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A Nihilist Trial.

In the grey, dull light *jf the approaching morning (the verdict was to be given ab 2.30 a.m.) the-court-room'- looked *, strangely oppressive. Six candles, in silver candle-sticks, glimmering upon the - judges' table,.gaye it a lugubrious funereal f aspect. The closely-packed -people -if ere J' '-. almost-silent.; From the prisoners'-b6S*Jirs'i hum of suppressed voices came. The . , prisoners knew.that after the''sentence'^ they would be separated. They tried tp v , profit by the short time they .were to be: J together. Judging: -by the unbroken, rapid bilk, they were in good spirits. But the public could-not see ■ any of-'themV^Siß'', - they sat all six on wooden benches, sur-., rounded.-by .twelve gondarmcs with drawn *■ swords' on their shoulders. 'The^crowd ■■ ; outside the building, which the Bleepy/"' and exhausted policemen now left to.take care of itself, 'was rieitherjo patient' nor so calm. They represented the, most, turn bul^nt section of the population": "As a; part of thefloiterers, 'tired of the long wait* . ing,: withdrew, they were • broughj; into closer contact. A'handkerchief was raised at one of the windows.. A y.erdictl'f,-j shouted a voice "in the "crowcl. Distantly,'! all noise ceased,' and'thjl crowd pressed, forward.- . "" . ,„''/'.'■-/y Within, the voice of the usher was, anW " nouncing the last scene of the shameless farce. The tribunal was" about to enter and read the ; sentence^ A silence ; as <t oj death f«U upon the many headed crowd. One could almost hear the beating p(, so i A many hearts—some in agony of fear, some in the excitement of dramatic..tension. fj s One "by one the six members of,,thaY 3 tribunal appeared upon, the platform behind the long table lit by the six candles. Their troubled, worn-out looks were' suggestive rather of a great villainy fust ■ committed with full knowledge than of a */ : stern, though painful, duty/fulnlfed. The '"■-£■ six prisoners who faced them" were - certainly the calmer and more dignified of the two groups. They also rosefrom their - i seats when the tribunal was announced/ and now stood in full view, v • •• ■ •■-*. "'i " All eyes were riveted on the presiding •'—' judge, who, a white sheet of paper L in £tis '■]'■ •! hands, was about to=utter thefatal words, "; •: In,a voice of an unusually high pitch; he | 7;^ read the preamble,- which seemed to last'< -J« an eternity. At last the words of the sentence were uttered, sending an electric '-'■'•• thrill throughout the audience;- The;name;'■'; of Boris canitt first, followed by a~lbw mumbling, to which nobody paid attention- >-.■ it was "the eriumeration.of his. "offences/ J Then a short- pause land the: sentence-*-' death ! Though no one expected him to be spared, the word n feU upon strained nerves like the blow, of a hammer. Yasily's name followed with.a, mumb]ing{r less irksome, |or it was shorter,' and then ' another blow of the, hammer —death,! j.'{"; The nerves shiver,, but hold good. The V third on the roll is Zina, whose fate hap ;. been the most discussed, because themost; V; uncertain,, «The silence .deepened—iafeP-, ft or death ? life or death ? all asked in their ; hearts, whilst the~ hammer rjs,es higher.i. , and higher; then suspense,: and again ik'fi* falls with a crash—death !* A sigh, gathering into a groan, ran through $he hall.- All, even the most prejudicfcdlO. turned their eyes with unmixed'-ajmipathy upon that young, noble, beautiful woman standing so> calmly .• and-, modestly. Most had expected that'as a wpman^s^e-wpnid^^ be .spared. "The"", three." remaining prisoners were, so little oompromised,{they would be let off with a, nominal punishment. The mumbling affised ttp^-Bqtr. chardy's name, > which came7;next,jjwa« J£o such as to lull the inattentive audience to complete tranquility. ,Mos.fc, people- ;•,>' ceased to listen altogether, wKen suddenly a suspiOious quivering in-':the4 : ;'i judge's" voice, a short pause, and '■ tHftivf^ sentence —death!—resounded amidstLuni-'" " versal stupefaction. A wonderful ""*' ha!" escaped as ; though -.they <were V whetbot 1 they had riot misheard. "Many thanks, gentlemen:judges. !'j the of the condemned man resounds sneeringly. The judge had not the courage tc; call the;"/.;: prisoner to order, arid,.pretending^^not W Li. near, hastened on to the following name. * It was that of the elder sister^ Dudoroy. This time the publio "with strained attention, all-, the curcumlocition ; - and windings of. the olumsy summing-up \ of offences. There was- ,the; same - treacherous prolixify and abstruseness in ; the statement of motives^ Soineplirases -)', sounded ugly—doubts, alternated with } hopes, irritating men's nerves^ the ,ex-^, .„ tremity. The hammer was^hangirig in l! the air, now rising, nowsinkirig, and then rising again. Then the .blow was struck. , TJ at last; 'it was^—death 1 { ['- ,' ' ?".,""'".*:;:;,' i/rThe,' suppressed passion burst forth, '- • v On a sudden, shrieks, hysterical, cries of „,. women, groaiis, and curses filled theVair, - People jumped upon their seats, shouting ~J and gesticulating, as if they had.^gdae . mad on a sudden. It was a scene of disorder such as had, never before been witnessed within those walls. A good lady in the second tow —rthe wife pf~>the chairman of the Board—fainted from her' ' excitement. Upon the Bench the 1 disorder and confusion was hardly.less thanumqng—, .- the public. The ' presiding; jvdge, .the^ '" paleness of shame on his face, "strove 'to' face the storm. He failed .completely. He wished that the public should remain and listen to the encl.of,hia, „_ paper, which trenibled in . his. hand.. 3. Th,e sixtji of the prisoners, the younger „ of the sisters Dudoroy, in consideration of \-_ t her.youth, was death"' !'.' as, : the • prosecutor had .1 asked^but to -''f\ fifteen years'penal servitude.' They had; '; offered this sop to their ' slavish. 1 coni.'V;" sciences, and they wished their vact^ofV' -T courage to be'iriad,©,known, i But in tlfa r> , general uproar nobody ",ccpld catbh jonej J./ word of wKat was read,' 1 A^ youhlginan.''^"* opened the window, and, leaning ab.lft, ilr shouted to the people in the*street—/i To '-.'.' death! All seute^ed to death t":A^ threatening yell whs heard from the crowd, ; below, Sojne among the, representatives of the " loyal )'elg'meritftliought thjit,the crowd were about to storm the place,; and that they would be massacred wfo>tefi»V>|

n a fit d! panic they began to shriek and yell on their own account. The police officers appointed to watch outside rushed to the Judge. They confabulated for a moment; and the policemen rushed out by the back way. The President had ordered troops to be called out, and the streets to be cleared at any price. The judges slipped .out of sight, hiding themselves in the inner room, while the poncemen began to clear the hall.- From " The Career of a Nihilist,'? by Stepniak.

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Bibliographic details

A Nihilist Trial., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2437, 23 May 1890

Word Count

A Nihilist Trial. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2437, 23 May 1890

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