The Accused

The clock struck twelve as the last members of the council entered the small room. The accused sat on a stool in the middle of the room. She was only allowed to sit because of her physical condition. The telling bulge of her belly was displayed through her gown for the world to see. The tall, pretentious-faced man who stood before her began his questioning.

“Explain to this council why you stabbed Jonathon Hargrove, captain of the merchant ship Alexandra,” he uttered through his thin, scowling lips.

The girl sat silent for a moment before replying, “It was self-defense, sir.”

“Self-defense, was it? I think not, my dear. The first-mate, O’Malley, swears that you murdered the man in some sort of lover’s quarrel,” the girl’s accuser refuted. 

“Lover’s quarrel? Sir, the Captain was no lover of mine.”

“Then how do you explain your present state? Did a sailor sire your unborn child?”

Catriona winced at the cruel man’s question before answering, “I was raped, sir.”'

“The cry of many corrupted young ladies, Miss Ryan.”

“I was uncorrupted before meeting the Captain, sir. He drugged me and the other girls on the ship with a bowl of punch,” Catriona replied heatedly.

“What other girls do you speak of, Miss Ryan?” 

“The girls who were raped and murdered by Captain Hargrove,” she spat.

A roar overtook the small room as the council members spoke over one another. Catriona scanned the room nervously as the judge struggled to regain order.  It was unclear as to whether the council members were for or against her.

Led back to her small, dank cell, Catriona sat despondently on a clump of dirty straw that littered the stone floor of her prison. A flag bearing British colors fluttered outside the barred window, the gallows beyond.  

The End

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