A Lovely School for Ugly Pickpockets

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History Lesson

When one is trying to do something for the first time, without prior practice, it is difficult not to make a mistake(s).

So, The Risk of what I was about to try was that I had just had the request sprung on me, without any forewarning or time to practice! If I made a single mistake or misspoke then my whole attempt would tumble down like a house of cards!

What I was trying to pull off was getting this smart-mouthed cockney git to make a wager with me, a rather unconventional one at that!

So, I just threw all caution to the wind, and began a buildup to reach my selling point!

I started with a question after he was served his fresh drink.

“So then, what do you do when you are not attending these rather posh affairs?”

I asked this, trying to keep a wedge in our conversation. Even though the answer was pretty obvious from the blighter’s manner of dress, and baby smooth manicured fingers!

“Nuttin” he said through gritted teeth, never diverting his gaze to me…

“Don’t hafta work like a regular blighter, gets a small allowance from me father don’t I! Not much though, old parental gents are too cheap by half if you ask me, livin in the stone age where an extra few quid is concerned!!”

He spat out the last few words.

So, this rich guys pup can always use a bit of cash I thought happily to myself!

“Shame” I sympathetically pretended to agree, “but still, cheers to being able to keep a roof over one’s head.” I raised my still ¼ full drink and clinked it against his glass.

We both drained our glasses in salute and I again ordered another round.

After we were served, my new ‘friend’ , out of the side of his mouth since his eyes were glued back on the ballroom dancers, stated wryly…

“You like’n them emeralds Guv? ”

I could see his eyes were again stuck on watching the girl with the unfortunately large eyeglasses, who was elegantly wearing,( in my own humble opinion), the green satin gown. The whole affair offset with her brite glittering emeralds.

He went on as if thinking aloud…

“Broad’s a bit too mousey for my taste, ole 4 eyes there, still, I wouldn’t say no to admire’ in what curves she has under that shiny dress!” And he let out another little guffaw at his crude witticism.

Crude, apparently being a trademark of all this Bloke’s remarks!

I choose to ignore his rather rude comment, and went on, trying to remain unruffled by my new friends’ rather blunt outlook on the fairer sex!

As we both were watching her, I amiably made her the target of our small talk, gently leading him around to the query and wager I was leading up to…

“I admire any gemstones that I can sell my dear sir. But there are other things that I will also allow to command my interest!” I said casually, delicately, “

“ W’thats you on about then?” He asked, reluctantly taking his eyes from the dance floor and placing his attention fully back onto me, as he looked me over like he had just now noticed I was there!

I remembered thinking, yeah ya bleeding prig, three free drinks and not a thank you insight, ya haven’t even asked my name! Not that the one I would have given him would have been my own! Picked a winner here, I did!

But when I spoke, my words and manner of speech did not betray any of those thoughts!

“Well”, I admitted rather sheepishly, “In my line of work I come across many alerts from the constabulary about ladies who have had jewels come up missing, and am asked to keep an open eye out for them.”

He looked suspiciously at me.

“The bloody bobbies ask YOU about it?” he questioned.

“No” I admitted, “all jewelers receive the same circulars. But you see, the thing that piques my curiosity at these events is to try and catch one in action!”

“Catch one what guv ?” he asked quizzically.

“Thief!“ I announced in an ‘everyone one knows’ tone of voice’, pausing a few seconds before I continued on…

“You see lad, a good many circulars describe how ladies lose a bit of their jewelry at functions like these from time to time. It is assumed that the expensive pieces just had bad clasps, but me, I am not so sure that is the case, for it appears to happen far too frequently in these parts! Plus a lot of times they end up trying to be pawned at shoppes like mine, and the clasps looked fine. So are they just finding them lost on the floor, or is there something else going on!”

“What else would it be guv?” He asked, his sluggish curiosity, finally, peaking!

“Well,” I said, leaning into him rather conspiratorially…

“ I have come to the conclusion that there are a fraction of thieves out there that can lift jewels being worn by ladies, like these being worn here tonight, without being caught in the act! And I attend functions like these on the off chance to see if my thesis is correct!”

