Tom went home miserable, and his dreams that
night were full of horrors.
The next day and the day after, he hung around the court-room. He wanted to go
inside, but he forced himself to stay outside.
Huck was having the same experience. They avoided each other. From time to time,
they walked away, but the same sad, irresistible fascination always brought them
Tom kept his ears open when people came out of the court-room. The news was bad
and the future did not look good for poor Potter.
At the end of the second day the talk in the village was that Injun Joe's
evidence was solid, and that there was not the slightest question as to what the
jury's verdict would be.
Tom was out late that night, and came to bed through the window. He was very
excited. It took him hours to get to sleep.
The next morning, all the village went to the court-house. Both sexes were about
equally represented in the packed audience.
After a long wait the jury came in and took their places. Then, Potter, pale and
tired, timid and hopeless, was brought in, with chains on his legs and arms. He
sat down where all the curious eyes could see him.
Injun Joe was there too, looking calm and without emotion.
There was another pause, and then the judge arrived and the sheriff proclaimed
the opening of the court.
The usual whisperings among the lawyers and gathering together of papers
followed. These details and delays caused an atmosphere that was both impressive
A witness was called who testified that he found Muff Potter washing in the
stream the same morning that the murder was discovered, and then that he
immediately disappeared. After some further questioning, counsel for the
The prisoner raised his eyes for a moment, but looked down again when his own
"I have no questions to ask him."
The next witness admitted finding the knife near the dead body. The lawyer for
the prosecution said,
"I have no questions to ask him," Potter's lawyer replied.
A third witness said he had often seen the knife in Potter's possession.
Potter’s lawyer declined to question him. The faces of the audience began to
Did this lawyer intend to throw away his client's life without even trying?
Several witnesses said how guilty Potter seemed when he was brought to the scene
of the murder.
They were allowed to leave the stand without being cross-examined by Potter’s
Every detail of the damaging circumstances that happened in the graveyard that
morning which everyone remembered so well was confirmed by witnesses, but none
of them were cross-examined by Potter's lawyer.
The dissatisfaction of the public in the court was obvious.
The lawyer for the prosecution said,
"By the oaths of citizens whose simple word is above suspicion, we have proved
this awful crime, beyond all possibility of suspicion, against the unhappy
prisoner. We rest our case here."
Poor Potter put his face in his hands and his body moved backward and forward
softly, while a painful silence filled the court-room. Many men were moved, and
many women cried with compassion.
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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