Jenny: Uncertain Candle-Fire

When Domitia left their company, the Guttersnipe swung back round to Ambrosius. "She has been talking to you. She is as shy as a titmouse - what brought her to you?"

She stood just so, soft and homely in her green gown, hands on hips like a brooding housewife, the bangles on her wrists jangling a little with her movements. And as he stood looking back down at her, he thought Is it the will of the sovereign God to bring her into her own among us, only to take her away again? Is it his will that with so much promise before her, she should end her days on this earth? But he knew he would get no answer for asking - did Job receive any answer, and was he not a righteous man? - but he knew that God's silence would be sufficient, and that the Guttersnipe would not mind much if her soul was required of her. She gave her head a little toss, watching with her large, animated eyes as Gaius tossed a knife to Caleb and the two made a little game of it: she took it in so hugely, so deeply, as though the whirl and shine of the blade were a little piece of light out of heaven that she had to drink up. No, she would not mind much, he thought. But he might.

Coming back to her words, he said, "Domitia has come into a new constellation, and she is finding the dance somewhat strange."

The Guttersnipe cast a glance toward the kitchen doorway. Frip was being pushed out from underfoot into the hall. Artos, lounging in his chair, was snapping his fingers for the dog to heel. "You were suspicious of her before."

"There were things that made her suspicious," replied Ambrosius.

She whirled round, teeth flashing in a mocking smile. "Weren't there? She is as shy as titmouse, and I think her past casts a rather long shadow to cool her present."

"You may be right," Ambrosius mused. A wind whipped up in the vestibule and his leg began to ache dully. Instinctively he shifted and folded his arms across his chest, putting his weight on his better leg. "Hers is a new candle," he went on, "and she may have imperfections in her wick. Cup it carefully, and when the winds die down - if they do die down - she may burn on her own after a while."

"Yes, Ambrosius."

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