The TARDIS disguised itself as a blank section of wall in the corner of a stable. Chrístõ stepped out, followed by Julia and Cal and looked at it critically. He ran his hand around the place where he knew a door had been a moment before. There was a very faint etching in the wood of his own familiar Theta Sigma symbol.

“We’re in the seventeenth century,” he said. “A time of superstition and suspicion. The TARDIS is being especially cautious. As must we. Any hint that we are not what we seem to be, and we would be in trouble.”

“Perhaps we shouldn’t have come,” Cal suggested. “There is no real need to visit this era of Earth history.”

“Julia wanted to see it,” Chrístõ answered as if that was reason enough. He looked at her and smiled. She was stunning in the seventeenth century gown with neatly cinched waist, tight bodice and long, full skirt. Deep russet brown with silver reticella lace collar was her colour scheme and it suited her just as much as all those 1950s style pastels she had taken to wearing. She had a trim waist anyway, so the corsetry wasn’t causing her too much distress, and the hat with feathers in it framed her face rather fetchingly.

He and Cal were both in doublet and hose of deep purple and black with silver trim and lace collars nearly as wide and elaborate as Julia’s. They both wore swords belted at their waist and broadbrimmed hats with long goose feathers in them. Cal picked up a large hessian saddlebag that passed for luggage.

“I’m your squire, Sir de Leon,” he said. “I shall carry the bags.”

“You won’t have to carry them far,” Chrístõ assured him. “When we present ourselves at the inn as two gentlemen and a lady from the South we will be treated royally enough. I must hire some horses later so we can ride out and view the countryside. But for now, the town should be of interest enough.”

They stepped out of the stables and found themselves in the cobbled yard at the back of an inn. There were some other new arrivals with baggage. A coach had just deposited four people, two men and two women in the clothing of well to do merchants of the time. The TARDIS had timed its arrival perfectly for them to look like they had travelled with them.

And as Chrístõ predicted, the landlord became immediately solicitous when he saw three well dressed people of quality in his stable yard. A boy ran to carry their bags and they were conducted to a chamber beyond the public room where they were served ale and oatcakes by a girl in a large apron who looked younger than Julia.

“I don’t really like ale,” Julia said. “Can’t I get a glass of milk or water or something.

“In this age, no,” Chrístõ answered. “The milk would have far too many bacteria that you have no immunity to and the water would be worse. Drink a little ale, slowly. Later, when we’re settled in our bedchambers I’ll bring the TARDIS up. You won’t like the seventeenth century idea of an en suite bathroom, either.”

Julia thought about that for a moment and wrinkled her nose unenthusiastically. Chrístõ laughed.

“You wanted to see what Earth in the Stuart era was like.”

“I should have just looked at the pictures,” she responded. Then she smiled. “I’m only joking. Where are we exactly, anyway? I mean… in a pub, obviously, but what is the town?”

“Preston,” Chrístõ answered. “We’re in the Angel Hotel in Friargate. You remember when we visited here in the early twenty-first century. You went shopping while I went to the football. This inn stands roughly where the big shopping centre was where we had coffee and cakes.”

Julia looked up at the low beamed ceiling of the inn and tried to imagine at one and the same time a bright, bustling shopping centre on the same spot.

“I have never been here before, so I have no expectations,” Cal said. “But I understand about pre-industrial societies. This one is very superstitious. There is a belief, still, in the power of ‘witchcraft’ and sorcery.”

“Not as much as you would think,” Chrístõ answered. “But witchcraft is a capital crime. And if they knew what we were…. We’re against nature, at least I am, and you, Cal. Your physical differences would be harder to spot, Julia. But association with us would be enough.”

“Perhaps we really shouldn’t have come,” Julia said, though she gave a soft sigh as she said it. She had been the one who suggested a historical visit in the first place, even though she had left the exact time and place to Chrístõ’s discretion. Now she knew where she was, she really wanted to explore the market town and its environs that had been long buried under concrete, glass and steel when she saw it before.

