“What did you take, boy?” I tried to keep the laughter out of my voice and sound firm as I had when disciplining unruly pupils at the Academy.
“A s-s-spoon, Master.” The waif’s hands, and likely his knees, shook.
“Master? You afraid of magicians, then?”
The boy only nodded.
“Then why in the name of Alchemus would you steal a spoon from a noble household?” My curiosity was piqued. No starving orphan from the streets of Havensgate braved danger, perceived and real, for a spoon.
“It’s a fine manor.” The whelp swallowed. “Manors use real silver. I thought no one would miss a spoon, but it would buy Lottie a new blanket and hot food for us both for two days, and there would be plenty of pence to go round after.”
Impressed despite myself, I peered at the boy more closely. His coat was tattered, to be sure, but the two remaining buttons were brass. And the buckle on his belt had the look of unpolished silver. “What’s your name?”
“Two-pence, if it please the Master,” he said, ducking his head in a kind of bow.
“Your real name would please me better.” I gave him my sternest expression.
“Tommy, sir. Tommy Penceworth.” He lowered his head, as though oddly ashamed to have a proper name, and not a bad one at that. There were several Penceworths at the Academy. I searched for any resemblance in Tommy’s features, but between the dirt and the rapidly fading light, I couldn’t tell one way or the other.
“Very well, Tommy. You give me back the spoon, and I will pay you two silver farthings.” Surprise splashed over the vagrant’s face, followed immediately by suspicion. I pulled the coins from the green leather pouch at my side. I could have pulled anything from it, but for the moment farthings would do.
Tommy pulled the pilfered cutlery from a pocket that didn’t look as though it could successfully contain anything, and held it up while extending the other hand expectantly. A simple bit of levitation on my part and the spoon was in my hand, the money in his.
He spun and started running up the beach, but I turned him about with the same trick of the wind that had saved his skull only a few minutes before.
“If I ever catch you stealing from this household again, Tommy Penceworth, I will turn you over to the butler‘s justice.” Tommy swallowed. “Understand?”
He nodded and turned to go again, then stopped and glanced back.
“Thank you …” he paused, looking at his clenched fist, “for everything.” Then he fled up the beach towards the cold Havensgate streets and Lottie and whoever else was counting on him.
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