After consulting with our counsel, the latter agreed that this was the best course to pursue; and so, rising, he informed the court that in his opinion no case had been made out against us and that we should, therefore, interpose no defence. This announcement caused a great stir in the court-room, and I could see by the faces of the jury that it was all up with us. I had already surrendered all hope of an acquittal and I looked upon the verdict of the jury as a mere formality.
"Proceed, then, with the summing up," ordered the judge. "I wish the jury to take this case and finish it to-night."
So, with that, our counsel began his argument in our behalf—a lame and halting effort it seemed to me, for all that we had paid him twenty-five thousand dollars for his services—pointing out how neither Dillingham nor Hawkins was worthy of belief, and how the case against us rested entirely upon their testimony and upon that of the clerk, who was an insignificant and unimportant witness injected simply for the sake of apparent corroboration. Faugh! I have heard Gottlieb make a better address to the jury a thousand times, and yet this man was supposed to be one of the best! Somehow throughout the trial he had seemed to me to be ill at ease and sick of his job, a mere puppet in the mummery going on about us; yet we had no choice but to let him continue his ill-concealed plea for mercy and his wretched rhetoric, until the judge stopped him and said that his time was up.
When the district attorney arose and the jury turned to him with uplifted faces, then, for the first time, I realized the real attitude of the community toward us; for in scathing terms he denounced us both as men not merely who defended criminals but who, in fact, created them; as plotters against the administration of justice; as arch-crooks, who lived off the proceeds of crimes which we devised and planned for others to execute. It was false and unfair; but the jury believed him—I could well see that.
"These men have made a fat living for nearly a generation in this city by blackmail, bribery, and perjury. They have made a business of ruining homes, reputations, and the lives of others. They have directed the operations of organized bands of criminals. They are the Fagins of the city of New York. Once the poor and defenceless have fallen into their power, they have extorted tribute from them and turned them into the paths of crime. Better that one of them should be convicted than a thousand of the miserable wretches ordinarily brought to the bar of justice!"
And in this strain he went on until he had bared Gottlieb and myself to our very souls. When he concluded there was a ripple of applause from the spectators that the court officers made little attempt to subdue; and the judge began his charge, which lasted but a few minutes. What he said was fair enough, and I had no mind to quarrel with him, although our counsel took many exceptions. The jury retired and my partner and I were led downstairs into the prison pen. It was crowded with miserable creatures waiting to be tried —negroes and Sicilians, thieves and burglars—who took keen delight in jostling us and foretelling what long sentences we were to receive. One negro kicked me in the shins and cursed me for being a shyster, and when I protested to the keeper he only laughed at me.
About half an hour later an officer came to the head of the stairs and shouted down:
"Bring up Gottlieb and Quibble!"
Our keeper unlocked the pen and, followed by the execrations of our associates, we stumbled up the stairs and into the court-room. Slowly we marched around to the bar, while every eye was fixed upon us. The jury was already back in the box and standing to render their decision. The clerk rapped for order and turned to the foreman.
"Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon a verdict?" he intoned.
"We have," answered the foreman unhesitatingly.
"How say you, do you find the defendants guilty or not guilty?"
"We find both of them guilty!" replied the foreman.
A slight shiver passed through Gottlieb's little body and for a moment the blood sang in my ears. No man can receive a verdict of guilty unperturbed, no matter how confidently expected. The crowd murmured their approval and the judge rapped for silence.
"Are you ready for sentence?" asked the judge.
We nodded. It was useless to prolong the agony.
"I have nothing to say to you," remarked the judge, "in addition to what the district attorney has said. He has fully expressed my own sentiments in this case. I regard you as vampires, sucking the blood of the weak, helpless, and criminal. Mercy would be out of place if extended toward you. I sentence you both to the full limit which the law allows—ten years in State's prison at hard labor."
An officer clapped us upon the back, faced us round toward the rear of the court-room, and pushed us toward the door leading to the prison pen, while another slipped a handcuff on my right wrist and snapped its mate on Gottlieb's left.
"Get on there," he growled, "where you belong!"
The crowds strained to get a look at us as, with averted faces, we trudged toward the door leading to the prison pen. Our lawyers had already hastened away to avoid any reflected ignominy that might attach to them. The jurymen were shaking hands with the district attorney.
"Adjourn court!" I heard the judge remark.
With a whoop, the spectators in the court-room crowded upon our heels and surged up to the grating before the door.
"There's Gottlieb!" cried one. "The little fellow!"
"And that's Quibble—the pale chap with the thin face!" said another.
"Damn you! Get out of the way!" I shouted threateningly.
"There go the shysters!" retorted the crowd. "Sing Sing's the best place for them!"
The keeper opened the door and motioned back the spectators. I staggered through, shackled to my partner and dragging him along with me. As the door clanged to I heard some one say:
"There goes the last of the firm of Gottlieb & Quibble!"