A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 23

One of the few benefits of the Sabbath seemed to be that even prisoners sentenced to hard labour got the day off. For Jenny, it was somewhat questionable, as benefits went, as it left her unable to take her mind off of the actions of the chaplain.

It wasn't the first time a man had tried to force himself upon her. If, by some miracle, he'd succeeded in doing so, that was something she'd managed to survive in the past. She had developed a method of just tuning out completely, and putting her mind somewhere beyond the ability of an attacker to target, and just focusing on Vastra, usually when she was infiltrating a prostitution ring as part of an inquiry into the disappearance of someone's daughter. Otherwise, it would be very strange if she needed to outside of an enquiry, given the training program the Silurian had put her through. As the chaplain had found out to the extreme cost of his testicles, trying to force himself on someone who would have been considered a fifth-chakim martial artist by a Silurian assessment panel was a very very Bad Idea.

Then there was a single knock on the door, before the panel slid aside.

"Miss Flint, May I enter?" A man's voice asked.

"If you want to." Jenny replied, suppressing her accent with more difficulty than usual. Vastra had very firmly insisted that the young ape, as she'd habitually referred to Jenny at that point, learnt something of basic manners and speaking without avoiding the use of half the alphabet. Jenny had tried to keep her accent as much as she could, but it had been a struggle she'd lost, although by the same measure, she'd never particularly be an RP speaker.

The man who pushed open the cell door was well dressed, wearing a simple suit, and carrying a bowler under one arm.

She sprang to her feet and saluted.

"Sir." She said, recognising the prison governor.

"Sit down, Miss Flint." He said, with what could almost be described as a paternal smile. "I'm sorry about what happened earlier today."

"You're the governor." Jenny replied. "Why was such a man employed as your chaplain, if you didn't want him?"

"Unfortunately, he comes from a family that is well connected at court. He caused them more than a few minor scandals, usually involving domestic staff of one type or another, although they were always hushed up at a certain amount of expense. Occasionally, the victim would vanish, although the Yard could never prove anything untoward had happened." The governor paused, before continuing. "He also is a freemason, which makes convicting him far harder, as most judges are members of the Masonic lodges of the city as well."


"So someone finally managing to fight back, even if we can't say the real source of his injuries, is something of a cathartic moment for some of us. I'm trying to suggest that his injuries mean he wouldn't be able to continue his duties for some time to the board, and that we should look for a replacement at least in the meantime."

"Why are you here talking to me?" Jenny asked, suddenly very aware that there might be several people who might have reason to cause her serious harm.

"I've discovered evidence earlier today that suggests that you are deserving of increased comfort levels in your cell." He said. "You're well behaved, you haven't caused any issues for the warders, and you've served a third of your sentence." He grinned at her, before continuing. "Normally, someone serving a short sentence wouldn't have long enough for the paperwork to go through, but I received three different copies of the same form this morning, and under the circumstances, I am very happy to sign off on them."

Jenny's eyes grew wide at the idea of actually having things like padding to sleep on, or a clean blanket that didn't smell of dozens of other people and of mixed sweat and vomit belonging to most of them.

Then her eyes grew wider, as a pallet somewhat deeper than she'd imagined was carried in.

"It would seem that all we have in stores at the moment is a supply of six inch pallets, due to an unfortunate fire involving about a dozen of the standard pallets, which we have no idea of the cause of. We also appear to have a brand new blanket, which has been provided with the pallet. It isn't an army cast off, and was originally purchased after a number of the board discovered that we had no additional items for pregnant prisoners to improve their comfort."

Jenny just grinned as the pallet was placed on her small sleeping platform, along with, to her surprise, a small pillow stuffed with straw, and a stool, which was connected with a short chain to a ring set into the floor.

"It's all signed for." The governor said with a grin, before exiting the cell, leaving Jenny bouncing on her heels as she absorbed the change in her circumstances.

That underhanded, cruel and mean little ape. Vastra thought, as she guzzled water directly out of the pump. I play an entirely harmless prank on her, and she goes and puts Jenny's vindaloo powder in my tea. That is an act of sacrilegious impiety, to do something like that to an innocent cup of tea. To serve me that adulterated tea is like pouring oil down a rabbit warren and throwing in a match; cruel, pointless and hurtful.