After their meal, they were conducted to clean, if rather spartan, chambers. Julia looked at the simple wooden bed and the dresser with a polished steel circle that passed as a mirror. She glanced at the earthenware bowl and jug that were washing facilities. She tried not to look at a matching pot under the bed, the purpose of which she fully understood but hoped never to need.

“Where are you two sleeping?” she asked.

“Through there,” Chrístõ answered, pointing to a solid looking oak door. “You’ve got the better view, all along Friargate.”

Julia went to the window and sat on the wide casement ledge. She opened the window and looked out. The street was long, with a very slight gradient, and very busy. At the top end was a market that seemed to be doing a roaring trade, as were the merchants all along the road. This was the commercial centre of the town.

“It’s not so different, really,” Julia said with a smile as Chrístõ came to join her at the seat. “In the 21st century, there was a cake shop over there. Here, it’s a bakers. And next door was a shoe shop. And that’s a cobblers. I suppose there’s no seventeenth century equivalent of a computer games shop.”

Chrístõ laughed with her. Below in the bustling street, the sound of their laughter must have carried. A few people looked up and saw an attractive young lord and his finely dressed lady watching them from the upper floor of the inn. Julia was pretty enough to bring a smile to a busy journeyman as he passed on his way. Chrístõ delighted the eyes of at least one young woman about her business.

Then a cry went up. The crowds pressed either side of the road, making a clear way in the middle. A party on horseback passed by. Three men were in front, four behind, and one either side of two people who were obviously prisoners. The guards were armed with heavy swords. The prisoners were bound at the wrists to the saddle of their horses.

“One of them is a woman,” Julia noted.

“A girl,” Chrístõ observed. She looked no more than seventeen or so. The man was older, in his twenties.

“They could be us,” Julia added in a quiet voice as she watched the sad cavalcade go by. “They look like us.”

Chrístõ closed his eyes and breathed slowly. He focussed on his memory of Emotional Detachment class. The first rule of such detachment is not to know the name or any other personal detail of the subject. The second was never to identify personally with them, never to allow yourself to feel any empathy with their plight.

Julia didn’t know that. She was a sweet, empathic girl who saw another girl near enough the same age as herself and a young man who was the same height and body frame as himself.

He tried not to imagine himself and Julia as those two prisoners. But despite his training, he didn’t quite manage to detach himself.

“What do you suppose they were arrested for?” Julia asked. “Where are they being taken?”

“The first question I can’t answer,” Chrístõ told her. “The second… there’s a prison at the end of Friargate. The House of Correction, it’s called. I imagine they are being taken there.”

“Will they….” Julia swallowed hard. “Will they be killed? Executed?”

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ said. “I don’t know who they are or what they’ve done to be arrested. They might be murderers or something and deserve to be punished. They’re nothing to do with us, Julia. We just happen to be here at the time when they were brought to the prison.”

“So many guards for two people,” Cal commented. Chrístõ turned. He hadn’t even noticed him there. “They must be important prisoners.”

“Yes, but it is still no concern of ours,” Chrístõ insisted. “Julia… come on. We’re going the other way to the market. It’s a lovely summer afternoon and there are fine cloths for sale that Princess Cirena’s dressmaker can turn into beautiful gowns for you. And fine seventeenth century craftsmanship to admire. You can bring your aunt and uncle some exciting souvenirs. And those two cousins of yours.”

She smiled at him. She wasn't completely distracted by the thought of shopping, but it stopped her brooding over the fate of the two strangers who had touched her life briefly. She let him take her arm as they moved from the bed chamber, down the narrow stairs, and out of the inn onto the well made cobbled road that was the main thoroughfare of the little market town. Chrístõ knew as historical fact that beyond that bustling market was a row of artisan workshops called ‘Cheapside’ and that led to the road called Fishergate, which ran at right angles to Friargate, forming a rough ‘T’. Beyond that the land dropped down to a wide meander of the River Ribble and that was the town as it stood in the year 1628 AD in the reign of the ill-fated Charles Stuart.

