He came back in and stood with his hands on his hips staring at his wife and she refused to look at him. The old woman came from the other room with the suit on her arm and handed it to him and Sarah snapped up from the table with the child. Fool, she said.
His mother's mouth curled and her eyes narrowed like a cat. That young Hamilton, she said. A curse on the bodach's head.
He set out on foot under sky sullen and uncertain. A back-sheared anvil rolled from the west and the faraway haze of rain upon the hills. He wore the suit tattered about the cuff and he wore his boots though he preferred to walk on bare feet and underneath his castor hat he was auditioning ideas of talk man to man that would settle things. Listen here now. Naw. I'm just saying.
He took Toland's pass where the world thickened in green and he came to a river spanning the length of him. He forded across a spine of stones and pushed up the hill in big strides through rushes parting and he found the track, walking with the power of a man of single determination, and when the sky opened up he did not stop, the track weak to the rain and his boots soiling in the softening beneath him.
The sky had more to give. The rain fell heavier and he stopped under a tree and hunched on his heels. His hat plastered to his head and rain dripping on his face. The suit was stained dark and cold to the skin. He listened to the tinkling canopy and a magpie's rolling rattle and he caught sight of the bird above, watched it flit the tree with its turquoise belt shining. Beside him the faceless yellow discs of hawksbeard were courted by a bumblebee as fat as his thumb.
The rain softened to a drizzle and he rolled his sleeves and set off again. He met the whitewashed boundary wall of the Moss Road estate where the light was thin and scattered through the trees. Beyond he saw the sprawl of the country house. The land opened to vastness and he walked towards it, the grass a glistening green and garden beds of bloom. Stables lined before him alongside outhouses and the broad back of the house looking down superior upon the yard.
Coyle pulled his cap lower over his eyes and went towards the stables, silence save for the snorting of a horse, and then he saw his brother in a field with a gelding. The man's long face narrowed when he saw him. He clamped his jaw and looked over his shoulder and began towards Coyle with an angry whisper.
What the fuck are ye doing?
Coyle did not meet the man's whisper but spoke instead in his low steady tone. I'm sorting this out like I should have.
Coyle looked at his brother's shaking head, the expanse of jaw set before him like an obstacle. A flash in the man's eyes and the way his mouth tightened and Coyle saw in him his father's face.
Is that young bastard about? he said.
I saddled him up. He's out with the doghold on now you, he said.
Jim put his hands into the air as if that would stop him.
Hold on nowhere. I'll talk to the auld fella so.
You will not.
I've made up my mind. It's pure wrong.
You're right. Evicting yous is pure wrong. But if Faller sees ye lumping aboutthere's fuck all you can do.
I've been taking this lying down ever since that day I was too afraid to speak.
Faller and his boys will be over to yous later. Ye know how it is.
Coyle smiled. Huppidy hah.
He left his brother standing mute in the field and climbed a fence that wobbled uncertain under his weight and he came upon the gravel of the driveway. Stones in their wetness gleaming and their crunch underfoot and then the front door rising before him in red. He pulled the bell and took off his cap and pulled a leaf of climbing ivy off the wall, rolled it until it stained his thumb. The door swung heavily. A domestic servant stood before him, her hair skulled tight and her blue eyes striking him with a look like she could read him pure.
Excerpted from Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch. Copyright © 2013 by Paul Lynch. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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