The Church Street Harlot

Encountering the Wolf

When Mary set out that night, it was a renewed sense of purpose. Pausing at the brothel door, she looked up at the stars. They were cold and hard, as the night was cold and hard. She was tingling, although not just with fear. She turned her face from the sky, and began to head east. Towards Church Street.

She did not know what force had brought her there, to that particular street. Impulse, or pure chance? She knew only that her fate would be decided on Church Street. So she stood, stock still, for hours. As time went by, she grew less afraid. She danced with danger every night in Whitechapel, so why should this night be any different? Tonight, she kept a dagger in her corset.

It did not occur to her to walk the streets. She would not find him; no, there was no need. He was coming for her.

The night wore on. The bells of a far-away Cathedral clamoured. Midnight. As she listened to the bells, Mary almost did not hear the sound of footsteps approaching. When their faint echo reached her ears, a jolt of horror ran through her. It lasted for only a moment. She told herself not to be afraid. Despite this, her heart beat a little faster.

Through the mist and the gaslight, a figure approached. When he came close enough to be seen, a silent gasp left Mary's lips. She felt a thrill of surprise that never truly left her. For he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. His eyes were a deep blue, but they shone like silver in the gaslight. He has black hair and a haughty, handsome expression. He looked entirely like he was too fine to walk these streets.

At that moment, it all made sense to Mary. So this was the shadow that had been stalking the East End? So this was the illustrious stranger whom she had seen before, but had thought of it as a dream merely? She had never before made the connection between the two. It seemed so plain to her now.

The man approached her. Mary was cold; colder with shock and renewed fear than she had thought possible. The roughest brute in London would have frightened her less. But this man's beauty was terrible. He stood before her, and smiled.

"Good evening," he said. He had a voice like velvet.

"Good evening, Sir."

He laughed. An odd peel of laughter that seemed to crack the night.

"What is your name?"

"Mary. Mary Branwell."

"Mary. I see. Are you cold, Mary?"

"Indeed, I am."

"Excellent. Would you prefer to accompany me somewhere warmer?"

"Oh yes," she breathed.

His smile widened. Teeth like shards of ivory. Mary took one look back, before she walked straight into the mouth of the wolf.