12 April, in the year of our Lord 2021
Up after a poor sleep on my meagre bed, it being the fifth day after my Arrest, which was under a Pretence as false as any I ever heard, I being questioned daily upon the nature of all my associacions with each and ev’ry aquaintance I have, till I felt eviscerated of ervything I have writ in my Journall, each morselle and scrap dessected across that great oak table, and more beside, so that I am cleaned of every memory I owned, and all the while held in a dank dungeon, lit only from a high chink at the level of the street, wherein came all the dirt and stench of passers by, and worse, the flow of a horse that relieved itself of a full bladder in the gutter. Yet it was clear to me that in none of this did my answers aid the constables endeavour. This morning unlocked my gaoler the door to my small cell.
‘You ’ave been allowed a visitor on grounds of Compassion,’ announced he, without preamble. ‘Mother Teresa is ’ere to see you.’
At which in waddled a short and very stout figure wearing a white habit and wimple edged by blue stripes with matching Covey masque, the best-fed nun I did ever see in my entire life, bearing a round plate upon which was set a round cloche.
‘Thank you so much, Mr. Gaoler,’ says she humbly, keeping her face lowered and shuffling to set her gift upon my rickatty table. As soon as the door closes behind her and we hear departing footsteps, she whips off her masque.
‘Mr. Pipes, it is I!’
‘What?’ cry I. ‘How have you managed — ? I did not recognise you behind the masque. How have you gained such weight in these few days?’
‘They found no case against me,’ says he, ‘and handed back my frocks and gowns! I am here to help you.’ Whereupon he removes the cloche to reveal his alms-on-a-plate. ‘Da-dah!’
‘It is baked and sliced to my specificacion by Aspynall’s in Brook Place, up the back of High Town. ’
‘Well, that is very thoughtfulle for none hath brought me aught to break my fast,’ say I, taking a slice in my fingers.
‘But before you — ’
Too late, my teeth sink into cold meat, gravy and a hard shaft of steel.
‘What is this?’ cry I, removing a wet utensil from my mouth.
‘It is your patent quince baller,’ cries he triumphant, ‘with which to dig yourself out of your cell!’
‘What are you talking about? That would take me ages, you fussock — ’
‘It is double-ended to assist in the endeavour! It will take you only half ages!’
‘ — and I cannot tunnel through a stone floor!’
‘But it hath an ergonomic handle!’ He slumps and looks downcast, but brightens at a second thought. ‘Look, though, there is more! I have a Plan Bee!’ At which grabs he my right hand and thrusts it within his habbit. ‘Hold this! No, not that! This!’ Whereupon I take a hold of what feels like a great soft knot in some linen while he twirls anticlockwise on his Axis round the tiny cell, losing all his excess as a giant rope of knotted sheets unfurls upon the floor.
‘I have not become paunched! I have girthed myself with this,’ says he, ‘for the subterfuge of smuggling it to you!’
‘But of what use is this?’ cry I. ‘My cell is a dungeon, you nunkopf!’
He collapses on the stool at my table, dispondant, and I upon my bed.
‘Oh, Mr. Poops,’ says he, slumped, with his crest fallen and his face all a-crumple. ‘The enterpryse in which I put such stock is wrecked by my failure of foresight. It is always my downfalle. I have failed you in your hour of greatest need.’
‘Wait!’ cry I, jumping to my feet. ‘I think you have not! I bought this device not mearly as a double-ended patent quince baller with an ergonomic handle, but as a double-ended patent quince baller with an ergonomic handle and multi-functionality!’
Whereupon grabbed I my kitchen appliance and thrust it within the keyhole of the door. And Lord! but with but a jiggle did it turn and we did hear the Mechanisme of the lock move and the door creak open on its great pair of hinges. Without, found we ourselfs in a corrydor, with no person there to guard it, and beyond, the sight of stairs that led to light. And so we up this flight and to the office, where was a great kerfuffle of men moving documents and boxes, and it seemed all there was on the shelfs to move, till the room was almost bare, all this to coaches a-waiting in the street, and none to notice as we tipp-toed out…
…only that once in the street heard we a voice, behind us, so turned and there saw a woman seeming mighty proud, though with a smile betraying of some cold satisfacktion.
‘Ah, Mr. Pepys,’ says she, with a hint of a soft lisp.
‘I was just looking for Constable Arnott,’ say I, attempting inocence.
‘No doubt you were, Mr. Pepys,’ says she, looking ever more satysfyed and sounding ever more reasonable, ‘and I am happy to convey whatever message you wish to vouchsafe. But Constable Arnott hath…requested a Transfer. I am Mrs. Coachmichael, and at this moment I have naught for which to detayne you. You and — ’ (she assesses my companion with disdayne) ‘ — Father Superior are free to go — ’ (and so we turn to run) ‘ — for now.’