"In cases of absolute wrongdoing, it is impossible for even the least experienced official to deviate from the iron rule of conduct. Cause and effect; effect and cause: these two facets of an absolute system corollorate with absolute precision. Two persons having committed a Category One crime, two persons will automatically suffer a Category One punishment, and the Essential Equipoise of justice will therefore be painlessly maintained. "
"It is what the scrupulous would look for," assented Chun.
"It is what they will inevitably see," replied the magistrate. "Should your leisurely footsteps chance to turn in the direction of the public execution ground on the occasion of the next general felicity, your discriminating eyes will receive assurance that that the feet of the depraved will find no resting-place on the upright soil of Hoo-Yang."
"It is indeed a matter of rejoicing that your penetrating gaze recognised the degraded miscreants who will thus be brought to an appropriate end."
"If," the magistrate remarked profoundly, "so sublime a principle as justice should depend on so fallible a thread as a single human attribute, all feeling of security would be gone for ever. The two misbegotten harbingers of shame who attacked this hard-striving person will sooner or later meet with a fate that will be both painful and grotesque. In the meantime the wholesome moral of retribution will be inculcated in wrongdoers by two others (doubtless quite as abandoned in their various ways) demonstrating that authority does not slumber."
"It has been claimed that there is equally one law for the just and the unjust," assented Chun, "and in a certain guise --"
"Your loyal approbation nourishes the roots of our endeavour," interposed the magistrate, rewarding the speaker with a handful of melon seeds cast in his direction.
Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat, Earnest Bramah, 1928