Toby walked along the crowded street, a package under his arm. He whistled cheerfully as he meandered along the busy marketway, enjoying the sunlight and activity. He paused as he readied to cross the street, waiting for a break in traffic. Suddenly, a horse-drawn carriage came racing down the road, going much too fast.
Toby watched uninterestedly until he saw another carriage coming from the opposite side of the road, going equally fast and out of control. As he watched, a small girl near him stepped distractedly out into the street, oblivious to the oncoming peril.
"Look out!" A woman yelled. The girl looked up, and saw the carriages coming, her eyes wide with fear.
Quickly, Toby leapt out into the street and pushed her out of the way just as the carriages hit each other with a crash, spewing wreckage all over the street. To looked down and saw that the girl was about his age, with dirty brown hair and large, equally brown eyes, which were currently watching him.
"Sorry miss, I hope you're alright?" He said, picking her up easily and setting her on her feet.
"Thank you kind sir, I must repay you" The girl said, picking up her basket from by her feet.
Toby followed her gaze and noticed that she was only wearing a threadbare dress with a grungy coat over top, no shoes. She was shivering slightly in the crisp air.
"Sorry miss, but aren't you cold?" Toby asked, picking up his hat and package from the pavement and stepping close to the girl.
She shook her head and took a step back, looking scared.
"I'm only am ash girl, sir. I don't get shoes. Besides, you get used to it"
Toby nodded, suddenly concerned for her.
"Do you want to come into my friend's shop up here a ways? You can get warm and have a nice pie free of charge"
The girl shook her head, moving back again.
"I shouldn't, i'll get in awful trouble" The girl replied, averting her eyes.
Toby gently took her hand with a smile.
"It's alright Miss, you'll be safe with us. We won't keep you long"
Unsurely, the girl began to follow him. Toby led the girl to Mrs. Lovett's, bringing her into the warm shop.
"Ello luv, fancy a nice warm pie?" Mrs. Lovett said from her spot behind the counter.
The girl hesitated, unsure. She looked to Toby for guidance. He gestured to the display case of meat pies.
"Don't worry luv, you can have an apple pie if you don't fancy meat. I got one fresh baked this morning" Mrs. Lovett said, taking pity on the girl.
The girl's eyes lit up instantly. Mrs. Lovett smiled.
"One apple pie it is" She said, walking into the back room. Toby followed, intending to find an old pair of Mrs. Lovett's shoes to give to the poor girl sitting shyly at a table.
"Oy Toby, where'd you find that little urchin anyhow?" The baker asked as she frosted an apple pie.
"I saved her, if it wasn't for me, she'd be squashed between two carriages"
"Well, bless 'er heart" Mrs. Lovett said, putting the pie on a plate and walking out into the restaurant.
She stopped when she saw the girl's feet.
"Where are your shoes luv?"
The Girl looked down, then back at Mrs. Lovett.
"I don't have 'em Ma'am"
"Toby, dearie. Fetch my old black shoes" Mrs. Lovett called back to Toby, unaware that he was already on the task.
"Already on it ma'am" He replied, voice muffled by the slight distance. Toby came out, carrying a pair of worn black shoes. The girl's eyes widened.
Mrs. Lovitt set the pie and the shoes on the old wood table, then sat down across from the girl, watching as she ate hungrily.
"So Luv, what's your name?" The Baker asked, tracing patterns on the table.
"Emma, ma'am" The girl said in between bites.
In seconds, the little pie was gone.
"You must have been hungry" Mrs. Lovitt remarked.
"Pardon me, Ma'am. I dont get fed too often at my place" Emma continued, wiping off the crumbs on the plate with her sleeve. She looked up at the old clock on the wall.
"I must be going, thank you for the pie Ma'am" Emma said, putting the shoes on, scooting her chair in and wrapping her shawl around her shoulders more firmly.
"Anytime Dearie. Toby, walk her home" Mrs. Lovett said, standing and disappearing into the back room.
Toby followed Emma out the door, the cold september air biting his cheeks. They walked a ways until they ended up on the rich side, where the houses were more elaborate. Emma whirled on Toby, halting him.
"This is as far as you need go, sir" She said, her eyes wide and fearful.
"Why?" Toby asked, surprise written all over his face.
"I'm sorry, just please go. I can't let him see you" Emma replied, pushing his back a little.
"The Judge Turpin" She whispered.
Toby's eyes widened.
"You work for the Judge?" Even Toby knew a little about the tyrant Judge.
She shook her head, then gave a pained look over her shoulder.
"He's my father. Now thank you sir, but please leave"
She pressed three pennies into his hand, kissed his cheek, then ran off down the street, turning in the servant's alley of the grandest mansion on the row. Toby touched the his cheek where Emma's kiss still burned.
This was definitely one mystery he wasn't going to leave alone.