Robert Farthengrodden considered himself to be the pampered minion of misfortune; he was restrained in youth choosing not to frequent the various dens of ill-repute that his contemporaries did. Fastidiously avoiding the highways and by-ways of sin, adhering abstemiously to the tenets of Gove and entering full service therein with his Aunt, Lady Farthingrodden’s blessing. He might have continued thus, an ordained reverend,adjuring his flock to cling religiously to the well-lit paths of sweet Gove and smiting the unrighteous into line with his shepherd’s crook, were it not for the angelic appearance of sweet Mary Parnham. Miss Parnham, second child of the infamous Master Parnham lately of Raven’s Industrial Academy, drew the eye of the ill-fated Farthengrodden and kept it. A’swoon with licentious craving, the Reverend Farthengrodden threw off the shackles of conubial bliss escaping with that misguided maid to Spitalfields, a pretty distance from the resplendent and noble country estate he had previously called home.
Embracing wholeheartedly a depredatory existence, he took up residence with sweet Mary in a string of disreputable boarding houses (for even these dens of iniquity have their standards), eventually winding up disinherited by his grieving Aunt, and wholly dependent upon what he termed an inadequate allowance, bequeathed to him by his impoverished (though genteel) mater.
Lucinda Bedelia-Farthengrodden sought audience with her husband (which was granted) and throwing herself at his feet, beseeched him to repent and return unto the bosom of his suffering family. “She is and always had been a model of feminine probity, my sainted companion before the throne of Gove and mother of my children, what was I to do?” Indeed, what was he to do with sweet Mary clinging to him so desperately, “like a barnacle to the hull of a wayward ship” as one of the detective police put it. “The dear partner of his sorrows, was dear no more once he realised he’d have to enjoy ‘er without his inheritance!” said that same officer of the law chuckling.
All may weigh the soundness or unsoundness of his conclusions, for on the 10th of January, on a cold, crisp Monday morn, Mary was found strangled. And upon the alerting of the detective police t’was discovered that whoever had ‘done’ away with sweet Mary had also attempted to hide the evidence of his misdeed by setting fire, unsuccessfully, to the bed. ” There was no doubt he’d done it! T’was an open and shut case I would have thought” murmured that same detective of the police. And so thought His Worship Judge Peepey, that is, until his clerk bethought him to pay close scrutiny, to which barrister would be mounting the reverend’s defence in this particular open and closed case of murder, “T’is ‘im agin your worship” he muttered, misery sat squarely upon his face. His Worship groaned, he clutched his stomach, “What?! Tobias Kinsella QC? Again?” Judge Peepey remembered well his last ferocious skirmish with Kinsella which had seen justice most indubitably done, but had forced him to take to his bed for a week. “And what of the counsel for the prosecution?” here the judge’s clerk rolled his eyes,”Jeremy Fitzgibbon funded in all good consciense by the state”
“Fitzgibbons? Dear God!”
His Honour considering whether it might not be best to hand the case on to some other more learned friend, and learned from his grim faced clerk that there were none more learned, or more stolid in their suffering than himself; he must attend to the case.
On the day the trial opened the public gallery was so crammed with onlookers that it was impossible not to concede that this was (almost) the most infamous trial of the year,if not the century. The charge? That the Reverend Fathengrodden had done away with Mary Parnham in order that he might return to the family seat (and his wealth) unencumbered by her. “In short that he ‘ad murdered the misguided wench so as he could ave his cake and eat it!” the detective police chuckles quietly to himself as if for all the world he were discussing some light hearted topic or other. Leaning in closer to his confidant he murmured the following,
“You may ask what the defence is? Sonambulism!Sonambulism! That’s sleepwalking to you and I! An as far down the road of depredatory existence as he has travelled I doubt not there’ll be a whole string of ruffians ready to testify as to his sonambulisitic cavortings! He’ll get off! T’is beyond reckoning! For who you may ask prosecutes him? Fitzgibbons the drunk! And who defends him? Queens Counsel Kinsella! Ha!”
Ha! Indeed, for Kinsella is well known at the Bailey for causing many an ailing case to spring suddenly to life, filling the public galleries to bursting with his eloquent oratory, and causing all who enlist his help to escape the noose of justice. A feared ‘physician of the Old Bailey’ he is the scourge of most sober prosecutory types. Take the case (or cases if you wish) of the infamous Moll Wetland, acquitted several times of offences the detective police were adamant she had committed, “She and er gang have scandalized Spitalfields for years’an that’s sayin something! Does she go down for running sneak thieves and buttock twanging? Does she ever! Acquitted time after time by Kinsella!” our detective police pauses for a nip of sherry and continues,” ‘ouse robberies,pick-pocketing, sneak thievery,gonophing, you name it she ‘ad a hand in it! We gets hold of ‘er and she’s bound for the Bailey, Kinsella gets hold of her and she’s acquitted and up to her old tricks again!”.
I am told that eventually the problem of Moll Wetland was satisfactorily resolved in Ireland, where upon having been taken and convicted of sneak-thieving, she was transported from thence to New South Wales. “Ireland! I ask yer! On one offence they did for ‘er in a way we couldn’t! Kinsella will get Farthengrodden orf I tell yer! You see if he don’t!” the detective police is indignant, his calm has all but departed from him and as he lights a cigar he sighs heartily. For indeed who would not? T’is a parlous state of affairs indeed, when, for want of a little money and a worthy and skilled barrister, justice is not seen to be done.