“Thesis?” my rather cheeky friend asked, not getting the drift. “

I sighed inwardly, thinking entirely to myself that we will be here all evening if I have to explain everything to this. most likely privately schooled, but still uneducated Git! I decided to go easy on the verbiage with him going forward!

“Thesis means theory lad, a belief that, say, our lady yonder in the green frock could be parted from her emeralds by one of her dance partners, if the bloke was of the mindset to acquire them in that manner! If you get my drift.”

He didn’t, so I calmly went into more detail…

“What I am saying is that since she wouldn’t be suspecting it, a dance partner, say, may have an eye for her necklace, and slip the emeralds away from around her very throat. Without her even noticing, until he was long gone!”

“ You sayin guv?” “ that that swarmy cock robin bloke dancin with that skrawny 4 eyed chick, maybe after her necklace?”

“Rot!” he smirked, taking his eyes off of the couple and onto me, “nigh impossible to do such a thing!”

He snickered at the thought, then added…

“Besides, If someone was that interested in nicking her jewels, why not just follow her out and do a complete job of it !?”

“A lot more risk involved being caught doing it that way Mate, not to mention it is rather obvious that she is being robbed! No, to do it this way a thief could come away scot-free with the goods without any suspicions falling upon himself.”

I stated in a quite logical tone of voice.

With his eyes back on the dancing couple, he questioned my reasoning…

“But a bloke would have to be a rather quick-fingered one like a pickpocket wouldn’t he now?”.

And have someone to practice on, I thought to myself before answering in a reassuring tone…

“Not A ’toll my good sir,” I assured, “I think it could be done by anyone with relative ease, I bet even non-thieves like you or I could do it with some success, especially if the lady in question has had a bit too much to drink, or is nearsightedly clumsy !”

“Or both!”

he stated without thinking…

Then catching himself, he snidely went on questioning me…

Blimey mate, your still half-cracked barmy for even thinking that way!”

He sneered, but I knew a seed had been planted…

For I saw him take a long, speculative look at the lady fetchingly clad in green satin, still being waltzed merrily along the dance floor.

I also found it vexing that she was completely unaware that her nicely shimmering emeralds had become such a rather unscrupulous topic of speculative supposition over them being lifted off from her!

A topic that needed to become more than mere speculation!

So In conspiracy, I commented under my breath…

“Ten quid lad!”

“Whots that then mate?” He perked up while addressing me quizzically, “Tenner for what?”

“Ten quid Says I could lift that particular lady’s emerald necklace straight away, and not be caught out in the process?

He thought about it for one long minute, finishing his drink in the meantime. “Don’t know guv, the local Bobbies may frown upon that!”

I countered, trying to set the hook in deep, figuring a bit of creative lying would be in good order to ease away from his concerns.

“Not if I don’t get caught lad, and that necklace is only a cheap imitation. She probably got it out of a crackerjack box, and being chintzy, she wouldn’t be surprised at the clasp breaking away and it falling as she danced! If she would happen to even notice my amateur attempt, would she now?”

I could see he was mulling something over as I spoke, as his limp cigarette was bobbing up and down still clamped in his pursed lips. It was certainly a long time coming together, this blokes’ imaginary skills!

He nodded towards the lady in green, as she was happily being swished around the dance floor in all of her innocence bliss. Those brilliant emeralds of hers making a nice show of it, sparkling on like they were, just crying out to be noticed and admired, which they were, and perhaps soon that sparkling cry would be hushed out by admiring fingers!

“Suppose that gangly 4 eyed bird looks gullible enough to try it out on. Probably too shy, so won’t make much fuss when she catches you trying!”

He looked at me cynically...

“And make no mistake guv, you will be caught… and then I wouldn’t know you from Adam!”

He held out a greedy hand, fingers beckoning as he chortled …

So, the, with that said, make it two for one guv, I’ll hold onto your twenty, and you are on a bet!” He chortled.

And like that, the hook was set! Though, blimey, I had seen carp from the ‘Myths’ finally taking the bait with less subtly!

“Capital!” I acknowledged, “I appreciate a good challenge!”

But my newly found ‘Mate’ did not answer, his eyes greedily studying the £20 in his grasp!

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Next Up

Chapter 5

Field Trip

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