Just because Ms. Violet Crepuscular’s books are so hard to find doesn’t mean I’m writing them. I am not Violet Crepuscular. I have a beard; she doesn’t. I’ve never read a romance novel, except for her inimitable Oy, Rodney. That having been settled, we move on to
Every trial in Scurveyshire is the Trial of the Century. This time the defendant is the merry poacher known as Mickle the Merry Poacher and the plaintiff is Lord Nodule, demanding justice. This is the first case to be tried by Lord Jeremy Coldsore as Justice of the Peace.
“I demand justice!” barks Lord Nodule. “This peon, this excrescence on the body politic, this walking bubo known has Mickle the Merry Poacher, has been poaching on my land for 15 years and I want him stopped! I demand he be punished by drowning!”
The first witness is Constable Chumley, the arresting officer. “Oh, aye,” he testifies, “Mickle been doddlin’ the cairns swofty-like aforementioned deedle.” He is dismissed from the witness stand as soon as possible.
Several of Mickle’s neighbors, and six of Lord Nodule’s tenants, testify that the Merry Poacher has never actually succeeded in poaching anything. “He couldn’t catch a cold,” swears the Widow Flibbert. But the defendant, when he is finally sworn in, insists he has been very successful indeed.
“Caught me a centaur, once’t!” he boasts. “Let’s see anyone top that!”
“What did you do with it?” Lord Jeremy wonders.
“Was gunner eat it, wasn’t I! Only then I found a note on my door from Black Rodney tellin’ me I had to let it go, so that’s what I done.” The crowd gasps.
“I object!” Lord Nodule roars. “Ask him about the badgers!”
“Badgers? Ain’t never caught no badger,” Mickle admits.
“My lord, there are no badgers in Scurveyshire!” interjects the shire’s game warden, Officer Foffle.
“Caught me a Elf once’t, too,” says Mickle.
The public defender, Mr. Potash, moves that all charges be dismissed. “My client is obviously mad, my lord.” He produces a notably ridiculous-looking gadget. “This absurd contraption is one of Mr. Mickle’s homemade snares. You can see it’s perfectly useless for any purpose whatsoever.” Mickle scowls at him. “I call on you to find him Not Guilty by reason of demonstrable idiocy.”
“He still ought to be drowned,” grumbles Lord Nodule. “What’s this shire coming to, anyway?”
Lord Jeremy sees no alternative but to dismiss the charges. Lord Nodule glares at him.
“You haven’t heard the last of this, Coldsore!” he declares. “I shall be with you on your wedding night!” [Editor’s Note: I think that’s what Frankenstein’s monster said to his creator, Victor Frankenstein, in Mary Shelly’s classic horror novel. What was Ms. Crepuscular thinking when she penned that line?]
The chapter ends abruptly with a recipe for aphid jelly. I cannot bring myself to repeat it.