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SCENE III

FALDER's cell, a whitewashed space thirteen feet broad by seven
deep, and nine feet high, with a rounded ceiling. The floor is
of shiny blackened bricks. The barred window of opaque glass,
with a ventilator, is high up in the middle of the end wall. In
the middle of the opposite end wall is the narrow door. In a
corner are the mattress and bedding rolled up [two blankets, two
sheets, and a coverlet]. Above them is a quarter-circular
wooden shelf, on which is a Bible and several little devotional
books, piled in a symmetrical pyramid; there are also a black
hair brush, tooth-brush, and a bit of soap. In another corner
is the wooden frame of a bed, standing on end. There is a dark
ventilator under the window, and another over the door.
FALDER'S work [a shirt to which he is putting buttonholes] is
hung to a nail on the wall over a small wooden table, on which
the novel "Lorna Doone" lies open. Low down in the corner by
the door is a thick glass screen, about a foot square, covering
the gas-jet let into the wall. There is also a wooden stool, and
a pair of shoes beneath it. Three bright round tins are set
under the window.

In fast-failing daylight, FALDER, in his stockings, is seen
standing motionless, with his head inclined towards the door,
listening. He moves a little closer to the door, his stockinged
feet making no noise. He stops at the door. He is trying
harder and harder to hear something, any little thing that is
going on outside. He springs suddenly upright--as if at a
sound-and remains perfectly motionless. Then, with a heavy
sigh, he moves to his work, and stands looking at it, with his
head doom; he does a stitch or two, having the air of a man so
lost in sadness that each stitch is, as it were, a coming to
life. Then turning abruptly, he begins pacing the cell, moving
his head, like an animal pacing its cage. He stops again at the
door, listens, and, placing the palms of hip hands against it
with his fingers spread out, leans his forehead against the
iron. Turning from it, presently, he moves slowly back towards
the window, tracing his way with his finger along the top line
of the distemper that runs round the wall. He stops under the
window, and, picking up the lid of one of the tins, peers into
it. It has grown very nearly dark. Suddenly the lid falls out
of his hand with a clatter--the only sound that has broken the
silence--and he stands staring intently at the wall where the
stuff of the shirt is hanging rather white in the darkness--he
seems to be seeing somebody or something there. There is a
sharp tap and click; the cell light behind the glass screen has
been turned up. The cell is brightly lighted. FALDER is seen
gasping for breath.

A sound from far away, as of distant, dull beating on thick
metal, is suddenly audible. FALDER shrinks back, not able to
bear this sudden clamour. But the sound grows, as though some
great tumbril were rolling towards the cell. And gradually it
seems to hypnotise him. He begins creeping inch by inch
nearer to the door. The banging sound, travelling from cell to
cell, draws closer and closer; FALDER'S hands are seen moving as
if his spirit had already joined in this beating, and the sound
swells till it seems to have entered the very cell. He suddenly
raises his clenched fists. Panting violently, he flings himself
at his door, and beats on it.


The curtain falls.






Justice by John Galsworthy
Category:
Plays
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