Old and modern tales

Course: Tales Workshop KE
Book: Old and modern tales
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Date: Friday, 8 December 2023, 2:44 PM

The Story Of Rhodopis

Long ago in the land of Egypt, where the green water of the Nile River flows into the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea, lived a young maiden named Rhodopis. Rhodopis was born in Greece but was kidnapped by pirates and carried to Egypt, where she was sold as a slave.

Her master was a kind old man who spent most of his time sleeping under a tree, but all the other servant girls in the house mocked at her because she was different. Their hair was straight and black while hers was golden and curly. They had brown eyes and she had green. Their skin had the colour of copper while Rhodopis's skin was very pale and got sunburnt easily and, for that reason, they called her Rosy Rhodopis. They also made her work all day. "Go to the river and wash the clothes," they shouted at her. And "mend my robe," "bake the bread," and so on.

Rhodopis had no friends; only the animals. She had trained the birds to eat from her hand, a monkey to sit on her shoulder, and the old hippopotamus would slide up on the bank out of the mud to be closer to her. At the end of the day, if she wasn't too tired, she would go down to the river to be with her animal friends and, if she had any energy left, she would dance and sing for them.

One evening, as she was dancing, the old man woke from his sleep and watched as she danced. He admired her dancing and felt that one so talented should not be without shoes. He ordered her a special pair of slippers. The shoes were gilded with rose-red gold and the soles were leather. Now the servant girls really disliked her, for they were jealous of her beautiful slippers.

One day news came that the Pharaoh was in Memphis and all in the kingdom were invited. Oh, how Rhodopis wanted to go, for she knew there would be dancing, singing, and lots of wonderful food. But it was impossible because she was a slave.

The girls wanted to wear their finest clothes and they gave Rhodopis even more work to do. As she was washing the clothes in the river she sang a sad little song--"wash the linen, weed the garden, grind the grain." The hippopotamus grew tired of this song and went back into the river with a big splash. The splashing of the water wet Rhodopis's slippers. She took them off and put them in the sun to dry.

Then a falcon came down, snatched one of her slippers, and flew away with it. Rhodopis did not dare say anything to anybody because she knew that the falcon was the god Horus. She took the slipper she had left and hid it in her tunic.

Very near that place, in Memphis, The Pharaoh Amasis, was sitting on his throne receiving all is subjects but feeling very bored. He much preferred to be riding across the desert in his chariot. Suddenly, the falcon swooped down and dropped the rose-red golden slipper in front of him.

Taking it as a sign from the god Horus, he ordered that all maidens in Egypt must try on the slipper, and the owner of the slipper would be his queen. All the young girls visiting him in Memphis tried it on, but it would not suit any of them. Then he decided to travel up the Nile stopping at every village so that maidens could try on the slipper.

As the ship arrived at the home of Rhodopis all heard the sounds of the gong and the trumpets, and the girls ran to try on the shoe while Rhodopis hid in the rushes. When the girls saw the shoe they recognized it as Rhodopis's slipper but they said nothing and still tried to force their feet into the slipper.

The Pharaoh saw Rhodopis hiding in the rushes and asked her to try on the slipper. She slid her tiny foot into the slipper and then pulled the other from her tunic. The Pharaoh said that she would be his queen. The servant girls cried out that she was a slave and not even Egyptian, but the Pharaoh answered "She is the most Egyptian of all...for her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin the pink of a lotus flower."

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Cupid And Psyche

Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had three very beautiful daughters. In fact it was only possible to find words of praise for the elder two, but the youngest of the three was so beautiful that it could not be expressed in any human language. Everyday, thousands of her father’s subjects, and also foreigners, came to admire her beauty and they were so amazed that they could not but compare her to the goddess Venus.

The true Venus was furious at that. “Use your little arrows against this girl so I can have revenge,” she asked her son Cupid. “Make the princess fall desperately in love with the worst, most monstrous man in the whole world."

Meanwhile Psyche was not happy at all. Her two elder sisters had found love and were happily married, but she remained single, for everyone admired her but no one dared to love her. She began to hate the beauty which everyone else adored.

Her poor father feared that the gods might be angry with him, so he went to the ancient oracle of Apollo at Miletus and asked where he was to find a husband for his daughter. “Bring her to the top of the highest mountain,” answered the oracle, “and she will be married to the most horrible monster.”

