Jenny: For All That Is Worth Keeping

"Fairly nearly," the Guttersnipe replied. "There is always something happening about us. It's the nature of things - for us." She was quiet for a moment, then she added, "Let's go and find Gwenhywfar and Master Lucius."

They went up the slope from the river, through the little village, and came to the solarium by the garden. It was noon now, and the sun so high in his circuit the Guttersnipe could hardly look at him; the shadows gathered small and plum-dark around the feet of the bushes.

Whenever she came into the solarium the Guttersnipe had the feeling of coming to roost, of getting into a safe burrow, of pulling the covers up and getting into bed. There was a sanctified peace about the room and it washed out at her as she entered.

"Child!" Gwenhywfar murmured when the other looked round. She got up and once and crossed to the Guttersnipe. "What has happened to your arms?"

It was then that she was aware of the gashes Champion had left. She looked at the dark, half-dried blood spiraling around her forearms and, for no reason she could discern, she felt a sudden wave of dizziness take her.

"Put your head between your knees, Snippet. It will pass. Close your eyes if you have to."

"May I have a chair?" she murmured.

She was led to the chair and put in it and, a moment later with his usual frankness Master Lucius asked her what the matter was. "Domitia," he added, "would you fetch a glass of wine for the Guttersnipe? In that chest over there... Now."

He and Gwenhywfar gave her their attention, and after a moment of confusion she told them what had happened at the river. It felt odd in the telling. After all, what was there to tell? Champion had come and Champion had gone, and he had left nothing behind but desolation and a feeling of confused hope.

"What I find fascinating," Master Lucius mused half to himself, "is that the bird should mentions pawns. I don't have any experience with White Animals - perhaps Gwenhywfar does."

But Gwenhywfar shook her head. "I have never met a White Animal. That is beyond me."

Pulling herself together, the Guttersnipe added, "He wouldn't tell me something if it weren't pertinent. It's just that I so rarely understand what he is saying. My Lord Ambrosius would know. He knows those sorts of things."

" 'Wait for the others...' What do you suppose he meant by that?"

Gwenhywfar gave a little foxy bark of laughter. "I may not know much about White Animals, but I would not but it past Champion to know about it. All that remains is whether or not he knows, and what that means for us."

Which means he is not coming for me after all. What could keep him away?

There are others suffering as well.

Which meant, among other things, that her Lord Ambrosius would be embroiled in other troubles. She had Vortigern to deal with, she and Gwenhywfar and Master Lucius. And suddenly she felt that there was very little time left and she began to quietly panic in her chair.

Master Lucius had his head back in his hands. "Well, Gwenhywfar, what of the weather? How long do you think it will be?"

The woman stopped her pacing and her amber beads jingled as she counted on her fingers. "A little more than a week," she said in a hushed tone.

"A little more than a week..." Master Lucius pulled his head up and took in a deep breath. For a moment the Guttersnipe could see he was an anxious as she was. So much to do in so little time! And Vortigern could throw his own hurling-stick into the match at any moment and shatter the whole fragile plan.

"I suppose Domitia and I had better finish up those horse-blankets..." she murmured.

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