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Guilty As Charged
by [?]

The Jew, I take it, is essentially temperamental, whereas the Irishman is by nature sentimental; so that in the long run both of them may reach the same results by varying mental routes. This, however, has nothing to do with the story I am telling here, except inferentially.

It was trial day at headquarters. To be exact, it was the tail end of trial day at headquarters. The mills of the police gods, which grind not so slowly but ofttimes exceeding fine, were about done with their grinding; and as the last of the grist came through the hopper, the last of the afternoon sunlight came sifting in through the windows at the west, thin and pale as skim milk. One after another the culprits, patrolmen mainly, had been arraigned on charges preferred by a superior officer, who was usually a lieutenant or a captain, but once in a while an inspector, full-breasted and gold-banded, like a fat blue bumblebee. In due turn each offender had made his defense; those who were lying about it did their lying, as a rule, glibly and easily and with a certain bogus frankness very pleasing to see. Contrary to a general opinion, the Father of Lies is often quite good to his children. But those who were telling the truth were frequently shamefaced and mumbling of speech, making poor impressions.

In due turn, also, each man had been convicted or had been acquitted, yet all–the proven innocent and the adjudged guilty alike–had undergone punishment, since they all had to sit and listen to lectures on police discipline and police manners from the trial deputy. It was perhaps as well for the peace and good order of the community that the public did not attend these seances. Those classes now that are the most thoroughly and most personally governed–the pushcart pedlers, with the permanent cringing droops in their alien backs; the sinful small boys, who play baseball in the streets against the statutes made and provided; the broken old wrecks, who ambush the prosperous passer-by in the shadows of dark corners, begging for money with which to keep body and soul together–it was just as well perhaps that none of them was admitted there to see these large, firm, stern men in uniform wriggling on the punishment chair, fumbling at their buttons, explaining, whining, even begging for mercy under the lashing flail of Third Deputy Commissioner Donohue’s sleety judgments.

“The only time old Donny warms up is when he’s got a grudge against you,” a wit of headquarters–Larry Magee by name–had said once as he came forth from the ordeal, brushing imaginary hailstones off his shoulders. “It’s always snowing hard in his soul!”

Unlike most icy-tempered men, though, Third Deputy Commissioner Donohue was addicted to speech. Dearly he loved to hear the sound of his own voice. Give to Donohue a congenial topic, such as some one’s official or personal shortcomings, and a congenial audience, and he excelled mightily in saw-edged oratory, rolling his r’s until the tortured consonants fairly lay on their backs and begged for mercy.

This, however, would have to be said for Deputy Commissioner Donohue–he was a hard one to fool. Himself a grayed ex-private of the force, who had climbed from the ranks step by step through slow and devious stages, he was coldly aware of every trick and device of the delinquent policeman. A new and particularly ingenious subterfuge, one that tasted of the fresh paint, might win his begrudged admiration–his gray flints of eyes would strike off sparks of grim appreciation; but then, nearly always, as though to discourage originality even in lying, he would plaster on the penalty–and the lecture–twice as thick. Wherefore, because of all these things, the newspaper men at headquarters viewed this elderly disciplinarian with mixed professional emotions. Presiding over a trial day, he made abundant copy for them, which was very good; but if the case were an important one he often prolonged it until they missed getting the result into their final editions, which, if you know anything about final editions, was very, very bad.