Jimmy and Tepic had been a bit wary when the word reached them that Mr Underp…by wanted to see them – it was never good to come to the attention of the Authorities! On reaching City Hall, the place was in an uproar, with clerks running back and forth clutching papers, and that small geezer with the tall hat shouting at people left and right. As everyone was busy, the two boys quietly slipped past to Mr Tenk’s lift, and ascended to the Mayor’s Office where they found Mr Underby waiting. He seemed pleased to see them, asking how they had got in, so they explained how they didn’t want to disturb anyone, at which he actually praised them for their thoughtfulness!
After a few minutes of chat, he asked if they would like to help people and keep them safe during the curfew, a real turn up for the books! The boys were not sure about working for Mr Underby, but he reminded them that it was he who set up the original Sneaky Vole, and how things would be so much better things would be under their management, with no unfortunate accidents like the urchin who had been shot the night before. They had visited the lad in the hospital only a little earlier, and they agreed, it would be better if they were helping out…..
It was at this juncture that Tepic asked what the pay would be, and both lads were astounded when the Acting Mayor offered them five Qautloos a week, not for all of them, but each, and all they could eat at the City Hall commissariat! They conferred in whispers for a moment, then checked if this meant any urchins who could help out, to which Mr Underby agreed. Thinking he might be pushing his luck, Tepic asked if the could have an advance, say of one Quatloo, and the chap pulled out a pair of coins for them there and then!
Jimmy checked quite what was needed of them. All they had to do was make sure people were kept safe and secure during the curfew hours, between 6pm and 6am the next morning, and how they did it was up to them! Mr Underby did mention how good they were at fighting, and how he knew they were all well armed, which was true, of course, every urchin had a slingshot tucked away, and most had at least a small knife, but these were of course only to be used on any sneaky villains out to knock people off. They were allowed to carry messages and take things between people, and any tips they were given they could keep, Mr Underby didn’t even want a cut. This was almost too good to be true!
Of course, like any business going under new management, they had to think of a new name to show they weren’t the old lot, and Tepic suggested they call themselves the Babbage Urchin Militia, had a nice ring to it, and showed they were official. All they needed were some armbands with their initials on it, and they were set. Mr Underby seemed to think this a very good idea, offering to arrange for the armbands to be made.
It would only be for a few days, until Mr Tenk came back and set everything to rights, which the youngsters knew in their hearts he would do, and they would be helping their beloved City stay safe until then – the Clockwinder would be so pleased with them! Tepic checked to see he would be alright with urchins coming to him later for their advance and feed, and Mr Underby gave them a purse of Quatloos to give other urchins their advance as well. Of course, for a deal this good, Tepic and Jimmy knew the purse would only be the start, but a deal was a deal, so they shook on it, a deal well struck.
The two boys headed down the elevator, talking excitedly between themselves about how to make the most of this opportunity. Certainly, the curfew had to be observed, but it really did inconvenience people when they couldn’t get out and about on business and such, so maybe they could offer a service, to take people where they wanted to go, guarding them on their way and making sure they were safe back indoors after their trip? That certainly sounded a good idea!
Tepic headed over to the Messenger’s place, and Jimmy nipped down towards the Docks, this was something they would need all the urchins they could find, and then some! The word had to go out, free food and a good wage, some in advance, for any urchin who wanted………..