The king and queen felt very miserable, but Apollo’s oracle had to be obeyed. Psyche was left alone at the top of the mountain dressed for marriage. Then the West Wind started blowing softly and it gradually grew stronger until it lifted her up in the air and carried her down to a valley, where she was left on a field full of flowers.

The place was so nice and fresh that she soon fell asleep. When she woke up, she followed a little river and came to a palace, so beautiful that she immediately knew it had to belong to a god. “All these treasures are yours,” said a voice. “Why don’t you go to your bedroom and rest there?”

After a good rest, she went to the bathroom, where she found the bath ready for her and some invisible hands helped her undress, washed her and then dressed her again. As she came out of the bathroom, she found a table already laid for dinner and splendidly served.

That night, when she was in bed, she heard a whisper and got scared. But the voice spoke very gently and told her how he loved her and soon her fear was over. This way, she came to know her new husband, or rather, she did not know but his voice, for he fled away before daybreak.

And so, her days went by without seeing anybody around her. During the day, her only company were the voices and the invisible hands of her servants, who made her life so pleasant and, at night she had her husband, whom she could touch and hear, but never see.

“Your sisters believe you lie dead at the top of the mountain and they are planning to go up there and collect your body,” said her husband one night, “but you must not pay attention to them, for they are evil and they would bring unhappiness and ruin to your life.”

But Psyche missed her sisters very much and implored his husband to let her see them and let them know she was alive. Finally, her husband accepted but warned her not to tell her sisters a word about his looks. “No, no. I have no idea what you look like, but I love you desperately and I would rather die a hundred times than lose you,” replied Psyche.

Following Psyche’s orders, the West Wind brought the sisters down to the valley. Psyche showed them her palace and gave them many jewels and treasures. Her sisters were very impressed by that wealth and wanted to know who her husband was, but Psyche kept loyal to her promise and made up a story: “He is a handsome young man who spends his time hunting in the woods.”

Then she called the West Wind again and it took the two sisters back to the top of the mountain, but envy had started working in their hearts. “Did you see what big amount of treasures she had?” asked the eldest. “And a young handsome husband, too!” added the other.

“We two are the eldest,” complained the first, “and we also deserve as much as she does.” The more they spoke, the deeper their envy was and they finally resolved to keep the secret and tell nobody that Psyche was alive.

Meanwhile, Psyche’s husband gave her another warning. “Your evil sisters are planning our destruction. You know that you will lose me if you ever see my face, so the next time your sisters come to visit you, you must refuse to answer any questions about me.”

When her two sisters came to visit her again, they quickly realised that Psyche was pregnant. They started talking about the coming baby and then they asked her about her husband. Psyche did not remember the story she had told her sisters the first time, so she said: “You know my husband is a rich merchant who goes from one town to another. He is not at home, now.”

The two sisters realised that Psyche was lying about her husband. “It must be because she doesn’t really know him,” said the oldest sister. “And, if she can’t see him, it must be because he is a god,” finished the other and, making up a plan, they spoke to Psyche like this: “Psyche, we are very worried about you and your coming baby. We fear that your husband is in fact a monster, a giant snake who will devour you and your son, for his favourite food are pregnant women.”

“Dear sisters,” confessed Psyche, “the truth is that I have never seen my husband’s face. I only hear him whisper at nights and I have every reason to think that you are telling the truth. What can I do?”

“This night, hide a lamp behind the bed and, when he is fast asleep, light the lamp on and cut his head off with this knife,” said the two sisters handing her a carving knife.

When night came and she felt that her unseen husband was fast asleep, Psyche prepared herself to do as their sisters had told her, but when the lamp shone on the bed she saw that the creature lying beside her was not the monstrous snake her sisters had talked about, but Cupid himself, the most beautiful creature on Earth.

"Oh, silly, foolish Psyche,” said Cupid when he woke up and found out that Psyche had seen his face. “My mother Venus ordered me to make you fall in love with the most monstrous man, but I disobeyed her and preferred to secretly become your lover. Now you know my secret and you have to be punished, I’ll fly away from you and you will have to live without me."

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The Miserly Father

(from Panchatantra)

Swabhavakripan was a Brahmin living in a city in the south. He was known for his miserliness. Every day, he would go out begging and save some corn flour that people gave him. He stored the flour in an earthen pot and when it was full he hung the pot above his bed, and so he could keep an eye on it.