It was becoming a significant market town. The goods for sale in the square formed by the intersection of the two roads were varied and many of them of high quality. Julia was impressed by some locally made woven wool fabric dyed a rich flame-red. Chrístõ immediately thought of her in a gown made from it at the Winter Solstice on Gallifrey. He didn’t say so out loud. The words ‘winter solstice’ on their own would have marked him as somebody who worshipped ‘old gods’, let alone speculation of where in Christendom Gallifrey may or may not be. But he nodded when she looked at him with pleading eyes. He took a step back as she began to haggle the price. She had learnt to do that on several different planets and in several different currencies. When a fair price was agreed he opened the money purse kept safely within his doublet and paid the merchant in silver. He did the same at a stall that sold very carefully made reticella lace, the sort that was in the collars of the clothes they wore. But that was created by the TARDIS to provide them suitable clothes for the era. The dozen yards of it that she negotiated for was made by the nimble hands of craftswomen in the 17th century.

Cal was quiet. He found the speech of the local people difficult. He was afraid to make mistakes that would mark him out as a stranger. But watching Julia slip easily into her shopping negotiations made him bolder. He, too, took a close look at the hand made laces on the stall.

“Mrs Richards would love some of this. She is making a set of cushions for the living room. This lace would finish them off nicely. But…” He looked at the merchant hesitantly and then said something to him that caused a frown and a shake of the head.

“Ye’ll not be from around these parts, sire,” the merchant said. Cal looked horrified. He had given himself away so easily.

“We are all lately come to these Northern parts from Cambridge,” Julia said. “My brother, Callum, who is destined for the cloth, is still dreaming of his books and his studies. Don’t pay any heed to his ways.” She smiled sweetly and then made a good price for the lace Cal was looking at. Chrístõ reached again into his money bag and handed over the silver before they walked on.

“People are talking about the two who were being taken to prison, you know,” Julia said as they walked through the market. She wasn’t wearing her diamond brooch with the built in psychic receptor, so she couldn’t speak to Chrístõ telepathically. She looked at him and Cal and wondered if they were talking to each other. They didn’t seem to be. But Cal had a slightly glazed look as if he was concentrating.

“Yes,” he said after a bit. “Yes, people are saying…”

“Not yet,” Chrístõ told him. “Let’s get out of this press. Wait...”

He stopped by a stall selling fruits of various sorts and came away with a small sack of ripe plums. He led Julia and Cal up past Cheapside and across the Fishergate. Beyond the buildings that lined that street they were in a much quieter place. They passed a dairy with cows grazing near it and some market gardens with vegetables growing, then they were in open grassland leading right down to the river. Chrístõ laid his cloak down for Julia to sit and he and Cal flanked her. He shared the plums. Julia ate a lot of them because they quenched her thirst.

“It’s a sad little story,” Cal said as he threw a plum stone away. “There’s a lot of speculation and people making things up as they go along. But the gist of it… the young woman is called Catherine Abbott. The man is Nicholas Bourne. Catherine is the daughter of a wealthy landowner and magistrate, Sir Robert Abbott. A man of influence. His manor is somewhere in that direction, across the river. He wanted her to marry a man called Richard Hawkins. It would have been a politically astute marriage. Hawkins was also a major landowner and of influence with the Lord Lieutenant of the shire. She refused, because she was in love with Bourne. Her father threatened to have her lover banished if she did not comply. Then… Hawkins died in suspicious circumstances, and the two lovers fled. The obvious conclusions can be drawn from that. Apparently they were captured in some place called Ormskirk and have been brought back to face trial for murder.”

“Oh, how horrible!” Julia exclaimed. “They’ll be executed, won’t they!”

“They’ll be hanged,” Chrístõ answered. “If they’re found guilty.”

