Under The Streets Of London – Episode 36

Niall’s thoughts flew to Eliza Rutherford. He could picture her now, her pretty face turned up to him, her eyes bright with interest in what he had to say. He could see how a woman might get a hold on your soul.

Not that he had a chance with the likes of Eliza, but for Seamus and Brigid it was different – they were married and they should be together.

“Is that why you want a beer?” he asked tentatively.

“I don’t want a dratted beer!”

Niall jumped back, stung at this further flash of rage, but Seamus had already spun away, yanking on the door.

“It’s work; all right?”

“Work? At this time of night, in the George? What on earth are you up to, Seamus?”

Seamus stood for a moment, frozen with his hand on the door handle, then suddenly he slammed it shut again and stalked back across to Niall. His eyes were wide and dark and shadows danced eerily across his face from the flickering firelight. For a moment Niall almost felt afraid and had to remind himself that this was Seamus, his big brother – he’d never hurt him.

“Seamus,” he said softly, “talk to me. What’s going on?”

He put a gentle hand on Seamus’s shoulder and to his surprise, his brother seemed to crumple at his touch, as if it was only his anger that had been keeping him upright.

“I’m selling services,” he admitted, his voice low.


“Lawyer’s services. That Eugene Thetford? He pays me. A shilling for every client I bring to him.”

“A shilling?” Niall stared into his face. “And how many clients have you brought him?”

“Not enough.”

“You’re mad, Seamus! Eugene Thetford is a crook and a cheat. He’s as much a lowlife as Rob Barker!”

“He pays, Niall.”

“Money isn’t everything.”

“No, but Brigid is.” Seamus grabbed Niall’s shirt. “She’s pregnant, Niall.”


“Five months gone. I didn’t tell you before, but I can’t bear it much longer. She’s stuck over there carrying my baby alone, with Ciara to look after and little more than rotten tatties to keep them all alive. What sort of man leaves his wife like that? A rotten sort, that’s what.”

He was shaking now and Niall put his arms around him, drawing him close, stroking his back as their mother had used to do if they fell over in the yard.

His mind raced. Poor Seamus.

“We’ll sort it out,” he said. “We’ll find a way, I promise.”

He felt his poor brother fold against him and was glad he’d shared his burden – it might be a little lighter with two of them to bear it.

Yet how on earth he was to keep his promise he had no idea.

 * * * *

Eliza clambered into the cab and drew her cloak closer around her, for winter was here and the air was icy. She kept seeing Henry on his knees before her, his open face turned upwards as he asked her to be his wife.

“Looking forward to Christmas, miss?” the driver asked.

“Yes,” she agreed automatically, though in truth she dreaded her parents’ questions. “You?”

The driver rolled his eyes.

“Bleeds me dry, miss, bleeds me dry. Four children we have, and a fifth on the way, all wanting hoops and dolls and skittles – not to mention food. So much food!” He groaned loudly, but his grin was wide across his face.

Eliza smiled at him.

“You’re lucky to have such a happy family,” she said.

“I am, miss. I’d spend every penny I’ve got on them and not grudge it.” He winked. “Don’t let them hear that. Bleed me dry, they do. Bleed me dry!”

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”.