Bookworm was getting ready to leave for an appointment when she heard a knock at the door. Upon opening it, she smiled to see Tepic standing there, breath steaming in the cold air. “‘Ello, Miss!” he said.
“Hello, Tepic. Do come in.” She stepped back, letting the boy step into the warmer foyer. “How are you faring this winter?”
“Oh, not bad, Miss. Been cold, but there’s lots of places ter stay an’ keep warm, an’ most folks is keepin’ fed as well.”
Bookworm smiled. “That’s good.”
Tepic, though, took on something of a more sober mein. “There’s some strange things goin’ on in the City, though. I hears someone’s got it in fer the Militia.”
“Yessss.” She drew the word out thoughtfully. “We do have someone in custody, and another is in the hospital. But so far, I don’t have the proof I really need.”
Tepic nodded. “Dunno what it’s about… ‘cept there’s less people wantin’ stuff brought in on the quiet just now.”
“That is odd.” Bookworm made a mental note to ask Mariah, when she returned from her trip, to see what she could pick up from her smuggling friends.
“An’ some of the gangs is gettin’ leant on. The urchins ain’t been hit yet, but we’s keepin’ our ears ter the ground.”
“Speaking of urchins,” Bookworm quickly put in, suddenly remembering Miss Eloise Winchester’s visit to the Militia headquarters not long ago, “do you happen to know a boy named Harold?”
“Harold?” Tepic scratched his head. “Err… which one?”
“About 12 years old, light-brown hair. Always wears a cap.”
“Rings bells. Is he in trouble?”
“We’re… concerned about his welfare. He hasn’t been seen for a while. I was wondering if you or any of the other urchins might know where he’s at.
“Can’t say, Miss, but I’ll pass the word.”
Tepic looked out at the late afternoon light. “Well, I gotta go. Remember, yer didn’t hear nuffin from me!”
“Of course.” Bookworm chuckled as she opened the door for him again. He stepped outside, then looked back up at her.
“If yer got a metal collar, might be a good time ter wear it. Some of them coves is usin’ razors.” With that, he quickly scurried up the street as Bookworm stared after him.