In the good old bad days in Sicily, the advantages of appealing to the mafia instead of to the law were illustrated as follows. Suppose someone has been robbed of 100,000 lire-worth of cattle, and seeks redress through the police. The official statistics of cattle-stealing show that in 75 per cent of such cases the police can dis­cover nothing, in fifteen out of the remaining twenty-five cases, the police discover the perpetrators of the theft, mere pawns in the game from whom, of course, nothing can be learnt as to the real crooks, but fail to recover the stolen goods, while only in ten cases out of a hundred do they succeed in finding and restoring the cattle.

The victim of the theft has, therefore, ninety chances out of a hundred of losing his cattle against ten of recovering it. To this must be added the time lost and the travelling expenses involved in going to court (the machinery of justice then being intrinsically cumbersome, apart from the remissness of police, lawyers and judges), not to mention the probability of reprisals. If, on the contrary, the victim appeals to the mafia, he is almost sure to recover part of his loss, that is to say there are ninety-five chances out of a hundred of his doing so.

From this it will be seen that the mafia acknowledged certain limitations in its control over malefaction, there being cases when the unruly, members of the underworld were able to conceal their movements from the friends or to flout their authority by taking advantage of inter­necine strife between rival factions of mafiusi.

Generally speaking, however, the mafia recovered the stolen goods, which it restored to the owner for a consideration amounting to about a third of its value. In the above instance, the cattle would be handed back for a reward of 30,000 lire or its equivalent in kind. The mafia offered, therefore, a 95 per cent prospect of a 7o per cent recovery, while the law could offer a bare 10 per cent chance of complete recovery. To this one must add that the mafia concluded the whole business within a few days, affording the victim of the theft security against reprisals and comparative immunity against future attempts on his property, while the law, acting through its cum­bersome machinery of summonses, inquiries, cross-examinations, etc., often took a year to wind up the affair, not to mention the days, weeks and sometimes months which the plaintiff was com­pelled to waste in and around the courts, haunted meanwhile by the fear of reprisals, the likelier to occur as the case drew to a successful conclusion.