Please, I need to speak with the master.
Nothing from her but the full length of a look.
Tell him it's Coll Coyle, son of Seamus Coyle.
Mounted heads of deer with marbled eyes watched behind the woman. He stared at her and thought he saw movement in her eyes but then she spoke, I canny help you, and she leaned her body upon the door and closed it. Coyle waited a moment and he rang the bell again but the door remained shut. He banged on a panel with his fist and he ripped a string of ivy. He turned and walked around the house, met the watchful eyes of a maid by the scullery door and he found his brother at the stables.
Where did that bastard go this morning?
I told ye to go home.
Tell me where he is.
The brother sighed then pointed. Gortagore. He usually circles back by Wee Joe's path.
Jim watched the broad shape of his brother's back as he left the field and he scratched his jaw and turned back to the horse.
Hamilton ambled his horse on a hay track winding narrow while his dog bounded ahead. He looked towards the sky and the sun coffined in cloud and saw it tense with rain and he called to his dog but there was no sight nor sound of it. He followed the blackthorn-bundled path to the bend and beyond where he saw the hound and the shape of a man kneeling.
Coyle turned when he saw the man on the horse and he stood in the centre of the path. He took off his cap and raised his hand and when the horseman did not stop he walked alongside and took hold of the mare by the ring of the bridle and brought the horse to park.
Master, he said.
The rider heeled the mare to advance but Coyle held the animal firm. Hamilton looked down and glared. Blackshine of boot and corduroy breeches buttoned in gilt and the tails spun out behind him but his eyes were shot unsteady with red. Hamilton took hold of his composure and looked down at his boots and swatted at dirt with the back of his gloved hand. Coyle looked up at him, caught the reach of last night's drink from the man's breath.
Sir this isn't right what you're doing.
The hound giddied about the horse's front legs.
You listening sir?
Light rain began to encircle the men and Hamilton shifted in his saddle. His eyes sought out the sky and they sought out the dog and they sought out the track beyond where the man was standing. He leaned back and drove his heels into the horse but Coyle held it as it was, whispering to the animal soft words for confusion he saw quicken its eyes and then the animal was still.
Let go of my horse, Hamilton said. I'll not ask you again.
Not till you talk to me sir.
Hamilton looked at him and his hand sought in his pocket for a watch and he looked at the time and put it back and then the gleam of a smile.
If you fancy your brother working for me again you'd best leave off.
Coyle swallowed and looked at the hound which had taken seat to watch and then the sky fully opened. Each of them stood as if they were indifferent to the rain and though that may have been, Hamilton finally snapped. He swung a leg over the horse and dismounted with force and with the reins in his hand he made to go past. Coyle swung away in the other direction taking a second hold of the bridle, the horse nervous and the two standing opposite.
I'm asking you to just listen to me, Coyle said. My father worked for your father all his lifedied working so he did. We've done nothing but good for your family. My brother too.
Your father died of his own stupidity. And your brother? Well, he's finished here.
I said he's finished. The lot of ye.
Coyle stared into the man's red eyes and the words came up hot and furious out of him. Damn your soul, he said, and he spat at the man's feet.
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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