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No one with half a brain would try to cross the river. No one ever could.

Except the man and his enormous horse.

I were cutting willow switches, and then I seen them in the middle of the water. Two heads, a black horse's and a man's. It seemed the horse was walking-like, on the bottom, but I don't know 's the river has a bottom. But whatever it were doing, the horse were coming straight for me.

I hid in the tree, which were pretty silly-like, 'cause a willow's no leaves in early spring.

The man didn't see me, or he pretended as much he didn't see me as I pretended to be a bird. Or something.

He had hair red as a fox, all curly, and the bit below his shoulders were wet and dripped water onto his jerkin.

The horse - it were huge, with a long mane and masses of fluff around hooves big as Ma's milking bucket. It were noisy-like, snorting and blowing and grumbling.

The stranger sat straight on the horse's back, no saddle, and grabbed a breath of wind in his hand. He whispered into it, and let it go. He were using magic. His eyes met mine and my cheeks glowed like they's on fire.

He kicked the horse's sides and rode off. The orange spot that were his hair grew smaller and smaller amongst the grass and the buttercups.

* * *

Annette looked at me, eyes wide like a rabbit's just before it got clubbed.

'I don't believe you.'

I shrugged. Annette's pale hands never stopped weaving willow twigs in-out-in-out around the leads. Apple baskets we was making, not that I'd a clue what city people want with those, seeing there's no apple trees in the city, but Granma said make apple baskets, so we made apple baskets. For taking to market, you know.

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