Month: August 2018

 
+

Trials of Animals.

By Thomas Frost.

 

ONE of the most singular features of the jurisprudence of the middle ages, and one which was retained in the French code down to nearly the middle of the last century, was the indictment of domestic animals for injuries inflicted on mankind. The records of the criminal tribunals of France disclose ninety-two such judicial processes between 1120 and 1741, when the last of these grotesque trials took place in Poitou. The practice seems to have been based on the Mosaic law, it being there ordered that, “if an ox gore a man or a woman that they die, then the ox shall be stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten.” (Exodus, c. xxi., v. 28.) Oxen and pigs were the animals that most frequently were the subjects of these strange proceedings, the indictment against the former being for goring persons, while the latter suffered for killing and sometimes devouring very young children.

The earliest instance of which any particulars can be gathered occurred in 1314, when, according to M. Carlier, who relates the story in his history of the Duchy of Valois, a bull escaped from a farm-yard in the village of Moisy, and gored a man so severely that death ensued. The Count of Valois, being informed of the fatility, directed that the bull should be captured, and formally prosecuted for causing the man’s death. This was done, and evidence was given by persons who had seen the man attacked and killed. The bull was thereupon sentenced to suffer death, which was inflicted by strangulation, after which the carcase was suspended from a tree by the hind legs. But the affair did not end thus, for the sentence was appealed against, probably by the owner of the bull, on the ground that the retainers of the Count of Valois had no legal authority to execute the sentence. This plea was debated at great length, and the provincial parliament eventually decided that, though the sentence was a just one, the Count of Valois had no justiciary authority in the district of Moisy.

Next in the order of time comes the trial at Falaise of a sow which had torn the face and arm of a child, from the effects of which injuries it died. The sow was condemned to be mutilated in the head and one fore leg, and afterwards to be strangled, which sentence was executed in the public square of the town. This was in 1386. Three years later, a horse was condemned to death at Dijon for having killed a man. In 1403, Simon de Baudemont, lieutenant of Meulan; Jean, lord of Maintenon; and the bailiff of Mantes and Meulan, signed an attestation of the expenses incurred in the prosecution and execution of a sow that had killed and partially eaten a child. The following is a copy of the document, to which it may be added that the story of the trial and execution may be found in the “Curiosités Judiciaires et Historiques du Moyen Age” of M. Aguel:—“Item, for expenses within the gaol, 6 sols. Item, to the executioner, who came from Paris to Meulan to put the sentence in execution, by command of our Lord the Bailiff and of the King’s Attorney, 54 sols. Item, for the carriage that conveyed her to execution, 6 sols. Item, for ropes to tie and haul her up, 2 sols, 8 deniers. Item, for gloves, 12 deniers; amounting in the whole to 69 sols, 8 deniers.” In connection with the first item of this curious document, it may be observed that, in a receipt delivered five years later by a notary of Pont de l’Arche to the gaoler of the prison of that town, the same amount is allowed for the daily food of a pig, imprisoned on the charge of killing a child, as for a man in the same prison. The last item, the gloves, is supposed by M. Aguel to be a customary allowance to the executioner.

In 1457, a sow and her six young pigs were tried at Lavegny, on the charge of having killed and partially eaten a child. The sow was convicted, and condemned to death; but the little ones were acquitted on the ground of their tender years or months, the bad example of their mother, and the absence of direct evidence of their having partaken of the unnatural feast. In 1494, sentence of death was pronounced on a pig by the Mayor of Laon for having mutilated and destroyed an infant in its cradle, full particulars of which case were given in the “Annuaire du Departement de l’Aisne” for 1812. The act of condemnation, as there given, concludes as follows:—“We, in detestation and horror of this crime, and in order to make an example and satisfy justice, have declared, judged, sentenced, pronounced, and appointed that the said hog, being detained a prisoner, and confined in the said abbey, shall be, by the executioner, strangled and hanged on a gibbet, near and adjoining the gallows in the jurisdiction of the said monks, being near their copyhold of Avin. In witness of which we have sealed this present with our seal.” This document was sealed with red wax, and endorsed:—“Sentence on a hog, executed by justice, brought into the copyhold of Clermont, and strangled on a gibbet at Avin.”

Three years later, a sow was condemned to be beaten to death for having mutilated the face of a child of the village of Charonne. The act of condemnation in this case directed further that the flesh of the sow should be given to the dogs of the village, and that the owner of the sow and his wife should make a pilgrimage to the Church of Our Lady at Pontoise, and bring on their return a certificate that this injunction had been duly complied with. In 1499, a bull was strangled for having killed a boy in the lordship of Cauroy, which belonged to the abbey of Beaufiré.

Lionnois gives, in his history of Nancy, a full report of the proceedings on the delivery of a condemned pig to the executioner of that city in 1572. He mentions, among other details, that the animal, secured by a cord, was led to a cross near the cemetery; that from the most remote period the justice of the lord, the abbot of Moyen Moutier, was accustomed to deliver to the provost, or marshal of St. Diez, near to this cross, all condemned criminals, that execution might ensue; and that, the said pig being a brute beast, the mayor and the justice held a conference at that place, and left the said pig tied with a cord, without prejudice to the judicial rights of the lord.

Judicial proceedings against the lower animals were not confined to France, for the list of such cases compiled by M. Berriat St. Prix, and published in the “Memoires de la Societé des Antiquaires” for 1829, mentions one tried at Lausanne in 1364, another at the same town in 1451, a third at Basle in 1474, another at Lausanne in 1479, and a fifth at the same place in 1554. Concerning the first of these Swiss trials, Ruchat states, in his history of the Protestant reformation in Switzerland, that the victim was a pig that had killed a child in the village of Chattens, situated among the Jorat hills. It was cited to appear in the Bishop’s Court at Lausanne, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death—the executioner being a pork butcher.

The Basle case was a very singular one. A farm-yard cock was tried on the absurd charge of having laid an egg. It was contended in support of the prosecution that eggs laid by cocks were of inestimable value for use in certain magical preparations; that a sorcerer would rather possess a cock’s egg than the philosopher’s stone; and that Satan employed witches to hatch such eggs, from which proceeded winged serpents most dangerous to mankind. On behalf of the gallinaceous prisoner, the facts of the case were admitted, but his advocate submitted that no evil animus had been proved against his client, and that no injury to man or beast had resulted. Besides, the laying of the egg was an involuntary act, and as such not punishable by law. If it was intended to impute the crime of sorcery to his client, he was entitled to an acquittal; for there was no instance on record of Satan having made a compact with one of the brute creation. In reply, the public prosecutor stated that, though the Evil One did not make compacts with brutes, he sometimes entered into them; and though the swine possessed by devils, as related by the Evangelists, were involuntary agents, yet they, nevertheless, were punished by being caused to run down a steep decline into the Lake of Galilee, where they were drowned. The poor cock was convicted, and condemned to death, not as a cock, however, but as a sorcerer, or perhaps a devil, in the form of a cock, on which finding it was, with the egg attributed to it, burned at a stake, with all the form and solemnity of a judicial execution.

As the lower animals were amenable to the law in Switzerland in those dark ages, so, in certain circumstances, they could be put into the witness box. If a house was broken into between sunset and sunrise, and the occupier killed the intruder, the act was regarded as justifiable homicide. But it was thought right to provide by law against the case of a man, living alone, who might invite a person whom he wished to kill to spend the evening with him, and having slain him, might assert that he committed the act in self-defence, or to protect his property, the dead man having been a burglar. Therefore, when a man was killed in such circumstances, the occupier of the house was required to produce some domestic animal that was an inmate of the house, and had witnessed the tragedy, and to declare his innocence on oath in the presence of such animal. If the brute witness did not contradict him, he was acquitted; the law taking it for granted that God, rather than allow a murderer to go unpunished, would intervene by causing a miraculous manifestation by the mouth of a dumb witness.

Even more strange than the trials of oxen, pigs, etc., for offences against mankind, were the legal proceedings often taken in the middle ages against noxious insects and the smaller quadrupeds, such as rats. The “Memoires de la Societé Royale Academique de Savoie” contain a very curious account of the proceedings instituted in 1445 and 1487 against certain beetles that had committed great ravages in the vineyards of St. Julien. Advocates were named on behalf of the vine-growers and the beetles respectively; but, by a singular coincidence, the insects disappeared when cited to answer for the mischief they had done, and the proceedings were in consequence abandoned. That was in 1445. In 1487, however, they re-appeared, and a complaint was thereupon addressed to the vicar-general of the Bishop of Maurienne, who named a judge, and also an advocate to represent the beetles. Counsel having been heard on both sides, the judge suggested that the vine-growers should cede to the defendants certain land, where they could live without encroaching on the vineyards. The plaintiffs agreed to this compromise, with the proviso that, in default of the defendants accepting the terms offered them, the judge would order that the vineyards should be respected by the beetles under certain penalties. The advocate for the beetles demanded time for consideration, and on the resumption of the proceedings stated that he could not accept, on behalf of his clients, the suggestion of the court, as the land proposed to be given up to them was barren, and afforded nothing upon which they could subsist. The court then appointed assessors to survey the land in question, and on their report that it was well wooded and provided with herbage, the conveyance was ordered to be engrossed in due form and executed. The matter was then regarded by the plaintiffs as settled; but the beetles discovered, or their advocate discovered for them, that a quarry of an ochreous earth, used as a pigment, had formerly been worked on the land conveyed to the insects, and though it had long since been worked out, some person possessed an ancient right of way to it, the exercise of which would be extremely prejudicial to them. Consequently, the agreement was held to be vitiated, and the legal proceedings had to be recommenced de novo. How they eventually terminated cannot be told, owing to the mutilation of the documents relating to the proceedings subsequent to 1487.

