Inside Rufus Sixsmith's head the whole world was frost and ice.
He must have been on the cusp of consciousness,
because by now he'd acknowledged the absurdity of his dream: his brain had managed to conjure up scenes of a colossal freeze while Rufus himself was sleeping off a hangover in
the cosseting warmth of a Sicilian villa.
Despite the dichotomy, the dream refused to budge.
Rufus was to remain on the frozen river for a while longer, skidding aimlessly through the crowded,
costumed carnival that had spilled its music and lit its bonfires on swathes of impenetrable ice.
He slipped and staggered and shivered.
In his dream he was ill-dressed and still drunk, as drunk as he had been the night before, when he'd gleefully succumbed to the abundance of Nero d'Avola in the villa's cellar.
Outrageously attired attendants, skates clasped on with huge metal rosettes and crystal decanters glinting on silver trays, would scrape to a halt before him and refill his cup.
With indifferent nods, they'd then whirl off to attend to the many groups of courtiers gliding past Rufus with infinitely more grace,
despite the heavy fur-trimmed extravagance of their Elizabethan garb.
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