“What is to become of me, Overseer?" The young woman, Caroline Bingley, bowed reverently. Awaiting a verdict from the wise old man before her.
He reached across the boardroom table for a pitcher, and with youthful hand took a thin, square glass to his plump and morose lips. Though his nose, sharply close to his mouth made it slightly awkward to sip. Then Overseer Drexel Ogden brushed away a strand of his greying chestnut mop and he cleared his throat. Misleading Bingley over what the overseer might say was the serious look of his hazel eyes, for his judgement was less than severe.
“Caroline Bingley... Overseer Virgil and I are of the opinion that your apology was absolutely sincere, and as such, shall count toward restitution.”
Caroline sighed in relief.
“Which leads us to sentencing. In addition to your apology, twelve days rations shall be ceded to your landowner, Edward Gardiner. And another dozen to the State and this office. Is that clear, Caroline?”
“Quite clear, Overseer,” smiled Caroline.
“In the meantime, report to Doctor Kenworth Ridgemont for a final psychological evaluation. I leave you subject to his medical advisement, up to but not including… mood inhibitors.”
“Thank you, Overseer! Thank you so much!” Caroline curtseyed, before Overseer Drexel dismissed her with a nod.
Caroline left. Her steps padded by the carpet. A soothing Etruscan red. Far different from the sanguine hue of the State uniforms as well as the flooring of most other State buildings.
“Go ahead, Virgil. Say what you want to say.”
“Overseer?” said the reticent Virgil.
“I can tell by your posture that you are at odds with my decree.”
The muscular Virgil Braun immediately stopped leaning against the aloof grey wall and unfolded his robust arms. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes you do. Furthermore, we are now equals. We can speak as such. And in this setting, without formality. Speak freely.”
Virgil had been promoted to Overseer. He was the youngest man to become one, so his back was straight his shoulders were back. His skin was pink and taut and his brown hair thick and lush. His jaw was square and salient, and an offensive stubble had begun to grow there. His brows were prominent, and his eyes, were such a magnificent blue one would think they were staring into the stormy abyss of the North Sea.
“I think you may have been somewhat harsh.”
“Oh? And how’s that?”
“She fed a man and gave him shelter. Nothing more.”
“Nothing more, hm? Case closed.”
“I believe that was all that was pertinent. And I thought when you asked for me to weigh in on your deliberation, you had agreed with my point of view.”
“You were mistaken, Virgil. Your views are quite liberal. I asked of your help because I value your opinion, as you should value those of your subordinates when you’ve replaced me. As such, Bingley’s punishment could not have been more lenient. The fact remains, she aided a Derelict—”
“He was sick—”
“His way of life made him sick. His lack of society. Do you dispute his punishment as well?”
“No, Overseer. Of course I don’t.” Virgil sighed.
“Of course you don’t.” Overseer Drexel clasped his hands together, and then said aloud as if he himself needed convincing, “He returned to Epsom after he had been evicted; his punishment was just… His punishment was… fair.”
“In the future, you must be less tolerant. Set aside your altruistic attitudes. There is no place for it here; No sympathy. No bias. Is that understood?”
“Now that the Bingley case is dealt with, I—”
Overseer Drexel was interrupted when Rand burst through the manual wooden doors of the court. And he seemed overly excited about something.
“Overseer!” Rand, took a deep breath.
The two overseers looked at the sweating Randall and through the crack in the doors. As they began to swing back closed, and the pandemonium the man had caused running through the halls to get there. Employees were grunted and uncomposed, gasping and whispering amongst themselves, and their desk spaces were in disarray. Virgil imagined that the long-extinct rhinoceros could not have caused more destruction.
“Randall? What are you doing here?”
“It’s very important.”
“Oh, nevermind that, Rider!” Overseer Drexel scolded, “I’m sure it can wait! Look out there at the commotion you have caused!”
Randall looked over his shoulder, but he waved a hand as if to dismiss the mayhem since the doors had already closed.
“I can assure you, Overseer Drexel, what I have to say cannot.”
“What’s the matter?” Virgil asked sternly.
“Something happened. At the construction site in Southwark. Something happened.”