Allison, thirteen, is walking toward her father’s shop, her drawing pad under an arm. She’s been at the park sketching scenes most of the afternoon. Half a block from Stepney & Sons, a policeman overtakes her and grabs her roughly by the arm.
“Looking for some fresh pockets eh, Vickie?” he says.
“Let me go. I don’t know any Vickie.”
“We’ll talk about that down at the precinct.” The officer starts to pull Allison along with him. She breaks away and rushes toward her father’s shop with the policeman in hot pursuit, blowing a whistle.
Allison runs into Stepney & Sons calling, “Father! Father!”
Cedric enters just as the policeman comes through the front door. The officer grabs Allison by the arm. “Thought you’d get away, eh, Vickie?”
He raises his hand to strike her but Cedric steps from behind the counter and puts his arm in front of Allison. “Don’t you dare lay a hand on my daughter!”
The policeman releases Allison, who runs behind the counter.
“Daughter? Mr. Stepney, I didn’t realize she was your daughter.”
“She most certainly is, and even if she wasn’t, there’s no reason to raise your hand to her. You’re twice her size.” He looks back at Allison then continues. “You’ve got her scared out of her wits. What’s the meaning of this?”
“Sorry sir.” The officer removes his hat. “She looks very much like a known pickpocket said to inhabit these neighborhoods.”
“I assure you officer, my Allie hasn’t picked anyone’s pocket. She’s a decent and hardworking girl and attends church every week with her mother and me. When she’s not at school, she’s usually helping out here and rarely out of our sight otherwise.”
“I apologize, sir.” The officer bows his head.
Cedric motions for Allison to come forward.
“It’s not me to whom you owe an apology.”
“Miss Stepney, I deeply regret this mistake on my part. It will never happen again.”
Allison nods. “No harm done.”
Cedric runs his hand over the back of her head. “You see, officer. She’s as forgiving as anyone could be.” He hands a writing pad to the officer. “I, however, am not certain I’m satisfied. Write your name and your superior’s name. I’ll decide what to do with the information once I’ve had more time to reflect on this incident.”
“Yes sir,” the officer says as he writes.
“Allie, you go back there and relax. We’ll make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.”
“Thank you, Father.” She exits behind the curtain.
“This pickpocket, what’s her name?”
“We know her as Vickie,” the officer says. “She mainly works around the theater district, but she’s been sited ‘round Whitechapel and Aldgate as well.”
“Thank you officer,” Cedric says. “Next time, be more inquisitive. Allison is well known in this neighborhood.”
“Yes sir,” the officer says. He dons his cap and leaves.
“Vickie?” Cedric says to himself. “Why is that name familiar to me?”