In Chapter CXL of Violet Crepuscular’s indescribable romance, Oy, Rodney, she takes up “the Trial of the Century” in Scurveyshire.
Jasper, the village idiot, comes before Lord Nodule, Justice of the Peace, on the charge of creating a public nuisance. Before any testimony can be given, Lord Nodule bangs his gavel and announces, “I sentence you to be impaled!”
A shocked silence falls over the courtroom, broken only by Willis Twombley’s comment to Lord Jeremy Coldsore in the gallery, “Y’know, Germy, them johnny-come-lately Assyrians used to impale folks all the time. Did wonders for public morale. I’ll definitely consider it, once I git my kingdom back. Run out the Turks and impale the whole gang.” Twombley, an American adventurer, still thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad.
Jasper is the first to find his voice. Well, not the first: more like the second. “My lord, I must object most vigorously to this absurd and barbarous sentence, and you may be sure I shall file a formal complaint with the Chief Justice of England. You have no authority to levy these draconian punishments!”
Lord Nodule is confused. “Draconian?”
“Yes, my lord. According to Plutarch and other classical writers, Draco was made dictator and lawmaker of Athens in the generation or two before Solon–”
“Enough!” Lord Nodule snatches off his wig and slams it on the bench. “Enough, I’ve had enough of mollycoddling public offenders! No impalings indeed!” He hurls his gavel over his shoulder and storms out of the courtroom. His parting shot: “Tell the Lord Chief Justice he can’t fire me, I quit!”
Suddenly Scurveyshire is without a justice of the peace. The mayor laments, “Suddenly we are without a justice of the peace! What are we to do? We need a replacement!”
“I nominate Jasper,” calls out Mr. Jimcrack, the wool magnate. A hubbub ensues, until Sir Alastair Widget, an amateur scientist who breeds very skinny, bad-tempered hogs, calls for silence.
“There is only one obvious replacement for Lord Nodule!” he bellows. “I nominate Lord Jeremy Coldsore of Coldsore Hall! He’s the only lord we’ve got left.”
Jeremy is speechless. The crowd goes wild with enthusiasm, and he is elected on the spot by popular acclaim. Twombley claps him on the back.
“Atta boy, Germy! You’ll soon set this place to rights!” And whispers into his ear, “You can save the impalings for later, after the folks get used to you.”
Jeremy can only mutter, under his breath, “Oh, no!”