Brother Eupsuche
By: Semper Sansrespite
It was in the summer of most extreme heat, when the dogs lay in the streets panting and dying that I came to take on the case Brother Eupsuche. It was my sixth and last year at the law school[1] and the city’s heat wave was a picture of my own exhaustion and feverishness.
My nights were spent by the river, a wet rag on my neck, reading by the gaslights and actually watching the fleeting thoughts pass through my head without a single one holding tight. My failing grades, I wrote mother, were not a reflection of my commitment to Law, or of my ability to succeed as a magistrate in the future.

“Sweat blinds me” I wrote. “Send money for ice and new shirts!”
She answered back on a pretty stationary,
“If the heat is getting to you, take your mind from it by marrying.”
She had always seen my endeavors in law as merely a point of advertising in the proper circles “of available young women who are well situated.”

As an aside, my mother did convince me to pursue law. It was either stay at the Villa and become an artist, or come to the law school three hundred miles from home.

The decision was made for me.

That year, I had interned at a small legal firm overseeing minor quibbles of unpaid dues to a miserly old shrunken head named Dowling. Dowling had come to build a slum around him that should have been exposed to the police Chief for any number of offenses against humanity, but his ghetto’s tenets had come to terms with being at the whims of one who is more shrewd and merciless.

He paid our firm to represent him in cases where a family, broken by debt and newly appeared children, had lapsed on a payment of some sort or another. I won most of these trials without ever revising my notes from the first. I would simply fill in the appropriate destitute family’s name in the blank.

Kerner, Troble, Arnoun, Jornaut…they all stared at me weakly from across the sweltering court. What they all would have loved to know is that I lived not but a block away in an equally squalid tenement filled with rats just as lousy as theirs. I was grateful that I never met these families in the street, but it was not by accident.

I frequented a market and park nearly a mile away to assure it.

These menial cases of the sort that any first year student could win were the only successes I had. My firm took me off Dowling’s roster and allowed me to delve into a few meatier projects where large sums of money and citizens of respected classes were brought before the jury.

For all my work, all my contrived and theatric arguments, I won only two cases of this sort. I was pulled repeatedly into my Superior’s office.

“Troulle.” he always called me by my family name, “Come sit.”

I would sit on the piano stool in his cramped sauna of an office.

“Tell me again how our client seemed to, despite all evidence to the contrary, be found at fault?”

I would tell him that it was the heat, I was sick, my mother was sick back home, that I was doing the best I could and that I would be able to come back and win the next, just give me a chance.

My chances wore out and finally one morning I found Dowling sitting at my paper piled desk, looking pallid in the heat and handing me a file for a family in need of eviction.

What I never told my Superior and what I never breathed to anyone save but once in a veiled way to my army-time friend Lucas who had served with me in the Provincial Wars when we were young, was that every case I had lost was the cause of our City’s sect, The Fellowship of Dror[2].

This ancient philosophy had made its way westward by boats filled with mysteries of far off lands and exotic bodies whose colorful loose wraps enticed the imagination. The Fellowship had found like minded and sympathetic patrons in high society who in return for massive financial backing were given audience with the darkly mysterious priests and priestesses who would sweeten their ears with agreeable prophecies.

In this way, The Fellowship soon had a marbled complex in the City center, a place of cultural and political power. Their Temple was more a city onto itself and housed thousands within its columned exterior. Its influence on life was as palpable as the Temple itself. One could not hear any orator’s address without the necessary Fellowship preamble of reverence towards Dror and the rite of hand wringing in respect.

On the young people’s lips were the stories that had come through The Fellowship’s writings and none other. The old epics, the stories of the field, the songs of the mountains, all were choked and consumed by the narrative of their books, their holy writ until one could hardly find another to toast with him the name of Ardenides, patron of women, hearth, and victory.

A foreign philosophy, brought like pestilence to our shores had like the roots of a barren tree, gripped our city.

To come to the conclusion that this obscure, albeit popular, philosophy was the cause of my legal failures and humiliation is only a matter of course. It was plain to me that in each occasion, enough members of the jury recognized the dress and manner of the accused as that of their shared brethren. No amount of reason and tangible and irrefutable evidence could convince any member to decide against one of their own.

