Wulsy was not in the court.

Wulsy was not in the court. Gwynn had scampered down the back stairs with such nervous haste that her spirit was queerly quenched to find it empty, like a red-​​hot iron plunged unstruck into the trough for lack of hammer.

She stepped slowly down from the archway onto the flagstones, taking care to lift her hems just high enough to show her ankles and to point her booted toes just so.

Her father’s castle had no grand stairways like the King’s, and she feared she would need years to learn to descend them with the Queen’s grace, if she could only practice four steps at a time.

She feared she would need years to learn to descend them with the Queen's grace.

After a moment’s hesitation, she stomped back up and glided down a second time, but three times would have seemed ridiculous even to her. She stopped. Still there was no Wulsy.

The sun had scarcely passed its noontide zenith, but at this time of the year it never rose high enough to shine quite into the depths of the inner court. Rather than melting, the snow was only trodden to slush and swept aside.

The snow was only trodden to slush and swept aside.

There was a great pile beside her, all gray and pockmarked and stiff, and after a time she began to feel the coldly humid atmosphere it exhaled trickling beneath her heavy hems and around her dainty ankles like a lewd breath.

As soon as she thought of it in those terms, she determined its insolence could not be borne.

She determined its insolence could not be borne.

She looked back at the great doors and up at all the windows, but during Hetty’s quiet time the inhabitants of the castle were scrupulously discreet.

She looked down at the gate house, but the one bored guard had his back to her, and was rocking slowly on his feet, deep in the meditations of a guard.

No one was watching.

Gwynn spun about and kicked her booted toe into the slush pile with all her might.

Gwynn spun about and kicked her booted toe into the slush pile with all her might.

The slush was just snow enough to be kickable and just ice enough to hold its shape. Her foot punched a neatly foot-​​shaped hole into it, and stuck just fast enough to make her giggle. Oh, it had been years since she had last permitted herself to play in the snow!

She pulled her foot free and stepped back to kick with the full length of her leg. Her foot thunked into the pile again and stopped short, stuck almost to the ankle of her boot. It was too funny!

She yanked her foot out and permitted herself to shake with silent laughter.

She yanked her foot free and permitted herself to shake with silent laughter.

She knew that when she tried to stifle her giggles she had an embarrassing tendency to oink, but no one was listening! No one was watching! She felt some of her nervous excitement stealing over her again, starting with that new tickly feeling in her tummy and spreading warmly outwards in a glow.

She drew back her leg, and only her hesitation over whether to kick or stomp saved her from the humiliation of being discovered stuck up past her dainty ankle in a snowbank.

The guard shouted hallo, and Gwynn whirled about and brushed herself off only just in time to see her father’s reeve step up into the court, followed closely by the King’s.

Gwynn whirled about and brushed herself off.

She was accustomed to Eohric, but the Royal Reeve was still too new to blend into the landscape, and to Gwynn it seemed that Saeward had an innate conspicuousness of his own.

Her father called him the Father Matthew of reeves, for he could make even innocent men fear they were condemned – and on this occasion Gwynn was already feeling ill-​​at-​​ease. Furthermore, her conversations with him now required an extra helping of haughty diplomacy, to preserve her straight face in spite of some of the jokes her sister had made about his beard.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” she said airily as they approached.

'Good afternoon, gentlemen.'

Eohric only bowed his head, for he had greeted her more formally that morning, but Saeward stopped to kiss her hand. The beard that brushed her fingers was coldly humid, like the snow.

“Good afternoon, my lady. We are pleased to find you well.”

Oh, his beard waggled all the more wildly when he spoke through a smile!

“I you likewise,” Gwynn replied.

One corner of his smile softened, making the other seem sly – and making his beard appear rather lopsided.

“The cold air only heightens your beauty,” he added admiringly.

“Yours likewise,” she smirked.

He laughed. It was that easy! The pink of Gwynn’s cold cheeks was heightened by a very warm blush. Saeward had a fine, deep laugh, which was well worth teasing out… but oh, when he tipped his head back she could almost see his beard from below! She choked on a laugh of her own.

He laughed.

Eohric said, “If he’d knowed that’s all it took, he wouldn’t have spent so much on the barber!”

Saeward jokingly bowed and said, “Pray excuse me while I go plant my face in this snowbank…”

Gwynn panicked. He was a reeve – the sighthound of men – and his eyes were specifically trained to detect footprints.

