The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1)

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The reader is presented by a question which may arise during the book’s beginnings, it possibly seeming to cross the line of odd, but more happening under the surface. Years previously, Nü-wa, a goddess, fixes the sky, she using a mountain to make “building blocks” and using all, but one which is left near Green-sickness Peak in the Great Fable Mountains. The block, or Stone contains powers, due to having been constructed by the goddess, it able to move and change its size. The Stone is also self-aware, knowing it hadn’t been wanted in the reparations of the sky and feeling left out. During this bad mood, it notices a monk and Taoist walking quite a ways away, but are approaching the peak the Stone is on, the two chatting whilst resting. The monk sees and picks up the Stone, it having made itself smaller, and speaks to it of knowing it was special and planned on etching on it to show others the same who wouldn’t be able to travel there; the Stone was quite pleased. The monk stows the Stone away, and wouldn’t reveal the destination he planned for it, the Narrator not knowing, either.

An unknown amount of time later, another monk passes the same area and sees a rock with a length of text written on it. Vanitas the monk reads about the rock’s origins and how after he’d been brought to society, he’d lived as a human and achieved nirvana, then came back. The history of his life follows, the one piece of information not shared is the era this occurred, a little poem following, which wonders whom would go about sharing its story. Vanitas replies to the rock directly of his feelings on how the story would be perceived without certain details and not making much of a hit, the Stone stating how its story put many perspectives uniquely which would separate its story from those already out. Vanitas breaks it down for it, the risque escapades and depravity of females only supplying interest to a certain sort. Most of its stories involved an assortment of differently themed “romances”, Vanitas continuing to explain why the genre wasn’t a strong one, the Stone defending the possibility it had some redeeming qualities, also speaking of how no part was exaggerated. Vanitas gives in upon a second reading when seeing the Stone’s words were true. Upon returning, Vanitas had begun “in the Void (which is Truth)”, and returns there, deciding to be called “Brother Amor, or the Passionate Monk”, since he’d regained the Truth through Passion, as well as giving the book the new title of “The Tale of Brother Amor”. The book from there receives four more titles through the years, Cao also being mentioned titling it, “The Twelve Beauties of Jinling“, and the title eventually being given its original one back. Regardless of this, the details within, all being based in reality (which is apparently true after having skimmed the introduction), but the characters and occurrences not being vouched for, at the same time.

Many years before, the world angled differently, the city of Soochow had a certain section which was among the richest. Near this area lived a man, Zhen Shi-Yen with his wife, Feng-Shi, the two not high in financial standing, but had respect from those living in the area. Shi-Yen was an unassuming personality with only a daughter, Ying-lian. One day, Shi-Yen falls asleep whilst reading and views a Taoist and monk strolling and chatting. They discuss where the monk planned on placing the Stone to experience life alongside everyone else. The monk explains how the Stone had gotten as far as it had by chance, and had located a fairy. This fairy housed the Stone temporarily and bequeathed it “the honorary title of Divine Luminescent Stone-in-Waiting in the Court of Sunset Glow” (a mouthful, which is why I’m being picky about what to share). The Stone spent its time near Magic River where he began giving water to Crimson Pearl Flower, she partially heavenly, so with this additive, transforms into a girl (the more I read makes me see how Madeline Bassett would adore this story). Crimson Pearl is soon plagued by how she’d return the favor to the Stone, believing the only way would be to live a life together as humans. So, for this reason, the monk was bringing the Stone to where the fairy planned to send the assortment of entities to experience human living.

Shi-Yen believes he is overhearing a crazy rant, then hears the monk say some words which worry him, Ying-lian being grasped more tightly by him, the Taoist and monk then decide to meet up again later, Shi-Yen wishing he’d spoken up to inquire about the monk’s words, but is interrupted by a student – Jia Yu-cun, as Shi-Yen was now near his own door, some background then given on the young man’s hard times. Yu-cun greets him warmly, Shi-Yen explaining his being outside was to calm Ying-lian from being upset, he then offers Yu-cun to sit inside and chat with him, due to the slowness of the day. A servant leads the girl inside as Shi-Yen heads for his office with Yu-cun for tea, soon after, having to rush out for a Mr. Yan having dropped in, Yu-cun entertains himself with looking through some of Shi-Yen’s books, until seeing a girl outside picking flowers, she fetching somehow, then by chance, catching sight of him, she also pleased with his looks. When she turns to leave, then glances back twice at him, Yu-cun takes this as a sign of interest, he waiting only a little longer after learning from a servant boy this guest may be staying for supper, he deciding to go, and when Shi-Yen eventually gets his guest out, decides he wouldn’t be asking him to return when noticing Yu-cun had left.

Later, Shi-Yen goes to offer dinner to the young man after the Mid Autumn festival and supper with his family had been finished. Yu-cun was still thinking of Shi-Yen’s servant girl, Shi-Yen walking in on Yu-cun spouting poetry in relation to her, the two reconvening in his office for wine and food. As they drank and ate, the two become more comfortable with each other until Yu-cun bursts out with more poetry, Shi-Yen congratulating his talent with more wine. Yu-cun then gets serious about his means of acquiring a lucrative career due to travel costs (I feels ya, buddy). Shi-Yen had been hoping this subject would be broached, since he hadn’t wanted to insult him by offering, but now he’s confided in him, he insisted on fronting all cost for his journey and immediately takes care of everything. Yu-cun didn’t make a big deal out of Shi-Yen’s charity, the two having fun until after twelve at night. When they parted, Shi-Yen sleeps in until noon, and upon waking, plans to set up a place for Yu-cun to stay, but learns he’d decided to leave before dawn, so the issue was let go.

Fifteenth Night brought bad tidings when Shi-Yen has a servant take out Ying-lian to look at the lights, and when the man leaves her on a step whilst relieving himself, the child goes missing, the servant searching until dawn and when not recovering her, leaves town in shame without informing Shi-Yen. He and his wife send out a search party, but Ying-lian isn’t found, the two becoming sick after a month or so, doctors looking after them until a monk living in the Temple next door, has an accident with oil and many houses are destroyed, including of course, the Zhens. Shi-Yen is distraught over this misfortune, and had planned for them to move to their farm in the country, but the area had become dangerous, so Shi-Yen sells his land and they hole up with his wife’s father-in-law, Feng Su, whom whilst not happy with how they’d turned up, was comforted by his finances from his farm, he supposed to locate them a comfortable new place, but taking half and setting them up with a crap hut and unhealthy land. Not knowing how to recover his bad luck, Feng Su didn’t make his life easier by offering crap advice and then talking shit about Shi-Yen behind his back, he hearing of it later, and this helping his health get worse, his older age not aiding his recovery.

At some point in the future, Shi-Yen is taking a walk and hears a Taoist repeating some words, as he approaches closer, he asks for the man to clarify, since only hearing two words repeated, the monk declaring the words to be important ones and so had understood enough, Shi-Yen then offers more verses, the Taoist pleased, and Shi-Yen deciding then to accompany the mad man and informing no one. Well after this, his wife hears by rumor and is broken by the information, Shi-Yen not found when she’d sent for updates of him. She moves in with her parents and contributes by quilting, and one of her two maids was shopping when a bureaucrat is brought past, she recognizing him, but not recalling where. In the night, Feng Su is dumbfounded when learning someone from his house was wanted at the bureaucrat’s headquarters.

Yamen runners outside inform a smiling Feng Su, Shi-Yen was being summoned and when Feng Su shares how Shi-Yen had left a year previously to become a Taoist, the runners take him instead, his family and servants in fear of what could be happening. It was well into the night before Feng Su had gotten back home, everyone having questions, so Feng Su describes how this new mandarin, a Hu-zhou named Jia used to know Shi-Yen way back when, and had deduced he’d moved and was tipped off they would know where he was because of the woman, Lucky selling quilts in the doorway, and when Feng Su explains where Shi-Yen had gone, was unhappy to learn of this, then upon discovering what had occurred to Ying-lian, decides to send his own search party, expecting better results, and after speaking with each other a little more, Feng Su readies to leave, and Jia gives him silver pieces, his wife stunned by his story and the night passing calmly. Early in the day a package from Yu-cun is delivered to Feng-shi, as well as a letter to Feng Su to inquire if Feng-shi would allow him to take Lucky as his second wife (how sweet…), Feng Su pressing how significant it was she should comply, so they immediately ship Lucky off, and Yu-cun is so happy, he showers them with gifts, especially Feng-shi, to keep her occupied until Ying-lian was found.

Lucky apparently caught a good turn, since she bore Yu-cun a son fairly quickly, and was upgraded when Yu-cun’s first wife dies. Yu-cun’s progress after finishing school is followed, he getting the position of magistrate of the district fairly fast, but unfortunately, had a bad habit of out-thinking the higher-ups and making them seem foolish, so he was soon given a bad report of conduct, getting fired, but takes the news well, settling his family in his hometown with the riches he’d accrued and beginning to travel. Yu-cun was in Yangchow when learning a Lin Ru-hai was also staying in the area, the man’s background being related to royalty, but his family line dying off and his only son having been lost the previous year. He had a daughter though, Dai-yu, she showing promise and so was educated a bit to take their minds off their son dying. Yu-cun had been ill recently and upon recovering for the most part, realized he needed to replenish his funds, so upon running into some buddies who knew the Salt Commissioner, Lin Ru-hai he was able to secure the position as tutor. Due to it seeming the little girl dictated when she’d be taught, Yu-cun had plenty more time to recuperate, then Dai-yu’s mother falls ill and dies, the young girl’s lessons falling to the wayside in her grief, she also now becoming periodically sick, Yu-cun beginning to take strolls more often to ease his idleness. One day he walks out of town and sees a temple going to ruin, he reading the name of the place and the gate which had a poem written upon it, curious to learn the history of the place, but upon entering, only finding a deaf and half blind monk, whom wasn’t able to answer his inquiries.

So, Yu-cun leaves and heads for a neighboring village inn for some wine, there meeting an acquaintance, Leng Zi-xing, he having a good sense of business and the two admiring the other. Yu-cun asks how he’d come to be there, Zi-xing having been visiting a buddy by chance, the two then sitting and catching up on their lives since they’d last spoken, Yu-cun asking about anything notable happening in the area, Zi-xing recalling a small event in regard to a distant relative of Yu-cun, his family not normally considering themselves a part of the others family, due to their high class. Zi-xing describes how apparently their houses had fallen a bit, the time in which it occurred surprising Yu-cun. Zi-xing states how the relation of how it happened would take some time, he clarifying how they hadn’t lost everything, but there having been the cinching of the belt, inwardly, the main problem stemming from the male progeny not living up to standards. Yu-cun is shocked to learn the families wouldn’t have continued the degree of education they’d been known for, Zi-xing giving background of the two heads of households, the men being brothers, one, Ning’s grandson becoming a Taoist and uninterested in any other matters, he having a son, whom in turn had a son, whom was currently a teenager, his father not taking responsibility and living a life of debauchery and no one willing to snap the man into shape.

The other side, Rong’s eldest, marrying into a well known family and having two sons, after he passed away, his wife surviving him, and his eldest taking over responsibility in title but not doing what was necessary for the household, his younger brother being urged to continue his education and going up the ranks in his field, he marrying and having a son, this son dying young, but also having a son, his wife then having a daughter after, and another son born with a piece of jade in his mouth twelve years later, this being the odd part Zi-xing was referring, Yu-cun unable to argue. This youngest son, Bao-yu had been tested with objects of the family mixed in with different sorts of trinkets, he drawn to the items which were female in nature, his father displeased, but his grandmother doting on the boy. It didn’t end there though, Bao-yu now ten and naughtily clever, the boy precocious, Yu-cun saw this boy’s heritage in a certain light, Zi-xing wishing for him to clarify, so Yu-cun lists good men verses the bad ones, and stating their circumstances, as well as how it related to their current state of living in the world, the state of the world currently on the upswing of good tidings, and how pure humor over “perverse humours” tended to dissipate in certain environments, and on the off-chance the two should meet, being in constant opposition, they sometimes made their way into a human host, then upon this person’s upbringing, excelled in certain areas, which regardless of status, showed itself in some way, he again listing good and bad men.

