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The Gypsy and the Indian

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Aberama Gold’s funeral was no different from John’s. The mourners followed the vardo into a field where it was lit on fire. The weather was chilly, but not unbearably so, and the sun was shining, and Polly hated him- actually, everyone hated him. Ada avoided his gaze and only nodded when he greeted her. Lizzie gave him one-word replies. Michael glowered silently. Even Arthur and Johnny Doggs avoided meeting his gaze. He was the epicenter of every negative emotion in that crowd.

They all blamed him for Aberama’s death. Tommy understood; he blamed himself too. He wished they would scream at him. He preferred screaming to silence and was almost grateful when Polly violently yanked on his arm.

 “Who the fuck are they?” she spat, tilting her head at the two men standing at the edge of the field in long coats.

 “I have a job,” he said. Polly’s hand fell from its place gripping his arm, but her gaze did not waver. Tommy saw only a blur of motion in his peripheral vision before her hand met his cheek with great force.

“I think we’ve suffered quite enough from your jobs,” she hissed. She glanced behind him at the Arthur and Johnny's approaching figures and gave a sardonic laugh. “I’ll start preparing the double funeral now.”

“Pol,” Arthur began, but Polly cut him off with a wave of her hand.

“Just go,” she said.

Tommy felt a lump in his throat as he watched her walk toward Aberama's burning body. He raised his fist to his mouth and coughed.

“Ready, boys?

Tommy almost laughed when he awoke on the floor of a dingy shed, Johnny and Arthur lying next to him. His plans did not work anymore - although this one was not even technically his plan.

The job was supposed to be a simple assassination- in and out of a three-star hotel. Johnny Doggs was the getaway driver and Arthur stood as backup in case anything went wrong. So much for that.

“What the fuck happened?” Arthur mumbled, feeling for his gun. Their coats and caps, and even their shoes and socks were gone. The shed was empty and though there were no windows, cracks between the wood boards allowed moonlight to enter. So, they were outside. Tommy tried to open the door, but it was locked.

“Should we try to break it down, Tom?” Arthur said. But the words had barely left his mouth when the door opened and two men with guns entered the room.

“Good morning gentlemen,” said the larger of the two. His dark hair was combed neatly, and his shoes shined. “So sorry we couldn’t get you nicer accommodations, but we wanted to take precautions with the Peaky Blinders.”

Arthur and Johnny exchanged glances, expecting Tommy to take the lead. But to their surprise, he said nothing. He looked down at the ground.

“No precautions can save you when you mess with the Peaky fucking Blinders,” Arthur snarled finally. The man looked unimpressed.

“So,” he said. “Who hired you?”

Tommy ruffled his hair. “No introduction?”

“Apologies, but I’m afraid I can’t do that Mr. Shelby.”

Before Tommy could reply there was a knock on the door. The smile fell from the man’s face. “We’re in the middle of an interrogation!” he shouted.

 A slip of paper came from underneath the door. The second man read it with furrowed brows and showed it to the first.

“Looks like we’ll have to cut this meeting short. Sorry boys.”

He opened the door wide and pointed to Johnny and Arthur.

“You two are free to leave, but you-” he shoved his finger at Tommy “-you’re coming with me.”

“What are you going to do with him?” Johnny asked.

To all of their shock, the two men return their clothing and weapons.

“We’re not going to do anything to him. He has an appointment with the Princess.”

Tommy had assumed that “Princess” was some mob boss’s alias - a very stupid alias in his opinion, but maybe he was just getting old, as Michael and his new wife thought. It was not until the driver turned the car into Hampton Court that he realized he was meeting a real princess.

The car stopped in front of a brick home surrounded by a low iron gate. Though it was late in the evening, he could see that it was large - not as large as Arrow house, but certainly not a middle-class home, and well taken care of.

“I have been instructed to wait here and drive you home,” the driver told him as he exited the car. Tommy nodded and made his way up the path. Above the front door was a plaque that read MICHAEL FARADAY.

A middle-aged man with a mustache answered the door.

“I’m Thomas Shelby,” Tommy told him.

“Ah,” said the butler. “Come in. The Princess is waiting for you.”

He frowned when Tommy declined to give him his coat and hat but wordlessly led him into a dark sitting room, lit only by a few torches on the walls and the blinding strokes of yellow and orange that came from the enormous fireplace.

The butler, a few steps ahead of Tommy, leaned down to speak to the woman sitting before the fire. “This is Thomas Shelby, ma’am,” he said in a hushed voice.

Tommy heard a soft exhale. Through the shroud of smoke, he saw first the red velvet, then the mass of dark curls. She removed a cigarette from between her lips and released a plume of smoke before flicking the ash from the burning butt onto the tray beside her.

