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The Brothers Lionheart

But you could also say that they were young days.”

He thought for a while.

“Yes, that’s it,” he said. “Young, healthy, and good days, which are easy and simple to live in.”

But then his eyes darkened.

“At least here in Cherry Valley,” he said.

“Is it different in other places?” I asked, and Jonathan said that it could indeed be different in other places.

What luck that we landed up here! Here in Cherry Valley, where life was as easy and simple as Jonathan had said. It couldn’t be easier or simpler than on a morning like this. First you’re awakened in your kitchen by the sun shining in through the window and the birds twittering and happy in the tree outside, and you see Jonathan quietly setting out bread and milk on the table for you, and when you’ve finished, you go out and feed your rabbits and groom your horse. And then you ride off, oh, you ride off, and there’d dew on the grass, glittering and shining everywhere, and bumblebees and ordinary bees humming in the cherry blossoms, and your horse gallops away and you’re not even afraid that it’ll all suddenly come to an end, like everything that’s fun usually does. Not in Nangiyala! At least not here in Cherry Valley!

We rode through the meadows, hither and thither as things came, then we followed the path along the stream, twisting and turning and suddenly we saw the morning smoke from the village down in the valley, at first just the smoke and then the whole village itself with its old houses and farm. We heard cocks crowing and dogs barking and sheep and goats bleating; it all sounded like morning, all of it. The village must have just awakened.

A woman with a basket on her arm came toward us on the path, a peasant woman, I think, neither young nor old, but a bit in between, brown skinned as you get when you’re out in all weathers. She was dressed in an old-fashioned way, rather like in the sagas.

“Oh, Jonathan, your brother’s come at last, has he?” she said, smiling in a friendly way.

“Yes, he’s come now,” said Jonathan, and you could hear that he thought that was good.

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