Story – The Pillory Ants

An exploration of karma – of sorts, through the eyes of the 18th Century justice system. Enjoy – if enjoyment is the right word. 

Tomorrow it would be her turn. 

The constable’s officers would lead her up the ladder on to the platform and the frame would open up like the jaws of a hungry beast. 

She imagined her dark-brown curls sticking out the sides of her white mob-cap as her neck went in the half-circle along with her pretty white wrists.

The top-bar would be lowered, trapping her in place as the padlock clicked shut, and the sign proclaiming her crime fastened to the frame.

She would stand, exposed before the mob awaiting their justice. 

And then what? 

She thought back to earlier times. 

When John Binns had stood in the frame for counterfeiting she had been at the front of the queue, a basket of foul offerings on her arm. 

‘Dirty cheat!’ she’d screeched, hurling a festering tomato at the wretch’s face, watching as it exploded on the bridge of his nose, covering his visage in foul-smelling mildewing slop.

Had she cared for the nature of his crime? No. It had simply been a fun day out, something to while away an hour or two.

When Alison Haines was pilloried for running a bawdy house, she’d been at the front, too. Basket in hand, rotten eggs cupped, ready to throw.

What would they throw at her in return? Not Binns, for he had not survived his time in the stocks having expired when a helpful brickbat knocked out his brains.

But he had friends in the town and so did Haines along with plenty of others she and the rest of the mob had targeted.

She was no longer one of the pillory ants, she was their prey. 

And tomorrow it would be her turn. 

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