Under The Streets Of London – Episode 29

“Those two seem to be getting on very well, Mary,” John whispered, jerking his head towards the fire where William and Sophie’s heads were leaned in close together.

“Don’t they! He says he’s going to ask her to walk out with him on Sunday afternoon. He’s talking about taking her to the public gardens at Regent’s Park; he asked me if I could help him make a picnic.”

“How romantic.”


They huddled behind the newspaper but the young pair on the other side of the little room were oblivious.

“A marriage would please your sister,” John whispered.

“It would, and the sooner we get Violet sorted out too, the better – that girl is far too keen on the boys, if you ask me.”

“And you weren’t?”

“Only one boy.” She kissed him. “What’s happening with the new shop, John?”

“The lease comes free next month. I could take you to see it, if you like. It’ll need a bit of kitting out but we can do most of that ourselves. I’ve been talking to the foreman at the works and he’s getting me offcuts of wood. Saves them getting rid of it and it will be a big help to us.”

Mary stroked his face.

“Very clever, husband.”

He caught her fingers.

“I want to make this work, Mary, for all of us. I know it’s a bit scary and we’re having to push ourselves harder than is comfortable, but it will pay off in the end, I know it will. It looks like William might be ready for a place of his own sooner than we thought, too.”


He grinned, unrepentant.

“And he can give Bertie some work to keep him out from under our feet. If Violet . . .”

A scream cut across his words and they leaped to their feet.

“What was that?” Mary gasped.

It came again, muffled now, and then a single, hoarse word.


John ran for the stairs and pounded down into the shop, Mary hot on his heels and William and Sophie just a heartbeat behind. Through the slatted blinds of the shop window they could see two people tussling in the street.

“Violet!” Mary cried as John fumbled with the lock of the door. “That was Violet. Quick, John!”

The key turned and they burst out, to see Violet pressed up against the wall by a thin-faced man.

“Take your hands off her!” John bellowed.

The man turned but did not let go of Violet. With one hand he held her wrist against the wall and now he pressed the other over her mouth.

“What’s it to you?” he sneered.

“She’s my niece.”

William stepped up at his side and Mary took Sophie’s arm as they huddled in the shop doorway. Violet was struggling harder than ever and her eyes, when they met Mary’s, were terrified. Whatever the stupid girl had been up to, she hadn’t wanted this.

They had to protect her, but something about the way John was quivering was scaring Mary even more than the other man’s narrow eyes. Her husband was not an angry man but he would protect his own at all costs.

“Just let her go, please,” she begged.

Violet’s eyes closed in pain as her assailant twisted her wrist against the wall.

“Three drinks I’ve bought her! A man deserves something for three drinks.”

“You can’t buy a girl’s favours!” John growled, incensed. “You’re scum. Let her go!”

To Mary’s huge relief, the man dropped Violet. The girl’s legs crumpled but she caught herself and scuttled towards Mary, who drew her in tight.

“Right,” John said. “Now, I think we will go back inside and . . .”

He didn’t see it coming and wasn’t ready. The fist hit him hard and fast across his jaw and he hit the ground before William could even move to catch him. Then, in a pounding of feet, Violet’s assailant was gone, leaving John Farndale sprawled on the pavement in front of their shop.

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”.