3 Children of the wealthy

A carriage entered the town of Crowbury at a steady pace. Four horses pulled the carriage made with fine oak decorated in luxurious gold patterns. The rhythmic humming of the wheels came to a stop a short walk away from the town's fair taking place today.

The coachman jumped from his seat with a stool in hand.

Though he was a lower-class man, he wore a fine white shirt with a clean black coat and trousers . As one of the two coachmen responsible for driving his employer's carriage, he was required to dress decently.

Quickly placing the stool on the ground in front of the carriage door, he opened it with his hand stretched outward to offer support for the person inside.

A young girl stepped onto the stool, and though the hand of the coachman was offered, she chose not to use it. She appeared no older than nine years of age, yet her steps and slight movements carried an obvious disdain. Her pale skin was clean of the usual filth and grime found on children of the lower class, and her long, black hair was braided into an elegant knot crowning the top of her head.

This was his Young Miss, Miss Marceline.

As she took a second step forward, her long, silk dress hindered her leg, and she tripped.

"Young Miss!"

The coachman came to her aid, but before he could catch her, she abruptly regained her footing and stood straight on her feet, behaving as if she had never tripped.

"Don't shout, Briggs. You will bring us unnecessary attention," Marceline spoke in a polite voice while she straightened her dress. "Also…move back. You're standing too close."

Briggs moved two steps behind her, ensuring he was not in her space. He bowed his head, "My apologies, Young Miss."

"It is because I am kind that I forgive you," came the dismissive voice of the young miss.

"You wouldn't have to forgive him if you looked where you're walking."

A young boy, older than the girl by two years, placed a polished shoe onto the stool and alighted the carriage. He wore a thick black coat with ebony fox fur around its neckline. The luster of his silver hair complimented the dark grey clouds in the sky. His eyes revealed annoyance, and the way he carried himself held far more disdain than Marceline.

Marceline was slightly embarrassed by her older brother's words. "It's not my fault! Mrs. Garrette made the front of the dress too long," she blamed the seamstress.

The boy stared at his younger sister, who smiled at him sweetly, and he rolled his eyes. He ordered their coachman, Mr. Briggs, "Park the carriage."

"I will return shortly," Mr. Briggs replied with a bow.

The siblings did not wait for the servant, and they walked towards the town's fair. Marceline's eyes brightened at the sight of the vast number of merchants selling various unique items. Though the siblings were already acquainted with many of the rarer or expensive items, most of the cheaper goods were things they had never seen or tasted, producing a feeling of novelty for the brother and sister pair.

Marceline hastened to check the other stalls, holding her head high while her brother followed after her.

"Vince! Look at that doll!" She pointed her finger at a specific stall. She ran towards the stall, standing amid the other young girls. The ones in front were fairly dressed like her while the rest flocked around the toy shop.

The silver-haired boy's footsteps were firm and more calculated than his sister. Barely interested in the fair, Vincent kept a distance from the people and what they had to offer. If it were not for his sister's insistence, he would not have deigned to step into such a crowded and filthy place.

But it was not just him but also the others who kept a distance from the boy with the striking colour hair and air of high nobility.

"That one! And the one on the right. And the one next to it!" Vincent heard Marceline's excited voice through the loud bustling of the crowd, ordering the stall's merchant to bring the dolls to her.

"Spoilt little brat," Vincent murmured under his breath.

Marceline made the merchant bring every doll out for her, causing him to feel annoyed. If the girl was not dressed in such an expensive-looking silk dress, he would have shooed the little girl away for wasting his time and interfering with his business.

He looked at the boisterous crowd of middle and lower class people around the stall, leaving little room for him to maneuver through.

"Tch," he clicked his tongue in annoyance and decided not to make his way through the concentrated numbers of inferior beings. Hopefully, she would soon be satisfied looking at the dolls and leave.

With his sister busy, Vincent decided to take a walk around the place while steering clear of the crowds where the men, women and children with tattered clothes were concentrated.

His parents had always brought him and his sister to places where people matched them, both in kind and status.