One day, he returned home very tired and went to sleep and began dreaming: “This pot is full of flour and if there is a famine I will sell it for a very high price. With that money, I will buy two she goats that, in course of time, will become a big herd. Then I will sell the goats and buy cows. And then I will buy buffaloes and later horses. And, when the stables are full of horses I will sell them and buy lots of gold.”

“With this gold, I will build a house with four floors. Seeing my riches, one Brahmin will offer the hand of his beautiful daughter to me. She will soon deliver a son and I will name him Soma Sarma. When he is a year old, I will go and hide in the stable and call out to him to find me out. But the son will come dangerously near the horses. I will shout at my wife but she will be very busy and ignore my call. Then I shall kick her.”

The dream shattered when he kicked the pot of flour hanging above his bed and spilled all its contents over his body. He now looked like a white ghost.

Chakradhara resumed, “That is why, I said:
“He who covets the impossible
Or builds castles in the air
Comes to certain grief like
Poor Soma Sarma’s father.”

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The Black Cat

by Edgar Allan Poe

I am about to write the strangest story although I do not expect anybody to believe it. I would be mad if I expected so, for even I doubt of my senses. But I know that I am not mad and I am sure it is not a dream. Tomorrow I must die and I would like to clean my soul today. I will simply bring here, without any comment, a series of events whose consequences have terrified me, have tortured, have destroyed me. Maybe some of you, more intelligent and logical than me, will find a satisfactory explanation for these facts.

Since I was a child, I was always a kind and tender person and very fond of animals. My parents gave me many pets and I was happy feeding and caressing them.

Being young, I married a woman who also liked animals. We had birds, gold fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

The cat was a large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and very clever. My wife was not a superstitious woman, but she frequently mentioned the ancient belief that black cats are witches in disguise.

Pluto -this was the cat's name -was my favorite pet. I alone fed him, and he followed me everywhere.

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years. But then, I have to confess it, my character started to change due to alcohol. Day by day, I grew more irritable and I did not care for the feelings of others. I started speaking rudely to my wife and I even used violence with her. Of course, my pets too were victims of my change. All except Pluto, who I did not maltreat. But my disease went worse and even Pluto started to experience my bad temper.

One night, I noticed that the cat avoided me. I caught him violently and the cat, frightened, bit me slightly in the hand. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I took a pen-knife and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I am ashamed when I write the damnable atrocity.

In the morning I felt sorry but soon, wine made me forget everything. The cat recovered slowly. The socket of the lost eye looked horrible, but, apparently, he was not suffering any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, when I was near, the cat ran away terrified. At first I was grieved, but this feeling soon changed into irritation and finally into PERVERSITY.

One morning, in cool blood, I put a rope around its neck and hung it from a tree. In the bottom of my heart I felt remorse because there had been a time when the cat had loved me, and because I knew I had no reason to kill it. I hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin.

That night I woke up and saw fire. The whole house was in fire. With great difficulty, my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape, but the destruction was complete.

I am not trying to establish any relation of cause and effect between the fire and my sin. I am just detailing a chain of facts.

The day after the fire, I visited the ruins. The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. It was the wall of my bedroom. A lot of people had congregated there and they were examining the wall and exclaiming things like “strange!” and “singular!” I approached and saw the figure of a gigantic cat on the wall and there was a rope about the animal's neck.

My first reaction was of extreme terror but then I started thinking and convinced myself that there was a logical explanation for that apparition. However, it had made a deep impression on my imagination and, for months, I could not stop thinking of the phantasm of the animal. I regretted the loss of Pluto and started to look for a substitute.

One night I found a very big black, as big as Pluto used to be and very much like him except for one thing. It had a large indefinite white spot on the breast.

I took it home with me and it soon became the favourite of my wife. It was very evident that the cat was very fond of me and followed me to every single place. But, little by little, a sense of dislike for the animal was growing inside me. The discovery that, like Pluto, it had lost one of its eyes, was one more reason to hate it.

Now that I am in this cell, I must admit that the cat scared me. The terror that the animal inspired me was based on some change that gradually operated in the cat. My wife often remarked the white spot that was the only visible difference between this animal and Pluto. Well, the reader will remember that, at first, this mark was very indefinite but, by slow degrees, it had taken a very definite shape and very clearly showed the GALLOWS!

