“Songmagic is strong within her. It’s obvious even without the enchantment. Her innate abilities are impressive.” Maddame Chintzwood whispered curtly. “Undoubtedly, I can sense it too. But that would mean she’s a Legacy of old blood. Is such a thing even possible? Legend tells they left no lineage.” Professor Figg whispered from the corner of her mouth. “She can’t have had any training outside the Academy, so it must be. I can’t see any other way.” The first woman retorted. “Regardless of how, she has the gift and she’ll need training. We have to take her.” The second sighed.
They watched her playing with the other orphans. She seemed to be friends with all of them. While she sang, those around her were fascinated. They grinned from ear to ear.
“Is she to your liking? She is quite tall for her age, strong too. She’d make a lovely daughter for anyone. She could easily work a plow in a few years. She sings as well, as you see. Maybe she could perform, even being only five. She’ll be lovely in a few years, you’ll have no trouble finding her a husband. No doubt you’d easily recoup her cost in one way or another.” The two women tensed when he spoke from just behind them.
His name was Mr. Borgis and he owned the dilapidated orphanage. It was known far and wide of poor living standards and unscrupulous morality when it came to the sale of children. It was lesser known that he also willingly sent his charges into prostitution rings. The man was tall and thin with porcelain skin and a receding hairline. He was constantly sweaty. Both women had noticed his fine clothing’s striking contrast with that of the children the moment he had greeted them.
Professor Figg bristled as she rounded on him, “Many consider children a blessing rather than an expense, sir.” He feigned being hurt by her words, “Of course, of course. I meant no disrespect. I only mean that orphans are neither cheap to purchase or raise. Kids are expensive. I’m a bit of an expert, you see. Though I could see how two women such as yourselves… Rather, couples who cannot have children, must pay for the right.”
Both women blanched, but said nothing and instead returned their attention to the girl. She now had the entire room clapping along with her newest song.
“We’ll take her. What is the price?” Madame Chintzwood asked. She instantly realized this was a mistake. He frowned and stroked his bare chin, “She’s by far the most desirable orphan to grace my chateau in some years. No doubt a fair price would be substantial. Perhaps you should consider one of the others…” Figg silenced him, “Stop your games and name your price, Borgis.” He grinned smugly, “We should discuss this matter over cold water. I’d offer tea, but times have been hard recently. There’s no coin for such extravagances. We must keep the children fed before all else, you see.”
“There’s no need. Name it.” Chintzwood said flatly. He smirked greedily, “I couldn’t part with her for less than twenty-five gold coins, I’m afraid. I have a potential buyer lined up and he is offering twenty.” Both women shuddered, but quickly produced the amount. He seemed annoyed, no doubt he was thinking he should have asked for more.
He snapped his fingers and nodded to one of the ghastly attendants. She glided to the girl and pointed to the women. The girl’s face lit up like the Sun as she practically danced over to the women.
“Is it true? Are you taking me home?” she asked. Professor Figg beamed down at her and went to a knee to be level with her eyes. “Yes, dear. It’s true. You’re coming home with us. You should gather your things and say your goodbyes to your friends. Don’t worry, I promise to be here when you get back!” she gently touched the girl’s nose. She frowned, “Things? What things?” She looked to Mr. Borgis.
“These children have no belongings. Anything they arrive with is sold to pay a part of their expense. As I have said, children get expensive. She has nothing beyond what you see.” He was recounting his coins and only answered absently. “That’s barbaric.” Madame Chintzwood scowled. He retorted with a dismissive wave of his hand, “That is the way of the world. Life isn’t fair, Ms. Chinfoost or whatever your name is. The girl is yours now. Do as you will with her. I have more important matters to attend, so I assume you’ll be leaving soon.” He ignored their glares as he walked through a doorway and locked the door behind him.
“You will be treated much better where you’re going, child. My heavens, where are my manners? I am Professor Figg and this is my associate, Madame Chintzwood. What is your name, little one?” The girl brightened without Mr. Borgis’s presence, “My name is Emarie! It’s nice to meet both of you!” She curtsied clumsily.
Her eyes sparkled with potential.