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The Block – Chapter II Part 3: Lexington, Aingland October 25, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Block - Chapter 2.
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Only the man who has enough good in him to feel the justice of the penalty can be punished; the others can only be hurt.

–  William Ernest Hocking

The Block – Chapter II Part 3:  Lexington, Aingland

Debt and Indenture in the Empire of Uppsala

© D. Erick Emert


Mrs. Farmer stood and walked to the door.  In a moment or two her husband stepped into the kitchen.  He looked over at Russell and then back at his wife.

“’E been waitin’ long, Remy?”

“No, Edsil, not so much as one cuppa.”

Russell stood up as Edsil walked over to him and extended a hand.  Russell took it thinking, ‘this could have been so much more difficult.’

“Edsil Farmer.  Me daughter ‘ere says ya come ta discuss my problem?”  His son and daughter came in behind him and took seats at the far end of the table, Elizabeth sat beside her mother.

“Oh, thet thar’s me son, Tom and me daughter, Elizabeth.”

“Russell Jones, Summoner First Class from New London.  I’ve met Elizabeth.  Yes Mr. Farmer.  I’m here to discuss your options with you and your family.”

Mr. Farmer took a deep breath and motioned Russell to sit down again.  He took the chair at the end of the table between Russell and his wife.

“Call me Edsil, Russell.  No need ta be so damned official, is thar?”

“No, Edsil, there isn’t.”

“All right, what of ah dug meself inta?”

Russell brought up the large envelope that he had set beside his chair.

“Do you read, Edsil?”

He nodded.  “Yessir.  Learnt early on.  Me kids can read too.”

Russell pulled a page from his envelope and handed it to Edsil who took it and looked it over.

“Pretty fanciful language, not?”

“Yes it is.  Do you want me to go over it with you?

“Ah’d ‘preciate it, Russell.”

Edsil passed the complaint back to the Summoner and pushed his chair closer so both of them could view the document at the same time.  Russell pointed to the writing at the top of the summons.

“Okay.  This part is legal gobbledygook stating that you are the person the complaint is accusing of refusing or being unable to pay an authentic debt.  Authentic meaning they have proof the debt is actual and that you incurred it.”

Edsil nodded his head.

“This second part is more legalese that names Ernst Miklin as the man who registered the complaint with the Indenture Service Office and that he’s the man to whom you owe the debt.  Got that?”


“The next paragraph lists the debt – a sum of one hundred twenty gold tankers.  Is that correct?”

Edsil hung his head.  His wife collapsed her face into her hands on the table top.

“Then the court estimates its costs at another 80 gold tankers to bring you to trial and send one or more members of your family to The Block in Uppsala to be auctioned into indenture until the complete debt is paid.  A debt total of two hundred gold tankers.”

Edsil sat speechless.  Remy cried uncontrollably.  The kids sat with blank expressions on their faces, not understanding what was being said or how it could affect them.  Elizabeth took her mother’s left arm and tried to console her.

“The next paragraph sets your court appearance as Monandaeg, the sixteenth of Quintilis in the District Court of Angland, Debt Division.  You have to be in courtroom two-twelve at eight in the morning.  You should have plenty of time to get your whole family there.  They all must accompany your.  You’ll meet your lawyer at that time.”

Edsil made no reply.  He sat and stared straight ahead with a blank look on his face.

“The last bit is just the signature of my boss and the state seal of the Empire of Uppsala.”

Finally, Edsil spoke.  “A court trial.  So they might find me not-guilty, no?”

“I’m afraid not, Edsil.  These things are prearranged. They only way you could get off the hook on this is if they investigate and find that Miklin cheated you somehow.”

“’E did.”

“But can you prove it?”

Edsil hung his head again, wringing his hands.  “No.  Ah can’t.”

“I’m sorry.  You do have options, Edsil.  Let’s go over them now.  We’ll see if we can limit the damage to your family somehow.”

Edsil nodded and looked over at his wife.  “Let’s ‘ear ‘em.”

