Dirty Tom fixed his gaze upon me through a barely parted curtain of long, matted, dirty yellow hair, a single rope of spittle the color of a fancy ocean pearl extending from the corner of his slack mouth to the rusted shackle which bound his wrist with like chain to the damp wall of stone. Though I did not know him to be Dirty Tom then.
Removed of my possessions and garbed only in a reeking blanket gown besmirched about with old pottage, desolation and the shite of another, my despoilment paled in comparison with the scene lain out afore me. Yet even now I was in finer placement than I had been but a fortnight ago. To bewail henceforth would be but redundant lunacy.
I stood stock still, fearful of being made as one with wall and chain. But my silence was mistook for the incivility of the insane and the forged manacle was locked 'round my wrist in a macabre handfasting ceremony consisting of only one soul. The heavy, rusted circle quashed the bones in my arm liken unto a rough lover. Though in sooth, naught that I might have spake then would have changed my lot.
"What say ye, Violet Moorfields?"
The gathering of viewers behind me, peasant, trade-folk and gentry mixed, pressed forward to better hear if I should speak.
"I say, me lord and master, that Alderman Terwilliger be a most pompous, toad-spotted, falsifying, belly bloated suck-maggot."
An audible intake of breaths drew in as one from the assemblage followed by not a few quickly stifled sniggers.
"Silence!" squeaked out the hearing judge with extreme difficulty.
Master Ian Terwilliger, having taken his place beside the Court of Alderman at the commencement of the proceedings, glared at me with his vile and perpetually squinted pig eyes. I could smell the bile rising within him as the color of his untruths spread in mottled blues and reds upon his sour cheeks whence he tried discreetly, but without good fortune, to inhale his obscene girth to smaller form. Spittle, gray and thick, gathered unbidden at the corners of his greasy gob, his goose egged forehead throbbing visibly.
"And you." I continued, addressing the judge with a gentle tone and a polite smile.
"You sirrah, are his mewling, boot-licking rump lad."
Absolute silence reigned for a thrice count.
And then, in a sudden explosion, pandemonium broke out, sides forming in the matter of near equal proportions; those who defended my certain innocence and those who would see me hanged as the attempted murderess of one Ian Percival Mountebanke Terwilliger, esteemed Alderman and prevaricating clot-pole.