Open Elevenses
Late November, 1899, mid-morning

The snow still lay thick over the ground, covering whatever winter-dried grass might lie hidden beneath. But it was still worth the effort to take the horse out on a lead rope, to allow him to scrape with a hoof at the icy white mantle, in hopes of finding a mouthful to snatch at underneath. It gave him a break from being tied all day, and a chance to stretch his muscles, even if it wasn’t vigorous exercise. That he could get inside the tent, when Nearboy and his sister practiced, which they did daily. The gelding, though, was, like all of his kind, easily bored and seemed to enjoy the walks. Nearboy did as well. Like the horse, he did not enjoy being cooped up all the time. Despite the cold, he liked traipsing around the village with Kalo, ignoring both the looks of admiration, for the jet black coat of the gelding which shone – as best it could given its winter length, and the suspicious glances he got, because he was a stranger here. He’ fallen into the habit of such a trek around mid-morning every day, and this day was no different.
Near the church yard, both were stood, the horse with head bent down, scrunching at some wisps of hardy grass in its beige winter coat, sticking up through the disturbed snow. The young man was humming quietly to himself, thinking whatever thoughts young men do in such moments. He had a look on his face of some dreamy quality, neither explicitly friendly nor expressly hostile. Kalo pawed at the ground and shook his rather thick head, making the long forelock that reached to his eyes shimmy and quiver. One strand lodged itself askew his fuzzy ear, and Nearboy bent to dislodge it, giving a soft murmur to his equine friend in a very foreign tongue.

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