Hester and Tom regret dancing up on the town of Speedwell when its mayor, Orme Wreyland, puts them in cages with plans to sell them as slaves. At first, Wreyland seems like a nice old man. He and his wife take the kids in and feed them when they're near starving. It goes like this: Mmm, Mr. Wreyland, this food is great. Thanks. What is this, turmeric? Great touch! And a little... yes, I do believe this is poison. It really brings out the umami taste in—*passes out*.
Tom and Hester escape, Hester beats Wreyland's face in with a piece of metal, and we never see Wreyland again. He's still worth mentioning, though, because he's a product of the Municipal Darwinist system. In a world that's based on survival of the fittest, the people at the bottom will try anything to scramble ahead. "Anything" includes selling kids as slaves.