two doorways with an elegant woman standing in one and a large tiger head in the other

The Lady, or the Tiger?

by Francis Richard Stockton

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Who was paid to wail if the unlucky door was chosen in "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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Stockton writes that if the "criminal" chooses the door with the hungry tiger,

"doleful iron bells were clanged, great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and the vast audience, with bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended slowly their homeward way, mourning greatly that one so young and fair, or so old and respected, should have merited so dire a fate."

Because of the king's love for theatrics, the reader should infer that the king hires the mourners to cry loudly--all to add to the atmosphere--which for the king is entertainment, not justice at work.

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