An Equal Judge - 1st Chapter

If woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid, infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as any man, some think even better'.

Chapter 1

Central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey. London.

Sleep confounded things.

It abused energy and was such a hellish inconvenience. At least as far as Her Honour, Judge Charlotte Treharne was concerned. At the moment she was struggling to keep sleep at bay as her eyelids kept closing and her mind insisted on racing back to the night before. The man had been amusing enough, there had been the odd moments of incisive intellect even intelligent charm but these hadn't lasted long. Fortunately the man's sexual staying power had been less transitory and indeed he had also observed her strict but necessary protocols. As for satisfaction or God forbid love? Oh dear. Not now. There were more important things to consider.

The bundles of pink ribboned documents that lurked on her desk kept blurring and demanding her attention but sleep, in its usual inconsiderate way, had other ideas. Even though sleep and the law sometimes enjoyed each others' company, insipid law lectures and droning Counsel immediately came to mind, Charlotte (or Lottie as she was sometimes called by close friends and family) knew that right now it had to be kept in its place. Justice demanded it. Her eyelids refused to open yet again as thoughts of getting too old for twenty four hour male attention were interrupted by the urgent nudging of her shoulder.

"Judge! Judge! The jury is out. Come on now." Charlotte's eyes opened and glanced upwards. The formidable Doris Dobbs (or 'Double D' as she was called by some on account of her eye shattering bosom) her clerk, hovered over her, the hazel eyes staring down at her as brutish and uncompromising as ever. 'Doris' Charlotte quickly thought, amazed that women were still called that these days but then Doris was in a class all of her own so perhaps in her case the name was appropriate.

The 'Merry Widow' as Charlotte often called her had been with her for many years. The old battleaxe had seen off two husbands and was on the look out for another. Well maybe not another 'husband' but certainly a part time lover. Into her sixties now and still full of hell with an unrestrained mouth to go with it the woman could still see and conquer when she put her mind to it. The blond curls and slim build still prompted the odd Judge to leer and even try a grapple from time to time, indeed it was not unknown for Doris to courteously oblige if she was in the right mood, she was post menopausal after all and life was far less complicated. There had been times in chambers so the gossip went when Doris's enthusiasm for legal nannying had made even the All England Law Reports blush.

"Yes, yes, Doris. Alright." Charlotte gave in to the bullying just as she always did. She lifted her petite but admirably curved frame up from the chair and tried to collect her thoughts. Heavens above she thought, these nocturnal adventures wouldn't do at all, even so she couldn't help the persistent tingling that ran through her body every time she thought of her antics the night before. The riddle of 'satisfaction' returned but only for a moment.

"Help me with my robe Doris will you and do stop fussing. I'm the Judge so theirs is to wait not the other way around."

"If you say so, Judge." Doris replied in that superior way of hers as she pushed Charlotte's arms through the violet, red and black of legal authority. Doris always knew better than the Judge.

"I do say so, Doris. Now, pass me that----that--- infernal lump of horse hair will you please."

Doris sniffed as she passed the short hair wig, her Judge had been close to some unacceptable expletive but had exercised restraint, the same couldn't be said about some of the other Judges. Doris didn't like bad language particularly from a Judge, it wasn't right was it.

As Charlotte placed the objectionable item on her head Doris waited for the usual tirade. For once it didn't come. Her Honour must be tired, men again no doubt. She knew her Judge. Lucky woman.

"Right, how do I look?" Charlotte asked as she stood upright in front of a dressing mirror. "Suitably learned I hope------and masculine of course. Can't have lady judges looking feminine now can we. Damned wigs! My male brethren are fools. Complete idiots. They think female judges should look like their wives----or their horses. God help us. And as for those of us who can still turn a head or two---well just maybe before you say anything Doris------that really is beyond the pale."

Perhaps her Judge wasn't that tired after all Doris thought as her fingers pushed some auburn curls back under the wig, she had to admit though that Her Honour could 'still turn a head or two' and she didn't even have to try either. The Judge was a beautiful woman no doubt about it. Her auburn hair shone or flared depending on the light and her temper while her pale skin clashed with huge blue spotted hazel eyes that missing nothing. A few dainty creases had started to appear around her middle aged eye sockets but these merely served to add a gentle maturity, a unique loveliness to a face that could both implore and resist in equal measure.

"You'll do, Judge."

"How gratifying, Doris." Charlotte said as she tightened the red sash that ran across her left shoulder and then charged across her violet robe. Her full bosom could be seen but not heard. "Your enthusiasm is a lesson to us all."

In a moment the tiredness that had impaled her eyes was replaced by an intense and profound respect for law and justice. Charlotte Treharne was a Senior Circuit Judge and never ever treated murder lightly. "Right, lets go and see what one of our great democratic institutions has to say for itself then."

Doris opened the heavy oak door to her Judge's chambers and stood back. An indulgent smile briefly crossed her red lips as Charlotte wafted passed her in a swirl of determination and purpose. The Judge was never truly asleep and God help the vicious low life in the dock if a 'Guilty' verdict was returned.

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