Chapter 1

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That terrible night occurred four years ago, and since then, it got even worse.

All of my other kin were either dead or didn't want me. Most of my inheritance was lost with my fathers ships as they went down at sea or were seized for taxes, and only at the age of eleven, there wasn't much I could do. I was abandoned in the city of London, and with only a dingy, poorly run orphanage to return to for refuge, I soon lost a large amount of weight and became as gaunt and thin as the common peasant.

But my hardships had really only just begun.

Everything got even worse one hot day. It had already passed high noon and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The pavement had absorbed the heat and the air was as hot as an oven. Most of the children who were currently residing with me at the orphanage were outside on the front steps. I was among them.

Damp with perspiration, I was sitting on the ground with my back to the wall. The small area of shade was already crowded with other children, so I sat there, exposed to the sun with a few others. I would have given anything for a drink of cool water.

Eventually, a small group of children whose names I didn't know decided to wander around the streets. Curious, and with nothing else to do, I followed them.

I stayed towards the back of the group as we all wandered around the streets, when we happened upon the market place. Of course, some of the more mischievous boys decided to steal from the stands. They darted about, from stand to stand, and took a handful. All of the others egged them on, daring them to steal more or bigger things. At one stand, a vendor was slicing some of the fruit on his stand with a carving knife. Then, one mousey haired boy attempted to steal  a peach. No sooner than he had it in his hand, the vender made a grab for his arm.  The boy was quick, and darted away from the stand, and then everyone was running.

I was about to follow when a firm hand grabbed my shoulder. I looked up slowly, scared.

It was the peach vender.

"You know how much that peach is worth little girl?" he asked me in a strange accent. I shook my head, trembling.

"More than I'm sure you've got. so-" he steered me over to the peach stand. "Someone's got to teach you a lesson.  And what a pity. Such a pretty little hand of yours you've got there." I hadn't noticed, but he still had the carving knife in his hand.

He laid my hand on his stand, and when I realized what he intended to do, I squirmed and struggled and tried to get away. "Please!" I begged. "I didn't take it! Let me go!" He held the knife over my hand, and was about to bring it on my forearm when suddenly a well dressed man interrupted the amputation.

"Sir! Stop!" Startled, the vendor let go of my arm and addressed the man.

"Does she belong to you?'

"Yes. That's my daughter Morgan," the man stood behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder. "and I'm sorry for any of the trouble she's caused."

The vendor looked suspicious." Do you have the money for the peach she friend stole?" 

"Yes! Of course." The man pulled a drawstring moneybag out of a pocket of his over-coat, and handed two gold coins to the vendor.

The vendor grunted and returned to his place behind the stand. The man looked down at me with kind eyes. "Are you ok little lady?" 

I nodded and mumbled a thank you.

"I'm glad for that. You look so thin. Would you like to come over to my house for some tea and biscuits?" At the prospect of food, I looked up at him eagerly. He smiled and led me from the square.

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