“Okay.  First option – sell or mortgage the farm.”

Edsil shook his head.  “Can’t do neither.  Ah already got a mortgage on it and if’n ah was ta sell it, it wouldn’t bring enough ta cover both the debt and the mortgage.”

“I understand.  I’m sure then that borrowing from family or friends is also out of the question?”

Tears started to well up in Edsil’s eyes.  “Who would trust me for a amount like thet?  No.  Not possible.”

“Well, Edsil, the only other way to cover the debt is through indenture service.  Do you know what that is?”

“Not really.  Work it off?”

“Yes.  In a situation like this, your whole family is held responsible for the debt.  So you, your wife, one or both your children, or any combination of family members would have to agree to travel to Uppsala to be auctioned off on the block to cover your debt.”

Russell looked up at Edsil then made sure Remy was listening.

“It works like this, Edsil.  Your debt total to the Empire will be two hundred GT.  One year of indenture will gain you ten GT.  That means one person would have to be indentured for twenty years to pay off the debt.  Two could work off the debt in ten years.  Three, six years and nine months.  And if all four of you are indentured, it would take five years to overcome your debt.”

Remy stood up and gathered her children to her.  She cried in earnest now.  She looked at her husband and said, “Edsil, what ‘ave ya done?”

Tears ran down Edsil’s face.  “Ah know, Remy.  Ah’ll never touch another deck of cards in me life.”

His wife screwed up her face and wailed, “It’s too late, Edsil.  It’s already too late.”

Edsil looked over at Russell and spoke through his sobs. “Remy and Ah can’t go.  Who would run the farm?  They’d tyke it ta cover the mortgage.  It’s all we got in the world.  It’s a future for our kids.”

“I understand.”

“Ah need ta talk this out with me family, Russell.  Can ya come back tomorrow?”

“I’ll be glad to.”  He stood up and slid the summons in front of Edsil.  He took his envelope and looked over at Remy and the children.

“I’ll help in any way I can.  I know you’ll have questions about this tomorrow and that’s okay.  I’ll answer them truthfully.  Indenture in the Empire of Uppsala isn’t as bad as it sounds.  It can be both a learning experience and who ever is chosen to go could very well come out ahead of the game.  Keep that in mind.”

Edsil said, “Thank ya Mr. Jones.  We truly ‘preciate yer ‘elp.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning then.”

Russell turned and paused in front of the door.  He opened it and stepped up on to the porch, closing the door behind him.  As he did so, he heard Remy say, “Children go ta yer rooms.”  Today was difficult, he knew.  Tomorrow would be even thornier.  He took a deep breath, put the envelope in his saddlebag, mounted his horse and headed back to Lexington.

Inside, Remy stood at the table while an uneasy Edsil kept an eye on her.

“Ya bloody idiot!  Now what are we gonna do?”

“Calm yerself, Remy.  No sense losin’ it ‘ere.”

“Losin’ it!”  Remy bent over and with a single thrust, swept everything on the table onto the floor.  The children trembled in their room on hearing the noise.

“Cor, Remy.  Wha’d ya go and do thet for?  Gittin’ angry with me ain’t gonna solve nuthin’”

Remy stood up straight and walked calmly over to the kitchen counter, opening a drawer an pulling out a long knife.

“I should cut yer bloody ‘ead off, Edsil, n be done with ya.”

With that she dropped the knife and melted into a crying mass on the floor.  Edsil got up, walked over and sat next to her, putting his arms around her.

“We’ll git through this, Remy.  We’ve got through worse.”

“But who’s gonna do the time?”

“Only ones thet can.  The kids.”

“The kids!”  She started bringing her fists down on Edsil’s shoulders.  “Why the kids?  They’ve done naught ta deserve such.”

“Ah know, Remy.  But they’ll do the shortest time.  Heck, it’ll be a bit of education for ‘em.  They’ll learn things we can’t provide.”

Remy didn’t answer.  The two kept holding each other, rocking back and forth on the floor.



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