The river Thames collects the rubbish and sewage of London's residents. Mudlarks are poor children who survive by scavenging for that rubbish in the mud at the river's edge. They work in crews, each with its own territory, each with its own leader.
Jennet trotted down the Temple Stairs and wondered if she had mistimed her arrival. The Thames was retreating towards the sea so most of the stone steps lay exposed to the afternoon sun, but she couldn't see any of the riverbed beyond the end of the stairs. One of the waterman – a gruff, heavy-handed man named Edward Averell – sat in his boat at the bottom of the stairs, so the river couldn't be too shallow yet.
When she reached the last of the exposed steps, she carefully slipped her right foot into the water and greeted the river. The Thames answered her, telling her everything she needed to know for her crew to safely scavenge on its riverbed. The tide would turn in two hours; at the moment the Thames ran knee-high over its...
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