Pretty as a picture, Effie had worked Cable Street since she could remember. And, for all her tender age, she was making a fine job of it. She had her own room above the pawn shop where she’d take her regulars. A safe alleyway to accommodate passing trade. Some small savings. Her daily gin intake stopped just short of lethal. Even Jack the Ripper had passed her by, preferring older, tougher meat for his arcane purposes. The other girls, when they were disposed to be kind, said Effie led a charmed life. She had an angel on her shoulder.
Perhaps it was that which first attracted the attention of the Reverend Esmond Petty who accompanied by his devoted cousin Lady Miranda Cossington, was on one of his regular trawls of the East End looking for vulnerable girls to take under his protective wing.
He straightway approached Effie and declared, “My dear child, your salvation is at hand.”
“Got years in me yet,” Effie protested, mistaking his offer of ecumenical support for some kind of medical diagnosis.
“We’re here to help you,” cooed Lady Miranda, “We wish to lead you to Paradise.”
Effie regarded them sceptically. She wasn’t taking them both back to her room; they might make off with her savings. “Alright, a florin for a stand-up in the alley. Three bob if the lady needs attention too.”
“Gracious!” exclaimed the clergyman, “It’s your soul we wish to embrace.”
“My soul’s my own,” replied Effie, outraged. “Not for sale to the likes of you.”
“Think we’re wasting our time here,” Petty confided quietly in his cousin.
Lady Miranda smiled wanly and rummaged in her handbag. She produced a florin and handed it to her cousin. “Go on, Esmond,” she muttered, “You might at least get a shag out of it.”