"M-Mr T!" She gasped.
"Mrs Lovett, what on earth are you doing?" He demanded, looking around at the carnage that was her shop and the stranger laid down in the gutter.
"I-" Eleanore struggled to find words, the whole situation suddenly hitting her all at once like a bone-crushing tidal wave. "Th-they were attackin' a man...I had to stop 'em. So I fought with 'em...knocked out one of the bastards in me shop while the other took off..."
"Mum?" said a small voice behind Sweeney. Toby peeked his head around the tall barber and gasped when he saw the bleeding older man on the ground. "Wot's 'appened?!"
Snapping out of her stupor, Eleanore raced forwards and fell to her knees by the elderly man's side. She placed her hand on his shoulder and shook him gently, checking for any signs of life but he didn't move.
"Toby, go fetch the doctor - he's at number twelve on Tiperry Street!"
"Right." Toby nodded and took off, not questioning her for a moment.
Sweeney approached her as she continued to try and wake the man, speaking quietly in his ear, asking if she could hear him. The sight was rather sad indeed, it looked as if this man had his head trampled on by a herd of horses. Sweeney had no idea what had gone on but from the state of the shop and the commotion he'd heard from outside he knew it wasn't good.
He hadn't expected to hear the voice of Mrs Lovett or the sounds of things crashing around in the shop below, thats why he had raced down without even grabbing his shoes. It wasn't because he cared about her - the woman was a tricky one after all. But if something or someone was harming her, how was he going to continue his murder spree without the pie maker disposing of his goods?
On the floor, glinting from the moonlight Sweeney spotted something. On close inspection, he discovered it was a big kitchen knife from Mrs Lovett's shop.
"Come on dear, open those eyes. It'll be alrigh'..." Her soft voice drew him out of his thoughts and he turned to glare at her while he picked the knife up.
"Mrs Lovett, get up...the man's clearly dead." He said, running his fingers over the edge of the blade and gazing at his reflection in the polished silver. Huh, he thought with a small smile, silver like my friends...
Mrs Lovett's head snapped to look at him, she had forgotten he was there at all truthfully. "Ya don't know that!"
"His head's been mangled." He told her "Of course he is. You'd be better off gettin' a policeman to deal with that one in your shop than waste time and monry on a Doctor."
"I'm not gonna leave 'im while he lays bleedin out on the street like this! You wouldn't just stand there an' watch if it were ya father now would ya?"
Sweeney clenched his jaw. She had no right talking about his father, the man had died while he had been serving his fifteen-year sentence in Australia. This she knew. Young, naive Benjamin Barker had never been able to go to his funeral and had been devastated when he'd found out. Her comment struck him hard and he found his patience wearing thin.
"Well, he's not my father." He spat, "He's some posh bloke probably waltzing around with 'undreds in his pocket and then wonders why he gets himself jumped by a couple of thugs walking home. The man's an idiot to be walking alone at this time of night-"
"Mr T would ya give it a rest!" She hollered, giving him the filthiest look she could muster. It successfully shut him up, but it didn't remove the murderous look in his eye.
He stepped forward, about to let rip into the woman for her cheek when the sound of footsteps caused them both to raise their heads. The silhouette that came into view was Toby, but he wasn't alone. Following behind him were two police officers all dressed in their pristine uniforms and hats with their batons held in hand. Sweeney felt his heart begin to race.
"Mum!" Toby approached breathlessly. "I thought I'd bring the law first! These two coppers were out by the bridge so I came an got 'em."
Eleanore was still startled from the whole situation and so she stared at Toby and the men for an uncomfortable amount of time before she finally managed to address her boy "Well done Toby."
"Ya want me ta get the doctor still?"
She glanced at Sweeney, who was still eyeing her with a glare. She shook her head and sighed in defeat.
"No, love." She said sadly "I...I don't think the poor soul's made it."
"Mrs Lovett?" One of the officers reached her, a young man with a bushy moustache and chestnut brown sideburns. He had kind eyes and for that she was grateful.
"I'm officer George Brown, this is my partner constable Stapple. Can you please explain to us what happened?"
"I..." She began, glancing to Sweeney who was as secretly intrigued as the policemen behind him. "I 'eard a scuffle outside me shop. These two men were tryin' ta hurt this poor old man, they hit 'im over the 'ead and beat him up, I-I could 'ear him...callin' out fer help. That's when I cracked one of 'em wif me rollin' pin."
Three pairs of wide eyes simply stared at her, so she proceeded.
"Th-the other one then chased me inta the shop an' I 'it him again when he grabbed me. I-I think I managed to break his arm, then the other one came at me and slammed me against the wall an' punched me in the face..." Eleanore touched her lip with her tongue and only then did she realised he had actually cut her lip. Probably with his ring.
"He hit you?!" Toby sounded beside the men, his eyes alight with fury.
"Yes love but I'm alright - just a lil' bruised is all..." She said comfortingly, and Mr Todd had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes.
