The funeral

Lord Appleby died on the second day after he had been shot. As I thought, his wound festered and he never came out of the sleep that befell him in the carriage. Selina nursed him as best she could, but it was all to no avail. I cannot say it was a painless death, for she told me he suffered a fever and moaned almost continuously. 

We stood in the graveyard of All Hallows Church in Tottenham, with its weathered, grey stones and red-brick, crenulated portico, and watched as the coffin was lowered into the ground. The old yew tree cast us into deep shade and the minister intoned the prayer in a voice that reminded me of my father. Selina took me by the arm and wept silently. James Townsend and his wife stood at a polite distance. Lucius, hat in hand, prayed fervently, his head bowed, his feet together.  How kind a man he was, and how dedicated. I put my hand out and took that of William Westman. He did not pull away, as I thought he might.

He leaned heavily on an ebony-handled stick, his tricorn tucked under his arm. His face still bore the marks of the beating he had received at the hands of my husband. But for my accusations, Westman would have never have suffered thus. I winced at the thought. Perhaps it was I who was the evil one and not him at all.

I would never be able to recompense Selina for the loss of her father, who after all, had been a good man, if somewhat eccentric. It was all I could do to keep myself from falling into the grave to beg for Lord Appleby’s forgiveness. I had caused this family much pain with my misguided assumptions. 

I threw a handful of earth into the grave, lifted up the hood on my cloak and turned away from the mourners under the yew, to find the path to the gate. A carriage stood beyond the Churchyard wall and by it, Craddock waited to take me back to Covent Garden.  In the near distance, stood the house called Bruce Castle, though I now know it is no castle at all but a modest old property with estates attached. A blackbird sat and sang on the Churchyard wall. I listened to it for a moment, remembering times with Daisy when she and I would chase the birds across the cobbles of Covent Garden, or throw breadcrumbs to them from our window.  

I pushed open the gate and stepped through. Westman paused, screwed up his eyes, and stared first at Craddock and then at me.

“My house is at your disposal,” he said. “Your sisters have found lodging there already. Even that old hag you call Mother has been welcomed into the bosom of our establishment.” 

He bowed as best he could, given his ribs were bruised, if not broken. I thought I saw some of the old fire in his eyes.

“I doubt she will last much longer. You know her mind is quite gone? Your sisters will need a new Mother. Will you not look after them?” he said.

I looked from man to man. Behind Westman, Selina was in conversation with the Townsends. The gravediggers shovelled soil atop the coffin. Craddock climbed up onto the driving seat and took the reins. I was being asked to become a bawd, and to live under the same roof as the man I had wrongly accused of murder, yet Craddock did not rail against it? Perhaps finally, he had accepted the fact that I was my own woman.

I dipped my head and stepped up into the carriage. Westman came through the gate and placed a hand over mine as I shut the carriage door.

“You would be my pimp?” I said, boldly.

A crooked smile crept over his face.

“Needs must when the Devil drives.”


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