Based on characters from the BBC 2007 series 'Cranford' and the characters of the writer Elizabeth Gaskell.

It was Mr Carter who took young Harry Gregson in hand. Literally, on that first meeting.

Harry had set up a spot in the thronging street to sell his poached fish. There were some market holders here and there as well. But Harry thrust himself out apart and in front of them and couldn't be missed.

"Trout! Fresh Trout. Would you like some Trout Mrs?" he would say politely.

This was enterprising but it was also a mistake. Harry wasn't so much brazen as naïve. It was his undoing. It wasn't long before Harry had asked the wrong person.

"Trout! Trout? And where did you get these from, young ruffian? Eh? No doubt from Lady Ludlow's streams! Hmm?"

She was middle-aged and one of the many Spinsters of the town. And she was the type of women who took the burden upon herself of making as sure as she could, when she could, that people in Cranford did the right thing. Said the right thing. And young Harry had definitely said the wrong thing when he'd called "Trout!"

She held on to him and shook Harry while he wriggled. "Mr Carter. Mr Carter!" she urgently and importantly called. And within a few long strides Mr Carter was there. "This young thief has been stealing from Lady Ludlow," she piped.

Harry looked up. And up! Where around him before, there had only been mild-mannered gents and ladies gently scurrying about their business, suddenly there now loomed this stern man.

Tall, high-booted and dressed in brown, Mr Carter towered above Harry. He was known by all. He was the Manager of Lady Ludlow's Estate, just outside the town; the Estate from which the infamous Trout had come. Mr Carter also carried a cane – with panache. It was brown and sturdy with a sculpted silver top.

Harry refused to consider what the purpose of the cane might be and he cowered as Mr Carter grabbed him by the arm and shook him.

"Where did this come from?", he barked in gravely tones.

"I…I…" Harry was afraid of Mr Carter. Too afraid to answer or even to look him in the eye.

But Mr Carter was also afraid. He was afraid for Harry. Afraid that one day he might be ordered to take Harry to the Magistrate. Afraid that Harry would be jailed or institutionalised, and have his soul, his life brutalised; that Hope would be crushed out of Harry all before he was a man. All before he had a chance to try.

And why might Harry's Hope be lost? All because he had tried to feed his starving family.

END