Feeling deeply traumatized after watching a documentary about the chimney sweep boys in Victorian England. Boys and girls (usually sold to the upper class by their parents) as young as 3 were made to crawl up the chimneys of their master’s mansions and clean the soot from there.
Their knees and elbows were usually bruised and bloodied after they were done. To toughen them up, the master would usually pour water and salt on their wounds and mercilessly send them up another chimney. Because of this, calluses formed. Sometimes, to make the boys climb faster, the master would light a fire beneath them.
With the “job” came many hazards. It was not unusual for some boys to get stuck in the tight corners of the chimney, sometimes, without the knowledge of the master. These poor souls were left to suffocate from the soot and toxic fumes. Worse, some were BURNT to death when the fire was lit and their screams could be heard for 2 miles away.
Many of these chimney boys didn’t live to adulthood due to the daily breathing in of soot and other toxic chemicals. They also suffered from deformed bones due to their young bodies having to bend out of shape to fit into the chimney.
Never again will I whine about any uncomfortable setbacks in life.
@mizjoely also suggested that Sherlock and Molly meet while trying to rob the same grave. I HAD to, ok.
“I wish you wouldn’t,” Watson stood in the doorway of the
parlor at Baker Street.
“Wouldn’t what?” Holmes asked, trying to look as innocent as
“Those are workman’s clothes,” Watson said, nodding to his
“So they are, Watson, very good of you to notice.”
Watson sighed heavily. “You realize what you’re doing, it’s
“Yes, hence the need to disguise myself, and to do the deed
under cover of dark,” Holmes replied retying the kerchief. He took a small
oblong box and opened it. Inside was a false moustache.
“And that’s your disguise?”
“You’d be surprised what a small amount of facial hair will
do, most people won’t know, especially not under cover of darkness,” Holmes
replied, carefully applying the facial hair. He paused, then took the
mutton-chop sideburns from the kit as well. “Though I suppose erring on the
side of caution never hurt.”
“Please tell me you aren’t digging-“
“Roses, this time of year, Watson? Don’t be ridiculous.”
Side-burns applied, Holmes took down the corduroy jacket, patched at the elbows.
He slipped into it, smoothing it down. “You ought to know this time of year it’s
daisies that are pushing up.”
“That is not funny!”
“No, but it is apt,” Holmes replied. He poked his head back
through the parlor. “Sure you won’t come?”
“Are you serious?” Watson blustered. “I am a doctor, a
well-known- oh hell, yes, let me change.”
“Laid clothes out on your bed, I’ll be right back, one of
the irregulars is bringing a horse and cart.”
“This is ridiculous!”
“So you’ve said,” Sherlock reminded his friend. “Now either
keep a look-out, or help me dig.”
“I don’t understand why you need this corpse to begin with!
For God’s Sake!”
“Ah- we are in a cemetery, Watson, mind what you say.
Consecrated ground and all that,”
“Which you are digging
up!” Watson hissed, coat flapping from his wild gesturing.
“Mrs. Brimley was a dear old woman,” Holmes grunted, hopping
down from the wagon. “She deserves to be laid to rest beside her husband in
“There’s no cemetery in Willesden,” frowned Watson.
“There is, but none a catholic would know of,” Holmes
“What? Oh!” Watson fell silent, surprised. So the old woman
he’d once gone to look after was Jewish! “I had no idea,” he murmured.
“Certainly you didn’t. Once her husband died, the late Elijah
Cohen passed, her remaining family pushed her to go back to her maiden name. It
isn’t popular to be a Jew these days. Having no-one but her Christian family to
help her in her old age, she agreed.”
“So…she married into the faith?” Watson asked, twice
“True love, and all that,” Holmes nodded. He sniffed,
glancing up at the night sky. “It’s going to tip down soon, best get her out
and to her husband before the frost comes. You stay with the wagon, you didn’t
change your shoes.”
Watson glanced at his feet, then shrugged. “I didn’t see the
“That’s because I didn’t leave any, I’d prefer if we get
caught, that only one of us go to jail so the other can fetch bail money.”
“Right,” Watson nodded. “Holmes!” he gasped, pointing.
Across the path was a light moving through the cemetery.
“Down! Put out the light!”
Watson obeyed, putting out the light, they huddled behind the
wagon, watching as the person moved carefully among the tombstones.
“They’re looking for someone,” Holmes realized.
“Probably to visit,” Watson suggested. “We’ll just wait
until they leave.”
“Hmm, and what do you suppose they brought the short shovel
for? To place on the grave?” He frowned. They both held still, listening as the
person hunched over Mrs. Brimley’s grave, then poised the shovel over the
“They’re taking the body!” Watson hissed, shocked.
