Chapter Nineteen

The interior of the Ten Bells was more inviting after being out in the cold, drizzly night. And it was evident from the number of people inside that others thought that as well. The pub cliental was a microcosm of the world outside, minus the street children. Most of the tables were full but they managed to find one in the back, thankfully near a roaring fire. They sat down together and looked around at the drunk and tipsy women.

"Okay, how do we know which one is Mary Ann Nichols?" Rose said, looking around.

"Stay here, I'll get some pints and ask the barkeep," Jack said to them.

"Anyone have any idea what she looks like?" Donna said.

"I've seen photos of the Ripper victims before, working as a journalist," Sarah Jane said. "But I never studied them to the point of remembering their faces."

"And the last one, Mary Kelly," Rose said softly. "She was in a boardinghouse. I mean, they gave us money because they wanted us to be safe but she was mutilated beyond recognition because she wasn't out on the street and the Ripper had time to take her apart."

"Yes but there'll be five of us," River said. "I think Mary Kelly was alone that night. We can watch out for each other."

They eyed a rough looking man when he slid into Jack's empty chair with a leer on his face. He held a pint of bitter in his unsteady hand and took a swig of it before wiping some of the foam off his grizzled face. His hazel eyes swept over them and landed directly on Rose across the table from him. He brought his free hand up to shake her hand and Rose noticed that he was missing his index and middle finger.

"Hello, Dumplin'," the man drawled as he extended his hand to Rose. "What's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this."

"She's with us," Donna growled at him as Rose put her hands under the table and glared at him.

"I'm sure she is, Sunshine," the man drawled. "But I wasn't talkin' to you, now was I? I was talkin' to the pretty bit of crumpet 'cross from me."

"The pretty bit of crumpet doesn't want you," Rose said tersely.

"Oh, aye? We'll see 'bout that, Dumplin'," he said. "You don't sound like you from the East End, love. You get lost 'ere, then?"

"She doesn't want you," River growled at him. "So piss off!"

"'ere now, no one talks to me like that, ya fuckin' slag," the man snarled back. "I'll slit you from neck to navel if you don't shut your fuckin' gob right now!"


The man froze when he heard someone clearing his throat behind him and felt the tip of a cane tapping on the top of his head. He turned to see Jack glaring at him.

"These women are with me, mate," Jack growled at him. "So you 'eard 'er, piss off!"

The man got to his feet and wobbled a bit but he was around five foot two inches tall and not very muscular and he realized that Jack was taller and more built than he was. Jack reached into his pocket, pulled out a switchblade and the people around the table fell silent when he pushed a button and the blade sprang out with an audible click.

"See my flick knife, mate?" Jack said. "You be on your way or you'll be the one slit neck to navel. Now…piss off!"

The man glared at him, snatched his pint glass from the table and staggered away as Jack retracted the blade. He glared at the people around them and they quickly went back to minding their own business while the man found a group of men near the front door and sat down.

"Thanks, Jack," Rose said.

"Not at all, Dumplin', just preserving your pretty face, I was," Jack drawled as he put the switchblade back in his pocket. "Now…where was I? Oh yes, getting information. Sees ya in a minute, 'ores," he drawled before walking back up towards the bar.

Jack glanced over his shoulder as he made his way to the bar. A few people were looking his way but they quickly looked away the moment he saw them. Jack snorted at that and turned his attention back to the barkeep, a middle aged man who looked like he'd seen better days. Jack noticed that there was a bruise on the man's angular face along with a slight black eye.

"Get in a fight, mate?" Jack drawled as he leaned on the bar.

"'ad to break one up," the man said, nodding. "Thought I was about to break up another just then."

"Nah, just a bit of a misunderstandin' between me and the other bloke," Jack drawled. "Five pints of bitter and I need a bit of information as well."

The man froze and eyed him suspiciously.

"What sort of information," he said.

"Lookin' for a bangtail," Jack drawled.

The bartender chuckled.

"You found the right spot, mate. There's 'undreds of them 'ere! It's what Whitechapels's known for," he said, waving his arm around.

"No, a specific bangtail, name of Mary Ann Nichols."

The bartender gave him a sideways glance while he put the pint glasses on the counter.

"You mean Polly?" he said to him. "I knows a Polly Nichols."

"Yes, I believe that's 'ere," Jack said. "Do you know where she lives?"

"Lives?" the bartender said, amused. "I don't believe she 'as a house, mate. She lives in the street like they all do."

"Where does she usually go then?" Jack said.

"Why? You a punter? Those your women back there?"

"Perhaps," Jack said. "But that's not why I want to speak to 'er."

"Well…that's Siffey Annie over there," the bartender said, pointing to a woman sitting two tables away from the bar. "I believe she and Polly work the streets together. You can go and ask 'ere about Polly."

Jack turned and saw a tall, thin woman with long dark hair sitting with a young drunk man at a table. The man was whispering something in her ear and Annie was giggling. Jack gave the man several pennies and took the pints of bitter back to his table, taking two trips to bring all of them to the women. On the second go, he sat down in the empty seat and took a sip as he and the women leaned in.

"Siffey Annie is over there," Jack said, hooking his thumb over his shoulder. "Barkeep said he knows Mary or Polly Nichols."

"There was an Annie Chapman that was one of the victims," Sarah Jane said softly. "Perhaps that's her."

Jack nodded.

"You woman enjoy your pints then," he said softly. "I'm gonna go over and see if I can get Siffey Annie to talk to me about Polly."

He stood up, took his glass in hand and walked through the crowded pub to Annie's table.

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