Jenny had been spending more and more time with Johnny since that first sitting. She found him easy to talk to, although she never thought that there was a chance that someone like him could ever love a fallen women like her. He had fixed up another sitting, this time painting Jenny as a fallen angel. Jenny had worried about Mary, but Mary had calmed those fears by walking with Jenny to Johnny's house, and meeting her boyfriend Joseph outside. So the system still was in place for their protection. Jenny sat for Johnny for hours; it was the early hours of the morning before he had finished the painting, and Jenny was exhausted. Johnny offered Jenny his bed to sleep in for the night, as it was far too late for Jenny to walk home and in any case, not safe for her to do so while the killer still stalked the streets. Jenny did not see why Johnny should have to sleep on the floor, and said so, making a different suggestion.
"You could always share the bed with me," Jenny said, in her soft voice. Hastily she added, Just to sleep in, not for anything else. I don't like to think of you having to sleep on the floor when it's your house."
Johnny blushed red. "Uh, no. I couldn't," he said. "The bed's small, anyway. You have it."
Despite Johnny's rough and ready looks, he was a perfect gentlemen, and he had no intention of making Jenny feel as though he was disrespecting her in any way. He also didn't want her to think that he was assuming that she'd be up for sex, just because of her profession.
"It's a cold night," Jenny replied. "You might freeze to death if you slept on the floor, and the couch has the painting propped against it so you can't sleep there. Also, it's getting late. Let's just go to bed rather than argue all night about it." Jenny smiled to soften her words.
Johnny surrendered. He was tired, too, and truth be told he much prefered the idea of sharing a bed with Jenny. He went into the bedroom, followed by Jenny who undressed down to her petticoat and climbed into the narrow bed. Johnny removed his socks and shoes and got into the bed too. Jenny's head had hardly touched the pillow before she fell asleep. Johnny didn't fall asleep straight away; he watched Jenny sleep for a while by the light of the flickering candle, and once lifted a hand and tenderly brushed some stray hair off Jenny's forehead. It was beautiful hair, he thought, the colour of garnets. Johnny gave Jenny one last fond look, before blowing out the candle and settling himself down to sleep.
Neither of the two had any inkling of the terrible killings that had occurred during the night. The next day dawned, with the horrible news of the double murder spreading like wildfire through the East End. The working girls were frightened beyond belief; two murders on the same night had happened, and within hours of each other. No-one was safe. The victims took a little while to be identified, but eventually Long Liz's on and off lover came forward and identified her. That left Kate, and she was soon identified by police officers who had seen her before she was murdered. It was generally accepted that the killer had cut Long Liz's throat, then had been disturbed by the sound of the approaching pony cart and had had to flee before he was discovered. Having not been able to sate his thirst for blood, the killer had been forced to find another victim to carry out his vicious mutilation. This had been the unlucky Kate Eddowes. Rumours abounded of screams being heard from the murder sites, from the place where Pretty Polly had been found, to the most recent murder site Mitre Square. The superstitious even claimed to have seen the victims' ghosts huddled in the shadows.
Back at the house that the girls shared, Jenny was worried about Mary. Her friend seemed somewhat sad and very distant. She seemed to have turned away from Jenny and would not speak of what troubled her. Jenny could not get Mary to talk, and soon went to sit in the kitchen by herself. Mary went to the bedroom alone. She stood in front of the cracked and dirty mirror on the wall, pulling at the skin under her eyes.
"I'm getting old, that's the problem," she thought. The thought depressed her, as did the thought of the hated parasite within her womb. She refused to think of it as a baby, but as a loathsome invader. In any case, she had booked an appointment with the abortionist. It would cost her a lot of money, so she would have no choice but to go out and earn it the only way she could.
Jenny went to see Johnny after Mary told her she was seeing Joseph that day. Mary was lying, however. She didn't intend to do anything of the kind. Jenny walked to Johnny's house, feeling perfectly safe as it was broad daylight. She knocked on his door. Johnny opened it and greeted her warmly.
"I was just about to go and call on you," he said. "I only painted that picture yesterday, and I've already sold it."
"Already?" gasped Jenny. "That's amazing."
