Let’s face it, the money’s good,
and I wanted to travel to Hawai’i.
I can’t believe my life’s work has come to this—
I need to sit down.

I wanted to retire when I was fifty,
but I kept working due to disappointing investments.
All those trials:
Leopold and Loeb,
Finally, at seventy-one,
I had enough money to retire.

Then, the ’29 crash hit.
How could I have prepared?
My son is in debt; I lost a lot.

Luckily, people know my name and it helps.
Working with Universal Pictures
and participating in public arguments on religion
brought in money—
for a while.
Now people rather spend their money
on the talkies.

All my years of fighting for the rights of blacks—
to have it come to this:
I received a cable with the prospect of defending
Mrs. Grace Fortescue and three men
who killed a native Hawaiian man.
They’re paying a good price for my services.

Barnes can’t believe I’m here.
My wife says I can do good work in Hawai’i
and help everyone get along,
but I know she doesn’t feel right about any of this.

I know what some people are thinking, and I don’t blame them.
How could Clarence Darrow be attorney for the defense?

Talk story

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