“As I said,” repeated Thiwada, “they’re nothing to do with me. If they chose to run away from the perfectly adequate arrangements I was prepared to make for them from the goodness of my heart-”
“You said that I was lucky there were still people prepared to pay for good breeding stock,” interrupted blonde-haired Benna from under Barenyi’s hand with the air of repeating exactly what she’d been told, “and that Gulya was going to a place where no-one would ever care what happened to a dirty little Calleni like her.”
Tizanna and Baranyi’s sharp intakes of breath were audible and the reeve said warningly, “Trafficking in children is an offence.”
“I may have made arrangements to have my expenses in placing them covered,” said Thiwada with dignity, “but that’s not illegal.”
“Then you won’t mind providing a full explanation of those placements and then making a formal statement for my records, just to clarify the girls’ situation?”
“Well, I-.” At that point Thiwada stopped talking as a man Baranyi would describe as small and sharp even for a Calenyena came around the corner of the block from the direction of the back laneway hauling two stooped-over Bitrani men along by dint of holding firmly onto one of their ears apiece. Thiwada’s face was a quick study in annoyance, frustration, anger, and something that might have been fear, or just concern before she stilled it again.
“Look what I found, Boss!” The small man with his tied back bundle of braids, dark green kiparrie, scarlet trousers and yellow shirt was the epitome of a particular type of heavily caricatured Calenyeness. “A big one with a bottle of stuff and a not so big one with no eyebrows and bandaged hands. Neither of them really wanted to stop and talk to us. Any idea why that might be, Boss?”
“It would be rude of me to guess,” replied the reeve, “so perhaps Domaso and Nino would like to tell us. Now that you have their attention.”