Liber Jonae CAPUT EIGHT Page AIN



_____AIN_____

It's from files the Inquistion compiled.
This is background you'll need, said Toad.

And he then took the aforementioned horse
And did park it on the newly acquired ground,
Whereupon said horse proceeded to eat
The freshly sprouted grasses underfoot.

Horse? I said. What aforementioned horse?

I believe, said Quintus, his name was Ned.

Very good, said Toad. His name was Ned.
The King, he said to me, is good with names.

And the horse ate with such vigour and force
That those young plants not wholly devoured
Were torn up, left dead on naked soil.
When the party of the first part awoke
And saw the horse turning his lawn to mud,
He sought out his neighbour to make protest.
His neighbour, the party of the second part,
A powerful warlock, refused to hear
And only pointed to where dolmens sat.
And none of this would cause such offense
Had the horse been a healthy thoroughbread
Of proper size, conformation and age,
A steed of the sort that gladdens the eye
To see it graze on one's pasture or lawn.
But this old, broken-down derelict?
This wizened, wheezing, scaborous pony,
Its tail matted, caked, strung through with dung?
And first part said this to second part,
But met only with insults and rebuffs,
And so brought himself to the magistrate
To lay charges and make formal complaint.

That seems the responsible course, I said.

You need not take sides, replied Quintus.
This case, the ensuing litigation
With its many motions and countermotions,
Contesting writs, depositions and pleas,
Grew to such scope, such acrimony,
That the courts' attention was fully consumed
And no other matter, even murder,
Could gain any judiciary review.
So frantic and so urgent were appeals
That you'd think the nag dwelt on death row,
Waiting to take a last plod to the vet,
Stabled among perverts sentenced to die
For nibbling a sweet but underaged grape
Or psychopaths who kill without remorse
Or filthy scum who plot against their king
Or, still worse, neglect to pay a tax.
Death row - the very thought brings disgust.
They're all just a bunch of freeloaders
Who've found a way to live out their days
In warm dry quarters that Quintus provides,
With free medicine and clothing, free food.
I'd charge them rent but they'd never pay,
And if time comes, as it almost never does,
For a last meal before execution,
Each will expect to dine at my expense.
That wizard, for example, just last night
Ordered a big mac and a case of wine.

How did the case turn out? I asked the King.
Second part, it seems, didn't do well.

The State was left with a case of empties.
The man was so soused it took two guys
To prop him up to get the noose on neck.
And he did, I suppose, as well as he could.

I meant, royal highness, the legal case,
The case of second party versus first.



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