"And what happened then Mrs Lovett?" The older officer asked.
"Well he...pinned me down on me work table, then I stabbed 'im with some broken glass an' smashed a tray over his head. Knocked 'im out cold..." She nodded her head in the direction of the shop and all four of them turned to look in confusion. "Then the other one took off before I could get 'im too."
Officer Brown was the first to turn back to her with a shocked expression on his face. "You mean the man's still in there?"
She nodded. The second officer strode over to the shop and peered inside, they heard him gasp audibly and the sound of his feet crunching on shards of glass.
"He's knocked out alright!" He called after he'd stepped inside "Poor bastards gonna need a doctor by the looks - she got 'im right in the eye!"
Officer Brown turned back to her and appeared utterly speechless "Well... it appears you've done quite enough Mrs Lovett - you successful stopped what could have been a brutal attack."
"Wot about the other one?" Toby asked pressingly.
"Oh, he'll be long gone by now. We'll get a description of him later from you Mrs Lovett, but in the meantime, I think it's best we get this man out the cold and into somewhere warm."
"There's a couch in me parlour just past me shop - we can put 'im there?" She suggested and Officer Brown nodded.
"Is...he dead?" Toby asked curiously.
"I'm not sure," He answered honestly. "His injuries don't look good. We'll clean him up and get a good look at him."
Eleanore nodded and gently moved the man's head off her lap and stood so they could carry him inside.
"Sir," Officer Brown addressed Sweeney for the first time "Would you mind taking his legs for me?"
Sweeney did not look too happy and Eleanore felt herself feeling a little embarrassed at his cold, broody attitude towards the very friendly officer - though she suspected it had little to do with the gentleman on the ground and more with the copper himself. She supposed the last time he'd probably seen one was during his arrest when he was ripped away from Lucy and little Joanna. The thought sent a surge of sadness through her.
"Alright..." Officer Brown said, standing beside her and moving Arthur into a sitting position so he could slide his arms around his upper body and begin lifting him. He glanced over to Sweeney who reluctantly took the mans ankles without saying a word and Mrs Lovett moved out of the way. "On the count of three; one...two...three!"
Both men lifted him with a groan and Eleanore was quick to hold the pie shop door open and run into the parlour to clear the couch of all the many pillows. As she passed into the parlour, she was aware the second officer had now cuffed the still unconscious thief on the floor and appeared to be examining his wounds.
"Just in 'ere!" She called as Sweeney and the young officer began carrying him inside. She helped them lay him down on the couch and propped a single pillow behind his head. Once he was put in a comfortable position, Sweeney turned on his heel and began to make his way back upstairs.
"M-mr T!" Eleanore cried, unable to believe he was leaving. She watched him go and gave the officer a sheepish look "Um...sorry bout 'im love - 'e's awful awkward round strangers..."
"I see." Officer Brown didn't seem entirely satisfied with that answer and she couldn't really blame him.
"Mm," A low groaning sound interrupted the silence, and both baker and policeman were caught off guard when the sound seemed to resonate from the man on the couch. Eleanore moved to her knees to be closer, thinking her ears were playing tricks on her.
"Urgh," There it was again, quiet but loud enough to hear - a groan of pain.
"Well I never..." Officer Brown breathed.
"He's alive?" Came the second officer from the parlour doorway.
After getting over her shock, she managed to close her mouth and shout to Toby stood behind the officer to go get the doctor. Without another word, Toby was out the door and into the cool night air once more.
Eleanore jumped straight into action, running back into the shop and lunging for the cupboard under the sink where she kept her first aid supplies ever since Albert got sick. Grabbing a few more items, she returned into the parlour with a steaming bowl of hot water, a cloth and a bandage. Upon entering, she found officer Brown bent on one knee with his hand on the man's shoulder, rubbing it in a gesture of comfort.
"Can you hear me?" She heard him say as she took her position back at his side.
Laying down her items on the floor, she first dipped the cloth into the bowl and began wiping the blood from the small gash just above his left eyebrow. Once the dried blood and muck had been cleared away she realised the cut was actually quite small but deep, as it was still oozing fresh blood whenever she wiped at the wound.
"Bloody 'ell." She balled up another clean rag and pressed it against the wound, keeping the pressure on it. "Can ya 'elp me 'old this while I bandage 'is head up?"
"Oh - yes of course." The young officer seemed startled at the sound of her voice and watched in surprise as she fluidly stripped the bandage over the cloth to keep it in place against the man's wound. After a moment, he asked her "Where did you learn to do this?"
"Which bit?" She turned her attention to him "Beat th' crap outta those men or bandage people up?"
"Both." He smiled at her. "Even I would've had a slim chance of getting away unscathed - and I have this." He gestured to his batton. "But you take them on without hesitation, in your nightgown, with a rolling pin..." His voice became more and more incredulous with every word and Eleanore found herself blushing a little.
