A week has passed, uneventfully. I’m not quite sure if I approve or not. I find a growing part of me craves excitement. I think in future I may be more selective about my choice of activity though. I truly don’t think I could survive another night out with ‘Liza. The bruises have just about healed after all, though they can scarcely be blamed on her directly. A weeks bed-rest, tea and reading has done me wonders and I feel quite splendid. So well that I will actually get dressed and go out today. The open window lets in a fresh sooty breeze with a hint of baking bread. Fine morning.
I go out on my balcony overlooking the corner of Loner Lane and Abney Parkway. A steam-car chugs noisily down the road, and becomes lodged in the maze of horse-carts, Hansoms and milling pedestrians – honking away on his ridiculous horn. Marvellous. Hmm, perhaps some sort of clever signalling device, deployed at intersections, much like the railroad uses….
Not having the heart to tell Mr. Melnik of the damage I had done to his property, I had employed a builder via urchin-post who had quite expertly tinned over the hole in the floor and replaced the panelling of my shop. He also saw to my windows and doors and I can definitely say I live in a fortress now.
Still, I can’t hide forever. A quick sweep of the floors and the imminent return of my rug from the cleaners, and I will be ready to re-open. More importantly, I feel ready to return to my work.
The hubub of the Oiling festival is now well behind us and industry has returned to its usual state of rapid progress. I’ve heard rumour that the nice bartender at the Gangplank has been sacked – apparently something to do with the fish. Oh well, none of my concern. I was pleased also to hear that I really didn’t cause too much disturbance there, which is fortunate since I remember very little of that night.
That creepy bloke in the bowler has been milling around too, asking too many questions in my direction, so I hear. Spending far too much time within eye-shot of my shop for my taste. I still haven’t a clue if it was him trying to accost me that night, or if he was the one who burgled my dwelling – or sponsored it. Still, I’m not taking any chances.
Ah, there’s the bowler’d bugger now, waltzing down the street, regular as clockwork. Aw, he waves to me with that rubber-faced smile. “How nice! Yes, I see you. That’s right, keep walking. There’s a good boy.” He rounds a corner and is out of sight. Repugnant twit.
Wonder if I should engage someone at ‘Cuffs to beat him up. Ho ho, this city is making me hard – in a most welcome way. A hand strays to my right leg. There, in a thigh-holster, is the cool metal of my new firearm. So comforting.
No matter, my prototype will be quite safe with Dr. C. Though I did send two telegrams this week to the Doctor, there has been no response as yet. Slight cause for concern there. I will have to go by there today.
A sharp rap on my door below grabs my attention and I look down around the metal awning to spy a familiar urchin on my stoop.
“Just a moment!” I shout down and I race down the steps to unbolt the door. Standing there is my urchin messenger – little Tommy. A grubby boy of about 8 with a sooty face, he has proven most useful during my recovery. Odd that he should appear so quickly after the incident, providing such loyal service. Positively telepathic. I can’t say why I trust him, but I do. My gut says he’s on my side. Refreshing thought that.
He looks up at me and picks his nose, speculatively.
“What’s this?” I enquire after the bag he has in tow.
“Oh, is fer you Miss” I stand aside as he drags the bag into the shop and deposits it on the floor. Bending down to look, I gasp. Though quite dirty, it’s definitely my carpet bag.
I snatch it up quickly and start examining it.
“Where did you get this?!?” I exclaim irritably.
“Er.. fell of an a ‘orse cart” His nasal prospecting continues nervously.
“Unlikely that!” I snap moodily and examine it thoroughly. My note to Dr. C., still affixed firmly by my hatpin, one corner a bit chewed by a rodent, and grubby finger prints all over it.
“Moy mate found it, see, few nights ‘go, and showed it about, cuz ‘e en’t found nothin val-u-able innit but i reckkenned your scribble and said ‘Oy! thas Miss Furrywren’s!’ den I brung it straight ‘ere.”
“You can’t read Tommy, how did you know it was mine?” I arch an eyebrow, hoping to catch the boy in a lie.
“I been carryin’ lotsa notes for ye” he shrugs indifferently as if that’s a sufficient explanation.
I let it slide. I open the bag and examine the contents, it’s all there! My precious device and my notebook – intact. I could have leapt for joy.
Suddenly, two things dawn on me:
One: The Doctor obviously has not returned or I would have heard from him, so the bag must have lived in his breezeway the whole time.
Two: it was probably safer in this boy’s care than in a bank vault.
My irritation gone in a flash, I smile sweetly at the boy. Reaching down to him, he flinches, perhaps expecting a clap about the ears. Instead I treat him to a hair tussle.
“You’ve done well Tommy! Thank you very much!” I wipe my hands, now quite filthy, with a rag from my desk. From a tiny dish on my tea set, I retrieve a sweet. I toss it, along with a brass coin at the boy who catches it with wild elation.
“Now Tommy, I have a job for you” I return the carpet bag to his care, and deliver strict instructions to hide it.