Belle - Cat got yer tongue?

Belle sat on the corner of the curb, waiting for someone to notice her. She gathered up the rug in front of her, in the form of a bowl for people to drop their spare coins in.

"Yes, and tonight we're baking roast potatoes and mutton beef," Belle could hear snippets of conversations. Mutton beef. Roast potatoes. The thought of these delicacies made Belle's tongue water.

"Thirty cents a-piece," a nearby shop seller called out. Belle waited. She was waiting for someone to notice her when a beggar boy came out of nowhere and yelled out to her.

"You 'ave any munch?" the rough tongue of the lower-class people was well known to Belle. This beggar boy was exactly as his outfit suggested. No less, no more. Belle shook her head. Bits of flyaway hair danced around her face.

"What, the cat got yer tongue?" the boy teased.

Belle shook her head again. She stared stonily ahead, and did not even turn to look when the beggar boy sat next to her. She wanted to say: Go away and mind your own business, but she couldn't.

"Yum, liver," the beggar boy was eyeing the butcher's window greedily. Belle shook her head. She pointed to the butcher's window, then acted out stealing something, then shook her head again.

"Why don't you talk? I ain't that bad, yer know."

Belle shook her head. She wanted nothing to do with this boy. If she did, he would steal all her 'customers'. She watched the busy street. Still no-one had noticed her yet.

"Shall we beg?" The boy said it like an invitation to dance, something privelaged and honoured. "Oi, mister, you got any spare change?"

A tall and bearded man turned his head."I'm sorry, what did you want?"

"Change."

The bearded man put his hand in his pocket and pulled out some spare change. He threw it into Belle's rug. "How come the girl's begging but she's not saying anything?"

Beggar Boy shrugged. "Can't talk, I guess."

When the boy said this, the bearded man gave a jolt. "You ain't good for anything, you good-for-nothing-scum," he sneered. Then he reached forward and snatched the money from her rug. He threw it at Beggar Boy then kicked Belle. She curled up in a corner, frightened. Then the man walked away, without a second look back.

Belle stared stony-faced towards the man. There was anger in her eyes. "Woah, there, girly, you ain't got no right ta be fussy round these folks. Anyways, they ain't worth the fuss, you trust me." Beggar Boy was actually being helpful for once. Belle turned away. It wasn't the first time this type of thing had happened.

"Ow! You watch where your going, mister!"

Belle's head snapped around in the direction of the voice. There was a trundle of wheels, then the crack of a whip. A carriage had nearly run over a small peasant boy trembling on the cobbled streets. His basket of wares was scattered a bit of a way off. Belle took the chance. This could be her only chance to get attention.

"Oi! You girl, get out of the way!"

Belle was waving madly. She pointed to her rug still lying on the curb, and pointed again to her stomach.

"Hungry, are you?" the coach asked. "Well, 'oo knows, I just remembered that a certain Madame Diana Le Testhmus needs a new servant. Well, get in lass, and make sure ye don't step too low or 'igh, cause the steps tend to trip most peoples."

Belle glanced back at the rug, then at the carriage. What was there to lose? Quickly, she clambered onto the carriage before the coach could change his mind. Inside the carriage, there was no-one there. It smelt of perfume and rich people. The seats were made of suede, and the padding felt so soft it could have been swan feathers.

Belle picked a place to sit and not soon after, the carriage lurched to life with a jolt. As she passed the curb, she noticed the Beggar Boy staring at her with wide eyes.

"Blimey, if it's that easy ta get a job, I suppose I could walk up ta Buckin'am Palace meself an' knock on their fancy little door."

The End

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