She stood at the bar of justice
A frightened creature wan and wild—
In form too small for a woman,
In feature too old for a child.
For a look so worn and pathetic
Was stamped on her lovely face
It seemed that years of suffering
Was something time couldn’t erase.
“Your name?” asked the judge as he eyed her.
“Is Anna Ruiz, Sir,” said the girl.
“And your age?” asked the judge again,
Then girl replied, “I’ve turned fifteen.”
“Well Anna, I’m sorry to say,
That you have been charged today
By your town baker who said,
That you stole five loaves of bread
Do you know that stealing is bad?
And that you have displeased our God?
Do you know that you could be jailed?
And cannot be set free or bailed?”
“Your Honor, I know it was wrong,
But day in and out I walked along
Looking for work so I could earn
Even hard jobs, I’m willing to learn.
But fate’s unkind, my father is dead,
My mother is sick and lying in bed,
My brothers and sisters missed six meals,
They asked for food with eyes full of tears.
What could I do to save them from death?
I myself was losing my breath—
So I took the five loaves of bread,
But I’ll pay with services instead.”
There was silence in the courtroom,
That was suddenly filled with gloom.
The women wiped their tears away,
They heaved a sigh and tried to pray.
All dug into their pockets,
And then brought out their wallets
Sounds were heard of golden coins that fall
Into boxes passed around the hall.
The baker stood up and told the judge
“Your Honor, I’m withdrawing my charge.”
A rich lady gave Anna a job
That helped her and all that she loved.
Guilty or Not Guilty
Category: Declamation Pieces