Jenny: From the Doorway

Quite what took her feet there, she was never sure. There had been something in the air all day, something she could not quite catch. She had gone out at sundown to sit with her amber beads to think, but all she had caught was a chill to her feet. Whatever it was, the feeling, the thing brooding, was still out of reach. Like thunder, she thought. But the kind, I think, that comes after a summer drought. That is the closest I can come. Thunder, somewhere, on the horizon - beyond the horizon.

And she was never sure what took her feet there, because she was not sure what the thunder was that rumbled beyond the horizon. She only knew that she was drawing up with instinctive quiet just outside Master Lucius' chamber, ears pricked for the voices within. The house was already falling into darkness; soon the candles would be lit. She leaned in the shadows around the doorway.

Within she saw Master Lucius on his couch, the indomitable Plutarch on his lap. He was not reading at present; he had one of the green glasses in his hand, half full of wine, and he was extending it as though it were talking to the Guttersnipe, who sat on the little footstool by the couch.

"And I have gotten no further than that," he was saying. "I had a bad coughing fit and a bad dizzy spell after that, and you were not here to see me through to the end. Now the light is going and it will have to wait until morning." He pulled the glass back and took a sip. "I thought Wulf would have his hands full, otherwise I would have had him handle everything. I was needing you here somewhat more."

And the Guttersnipe purred, in a tone very like her own, which made the bard smile to herself, "I'm sure it couldn't have been helped. The extra pair of hands turns out to be quite a handful. She pitched down in the road today on the way back and shook like a rabbit in a snare. She had been getting herself worked up over being a slave. I think she has some breeding."

"Yes." Master Lucius mused into his cup. The wavering candlelight made the refractions on the glass dance on his hand. "Slaves with breeding are sometimes high-strung. Is she high-strung?"

The Guttersnipe fluttered her shoulders. "I don't think so. I mean, I think she tries to be, but the moment she realizes she's doing so, she runs back into a state of cowering submission - "

"Mistreated," they both said at once, and there was a moment of awkward silence.

"I was thinking that, hopefully, some good treatment might help her brain. You know how colts will go into fits when they've been broken improperly." The girl set her chin on her palm. "I hate to see a badly-treated colt go bad."

"What is the girl's name?"

"I have no idea. I never asked. She's a bard's daughter, of some sort."

Gwenhywfar quirked another secret smile and slipped away, running her own delicately long fingers over themselves. It was nice to be correct, so very, very sweetly nice.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Hmmm, I wonder what the bard has planned...


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