Yu-cun then relates an experience with a small boy he’d been tutoring whom would also be among the bad, and Zi-xing mentions how like the little boy’s female counterparts, the girls in the Jia family were also good and clever. They then discussed how this family named their girls like the boys, which was unusual, Yu-cun learning his current employer’s late wife was named similarly, Zi-xing offering he research his words, but Yu-cun realizing it must be true with how her daughter, Dai-yu wrote and spoke, she also a part of the Jia family on the Rong’s side. They then wonder who the younger generation would be married off to, Sir Zheng having another son after Bao-yu, from one of his concubines. After which they discuss Sir She’s having a son, as well, and also how this son had already gotten married within the family, to a cousin through marriage, and whilst he helped manage the family estate, his wife overshadowed him in more ways than one. Zi-xing then decides they should continue to drink after their hearty chat, Yu-cun noticing how the hour was getting on and they should walk and talk, so they made it to the city gates before they shut for the night, and right when they’re readying to leave, Yu-cun is recognized and given commendation, as well as being told of this person having fortuitous information for him.

Yu-cun recognizes an associate of his, Zhang Ru-gui, he also having been let go, and this area being his hometown, he sharing how he learned of ex-officials getting rehired, so there being a possibility for himself to get set up with a new position, he sharing this information with Yu-cun and then hastening onward, Zi-xing believing Yu-cun should use his connection to Ru-hai so he could do the same, Yu-cun agreeing, and the two going their separate ways. When Yu-cun returns he makes certain the news was authentic before asking Ru-hai, but when he does inquire, the man was eager to do him this favor, then sharing with Yu-cun of having written a letter to his brothers-in law, Yu-cun’s distant relatives, Jia She and having addressed it to the younger brother, Jia Zheng. Ru-hai then states how much easier it’d be if Yu-cun accompanied Dai-yu to the capital, she not wanting to leave, but her grandmother and father convincing her what with having more female role-models by moving, she reluctantly going, and when Yu-cun arrives, he gets seen by Jia Zheng in good time, Ru-hai’s recommendation on top of his being impressed by Yu-cun’s scholarly nature, helping him get his job back as magistrate in another city.

Dai-yu, along with her maids are greeted by covered chairs from the mansion when stepping on land, they having traveled by barge. She notices the odd quality of servants and watched herself in case she made a wrong move. They were brought to the Rong Guo House, her maids helping her out of the curtained chair and walk through the grounds until meeting some loitering ladies who mention of Lady Jia having recently inquired about her, the attendant announcing she’d arrived and her grandmother greeting her with emotion, Dai-yu kotowing after they’d calmed. Her grandmother then introduced their female members of the family and sending for the children, two out of three of the girls each having a distinct virtue, the youngest only seeming still a child. When tea was readied, the subject of choice turned to the events surrounding Dai-yu’s mother’s illness and death, refreshing her grandmother’s upset, she declaring how Dai-yu’s mother had been her favorite, so was understandably broken up. They then ask about Dai-yu’s obvious health issue, she stating no doctor had been able to cure her, so she only taking ginseng, they then hearing someone loudly pleasant approaching and announcing of being late, a lady entering whom was breathtaking and dressed like royalty, Lady Jia introducing her by a nickname of Peppercorn Feng, but a cousin revealing this was Jia Lian’s wife, Wang Xi-feng, Dai-yu using her given name when greeting her, and after Xi-feng gives her a once over, is quite candid about her beauty and she taking after the Jias, she then offering Dai-yu any comfort she desired and to let her know if someone was mean to her, she also commanding servants to be sure rooms were readied for her servants, she also making certain where the platters of food coming in were set.

Meanwhile, Dai-yu overhears her Aunt Wang discuss with Xi-feng there being silks brought so they could make some clothes for her, Xi-feng having taken care of it, and when her grandmother was ordering servants to take Dai-yu to her uncles, Xi-feng offers to accompany her, she taking Dai-yu by the hand and leading her out, they being driven to Xi-feng and She’s residence. Xi-feng has him called when they enter, but he wasn’t feeling well at the moment, but wanting Dai-yu to feel comfortable enough to tell her family if she needed anything to feel even more at ease and at home, Xi-feng then invites her to dine with her, but Dai-yu knew she was still expected by her other uncle, Zheng, she being escorted by the servants, back to the Rong mansion, Dai-yu seeing an ornate side of the home she had yet experienced, the hall within resplendent with beautiful furniture and scripts on the walls.

Dai-yu is brought to her Aunt Wang, in a side room, she sitting in a chair and brought tea, but is requested to move to where Wang was in another part of the room on some cushions, Dai-yu again refused to sit in her uncle’s place of honor, opposite Wang, but she coaxing Dai-yu to sit near her, explaining her uncle wouldn’t be able to see her today, but having to speak with her of the three girls they for the most part being well-behaved, but her son a major nuisance and of whom should be ignored. Dai-yu then realizes this must be Bai-yu she referred, Wang explaining how due to his grandmother spoiling him, he continued to stay with the girls, so she shouldn’t trust what he says due to his chaotic nature. Wang then receives word it was time for supper, so leads Dai-yu across the grounds, also showing her where Xi-feng lived in case she had any requests, they then going to her grandmother’s quarters, where she resisted the place of honor, but learned it was her because her elder cousins wives wouldn’t be joining them, so Dai-yu goes through the proper etiquette before sitting.

The custom between dishes was certainly new to Dai-yu, they having tea for rinsing their mouths and different tea for drinking. Grandmother Jia then requests to speak to the children alone, everyone leaving, Grandmother Jia inquiring what books Dai-yu was studying (the four books, I presume), the girl asking about what her cousins were reading in return, and Grandmother Jia stating they could barely read and write, Bai-yu then being heard, and when entering, his appearance given (the poetic parts of this story isn’t cumbersome or hard to understand like some, and brings a nice airy description which is pleasant), Dai-yu somehow recognizing him and wondering why, he greeting Grandmother Jia, and she instructing him to visit his mother and return, he off to do as she bid and coming back quickly in different clothes, the boy even getting a song to go with his appearance (Moon on West River as background) and personality, it made quite clear he was a brat. When his grandmother instructs he say hello to his cousin, he assesses her for some time before voicing her thought of having met her before, he then asking her questions about study and giving her a school name, he then asking if she had a jade, she stating it wasn’t common, which Bai-yu has a fit over, his grandmother attempting to calm him as he explains how his cousin, whom was so angelic didn’t have one and questioned it being of good value, quite upset.

Grandmother Jia comes up with the story of Dai-yu having used to have one, but buried it with her mother, this calming the boy, two servants then asking Grandmother Jia where she wanted Dai-yu to sleep, she deciding Bai-yu would bunk with her and Dai-yu would have his place, but Bai-yu convinces she let him stay with the girls. One of Bai-yu’s nurses hears Dai-yu still up after they’d all settled in the tent and asks what was wrong, her nurse explaining how terribly she felt for setting Bai-yu off and would’ve been responsible if he’d broken the jade. Aroma, as Bai-yu named her, or Pearl, makes Dai-yu aware of how this was pittance to what Bai-yu could be like, so she should calm herself and sleep, Dai-yu grateful to hear this and doing so. Early next morning, after greeting Grandmother Jia, Dai-yu goes to her Aunt Wang’s and learns from another family member, Xue Pan had killed someone and need the help of the family, it already under investigation and they discussing whether to have him stay with them.

So, Dai-yu walked in to hear Aunt Wang speak with the messengers of her eldest brother and wife about their Aunt’s family in Nanking being a part of this manslaughter case, and due to Wang being busy with this, Dai-yu and the other girls go see Li Wan, her husband, Jia Zhu having died at a young age, but giving her a son, Jia Lan, now five and already starting his education. Li Wan was the daughter of Li Shou-zhong, whom when becoming head of the family, decided the females wouldn’t continue to receive a higher level of education and focus on needlework, what with a big believer of a dumb woman being virtuous or some shit. Dai-yu is able to easily adjust to life among these ladies, though due to their mild natures. Now, Jia Yu-cun had begun his position as yamen in Ying-tian-fu, the manslaughter case soon becoming a part of his workload, it involving two sides fighter over the payment of a slave, one side getting fatally injured, and so Yu-cun hears first from the murdered man’s side, a worker of this man, whom relays how his “master” hadn’t known the slave he’d bought had been stolen goods, and the seller was supposed to deposit the slave to him three days later, but the seller instead turns around and sells her to Xue Pan, so this man and his master go off to retrieve the slave, and Xue Pan sicks his bodyguards on them, beating his master to death, and Xue Pan along with the other guilty parties have gone to ground and this man has been waiting a year for justice, pleading with Yu-cun to locate the guilty parties.

Yu-cun is outraged by nothing being done, but catches the eye of a door-keeper before issuing a summons, he instead clearing the room, save this man, whom speaks of having known Yu-cun for over ten years, and after a hint of having met at the Temple, remembered him as a young monk, this man deciding to change his career after the fire. Yu-cun then asks why he’d halted his duties, the man informing Yu-cun how officials usually had a manual which listed the most powerful people of their district one would be better off not touching toes with, Yu-cun not having heard of this, and so the man continues why Xue Pan hadn’t been brought in being because of this, the man then showing the pamphlet, after which they hear a ring indicating Mr. Wang had come, Yu-cun dealing with the man, then returning, the door-keeper finishing his chat by stating how many influential people Xue Pan had to help him, Yu-cun confessing how he obviously had to deal with the case somehow, he then presuming this man must know more, which he doesn’t deny and even offers to detail. The murdered man was called Feng Yuan, and he had no relatives when his parents died, he having been surviving off his minuscule inheritance, only eighteen or nineteen years old and gay, but apparently saw this slave and was ready to make an honest woman of her, which is why he’d decided to wait three days to give the impression it was similar to a wedding, so when both sides discovered what had happened, they caught him before he could get away and beat the crap out of him, but the issue stemming from both sides wanting the slave and not wanting what they’d paid returned to them, so Xue Pan had Feng Yuan assaulted and brought home, he expiring three days later.

Before all of this had occurred, Xue Pan was already planning to go to the capital, so he still left with the slave and his family, acting like a pampered rich man would, and leaving the clean up to his help. The clincher, though is whom the slave was, Yu-cun learning it was Ying-lian, which this door-keeper knew, since he’d been a playmate of hers way back, and also knew the kidnapper had a system of raising girls until old enough to sell them, he also recognizing her birthmark. The door-keeper had gotten wind of her presence because the kidnapper rented one of his rooms, Ying-lian staying quiet when he confronted her out of fear of repercussions, then breaking down and admitting she recalled nothing, but this young man certain of her origins. The night the kidnapper had been paid, Ying-lian started talking with him and felt like she would finally have some peace, until she learned of the three day wait, this young man’s wife seeing her to instill optimism, she stating how the future date meant she’d be living like a woman rather than a worker, and how much he paid showing the amount he cared, and not to worry about the time-frame, and her words seeming to have worked, but then Xue  Pan became involved, and he not having considerate intentions for her, beating her until she willingly came with him, this young man not knowing whether she still lived, so the fact Feng Yuan had gone through all of this with plans to settle only to be killed was a terrible fate. Yu-cun thought Feng Yuan’s sudden change of sexual interest must mean it was kismet, and poor Ying-lian, so close to being pardoned by her lot in life, only to have her suffering prolonged intimated the same.

