Vickie stuffs the parcel she received from the shop owner under her coat and moves quickly through the alleys until she comes to a shed with a rickety door.
“Mandy?” she says in a loud whisper, “Mandy, you here?”
Her sister sticks her head out of the shed and says, “Right here.”
Victoria joins her inside and sits on a box.
“Look what I got!” she says.
Amanda sits beside her as she opens the package the shop owner gave her. It’s a loaf of bread, some dried meat, some fruit and a bar of chocolate.
“Been quite a while since I seen that much food,” Amanda says. “Where’d you get it?”
“That place where the men buy their clothes” she says, “Stefanie’s. The proprietor himself give it to me.”
“I’m told he’s a good man,” Amanda says. Looking over the food, she says, “Shouldn’t we give thanks?”
“What we got to be thankful for?” Victoria says angrily, “a few bites to keep us alive today so we can starve tomorrow?” Noting her sister’s expression, she relents, “Go ahead. Say whatever you want.”
Amanda bows her head and mouths a prayer, concluding with “Amen.” They dig into the food, making short work of it.
They leave the shed and start to make their way through the alleys back toward Aldgate. A couple of young men from the docks start following them, making catcalls and whistles. Victoria and Amanda ignore them but the men become more aggressive. Victoria catches Amanda’s eye out of the corner of hers and gives a quick nod and they both start running.
The men chase them, howling and yipping like dogs. The girls manage to stay just ahead of them until they make a wrong turn and find themselves in a dead end alley. The men corner them and advance, sneering at the girls.
“We’re gonna have us a good time tonight, eh, Clive?”
“Right you are, Owen.”
Victoria pushes Amanda behind her and they back away from the men. She holds her hands in front of her for protection.
Just as the men are right over them, a pair of powerful hands grips each one by the collar of his shirt and slams their heads together then tosses them sideways away from the girls. Vickie looks up into the face of her brother, Billy.
“Billy!” she says.
She and Amanda jump up and hug him.
“Vickie. Mandy,” he says. “I knew someone was in trouble, but I didn’t realize who it was. I’m just thankful I got here in time.”
“So are we,” Amanda says.
“Come on,” Billy says. “I got a room for the rest of the week. It’s not very big, but you can have the bed and I’ll take the floor.”