A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (adapted for intermediate)

A Jury of Her Peers for intermediate a short story by Susan Glaspel This is one of the best stories from our collection of short stories by American writers and it is adapted for the intermediate level. It is a story about women and their understanding.

The story tells that one day two women, the policeman’s wife and the sheriff’s wife, happened to accompany their men to the place of a crime, which had been commited in the lonely house of their old friend — Minnie Foster. It was Minnie Foster’s husband who was dead.

The story «A Jury of her peers» to read in Russian online — Суд ее подруг (перевод с английского)

A Jury of Her Peers

by Susan Glaspell. Adaptation by Т. Nabeeva

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Part 1 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. to drop — to leave (оставить)
  2. unsifted — not put through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles ( непросеянный)
  3. fair — local market (ярмарка)
  4. reply — answer (ответ)
  5. lonesome-looking — looking lonely and sad (печальный)
  6. the county attorney – a kind of a lawyer who helps the sheriff (прокурор округа)
  7. stove – a fireplace (печь, камин)
  8. queer – strange (странный)
  9. rocker – a rocking chair (кресло-качалка)

Martha Hale hated to see things half done. She was baking bread when the sheriff and his team from town stopped to get Mr. Hale, and the sheriff came in to say that his wife wished her to come too. So she had to drop the flour unsifted right where it was.

She opened the door and joined the three men and the one woman waiting for her in the car. It was Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, a small and thin woman with a quiet voice.

The car drove off. The men were talking about what had happened.

«The country’s not very pleasant this time of year,» said Mrs. Peters at last.

Mrs. Hale didn’t answer. They were going up a little hill and now could see very well the place where the Wrights lived. The lonesome-looking place did not make her feel like talking. It was cold March morning.

«I’m glad you came with me,» Mrs. Peters said nervously as the two women were following the men into the house.

Martha Hale had never been to this house before. Time and time again she said to herself, «I must go over and see Minnie Foster»—she still thought of her as Minnie Foster, though for twenty years she had been Mrs. Wright. And then there was always something to do and she forgot about it. But now she would come.

It was cold in the house. The women stopped at the door. Young Henderson, the county attorney, went over to the stove and said, «Come up to the fire, ladies.» Mrs. Peters stepped forward, then stopped. «I’m not … cold,» she said, and so the two women stood by the door.

«Now, Mr. Hale,” said Sheriff Peters, “ before we move things about, you tell Mr. Henderson what you saw when you came here yesterday morning.»

The county attorney was looking around the kitchen.

«By the way,» he turned to the sheriff. «Are things just as you left them yesterday?»

Peters looked around: «It’s just the same.»

«Well, Mr. Hale”, said the county attorney, “tell us what happened when you came here yesterday morning.»

Lewis Hale didn’t begin at once and looked queer — as if standing in that kitchen and having to tell what he had seen there yesterday morning made him almost sick.

«Mr. Hale?» the county attorney repeated.

«Harry and I had started to town with a load of potatoes,» Mrs. Hale’s husband began.

Harry was Mrs. Hale’s son. He wasn’t with them now, as he hadn’t been home when the sheriff came to take them to the Wright’s place.

«We come along this road and were near the house. And I say to Harry, ‘I’m going to see if I can get John Wright …»

But the county attorney interrupted with: «Mr. Hale, tell us what happened when you got here.»

«I didn’t see or hear anything. I knocked at the door. And it was all quiet inside. I knew they must be upstairs — it was past eight o’clock. So I knocked again, louder, and I thought I heard somebody say, ‘Come in.’ I wasn’t sure — I’m not sure yet. But I opened the door — this door,» and pointed at the door by which the two women stood, «and there, in that rocker sat Mrs. Wright.»

The story «A Jury of her peers» to read in Russian online — Суд ее подруг (перевод с английского)

A Jury of her Peers. Part 2 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. guardedly – carefully (осторожно, с опаской)
  2. affected – had influence (оказал влияние)
  3. done up – exhausted, very tired (вымотанная)
  4. mind – to object (возражать)
  5. out of patience with her now – losing patience (теряя терпение)
  6. dull – boring (сухо (зд.))
  7. take in – understand (понять)
  8. rocking – moving back and forth (качаясь)
  9. staring – looking fixedly (уставившись)
  10. broke the silence – started speaking (нарушив тишину)
  11. whisper – very quiet voice (шепот)

Everyone in the kitchen looked at the rocker.

