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The Brothers Lionheart

But it wasn’t Hubert. It was Jossi! The Golden Cockerel.

chapter 8

Jossi and none other!

It took me a moment or so to take it in. Jossi, the person who had been so kind and happy and red-cheeked and who had given me cakes and comforted me when I was sad---he was the traitor.

And here he was, sitting by the fire, only a short way away from me, together with those Tengilmen---Veder and Kader, he called them---explaining why he hadn’t come earlier.

“Hubert’s out hunting wolves in the mountains, and I had to keep out of sight.”

Veder and Kader looked sullen, and Jossi went on.

“Surely you haven't forgotten Hubert? You ought to have him in Katla Cavern too, because he also hates Tengil.”

“Then I think you should do something about it,” said Veder.

“For you’re our man in Cherry Valley, aren’t you? said Kader.

“Of course, of course,” said Jossi.

He fawned and cringed, but Veder and Kader didn’t like him; I could see that. I suppose no one likes a traitor, even if he has his uses.

But he was allowed to keep his ears; they didn’t cut them off. But they did something else; they put the Katla mark on him.

“All Tengil’s men have to carry the Katla mark, even a traitor like you,” said Veder. “So that you can show them who you are, if any spies who don’t know you come to Cherry Valley.”

“Of course, of course,” said Jossi.

They ordered him to open his jacket and shirt and with a branding iron that they heated in the fire, they burned the Katla mark on to his chest.

Jossi cried out when he was touched by the glowing iron.

“Feel that!” said Kader. “Now you know that for eternity you’re one of us, traitor that you are.”

Of all the nights in my life, this must have been the longest and hardest, at least since I had come to Nangiyala, and almost the worst of it was having to lie there and listen to Jossi bragging about what he had planned for the destruction of Cherry Valley.

He would soon be able to snare Sofia and Hubert, he said, both of them.

“But that must happen so no one realizes who lies behind it.

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