Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Day in the Lonesome October-fest, October 21

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

October 21

This is the first chapter we had to break into two parts,.
"I was out last night," he said, "and I hung myself in a plum tree I'd learned Needle frequents when he feeds. When he came by I said, 'Good evening, Needle.' 
"'Quicklime, is that you?' he answered. 
"'Indeed,' I replied, 'and how go your farings?' 
"'Well. Well,' he said. 'And your own twisting ways?' 
"'Oh, capital,' I answered. 'I take it you have come to feed?' 
"'Yes. I always come here last, for these plums are my favorites and put a fine end to a harvesting of bugs. I prefer saving the best for last.' 
"'As it should be,' I said, 'with all endeavors. Tell me', for I was wise in these ways now, having lived with Rastov, 'have you ever sampled the long-fallen plums, those which look wrinkled, ruined, and unappetizing?' 
"'No,' he replied, 'that would be silly, when so many good ones still hang upon the tree.' 
"'Ah,' I told him, 'but looks may be deceptive, and "good" is certainly a relative term.' 
"'What do you mean?' he asked. 
"'I, too, enjoy the fruits,' I said, 'and I have learned their secret. Those over yonder on the ground are far better than those which hang yet upon the limbs. 
"'How can that be?' he said. 
"'The secret is that as they lie there, cut off forever from the source of their existence, they draw upon their remaining life to continue a new kind of growth. True, the effects wither them, but they ferment from their own beings a new and special elixir, superior to the simple juices of those upon the tree.'
Lily had her head tilted, and she was listening, trying to figure out what Quicklime was up to, when her mom just said it outright. She really enjoyed the scene with that knowledge.
" They taste a lot better?' 
"'No. They do not. This goes beyond mere taste. It is a thing of the spirit.' 
"'I guess I ought to try it, then.' 
"'You will not be disappointed. I recommend it highly.' 
"So he descended to the earth, came upon one of those I had indicated, and bit into it. 
"'Agh!' he exclaimed. 'These are no good! Overripe and… ' 
"'Give it a chance,' I said. 'Take more, swallow it down, and then some more. Wait just a bit.' 
"And he sampled again, and again.  
"A little later, he said, 'I feel slightly dizzy. But it is not unpleasant. In fact...’ 
"He tried another, suddenly more enthusiastic. Then another. 
"'Quicklime, you were right,' he said after a while. 'There is something very special about them. There is a warm feeling...’ 
"'Yes,' I answered. 
"'And the dizziness is not quite dizziness. It feels good.'
"'Take more. Take lots more,' I told him. 'Go with it as far as it will take you.'
"Shortly, his words grew harder to understand, so that I had to slide down from the tree to be sure I heard everything he said when I began, 'You were with the Count when he created his new graves, were you not. . . ?' 
"And so I learned their locations, and that he was moving to one last night," he finished.
I really appreciate how well-crafted Quicklime’s plan was. He traded for Needle’s feeding route, but in such a way that his true use for it would not be clear.
"Does Rastov drink like that every day?" I asked.
"No," Quicklime replied. "He only started on Moon-death Eve."
"Has Linda Enderby visited him?"
"Yes. They had a long talk about poetry and someone named Pushkin."

Lily: Who?
Me: A famous Russian writer.
Lily: Ah.
Me: Have you ever heard of Boris Badenov, from Rocky and Bullwinkle? 
Lily: Not once ever.
Me: It's kind of funny, because Boris Badenov is a play on Boris Godunov, probably Pushkin's most famous work.
Lily: Wow. How very interesting.

"Do you know whether she got a look at the Alhazred Icon?"
"So you know we have it. . . . No, drunk or sober, he wouldn't show it to anybody till the time of its need." 
"When I was looking for you earlier, I saw him holding what looked like an icon. Is it on wood, about three inches high, nine inches long?" 
"Yes, and he did have it out from its hiding place today. Whenever he feels particularly depressed he says that it cheers him up to 'go to the shores of Hali and consider the enactments of ruin' and then to contemplate the uses he has for it all." 
"That could almost be taken as a closer's statement," I said. 
"I sometimes think you're a closer, Snuff." 
Our eyes met, and I halted. At some point, you have to take a chance.
"I am," I said. 
"Damn! We're not alone then!"
Lily was happy to learn this.
I approached to sniff about the thing. What odors I might have sought, I'm not sure. The Count had been scentless on the night we had met, a very disconcerting thing to one of my temperament and olfactory equipment. As I drew nearer and my vision cleared, I wondered why he had left the lid open. It seemed most inappropriate for one of his persuasion. 
Rearing up, I placed a forepaw on the casket's side and looked down into the interior.
Quicklime, nearby, said, "What is it?" and I realized that I had made a small woofing sound. 
"The Game has grown more serious," I answered.


"I heard someone crying upstairs. So I made my way up the siding and looked in what seemed the proper window. I saw a girl on a bed. She had on a blue dress, and there was a long chain around her ankle. The other end was attached to the bed frame." 
"Who was it?" 
"Well, I met Tekela a little later," she went on. "I don't think she was too eager to talk to a cat. Still, I persuaded her to tell me that the girl is Lynette, the daughter of the vicar's late wife Janet by a previous marriage." 
"Why was she chained up?" 
"Tekela said that she was being disciplined for attempting to run away." 
"Very suspicious. How old is she?" 
"Yes. Just right. Sacrifice, of course." 
"Of course." 
"What did you give her for the information?"
Lily: Why didn’t Graymalk rescue her?!
Me: Because she’s an eight pound housecat?
Lily: *sulks*
Me: Gray and Snuff break into the Vicar’s house later to rescue her.
Lily: *Smiles* Gray and Snuff are the best people in the story. And they’re not even people!

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