Nearly a century later, legal proceedings were commenced by the inhabitants of a village in the diocese of Autun against the rats by which their houses and barns were infested; the trial being famous in the annals of French jurisprudence as that in which Chassanee, the celebrated jurisconsult, first achieved distinction. The rats not appearing on the first citation, Chassanee, who was retained for the defence, argued that the summons was of too local a character, and that, as all the rats in the diocese of Autun were interested in the case, they should be summoned throughout the diocese. This plea being admitted, the curé of every parish in the diocese was instructed to summon all the rats within its limits to attend on a day named in the summons. The day having arrived, and the rats failing to appear, Chassanee said that, as all his clients were summoned, including old and young, sick and healthy, great preparations had to be made, and certain necessary arrangements effected, and he had to ask, therefore, for an extension of time. This also being granted, another day was appointed, but again not a single rat put in an appearance.

Chassanee then made an objection to the legality of the summons. A summons from that court, he said, implied full protection to the parties summoned, both on their way to it and on their return to their homes; and his clients, the rats, though most anxious to appear in obedience to the court, did not dare to leave their homes to come to Autun, on account of the number of evil-disposed cats kept by the plaintiffs. If the latter would enter into bonds, under heavy pecuniary penalties, that their cats should not molest his clients, the summons would be immediately obeyed. The court acknowledged the validity of this plea, but the plaintiffs declined to be bound for the good behaviour of their cats. The further hearing of the case was, therefore, adjourned sine die, and thus Chassanee gained his cause. Full particulars of the proceedings are given in a Latin work, written by him, and published in 1588.

 

+

Cock-Fighting in Scotland.

 

 

IT is highly probable that the Romans introduced cock-fighting into this country. It is generally believed that the sport was made popular by Themistocles. On one occasion he saw two cocks fighting, and their courage greatly impressed him, and he felt such exhibitions might teach a useful lesson of bravery to those who witnessed them. Periodical contests were exhibited, and were popular amongst the Greeks and Romans and with other nations, and were much appreciated by a large section of the inhabitants of this land. In “Bygone England,” by William Andrews, f.r.h.s. (London 1892), will be found a long account of “Fighting-Cocks in Schools.” One of the earliest accounts of the pastime in England, says Mr. Andrews, occurs in a “Description of the City of London,” by William Fitzstephen, who wrote in the reign of Henry II., and died in the year 1191. He records that it was the annual custom on Shrove Tuesday for the boys to bring their game cocks to the schools, to turn the schoolrooms into cockpits, the masters and pupils spending the morning witnessing the birds fighting.

Old town accounts contain many references to this custom, for example at Congleton, Cheshire, is the following item:—

“1601. Payd John Wagge for dressynge

the schoolhouse at the great

[Congleton] cockfyghte.”

£0 0s. 4d.

Hugh Miller, the famous geologist, who was born in the year 1802, in his popular volume “My Schools and Schoolmasters,” gives a graphic account of that amusement in the Cromarty grammar school where he received his education. “The school,” says Miller, “like almost all other grammar schools of the period in Scotland, had its yearly cock-fight, preceded by two holidays and a half, during which the boys occupied themselves in collecting and bringing up the cocks. And such was the array of fighting birds mustered on the occasion, that the day of the festival from morning till night used to be spent in fighting out the battle. For weeks after it had passed, the school floor continued to retain its deeply stained blotches of blood, and the boys would be full of exciting narratives regarding the glories of gallant birds who had continued to fight until their eyes had been pecked out; or who in the moment of victory, had dropped dead in the middle of the cock-pit.” Miller at some length denounces the cruel sport.

In England cock-fighting is prohibited by statute 12 and 13 Vict. 3, 92, under which every person who shall in any manner encourage, aid, or assist at the fighting or baiting of any bull, bear, badger, dog, cock, or other animal, shall forfeit and pay a penalty not exceeding £5 for every such offence. In Scotland it was not illegal until quite recently. An act was passed in 1850 known as the “Cruelty to Animals (Scotland) Act,” but the wording of the statute was found not to include the game or fighting-cock. The sport became popular and the law could not touch those that took part in the cruel amusement. It was felt to be a national scandal, and to prevent it, a short statute was passed on 30th May, 1895, whereby the definition of the word animal in the 11th section was amended by adding at the end thereof the words “or any game or fighting-cock, or other domestic fowl or bird.”

Mr. Robert Bird, the genial and gifted author of “Law Lyrics,” a volume which has been warmly welcomed by the public and the press, has made cock-fighting the subject of a clever poem.

COCKIELEERIE-LAW.

By Robert Bird.

In Full Court, Edinburgh, 23rd December, 1892.

 

Six legal wigs, like well-plumed tappit hens,

Sat brooding o’er a pair of fighting cocks;

While lesser wigs, begowned, and brief in hand,

Declaimed in flowing periods, of the fray,

Like ancient bards, that wanted but their harps,

Their wallets, ballad verse, and song, to make

The very goose quills, sleeping on the bench,

Awake! take sides and spill each other’s ink.

And as they spake, a legal fog dropt down

Upon the learned six, and each beheld,

In green mirage, born of the cloud of words,

Two cocks, Game cocks, crop-combed, erect, and slim,

With feathers dipped in crimson, gold, and blue,

Frill-necked, with trailing wings and spurs of steel,

That on each other flew and pecked and spurred,

And spurred and pecked again, until the Court

Reeked like a cock-pit, and the crowd of wigs,—

Of boyish idle wigs,—took bonnet shapes

That hooded scowling brows of cursing men,

Who laid their bets on this bird, and on that,

As, with quick panting breath and beaks agape,

They pranced, flew, fought, until the oaken bar

Seemed spattered o’er with feathers and cock blood.

At length one cock the other overthrew,

And struck quick spurs into his quivering breast

Until he died; then he, with croaking crow,

Fell, wounded, bleeding, dying by his side

Amid the applauding cheers of thirsty throats,

Soon to be slaked with liquid bets, and so

The battle ended, but the fog remained.

 

A rustling of silk plumes upon the bench,

Five wigs bent low, and thus great Solon spake—

“’Twas in Kilbarchan that this fight was fought,

And straight the men who prompted it were ta’en,

And jailed, and tried, and sentenced for the same;

But now they seek release, and this their plea,

That in the gracious Act which says that men

Shall not treat brutes and beasts with cruelty,

The name of “Cock” is absent; therefore they

Claim full exemption for their brutish deeds,

And we, vicegerents of our gentle Queen,

With spectacle on nose, must well explore

This vital point in Cockieleerie-law.

 

The illumined page of history reveals

Cock-fighting as an ancient royal sport.

The Early Greeks and Romans in their day

Found pastime sweet in setting cock on cock;

The sage Themistocles took keen delight

In battling fowls; while glorious Cæsar, too,

Loved much to back his bird; and, furthermore,

Marc Antony’s gamecocks did always lose

When pitted against Cæsar’s fiercer breed.

King Henry VIII., of sainted memory!

At Whitehall had a special cock-pit built,

Wherein his royal birds made lively sport

For gentle dames and all his merry knights.

 

The most accomplished scholar of his day,

Squire Roger Ascham, tutor to Queen Bess,

Much as he loved his books, loved cocks the more,

And loved them most when victors in the fight.

And last of all, that great and noble Duke,

The conqueror of Blenheim, in game birds

Found something that reminded him of self;

And thus we see the fighting instinct strong

In cocks, and other nobles of past time.

 

“Game cocks, we find, from earliest Cockereldom,

Delight in war, as dogs to bark and bite,

And raining blows upon each other’s ribs

Do best fulfil their part of nature’s plan,

Which built them slim and bade them love the fray;

And while we hope no preference here to show,—

’Tis open question, whether rearing fowls

To wring their necks, or match them in the pit,

Does more exalt the brute or sink the man.

 

“But here, the cocks were armed with spurs of steel,

And ’tis a subtle matter, whether they

With iron shod, or spurred with native horn,

Do deal the deadliest blows in angry fray;

And, while we have our own opinion strong!

’Tis not within our province to pronounce.

 

“If it be wrong with steel to prick a fowl,

What of the spurs with which hard riders goad

The bleeding sides of horses in the race,

Or in the steeplechase, or country hunt?

