From there I slept without dream or movement, opening my eyes some nine hours later, feeling as though I had not slept at all. Once more from the breach unto the fire, I moved off into the day. Again, following my routine path to the Fremantle Public Hospital, this time for a later shift.
That evening I remember particularly well as my love was more than exceptionally unhappy with my conduct; roaring at me as he never had before. Resultant of his remark on the chill night that I entered from Fremantle Public Hospital at 10 of the clock was too much even for me, without my outer garments. His words ran akin to the selfishness that ran within me; leaving him to sit within the windows of cold dark rooms alone, drained of the joys I bought him via our window sill chats. Of course I could not apologise enough, as he was most correct of course.
Thankfully the gentleman within him softened, and, once more settled in his mood, my fiancé expressed his apologies at his outrage and demeanour, and that he could not bear the burden of seeing me catch my “far too premature demise to such a chill night at this.” I then summoned to a lad skulking nearby, and hastily scrawled a note in pencil to Mrs. Fox that she would not be needed this evening, and that I would be home directly. Threepence, a veritable fortune to the boy, was handed to him along with the note. I then told him where it needed to go, and he replied in a voice of one very nearly offended “easy goes it Jolly Jack, we all knows where yiz live with Dame Renard.” and he was gone. The was the first time I had heard Mrs. Fox called ‘Dame Renard’; which roughly translates from French into ‘Lady Fox’. Jolly Jack had been bestowed up me, so it is of no little surprise that Dame Renard should be her title.
Looking back at the window, I thanked my beau as I left him for a Hansom Cab, and was spirited back to my rooms and a wonderfully welcoming fire that Mrs. Fox must have lit mid-afternoon, as its warmth had permeated even the farthest corners our apartment. Such a delectable delight. The lad had beaten me with my note to Dame Renard by a good ten minutes, and all done on foot.
Mrs. Fox and I shared a rather nice port wine; I had a cigar to give the port some company. We happily chatted away for some time, and I told her of the argument myself and my betrothed had had; with Mrs. Fox believing him to be right in his actions in remonstrating me for such foolishness. I had one last port, and retired to my rooms, to wash, then creep into my bed and sleep deliciously until 10 the following morning.
From memory, which seems to have some faults at this stage of my life, I awoke refreshed and the happiest I had been in an age. Yet with the weather slowly creeping toward winter, I had prescribed myself Laudanum for the pains in my heel and shoulder some week or two prior. The pain and stiffness of my injuries being much exacerbated by the cooler clime; it afforded succulent relief, which in turn was a joy to my soul.
Much bolstered and invigorated I stepped out and met the day, longing for the darker mirrors and windows I hoped to encounter, each one holding my love as I passed; yet all without any reflection of me, only the image of him. He, that is love; my fiancé’, my love.
Luck seemed to run my way from that day for the next few weeks.
A fellow surgeon, though one with a permanent list, had married and taken himself and his new wife to honeymoon in Brighton. Hence, his good fortune became mine, and I was to carry out his surgical list for the duration of his absence.
As was to be imagined, I was greatly joyed at the prospect of full time work once more, and the ability to cease my nocturnal ramblings of the Fremantle hells, no matter how short lived.
Obviously I was saddened at the prospect of not delighting in the nightly company my beloved afforded me, whilst on my rounds. Again, as true a man I am yet to ever encounter, he not only accepted the fact, but encouraged me to embrace the wonderful position I had found myself in. Resultant to the verity, I then heartily accepted my temporary position.
I secretly believed Mrs. Fox was more than happy for the respite from our nocturnal rambles.
Time, as with beauty, is not want to remain idle. The few weeks as Resident Surgeon had elated me, reinvigorated me; returned me back to the level of surgical capability I had once taken for granted, and gave me much needed purpose.
The return of the gent for whom I had played substitute was, although expected, back in earnest and no less invigorated himself. This I took to be rather saddening, as the prospect of obtaining residency, and moreso, the return to the life of constant movement, without the opportunity for a more grounded existence.
In true English spirit, my beau encouraged “a stiff upper lip, and to always walk tall, no matter the circumstance.” Something far easier said than done, as was my thought response to him.
