Jenny: Scarlet on the Vine

"Go get washed up before my uncle sees you like this. Mad little vixen, you will bruise and it will spoil what good looks you were getting."

He was always giving her blows like that, off-hand and off the back; and by some unspoken recognition of companionship they both enjoyed it. Her hand gripped the rugs out of sight as the homesickness came clawing back up her throat, tearing behind her eyes. She could not let Domitia see. A confused and furiously proud part of her refused to let Domitia see. The day in the apple orchard suddenly flamed with clear beauty, beautiful in the way a great wild rose is beautiful, scarlet on the vine in the sun. For a moment she thought if she opened her eyes, she would be lying on those slopes looking up through the trees with Jason and Druce and Jason's big black dog Frip... But then there was the jangling pain and she knew she had just been fighting for her life against a grief-stricken madman, and she was seeing the whiteness of Artos' face as he had stood before her Lord Ambrosius, telling him of Rufrius, and how she had not quite understood at the time...

She turned her head. "I hear Gwenhywfar's step in the hall."

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