Jenny: Pigeon In His Hands

The boy had followed advice and had broken his other arm. Cleaning up the mess after setting the bone, Jason sat on the front stoop of his little surgery, rolling up strips of linen and basking in the cupped glow of sunlight that was already beginning to turn chilly as the wind picked up. It made the dog-rose at his elbow spring into a hundred points of flame so that they reflected in the curves of his instruments.

"B'oof!" Fripp said suddenly, which made him jump out of his reverie. The big black dog shouldered out of the dust at his feet, tail whirling; he hesitated, eyes on the Beacon-road, then in a flurry of gravel he was off, barking madly. Behind him Jason had leapt to his feet, heart in his throat. The wind must have caught the fires behind the villa, for his eyes suddenly stung and went blurry. Through the silver blur he saw Fripp racing for a horse, the horse coming at a canter down the road through the cloister-wood, glancing in and out of shadows. He blinked and the silver left, and he was seeing a girl on the horse, her own brown mane tossing in the wind of her going, and he could never afterward describe whatever it was that exploded in his chest. Somehow he was running, running as he had to save Artos, running with the sound of horses' hooves and dogs barking and the loud rush of blood in his ears.

The horse was nearly on top of him when it swerved aside, and the rider was falling as he was reaching out into his arms, all soft and light like a bird, and he was kissing her, and she was kissing him, and laughing, and crying; and Fripp was barking, and the horse was trumpeting shrilly, and he was never sure of anything that was whirling around him except for the softness in his arms was more than his flickering dreams, was finally real, and he felt as though everything was breaking apart even as it came together.

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