Under The Streets Of London – Episode 47

Hopefully by the time he got back Seamus would be abed and Niall wouldn’t have to try to console him yet again for his wife’s continued absence. The baby was due in a month and it seemed there was no way it would be born in England.

Seamus had thought of throwing it all in and going back to Ireland, but he no more had the money for his own fare than for Brigid’s. So he worked on – and moaned on.

Niall took another deep drink of his ale and thought back over the morning’s events. He’d met John Fowler, and John Fowler had approved his idea!

Niall understood how much Henry had made use of him, but he didn’t care. The man was grateful and it had given Niall the chance to help engineer the construction of the great underground tunnel.

It had also, he had to admit, made him restless again. He looked at Henry, leaning over the bar and telling Violet how engineering had always been his father’s dream, and felt a surge of resentment.

Here was Henry, offered an apprenticeship with the greatest engineer of the times, and all he could do was complain. When he, Niall, would do anything for such a chance . . .

“Way of the world, lad,” he told himself softly and felt in his pocket to see if he had enough for another pint.

At that moment the door of the pub flew back and a figure appeared, hair wild and arms wide.

“Niall?” it called. “Niall McMenamy, are you here?”

“Seamus?” Niall said tentatively.

The figure looked like his brother, for sure, but it didn’t sound like him in any way. This man was smiling; laughing, even!

“Seamus? What’s up?”

“Niall!” Seamus came forward and gave him a huge hug. There was no smell of drink on his breath.

“What’s happened?” Niall demanded. “Is it Brigid? Has she had the baby?”

“No, brother. Something even better than that.”

Niall’s eyes widened.

“I’ve the money,” Seamus said. “For her fare. I’ve the money, and more besides!”

“You have? How?”

What had Seamus done? Was it Eugene Thetford? Had that shark talked him into something worse than pestering punters?

“A miracle,” came the reply. “A proper saint’s miracle.” He seized Niall’s shoulders. “I was fetching coal from the shed, and there, in an envelope with my name on it, was . . .” He paused, perhaps aware of all ears turned his way.

“Come outside, brother.”

Niall looked to Henry but his new friend waved him away.

“Go. Family comes first.”

Niall let himself be led from the George by his brother.

“Money!” Seamus told him, the moment they were out of the pub. “Plenty of money, Niall. I can get her on the next boat and we’ll have some to spare, to feed us all once they get here. Can you believe that?”

“No,” Niall said honestly. But when they got back to their lodgings and Seamus showed him the envelope, clearly addressed and containing more notes than he’d ever seen in one go in all his life, he had to accept the truth of it.

“Who would do this?”

“God,” Seamus said firmly.

Niall scoffed.

“God may work in mysterious ways, brother, but he’s not usually about handing out cash.”

“Who else?” Seamus demanded.

“I don’t know,” Niall said.

But he had his suspicions. Only one other person had known about Seamus’s problem, hadn’t they? He’d told Eliza Rutherford when he’d gone to beg for work. Had she felt guilty for not getting any for them? Then again, this was a huge sum. Eliza couldn’t and must not be allowed to do this.

“Sure, it must be God,” he said. “But whoever it is, Seamus, sleep on that cash tonight until you can go and book Brigid’s passage.”

“I will, lad,” Seamus agreed, eyes aglow. “I will.”

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”.