"Oi!" Clara yelled, just before Vastra was hit by an entire bucket of water.

The Silurian turned, bristling.

"That was for looking at my breasts!" She yelled. "The curry powder was for leaving me in that thing for fourteen hours." Then she burst out laughing at the offended look on the Silurian’s face.

Vastra attempted to hold a glare on her that would have terrified most carnosaurs into retreat, but after a few moments, she realised that she couldn't help but join the laughter.

"This... does... not... mean... you... have... gotten... away... with... this..." Vastra panted out between fits of laughter.

"Sure it doesn't." Clara replied, before tossing something else at the Silurian. Vastra managed to catch what turned out to be an Indirubber hot water bottle, with the cap firmly in place and full of very warm water.

Almost before she could blink, Vastra was inside, and curled up around it in front of the main fireplace in the drawing room, along with her case notes.

"Any leads?" Clara asked, after a moment.

"The usual ill-wishers in the office, two secretarial staff who were trying to catch him for themselves, along with a rival for Miss Parker. The rival was in his club all evening on the night of the attack and the theft, we have witnesses who saw him drowning his sorrows until he could barely stand, at which point he was poured into a cab and escorted home by a friend, who poured him into bed about the same time the watch was broken."

"You've eliminated the two 'jilted' secretaries from your enquiries?"

"The man's head was stoved in with a walking stick with a head several inches in diameter. This isn't a weapon that a woman would easily have access to, or would chose to attack someone with. If this was one of the secretaries, I'd expect him to have been stabbed with a paperknife, or poisoned. If he'd been stabbed, I'd expect him to have survived, because the blade would have been unlikely to strike anything more vital than a lung, and would probably have been embedded in a rib."

"Right..." Clara said, slightly unnerved. "Did the irregulars find anything out?"

"Three cabinet ministers appear to be having affairs with various ambassadors’ wives, and someone they recognise as a German agent was plugging some sort of technical diagrams up and down embassy row, but apparently they were for a new type of naval cannon. We also have intelligence that an agent working for the Tsar was in the area of the Admiralty at the time, and that he received a bag of some description from another man, although the boy who saw them didn't get a good look at him."

"Which is our man?" Clara asked.

"I haven't got any idea." Vastra replied, honestly. "I also have no idea at all how the victim was killed where he was, as he appears to have had his head bashed in on the top of a moving railway carriage on the London Underground."

"How...?" Carla asked, for a moment, seeing her confusion mirrored on the face of the Silurian detective.

"Honestly, I have no idea at all." Vastra replied, before picking up a fresh sheet of notes, while Clara headed back through to the kitchen.

Jenny was snuggled, a phrase she had never thought she'd be using to describe what she was doing on a prison bed. Huddled was the term she'd have used to describe her previous two nights, spent on a slab of hardwood without any feature to provide any form of comfort. Tonight, though, she was snuggled into six inches of fresh straw, with a brand new blanket wrapped around her and even a pillow to rest her head on. Add to that that she was busily fighting her way into a tower full of trainers, all of whom wished to defeat her for the points and indeed the money that rested on such matches, and she was as happy as a pig in muck, even with the heavy steel chains still connecting her ankles together, and having to strongly resist the urge to use the lock picks tucked inside the spine of her Gameboy case to remove them. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep, happy and content for a few long moments.

When she was eating tagine, Vastra seemed to have very different table manners, compared to the constantly irritating way she'd eaten her steak the previous night. Admittedly, she was busily using her tongue to fish out every single piece of meat, seeming to flatten the end to allow herself to scoop up various lumps of vegetable at the same time as the meat. She seemed to be doing so with playful joy, and wasn't slurping the sauce in the slightest.

She was even behaving herself with the wine, which was being offered first, and hadn't once tried to drink from the bottle.

Clara had served herself a smaller portion, and was managing to keep up with the silurian's relentless pace, although she was keeping a very careful eye on the six foot prehensile tongue, on the basis that she did not want to find it sneaking over the corner of her bowl, and stealing all of her sauce.

Other than one threatened bash with a small rolling pin she'd brought to the table for the purpose, the tongue kept away from her bowl, although it did make several pilgrimages to a small plate of nuts, which quickly vanished.

Afterwards, they adjourned to the drawing room, for brandy and cheese.

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