«How did she look?» asked the county attorney.

«Well,» said Hale, «she looked queer.»

«What do you mean by queer?»

As he asked it, he took out a note-book and pencil. Mrs. Hale did not like the sight of that pencil. She kept looking at her husband, as if trying to stop him from saying unnecessary things that would go into that note-book and make trouble.

Hale did speak guardedly, as if the pencil had affected him too.

«Well, as if she didn’t know what she was going to do next. And kind of — done up.»

«How did she seem to feel about your coming?»

«Why, I don’t think she minded — one way or other. She didn’t pay much attention. I said, ‘Hello, Mrs. Wright? It’s cold, isn’t it?’ And she said, ‘Is it?’

«Well, I was surprised. She didn’t ask me to come up to the stove, or to sit down, but just sat there, not even looking at me. And so I said, ‘I want to see John.’

«And then she—laughed. I guess you would call it a laugh.”

I said again, ‘Can I see John?’ ‘No,’ says she — kind of dull like. ‘Isn’t he at home?’ say I. She looked at me. ‘Yes,’ says she, ‘he’s home.’ ‘Then why can’t I see him?’ I asked her, out of patience with her now. »Because he’s dead,’ says she, just as quiet and dull—’Dead?’ say I, I can’t take in what I’ve heard.

«She just nodded her head, rocking back and forth.»

«‘Why — where is he?’ say I, not knowing what to say.

«She just pointed upstairs — like this» – he pointed to the room above.

«I got up, with the idea of going up there myself. By this time I — didn’t know what to do. I walked from there to here; then I say: ‘Why, what did he die of?’

«‘He died of a rope round his neck,’ says she.

Hale stopped speaking, and stood staring at the rocker, as if seeing the woman who had sat there the morning before. Nobody spoke, looking at the rocker; it was as if everyone was seeing the woman.

«And what did you do then?» the county attorney at last broke the silence.

«I went out and called Harry. I thought I might need help. We went upstairs.» His voice fell almost to a whisper. «There he was … lying over there.»

«I think we should go upstairs,» the county attorney interrupted, «where you can point it all out. Just go on now with the rest of the story.»

«Well, my first thought was to get that rope off. It looked …» He stopped. «But Harry, he went up to him, and he said, ‘No, he’s dead all right, and we’d better not touch anything.’ So we went downstairs.

* * *

A Jury of her Peers. Part 3 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. notify – let the police know (известить)
  2. unconcerned – indifferently (равнодушно)
  3. strangle – kill smb by squeezing their throat tightly so that they cannot breathe (задушил)
  4. sleep sound – sleep deep so nothing can wake you up (крепко спать)
  5. coroner – следователь
  6. scared – as if being afraid of smth (испуганная)
  7. kitchen things – things for cooking, etc. (кухонная утварь: предметы кухонного обихода: посуда и пр.)
  8. insignificance – little importance (маловажность, незначительность)
  9. fire would go out — stop burning (потухнет)
  10. trifles – things of little importance (пустяки)
  11. have their hands full – be very busy (очень заняты)

She was still sitting that same way.

‘Has anybody been notified?’ I asked. ‘No,’ says she, unconcerned.

«‘Who did this, Mrs. Wright?’ said Harry. ‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘You don’t know?’ says Harry. ‘Weren’t you sleeping in the bed with him?’ ‘Yes,’ says she, ‘but I was on the inside.’ ‘Somebody slipped a rope round his neck and strangled him, and you didn’t wake up?’ says Harry. ‘I didn’t wake up,’ she said after him.

A minute later she said, ‘I sleep sound.’”

«Harry was going to ask her more questions, but I said that it wasn’t our business. And Harry went fast as he could over to High Road—the Rivers’ place, where there’s a telephone.»

