02. Ape Bobby

2.7M 58.9K 45K

By the next morning I didn't feel quite so cocky anymore. That might have had something to do with spending the night in a prison cell, or with the fact that I had made a total mess of my plan, or with the fact that I hadn't been able to get myself calmed down enough to sleep until midnight.

And when I finally did fall asleep on the hard, uneven bunk bed in the prison cell, I dreamed of a dozen Bobbies, reinforced by a whole platoon of Ancient Greek statues, chasing me through the dark streets of London all night, shouting: 'Stop her! Stop the feminist! She has to be at work on Monday! At nine sharp! Catch her!' I'm not sure which was more disturbing, the horrifying chase or the fact that the stone statues on my tail looked suspiciously like Mr Rikkard Ambrose.

I awoke sometime around three am, my heart hammering so fast I knew I would never be able to go to sleep again.

Instead, I surveyed the luxurious hotel suite the nice policemen had put me in for the night: six square feet of the best of what London's police stations had to offer. The walls of my temporary home were decorated in an intricate pattern of mould and graffiti. The panorama window – about two square feet covered with a beautiful set of iron bars – offered a spectacular view over the gutter of one of London's finest dingy alleyways. The door, of course, was designed to fit the standards of the window and was similarly crafted from highly decorative iron bars. The bed, as my back could attest, was also made to fit the highest standards, and was able to reduce your back muscles to a tangle of aching knots within five minutes. All in all, it was a breath-taking place with a charming atmosphere. The previous tenant had even left me a little present in the form of a puddle of well-matured goo in the corner. It emitted the most delicious, stomach-turning odour and completed the whole ambience to misery in perfection. The pale light of the moon which filtered in through the small window didn't make the scene any cheerier.

At least there was no one else in the cell with me. The policemen had put me in solitary confinement. I would have liked to think that was for my protection, but truth be told, they probably thought it was safer for the other prisoners. After all, they couldn't want those poor misunderstood thieves, burglars and murderers in the same cell as a raving madwoman who had dressed up as a man and thus had given proof of the fact that she had absolutely no morals whatsoever, could they?

Groaning, I shuffled until I was sitting on the bunk, my chin resting in my open palm. A truly philosophical position, ideally suited for pondering my fate. What would be my punishment for my little subterfuge? Would I be sent to prison for daring to defy the laws of England? Or put in the stocks? Or transported to the colonies like a common thief? That last thought cheered me up considerably. I had heard that some of the colonies were much more civilized and advanced when it came to the independence of women than our dear mother country. Plus, my aunt and uncle would then be a few thousand miles away from me.

But then I thought of my friends and of my little sister, Ella, and immediately regretted my selfish desire to be shipped off to a criminal colony. I couldn't leave. And even if I could get out of England, I knew I would rather stay and fight for my rights. Running from my problems had never been my style. Grabbing them by the throat and shaking them until they capitulated, that was more my way of dealing with things.

Not that this particular strategy had proven very helpful to me recently. After all, I had tried to grab political freedom for women by the throat, and it had just slipped through my fingers. Would it be like that with every other kind of freedom? Yes, it probably would. It wasn't just voting that ladies weren't allowed to do. I was well aware that there were other, even more essential, freedoms.

Shifting uncomfortably, I could feel Mr Ambrose's card pressing against my skin where I had stuffed it into my sleeve to conceal it from the Bobby who had taken my personal effects. Yes, a lady definitely lacked certain freedoms. Such as the right to work for a living, for instance.

Storm and SilenceWhere stories live. Discover now