Jenny: The Pool

Her encounters with streams in the past week had often been violent, the Guttersnipe mused. But at the foot of the valley where the stream dove away from the path - which climbed upward toward the old Beacon and the world beyond - and plunged into a spacious, shelving sort of wood, there was a sort of hollow, sylvan quiet that she could well believe sparked the imaginations of her forebearers into attributing spirits to the water. In one clearing, at the back of it where the blackberry brambles grew thickest, there was a sort of raised stone which had always seemed specially carved and rounded, now thoroughly eaten into an indistinct pillar by age, and they had always considered it the shine to the spirits people had believed dwelt in the surrounding waters and wood. The Guttersnipe had to admit, there was an underlying sense of potency to the place which flowed over her whenever she stepped within the light-and-shadows. The stone was now stained perpetually from the impress of leaves and berries, and the more transient stains of shadows flickered across its surface as she and Domitia climbed down the half-natural, half-man-made stairs between the short fall and the haphazard trees to the pool. The chewit! chewit! chewit! of several redshanks, amid the constant rustle of the water down the falls and the wind in the leaves, cut the little place off from the rest of their world entirely. Overhead, the muted pearl blue of the sky broke through the flaming boughs of the wood.

The Guttersnipe got out on the great rock which jutted into the pool in a particularly sunny patch, for the air was chill, and dismantled her gown. Frip sat down to sun himself beside her, his black coat giving off a metallic warmth of its own. Across the stream, several robins in their burnished gold coats played among the shallows, looking for worms. It was peaceful, and a little - just a little - like her dream.

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