She tried to crawl away un-noticed, but the boy spotted her and called out. The man grabbed at her coat and pulled her to her feet.“And what were you doing under there?’
“Sleeping,” Irena said, truthfully.
“I saw her before.” The boy said, “She stole a fig from that lady’s stall.” He pointed.
The man’s eyes narrowed. He pushed back Irena’s torn sleeves. Her fingers were still purple from the berries. He held them up to show the boy, “Looks like you were telling the truth, boy.”
The boy scowled. “She’s a little thief!”
The man held tightly to Irena’s wrist, “Did you eat those berries?”
She tore at his grip with the fingers of her free hand, but to no avail. She nodded.
He held out his other hand, “Pay.”
She looked at him blankly. “I was hungry.”
“You and a thousand other souls in this city…that doesn't make it right to take what you have not earned. Did your parents not teach you this?”
His raised voice attracted the attention of a guard patrolling the market place. Irena opened her mouth to call for assistance, but the man calmly covered her mouth with his hand and held her still.
“Any trouble here, Northman?”
“No, no trouble…just some nuisance sister-children.”
The guard looked from Irena to the boy and back again. He let out a short laugh, "This girl is related to you, Northman?"
The man shrugged his shoulders. The boy looked like he wanted to say something, but closed his mouth again.Irena wriggled her shoulders but couldn't move. She shifted her head so she could breathe better.
The guard crouched down to her level and looked at her hair, touched the braiding on her coat. He tugged her hand from her pocket and frowned to himself at the stains.He looked up at the man, and then stood up, stretching his arms out, “If I ever see your girl ‘sister-child’ around here again I’ll have her hand for a thieving Northrat, understand, Northman?”
The man nodded, and walked away, dragging Irena with him. She twisted and pulled but still couldn't get away. The man waited until the guard had gone, and then took his hand away.
"You told an untruth!" she said.
The man ignored her, and looked over at the boy. "Oska, clear the stall away."
"Yes, Atta Jokul..." Oska turned away and began to pack things into crates.
"I'm not your sister-child. And I'm not a thief!" Irena said.
The man held her hand up in front of her face, "Girl child, did you not hear what the gardman said? They would cut off your hand if they knew you had stolen."
Her eyes widened, and she jerked her hand back as if he was going to cut it off right there and then. "They wouldn't!"
Oska thumped a box down at her feet and grinned unpleasantly. "I saw them do it once. They do it over there - " he pointed to the centre of the square where there was a raised stone platform. "So everyone can see..."
"Hold your peace, Oska."
"I'm not a thief." she said sullenly.
[Argh, so much horrible in this bit, but I'm just going to post it so I can move on. Lots of adverbs doing the place of showing here, but will sort that later. Really would 'preciate some feedback here to store up for draft #2.]