The trial is on! Defendant: Emily Fisher. Charges: Demonolatry, corrupting the young. Court: the High Council of the Children of the New Revelation. Prosecutor: Harold Lewis, of the High Council. Defender: Sonia Hoopes, Treasurer, Milltown council.
In the eyes of the Prosecutor, the lands sacred to the Divine have been sullied by the demons Emily has introduced among them, and he means to drive them all out. The Defender has the near-impossible task of trying to explain why the evidence of demons is not what it seems.
But there’s a danger in calling upon the Divine or demons to prove your point.
They may answer.
Find out who answers, and just what sort of answer they give in the “Trial,” chapter 25 of Prophecies and Penalties.
Prophecies and Penalties is my weekly serial about a murder in a religious commune and the strange events that confront Emily Fisher when she investigates the murder. If you’re not already reading it, you can start here.
Oh, the trial in the picture? The picture’s title is The Trial of Queen Caroline and it was painted in 1820 by George Hayter (1792 – 1871). Caroline was the wife of British King George IV. The couple was, shall we say, not close; George rather ungallantly claimed that they’d never had sex after the second night of their marriage. Well, not sex with each other. Lovers, on the other hand . . . George had already contracted an illegal marriage, and Caroline went wandering across Europe in the company of a servant whom she took as a lover.
And then in 1820, George’s mad old father died, and George became king. He wanted to divorce Caroline for adultery, as if he were some shining model of virtue instead of a fat old philanderer. So he actually had a bill introduced in the House of Lords to deprive Caroline of her title as queen and divorce her. In effect, the hearings on the bill became Caroline’s trial. George won passage of the bill in Lords (he was, after all, king), but the margin was so slim, and popular sentiment was in favor of the queen, so he never tried to introduce the bill in Commons. And that was that. Caroline remained queen until her death the next year.