After breakfast, Mrs. Mayfair takes Victoria into London to shop for some clothes. They spend most of the morning visiting shops and arranging for alterations and delivery. Finished with the day’s shopping, they stop off at a cafe for a light lunch then take a stroll through the park. As they’re preparing to head back in the direction of Bergeron’s, Victoria suddenly pauses and presses the knuckle of her right index finger against her mouth.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Mrs. Mayfair asks. “Did you forget something?”
“More like someone,” Victoria says. She stops and looks around. “See I got this friend, Alice. We was having trouble making the rent and she ain’t seen me since the other night when I came home sporting this.”
She touches her neck.
“Is she a good friend?” Mrs. Mayfair asks.
“Probably my best friend up till now,” Victoria says.
“Do you know where she might be?”
“No idea. She usually stays in at night, what with all the Ripper business, but she ain’t got a steady job. She could be anywhere.”
“I know Mr. Bergeron’s going to be expecting us back soon. Could you send her a note — that is, I could write it for you and we could get one of the servants to deliver it.”
Victoria looks at her with a slightly pleading expression. “Would you mind too terribly if we take a slight detour? It’d be on the way, just a few streets over.”
Mrs. Mayfair shakes her head. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You never know who else you’ll run into.”
Victoria laughs. “Not to worry. I can ‘andle myself just fine. I’ll look out for you.”
After a few more minutes of pleading, Mrs. Mayfair reluctantly agrees. They head a few streets over and Mrs. Mayfair can easily detect the point at which they leave the safe confines she’s used to inhabiting. Victoria inquires at a few pubs and lodging houses, but no one’s seen Alice for at least a day.
“Come on,” Victoria says. “Maybe she managed to scrape up the rent after all.”
They turn in the direction of the rooming house that was Victoria’s last residence. As they walk along, two men from the docks come up behind them and start to follow them, at first, silently, but as they continue on, they begin calling out, “Vickie. Got a moment for an old friend?”
“Just a quick one, Vickie,” the other says, “wouldn’t mind having a go at your friend either.”
Both men laugh.
Victoria glances over her shoulder then back ahead.
“How are your legs?” she whispers to Mrs. Mayfair.
“My legs?” she says.
“For running,” Victoria clarifies.
“I suppose I could if I had to,” she says.
“You may have to,” Victoria says.
The men continue to follow them with catcalls and lewd comments becoming more insistent and picking up their pace. Just then, Victoria spots a patrolman strolling along his beat.
“How loud can you scream?” she says to Mrs. Mayfair.
“As loud as need be,” she replies.
“Pass me your parasol and once I turn around, stay back behind me. When something happens, scream your head off.”
“What are you going to do?” Mrs. Mayfair says.
“Never mind,” Victoria says. “Just follow my lead.”
Mrs. Mayfair passes Victoria the parasol and Victoria stops and turns, allowing Mrs. Mayfair to get a little ahead of her before making a move. She slowly saunters toward the two men. Mrs. Mayfair stops several feet away from them.
“‘Ere now fellas,” Victoria says as she approaches them. “Can’t a girl have a few moments to herself once in a while?”
“Come on, Vickie,” one of the men says, “just a quick one, eh?”
“You want a quick one, do you?” Victoria says with a smile, “all right.”
She starts to move toward him, but suddenly stops and jams the parasol into his stomach and proceeds to whack him and his companion with it. Seeing this, Mrs. Mayfair starts screaming and waving her hands. One of the men grabs Victoria’s arms and she starts kicking at the other guy while struggling to get away from the first. From down the street a whistle blows and the patrolman, joined by a fellow officer, comes running up to break up the melee.
“Well, look who we have here,” the one officer says, holding Victoria by the arm, “if it isn’t our old friend Vickie.”
“Officer,” Mrs. Mayfair says approaching them. “It wasn’t her fault. These men were harassing us.”
“And who might you be?” the officer says.
“I’m Elizabeth Mayfair,” she says. “I work for Mr. Bergeron a few streets over.”
“Well Mrs. Mayfair,” the officer says. “I can take one look at you and see you don’t belong here.” Indicating Victoria “I don’t know what you was doing with this one, but you’d be well advised to keep your distance as she ain’t someone respectable people should be associating with.”
“Perhaps some respectable people see potential in her,” Mrs. Mayfair says. “Mr. Bergeron’s been trying to help her.”
“Potential to rob you blind,” the officer says. “In any event, she’s coming with us as are these fine gentlemen. We’ll sort it all out down at the precinct. You tell your Mr. Bergeron if he still wants her, that’s where she’ll be.”
They lead Victoria and the men away.