«And what did she do when she knew you had gone for the coroner?» The attorney got his pencil in his hand all ready for writing.

«She moved from that chair to this one over here,» Hale pointed to a small chair in the corner — «and just sat there with her hands held together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a telephone; and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and looked at me — scared

«I don’t know — maybe it wasn’t scared.”

The county attorney walked toward the door.

«I guess we’ll go upstairs first—then out to the barn and around there.»

He paused and looked around the kitchen.

«You’re sure that there was nothing important here?» he asked the sheriff. «Nothing that would—point to any motive?»

The sheriff looked all around. «Nothing here but kitchen things,» he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things.

The county attorney came up to the cupboard, opened it and looked in. «Here’s a nice mess,» he said.

The two women had come nearer, and now the sheriff’s wife spoke. «Oh — her fruit,» she said and explained: «She worried about that when it turned so cold last night. She said the fire would go out and her jars might burst.»

Mrs. Peters’ husband broke into a laugh. «Well, worrying about her preserves and not for the murder!»

«Oh, well,» said Mrs. Hale’s husband, «women are used to worrying over trifles.»

The two women moved a little closer together. Neither of them spoke. The county attorney went to the sink and began washing his hands. He turned to wipe them but the towel was dirty.

«Dirty towels! Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?»

He kicked his foot against some dirty pans under the sink.

«There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm,» said Mrs. Hale, «Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be.»

«But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too.»

Martha Hale shook her head. «I’ve seen little enough of her of late years. I’ve not been in this house—it’s more than a year.»

«And why was that? You didn’t like her?»

«I liked her well enough,» she said. «Farmers’ wives have their hands full, Mr. Henderson. And then—» She looked around the kitchen.


«It never seemed a very cheerful place,» said she, more to herself than to him, «And Mr. Wright wasn’t cheerful, either,» she muttered.

«You mean they didn’t get on very well?» he was quick to ask.

«No, I don’t mean anything,» she answered, with decision.

«I’d like to talk to you about that a little later, Mrs. Hale,» he said.

He moved toward the door, followed by the two men.

A Jury of her Peers. Part 4 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. snoop round – looking around (высматривать)
  2. all gone – spoilt (зд. испортиться)
  3. wiped off – make it clean with a cloth (протереть)
  4. make over – remodel (перекраивать)
  5. shabby – in poor condition through long use (потрепанный)
  6. apron – a piece of clothing that you put on when cooking to prevent your clothes from getting dirty (фартук)
  7. jail – prison тюрьма

The women stood silently, listening to the footsteps, first upon the stairs, then in the room above them.

Then Mrs. Hale began to arrange the dirty pans under the sink, «I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen,» she said —»snooping round and criticizing.»

The sheriff’s wife looked around the kitchen. She saw a bucket of sugar on a low shelf. The cover was off the wooden bucket, and beside it was a paper bag—half full.

Mrs. Hale moved toward it.

«She was putting this in there,» she said to herself—slowly.

What had interrupted Minnie Foster? Why had that work been left half done? She made a move as if to finish it,—unfinished things always bothered her. And then she saw that Mrs. Peters was watching her.

«It’s a shame about her fruit,» she said, and went to the cupboard that the county attorney had opened, and got on the chair, murmuring: «I wonder if it’s all gone

It was a sorry enough looking sight, but «Here’s one that’s all right,» she said at last. She held it toward the light. «This is cherries, too.» She looked again. «I believe that’s the only one.»

With a sigh, she got down from the chair, went to the sink, and wiped off the bottle.

«She’ll feel awful bad, after all her hard work in the hot weather. I remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.»

She put the bottle on the table. The sheriff was coming downstairs with a pile of clothes. «I must take some clothes to Mrs. Wright,” he said, pitting them on the table. “Mrs. Hale, could you help me to choose something for her?” he asked nervously.

Mrs. Hale started to examine the clothes: a shabby black skirt that had been made over many times attracted her attention. «I think maybe that’s why she kept so much to herself. I suppose she couldn’t enjoy things when she felt shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively—when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls, singing in the choir. But that—oh, that was twenty years ago.»