She skittered around to stand before it and asked sharply, “Have you men seen Wulsy?”

Saeward lifted his eyebrows and looked to Eohric.

“The stable master,” Eohric reminded him. To Gwynn he only shrugged and said, “Not since before dinner.”

'Not since before dinner.'

Saeward’s gaze returned to Gwynn’s face, but his eyes were ever so slightly keener. “Are you and Condal riding down to greet her cousins, then?”

Gwynn’s panic deepened into dread. He was a reeve: specifically trained to detect lies.

“The news of their arrival certainly traveled fast, despite the snow,” she said haughtily. She thought a Duke’s daughter could permit herself an oblique reply to the question of a mere reeve – though she wondered uneasily whether her telling-​​the-​​truth haughty voice was always pitched so high.

“My lady,” Saeward smiled, “it is my duty to keep myself informed of the arrival of any such interesting strangers as these. In particular, Sir Malcolm tells me that I ought to keep my eye on the two young gentlemen.”

“As if you ever need to be told to keep your eye on young gentlemen,” Eohric scoffed.

'As if you ever need to be told to keep your eye on young gentlemen.'

Saeward laughed aloud, tipping back his head until his beard was almost upside down, sticking up stiff and proud.

Gwynn clapped her hand over her mouth to stop a laugh, and quickly lifted the other to pretend to blow into them to warm them. She could not turn her eyes away from that remarkable beard; and even as he laughed Saeward did not take his eyes from her face, as though he could see straight through her hands to her twisted mouth… or straight through her pretense to her true destination…

Gwynn huffed and blew and choked, helpless with stark panic and strangled laughter. Any second now he would guess… or she would oink…

Then, to her relief, Eohric turned and headed for the stairs.

Saeward broke his stare and bobbed after him, laughing, “Weren’t you just saying I was the only one who still found that funny?”

“I’m just telling the jokes my audience wants to hear,” Eohric sighed.

Saeward gave Gwynn a last glance over his shoulder. “Don’t forget who your audience is!” he warned.

'Don't forget who your audience is!'

Gwynn clamped her lips together and stood haughtily until she had heard the great door slam. Then she fell against the wall and squirmed with laughter. It was too funny! She had no idea what had so amused Saeward, but oh! his beard! Its insolence was not to be borne!

She whirled around and stomped her boot down hard into the snow.

She whirled around and stomped her boot down hard into the snow.

“Take that, goat-​​face!” she giggled breathlessly. She lifted her other foot and stamped it down. “And that’s for your mustache!” she laughed.

She had no particular grudge against the poor reeve – aside from her objection to the carefully-​​groomed absurdity of his facial hair – but everything was so funny today. The sun seemed so much brighter today, and the air seemed so clean. Her tummy was aswirl with a strange stew of excitement and nervousness and a giddy gladness over simply being alive. Oh, she was certain: it was love!

After a quick glance at the guard, she planted her fists on her hips and spun around on her toe, making her heavy hems flare. She imagined herself practicing her Scottish dancing all the way around the court, so beautifully and so brilliantly that the men and women of the castle would come to the windows to see, and the guards would all come watch her from the wall.

She imagined herself practicing her Scottish dancing all the way around the court.

She tipped back her head and leapt up – and came down with a clomp so loud and so echoing that it could only have come from a body far plumper than she believed hers to be.

The guard turned his head, and Gwynn was so mortified that she stopped stock-​​still and stared at him, her fists still pressed against her hips, and her head still high. The guard cringed nervously and turned back to watching the door.

It was that easy! Gwynn nearly trembled with her sense of her own unsuspected might. However, even she had to admit that her Scottish dancing practice would have to wait until Condal returned, or at least until Hetty’s quiet time was over… or at least until the changing of the guard.

It was that easy!

And then she remembered the snow. When she had stomped her foot down upon it, her boot had been stopped as neatly as when she had kicked it from the side…

She carefully posed her boot upon it and leaned. The snow squeaked and crumbled and compressed, and then it stopped, packed into a tidy, foot-​​sized stair. Gwynn pushed off from the flagstones with her other foot, and after a last squeak the snow held her firmly. It was that easy! She was not so very plump at all!

She stepped and scrambled up, and in no time at all she was standing on high.

In no time at all she was standing on high.

She stopped and turned to survey the empty court. So this was how it felt it be tall! The sun was even brighter, the air even cleaner up here. She felt gladder than ever to be alive. Why, she could have looked Eirik or Theobald in the eye!

