The consequences of the Lewellen murder continue to plague the Preston sisters. Polly braves an ice storm to recover the bag of gold sovereigns she dropped from the airship and falls into the hands of desperate fugitives. Molly the factory girl is taken to the country estate of her employer Mr. Allenby, who is showing more than gentlemanly interest, and Dolly the wagtail follows with her lusty client Pascal Baudelaire in tow.
Why are the mysterious and threatening Agents of the Queen, Miss Clayton and Miss Cressy, snooping about? When the Jamieson twins show up out of the blue to proposition Molly, the green-eyed monster threatens Pascal’s equilibrium.
Mayhem follows the sisters as they seek to disentangle themselves from the mystery and gain their freedom from the dangerous streets of London. Their future depends on the money, but will Polly accept that gold doesn’t always come in the shape of coins?
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Polly's Gold (Sisters Three 2)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Mikala Ash
The lighted windows of Gravesend lay far behind me. Ahead the ice storm had transformed the marshes into a dark frozen wasteland.
I too had been transformed. That realisation diverted me from the pain of frozen limbs, and the despair that threatened to unhinge me.
Who was I before?
Just a few days ago I’d been a daughter, a sister, mistress of the Golden Bell pub, and known throughout London’s East End as the Bell Gang leader’s moll, “Queen of the Bells,” or less generously: Bill’s cunt.
Who had I become?
I’m still a daughter and sister, but events over the last few days, much like an unexpected storm from the North sweeping all before it, have altered my state in the world and within myself too. Bill had been brutally murdered, and I was alone, with no protection in the savage world of the docklands. By avenging Bill’s murder, I’d become a killer, a vicious one at that. Since departing the pub without a word, I was probably mistress of the Golden Bell no longer, and the new leader of the gang, Isiah Spike, a nasty weasel-faced sod if ever there was one, wouldn’t countenance my absence, and would punish me for it, if he ever got the chance. Lastly by trudging through this freezing wilderness, I’d turned treasure hunter.
Thanks to the late hour, and the driving sleet, the road out of Gravesend was deserted. I’d been plodding along this forsaken stretch for a full half hour after being deposited by a tiler’s dray at the end of Norfolk Road. The wind howled, the icy rain pattered on my oilskin hood, and the cold air rasped my throat. My nose was blocked and aching in the cold. Except for my frozen face, Bill’s coat, hood and cape kept my body dry, if not warm. Inside Bill’s wet and now ruined boots, my feet were like numb blocks of wood. My complete costume, even down to the silk drawers, were Bill’s. I’d decided a man would attract less attention than a woman here on the southern reaches of the Thames and had dressed accordingly.
The image of Bill’s mutilated body flooded my eyes with freezing tears. He’d only been dead a few days, murdered and defiled by a fiend in human form, a madman named James Polk. Bill, my lover and protector, had been the ruthless leader of the Bell Gang, and with his death my position was null and void. The pretenders to the throne had fought it out, and the mollisher of the dead king was surplus to requirements, as they already had their cunts ready to hand. My offer to continue running the pub with Hannah, the cousin of Bill’s lieutenant, also dead by the same hand, was my one chance of staying alive, at least for the next few days.
I’d taken my bloody revenge on Polk. Yet knowing Bill’s killer was dead brought me no joy, just a cold hollowness in my chest. The chapter that Bill occupied in my life had been closed so quickly, so emphatically, I’d no time to mourn, and I expected my present task would simply delay the final release of grief.
Just a few days ago, one by one, my sisters: Molly, the factory girl, Dolly the wagtail, and I, had been kidnapped by the monster and his henchman. We’d been held captive on an airship, and threatened with death to reveal a secret we did not possess. In a desperate and savage fight we’d overcome our abductors and found ourselves adrift in danger of being lost. Luckily the River Police and marines in a military airship from Shornemead Fort had rescued us before we had floated out to sea. I’d been held at Scotland Yard for a day for prolonged and incessant questioning. Inspector Astonberry knew we were lying about the real circumstances of Polk’s death, but we stayed true to our story, though it was a complete fiction. The inspector knew that Bill was up to his neck in something that had led to his slaughter and, to his obvious chagrin, he could not trip me up to discover what it was.
That was because I did not know. Bill had hidden a sack of gold sovereigns from me, and when I discovered it he wouldn’t tell me where the money had come from. That was out of character as he was usually so proud of his little schemes. I suspected this had been what got him killed. But what had he done for it, and who had paid him? Had it been a normal crime, so to speak, such as burglary, or extortion? Or had he been, as the inspector suspected, tied up in the traitorous buying of stolen secrets from the Allenby factory? I didn’t know. Polk had taken Bill’s gold, and I’d taken it back, and held it for a few minutes before making it safe, or so I hoped.
I missed Bill so. My body ached for him...