Cocky Boo

This is a story of the mystery of Cocky Boo.

Cocky Boo was born Sarah Boothroyd, who unfortunately was born with one leg shorter than the other and as she grew, her disability caused her to walk with a pronounced limp, much like a cockerel. Sarah was teased and taunted by other children, who would shout after her "Cocky Boo! Cocky Boo!". Sarah didn't go to school but helped her mother sell fish on the streets of Liverpool. It was on one of these days that her mother was tragically mowed down by a horse and cart belonging to the wealthy McNulty's.

Of course the McNulty's, not wishing any bad press, made a public gesture of taking the orphan Sarah into their household. This they did but not into their family, she was put to work as a lowly chambermaid. McNulty made his fortune from importing meat and diary produce. He had three sons and Sarah caught the eye of the youngest, who believed he could treat he as he wished. At seventeen, Sarah became pregnant. Mrs McNulty being the pillar of society that she was, couldn't believe that one of her sons could be responsible and immediately banished her from the household. Sarah's only form of refuge now was to be at Ann Fowlers, a home for fallen women. Here, her beautiful son Tom was born. He had the most gorgeous red hair.

Sarah eventually had to leave Ann Fowlers and moved into the disgusting hovels of Victoria Square. She made a small income like her mother selling fish. Tom at the age of eight was a very bright boy and also for a boy of that age, very proficient with the use of a catapult! He could be seen many a day around the canals killing pigeons. These, he would take home and with them his mother would make pies.

Now all the male members of the McNulty's had a birthmark alongside their left eye in the shape of a teardrop. Tom had this birthmark. Sarah up to now had disguised this with a bit of ash from the fire grate, mixed with a little oil. Now Tom was at school, this birthmark was becoming more noticeable and rumours started that one of the McNulty's was his father. This was a stain on the family name that couldn't be tolerated, especially as Tom's actual father was about to run for parliament. It was in the October of Tom's eighth year that he disappeared, never to be seen again.

Sarah was convinced that whatever had happened, the McNulty's were behind it. She begged and begged them to tell the truth. She caused such a fuss and embarrassment that they used their influence to have her sectioned and put in the madhouse. There she stayed for ten years and was released, back into the hovels of Victoria Square, with most of her faculties in ruins. Except that is, for the desire to find her Tom. Everyday she walked the streets and canals looking for Tom. Her appearance became shabbier and shabbier. Again, she became the focus of local taunts. The children would shout "Cocky Boo, is it true, no one loves you?" To fend them off, she took to filling her pockets with stones to throw at them. If she would see a shiny round pebble, she would pick this up too, for Tom's catapult. After a while it was noticed that Sarah never returned to her hovel.

What happened to Sarah? Again, like Tom, nobody knows. Except maybe for one little red haired lad, who got into difficulty swimming in the canal. He was adamant that he was saved by an old lady who dressed like a witch and she forced him to the bank while being dragged down herself. Was she being dragged down by the weight of the stones in her pocket? Or was it the weight of losing Tom? Did she think she was saving her Tom? No one believed this boy anyway.

From that day to this, many a child has been saved in these canals by an unknown force pushing them to the bank. Also every October a strange ghostly old lady can be seen limping along the canal path, picking up stones… but, does our story end there? Well in-coincidentally, no.

Many years after Mum and Dad McNulty passed on, the three sons were still in control of the business and serious charges were brought against them concerning the import of rotten meat. People had died through eating this meat and so they were charged with manslaughter. As this was to be a high profile case, it was deemed that no local judge should preside and an outsider was to be brought in. The case went ahead and they were charged with manslaughter and found guilty. When the sentence was read out, the court erupted. This was reported all over the country, but only one small local newspaper noted the tears of joy and sadness as even the judge, who's wig slipped to reveal his bright red hair, seemed to have a tear, coming from his left eye.

Jim Frost