Mack’s Conversion

Skimming back and forth across the Holy Land, Elijah felt the need to set down his chariot and

he did so upon the banks of the Jordan. He came to a small tavern near to that spot wherein a great man of Laodicea was holding forth. The two mocked each other to their mutual admiration before Elijah removed him from his seat. Elijah laughed and told him that the direction of his conscience undoubtedly lay in the sea. The man went up from the tavern. He came upon the chariot beside the river then and was caught away upon it, flying upward like a shot into the sky.

After the pass of a day, the chariot settled and became tangled within a stand of silk trees. He

pitched forward naked as his clothes had been burned away by the heat of the chariot.

He flew senseless next for a day, streaking to the sea. With his hair whipping behind his body, he

struck down feet-first onto a carrack crossing that same water. This ship carried the queen of a great kingdom and her maids and none others. The Laodicean pushed through the decks before coming to rest in her apartments, and all without splinters.

The women then cried, ‘Cry aloud: for he sleeps, and must be awakened.’ And thereupon he

awoke to find himself facing a chain of naked buttocks. Like a lamb dumb before his shearer, he did not open his mouth. He showed himself to them then and pulled grace down over his own coat like a mantle. The ship tacked hard to windward over and over again, and Mack thanked the prophet Elijah until he came to Caesarea in this manner.

In Defense of Mack’s Conduct

Gentlemen of the jury, the right honorable judge, widows and orphans of the court, allow me to

apologize for the sermonizing of my esteemed colleague, the prosecutor. Ms. Cecilia Champlain, late a darling debutante of eighteen years, has proven inexorable in pressing defamation and slander on my client, Captain Macheath. However, we shall see how the claims of this intractable and impenetrable tart – this veritable Salomé – fare under a moment of logical examination.

The charge stands at corruption. Ms. Champlain accuses Captain Macheath of repeated

exploitation and mishandling, of composing letters upon her lower back over the course of numerous seductions and ravishments. Regarding the last point, he has amply proven to the satisfaction of the court that his correspondence is by no means so vast as Ms. Champlain alleges must be the case. This has been verified by post-masters across the land. We must ask if the accusing party can field so many trustworthy witnesses as my client has done upon this point or upon any other point. Indeed, we may recall that the prosecution has hitherto failed to provide any external corroboration whatsoever for Ms. Champlain’s accusations ut novetus sexus omnis corporis mysterium.

In closing, let us remember the words of the New Testament: that all whom lust after a woman in

thought – in nothing more than thought, mind you – are guilty of adultery. Look at the promising hips of this sweet girl, her come-hither glances, her indescribably adorable nose. If my client is guilty of anything, ego vox clamantis in deserto, he is guilty of irreverence towards the bony Puritanism of the young lady whom you see before us. Whatever we state may or may not be true in a legal sense, but can we then offer any comfort for his human suffering under this hoary, Biblical law? If you will pardon me for speaking for all here present, no, I do not think that we can.

Mack’s Education

Echoing the cannon-fire over in nearby Trenton, old Jacob loosed a volley of laughter through

the tavern off the ferry. Despite the groggy curiosity of the German settler behind him, this last in a line of old men turned Mack aside for a word. He only told the boy to make a clean heel of three things: the sermon missing its catch, the expected engagement, and the priest waiting outside the bedroom. ‘Just remember,’ he said, ‘don’t do a thing unless you can surprise ‘em, see the white of their eyes.’

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