Tommy’s home

Tommy McDonough is a tough 17 year-old.  The youngest of five boys, Tommy became the head of his household at the age of nine when his father buggered off for unknown regions.  Leaving school to scour the banks of the Thames with the other mudlarks, he befriended a cocky kid named Sid…and they’d remained friends ever since.

This is a bit about Tommy, but more so it gives you an idea of where he lives…

Tommy walked out the door and sat on the stoop, the sun warm on his face. The stoop was like all the others, each one jutting out from the arched doorway into the small, narrow lane. All the window boxes were empty as the sunlight stood little chance of making its way in for more than a few hours a day. Newspapers were littered here and there, taking refuge along the safety of the building walls.  The wind from the night before, cold and desolate off the river, left them damp and moist. Buckets of dust sat outside a few of the flats awaiting collection.  They had already been sifted through for any possible treasure by Mrs. Henley at the end of the lane. She worked the dust heaps and never let anything be tossed without pawing through it first.  ‘Won’t believe all you can find in dust.  Bits of marrow, coal and such, the usual things a course, but there is stories about findin’ rings—gold even!  I know it’s true!  I heard it with me own ears I did.  A friend from the heaps, she heard it from a friend a hers.  Found a diamond ring he did. Never had to sift again!  I’m gonna find me some treasure some day I am.  Just a matter of time with all the dust I sift.  Sift more than most I do!  Best round!’  This would turn into a braggart session about who could sift the most and Tommy would tune her out.  He wondered if anyone ever believed those stories other than sifters.  He would bet a shilling (if he had one) that the ‘friend of a friend’ was created by the owner of the heap to keep the workers motivated.  To keep them sifting faster and longer.  And Mrs. Henley was proof it worked.  Not that he blamed her really. Everyone deserved some hope, some reason to keep sifting even if it was the prospect of never having to sift through London’s trash again.

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