“That can’t happen,” Julia insisted. “We can’t let it happen.”

Chrístõ sighed. He reached out and took her hand in his. He stroked it gently. He knew she wasn’t going to like what he was going to tell her.

“‘We’ doesn’t come into it. This is none of our business. It’s something that has happened in this time and place. We can’t do anything about it.”

“But we must,” Julia insisted. “They’re innocent. They didn’t kill that man. We have to help them.”

“You don’t know that,” Chrístõ told her. “For all we know, they did kill him.”

“Well, maybe they had no choice. Perhaps it was… you know… self defence. I mean… her father was forcing her to marry a man against his will… perhaps…”

“Julia, now you’re just speculating,” Cal told her. “Just like a lot of the people in the market were. You don’t know for sure.”

“Do people generally think they’re innocent?” Chrístõ asked.

“Yes, they do,” Cal answered him. “And those who don’t… their private thoughts are rather like Julia’s. They think there must be extenuating circumstances.”

“Then…” Julia began. Chrístõ shook his head.

“I still can’t do anything,” he said. “It’s a sad thing to happen. But I can’t interfere. There are rules. If an alien force was causing trouble in this place and time I could act. But an ordinary question of justice… I can’t.”

“Yes, you can,” Julia answered. “All you have to do is go into the prison with the TARDIS and take them away from there and…”

“That is the last thing I can do. Even if I was to consider a prison break, the TARDIS can’t be involved in it. Those two people belong to the seventeenth century. I can’t expose them to the inside of the TARDIS, all that future technology…. It’s against the rules.”

“Who cares about rules when two people could be hanged for something they didn’t do.”

“I do,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m talking about breaking rules that would have me instantly recalled to Gallifrey, my TARDIS confiscated and possibly a prison sentence.”

“Well, what if there was a way to do it without using the TARDIS?” Julia asked. “Would you do it then?”

“That would still be interfering with causality. If the two of them are supposed to be executed, if it is a matter of history that they were, then preventing that from happening would be very bad. And I don’t mean just for me. I mean for this planet.”

“How?” Julia demanded. “How could not letting two people die in 1628 affect the planet?”

“Because…” He reached out and touched the collar of her dress. “Look at this lace. The pattern made by all the individual stitches. Suppose somebody inserted extra stitches just here. It would ruin the pattern, make it uneven. Causality is like that. If two extra people are alive, then the pattern is disrupted. If they have children, and their children have children, the disruption grows. Over a millennia the damage could spread and spread.”

“But… what harm does it do?”

“All sorts of harm,” Chrístõ insisted. “Suppose… your parents… they met each other and married and you were born. But… suppose instead a descendent of these people who shouldn’t have been alive to have descendents… suppose one of them met your mother instead of your father. You might not have been born. Or you might have been Julia Bourne instead and Mr Bourne might have decided he didn’t want to go to live on a colony, so you wouldn’t have been on that ship when I met you…”

Julia thought about that for a while, then shook her head.

“But it didn’t happen that way. My father was Berry Sommers and he was murdered by evil creatures. So was my mother and my brother and… and even… even my little baby sister who I hardly even knew. They drained her in an instant. There wasn’t enough blood in her to slake their thirst. They did it for fun. And… you know that, Chrístõ. You’ve known that since the day I met you. And… and you and your TARDIS could have gone back and stopped the vampyres and stopped all those people dying. But I never asked you to do that. I knew there were reasons why you couldn’t change history and all of that. I never asked you. But I’m asking you now.”

“Julia…” Chrístõ reached to hold her but she pulled away. She didn’t want to be comforted by him.

“Do something, Chrístõ,” she said. “If you don’t, then there is no point in being able to travel all over time and space. We’re just tourists.”

“I think she’s right,” Cal said. “I know about causality and I know about timelines and not interfering, but I think we ought to try to do something.”

“Why?” Chrístõ asked. “Neither of you know the people involved. And for all you know they might be guilty of a really terrible crime.”

