Confusion over who is going to join with Liope, under common law.
|Chapter 18 Common Law Woman
They walked quickly from the Citadel back into town. When they reached the forge, Liope stopped and took a deep breath.
"Why don’t we go, on while you go in and tell Orin," said Cateyln.
With a sigh of resignation, Liope nodded and went inside. It was hot and Orin was beating red hot metal into spear points. He looked up and noticed his daughter standing off to the side. It was unusual for her to venture into the smithy.
"What are you doing here, is something wrong?"
"I need to talk to you Daddy. Can we go somewhere to talk?"
Orin laid aside his hammer and took off his gloves. He nodded towards the door and Liope led the way outside.
"What is it?" he inquired.
"Don’t be mad, but I have something to say that you're probobly not going to like."
"And what's that?" replied Orin, his curiosity mounting.
"You’re what?" He stuttered in disbelief.
"I’m gonna have a baby."
"What's this all about….and who’s the father?"
She looked down at the ground shifting her feet nervously.
"You’re not gonna to tell me?"
She shook her head, "no."
"You know what this means, don’t you?"
She nodded affirmatively, in resignation.
"It means that we’ll have to take it before the magistrate…a public notice and all that."
She looked at her father in embarrassment.
"Why don’t you just tell me who it is and we’ll have a private little ceremony?"
Liope looked down, shaking her head.
"OK, I get it now… You don’t want to be pointing the finger… You want the lad step up and take responsibility. Is that it? Of course it is. Hey, I’m here for you, you can count on me. I’ll go tell the Sheriff and get the ball rolling. Don’t worry Pumpkin, I’ll be right next to you, every step of the way... don’t you ever worry about that."
"I love you Daddy," she said, throwing her arms around his neck.
That afternoon the notice was posted in the Municipal Hall.
Be advised that Liope, Daughter of Orin, the Smith, is with child. Further, that she is unwilling to name the father. A public inquiry will be made tomorrow evening at eight O'clock to determine who’s responsible; followed by a union under common law. Anyone having information pertaining to this matter is directed to attend.
Needless to say this announcement caused quite a stir. The people talked constantly the next day about what had happened at the Citadel, the laying on of the hands, the speech and now the girl refusing to finger the one responsible. Speculation ran rampant as to why the elves treated her so differentially acting like she were some kind of royalty, and why responded back, like it was true. After all this was Liope. Everyone knew who she was. She was the daughter of Orin the smith and her mother was that stray Cateyln who'd walked out on him twelve years ago. It was a sensation such as Middleton had not seen in memory and the Municipal hall was jammed the following night.
“Order! Order! Said Orphious….I'm bringing this hearing to order. Step back! Step back! Give us some room around the table.”
Seated on one side of a long table was Orphious and his deputy Dumar. On the other side was Orin and Liope. On one end was a wash tub filled with water. In the gallery on the left were twenty-four Elves, seated in three rows. Everywhere else the towns folk were gathered, taking in excited tones and enjoying the spectacle.
"SILENCE!" shouted Orphious, " If you don’t settle down, I’m gonna start throwing people out." The room quieted.
"You all know why we’re here. There’s a question’s come up that’s in the public interest, that we need to get answered. Orin, I want you and Liope to stand up."
Orin and Liope stood.
"Liope, I don’t want to make this any more difficult than it already is, so I’m not going to drag this spectacle out. I want you to tell this hearing who it is that got you in a woman’s way. You can speak his name or point him out if you see him here tonight."
Liope looked around and then bowed her head to the floor.
"I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this but before I have my deputy administer the dunking… I’m gonna give whoever it was that done the deed, an opportunity to step up like a man, and take responsibility. So who’s it gonna be…don’t be shy…I swear if you make me wring it out of her, I’ll give you the same she gets, only ten times worse. No takers huh? Going once… Take her over to the tub Dumar…What’s the matter with you…? Take her over to the tub!"
Dumar stood up, white as a sheet, trembling. "I'm sorry Ms. Liope….if you‘ll please step over here."
Liope walked over to the dunking tub.
"Going twice, I’m waiting to hear, 'I’m responsible.'”
