless youth,
Knew as they looked upon her,
that the prisoner spoke the truth.

Out from their pockets came handkerchiefs,
out from their eyes came tears,
And out from old, faded wallets,
treasures hoarded for years.
The judge's face was a study,
the strangest ever you saw,
As he cleared his throat and murmured
something about the law.


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