Jenny: The Master

The Guttersnipe fetched the dirty, sodden gown. To herself, she thought, You're nothing so pretty as Gwenhywfar, who is the prettiest person in the world. And she did not mean it cruelly, she reflected as she moved up the bank with Domitia. It was just simply true: no one could match Gwenhywfar for wit and wisdom and beauty.

They walked at a gentler pace. The sun was coming down through the willows sharply by now, and the drovers had long since passed by with the cows toward the pastures. Once again there would be fresh milk, and later on butter and cheese and all good things. Master Lucius owned a few cows himself which supplied him with his own food. He had told her once, "I may take Vortigern's roof-tree over my head, but that is only because I am not well enough to find my own. I can at least bring my own hand to my own mouth out of my own bowl." And she agreed with him.

"We'll go round by the garden," she told Domitia. "He will be in the sun chamber. He takes to the sun chamber most days when it is clear."

They went up the stone path together between the bluebell and worn turf, through the gate, and round the fountain with its mantle of fine gravel paths, poppies, and broom. A thrush darted out of the yellow tangle of flowers and sped away over the wall. Inside she could see the shapes of Master Lucius at his little table and Wulf going through the wax-filled wooden tablets that were the pedigree books. She put her hand on the latch and murmured, "Here we are. Chin up." And she pushed the door open and stepped in.

In an almost protective gesture Wulf shut the tablet as the Guttersnipe let Domitia in. Shrouded in a cloak of bitingly fierce red, Master Lucius glanced up from his work, eyes narrowed to the sunlight. "Here is the new pair of hands," she said, wavering into a little bow. "Domitia."

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