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Murphy was a noble gentleman who was in attendance at the grand ball on Persephone on the occasion when Malcolm Reynolds first met the lord Warwick Harrow. There, he overheard a conversation between newcomer Kaywinnit Lee Frye and a group of four hostile and extremely pretentious ladies—Banning Miller, Cabott, Dester, and Zoe. Kaylee was unprepared to deal with bitterly humiliating comments from Banning and Cabott. Murphy decided to intervene on Kaylee's behalf, so he went over and paid Banning a compliment about her dress. He followed up immediately with an insult, essentially calling her promiscuous, and the four ladies stormed off in a huff. Murphy then introduced Kaylee to a group of men—landowners and accomplished farmers—where Kaylee's vast knowledge about machines made her the center of attention. When a young man was about to ask her to dance, Murphy interrupted him to hear what else she had to say, reflecting his interest in people who were useful rather than pretty.