Twenty year old Richard Giles is living on the streets of London in the year 1660, scrounging for food and shelter the best he is able after the closure of his place of employment and death of his mother.
It was during the reign of his Royal Majesty King Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, that Richard Giles found himself living on the cruel, hard streets of London. It was the year 1660 and his Majesty was consumed by "The Restoration" of the English Monarchy and ending the English Interregnum begun with the execution of his father King Charles I.
The King's attentions thusly drawn, matters of the poor were overlooked and large numbers of people, including Richard, were forced to fend for themselves by whatever means necessary. Many turned to crime, becoming pickpockets and petty thieves, transforming the streets into a morass of corruption.
For those caught plying their trade, it was a stint in Newgate Prison, which far surpassed the definition of cruel in any decent person's mind. Women and their children were housed along with common debtors in cellblocks considered to be austere at best, unless you had the coin. Then you could buy your way into the section of the prison containing upscale furnishings and comforts, while enlarging the pockets of the jailors whose tender mercies you were subjected too.
It was this fate the very handsome twenty year old Richard Giles was doing his best to avoid. He refused to steal unless he was on the verge of starving, and had long ago sold off anything of value received from the hands of his mother upon her death. In the jargon of the day, Richard was a pauper.
As occasionally happened to Richard, a gentleman of means found him outside a tavern as he looked in upon the food being eaten by those who could afford to purchase it. Usually the people he encountered in this way were kind to him in order to gain sexual favors.
"Excuse me young man, but you look like you could use a good meal, am I correct?" asked the elderly gentleman as he rested his hand lightly on his walking stick.
"Well sir, I've not eaten in a couple of days, so yes, I suppose you would be correct," Richard said as he glanced longingly back through the window.
"Well, I was just on my way in to partake of the tavern's fare; would you care to join me at supper?"
"I've no money sir with which to pay, sir, and I'm sure the innkeeper would take great objection to that fact," he replied.
"Please, be my guest. Let me buy you some hot food and cool drink. What say you?"
"Well sir, I'd be happy to join you if all you're looking for is company," Richard said with eyes that had their own plea held within.
"Brilliant, man! Let us sally forth and see what is available," the gentleman said as he led the way into the pub.
When the publican saw Richard entering through the door he ran over to him, puffing up self-importantly as he yelled his abuse. "You, get out! I don't want your kind in here. You've no money and you'll be stealing from these fine gentlemen quick as they can shout, 'stop thief'!"
"Now hold on there, this gentleman is a guest of mine and shall dine with me. Are you suggesting that I do not have the means by which to pay for whatever substandard fare you might be serving this evening?"
"Oh, my pardon my Lord, I didn't know! Of course, please, come in. Here, sit right over there at a table near to the fire. Make yourselves comfortable and I'll send a barmaid right over," the man gushed fawningly.
When the older gentleman turned to go over to the table indicated by the innkeeper, he shot Richard a dirty look and mouthed the word "Thief," at him.
Richard was too hungry and cold to even think to respond to the unwarranted verbal assault heaped upon him by the owner of the pub. Instead he took a seat opposite his host for and apologized for the scene.
"Sir, I'm sorry for what happened at the entrance when we came in. I'm sure you were embarrassed by the man's outburst."
"Nonsense. The man's a fool, don't give it another thought. Please, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Henry Walker, merchant here in our fair city of London. Why is such a fine looking young man like yourself without any means to support himself?"
"That's very kind of you sir. I had a position in Ipswich but lost it when they closed the foundry. My Mother had recently passed and so I was out on the streets without any family or money. I thought coming here to London would be a good place to find solid work; but I found myself to be wrong. Apologies Mr. Walker, my name's Richard Giles."
"What did you do at your former place of employ Richard?"
"I kinda kept the records of what was made and who bought what we sold."
"You know numbers and can write then?" he asked with a surprised look.
"Yes sir, my mother insisted I have some education. She worked as a charwoman and made a deal with a tutor who worked with me to teach me subjects in exchange for her keeping his flat clean."
"Amazing, and you can't find anything suitable around here?"
"No sir. I don't have an address where I live and they all think I'll steal from the business." Richard still felt bitter about his lack of success in that area.
"Are you gentlemen ready to order?" interrupted the barmaid rudely.
"Your sign over there says you've steak and kidney pudding tonight, is that correct?"
"Oh yes sir, and it's very good," she replied.
"Is that alright with you Richard?"
"Oh yes sir. It sounds wonderful." Richard's mouth watered at the thought of such a rich, meaty supper. It was sure to help keep him warm on the streets tonight.
"Good, we'll both have that and bring us a couple of ales."
"Right away sir."
"Hopefully the food will fare better than the Innkeeper's temper," Mr. Walker said with a kind smile.
"Yes sir. But I do appear as exactly what I am so in a way, I can't blame him." Richard was becoming accustomed to such things and considered it to be just another part of the distressing situation in which he now found himself.