S8 – Passing By

 This assignment is to write a previous chapter from another character’s perspective. I have chosen chapter two from Lord Lawrence Willingham’s perspective. The original chapter is https://myrajtps.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/np4-chapter-2-of-the-novel-project-sails-unfurled/

“Good morning, My Lord,” the waiter in the cafe smiled at me as I entered.

“Good morning, Devon!” I appreciated his kindness.

“I have your usual table open,” He showed me to it. “Will you be having the standard?”

“Yes,” I sat down and opened the newspaper on the table. The press wasn’t the best place to look for clues, but I scanned it every morning. When investigating for a case I often spent my mornings strolling the streets of London.

“Is your work going well, My Lord?” Devon set a white china coffee cup on the table before me.

“Ah, I don’t have the evidence I need yet, and I’m concerned that he’s going for someone else.”

“Oh dear,” He coughed uncomfortably. “But, may I say, you could use this crime as bate, could you not?”

“I certainly could,” I took a sip of coffee. “But,” I paused with the cup still close to my lips. “I know the girl I think he is going after.”

“Well, I will leave you to think on it sir and return with your breakfast.” He left the table.

I stared into the coffee cup, swirling it lightly and watching the dark stains on the porcelain. My mind combed through what I knew about the case, and then my stomach twitched as I worried for the safety of the girl. I’d only seen her one in my life, but something connected us that I could not ever forget. As I gazed at the black liquid I fell into a sort of dream of memory.

 

For my fifth birthday my parents took me to a park in the city. The blossums of the cherry trees fascinated me. I wandered about beneath them, quite forgetting myself. I must have strayed from my parent’s view. Someone clapped a hand over my mouth and picked me up. I heard snickering.

 

“Hey kid!” A young man  sneared at me. There were about five of them.

 

My mind flashed through stories I’d heard about popular crimes. Young men, often even well-to-do ones enjoyed beating up the helpless, be it old man, or small child. They carried me to an alley way, laid me on the ground and let at me with their feet.

 

“Hands off!” It was a deep voice.

 

Before I could take in that the voice didn’t come from one of them, the scroundel of a man standing above me was clubbed in the head.  I realized that all five of them were sprawling on the ground. A working man with a kind face picked me up and carried me to his home, the appartment over Middle Dressmakers. He and his wife nursed me back to health.

 

I became aware again of the swirling coffee in front of me. Again I scanned over my memory of the house and I found her. Ella had been at the fireplace with some kind of sewing in her hands. She couldn’t have been more than three. I had promised her father that one day I would return his favor, but I never expected he would die before I could. Now I merely kept an eye on the shop, making sure the family did not come into great harm.  

“Your eggs, My Lord,” The waiter set a plate of eggs and sausage before me.

I cleared my breakfast away quickly, paid the tab and went on my way. After making a few usual rounds I strolled past Middleton Dressmakers. Today I lingered in the area, making small talk with the nearby shop owners and street sellers in case I might pick up anything. I glanced up and saw the figure of a girl with her back turned. Could that be Ella?

When I returned to the town house in the early afternoon I found a commotion in the carriage house.

“Will it not fit?!” I heard exasperated grunts and shouts.

“No, Jimmy. It’s not gunna budge!”

I stood in the doorway and slipped off my top hat. “What’s this?”

“The buggy has lost a wheel, My Lord,” the smithy, Jim, spoke to me. “It wouldn’t be much of a trouble except that Miss Juliet has to get to a fittin in a half hour.”

“And you won’t have it ready by then?”

“No, Sir. We’ll have in an hour though.”

“Do your work and don’t worry,” I smiled and replaced my hat on my head. “I’ll make a round by the dress shop and find out if we can change the appointment.”

I usually didn’t ride a horse or take a buggy, as I prefered going on foot. So I began ambling leisurely to the shop some blocks down. Before long I found myself walking through the front door of Middleton Dressmakers. She was standing there tidying a bolt of cloth.

“Welcome to Middleton Dressmakers,” she looked up at me with a smile.

“Oh, thank you.” I smiled at her, knowing from Juliet’s description that I had finally laid eyes on Ella Middleton again. As I removed my top hat I closed the door.

“How may I help you?” she laid down the bolt of blue silk fabric.

“I’m here for my sister Juliet.” I drew back a stray bit of hair from my face as I gazed at her.

“Is she unable to come?” Ella’s demeanor seemed to deflate.

“Our carriage wheel broke this morning.” I ran my fingers over the smooth surface of my hat brim as I spoke. “She will be able to come later in the evening, half past four, if you are able to see her then.” Her eyes seemed full of wonder as she listened to me.

“Certainly! I’d be pleased to see her later.” It seemed like she woke from a bit of a dream. “I’ll simply cut a pattern for another one of her dresses and she’ll have even more to try on.”

“Thank you. I will let her know.” I bowed slightly and stepped out of the shop. So that was Ella Middleton. I put my hat on again as I walked down the street. My zeal for pressing my case had intensified all the more. If Fredrick Williamson had designs on the girl I’d promised to protect I had to act quickly.

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