“What you hawking today then?”

“I’m not hawking my good man! I am purveying high quality goods at the keenest prices you will find anywhere – with only the slightest profit added to allow me to continue making a living.”

“So what you hawking?”

“Indeed!…Oh…Oh…Oh, very well. Come closer. Look here I have some of the finest silk scarves from the far east! Just feel the quality of the fabric sir!’

“Bit poncy int they?”

“But what about as a gift for a lady friend? Perhaps for your beautiful wife?”

“The missus? You’re avin’ a laugh! What she want somethin’ like that for?”

“For decoration, for enhancing her natural beauty…”

“’Ave you met my missus?”

“No sir but I assumed …..oh never mind…”

“What else you got?”

“Ah…how about an exquisite timepiece… a lovely fob watch on a chain…set to keep perfect Swiss time…”

“Swiss time? What do I care about Swiss time? Does it go any faster than east end factory time?”

“Y-You…you what….?”

“What I mean is will it make my days at the factory go any faster?”

“err…not exactly…”

“No good to me then…what else you got…”

“You’re just wasting my time aren’t you? Do you even have any money?”

“Well….I will on Friday..”

“On Friday…Good God! Come on now! Away with you! Here’s a well heeled proper gentleman coming – don’t you scare him off!”

“Proper gentlemen? Bloody cheek….”

“Scram! Beat it!… Ah hello sir and good day to you! A fine evening for a wander through the back streets of old London town…”

“Not in this bloody pea soup!”

“Ah.. the fog?..yes well…when it lifts….”

“That said it does have its advantages.”

“How so sir….?”

“People of my class do not like to be seen frequenting these …..neighbourhoods…”

“Come now sir this isn’t…”

“…but I have it on good authority you have something I want….”

“Well of course I do sir!…. but ….could you be a bit more….specific…?”

“I am after something …….special ……”

“Sir, all my products are of the finest quality, I assure you and…”

“You are Mister Frederic Aust of Mount Street, the Old Nichol are you not?”

“Why yes sir, the very same, but…”

“Obtainer of …..the unobtainable?’

“Yes….I have been called by that name too…..”

“Then I believe you can help me! Here is my card. I am the oldest surviving member of a blood line that has ruled this land from before the present monarchy came to be. And its immense power still remains. However, I am not long for this world and I hear you perhaps have something that might…. prolong the inevitable…”

“Alright sir, I think I understand you now. Just let me pack these trinkets away and follow me into the shop……this way sir….best I lock this door so we won’t be disturbed ….and what you’re after ….I think we’ll find in the backroom…”

“My man! What is the meaning of all these jars?”

“These …are just a fraction of my…collection. On this shelf we have the souls of City bankers and lawmen. On this one, the souls of sailor’s lost in the English Channel – this one was a young Admiral of the fleet. Blown to bits by canon fire but I managed to salvage the most valuable part…”

“And all these on the bottom row?”

“Ah sir…these are the unfortunate children of Old Nichol itself. Died in the slums of disease and malnutrition just streets from here. Some only infants at the time….”

“How utterly terrible!”

“Ah, but I think this might be exactly where we should be looking for you sir. A young soul. Fresh to the world, unblemished and with years to last. You did say you wanted to prolong your existence sir. I think one of these would be ideal for you….”

“But the disease…the infection…”

“Don’t worry about that sir – that’s only a physical malady of the body. It does not transfer across.”

“very well, so….. how is it done … and how soon…”

“Well … I have all the necessary equipment right here in my workshop sir …..and …..the transfer can be quite swift….”

“What about tonight?”

“Tonight? Why yes sir …I think I can manage that …how about you return around midnight?”

“Very well.”

“And sir …I’m sure whoever told you of my service ….mentioned that there would be a ….charge?”

“Yes of course. I trust this will be enough?”

“Indeed. Very generous sir!”

“So midnight then?”

“Yes sir, midnight. I’ll have everything ready. Here, I’ll let you out…. Have a good evening sir.”

“Yes thank you”


“Ha! Another upper class moron! Yet all that breeding and power .…..Surely his soul will buy my way out of my contract this time ….and if not he has furnished me with enough gold to disappear again …if they should get close to finding me once more …..yes, thank very much Mister…..Mister…..what was your name? Ah here it is…Mister ….Lazlo ….Uriah …Cifer ….Odd! I can’t recall from where but that name seems familiar…..”