With a carefulness in which there was something tender, she folded the shabby clothes and piled them at one corner of the table. Then she looked up at Mrs. Peters:”She said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want,» she told nervously, «for there’s not much to get you dirty in jail… “

Suddenly Mrs. Hale took a quick step toward the other woman.

«Mrs. Peters!»

«Yes, Mrs. Hale?»

«Do you think she — did it?»

A frightened look was in Mrs. Peters’ eyes: “Oh, I don’t know.»

«Well, I think the same,» agreed Mrs. Hale. «Asking for an apron, worrying about her fruit.»

«Mr. Peters says ….» Footsteps were heard in the room above; she stopped, looked up, then went on in a lowered voice: «Mr. Peters says … that it looks bad for her. Mr. Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech, and he’s going to make fun of her saying she didn’t — wake up.»

Mrs. Hale had no answer.

«No, it’s strange,» continued Mrs. Peters. «They think it was such a… funny way to kill a man.»

She began to laugh; but suddenly stopped.

A Jury of her Peers. Part 5 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. messy – dirty, covered with crumbs (грязный)
  2. sneaking – mean (подлый, низкий)
  3. get discouraged – lose enthusiasm about the action (падать духом)
  4. lose heart – give way to despair (впадает в отчаяние)
  5. quilt – a bed covering made by sewing together small pieces of material of different colours or patterns (лоскутное одеяло)
  6. quilt pieces – small pieces of material of different colours or patterns (лоскуты материи)
  7. even sewing – neat needlework (аккуратное шитье)
  8. startled – frightened (испуганно)
  9. stitch – a loop of thread resulting from a single pass of the needle (стежок)

«That’s just what Mr. Hale said,» said Mrs. Hale. «There was a gun in the house. He says that’s what he can’t understand.»

«Mr. Henderson said that what was needed for the case was a motive. Something to show anger—or sudden feeling.»

«Well, I don’t see any signs of anger around here,» said Mrs. Hale. «I don’t—»

She stopped. Suddenly she looked at the kitchen table. She moved toward the table slowly. One half of it was wiped clean, the other half messy. Her eyes made a slow, almost unwilling turn to the bucket of sugar and the half empty bag beside it. Things begun—and not finished.

After a moment she stepped back, and said: «I wonder how they’re finding things upstairs?»—she paused,—»it seems kind of sneaking: locking her up in town and coming out here to search her own house!»

«But, Mrs. Hale,» said the sheriff’s wife, «the law is the law.»

Mrs. Hale turned to the stove, saying: «The law is the law—and a bad stove is a bad stove. How would you like to cook on this?» — She opened the oven door and started to express her opinion of the oven; she thought what it would mean, year after year, to have that stove to cook on. The thought of Minnie Foster trying to bake in that oven … .

She was startled by hearing Mrs. Peters say: «A person gets discouraged—and loses heart.» That look of seeing into things, of seeing through a thing to something else, was in the eyes of the sheriff’s wife now.

The two women stood silent, and above them the footsteps of the men who were looking for evidence against the woman who had worked in that kitchen.

A moment later Mrs. Peters exclaimed, «Why, she was making a quilt,» and held up a large sewing basket piled high with quilt pieces.

Mrs. Hale spread some of the blocks out on the table. «Pretty, isn’t it?»

They were so busy with the quilt that they did not hear the footsteps. The sheriff and county attorney were coming downstairs. “Well, we are going to the barn,” he said.

The women looked at them and then returned to an inspection of the quilt. Mrs. Hale was looking at the fine, even sewing. She was thinking of the woman who had done that sewing, when she heard the sheriff’s wife say, in a queer tone, «Why, look at this one.» Mrs. Peters was troubled, «All the rest of them have been so nice and even—but—this one. Why, it looks as if she didn’t know what she was about!»

Their eyes met—something passed between them; then, as if with an effort, they seemed to pull away from each other. A moment Mrs. Hale sat her hands over that sewing which was so unlike all the rest.

«Oh, what are you doing, Mrs. Hale?» asked the sheriff’s wife, startled.

«Just pulling out a stitch or two that’s not sewed very good,» said Mrs. Hale quietly.

