Under The Streets Of London – Episode 22

“Would you like to come through?” Malcolm was asking, ushering the brothers towards his office.

“Do you need me?” Eliza asked hopefully.

Her boss glanced at the clock.

“No, Eliza, I think I can manage this, thank you. You get yourself off home.”

“I don’t mind,” she assured him. But at that moment the door opened again and Henry came in.

“Aha, the navvies!” he cried, as if they were some sort of circus act.

Eliza cringed.

“These gentlemen are here to talk business with Mr Jones, Henry,” she said sternly.

“I know,” he agreed, not picking up on her tone at all. “To be photographed. Fantastic idea – fantastic! You’ll be wonderful.”

Niall and Seamus were exchanging bemused glances and Eliza felt herself blushing on Henry’s behalf.

“They haven’t agreed to anything yet, Henry,” she said. “Is there something we can help you with?”

“Yes, there’s something you can help me with.”

“What is that?”


“Dinner?” Now it was Eliza who was bemused; was Henry asking her to cook for him?

“Yes, dinner and the theatre, too. Not just with me. Others. The Metropolitan are entertaining some important guests and Mr Fowler asked me to bring a girl along.”

Niall turned to them.

“Mr John Fowler?” he asked Henry eagerly.

“That’s right, old chap. The great man. Working hard to regain public confidence, no doubt.”

“By going to the theatre?” Niall asked caustically and Eliza almost applauded.

“With important guests,” Henry said slowly, as if Niall might not understand. “Come on, Eliza – they’re meeting at six.”

“I haven’t anything to wear,” she objected frantically. It made her sound stupid, shallow even, but she had to think of some excuse to get out of the evening with Henry.

He was not, however, to be refused.

“It’s very informal,” he said. “Mr Fowler is a man of the people, Eliza, a modern chap. There’s no white-tie nonsense with him.”

“Even so . . .”

Eliza was convinced the rest of the party would not be in work clothes and it was too far to get back to her rooms and change before six, even if she had anything suitable to wear.

Her father had taken her to plenty of parties back home in Kent, but she doubted the frocks she’d worn to those would be right for dinner in the middle of London, and certainly not for the theatre.

“Come, Eliza,” Henry urged, taking her arm. “You’ll love it.”

“Absolutely,” Malcolm was agreeing, “and it will be excellent for the office to have a representative there. Run along and enjoy yourself.”

She was being propelled to the door now and it would only look churlish to refuse further.

“Very well,” she agreed, “but I can walk by myself, thank you, Henry.”

“I know that,” he replied impertinently, “but you look so pretty on my arm!”

With that he swept her out. At the door, she glanced back towards the Irish navvies. Malcolm was ushering Seamus into his office but Niall had paused to watch her go.

She knew with the utmost certainty that she would much rather stay. She tried to tell him so with her eyes, but he was now looking at Henry, clearly taking in his smart suit and floppy hair and moneyed charm.

Before she could think of anything to say to make it feel better between them he’d turned and gone into Malcolm’s office, closing the door firmly behind him.

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”.