By Hans Wilhelm
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Extra resources for A Christmas Journey
I went downstairs. Even if he comes to regret what we did, he is less likely to hit me in front of his mother, I think. In the warm, fire-lit kitchen, Donata got up from the floor-carpets as I entered. She crossed to the hob, and took the lid off a pot. ' She said it so plainly that either there was no innuendo, or she was used to her son bringing home men for the occupation we had been about. ' I seated myself on the cushions beside the hearth. even the house-door had been iron, and not iron-studded oak, I reflected.
In the high arch of the sky, there hung that great wing of copper-shadowed blackness that men call the Penitence-and where there should have been the sun, I could see only darkness. I glanced back towards the Maltese ship from which I'd disembarked. Beyond it and the harbour, on the horizon, the last edge of the sun's light feathered the sea. Green, gold, ochre, and a shimmering unnatural blue that made me itch to blend ultramarine and glair, or gum arabic, and try to reproduce it... And yet it is midday.
I opened my mouth to protest-and shut it again. Three separate oak-gall ink drawings adorned the margin. Two were approximations of diagrams in the original manuscript. The third... Was half-a-dozen sketched lines that caused me to lift my head and look at the Lord-Amir's cat, asleep on the window-ledge overlooking the courtyard, one front leg hanging bonelessly down against the inner wall. My hand has a mind of its own in absent moments. ' The Egyptian might or might not have been suppressing a smile.
A Christmas Journey by Hans Wilhelm