Could she go higher? She turned and laid her hand on the window sill to steady her as she climbed onto the crumbling snow at the top of the heap–

The window sill! She was tall enough to peek in the window!

She was tall enough to peek in the window!

It was only the window to her little brother’s study, but she knew specifically that Cynewulf and her father had gone down to the river and would not be back before supper time.

The only other person who sometimes used the room was Malo, and she saw the candles were lit.

Oh, Malo! What if he were even then dawdling over his work, his chin resting dreamily on his hand, his lovelorn eyes turned up towards wispy visions of Condal? What if he were even then wiping a tear away with his hand – having already given away his only earthly handkerchief–fearing that he would never know how to make himself worthy of her, yet swearing to himself that he would try?

Oh, she had to see! Oh, the kisses Condal would give her for bringing word of this precious, touching scene!

She grasped the sill in both hands and leaned up to the window, hanging one leg out behind her to steady her, in spite of the cold exhalations of the snowbank blowing lewdly up her skirts.

She grasped the sill in both hands and leaned up to the window.

Oh, her father and his green glass! She could not quite see… but there did seem to be someone inside…

She shifted and squinted and stared… and then the guard shouted hallo.

Wulsy! Now Wulsy had to come!


There was no denying it would be a bit awkward to greet him from this height, though Wulsy had lifted her onto and off of many a snowbank years ago, but she certainly could not be found peering into windows.

She released her grip on the sill and turned…

Oh no! Oh no! It was not Wulsy at all! It was Finn!

It was Finn!

She tried to hurry down, but the snow that had packed itself so neatly when she had pushed into the center of it only crumbled and collapsed as she skidded down its side.

She had slipped nearly to the ground by the time she fell, but even a fall from the height of a tiny girl was a serious affair for the hands and knees of a girl of tiny height, and she yelped like a kicked puppy when she landed.

She yelped like a kicked puppy when she landed.

The first thing she saw after the stones abruptly stopped rushing up to meet her face was the toes of Finn’s boots scuffing uselessly before her. He had crossed the court in the time it took for her to fall head-​​first to meet it.

“Are you hurt?” he bleated.



“Do you need a help?”

“No!” she shrieked, livid with the anger of humiliation. Still, she could not help adding, “Some help or just help, you ninny!”

She rolled over and twisted herself around to sit, dragging her legs and cloak and heavy skirts together to curl herself up into a dumpling-​​like ball.

“Do you need some help to get up?” Finn asked. Strangely, he did not bother snidely drawing out the some.

'Do you need some help to get up?'

He put out his hand, but Gwynn only clamped her own tightly around her arms. Her scraped palms burned, and she feared she was bleeding, but she would not let this abominable boy see, and still less touch. She thought her cloak dark enough to hide the stains.

“You don’t mean to sit there?” he asked.

“No, I mean to sit over there!” she snapped.

'No, I mean to sit over there!'

He looked awkwardly around, trying to follow her gaze to this mysterious other sitting-​​place, though she kept it mostly turned down onto her knees. She hated the intonation of his questions – the strange emphasis he laid on the last word, regardless of what he truly meant to ask – but he was too stupid to ever understand when she attempted to mock him for it.

“Did you fall?”

“Do you have to ask?” she growled.

He tossed his head and blew his hair out of his eye, in what was one of his more annoying habits. “So, what should I say?”

'So, what should I say?'

Any other boy would have asked “What should I say?” but to Finn it was necessarily “What should I say?” Gwynn wanted to scream in exasperation.

Instead she grumbled, “I suggest ‘Good day’ or ‘Good bye’.”

Finn shouted over his shoulder, “She’s all right!”

Gwynn realized he was talking to the guard. She was furious at the guard for noticing, and furious at Finn for letting him, but that was nothing compared to what she felt an instant later.

“She laughs when she’s truly hurt!” Finn called back to the guard. “When she’s just grouchy, that means she’s fine!”

That did it.

That did it. His insolence was not to be borne. She stamped her boots down once and scrambled to her feet, ignoring the hand he thrust out at her to push herself up with her own skinned hands.

“How dare you?” she snarled softly. “What do you know about what I do when I’m hurt?”

'How dare you?'

“I saw you when you fell at the party,” he shrugged. “And you laughed then. I did not mean you are grouchy every time you are fine, but it is a good sign. Anyway, it made you get up.”

