Extract from the record of a court case held in the Judge’s chambers
Prosecutor: Now, Miss Gloat –
Defendant: It’s Ms Gloat, and don’t you forget it.
Prosecutor: Very well, Ms Gloat. I put it to you that late in the evening of the twenty-fourth of March you did, wilfully and with malice aforethought, enter the home of your next-door neighbour, Mrs Vinaigrette Mountbrace, and place in her bed a convincingly executed plastic model of a dead mouse, causing –
Defendant: I did no such thing and you can’t prove that I did. I know nothing about any mouse.
Prosecutor: Well, that’s all right then. We will move on to the second charge against you.
Defendant: Not so fast. If the mouse was made of plastic, it would have been dead, wouldn’t it?
Prosecutor: No doubt, but I have just said that we are about to address the second charge.
The Judge: Just a moment, Mr Beanforth, you are supposed to be the prosecuting counsel in this case, yet you have made no effort to disprove Miss –
Defendant: It’s Ms. Are you deaf?
The Judge: Partially, but kindly curb your impertinence or contempt of court will be added to the charges you face. Now, Mr Beanforth, what have you to say to my intervention?
Prosecutor: Only that Your Honour was somewhat hasty in saying that I have not tried to prove the first charge.
The Judge: Explain.
Prosecutor: I am merely attempting to lull the defendant into a false sense of security before I return to the mouse matter and execute the decisive thrust.
The Judge: You are going about your business in a strange way, but proceed.
Prosecutor: Thank you, Your Honour. Miss Gloat –
Defendant: It’s Ms. How many more times do I have to say that?
Prosecutor: Sorry. Now let us finally get to the second charge, which is that, following the incident involving Mrs Mountbrace and the mouse –
Defendant: Alleged mouse.
Prosecutor: As you wish. However, following the incident described in the first charge, you responded to the involvement of Mr Percy Mountbrace in the affair by striking him in his left eye with a bent stick. Why?
Defendant: Because I couldn’t find a straight one, and I didn’t do that either. Anyway, it didn’t hurt him and it would be the left eye because I’m right-handed, so his left side would be the most likely target, wouldn’t it?
Prosecutor: Your grasp of anatomy does you credit, but we are getting into deep waters here. First you say you did not carry out the assault, then you add that it didn’t hurt him. Which is it to be?
Defendant: You’re confusing me.
Prosecutor: That is my intention and I seem to be succeeding, don’t I? You have already contradicted yourself regarding the second charge and I have no doubt that in due course you will do the same with respect to the first. I suggest that your whole defence is a farrago of lies.
Defendant: Your muddling me again. What’s a farrago?
Prosecutor: A confused mixture, a medley. I hope it will not be necessary for me to give you free language lessons. I normally charge for my time, you know. Let us describe your testimony as a pack of lies.
Defendant: If that’s what you want to call it –
Prosecutor: Ah, so we are in agreement. You have been lying.
Defendant: No I haven’t. That mouse was made of wood, not plastic.
Prosecutor: Oh, it gets better as we go on. First you know say you know nothing about the model rodent, then you state that it was made not of plastic but of wood. Your Honour, I think I have demonstrated that Miss – sorry Ms Gloat is guilty as charged and that the jury will agree with me.
The Judge (emerging from a nap and catching only the last few words). What? Wake up, Mr Beanpole –
Prosecutor: It’s Beanforth, Your Honour.
The Judge: Never mind that. You seem to be singularly unobservant. Let me remind you that this hearing is in camera, so there is no jury.
Prosecutor: Beg pardon, Your Honour. For a moment I was thinking of another case. My contrition is boundless.
The Judge: So it should be, though I’m not surprised that you lost track of these proceedings. You have discombobulated me, the defendant and now yourself. Perhaps I have overlooked something here, but even if that is so, I am not willing to listen to all that nonsense again. It is clear that we shall never learn the truth in this case, so I am minded to dismiss it. Now off you both go and I hope that you will never darken my courtstep again.
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