Once this idea came to me, I knew that there was no one to whom I could turn with the terrible truth: nearly everyone within the City was connected to the Fellowship in some way, either by secret initiation or by childhood sentiments towards the yearly festivals. To air my conviction would be to commit professional suicide.

As well as I was able, I surveyed each jury during the selection process to weed out those who would be sympathetic towards the defendants. I studied closely the language of the brethren on endless afternoons near the Temple gates to find any linguistic cue that could give one away. I approached potential jurors with my hand outstretched as though to make the handshake of the rural people to survey their expression. I found that to unearth them was a nearly impossible task without out and out asking and this would have been a deeply offensive intrusion in the court’s eyes.

So, I returned to picking away at the poor like a scavenging dog where the accused found no affinity within the Fellowship.

The summer went along, I lost weight, my shirts became more and more grey, and I was seriously looking at the prospect of graduating law school a failure. I had seen those like me whose school careers ended and were summarily spit out into districts in the hills representing cases over lost goats, or perhaps worse, living in the City without

the honor due them, professionals in the labor class.

I wouldn’t stand for it.

The country was for irrelevant minds, for the married and fat. It was where only memorials for dead soldiers were cause for beautiful things. It also was where my mother lived.

I could not abide by the thought of serving among the sick and dirty endless poor of the City either. As far as any lawyer might go within those circles, he simply could not make entrance to any society worth attending.

I was becoming more and more anxious as my graduation date approached. I cancelled an appointment with my student loan officer and my school’s career placement office. I began drinking during my study sessions by the river. A flask cooled me in place of the wet rag.

I was absolutely desperate. Whatever good looks my dear old mom gave me were melting off me and I must admit my behavior became at times erratic. My pastime of meeting girls at the bowery and letting my gilded tongue do its work had allowed me to keep a fresh font of women passing through my date calendar. Throughout my school years, I had had no problem revolving them about me as though they were at a dizzying game of Musical Chairs and I was the last remaining chair. It remained happily this way until upon these last hot drunken days I became possessed with the evil idea that I should settle down and find a wife for me.

Then, by accident, I was invited to a dinner.
I was standing on the front steps of school finishing an essay due for the afternoon’s ethics class when I overheard two classmates discussing plans for the upcoming full moon. I had known them for a number of years, as they were only a year behind me in study and made a reputation for themselves as class clowns who always traveled in the pair. I fortunately even remembered their names, but not which name went to which.

“Hey Bernard, hey Jack.”

“Oh, hiya Ian.” Said back one.

“How’ve you been?” said the other.

We made small talk then about the sports events of the week and the topic on everyone’s lips, the heat.

I managed to get out of them that some of the school’s professors were attached to certain civic organizations and might be appreciative of the mention of their Clubs founding fathers in term papers. I let them believe that my father too was currently a dues paying member of two Clubs. This allowed the forced conversation to continue for another few precious minutes until a bounding girl approached us.

“Hey Bernard, hey Jack” she said to the pair. She too had most likely forgotten which was who.

“Hiya Meg.” said back one.

She looked at me for just long enough in silence that I knew I was not going to be introduced my either Bernard or Jack.

“Hi. I’m Ian.” I shook her hand politely, but a bit longer than might be necessary.

I made sure she noticed me pull my flask from my coat and take a daring pull.
“I just wanted to ask again if you fellas could make it to my Father’s place for dinner after all.”

She glanced in my direction ever so quickly also.

The pair made some weak noises and two hasty excuses came from them followed by half hearted thanks.

“I’m free.” I said.

Meg looked a bit flushed and caught off guard.

“Good. We’ll love to have you.” She made a motion as though to check her bag.

“Oh no! I don’t have an invitation. Father’s is really hard to find. Especially by street car. It’s way down by the marina.”

“I’d be taking the river ferry.” I lied.

“Here you go, I’ve got my invitation with me.” Said Bernard or Jack.

He handed me a thick papered envelope and I tried not to let on that Meg

looked not a little betrayed.

“I’ll see you there. I look forward to it.” I even bowed a little.
I jumped on a street car for as long as I could without the ticket taker seeing me before hopping down to walk the rest of the long way to the marina.

I had put together as much of a dinner ensemble as I could from my army uniform and some items picked up from a consignment store. I looked half way good when I first put it on, but in the evening humidity I began to feel like a clumsy doorman.

The house was an egoists dream. No detail was left overlooked. The family crest was etched on every wall and its resident’s intention to intimidate every visitor was plain.

