Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 150

ceedings are different,' or, 'In our country the accused is examined before
judgement is pronounced,' or 'In our country there are other penalties than
the death penalty,' or, 'In our country there have been no tortures since
the Middle Ages.' These are all observations that are as right as they
appear self-evident to you; innocent observations that do not touch my
procedure. But how will the commander take them? I can see him now,
our friend the commander, as he pushes his chair aside and hurries to the
balcony, I can see his ladies flocking after him, I can hear his voice-the
ladies call it a thunder voice-as he says: 'A great occidental researcher
designated to examine court proceedings in many countries, has just an–
nounced that our procedure in accordance with old customs is an inhuman
one. After this judgement, pronounced by such a distinguished man, it is
of course no longer possible for me to tolerate this method. Beginning
today, I therefore issue the following order-and so forth.' You want to
protest, you did not really say what he announces you did, you did not call
my method inhuman; on the contrary, in your innermost thoughts you
regard it as the most hunian and most worthy of humanity; you also admire
this mechanism-but it is too late; you can't even reach the balcony, which
is already crowded with ladies; you try to attract attention, you try to
shout, but a lady's hand holds your mouth shut-and I, and the old com–
mander's ·work, are lost.''
The explorer had to suppress a smile; so the task he had regarded as
being so difficult was really as easy as that. He said evasively, "You
overestimate my influence; the commander has read my letter of introduc–
tion; he knows that I am no connoisseur of court proceedings.
I were
to express an opinion, it would be the opinion of a private individual, of
no more importance than that of any one else, and certainly much less
important than that of the commander who, unless I am mistaken, has
very extensive powers in this penal colony.
his opinion concerning this
procedure is such a positive one as you believe, then, I am afraid that its
end is indeed here, without there being any need of my modest co·
Did the officer understand this? No, he did not yet understand. He
shook his head vigorously and threw a brief glance back at the con–
demned man and the soldier, who was startled and let go of the rice. The
officer came quite near the explorer, and without looking at him directly
but at something or other on his coat, said more softly than before: "You
don't know the commander; you are, as it were, under no obligations-if
you'll pardon my expression-to him, or to us all. Believe me, your in–
fluence cannot be too highly estimated. I was indeed delighted when I
heard that you were to attend the execution alone. This order of the com·
mander was aimed at me, but now I am going to turn it to my own advan–
tage. Uninfluenced by false insinuations and contemptuous looks-which
would have been inevitable with a larger attendance at the execution-you
have listened to my explanations, you have seen the machine and are now
about to witness the execution. Surely your judgement is already formed;
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