Jenny: The Garden Wall

The Guttersnipe had no opinion to voice on Cathair's account. She could not yet like him. Master Lucius, warm and friendly, if a little hesitant, she had reached out to almost at once. He had been to her the brightness of the sun in a dark cold place, a steady and somehow familiar figure, as though she had come upon his friendship long ago in her dreams as a child, so that meeting him had not seemed a new thing at all. Domitia's young man held for her all the coarseness of a stranger, warm-hearted through he may prove to be under that hard turtle-type shell. She looked on him with a cool wariness that Gwenhywfar had unwittingly taught her. He had potential, he might even prove himself well in time, but he was not her concern, and like a handful of pebbles she let him slide and fall away from her grasp to the ground, attentive to other things.

The tiny clicks of the black-and-white draughts pieces filled the quiet around them, adding to the softer, more thoughtful music of Caleb's harp. She was desperately grateful for those noises. They walled off the outside world for a little while longer, a thin muffling barrier between herself and the howling dark. This was what it was like to grow up, she thought. Before she had been too small to see over the garden wall into the landscapes beyond. She had always wanted to know what lay beyond the wall, somewhere constantly in the back of her mind, though she had been happy to play in her garden. Now she was older, taller, and she had seen the world over the wall, and it was as beautiful and as dangerous as the wild expanse of the northern moors: raked with the winds, tawny and bristling with warm pink ling, brindled with the racing shadows of the clouds. And so big, so far and so big. She sat inside her garden with the wind howling out on the moors and pretended, a little, with the flush of shy womanhood on her cheeks, that the moor was not outside, and that her garden was the world.

"It is a long story," the Guttersnipe said at last, keeping her words under the gentle thrum of Caleb's playing. "There are many who hate us, and now they may have a weapon in their hands against us."

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