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grimly humorous is the curse of the Spanish gypsies May you have lawsuits and win them."


But the Criminal Code is positively fantastic in its defiance of equity. Suppose yourself, by way of example, to have been robbed by a thief of whose identity you are morally sure; the said thief having disappeared, together with your chattels. A is the thief; and X we will imagine to be a character whom you strongly suspect to be his accomplice in the theft. X has not disappeared, and you are aware of his whereabouts.

Your first step is to go to the Prevención, and lodge a statement, which is taken down in writing by a clerk or secretary. First, according to the standard culinary maxim, catch your clerk clerk or secretary. You are not likely to find him at his place of duty, for he is generally lunching, or drinking coffee, or else his mother is sick, or his wife is being confined, or he is sweethearting, or burying a cousin. Nobody at the police station seems to know or care anything at all about him; yet until he arrives you are stranded, and your robber is realizing your property and concocting his escape.

At last, when you are conscious of looking preternaturally vexed and foolish, a guardia, regarding you doubtfully, exclaims, "He may be here at two"; and therefore you meekly ask permission to sit down and wait. It is now half-past twelve. Accordingly, you take your seat upon a very hard bench, harrowed by the thought that your stolen whatever-it-may-be is rapidly travelling further and further from you, while the person whose aid you

must imperatively solicit is sipping coffee, or dallying with his ladylove. A number of people enter and go out, but no one seems concerned with the machinery of the law. Some jovial fellows whose smiling countenances make your own more dolorous and silly, drop in and spin an excellent yarn or two, or smoke and chatter with the guardias, sitting, if it be winter, closely round the bracero, and keeping the warmth away from you, the one neglected unit in (or parted from) that festive circle. One o'clock strikes; then two; half-past; a quarter to three; and perhaps you hazard a timid word. "Ya no vendrá hoy," replies the same guardia who had previously unbent to you; and hastily resumes the thread of general conversation. So you, the injured, the hurried, the robbed, the thirsting for redress, rise humbly from your adamantine seat and bow yourself into the street. "Buenas tardes," you murmur to these princely policemen and their boon companions, "muchas gracias, y Vds. dispensen la molestia." If you say anything more to the point you will be taken for a lunatic.

When at last you unearth the clerk (if ever you do), he is pretty certain to insult you as you unbosom your woes to him. He does not call you a liar, but he lets you see that he thinks you one, and the time he takes to light a cigarette, just when you have reached the crisis of your narrative, exasperates you sorely. He "smells this business with a sense as cold as is a dead man's nose."

"Many thanks; and please forgive my troubling you."

You have no remedy. He is a minion of the law. All protest against his action (or inertion) is resistance to the established jurisprudence of the country. If you endure, he lights more cigarettes, and takes longer to light them. If you remonstrate, he grows more sceptical and more insulting. As likely as not he throws down the pen in a huff, and sends you with a cur me querelis exanimas tuis air to the Devil. At the very least he will put you to ridicule before the chuckling policemen and their friends, who have dropped confabulating, and are all agog to laugh at you. One way or another you must make yourself a target for his sneers or abuse, and he will reduce your deposition to a mutilated statement that reads absurdly. You cannot correct him. The law, in Spain, admits of no correction.


The garbled document this zealous and obliging functionary has prepared is forthwith taken to an institution called the Juzgado or de instrucción, where a judge, the juez de guardia, looking, as judges look the world over, exceedingly wise and stern, hears what the document says, and what you have to say, and what the clerk or the clerk's delegate has to say, and finally issues some mysterious order which seems to imply the arrest of the culprit, or yourself, or some other person. Then the matter passes on to the juez de instrucción; after which, if you are lucky and A is foolish, it drops.

It need not drop, however. If A is sharp, he can make yet further capital out of his theft. He does not run away. Not he. The law is on his side. It is you and your witnesses who will smart

for having denounced him. He puts himself in communication with a limb of Satan and the law, who earns his living by intimidation. This will be an out-of-a-job procurador, or an agente de negocios. I think in England the breed is pretty well exterminated. A's champion, then, is not a licensed lawyer, and cannot practise in open court, but he has more than a lawyer's influence. He knows everyone at the Juzgado, and everyone is afraid of him. The police, with whom of course he has a secret covenant, will go anywhere or do anything for him. His education is limited, and generally he is very far from respectable, but he can put you in a lio that will last you a year, and wear you to a shadow, and he knows just sufficient of the slippery technicalities of his trade to shelter his own person from impeachment.

He will seek you out, and after addressing you with the warmest professions of personal esteem, explain that A is conscience-stricken at his misdemeanor, and will you sign a pardon. It is the simplest matter. "Dos palabras" is the euphemism he employs; a stroke of your pen, a note to the Juzgado to say that your missing property has reappeared, and all is over. And if you know how the wires of the law are pulled, and recover your wits in time, you will sign the pardon, and bend the knee to Mr. Picapleitos-" Picklawsuit" in our Anglican vernacular.

But if you try to come the big dog and the funny don, and refuse to treat, Picapleitos will smile an oily smile, and with a profound obeisance withdraw, wishing you every prosperity under heaven.

A day or so later you will receive a summons from the Juzgado, and find yourself the defendant in a criminal charge. A, who is already out on bail, thanks to a word from his exploiter, Picapleitos, has retaliated by accusing you of stealing his purse, his pocketbook, his dog, no matter what: his accusation is promptly heeded; you are prosecuted exactly on a level with himself, and your life will become a burden to you. You will grow to hate the very name Juzgado. Day after day, week after week, month after month, you will be summoned there to declarar, and pestered for witnesses, and you and they, poor devils, will be kept waiting hour after hour in draughty corridors, and sniggered at by mealy-mouthed attendants. A melancholy building is the Juzgado. A dark, damp passage, peopled during office hours with constant relays of the great unwashed, runs the whole length of the ground floor. On one hand are a series of bleak apartments called escribanías. In every escribanía you will find an escribano, halfsecretary, half-attorney; and under him his escribientes or underlings, sitting at the receipt of evidence. It is the business of these gentry to reduce to writing the statements of the parties in a criminal suit of prosecutor, defendant, and witnesses. They are paid according to the quantity of what they write, an initial incentive to foul play, so the quality go hang. The depositions must cover a deal of paper, that is all. Neither do the general attributes of the escribientes agreeably strike you. They are young, and ignorant, and impolite. They are not agents of the law, in a literal sense, but

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