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The Brothers Lionheart

“Oh, it’d be fine,” said Jonathan. “Well, we could ride around in the forests and build campfires here and there---if only you knew what the forests around the Nangilima valleys were like! And deep in the forests lie small clear lakes. We could build a campfire by a different lake every evening and be away for days and nights and then go back home to Mathias again.”

“And help him with the apples,” I said. “But then Sofia and Orvar would have to look after Cherry Valley and Wild Rose Valley without you, Jonathan.”

“Well, why not?” said Jonathan. “Sofia and Orvar don’t need me and longer. They can put things right for themselves in their valleys.”

But then he fell silent and told no more stories. We were silent, both of us, and I was tired and not at all happy. It was no comfort to hear about Nangilima, which was so far away from us.

Dusk grew deeper and deeper and the mountains blacker and blacker. Great black birds swayed above us and cried so dismally that everything seemed desolate. Karma Falls was thundering away and I was tired of hearing it. It made me remember what I wanted to forget. Sad, sad, everything was, and I’ll never be happy again, I thought.

I moved closer to Jonathan. He was sitting very still, leaning against the mountain wall, and his face was pale. He looked like a prince in a saga as he sat there, but a pale and exhausted prince. Poor Jonathan, you’re not happy either, I thought. Oh, if only I could make you a little happy.

As we were sitting there in silence, Jonathan suddenly said:

“Rusky, there’s something I must tell you.”

I was afraid at once, because when he said that, it was always something sad he had to tell.

“What must you tell me?” I said.

He stroked my cheek with his forefinger.

“Don’t be afraid, Rusky...but do you remember what Orvar said? I tiny lick of Katla’s fire is enough to paralyze or kill anyone---do you remember him saying that?”

“Yes, but why talk about that now?

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