“Bitholaman Harcort Fnog, how do you plead?”
The shrew stood on his footpaws and gestured absent-mindedly with both paws, skewering and contorting his expressions. “Well…, y’see there, Your Judgeship…”
“Your Honor,” the judge interrupted.
“Let me assure you, mate, this ain’t my honor,” Bith said. The galley in the benches behind the perpetrators erupted in laughter. The elderly squirrel presiding over the court slapped his gavel on its base and frowned at Bith.
“I’ll take that as ‘guilty,’” the judge said.
“Most certainly not,” Bith said, clutching the lapels of his cloak and smiling at his attorney.
“Fates and mercy,” the lawyer defending Bith moaned, burying his head in a mound of parchments.
“Si’doan!” the badger officer barked to Bith, prodding at Bith with a long stick. The shrew retreated to his chair and gulped audibly.
“So noted,” the judge continued, poking at the tiny spectacles balanced on his snout. “And as for you, Shulacksonny Fenton Wtetta…how do you plead?”
The wiry otter stood up from his chair on the other side of the defense lawyer. “Here’s how I see it,” Shula started, widening his arms like a wrestler preparing for a match. “So, we were there by the pier, but we weren’t plannin’ on stealin’ nothin’—”
“Guilty!” the judge cried out, slamming his gavel again. Shula fell to his seat in dejection.
“That’s cruel an’ mean, sir,” he said, his face drooping in sadness.
“Watch yer mouth, Shula,” Bith shot. “We’re in court, see.”
“Quiet!” the badger called.
“Don’t seem like you brought your manners, though, Bith.”
“I’ll have you know I’m condensifying myself a literical defense, which I’ll oratify m’self.” Bith narrowed his eyes at Shula.
“Order,” the judge said.
“You’re makin’ up words again, Bith,” Shula smiled, folding his arms across his chest. “Little cheeker.”
“I am not!” Bith cried, leaping to his footpaws. “An’ who are you callin’ ‘little’?!”
“That’s enough!” the judge shouted, standing on his own footpaws. “You two are a disgrace to our populace, and your wanton acts of violence and general villainy are plainly documented.”
“Here, now,” Bith argued. He was silenced by another poke from the badger.
The weasel attorney assigned to defend Bith and Shula wobbled to his footpaws, sweating from every pore. “Y-y-y-your hon-hon-honor,” he stammered. “I’d like t-t-t-to submit a plea of insan-san-san-sanity on behalf of my—”
“Denied,” the judge said.
“Then I formally submit a p-plea of unconscionable ignorance—”
“Eager Beaver Disease—”
“It weren’t us, Judge,” Bith added.
Shula leaned towards Bith. “But we were there, Bith.”
The attorney sighed and buried his face in his paws. “I resign, your honor.”
The judge straightened himself and smirked at Bith and Shula as he unrolled a long parchment. “Bitholaman Harcort Fnog, Shulacksonny Fenton Wtetta, I hereby find you both guilty for the following crimes: frequently absenting yourself from paid commissionary work; wandering from place to place; attempting to wander; lying and idleness; attempting to be idle; general lewdness; attempting to be lewd; bad behavior; accusations of extortion; attempting to commit extortion; slandering, nagging and gossiping; attempting to slander, nag and gossip; delivering false dinner invitations; treason; sedition; arson; blasphemy; witchcraft; perjury; attempting to commit perjury; cheating; forgery; coin clipping; dice cogging; conjuring; fortune-telling; holding to devilish opinions; and drunkenness.”
“We’ve been busy,” Bith smiled to Shula.
“Aye, and what times!” Shula smiled back.
“I sentence you both to be hanged until dead tomorrow morning. Hearing adjourned!” The judge slapped his gavel for a final time, and the galley erupted in heated cries of support and outrage.
“You think we’ll have time to have a sugar pint before they hang us?” Shula asked Bith.
“I doubt it,” Bith said, allowing his paws to be pulled behind his back by a guard and bound.
“I guess there’s always next week, then,” Shula said, having his own paws bound.
The two were led to their prison cells and locked within.
Five hours later, they were swimming down the river Moss.
They swam to shore and trekked across the countryside to their favorite retreat: a pub/hovel called the Doan Un Yer Lucke, several leagues from the shady community of Regrettable Run.
“So what now?” Shula asked, his teeth rattling as he shivered into the rawhide blanket he wrapped around himself. The two had found a small table near the roaring fireplace.
“We fill our bellies an’ knock back a few,” Bith said, winking beneath his own blanket. “An’ then we’ll find us some decentorous work to engagement.”
Shula’s eyes widened, then narrowed, before he shook his head and finished off his glass. “Whatever you say, Bithy.”