I made my way through the greeting room, and stopped at the busy bar in the open courtyard. I recognized faces from school, the faces that belonged to students of good blood, students who had been raised in the City and had been handed everything that I had fought for.

I drank too much too quickly but without allowing anyone to notice, making use of a large potted plant to hide my empty wine glasses.

We were escorted to a large dining hall and I sat between two young women whose hair had obviously met extensive attention before arriving.

“Good evening. My name is Ian.” I announced to the both of them, which was awkward since I had to turn my head one hundred and eighty degrees to see them both.

The one on my left was a horrible bore and I was happy when she entered into a conversation about taxes with a couple across the table.

“What do you do?” said the one on my right.

“What’s your name?” I asked.


“Asking someone’s profession at dinner is dangerous idea. What if I was a fisherman? Do you really want to discuss the ins and outs of gutting flounder all day and hitting tuna on the head with a five pound hammer? This is why at the Clubs popularly, members can let years go by before finding out they’re dining with their son’s prison warden.”

She made a polite laugh.

“Well, I think I know your opinion of Clubs then. And I wouldn’t have asked if I imagined you were a fisherman.”

“What did you imagine I was?”

“When I first asked, maybe a philosopher.”

“My god, am I that thin?”

“No, but you’re drunk and do a good enough job pretending you’re not.”

“Well, I think I know your opinion of philosophers then.”

She took a bite of her salmon and sipped her white wine with her long fingers barely touching the glass at all.

“Who do you know here?” She looked at me and my already empty plate.

“I don’t.”

“Well, aren’t I lucky to be sitting next to you?”


“Meg is my cousin. This is my uncle’s estate.”

I looked at her quietly.

“What do you do?” she tried again.

“I’m a lawyer.”

She made an impolite laugh.

“Meg isn’t one either. But she’s been saying that for 4 years.”

“I graduate this winter. I am currently a lawyer for a firm…”

“Internship. Who?”

“Small private. What do you do?”


“Everything, even nothing, is something….hmm! Maybe I am a philosopher.”

“Drink this and we’ll see.” She beckoned the passing servant and he filled my glass.

She continued, “I spend most of my time on the marina and watching my father’s boats going in and out.”

She saw my question.
“He owns fishing boats.” She took a bite of salmon.
We drank a lot more and left before dessert. We walked the long paths towards the marina and the rising full moon. She showed me four objects in the moon that I had never seen before, one of which made me gulp and become lustfully plotting for long minutes. Perhaps she heard the wheels turning in my head because she made an excuse to walk again along the docks.

We ended up at her family’s house which made her uncles estate look downright dreary and we sat on a balcony overlooking the sea.

“Are you married?” Ana asked me as she lit a cigarette.

“Oh yes, of course” I played, “but she lives in the country. I’ll go back to her when I’m graduated. I imagine all the kids will be grown by now.”

“Oh! Maybe she knows my husband. He’s there too. Yes. A farmer. Joseph is his name. Does your wife know him?”

“Maybe.” I stole her cigarette.

“Maybe intimately.” She said flatly.
“How dare you!” I tried to sound convincing. “Polly would never betray my trust!”

“And what are you saying? Joseph is some bigamist? Didn’t he make vows to me too? But the country is a lonely place where only ghosts reside. Oh, it’s sad, Ian. So horrible. Our fates are so entwined. Could there be any way to heal our broken hearts?”

“Let’s go give ourselves to the Mer-people. Tie rocks to our ankles and sink to the bottom of the sea.” I stood up with the cigarette courageously clenched in my teeth.

“No… My father’s boats would snag us in their nets and he’d never forgive me for the shock to his men.”

“Well, I’m going anyway. Your father be damned.” I made to take off my shirt.

Ana stood up and stopped me only to begin doing it herself.

Weeks passed until one morning while I was walking by the Temple, on my way to meet Ana for a picnic, I heard what sounded like a festival or riot. I turned down one of the Temple’s many narrow avenues and wound my way through the vendors and past shrine processionals until I was emptied out into a large courtyard where around a small stage, hundreds of screaming brethren had gathered. I received only looks of confusion when I asked those gathered what had happened. The Fellowship and the Temple especially was well known to be quiet in civil matters and this was a complete reversal of their popular image of reserved and methodical people.