“Find out,” Julia told him. “You have all your powers. You can see into people’s minds. You can see their future, their past. Find out if they did it. And if they did… if they really are murderers, then all right. I’ll accept that. But if not… please…”

“All right,” he conceded. “I’ll try to see them in the prison. But YOU are not going anywhere near it. A seventeenth century prison is no place for a young lady. You go with Cal and buy some more dress fabrics and then find out about hiring horses in this town.”

She smiled and let him lean over and kiss her.

“We’re not even officially engaged yet, and you can wrap me round your little finger. What is it going to be like when we’re married?”

She laughed at his joke. But by the time they had made their way back to the market none of them were smiling. She watched with Cal as Chrístõ carried on down the Friargate to the grim building where the fugitives were incarcerated and then turned away. He was right. It wasn’t a place for her. She didn’t even want to look as he got closer.

“Why is he scared of prisons?” Cal asked as he, too, turned away. He had maintained a telepathic connection with Chrístõ, but as he got closer to the House of Correction his thoughts were increasingly disjointed. “He’s never been a prisoner, has he?”

“Only by mistake,” Julia answered. “Is he really scared?”

“Yes. He’s petrified. He’s trying to control his feelings, but it’s quite overwhelming. He’s…”

Cal stopped. Chrístõ’s telepathic thoughts had shut down abruptly. He had closed off his mind and blocked him out.

“He didn’t want me to see that he was worried… that he has vulnerabilities,” Cal noted.

“You’re his apprentice. He doesn’t want you to think he isn’t capable of anything.”

“Then I won’t think it,” Cal decided. “He won’t know that I know how he is feeling right now.”

“Nor me,” Julia agreed. “Let’s go find out about those horses.”

Chrístõ steeled himself as he stepped into the noisome building. Yes, prisons did scare him. It went back to his childhood nightmares about Shada, But any kind of prison gave him the creeps. He took a deep breath and calmed his nerves and made sure his voice didn’t shake when he announced himself to the turnkeys. He needed to use all of his Powers of Suggestion and he couldn’t waver for a moment.

“I am Sir Christopher de Leon,” he said as he entered the outer guard room. “I am here to give legal counsel to Nicholas Bourne and Catherine Abbott.”

The chief turnkey looked at him keenly for a half a minute and Chrístõ wondered if it was going to work. Then the man nodded and rattled a set of keys and turned towards the locked inner door. Chrístõ followed him into a cold, dark corridor where his feet echoed on the flagstones. Presently a door was thrown open. The cell was dark. It had only one small window, very high up. The walls and floor were grey stone. A thin layer of dirty straw was strewn around the floor.

Catherine Abbott was kneeling in the middle of the floor, her manacled hands clasped together in prayer.

“Leave us,” Chrístõ demanded in an authoritative voice. The turnkey opened his mouth to protest, perhaps to say that he had to be present. Then he changed his mind. Chrístõ shuddered as he felt the door close behind him, but he remembered his purpose. He stepped closer to the young woman.

“Catherine,” he said. “Mistress Abbott…”

The girl looked up at him. Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying. Chrístõ felt sympathy for her plight. But he felt sympathy for all prisoners, guilty or innocent.

She did remind him of Julia. But he tried not to let that distract him as he knelt in front of her and reached out to take her hand.

“I won’t hurt you,” he assured her. “I am here to try to help you. Will you tell me what happened?”

She had no reason to trust him or to say anything at all. But she looked into his eyes and seemed unable to break eye contact with him again. She began to speak in a halting, choked voice, telling him of how she had been brought to the home of Richard Hawkins, the man her father had her betrothed to. She was kept in her chamber there with a woman watching over her within and a guard outside the chamber. She was to be married to Hawkins the next day. She had cried herself to sleep only to wake in the middle of the night to find Nicholas shaking her. The woman and the guard outside her chamber had both been sent into a stupor with a sleeping draught. Nicholas bid her dress quickly and come with him. She did as he asked, and they escaped into the night on horseback.