On top of this, Xue Pan a man to divide his time with other women, and it being a terrible situation which Yu-cun now had to decide how he’d handle the next move, legally, the young man reminds him how Xue Pan may be related to the Jias through marriage, but Yu-cun already on good terms with one of the family, so perhaps he should make himself even more esteemed to them, Yu-cun noting his newly appointed position being in a delicate area, since it was still so new, but the young man making the point of it he didn’t do his job properly, how would he show he’s truly grateful for it, and no matter what he decided, it dictating careful consideration. Yu-cun takes a moment before inquiring the young man’s opinion, he having thought the next day, Yu-cun should go about business as usual, but with a firm hand, bringing in Xue Pan’s family and workers to be questioned, and the young man would be getting Xue Pan’s people to claim he’d died of a sickness which would then be corroborated by their neighbors, Yu-cun would then get a special table to speak with the afterlife and offer anyone being allowed to come, and proceed by stating Feng Yuan had unfinished business with Xue Pan from a previous life, which he dealt with after death by making Xue Pan ill, and due to this whole debacle being started by the kidnapper, he alone would from there on be held accountable and all others free of guilt.

The young man would then get the kidnapper to agree to confession, and then the people would have no reason to question Yu-cun’s claims. He then would give the Fengs reparations for cost of the funeral, and Xue Pan already being rich, wouldn’t bat an eye about the cost. Yu-cun was entertained by the young man’s idea, but would give it a bit more of a ponder to ensure the public wouldn’t gossip. Yu-cun speaks with the Fengs the following day, the young man correct about they only wanting money and bringing the case to court because Xue Pan had denied them, so he had the Fengs agree to an amount and then wrote a couple letters detailing the issue had been handled. Yu-cun then became paranoid by how much the young man knew, and so waited until he caught him in a minor crime and had him sent to the military, this easing his mind. Next, Xue Pan is followed, his father dying whilst Xue Pan was a boy and his mother spoiling him to the point of damaging his character. Due to his family’s wealth, he loved expensive things and spoke in a snotty manner, and regardless of education, was practically illiterate. He loved gambling and the sights, he also technically employed by way of his father and grandfather, but only collected a paycheck without doing any work. Xue Pan’s mother was the younger half sister of Wang Zi-teng and younger sister of Lady Wang, she over fifty years old now, and as for Xue Pan’s sibling, she called Bao-chai, younger and beautiful, was favored by their father, so was educated and smarter than Xue Pan, but upon their father’s death, she gave up continuing her education in order to help her mother (Is this a sign or something? I feel I’ve read this outcome so often, it’s prepared me for what I have done and must do, again. Ew.)

The “upside” to this was the females of important officials get the chance to be chosen as educational partners for the younger female royals. Due to this, and Xue Pan wanting to experience the grander life in the capital, he had a few reasons to go, which included having his sister available to be chosen and replenish his allowance. So, all of this had been in motion well before meeting Ying-lian and second-hand murdering her seller. Hence, he going on his merry way, expecting to only need to pay a fine which his servants would handle in his absence. Whilst they were traveling, they learn his Uncle Wang wouldn’t be present due to a promotion, which Xue Pan didn’t share he was happy about, since he felt he could now truly let his freak flag fly. Xue Pan then proceeds in convincing his mother they should have somebody make certain the servants of the houses hadn’t let their friends stay, due to how long they’d been unoccupied, his mother not seeing the point of rushing, since they had plenty of time and room. Xue Pan considers how busy everyone will be in helping his uncle get ready to go as they turn up, but his mother reminds him, this was what the Jias were for, but she sensing what his problem was, and even suggesting he go off to pick a place for himself, whilst she and Bao-chai continued to his Aunt Jia’s, Xue Pan acquiescing to her wishes, since he knew he’d be required to stay regardless of her words.

Meanwhile, Lady Wang was calmed upon learning Xue Pan’s case was being handled by Yu-cun, but was apprehensive by her older brother, Wang Zi-teng leaving. So, the news of her sister having arrived with her kids and servants put her back in high spirits, they reuniting with emotion, visiting Grandmother Jia, giving their presents, and then having a grand family get-together during which Jia Zheng sends a note to Lady Wang offerring to have her sister stay in the secluded house with her kids, Wang having wanted to invite them to stay with her, Grandmother Jia wanting the same, as well as her sister wanting this so Xue Pan could have an eye kept on him, believing if he had complete freedom, he’d get into more trouble, Xue accepting the offer and beginning to move them all in. The home was located next to Lady Wang’s, the two sisters chatting daily along with Grandmother Jia, Bao-chai happy to mingle with Dai-yu and the other girls, Xue Pan the only one dissatisfied, to start with at any rate. He still planned on moving elsewhere, but had to agree to stay temporarily whilst his servants prepared another home. Xue Pan’s opinion soon changed upon hanging out with his male family members, they sinking him into worse depths, the patriarch of the family, Zheng too busy to keep everyone in check, he having become the go-to for Zhen, whom was supposed to be the one in charge. So, upon Xue Pan realizing he was in no danger of being reeled in, he and his newfound best buddies came and left when they pleased, their adventures to follow.

Dai-yu had become another favorite of Grandmother Jia, she receiving the same attentiveness as Bao-yu, the other girls holding each other in high esteem and much closer, since they were treated differently. Now Bao-chai had joined them, Dai-yu felt put off by her beauty and how well-liked she’d become with everyone, due to being unaware how personable she was, and Dai-yu setting herself apart because of how serious she acted about being proper. Bao-yu, on the other hand still maintained the attitudes of a child, so had no differentiation between family members unless living more closely to them, like with Dai-yu, he speaking too roughly with her and attempting to make up for it, which she was big enough, or gullible enough to accept.

As this occurs, Zhen’s wife, You-shi invites Grandmother Jia, Lady Xing and Wang to a party, her son, Jia Rong accompanying her, they having an uneventful time, up until Bao-yu decides he’d like a nap, Grandmother Jia preparing the servants to attend to him when Qin-shi, Jia Rong’s wife volunteers to take care of him, Grandmother Jia acquiescing, but Bao-yu immediately offended by the art on the walls of the room she’d led him to, and the phrases on the wall clinching his desire to leave, Qin-shi then offerring her own bedroom, which he agrees to, but the servants shocked by the idea of an uncle sleeping in a nephew’s wife’s bed, but she believing he was too young for the sort of thoughts the servants had in mind, speaking of her brother being around the same age as Bao-yu, he then wishing to meet him, but the boy currently away, and upon getting to her room, is overcome with sleepiness as a pleasant smell assaults his nose, and this room’s art and scripts more to his acceptance, Qin-shi then having some noisy cats on the roof outside attended to as Bao-yu sinks into unconsciousness and feels like Qin-shi is still with him, leading him to a stream near some trees, it looking as if humans had yet set foot there, and Bao-yu completely taken with the place. Then he hears a lady singing out of view, she heading in his direction, the poem which follows showing she was otherworldly, it being the description of the appearance of a lady like herself. Bao-yu knew she was a fairy and smiles warmly at her, requesting she show him around for not knowing where he was, she introducing herself as Disenchantment and she living in the Sea of Sadness, her home being in the Land of Illusion. She also describes her relation to the human world by connection of varying romantic dealings and had gone to this spot for sensing karmic love in the area and was gauging if her services could be given, Bao-yu a candidate. She then invites him to tea at her home, nearby and how she’d written a musical composition called “A Dream of Golden Days”, Bao-yu so overcome by the offer, he’d forgotten to wonder where Qin-shi had gone, he following Disenchantment to her home, Bao-yu curious about the details of her job, which unbeknownst to him, had given access to his body to a demon of Lust, his becoming tainted.

They walk through an area with buildings designated by certain themes, Bao-yu wishing to see inside them, but Disenchantment relaying it wouldn’t be right to have him see the females files regarding their future, but Bao-yu nags her until she allows him a moment to view inside the Department of the Ill-Fated Fair, it lined with cabinets labeled by city, Bao-yu seeing his and inquiring what else the label meant, he learning it contained the twelve best ladies in his area, two more cabinets detailing two dozen more, and all other females remaining unlisted. Bao-yu takes a look at one of the other two, and opens a hard-case folder with a picture and verse on the two pages he viewed before looking at a different cabinet, still confused by the album he chose, and looking at the main cabinet, and unable to understand the words, and knowing Disenchantment wouldn’t explain it, but he continuing looking through the book, filled with pictures on one side and an accompanying poem, which warned and spoke of love, loss, and possibly even danger. As it goes on, the fate of women Bao-yu may know is spoken of in riddles. When Disenchantment believes he was becoming too wise on the information he was reading, she takes the book and decides they should move along, Bao-yu next within the back part of the mansion, he hearing Disenchantment hurriedly coax other fairies out to meet him, but they being unimpressed, having been expecting a reunion with Crimson Pearl, Bao-yu now uncomfortable, and Disenchantment explaining how she’d been going to retrieve Crimson Pearl, but was waylaid by two Dukes asking for her services of which she couldn’t pass, involving Bao-yu and their request to have his virginity taken on the chance it would sober his nature and aid him to navigate life with a clear mind. Disenchantment decided to fulfill their wish, his look at the records not doing the trick, so leading him there so he could experience a good party, she bringing him inside. Bao-yu then inquires the scent he smelled, she sharing it was nothing he’d be able to detect on his world, and giving the name.

After they sit, Bao-yu tastes the tea given him and is again desirous to know what it was called, Disenchantment telling where it came from, as well as what it was called, Maiden’s Tears. He surveys the room they were in before asking the names of the other fairies, they all having odd monikers like Disenchantment. When they sit at the table for wine and food, Bao-yu asks about the wine, it coming from flowers and tree extracts, twelve dancers then entering, Disenchantment requesting they perform her musical. She then informs Bao-yu may want to read about the piece so he could better understand it, the poems of the performance, following. The description has each songs lyrics, telling of past lovers, in twelve songs not including the prelude and epilogue, and by the conclusion, Disenchantment could see Bao-yu had lost interest, he requesting to be allowed to nap, she leading him to a little bedroom where a fairy girl sat, she exuding similarities to both Bao-chai and Dai-yu, Disenchantment stating how lust played into all attraction, regardless of men saying it was beauty they were attracted by, she confessing his lust was the strongest she’d seen which her affection for him stemmed, Bao-yu intimidated. He confides how he didn’t truly understand the meaning and believed he was still too young to be listed as such. Disenchantment clarifies her meaning by defining how many sorts of lust there were, his type being listed as “lust of the mind”, which couldn’t be described. She goes on to confide this is why she’d shared tea and wine with him, as well as the musical, and would also be paired with her sister, Two-in-one or Ke-qing to marry, they being bid to hook up this evening, so he could learn the construct of love and obtain an understanding and following of philosophy for everyone’s benefit.

Before Disenchantment leaves them to it, she advises Bao-yu on some techniques, he implementing them stupefied and baffled, but getting the deed done, Bao-yu by morning, in pure contentment, and the two walking out holding hands and somehow discover themselves surrounded by perils, Disenchantment yelling after them to return the way they’d come, Bao-yu inquiring where they were, and she explaining it was a place which could only be crossed by way of two ferrymen, demons then reaching for him to pull him into the water, he crying for Ke-qing’s help, his servants returning to him in fear, and consoling him, Qin-shi outside and taking care of the noisy cats and dogs, surprised to hear him call out her childhood name, and curious how he could know.

