Jenny: Great Expectations

"I never woke until this morning," Master Lucius added. Then, "Have you eaten?"

"Not yet." The Guttersnipe turned aside and frowned at the dead fire, and a little of the other Guttersnipe came out in the line of her jaw for a moment. "I - I don't think I will eat this morning. I'm not hungry."

To his surprise, Master Lucius found he had left Xenophon on his cloak. He hastily bent to pick it up, cradling it apologetically in the crook of his arm. Now that he thought about it, he was sure he could not eat either. There was a potency in the air which the Guttersnipe had brought out of the foamy white wood with her, a sense of expectancy, so that he knew something was about to happen. Things happened, he considered, around the Guttersnipe and her people.

"If it is all the same," the Guttersnipe was saying when he surfaced from his thoughts, "if we are hungry, I think I would prefer that we eat in the saddle. I would like to be pushing on. Domitia? If you will..."

She gestured to his own damp sleeping-cloak, and bent to collect her own. Even then she moved differently, wavering downward like a candle-flame instead of dropping violently onto her heels as she so often did. But when a wind picked up, suddenly strong for the gentle morning, she flung up her head, earrings tinkling, mane flying, with her eyes wide open in her head and her nostrils distended so that she reminded him of the horses she rode; and he found himself straining into the wind as well, not sure what he sought for. He caught the birdsong and the sound of white water, but nothing more. Still the Guttersnipe lingered in her doe-like pose before the softness came back into her limbs and she relaxed, folding up her cloak.

Presently he was finding himself in a position that had become very familiar to him over the past few weeks with his cloak rolled up about his shoulders and his panniers full of books banging at his legs and the sides of his mare. "You are light, thank heavens," the Guttersnipe had told him. "Otherwise she would never stand for all that." But she did stand for it, and they had become rather friends, the two of them. Gathering up the reins in one hand, Xenophon still in his other arm, he fell into his usual place with the bright dawn unfurling above their heads and the Guttersnipe, side-saddle at last at the head of them all, throwing back her head in a gay and rippling laugh.

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