“But you didn’t know that Hawkins had been killed?”

“No, sire,” she answered. “I didn’t know until we were taken at Ormskirk. I was shocked. I wished no harm to Richard Hawkins. I just don’t want to be joined to him in marriage. I have prayed for his soul… I…”

Chrístõ held her hand tightly as he made mental contact. He read her thoughts easily. She was telling him the truth. She thought that she was eloping with Nicholas Bourne. She knew nothing of the death of the man she was betrothed to. She was guiltless of his death.

“Catherine,” he said. “Have faith. Continue your prayers and do not fear. You will not be convicted of any crime you did not commit.”

He stood. She looked up at him and then did as he suggested, continuing her prayers. He knocked on the door and the turnkey let him out. He demanded to speak to Nicholas Bourne. He was led down another corridor and down a set of steps. He guessed they were in a cellar directly underneath the place where Catherine was incarcerated.

Bourne was not kneeling. He might well have been praying, but not with his hands together. That wasn’t possible. He was standing in the middle of the straw-covered floor. His legs were manacled and the chains fixed to iron rings in the flagstones. His arms were chained to a heavy yoke across his shoulders. He stood resolutely, bearing the load.

“Leave us,” Chrístõ told the turnkey. Again he was obeyed. He watched Nicholas Bourne carefully. The young man looked back at him. He was tall, dark haired, pale of complexion. He was a lot like him – physically at least.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said to him.

“I’m not afraid,” Nicholas Bourne replied. “Who are you?”

“I’m here to help. I have spoken to Catherine. She is… frightened, but bearing up. I need to talk to you. I need you to tell me what happened.”

He reached out and touched Nicholas on the shoulder. He did two things. First he concentrated on the wooden yoke, and forced it to act as if it existed in a lower density gravity. The pressure was eased on the prisoner’s back.

Then he reached into his mind and read his thoughts as he spoke.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I asked Catherine to elope with me. I drugged the guards and we made our escape. I didn’t kill Richard Hawkins, I swear.”

“No,” Chrístõ replied in a calm, quiet voice. “No, Nicholas, that’s not true. Do you want to try again?”

“It’s the truth, I swear before God Almighty. It is the truth.”

“Swearing a lie in the name of your God is a serious matter, Nicholas. You’re lucky I’m not a religious man. Now, tell me the truth, or say nothing and let me tell you what happened. You came to the house to take Catherine away with you. Yes, that much is true. You had made arrangements. You were going to flee to Plymouth, and take a ship to the New World. A smart plan. It would have worked if you hadn’t been caught. Once outside of the shire, you could have counted yourself free and clear. To say nothing of extremely lucky.”

“I wanted to take Catherine, that’s all,” Nicholas murmured. “I didn’t mean anything else. I swear, I would not… I love Catherine. I begged her father to relent, to let me marry her. But he wanted to trade a parcel of land with Hawkins, and she was… she was part of the payment.”

“That’s an ugly thought,” Chrístõ agreed. “I understand. I, too, come from a place where political expediency and financial gain are valued higher than love. But… you did kill him, didn’t you, Nicholas?”

He shook his head sadly, but Chrístõ could see it in his mind. Richard Hawkins had not been in his bed when Nicholas broke into the house. He had been waiting, almost as if he was expecting some desperate act. He had no servants with him, nor did he call any. He had run at Nicholas. He, of course, had defended himself. A sword fight ensued worthy of the swashbuckling films of early Hollywood. It had been an even fight – youth and vitality against experience. Nicholas had held his own but he wasn’t sure he could beat Hawkins. He expected any moment to be surrounded by servants loyal to their master who would have cut him to pieces.

Then Hawkins had fallen. Nicholas was in mid thrust. He couldn’t pull back. His sword went through the older man’s heart.

“You tried to stop it. You didn’t mean to kill him? You really did just want Catherine. You wanted him to yield her to you?”