Qin-shi doesn’t look into it, though and Bao-yu is getting helped by Aroma to straighten his pants, she feeling something like jizz, Bao-yu looking embarrassed, and after being returned to looking properly, finishes his meal with Grandmother Jia and then has a moment with Aroma when she supplies him with clean undies, he pleading she not say anything and then coaxed into sharing how it had happened, but she laughing at him when he was about to share the sex part of his dream, Bao-yu then makes advances on Aroma, she allowing this after some playful denial, this being part of the reason she had been given to him, and from then on Bao-yu gives her extra regard, she more loyal to him, as well, and his story now being left.

The next area to be covered is decided on with the arrival of this person happening on the day this was being recorded. The Rong mansion is visited by a local called Wang, this person unknown by most of the family, other than Lady Wang and her brother, Wang Xi-feng’s father. The grandfather, whom had known Xi-feng’s grandfather, the father of Lady Wang, dies and has his son carry on, Wang Chang, he leading a farmer’s life, and when he died, his son, Gou-er continuing this work with his wife and their two kids, Ban-er and Qing-er, Gou-er inviting his wife’s mother, Grannie Liu to live with them and help with the kids. She readily accepts his invitation, but soon has to put her food down when Gou-er is seen to be drunkenly making trouble for her daughter, due to his own stresses of the farm and winter closing in.

Grannie Liu reasons with him to take his stupidity to the city, since he couldn’t stop spending the little money he made, she believing they could still think of a remedy, and leave the details to God, she then remembering his relation to Lady Wang, Gou-er’s wife worried they’d get turned away and look ridiculous for the trip, Gou-er buoyed by the possibility, suggesting Grannie Liu go first to survey for them, but she stating how they wouldn’t know her, until Gou-er suggests she take Ban-er with her and call on Zhou, whom knew his father, Grannie Liu seeing the logic behind his idea and having herself and Ban-er ready in the morning, the four to five year old boy gladly learning some phrases Grannie Liu taught him for the ladies at the mansion. They soon arrive and she leads them through a side entrance and speaks with some men loitering on the grounds, eventually being told to hang about at a certain gate where she’d be met by someone from the house, but an older man advising she see Zhou’s wife, since he was currently away on business, then directing her to where she could be located.

Grannie Liu asks a young boy where Mrs. Zhou lived upon following the directions, he showing them and calling out to her, Zhou Rui coming out and soon recognizing Grannie Liu and inviting her inside. Grannie Liu doesn’t share the true reason she’d come, instead stating how they’d come to see her and see “Her Ladyship”, Zhou Rui’s wife fairly able to deduce Grannie Liu’s real reasons for visiting, but knowing her son-in-law’s father had helped her husband when he’d required and was wanting an excuse to show off her own power, so responds with great charity, explaining her usual job and willing to go against protocol to relay a message to Her Ladyship, she sharing how her niece, Wang Xi-feng managed the place now, Grannie Liu thanking her for her kindness and she dismissing it for it not being an issue. She sends a maid to see how far along Lady Jia’s lunch was, and upon hearing what part they were in, gets Grannie Liu to join her before Mrs. Lian became to busy, she having the two wait whilst she spoke with Xi-feng’s closest servant, Patience whom decided the two could wait inside with her.

Grannie Liu first is overcome by the perfumed room and then its grandeur, Patience deciding to be polite once viewing the old woman and invites her to sit, everyone getting comfortable before proceeding with tea, Grannie Liu noticing a loud ticking and then being surprised by a loud bell sounding, all servants and Mrs. Zhou readying for Xi-feng to appear, the two going to the next room whilst Grannie Liu waited to be called, Zhou Rui’s wife coming in for her and Xi-feng not realizing she’d brought her in already, Grannie Liu showing her respect and Xi-feng requesting she stop for not knowing how they were related, yet and after, Ban-er too intimidated to give respect to his “Auntie”. Xi-feng then has Zhou Rui’s wife see if Her Ladyship, presumably Grandmother Jia, was busy, Zhou Rui’s wife returning to relay Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be seeing them, but to share any message with Xi-feng.

Grannie Liu declines and Zhou Rui’s wife giving a look which spoke of she getting a final chance to confess her thoughts, and so was about to do so when interrupted by the arrival of Xi-feng’s nephew, Jia Rong, whom had come to inquire on the behalf of his father to borrow a little glass screen which she at first pretended had already been borrowed, but soon has Patience get the key, Jia Rong so happy he goes off to gather his own servants to carry the load rather than have hers be put out, but Xi-feng asks he return, so later she could share something with him, and when he leaves once more, Grannie Liu gets into how destitute they were and food being scarce, then attempting to get Ban-er to say his little phrases, but he being too busy eating sweets, Xi-feng mercifully allowing this to pass and states she didn’t have to continue, ordering a guest-sized meal to be brought to them, Zhou Riu’s wife doing so, and the speaking with Xi-feng in private of what Grandmother Jia had said in more detail, it about how Grannie Liu wasn’t a blood relative, but was quite close to the family, so would leave it up to Xi-feng as to how much she chose to help them, Xi-feng then returning to relay how she knew they must be living in hard times and would give them some silver to return home with, Grannie Liu relaying how grateful she was before following Zhou Riu’s wife out, she speaking with her for some time after, before leaving the home.

Zhou Riu’s wife goes to Lady Wang, but discovers she’d gone to see Aunt Xue, so she goes after her, she waiting with Bao-chai, since she’d found her speaking with her sister, Zhou Riu’s wife asking if she’d been well the last few days, since she hadn’t come by, she admitting she’d been ill and explains how it wasn’t dangerous, but also had no cure, a monk relaying it was only an overheating problem and supplied a home remedy which surprisingly worked. Bao-chai then explains why she couldn’t describe the powders used, due to when it’s administered affecting how it worked, and as they speak, Lady Wang calls out to them and Zhou Riu’s wife goes in to share the happenings with Grannie Liu, after which Aunt Xue invites her to stick around and hands off a box of fake flowers for the Jia girls to wear. When Lady Wang suggests she keep them for Bao-chai, Aunt Xue shares how the girl was picky about accouterments to her attire, Zhou Riu’s wife then going back out and speaks with Golden about the young lady Caltrop, learning she was the one involved with the murder trial, and when seeing her up close, notes how her features reminded her of Master Rong’s wife, Golden thinking the same, and upon questioning Caltrop, learns nothing due to the girl’s blocked memories.

Zhou Riu’s wife continues to the girls quarters and delivers the flowers, she staying and speaks with a nun about whether the Mother Superior had gotten the monthly donation and where she was, currently. The nun didn’t know, but relays the woman’s whereabouts, and after a little more conversation, moves along to Xi-feng’s, Patience helping her complete her task and then plans on going to Grandmother Jia’s when she runs into her daughter, whom is full of questions, which Zhou Riu’s wife takes lightly, instead inquiring if she also had any issues, since she sensed it was one of those days, her daughter admitting to this and had hoped she’d be able to help her husband. Zhou Riu’s wife agrees to see to it after delivering the remainder of the flowers, going to Dai-yu’s, whom was with Bao-yu, the girl not pleased with the idea of receiving the leftovers of the flowers, and as Bao-yu sends a maid to deliver a message to Bao-chai, Zhou Riu’s wife exits, it being told her daughter’s husband was Yu-cun’s old friend, Zi-xing, he in trouble over some issues with some ancient items bought, Zhou Riu’s wife certain when she brought it to Xi-feng’s attention the issue would be handled.

As evening came, Xi-feng updates Lady Wang on the day’s events, beginning with gifts sent by the Zhen family and having shipped them gifts in return, also informing of gifts also being ready for the Earl of Lian’s mother, and continuing about how she had been invited by Cousin Zhen’s wife to come over the next day, making sure she was allowed to attend, the night then ending. Bao-yu decides he wants to accompany Xi-feng to visit Cousin Zhen’s wife, You-shi, her son and daughter also present. They sit down for tea, Qin-shi then informing Bao-yu to go see her brother, he quickly doing so, but Xi-feng deciding she also wanted to meet Qin Zhong, the boy arriving and awkwardly greeting her, then having the usual inquiries answered of his studies, etc.

When the ladies move on to a card game, the boys leave to chat, the two each having similar thoughts of envy of the other and how they hated they weren’t the other’s equal, so they could be close buddies, and once initializing conversation, become familiar with each other, Bao-yu learning Qin Zhong was currently tutor-less and waiting to get a new one, Bao-yu offerring a school situation his family had set up and suggesting Qin Zhong ask permission to go with him, the two boys agreeing the idea was a good one, they returning to discover Xi-feng had won the card game and a show would be set up as her winnings in a couple days time, Xi-feng then giving her opinion about an old belligerent worker, Big Jao, whom had been asked to accompany Jia Rong home, but was insulting everyone, the man needing to be sent away, she then leaves with Bao-yu, Jia Rong commanding the servants to restrain Big Jao, since he continued prattling on with his threats, Bao-yu making the mistake of inquiring about one he’d heard and Xi-feng threatening to inform his mother, he pleading for her not to and apologizing. Xi-feng changes her anger to comfort and shares how she’ll be speaking with Grandmother Jia about Qin Zhong joining his school.

When they get back, Bao-yu shares with Grandmother Jia his wishes and why it was a positive choice to allow Qin Zhong to join him in class, Xi-feng also supplying her agreement which Grandmother Jia is affected in a good way, Xi-feng then inviting her to the play which was being set up for her, and Grandmother Jia tagging along on the day with Lady Wang, Dai-yu, and Bao-yu, but Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia leave early, Xi-feng having so much fun, she stays much later. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had wanted to watch more of the plays, but had left with Grandmother Jia and then decided to call on Bao-chai, but is held up by some men his father had belittled, and when they release him, a nurse learns they’d left Sir Zheng before he’d taken his afternoon snooze, Bao-yu glad he didn’t have to avoid his father, now and goes straight to Bao-chai’s, but not before being stopped once more by some men who ask about getting some calligraphy by him due to having seen some of his about town, then finally being greeted with familiarity by Aunt Xue, she sending him in to see Bao-chai, he finding her sewing and when Bao-yu speaks, greets him respectfully, the two sitting over tea and speaking of their other cousins.

Bao-chai then states of how she’d been wanting to see his jade more closely for quite some time, he handing it to her, the Narrator reminding this was the same as the stone mentioned at the start of the tale at the Greensickness Peak, listing a poem about it along with the words the monk scraped onto it. When Bao-chai’s maid notes how she had a similarly written message on her necklace, Bao-yu is intrigued to see it, she agreeing and Bao-yu gleefully agreeing the two sounded like two parts of the same script. Bao-yu then smells something on her clothes, she believing it was the pill she’d taken, Dai-yu then entering and making a joke of having come at the wrong time, since Bao-yu was there, talk then turning to retrieving his cape due to it having begun to snow, after which a Nannie Li tells of how she’d gotten flack for Bao-yu drinking wine a time before, since he’d requested a cup this time to go with some goose-foot preserve.

