William Sutton: A Shilling Shocker Short Story

As part of our 12 Days of Christmas, we’re bringing you some of your favourite authors talking about what Christmas is to them…in whatever form they like! We’re also bringing you their books at only £1!

Today is the turn of William Sutton, author of Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square and the forthcoming Lawless and The Flowers of Sin!

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com

2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket

3. Add the magic word ‘tinsel’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box

4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Happy reading!


Orpheus Cover 2

Orpheus and the Nymphs of the London Underworld


William Sutton

A shilling shocker short story featuring Victorian detective, Sergeant Campbell Lawless, known as Watchman because he was formerly a watchmaker’s apprentice.

© William Sutton MMXIII


“Finding things as is missing something of a speciality,” said Worm, “with a sideline in unfinding things as may be better off lost.”

It was the Scotland Yard fellow, Lawless, who gave me my first whiff of the Nymphs of the Underworld; but it was his little messenger, Worm, who put me on the scent of my fantastical snowbound quest. Since Eurydice vanished…

I know, the ridiculous name. But she was at least half-Greek; and when first I saw her dance, I thought her the closest thing to a nymph I had ever seen. When first she heard me play, when first I saw her dance, by the Hampstead Ponds… Forgive me.

Anyway, it was the beginning of December she vanished. I didn’t think much of S Division’s efforts to find her, and I said as much to the Hampstead Superintendent, Charles J. O’Logan. He told me I could try my luck down town.

So I trudge through the early snows down to the river of filth. There, at a bare counter in Scotland Yard, Sergeant Lawless receives me kindly. These detective policemen, they must get cranks of every description wasting their time: a daughter who’s run off; a sister who never came home from work; a wife who’s been abducted.

“Abducted, sir?” Sergeant Lawless tries to be gentle. “She may have been. Or smuggled away to a Turkish harem. Or fanged by a serpent and gone to the nether world. She may have been, but–” Sergeant Lawless suggests so kindly, without actually saying it “Most likely she has gone wilfully. Oh yes. You scared her off with too much toil and drudgery; too many beatings, or not beatings enough; too much love. That’s the truth of it. People are free to do as they wish. Happens all the time,” Lawless tells me, “and the police shan’t meddle in household affairs.”

“But Sergeant,” I tell him, “that’s simply not the scenario in this drama. We’re intimates, conjoined in art and love. Since first I saw her dance, since first she heard me play, that day upon Hampstead Heath, hair dark with pondwater, willowy limbs, dark brows over radiant eyes, skin as lovely as can be…” I stammer to describe to him my world, our world, vanished with her strange evanishment.

He raises a hand, sympathetical like. “Mr O’Fahy, I cannot help you.”

No help to find Eurydice? I clench a fist. I had already stomped and stamped, shrieked and wailed, thrown pots and pans, wrecked my home, rent my cheeks, torn my clothes, shorn my hair, all manner of griefs and mournings, kissed her portrait, blest her eyes, missed her, cursed her, missed her.

Of this operatic grief, the Sergeant heard only the pale echoes, yet he shivered as if the shades of the underworld had trailed their fingers down his neck. “I can’t. But I know someone who can.”

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