I’m running out of snippets faster than I anticipated (many of the ones I have remaining are spoilery), so I had a hard time picking one for today. I finally landed on this one; it might appear later, in a different form, in the book, but this version turned out a little too Miguel and Tulio. Which, let me add, there’s nothing wrong with Miguel and Tulio, and Road to El Dorado is as close to a perfect movie as one can make in an imperfect world, but these two are not my main characters:
Beaming, he pulled a little pouch from within his vest. “Here.”
She took it, turning it over in her hands. It was an ordinary flat pouch with a drawstring mouth, though made of finer materials than many she’d seen, and covered with symbols embroidered in gold thread. He must have taken the cloth from the lining of his red cloak, and pulled threads from all that fancy-work on his clothing.
To all appearances, it was empty. It weighed next to nothing, and it flopped and flapped limply, like a poor man’s purse after the bills have been paid.
“Go on,” he said, beaming with ill-concealed pride. “Open it up.”
Empty indeed, not even a tooth pick or a clipped copper inside.
“Now give it here.”
She did, and he reached into it with all the drama of his stage-magician persona, and, with a flourish, pulled out a worn little leather-bound book.
“See?” he said–not, she noticed, offering to let her hold the book. “They’re all in there, safe and sound. It doesn’t even matter if water gets inside; they’re protected. It’s like a–you don’t care what it’s like, do you?”
She couldn’t help it. She stared at him. In a moment she was going to be very, very angry, but for now she was just incredulous.
“…Aine?” he said, taking a step backward, still holding his precious book and his damned magic pouch.
“Let me see if I understand,” she growled. Delicate wizard or no, friend or no, she was going to beat the stuffing out of him. “All this time, you’ve had a magic pouch of unlimited capacity, and it never once occurred to you that you could use it to carry a little extra food?”
He gaped at her, at her balled fists and heaving chest. If he had laughed at her, she probably would have really hit him, for the second time that long, long day.
He didn’t laugh, though. He sucked in his lower lip, looking disappointed and sad and thoughtful and determined all at once. Absently, without looking at what he was doing, he tucked the leather journal into a pocket at his breast. Then he tilted his head and offered her a tiny smile, eyebrows quirked, and the pouch. “It does have limits,” he said. “I couldn’t fit an oliphant in there, for instance.”
She glared at him, but she let him put the pouch in her hand. “A what?”
“Giant tusked animal, big as a house, grey wrinkly skin, long snout. Lives in hot southern grasslands. Also, completely beside the point.” He prodded the pouch with one finger. “You can only put something inside if it’ll fit through the opening. So, you couldn’t use it to–oh, I don’t know–transport an army without having to feed or house them. Unless it was a very tiny army.” And he grinned and held up his finger and thumb to demonstrate: about this tall. Aine rolled her eyes.
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked him. The pouch lay limp and slightly ridiculous across the palm of her hand.
“Because,” he said, suddenly serious, and reached out with both hands and curled her fingers around it. “I want you to hold onto it for me. For safekeeping. And–“ again he was unable to suppress his smile, but there was no malice in it, only simple amusement, even joy, “–if you want to shove some hardtack in there for future use, it’s your decision to make.”
She sighed, and looked down at their joined hands. She felt a smile trying to tug at the corner of her mouth. “You are ridiculous.”
“It’s been said,” he agreed.