Of Smoke and Mirrors
A Broad of Broadstreet, Informant for the Scotland Yard, Harlot
Miss Emily Norris is a catfolk that has just turned twenty, but who has still endured much more than most citizens of London. Thankfully these struggles have mostly only marred her psyche rather than her physique, as Emily is considered a beautiful young woman by most Victorian standards. She is slight of stature, standing just below five feet in height, and weighing less than 90 pounds. While not exactly buxom, her body still has pleasing curves that she further enhances by her dress and demeanor. Her limbs are slender and delicate, with long and thin fingers akin to a classical pianist. Covering most of her body, except her hands, feet and face, is a soft layer of warm brown fur with faint spots in a darker shade of brown, similar to what can be found om many English tabby cats. Her face has a pleasing heart shape, with a somewhat strong chin and clearly defined cheek bones. A straight yet delicate nose is situated above her full and sensual lips, but what truly draws the attention is her large and emotive eyes. They are the colour of amber, a light orange that seem to glow faintly in low light conditions. With a lustful glance, Emily can draw in a client from across the street and make him swear undying devotion to her, or remove every sorrow from the mind of a grieving widower, yet as those close to her know, this is but an act. When she is not working her eyes often take on a tired and haunted look, something that would have fitted better on a woman many years older than her. Only when in the company of her twin daughters does life return to her eyes, and it is in these moments that she seems most alive. Framing her face is a cascade of softly curled auburn hair that reaches down below her shoulders, though it is usually kept tied up in a bun when she is not working.
When it comes to apparel, Emily has a few dresses made in an imitation of the vogue among the nobility, made by her friend Mary, yet they are of course made by courser fabrics and materials, and anyone even slightly familiar with today’s fashion would not place her in anything else but the lower class. As she no longer has to walk the streets looking for clients, her dresses have become much more modest than what is usually used by prostitutes in London. She seems to prefer dresses in dark greens and blues, often coupled with details in black or white, which complement her auburn hair nicely.
A lifetime of hardship and injustice that would have broken a lesser sapient has instead made Emily into a fierce and dedicated young woman. She is quite cynical, and as she has witnessed some of the worst sides in sapiency she is naturally wary of authority, both from the church and the state. She has kept some of her childhood faith, yet rarely goes to sermons, instead preferring to read passages of the Bible on her own or to her daughters. Reading is a hobby for her, and she often goes out of her way to obtain new books and pamphlets to read at home. She is currently trying to teach her daughters to read as well. Emily is hard working, at least for a catfolk, and she is truly dedicated to her daughters and her “new” family in the boarding house in Broadstreet. When it comes to her daughters she is willing to do almost anything in order to keep them away from the life she has lived, and she saves quite a lot of the money she makes in for her daughter’s education and future. Emily is not used to direct violence, even though she has been beaten by clients in the past, she was never one to fight back herself. She is cunning enough to find others to do the fighting for her and protect her, but if on her own she would flee rather than fight. The only exception is if her daughters are threatened, which would make her fight like a cornered animal.
Emily was abandoned on a church step only a couple of days old a cold November evening in 1834, and was named and cared for by the clergy for the first six years of her life. She does not remember this time as a happy one, as the priests were strict and distant, and so she ran away to join one of the many child gangs roaming the streets of eastern London. They operated in the area around Whitechapel as a motley collection of abandoned children, begging, picking pockets and stealing in order to survive. Thus she lived for several years in increasing hardship, and each year another child died from malnourishment, disease or violence. Emily managed to survive these years through her quick wits and quicker feet, and was an important member of her group.
Everything changed when she entered puberty. She had always been a pretty child, and as she blossomed into womanhood she was quickly forced to sell her body by the older boys in the gang. This was a horrible period for Emily, and even though she earned more than she had previously, most of her earning went to Patrick Dugan, a boy five years older who became her pimp, a position he still tries to enforce today. Emily proved popular with the local drunks and hooligans around Whitechapel, but for Emily each client drained some of her sapiency from her. Worse, before she was fifteen she became pregnant with what appeared to be twins. Who their father was Emily cannot recall, and to her it does not matter. As her pregnancy neared her friends from the old gang all left her, and she would have probably died if not for the intervention of Mary, another prostitute from Whitechapel who took her in and helped her trough the difficult labour. Emily teetered upon the brink of death for weeks after the birth of her daughters, but eventually she recovered. She named her daughters Ally and Jennie, and she worked hard for the next couple of years in order to provide for them.
One year ago, with the help of Mary, she managed to move away from the slum and into a more respectable apartment in Broadstreet together with Mary and two other prostitutes. She is now reliant on gentlemen callers visiting her. This has not gone unnoticed by her old “friend” Patrick Dugan, who once again took up position as her pimp. She has also struck up an unlikely friendship with the local police sergeant, a cattleman named Dagros Dagoo. At first this was part of her usual tactic of finding someone stronger to protect her, but over time it has developed into a proper friendship. She supplies him and the rest of Scotland Yard with rumours, information and an eye on the street in return for a small pay and the protection the Yard can provide for her. She has to walk a precarious path doing this, as there are things some of her associates do that they would rather the police never found out. As for Emily this provides some excitement in her day to day life, and she finds that she enjoys these new experiences. She has even discovered a curious side of herself that she never knew of before.