Under The Streets Of London – Episode 67

Mary had tried to quiz Sophie to see if there was money in her family, though heaven knew why the girl wouldn’t just have offered it straight out.

And that lovely Eliza from the Metropolitan? But she’d already helped them out with their claim, so why would she send mystery parcels?

Mary worried away at the issue until John told her, very sensibly, that their benefactor clearly did not wish to be known so she should let it alone and focus her energies on spending his or her gift wisely. And that was what she’d done.

The shop had taken most of the money but there had been enough to pay William a proper wage to work on it.

Enough, too, with some careful shopping, to put together a trousseau for young Violet and to book a delighted Ray Matthews to host their wedding breakfast at the George.

To Mary’s delight her dear sister, Anna, had been told by the nurses that she should be able to attend the wedding and, if all went well, young William’s, too.

He had gone to visit his mother last week and returned all smiles and with a small ring – Anna’s own engagement token – with which he rushed off to see Sophie and her family.

Their wedding was set for autumn and when Mary visited Anna herself, her sister was full of praise for the care Mary had taken of her precious children.

“No, no,” Mary said, delighted to see her sister bright-eyed again and able to breathe properly. “They’ve done it all themselves. They’ve grown into fine young people and are a credit to you.”

“I daresay you’ve helped them along the way, though,” Anna insisted.

Mary thought of poor Violet being attacked by that nasty Rob Barker, and of William labouring in the trenches that awful night of the Fleet sewer.

She wasn’t so sure she’d been much help at all, but they were here now and that was what counted.

The tough days of the open tunnel were over and the train, it seemed, was coming in! Another cheery whistle sounded up through the earth and suddenly Bertie was upon her, bouncing eagerly up and down.

“Mam, Mam, can I go down to the station now? Please? Niall says that if I’m near once all the fancy folk have got off the train, he might be able to give me a look over it.”

“What if Niall is busy?”

“I’ll wait until he isn’t.”

Mary looked her son up and down. She knew her Bertie and there was no way he’d wait long, not with a train to explore.

“I’m sorry, Bertie,” she said, “but I can’t let you go alone.”

“Mam, that’s not fair. What if Niall’s waiting for me? What if . . .”

“What if you fall on to the tracks?”

Bertie let out a furious howl.

“Please, Mam. I want to see.”

“And I want you to stay safe.”

Mary looked around for John for support but at that moment someone stepped up behind Bertie and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I’ll take him.”

Mary looked in astonishment at the landlord of the George, who seemed to have materialised from nowhere.

“You will, Ray?”

“Why not? I wouldn’t mind a chance to see inside that tunnel myself. Bet it’s amazing, eh, Bertie?”

Bertie nodded enthusiastically, delighted to have found an ally and, it seemed, a kindred spirit.

“Thanks, Mr Matthews,” he cried. “That’s so kind of you. Isn’t it kind of him, Mam? Isn’t Mr Matthews kind?”

Mary looked at Ray again, at his surprisingly soft hand on Bertie’s shoulder and at the pleading look in his eye as he waited for her approval.

Suddenly everything clicked into place.


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”.