"S'nothing...really," She shrugged "Just wanting to 'elp those in need. Lord knows there's enough of us sufferin' out there without us addin' ta it."
"Well, I admire that mindset, Madam."
The two stayed there on their knees for a good ten minutes, comforting and talking to the man despite his unconscious state. Toby arrived out of breath with the doctor wearing his pyjamas and coat. Once he was there and began inspecting the wound with his medical supplies Eleanore let out a sigh of relief. She was no nurse, so she was thankful for his intervention, or they may not have been able to save the poor mite.
While they let the doctor do his work, Officer Brown began taking down her description of the man who got away and any other necessary information. During the process, poor Toby was sent running off one more time to the Old Bailey to get a coach for the man she had knocked out. By the time he had got back, the crook had begun to regain consciousness and was giving Officer Stapple a hard time with his foul mouth and demands to be seen by the doctor in the other room.
Eleanore remained seated in her parlour with Officer Brown who after question after question, finally was satisfied with all the information he had gained. She answered all that she could give, and hoped to god they would be able to catch the one that got away. She gave a detailed description of his face and told them to keep their eye out for a man with a broken arm. She had faith that the officer would make good on his word to search for him, he seemed like a good man in his position of power. She knew all too well one man who took that power above the law and abused it terribly.
When the coach arrived to take away the man who'd tried to kill her, Eleanore watched a number of policemen haul the injured criminal into the carriage while she stood with Toby outside the shop. The crook caught sight of her with his good eye when he was forced to sit with two officers beside him. In an instant, he began hurling insults and curse words at her, all of which she ignored and kept her expression stony while she pulled Toby close to her.
"-meddlin' bitch! Just you wait!" He screamed, still struggling despite his terrible injuries. "I'll get ya fer this wench! You'll bloody pay ya filthy whore!"
"Get 'im out of 'ere." Constable Stapple snapped to the driver who slapped on the reigns and directed the horses away from the shop.
Eleanore watched them go feeling a sense of relief as they did. Toby gazed up at her from his position in front of her and gave her a weak smile. She returned it and ruffled his hair.
Officer Stapple approached them next, throwing back on his trenchcoat as a light rain began to patter on the ground. "Thank ye for ye time, Mrs Lovett - your bravery won't go underappreciated."
Eleanore tried not to scoff. Bravery? She only did what anyone else with a heart would do, praise was not something she was used to hearing, so it made her a little uncomfortable. All the same, she smiled and nodded at the man "Thank you, sir."
"Unfortunately this is where we have to leave you." Officer Brown came up behind them and fastened his helmet under his chin. "We've got a lot of paperwork and searching to do. We'll be sure to keep you updated on the matter."
"Wha' about the man in there?" Toby asked.
"I wouldn't worry too much 'bout 'im lad." Officer Stapple answered "Might be a good while before 'e wakes up - we'll be round when 'e does to get some identification if ya can let us know Mrs Lovett."
"Well, farewell from here," Officer Brown tipped his helmet and bowed his head "Good evening, Mrs Lovett - Toby."
"Good evening," Eleanore said after the second man simply nodded. The pair watched them go until they had disappeared out of Fleet street. Sighing in exasperation she guided Toby back inside by his shoulders and out of the cold "Come on, love."
The two made their way back into the shop, stepping over the broken glass and plates that were over the floor. Her shop looked an absolute mess, but she didn't have the energy to clean up now, all she wanted was her bed.
The Doctor appeared in the door of the parlour, briefcase in hand and coat wrapped around him "I've finished stitching the wound." He told her "It was small but quite deep so I am concerned there may be some damage to his memory. When he wakes, which I suspect will not be until sometime tomorrow, I'd like you to notify me. It's best you don't move him incase the stitching opens."
"Yes, Doctor. Thank you very much." Eleanore nodded, reaching for her bag of coins in her coat pocket and dreading the amount that was going to be charged. But she would pay it, even if it would cost a couple of meals. "Err, 'ow much do I owe ya?"
The doctor held his hand up with a small smile "No charge. Good evening madam."
She didn't even have time to thank him because he was out of the shop within a minute. She watched him go with the small bag of coins still clutched in her hand. Throwing it back to her counter Eleanore peered over the sofa to look at the elderly gentleman who appeared to be staying the night. Sighing a little, she walked to one of the parlour cupboards and pulled out a thick woollen blanket littered with patches and covered him up.
Putting her hands on her hips and stretching her back she glanced at Toby who stared at her with his big bown eyes. Eleanore managed a smile as she approached him "Come on love, ya can sleep in my bed tonight - we'll close the shop tomorrow an' 'ave a day off."
With that Toby smiled and threw himself at her, taking her by surprise as he wrapped his arms around her middle. "I love ya mum, I don't know what I'd do if anyfin 'appened to ya."
Eleanore felt her heart melt. She returned the embrace. "I love ya too son. I'm not gonna leave ya, never."
A/N: Let me know what you think! Reviews appreciated