Deal 1069: Squeezing Oranges.

Beware the temptation to walk the long path that leads off from mere ire to outrage and thence into court. Advice that Gregory could have used, as unlikely as it is that he would have heeded it.

After all, the family orchards were at stake, and with them, the family’s honor.

The first blow had been the roadway that cut through the orchard. Over the century the family had owned these trees, they had seen the road grow from a rarely used cattle-trail to a country lane, and lately to a fully paved highway with several lanes in each direction occupied by travelers.

Along with the highway came the city. It was just a farming village when they first arrived in this valley. Time had seen the village grow with every decade. In the beginning they welcomed this growth as it increased the local market for their fruit. But at some point, as the town first became a city, its population had turned away from the local crop and used their newly completed highway to bring tanker-trucks of juice into town. Juice didn’t require peeling.

A span of time that long had seen fads and fashions come and go, usually without impact on their crop.

But now.

Now, their very existence was threatened.

Gregory signed the first demands himself, but they went unheeded. So along came the first lawyers. At first, the lawyer’s demands were more effective because of the implied threat. But once the threat moved from theory to practice, the legal costs had escalated madly.

At the beginning, Gregory was the wealthy and successful descendent of a century of farming, with hundreds of acres of trees in his care.

As he won his final victory in court, he was reduced to caring for the ten trees that surrounded his home. All the rest of the land having been sold to pay the legal fees.

Gregory was victorious.

And yet had also lost the very thing he sought so hard to guard.

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