One of the women was handing a blanket to Jeremy when
Ariana heard her terrified scream. A boy of about six years had been
jumping up and down excitedly on the rocks and fallen into the
Jeremy took not even a moment to think before he
launched himself into the water in a flat dive. Aided by the
current, a few powerful strokes brought him to the child and he
grabbed him as he was sinking beneath the water. Jeremy lifted the
flailing child and attempted to stand while trying to calm his
fears. But the water here was much deeper and the screaming child
would not cease his struggles.
Seeing what was happening, the leader yelled to his
men, instructing them in a language that Ariana did not understand.
She stood, frozen with fear, unable to tear her gaze from the
terrifying scene. The men vaulted into their saddles, not even
bothering to touch foot to stirrups and thundered past her.
Jeremy guessed what they were about and concentrated
all his efforts toward holding the frantic bundle tight in his arms.
He let the current keep them afloat as he tried to whisper soothing
words in the boy's ear.
Incredibly, the leader stood on top of his saddle,
twirling the rope over his head while his mount was in full gallop.
The other two rode abreast of him, holding his horse steady. The man
shouted out and Jeremy raised his arm, the loop at the end of the
rope landing neatly over his wrist. The leader dropped back into his
saddle and brought the stallion to a halt, wrapping his end of the
rope securely around the pommel. Together, they wasted no time in
pulling Jeremy and the boy to safety.
Grabbing the child, the leader raised him high in the
air and then clasped him tightly to his chest. Assured the boy was
all right, he placed him on the front of the saddle and then mounted
himself. The others followed, with Jeremy riding double.
The women ran to meet the horses and grabbed the
child, crying words of love and screaming at him for being so
careless at the same time. Ariana snatched up a blanket and ran to
where Jeremy was bent over double, coughing and getting his breath
back. Tenderly, she placed the blanket over his heaving shoulders,
rubbing him down as the women had done for her. Reaching up, she
pushed the sodden hair back from his forehead and then, unable to
contain herself any longer, she threw herself weeping into his arms.
“I feared you were lost to me,” she sobbed.
“There, there, Sweeting. After all we’ve been
through, you should know it would take more than a puny river to
The man who had rescued Jeremy allowed them a moment
alone and then approached to introduce himself. “I am Zardo, the Rom
Baro of this Kumpania.” For the first time, Ariana took a good look
at their guardian angel. He was well above six feet tall with black
curly hair, sparkling eyes as black as his hair, and a swarthy
complexion. Gold hoops dangled from his ears and there was more gold
looped across the hairy expanse of his massive chest.
“We are Romany,” he explained, “but you English call
Ariana nodded her understanding. That explained a
lot; the women’s colorful clothes, the skill of the men on
horseback, the language she had not understood.
“It was my foolish grandson you saved from drowning
and we are grateful. None of us can swim and the boy would surely
have been lost. Davi will take my place as Rom Baro when I am gone,”
Zardo declared proudly.
“Had you not thrown the rope when you did, we would
both have been lost. You’re skill is most impressive,” declared