It was a wonderful thing to be out on the hills and see a great stag come walking calmly from the forest, balancing his crown of horns. He would kneel and put his nose in Silvias hand, and folding his tall delicate legs under him, sit there between us while she stroked his neck. He smelled sweet and strong and gamy. His eyes were large, dark, and quiet; so were Silvias eyes. That is what it was like in the age of Saturn, my poet said, the golden time of the first days when there was no fear in the world. Silvia seemed a daughter of that age. To sit with her on the sunlit slopes or run with her on the forest trails she knew so well was the delight of my life. There was no one in all that country of our girlhood who wished us any harm. Our pagans, the folk of the plowlands, greeted us from their fields or the doorstep of their round huts. The surly bee-keeper saved a comb of honey for us, the dairy women had a sip of cream for us, the cowboys showed off for us, riding bull-calves or vaulting an old cows horns, and the old shepherd Ino showed us how to make piping flutes of oat-straw.
Sometimes in summer as the long day drew toward evening and we knew we should be starting home to the farm, wed both lie face down on the hillside and push our faces right into the harsh dry grass and the hard clodded dirt, breathing in the infinitely complex smell, hay-sweet and soil-bitter, of the warm summer earth, our earth. Then we were both Saturns children. We leapt up and ran down the hill, ran home race you to the cattle ford!
Copyright © 2008 by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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