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The Brothers Lionheart

Our pursuers were behind us; we heard their clattering hoofs, sometimes closer, sometimes farther away, but insistent; they did not go away, for now Park knew whom he was chasing, and no Tengilman could allow such a prey to get away. That would be a great prize to take back to Tengil in his castle.

With them at our heels we galloped over the bridge, and two spears came whistling after us, but they did not reach us.

Now we were over on the Nangiyala side, and the worst should be over, Jonathan had said, but I couldn’t see that that was so. The hunt was continued along the river. High up on the bank the bridle path leading into Wild Rose Valley twisted and turned, and we raced along it. This was the way we had come on another summer evening, which now seemed a thousand years ago, when we had come riding along at dusk, Jonathan and I, slowly riding on our way to our first campfire. That was how you should travel along rivers, not the way we were now, racing so that the horses almost fell.

Orvar rode the most wildly because he was riding home to Wild Rose Valley. Jonathan couldn’t keep up with him, and Park was catching up on us; I couldn’t think why until I realized it was because of me. There was no swifter ride than Jonathan, and no one would ever have been able to catch up with him if he had been along on the horse, but now h had to think of me all the time and that hindered him.

This ride was to decide the fate of Wild Rose Valley, Jonathan had said. And I would be the one to decide how it would end. It would end badly; I became more and more sure of that. Every time I turned around to look, those black helmets were a little nearer, sometimes hidden behind a hillock or some trees, but then inexorably there again, nearer and nearer.

Jonathan knew as well as I did that we could not save ourselves now, not both of us, and it was necessary that Jonathan got away. I couldn’t let him be captured because of me. So I said:

“Jonathan, do as I say now.

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Category: English folktales
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