36. Employment

1.2K 78 5

I woke up the next morning feeling better than I had in ages. Staring at a different ceiling helped, of course.  Things do tend to appear more easily conquerable when you're faced with a new and captivating set of cracks so early in the day. 

I threw off the covers, padded my way over the thick rugs to the window and drew back the curtains. A servant would normally have already knocked and done that, but I was sure Charlotte had given orders for me not to be disturbed. I had no pressing business, and merely need to get myself on the 12:35 train. 

A bit of drizzle slid down the panes, and the sky looked somewhat cheerless, but nothing to worry overly much about. It might well be sunny at Cloud Hill, as London weather always seemed to be contrary to the rest of the country. 

I wondered idly what James was doing at that very moment. Shaving? Watering parsley? Impossible to tell, as I had no idea what time it was. Judging by the scant amount of activity on the street below, it was past the morning rush. One hackney cab puttered by and a few tradesmen were carrying tools and buckets through the side entrance of one of the houses across the street. 

Leaving the window, I set about getting ready. My wristlet told me it was only half-past ten as I descended the stairs down to breakfast. 

Preston politely inquired if I had slept well and informed me that Brooks and Morris had left hours before, leaving no messages. 

"The young man with the missing arm didn't appear to be feeling his best," Preston commented, a faintly amused look on his face. "London air does have that effect on some."

"I believe you mean London cocktail bars have that effect on some. We both know where a young man's first port of call is when he's in Town, and it's not going round to his elderly grandmother's for tea." 

Preston smiled. "Indeed, madam. In any case, the tablets I gave him appeared to help. He was more or less upright by time the cab arrived and he was heaved in."     

I couldn't help but laugh, imagining Morris' green face as he attempted to get some toast into himself before Brooks goaded him down the front steps and into the waiting cab. Well, I didn't begrudge him it in the slightest. He deserved his fun after the whale of a job he'd landed the day before. 

Charlotte was still abed when I climbed into my own cab, so I left a message thanking her for her hospitality and advice and saying that I'd see her in a fortnight. Oh, and that her new, dark red cloche hat with the jaunty feather in the band was an absolute triumph, if I had accidentally failed to mention that less than a dozen times the night before. 

I made the train with plenty of time to spare, and sat on a bench in the hall consuming a chocolate bar and watching people pass by before climbing aboard and nestling myself into a window seat. My mind was a hive of ideas all glowing like little lightning bugs, making it difficult for me to capture just one. 

The previous day had been quite eventful. 

Morris had accompanied me over to Shoreditch as I was to speak with a tavern owner -- a former Tommy himself -- who had heard about the Hutch through some business contacts and wanted to discuss custom work for his establishment. From the shabby appearance of the pub's outsides, my hopes weren't high for a large order, but I told myself that every little bit helped. A paying customer was nothing to turn up one's nose at, despite the peeling paint. 

The publican and Morris had chatted about where and under whom they'd served in the war, then Morris went out for a gasper and a walk while I did my best to seal a solid agreement for as much work as I could. 

 There was a small order for a custom backbar in my handbag as I stepped out of the pub and into the sunshine some time later. Shading my eyes, I looked round and found Morris standing speaking to a man in an open courtyard a short ways down the street. 

AftermathWhere stories live. Discover now