"Isn't it?" Johnny replied. "As before, part of the money belongs to you." He handed Jenny a purse of coins. "You're my good luck charm."
Jenny took the money, blushing, and put it carefully away in her purse. "I'm at a bit of a loose end today," she said. "Mary's seeing Joseph today, so I don't really have anything to do. I decided to go and visit you. Maybe we could go for a walk together?"
Jenny was privately amazed at her own daring, but felt that it was about time that someone did something. To her delight, Johnny agreed at once to go for a walk with her, and the pair set off, walking in the bright sunshine. There was a slight chill in the air still, but the days were getting warmer. After a while, Johnny took Jenny's hand in his. She flushed red, but did not pull away, liking the feel of his fingers entwining in hers. Jenny felt too shy to say that she'd like to spend some time getting to know Johnny better; besides, she wasn't sure if that was what he wanted to do. As they finished their walk and arrived back at Johnny's house, it was starting to get dark.
Johnny suddenly thought of something. "What time was Mary supposed to get back?" he asked Jenny. "It's getting dark, and she shouldn't be out by herself."
"Mary told me that she was going to stay over at Joseph's house tonight," Jenny replied. "She sometimes does that. In any case, she'll be safe there with Joseph to look after her."
Johnny frowned. "Did she expect you to walk home alone in the dark?"
"I don't think so," Jenny said. "I did tell her earlier that I'd be visiting you, and I think that she assumed I'd stay the night. Mary's been awfully distant lately; it's not like her at all. I don't know why. She won't talk to me about it at all."
Jenny looked sad. Johnny patted her hand awkwardly to comfort her. "You're always welcome at my place." he said. "As for Mary, I hope she'll confide in you; keeping the secrets to herself will only make it worse, whatever it is."
There was a short silence, then Johnny said, "Tomorrow, I'm taking you to the local church."
Jenny wondered why they'd go there, but also she was worried that a woman like her would not be welcome in such a place. Johnny reassured Jenny that no-one there would know her so therefore would not be able to judge her. There was nothing to worry about. Jenny was still doubtful, but consented to go. She thought that she would find out the rest of the mystery the next day.
"So, what do we do for the rest of the time then?" Johnny said.
Jenny smiled, a knowing smile. "You could come back to mine."
Johnny was hardly able to credit that Jenny wanted to be with him in that way. He looked at her inquiringly.
"Yes," Jenny said, reading his expression. "I want to be with a man who loves me, rather than a man who has just paid for the use of my body."
Johnny took Jenny's hand and kissed it. "I would be honoured," he replied.
Jenny still smiled as she took Johnny back to the house. Mary wasn't there; she'd gone to stay with Joseph at his lodgings. She still hadn't told him that she was pregnant and had no intention of doing so at all. In any case, if all went according to plan, she wouldn't be pregnant for much longer. Jenny wasn't thinking of Mary at all that night, nor was Johnny. He tenderly kissed her, and gently pulled her to him, wanting to treat her differently from the rough men who paid her for sex. In fact, Jenny was never treated as anything more than an object; she certainly didn't object to the tender way Johnny was treating her. She put her arms around him as he kissed her and gave herself up to pleasure.
The next morning, the sun peeped over the horizon and rose high in the sky. Johnny had slept with Jenny in his arms, and woke up snuggled close to her. He grinned softly as he thought of last night; it simply had to have been the best in all his life. Jenny awoke, and sighed with relief to find Johnny next to her. It had been a secret fear of hers that he would leave her; she was relieved to find herself proven wrong. He really did love her, and she knew that she loved him and wanted to be with him always.
Mary had woken up that morning at Joseph's determined to get the last of the money together so she could have her abortion. Then she could get it dealt with, and there'd be no need to tell Joseph about her pregnancy. Especially as she wasn't completely sure that the baby was his. There was also the chance that the father of the child could be one of her clients; though she had schooled herself to feel nothing when carrying out the transactions, as she had heard that a pleasureless woman was less likely to conceive, she could not be completely sure that the baby was Joseph's. Mary had kissed Joseph goodbye before leaving his house. She walked to a bench and sat down, feeling very sad.