Fremantle, its varied inhabitants, and its darkness held few fears for Mrs. Fox and I in our Bedouin like profession.
Those routine ramblings of Jolly Jack and Dame Renard were a welcome and much needed addition to Fremantle. As such I had developed a certain rapport, leading toward familiarity with the Police in the local area, including those across the street into Fremantle. I had scarcely a worry for my own safety, as without a doubt, my general locality could be established within ten minutes, and I could be called upon within twenty minutes should the need present.
The same can be said for the Fremantle dwellers who had taken us to their bosom, regarding we pair not only as one of their own, but moreso, one of theirs worth saving. Many a night I would have the weight of half a dozen strapping and solid lads behind myself or a door to where ever I required either protection, or in spiriting me away to my next patient, securing my passage in the process. Particularly, when there had been “trouble brewin’ wiv in’ the ‘chapel Jolly Jack”. This they did, as often I would be the difference between the life and death of their children and wives.
Whilst I did not always receive a heavy coin in my hand, it could be assured that I was better protected than His Majesty, King George himself. I oft wondered if it would take our gracious King as little time to muster the guard as it did for me. All I needed to do was either set foot outdoors, or stick my head out through a window, face the sky, yell at the top of my lungs “JOLLY JACK, ON ME!” or “DAME RENARD, THE GUARD!”, and then with equal excitement crying out which street we were on. I was guaranteed to have someone in the street in less than a minute, and a mob in less than five. My malnourished angels of the night. How I cherished their loyalty, their friendship, and their protection. That said, should Mrs. Fox call for help, the speed of her rescuers responded with a swiftness far greater than anything I was afforded in similar circumstance.
So too, the Police had done their best to shelter we the nomadic duo, to the point of either billeting a Constable to wander at our side permanently, or, and their preference, for me to cease entering Fremantle for a few days as there had been some rather horrific murderous crimes committed in and around the area. All apparently occurring over the few week’s prior; prostitutes having been the specific targets. Which was strangely something I had heard absolutely nothing of, and it was not until I was informed by those solid and reliable men of the law. It had been in all of the papers and was causing quite a sensation apparently. If only my lifestyle afforded me the luxury of time to read the papers. Resultant, my own safety was taken rather more seriously by those on either side of the law.
As was to be foreseen by the local Police force regards myself and Mrs. Fox, I refused the offer of a Policeman to walk at our side during my rounds. I duly informed them that I would carry my trusted Webley revolver on my person at all times; Mrs. Fox with her pill box one. With that, I had the Police still on side and happy enough with the situation as a result.
Now covered on two fronts, the one to be feared most should someone press upon me, was most certain not the Bobby and his minions. Angels can be scary beasts, no matter how hungry they may be.
What or whoever this murderer was, I held no fear from him or them, whichever it may be. My rounds continued, the street remained the same.
Nights became colder, unseasonably so. Mrs. Fox had worked wonders in the laundering of my cloak, tamoshanter and the other warm clothing I had thrust upon her. She also had the good sense to apply a good coating of lanolin to all for further protection in staving off the elements. Water now beaded on every surface it touched, and was easily shaken off. Happily the same can be said of blood and other fluids, allowing for a clean appearance no matter the job at hand.
By appearance at least, the streets had been free of the now much publicised serial killer that had roamed my nocturnal medical suite. I did however remain in keeping my pistol about me at all times.
On retiring at eight of the clock from the hospital, possibly on the Saturday or Sunday evening, in probably September, I had gathered my bag, and made the 150 metre journey to Fremantle town. On my arrival to my appointed destination, I opened my rambling clinic of sorts to one and all as was the norm.
I had sent word to Mrs. Fox to remain home for the evening. She had been feigning good health the last few days, and I believed the chill air was taking its toll upon her. All the while I believe she was seeking the pittance we made nightly. I therefore informed her in a rushed hand, that from now on in she was to earn 40% of the take of the evenings, even if she had an evening off. Discussions later followed, and whilst she was entirely against it, 40% it remained.
On more than one occasion my heart was to skip a beat that night as my fiancé Jack was about. We were fortuitous as the evening had offered occasional moments of respite; thus enabling us to converse about everything and nothing, as those in love are want to do.