At that instant two voices speoke up from either end of the room.
“I’m responsible!” One was Morgolics' the other is belonged to Young Jernigan.
"Fancy that," said the Magistrate, "Two fathers, one girl. "OK Liope, its your turn now. We got two claiming responsibility. Don't feel like you're ratting anybody out… which one is lying or are they both telling the truth?"
Liope shook her head.
"Do I take that to mean that one is lying?"
She nodded affirmatively.
"So, one did the deed and the other is acting out of some misplaced sense of honor. Is that it?"
Yes, she motioned.
"Well now, let's examine the matter further. I think we're getting close." Mr Elf?
"My name is, Morgolic."
"Thank you. Morgolic, You say that you're the one responsible."
"Then please tell us when and where this fornication took place."
"We met the day the Snagar almost killed me up in the High Pasture.
"Care to elaborate?"
"I was carrying some precious objects..., didn't want them to fall into the wrong hands... anyway I was trying to figure out what to do when I saw Liope."
"I asked her to take them for safekeeping, and she agreed."
"You son of a bitch!" screamed Orin, "You raped my daughter!"
"I did no such thing. I asked for her favor and she consented.
Orin Looked at Liope… "Tell me this isn’t true."
Liope squinched up her face.
"Let me get this straight," said Orphious, You're being chased by the Snagar, you come upon Liope....you say keep these valuables... How am I doing?"
"Just fine sheriff."
"You give them to her and then you say, "Oh by the way, how about a little roll in the grass before the Felines tear me limb from limb...is that what happened?"
"Not exactly, but I swear to you, we were both in complete agreement."
"He enchanted her... thats the only way he could have done it!". Hollered Orin, "He cast a spell on my sweet innocent daughter."
"Calm down Orin or you'll have to step outside," said the Magistrate.
"I needed no enchantments," said Morgolic, "I made the offer and she accepted, of her own free will."
"He’s lying!, my daughter wouldn't go down willing, with no low-life Elf.”
Hearing that utterance, the Elves began to mutter among themselves with a clear note of hostility. Lucklily none was armed.
"Come on Orphious, don’t listen to that bull! There's another side to this story. Who you gonna belive a stranger, or one of our own?"
"This is your last warning Orin, one more outburst like that and I'll have the Men at Arms boot you out the door."
Orphious held up his hands to restore order, as things were starting to get out of hand. "Calm down, calm down....I SAID SHUT UP!" Order was restored
"Your words have been noted, Morgolic, even though I must tell you that it's hard to believe...so having heard your testimony I would now like to direct the questioning to Young Jernigan. "So, Jerenigan, If as you claim, you're the father, please tell us where the deed was consumated?"
"Along the river," said Young Jernigan.
"And when did this union take place?"
"Which time?" he replied.
"More than once?"
"As most everyone knows, Liope and I are sweet on each other and have taken lots of walks down by the river."
Liope was mortified. She resolved to put a quick end to the farcical proceeding. As her eyes flashed in annoyance, her mother's calming voice reached into her mind. "You might as well know that Young Jernigan is the one you're appointed to. He loves you and will until the day he dies."
"But he’s not the father of my babies," Liope asnered silently.
"He knows that. He also knows that this could be his last chance... to secure your hand under the law. He's prepared to do anything it takes. You'e destined to become his housekeeper, so why don't you quite fighting it and name him responsible?".
"He deserves better than me."
"He’s lucky to get you and I promise that one day you will bear him sons and daughters. Now extend your arm and point your fickle finger in his direction."
Liope looked over at Young. His mind read like an open book. All that Cateyln had told her was true and she saw his eyes pleading."
"So who’s it gonna be Liope, Morgolic or Young Jernigan?"
Liope pointed, "Jernigan's been loving me for a long time,' she said.
Orin breathed a sigh of relief…."The nerve of that Elf," he muttered.
"With that settled," said Orphious, there’s a final matter needs attending. Step up here Jernigan…and you over here, Liope."
"Do you Young Jernigan take Liope to be your common law wife, to provide her with shelter, clothing and food from this day forward?"