And what of hares in coursing run to death?

Of quivering foxes torn by yelling hounds?

Of wheeling pigeons slaughtered for a prize?

We make no mention of the common use,

 

Of otter hunting, grouse and pheasant drives.

And of the sport termed noble, where the stag

Is forced upon the guns that lay him low.

No doubt, two blacks can never make one white,

Nor multiplying blacks turn black to grey;

But if to brutalise mankind be thought amiss,

Then there are other ways, than fighting cocks.

 

“Still that’s beside our purpose, which is this—

To scan the statute, microscope in hand,

And note if in its sweep humane, we see

A roosting place for fighting chanticleer.

And there we find, or rather fail to find,

The name of “Cock” among the saving list

Of nineteen beasts protected by the law,

Though thus the list concludes, “and other kinds
Of animals domestic,” or like words.

Are we to find Game Cocks, domestic fowls?

Are we to hold that birds, are animals?

Our view is quite the contrary, or else

There’s not a beast, bird, fish, or insect but

The term “domestic” would to them apply,

And make it penal e’en to slay a louse.

 

“And while, in other parts of this same Act,

We find “Cock” followed by the general phrase,

Or other kind of animal,” we hold

It bears not on the matter now in hand,

But only serves to show that Parliament,

When brooding, clucking, hen-like, o’er this Act,

Had Cocks well in their eye, and plainly did,

Of purpose full, omit them from the list;

And while bear-fights, bull-fights, dog-fights, and all

Vile sports and brutish cruelty to beasts,

The spirit and the letter of the law

 

Do quite forbid, unanimous we hold
Cock-fighting is a lawful use of Cocks,
And finding so we liberate these men.

 

“It will be said, this Statute has been read

Reversely in our sister England, where

It is the Charter of proud Chanticleer;

But what of that? It alters not our mind!

But only shews, that they, of feebler clay,

Stick not at trifles, so the end be good,

And let the heart o’erbeat the legal mind;

While we, of sterner stuff, fail not to find

Motes in the sunshine of their simple wits,

And gnats to strain out of their cups of wine;

For in the nice accomplishment and use

Of splitting hairs, and weighing feathers small,

Of riddling wisdom from a peck of words,

We are more skilled, more subtle, more profound

Than our legal brethren of the South.”

Whereat five horse-hair wigs again bowed down

In low obeisance to the mighty sage,

And straight the Court was cleared of cocks and men.

+

Fatal Links.

 

By Ernest H. Rann.

 

A CONSIDERATION of the detection of crime brings forcibly to the mind the fact that officers of law have frequently to depend for success on the accidental discovery of the most trifling items and incidents. Conversely the criminal section of the community who prey on the weakness or folly of their neighbours have to fear not only a knowledge of their principal movements, but the discovery of the connecting link which shall complete the chain of evidence against them. The deepest laid plot, the most cunning scheme, contains a flaw which may be fatal to their operations, to their liberty, and even their life, a flaw which no amount of previous examination may detect, a weakness which can rarely be adequately guarded against. Justice and the vindication of the law, therefore, depend largely on a proper regard being paid to minor occurrences, which at first sight would seem to have no bearing whatever on the particular case under consideration. The history of crime contains numberless instances where the criminal has been brought to justice through one or other of these causes—the presence of particular hairs or threads on his clothing or on the weapon used, the direction of certain cuts on the body of his victim, the possession of trifling articles. At other times dreams have played no inconsiderable part in the vindication of the law, which has also been aided by supernatural visitants, or by the self-consciousness of the criminal.

It would be impossible in a short article like the present to offer a full list of cases of this description, but a few typical instances may be taken with the object of showing how crimes, long hidden, have been discovered in the most remarkable manner. Probably the best example occurred at Augsburg, in 1821. A woman named Maria Anna Holzmann lived in a house in the town belonging to one Sticht. Her means only permitted her to occupy a few of the rooms, and the remaining parts of the premises were let to lodgers, among whom were George Rauschmaier and Joseph Steiner. On Good Friday, April 20th, Holzmann disappeared. She had not given notice of her intended departure, and nothing was known of it until some days later when Rauschmaier and Steiner also left the premises, saying that their landlady had previously quitted the house, leaving them in possession of her keys. This information, however, was not given to the police until May 17th. In the meantime Holzmann’s relatives had become apprehensive of her safety, and being reluctantly forced to the conclusion that foul play had befallen her, they decided to take an inventory of her property, as it was known that, although in humble circumstances, the woman had managed by care and economy to amass considerable wealth. It was found, however, that the greater part of her money and other valuables were missing.

In spite of active enquiries no further action of importance in the matter was possible until the following January, when Theresa Belter, a washerwoman who also lived in the house, announced that she had found a thigh of a human body hidden in the loft. Further investigations revealed a leg and the other thigh in a heap of rubbish in a corner of the room, and between the chimney and the roof, a trunk without head or limbs was discovered. An old gown and a petticoat, identified as portions of the dress of Holzmann, were also brought to light, while search in Rauschmaier’s room disclosed other parts of a woman’s body. The head was missing, but when news of the unmistakeable crime was noised abroad, a neighbouring manufacturer stated that during the preceding year he had found a skull, still bearing portions of flesh and hair, in his factory weir, but had not considered the “find” worthy of preservation.

There could be no doubt that Maria Anna Holzmann had been murdered, and the whole machinery of the law was put in motion to bring the criminals to justice. Suspicion fastened itself strongly upon the two men, Rauschmaier and Steiner, but actual evidence against them, or indeed against anyone, was of the scantiest description until the separate pieces of the woman’s body were placed together. While the left arm was being examined, a brass ring fell out of the bend of the elbow, whence it had evidently slipped from the finger of the murderer. Whose was the ring? then became the all important question. Rauschmaier was arrested and confessed that he had stolen and pawned several articles of Holzmann’s property, but he sternly denied having committed the murder. The property, including a pair of ear-rings, had been recovered from the pawnbroker’s, and these, with the brass ring, were laid before the accused. He had not wit enough to discern the trap laid for him, and immediately on seeing the ornaments, he exclaimed “The ear-rings and the gold and brass rings are mine. The brass ring I always wore until within four or five weeks after Easter, since when I have worn gold ones. The brass ring fits the little finger of my left hand; it slips on and off with ease.” This foolish statement, and the place of the discovery of the ring, proved conclusively that Rauschmaier was the murderer of the unfortunate Holzmann. Subsequently he made full confession of the crime, stating that the brass ring must have slipped off while he was cutting up the body. He paid the penalty of his sins with death.

The “Greenacre” case, which occurred in 1836, was similar to the foregoing in many of its details. In that year, portions of the mutilated trunk of an old woman named Brown were found in a house in Edgeware Road, wrapped in old rags and sacking. Subsequently the head was discovered in Regent’s Canal, and the limbs in a drain in the neighbourhood of Camberwell. Comparison between the various portions left no doubt as to the identity of the deceased, and James Greenacre, whom Brown intended to marry, and to whose house she had gone with all her property, was accused of the murder. A woman named Gale with whom he lived was also charged with complicity in the deed. Once more suspicion, however strong, was insufficient to bring the crime right home to the accused, but the discovery, among Greenacre’s property, of some rags corresponding with the pieces covering the mutilated remains, together with a few articles belonging to Brown, turned suspicion into actual proof. Greenacre was condemned to death, and his companion sentenced to transportation for life.

The murder of William Begbie, at Edinburgh, is a remarkable case of the manner in which the author of a crime may remain long hidden, and only then be discovered by accident. Begbie was a bank porter, and on November 30th, 1806, he was employed to carry a parcel of notes, worth about £4,000, to one of the bank’s customers. On his way he had to pass through a narrow, dark, and tortuous entry, and there he was brutally murdered and the notes were stolen.

Although a knife, of a particular pattern, was left in the body, the murderer remained at large, and no clue to the terrible crime could be unearthed. Nine months later the bundle of notes, untouched, was found hidden in a wall, but long years passed before the mystery was completely solved. In 1822 a Bow Street runner named Denovan, while visiting Leith, chanced to fall into conversation with a sailor lately returned from captivity among the French. Speaking of old times the mariner accidentally mentioned that coming ashore one morning he had noticed a man like William Begbie, followed by a person dressed in black and of respectable demeanour. He lost sight of them for a few moments, but later on he was surprised to see the man in black rush out of the narrow entry with a bundle under his arm. On the next day he heard of the murder, and feeling confidant that he could throw light on the crime, he informed the mate of his vessel of what he had seen. Permission to go ashore was, however, refused. The vessel sailed, was captured by the French, and the sailor witness did not recover his liberty for fifteen years. Denovan set to work with this important clue, and enquiries proved that the man in black was no other than a notorious criminal named Mackoul, who had lived in Edinburgh in 1806. The law had claimed its own, however, previous to the sailor’s disclosures. In 1820 Mackoul had suffered death for robbery; still, though he was beyond punishment for his old crime in Edinburgh, it was satisfactory to know that the mystery of the bank porter’s death had at last been solved.

