Ceridwen pushed the box containing the watches over to him, and he lifted the man’s watch out. Carefully opening the front, he poured out the broken pieces of crystal into the lid of the box, gently brushing with the corner of his white handkerchief to get even the tiniest bits clear. Holding it up close to his eyes, he examined the dial and the hands.
“There is not too much damage done here, and the dents can be removed easily. I see the minute hand is slightly bent, but I can straighten it and it will be good as new.”
He closed the front, and holding it close to his ear, he shook it gently, then opened the back. “not much damage here, either. I see the flywheel is a bit out of line, and there are dents here, too.” He looked up at Mrs. Underhill. “This will not take much time to fix, Ma’am,” he said. “I should have it ready for you by Tuesday. Now, let me see the lady’s watch.”
He lifted it out of the box and saw that the chain was broken, and when he moved it, there was a distinct rattle. Once again his fingers worked delicately to open the front cover, and bits of shattered crystal showered down. “Oh, my!” He exclaimed. “This will take much more work. The dial is badly scratched and all three hands are bent. The second hand will need to be replaced; trying to straighten it would only break it. However, we do have crystals that are exactly the same as the originals, and I know I have seen a small hand like this one in the shop. Restoring the case will take more delicate work, but it can be done. Now, let’s see the works.”
Closing the front, he carefully opened the back, cupping the watch in one hand. It was good that he did, because several small wheels fell out into his hand. “Oh, what a shame, to see such beautiful, delicate work reduced to this state!” he looked up at Mrs. Underhill, and quickly moved a hand. “Do not worry, Ma’am, I can repair this one, too, as good as ever it was, but it will take longer. It will be at least two weeks. I can fix the chain, and the clasp, and we have some diamond chips to replace those lost.”
Mrs. Underhill looked at him, her face glowing with relief. “Young man, if you can do all that, I will declare you a worker of miracles. I had no idea how badly my watch had been damaged. Oh, those low-life ruffians! Why ever did they attack us? We have been wondering ever since who would consider such a thing.”
“Um, Ma’m, I…uh….I believe I know who did it.” Mr. Bloor stuttered.
“You do? How could you know?” she queried.
“Last week, I was in a pub in the East end, when I saw a man come in. He certainly didn’t belong there, his clothes were much too posh. I couldn’t see much of his face, as he had his collar up and his hat pulled low, but I still recognised him, especially when I heard his voice. He met with three of the regulars there, ne’e-do-wells of the worst stripe.
“They were huddled around a table near mine, and I know they didn’t see me, as I was in a dim corner, wanting to be alone and quiet for a time. I heard what they said. The posh swell told them to be sure to get the Underhills, and give them a good beating. “Make them both regret that woman’s crazy, disgusting displays and ideas!” he said. “Here’s five pounds each, and when the jobs over, come back here and meet me, and I’ll give you the same again. But mind, you must do some real damage!” With that he got up and scooted out.”
“And you know them all? You can positively identify them? And would you be willing to do so to the police?” Abigail was leaning toward him over the counter, face intense.
“Yes Ma’am. The lads were Toffy Thomas, Watty Davis and Skinky Bains. The toff was Mr. Pemberton, M.P. for Orpington. I know he is adamantly set against votes for women.”
Abigail had been writing down the names, and when he said the P.M.s name, she gasped, and her face flushed. When she looked up at Mr. Bloor, her eyes were flashing fire. “That….I can’t use the word to describe him, but I will get him, if it’s the last thing I do. Mr. Bloor, you have earned my undying gratitude with this information. Please, as soon as you can, go around to Scotland Yard and ask for Sgt. Simpson, and tell him what you told me. If you can, give him a description of all four men, too. And thank you for the good news about the watches. If there is ever anything I can do for you, let me know. Anything!’ She turned and swept out, head high, step jaunty as she disappeared down the street.
Two years later, Mr. David Bloor opened his own clock shop in a different part of London, with backing from the Underhills. Mr. Pemberton had been turned out of office and served a year in jail. The other three served five years. Ceridwen became Mrs. Bloor one month before the new shop opened.