“Yes,” Nicholas managed through tears of guilt and sorrow as well as fear for the consequences. “God will be my witness. I had no evil intent.”

“I believe you,” Chrístõ said. “I can see into your soul, and I know there was no malice aforethought. But tomorrow, you are to be examined by the magistrate, and I am not sure he will be so understanding.”

“I am sure he will not,” Nicholas replied. “The magistrate is Sir Matthew Hardinge. He is brother in law to Hawkins. My fate is sealed. I pray I can make him believe it was all my doing. I will die in utter shame if Catherine dies with me. She is innocent of any sin except loving where she was not permitted to love.”

“I don’t think that is a sin,” Chrístõ answered. “You did wrong, Nicholas. You compounded the wrong by your flight – which only served to confirm your guilt, of course. You already know your fate.”

“Yes,” he murmured, his head bowed contritely.

“Maybe not.” Chrístõ grasped his hand and closed his eyes. He read Nicholas’s future timeline.

It was disturbing.

He seemed to have two possible timelines. One was extremely short. He saw with dismay that Catherine’s father and the magistrate, Hardinge, didn’t intend to wait for a trial in the morning. They were planning to come at the crack of dawn with a posse of their own servants as a lynch mob. Nicholas was going to die at their hands without his story ever being given a fair hearing.

But at the same time there was another timeline. A much longer one. A happier future. One that involved hard work and hardship, but also had Catherine in it and a brighter horizon than either could have hoped for.

“Nicholas,” Chrístõ said to him. “Bear your burden a little while longer. And don’t give up hope.”

Again he hammered on the door and was let out of the cell. He wasted little time finding Julia and Cal. He brought them back to the stable at the Angel Inn. There was nobody around as they stepped quickly into the TARDIS.

“So… Nicholas DID kill Hawkins. But Catherine is innocent.” Julia summed up the plight of the two prisoners as Chrístõ finished explaining what he had learnt.

“Yes,” he answered. “Though I am perfectly satisfied he didn’t mean to kill him. Hawkins was waiting to stop him eloping with Catherine. There was a sword fight, man to man. It could have gone either way. I’ve been in fights like that myself more than once. He’s no murderer.”

“So you’ll help them?”

“Their time lines are in flux right now,” Chrístõ explained. “Depending on what might happen in the next few hours, Nicholas and Catherine either escape together or they get lynched together.”

“Catherine’s own father would see her killed?” Cal was appalled. Julia couldn’t say anything at all.

“The reason the time lines are in flux… is an unknown element. And that’s us. I have an idea. It could work. It DOES involve the TARDIS. But I think I know how to prevent Catherine and Nicholas being exposed to its technology. First, I need you to go back to the market, Julia, and purchase some cheeses. And Cal, would you go to the landlord of the inn and ask him if he would kindly sell us a couple of flagons of ale.”

He let them both out of the TARDIS carefully, ensuring no Human lifesign was close by before he opened the door. Then he went to his medical room and carefully prepared a potion worthy of an apothecary of the day.

“You’re drugging the ale?” Cal nodded in understanding. “To subdue the guards, of course. But… the cheese, too?”

“I doubt anyone has brought food to them. They’ll be glad enough of it. Julia… I’ve preset the TARDIS co-ordinates. Press that switch in twenty minutes. We’ll be ready.”

He took the flagons of ale. Cal brought the hessian bag with the cheese and bread and they walked back to the House of Correction. The men in the outer room seemed surprised to see Chrístõ again. When he told them he had brought comforts for the prisoner they acted exactly as he expected. They took the flagons of ale and began to drink. The drug was slow enough to ensure they had all drunk their share before it took effect. Chrístõ took the keys from the chief turnkey before he hit the flagstones and they passed through into the corridor. He found Catherine’s cell and stepped inside. She looked up at him in surprise.

“Eat this,” he said to her, giving her a portion of bread and cheese. “And don’t worry about what I’m doing while you’re eating.”

