Wiping away a silent tear and struggling to get to her feet, the dingy young girl strived to make her way down to the end of the street. Wincing as a pain seared up her right leg, she continued to trudge down the road. The pavement seemed unending as the half broken cobblestones made for a terrible path. How long had she been traveling anyway? It seemed like it had been years. Sniffing back another set of tears she shivered at the thought of where she had just emerged from.
Escaped from is more like it. She thought shivering in the cold bitter night air. It was autumn and winter was coming on fast, she needed to find a place to stay or she would most certainly freeze. But what kind of a place would take a poor, dirty, foul smelling kid in at this time of night? Rounding the corner she sighed in relief as she faintly made out the distant silhouettes of the few scattered towns people who thankfully had not yet retired to their homes. Inhaling a deep breath she fought her way over to the closest person; a very large man, in a very large top hat.
"Please sir, I've just had a terribly-"
"Get out of my way, you young wretch!" The man snarled as he stalked away in the opposite direction, obviously not in the mood to be interacting with any person never mind child.
Shocked by the outburst, the young girl limped away trying her best to manage a look of confidence. She was afraid; terrified actually. A man half the size of the one she had just approached would of looked dangerously horrifying to any girl twice her own age and height. Gripping onto the concrete sides of a fountain centered in the middle of the town square, she plunged her hands in and voraciously began to drink.
"Oh its just dreadful!" A woman exclaimed to the four people gathered around her.
" How many children did you say?" Another one asked.
"So far twelve have gone missing and a queer number of people have been robbed!"
"Why that's outrageous!" A man said shaking his head angered by the two woman's conversation. " Last week Mr. Allen's wife was walking through the bread shop when two young boy's, probably no older then five, stole a loaf of bread that was hanging out of a young woman's bag and charged out of the place!"
"Oh I dare say that they were a bunch of street urchins looking for trouble!"
Street urchins eh? Now that's what I'll become soon if I don't freeze first.
Wiping her mouth with the remaining part of her shredded dress, the distraught red haired girl got up to try and find some form of help. Glancing across the street noticing a pretty young woman tending to a flower pot that stood outside her house, she began to drag herself over. She stopped when she noticed a pretty girl with beautiful long locks of gold hiding in the shadows. She couldn't be anymore then the same age as herself, yet she seemed to have a great sense of cleverness and awareness.
Brushing a red lose strand of hair from her face, her eye's widened in shock as the other girl successfully managed to snag the woman's small gardening shovel and place it up her shawl before disappearing back into the shadows unnoticed. Intrigued by the evasiveness of the situation, she quietly hauled herself down the dark alleyway after the girl.
The stench of dead fish was almost unbearable as she continued to limp after the young pickpocket, or at least that's what she supposed the other girl was.
Turning another corner she found herself staring at one of the most brilliant sights she had ever seen.
Towering mounds of wood that made for an old wooden staircase led up to the top of a maze of different house like things that were almost hidden because they were so high up, and the different walkways in-between the houses made for an even more awe striking view. On the ground little walkway like bridges hovered over scum infested waters. Every little street like walkway seemed to be joined to a hidden alleyway. Sure to a nobleman or a mere peasant this place would look absolutely horrid, but to her it was like its own little world well hidden from the busy hustle and bustle of society. Smiling curiously the young girl grabbed the old wood railings and started to yank herself up the stairs.
Gasping for a breath she slumped to the ground when she finally reached the top of the stairs.
"Great, just perfect! This is just exactly what I needed to happen!" She hissed rubbing her swollen ankle as large raindrops hit the ground. As she attempted to look for some form of shelter to shield her from the rain a large crack sounded before she found someone's hands tight against her throat.
"Who are you? How'd you find this place!" The middle-aged man yelled dragging the girl inside one of the many dwellings, getting curious, frightened glances form the inhabitants.
Refusing to answer the frightened girl looked around at the many residents of the place terrified.
"Please sir, I, I, followed a girl here." She quivered not liking the place at all.
"What? Who? What girl did you see!" The man demanded again.
