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.Aguardsman struck her on the right thigh with the butt of his spear and shecried out in pain."If you should attempt to do that again, my dear," said the praetor, "yourankles will be tied, and you will hear the rest of the proceedings while lyingon your belly before the tribunal.""Yes, Officer," she said."What is your name?" asked the praetor of the girl."Sasi," she said."Lady Sasi?" he asked."Yes," she said, "I am free!There was laughter.She looked about, angrily, bound, I did not think shewould need be worried much longer about her freedom."Usually," smiled the praetor, "a free woman wears mere than binding fiber anda neck strap.""My gown was taken, when I was tied," she said."It was torn from me.""Who took it," asked the praetor, "a casual male, curious to see your body?"Page 29 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html"A girl took it," she cried, angrily, "a blond girl.She was naked.Then shetook my garment.Then I was naked! Find her, if you wish to be busy withmatters of the law! I was the victim of theft! It was stolen from me, mygarment! You should be hunting her, the little thief, not holding me here.Iam an honest citizen!"There was more laughter."May I be freed, my officer?" asked the bound man."A mistake has been made."The praetor turned to two guardsmen."Go to where you found these two tied,"he said."I think our missing slave will be found in the garment of the she-urt."Two guardsmen left immediately.I thought the praetor's conjecture was a soundone.On the other hand, obviously, the girl would not be likely to linger inthe place where she had stolen the she-urt's brief, miserable rag.Still,perhaps her trail could be found in that area."I demand justice," said the girl."You will receive it, Lady Sasi," said the praetor.She turned white."At least she will not have to be stripped for the iron," said a fellow nearme, grinning.The girl moaned.The praetor then addressed himself to the fellow who had the dried blood cakedbehind his left ear.It was dried in his hair, too, on the left side of hishead."Is this female, identified as the Lady Sasi, she who detained you, when youwere attacked?" asked the praetor."It is she," he said."I never saw him before," she wept."It is she," he repeated."I only wanted to beg a tarsk bit," she said."I did not know he was going tostrike you.""Why did you not warn him of the man's approach behind him?" asked thepraetor."I didn't see the man approaching," she said, desperately."But you said you didn't know he was going to strike him," said the praetor.'Therefore, you must have seen him.""Please let me go," she said."I was not seen to strike the man," said the fellow whom the girl hadidentified as Turgus."I claim innocence.There is no evidence against me.Dowhat you will with the little slut.But set me free."The girl put down her head, miserably."Please let me go," she begged."I was robbed of a golden tarn," said the fellow with the blood at the side ofhis head."There is a golden tarn in the pouch," said a guardsman."On the golden tarn taken from me," said the man, "I had scratched myinitials, Ba-Ta Shu, Bem Shandar, and, on the reverse of the coin, the drum ofTabor."The guardsman lifted the coin to the praetor."It is so," said the praetor.The bound man, suddenly, irrationally, struggled.He tried to throw off hisbonds.The girl cried out in misery, jerked choking from her feet.Then twoguardsmen held the fellow by the arms."He is strong," said one of theguardsmen.The girl, gasping, regained her feet.Then she stood again neck-linked to him, beside him, his fellow prisoner."The coin was planted in my pouch," he said."It is a plot!""You are an urt, Turgus," she said to him, "an urt!""It is you who are the she-urt!" he snarled."You have both been caught," said the praetor, beginning to fill out somepapers."We have been looking for you both for a long time.""I am innocent," said the bound man.Page 30 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html"How do you refer to yourself?" asked the praetor."Turgus," he said.The praetor entered that name in the papers.He then signed the papers.He looked down at Turgus."How did you come to be tied?" he asked."Several men set upon me," he said."I was struck from behind.I was subdued.""It does not appear that you were struck from behind," smiled the praetor.The face of Turgus was not a pretty sight, as I had dashed it into the stones,and had then struck the side of his head against the nearby wall."Is the binding fiber on their wrists from their original bonds, as you foundthem?" asked the praetor of one of the guardsmen."It is," he said."Examine the knots," said the praetor."They are capture knots," said the guardsman, smiling."You made a poor choice of one to detain, my friends," said the praetor.They looked at one another, miserably.Their paths had crossed that of awarrior.They now stood bound before the praetor."Turgus, of Port Kar," said the praetor, "in virtue of what we have here todayestablished, and in virtue of the general warrant outstanding upon you, youare sentenced to banishment.If you are found within the limits of the cityafter sunset this day you will be impaled."The face of Turgus was impassive."Free him," he said.Turgus was cut free, and turned about, moving through the crowd.He thrust menaside.Suddenly he saw me.His face turned white, and he spun about, and fled.I saw one of the black seamen, the one who had passed me on the north walkwayof the Rim canal, when I had been descending toward the pier, looking at me,curiously.The girl looked up at the praetor.The neck strap, now that Turgus was freedof it, looped gracefully up to her throat, held in the hand of a guardsman.Her small wrists were still bound behind her back.She seemed very small and helpless before the high desk."Please let me go," she said."I will be good.""The Lady Sasi, of Port Kar," said the praetor, "in virtue of what we havehere today established, and in virtue of the general warrant outstanding uponher, must come under sentence.""Please, my officer," she begged."I am now going to sentence you," he said."Please," she cried, "Sentence me only to a penal brothel!""The penal brothel is too good for you," said the praetor."Show me mercy," she begged."You will be shown no mercy," he said [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]