Aunt Xue eases the woman’s mind by assuring she’d take the blame if it came to it, so Bao-yu gets his wine as Dai-yu gives her maid a hard time when she brings her a hand-warmer, Bao-yu having to plead for more wine and Nannie Li warning him to watch himself, since his father may call him later, this sobering Bao-yu’s good mood, but Dai-yu speaking up for him which in turn amuses Bao-chai, Aunt Xue then supporting Bao-yu’s drinking, he feeling better upon her invitation to dinner. When his Nannie goes off to change with instructions to watch Bao-yu closely, the other maids ignore this and go about their business, Aunt Xue discreetly removing the wine when necessary, and replacing it with tasty soups, along with strong tea, believing this would recover him, Dai-yu then mentioning it was time to go, so Bao-yu tags along, the two greeting Grandmother Jia, whom hadn’t dined, yet, she instructing Bao-yu go sleep it off, but when he returns, he’s told by Skybright to use up the ink she’d mixed for him, he inspecting her job of pasting his characters outside, Dai-yu joining them and praising Bao-yu’s work, he then inquiring whether Skybright had received the dumplings he’d sent her, she agreeing and had planned to save them when Nannie Li had taken them for her grandchildren, and also had drank all of the tea being saved for him, this pissing him off, but Aroma stating how if he got rid of her, all the other maids would go, so he stops complaining as they undress him, he falling to sleep almost immediately.

In the morning, Bao-yu overhears Jia Rong come with Qin Zhong to speak with Grandmother Jia, whom was impressed with him and has the other ladies in the family meet him, the visit keeping them into the evening, she also offerring he stay with them if ever his studies kept him too late. When Qin Zhong returns home, he informs his father, Qin Bang-ye of the day he had, it being told of the position he held and his adoption of two children, the boy dying, and Qin Zhong being his progeny late in his life, he happy to know he now needn’t worry about a tutor. The only issue was in thinking of what he’d have to spend to keep Qin Zhong properly started and supplied, but knew it was for the best, so he gives the teacher his raised tuition, whilst paying respect with his son, they then only waiting for Bao-yu to decide when they’d start, the day they go being an eventful one.

Bao-yu wishes to begin their schooling immediately, so sends word they would go in two days. Bao-yu then gets some advice from Aroma about what she’d packed for him on the morning he’d be going, and for him to stay on top of designating someone keeping the place warm, Bao-yu assuring her he’d be all right, and for the maids to keep themselves busy by staying with his cousin Lin, he then going to see Grandmother Jia, Lady Wang, and his father, Jia Zheng, the last being candid about what he believed his son capable of, and wishing he’d go away, his literary guests attempting to keep the mood light and hurry him on to breakfast, but Jia Zheng calls in Bao-yu’s pages as he waits outside, he asking them to inform him of what Bao-yu was actually doing in class, he choosing Nannie Lin’s son to speak, whom honestly informs how far into a book of poetry he was reading, in fear of repercussion. Jia Zheng instructs they tell the teacher to begin him on the Four Books, his attendants agreeing and walking out, they making certain Bao-yu had heard and instead of making it up to them if he disappointed his father and one of them received a beating, they implored him to obey the rules from time to time. By the time he gets back to Grandmother Jia’s quarters, Qin Zhong was waiting with her, the two then walking out, Bao-yu saying goodbye to Dai-yu and then going off to school.

Description of how the Jia school stayed funded and its location are given, then Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are introduced to their fellows upon arrival and get straight to their assignments. The two boys were joined together from then on, Grandmother Jia even looking after Qin Zhong for her gathered affections bringing about getting him clothes and having him stay for multiple nights. Bao-yu soon decides their formalities of being nephew and uncle would be forgotten and they’d from then on treat each other like buddies and siblings, which at first Qin Zhong hesitated to agree to, until Bao-yu kept insisting and led by example, Qin Zhong eventually complying. Like in any school, there was a variety of personalities and classes within the school, their commonality coming from the relations to the Jias, and due to the two boys being close friends, it gave the other students room to start rumors. Xue Pan took advantage of the school by seemingly using it as a sex service. Xue Pan soon had two ‘regulars’ and Bao-yu and Qin Zhong also were taken in by the pairs charm, which Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were unaware was so obvious. Then, Qin Zhong gets a moment with one of the boys and is rudely interrupted by another student, whom threatens to spread lies and speak with the Jia Rui about this boy harassing then, but due to Xue Pan paying him off, he was biased, and since Xue Pan was currently off of Jia Rui and Darling, the boy Qin Zhong was speaking with, he decides to put Darling down which also shames Qin Zhong by association. Jokey Jin, the bully takes advantage of this by furthering the rumors of the two boys taking the time alone to make out etc.

Jia Qiang, related to Jia Rong was being raised by Cousin Zhen, and the sixteen-year-old stood up for the under-dogs. Jia Qiang, thinks strategically the best way to handle the situation since both sides had an in with his relative, so gets the help of Tealeaf, the youngest and most impressionable of Ba0-yu’s pages, Jia Qiang describing the terror Jokey Jin would be if not taught a lesson, so Tealeaf confronts him, Jokey Jin gets permission to ditch class, since Jia Rui is a pussy, Tealeaf gives him crap and Jia Rui notes Tealeaf’s foul language. Jokey Jin is about to have Bao-yu deal with his servant, when Qin Zhong notes something flying by him from the table of Jia Lan and Jun, related to a second Lan, whom was the son of Li Wan and was Bao-yu’s nephew, and whilst Jia Jun was at first indifferent, he gets hooked in by a water bottle hitting his desk, his buddy, Jia Lan keeping his rage from manifesting to more damage. Jokey Jin though, is furious by this, Jia Lan holding him back from returning fire, but Jokey Jin too incensed, throwing a bag of books instead of the inkwell, but his aim not catching the culprit and instead hits Bao-yu and Qin Zhong’s table, Jokey Jin then launching himself at the original thrower. Jokey Jin, meanwhile had picked up a bamboo pole and was whipping it around, hitting Tealeaf, whom then calls in three more pages to assist.

Some students took cover whilst others joined the fight or hooted and urged others on as they stood on desks, Li Gui entering the hubbub and giving the pages the most crap for not keeping their cool, but Bao-yu having final word as he aids Qin Zhong after sustaining a head wound, he declaring they were leaving and would be informing his great-uncle Dai-ru of the unprofessional behavior they’d suffered. Li Gui suggests he leave Dai-ru out of it and blames Jia Rui for not stepping in, he defending himself, but Li Gui stating plainly why the boys had stopped respecting him, and if he didn’t stop Bao-yu from outing them, he’d go down with the rest. Bao-yu declares nothing would sway his decision to speak with his great-uncle, Qin Zhong speaking for justice in the expelling of Jokey Jin, Bao-yu reasoning it would be in Jokey Jin’s future once he told their story and when Jia Rui asks whom Jokey Jin was, Li Gui decides to refrain sharing so as to spare Jia Rui of the pain. As they hear Tealeaf through the window bad mouthing Jokey Jin’s aunt and her bad conduct, which has Li Gui yelling at him to be quiet and Bao-yu deciding now he knew whom Jokey Jin’s aunt was, he’d instead speak with her, Tealeaf then stating proudly, how he’d bring Lady Jia to him, Li Gui pissed off by this and threatening Tealeaf, finally getting the young man to shut up, and hoping his discretions wouldn’t be brought to light and had fixed the problem by pleading with Bao-yu and Qin Zhong separately, Bao-yu eventually deciding the matter would rest pending Jokey Jin admitting he was sorry, he refusing until Jia Rui and Li Gui convince him to relent, he doing so, and Bao-yu changing the condition to have Jokey Jin kotow to them, which would be shared in the next chapter.

Jokey Jin kotows to Qin Zhong, Bao-yu then agreeing the issue was resolved, but Jokey Jin grudging Qin Zhong his closeness to Bao-yu, but his mother hearing him as he spoke to himself, reminding him how lucky he was to be in this school. So, he does as he’s told and continues with his classes next day. Jokey Jin’s aunt was wife to Jia Huang, they living a humble lifestyle, receiving help from Xi-feng and You-shi when close to inability to pay their bills, His aunt decides to visit her sister-in-law about Jokey Jin’s run-in with Qin Zhong, thinking he was responsible for the negative outcome and see if she could get permission to speak with Qin Zhong’s sister. Her fire subsides though, as she sits with You-shi, the lady explaining how Qin-shi was feeling ill and her little brother, Qin Zhong had informed her of the school fight, You-shi then sending him to Bao-yu’s whilst she calmed Qin-shi and had her eat breakfast. She then inquires of Mrs. Huang if she knew a decent doctor, of which she had no information and decided against mentioning her true reasons for coming by, agreeing she should make certain Qin-shi wasn’t pregnant before giving her any definitive remedies.

After a pleasant visit, she leaves, You-shi then describing to Cousin Zhen of the uneventful visit, and then moving on to what they needed to do for Qin-shi. Fortunately, Zhen knows someone they can contact, believing Zhang will definitely visit them the next day, You-shi pacified, and then inquiring what they should do for their father’s birthday the day after, he revealing how their father wanted no part in any family parties for himself, so You-shi plans a two-day party for the family on his behalf. They receive a message from the doctor, promising to drop by next day and put down his own abilities as a practitioner before agreeing, due to respect, to visit Qin-shi. As promised, Dr. Zhang comes by, Zhen greeting him, the doc again explaining his lack of practice as a medical doctor, Zhen believing him humble, and then sends him to Qin-shi where he takes her pulse for some time before going outside with her husband, Jia Rong. The doctor explains his theory not being the conclusion of pregnancy, and he would prescribe her a treatment which if was responded to positively would give her a better chance of living. The list of herbs are given with how much to include and the doctor states she could make it if surviving the Spring, then leaves, Jia Rong relaying to his parents what he’d been told. The chapter after this supplying Qin-shi’s reaction to the medicine.

On the day of Jia Jing’s birthday, Zhen sent some gifts and instructions for the deliverer to note the man’s pleasure, and received the message of Grandfather would lead the prostration of the family from his home. Then, they learn Grandmother Jia wouldn’t be attending due to some dietary issue, they then touching on Qin-shi’s illness before Zhen goes to greet the recently arrived men-folk. You-shi continues to explain how they’d begun the doctor’s prescription, but nothing much had changed. Xi-feng is touched with emotion when learning Qin-shi had forced herself to get up the last time they’d met because of how much they’d bonded. Jia Rong then comes back with the news of their grandfather being happy with how they were conducting the celebration and would now continue looking after the men, but stating Xi-feng would be able to deduce how unwell Qin-shi was upon seeing her soon. You-shi then states how they should decide whether they’d dine inside or out, what with the show being prepared in the yard.

The decision was made to remain indoors and the table was set quickly. After they’d finished, Jia Rong gives a message to his mother of the men who had left and those who they would see at the show, as well as where all the presents were being stowed and the thank you notes and how the guests were treated before being sent off. Xi-feng then decides to visit Qin-shi before joining the rest, Bao-yu becoming affected by her words and Xi-feng turning it around light-heartedly, the reason they’d come, she then deciding to send Bao-yu back with Jia Rong, whilst she spoke a bit longer to Qin-shi. Xi-feng stayed as long as she could ignore messages from You-shi to come out, but finally readying to go, and still attempting to maintain Qin-shi’s positivity level, she then getting emotional as she agreed to visit as frequently as possible, and as she walked, is startled by Cousin Jia Rui, he obviously eye-balling her, she aware and pretending to enjoy his “charm”, they tentatively setting up some time to chat, she allowing him ample distance to move back toward the family, and thinking how she’d set him straight when the timing was right.

Xi-feng is then approached by one of You-shi’s servants, she informing Xi-feng she was now being sent for, You-shi makes clear how dedicated she was to Qin-shi, she then having her sit and drink with the other ladies, Xi-feng then instructed to choose a couple plays from the bill, since the two aunts had already done so, after which Xi-feng states how those two choices would be the final bit of the program for the players, but You-shi insisting she’d like the company, Xi-feng then seeing the men had left, a servant supplying they’d gone off to drink, and when the play was done, the party ended after the ladies had another course and tea, everyone beginning to leave. Cousin Zhen offers the ladies return the next day, but they choose to decline in favor of a day of rest. The day after brought another celebration, and this point onward, Qin-shi got steady visits from Xi-feng, her state of health fluctuating, Cousin Zhen, You-shi, and Jia Rong stressing more with her instability.

