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Without A Trace - First Free Sample

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21st August 1888

 

The bell tolled and Jacob looked up as a police officer came through the door.

“Mr Levy.” The officer bowed his head and Jacob went back to chopping the meat on the counter.

“Officer,” he asked. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m just doing the rounds,” the officer replied. “I wondered if I could have something to take home to the wife and children.”

“I think I can just about manage that.” Jacob smiled, sticking the butcher’s knife he was using in the chopping board. He looked underneath the counter and sniffed as he selected a chop on display.

“Good quality,” he said as he held it up to the officer. “Should keep for a good few days as long as you keep it salted.”

“What is it?”

“Pork. Don’t worry, Sir, if it’s from our shop, it won’t do you any harm.”

“How much?” Jacob looked at the size of the chop briefly.

“Thruppence ha’penny.”

The policeman took the money from his pocket and put it on the counter. Jacob picked it up and bit it, trying to bend it. Satisfied, he handed the meat to the officer.

“Thank you, Mr Levy.”

“Not at all.” Jacob shook his head. “Thank you, Officer.”

Jacob watched the officer leave through the door again and picked up his knife, bringing it neatly down on top of the beef he was chopping.

 

***

 

25th August 1888

 

I stepped into Whitechapel Road and glanced ahead of me. There wasn’t another human being in sight. Rats. Plenty of rats. Disgusting. I slowly started to walk onwards quietly. I couldn’t hear anything. As I got to the first junction with Commercial Road East I stopped and listened out. Absolute, deathly silence.

“Silent as the grave,” I muttered, chuckling.

I started walking down the road in the darkness again and picked up the pace. There was a lot to be done and not a lot of time in which to do it.

 

***

 

30th August 1888

 

Jacob woke with a start, breathing heavily. He vaguely saw Sarah blinking awake next to him as he shook away the nightmare he’d been having.

“What is it?” she asked, groggy with sleep.

“A dream,” he said, sitting up. “Nothing more. All is well.” Sarah turned and looked at the grandfather clock.

“We should probably be waking anyway,” she sighed. “It is nearing eight o’clock. The shop needs to be open in an hour.”

“I’ll make breakfast,” Jacob said as Sarah sat up behind him. “You go and wake the children.”

“And you are sure you are well?” Sarah asked him.

“Yes, yes,” he sighed. He stood up and grabbed a cloth shirt from beside his bed. “Dreams can’t harm anyone.”

“You told me your cousin’s illness started with dreams,” Sarah ventured.

“My cousin was insane,” Jacob reminded her. “I am quite well, I promise.”

“Very well.” Sarah smiled. “I will meet you in the kitchen.”

As he cooked on the stove, Jacob heard a voice call out.

“Daddy!” He turned to see a small girl running down the hall towards him, arms outstretched.

“Anna!” he cried out, crouching down to her level. As she reached him, he gathered her into his arms and lifted her up. “How are you this morning?”

Anna remained quiet, choosing instead to put her thumb in her mouth. Jacob grinned and handed her back to Sarah as she came into the kitchen followed by the other four children.

“What are you cooking?” Sarah asked as she put Anna in her seat.

“Porridge,” Jacob replied, pouring some into a bowl. “I cooked only for the six of you. I have to open the shop. I’ll eat later.”

“Make sure you do,” Sarah ordered. “I’ll be with you once the nanny arrives.”

Later in the shop Jacob was washing pig blood off his hands when a young boy came into the shop holding a piece of paper.

The boy looked curiously at Jacob for a moment before asking, “Are you Mr Levy?”

“Yes.”

“I have an order for you, Sir.” The boy held out the piece of paper and Jacob took it from him, Sarah looking on in the background. Jacob read through the list and nodded.

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