As I make my way to the dress shop, I feel I am being followed. When I go inside the dress shop I catch a glimpse of my shadow, the boy from the carriage. I smile at the lady who is attending to me, arranged for my dress to be delivered, and left. Why is he still here? I walk hurriedly to the jewelers, bye a bracelet for Princess Elizabeth and a replacement locket for the stolen one and then make my way back to where we had left the carriage. Matthew would not still be there, he always takes the chance to get more supplies for Maggie our cook.
Suddenly, we come to a blockage in the road. I inwardly curse grocery cart men and market days. We will have to go through the back streets which will be fine for me, but her... The back streets and alleyways are full of thieves, robbers, gypsies, all the people that the other streets throw out like rotten fruits, the strays of the city. People like me. The back streets are full of fever, death, fights and murder. But the rich people and the Police don’t care about us. They never have. As we walk through the alleyway, a feeling jabs into me from nowhere. A memory. My family. My father had been fatally injured trying to break up a fight. Archie cared for him as best he could but father died. My mother caught fever and took Annie with her. My baby sister. Archie and I are alone now. But no-one cares.
Suddenly a group of robbers grab Olivia. I stand stock still. I know them. The Rats. They are the terror of the backstreets. Their leader, Trash is the worst of all of them. She struggles trying to get away, calls for help, for Matthew whoever he is. She even bites one of them! They throw her against a wall and slumps into a heap. I run at them. I jump on the back of a young man and hit him. He pushes me off onto the ground, winding me. My knife falls out of a tear in my shirt. The man grins and picks it up. I scramble to my feet and back away to come to stand in front of Lady Olivia.
‘Step away from the rich girl Will.’ I know them. I don’t know how, but I do.
‘Leave her alone.’
‘Step away or I’ll kill you Will. I done it before, I can do it again.’