Chapter 5: A Warfare of Tricks & Contrivances
“Gawd elp us! Elp! Elp! Oh Gawd, elp!”
“Awww Gawd! Mercy sir! Have mercy! I have a child!”
“Silence I sayyyy!!!!”
The last word is bellowed so loudly that even the Whipporwills (those Psycho-Pomp harbingers of the netherworld) perched in the branches of the cherry trees fall silent. The sight of the monstrous monk struggling to make away with the chambermaid is at once a sight so piteous and so foul, that it takes all of Sergeant Come-Hither’s restraint, to remain hid ‘mongst the branches of the near-most tree.
“Oh, oh ma gawd!”
It is not possible to see the face of the cowled monk struggling hideously with the distraught woman whose swaddled child lies scarce a foot away, but beyond any doubt t’is the mad monk Planchette.
“We can’t take him yet, the inspector says we needs the other to turn up a’fore we can!” mutters Sergeant Slaughter, his great fists clenching and unclenching upon his truncheon, which he would most surely bring to bear upon the crown of the monk if given half a chance.
“Have a little patience Slaughter, look at the muscles on er! Ooer! Oh he’s having a hard time of it! Dear Gawd, what a struggle! You’d think he’d know better than to grapple with a kitchen maid!”
“Oi oi take a gander at this, here comes another miscreant! What ave we ere?” whispers Constable Take-Fast espying another figure lurching forth into the church yard.
T’is the Member of Parliament for Richmond and Sitterforth, but my what a change! Gone are the finely trimmed lustrous locks of certainty, and the blue eye of righteous indignation, all gone! Did ever a gentleman look more dishevelled, more felled by tawdry calamity, more slain by depravity and smitten by rampant degeneracy than this? The right honourable Hardy Ethelbert-Smythe MP has at last been discovered clutching a Moses-Basket in his hands, and the officers little doubt that therein lies the downfall and the shame of the man.
“Planchette! Brother Planchette you devilish occulted spawn unhand the lady! Unhand her I say! Monsieur Planchette, you will desist sir! I have you in my eye sir!”
Alas for Planchette’s nimble ferocity! In one fell swoop both hands are wrapped around the victim’s neck who, resist him as violently as she might, can scarce free herself from his grip. Exulting in his impending ascendancy, Planchette fails to note the manic gleam in the eye of the outraged (though dishonourable) Hardy Ethelbert-Smythe. The fervour of the monk’s fanaticism has caused him to ignore the resolution of the MP for Richmond and Sitterforth, who, depositing the Moses-Basket (containing the evidence of his shame) on the churchyard lawn, draws forth a pistol and fires roundly upon the mad monk.
“Now!” bellows Sergeant Slaughter blowing hard upon his whistle and following close upon the heels of Constable Take-Fast who, wielding his truncheon violently bids all and sundry to “Halt! In the name of the law!”
What now of high reputation and unblemished honour? The Goveen Monk whose lunacy has been thwarted by a pistol shot lies mortally stricken, clept in the pitiless arms of Sergeant Slaughter, and what of the pistol wielding politician? Gone! Fled into the sanctum of Christchurch Cathedral taking the Moses-Basket with him.
“After him and the basket! The inspector will not countenance another death, look to him Constable Qwinty! Sergeant Come-Hither! To arms sir! To arms!”
The wailings of the infant continue unabated, but the fevered politician hurries on, traversing the floor of the church, dodging the pews and throwing himself afore the sanctified altar.
“Pottering about on the sneak and with a child in hand! T’is an outrage!” roars Constable Qwinty “Hand over the basket!”
“I will not!”
“Give that basket ere!” growls Constable Qwinty inching himself ever closer.
“I will not! I claim the sanctuary of Christchurch Cathedral!”
“Sanctuary? With someone else’s child in thy hands?” replies Sergeant Come-Hither “You shall not! Come away from there! You’ll make things worse on yerself if you don’t!”
“Ha? Ho! I’ll will ave you, you godless, murdering rapscallion!” and with that Sergeant Take-Fast sprints forward and makes ready to seize his man.