Whenever Xi-feng came over for Qin-shi, Jia Rui inexplicably turns up, and at the start of the final month to mark Qin-shi’s having begun the doctor’s treatment for almost a year, Grandmother Jia and ladies were consistently wanting updates of her health, it still not having normalized. Grandmother Jia decides Xi-feng should see how she was the next day, and to make certain her favorite food was in constant replenishment. Xi-feng saw Qin-shi’s lack of appetite having affected the skin on her face, but she still tried to keep her spirits up, and when she spoke with You-shi after, they wonder about Qin-shi’s surviving, You-shi tentatively having planned for the worst, she then reports to Grandmother Jia, being dismissed, and going home. She is then updated on her home’s calls, Jia Rui one of them, and after informing her servant why she was ready to take him on, the woman agrees with her, Jia Rui’s visit spoken of in the next chapter.

Whilst the two were still discussing Jia Rui, they were told he was now about to enter, and when he arrived, Xi-feng could see the pleasure in his face by her non-formal attire, he wondering why Cousin Lian wasn’t in attendance, hinting it could be due to a lady, he then declaring he wasn’t the sort whom flitted from one love to the next when Xi-feng comments all males were like this. He felt even more special when she’d commented how rare an attribute it was, the conversation progressing until Jia Rui states how he’d wile away the hours with her daily, if allowed. Xi-feng then shows how she believed him by comparing how two other men had proven themselves barbaric. Jia Rui became even more smitten, Xi-feng politely warning his movements were being surveyed by the help, he adjusting his body language accordingly. Xi-feng then decides he should ready to leave, but says he can meet her later in the evening when he protests, she quelling his worry of being noticed by anyone near their appointed meeting place.

Later, he arrives to the total darkness behind the side gate, but as he waits he hears the gate he came through being shut, the realization he was stuck there for the night his only company. He was properly chilled by morning and got lucky when an old woman came to be let in, he sneaking out without any trouble and making it home. His grandfather, Jia Dai-ru, whom had raised him, was certain Jia Rui had gone out carousing, since he’d kept him on a tight leash from the start, so Jia Rui decided to say he’d spent the night at his uncle’s house. His grandfather not buying this, whipping him good, then making him do extra homework all night, and not being allowed to have food, but this foo doesn’t learn.

A couple days go by, and he again goes to Xi-feng, she realizing his stubborn efforts hadn’t diminished, so she offers another task for him. Jia Rui falls for it, hard, he leaving her, as requested, and she informing those necessary to expect the berk later in the evening. Jia Rui had the misfortune of being waylaid by relatives joining his grandfather and he for dinner, then must wait for his grandfather to retire for the night, so when Jia Rui makes it to the agreed spot and sees no one, he wonders if he’d been stood up again. Someone does arrive though, and Jia Rui is so filled with lust he immediately goes after the figure and readies to do some poking, when Jia Qiang walks in with light. Jia Rui gets a glimpse of whom he was about to nail, it Jia Rong, Jia Qiang informing him of being expected by Lady Wang, whom was furious to learn Jia Rui’s obsession. He then decides a bribe was in order, Jia Qiang not needing much convincing, and when Jia Rong feigns a more difficult customer, Jia Rui ups his price and writes them an IOU, Jia Qiang then deducing Jia Rui must wait elsewhere until he located the route which would which would keep him “unnoticed”. Jia Qiang deposits him underneath a stair, the two leaving him, and during his short wait, is drenched in human feces,

Image result for 8 crazy nights whitey and porta potty Jia Qiang then returning to let Jia Rui know he could go through the gate now, he not wasting anymore time, getting a servant to let him in and wash. He thought how whilst Xi-feng had betrayed him, he was still overcome by her beauty, these thoughts not allowing him to drift to sleepy-land.

From then on, Jia Rui stayed away from her home, but Jia Qiang and Jia Rong dropped by often for their agreed upon moolah. Due to this stress, his grandfather’s strict homework assignments, and only the company of his hand, since Xi-feng was out of reach, he was stricken ill before the year was done, no remedies showing relief. By Spring, he’d gotten no better, his grandfather Dai-ru in a state, since no one could cure him. Dai-ru, in the end goes to Lady Wang, whom speaks with Xi-feng about acquiring pure ginseng for him, Xi-feng not going out of her way to comply though, she instead sending a crappy package-worth to Dai-ru, Jia Rui desperate to get better, so takes everything, and one day overhears a Taoist saying he could cure certain illnesses from the door, and when the Taoist states he wouldn’t be able to, but had a trinket which would keep him alive, he handing him an inscribed mirror. The Taoist shares how the fairy Disenchantment made it, and as long as Jia Rui resisted looking at the front, he’d be cure in a few days, the Taoist states he’d return for it then.

The Taoist then quickly exits despite those who’d heard, asked him to tarry. Jia Rui then looks at the mirror, seeing a skull, he covering it, and deciding to look at the front to spite the Taoist giving him a fright, he seeing Xi-feng enticing him to come, and boy does he, going through the mirror a few times before the last one, he getting pulled away before being allowed to reenter the real world once more, and everyone who watched this, seeing Jia Rui picking up and putting down the mirror until he stopped breathing, and as Jia Rui’s grandparents mourned, are ready to chuck the mirror in a bonfire and blamed the Taoist, they hearing a disembodied voice remind of Jia Rui having had a choice to obey the instructions. The mirror biffs off without help from anyone, and Dai-ru sees the Taoist outside catch it, and vanishes. Dai-ru is given contributions so Jia Rui’s funeral would be of good quality. Whilst Jia Rui had been dealing with his issues at the end of the year, Lin Ru-hai was also severely sick and requests a visit from Dai-yu. Grandmother Jia didn’t want to allow the girl to go, but makes the proper reservations for her to go to her father’s bedside. Bao-yu also was stricken, but accepted the girl’s departure, Grandmother Jia also had Jia Lian join her on the journey to Yangchow.

Xi-feng was affected with restlessness when Jia Lian had left with only Patience to converse with, the two considering how far into the trip he could be, Win-shi coming in as Xi-feng was close to sleep and Patience already asleep, she wishing to confide in her, since she also would be leaving soon. Qin-shi begins by speaking of some foretelling sayings about how whilst their family was currently respected, how it could fall from its perch easily. She continues about how Xi-feng could stave off too far a fall for them by preparing whilst they were still stable enough, and how there were a couple areas which Xi-feng could focus to make life easier if trouble should strike. Qin-shi explains the family cemetery and school both needed tending, which could be funded with the purchasing of property around the cemetery and the school moved on to said property to be paid for with the new purchases. The family would then share responsibility of tending to the school, which would keep everyone from complaining of having sole charge of the duties. So, in this way, the property would be safe from being taken to its charitable status, and would allow the young people to continue their education and be useful agriculturally.

Qin-shi then professes of a positive occurrence in the near future which could make them all spend in celebration and to be way of the excess extravagance. Qin-shi reveals a riddle before the hour of death is heard by chiming. When Xi-feng awakes, a servant announces Qin-shi had died, Xi-feng then getting ready to go to Lady Wang’s, and family and servants alike mourning her. Meanwhile, during Dai-yu’s absence, Bao-yu kept to himself and began retiring early in the evening, his reaction to Qin-shi’s death worrying his servants, since he’d thrown up blood, but he refused having a doctor called, believing it had been caused by the surprising news. He prepares to see Grandmother Jia and insists being allowed to go to Qin-shi, she setting up transport and entourage for him, and after seeing her body and grieving, looks in on You-shi, whom was ill with a stomach issue, then goes in search of Cousin Zhen, whom was speaking to other family members who had arrived and were mourning. He lost hope for the family name ending because of Qin-shi’s death, then speaks of plans for the funeral. Arrangements are made for her body before the ceremony and moved to a shrine.

Meanwhile, Cousin Zhen gets a deal for the making of the coffin from Xue Pan, they soon hearing of Qin-shi’s young servant committing suicide upon hearing of her passing, they burying the girl next to her. Cousin Zhen then has the good luck of speaking with a well-respected servant whom would be able to help him get his son, Jia Rong considered for a better position so he’d be able to add it to the needed banner for for Qin-shi’s funeral. The servant makes the arrangements with his secretary, and after he’d left, Cousin Zhen plays host to new arrivals to mourn Qin-shi. The next day, Jia Rong’s rank was promoted and the coffin stated as such. So, whilst most everything was progressing easily, Cousin Zhen still stressed over You-shi still being ill and this reflecting the family badly if it damaged some sort of rule regarding the “female head of household”, his answer coming from Bao-yu, Cousin Zhen completely agreeing with him and setting about the temporary head being Cousin Feng (Xi-feng), so brings Bao-yu to his room where only Xi-feng remained, since the other ladies disappeared for embarrassment, and Xi-feng notes how Cousin Zhen had been over-extending himself, he ignoring this and asking for her assistance on receiving her aid, she instructing him to ask Lady Wang, whom enters, but also puts her opinion of herself being too young, Cousin Zhen maintaining she was the only option and becoming upset, Lady Wang and she eventually consenting, so she accepts (I’m getting annoyed by the formalities basically referring to the same person to different ways, it’s confusing). After Cousin Zhen leaves, Xi-feng puts in order the tasks which she need focus on most once Lady Wang also leaves, she narrowing down how best to deal with the servants, especially.

Chief Steward of the Ning-guo mansions, Lai Sheng gives directions to his men to do as Xi-feng asks, their work hours guaranteed to be a bit longer now. So, as long as they put up with her bitchy, stubborn ways for the month, they could kick back after, she being known to go after anyone who disobeyed. Sunshine, Xi-feng’s servant then turns up for the household list of names, everyone snapping to work accordingly. After recieving said list, Xi-feng goes home. Xi-feng arrives back at Cousin Zhen’s early next morning to discuss Lai Sheng’s wife of almost the same topic of discussion Lai Sheng was going over, and then saw all servants before giving out their duties, she then making plain how everything would now be run. Her hold was immediately felt and order returned after many years of nonsense. After seven times seven days before the funeral, the monks had made it to a serious part of their prayers, as were the Taoists and other holy people all doing their parts to prepare Qin-shi’s journey through the afterlife.

Xi-feng had a late start next morning, and upon arriving, has the servants begin the procedures for their mourning. Xi-feng leads by example, Cousin Zhen and You-shi ending the display and Xi-feng starting the task of meeting with the servants, one woman later today, found and begging forgiveness whilst Xi-feng handled an order for silk-cord, which soon turned into other diverted attention for servants and wives of “important” men. Xi-feng continued her tracking of funds and deciding what would be handled according to her logic. Then, she returns her attention to the lady, informing her how she would normally have her conduct qualify dismissal, but instead would make an example of her, and ordered her whipped by bamboo, the servants taking her look of anger seriously and following orders. Xi-feng afterward, notes the new rules for how tardiness would be handled would be double the whipping number the woman endured, along with some other dissuasive fines, she then allows all to get to work. Xi-feng makes her leadership clear, and no one dared slack off. Bao-yu is then followed, using Xi-feng’s office to speak with Qin Zhong, she greeting them and finishing lunch as she took care of restocking orders and chatting to the boys about their school work, Bao-yu realizing Xi-feng hadn’t put through the request for materials necessary to finish his homework space, she revealing the materials had already been supplied and was only teasing him.

