The severity of the sentence silenced the court. The whoremaster’s eyes were wide with fright, though his jaw was set with determination.
‘I always treated my girls well—’
‘Yes,’ said the judge. ‘You were not as monstrous as you could have been. So what?’
‘Mercy!’ cried the whoremaster, as two freedmen guards grabbed a shoulder each. ‘My Lady – mercy!’
The judge raised a hand and the freedmen guards stopped. She leaned forward.
‘I am no lady,’ she growled. ‘There are no ladies, no lords, no masters – and no slaves. Not here, not any more. We are all free, now. Do you understand?’
‘Yes. I understand. But—’
‘Good.’ The judge looked over to one of the guards, who were both grinning widely, and nodded. ‘Take him to the place of execution.’