Jeanne: Pawprints

The song distracted Druce from his food and he twisted his head over his shoulder to see what the woman was up to now. She had Caleb's harp cradled against her body and was playing her own song on it, one whose lyrics Druce did not understand, and he wondered that the Jew let her near that beautiful work. He was a kind man, Caleb was, but that harp was precious to him; Druce wondered if the woman had any clear idea of the grace she was being shown.

And then he forgot the harp for a time in watching the motions of her hands across the strings and listening to the odd music that was her song. It was different than Caleb's powerful, lilting ones that he seemed to draw out of the air and weave together effortlessly, as a spider does its web, but it was beautiful in a very foreign way. The words were not smooth - and Druce liked the way Caleb's songs were so liquid and water-smooth - but she held them well in her voice and they were not as harsh as they might have been otherwise. Yes, she was a good singer. Perhaps she was better than Caleb, but Druce was too loyal to entertain the thought; Caleb had power and other-worldly beauty in his music that was suited, as no other music could be suited, to Britain and to the company of this warm hall.

The thrusting of a wet muzzle into the crook of his arm startled him, and he turned back to find himself looking into two large, half-covered dog eyes. He leaned back with an instant's disgust for the dirt that caked the creature's fur and the scrabbling muddiness of the paws below the table, but the dog whined a greeting and peered charmingly at Druce. "Ho, you're a newcomer," he commented, putting down his last bite of food and taking Cu's chin in his hand. "Where are you from, you ragged lump of mud?" Again he looked over his shoulder at the woman and narrowed an eye. "Come with her, did you, boy? So - I guessed as much. What is it you want?"

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