A servant traveling with Dai-yu then comes in to report the news of her father’s death and how long they’d be away for the burial. Later in the evening, she gathers requested coats and gives the servant more tasks whilst he looked after Jia Lian. As the funeral day drew nearer, Cousin Zhen picked out Qin-shi’s plot and the number of monks wanted for the ceremony. Cousin Zhen also stayed over at the head monk’s room overnight so he could finish the readying of the plot and whatnot before the funeral, Xi-feng also finalizing her reservations before and after the funeral, she also dealing with other family-related matters throughout, everyone becoming impressed with her multi-tasking and superb handling of all situations. Then, the night no one was to sleep was upon them, Xi-feng surrounded by shy family members, but she not perturbed and giving assignments to all as people came and left throughout the night, morning bringing the funeral. It beginning with the tradition breaking of the bowl by honorary daughter/servant, Jewel, showing her sadness appropriately. One official, the Prince of Beijing had also attended, asking about wanting to meet Bao-yu to Jia Zheng, his father. He retrieves the boy, Bao-y excited to have been asked for, he admiring the Prince, and their conversation forthcoming.

Bao-yu admired Shui Rong, the Prince of Beijing’s mourning accessories and outfit before attempting to greet him formally, but was prevented by the man, he instead asking about Bao-yu’s jade, and being handed the corded stone immediately for inspection. After, the Prince inquires about Bao-yu’s studies, etc and then states how Bao-yu was sure to surpass his elders, Jia Zheng replying how lucky they’d be if Bao-yu lived up to the affirmation. The Prince then offers Bao-yu an invitation to his home to speak with the cultured writers the Prince had been known to host, this allowing Bao-yu another way to be taught different sorts of intellect. He then gives Bao-yu a bracelet he wore, Bao-yu and his father both thanking him traditionally before Jia She and Cousin Zhen offer he go before the coffin’s procession, but the Prince decides the hearse’s presence to importance, so the funeral party was temporarily separated whilst the Prince left. Bao-yu was preparing to join the other men to go by horseback, when Xi-feng invites him to accompany her by carriage, he accepting and then taking a moment to stop at the midway of their travels.

They get out at a farm, one of Bao-yu’s pages describing the farm tools whilst Xi-feng changed her outfit, they eating and taking tea before continuing their ride and catching up at the Temple, and after staying the day, is offered to return home in the evening, but decides to stay, Xi-feng taking responsibility for him. The two, along with Qin Zhong, since his father was unable to remain, retire at her arranged rooms, she speaking with the lady of the house, Euergesia, whilst Bao-yu and Qin Zhong are met by one of Euergesia’s “disciples”, Sapientia, Bao-yu giving Qin Zhong a hard time for supposedly hugging her privately, he denying knowing anything about it. Sapientia couldn’t deny Bao-yu’s claims though, the two having fallen for each other, but their affections innocent, so far. They had tea, then leave Sapientia for other pastimes.

Meanwhile, back with Xi-feng, Euergesia relates a story where a family wished for her assistance, but she not interested in getting involved, Euergesia warning it would give the wrong impression, so Xi-feng decides to quote a price she’d agree to help, if paid, Euergesia immediately assuming they would and whether she’d be prepared to begin the next day, she not saying yet, but the two chatting on. Qin Zhong soon locates Sapientia, he vowing his love, she wanting him to prove it through getting her out of her servant status, and his agreement, but forcing his unbridled passion upon her, Bao-yu cock-blocking him in a odd way, and he deciding what Qin Zhong would do to keep his secret for him, but the details unknown. Now, Qin Zhong is attempting to figure a reason for them to remain longer, Xi-feng weighing the reasonability, deciding it’d suit her for the task she agreed to do. Xi-feng has a servant send a message to a general Yun Guang, and when they were set to leave the next day, Xi-feng makes sure Euergesia will contact her with Yun Guang’s answer. Qin Zhong and Sapientia’s parting was full of sadness and the details of the departure are to follow.

Everyone’s return home is uneventful, Bao-yu had every intention of using his finished work space, but Qin Zhong became sick, and woe he is made to wait longer before he could study with him. Xi-feng received Guang’s response in affirming his readiness to help her which had him receiving his gifts back and a young lady and man committing suicide in the process, Xi-feng looking like she was content with money made and Lady Wang remaining in the dark, this seemingly the start to her new hobby. Soon, Jia Zheng’s birthday has come, a message from the Emperor coming by Head Eunuch of the Bedchamber, they learning Jia Zheng had been summoned to see the Emperor right then, this having the rest of the family wondering what reason there could be as Zheng readies to leave. A few hours later, Grandmother Jia receives message of she and her female family members were now also being asked to go meet Zheng so they could show gratitude, Grandmother Jia learning privately one of the ladies had been chosen as Imperial Concubine.

When the women found out, they were quite pleased and dressed according to title of power. Bao-yu was the only one whom wasn’t bothered by this good news, Sapientia having followed Qin Zhong and he getting punished when Qin Bang-ye found her, he getting so incensed, an illness which he periodically fought, finally claimed him a few days later, so due to the physical stresses and mental anguish from losing his father, he struggled to get better. This is why Bao-yu’s sister, Yuan chun’s “promotion” didn’t brighten his mood, the family putting it off to being one of his crazy ways. Although, the knowledge of Dai-yu finally returning helped him defrost a bit, and when she arrived, she became swept up with locating space for the new books she’d brought back (I feel that). Meanwhile, Xi-feng and Jia Lian were jokingly speaking formally with each other, and as they had tea, spoke of Xi-feng’s duties and she down-playing her competence at managing households. As she’s inquiring Jia Lian to have Cousin Zhen forgive her terrible management of his home, Jia Lian is reminded of hearing news about Xue getting Caltrop as he’d been wanting. Jia Lian notes how Xue wasn’t suitable for her, so Xi-feng offers to exchange her maid for Caltrop.

When Jia Lian goes to see Zhen, whom had dropped by, Patience admits the reason Caltrop was mentioned was because Brightie’s wife had come to deliver money. Later on, as Xi-feng and Jia Lian have wine, his old nurse comes by to ask about possible work for her sons, Xi-feng willing to take the matter into her own hands. The conversation then moves on to the Emperor’s project of having a place for the concubines to visit with their parents, Jia Lian helping with this. Nannie Zhao speaks of the old Emperor’s ways and is soon interrupted by Jia Rong and Jia Qiang who were delivering the message of where the Visitation spot would be placed and to give comment the next day. Jia Qiang then relays a message about his own task of hiring entertainers and was to accept advice, Jia Lian wonders whether he was experienced enough to choose appropriately, Xi-feng defending Zhen’s choice to have Jia Qiang handle it.

After Jia Lian learns how the money for this task would be handled, he approves of Jia Qiang’s plan so far, and Xi-feng offers a couple helpers to aid him, which he’d been hoping to request. Jia Qiang offers to pick up anything Jia Lian needed in appreciation for his help, and after this, heard a few general household matters before retiring for the night, Xi-feng joining him by midnight. Jia Lian plays a large role in choosing the builders to undertake the project which began the next day, after which they started purchasing supplies and moving a garden to attend to the landscape before building. Due to the family focused on this, Bao-yu wasn’t hassled about his school work, but soon discovers Tealeaf, Qin Zhong’s state turning into a deathly illness. Bao-yu relays this to Grandmother Jia, whom allows he go to him until he passed, but must return directly after. Bao-yu leaves and quickly takes a carriage to Qin Zhong’s where he was being looked after by female relatives.

When Bao-yu sees his friend lying on a bed instead of his kang, he becomes upset, Li Gui reminding Bao-yu the reason behind this could be due to Qin Zhong’s sensitivity to certain levels of hardness of cushion rather than it being about the custom of not being allowed to expire on a kang, hoping this possibility would calm Bao-yu so as not to upset Qin Zhong, but he needn’t have worried, since Qin Zhong was currently dealing with beings ready to drag him into the afterlife, but upon hearing Bao-yu calling, the “demon” leader and bunch put them atwitter as to how to proceed. The lead demon decides to relent in letting Qin Zhong a few more moments to say goodbye to Bao-yu, since he wore his demon repelling jade. Unfortunately, Qin Zhong was unable to speak and could only awake to look at Bao-yu before descending into blackness.

Bao-yu was terribly distraught from this day until quite some time after the funeral. Later still, Cousin Zhen informed Jia Zheng of the garden being done and he would be last to decide if they needed to add anything else, as well as the opinion for certain points of the space to be named, the two agreeing with an idea from a man of words about putting their ideas on lanterns and have Grandmother Jia decide later which would be best. Bao-yu had been prompted by her Ladyship only moments before to go in the garden, so hadn’t been quick enough to retreat before his father approached, Jia Zheng then deciding he’d see how gifted Bao-yu’s couplet skills truly were, since receiving good notes regarding this from his instructor.

Jia Zheng leads them all to the first spot needing to be named, everyone suggesting something, Jia Zheng not disappointed after Bao-yu makes his suggestion, but the area ultimately going to receive a different name. They move to another area and the group again gives opinions, Bao-yu doing well and this time his father acknowledging this in the usual minimalist way, they moving on. this time, the little enclosed area bringing to mind the idea of studying within to Jia Zheng’s attention and Bao-yu showing a look of guilt. After hearing the other men first, Jia Zheng speaks deprecatingly about Bao-yu to Cousin Zhen, since he’d suggested hearing from Bao-yu once more, he again giving a more suitable idea and stating why the others didn’t seem fitting. Jia Zheng hadn’t been impressed with the couplet Bao-yu offered thought, getting the report of what deliveries had been made for the structure thus far. They move on to the next area as they listened, Jia Zheng happy to have reached this particular rest-spot.

Bao-yu doesn’t wait to be asked this time and his father responds heatedly about they only having been inquiring to test him, so when they moved to another building he had Bao-yu attempt a name, Jia Zheng not pleased and putting down both name and couplet before moving on, this time traveling to another area with a stream, Bao-yu still unable to impress his father, the group then climbing to another area over a hill. Jia Zheng’s first impression of another building turned from negative to calm due to the view from the door, plants all about within, Bao-yu mistakenly offering his opinion on the smell form the plants coming from a particularly named rare plant.

When Bao-yu stays silent at the next building as the literary men suggested couplets, Jia Zheng calls on his son again, goading him for his opinion, and again acting surprised when the other men praise Bao-yu, but inwardly agreeable, at the least to the positive feedback. The next place they went was the entrance hall, this place giving Bao-yu deja-vu, the other men having Jia Zheng allow Bao-yu to give his opinion in a day’s time, since he looked so preoccupied with attempting to remember. Jia Zheng does only allow these terms if Bao-yu gives him a perfect suggestion, they then being interrupted by a servant with information Yu-cun having sent a message. They leave with Jia Zheng leading, he again shooting down a suggestion from Bao-yu when they crossed a dam, after which they walk past many other quaint rest areas, Jia Zheng only stopping when he became tired.

Bao-yu still attempts naming the place they were in after his father had the others speak. The idea wasn’t accepted, though and they continued on until reaching where they’d begun, Jia Zheng allows Bao-yu to depart, the boy being stopped by his father’s pages, who took all of his valuables they could see as payment for supplying him with his poems, they then take him to Grandmother Jia, after which he goes back to his quarters, Aroma and then Dai-yu seeing his missing articles, the latter annoyed he’d given away a gift of hers, she collecting and cutting up a bag Bao-yu had requested she make, he showing her how the gift she’d thought had been re-gifted was actually saved, she upset by his reaction of returning it to her and then calming her down when he saw she was going to destroy this purse, as well. When he didn’t let her alone, though, she attempts arguing why he’d insist keeping the little purse when he’d tried to reattach it, the two eventually making peace enough to go to Jia Qiang’s where they learned of a twelve girl act he’d acquired, also 24 nuns also being employed by Lin Zhi-xiao’s wife, the lady informing how they may get an extra nun, Adamantina, whom would fit well and came from a good family, but the young lady having not been convinced, yet. Lady Wang suggests a formal invite of which the results continue presently.