“Give me the light,” Holmes ordered, standing.
Hearing footfalls, the person turned with a start. Gasping,
they dropped the shovel and took off.
“Don’t let her get away!” Holmes shouted. He dropped the lantern, still yet to be lit, tackling the woman before she could get very far.
“Get. Off!” the woman grunted, shifting under him.
“Not until you tell me what you’re doing here?”
“Obviously the same as you lot!” she snapped. “Now get, off!”
she thrashed, managing to get her knee between his legs, finding a particularly
He grunted, rolling off her. He was on his feet first,
grabbing her by the wrists. “What were you planning to do?”
“Are you police?” she asked.
“Cripes it’s a woman!” Watson breathed, holding the lantern
“Indeed,” Holmes said, his tone somewhat curious, dare
Watson say even a hint of admiration.
“She was my neighbor,” the woman wrenched her hands out of
Sherlock’s grasp. “Her relatives were awful to her, just awful. She doesn’t
deserve to be buried here. I took care of her when she came to the morgue. I’m
taking her to be with her husband, I don’t care what you say.”
“Well,” Sherlock pushed back his cap, smirking at her. “That
is a coincidence.”
The woman was studying him, she gasped suddenly, clapping a
hand over her mouth. “You’re Sherlock Holmes!”
Holmes grinned, he peeled off the mustache and then the
mutton-chops. “In the flesh. And now as you have properly guessed who I am,
perhaps you’ll accord me the same honor. You stated earlier you took care of
her when she was in the morgue, meaning you performed or assisted in the
autopsy. There’s only one female mortician in all of London, possibly the
country, though I wouldn’t put it past the smaller boroughs, limited education
and need for a morgue worker, you are Doctor Molly Hooper, recent graduate of
St. Bartholomew’s academy, and Doctor Michael Stamford’s protegee.”
She glanced between Sherlock and Watson. “Is he always like
“Worse,” Watson answered. He hefted the lantern, extending
his right. “John Watson at your service.”
“A pleasure, Doctor,” Molly replied and shook his hand. “Now,”
she turned back to Sherlock, who was still studying her. “I don’t suppose you’d
like to help me retrieve Mrs. Brimley’s remains, would you? I could see it’s
worth your while if you don’t say anything about it to anyone.”
“Such as?” Sherlock leaned against the shovel-handle. He’d
already been perfectly willing to help her, but if she was offering…
“Eyeballs,” Molly blurted, quite unused to being under
someone’s gaze, and Sherlock was clearly gazing at her. “I…you perform
experiments, don’t you, in your spare time, that’s what the papers say,” she
glanced at Watson. “You’ve a laboratory. I could supply you with cadavers…for
“Hm.” Sherlock nodded, clearly intrigued. “You would risk
your career in the hopes that I would not reveal your little indiscretion here
“Well…” she shifted. “Yes.”
“My dear Miss, er, forgive me, Doctor Hooper,” he smiled
gently. “No bribe, however tempting, is necessary. All I ask is for your own
silence of my, and Doctor Watson’s presence here this evening, your assistance in
retrieving Mrs. Brimley, and that is all.”
“Really?” Molly asked.
“Really- well, there may be one small favor,” Holmes
“And that is?” Molly asked warily. Holmes turned, swinging
the shovel over his shoulder, sauntering back to the graveside.
“Permission to call on you, Doctor Hooper,” he turned,
looking back over his shoulder. “If you’d be pleased to have me call, that is.”
Watson rolled his eyes, muttering to himself.
Molly was doing her best to fight a smile, and failing. “If
you can find my address, Mr. Holmes, you may call at your earliest convenience.”
“Is that an invitation?” he asked.
“A promise.” Sherlock grinned, handing her the shovel, and
took the other from the back of the wagon.
“Then I shall see you tomorrow, Doctor Hooper.”
“Are you really so confident-“
“Tomorrow,” Holmes interrupted.
“He means it,” Watson nodded, having climbed back up onto
“Are you going to help me or not?” Holmes asked, already
down to his ankles in dirt.
Molly set her shovel in the fresh-laid earth. “There’s
something awful about you flirting with me over a grave.”
“I don’t see you minding,” Sherlock replied. “I’d say more,
but Watson will throw me, and he’s got terribly good aim.” Molly giggled and
bent over her work. Who knew grave-robbing had so many advantages?
A 22-year-old Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in chalk by Hungarian artist, Charles Brocky, 1841. Commissioned that same year after Victoria saw his portrait of
Georgiana Liddell, one of her maid’s of honour, and fell in love with his work. This romantic pair of portraits resides today in the Queen’s sitting room at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.