Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Day in the Lonesome October-fest, October 20

The continuing account of reading A Night in the Lonesome October with an nine-year-old, out loud and during the day.

   October 20

I had been wondering for some time how Lily would react to the following line:

     "I hunted rats and ate out of dustbins and saw my kittens killed and was hung by my tail and abused by wicked urchins," Graymalk said suddenly, "before the mistress found me.  She was an orphan who'd lived on the streets.  Her life had been even worse."

I was reading to her as she was getting ready for the day and the cat was right next to her. She said, “I need a hug, Lucy,” and gave the cat a big hug.

     "Sorry," I said.  "I've seen some bad times myself."

     "If the way is opened, things should change."

     "For the better?"

     "Maybe.  On the other paw, if it isn't opened, things may change, too."

     "For the better?"

     "Damned if I know, Snuff.  Does anybody really care about a hungry cat, except for a few friends?"

     "Maybe that's all anybody ever has, no matter how the big show is run."

We talked a little about this, how sometimes people in a bad situation will try to change it, thinking that any kind of change would be an improvement.

     "Checking out our new neighbor, Snuff?" came a voice from a tree to the east.

     "It never hurts to be thorough," I replied.  "What about you, Nightwind?"

     "The same.  But she's not a player.  We're almost sure of it."

     "Oh?  You've met?"

     "Yes.  She visited the masters yesterday.  They feel she's harmless."
Me: Also, they’re pretty sure she’s a woman.
Lily: Come on! You’re animals! Use your nose!

     "Strange.  Bubo have anything to say about this?"

     "Bah!  You ought to send Graymalk after him, if I don't get him first.  Rats aren't as salty as bats.  Tougher, though. . . . He's worthless for information.  Won't trade for anything.  Either he's stupid, ignorant, or just closemouthed."

Lily: *giggle* *snort* Boobie.

     "Her servant spotted me, on a sudden return to the kitchen, and she heard me call out.  She came back and called me by name.  She was very nice.  Even gave me a saucer of milk, which I felt obliged to drink.  Who'd've thought anyone would look at a cat well enough to recognize her later, not to mention remembering her name?"

     "Maybe she likes cats.  Must have, if she wanted to feed you."

     "In that case, you'd think she'd have one of her own.  But she doesn't.  There were no signs."

     "Just has a good eye and a good memory then, I guess."

I’ve since adopted Zach’s interpretation of this as my own, that this is the point when Graymalk realizes that humans can be kind as well as cruel.

     Then he turned his attention to Graymalk, and moving with a speed that belied his earlier gesture, he snatched her up from the ground and held her to his breast.      "Kit-ty," he said then.  "Pret-ty kit-ty."      Clumsily, he moved to stroke her with his other hand, rain streaming down his face now, dripping from his garments.      "Pret-ty...”      "Snuff!" Graymalk wailed.  "He's hurting me!  Too tight!  His grip's too tight!"      I began barking immediately, hoping to distract him into relaxing his grip.      "Hello!" came a call from the man at the farmhouse.  "Come back!  You must come back now!"      I kept barking, and the man dashed outside, rushing in our direction.      "He's let up a little, but I still can't get free!" Graymalk told me.      Apparently confused, the huge man turned to the approaching figure, and back again.  It appeared to be the Good Doctor headed our way.  I kept up the barking, since it seemed to have worked.      When the Good Doctor came up beside the giant he placed a hand upon his arm.      "Raining cats and dogs, I see," he said.      I stopped barking as the giant turned his head and stared at him, doubtless at a loss for words in the face of such a sallying of wit.
Bah! There’s nothing worse than a snobby dog, Snuff. That was freakin’ hilarious!
     "The doggy wants you to put the kitty down," he told him.  "The kitty wants to get down, too.  Put her down and come back with me now.  It's a bad night to be outside, with all this rain."

     "Bad…night," the big man responded.

     "Yes.  So put the kitty down and come with me."

     "Bad…rain," rejoined the other.

     "Indeed.  Cat.  Down.  Now.  Come.  Now.  With me."

     "Cat…kitty…down," said the big fellow, and he leaned forward and deposited Graymalk gently on the road.  His eyes met mine as he rose, and he added, "Good…dog."

     "I'm sure," said the Good Doctor, taking hold of his arm with both hands now and turning him back toward the farmhouse.

     "Let's get out of here," Graymalk said, and we did.
I liked this part too. It paints the Good Doctor in a good light. He shows a tenderness when dealing with the creature, and he seems genuinely concerned about both his creation and Graymalk.

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