“And what is it to you if I get up?”

“I was only trying to help!” he pleaded. “What if your behind freezed to the stones?”

'What if your behind freezed to the stones?'

Gwynn stamped her foot again, desperate to howl or screech or scream. Her scraped hands curled into little fists.

Froze,” she corrected savagely. “And do not you ever talk about my–behind. Ever! – ever! – again!”

Finn scratched his forehead and counted to two on his fingers, as if calculating how long “ever ever” would require him to wait.

Finn scratched his forehead and counted to two on his fingers.

“And you may go,” she intoned.

“All right,” he shrugged. “I was about to go anyway to Paul’s to see my Scottish cousins. I only wished to ask Connie, does she want to ride with me to see them.”

“Condal is not even here,” Gwynn smirked, delighted to be able to deny him. “She already rode down there with Osh.”

'Condal is not even here.'

“Oh! Where are you going?” he asked, glancing at her cloak.

Gwynn’s stomach began to whirl with a faint, nervous nausea.

“What affair is that of yours?” she asked haughtily. On second thought she added, “And what makes you think I am going anywhere?

“I saw Wulsy taking out your mare. So where are you going?”

'So where are you going?'

“The opposite direction to yours. So you may not ride a step with us, if that’s what you want to know.”

“No,” he said patiently, “what I want to know is: where are you going?”

“I am only going to Iylaine’s,” she groaned. “To sew and play with the babies. Exciting, I know! Now goodbye!”

'Now goodbye!'

“Iylaine’s!” he cried. “That is a good idea. I am glad you thought of it – ”

Gwynn gasped, “No!”

“I have not seen my sister in a while…”

'I have not seen my sister in a while...'

“No! No!” Gwynn’s shrill voice was shaking with anger. “You are going to Paul’s–you just said so!”

“I changed my mind!” he grinned. “Luckily my horse is still saddled…”

“No! I forbid it!”

“You cannot forbid me to go to see my sister!” he laughed.

“I forbid you to go with me!

'I forbid you to go with me!'

“Fine!” he shrugged. “I shall meet you there.”

“No! No! No!”

He laughed and counted to three on his fingers.

“You abominable creature!” she squeaked. “You are only going to annoy me! Me! Some brother you are! I shall tell Iylaine so!”

“Ah ah!”

He wagged his counting-​​finger at her, and his grin was suddenly less than gleeful.

He wagged his counting-finger at her.

“And you are only going to see my sister’s houseguest. It is what I think.”

Gwynn choked.

He added, “And I shall tell Iylaine so.”

“No!” she snarled throatily. “No, you would not dare! Accusing me of going out to see a man! My brother will never let such an insult stand!”

'My brother will never let such an insult stand!'

As soon as the words left her mouth, she was stricken with the fear that Dunstan would somehow find out about her threat… that he would ask her to explain…

“It is true though,” Finn said, scarcely smiling any longer at all. He snorted and swiped at his hair, which only made it fall farther forward into his eyes. “Listen,” he said gruffly, “it is time someone put this to a stop.”

'It is time someone put this to a stop.'

Disbelieving even he could be so impudent, Gwynn whispered, “What?

“This Cearball business. Just because he kissed you one time, you think now he is in love with you – ”

“How dare you?” she panted. “How dare you? How dare you?”

'How dare you?'

Finn began half-​​heartedly counting on his fingers, driving Gwynn into a deeper rage. Her face was so flushed she could almost feel her pulse beating in her cheeks.

“What do you know about his love?” she choked. “What do you know about his feelings for me?”

Finn ruffled his hair and mumbled, “Listen, it is quite obvious he doesn’t care a white about you – ”

Gwynn stamped her boot down and shrieked, “A whit! A whit! A whit, you stupid twit!”

'A whit, you stupid twit!'

Finn leaned away from her as if blown back by the storm of her fury. Her words echoed keenly in the deep court, and Gwynn thought fearfully of Hetty’s quiet time. Oh, if Hetty awoke now…

But oh, she could not bear him! She felt tears between her lashes when she squinted up her eyes.

“Say, that rhymes,” Finn said thoughtfully.

'Say, that rhymes.'

He lifted his arms and began to dance a shuffling step on his toes, to the tune of his soft chanting: “A whit… a whit…”

Gwynn shoved him. He dropped off his toes back onto his heels, but he went no farther. Like kicking her foot into the snow, she did not even feel the impact until the solidity of his body abruptly stopped her.