Johnny went outside and walked quickly among the streets of London. He was looking for a particular object, and after searching for an hour or so, he finally found what he was looking for. Johnny then bought some flowers and began to make his way back. He saw Mary sitting on the bench and walked over to her.
"Jus' saying hallo," Johnny said to Mary. "Jenny's worried about you, you know."
Mary sighed. She said listlessly, "Well, you can tell her I'm fine. I'll be back at the house soon, anyway."
Johnny inclined his head politely, then took his leave, heading back to the house with a spring in his step.
Mary felt deeply saddened by this conversation, reading between the lines of what had been spoken, it was obvious that Johnny had fallen in love with Jenny. What Mary had dreaded for years had finally happened; Jenny had gotten out of her shadow, and had found herself someone who could take her away from the streets and into a new life. She could not face returning home just yet. Meanwhile, Johnny had returned to the house and had given Jenny the flowers. While Jenny hunted down a vase to fill with water and arrange the flowers in, Johnny told Jenny about his meeting with Mary.
Jenny looked worried. "I just wish she'd be more careful, but she doesn't seem to even hear me any more when I warn her." Jenny said with a heavy sigh. "All I really want is to move away from walking the streets and just settle down and be normal; have children and be happy. But I also just wish that Mary would stop taking risks. It's just too dangerous out there at the moment to do so. That's why we have our system; even if I didn't have to go out and make money, I'd still go with Mary if she needed to, just to know that she was safe."
Jenny paused, then continued. "I wonder if she's even telling me the truth when she says that she's gone to visit Joseph. I do hope that Mary isn't putting herself in danger. Walking the streets has always been a dangerous job, but it's the only thing that women like us can do to survive.
"If I had a husband to protect me, I wouldn't have to. A husband like you, Johnny."
"Me?" Johnny replied, surprised. "No, no, you wouldn't want someone like me for a husband," he said, shaking his head. "You deserve someone better."
"I wouldn't want anyone else," Jenny said with determination. "And no-one could be kinder than you are to me."
"Well, I would be just as honoured to have you as a wife, though I can hardly propose; I do not have a ring!" Johnny said, smiling to take the sting out of the words.
"I don't mind waiting til you can afford one," Jenny smiled. "If we have the rest of our lives together, we have the time."
Johnny grinned. "I suppose that's true." He then wondered what was taking Mary so long, but did not voice his concerns, for he didn't want to worry Jenny. Just as Jenny was starting to get a little nervous, Mary returned home. Her face gave nothing away of the turmoil within; she was calm and composed.
"Hello, Johnny," she said. She made an effort to smile at both Jenny and Johnny, but Jenny knew her friend well enough to see that it was forced. Johnny felt uncomfortable; he wondered if he was the reason why Mary had changed. In fact, Mary hardly even thought of him. She was more concerned with the unwanted pregnancy; thinking of the baby growing within her as a hated parasite, to be excised as soon as possible. Jenny told Mary that she would still go out with her, to keep her safe.
"Promise me that you won't go out alone," she said, urgently. "I promise," Mary replied, not wanting to upset her friend. Johnny made his excuses and said he had to go back to his own house.
"Can I see you tomorrow?" asked Jenny, with a sideways glance at Mary. Mary just shrugged her shoulders. "I'll be seeing Joe tomorrow, so don't worry about me," she replied.
Jenny relaxed at these words, but Mary was not telling the truth. Mary in fact had no intention of seeing Joe; she first was going to go to the abortionist to check the price, then out to earn some money. She was sure that she'd be safe enough, even when darkness fell. The killer had surely satisfied his bloodlust with the double killing; in any case, it would be very risky for him to perform another murder in the streets with all the policemen roaming around. The next day, Mary did her best to act normally throughout the day and evening, so that Jenny didn't suspect anything. She went out with Jenny that evening as she'd promised, just to throw her off the scent. Johnny spent the day selling some paintings, and wondering if he could try to get another occupation alongside his artwork; if he wanted to get a ring, he'd need the extra money. Jenny just hoped for the day that she no longer would have to sell herself on the streets, and instead could settle down to become a wife and mother.
