A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 7

As she was ushered into the dock, Jenny caught a brief glimpse of Vastra, sitting in the part of the public gallery nearest the dock. The door behind her was shut and bolted, leaving her suddenly feeling very alone and nervous. The railing that surrounded the chest high, on her at least, wooden frame of the dock made escape almost impossible, at least without a lock pick, several confederates in the courtroom, and several minutes between their exit and the alarm being raised.

It took perhaps two minutes for the magistrate to arrive, giving her ample time to glance around the room.

Those looking at the dock saw a small woman, wearing the uniform of a privately employed housemaid, with her hair full, despite what were clearly her best efforts, of straw, although it was pinned up in a neat bob to the rear of her head. Her face did not immediately strike any of the variety of onlookers as more than attractive, but there was something about her pose that spoke volumes about her, as did the way she simply stood, shackled hands clasped in front of her, with her head bowed, and her lips moving slightly, obviously to the onlookers, in prayer.

Vastra's hearing, on the other hand, was considerably better than the human norm, or even the extremes of human possibility.

"Ma'am, I don't know what you're doing here," she was saying, almost too quietly even for Vastra to hear. "But I'm sure that the magistrate would have enjoyed his whiskey a whole lot more if he hadn't had that visit from you. Don't look at me like that, I know you, you daft old thing, and I know full well why they never caught the honourable Sir Alex Knight, because I do the books, and the laundry."

She grinned slightly, before continuing.

"I don't want you to try and break me out, seeing as, if I know you, I'm going to be facing something a lot less serious than what I might have been otherwise. I don't think you'd have got me off with a fine, but I doubt I'm going to suffer too much."

Finally, there was a clatter from the official door.

"All rise." The usher announced, before Major the Right Honourable Geoffrey Clarence swept into the court, fully robed and bewigged, before sitting down in his official chair, and a good five feet above Jenny.

Once everyone was seated again, the usher began proceedings.

"Are you Miss Jennifer Flint, employed and living at 13 Paternoster Row?"

"Yes. She replied, the chains around her wrists and ankles suddenly seeming considerably heavier.

"The charges against the defendant are as follows: That on or about the 16th of February this year, the defendant, Miss Jennifer Flint, did bodily strike The Honourable Mr Gregory Brown, while Mr Brown was attending an event at 13 Paternoster Row, where the defendant is employed as a ladies maid. This blow resulted in bruising to the face of the victim and the drawing of blood from his nose."

"How does the defendant plead: Guilty, or Not Guilty?"

"Guilty."

"Are there any factors that the defendant would like to bring to the attention of the court in mitigation?"

"Only that I have been working hard in the service of Madame Vastra for several years now, and she has had nothing but praise for my industry and determination."

"Very well. The court accepts the guilty plea."

"Miss Flint." The magistrate said, glaring down at her from his position above of the dock. "Your actions in this case are completely unacceptable in modern society. However, I am assured that you are essential to the running of Thirteen Paternoster Row, and that you are indeed industrious and hard working. Furthermore, you have no previous convictions. As such, you are hereby sentenced to one week's hard labour. Consider it a token of the future punishment that may be doled out if you breach the laws of this land again." He gestured to the clerk.

"All rise."

There was a clatter and rustle as about three dozen people rose to their feet, before the magistrate marched out of the room.


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