Life’s hard if you’re a Victorian street urchin, and crossing the path of Jack the Ripper can make it even harder. Want to know how? Read:
On this trip into the past, the Time Rose medallion takes Paige, Dane, and Jack to Victorian London and places them in the company of two street-wise young mudlarks. Even though life is very hard for Hetty and Pip, Hetty is leery of seeking help from Dr. Barnardo or other social reformers who might separate her from her younger brother. The Time Rose travellers think they have a way of getting around that little problem, but a bigger one awaits. Jack the Ripper’s grisly attacks on women in the East End have the whole city on edge, and it seems that the blood splattered man Hetty and Pip come across late one night doesn’t want witnesses on the loose.
Hetty led them to a stall selling curds and whey and purchased a halfpenny glass for herself and Pip to share. Intrigued by the thought of eating something she had only heard about from the “Little Miss Muffet” nursery rhyme, Paige did the same.
Hetty nodded toward a man with a pony cart. “Pip and me’ll be having meat pies from him over yonder as well. Either of you fancy that?”
“How much are they?” asked Paige.
Paige hesitated. She had already used a halfpenny of her money, and bringing out all their coins might arouse suspicion, especially the silver threepenny pieces.
“Uh, well, we really only have my halfpenny change and maybe a penny of Dane’s left to spend.”
“That’s all right. Only going to be offering a ha’penny m’self. I’m usually lucky at the toss.”
“The toss?” said Dane.
“Yeah. If you’ve only got a ha’penny, you can toss the pieman, heads or tails. If you wins, you gets a pie for a ha’penny. If he wins, he keeps the ha’penny and don’t have to give you a pie.”
Dane also had his allergies to consider. “What’s in those pies besides meat? Some food can make me sick, so I have to be careful. Do they have any mushrooms, or beans of any kind?”
Hetty laughed “Nothing that fancy in any I’ve had. Just onion, and maybe a bit of tater or summut.”
Reassured, Paige and Dane followed her across the street, with Pip racing ahead to stroke the pieman’s pony.
The pieman allowed Hetty four tosses and did not seem to mind when she won three of them.
While she was choosing her pies, Paige and the boys sampled the curds Paige had bought.
Paige screwed up her face. “Ugh. That’s disgusting. Forget the spider. Miss Muffet was running from this stuff.”
“I concur,” said Jack, popping a piece of gingerbread into his mouth to take away the taste.
“I don’t think they’re all that bad,” said Dane. To prove it, he took another.
“You wouldn’t,” Paige sneered. “You like liver. And broccoli. And that awful orangeade Great-Grand-mére Marchand makes.”
Look for some era and subject-related posts in the days to come!