Beating Dubaille [4 Trandary 4261]
Havune despises Dubaille. I would say that he despises him more than anyone else in the world, but Lady Quissenden surely has that honor. I might even say that he despises Dubaille more than anyone else in the Academy Quarter, but even there I am not sure: Dubaille may hold that honor himself. Still, Havune despises Dubaille rather devoutly.
This morning three gentlemen representing the Lady Quissenden knocked on our door. Strictly speaking, only one of them was a gentleman, viz. Lady Quissenden's solicitor, whose name I did not catch. The other two were Khtsoyis, wearing her colors -- in the form of brand-new ribbons -- and each one carrying three small clubs wrapped in thin cotton cloth. "Is this the residence of one Dubaille Quissenden, Rassimel?" they asked me when I answered the door.
"Among other people. Who are you, and what is your task here?"
"We've a Writ of Physical Distress upon him. And, for his convenience, the Lady Quissenden has undertaken to hire Earsgemort and Loomwhockett here to help him with it."
"Bide a moment." Dustweed was beside me, and I asked her, "What is a Writ of Physical Distress? It sounds ominous."
"It's a court order of sorts ... the person it's for has "to arrange to be beaten in response to it, or the person who got the document in the first place can go back to the court and ask for harsher punishments. It's supposed to be an alternative to an approved vendetta... one beating and it's supposedly over, instead of allowing for revenge and counter-revenge."
I suppose we should let the solicitor in, then. I won't "have Khtsoyis around the apartment though," I said.
"You are Dubaille's friends?", he asked us.
"We are, in any case, those to whom he owes money in exchange for lodging. True friendship at times requires a closer meeting of spirits than that," said Dustweed.
"Or organs of generation, at least," added Tethezai.
"Is Dubaille presently available?" asked the solicitor. "For this Writ should be delivered in person."
Dubaille was duly extracted from his bed. Which, since it was nearly noontime, seemed less unreasonable to us than he made it seem. He read the Writ without obvious signs of pleasure. "No more than twelve bones to be broken?" he whined. "With even twelve broken, I shall not be able to work for weeks."
"This is a matter between you and your employers," said the solicitor. "The Writ does not concern such things."
He made a variety of other protests, which were met with equally bland and equally absolute denials.
At length, Dubaille drooped himself completely, and agreed with the solicitor that accepting the Writ now was preferable to letting the Lady Quissenden declare a full vendetta against him for his behavior at the party and before.
"I won't have it done in the apartment," I said. "For the Khtsoyis are not invited in."
"The Khtsoyis are not needed," said Havune. "For I shall attend to the matter myself."
There was a good deal of surprise. The solicitor pointed out that the Writ explicitly excluded Dubaille's partisans of all forms.
"But I am no partisan of Dubaille; very much the contrary. Indeed, I am an enemy of his, albeit to a lesser degree than the Lady Quissenden, and in ways that are somewhat suppressed due to our necessity of sharing a room. However, I am doing my best to remove him from that room, for a less congenial roommate I could not be tricked into accepting."
Demonstrations of that were duly made.
Dubaille, I shall be striking you about the rump and the "backs of the calves. Dress appropriately," said Havune. Dubaille tried to get some leather armor, but the solicitor refused to allow that. Havune lent Dubaille his greatcoat, which the solicitor had to accept. Havune brandished his riding crop; the solicitor refused that as well, and the two of them agreed that one of the Khtsoyis' clubs would be acceptable. Loomwhockett refused to allow a non-Khtsoyis to use one of his precious, traditional, sentimentally-valued clubs, until Havune paid him two lozens.
I did not stay to see the actual beating. I did overhear Havune and the solicitor arguing over whether the fourth, sixth, ninth, tenth, and seventeenth blows had been hard enough, a matter which Havune settled by having the solicitor himself provide Dubaille with versions of those blows.
In the end, the solicitor scowled at Havune, and the two of them agreed that the Writ had been satisfied, albeit ungenerously and in the letter rather than the spirit of the document. Dubaille signed his part of it, standing rather than sitting. From the sound of his cries, it seemed that he might not be sitting much for the rest of the day.
After the solicitor left, Dubaille bowed to Havune. "I thank you, sir, for not breaking any of my bones, or doing any worse thing to me."
Havune bowed back. "I accept your thanks. I trust, sir, that you recognize that I have protected you at considerably more length, personal effort, and personal risk than you had any right to expect: to this degree and this degree only I give you proper Cani loyalty."
Dubaille tucked his tail between his legs. "I must say, sir, that I had hoped for a more generous spirit."
"I must say, sir, that I had hoped for a more civilized roommate," said Havune.
Dubaille bowed once more, and departed, still wearing Havune's greatcoat.
Havune sighed, and poured himself a rather larger chalice of wine than he usually enjoys this early in the day. "Very ugly, that, but I couldn't let him simply get injured. I've lived with him for weeks now. It mightn't be long enough for the full force of Cani loyalty, but one week living with him is four or five weeks living with someone else. It's a wonder that Lady Quissenden isn't dead of old age already."
And that, I suppose, is how Cani balance their loyalty instinct against their personal wishes.
(Addendum: I asked Dustweed about how one gets such Writs. One explains on'es case to the Duke, or to one of his vicars; one demonstrates that a modest physical revenge will settle the matter, and that a modest physical revenge is entirely justified under the circumstances. One accepts the stipulation that, if the Writ is later shown to be issued unjustly, that one will onesself be under a more severe grade of the same Writ. In practice, this provides a means for well-connected people to take petty revenges upon slightly less-well-connected people. Dustweed has personally been the recipient of three of them, though none so severe as to allow breaking of bones or chitin. Zie showed them to me.)