The Medium (Chapter 7, page 2 of 21)

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"You like pretty jewelry?" The woman sifted through the pieces of cutlery, trinkets, and rags-some clean-and other odds and ends in her basket.

"I don't want to buy any jewelry," Celia said tartly. "I want to know who took over this area last week."

The woman held out a thin bracelet covered in grime. It was as black as my hair. When Celia didn't move to take it, the peddler shook it, all the while smiling that gummy smile.

"How much?" I asked her.

"Three shillings."

"Three!" Celia clicked her tongue. "What's it made of?"

The woman rubbed it with her shawl. "Could be silver."

"I highly doubt it."

"Wait here." I went inside and retrieved my reticule. I dug out three shillings and placed them palm up in my hand. The peddler reached for them but I closed my fist. "Information first."

"Yes," Celia chimed in, giving me a nod of approval. "Tell us who worked your area last week."

The woman tapped her nose with her finger then pointed it at me. "Smart girl. But I can't tell you who done my area last week 'cause no one did." She held her finger up to stop Celia's protest. "Wait, wait, I didn't say nuffink about this street, did I?"

Celia hissed out an impatient breath. "Go on."

"A lady comes up to me last week, she did. Just round the corner there. She gives me twenty shillings to do me job on this here street. Twenty! That's more than what I got in 'ere." She shook the basket. "Course I gave 'er me value-bulls. Why wouldn' I for twenty? Bit later she gave 'em back to me and never asked for her money back neever. Job well done, I say." She laughed and wiped her nose on the back of her dirty glove.

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