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Old 06-23-2006, 07:53 PM   #370
littlemanpoet
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Eodwine and Saeryn took their seats again (it had been a most interesting discussion between the two of them regarding tenancy rights), and Thornden called the court to order with a thump on the floor of the staff Eodwine had procured for him recenlty. The two farmers stood before the Eorl.

The first freeholder, Edelfrid, who tenanted the disputed land, stood on Eodwine's and Saeryn's right; the second, Radweld, who had planted the crops, stood to their left.

"First," Eodwine said, "do each of you have someone to speak for you?"

"Aye, lord," they said.

"Let them stand forth, Radweld's man first, then Edelfrid's."

One freeholder joined each of the two opponents and after brief questioning from Eodwine, it was determined by the court that these two men were truth speakers and could be trusted with their word. Eodwine excused the two men, and regarded the two men in silence for a moment.

"Edelfrid," Eodwine began, "did you pay tenancy to the King for the field while it lay fallow the second year?"

"That I did, lord."

"Did you know that Radweld was planting crops in your field?"

"I knew, lord."

"Why did you not speak of it to your shire reave or bring a complaint to the king?"

Edelfrid's brow furrowed. "Lord, am I on trial, or this man's misdeed?"

"You are not on trial. But I must know as much as I can before I make a ruling. Answer the question."

"Lord, we have been unfriends for many years, and I admit that I hoped to win at his cost."

"That is ill-thought by you, Edelfrid."

"Yes, lord, I am sorry."

"Your unfriendship should be redressed, but the matter of the crops must be ruled on first. Why did you leave the land fallow the extra year, Edelfrid?"

"I plan to buy horses, lord, and I need a field for pasturing."

"That field is not big enough for horse pasturage!" Radweld scowled.

"You, neighbor," Edelfrid sneered, "have no right telling me what my land is good for!"

Thornden raised the staff and brought it down hard three times. The three knocks on the floor got the two opponents' attention. "There will be order in my lord's court," Thornden said smoothly.

"Thank you, Thornden," Eodwine smiled. "How many horses will you buy, Edelfrid?"

"Two, lord, a stallion and mare, to get foals to sell."

"Here is my thought on the matter. Radweld, you did wrongfully to plant on a field not in your tenancy. For that you must pay. Since Edelfrid was preparing his land for pasturage, you have stolen not only the use of his land for a crop year, but you have stolen time Edelfrid needed to turn the land to pasturage, and if Edelfrid is to hold to his plans to buy horses, he will have to pasture them elsewhere, paying rent."

"But-" Radweld interrupted.

"I am not finished, Radweld."

The freeholder subsided.

"On the other hand, Edelfrid allowed Radweld to do all the work on the field, with the hopes of gaining at Radweld's cost. This is wrongful. There is no law against it, but I would not have such things be the way things are done in my Emnet. Therefore, I rule first that Radweld must pay a fine to me of two tenths of the worth of the crop for his wrongful use of Edelfrid's land, due at the end of harvest. Second, Radweld must pay to Edelfrid double the yearly rate for rental of pasturage for two grown horses, due to be paid two full moons from now. Third, these fines covering Radweld's wrongdoing, he is ruled as tenant of Edelfrid for the planted field, and will pay to Edelfrid a normal tenant rate for one year's use of the field, due at the end of harvest, and may keep all that is left, for the sake of the work he has put into the land."

"Lord, if I may speak?" Radweld broached.

"Speak Radweld."

"To pay double yearly rent for two horses by a mere two full moons from now is hard, lord!"

"You did a wrongdoing, Radweld, and are paying for it. Besides, I will not see Edelfrid be in debt or forced to wait because of your misdeed; he will need the coin soon. That is all."

Neither Edelfrid nor Radweld looked completely happy, nor crestfallen. To Eodwine's mind, that was as it should be. The two men retired.

Assured by Thornden that these were the last freeholders, Eodwine opened the court to the needs and desires peasants and aliens.
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