A Jury of her Peers. Part 6 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. ought to – should (следует)
  2. threaded a needle – put a thread into a needle (продеть нитку в иголку)
  3. lean – thin (худой)
  4. tighten up – make an effort to control oneself (напрячься)
  5. peer into – look with concentration at something (всматриваться)
  6. get the clothes wraped – cover the clothes in paper or soft material (упаковать вещи)
  7. string – a thin rope (бечевка)
  8. hold up – show (показывать)
  9. rough – wild (грубый)
  10. reproach – blame (винить, упрекать)
  11. harshly – unkindly (мрачно)
  12. shiver – shake (вздрогнуть)
  13. Like a raw wind that gets to the bone. – feel unpleasant (Как стоять на холодном ветру.)

«I don’t think we ought to touch things,» Mrs. Peters said, a little helplessly.

«I’ll just finish up this end,» answered Mrs. Hale calmly. She threaded a needle and started to replace bad sewing with good. For a little while she sewed in silence. Then, in that thin voice, she heard: «Mrs. Hale!»

«Yes, Mrs. Peters?»

«What do you suppose she was so … nervous about?»

«Oh, I don’t know,» said Mrs. Hale. «I don’t know as she was … nervous. I sew awful queer sometimes when I’m just tired.»

She cut a thread, and out of the corner of her eye looked up at Mrs. Peters. The small, lean face of the sheriff’s wife seemed to have tightened up. Her eyes had that look of peering into something. But next moment she moved, and said: «Well, I must get those clothes wrapped. I wonder where I could find a piece of paper—and a string

«In that cupboard, maybe,» suggested Mrs. Hale.

«Here’s a bird-cage,» Mrs. Peters said. «Did she have a bird, Mrs. Hale?»

«Why, I don’t know whether she did or not.» She turned to look at the cage Mrs. Peter was holding up. «I’ve not been here in so long.» She sighed. «There was a man round last year selling canaries cheap—but I don’t know as she took one. Maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty herself.»

Mrs. Peters looked around the kitchen. «Seems kind of funny to think of a bird here.» She half laughed. «But she must have had one—or why would she have a cage? I wonder what happened to it.»

«I suppose maybe the cat got it,» suggested Mrs. Hale.

«No, she didn’t have a cat. She was afraid of them. When they brought her to our house yesterday, my cat got in the room, and she was very upset and asked me to take it out.»

«My sister Bessie was like that,» laughed Mrs. Hale.

The sheriff’s wife did not reply. She was examining the bird-cage. «Look at this door,» she said slowly. «It’s broke.»

Mrs. Hale came nearer. «Looks as if someone must have been … rough with it.»

Again their eyes met— frightened, questioning. Mrs. Hale, turning away, said: «I wish they were coming soon. I don’t like this place.»

«But I’m awful glad you came with me, Mrs. Hale,» Mrs. Peters put the bird-cage on the table and sat down. «It would be lonesome for me—sitting here alone.»

«Yes, it would,» agreed Mrs. Hale. She had picked up the sewing, and murmured in a different voice: «But I tell you what I do wish, Mrs. Peters. I wish I had come over sometimes when she was here. I wish—I had.»

«But of course you were awful busy, Mrs. Hale. Your house—and your children.»

«I could have come,» said Mrs. Hale shortly. «I stayed away because it wasn’t cheerful—and that’s why I ought to have come. I»—she looked around—»I’ve never liked this place. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a lonesome place, and always was. I wish I had come over to see Minnie Foster sometimes. I can see now—» She did not put it into words.

«Well, you mustn’t reproach yourself,» said Mrs. Peters. «Somehow, we just don’t see how it is with other folks till—something happens.»

«Not having children makes less work,» said Mrs. Hale, after a silence, «but it makes a quiet house—and Wright out to work all day—and no company when he did come in. Did you know John Wright, Mrs. Peters?»

«Not to know him. I’ve seen him in town. They say he was a good man.»

«Yes—good,» said she harshly. «He didn’t drink, and kept his word, I guess. And paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him—.» She stopped, shivered a little. «Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.» Her eye fell upon the cage on the table before her, and she added bitterly: «I should think she would have wanted a bird!»

