Young Venture and his master's daughter, Jade are attacked by a group of older boys on the road to her father's estate.
Run, Jade, Venture wanted to say. Please. Just run. But he didn’t dare call their attention back to her. He cursed at the boys instead, swung wildly, and managed to make contact with one of their noses, but then he took a boot right in the gut for it. He had to get up before they noticed her again. Had to. He breathed in dirt and he coughed it out and he kept getting up, and they kept pounding on him.
Then one of them said, “Hey! She’s gone!”
“Never mind her. Let’s finish him.”
Thank God, she’d gotten away, disappeared into the roadside brush. He imagined her slipping through the weeds and into the trees, soundless and quick like the rabbits she liked to help him track. When the time was right, she’d get up and run, taking the shortcut home.
But he was still here, still breathing dirt, still going to die with the pounding of their fists and the roaring of their laughter like the throbbing triumph of darkness itself in his ears.