Chapter 52 continues

The story so far: Katka discovers the secret contents of her trunk.

 

But the next morning, Lily was up and dressed before Katka. Helen Cerkvenik was sitting with Lily at the dining room table. Baby Gregor was lying on a blanket on the floor. “I know how to take care of a child, Lily,” Helen said. “I’ve had five, you know.”

No amount of persuasion would be enough to keep Lily from going to the sentencing. When Elizabeth pulled up in her borrowed motorcar, Lily and Katka got in. Lily had assembled bundles of clothing, food and books for the three prisoners who were not expected to be released. She included paper and quills so that she could keep in touch with Anton. Katka had brought a few bundles herself.

The courthouse was packed with reporters. Nonetheless, when Lily arrived, she was immediately recognized and the men in front made room so that she, Katka and Elizabeth would be seated near the prisoners. They were carrying the baskets of food and clothing they had brought. When they sat down, Katka noticed that Elizabeth’s car key was placed in one of the baskets. She moved it into her own basket, the one she had prepared for Paul.

The men entered the courthouse right on schedule. They were seated next to their legal team. When Anton saw Lily, looking clean and taken care of, he smiled. He tapped his heart. Lily did the same gesture in return.

Soon after the judge called the courtroom to order, he asked Sam Scarlett, Paul Schmidt and Carlo Tresca to stand. “You have been charged with inciting murder by your speeches. I believe you have done exactly that. However, this court requires proof. At the recommendation of the prosecution, I hereby drop the charges against you and order your release.” Approximately half of the crowd erupted into applause. Lily and Elizabeth clapped furiously.

Katka held her breath. The judge was not finished talking. He looked harshly at the three men he had just released, who were embracing each other and shaking hands. “Just a second there,” the judge said. “I don’t like your sort and I’m not afraid to say it. This is a conditional release. You and your agitating kind are not welcome here. You must never return to St. Louis County. You have three days to get out. Leave the state. That goes for you too, Missy,” he said, pointing at the front row. “Mrs. Flynn must leave, too.”

“I am not on trial, here, sir!” Elizabeth said indignantly. “And you certainly do not have jurisdiction over the entire state.”

“Don’t be so sure about that,” the judge said. “Would you like to be held in contempt of court?” Katka pulled Elizabeth to her seat, where she sat, mute. The judge ordered Paul, Sam Scarlet and Carlo Tresca to sit. He asked Anton, Samo and Dusca to stand. The judge shuffled around some papers. He put on his glasses and read a prepared statement.

“Mr. Anton Kovich, Mr. Samo Zupitz and Mr. Dusca Kalsich,” the judge said. “I have followed your case with great curiosity since your arrest on July the seventeenth. I have spent the better part of last night and this morning reviewing the sentencing agreement recommended by the prosecution and the defense. You are aware of the terms of this agreement, are you not?”

“We are,” Anton said.

“Then you are aware, no doubt, that in this agreement, all three of you men have confessed to the murder of Deputy Jackson. You are guilty of manslaughter. Your signatures all appear on the document. I feel compelled to apprise you, that unlike the team of lawyers with whom you met, I do not take lightly to the crime of killing an officer of the law. I think you are cold-blooded killers.”

“This can’t be happening,” Lily whispered to Katka. “What is he saying?”

“Therefore,” the judge continued, “I reject the recommendation of the prosecution and the defense and, based on this signed confession, I hereby sentence Mr. Anton Kovich, Mr. Samo Zupitz and Mr. Dusca Kalsich to twenty years of hard labor to be served at the St. Louis County Jail. You have the right to appeal, but do not expect to win.”

As he adjourned the court, Lily fainted. She never got to say goodbye to Anton.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 53 begins.