33 iii) Abia shakes her head, a gentle motion

Abia shakes her head, a gentle motion that suggests a firm “no.” “Boss will know,” she says.

“Quiet down back there,” says the flutist. “Show a little respect.”

Cang gives her a grievous look, but says no more.

An attendant in a crisp waistcoat descends a set of wide, mahogany steps, and stares down at the gang past his long, crooked nose. “Rivera, why have you brought such filth into master’s home?”

Rivera, the flutist, draws herself up. “Getting some gold, all right? They brought something nice the boss is gonna want.” She gestures at Cang, who’s holding the necklace.

“Their clothes are filthy.”

“We took a bath, all right?” Shyan says. “Look, even cut my hair. What more could your boss possibly want? He either likes gold or he doesn’t, forget about hygiene.”

A small smile creeps onto Abia’s lips.

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