Now he was not smiling at all, and he eyed her with a smoldering intensity she had never seen on any man but Egelric, and never staring her in the face. She had the alarming impression that she had gone too far.

Now he was not smiling at all.

“Who is the stupid twit?” he asked. “It is obvious to everyone in this valley that Cearball is in love with Connie – everyone but you! Stupid! Twit!”

You know nothing about it!” she gabbled. “You are not privy to our conversations – ”

'You are not privy to our conversations--'

“Your conversations!” he sneered. “If he ever talks to you, it is so to get close to Connie. That is all. I do not know anything about the tricks of men in love, but even I know that!”

“You lie!”

He gasped, “What?

She had lashed out at him thoughtlessly, almost instinctively, but she saw that she had struck him to the quick. It was that easy! The corners of her mouth ached from the intensity of her sudden, cruel smile.

She tried her newfound power again. “Liar!”

“Did you just call me a liar?”


'Did you just call me a liar?'

“Did you just call me a liar?” he repeated shrilly. “Did you just call me a liar?”

Gwynn made a sickening laugh and started to count on her fingers.

Finn thrust her arms aside and stepped into the space between them. There would be no more counting. There would be no more shrill. There would be no more smile.

“Let me tell you a truth you will not like, drókha!” he menaced. “Cearball only cares about Connie – if he cares about anyone, which I do not think. But that is not why you need to put a stop. Not only because it makes me sick and makes you look like a stupid fool.”

Gwynn's heart was pounding like a little bird's.

Gwynn’s heart was pounding like a little bird’s, but she put on her most brazen, most defiant stare. It did not have the same effect on Finn as it had on the guard.

“The true reason is: if you make it so easy for him, he will not resist. And that is no lie. He may even say he loves you for one night. But afterward he will love you less. Akhta!

He lifted his arm and began to turn as though he were about to stomp away, but he only pushed back his entire headful of hair in one swipe and snorted like a plow horse.

He snorted like a plow horse.

Gwynn’s anger had so deepened that it had sunk from heat into an icy chill. Even her hatred was clearer and colder and finer on this day.

“You should try saying that to his face,” she muttered.

Oh, her self-​​command was magnificent! Her eyes were dry and her chin untrembling. She awed herself – but Finn was unimpressed.

“I don’t have nothing to say to him,” he sniffed. “He is not the one chasing you.

Her self-mastery snapped.

Her self-​​mastery snapped. “Did you say chasing?” she gasped. “Are you accusing me of chasing?

Just then the guard shouted, “Hallo!”

Gwynn clenched her fists until her fingernails bit into her skinned palms and moaned, “No! Wul–sy!”

'No!  Wul-sy!'

Finn snorted and chuckled shakily. “Change your mind? I shall tell him you stay in today – ”


Wulsy skipped up the stairs grinning. What had he heard? Oh, this boy had provoked her into forgetting all about Hetty’s quiet time, as well as everything else she was jeopardizing with her shrieking.

“So, shall we go?” Finn asked.

'So, shall we go?'

“Do not listen to anything he says!” Gwynn warned Wulsy.

“All right,” Wulsy agreed cheerily. “Your horse is ready, my lady.”

“And mine’s just outside…” Finn said.

Gwynn gasped, “No!”

Finn asked Wulsy, “Isn’t it?”

No, you are not going,” Gwynn interrupted. “Did you hear that?” she demanded of Wulsy.

'Did you hear that?'

“All right,” Wulsy shrugged.

Finn began, “Then I shall meet you there – ”

Gwynn shoved him. She did not know what had made her do it, but it seemed the only thing to do. She flung out her arms and launched herself at his chest.

She only bounced off, and Finn only swayed and straightened. He would not be beaten down as easily as snow.

Gwynn watched him nervously as his startled face hardened into anger, but then her mind was illuminated with a quite obvious truth that explained all the bad things away.

You are only jealous,” she cackled.

'You are only jealous.'

He demanded, “Jealous of that…” and trailed off, clearly overcome by the force of truth.

“Jealous! And you can simply forget about that, for Connie doesn’t even like – ” Gwynn remembered Wulsy just in time to correct herself with, “ – your sister! So there goes that idea of yours! And she doesn’t even like you, either, you stupid strutting cockerel! I know whom she does like, and it isn’t you!” she cried triumphantly.