At last, a trio of brethren ascended the stage and the crowd seemed placated enough by the mere presence of their bright priest’s robes to quiet.

“Brethren!” the oldest raised his hands.

Those gathered took postures of bent backs and submissive attitudes. I, although short on average now stood the tallest in the square.

“The Tree that gives life has many branches does it not?” the crowd murmured in ascent. “These will grow ‘though there be war or peace, fire or flood’ and each branch grows together ‘alike in sameness, alike in difference’.”

The priest made a dramatic sweep with his little arms.
“Today two branches have been removed from the Tree. One to everlasting glory.

One to everlasting damnation. It is not we who judge but Dror. It is not we who cast brethren from our midst, but Dror. Our sole commission is to love and love alone. For it is ‘love alone that heals’.” He turned to someone on the side of the stage and immediately, a small framed brethren with the dress and appearance of a monk was brought onstage by another grim faced priest.

“Brother Eupsuche. You will be banished from this community and sentenced to exile on the island of Forgiveness. There you will toil in solitary for the rest of your days….”

The priest went on like this fleshing out the details of the gravity of exile as punishment. I pressed forward through people that stood transfixed and came almost to the foot of the stage. I pulled at the robe of a priest.

“Father, what did this man do?” I whispered, using his title as a sign of respect.

“Just but an hour ago, he killed a man in the street. In full view of us all. He will be exiled….”

“Father, how could this happen? Has this ever happened before?”

“Never. We only know what to do because Dror had the forethought to prescribe the punishment for murder in our book.”

“He is a monk.”

“Yes, he is a monk.”

“Father, how could a monk do this?”

“There is evil in the world.”

“He will be exiled? When?”

“Now. He must leave for the island of Forgiveness before nightfall of the day of his offense.”

“That’s impossible. He needs to have a hearing. A trial of law.”

“He killed another brethren. It is in our jurisdiction.”

In short minutes I had found my way out of the Temple and was racing towards the City police headquarters.

With the production of my law apprenticeship papers and the description of a murder whose accused was being summarily exiled in the Temple’s walls, the Chief of police followed me with two of his lieutenants.

At the Temple, the Chief made a grand entrance and I’ve never seen brethren jump like they did at the sight of a City official daring to come in their walls and barking orders. This was a novelty to the Chief too, who seemed secretly ashamed to be demanding to speak with the council of priests on the matter of a cold blooded murder. He disappeared into their chambers for three tense cigarettes before an orderly from the Temple came alongside my arm.

He introduced himself as Brother Veritas and he pulled me along cool corridors.

Somehow, in the middle of the Temple, they had achieved in escaping the heat. Maybe they knew something after all.

“We have made allowance with your Chief for a trial. It will occur this evening and a jury of Brethren will hear it. Our book makes no distinction about these matters. He must be exiled and aboard a boat by nightfall to fulfill our law. I assure you that your prosecution of this man with be quick. We have several witnesses.”

He was a mousy little man, weak legged, and he huffed as we climbed and descended endless stairwells into the Temple’s labyrinthine guts.

“Veritas,” I stopped him, blocking his way. “I will be defending Brother Eupsuche not prosecuting him.”

“I was told you were a Prosecutor. We were arranging to have one of our Brothers defend him. What is this?”

“You were only mistaken. I will be his defense attorney.” I stepped out of his way and begged him to continue. “Take me to my client.”

Veritas took me down through endless hall where engravings of Dror looked down on us with stern expressions.

“I will need my legal books.” I told him as we went where to gather them.

“I will also need my assistants.” I scribbled a note for him as we went.
We came to a small arched stone door.

“Here. The address of where my assistants will be found is on the front. Make it your first priority. Time is of the essence. Is this his cell? Open it.”

“This is Brother Eupsuche’s room. And it’s open.”

Veritas felt my disregard for him, his robes, his faith and he left me with what he knew could hurt me most.[3]

“Goodbye, and blessings to you.” He was gone with a bow.

I opened the door and found Eupsuche sitting on his bed with a small book in his lap.

“Come in.” He said uselessly as I was already seating myself on a plain wooden chair.

“Have they hurt you?” he blinked questioningly “have they hurt you at all?”

“No. Of course not.”

“Why aren’t you under arrest? Why is your door unlocked?”

“I’m not going to try to escape. I told them that.”

