Lena is one of my favorite characters.
You don’t learn much about her here, but this is where she’s introduced into the book.
I might add more of her story to the blog if you all like it.
The laborers in Pyria were treated more fairly than those in the neighboring land of Turglar; most of them receiving their own wages and choosing their own occupations. However, it was filled with many’a beggar and street child.
“The noise and bustle of the city is so loud. Just listen to it,” said a scruffy wagon driver, his whining voice barely reaching over the city’s evening clamor.
Lena crouched back into an alleyway, watching the bustling crowds, and keeping an eye on the movements of the loud man. “Jimmy, the dark is safest. We sees everyone, they don’t see us. Remember to always watch them loud ones.”
“There should be a law against so many wagons being on the road at the same time. Who knows how their horse will respond when they are in the middle of such a jammed, muddy mess?” The man continued his deluge of degrading mutter, even though no one seemed to pay him any heed.
A mist began to fall and the shop owners rushed to cover their merchandise.
“’Twon’t be long until we’re in a regular downpour.” The man covered his head with a cloak. “I wonder what happened up there to stop all of us? I hope my woman keeps my meat pie warm.”
Lena’s stomach rumbled and her mouth began to water. “I might be hungry, but I ain’t gonna steal nor beg. I decided once an’ for all, my begging days be over.” To distract herself, Lena watched the scene in front of her even more intently.
“I better be able to get going again soon. I don’t want my apples a-gettin’ wet.” The wagon owner looked over his shoulder. “Get out of here! Thief!” He leapt from his perch and started after a little boy dressed in rags who clutched two small apples in his boney hands. Turning around, the man grabbed for his whip. That gave the thief just enough time to vanish. “What is this world coming to?” The man whipped the ground in an angry gesture.
“Jimmy, I hope that man don’t see us.” Lena shrank farther back into the shadows. “He don’t like street children, nor street mice like you, ‘cause he thinks we’re all thieves. But we ain’t. Look, the wagons are starting to move. I needa watch for that printing man.” Lena shifted and her ragged cloak dragged in a puddle. “There he be.”
Lena darted out of her hiding place and across the road, dodging the traffic as she went and soon stood in front of the man who had caught her attention. “Mister, I’m here to help you with your load again.”
The man turned toward her, “Oh yes, I did ask you to be here to help me, didn’t I?”
Lena nodded. “And you said you would give me a half a crisp worth of bread for my trouble.”
“Only if you do a good job.”
“You know I’ll do a good job,” Lena said. She raised her head defiantly. “I did a good one yesterday; if I hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been a-beggin’ my help for today!”
“I didn’t beg your help.” A hostile look crept into his eyes. “I will not be pushed around by a mere beggar.”
“No, you’re right. I’m the beggar. I begged for the work,” Lena answered with a glare of her own.
“Well Beggar,” the man said in a mocking tone. “If you’re going to work, then work.” He pointed at a stack of crates. “These go inside, and you’d better hurry. And if I find anything missing…” the man let his voice trail off, but Lena knew the threat it held.
“I don’t steal stuff. That’s why I need work. That’s why I’m hungry.” Despite her anger, Lena brushed past the man and picked up a crate. “As much as it hurts me inside, Jimmy, I’m hungry enough to hurt as long as I don’t lose my one chance for something to eat,” she whispered.
* * *
So, how did you like it? I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts. =)