Probably the most notorious case in English annals of murder discovered by extraordinary means is that of the killing of Daniel Clarke by Eugene Aram. The main facts of the case are so well known that it is scarcely necessary to enter into them here. Aram, assisted by a man named Houseman, it may be remembered, murdered Clarke for the sake of his wealth, and hid the body in St Robert’s cave, near Knaresborough. There it remained from 1745 till 1759, when it was accidentally discovered by a labourer. Close examination led to the conclusion that the body, or rather the skeleton, was that of a murdered man, and when the mysterious and almost forgotten disappearance of Clarke was remembered, steps were taken to arrest his quondam companions Aram and Houseman. The latter turned king’s evidence, and on his testimony Aram was executed, leaving a shady memory to be invested with undeserved romance by a poet and a novelist of the following century.

Researches into modern criminal records also reveal a number of interesting cases similar to those cited above. A few years ago a Pole named Lipski was convicted in London of the murder of a woman. Strenuous efforts were made to obtain a pardon, on the ground that he had been wrongly convicted, but the solitary fact on which the Home Secretary decided to allow the law to take its course was that the door of the room had been locked in which the woman was found murdered, with Lipski himself hiding under the bed. And in tracing the Muswell Hill murder to its authors, the police were aided in their endeavours by the discovery of a common lantern which had been left on the scene of the crime. It was supposed to belong to a relative of one of the suspected men, and in order to verify this important link in the chain of evidence, a youthful agent of the detective force was employed to spin his top in front of the supposed owner’s house, engage him in conversation if possible, and obtain evidence of the ownership of the lantern. The result was completely satisfactory; the suspicions of the police were confirmed, and the murderers brought to justice, mainly, it may be said, through the lantern’s silent testimony.

Another case of murder, which occurred in 1806, was brought home in a singular and complete manner. A Deptford gentleman, named Blight, was killed by a pistol-shot, and Sir Astley Cooper, from an examination of the victim’s wounds and of the place of his murder, arrived at the opinion that none other than a left-handed man could have committed the crime. Acting on this conclusion the police arrested one Patch, who had been seen in the locality. When Patch was asked to hold up his hand to plead the indictment, he put up his left hand. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty, and before execution the criminal made full confession of his terrible deed.

Dreams also have played no inconsiderable part in the discovery of crime. We have not space in the present article to notice all trials where dream-evidence has been offered to the court; a brief notice of those cases in which it has had an important bearing must suffice. The most notorious instance, of course, is that of Maria Martin, the victim of the Red Barn tragedy. After her departure from home, in order, as was supposed, to many William Corder, nothing, either by way of letters, or otherwise, was heard of her, except brief mention in Corder’s communications. Nearly twelve months passed, when Mrs. Martin was startled and horrified by dreaming, on three successive nights, that Maria had been murdered and buried in the Red Barn. After much persuasion her husband and son consented to search the place, and there, in the exact spot indicated by Mrs. Martin as having been pointed out in her dreams, was found the body of her missing daughter, buried under the flooring in a sack.

Mention may also be made of the case of Ulick Maguire, an Irish farmer, whose wife dreamed that her husband had been murdered by a disappointed lover of hers, named O’Flanagan. A few days later an idiot boy, who lived in the house, was heard shrieking in terror: “Shanus dhu more O’Flanagan (big black James) has kilt Ulick, and buried him under the new ditch at the back of the garden. I dhramed it last night, evry wurrd av it.” The singular coincidence of the lad’s dream with her own excited Mrs. Maguire’s suspicions to the utmost, especially as her husband was away from home at the time. She ordered a search at the particular spot mentioned by the idiot boy, and there, to her horror, was found the body of Ulick, with the skull cleft in twain. Immediate request was made for “big black James.” He had absconded and enlisted in the army, but on being charged with the crime he admitted his guilt, and suffered the penalty of death.

In one instance, by far the most wonderful of its kind, the victim of a murder has appeared in successive dreams, and played the part of detective with admirable skill and effectiveness. A Grub Street victualler, named Stockton, was murdered towards the close of the seventeenth century. Three men were suspected of the crime, but neither of them could be discovered, and the affair seemed likely to become one of the mysteries of crime, when a Mrs. Greenwood dreamed that Stockton, who had been a neighbour during life, had taken her to a house in Thomas Street, telling her that his murderer was inside. On going to the house in person Mrs. Greenwood was told that Maynard, one of the suspected men, had gone abroad. The following night Stockton appeared and showed her the features of Maynard, and gave her such particulars of the man’s habits and resorts that he was captured within a few hours. From Maynard the names of his partners in guilt, Bevel and Marsh, were obtained, but again the authorities were at fault, until Stockton indicated the house where Marsh visited, and the yard (afterwards discovered to be the yard of Marshalsea Prison) in which Bevel would be found. From a crowd of other prisoners Mrs. Greenwood identified Bevel, and shortly afterwards, through her strange testimony, Marsh also was arrested. Then, as an old chronicle of the case affirms, Stockton appeared for the last time, and thanked her for her good offices. We have given the story as it has come down through two centuries; a whole body of clergymen attested its accuracy at the time, and present-day enquirers would have great difficulty, we imagine, in conclusively proving that the murder of Stockton was traced by other and less extraordinary means.

Closely allied to the evidence furnished by dreams, and indeed, as in the foregoing case of Stockton, sometimes barely distinguishable from it, is that offered by ghosts, actually seen by witnesses in a waking, but hallucinatory, state. Such evidence would scarcely be admissable in modern courts of law, but in past ages it was freely employed, and has served to bring criminals to the gallows. It must be admitted that the other testimony against the accused was strong, but in numerous instances ghosts have been instrumental in putting the officials on to a clue or track which they would most likely never have discovered by their own unaided efforts. In his “History of Durham,” Surtees mentions the case of Anne Walker, who lived in 1630, and had become engaged in an intrigue with a relative of the same name. The girl was placed for a time under the care of a friend in a neighbouring village, but one night she was removed from there by Walker and a man named Sharp. From that date no one saw her alive. A fortnight afterwards, Graime, a fuller, was terrified by the appearance in his mill of Anne Walker’s ghost, “dishevelled, blood-stained, and with five wounds in her head.” She told him the whole story of her murder; how Sharp had killed her with a collier’s pick, and then thrown her body down a shaft. Graime hesitated to use this strangely acquired information. Apparently incensed at his delay, Anne Walker repeatedly appeared, and in order to rid himself of these visitations, the frightened fuller at length acquainted the authorities with his story. Immediate enquiry confirmed his statements in every particular. Walker and Sharp were arrested, charged with the murder of the girl, found guilty, and executed, though to the last they maintained their innocence of the crime.

A case, somewhat similar, has occurred even in the present century, and in matter-of-fact, new world Australia, where visions might be expected to be few and far between. The friends of a well-to-do settler near Sydney were surprised to hear from his steward that he had been suddenly called to England on important legal business. Remembering the vast wealth of the man, and the necessity for precautions in regard to it, they accepted the statement, and also recognised the steward’s control of the estate during his master’s absence. What was the astonishment, however, of one of these friends, when on riding over the estate he saw the owner, whom he thought to be in England, sitting on a neighbouring stile? The figure looked at him silently and sorrowfully, then walked towards a pond and disappeared. Drags were procured and the water searched, when the body of the absent owner was brought to the surface. Confronted with the corpse the steward confessed that he had murdered his master at the identical stile on which the ghost had sat.

Pierre le Loyer, a French writer on law and the supernatural, mentions in his “Discours des Spectres,” the case of a man who mysteriously vanished, having, as was supposed, been murdered. A few weeks later the ghost of the absentee appeared to his brother, took him to a lonely spot, and there pointed out where he had been murdered and buried by his own wife and her lover. Enraged at this domestic perfidy and wickedness the brother denounced his sister-in-law, and on his testimony she was condemned to be strangled and her body afterwards burned.

About half a century ago a peculiar case of fraud was disclosed by remarkable means during the hearing of a law-suit in Tuscany. The decision of the court turned on the point whether a certain word had been erased from a particular document of importance. Chemical processes were alleged to have been employed, and acting on scientific knowledge one of the lawyers proposed that the document should be heated, as thereby a slight difference of shade or colouring between the paper and the letters supposed to have been removed might become visible. Permission was given to try the experiment, and on the application of heat the important word in question immediately appeared, and the court gave a verdict in accordance with this ingeniously devised testimony.

Since that time the progress and development of science have enabled criminal investigation to be conducted by methods which would otherwise be impossible, and with almost unerring certainty and decision. The microscope and the spectroscope have been employed in numerous cases of murder and forgery where less subtle means of discovery would have proved useless; chemical analysis has become an important agent of detection, while photography has also rendered signal service in the cause of justice. We may not have concerned ourselves with the numerous methods by which bank-note forgeries are detected; hitherto our references have been mainly to the more serious crime of murder, and with a few instances of this character brought to light through modern science our list must close.

