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The Brothers Lionheart

“When she came with the soup.”

“What puzzle?” said Jonathan.

“I’ve gone to find him far, far away beyond the mountains.”

I told him what I had written.

“I did that so that Sofia wouldn’t be worried,” I said.

Jonathan laughed.

“Not be worried---that’s what you think. And me? How calm do you think I was when I learned that you were somewhere up in the mountains of Nangiyala!”

I must have looked ashamed, because he hastened to comfort me.

“Brave little Rusky, it’s wonderful that you were there all the same, and even more wonderful that you are here.”

That was the first time anyone had ever called me brave and I thought that if I went on in this way, then perhaps I would be able to call myself Lionheart, despite Jossi.

But then I remembered what else I had written on the wall at home, about someone with a red beard who wanted white horses. I asked Jonathan to add a line to the message:

“Karl says all that about red beard is wrong.”

I also told him how Hubert had saved me from the wolves and Jonathan said that he would be grateful to him for the rest of his life.

Dusk was falling over Wild Rose Valley as we went to release Bianca, and lights began to go on in all the houses and farms on the slope below us. It looked so calm and peaceful that you might have thought people were now sitting down eating their good evening meal or perhaps just talking to each other and playing with their children or singing little songs to them and enjoying life. But you knew it wasn’t like that. You knew that they had hardly anything to eat and that they weren’t calm and happy, only unhappy. Tengil's men up on the wall with their swords and spears helped you to remember how things were, in case you might forget.

There were no lights in Mathias’s windows. His house was dark, and everything was silent, as if there weren’t a living soul in it. But we were there, not in the house, but outside, Mathias standing guard at the corner of the house, and Jonathan and I crawling among the wild roses with Bianca.

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