From that day on, I could not rest any more. Before that, the cat left me no moment alone; now it also tormented me in my dreams and I could do nothing to get rid of him. My bad temper increased and I came to hate all things and my wife frequently suffered my violence in silence.

One night, as I was walking down the stairs, the cat ran between my legs and nearly made me fall. Taking an axe, I aimed a blow at the animal that surely would have killed it, but my wife stopped my arm. That made me so furious that I lifted the axe again and, with all my might, I crushed it into my wife’s head. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.

I thought of many ways to get rid of the corpse without being noticed and finally came to the conclusion that the best way was to wall it up in the cellar. Without great difficulty I removed some bricks from the wall, put the corpse in the hole and walled it up in a way that no one could detect anything suspicious.

My next step was to look for the cat which had been the cause of everything, for I had decided to kill it too. But much as I tried, I could not find it. It is impossible to describe the feeling of relief that the absence of the animal caused in my soul and that night, for the first time long, I slept soundly.

The second and the third day passed and there was no trace of the cat. My happiness was supreme! The feeling of guilt did not disturb me much. There were some inquires but I had no problem to answer in a convincing manner.

On the fourth day after the assassination, some policemen came to search the house. They left no corner unexplored. Finally they came down to the cellar and I accompanied them quite convinced that they would not find anything.

They searched the place thoroughly and were ready to leave the place. A feeling of triumph possessed me then. “Gentlemen,” I said at last, “I was delighted to help you in your inquires. Not knowing well what to say, I rapped on the wall where the corpse of my wife laid and most immediately I was answered by a voice behind the wall. It was a cry, like the cry of a child.

For a moment the policemen remained still listening to the voice crying. The next second, a dozen arms were pulling down the wall. The corpse, covered with gore, stood there and upon its head was the cat whose voice had taken me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!


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A String Of Beads

by William Somerset Maugham

Miss Robinson had always been poor. When her father died, she had no money. She got a job at the house of Mrs. Livingstone – a rich woman with two young daughters. Miss Robinson’s job was teaching Mrs. Livingstone’s daughters at home. She was their governess.

Miss Robinson lived in the house of Mrs. Livingstone like a servant. But she was intelligent and well educated. And sometimes she was asked to dinner when the Livingstones had visitors.

One evening, Mrs. Livingstone invited some friends to dinner. She asked fourteen people. At the last moment, one of the guests was unable to come. Mrs. Livingstone now had thirteen guests. But thirteen is an unlucky number and so she invited Miss Robinson.

The people at the dinner were all rich and important. Miss Robinson sat quietly and did not say anything. She was wearing an old dress of Mrs. Livingstone’s and she looked pretty. She was also wearing a string of pearls.

One of the guests at the dinner was Count Borselli – a rich and famous man. He knew everything about pearls and diamonds and other precious stones.

There was a young lady at dinner called Miss Lyngate. She, also, was wearing a string of pearls. She was very proud of her pearls and she asked Count Borselli to look at them.

“They’re quite nice pearls,” said the Count.

This did not please Miss Lyngate. “Quite nice” was not good enough for her. She had wanted the Count to say “very nice, very nice.”

“This string of pearls cost eight thousand pounds!” said Miss Lyngate.

“Yes, that’s the correct price,” said Count Borselli. He spoke in an ordinary voice. But Miss Lyngate understood. The Count did not think that eight thousand pounds was a lot of money.

At that moment, Count Borselli pointed to Miss Robinson.

“That is a very nice string of pearls,” he said.

“Miss Robinson’s pearls,” said Miss Lyngate. “But she’s Mrs. Livingstone’s governess!”

Miss Lyngate was now angry. Governesses were not rich people. A governess did not wear a valuable string of pearls.

“We’re not talking about governesses,” replied the Count. “We’re talking about pearls. That string of pearls is worth more than fifty thousand pounds.”

Miss Lyngate was surprised and angry. She did not believe Count Borselli. He was mistaken. Governesses did not wear strings of pearls worth more than fifty thousand pounds.

“Miss Robinson,” she said in a loud voice. “Do you know that you are wearing a very valuable string of pearls?”

Everyone stopped talking. They all listened to Miss Robinson’s reply.