Although, generally speaking, the microscope cannot discern any difference between the blood of man and that of other mammalia, yet the merest examination suffices to show the difference between mammalian blood and that of birds, reptiles, or fishes. In the one case the red blood corpuscles are round, and without a nucleus; in the other they are oval and nucleated. On this fact the evidence for a prisoner at Chelmsford charged with murder was completely rebutted. Blood stains had been found on his clothes, which, according to his counsel, had been caused by chicken’s blood. But the prosecution brought forward a microscopist, who stated that the blood stains were mammalian, and on this testimony the plea of the prisoner was rejected. In the following year, and at the same assizes, the testimony against a man charged with murder was strengthened by the microscopical discovery of cotton fibres on a certain weapon, which he was said to have used, while the murderers of a man who had been kicked to death were convicted on the evidence of two doctors, who found on the boots of the accused a number of hairs corresponding with the hair on the head of the victim. Evidence of this kind is becoming of extreme importance. Hardly a serious crime is investigated without the application of one or other of these scientific methods of detection, and with each success the career of the criminal becomes increasingly difficult and arduous, and his chances of success more remote. Of remarkable discoveries of crime the microscope, the camera, and the spectroscope furnish the most subtle instances, and it is quite possible that before long other methods of investigation, founded on the most recent scientific achievements, will also be brought into operation. The phonograph and the Röntgen rays are only waiting their turn to serve in the cause of justice.

+

Letter of the Law

by Alan E. Nourse

THE place was dark and damp, and smelled like moldy leaves. Meyerhoff followed the huge, bear-like Altairian guard down the slippery flagstones of the corridor, sniffing the dead, musty air with distaste. He drew his carefully tailored Terran-styled jacket closer about his shoulders, shivering as his eyes avoided the black, yawning cell-holes they were passing. His foot slipped on the slimy flags from time to time, and finally he paused to wipe the caked mud from his trouser leg. “How much farther is it?” he shouted angrily.

The guard waved a heavy paw vaguely into the blackness ahead. Quite suddenly the corridor took a sharp bend, and the Altairian stopped, producing a huge key ring from some obscure fold of his hairy hide. “I still don’t see any reason for all the fuss,” he grumbled in a wounded tone. “We’ve treated him like a brother.”

One of the huge steel doors clicked open. Meyerhoff peered into the blackness, catching a vaguely human outline against the back wall. “Harry?” he called sharply.

There was a startled gasp from within, and a skinny, gnarled little man suddenly appeared in the guard’s light, like a grotesque, twisted ghost out of the blackness. Wide blue eyes regarded Meyerhoff from beneath uneven black eyebrows, and then the little man’s face broke into a crafty grin. “Paul! So they sent you! I knew I could count on it!” He executed a deep, awkward bow, motioning Meyerhoff into the dark cubicle. “Not much to offer you,” he said slyly, “but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.”

Meyerhoff scowled, and turned abruptly to the guard. “We’ll have some privacy now, if you please. Interplanetary ruling. And leave us the light.”

The guard grumbled, and started for the door. “It’s about time you showed up!” cried the little man in the cell. “Great day! Lucky they sent you, pal. Why, I’ve been in here for years—”

“Look, Zeckler, the name is Meyerhoff, and I’m not your pal,” Meyerhoff snapped. “And you’ve been here for two weeks, three days, and approximately four hours. You’re getting as bad as your gentle guards when it comes to bandying the truth around.” He peered through the dim light at the gaunt face of the prisoner. Zeckler’s face was dark with a week’s beard, and his bloodshot eyes belied the cocky grin on his lips. His clothes were smeared and sodden, streaked with great splotches of mud and moss. Meyerhoff’s face softened a little. “So Harry Zeckler’s in a jam again,” he said. “You look as if they’d treated you like a brother.”

The little man snorted. “These overgrown teddy-bears don’t know what brotherhood means, nor humanity, either. Bread and water I’ve been getting, nothing more, and then only if they feel like bringing it down.” He sank wearily down on the rock bench along the wall. “I thought you’d never get here! I sent an appeal to the Terran Consulate the first day I was arrested. What happened? I mean, all they had to do was get a man over here, get the extradition papers signed, and provide transportation off the planet for me. Why so much time? I’ve been sitting here rotting—” He broke off in mid-sentence and stared at Meyerhoff. “You brought the papers, didn’t you? I mean, we can leave now?”

Meyerhoff stared at the little man with a mixture of pity and disgust. “You are a prize fool,” he said finally. “Did you know that?”

Zeckler’s eyes widened. “What do you mean, fool? So I spend a couple of weeks in this pneumonia trap. The deal was worth it! I’ve got three million credits sitting in the Terran Consulate on Altair V, just waiting for me to walk in and pick them up. Three million credits—do you hear? That’s enough to set me up for life!”

Meyerhoff nodded grimly. “If you live long enough to walk in and pick them up, that is.”

“What do you mean, if?”

Meyerhoff sank down beside the man, his voice a tense whisper in the musty cell. “I mean that right now you are practically dead. You may not know it, but you are. You walk into a newly opened planet with your smart little bag of tricks, walk in here with a shaky passport and no permit, with no knowledge of the natives outside of two paragraphs of inaccuracies in the Explorer’s Guide, and even then you’re not content to come in and sell something legitimate, something the natives might conceivably be able to use. No, nothing so simple for you. You have to pull your usual high-pressure stuff. And this time, buddy, you’re paying the piper.”

You mean I’m not being extradited?

Meyerhoff grinned unpleasantly. “I mean precisely that. You’ve committed a crime here—a major crime. The Altairians are sore about it. And the Terran Consulate isn’t willing to sell all the trading possibilities here down the river just to get you out of a mess. You’re going to stand trial—and these natives are out to get you. Personally, I think they’re going to get you.”

Zeckler stood up shakily. “You can’t believe anything the natives say,” he said uneasily. “They’re pathological liars. Why, you should see what they tried to sell me! You’ve never seen such a pack of liars as these critters.” He glanced up at Meyerhoff. “They’ll probably drop a little fine on me and let me go.”

“A little fine of one Terran neck.” Meyerhoff grinned nastily. “You’ve committed the most heinous crime these creatures can imagine, and they’re going to get you for it if it’s the last thing they do. I’m afraid, my friend, that your con-man days are over.”

Zeckler fished in the other man’s pocket, extracted a cigarette, and lighted it with trembling fingers. “It’s bad, then,” he said finally.

“It’s bad, all right.”

Some shadow of the sly, elfin grin crept over the little con-man’s face. “Well, at any rate, I’m glad they sent you over,” he said weakly. “Nothing like a good lawyer to handle a trial.”

Lawyer? Not me! Oh, no. Sorry, but no thanks.” Meyerhoff chuckled. “I’m your advisor, old boy. Nothing else. I’m here to keep you from botching things up still worse for the Trading Commission, that’s all. I wouldn’t get tangled up in a mess with those creatures for anything!” He shook his head. “You’re your own lawyer, Mr. Super-salesman. It’s all your show. And you’d better get your head out of the sand, or you’re going to lose a case like it’s never been lost before!”


Meyerhoff watched the man’s pale face, and shook his head. In a way, he thought, it was a pity to see such a change in the rosy-cheeked, dapper, cocksure little man who had talked his way glibly in and out of more jams than Meyerhoff could count. Trading brought scalpers; it was almost inevitable that where rich and unexploited trading ground was uncovered, it would first fall prey to the fast-trading boys. They spread out from Terra with the first wave of exploration—the slick, fast-talking con-men who could work new territories unfettered by the legal restrictions that soon closed down the more established planets. The first men in were the richest out, and through some curious quirk of the Terrestrial mind, they knew they could count on Terran protection, however crooked and underhand their methods.

But occasionally a situation arose where the civilization and social practices of the alien victims made it unwise to tamper with them. Altair I had been recognized at once by the Trading Commission as a commercial prize of tremendous value, but early reports had warned of the danger of wildcat trading on the little, musty, jungle-like planet with its shaggy, three-eyed inhabitants—warned specifically against the confidence tactics so frequently used—but there was always somebody, Meyerhoff reflected sourly, who just didn’t get the word.

Zeckler puffed nervously on his cigarette, his narrow face a study in troubled concentration. “But I didn’t do anything!” he exploded finally. “So I pulled an old con game. So what? Why should they get so excited? So I clipped a few thousand credits, pulled a little fast business.” He shrugged eloquently, spreading his hands. “Everybody’s doing it. They do it to each other without batting an eye. You should see these critters operate on each other. Why, my little scheme was peanuts by comparison.”

Meyerhoff pulled a pipe from his pocket, and began stuffing the bowl with infinite patience. “And precisely what sort of con game was it?” he asked quietly.