She ate the food hungrily and paid very little attention as Chrístõ used his sonic screwdriver to unfasten the manacles and leg irons that bound her. He could have found which key opened them, but it was quicker this way. By the time the drug sent her into a gentle sleep she was free. He laid her down gently on the straw and then left the cell. He and Cal made their way quickly down to where Nicholas was having a much harder time of it. The prisoner was surprised to have his burden lifted from his shoulders and the irons falling from his legs.

“Come, quickly,” Chrístõ told him. “Quietly.”

Nicholas didn’t ask any questions. He followed his mysterious benefactors. He was surprised to be brought into another gaol cell, but his first thought was for Catherine.

“She is quite all right,” Chrístõ told him as he knelt by her side and stroked her face. “Sit beside her and eat some of this food. Another friend will be here soon with the means of your escape from the County of Lancashire.”

Nicholas looked at Catherine then gave the food a suspicious look, but a glance at Chrístõ’s solemn but open expression seemed to convince him that the food was good. He ate hungrily. When he slipped into a drugged sleep Chrístõ laid him beside his sweetheart.

“There’s a noise out there,” Cal warned as Chrístõ announced that there were another four minutes before Julia was ready to bring the TARDIS to them. He stepped out of the cell to cautiously look what was happening and quickly came running back.

“There are men in the outer room. I think it’s Catherine’s father and the magistrate arrived early with the lynching gang. They’ve all got swords.”

“Lock the door,” Chrístõ told him, throwing the keys to him. Cal looked at the door. It locked on the outside. He couldn’t lock it from inside. It was a cell, after all. Chrístõ laughed and threw the sonic screwdriver to him with instructions to use setting 45 Alpha Psi. That not only locked the cell door but melted the lock so that it would need a battering ram to open it again.

“Now would be a very good time for Julia to get here,” Cal said as angry voices came closer.

“I was thinking the very same thing,” Chrístõ admitted. Then he grinned as the TARDIS materialised right in front of the door, still disguised as a section of stable wall. He heard the angry voices of Sir Robert Abbott and the magistrate but they couldn’t get into the cell so long as the TARDIS was there. Julia opened the door and he and Cal lifted the two unconscious prisoners inside. As soon as the door was closed he dematerialised the TARDIS.

“I hope nobody has left anything important at the Angel,” he said. “Because I don’t think I want to go back there. We must have been seen going into the House of Corrections and then the prisoners were spirited away inside a magic cabinet. I don’t want to explain my reasons for either.”

“Where are we going?” Julia asked. “You never explained that part.”

“We’re going to Plymouth to put those two on a ship to the New World. They can make a new life for themselves there. It won’t be easy. The emigrant ships are crowded, nasty places and once they get there, it won’t be a picnic. They’re building a new nation, after all. But they’ll be doing it together.”

He locked off their destination and then knelt beside Catherine and Nicholas on the floor of the TARDIS. Cal came to join him.

“This isn’t something I do lightly,” Chrístõ told him. “Modifying somebody’s memories is a power that could easily be abused. I’ve been a victim of it, myself. But we have to plant memories in Catherine and Nicholas’s minds - travelling across country on horseback, hiding from the authorities, finding food where they could, holding onto the few possessions they had in order to pay for their passage to the New World when they finally reached Plymouth.”

“Can you do that?” Julia asked.

“Yes, we can,” Chrístõ answered. “It’s not easy to get right. But Human minds, especially unconscious ones, are disturbingly pliable. Neither of them will know they have been travelling for less than a few hours when we reach Plymouth.”

“It’s a good job we’re the good guys,” Cal observed. “If that power was in the hands of somebody evil… what terrible things they could do…”

Chrístõ looked at Cal’s face and, not for the first time, looked for a shred of physical similarity between him and his half-brother Epsilon, the most evil man of his generation. He didn’t see any. He was glad to count Cal as one of the good guys with him.