The Nature Of Law

Title: The Nature of Law
Time Period: November, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A father. A daughter. And an object lesson.

The settlement is peaceful - there can be no other clear reason for Duncan’s all-too regular patrols by the tatty little patch of land where the captured caravaneers have been sequestered. In and of themselves they are not a threatening bunch - stripped of most of their already few worldly valuables, the growing cold makes them an object more of pathos than fear, though some insular folks will cast distrust on anything new.

Duncan’s feelings are not readily accessible, being by turns reticent and rhetorical, but his presence on this, another early morning, doesn’t seem to say a lot for his trust of the gypsies. He remains on his horse, keeping more distance this time than during his last visit, surveying the huddled activity around small fires that will want for fuel more and more as the temperature declines, daily.

There’s no attempt to hide from the young woman who slowly approaches the camp. Constance has left her horse nearby, not too far from the woman herself, within sight should she feel the need to leave. She carries nothing but herself, no indication that she’s come to supply the gypsies by any means, but for a young woman too often caught up in acting and touching on the edge of fantasy, the gypsies are too much of a temptation to resist.

While she does not mask her presence, she clearly does not expect to find someone else coming to watch from a distance. Constance is most likely noticed before she even knows someone else is there, but when it’s clear that both have acknowledged the presence of the other, the blonde slows her pace to a stop. She doesn’t speak, but simply looks in the direction of the caravans.

Duncan is not a pervasively overbearing parent. It might be fair to call him distant. He greets his daughter with a lofty eye, but not an unkind one. Silence can be more powerful than words, this is an understanding common between actors and soldiers. And he lets it linger for a while, as they both survey the camp.

In time, though, he speaks. His tone is instructive. A familiar register.

“What do you think they do to live?”

A look towards her father is not needed, but a look towards the camp is. Constance remains silent for a while as she regards the camp, searching for any such indication as to the secrets they might hide. Perhaps her gaze can pick up some of what others might miss. She exhales softly.

“If they travel, I suspect it is whatever they can do to live.”

A true thespian’s response. Not a proper answer, but a clever turn of phrase. Return of phrase. Duncan gives a smile, narrow and concealed on one side of his face, but it is there. And it’s audible in a slight warmth in his voice, though he remains pedagogical.

“And whatever might those livelihoods be?”

Ah, he’s caught her in a deflected response. Perhaps it’s for the best, it’s something she needs to work on. She’s constantly working on improving herself in most situations, especially where Duncan is concerned. Constance muses on the question for a moment more before she turns to look at her father.

“It depends on the sort of people they are. There might be a few with skilled trades who have decided that a start somewhere else could be better,” her eyes drift back to the camp, mind ablaze with possibilities. “There also might be those who cannot strike out on their own, artists, teachers, alchemists… who can really say. I suppose all that can be said is that they are together because it is safer than being on their own. They form a family. They protect their own.”

Duncan brushes his jawline with one calloused thumb, a small exhale coming in a shadow of humor. He inclines his chin very slightly. “And where does an artist come from? What sort of community of man breeds teachers and-” a pause, “alchemists.” A slight incline of his head, a gaze directed at Constance. “Or thespians, for that matter?

“What do artists need to work their art?”

Constance’s lips form the slightest of smiles, barely enough to register as such but still present all the same. “The sort of community that values education and art breeds it. Otherwise someone gifted could just muck a stable,” she replies. She takes a few steps forward, coming to rest closer to where her father and his horse survey their surroundings.

“Artists need very little to work, just the freedom to work it and the mind to create. Aside from the other human necessities, of course. A frozen person does little good to anyone,” Constance says, looking back towards the camp.

“Human necessities- and how do you believe these things are made? How are they kept?” Duncan inquires. This answer Constance already knows. Her father is the head of the militia, second son of the Rowntree rifle lords. He believes the answer hangs at both of his hips.

There’s a tiny laugh from Constance. “People build houses. People plant crops and sew clothes, it doesn’t take a teacher to teach someone that,” she points out. “And people keep them however they have to. You use words if you can, but sometimes it requires more to keep. No one likes their things to be stolen.”

“Is theft a crime beyond law, then?” Duncan inquires, rhetorical as ever - clever as his daughter may be, he speaks as if he has final command of the discussion. He is the father after all. “Is property- that you can call this or that thing mine or thine- is that a rule beyond law?”

“It depends on the law,” Constance points out. “If you’re living in a land with no law, what’s to stop you from taking whatever you want? Anyone can do whatever they want. It’s why when there’s someone in charge, there are rules and people are safe.” She pauses, contemplating their rhetoric to determine if there’s something he’s getting at beyond it. “Law decides what property is and who it belongs to.”