“My name is Mr. Troulle, I will be your legal council.” I said, trying to sound competent and sure.

“I don’t need legal council, Mr. Troulle. I will be exiled tonight.”

“No you’re not.”

He stood up and walked his room’s floor. His body was small and early aged. It showed the wear of years worshipping and studying. His eyes had been dimmed by too much reading. He placed his book gently on the room’s one bare desk.

“I did it, Mr. Troulle and the book is clear on my fate.”

“Who did you kill?”

“I killed a man. What more is there to say.”

“You’re a monk. How long have you been a monk?”

“All my life. I was born to be a servant. If you are called, you know it.”

“Who did you kill? If you’re a monk than you have to tell the truth.” I stood up for effect. “What are you hiding?”

“I killed a man who I knew to be dangerous.” He looked me in the eye with the piercing eyes of one who has seen god. It made me tremble. It was the look of a madman.
“Tell me more. Whatever you tell me doesn’t have to leave this room.”

“I serve the Fellowship by serving the poor. The poor of your City. Daily I serve food to those whose hunger is overlooked by the City. Each day we give generously as much as the Fellowship can, yet we see them become thinner and thinner. A woman named Mira and I became close and I invited her to live in the Temple.”

He slowly sat on his narrow bed.

“She came to us and became a brethren.” He paused, “and with her came her husband. In the Fellowship, we don’t have these problems, but in the City you do. We tried to help them….”

“What problems? What do you mean?”

“He beat Mira, Mr. Troulle. He beat her and we knew it. We were trying to help. We don’t have these problems and we didn’t understand it. This is what happens in the City. Not here.”

“So what did you do?”

“We tried to help. To counsel. Then today, I saw Mira.” He paused and dug out prayer beads from his robe. “And I went to the kitchens and got a knife.”

I opened the monk’s door and flagged down a passing orderly and had him send up two bowls of strong stew for us and found from him that time was passing quickly. The trial was but an hour away.

We sat and ate, the monk and I and ate our bowls slowly. Eupsuche seemed especially to not have a stomach for his.

“I cannot eat.” He said again and again, but with a little prompting, he began again.

As we sat and waited to be gathered for the trial, he tried to read from his book but would nod off from time to time.

I looked at him as a fox might a rabbit.

The trial, by the Chief’s orders was to be held in the public court in the City’s central plaza where only the trials sure to garner public interest were held. My client and I were sat at the defendant’s table on the court platform and already there was a large public crowd of Citizens and brethren from the Temple. The jury comprised of entirely Temple priests and priestesses sat stunned in the jury box waiting to hear a trial the first of its kind.

The heat was amazing. The sun seemed to draw close to us also in interest of hearing the case. I felt that before nightfall would come, we would all be burned.

Lastly, a quorum of City officials took their seats, and a judge I recognized from the City’s High Court took the bench.

Not a sound was made throughout the plaza. Even as workers were headed home from their day’s work and stopped to watch the goings on, not a sound could be heard. From all districts then came the crowds, having received word of the trial and soon we were in a sea of people soundlessly sweating.

The judge made his cursory and necessary introductions.

The prosecutor, a young and fashionable lawyer I recognized as a graduated fellow student, connected socialite, and Fellowship sympathizer if not outright supporter.

Of course he would have to be. At any given time of day, the Temple’s shadow fell on some high office, some wealthy bureaucrat, some elitist Club.

He made his introductory statement overly long and flourished as though he would not have another chance to speak again in the trial.

Maybe he did believe this. If he did, he was right.

It was the defense’s time to make opening statements and I turned to Brother Eupsuche to see how he was holding up. He wasn’t. He was fast asleep with his chin on his chest.

“Citizens, we are hear for a sad reason indeed. A friend, husband, neighbor, co-laborer, and son is dead. Our City has lost a Citizen, loyal and true.”

I walked the perimeter of the platform as my sweat dripped audibly to the floor.

“This is perhaps not an unusual occurrence. Unfortunately. Our City sees violence in the streets from time to time. Perhaps, it will always be so.”

This got a rise from some of my audience.

“But today was different. Our Citizen was murdered in the Temple. By my humble client, a monk. There within the hallowed ground of marble and glass. I will not deceive you, it was a horrific crime.”

The jury was looking piqued in the hot sun. They were used to the shade of porticos.