Zeckler shrugged again. “The simplest, tiredest, moldiest old racket that ever made a quick nickel. Remember the old Terran gag about the Brooklyn Bridge? The same thing. Only these critters didn’t want bridges. They wanted land—this gooey, slimy swamp they call ‘farm land.’ So I gave them what they wanted. I just sold them some land.”

Meyerhoff nodded fiercely. “You sure did. A hundred square kilos at a swipe. Only you sold the same hundred square kilos to a dozen different natives.” Suddenly he threw back his hands and roared. “Of all the things you shouldn’t have done—”

“But what’s a chunk of land?”

Meyerhoff shook his head hopelessly. “If you hadn’t been so greedy, you’d have found out what a chunk of land was to these natives before you started peddling it. You’d have found out other things about them, too. You’d have learned that in spite of all their bumbling and fussing and squabbling they’re not so dull. You’d have found out that they’re marsupials, and that two out of five of them get thrown out of their mother’s pouch before they’re old enough to survive. You’d have realized that they have to start fighting for individual rights almost as soon as they’re born. Anything goes, as long as it benefits them as individuals.”

Meyerhoff grinned at the little man’s horrified face. “Never heard of that, had you? And you’ve never heard of other things, too. You’ve probably never heard that there are just too many Altairians here for the food their planet can supply, and their diet is so finicky that they just can’t live on anything that doesn’t grow here. And consequently, land is the key factor in their economy, not money; nothing but land. To get land, it’s every man for himself, and the loser starves, and their entire legal and monetary system revolves on that principle. They’ve built up the most confusing and impossible system of barter and trade imaginable, aimed at individual survival, with land as the value behind the credit. That explains the lying—of course they’re liars, with an economy like that. They’ve completely missed the concept of truth. Pathological? You bet they’re pathological! Only a fool would tell the truth when his life depended on his being a better liar than the next guy! Lying is the time-honored tradition, with their entire legal system built around it.”

Zeckler snorted. “But how could they possibly have a legal system? I mean, if they don’t recognize the truth when it slaps them in the face?”

Meyerhoff shrugged. “As we understand legal systems, I suppose they don’t have one. They have only the haziest idea what truth represents, and they’ve shrugged off the idea as impossible and useless.” He chuckled maliciously. “So you went out and found a chunk of ground in the uplands, and sold it to a dozen separate, self-centered, half-starved natives! Encroachment on private property is legal grounds for murder on this planet, and twelve of them descended on the same chunk of land at the same time, all armed with title-deeds.” Meyerhoff sighed. “You’ve got twelve mad Altairians in your hair. You’ve got a mad planet in your hair. And in the meantime, Terra’s most valuable uranium source in five centuries is threatening to cut off supply unless they see your blood splattered liberally all the way from here to the equator.”

Zeckler was visibly shaken. “Look,” he said weakly, “so I wasn’t so smart. What am I going to do? I mean, are you going to sit quietly by and let them butcher me? How could I defend myself in a legal setup like this?”

Meyerhoff smiled coolly. “You’re going to get your sly little con-man brain to working, I think,” he said softly. “By Interplanetary Rules, they have to give you a trial in Terran legal form—judge, jury, court procedure, all that folderol. They think it’s a big joke—after all, what could a judicial oath mean to them?—but they agreed. Only thing is, they’re going to hang you, if they die trying. So you’d better get those stunted little wits of yours clicking—and if you try to implicate me, even a little bit, I’ll be out of there so fast you won’t know what happened.”

With that Meyerhoff walked to the door. He jerked it inward sharply, and spilled two guards over on their faces. “Privacy,” he grunted, and started back up the slippery corridor.


It certainly looked like a courtroom, at any rate. In the front of the long, damp stone room was a bench, with a seat behind it, and a small straight chair to the right. To the left was a stand with twelve chairs—larger chairs, with a railing running along the front. The rest of the room was filled almost to the door with seats facing the bench. Zeckler followed the shaggy-haired guard into the room, nodding approvingly. “Not such a bad arrangement,” he said. “They must have gotten the idea fast.”

Meyerhoff wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and shot the little con-man a stony glance. “At least you’ve got a courtroom, a judge, and a jury for this mess. Beyond that—” He shrugged eloquently. “I can’t make any promises.”

In the back of the room a door burst open with a bang. Loud, harsh voices were heard as half a dozen of the huge Altairians attempted to push through the door at once. Zeckler clamped on the headset to his translator unit, and watched the hubbub in the anteroom with growing alarm. Finally the question of precedent seemed to be settled, and a group of the Altairians filed in, in order of stature, stalking across the room in flowing black robes, pug-nosed faces glowering with self-importance. They descended upon the jury box, grunting and scrapping with each other for the first-row seats, and the judge took his place with obvious satisfaction behind the heavy wooden bench. Finally, the prosecuting attorney appeared, flanked by two clerks, who took their places beside him. The prosecutor eyed Zeckler with cold malevolence, then turned and delivered a sly wink at the judge.

In a moment the room was a hubbub as it filled with the huge, bumbling, bear-like creatures, jostling each other and fighting for seats, growling and complaining. Two small fights broke out in the rear, but were quickly subdued by the group of gendarmes guarding the entrance. Finally the judge glared down at Zeckler with all three eyes, and pounded the bench top with a wooden mallet until the roar of activity subsided. The jurymen wriggled uncomfortably in their seats, exchanging winks, and finally turned their attention to the front of the court.

“We are reading the case of the people of Altair I,” the judge’s voice roared out, “against one Harry Zeckler—” he paused for a long, impressive moment—”Terran.” The courtroom immediately burst into an angry growl, until the judge pounded the bench five or six times more. “This—creature—is hereby accused of the following crimes,” the judge bellowed. “Conspiracy to overthrow the government of Altair I. Brutal murder of seventeen law-abiding citizens of the village of Karzan at the third hour before dawn in the second period after his arrival. Desecration of the Temple of our beloved Goddess Zermat, Queen of the Harvest. Conspiracy with the lesser gods to cause the unprecedented drought in the Dermatti section of our fair globe. Obscene exposure of his pouch-marks in a public square. Four separate and distinct charges of jail-break and bribery—” The judge pounded the bench for order—”Espionage with the accursed scum of Altair II in preparation for interplanetary invasion.”

The little con-man’s jaw sagged lower and lower, the color draining from his face. He turned, wide-eyed, to Meyerhoff, then back to the judge.

“The Chairman of the Jury,” said the Judge succinctly, “will read the verdict.”

The little native in the front of the jury-box popped up like a puppet on a string. “Defendant found guilty on all counts,” he said.

“Defendant is guilty! The court will pronounce sentence—”

Now wait a minute!” Zeckler was on his feet, wild-eyed. “What kind of railroad job—”

The judge blinked disappointedly at Paul Meyerhoff. “Not yet?” he asked, unhappily.

“No.” Meyerhoff’s hands twitched nervously. “Not yet, Your Honor. Later, Your Honor. The trial comes first.”

The judge looked as if his candy had been stolen. “But you said I should call for the verdict.”

“Later. You have to have the trial before you can have the verdict.”

The Altairian shrugged indifferently. “Now—later—” he muttered.

“Have the prosecutor call his first witness,” said Meyerhoff.

Zeckler leaned over, his face ashen. “These charges,” he whispered. “They’re insane!”

“Of course they are,” Meyerhoff whispered back.

“But what am I going to—”

“Sit tight. Let them set things up.”

“But those lies. They’re liars, the whole pack of them—” He broke off as the prosecutor roared a name.

The shaggy brute who took the stand was wearing a bright purple hat which sat rakishly over one ear. He grinned the Altairian equivalent of a hungry grin at the prosecutor. Then he cleared his throat and started. “This Terran riffraff—”

“The oath,” muttered the judge. “We’ve got to have the oath.”

The prosecutor nodded, and four natives moved forward, carrying huge inscribed marble slabs to the front of the court. One by one the chunks were reverently piled in a heap at the witness’s feet. The witness placed a huge, hairy paw on the cairn, and the prosecutor said, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you—” he paused to squint at the paper in his hand, and finished on a puzzled note, “—Goddess?”

The witness removed the paw from the rock pile long enough to scratch his ear. Then he replaced it, and replied, “Of course,” in an injured tone.

“Then tell this court what you have seen of the activities of this abominable wretch.”

The witness settled back into the chair, fixing one eye on Zeckler’s face, another on the prosecutor, and closing the third as if in meditation. “I think it happened on the fourth night of the seventh crossing of Altair II (may the Goddess cast a drought upon it)—or was it the seventh night of the fourth crossing?—” he grinned apologetically at the judge—”when I was making my way back through town toward my blessed land-plot, minding my own business, Your Honor, after weeks of bargaining for the crop I was harvesting. Suddenly from the shadow of the building, this creature—” he waved a paw at Zeckler—”stopped me in my tracks with a vicious cry. He had a weapon I’d never seen before, and before I could find my voice he forced me back against the wall. I could see by the cruel glint in his eyes that there was no warmth, no sympathy in his heart, that I was—”

“Objection!” Zeckler squealed plaintively, jumping to his feet. “This witness can’t even remember what night he’s talking about!”

