Oops, sorry about the delay in posts! Today’s entry features Eddy, a rather squalid encounter, and a semi-unwelcome rescue. Enjoy!
Following the bank, Eddy found himself on a towpath leading towards what appeared to be an area of working class homes. He realized his mistake when he entered a tiny, dingy square, anchored by a squalid-looking pub. The people here looked more like the poor he remembered from Richmond, the bulk of them malnourished and dull-eyed with drink or depression. There was an occasional flash of color, not to mention cunning calculation, from women whose low-cut bodices, garish toilette and swaggering walks proclaimed their profession.
One of them approached him now, flicking a dyed red lock of hair over a shoulder that hadn’t seen soap or water in a number of days. “’Ello, duck,” she crooned. “Fancy a bit of fun? There’s a crib right ‘round the corner if you want a bed, or a knee-trembler’s a shilling.”
He drew back, bemused by the woman’s effrontery. “I seem to have made a wrong turn. My apologies.”
“Don’t apologize, duck. You ain’t done nothing wrong. Yet,” she guffawed. With a swift motion, she thrust her arm around his, holding it tight. “Go on. A gentlemen like you, I’ll give a good ride, I will.”
With some difficulty, he extracted his arm from the whore’s practiced clutch. “As I said, madam, I made a wrong turn—”
“I ain’t no madam, I work for a living,” she said, grabbing for his coat sleeve again. “Come on, then—”
He yanked it out of her grip. “Don’t touch me!”
“Oy!” A tall, stony-faced bruiser in a loud waistcoat and brown frock coat that had seen better days appeared at the whore’s side. “You giving my Maisie a bit of bother?” he demanded.
“No, not at all,” Eddy insisted. “I simply—”
“You trying to run out on her or something?”
“He thinks he’s too good for the likes of me,” Maisie sneered.
The pimp loomed. “Maybe he needs a lesson in manners,” he growled, flicking open his waistcoat. Inside, something sharp gleamed silver. Eddy stepped back, gripping the handle of his walking stick.
“What’s all this, then?”
The pimp drew his coat shut, glaring over Eddy’s shoulder. He risked a quick glance back and withered when he spotted Constable Furnow and four young men. One of them was Dodgson.
“I believe I asked you a question, sir,” Furnow said politely.
“You’re off your patch, peeler,” the pimp murmured, grinning with yellowed teeth. “This ain’t university property, so you got no right to be here.”
“I’m afraid that’s not quite correct, sir,” Furnow said. “The Oxford University Police are responsible for keeping order in the city between sundown and sunup. In addition, the Oxford University Press, which is considered an official arm of the university, is well within three miles of this square, which puts it in our jurisdiction. What a pity if we have to start patrolling this patch, as you put it, on a regular basis.”
The pimp’s triumphant sneer dimmed. “That would be a shame,” he muttered, pulling Maisie to his side. “But I see you gentlemen have better things to do than talk to a local, so my girl and me will be on our way.”
“Capital idea,” Furnow commented, watching until the pimp and whore had slunk around a corner and disappeared. Only then did he turn to Eddy. “You wind up in the most remarkable situations, Mr. Poe.”
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