Jenny: Now, This Is The Law of the Jungle

A peaceful day. How he treasured peaceful days! there were so few of them to populate his life. From his window Ambrosius could see much of the length of the valley blanketed by the autumn mists that rise up from seaward and drench the Welsh valleys in their thick white woollen swaths. The herd, having returned and waiting to be taken to the fertile pastures in Arfon, stood out of the mists from time to time: coal-dark bodies, sometimes ambery; once a grey mare moved among the mists, looking to be born of it, and disappeared from sight. The girls were in the byre, for the cows needed milking whether it was the Lord's day or not, and their tawny native skirts made them look like a flock of robins cheerily whirling about the farmland. The cloister bell tolled: they had an hour before meeting.

He turned from the window, cupping his mug of lambs'-wool in his hands. The steam wafted in the cool room much like the sea-mists. He sat in his chair in the thin light that spread like wings throughout the room, not seeing much of anything before him, gazing contentedly into the ghostly swirl of steam. There was, for him, aways a pang of longing in the glory of mornings such as this. The beauty seemed always to go through him, beyond him, no matter how close he came to it. It was as though it was a familiar person in a crowd anxiously searching for his face, yet missing him always. How long? he wondered. How long must I be at war - and at this closer war which no man shares but is all my bitter own to me? For that Other Peace! For that Other Peace... But for this lesser, moon-radiant peace, I give you thanks.

He set aside his drink on the mother-of-pearl tabletop, and across the table he drew to himself a little long box of wood: not a lovely box, but a securely fastened one. His fingers lingered on its latches, half-wondering if he ought to even open it.

Suddenly, from behind him, Champion said, You had better open it, Ambrosius.

Cold in his middle, Ambrosius rose and flung back the little lid. A shank of sheep's wool lay on the bottom of the box, but of the knife there was no sign. "Oh, God," he hissed, "don't do that, please..." Then he whirled on the Bird. "You did not tell me this!"

From its silver perch, the Bird turned away its head, sad. I tell and I do not tell. But it is not I who choose what must be told and what must not.

He stared back down into the emptiness before him. On that blade hung life and death, and now - He wished he could have destroyed the thing, or could have at least buried it deep where no one would find it. But one keeps one's friends close, and one's enemies closer, and so the knife had sat on his table these years, untouched, silent. Now whose fist carried it? He sat down, head in his hands, thinking hard. There was nothing he could do just yet. Artos needed him, and the problem of the captives needed tending. Beside the box lay his map, and his eyes moved to it. Do not hate your child, he told the familiar outlines of shore. I have done everything for you. All my thoughts have been of you. For the sake of my bloodline which has committed itself to keeping you from the dark, don't turn against me now.

And there he had to leave it, begging the Almighty not to let the knife fall into the hands of the Council.

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