Sae Marrel stopped a few steps from a young peasant woman, as usual with his hands behind his back and rocking himself from side to side.
— Has anything bad happened?
The girl sniffed loudly, wiped her tears with a clumsy gesture and forced a smile.
— Don't pay attention to it. It's nothing!
— It–is–no–thing, – slowly, syllable by syllable, pronounced the boy.
Then he said more quickly: "It is nothing,"– then he repeated these words several times, every time increasing the rate of speech.
— It is nothing, it's nothing, it nothing, nothing, thing. Nonsense. Nothing like such trivia have ever happened to, because of which people cry. If you are crying, it means that it is not a trifle already.
The girl sniffed again.
— I have a friend. He enlisted in the army... You know what times are now. He had nothing to give me as a keepsake at parting, and he gave me a clay dog, which he had modelled himself. It looks very much like a little bear-cub, but isn't it important? It was his gift, – the girl burst into tears again.
— I... it has... broken itself.
With the trembling hands she pulled out a few fragments from the pocket of the apron. In one of them you could identify a half of a bear’s muzzle with dog's ears, others were simply shapeless pieces of clay.
— I so took care of it, and now... I'm so afraid. I fear something bad will happen to Pere because I have not kept his dog.
— Pfff... – snorted the cat, – and why do people always see connection between such things? If her precious Pere turns out to be in a good arbalester’s sight, this bear-dog, broken or unbroken, will not turn an arrow back and will not cover the fellow with its clay breast.
— Do you grudge a couple of incantations? – smiled Marrel. – Only two in all, and the girl will be waiting for her fellow for three more moons. And later she will receive a letter written by a literate tavern-keeper for a twopence. And she will be happy. And when Pere is killed, it will not have come into her mind by this time to connect his death with the broken little clay-figure.
— It seems I know who will be the very tavern-keeper, – the cat arched its back and walked along the roof. – Only spare me the necessity of writing such rubbish.
— Fortunately, for that I don't need your help, – the boy made a cup of his hands and stretched out them to the girl.
— Do you know? I am a little a wizard, you see.
— What? Really? – the girl sniffed distrustfully. But in her eyes hope began to gleam.
— I'm not a true wizard of course, – added Marrel hastily, until his words proved be taken seriously. And anticipating her disappointed sob, he added, – but my father taught me to join the pieces of broken things together as if these things had never been broken.
— Is it true? – the girl obviously hesitated.
— Certainly, – replied Marrel with all honesty, on which he was only able, in his look.
— But... – the girl hesitated. – I saw as old Odd was patching up the holey basins, and Henry went to the town so that the local artisans would glue the pieces of the broken vase together which his mother liked very much. But even a very good artisan cannot get a broken thing together so as if it has never been broken.
— My father was the very best of the best artisans, – declared the boy with confidence and stretched out his palms to the girl again. – Let's try. It won't be worse all the same.
Apparently, the last argument convinced the girl, she sniffed once more and carefully shifted the debris to the boy's palms.
— As if hasn't it ever been broken? – she asked in the forlorn hope.
— It has never been broken either, – the boy gave a smile, closing his palms together. When he opened his palms, there was nothing on them. The girl gasped.
— This is a trick, – the boy anticipated her reaction. – I haven't thrown away anything and lost either, but I need some time to join everything together. Come to the same place at noon tomorrow. I'll return you your clay figure.
The girl stared at him with suspicion.
— Will not you have run away? Won't you have substituted?
— How will I substitute for it, if I don't even know what it looked like? – returned Marrel. And for what reason should I flee? It is not made of gold, your figure, is it?
The girl nodded.
— Well, I'll come tomorrow. But what will I owe you for it?
The boy scratched the back of his head.
— I'll think of it. See you tomorrow, – he smiled showing the snow-white teeth.
"More of less thirty years will have passed before you learn to court to the girls," – the cat chuckled from somewhere of the stairs.
"Look who is talking," – the boy snapped the cat's head off, continuing to demonstrate a dazzling smile to the girl.
The girl said good-bye hastily, bowed and took to her heels.
— Now she will be tormenting till tomorrow, conjecturing if you will be able to repair the figure and what you will demand in return for your services, – the cat kingly stretched itself at the boy's feet. – It's not good.
Marrel pull out from his pocket the skewed to the left little figure of the thick-pawed bear with dog's ears.
— Tomorrow I'll tell her that I was working all night long. And I will ask for an embroidered towel in return. It'll be just.
— The poor girl will have to buy some cloth, threads and be embroidering it for several days, do you think it is a fair price for two incantations?
— She will consider it a fair price for the work of the one, who is the very best of the best artisans. Maybe she even remain pleased with that she was asked for a low price.
— But what will you do with the towel? – sniggered the cat. – And, what is more, with the embroidered one?
The boy smiled enigmatically.
— I'll find the use for it, too. After all, I am a wizard.