The Final Argument
Part One: Todash I: The Face on the Water
II: New York Groove
VI: The Way of the Eld
Part Two: Telling Tales
I: The Pavilion
II: Dry Twist
III: The Priest's Tale (New York)
IV: The Priest's Tale Continued (Highways in Hiding)
V: The Tale of Gray Dick
VI: Gran-pere's Tale
VII: Nocturne, Hunger
VIII: Took's Store; The Unfound Door
IX: The Priest's Tale Concluded (Unfound)
Part Three: The Wolves
II: The Dogan, Part 1
III: The Dogan, Part 2
IV: The Pied Piper
V: The Meeting of the Folken
VI: Before the Storm
VII: The Wolves
Epilogue: The Doorway Cave
Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes. Tian wasn't the first Jaffords determined to make something of the twenty acres behind the home place; his Gran-père, perfectly sane in most other respects, had been convinced there was gold there. Tian's Ma had been equally positive it would grow porin, a spice of great worth. Tian's particular insanity was madrigal. Of course madrigal would grow in Son of a Bitch. Must grow there. He'd gotten hold of a thousand seeds (and a dear penny they had cost him) that were now hidden beneath the floorboards of his bedroom. All that remained before planting next year was to break ground in Son of a Bitch. This chore was easier spoken of than accomplished.
Clan Jaffords was blessed with livestock, including three mules, but a man would be mad to try using a mule out in Son of a Bitch; the beast unlucky enough to draw such duty would likely be lying legbroke or stung to death by noon of the first day. One of Tian's uncles had almost met this latter fate some years before. He had come running back to the home place, screaming at the top of his lungs and pursued by huge mutie wasps with stingers the size of nails.
They had found the nest (well, Andy had found it; Andy wasn't bothered by wasps no matter how big they were) and burned it with kerosene, but there might be others. And there were holes. Yer-bugger, plenty o' them, and you couldn't burn holes, could you? No. Son of a Bitch sat on what the old folks called "loose ground." It was consequently possessed of almost as many holes as rocks, not to mention at least one cave that puffed out draughts of nasty, decay-smelling air. Who knew what boggarts and speakies might lurk down its dark throat?
And the worst holes weren't out where a man (or a mule) could see them. Not at all, sir, never think so. The leg-breakers were always concealed in innocent-seeming nestles of weeds and high grass. Your mule would step in, there would come a bitter crack like a snapping branch, and then the damned thing would be lying there on the ground, teeth bared, eyes rolling, braying its agony at the sky. Until you put it out of its misery, that was, and stock was valuable in Calla Bryn Sturgis, even stock that wasn't precisely threaded.
Tian therefore plowed with his sister in the traces. No reason not to. Tia was roont, hence good for little else. She was a big girl -- the roont ones often grew to prodigious size -- and she was willing, Man Jesus love her. The Old Fella had made her a Jesus-tree, what he called a crusie-fix, and she wore it everywhere. It swung back and forth now, thumping against her sweating skin as she pulled.
Copyright © 2003 by Stephen King.
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