“Nell, look, candy!” Basil whispered excitedly. He pointed at a booth two spaces in front of them, covered in all sorts of sweets. “Can we get some candy, Nell?”
“If it’s not too much, then yeah, I suppose,” Nettle smiled. She walked them to the booth Basil had pointed at. “Do you want the sugar fluff, the peppermints, or the sour hard candies?”
“The sugar fluff?” Basil requested.
“I want the sour candies!” Sage piped up. “Sour stuff is yummy, yummy yum yummy, like lemons and limes and a bit like oranges!”
“How much is the sugar fluff and the sour candies?” Nettle asked the young man running the booth.
“A quarter credit per pound for the sour ones, fluff comes prebagged and is an eighth credit for a small bag, quarter credit for a medium, and half credit for a large,” the young man replied. “You watching your siblings for the day?”
“Something like that. I’ll take a pound of the sour candy and a medium bag of the sugar fluff,” Nettle smiled at him, waiting for him to bag the sour candy and get one of the bags of sugar fluff before presenting her arm. He transferred the credits and then handed her the bags, after which she began to walk away.
“Have fun,” the young man called after her, “and stay away from the man selling the gold embroidered purses.”
Nettle wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but if she saw a man fitting that description, she would do what he said. Who knew the other merchants better than one of them? Besides, she didn’t want a purse, and especially not a gold embroidered one. That was just silly and wasteful.
They wandered among the booths for another half hour before there was a loud noise; twelve chimes of the clock in the center of the marketplace.
“I guess it’s lunch time, then,” Nettle said. “So we should probably look for food booths. Do you guys have any idea of what you want?”
“I want che-”
“I doubt they’ll have cheesy noodles, here,” Nettle cut Sage off. “They’re more likely to have - ah, see. A food booth. Looks like they have skewered meat and soup and I’m not quite sure what that last thing is...”
“It looks cheesy, whatever it is, Nell! I want something cheesy!” Sage bounced up and down, the bag in her arms jostling and making rustling noises as she hopped along.
“We’ll see,” Nettle replied. “What is this?” Nettle asked the elderly man taking care of the booth. She pointed at the third item.
“Puffed corn with cheese,” the man grumbled. His voice shook and Nettle was taken aback by the grumpiness.
“How much?” Nettle bit her lip, worrying it back and forth between her teeth. The man told her how much the different foods were, and she bought some of each. When they were sitting at a table, Nettle felt relieved; he had scared her, as she wasn’t used to people who were less than polite.
“Nell?” Basil asked through a mouthful of meat.
“Yeah, Bay? Something wrong?” Nettle brushed hair off his forehead, the curly locks damp with sweat and sticking to his forehead.
“I don’t feel real good. It’s hot out here,” he mumbled,...