“Halt Sergeant Take-Fast! Halt I say and hark! Do you not hear it? That howling?” cries Constable Qwinty halting himself and turning towards the wide open cathedral doors, “Sounds to me like something’s a-thin outside”.
Something is indeed a-thin dear reader! T’is the lesser people, the common herd who, their bosoms surfeit with rankling passion, have called themselves to arms, and made their way to the cathedral where (rumour would have it) the homicidal guardian of Spitalfield’s Workhouse is to be found. With breasts bared, teeth gnashing and hair streaming, with cudgels, bludgers and butcher’s knives stuck in make shift belts, the howling mob would do away with a man who has brought untold misery to thousands in Spitalfields.
“Where is he? Where is Ethelbert-Smythe? Bring him out to us, we’ll show him what it is to go a-murdering!”
“Carve up our women & steal our babes? I’ll carve HIM up!”
“Leave us to starve and freeze to death in the alleyways of the Seven Dials would he?”
“Bring him out, the Goveen lickalspit!”
“Bring him forth, the spring-lamb munching ingrate!”
The bells of Christchurch strike two and not for the first time this night Sergeant Slaughter wishes he were abroad patrolling London Bridge in peace. Indeed were it not for the luminous presence of Inspector Depta he and his men would have quit the heathen churchyard long ago.
“My, my! Well, if this don’t beat all hell!” roars the inspector holstering his pistol and holding up a police lantern so as he may address the members of his flock.
“Ho! You!” suddenly the inspector thrusts his lantern afore him into the ferocious seeming mob and espies Bert Marsh, co-owner of The Sapphire of Jhansi, “Well and if it ain’t Bert! Come for’ard! Don’t be shy! And Is that Nat Spate? Cheat the Old Bailey out of an execution didn’t ya? The Newgate hangman had wind of you near enough!”.
“He did, he did near enuf!” the ferocious horde of vigilantes murmur cheerfully, waving their pitchforks to and fro in solidarity with the inspector’s fine opinions.
“Here we iz nabbing them warmongering members of the aristocracy wot don’t know to keep them murdering ways to themselves an ere you are stopping us! Is that fair I ask you? Well, is it? Is that you Bert Tobin crouching behind that tombstone? Come forth! Right out into the light where we can all see you! Well, and there’s a face to conjure with!” the crowd who know Master Tobin well chuckle quietly amongst themselves.
“Afore you descend into a riotous disorder! Look afore you and see the ailing mother whose poor neck is sore in need of medical attention!” the inspector says reminding them of their duty towards their own. Quick! somebody fetch Father Fitzpatrick! He doctored in the America’s did he not? Fetch Father Fitzpatrick! The murmured request ripples through the crowd swiftly, and a little boy scarce tall enough to be holding a pike makes off and a way to fetch the good father.
Striding this way and that, the inspector continues to work the crowd,“What you are there are you Alice Marsh? Ain’t ad enough of it yet? What of you Milty? Ready for ten months more my boy? Mrs Becca Hayes! Business slacking is it? That you should be out ere with a carving knife hid in yer corset and poorly by my reckoning! (there is much hilarity at this assertion). Plot a dalliance with sedition and murder on my turf would you?” the inspector roars belligerently “Well, we ain’t having it, hook it! Go on! Justice is reaching it’s close an any as interfere will find themselves come orff worse! Hook it the lot of yer, get orff home!”
What a sight to behold! A more angry looking mob the inspector had not laid his eyes on
for some time, nor could he blame them.
“To hell with yer!” yells one straw haired fellow (a chimney sweep) waving a scythe aloft “To hell with all of yer! A fine world this is, where politicians and monks may ravage our women, and gammon us out of our children. Where milliners and dockers as are starved for work may be starved again of vittles, by such as Ethelbert-Smythe! Out of my way! I will carve my fill of him so gawd elp me I will!” and with that the straw haired denizen, scythe held aloft, leaps forward, and is promptly knocked to the ground by the butt of Inspector Depta’s pistol.
“Sergeant Girdy! Clep him in irons! Well, and who else shall we be collaring and taking afore the assizes on this morn?”