The judge looked startled. Then he pawed feverishly through his bundle of notes. “Overruled,” he said abruptly. “Continue, please.”

The witness glowered at Zeckler. “As I was saying before this loutish interruption,” he muttered, “I could see that I was face to face with the most desperate of criminal types, even for Terrans. Note the shape of his head, the flabbiness of his ears. I was petrified with fear. And then, helpless as I was, this two-legged abomination began to shower me with threats of evil to my blessed home, dark threats of poisoning my land unless I would tell him where he could find the resting place of our blessed Goddess—”

“I never saw him before in my life,” Zeckler moaned to Meyerhoff. “Listen to him! Why should I care where their Goddess—”

Meyerhoff gave him a stony look. “The Goddess runs things around here. She makes it rain. If it doesn’t rain, somebody’s insulted her. It’s very simple.”

“But how can I fight testimony like that?”

“I doubt if you can fight it.”

“But they can’t prove a word of it—” He looked at the jury, who were listening enraptured to the second witness on the stand. This one was testifying regarding the butcherous slaughter of eighteen (or was it twenty-three? Oh, yes, twenty-three) women and children in the suburban village of Karzan. The pogrom, it seemed, had been accomplished by an energy weapon which ate great, gaping holes in the sides of buildings. A third witness took the stand, continuing the drone as the room grew hotter and muggier. Zeckler grew paler and paler, his eyes turning glassy as the testimony piled up. “But it’s not true,” he whispered to Meyerhoff.

“Of course it isn’t! Can’t you understand? These people have no regard for truth. It’s stupid, to them, silly, a mark of low intelligence. The only thing in the world they have any respect for is a liar bigger and more skillful than they are.”

Zeckler jerked around abruptly as he heard his name bellowed out. “Does the defendant have anything to say before the jury delivers the verdict?”

“Do I have—” Zeckler was across the room in a flash, his pale cheeks suddenly taking on a feverish glow. He sat down gingerly on the witness chair, facing the judge, his eyes bright with fear and excitement. “Your—Your Honor, I—I have a statement to make which will have a most important bearing on this case. You must listen with the greatest care.” He glanced quickly at Meyerhoff, and back to the judge. “Your Honor,” he said in a hushed voice. “You are in gravest of danger. All of you. Your lives—your very land is at stake.”

The judge blinked, and shuffled through his notes hurriedly as a murmur arose in the court. “Our land?”

“Your lives, your land, everything you hold dear,” Zeckler said quickly, licking his lips nervously. “You must try to understand me—” he glanced apprehensively over his shoulder “now, because I may not live long enough to repeat what I am about to tell you—”

The murmur quieted down, all ears straining in their headsets to hear his words. “These charges,” he continued, “all of them—they’re perfectly true. At least, they seem to be perfectly true. But in every instance, I was working with heart and soul, risking my life, for the welfare of your beautiful planet.”

There was a loud hiss from the back of the court. Zeckler frowned and rubbed his hands together. “It was my misfortune,” he said, “to go to the wrong planet when I first came to Altair from my homeland on Terra. I—I landed on Altair II, a grave mistake, but as it turned out, a very fortunate error. Because in attempting to arrange trading in that frightful place, I made certain contacts.” His voice trembled, and sank lower. “I learned the horrible thing which is about to happen to this planet, at the hands of those barbarians. The conspiracy is theirs, not mine. They have bribed your Goddess, flattered her and lied to her, coerced her all-powerful goodness to their own evil interests, preparing for the day when they could persuade her to cast your land into the fiery furnace of a ten-year-drought—”

Somebody in the middle of the court burst out laughing. One by one the natives nudged one another, and booed, and guffawed, until the rising tide of racket drowned out Zeckler’s words. “The defendant is obviously lying,” roared the prosecutor over the pandemonium. “Any fool knows that the Goddess can’t be bribed. How could she be a Goddess if she could?”

Zeckler grew paler. “But—perhaps they were very clever—”

“And how could they flatter her, when she knows, beyond doubt, that she is the most exquisitely radiant creature in all the Universe? And you dare to insult her, drag her name in the dirt.”

The hisses grew louder, more belligerent. Cries of “Butcher him!” and “Scald his bowels!” rose from the courtroom. The judge banged for silence, his eyes angry.

“Unless the defendant wishes to take up more of our precious time with these ridiculous lies, the jury—”

“Wait! Your Honor, I request a short recess before I present my final plea.”

“Recess?”

“A few moments to collect my thoughts, to arrange my case.”

The judge settled back with a disgusted snarl. “Do I have to?” he asked Meyerhoff.

Meyerhoff nodded. The judge shrugged, pointing over his shoulder to the anteroom. “You can go in there,” he said.

Somehow, Zeckler managed to stumble from the witness stand, amid riotous boos and hisses, and tottered into the anteroom.


Zeckler puffed hungrily on a cigarette, and looked up at Meyerhoff with haunted eyes. “It—it doesn’t look so good,” he muttered.

Meyerhoff’s eyes were worried, too. For some reason, he felt a surge of pity and admiration for the haggard con-man. “It’s worse than I’d anticipated,” he admitted glumly. “That was a good try, but you just don’t know enough about them and their Goddess.” He sat down wearily. “I don’t see what you can do. They want your blood, and they’re going to have it. They just won’t believe you, no matter how big a lie you tell.”

Zeckler sat in silence for a moment. “This lying business,” he said finally, “exactly how does it work?”

“The biggest, most convincing liar wins. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how outlandish a whopper you tell. Unless, of course, they’ve made up their minds that you just naturally aren’t as big a liar as they are. And it looks like that’s just what they’ve done. It wouldn’t make any difference to them what you say—unless, somehow, you could make them believe it.”

Zeckler frowned. “And how do they regard the—the biggest liar? I mean, how do they feel toward him?”

Meyerhoff shifted uneasily. “It’s hard to say. It’s been my experience that they respect him highly—maybe even fear him a little. After all, the most convincing liar always wins in any transaction, so he gets more land, more food, more power. Yes, I think the biggest liar could go where he pleased without any interference.”

Zeckler was on his feet, his eyes suddenly bright with excitement. “Wait a minute,” he said tensely. “To tell them a lie that they’d have to believe—a lie they simply couldn’t help but believe—” He turned on Meyerhoff, his hands trembling. “Do they think the way we do? I mean, with logic, cause and effect, examining evidence and drawing conclusions? Given certain evidence, would they have to draw the same conclusions that we have to draw?”

Meyerhoff blinked. “Well—yes. Oh, yes, they’re perfectly logical.”

Zeckler’s eyes flashed, and a huge grin broke out on his sallow face. His thin body fairly shook. He started hopping up and down on one foot, staring idiotically into space. “If I could only think—” he muttered. “Somebody—somewhere—something I read.”

“Whatever are you talking about?”

“It was a Greek, I think—”

Meyerhoff stared at him. “Oh, come now. Have you gone off your rocker completely? You’ve got a problem on your hands, man.”

“No, no, I’ve got a problem in the bag!” Zeckler’s cheeks flushed. “Let’s go back in there—I think I’ve got an answer!”

The courtroom quieted the moment they opened the door, and the judge banged the gavel for silence. As soon as Zeckler had taken his seat on the witness stand, the judge turned to the head juryman. “Now, then,” he said with happy finality. “The jury—”

“Hold on! Just one minute more.”

The judge stared down at Zeckler as if he were a bug on a rock. “Oh, yes. You had something else to say. Well, go ahead and say it.”

Zeckler looked sharply around the hushed room. “You want to convict me,” he said softly, “in the worst sort of way. Isn’t that right?”

Eyes swung toward him. The judge broke into an evil grin. “That’s right.”

“But you can’t really convict me until you’ve considered carefully any statement I make in my own defense. Isn’t that right?”

The judge looked uncomfortable. “If you’ve got something to say, go ahead and say it.”

“I’ve got just one statement to make. Short and sweet. But you’d better listen to it, and think it out carefully before you decide that you really want to convict me.” He paused, and glanced slyly at the judge. “You don’t think much of those who tell the truth, it seems. Well, put this statement in your record, then.” His voice was loud and clear in the still room. “All Earthmen are absolutely incapable of telling the truth.

Puzzled frowns appeared on the jury’s faces. One or two exchanged startled glances, and the room was still as death. The judge stared at him, and then at Meyerhoff, then back. “But you”—he stammered. “You’re”—He stopped in mid-sentence, his jaw sagging.

One of the jurymen let out a little squeak, and fainted dead away. It took, all in all, about ten seconds for the statement to soak in.

And then pandemonium broke loose in the courtroom.


“Really,” said Harry Zeckler loftily, “it was so obvious I’m amazed that it didn’t occur to me first thing.” He settled himself down comfortably in the control cabin of the Interplanetary Rocket and grinned at the outline of Altair IV looming larger in the view screen.

