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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson||Mark Twain|
|Page 6 of 11||
"Here, thrown up ten sizes, are the natal autographs of the two persons who are here before you accused of murdering Judge Driscoll. I made these pantograph copies last night, and will so swear when I go upon the witness stand. I ask the jury to compare them with the finger marks of the accused upon the windowpanes, and tell the court if they are the same."
He passed a powerful magnifying glass to the foreman.
One juryman after another took the cardboard and the glass and made the comparison. Then the foreman said to the judge:
"Your honor, we are all agreed that they are identical."
Wilson said to the foreman:
"Please turn that cardboard face down, and take this one, and compare it searchingly, by the magnifier, with the fatal signature upon the knife handle, and report your finding to the court."
Again the jury made minute examinations, and again reported:
"We find them to be exactly identical, your honor."
Wilson turned toward the counsel for the prosecution, and there was a clearly recognizable note of warning in his voice when he said:
"May it please the court, the state has claimed, strenuously and persistently, that the bloodstained fingerprints upon that knife handle were left there by the assassin of Judge Driscoll. You have heard us grant that claim, and welcome it." He turned to the jury: "Compare the fingerprints of the accused with the fingerprints left by the assassin--and report."
The comparison began. As it proceeded, all movement and all sound ceased, and the deep silence of an absorbed and waiting suspense settled upon the house; and when at last the words came, "THEY DO NOT EVEN RESEMBLE," a thundercrash of applause followed and the house sprang to its feet, but was quickly repressed by official force and brought to order again. Tom was altering his position every few minutes now, but none of his changes brought repose nor any small trifle of comfort. When the house's attention was become fixed once more, Wilson said gravely, indicating the twins with a gesture:
"These men are innocent--I have no further concern with them. [Another outbreak of applause began, but was promptly checked.] We will now proceed to find the guilty. [Tom's eyes were starting from their sockets--yes, it was a cruel day for the bereaved youth, everybody thought.] We will return to the infant autographs of A and B. I will ask the jury to take these large pantograph facsimilies of A's marked five months and seven months. Do they tally?"
The foreman responded: "Perfectly."
"Now examine this pantograph, taken at eight months, and also marked A. Does it tally with the other two?"
The surprised response was:
"NO--THEY DIFFER WIDELY!"
"You are quite right. Now take these two pantographs of B's autograph, marked five months and seven months. Do they tally with each other?"
"Take this third pantograph marked B, eight months. Does it tally with B's other two?"
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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
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