Ogion Smiled

Sparrowhawk sat pensively on the bough of the alder he had climbed, needing rest after the morning's ramble through the mountain forest. Ogion thought it important that Sparrowhawk take entire days from the usual routine of chores and studies to just wander about the forests. Sparrowhawk felt ambivalent about this; he believed that he had already wandered enough as a goatherd and he resented the lost time when he could be mastering yet another truename or rune. Still, the weather was pleasant around this solstice and Sparrowhawk realized that he did come back to Ogion's cabin refreshed and able somehow to grasp his lessons a bit more easily, at least for a while. So, he sat on the bough, observing the wind and the trees, and considering whether to eat his raisins and cheese or keep them for later.

At that moment, Sparrowhawk heard a branch somewhere behind him snap, followed by a soft thud and a steady, chirping whimpering. It didn't sound threatening, but he had learned that one should not rely on first impressions, so he waited a few moments, focusing on the sound of the whimpering. Satisfied that it was some small animal, he began trying to locate it. After a short search, he found it: a half-grown raccoon lay on the ground under another nearby alder, crying and looking around with wide, shining, black eyes. It looked more like a pudgy cat than a raccoon, but Sparrowhawk knew that was because it had not yet come into its full growth. One of the raccoon's front limbs was bent awkwardly, with the paw disappearing under the furry bulk of the animal's body. Sparrowhawk approached it slowly, so that it would not startle and hurt itself further. Once he got within about three paces of it, he stopped and spoke slowly and calmly, saying, "Where is your family, little one? Where are your friends? No matter, I will help you…" The raccoon kept whimpering, but seemed to relax slightly, and Sparrowhawk resumed moving towards it, slowly and slowly. Finally, he bent to stroke the animal's fur. The raccoon did not refuse, and before long Sparrowhawk was able to lift it, cradling it in his arms. He began the trek to Ogion's cabin, which would now take a longer time than coming did. Along the way, he sang a spontaneous song to soothe the hurt animal:

Gont Mountain is tall and proud

Selidor is beyond the edge of the ocean

The Tower of Havnor gleams in twilight

Atuan is thirsty and bright

But you, you are here with me

This side of the sea

Eyes glowing bright

Wind soughing through the forest

Heading to Ogion's care

All will be well, and all will be well

As Sparrowhawk repeated the improvised song, the raccoon grew calmer. Finally, they reached Ogion's cabin. Sparrowhawk entered and found Ogion sitting at the table, nothing in front of him, just sitting. He gently called, "Master, I have brought someone who needs you." Ogion turned. He looked carefully at the boy, almost a young man, skin darker than ever from the sun, cradling a raccoon with a bent forelimb, and he felt hopeful. Yes, this apprentice had much to learn; he was undisciplined, half-wild, impulsive, given to arrogance and vanity, but he possessed power, not only in the ways of the Art Magic, but in the ways of compassion. Ogion smiled.