Under The Streets Of London – Episode 11

Niall didn’t care, because the pretty girl had stepped up at his side, so close he could see a streak of mud across her blushing cheek.

“This man is right,” she said to the journalist, and now it was Niall who felt himself blushing. “The Metropolitan company deplores any hurt to any of its brave workers, or the honest people living along the path of what will soon be a great railway, but we cannot let this incident cloud our vision.

“We will put all our endeavours into making good any damage done here, both to the tunnel and its surrounds, so that we can all move forward together to the conclusion of this progressive project.”

Mr Filcher scribbled again and the girl glanced up at Niall from beneath surprisingly dark lashes. A little quiver ran through him.

“Niall McMenamy,” he introduced himself, sticking out his hand. “Oh, sorry!”

Too late, he realised that it was coated in mud. But she just laughed and held up her own slim fingers, similarly grimed.

“No matter. I’m Eliza Rutherford, secretary to Malcolm Jones, the head of communications for the Metropolitan company.”

“Can I quote you, miss?” Mr Filcher asked, leaning forward between them.

“Of course,” Miss Rutherford agreed, adding hastily, “as long as you send the copy to our office for approval.”

Mr Filcher groaned but nodded.

“And you, sir?”

Sir? Niall set his shoulders back a little.

“You can certainly quote me, though I have no office to send it to.”

“I’ll approve it,” Miss Rutherford – Eliza – offered.

“Thank you,” Niall said, taking the chance to step closer to her. “I wouldn’t want my good name being tarnished with false statements, would I now?”

She smiled.

“It’s a pleasure. Perhaps, if you wished to call in at the office, I could confirm it with you?”

Niall’s heart thudded like a St Patrick’s Day drum. She was inviting him to see her again!

He imagined Seamus’s voice.

“She’s asking you to call at her office. There’s nothing romantic about it.”

Not yet, Niall thought. But on such tentative offers were marriages sometimes made.

“Would that suit you, Mr McMenamy?”

“That would be perfect, thank you.”

“Have you been working in the railway long?”

“Not long,” Niall admitted, feeling foolish. “Just about two months.”

“Oh,” she said easily, “longer than me, then. I only joined three weeks ago. This was my first trip out to the actual works.”

“Not one you’ll forget.”

“No!” She grimaced.

He laughed. There was nothing posh about this girl, for all her lovely clothes.

“My brother and I came across specially,” he said, eager to prove he wasn’t the dolt she must think. “I’m a great admirer of Mr Fowler. To combine engineering intelligence with such vision and bravery is extraordinary.”

“It is,” she agreed, looking a little surprised as if she’d only just thought of this. “Are you an engineer yourself?”

Niall flushed deeper than ever. Mr Filcher was looking interested and Miss Rutherford was leaning keenly forward. For a moment he was tempted to lie but, whilst he liked a good story with the best of them, dishonesty didn’t sit easily with him.

“No, miss,” he admitted. “I’m just a navvy.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.