"Will you provide the same to your offspring, insuring all physical needs until they reach their sixteenth year?"
"Do you promise to keep and protect your family giving order and discipline to the household and instructing them in the laws and responsibilities of the community?"
And should the need for discipline arise you will be firm but not excessive?"
"OK" said Orphious, "now for the other part."
"Do you Liope, take Young Jernigan, to be your common law husband; to have authority over you, forsaking all others, serving and obeying him in all matters domestic?"
"That you will remain beneath his roof at least until your children reach their sixth year?"
"And after such time, if you choose to end this union, you will give public notice and reason for leaving?".
"Where will you reside?"
"Not in my house," said Young Jernigan's father
"In mine!" countered Orin.
"Having so promised and provided proof of support," concluded Orphious, "With the power invested in me I I pronounce you joined in accordance with the code of common law. Young Jernigan, you may take the woman home."
The Squire found Pluto at the Home Defense Gymnasium, not long afterward.
"Glad I caught you," he called out. "Lady Olivia sent me to deliver a message. She wants you to make sure you take the Scarab when you go to visit your Grandmother."
"I will," replied Pluto, trying to conceal his anxiety.
"I'll be picking it up soon," he went on, "maybe in Caladon."
"Whereever, I'll be waiting," answered Pluto.
"That was quite a performance you and Bedelia gave..., winning the Double Hat," the Squire continued. "Everybody is still talking about it….sports event of the century. When you get back home, maybe you can teach me some of those moves. Never know when I might bump into a troll."
Pluto smiled weakly as the Squire winked and turning on heel walked briskly away.
"Oh my goodness," thought Pluto to himself…"close call. What if he’d asked for it….?" Then he realized there wasn’t much time…last night he had bid Bedelia a passionate farewell in the lobby of her dormitory. Now he realized he needed to pay her another visit. Walking quickly he covered the half mile to the barracks where Bedelia lived. He walked up to the desk and asked the young orderly on duty.
“I need to speak to Corporal Bedelia Marsetti."
"Let me see if she's signed out said the young girl, walking over to the sign-out roster.
"Ah yes….It says here she's gone to the Ministry of Defense… Left a couple of hours ago. If you want to wait, take a seat over there."
An hour later Bedelia walked through the door.
"I need to talk to you…. Alone!" said Pluto.
"How about the passion pit?" replied Bedelia smiling.
"This is serious, very serious."
Bedelia took him by the arm and guided him into a grand old room that had once been the ballroom of a mansion, before it was converted into a dormitory for women.
"What is it?" she asked, guiding him into one of the over-stuffed couches.
"Squire Rogotelli came by earlier. Told me he would be picking up the scarab in a few days…. Said he would probably see me in Caladon."
Bedeila took a deep breath. "I've some good news and something you probobly aren’t gonna wanna hear."
"Don’t tell me you’ve lost it," groaned Pluto.
"It’s not that" she answered. There was a pause.
"Don’t do this to me," pleaded Pluto.
The Scarab turned loose," she replied
Pluto issued a sigh of relief.
Bedelia reached behind her neck and lifted the chain over her head.
"Thank Goodness," said her boyfriend, and starting to put it on.
"Not so fast big guy, take a good look first. It let go because it dropped dead."
Pluto held it to the light and sure enough all that remained inside the gold setting was the husk of the beetle.
"What happened?" he inquired.
"After I left you last night, I noticed it felt different…like it was hanging loose. When I checked it out there was only what you see, plus a little dust trickling out."
"Hey!" he answered trying to put a positive spin on things. "Nothing lives forever."
"What are you going to tell your God Mother?"
"As little as possible…Like it died….through no fault of my own."
"She’s telepathic Pluto. Don’t go trying to lie to her. Fess up, tell her the truth…blame it all on me…I’m not going to be anywhere around for awhile."
"Were are you going?"
"Just got back from the Ministry. A friend of mine is losing her powers. They want me to go and assist her."
"Where are they sending you….classified?"
"Nirvana," she answered, making the suuussh sign.
"I have to run, hun. We’re leaving later this afternoon."
"How about a little kiss first?" asked Bedelia.