“My client committed the crime. I cannot change what happened. We have all been introduced to our noble prosecutor’s assembled witnesses. What I am here to convince you of is not of a different telling of today’s events.

“I am here to convince you of his innocence.”

I wonder to this day if the prosecutor had his arguments prepared to answer my assertion that the monk acted out of pity, out of justice for the young abused Mira. I will never know.

“Is a man not innocent when he acts within the nature that that has been burned into him like a brand onto cattle? Was this monk acting out of the ordinary when he found it in himself to kill another? As one devoted to Dror, a god who appeals to the strong and the mighty, could he not become strong himself and exercise his power on one Dror had forgotten?”

The jury seemed to be tightened harp strings in their seats and looking to the judge whose hand was moving towards his gavel.

“Placed in a marble tomb in the heart of our City, could he not become cold himself?”

Portions of the crowd stirred as through embers were dancing across their feet.

Brother Eupsuche slept still, the contents of my flask sitting in his full belly. He was unaware of what his act of justice just hours previous would accomplish.

I raised my voice to a pitch like that of the priest I’d heard announce Eupsuche’s exile.

“We won the Provincial Wars but we had truly lost before they began. Our City had been taken by a foreign body, by those whose allegiances lay elsewhere! Their origins are from far afield and whose concerns are not of The City, nor of this world at all!”

Brethren from all throughout the crowd were uneasy and shouting negations but they seemed half hearted and self conscious. The jury of Eupsuche’s peers were livid and some priests stood in objection. The judge was unable to move.

“Everywhere we see the murder of our people, our families, our very City itself!”

I was screaming over the noise of a few scattered fights.

“What is one more? My client is innocent in the face of the Fellowship’s guilt!”
Screams were loosed and I think at that time a child was trampled towards the bank as simultaneously its front windows were shattered, broken glass exploding.

My assistants that I had asked Veritas to alert had indeed come to my aid.
Kerner, Troble, Arnoun, Jornaut, they and their families, they and their drinking mates from the ghetto pubs, all as many as could from the poor districts had all answered my anonymous note.

Within its few hand scrawled lines, I had told them that the Temple would fall tonight, along with Dowling, along with all those in power who kept their ilk above them. The disgusting autocrats who came in a hundred guises but all hearkening back to the Temple and its Dror loving murderers.

I saw a woman in Fellowship robes in the first rows away from me be stabbed in the neck and bright crimson misted the blazing air.

The jury had made its decision and the case had been won.

I was stepped on and my clothes torn as I made my way towards the marina. Before I passed over the hill, I looked back and saw black smoke pouring from the skyline. It looked that the Temple had already been breached and I could see that my district too was burning.

Ana found me sitting on her front porch smoking and I held her as though I loved her.
I led her down to the docks and had her show me how to launch a boat.
Out beyond the breakers, we felt the heat increase through the night and I lied to her, telling her that we would move to the country.

Editor’s Note: Never in our contemporary literature have I found a more apt and honorable hero. As much as I look up to Mr. S’s invention of such a one as his Ian Troulle it is a shame that there is none so brave as to become the hero he is. Our male readership has echoed the same in many letters to The Orphan and I do hope that Mr. S finishes his sequel tentatively titled Both/And: Both My Thoughts And Life Are Wrong very soon.

[1] “Law school” has a number of meanings in The City. It can refer to the training of lawyers, judges, magistrates, etc. or it can refer to those who live sordid lives in the criminal underground. In this latter sense it is like “the school of hard knocks”, learning the “law” of the street. In The City it can also refer to Seminary or Yeshiva. In the case of the narrator, its meaning should be plain. –The Author

[2] The Fellowship of Dror is one of the two major sects in The City and I just as well could have picked the other. However, it is the Fellowship’s credo of “loyalty, honesty, fidelity, chastity” that attracted me.

–The Author

I’ve frequented some of the parties held at their temple and let me assure you, that any rumors of their piety being only toga deep are unfortunately false. It turns out that not even a flask of mead is permitted in their Spring festivals. –The Editor

Dror may be etymologically connected to “swan” or “goose”, however it is of interest that in recent years the ostrich is most commonly depicted on their banners. –The Seminarian

[3] How often have I felt my wife’s most damning reproach in her simple silence? The most barbed retort is the one not uttered and is the secret weapon of both the wise and the wife. –The Editor