LXXV

She was called to Hertford Gaol for a particularly unamenable inmate.

Innana wouldn’t have used that adjective to describe him.

Broken maybe, but not unamenable.

The prison was in an old castle on the outskirts of Hertfordshire. Damp, unhealthy, insanitary and over-crowded, it was not her favourite place to visit.

She would get heckled by the inmates; spat at, ogled, objectified. She took it all in her stride, knowing the inmates behaviour was a reflection of the way they were treated inside.

All kinds of prisoners were mixed in together: men, women, children; the insane; serious criminals and petty criminals; people awaiting trial; and debtors.

Disease was rife and prisoners received scant, if any, medical attention.

Fresh water was not guaranteed and food was not supplied.

Prisoners relied on donations from family and friends, although if they could afford it the gaolers would provide such extras.

Jack Henry had been imprisoned for just over a decade.

They kept him apart from the other prisoners, not in solitary confinement for belligerent behaviour more so for his own safety. 

He had become unresponsive.

Bashings were commonplace and he was so thin now due to a lack of interest in food he seemed minutes from death. His composure suggested he would be happy if this outcome replaced his unbearable life.

Normally the guards wouldn’t care if someone just died where they lay, but Jack had a history with the prison.

The 17th century was not a particularly good time to be put on trial.

Punishments ranged from branding, whipping and burning – death, the penalty for over 200 offences. 

Jack Henry was himself a judicial officer, once a staunch upholder of the law who now found himself awaiting trial for treason.

Men found guilty of treason were sentenced to be drawn to the place of execution on a hurdle, hanged, cut down while still alive, and then disembowelled, castrated, beheaded and quartered.

A savage way to die, especially if the party were not guilty of their crime.

While Silas had shown Inana his softer side, she was well aware of his ice cold nature should something or someone oppose his sentiments, incite his wrath or fuel his indignation.

Jack Henry had done just that and was now incurring the full force of King Silas’s wrath.