The weather had chilled further, and he noted a few peasants far away from the boundaries of the fair, huddled around a fire burning in an oil drum. Homeless, such people would soon die because of the worsening winter and cold that would arrive in the next few days.

His gaze passed a stall that sold hot buns. Though it smelt fresh and delectable, it was not enough to entice him to go and take a bite. His eyes momentarily fell on two upper class families who stood in front of the stall, speaking to the merchant.

As Vincent looked away, his eyes caught a scrawny little thing hovering near the edge of the hot bun stall.

It was a little girl who stood out like a sore thumb compared to the people near the merchant.

She wore a puffy, black coat with multiple sewn patches that he deduced were naively stuffed with some type of cheap wool to protect against the cold and winds. Such a homemade hand-me-down must have been crafted by the poorest of commoners, unable to afford the simplest and cheapest of snowpig leather coats which would have doubled or even tripled her protection from the cold.

Despite the patchwork job, it was not tattered like the other peasant children's clothes. Also, the girl's appearance was too clean and her skin was unordinarily smooth for a commoner, perhaps smoother than his sister's and mother's..

Regardless, one's appearance was never enough to change one's status.

The girl hungrily eyed the buns as if it were the most delicious food she had ever set her sight on. But he knew they were merely regular buns, probably inferior in taste to the ones he would dine on at home.

The little girl reached out for the bun, and Vincent clicked his tongue for the second time in the day.

"Fool," he muttered because someone caught her hand before she could touch a bun.

The merchant, who had been talking and gushing over one of his customers, had caught something moving from the corner of his eye. His eyes narrowed, and he was quick to catch Eve's little wrist.

Eve was not taught to steal, but with the frigid cold and her increasing hunger, the warm food in front of her had made her mouth water. She had not meant to steal it and only reached out impulsively, and now that she was caught, she was petrified.

"You little rat!" the merchant sneered at the little girl, his tone completely different from when he was speaking with his customers, "Did you think you were going to steal it without my knowledge?!"

Little Eve shook her head, "I didn't mean to," came her small voice, "I didn't touch them!"

"But you were going to steal one, weren't you?"

The merchant glared at her in anger.

As if the merchant's glare was not enough, many of the people nearby, turned to watch the little scene play out.

A noble woman stated to her partner, "This is why we need a clear distinction and place to separate people like us from the likes of them. They'll Pounce on any opportunity like a bunch of thieves and criminals."

"Such a young girl, and already picking up such atrocious behavior. She should be reprimanded immediately. Where are her parents?" asked a second person.

"She's probably an orphan," commented another.

"Is she?" inquired a man whose wavy hair was combed to the side, an eerie smile etched on his lips. "She can be of some use then."

Vincent, who stood there quietly, heard the adults that shared his social status speak about the little girl, whilst the merchant held onto the terrified little girl. He knew a few things regarding what happens to the poor abducted by the upper class, especially young children.

Little Eve wanted to get back home, and she would have fled by now if the merchant had not been gripping her hand tight enough to leave a noticeable bruise around her wrist.

"Please forgive me," little Eve apologized and bowed her head obsequiously, "I meant no harm."

"Not so easy, little rat. Who knows what other things you've stolen from here," the merchant looked down at her.

She could hear the crowd around her erupt in whispers, casting looks of judgment and blame.

Some of them agreed to check the girl before sending her away from here.

Little Eve was scared, and she wished her mother was there. She tried hard to pull her hand out of the man's grip, but it was not enough. As she pulled harder, the smug merchant loosened his hold, and she fell onto the cold, snow-covered ground.

The man with the creepy smile and wavy hair stepped forward and stated in a benevolent tone, "I shall take the girl to the magistrate and see if he knows her. Who knows what other sins she has committed?!"

Little Eve's bottom was in pain because of the way she had fallen, but she was too frightened to care. She was worried that if she was taken away, she would be unable to see her mother again.

She wanted to cry, but she stopped herself from doing so. She bit her lip to hold it in.

