Amite kept her head down as she passed the more aristocratic party. What they were doing in this part of town she couldn’t care less. She belonged here; she lived in the street, and wasn’t considered to have much use, apart from that the student groups often asked her to deliver messages. She accepted. What else was there for her to do? She wouldn’t beg and she wouldn’t steal, so Anerae and the others gave her food in return for this. And she knew where they got it—they could still buy bread like everybody else. They were her friends, the only ones who knew the real Amite, not the dirty street urchin she seemed.
She still saw this couple of aristocrats, even though her head was down. A man and a woman, not much older than her. The man reminded her a little of Anerae, with his black hair and dark eyes to match, but his skin had a more delicate look than Anerae, and he was finer-dressed. The woman’s hair was honey-blond; she dressed in an overly extravagant lavender gown. Amite couldn’t see her eyes, because the lids were lowered in disgust.
“Oh, look Montaigu, another street girl. Ugh! Filthy little thing!” the woman’s lip curled in disgust.
“Jeanina! At least try to be polite; she can’t help it.” Montaigu chastised her.
“And you know what; I’ll bet she’s with that group of ruffian students!”
“Will you stop?” Montaigu hissed, tossing down a five-franc piece.
Amite ignored the money and kept walking. “Ruffian student groups indeed,” she thought, “They’re not doing anything wrong. They don’t fight, and they’re every bit as Christian as any other man. All they’re doing is helping people like me.”
Two days later, Montaigu found her. “Hey, Miss!” he called. She slowed enough for him to catch up to her. “Sorry about, you know, what my sister said. She’s just so full of it, thinking that all…”
“Street urchins like me are criminals?” Amite finished. “I get that a lot.”
“Well, yes, and…I don’t believe what they say about people like you.” Montaigu continued, a little embarrassed.
Amite watched, trying to figure out what he meant. Why wouldn’t he believe it? She was rough, and her cheeks were stained with dirt, the very thing which made every policeman stare at her as if she could commit a crime at any moment.
“Um, I know I’ve been raised to think that all rich people are good, and all poor are evil. You know, we’re in the light and you’re in the dark? But, I see this poverty all around me, and I can’t believe that people like us would let this happen.”
“A lot of those people are selfish, you know. Nobody knows that better than…my friends.”
“Don’t they have names?”
“I’m not sure I should tell you. You promise not to gossip to the nobles about them?”
He crossed his heart. “Promise.”
“You know the student groups? Yeah, well, I’m kind of in with them. They help me survive and all that, and I run messages for them. But remember, you swore not to gossip to anyone!” Amite said quickly.
“You’re with the student groups?” he replied, interested. “Well, I was walking past them the other day, and a cart came crashing down the street. I didn’t have time to get out of the way, but some girl pushed me. I’ve been looking for her.”
Amite blushed. “That was me!”
“Really?” he gasped. “What’s your name?”
“Amite.” she replied. “And I know yours. It’s Montaigu.”
“Since we’ve already met, and since you’re the only one who I trust to listen, I’m going to let you in on a secret of mine.” Montaigu motioned for her to come in closer. “I’ve always secretly been a sympathizer for your cause.”
“Well, the students’ cause. Equal rights for the people. It just sickens me that everybody sits back and lets everything happen that does. I want to help, but I don’t know how.” Montaigu whispered.
“I think Anerae would know how you can help us.” Amite said before realizing it.
“He’s the leader. I think he’d like having someone with position to speak for us.” Amite explained.
“Hm, I look up to this Anerae already.”
“Come with me, I’ll take you to him.” said Amite, taking his hand and going off in the direction. She smiled to herself. This man was one who, though he was trained against it, finally saw the real Amite.
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