Suddenly she moved forward, looking at the cage. «But what do you think happened to the bird?»

«I don’t know,» replied Mrs. Peters; «unless it got sick and died.»

A Jury of her Peers. Part 7 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. timid – shy (робкий)
  2. take up her mind – make her busy (занять ее чем-либо)
  3. patch – piece of cloth for making a patchwork quilt (лоскуток)
  4. bent – moved (наклонилась, приблизилась)
  5. wring (wrung) the neck– to break the neck (свернуть шею)
  6. curiously even – surprisingly calm (на удивление ровным голосом)
  7. absently – absent — mindedly (рассеянно)

«You didn’t know—her, Minnie Foster?» Mrs. Hale asked.

«Not till they brought her yesterday,» said the sheriff’s wife.

«She — she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid. How—she—did—change.»

That held her for a long time. Finally she exclaimed: «Tell you what, Mrs. Peters, why don’t you take the quilt in with you? It might take up her mind

«Why, I think that’s a real nice idea, Mrs. Hale,» agreed the sheriff’s wife, «There could be no objection to that, could there? Now, just what will I take? I wonder if all her patches are in here…»

They turned to the sewing basket.

«Here’s some red,» said Mrs. Hale, bringing out a roll of cloth. Underneath that was a box. «Here, maybe her scissors are in here—and her things.» She held it up. «What a pretty box! I am sure that was something she had a long time ago—when she was a girl.»

She held it in her hand a moment; then, with a little sigh, opened it.


Mrs. Peters moved nearer: «There’s something wrapped up in this piece of silk,» whispered Mrs. Hale.

«This isn’t her scissors,» said Mrs. Peters quietly.

Mrs. Hale raised the piece of silk. «Oh, Mrs. Peters!» she cried. «It’s—»

Mrs. Peters bent closer.

«It’s the bird,» she whispered.

«But, Mrs. Peters!» cried Mrs. Hale. «Look at it! Its neck—look at its neck! It’s all—other side to.»

She held the box away from her.

The sheriff’s wife again bent closer.

«Somebody wrung its neck,» said she, in a voice that was slow and deep.

And then again the eyes of the two women met—this time in a look of growing horror. Mrs. Peters looked from the dead bird to the broken door of the cage. Again their eyes met. And just then there was a sound at the outside door.

Mrs. Hale put the box under the quilt pieces in the basket, and sank into the chair before it. Mrs. Peters stood holding to the table. The county attorney and the sheriff came in from outside.

«Well, ladies,» said the county attorney. Suddenly he caught sight of the bird-cage. «Has the bird flown?»

«We think the cat got it,» said Mrs. Hale in a voice curiously even.

He was walking up and down, as if thinking something out.

«Is there a cat?» he asked absently.

Mrs. Hale gave a quick look at the sheriff’s wife.

«Well, not now,» said Mrs. Peters. «They’re superstitious, you know; they leave.»

She sank into her chair.

The county attorney did not look at her. «No sign at all of anyone having come in from the outside,» he said to Peters, continuing an interrupted conversation. «Their own rope. Now let’s go upstairs again and go over it, piece by piece. It must have been something…»

The stair door closed behind them and their voices were lost.

A Jury of her Peers. Part 8 (in English)

Words for you:

  1. could not help saying – had to say (не могли не сказать)
  2. hatchet – a kind of big knife (топорик)
  3. be through — finish (закончить)
  4. take on – worry (волноваться)
  5. clumsy – not skilful (неумелый)
  6. unwillingly – as if against one’s will (против желания)
  7. conviction – decision that someone is guilty of a criminal offence (осуждение)
  8. snatch – take from smb very quickly (выхватить)

The two women sat motionless, not looking at each other, as if peering into something. When they spoke now it was as if they were afraid of what they were saying, but as if they could not help saying it.

«She liked the bird,» said Martha Hale, low and slowly. «She was going to bury it in that pretty box.»

