…And there’s Cang, guilty grin smeared across his round face, hands on her coin purse. He coughs awkwardly, lets it go. “Pardon me, madam,” he says. “I believe you were about to drop this.”
For a moment, she’s flabbergasted, her jaw hanging open at the impertinence of the short, grubby thief. People edge by along the busy streets without taking notice. Cang’s hopeful she’ll believe it, even hazards a glance back to his companions, watching frightfully from around a corner. That is, until the woman draws a deep breath, her face flushing crimson, and she bellows, “Guards!”
28 iii) “No, wait,” Shyan says, but she knows it’s a lost cause
“No, wait,” Shyan says, but she knows it’s a lost cause as Cang melts away into the crowd.
He follows the bouncing pouches, each a leathery fruit bursting with nutritious juices. He strains his cauliflower ears to hear the clink of coins, glances up to see the pouches’ owners’ distracted faces. Hurrying about their daily business, worrying about where their next coin will come from, unaware their wealth is at risk.
When Cang spots an older woman wearing a girdle of leather between her dress and her money pouch, he knows he’s got his mark. A flicker of a smile appears at his lips and he pads after her, deftly sweeping between the oblivious passers-by. At the right moment, he slips his arm up to grasp the pouch, steadying his breathing as he makes the grab, watching her face for any sign of attention, letting his fingers do their delicate dance.
His smile grows wider as he silently lifts the pouch from her belt, until he notices her nose twitch, crinkle, and turn up in disgust. The smell! She turns her head to find its source…