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Subject: For All Nails #51k: Victoria's Secret (Part 11)

Magistrate's Court
Nairobi, Victoria
6 May 1973

The cross-examination was brutal.  Harry Keller had been at it
for most of the day, and he seemed determined to leave no
stone unturned.  Victoria had been prepared for a thorough
raking-over, but even she was surprised by how minutely Keller
intended to explore her life.  In the past seven hours, it
seemed as if he'd cross-examined her about every public
statement she'd ever made, every client she'd represented,
every half-remembered connection to the underground.  He'd
quizzed her about her association with black radicals all the
way back to secondary school, and no doubt would have asked
about the VNC sympathizer she'd shared a cradle with if he'd
only known.

She wondered if he thought he was repairing the damage done by
her two days of personal conversation with the jury.  She
wondered if he _was_ repairing the damage.

_We won't know that until the verdict, will we?_  The more
immediate concern was what Keller had saved for last; it was
getting on for four thirty, and she was sure he had a grand
finale planned for the end of the day.  She'd studied his
courtroom style, and he believed that it was always best to
leave the jury with something to remember.

She agreed with him about very few things, but that was one
of them.

"So, Victoria," he said.  "Let's return to your summation in
the Nzibo case, shall we?  It was one of your more celebrated
cases, I believe?"

"That often happens when I win."  She looked around at the
jurors conspiratorially, and counted at least four clandestine
smiles.  _I suppose I haven't lost them yet_.

"Move to strike as nonresponsive," Keller replied.  "The
witness is making speeches."

"I've been letting you do that most of the day," said
Magistrate Ian Douglas.  "Ask your next question, and don't
push your luck."

"At any rate, Victoria," continued Keller, "I was referring to
the comment you made at page 1228 of the trial transcript.
What was it you said?  'The defendant fought, but he fought for
what was right?'"

"Well, I don't have page 1228 in front of me right now, but
that sounds about right."

"Of course that sounds right, Victoria - hasn't it been
painted on ten thousand walls?"

"I couldn't say yes or no to that, Mr. Keller.  I never kept

"Hasn't it been chanted at thousands of Victoria National
Congress meetings?"

"As I said before, Mr. Keller, I'm not a member of the VNC, so
I'm hardly privy to what goes on at their meetings.  I do know
some of them have adopted it, yes, although they must be hard
up for slogans if they've taken that as one."

"But haven't they adopted it - your words, Victoria - because
it was an espousal of everything they stand for?  Weren't you
saying that it's all right to shoot farmers and rape farmers'
daughters, as long as it was all done in a good cause?  Wasn't
that statement a repudiation of everything you've been saying
to the jury these last two days?"

"Well, Mr. Keller, there are two answers to that.  I could say
that it was rhetoric on behalf of a client, much like the
rhetoric you're using now.  But that would be too easy - unlike
you, I take responsibility for what I say.  That summation had
nothing to do with shooting farmers or raping farmers'
daughters, and everything to do with how Michael Nzibo could
be falsely accused of such things because he had fought for
peaceful change.  There's more than one way to fight, Mr.
Keller.  I believe Mr. Nzibo chose the right way - and
evidently the jury believed that too."

"Quite a facile response, Victoria.  No doubt it's good at
swaying juries.  But do you deny that the VNC has used your
words to praise murderers?  'They fought for what's right?'"

"Once I say something, Mr. Keller, I have no control over who
borrows it.  You should know that, shouldn't you?  I believe
it was you who first used the phrase 'one law for one
Victoria,' but I've used it myself on quite a few occasions.
It comes in handy for summations - I believe you might find it
on page 1230 of the Nzibo trial, in fact."

"How convenient for you," said Keller, almost spluttering.
"You defend the VNC when it suits you, and disavow them when
it suits you.  Rather hypocritical, isn't it?"

_I won't get a better straight line than that if I wait all
day_.  "No more so, certainly," Victoria answered, "than your
building a political career out of denying civil rights to
your daughter."

"To my _what_?"  Keller's polished courtroom manner, already
frayed from the last ten minutes' exchange, vanished entirely.
"What kind of nonsense is this?"

Victoria looked at him evenly for a long moment, and smiled.
"Well, you did ask," she said.  "And since it's your own
question, you can hardly object to me answering."  Keller,
recovering from his shock, looked ready to do just that, but
she didn't give him time.

"I have in my possession the affidavit of Letitia Ntimana,"
she continued, withdrawing a sheet of paper from her purse.
"Mrs. Ntimana, you might remember, worked as a maid in your
house several years ago.  This is the same Letitia Ntimana,
I might add, who was the subject of an article in this
morning's _Guardian_, and who has been subjected to torture
at Nyeri prison camp on your authority.  In any event, it is
Mrs. Ntimana's sworn testimony that, while she was employed
in your household, she bore a daughter Dorothy, and that you
were the only man that had access to her - if that is the
right word - during that time.  I've checked your tax records,
and they corroborate Mrs. Ntimana's employment in your home
during the relevant time - but that's hardly necessary in
view of the family resemblance, is it?"  She let her gaze
drift out to where Dorothy Ntimana sat next to her parents,
inviting the jury and the audience to see what was obvious.

"I object, your Honor!" cried Keller, belatedly coming to
himself.  "I object to this trial being turned into a circus,
and I move to strike..."

"As the defendant said, Mr. Keller," replied the judge, "you
did ask the question."

"May it please the court, this is not a forum for making

"Oh, that wasn't a speech, Mr. Keller," interrupted Madoka.
"That was testimony.  If I wanted to make a speech, I might
say that my desire is to see Victoria become a country where
your daughter has civil rights, and that _this_ was what I
meant when I made the statement for which I am now charged
with sedition.  _That_, Mr. Keller, would be a speech."

The judge looked at Victoria, and then at the Public
Prosecutor.  "If you have no further questions of this
witness," he said, "I suggest you dismiss her and let the jury
go home."  He waited, but Keller responded with neither assent
nor another question.  "In that case, I will dismiss the
witness myself.  You may step down, Mrs. Madoka.  The jury is
reminded to be here tomorrow at nine."

Victoria watched the jury file out, and listened as the
audience's silence erupted into a babble of voices.
_Something for the jury to remember, Mr. Keller?  I think
they'll remember this..._

Jonathan I. Edelstein in Kew Gardens, NY

"It's been a lot of fun." -- in memoriam, Alison Brooks