“And property, for most, are those human necessities. Things artists need. Things thespians need. When our bodies starve, our souls eat up our suffering. When our bodies are fed, our souls need synthetic sadness- poetry. Tragedy,” Duncan gives another soft huff of breath, a pause.

“So if these people are, indeed, artists and teachers, then they must come from a place where there was law enough, and soft enough, to support such endeavors. You would agree?”

A nod of agreement comes from Constance. “I believe so. I think if they had no law, people who create or do things beyond the human necessities would not be able to. There has to be freedom and safety to do it.” She nods again, but this is in the direction of the camp. “If they have a leader, they have law.”

“But we found them in the wild- they must have fled whatever settlement raised them in art and education. What could they be fleeing? What would make them brave the wilds to come here?” Duncan is, of course, omitting the fact that they did not in fact intend to come here, not necessarily. ‘Passing through’, that’s what their ‘leader’ said.

“I won’t make judgment on their lawlessness without knowing if they’re criminals. It’s not in my nature to accuse someone simply by the fact that they’ve left somewhere and gone to another,” Constance says, intent on making her point clear. “They could all be thieving murderers or they might be people who are leaving somewhere in hope of a better life. Maybe they thought they could find a life here. Maybe our law is better than whatever they came from.”

“So they are either victims of lawlessness, or lawless themselves,” Duncan affirms, “and not knowing which, how should the law react to them here?”

Constance quirks a brow lightly as she turns to face her father. “Law really isn’t my expertise, Father. I don’t think I can accurately judge. However,” she nods to the camp once more. “if it were my decision, I would be cautious but not let them know I was being cautious. If you can find out more about who someone is you can find out if they are to be trusted or not. It’s how you catch a thief—you make them think you aren’t looking.”

"Caution? Playing gentle, to gauge trust? That sounds like thievish behavior itself." Duncan phrases this like it's a realization, but as ever the message is for his daughter - she's till young enough for him to know everything in the world, right?

"And if a lawman had a daughter - one of exceptional beauty and careless youth - what do you imagine he'd tell her to do, regarding these thieves-perhaps, perhaps-thieved?"

“Not all who play gentle are seeking to thieve. Who is to say that those who are gentle are merely playing it?” Constance avoids the statement as best as she’s able. Perhaps she wishes to keep her father from ever questioning her own motives. There’s a slow smile, though, when he poses a hypothetical.

“I suppose it would depend on the lawman and the daughter. On one hand, he might worry about her safety and warn her to steer clear. But if he has a beautiful daughter, perhaps she is skilled at making friends. Friends tell each other secrets, don’t they?”

“They do? And what secrets would this daughter be telling her new friends?” Duncan counters.

“Only the secrets her father wants them to know. I think the bond between father and daughter is a strong one. One of trust.” Constance fires back.

“You can trust a daughter and not trust her judgment,” Duncan answers, lightly. Just to see her return the volley.

Constance laughs a touch at his words. “You are probably right,” she agrees. “You are right about a lot of things.” The words sound honest—she is indeed a young woman who still trusts in her father’s judgment. “I do not think, however, that a daughter has to be the one making a judgment. What I think about them doesn’t matter, does it? It doesn’t mean that a father can’t trust her daughter enough to let her merely talk to them. Sometimes people talk when they don’t think people are listening.”

“Promise a father this-” Duncan says, sounding serious, and in the manner of a lesson, “that you will tell me everything you learn- and that you will not set foot in any of those tents.”

“I’d love to tell you stories of my adventures, Father,” Constance replies with a warm smile. “And I am not a fan of tents. I prefer castles.” She tilts her head up to look her father in the eyes. “You have my word.”

“And don’t fall in love,” Duncan warns her, “least of all with an artist, if there are any.”

That causes much more of a laugh than he’s drawn out of her prior. The mere idea seems a joke to Constance as she offers him a reassuring smile. “I don’t think any of them are witty enough to keep up with me and I doubt I could fall in love with anyone who isn’t at least my equal.”

"Daughter," Duncan says, "you have no equal. I just have to find someone who will meet minimum expectations. That is my burden. And putting your putting with that someone will be yours. Though I imagine any son-in-law of mine will understand just how caring his wife's father will expect him to be." Ensure him to be, is the truth of it.

“I have always known you to do what is best for me. Not all can say that about their fathers, not all of them can trust their fathers implicitly,” Constance stares back in the direction of the small fires and the people whom they belong to. “I trust that when the time comes you will make a good decision for me. I only hope that takes a while—so you can make a very informed decision, of course. We have standards, after all.”

“I will give you away as soon as it becomes necessary,” is a dreadfully pragmatic thing to say, but it is not all he says. Duncan steals a glance of his daughter’s profile.

“And not a moment sooner.”

The young woman tilts her head up a little to observe her father. “Then I shall endeavor to make myself necessary for quite some time then,” Constance replies, this time her lips curving up into a grin.