Tired, dusty, and shaggy, Mat trudged her way down the alleyways; her eyes darting here and there, desperately seeking some refuge from the prodding eyes tearing through her person. She suddenly stopped, the small round bundle in her hands wrapped with dirty-looking brown paper in her hands jingling. Jumping at the sheer sight of the man in front, her feet took flight on their own accord.
Off the distance she could see her girls hovering tentatively near the tea stall. Sensing their hesitation, Mat gestured to them that they carry on. In a flash, their nimble hands were upon an unsuspecting saheb’s trouser pocket, the contents of which they promptly pocketed. The deed was done, but alas they would not flee unscathed.
Instincts overwhelmed, as she lunged for the bumbling excuse of a man groping them in retaliation, his machismo having been challenged. The girls were too young to be able to comprehend his touch. She could have simply run away. But no she wouldn’t.
It was she who had taken the fellow orphans under her wing, taught them the art and how important it was for balance, and acquainted them with this necessary evil. And if they stumbled and stuck into trouble in doing the exact task she had thrust upon them (thrust so she had, although she had given them a choice, they wouldn’t dare to refuse), it wouldn’t be right for her to just leave them be. And so her fist landed on the man’s chin and her feet on his shin, leaving him thoroughly mangled.
Then the trio branched off, neither of them stopping to think of the others. Mat beat her way through the wall of muscle. The mob was distraught; but no one bothered enough to hunt for a petty, low-born scoundrel. But no: they did. She ran headfirst into a chest of metal. It stood tall. She braved a glance up—vengeance sizzled in his eyes.
The frantic crowd spur him on. “Beat the life out of the thieving bastard.” Mat was no cutpurse and didn’t mind the punishment as much as did her exposing.
The man’s fist was only a fraction of a second away from coming in contact with her jagged jawline, very fortunately mistaken for that of a man. She was part hideous and part charming—an unusual sight loved nonetheless.
Her hopes plummeted earthward into the endless pit of nothingness, tattering into oblivion as it hit against the surface of what bounds the path.
That was not to be.
The hopes simmered over hopefully—perhaps their mistress had recovered. They had swashed onto ground level, laying in wait for instructions to rise further.
“RISE!” She inwardly spoke to herself in imperatives. She couldn’t afford to get beat up and bear....the consequence. A consequence so grave it unnerved her even to think of it.
Matilda De Haviland, I could have never imagined you would stoop so. This low. She continued hurling a series of self-reproachful words at herself, but this session of mental tsking had to be cut short.
Artfully dodging the man’s blows, she cartwheeled backwards in a desperate attempt to escape. The man was too quick: within the wink of an eye, her hood had been jerked towards doom.
“STOOOPPP!!!” The onlookers cried out, before it was too late. They gasped as the extent of their fallacy dawned on them.
A rogue heap of red curls had bled out with the snap of the hood.
“It’s the princess Matilda.” The flabbergasted men breathed out, shrinking into themselves. Even the dullest of the lot had had no difficulty identifying her trademark tresses.
Losing her mind at the revelation of her identity, she howled in anger and anguish. “LEAVE ME ALONE!” was her words, swiftly parsed as an order by all present—something everyone was rather willing to do. No one wanted anything to do with a tomboyish princess on the brink of insanity; so they thought of her.