No Greater Love

Stephanie Cole is a girl who loves the spotlight. She will do anything to get it, anything at all. But when suspicions arise about her life and her being the cause for a former teachers suicide she is all too quick to run from her love of the light. But when she is reported missing it falls to Detective Inspector Henry Quinton and his DC Wilson Drake to find her before something terrible happens. Soon St. Grandorf's school for girls is back to normal and Stephanie is home again yet when she is found murdered there are a number of suspects for Quinton to look at before he can find the true perpetrator of this terrible crime....

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10. Stephanie finds a place to stay, but it’s with a tosher

Chapter Ten:

 

Stephanie finds a place to stay, but it’s with a tosher

 

Her great escape (so far) wasn’t going the way that she had planned it to have gone. Twice now her clothing had become soaked and twice now so had she! But her spirit wasn’t to be broken that easily, still she didn’t wish to even step one foot into her home ever again! She would rather die than go to that place again. So it was with much pride in her own determination that she crept from the now dry bank of the Thames and walked up the stone steps.

“How much money did I bring?” She asked herself. She dived her left paw into her pocket and found two golden coins. 2 shillings. What could she buy with two shillings? She didn’t know. But then she remembered where she was. She was in London! She only had to walk six hundred yards and she would find some stall or market that was selling the most delightful selection of things. If she could afford it, she would try and buy a small loaf of bread and some cheese. Something that she thought might last for a few days. Enough time for her to try and get some more money.

“I wonder whether there’s a market on nearby?” she said to herself as she walked across the bridge and once again into the vibrant metropolis that was London. As she continued to walk further into the streets of London she found what she had been looking for. There was indeed a large market in town and it was also filled to the rafters with a large abundance of breads, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

“Get your fresh veg!” & “Fresh cheese rolls, two for a shilling!” filled her ears and amazed her eyes.

“How much for a loaf mister?” She asked one scraggy old stall owner. He smiled at her warmly and looked at his full range of breads and rolls and buns. He rubbed his chin and then asked…

“How much have you got little miss?”

“A shilling.” She held up the golden coin with pride.

“Okay, I can give you two cheese rolls for that. If you want two cheese rolls that is? What do you reckon little miss?”

“They’ll do nicely thank you sir.”

“Okay.” He grabbed two “fresh” cheese rolls from his stall and wrapped them in some old newspaper. Stephanie in return handed over the golden coin. He thanked her and she thanked him, then she left. She had spotted a small drinks stall at the end of the market and she was desperate to see what they were selling. She came to the stall and saw that there was quite a fanciful collection of liquors on sale. This time it was a small boy and a woman running the stall.

“Hello there. What could I get for a shilling?”

“Ha-ha! You’d be lucky to get a kick up the backside for a shilling at this stall my young lady!” Said the young boy who was at this point chomping at a green apple.

“Oh please! There must be something, I am dreadfully thirsty you know.” Stephanie faked a cough, however she was thirsty.

“No! I’ll tell you what though; I can sell you an empty bottle for a shilling. If you want?”

“Are you taking the -?!” Stephanie raised her voice. The young boy too began to raise his voice.

“I don’t know, are you?” He chuckled, bits of apple flying from his abnormally large mouth. At this point the woman of the stall waddled over and slapped the young boy on the head.

“Haven’t you any manners Charlie?” She had a thick Scouse accent.

“Course I bleeding well have!” The young boy protested, the woman ignored him and moved over to Stephanie.

“Now what is it my dear?”

“I only have a shilling, I’m desperately thirsty.”

“Well my lovely there isn’t much here, I suppose there is this though.” She handed Stephanie a small bottle of whisky and took the shilling.

“You got anywhere to stay?” She enquired; she had been looking at the girl’s clothes and had noticed the state of them.

“No. no not yet.”

“Do you want somewhere?” The woman cut to the chase.

“Yes. Please of course I would love somewhere, anywhere.”

Stephanie was thankful and surprised at what the woman had just said. The woman waddled over towards Stephanie.

“Follow me. I know a man who is use to people like you.”

“What’s his name?” Stephanie was inquisitive. Also the woman had misheard this question.

“Susan. I’m Susan and that was Charlie, my nephew. He’s a friend of this man you’re off to see. He’s a tosher you know, him and Charlie go toshing together. They love it.”

“Toshing?” Stephanie had never heard of such a thing.

“They go off into the sewers and find bits of things that people have lost, and they sell it on.”

“It must be awfully smelly in the sewers.”

“Not really, they’re very crafty these toshers. And they’re used to it as well.”

The two had walked about five hundred yards before turning left, they went down Oxford Street and up towards Baker Street and then right, right again and then three consecutive lefts before stopping at a large green doorway. It was a rather dark street and very quiet as well. Susan knocked on the door twice; it was one of those rhythmical knocks which was more of a code than a knock. The door opened with a creek but no-one met the two at the doorway, there was a noise from inside the dark cave like building. It was a voice, a shout of “come in Susan” it was a Jewish sounding voice; at least it was to Stephanie. The two walked through a crowded corridor that was pilled high with bits of tit and tat and various boxes and exedra. They then entered the small “dining room” and stood there unacknowledged. There was a violin playing and a man in a red coat and a black hat stood playing the aforementioned violin. Stephanie coughed…

“Welcome my dear, my name is Scruffy. How’d you do?”

 

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