My name is Ephraim Harris. I’m sixteen years old and I am a criminal.
There. It feels good to have said it.
I could justify it. I could tell you about the workhouse, the rows upon rows of dormitory beds disappearing to a vanishing point. The years of pointless, thankless work for the Authority, making trinkets for Uppers who’d never stop to wonder where they came from. The first theft—a book, for goodness’ sake!—just to have something all to myself.
But I won’t.
The truth is a pliable thing and you can twist it however you like.
I was just in the wrong place at the right time, or maybe the other way around.
She found me.
She found me on the very first day I snuck out of the dormitory to see the Capital for myself. She found me in the middle of a crowd, with one hand in a lady’s purse, teasing out a silver cigarette case.
And while I was busy thieving, she was doing the opposite. She was putting something into my pocket.
It was a card with a business address on Melville Street. P. Samuel Haddo, Daguerreotypes & Photographic Fancies.