Chapter 3 – The King’s Attorney
When we last visited Courage, New Hampshire, innkeeper Silas Rhodes was investigating the illegitimate pregnancy of the pious Sarah Pine. The accused father, a British Soldier named Bob Wheedle, postured and weaseled, using a bundle of defensive tactics known as “The Ermine.”
As the chapter opens, we’re back at the Rhodes Tavern, where Silas Rhodes’s kazillion children are playing some sort of indoor bowling game. At the door appears the dark figure of a Mean Old Man.
In a bold departure from the norm, we learn right away that his name is Simeon Trapp. We’ll soon find out that he’s the lawyer here to represent Wheedle and the King’s army.
Innkeeper/Justice/Postmaster/Bookmaker Rhodes comes out in an apron with a few tiny grey smudges on it and apologizes, noting that he was just in the middle of butchering a pig. Maybe he wrapped it tidily in Colonial Saran Wrap first?
Trapp can’t believe that Rhodes would bother the King’s army with this nonsense, but Rhodes, whose alignment is clearly Lawful/Good, says that keeping the peace is what he does.
Trapp says that things are heating up all over, describing Boston as “a full-tilt hammer-and-tongs cockfight,” winning my heart forever and making me wonder if Boston has a pregnancy epidemic of its own to deal with. Trapp then suggests that maybe the good people of Courage, instead of igniting this powder keg of controversy, should just dig up a little extra bread and support the fatherless child.
Trapp the Mean Lawyer had better learn one thing, and learn it quickly: Do not ask a Tea Partier to help support someone else’s innocent newborn. It makes them drop back behind a wall of offended stone-cold rage, as Innkeeper Silas does here.
We cut to Mean Lawyer Trapp eating the very pig that was getting butchered earlier. (See: Chekov’s rule about guns.) He’s sitting across the table from Two Unnamed Reading Guys, while Silas sits feet away, whittling little wood chips into a small barrel. That activity makes no sense to me. I guess it’s a wastebarrel for convenient indoor whittling? Or something?
You know that class project you did in maybe the fourth grade where everyone had to pick something and look Vaguely Colonial for a bit? Like one of you pretended to dip beeswax candles and one of you stood by some cardboard stocks and one of you pretended to roll a wooden hoop and one of you rendered a goat?
A lot of this show’s scene-setting reminds me of that.
Anyway, Trapp points out again that the town – and indeed Rhodes himself – is doing pretty well. Nice, rich harvest, good land. Really, they can’t come up with some extra infant formula and a couple of diapers?
Rhodes nips that in the bud. Not because he’s stingy, you understand. It’s just that he’s really into principles. I’m sure he gives a lot to charity offscreen.
Millions for defense, but not one penny for our own young! I’m sure Jefferson would have used that slogan if he’d thought of it.
Trapp then drifts into oiliness, saying that Tavernkeeper Rhodes suuuure has a nice setup here, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it, and then suggests that Rhodes should be taking more judicial graft.
Bob Wheedle comes back in and bitches about how Silas has been making him do farm labor to pay for his guard and upkeep. Rhodes wisely responds that “justice does not run on good intentions.”
I’d assume that the preceding line was a sideswipe at activist judges, but the point about Bob being made to earn his own prisoner keep has now been made twice, and pretty firmly.
I’m not sure if Courage: New Hampshire is making the point that well-off citizens like Rhodes should never do anything to pitch in for the good of their communities or if it’s coming out in favor of private, for-profit prison systems like the ones that are doing so well in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Either way, it’s a valuable insight.
Just in case you weren’t sure who the good guys and bad guys are here, one of the Unnamed Reading Guys (who turns out to be Sarah Pine’s clever attorney, Mr. Fox) drops a quotation about how men who seduce young unmarried women should step up and marry them. Elitist King’s Lawyer Simeon Trapp doesn’t recognize the quotation and tells Fox to save his legal arguments for the trial. Rhodes steps in to spike that serve and says that the quote Trapp can’t even recognize is from the Bible.
Did it get frosty in here, or is it just the cold New Hampshire winter?
A good lawyer should be up on his Biblical law, since, really, that’s what we should be basing our secular laws on. I bet that creepy elitist King’s lawyer is up on his Sharia law, don’t you think?
I wonder how he’ll perform in the actual trial.
Next up – Chapter 4: Trial (Part 1)