"...And how do you like the chestnut business?”
The taller boy shrugged. “It’s alright.”
“Warmer than selling pencils.” The shorter one put in. His brother gave him a look that clearly spoke of displeasure.
“You sell pencils?” Nicholas looked them over carefully as he handed the elder one his coin. They were not quite dressed for the weather, in clothes that were expertly patched, but patched nonetheless. Not particularly stylish either, but certainly respectable.
That's my ten for the week. The rest of the scene is below if you'd like to read a bit more.
See you around the 'hop!
Their speech indicated some level of education had been attained before their choice to seek employment.
“Henry does.” The older boy handed over the bag of piping hot chestnuts.
“And what about you? What do you do most days?”
“Whatever I can.”
“Edmund is a genius.” Henry said with a smile. “He should be at school, mother says.”
“Henry.” Edmund silenced his brother. “Sorry sir.”
The other boy’s eyes went round. “Is he a knight?”
Edmund closed his eyes for a moment, seemingly searching for patience.
“Not a knight, I’m afraid.” Nicholas answered with a smile. “I am but a lowly baronet. Sir Nicholas Carroll.”
The boy smiled back and stuck out a hand. “Henry Shawley.”
“Henry,” Edmund began again, but quieted when Sir Nicholas shifted the bag of chestnuts to his left hand in order to shake Henry’s hand with his right.
“I’d like two more, please.” He told Edmund, as he seemed to be the one in charge. “Not for me, for the two of you. When you’ve finished.”
“Really?” Henry’s eyes lit.
“Do you like chestnuts?” Nicholas asked him.
The boy nodded happily.
“You’ve never had them.” Edmund commented.
“Then today he shall.”
Edmund turned to address their customer. “It’s very kind of you, sir, but we cannot accept.”
The light drained from Henry’s eyes.
“Ah, but you must. You see, I’ve had a piece of luck today,” Nicholas explained, “and I feel it my duty to share my good fortune with others.”
Edmund looked at his brother’s pleading expression and sighed. “Very well sir. And thank you.”
“Thank you!” Henry echoed, grinning widely.
Nicholas handed over the price of two more bags, touched a finger to the brim of his hat, and turned to go with a smile on his own face. It was clear that young Henry Shawley was not quite as one would expect a boy of his age to be, and that his brother Edmund took great care of him. It was also clear that the boys came from a family that must have been respectable before falling on hard times. Being the means of giving them a treat made Nicholas feel as if in some small way, he had brightened the world just a little, and it always pleased him to do so.