«When I was a girl,» said Mrs. Peters, under her breath, «my kitten—there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes—before I could get there—» She covered her face. «If they hadn’t held me back I would have»—she caught herself, looked upstairs where footsteps were heard, and finished weakly—»killed him.»

Then they sat without speaking or moving.

«No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird,» Mrs. Hale at last said, — «a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too.»

Mrs. Peters moved uneasily, «Of course we don’t know who killed the bird.»

«I knew John Wright,» was Mrs. Hale’s answer.

«It was an awful thing done in this house that night, Mrs. Hale,» said the sheriff’s wife. «To kill a man while he was sleeping by — slipping a rope round his neck and to choke the life out of him.»

Mrs. Hale’s looked at the bird-cage. «His neck. Choked the life out of him.»

«We don’t know who killed him,» whispered Mrs. Peters wildly. «We don’t know.»

Mrs. Hale had not moved. «If there had been years and years of—nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful—after the bird was still.»

«I know what stillness is,» she Mrs. Peters said, in a queer, monotonous voice. «When my first baby died—after he was two years old—and me with no other then—»

Mrs. Hale moved.

«How soon do you suppose they’ll be through looking for the evidence?»

«I know what stillness is,» repeated Mrs. Peters again. Then she said: «The law has got to punish crime, Mrs. Hale.»

«I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster,» was the answer, «when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons, and stood up there in the choir and sang.»

The picture of that girl, the fact that she had lived neighbor to that girl for twenty years, and had let her die for lack of life, was suddenly more than she could bear.

«Oh, I wish I’d come over here once in a while!» she cried. «That was a crime! That was a crime! Who’s going to punish that?»

«We mustn’t take on,» said Mrs. Peters, with a frightened look toward the stairs.

«She needed help! I tell you, it’s queer Mrs. Peters. We live close together, and we live far apart. We all go through the same things! If it weren’t—why do you and I understand? Why do we know—what we know this minute?»

The voices were heard on the stairs.

«No, Peters,» said the county attorney; «it’s all perfectly clear, except the reason for doing it. But you know juries… If there was some definite thing—something to show. Something to make a story about. A thing that would connect up with this clumsy way of doing it.»

In a secret way Mrs. Hale looked at Mrs. Peters. Mrs. Peters was looking at her. Quickly they looked away from each other.

The sheriff came in. “I want to go over everything again,” – he said, “I’m not satisfied.»

Again, for one brief moment, the two women’s eyes met. The sheriff came up to the table.

«Have you prepared the things? Oh, What is it?!» he picked up the apron and laughed.

Mrs. Hale’s hand was on the sewing basket in which the box was hidden. She felt as if she couldn’t take her hand off the basket. The sheriff came to the basket and picked up one of the quilt blocks, which she had piled on to cover the box. Suddenly he turned away, saying: «No; Mrs. Peters doesn’t need supervising. A sheriff’s wife is married to the law, isn’t she?»

Mrs. Peters was standing beside the table but Mrs. Hale could not see her face as she had turned away.

«Married to the law!» repeated Mrs. Peters’ husband. He moved toward the door into the front room, and said to the county attorney: «I just want you to take a look at these windows.»

«We’ll come back in a minute,» said the sheriff to the women and followed the county attorney into the other room. Again—for one final moment—the two women were alone in that kitchen.

Martha Hale jumped to her feet. Mrs. Peters was still looking the other way. But Mrs. Hale’s eyes made her turn back. Slowly, unwillingly, Mrs. Peters turned her head and their eyes met. Martha Hale’s eyes pointed the way to the basket. The hidden bird would make certain the conviction of the other woman—that woman who was not there and yet who had been with them all through that hour.

Mrs. Peters ran forward, got the box and tried to put it in her handbag. It was too big. Desperately she opened it and started to take the bird out but stopped —she could not touch the bird. She stood helpless.

The steps were heard. Martha Hale snatched the box from the sheriff’s wife, and got it in the pocket of her big coat just as the sheriff and the county attorney came back into the kitchen.

«Well, ladies,» said the county attorney, «I think we have finished here. Are you ready?»

Mrs. Hale’s hand was against the pocket of her coat. “We are ready,” she said calmly.

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