'I know whom she does like, and it isn't you!'

“I am not even speaking about Connie,” he growled. “Connie is not so stupid. But you are!”

“Then you are just plain jealous!” Gwynn accused. “Jealous of – that – person! Jealous that anyone is smarter or handsomer or finer than you! Jealous because there’s a lady on earth who doesn’t love you!

“Jealous – over–you?” he demanded softly. “Who is the cockerel now? I try to give you an advice, and you think it must means I am jealous over you.”

'You think it must means I am jealous over you.'

He jabbed his finger so near Gwynn’s face that she covered it protectively with her hands. Oh, if only he laid so much as that finger on her! Her father would never let him within sight of her again!

“That was not advice!” she yowled through her fingers. “That was false accusations and lies!

“Did you just – ” He froze with his hand in the air, sucked in his breath, and looked as if he had only just caught himself in time.

“Fine!” he barked.


With the word, the look on his face changed abruptly from exasperated outrage to seething anger. Up to that moment he had seemed something she could meet – a worthy but not overwhelming opponent – but all her brazen defiance melted like metal in a furnace before that stare.

She was worse than afraid – she was in awe of him. At that moment no snowbank seemed high enough to let her see him eye-​​to-​​eye. It was him she would have to climb.

'At that moment no snowbank seemed high enough.'

“Fine, all right! Go see my sister! Have a fine time! But do you know something? I hope my sister breaks your heart! Perhaps this way you learn! But on that day do not ask me to give – you – a – help! I let you freeze your behind!”

'I let you freeze your behind!'

Gwynn was speechless, shaking. No man had ever – ever spoken to her in that way. She was breathing in gulps – she could feel her hotly humid breath on her hands – but she felt as if she was not getting any air.

She was helpless: she would have been obliged to listen to anything he had to say. As if in a final insult, however, he simply walked away, straight and graceful as any elf, even in anger.

Gwynn was not counting, but he only made it three strides before he stopped and turned, hesitant and awkward as any boy. A cold breeze lifted his hair like fingers and let it fall again over his eye.

“Just don’t…” He stared at the wall.

He stopped and turned.

Even at this season the sun shone deep enough into the court to cast a red glow on the back of his head, but his face was illuminated by the cold blue reflection of the snowbank, the color of moonlight in the middle of the afternoon. Aside from the spot of angry pink on his cheek, he looked almost cool enough to touch.

Then he turned his face to Gwynn, and the sun triumphantly gained the half of it, making the pink spot flare into red, and revealing the scowl of a still-​​smoldering anger. Once struck, she saw, his iron would take a long time to cool.

Sírr-​​sírrín ní témédésmanín,” he muttered through clenched teeth.

He turned away again.

Gwynn yelped, “No!”

He walked.

“How dare you insult me in your language! Come back here and say it in English–if you dare!

He still walked. Gwynn was not counting, but she counted five long strides across the court.

She counted five long strides across the court.

“I shall tell my brother! I shall tell Osh!”

He bounded up the four stairs as if they were two.

“I command you to come back!” she shrieked.

In two strides he vanished behind the arch. The great door creaked open and slammed.

Some time later Wulsy stretched his shoulders and sighed.

Gwynn whirled about to face him and demanded, “Can you believe the insolence of him?”

Wulsy shrugged. “Your ladyship did tell me not to listen to anything he said…”

'Your ladyship did tell me not to listen to anything he said...'

“How could you not?” she squeaked. “He is the rudest boy ever! Ever! His favorite game is to make me cry! His game! And I never did anything to him!”

“Sometimes they’re unfair that way…” Wulsy said with his usual philosophy.

“Well, he shall play it no longer!” she announced. “Nothing said by so obviously cruel and untruthful a boy can have any effect on me! Let us go.”

Wulsy lifted his eyebrows. “You still want to go?”

'You still want to go?'

Of course I still want to go!” Gwynn gasped. “Do you suppose I shall let the interference of that – boy spoil my afternoon?”

Even as she said it, she noticed the air was no longer quite so clean as before, and the light was growing dim. Of course, she told herself, at this season the sun set quickly. And if her tummy was no longer awhirl but only felt like it had a hard knot in it, it could easily be explained by the extra helping of ham she had taken at dinner.

Why she no longer felt so glad to be alive, however, she could not quite say.

She no longer felt so glad to be alive.