“This is Princess Sophia Duleep Singh,” the butler said to Tommy. The only other royalty Tommy had ever met were the crazy Russians and he stood uncertainly for a moment until the Princess spoke.

“Let him sit,” she said. Her voice was gravelly, and her words were clipped in the way that many of the other MPs were. Not until the butler had shut the door behind him, did she finally look directly at Tommy with the biggest pair of eyes he had ever seen. The dark irises turned orange where the light touched them, giving him the sense that he was staring directly into fire.

“Tea?” she asked him.

“No,” Tommy said. After a pause he added a perfunctory “thank you.”

He noticed her eyeing his coat, but he made no move to remove it nor his flat cap, daring her to say something. She cleared her throat.

“Thomas Shelby, you have friends in high places,” she said finally.

“Not as high as you, I imagine, Princess,” Tommy replied.

She shrugged. “We’re not here to talk about me, though. Apparently, you’ve fallen in with the wrong crowd?”

Tommy could not help the snort that came from him, and the Princess furrowed her brows, looking almost offended.

“Am I wrong?” she asked

“It’s just…” Tommy rubbed his jaw. “Most would say that I am the wrong crowd one falls in with.”

She tilted her head and peered at him like a calculating hunter. “Is that so? Well, no matter, I just want to know that I wasn’t mistaken in saving your life. So, Thomas Shelby, you attempted to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.”

“I’ve no idea who Mahatma Gandhi is.”

Princess Sophia rolled her eyes. “Yes, you do.”

“It was worth a shot,” Tommy shrugged. “How did you know?”

“Winston Churchill himself rang me. Your kidnappers are old acquaintances of mine; he practically begged me to talk to them for you.”

My friend in high places, Tommy thought. He had a hard time picturing Winston Churchill begging for anything, although he supposed he had been useful to him a number of times over the years.

As if reading his mind, Princess Sophia smirked and picked away at a piece of non-existent fluff on her dress. “You must have been a good subordinate to him.”

Her words were intended to sting but Tommy did not react.

“For someone who cares for Gandhi, you took quite a risk in freeing his would-be killer,” he said.

She took a drag from her cigarette. “Do you have any idea how easy it would be to have you killed?”

Tommy raised a brow, actually impressed. “You’re going to kill me?”

She gave an indulgent gasp. “Heavens, no! Do I look like a killer?”


His answer gave her pause. She blinked and then, for a moment, she smiled - not a smirk at the power she held over him, but a smile that made her eyes fill with mirth for just a moment before dissipating back into coolness.

“Still, it must have taken some time to negotiate that,” Tommy said. “What did Churchill give you in return?”

“Something that is not your concern,” she replied shortly. “Tell me who hired you?”

“Was it that painting?” Tommy pointed to the portrait above the fireplace.

The Princess’s eyes narrowed, like a sniper focusing on its target. Tommy was surprised she answered the question, no matter how curtly.

“No,” she said.

“Something to do with a lover then?”


“Give me a hint.”

“You’re not used to being told what to do, are you?” she observed

“I was a tunneller during the war,” said Tommy. “I took orders even when they endangered my life.”

“And so, you’ve chased a sense of authority ever since?” She stubbed out her cigarette. “Tell me who hired you or I’ll have no choice but to give you and your companions back.”

Tommy’s fingers twitched. His gun was still in its holster underneath his jacket. “Henry Blake,” he said finally. “He gets cheap textiles imported from India for his garment business, but the supply chain has been disrupted by the strikes and protests.” When the princess did not immediately respond, he added, “It’s true.”

“I believe you,” she said, absentmindedly running a hand through her hair. “He’s in Parliament, isn’t he?”

Tommy nodded.

The Princess sighed. “I was hoping I could send you on your way and we’d never see each other again, but it seems I have need of you.”  

“What do you want from me?”

Princess Sophia stood and gestured for Tommy to follow her back to the house’s entrance.

“I don’t know yet. But be prepared to march when my signal comes.”

She paused by the door to offer her hand. Tommy bent forward to bring it to his lips, never letting his eyes stray from hers. In the glow of light, he was struck by the sense that she looked familiar.

“Goodnight, Princess.”

In the car, Tommy made a mental note to ask Ada to find everything she could on Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

Shortly afterward, Winston Churchill spoke in the House of Common, condemning the action of Reginald Edward Harry Dyer’s actions in Amritsar, using words like “utterly monstrous” and a graphic description of the massacre. The House voted 247 to 37 against Dyer. As Tommy cast his vote, he thought to himself, So that’s what she asked for.