A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 6

As she swept out of the cell-block, Vastra knew that the chances of Jenny actually using her opportunity to escape would be low. The police knew where she lived, and any attempt at flight would likely be short lived.

The cold made her waspish, however. As such, she acknowledged an offer of a cup of tea with an abrupt flick of the hand, before hurrying into a different section of the court.

Rather than wood or stone, this section had carpets, woven from soft red wool, and with a pattern of coiling lines running along the edges, next to the panelled walls decorated with ornate devotional images in gilt frames. They made absolutely no sense to her, although she was able to appreciate the effort and skill that had gone into them. Ape religion was very much a closed book to her, with the pious sermons preaching love, charity and kindness in stark contrast to the everyday activities of the church. She'd never seen a priest coming out of a workhouse with a large empty sack smelling of bread or other wholesome foods, although she'd seen more than a few coming out of houses of ill repute, smelling as if they'd been fully partaking of the services offered within.

When she got to her destination, she was expected. A liveried footman opened the door into the chambers, and she marched through, feeling the pleasing warmth from within, before taking a seat very close to the roaring coal fire.

"Major." She said; throwing back her veil once the door was closed. "We have matters to discuss."

"I assume you are her about your maid." He replied, earning a certain amount of respect by not sitting backwards or otherwise visibly reacting, although his sent indicated a mixture of wonder and confusion, with only a tiny amount of fear flavouring them.

"I am."

"I understand she struck the third son of the earl of Uxbridge."

"She did not realise who he was. He was a drunk, pawing at her and trying to grab her arm."

"So she had no option but to punch him in the face?"

"Major, she has somewhat unusual training. At the moment she threw that punch, that training was reacting to a perceived threat, rather than Jenny attacking a man."

"I can hardly acquit her, Madame. The honourable Mr Brown is still receiving treatment for his injuries, and his father is extremely important at court."

"I wasn't suggesting that you simply release her." Vastra replied, her earlier waspishness creeping back into her tone. "As a warrior cadet, she must learn that actions have consequences, particularly when she mis-uses her training. However, I believe that you were an intimate of Sir Alex Knight."

"What about it?" He asked, a certain amount of trepidation creeping into his scent, overpowering the smell of suspicion that he'd begun to radiate.

"I'm not threatening you, major. I'm simply stating a fact."

"I was." He replied. "So were half the men in my club."

"But most of those men lost money when Sir Alex fled overseas to India."

"Are you accusing me of involvement in his crimes?" He hissed, trying to project anger, although the heady wave of fear radiating from him left him looking rather pathetic in her eyes.

"I wasn't, until a few moments ago. Your fear when I mentioned his name was most artfully disguised behind a facade of anger, but not nearly well enough to fool me."

"What do you want from me?" He asked, seeing a possible way out."

"How long were you going to give Jenny?" She asked. "And I would encourage you to show honesty in answer to every question I ask. I will know if you don't."

"Six months to a year, depending on her behaviour while imprisoned."

"I think you would have given her victim an awful lot less than that."

"A fine, perhaps, for striking one of his peers or no punishment at all, if he'd struck out against a shopkeeper." He admitted.

"I do not ask you to show that sort of mercy here. Jenny must learn to control her actions. However, I think a short spell of imprisonment is all I can tolerate being apart from my ape for."

"A month?" He asked, trying to hold onto some semblance of control.

"A week. It will teach her a lesson without unduly risking harm to her. She isn't going to overly suffer if you tack hard labour onto that time."

"And in exchange?"

His reply was a smile, showing teeth not dissimilar to those of some of the skulls in the natural history museum. "In exchange, I will keep your secret secure."

"This is blackmail." He said, sitting back slightly.

"Put your hands on top of the desk." She snapped, her sharp ears having heard the slight rattle of a desk draw being stealthily slid open.

"And if I call the men outside to arrest you?"

"Then everyone in the public gallery will hear what I have to say."

The response was a slamming of the desk draw, which she suspected, from some of the chemical smells that had begun to creep into the room, had contained a firearm of some kind.

"You appear to have the advantage, then, Madame." He said, his voice suddenly even and calm. "We must play a game of chess together at some point in the future."

"That would indeed be interesting, major." She replied. "I apologise for my actions, but I need Jenny around the place to help me."

"I understand fully." The magistrate replied, smiling slightly. "My wife has such a maid."

Then have we reached a deal?" Vastra asked.

"I think we have." The magistrate replied, and they shook hands.

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