A brand new life - or is it?
Sleuth About Town
"Brr... I'm cold."
Those were the first words that came out of Elizabeth March's mouth as she entered the hall of the well located house in London. Luckily, the place was warm and cozy.
Empty, too. She wondered were all the servants were.
Well, they'd show up, eventually. She could bet they were in the kitchen, talking and playing cards. She didn't mind. They deserved their rest and some fun.
With that in mind, she moved to the living room, dragged a chair near the fireplace and sat there, just staring at the roaring fire.
Much was in her mind. Her past life as a burglar still haunted her. All the wrong things she had done still lived in her nightmares. The woman let out a tired sigh. All that was in the past now.
She had a new life. An agency. Friends. A wonderful life partner.
Yes. A new life.
It could be a better one, if she didn't have to carefully hide her past from him. She had to mind every word that came out of her mind. Every letter they got. Every phone call...
She sighed and got up, reluctantly.
"Miss Elizabeth March?"
"Yes. Who's there?"
"Just a friend who wants you to know that dreams may shatter like glass..."
"What, what do you..."
He had hung up, and so did she.
She was still standing by the phone, trembling, when she heard the footsteps. She didn't turn around. "I don't want to face him now."
He had asked something. Maybe how she was.
"Sorry. I'm fine. I was talking on the phone, and felt slightly light-headed."
She forced a smile.
"How was your day at work, honey?"
A few minutes later, a young lady in a faded scarf and duster approached the beggar and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. The old man looked up at her and grinned. Although her hair was tied in a messy bun, and her face bore the dirt of early morning housework, she was still very attractive, with the kind of face he imagined angels would have.
“Why, what a lovely missy,” he exclaimed in a gruff quivering voice. “Could you spare an old man some change-- ah where are me manners? Happy holidays to ya! God bless ya! God bless ya for yar kindness to an old man like me, God bless ya--”
The lady dug into her pocket. “Would you like some bread, sir? You must be hungry.”
“Oh, don't mind if I do! You are an angel indeed!”
The lady wrapped her arm around the grimy beggar and drew him closer to her. From her pocket, she flashed a folded piece of paper right at the beggar's face, and away from other people's sight.
The beggar gasped. “Dear Go-- Madame Mont--”
She slapped his lips with the paper. “Quiet, you. Let us talk somewhere else.” Dellilah led the beggar, as though aiding a sick man, to a secluded alley near the church. They hid behind a pile of wooden boxes and barrels, away from the sight of pedestrians.
When they were certain that they were alone, Dellilah waved the piece of paper at the beggar. He quickly lost his poor posture, his broken voice and the tar on his face. Where the old beggar stooped just a few moments ago, there now stood a handsome young man.
Dellilah smiled, pleased at what she was seeing.
“You need this,” she said, “and I'll give it to you. But, first, you must keep your end of the bargain. How much are you paying?”
The young man cleared his throat. “What we have agreed upon prior to this case,” he replied. “With bonus, of course, for the additional bother.”
She nodded. “Excellent.”
They made the transaction. As Dellilah pocketed the cash, the young man read the piece of paper, and smiled. “Very good,” he said, “this is exactly what I need.”
“I never thought we would meet personally,” she remarked. “I had thought we would always do business in the same place, through a hole in the wall, with masks on our faces--”
“I am in a hurry, Madame Montgomery,” interrupted the young man. “I need this information sooner than I had thought. I asked around, and learned this is where you live. I was very surprised you had used your own name, knowing you could be tracked. How did you recognize me, anyway?”
She took his hand. “I have my methods,” she replied. She had memorized the hand that had gone through that hole in the wall many times. Her suspicions were aroused by the odd actions and appearance of the beggar, so she had decided to investigate him further. When she had come closer, and seen his hand, she knew it was him. “And, please, call me Theresa. Montgomery sounds terrible. It's my husband's name.”
“Oh... I'm sorry.”
“Don't be. Now that our business is over, can we do something more... recreational? Don't worry, Mr. Montgomery is somewhere out there, drunk, with his women. As usual.” Her voice sounded contemptuous.
The young man breathed hard, as he pulled onto his non-existent collar. “Actually, Mada-- Theresa, as much as I would like-- well, business is not over yet. There's someone I need you to look for.”
Dellilah didn't hide her disappointment. She groaned freely, letting her arms hang lazily like a child's in tantrum. “What is it now?”
The man looked her straight in the eye. “I need you to find a woman,” he said. “A criminal. Her name is Elizabeth March.”
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