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Voyage Six: 1773 opens with the appointment of the unconscionable Jonathan Wilcok as Rector Wrentham north of the Choptank, a position for which he blackmails young Lord Baltimore in a compromising position. When he arrives, he begins his simony, demanding fees and tobacco for his ministerial services:"There was no transaction so venal that he would not resort to it, if only it showed promise of gain." So hypocritical was he who manipulated Lord Baltimore that he himself sired two illegitimate children and often was drunken.
One day, the bulbous minister dons his clerical garb and informs his slaves that he is sailing to Patmoke for the court session. Since he weighs three hundred pounds, it is no small task to transport the Reverend Wilcok. It takes all the strength of the four slaves to transport him to the pier; then they must elicit the help of others to lower the man into the barge. But, once he is on land, the Rector or Wrentham resumes his "ponderous dignity" and seats himself in court where three defendants await their trial for failure to give Rev. Wilcok his tithes of three hundred pounds of the choicest tobacco. The men are the French aristocrat Simon Steed, the wealthiest man in the community, Levin Paxmore, a merchant who owns Paxmore Boatyard; he appears to be offended at being summoned to court. And, the third man is Jeremiah Turlock, better known by the name of Blackbeard's pirate whom his father felt "knew what he was up to."
After the judge questions the tax collector as to why he did not collect the tobacco from these three men, the man says that the other rector told him to leave the men alone, saying "Damn Papists and Quakers. God will punish them." When questioned further, it is learned that Steed refused to give money to the Church of England as he is a Catholic. The Quaker Paxmore told the collector, "Thee knows I can pay that," and Turlock threatened to shoot the collector. After these charges are made, the judge asks the defendants if they have anything to say. Immediately, Wilcok does not want Steed to speak because he was educated in France "where he imbibed the pernicious and debilitating doctrines of atheism...and has imported the books of Voltaire and Montesquieu and has loaned them to anyone who could read French.....Whatever he chooses to say will be seditious and irrelevant."
But, each man is allowed to speak. Steed is eloquent as he suggests that the minister owns so much property that and has given to no charities, so he can afford to exert some prudence in his unreasonable demands during these "difficult times." But the minister shout, "Sedition! Sedition!" So, the judge silences Steed, who bows to the Paxmores who have had to forfeit land to Wilcok. Then, when Turlock, "who represented the new spirit abroad in the colonies," is ordered to relinquish land for which he has fought off wolves and mosquitoes, not to mention taken it from the Steeds, is told that he must relinquish this land to the "gigantic, puffing servant of the church," leaps at the minister and starts to beat him in the face. For this action, he is taken to jail.
After court is dismissed and the three judges watch as the barge departs with Wilcox. the presiding judge avows that next year he will "no longer enforce the claims of that pious wretch....Ideas will be set in motion which all the justices in this county will be powerless to halt." He feels that Steed, Paxmore, and Turlock will "unite on common ground."
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