On the side of Essex Street, It would have been close to midnight, I had just completed lancing a boil. Not just any boil, rather a pilonidal sinus the size of my fist which was located directly above the cleft of buttock of a carter. I extracted at least four cups of foul green yellow pus from the local and surrounding area of infection. The relief he felt was palpable, short lived as it was. Sadly for him routine procedure dictated I irrigate the wound, applying carbolic acid and mercury red iodine. All much to his discomfort may I add. I then closed the gaping wound as best as the combined light of a candle and failing gas light would allow. A grunted thanks and an unsteady gait was all the payment I received. He tenderly mounted his cart, shook the reins, and his two malnourished nags, toast rack ribs showing greatly, slowly plodded away, taking the carter and his buttocks with him.
Job now complete, I set about collecting my things, when my love caught my eye from a nearby window. A dull gas light, being more than enough to illuminate his fine features, there in the window. Features I drank in, as one would the headiest of brews.
It was then that I noticed her reflection in the window, making her appear as if she was within the same room as Jack. She. She! She was talking to him! Lewdly presenting herself to my betrothed! My Jack! A pillar of a man so beyond the wretched class of those whores and foulest of beasts of the night!
Furious anger engulfed me. I spun on my heel confronting her. It was then that she placed her filthy, slovenly, lowly hands upon my forearm!
Without my knowledge, my hand of its own accord took charge. My longer scalpel, still in hand from my use on the carter, leapt forward toward her, slashing her deeply without remorse. My hand, still not seeking my approval for its actions, slashed her angrily once more. The filthy beast touching MY arm, to get to MY JACK! How dare she! HOW DARE SHE!
Anger engulfed me like a torrent of fire, I rounded on Jack. How dare HE not resist her wiles! Doing no more than to sit in his window seat! He may as well have been my reflection looking back at me. ME, a woman no matter the attire, to defend HIS honour! The scoundrel deserved horse whipping!
Setting my attentions back upon the defiler, and I dragged her into the gutter in front of a railway workers front yard. A place more fitting I doubt there was, the revolting wretch! Thereafter, full of thunder I stormed out of Berner Street, without idea nor care for the direction I was headed.
Rage drove my legs and spirit. Time elapse as a rule was an inaccurate science when it came to my Fremantle by night. I felt that I must have raged for anywhere up to an hour after leaving Essex Street. Something both of surprise and not, I found myself in the southwest corner of the Pagan and Aboriginal Cemetery. Standing there, fury now subsiding, I spied him, or at least someone very much like him in a window some distance away. I was not certain it was him until I strode his way, thus confirming my suspicions. We argued from the moment we were in clear eyesight of one another. Squabbling as we had never squabbled before; the beastly cad of little moral fibre and far less spine.
The moments we fought dulled my wits pertaining to that of my immediate surrounds, as I was consumed with ill spirit and anger. Hence, I was completely unaware, and all the more thunderous for it, on realising that yet another feral wench was approaching. As she drew nearer, the horrid slag threw a look of such knowing and familiarity past my elbow directly, as I found on turning, into the eyes of my Jack. The Bastard! Rounding on her with a speed that betrayed my appearance, I struck the foul thing heartily and wholly, dashing her to the ground.
Absolute fury engulfed me for the second time that night. Finding myself a’top the harlot, I did my best to remove that face that Jack obviously knew so well. Through my extreme fury I reduced her face to utter mush. Not a bone survived intact beneath the pounding of my Hawthorn walking stick.
Once more I set to work. Anger driving me. Supine as she was, I beat her chest, ribs soon showing red through the thin cloth that covered her. Lastly, I beat her pelvis, specifically the region of her uterus. Never will Jack fill that void with child.
Gore covered as I was, wiping blood and bodily fluid from myself, I took a scalpel from my bag, and removed one of her kidneys. For the cat.
After wrapping our wee cat ‘Sardine’s’ dinner in my handkerchief, I swept up my tools of trade and stalked away to Mrs. Fox; leaving Jack to his thoughts under the hail of profanity I cast at him as I went. He could deal with the wench that obviously knew him so well.
On my return to John St., Mrs. Fox kindly cut up the kidney for the cat. Sardine did enjoy it so. Another night over for Jolly Jack.
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