Paul Meyerhoff stared stonily at the controls, his lips compressed angrily. “You might at least have told me what you were planning.”

“And take the chance of being overheard? Don’t be silly. It had to come as a bombshell. I had to establish myself as a liar—the prize liar of them all, but I had to tell the sort of lie that they simply could not cope with. Something that would throw them into such utter confusion that they wouldn’t dare convict me.” He grinned impishly at Meyerhoff. “The paradox of Epimenides the Cretan. It really stopped them cold. They knew I was an Earthmen, which meant that my statement that Earthmen were liars was a lie, which meant that maybe I wasn’t a liar, in which case—oh, it was tailor-made.”

“It sure was.” Meyerhoff’s voice was a snarl.

“Well, it made me out a liar in a class they couldn’t approach, didn’t it?”

Meyerhoff’s face was purple with anger. “Oh, indeed it did! And it put all Earthmen in exactly the same class, too.”

“So what’s honor among thieves? I got off, didn’t I?”

Meyerhoff turned on him fiercely. “Oh, you got off just fine. You scared the living daylights out of them. And in an eon of lying they never have run up against a short-circuit like that. You’ve also completely botched any hope of ever setting up a trading alliance with Altair I, and that includes uranium, too. Smart people don’t gamble with loaded dice. You scared them so badly they don’t want anything to do with us.”

Zeckler’s grin broadened, and he leaned back luxuriously. “Ah, well. After all, the Trading Alliance was your outlook, wasn’t it? What a pity!” He clucked his tongue sadly. “Me, I’ve got a fortune in credits sitting back at the consulate waiting for me—enough to keep me on silk for quite a while, I might say. I think I’ll just take a nice, long vacation.”

Meyerhoff turned to him, and a twinkle of malignant glee appeared in his eyes. “Yes, I think you will. I’m quite sure of it, in fact. Won’t cost you a cent, either.”

“Eh?”

Meyerhoff grinned unpleasantly. He brushed an imaginary lint fleck from his lapel, and looked up at Zeckler slyly. “That—uh—jury trial. The Altairians weren’t any too happy to oblige. They wanted to execute you outright. Thought a trial was awfully silly—until they got their money back, of course. Not too much—just three million credits.”

Zeckler went white. “But that money was in banking custody!”

“Is that right? My goodness. You don’t suppose they could have lost those papers, do you?” Meyerhoff grinned at the little con-man. “And incidentally, you’re under arrest, you know.”

A choking sound came from Zeckler’s throat. “Arrest!

“Oh, yes. Didn’t I tell you? Conspiring to undermine the authority of the Terran Trading Commission. Serious charge, you know. Yes, I think we’ll take a nice long vacation together, straight back to Terra. And there I think you’ll face a jury trial.”

Zeckler spluttered. “There’s no evidence—you’ve got nothing on me! What kind of a frame are you trying to pull?”

“A lovely frame. Airtight. A frame from the bottom up, and you’re right square in the middle. And this time—” Meyerhoff tapped a cigarette on his thumb with happy finality—”this time I don’t think you’ll get off.”

+

An Integrated Platform for Bio-Analysis and Drug Delivery

 

The advances in the microelectronics fabrication allow the strong appearance of micro-electro-mechanical systems known as MEMS. MEMS enable the fabrication of smaller devices that are manufactured using standard microfabrication techniques similar to the ones that are used to create computer silicon chips. Several MEMS devices including micro-reservoirs, micro-pumps, cantilevers, rotors, channels, valves, sensors, and other structures have been designed, fabricated and tested from using materials that have been demonstrated to be biocompatible. This paper reviews the status of Micro-electronic and MEMS systems that can be used for adaptive drug administration. It presents different components and describes a possible implementation. Finally it presents a prototype that is termed ipill which stands intelligent pill.

 

Seoud Amer, Wael Badawy, “An Integrated Platform for Bio-Analysis and Drug Delivery,” Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology,, Volume 6, Issue 1, February 2005, pp. 57 – 64.

+

An Efficient Architecture for a Lifted 2D Biorthogonal DWT

 

This paper presents a new algorithm for a 2D non-separable lifted bi-orthogonal wavelet transform. The algorithm is derived by factoring complementary pairs of wavelet transform 2D filters. The results are efficient architectures for real time signal processing, which do not require transpose memory for the 2D processing of data. The proposed architecture exploits in place implementation, inherit from the algorithm, and can take advantage of both vertical and horizontal parallelism in the direct implementation. The processing in our architecture is scheduled by carefully pipelining the lifted steps, which allows for up to four times faster processing than the direct implementation. The proposed architecture operates at high speed, consumes low power and has reduced computational complexity as compared to previously published filter and lifted based bi-orthogonal wavelet architectures.

 

Mehboob Alam , Wael Badawy, Vassil Dimitrov and Graham Jullien, “An Efficient Architecture for a Lifted 2D Biorthogonal DWT,” The Journal of VLSI Signal Processing , Volume 40, Issue 3, July 2005, pp. 335 – 342

+

Analog IP Reuse in Nano Technologies, design and reuse

Analog IP Reuse in Nano Technologies

Sherif Hammouda, Hazem Said, Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Tawfik, Quang Nguyen, Wael Badawy, Hazem Abbas, Hussein Shaheen, “Analog IP Reuse in Nano Technologies, design and reuse,” April 6, 2006.

+

A Proposed Hardware Reference Model for Spatial Transformation and Quantization in H.264,

 

This paper presents three Very Large Scale Integration prototypes to exploit spatial redundancy in the H.264 standard. The proposed architectures are: (1) forward 4 × 4 integer approximation of DCT transform and quantization, which is applied to all blocks of a frame, (2) the 4 × 4 Hadamard transform and quantization that is applied to the DC coefficients of the luma component when the macroblock is encoded in 16 × 16 intra prediction mode, and (3) the 2 × 2 Hadamard transform and quantization that is applied to the DC coefficients of the chroma component as a second level in the transformation hierarchy. The developed algorithms are adopted by the H.264 standard. A performance analysis shows that the architectures satisfy the real-time constraints required by different digital video applications.

 

I. Amer, W. Badawy, G. Jullien, “A Proposed Hardware Reference Model for Spatial Transformation and Quantization in H.264,” Elsevier Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation, Volume 17, Issue 2, April 2006, Pages 533-552.

+

A Computational Memory Architecture for MPEG-4 Applications with Mobile Devices

 

This paper presents a Computational Memory architecture for MPEG-4 applications with mobile devices. The proposed architecture is used for real-time block-based motion estimation, which is the most computational intensive task in the video encoder. It uses the exhaustive block-matching algorithm (EBMA) for motion estimation. The proposed architecture consists of embedded SRAMs and a number of block-matching units working in parallel to process video data while stored in the memory. The block-matching units access the embedded SRAMs simultaneously, which increases the speed of the architecture.

The architecture processes CIF format video sequences (i.e., the frame size is 352 × 288 pixels) with block size of 16 × 16 pixels and ±15 pixels search range. The proposed architecture has been designed, prototyped, and simulated for 0.18 μm TSMC CMOS technology. The simulation shows that the proposed architectures processes up to 126 CIF frames per second with clock frequency 100 MHz. The synthesized prototype of the proposed architecture includes 200 KB memory and it has an area of 33.75 mm2 and consumes 986.96 mW @100 MHz.

Mohammed Sayed , Wael Badawy, “A Computational Memory Architecture for MPEG-4 Applications with Mobile Devices,” Journal of VLSI Signal Processing Systems for Signal, Image and Video Technology – Special Issue on Digital and Computational Video , Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 35-42, January 2006.

+

An Affine Based Algorithm and SIMD Architecture for Video Compression with Low Bit-rate Applications

This paper presents a new affine-based algorithm and SIMD architecture for video compression with low bit rate applications. The proposed algorithm is used for mesh-based motion estimation and it is named mesh-based square-matching algorithm (MB-SMA). The MB-SMA is a simplified version of the hexagonal matching algorithm [1]. In this algorithm, right-angled triangular mesh is used to benefit from a multiplication free algorithm presented in [2] for computing the affine parameters. The proposed algorithm has lower computational cost than the hexagonal matching algorithm while it produces almost the same peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) values. The MB-SMA outperforms the commonly used motion estimation algorithms in terms of computational cost, efficiency and video quality (i.e., PSNR). The MB-SMA is implemented using an SIMD architecture in which a large number of processing elements has been embedded with SRAM blocks to utilize the large internal memory bandwidth. The proposed architecture needs 26.9 ms to process one CIF video frame. Therefore, it can process 37 CIF frames/s. The proposed architecture has been prototyped using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) 0.18-μm CMOS technology and the embedded SRAMs have been generated using Virage Logic memory compiler.

Published in:

Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 4 )

Back to  a complete list of Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

Mohammed Sayed , Wael Badawy, “An Affine Based Algorithm and SIMD Architecture for Video Compression with Low Bit-rate Applications“, IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, Vol. 16, Issue 4, pp. 457-471, April 2006. Abstract