Watchmen Cruthers and Finch had been in the Seventh Precinct their entire careers, if career described what they had.
Simon Cruthers had originally been the lone watchman for Farmington, and after seven years of dealing with lost sheep, stray donkeys, and vandalised haystacks, he was finally allowed to transfer to League Town. Unfortunately his previous policing experience hadn’t prepared his for life “in the city,” so after only two months he requested transfer back to a rural watch post. The Ferry Road circuit from League Town to the capital was soon his.
“Birdie” Finch was a native of the Alleys District of the capital. He had toyed with a life of crime, as many Alleys boys do, but was taken under the wing of a Roseman in the Ninth Precinct who convinced him that there were benefits to being on the delivery, rather than receiving end of a truncheon. On his third try to enter the service, he had managed to secure himself a place in the Seventh. He was posted to a little charcoal burner’s hamlet known locally as “Emberville.”
As their beats overlapped, the two watchmen made it their routine to “catch a ‘tea'” at The Embers Inn in the evenings. Truth be told, there wasn’t much more to their duties. The last reported crime in either of their areas was some ferry toll jumping a year or so before, and for the most part they dealt with the occasional domestic dispute in the hamlets.
It was quite an exciting surprise then, when they were first hand witnesses to what might have been seen as an international incident when a Nordlandic nobleman was killed in the small inn they frequented. This could be the event that was the making of any lawman.
Cruthers had arrived at the inn just as a rather splendid coach pulled into the yard. The coachman jumped down and opened the door for a finely dressed couple who pushed past him to gain access to the landlord within. With a flourish the man announced that he was Baron von Hasenpfeffer of Nordland and that he expected nothing less than the establishment’s finest room.
Two things bothered the Roseman about this exchange. The first was that while posted in Farmington, Cruthers had ample opportunity to converse with the Nordlandic shepherds that competed at the annual shearing festival. This man’s accent just wasn’t quite right. Okay, he wasn’t going to stake his Rose Crest on it, but it bothered him. The second thing was Lady Hasenpfeffer’s dress sense. There was some money put into her clothing, that was certainly to be seen. Yet there was just something a little too common about her style to make her persona credible.
A short while later Finch arrived. Cruthers was sharing his observations with his friend when the baron stepped out onto the balcony that overlooked the lounge. He looked every inch the aristocrat, but he also bore an astonishing resemblance to a member of the gang Finch had run with in his youth.
The two colleagues were sipping “tea” as they prepared to end their watches and retire to Emberville’s one roomed watch house, when things came to a head. Five women arrived at the inn with a burly warrior in tow. This party sat quietly in the dining room and ordered a meal. Then the matronly looking woman and the man headed up the stairs to the baron’s private table.
The constables watched as the woman calmly spoke to the nobleman. There had been no raised voices, nor did the woman act aggressively. Suddenly, however, the aristocrat drew a bow-weapon. The huge warrior responded in defense of himself and his female companion. The baroness then reached for the self-same bow-weapon, and was stopped by an arrow from one of the matron’s companions below. These were clearly, in the professional opinions of the Rosemen, acts of self-defense.
* * *
A very similar account, or at least words to the same effect, was recorded on the official report brought by Watchman Finch to Gwendolyn in the morning.
“Ma’am, will you please initial here . . . , and here,” the constable said pointing to the paper. “And sign here, please.”
“That should just about do it,” chimed in Cruthers. “I don’t think there will be any more questions. None from us, anyway.”
“Yes, there is always a chance that some of the folks at headquarters might want to know a bit more,” Finch interjected. “But, I wouldn’t let that worry you.”
“No. In fact, we have noted that you were very cooperative, and that you seem pillars of society,” Cruthers added.
“Though, it might strengthen our assessment of you if you might show you civic spirit in a tangible way,” Finch began.
“Yes, that would be useful,” Cruthers agreed. “Maybe a small charitable contribution, might highlight your upright characters.”
* * *
A short while later the companions were again on the road to the capital, with a receipt for their kind contribution to the Watchman’s Benevolence Society safely tucked into Gwendolyn’s purse.