“I paid fifteen shillings for these beads,” said Miss Robinson quietly.

Miss Lyngate laughed. “I knew that Count Borselli was wrong,” she said. “He says that your pearls are worth fifty thousand pounds.”

Now everyone in the room was silent. Fifty thousand pounds! A governess with a string of pearls worth fifty thousand pounds! That was not possible. A woman with fifty thousand pounds was a very rich woman.

“But I bought these beads for fifteen shillings”, said Miss Robinson again. “Count Borselli has made a mistake.”

“I do not make mistakes,” said the Count quietly. “I know the value of pearls.”

At that moment something unusual happened. A servant came up to the table and spoke quietly to Miss Robinson. The governess looked surprised and her face went white.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Livingstone,” she said. “I must leave the table. Two men are waiting in the hall. They want to speak to me.”

Miss Robinson got up and left the table. When she was out of the room, everyone began to talk excitedly. “She’s a thief,” said someone. “The two men are policemen. Miss Robinson has stolen the pearls. She will go to prison.”

“A thief in my house,” cried Mrs. Livingstone. “How terrible! What shall I do? What has she been teaching my daughters?”

Everyone started to talk at the same time. Suddenly there was silence. Miss Robinson had come back into the room. She looked much happier. She did not look like a thief.

Miss Robinson was not wearing her pearls. Instead, she had a string of pearls in her hand. She sat down at the table and passed the string of pearls over to Count Borselli. “How much are these pearls worth?” she asked.

Count Borselli looked at the pearls for a few moments.

“Fifteen shillings,” he said.

“That’s correct,” said Miss Robinson. “These are my beads. They’re worth fifteen shillings.”

“But what about the other string of pearls?” asked the Count. “These are different.”

“That’s correct,” replied Miss Robinson. “My beads were broken and I took them to a shop a few days ago. When I went to get them, there was a mistake. The shop gave me the wrong string of pearls. That other string of pearls was worth fifty thousand pounds.”

Everyone laughed. It had all been a mistake.

“The men from the shop were very pleased to get the pearls back,” said Miss Robinson. “They’ve given me a present of three hundred pounds.”

Again, everyone talked at the same time. Three hundred pounds was a lot of money for a governess.
Mrs. Livingstone stopped everyone talking. “What are you going to do with the three hundred pounds?” she asked loudly.

But she did not wait for a reply. “You must put the money in a bank”, she said. “You must keep it safely. You may need it one day.”

“I’m not going to put the money in a bank,” replied Miss Robinson proudly. “All my life I’ve never had a holiday. Now I’m going to have a real holiday. I want to leave my work at the end of the month. I’m going to the South of France.”

Mrs. Livingstone looked at her angrily. A governess was a servant. Servants did not go on holiday to the South of France. And, also, governesses accepted the advice of their masters and mistresses.
“You can leave at the end of the month,” said Mrs. Livingstone in an angry voice. “But you need not come back again. There will be no job for you here.”

“I don’t want to come back here,” replied Miss Robinson. And she got up quietly and left the room.
At the end of the month, Miss Robinson went on holiday to the South of France. Mrs. Livingstone was not pleased. She hoped to hear bad news about Miss Robinson.

Six months later, Mrs. Livingstone gave another dinner. Miss Lyngate, Count Borselli and other friends were there. They all remembered Miss Robinson. Someone started to talk about her.

“Miss Robinson will never come back here again,” said Mrs. Livingstone in a loud voice.

“Miss Robinson will not want to come back,” said Count Borselli. “Haven’t you heard the news?”

“What news?” someone asked excitedly.

“I’ve just come from the South of France,” replied the Count. “Everyone there is talking about Miss Robinson. But that’s not her name now. She’s a countess. She met a count in her hotel and married him soon afterwards. The count is a millionaire and she now lives with him in Paris. She’ll never work as a governess again.”

“And all because of a mistake,” said Miss Lyngate. “A cheap string of beads has made her a countess and a millionaire.”

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The Case For The Defence

Graham Greene

The newspapers called it the Peckham murder, although Northwood Street was not exactly in Peckham, and it was the strangest murder trial I ever attended. This was not one of those cases in which the jury has doubts. No, nobody in the courtroom believed that the man accused had any chance at all.

