Under The Streets Of London – Episode 12


To Niall’s surprise, Eliza still didn’t pull away at this but rather leaned closer in.

“There is no ‘just’ about it, Mr McMenamy. The navvies are the pulse of this whole project.”

“Pulse,” Mr Filcher echoed, scribbling.

They both glanced at him, then at each other.

“It’s the workers that this whole nation is founded upon, is it not?” Niall suggested.

Mr Filcher nodded.

“My boss is always saying that.”

“Is he?” Niall saw Miss Rutherford’s lovely eyes narrow slightly.

“We at the Metropolitan agree with him, Mr Filcher,” she said. “In fact, Mr McMenamy, how would you feel about us taking a few pictures of you, and perhaps your brother, at work?”

“Pictures?”

“Photographs. Our office has its own apparatus. We’d pay, of course.”

“Pay?” Suddenly Seamus came forward.

“For your time.”

“Not for our good looks?” Niall suggested.

She laughed.

“And for them, of course.”

“We could put it in the paper,” Mr Filcher said eagerly. “How about an exclusive, miss?”

Miss Rutherford nodded.

“We can certainly talk terms,” she agreed.

Niall felt himself swell with admiration. His picture in the papers – Seamus, too! Wait till Mammy saw – she’d burst with pride.

Even his big brother was smiling now.

“I’ll be in touch,” Mr Filcher said. He snapped his notebook shut, gave them a bow and hurried off.

Niall racked his brains for something to say to keep Eliza at his side, but for once his mind was blank.

“Could we maybe buy you a drink?”

“A drink?”

“A cup of tea, perhaps? Sweet tea for the shock.”

He gestured to the scarred trench. It was clear now and, as far as he could tell, no-one had been seriously hurt.

The dandy in the fancy suit was back, with a group of whiskered engineers. They were clearly planning the restitution of the project and a part of Niall longed to hear them, but he was eager to get the lovely Miss Rutherford to himself.

“I should get back to the office,” she was saying.

Niall swallowed. Seamus was right – she’d never be interested in the rough likes of him. For once, however, it was his brother who took the lead.

“Just a few minutes,” Seamus said sweetly. “If we’re talking about these pictures it will be work, won’t it?”

She tipped her head on one side, considering, and then laughed.

“I suppose it will!”

Then, to Niall’s delight, she moved towards the George with Seamus, leaving him to scramble keenly after.

*  *  *  *

“Packed, the place is,” Ray Matthews, landlord of the George, grumbled to Mary as he stood dramatically mopping his brow in the doorway.

“How terrible for you,” Mary retorted. “All that business.”

Ray grimaced.

“Rushed off my poor old feet,” he went on as if she hadn’t spoken. “My gout will plague me tonight.”

“But your till will be full,” Mary shot back, refusing to sympathise.

Ray rolled his eyes,

“Can’t a man have a bit of a moan, Mrs Farndale?”

She allowed him a small smile, but shook her head.

“Not while he has customers to serve, Ray, no. Count yourself lucky that your stock isn’t down that hole, like half of ours.”

Ray leaned forward to peer into the trench.

“Likely it will be before the month’s out, and my whole pub with it.”

“Ray!”

“You’ve got to admit it’s a possibility.”

“A possibility that haunts me every day without you pointing it out, thank you very much.”

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.