Jenny: A Girl's Curiosity

Having risen, listening to the autumn rain, and slipped into her fur dressing gown, the Guttersnipe padded down the hallway toward the atrium, her feet making soft little echoes on the stones. She would be glad, she thought, when the evening's events were past and they could fire up the hypocaust for the winter. She wondered if it was callous, thinking only of warmth for her feet, thinking the lives of the men in the space beneath were such an inconvenience to her. The thought of them filled her with an angry dreading, an anger at their existence, a dread of their potential. Under her feet the stones gave back the cold of sullen animal quiet. It reminded her of Mordred, of all people, and she flushed with anger, taking comfort behind the shield-ring of her hatred for wicked things, dark, formless things. Under her feet the hate was flung back, wordless, sullen, a brooding darkness waiting for Ambrosius's sword.

She paused at the doorway of the solarium, hearing Ambrosius' voice. Through the walls his and Artos' voices sounded so alike sometimes. She had to stop and listen for a moment to be sure, palms and cheek pressed to the wall, certain that Artos could not come up behind her and flick her with a strong finger under the ear for eavesdropping.

"We drive cattle," Ambrosius was saying. "Our home-work is with horses, breeding and training them for war, but we raise cattle as well as stock and to sell. We deal in just about any animal, but chiefly horses and cattle; the sheep we raise down in the cotswolds on tenant lands... But if it is cattle work you are interested in, I can give you that - and iron-work too, when the marching season comes around, if you care for that sort of thing."

Fingers closed over the back of her neck. She whimpered, caught. Leaning on the wall to support himself, Artos looked down at her disapprovingly, having come up on silent bare feet from his bedroom. Gathering up her robe, aided by a smack on the backside, she trotted down the hallway to the kitchen, having to leave Ambrosius' conversation half-finished.

In the kitchen she found Domitia. Holding the front of her dressing robe closed, she accosted the girl and said, "I have a dress that I need to try and have looked at. Do you have a moment to help me?" She flushed, suddenly awkward at approaching the girl on her own girlish terms.

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