According to the clock, Vastra had been away for perhaps three hours, when the TARDIS groaned back into the medical wing of Newgate prison, setting down neatly between two unoccupied beds.
The prison doctor, along with one of the warders, hurried up to the box, only to look concerned and very unhappy when only Vastra and The Doctor exited it.
"Where is Miss Flint?" The prison "doctor" asked, looking baffled. "And how did that thing get in and out of the building?"
"Jenny is in a reliable and extremely reputable hospital." Vastra told them, trying to sound reassuring, one dewclaw gently massaging the inside of her leg. "She is in traction, and cannot leave the bed, or the wing of the hospital." She did not mention that her wife was currently working her way through the last decade of Marvel superhero films. It wouldn't mean anything to them, and it would distract from the fact her wife was being punished.
Vastra had left the nurse with strict instructions, placed on the door, that her wife was not allowed a full English breakfast, but was restricted to muesli without any form of candied fruit or raisins. It was a somewhat unorthodox punishment, but it would bite home, she suspected.
"Is she guarded?" The warder asked. Vastra knew the man's scent, but remembering names was Jenny's job, along with tea making.
"She is in a special section of the hospital, in a guarded wing. She is also unable to leave the bed." Vastra said. "She will not be absconding from her confinement."
There was a gruff nod, accompanied by a grunt. Vastra translated it as the male ape for "Good to know, thanks for telling me."
She nodded, slightly imperiously. "Warder, could you return me to the entrance?" She asked. "I need to return home. I have several cases on the go, and I must continue my enquiries."
"Certainly, Madame." The Warder said, unlocking the door with one of a number of keys attached onto his belt, then leading her through.
Vastra knew that Jenny hated being inside a prison, however briefly. It was the combination of silence and harsh sounds that intimidated her, an effect which the Silurian suspected to have been deliberately engineered. Having apes frightened of being confined was at least something of a deterrent. She had never seen any signs that the apes of the current period were even attempting to rehabilitate, rather than simply punish those who broke the rules of their society. It was a regressive approach, but she suspected that it was extremely effective against those such as Jenny, who sinned once, and were terrified back onto the straight and narrow.
For Vastra, being inside a prison was physically uncomfortable, rather than psychologically. The constant damp, a lack of natural light, the smell of hundreds of apes without access to bars of soap... It was a maddening environment. She had nothing but sympathy for her ape, absinthe fact that she suffered quiet nightmares the night after entering a prison.
It had become her normal practice not to require Jenny to enter the building, or to do anything more than wait in the carriage with a romance novel, usually featuring knights in armour. Jenny always passed the books on to her with annotations correcting the sword fighting sequences, particularly in regards to ridiculous attempts at defence or attack.
Vastra had taught her that in a fight with a sword, you inserted it into a vital site on your opponent, then withdrew it and stepped back to let them die. You did not fight to disarm, or to score a touch (unless you were fighting a formal duel). The only purpose of her weapon was to kill. It was not to have poetry dedicated to it, or to look good on parade. It was a thirty inch single edged, chisel-tip katana, designed to kill people. It was a tool. Not a toy, and very definitely not an item to be joked around with. Using it to chop wood, or the accompanying tanto to fillet a chicken, however, was very much in keeping with the rules. Vastra saw no reason why it would be any sort of issue. One of the spare tantos being converted into a breadknife, using a file, had been a high skill project, and something Vastra had encouraged.
Thinking about her little ape, currently about one hundred and ten years away, and about fifteen miles to the east, made Vastra snuffle slightly as she exited the prison, before the Warder accompanying her hailed a four wheeler cab, which she gratefully clambered into, closing the door behind her, reassured she would be protected from the massive number of smells she was likely to encounter.
When the lunch trolley came around, Jenny was very surprised when she was handed a plate of what appeared to be a full English breakfast, complete with hash browns, baked beans, fried onions and mushrooms, along with a supply of bacon and sausages. There were also three slices of toast.
It took her about fifteen minutes to ingest the entire plateful, going carefully over the plate with a slice of toast, scooping the mixture of jus and sauce into a puddle, then carefully absorbing it, before rolling her slice of toast into a tube, with jus on the inside, and carefully eating it. The instinct of a match-girl momentarily warred with her knowledge that withholding of any future food was extremely unlikely, and she was sans over-large cap with most of her hair tucked into it anyway.
Once the final slice of toast had been ingested, having first been slathered with peanut butter, from a special packet provided by the hospital, Jenny fired up her internet connection, determined to access racing information for the 1895 season. Being able to drop a few hundred guineas on a hundred to one shot was something she aspired to, without a doubt, as even with Vastra's earnings from cases, and her own private income, the Row was an expensive house for a Silurian, her human wife, and their very trigger-happy sontaran butler, to live in. Jenny was not going to have lodgers in the same building as her avowed humanitarian of a wife. The other option was trying to bring in additional staff Vastra wouldn't try to eat, or to simply raise her fee somewhat.
When Vastra got back to the Row, she clambered out of the
four wheeler, paying the driver with the correct change, before heading for the
To her surprise, a small ape, wearing a straw hat with a blue and white ribbon, was waiting on her steps.
"Alan?" She said, hopefully, noticing the way he reacted when she got his name right. "Why are you waiting out here?"
"M' dad sent me 'round to get 'is baskit back. I've been on the step, knockin' on the door, for the last two hours."
Vastra spent a moment translating the statement out of street ape. "I'll let you and myself in so that we can look for Clara together." She said, carefully concealing that she was taking advantage of her slightly over-large sleeve to palm a tanto.
Carefully, she unlocked the door, before stepping quickly inside, relieved when nothing immediately attacked her, before gesturing to the boy to follow her though the door.
Once the door was closed, she took a deep breath.
Inside a building, she would expect most smells to linger, particularly if she was looking for the particular set of aromas that she currently was.
To her relief, there was no explosion of adrenaline, or the smell of a human fight.
Then she realised that the smells of her current maid were about four hours old.
"Clara?" She called, feeling her gut suddenly contracting with fear.
There was no answer.