"It is the intention of Her Majesty's Court to seek justice in the matter of the attempted murder of
Alderman Ian Percival Mountebanke Terwilliger. Thou stands accused of the aforementioned crime
wherin Alderman Terwilliger did suffer grievous damage to his pate and person, in addition to the damaging loss of..."
(here the judge did confer quickly and quietly with the Sheriff.)
".....indeed, aye, one pair of silk & brocade breeches listed at two pound six and eight."
A short bit of chaos burst forth once again, betwixt those who would see me triumph against the perfidious Terwilliger and those who would see me dangle for happy sport.
I blurted out above the din, my words bringing silence upon the court once again.
"And what of 'is dignity, I ask? How much fer that?
'Tis in the air he be still wearin' them bloody breeches, is he not?"
Muffled snickers from the crowd.
"Silence, Mistress Moorfields!" spake judge and gavel.
"And what of me own property, I ask ye?
Me own chickens has been traumatized. I'll not have eggs for a fortnight!"
A cry from the viewing balcony of 'I've a chicken right wit' me ye can have, Violet!' nearly made me smile.
The mirthless gavel fell thrice.
"Methinks, Mistress Moorfields,"
spake the hearing judge in a dry tone which told the simple truth of my situation.
"Methinks ye'll naught be having eggs for a great, long while."
I locked eyes with the judge and would not give him leave to look away.
'Twas a small comfort.
Three beats and his voice boomed throughout the room.
"Violet Grace Moorfields, it is the opinion of the court that your person and your impenitent, obdurate nature, without delay will be remanded to Bethlem Hospital, in the city of London, to be detained at her Majesty's pleasure. So say the court."
The gavel fell as I swallowed a sudden mouthful of sour vomit, unwilling to evidence affright.
Though the members of the court remained stone faced, their eyes flickered, as to the delight of all but two I blew the hearing judge a resounding wet, grandly vulgar, raving tongue salute.
The hearing judge, a dainty and over delicate sort still reeling in horror from my public truths spewn for all to contemplate, fanned himself with lace and fine linen hanky, whose price would have afforded me meat for sup twenty days lined together. If a humming bird had hovered at the sleeve of his greatcoat it could not have kept pace with his nervous fluttering. Whey faced and breaking into nervous sweat, he dabbed repeatedly at his pointed nose. His long, lank, coal colored hair drooped in apparent sympathy with his plight.
Not witless by any stretch, he quickly calculated his risks and foresaw the good judgement of handling my case with speed and aplomb least he disrupt the life of luxury he had carved for himself. For we might have been the same, this delicate man and I. The difference being, he reveled in the positions the alderman laid out for him whilst I would sooner hear the snap of mine own neck and dwell in Eternal Damnation as the trap door opened beneath me boots than to submit, even a singular time, to a filthy prig-the alderman or any other.
"Aye, and there's the rub." to speak the speech of a merry, ale-soaked fellow who fancied himself a man of words and plays, that I often served a tankard or three to in the public house in better days.
To find me guilty of the accused crime would be to also find me sane. To find me sans lunacy would also admit, by matter of course, that I spake true. To release me would admit the same and more. Aye, such a tangled web. My literary tavern patron may have been in his cups and out of coin on many the occasion but it can ne'er be said he did not know the truth of human folly.
Hearing mine own name returned me to the forefront of my situation.
Violet Moorfields. A name bestowed upon me at birth by me Da, who was a grand and handsome Admiral with the Queen's Armada-or so me Mum would say time and time again whilst thithering about the business of raising nine nippers, eight of them my brothers, with what appeared to be the ability to put one foot in front of the other and the possession of a solitary loaf of bread. The same loaf, near as I could tell, all those years. The Miraculous Draught of Fishes had naught on me Mum.
"Twould explain his absence." she would often say.
"What with serving our most gracious Majesty and sailing into many a battle and such. Though any day now we should expect his return to live with us happily e'er after."
And for I time I, too, believed.
"And bring us more bread as well?"
Wee Fergus, the youngest and most able to believe in fairy stories would always ask in anticipation.
""I should think." me Mum always finished afore turning abruptly to an important chore so as to make ready for the day.
Violet Moorfields. The jest was on meself though as Moorfields were naught but a swamp on the far side of Bishopsgate Without, just north of the city of London and violets as common as horse flops in the street. And me Da? Well, he ne'er did come. Though I needs must give me Mum her due; she could still dream. In sooth, those dreams kept us alive. They did not in the end, howe'er, do like for me Mum.
I rolled from him then, disgusted that I had spread my legs around him even if only to kill him, then carried myself to the nearest stool where I sat staring at naught, mourning a life I ne'er had. I cradled the bread knife as a babe and refused to allow myself any tears.
'Twas how they found us, the Sheriff and his man, early the following morn; the Alderman still flat on his back in shite soggy breeches, a placid chicken perched delicately atop his noggin, mayhap in hopes of hatching into worth the obscene egg that had taken o'er his forehead. Myself, rocking a blade and singing it a sweet
In sooth, 'twas the lullaby I believe, what saved me sorry neck.
The Sheriff, as balanced and just-minded a man as one in his position is allowed to be, knew not what to make of the scene, nor, whence it should come to it, know where to set his gaze in the coming hours for want of an acceptable explanation as to exactly how it was he foretold the whereabouts of Master Terwilliger with such prophetic accuracy. But it was clear that no matter the circumstance the fault would be mine own, with Ian Terwilliger emerging as the victor-if one can be said to be victorious with a load of shite in ones breeches and the guilt of lechery upon ones soul.
As for the rest? Well, the phrase mere formality does spring to mind. I would not hold the taste of freedom upon my tongue nor know the giddiness of a brilliant summer day for much time hence. And though I would become intimately acquainted with the bite of frigid cold, sick hunger, rats and raving madness,what came to me from it I would ne'er sell nor trade even to wipe my slate clean nor to have lived a different life. Tainted though it may sound, I owe Ian Terwilliger my gratitude, if not my debt.