Malaprop and Marple vs. Litefinger
His Honour Judge Anticant presiding.
The case before the Court was brought by Maria Malaprop and Jane Marple against Dorcas Litefinger for intrusion of privacy and breach of confidence.
The matter complained of was an article in the Burrow Bugle entitled “Burrow Bedroom Secrets: All is Revealed”, written by Snoopy Scribbler and reading as follows:
“Our in-house correspondent at Anticant’s Burrow, ‘BEDBUG’, informs us that unexpected possessions lurk under various Burrow counterpanes. Miss Marple, for instance, treasures a set of first editions of the Complete Works of Agatha Christie, and a set of Victorian curling tongs. Mrs Malaprop, the housekeeper, secretes under her bed a portmanteau full of ribbed woollen stockings in various shades, and a china mug inscribed “Ever thine, O Beloved, your devoted Beadle”. Under the Beadle’s bed is a heart-shaped silver frame containing a portrait of Mrs Malaprop. I have not yet had an opportunity to investigate the bedroom hoards of Anticant, Ben, or Dame Barbara, as that horrid Wooffie keeps sniffing around my ankles whenever I approach their rooms. But I shall report further in your next issue.”
The plaintiffs called for an apology, damages, and an injunction against publication of further items emanating from ‘Bedbug’, who, they claimed, was Demure Dorcas Litefinger, aka The Crafty Chambermaid.
Judge Anticant said that as he was proprietor of the Burrow Bugle, a conflict of interest was indicated and he would therefore step down from the bench and invite Dame Barbara de Carteblanche to take his place which she accordingly did.
The first witness was the Bugle’s gossip columnist, Snoopy Scribbler. Asked to confirm the identity of ‘Bedbug’, he declined, pleading journalist’s immunity to revealing his sources. He was reprimanded by Dame Barbara and told to step down.
The next witness was the Beadle, who professed outrage that his intimate love-tokens should be revealed to the world by a saucy guttersnipe. Dame Barbara told him to moderate his language, as the identity of the offending whistleblower had not yet been ascertained.
The defendant was then called to the witness box and asked whether or not she was Bedbug. “Oh, your Dameship”, she replied, “I have never bugged a bed in my life”. “But did you write this article? Yes or No?” Dame Barbara demanded. “Well, your Honour, I don’t clearly recollect doing so” replied the Crafty Chambermaid, “but then again I cannot swear for 100 per cent. certain that I didn’t. That Mr Scribbler was plying me with champagne and I may have signed something he put in front of me without realising what it was. Can I plead diminished responsibility?” “No – you can NOT!” Dame Barbara snapped. “You will plead either guilty or not guilty.” “In that case”, said Dorcas demurely, I shall opt for jury trial.”
A special jury was empanelled, consisting of Trousers, Wook, Lavenderblue, Merkin, and Zola. They are now deliberating, and their verdict and suggestions for sentencing [if the verdict is ‘guilty’] are awaited.