Eventually, night fell. Mary was preparing to go out. It was just starting to get dark; she and Jenny were going to walk the streets, and maybe go to a gin house if they earned enough money. Mary felt that she needed at least a couple of drinks to get her through the rest of the night, considering what she had to do later on. All the talk in the gin house, when Mary and Jenny finally arrived, was about the Ripper and wondering who would be the next victim. A lot of the street girls were nervous; some even forming systems much like Mary and Jenny's, just to keep safe. No-one was allowed to walk back alone; all the girls walked back with at least one other person with them. Mary and Jenny left the gin house as soon as it closed, and walked home, arm in arm. Jenny was feeling a lot better about her friend, who seemed less distant and a lot more like her old self. There was hope now, for the future.
The next day, Mary awoke with a sense of purpose. One way or another, she would clear things up for good this week and her life could finally go back to normal. She once again told Jenny that she planned to see Joseph that night, when in fact she wasn't going to do anything of the sort. However, she didn't want Jenny to insist on coming with her, and finding out her secret. Jenny at once said that in that case, she'd go to Johnny's house. Mary walked Jenny over to Johnny's house, assuring her that she was going to go straight to Joseph's house. Instead, she headed towards the tangle of alleyways in the East End to ply her trade. Mary needed to earn enough money to pay the abortionist, and also to keep her going afterwards. She'd spoken to other street girls and had learned that an abortion was often hard on the body, so recovery time was vital if a girl was to get better afterwards. Soon, Mary accosted a man who was out looking for a prostitute. She took him to a nearby alleyway to perform the transaction. Afterwards, he gave her the money and went quickly on his way. Mary felt confident about plying her trade now; she felt that she was safe enough to do so.
Hours passed, and Mary was anxiously checking over the money in her purse. She didn't quite have enough, and she was fast losing her earlier confidence about being out in the darkness alone. As she walked along the street that led to her home, a tall gentleman rose up out of the shadows and walked up to her; it was obvious to Mary what he wanted, and she half thought about turning him down. But she needed the money, and she was nearly back at the house. She could let him into the house, which would be the best thing rather than retracing her footsteps and finding a secluded place out of the way in the streets. Mary turned and smiled at the gentleman, indicating that he should follow her. Once at the house, she let him in and took him up to her bedroom, where she lit the fire so that there'd be light to see by. Mary briefly turned her back on her client as she went to unbutton her dress; she did not see him slip his hand into his pocket and bring out a sharp knife, on which the firelight gleamed like freshly spilt blood. She only knew that she had unwittingly picked up the killer when she turned towards him and saw the demonic smile on his face.
Mary screamed. "Murder! Help!" and ran towards the door. The killer grabbed her by the shoulders with his free hand and threw her roughly on to the bed. Mary struck her head on the iron bedstead and lay still, still awake but unable to move. The gentleman strode towards Mary, his eyes gleaming with what seemed almost like happiness as he eyed his victim lying prone on the bed. He put his knife to Mary's throat and sliced through the tender flesh, letting the blood spill on to her unbuttoned dress, soaking into the cheap cloth. Mary let out a moan of pain. Death came to take her away, as she struggled in her murderer's arms, her blood flowing on to his clothes, staining them. He pushed Mary's corpse back on to the bed and surveyed the scene with dark satisfaction. No-one knew he was here, no-one would come. He had the whole night before him to wreak his viciousness upon his latest victim undisturbed.
The killer took a few minutes to reflect on the terror he'd managed to cause in just a few short weeks in the East End. The Ripper was what they called him; he was truly famous, and everyone knew of him. The residents of the East End feared him, not just the working girls, and he was determined that this would be his most spectacular murder yet. He bent down and began slicing off the flesh of Mary's legs, putting it beside her body. Once done with this task, he slit open her stomach with great skill, pulling the intestines out and cutting open her womb. On discovering the fetus inside, he shoved Mary's hand into her stomach. He mutilated her face, as well, and hacked savagely at her arms. When he had finished his gruesome work, the gentleman carefully washed down his greatcoat until he'd cleaned the worst of the blood off, then burned his shirt in the fireplace. It was not quite so dark outside as it had been; day was fast approaching, which meant that he had to be off. The killer took Mary's key with him, locking the door behind him and pushing the key under the door. He then walked away from the house and plunged once again into the shadows.