Under The Streets Of London – Episode 20

At that, Violet looked uncomfortable.

“I’d love that, but I’m meant to be heading home for dinner.”


“The grocer’s shop.”

“Oh, yes. I’ve seen you in the window.”

“You’ve been watching me?” She didn’t seem offended. Quite the reverse. “That’s sweet. I’ve been watching you, too. You look very strong.”

“I don’t know about that. You, er, you have children?”

“Heavens, no! They’re my cousins. I’m not ready for children yet. I want to live a little first, see places, do things – maybe even see other countries. Like Ireland, perhaps?”

She beamed up at him but Niall, saddened by her naïvety, shook his head.

“You wouldn’t want to see Ireland, Violet, not at the moment. She’s a wreck of a country, God bless her. We’re working all the hours to get Brigid and Ciara out as soon as we can.”

Her face fell.

“Brigid and Ciara? Your wives?”

“No. Seamus’s wife and daughter. I’ve no wife.”

“No wife yet,” she corrected, twinkling up at him. “I’d love that drink, thank you.”

He swallowed as she moved closer.

“I thought you were wanted at home?”

“I’m always at home. I want to . . .”

“Live a little?”

She giggled again and clutched his arm.

“Exactly, Niall. How clever you are.”

Niall didn’t think she had that correct, but who was he to disabuse her? He’d go and find the foreman in the morning, but in the meantime what was the harm in a little chat with a pretty girl?

Especially one who was, as Seamus had put it, “more on his level” than the intriguing Miss Rutherford.

*  *  *  *

Eliza paced the office. According to Malcolm Jones’s soft-toned grandfather clock in the corner, it was nearly five o’clock.

The two Irish navvies should be here any minute and for some ridiculous reason that was making her rather nervous. There was something intriguing about the younger one.

Yes, he was good looking, but it wasn’t really that so much as the passionate way he had talked about the tunnel – as if it really mattered to him.

He’d had no need to be so positive about the project to that journalist, so his enthusiasm must be genuine. If she were honest, Eliza found that very attractive.

Not that she wanted anything to do with men, not in that way. She’d thought that other man was nice, too, that acquaintance of her father.

She’d thought he was just taking an avuncular interest in her when he’d suggested she might like to see his books about London in his library. She’d been so naïve, so foolish. The minute the door had been closed . . .

She shivered violently at the memory. Thank God the man’s butler had been going past the door. Thank God he’d heard the noises, and thank God he’d been brave enough to intervene.

It had cost him his job. Her father had taken him on in the hops room of his brewery, but he hadn’t stayed long. Eliza hoped he had found a good living, for she owed him much.

“Are you well, Eliza?” Malcolm’s warm voice drew her, thankfully, back into the present.

“Quite well, thank you,” she assured him and moved for her desk, but he stopped her.

“Your navvies should be here shortly.”

“They’re not mine.”

“You found them, my dear, and I’m very interested in your idea about the photographs. We desperately need good publicity and if this Irishman is as keen on the project as you say, he could be very useful to us.

“We can show the world both how forward-thinking the Metropolitan Company is, and how much we are doing to provide work for those in need of it. There are unscrupulous lawyers around, Eliza, looking to make us pay for this accident.

“Though it’s obviously fair that we compensate the local people for any damages, I don’t think it should cost us our reputation as well. We must fight them with all the positive messages we can find.”

“We must,” Eliza agreed.

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”.