The Brothers Lionheart
“And then, little Karl, you’ll see a waterfall such as you’ve never even dreamt about.”
I had seen very little before I had come to Nangiyala, certainly no forest like the one we were now riding through. It was one of those truly sagalike forests, thick and dark, and there were no trodden paths. We simply rode straight on through the trees, which slapped their wet branches across your face. But I liked it, all the same. All of it---seeing the sun sifting through the tree trunks, hearing the birds, and smelling the scent of trees and wet grass and horses. Most of all, I liked riding there with Jonathan.
The air was fresh and cool in the forest, but as we went on, it grew warmer. It was going to be a hot day, we could feel that already.
Soon Wild Rose Valley was left far behind us and we were deep in the forest. In a glade surrounded by tall trees, we came across a little gray cottage, right in the middle of the dark forest. How could anyone live in such a lonely place! But someone did live there, for smoke was coming out of the chimney and there were two goats grazing outside.
“Elfrida lives here,” said Jonathan. “She’ll give us a little goat’s milk if we ask her.”
We were given milk, as much as we liked, which was good, because we’d ridden a long way and had had nothing to eat. We sat on Elfrida’s steps and drank her goat’s milk, and we ate bread that we’d had with us and goat’s cheese which Elfrida gave us, and we each had a fistful of wild strawberries which I’d picked in the forest. It all tasted very good and we were satisfied.
Elfrida was a fat, kindly little old woman, and she lived alone there with nothing but her goats and a gray cat for company.
“Thank the Lord I don’t live behind any walls,” she said.
She knew many people in Wild Rose Valley and she wanted to know if they were still alive, so Jonathan had to tell her. He was sad when he did that, for most of it was the kind of news a kindly old person must grieve to hear.
“That things should be so wretched in Wild Rose Valley,” Elfrida said.