Her mother had told her never to cry in front of people, no matter the circumstance. Her heart was growing anxious with the increasing number of eyes on her.

But before the man could drag her away, a silver-haired boy appeared in front of her.

"Stop right there," Vincent ordered as he stepped forward.

The wavy-haired man was annoyed that someone had stopped him, but when he turned around, his displeasure turned into surprise, "Young master Moriarty, what a pleasant surprise! Are you here with your parents?" inquired the man, looking past the boy with an ingratiating smile.

"Who are you?" Vincent questioned bluntly, and the smile on the man's face fell.

The man cleared his throat, fixing the fallen expression on his face, "Young master, I am Declan Halston. We met at Lady Georgiana Winston's manor."

"I don't remember you," responded the boy, and though young, it was obvious that the boy disdained the man as if he were mud beneath his shoes. "If you could step away from my servant now."

"Your servant?" Declan examined Eve with a hint of doubt in his eyes.

"Yes. Move," came the direct command, and though Declan disliked Vincent's attitude, he stepped away because of the young boy's family name.

To everyone's surprise, the boy had offered his hand to her.

The man named Declan huffed and asked, "You aren't planning to pick her up, are you? A young man of your status, shouldn't—"

Ignoring the noble, the boy turned to look at the merchant and stated, "You have damaged what belongs to the Moriarty family. Would you like to pay it with an apology or would you like to be reprimanded for it by losing your business?"

"My apologies, Mr. Moriarty," the merchant bowed his head, "but I did catch her stealing my—"

"She didn't lay a finger on it. Aren't you assuming the worst?" Vincent shut down his accusation, and the merchant murmured an apology.

The spectators of the town, who were looking at the scene, lost interest as quickly as they had gained it and returned to what they were doing before.

"Are you planning to sit there all day?" This time, his question was directed at the girl.

It was the first time little Eve had seen someone with silver hair. His clothes looked warm and cozy, and he wore a subtle frown on his face.

Her mother had told her, 'Stay away from the fancy-looking ones as they might steal you away from me.'

And while she was busy looking at his nice clothes and shiny shoes, the silver-haired boy glared at her.

Here he was, the young master of the illustrious Moriarty family, offering his hand to help her up, a hand he would never offer to others, and this ungrateful girl did not make an effort to reach for it.

When she saw his eyes narrow, little Eve sensed danger and quickly reached for his hand.

The people around them slowly dispersed, leaving the two young children on their own.

Little Eve felt her hand being pulled up, and she quickly stood on her feet.

"Follow me," came the curt words of the silver-haired boy. He did not give her time to answer, especially after he had proclaimed that she was a house servant.

He shifted his hand to her wrist and dragged her away from the stall and other onlookers.

The boy held onto the same area the merchant had grasped before and bruised her. She winced in pain from the boy's grip.

Eve did not know if she was in trouble again, so she tugged her hand back to no avail. She felt the chain of events continued to pressure her one after the other and that she would certainly never see her mother again.

Though the boy did not let go of her hand, he did stop walking.

When he looked at her, he noticed her eyes were moist, and a single teardrop escaped from one of her blue eyes. The tear slid down her cheek, and his eyes widened in surprise when he noticed the tear turn into something solid.

"Vince!" He heard his sister call him, distracting him for a moment.

But before he knew it, the little girl bit right into his hand, and he flinched away from her!


With the boy releasing her hand, Eve ran away from there as fast as her little feet could take her in the direction of home, not looking for even a moment.

The boy was taken aback by the tear more than the bite he had just received.

His eyes fell on the snowy ground, and there, at his feet, laid a smooth and shiny pearl. He picked it up in his hand, and before his sister could see it, he slipped it into his pocket.

"Who was that?" asked Marceline, her eyes following the girl who obviously belonged to a lower class.

"Did she harm you, Master Vincent?" the coachman accompanying Marceline asked full of concern.

"It was no one," replied the boy.

Remembering he had held the hand of a person who was beneath him, he grew annoyed. He ordered the coachman, "Bring the carriage to the front. I am going home."

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