He was a heavy strong man with big red eyes, a man you wouldn't forget - and that was an important point because there were four witnesses who hadn't forgotten him, who had seen him hurrying away from the little red villa in Northwood Street. The clock had just struck two in the morning.

That night, Mrs Salmon in 15 Northwood Street could not sleep. She heard a door click and thought it was her own gate. So she went to the window and saw Adams (that was the man’s name) on the steps of Mrs Parker's house. He had just come out and he was wearing gloves. He had a hammer in his hand and she saw him drop it into the bushes. At a certain moment, the man had looked up and Mrs Salmon could clearly see his face in the light of a streetlamp.

I talked to Mrs Salmon after the trial. Naturally, she was terrified after the astonishing verdict. And I imagine it was the same with all the other witnesses: Henry MacDougall, who had been driving home and nearly ran Adams down at the corner of Northwood Street. Adams was walking in the middle of the road looking dazed. And old Mr Wheeler, who lived next door to Mrs Parker, and was wakened by a noise – like a chair falling - and got up and looked out of the window just to see Adams there. In Laurel Avenue he had been seen by yet another witness.

“I understand,” counsel said, “that the defence will try to prove that it is a case of mistaken identity. Adams's wife will tell you that he was with her at two in the morning on February 14, but after you have heard the witnesses and examined carefully the features of the prisoner, I do not think you will be prepared to admit the possibility of a mistake.'

Anybody could think it was all over. That man was going to be sentenced to hanging.

First were called the policeman who had found the body and the doctor who examined it. Then, Mrs Salmon was called. She was the ideal witness, with her expression of honesty, care and kindness.

The counsel for the Crown asked her questions and the Mrs Salmon told the story little by little. She spoke very firmly. There was no malice in her.

“And do you see the man here in court?”

She looked straight at the big man, who stared hard at her with his big red eyes without emotion.

“Yes,” she said, “there he is.”

“You are quite certain?”

She said simply, “I couldn't be mistaken, sir.”

It was all as easy as that.

“Thank you, Mrs Salmon.”

Counsel for the defence stood up.

“Now, Mrs Salmon, you must remember that a man's life may depend on your evidence.”

“I do remember it, sir.”

“Is your eyesight good?”

“I have never had to wear glasses, sir.”

“You are a woman of fifty-five?”

“Fifty-six, sir.”

“And the man you saw was on the other side of the road?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And it was two o'clock in the morning. You must have remarkable eyes, Mrs Salmon?”

“No, sir. There was moonlight, and when the man looked up, he had the lamplight on his face.”

“And you have no doubt whatever that the man you saw is the prisoner?”

“None whatever, sir. It isn't a face one forgets.”

Counsel took a look round the court for a moment. Then he said, “Do you mind, Mrs Salmon, examining again the people in court? No, not the prisoner. Stand up, please, Mr Adams,” and there at the back of the court with thick strong body and a pair big eyes eyes, was the exact image of the man in the dock. He was even dressed the same - tight blue suit and striped tie.

“Now think very carefully, Mrs Salmon. Can you still swear that the man you saw in Mrs Parker's garden was the prisoner - and not this man, who is his twin brother?”

Of course she couldn't. She looked from one to the other and didn't say a word.

There were the two men, one sitting in the dock with his legs crossed, and the other standing at the back of the court and they both looked at Mrs Salmon. She shook her head.

What we saw then was the end of the case. There wasn't a witness prepared to swear that the man they had seen was the prisoner. And the brother? He had his alibi, too; he was with his wife.

And so there was not enough evidence against the man and he was released. But whether he was punished or not, I don't know. That extraordinary day had an extraordinary end.

Outside in the street the crowd piled up to see the twins come out of court. The police tried to get them to leave by a back door, but they wouldn't. One of them - no one knew which - said, “I've been release, haven't I?” and they walked out of the front door. Then it happened. I don't know how, though I was only six feet away. The crowd moved and somehow one of the twins got pushed on to the road right in front of a bus.

He gave a squeal like a rabbit and that was all; he was dead, his skull smashed just as Mrs Parker's had been. Divine vengeance? I wish I knew. There was the other Adams getting on his feet from beside the body and looking straight over at Mrs Salmon. He was crying, but whether he was the murderer or the innocent man nobody will ever be able to tell. But if you were Mrs Salmon, could you sleep at night?

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