"Well, she was pretty. She had blond almost golden strands of hair, well at least it looked that way to me sir. She was my age, or at least I think she was my age. Please sir, I didn't mean to-"
"Bet get in here!" The man hollered laying a frustrated hand on his head, while using the other to twist his long dark brown beard.
"Is this the girl you saw?" The man asked as a girl with a pale blue dress on stepped forward.
"Yes sir it is."
The man gave a mourning groan as he paced back and forth mumbling to himself.
"Sir, If I may be so curious to ask why your walking like that?" The young girl asked inquisitively as the girl known as Bet sat down beside her.
"You wouldn't happen to have anyone out looking for you, would you my dear?" He asked walking up to the two girls.
"No sir, I don't have anyone." The man seemed to be oblivious to the young girls sad tone as a huge smile lit up his face.
"You wouldn't say, you wouldn't say. Well then by all means do tell us where you came-come from. Surely a young sweet girl such as yourself would have a family and a decent home." The man said as he appeared to be thinking to himself before bending down to look the girl in the eyes.
"I'm afraid that's none of your business and its nothing I'd wish to share with the likes of you."
Bet stared at the girl taken back by her response.
"My dear, I didn't wish to offend you, it's just that we- I, happen to have room to spare if your in need of a place to stay. You could say that I uh, take care of every child that needs a home and a family to look after them."
Tilting her head up questioningly she arched her eyebrows.
"You see, Bet here has lived with me for quite a while and has no one to play with, no girls anyway. I'm sure she'd love another young girl to go around with. I reckon you both are about the same age. How old are you anyway?" He asked in a kindly curious manner that seemed to bring some comfort to the ginger haired girl .
"Sir? No, no, no, call me Fagin. Just as I thought, Bet's around your age just a year younger."
"Did you really mean that I could stay here if I wanted?"
"Of course, of course I did! That is as long as you earn your keep."
"Oh o.k., um Fagin- how would one go about doing that? Earning her keep I mean."
"Well," He began as a toothy grin shone through. "First she'd start with her name." The girl smiled happily up at the man, who seemed to be delighted that she had come to their little abode.
"Nancy, I'm called Nancy."
"Well Nancy, welcome to the family!" Fagin exclaimed motioning to Bet to help her of the bench and over to one of the spare beds. "Now, I take it that your hungry, eh? How about I get one of the lads to fix you something to drink and eat?"
"I'd like that sir." Nancy said as Bet wrapped a cloth around her injured ankle.
"It's just a miner sprain, nothing serious." The young blond haired girl said smiling.
"Well at least it isn't broken, thank you." She replied as a yawn escaped her mouth.
"Here you go, a nice piece of bread and a cup full of gin otta cheer you right up then."
"Gin?" Nancy asked taking the cup and bread piece from Fagin.
"You mean to tell me you ain't ever had gin before!" The man exclaimed as a roar of laughter emerged in the background. "Well my dear, you've got a lot to learn about around here. Now you just lay your pretty little head down and get some rest, I'll explain more in the morning."
"Good night sir." Nancy said as Fagin walked away. "Oh and sir, thank you."
"Don't worry about it Nance, it was a pleasure, a pure pleasure indeed." He said walking away, grinning to himself.
Seating himself down in front of the fire in an old run down armchair, Fagin smiled as two piercing blue eye's watched him from the shadows.
"Take no need to her, you know that it will be good for business to bring in another girl. Just look at how many people come to see Bet." Fagin said dismissively.
"How do you know she ain't lying about where she came from? Huh Fagin? How do you know that the moment her ankle gets better she isn't going to run to the beaks and tell them everything?" The boy snapped angrily. Fagin rolled his eyes irritated before a muffled laugh sounded.
"For a elevenyear old boy, you sure have a lot of suspicions."
"And I'm about the most adroit one out of all you lot and Fagin you know it."
"Well don't worry about Nancy, I'll put her to good use in time. All in time Bill."
Well thats it for chapter one. PLEASE review and let me know your views on this. Flammes not welcome but cunstructive critiques are welcomed. Please reveiw its my first Oliver fic and I'd like to know if I should continue it.