As Xi-feng became busier, Bao-yu decides to move their group to Ying-chun’s quarters. Meanwhile, Lady Wang would be occupied with work for the garden for the next ten months straight. Finally, after Grandmother Jia had given her okay, Jia Zheng puts in request and receives answer for a “Visitation”, in a month’s time. A eunuch made last minute rules and requests on behalf of the concubine and the night before the visit brought rest to no one. The important members of the family were all ready by five next morning and waiting at the entrance until hearing how the concubine wouldn’t be arriving until early evening. Xi-feng prepares small assignments in the meantime, and when night finally falls, the eunuchs soon get wind of the concubine’s approach, the Jia family also reclaim their spots of welcome, and then two sets of ten eunuchs stand in a line before they hear the concubine reaching their estate. First her servants carry her belongings, she bringing up the rear. Yuan-chun descends only for a moment to “‘changing her clothes'” before being brought to the freshly pimped garden, she overwhelmed by the lengths obviously gone to in order to show the excessive make-over. As Yuan-chun was brought further into the garden, it’s explained why Jia Zheng had chosen to use his son’s suggestions being to do with Yuan-chun having been so close with him when he was a small boy. Yuan-chun, not knowing this it seems, spoke her mind, and one title for the entrance to an area was shortened whilst another changed completely. Yuan-chun then sat to be greeted by the family, her lady-in-waiting dismissing each group as they paid respects.

Yuan-chun’s lady-in-waiting went about excusing each group as they paid respects. After this, she again, “changes her clothes” and is carried to her family’s home. Grandmother Jia and Lady Wang both waiting, and Yuan-chun becoming emotional from seeing them after so long. Six other ladies were standing around and watching the scene with tears in their eyes. After everyone calmed, others were brought forward to greet her, and after learning Aunt Xue, Bao-chai, and Dai-yu weren’t present, she had them called on to attend the reunion. Then, when most of the high-positioned servants were led out, Yuan-chun was comfortable enough to lose diplomatic formality, unfortunately, it making certain trouble when wanting to chat with her father, Jia Zheng, they having to speak with a curtain hiding one from the other. He spoke of advising her, and also stating of his wife and he were honored by her royal position and she shouldn’t feel upset for her good fortune including this stipulation of her visit.

Yuan-chun then wonders aloud where Bao-yu was, after which Jia Zheng shared his son’s contribution for the titles in the garden. She calls for him and is overcome with joy once more, until being led to a feast elsewhere, getting the chance to explore the grounds further, and afterward, she and the family sitting down for their meals and she writing down her choice for titles of the lovely garden and changes to the names of some, but not Bao-yu’s inscriptions. After doing a bit more writing, Yuan-chun requests the ladies of the family to attempt writing some poetry, as well as Bao-yu expanding on his inscriptions of her four top favorites. Everyone immediately begins, the ladies poems being read first. Yuan-chun praises two out of the four young ladies, and then Bao-chai helps Bao-yu with his last requested poem. After this, the twelves little girl performers got their chances to show their talents, one girl, Charmante being noticed considerably more. Then, Yuan-chun makes an inspection of the list of gifts which would be given to the family and servants, she agreeing, the time for her visit ending. Grandmother Jia with Lady Wang were both visibly upset, Yuan-chun attempting to reassure them everything would be fine before steeping back into her carriage.

The emperor hears of Yuan-chun’s visit a day later, and Xue-feng along with the rest of the family, were taxed physically and mentally by all the planning they’d done, she continuing to oversee the cleanup of the garden which lasted for the next few days. Bao-yu though, was among those being completely sedentary with his time, he accepting an invitation to attend some plays at the other house. The productions were so loud, people on the streets could hear the cacophony. Bao-yu becomes tired of it fairly quickly and decides to move along, chatting with You-shi first, but leaves her and the maids and concubines shortly after, his attendants all having let him be for believing he’d only mill about until evening. Bao-yu was on his way to see a portrait of a lady hanging in one of Cousin Zhen’s studies, and upon approaching closer, hears questionable sounds from within. He makes a tear in the paper window and witnesses Tealeaf getting off with another girl. Bao-yu was shocked into a yelp and busted in on the two, allowing the one girl to leave and inquiring of Tealeaf to share the girl’s name, which was Swastika (the story behind this, shared), the two then decide to visit Aroma where they are also greeted by her family and before being escorted back home, sits a little while.

Meanwhile, his maids were also taking advantage of Bao-yu being out, Nannie Li dropping in and not being impressed with their behavior. She helps herself to Bao-yu’s gift to Aroma, though and becomes peeved and feels guilty when hearing why the koumiss had been saved. Another maid attempts to make light of Nannie Li’s egotistic perspective by agreeing with her, but she didn’t believe the maid’s genuineness, and after leaving, Bao-yu returns to notice the maid, Skybright lying down, Ripple relating the events with Nannie Li and how Skybright started losing when the old woman arrived. Aroma then comes in, Bao-yu asking for the koumiss and the maids naming the drinker, Aroma stating how Nannie Li would’ve been welcome to it anyways, since she’d made herself sick of the drink before Bao-yu could react.

When Aroma requests Bao-yu peel some chestnuts for her, this distracts him from thinking anymore of Nannie Li and he drifted to the topic of one of Aroma’s younger relatives, the girl catching his interest and confiding his opinion of liking the girl to reside with them, Aroma taking offense over how her family shouldn’t all have to work for his, Bao-yu claiming the possibility he could’ve meant as a bride rather than a maid, Aroma not buying this due to her family’s lower status. She then shares how the girl was already betrothed, Bao-yu showing disappointment, and then shocked and surprised when hearing her family’s plans of buying her freedom to move back home. Bao-yu’s reaction to state how he could keep her there when she’d confessed her wish to return to them, and explaining how his family couldn’t deny her freedom if purchased, Bao-yu distressed over this, but seeing how possible it was, regardless of his hypothetical scenarios to make her stay, he then sharing how he’d rather have not had her employed for him if she’d told him sooner she’d eventually leave, readying for bed.

Then the conversation between Aroma’s mother, brother, and herself is related, she not wanting  them to buy her out, due to how well she was treated and they not having need of the money to sell her off again, they also agreeing with her after seeing Bao-yu. So, Aroma confessing the opposite to him was part one in a complicated plan (maybe?), she’d successfully gotten Bao-yu off his high horse and discovered his true feelings. She then goes to Bao-yu to see he’d been crying, she confiding her change of heart to stay and Bao-yu asking her to think of a way to prove to her how much he truly wanted her to remain with him. Aroma wants him to perform three tasks for her, one being to not go on and on with long drawn out responses, the second to at least pretend to enjoy studying, especially around his father and associates, Bao-yu claiming to already having stopped doing this, the third was to resist taking lipstick and eating it, he agreeing fully, and Aroma stating if he could keep it up and only be careful how reckless he was, she wouldn’t ever leave. Another maid then walks in to share the hour being late, so Bao-yu again goes through his bedtime rituals.

Next morning, Aroma becomes ill, so had to take most of the day off, Bao-yu going to see Dai-yu, whom was attempting to nap, but he insisting her napping after a meal was unhealthy, so she relented staying up and chatting with him. Bao-yu becomes distracted by Dai-yu’s perfume scent as she advised him to be careful being seen helping to make rouge, since the news could read his father. Dai-yu confesses it wasn’t perfume, but perhaps came from her closet, Bao-yu denying this for the smell being different. After some time sniffer her cuff, he attempts to make idle conversation, Dai-yu not participating until Bao-yu pretends hearing of a story about Yangchow and some magic mice, she then relenting to listen. When Dai-yu finally realizes this story involved a character with connotations to herself entering the story, she punishes Bao-yu with a lip-pinch, Bao-chai coming in and asking what had happened, Dai-yu explaining and happy to know Bao-chai could now whip Bao-yu at his own game, they then hearing an angry outburst from the vicinity of Bao-yu’s room.

So, as they’d been having a grand ole time, Bao-yu feels better now Dai-yu wouldn’t get indigestion, she identifying the yelling coming from Nannie Li arguing at Aroma, Bao-chai keeping Bao-yu from breaking it up for Nannie Li’s outburst being small potatoes. Bao-yu agrees with her words before going off and hearing Nannie Li’s insults to Aroma having to do with her not having at least acknowledged her presence when she’d arrived. Aroma kept her cool, but became upset when Nannie Li began suggesting how better off they’d all be with her getting married and leaving, Bao-yu attempts to support Aroma with the allowance of she having been sick, but Nannie Li continues her rampage by believing Aroma had turned all of them against her, she then becoming upset, Bao-chai and Dai-yu attempting to ease her emotion.

Xi-feng’s attention is caught in the front room, she entering and stating to Nannie Li of needing to be quiet, Grandmother Jia was in good spirits and didn’t need to hear her petty b.s. (seriously; It was said in kinder terminology, though). Xi-feng also states how if Nannie Li was being upset by anyone she should report them to her for punishment, she then insisting the old bag come have some stew and drink in her quarters, Nannie Li begrudgingly following, but quietly bitching about how she didn’t regret her actions. Bao-chai and Dai-yu were properly amused by this, Bao-yu wondering why Nannie Li had truly gone off on everyone, Skybright defending the girls due to the culprit should’ve willingly come forward if circumstances warranted, Aroma then stating how Bao-yu shouldn’t have turned the quarrel into a group affair, since she always received the backlash, stopping herself from becoming further distressed for Bao-yu’s sake, he also staying reserved, since he could see she was truly ill.

As a proper lie-down is set up for her, she suggests he sit with Xi-feng and Grandmother Jia for awhile, she assuring him she’d be alright, Bao-yu agreeing with her idea and so joins his grandmother once Aroma was settled, he returning afterward to find all his maids gone except Musk, whom had decided to keep an eye on Aroma and Bao-yu’s quarters. So, before retiring himself, he brushes her hair when he remembers she’d been talking about it earlier, another maid coming in, teasing Bao-yu, he making light of it, fortunately, and then returning to her game. By the following morning Aroma had recovered, so Bao-yu goes to Aunt Xue’s home. Some of his other closely-aged relatives were also there playing games, Bao-yu’s half-brother, Jia Huan playing against Bao-chai, she treating the two brothers equally, so when Jia Huan starts losing the game and attempts to cheat, Bao-chai has the other girl give up her winnings, she annoyed, but Jia Huan breaking down, which Bao-yu then comes in to inquire the reason, but the other too ashamed to confess.

Besides this, there was an odd relationship between the two due to Jia Huan being a concubine’s son and the younger. Bao-yu didn’t bully him, since people were already speaking about him enough as it was, and he also was ruled by his religion teaching respect of blood being of utmost importance, so Bao-yu dealt with Jia Huan as this and the fact he’d grown up with females coloring his reasoning. He made it clear if the game was upsetting him, he should go find something else he’d enjoy. Jia Huan ends up back in his own quarters where his actual mother, “‘Aunt Zhou'” wondered aloud what had happened (Lady Wang was known as his mother only by title). When Jia Huan shares his story of what had occurred, Aunt Zhou bursts with how he shouldn’t have been mixing with them anyways. Xi-feng hears her as she passes by, telling her off through the window and having the boy come with her. She proceeds to berate him about his choice of bad company and being too weak-minded, she then sending him off with more cash for betting with and would make him regret any similar behavior in the future if she heard about it again. Meanwhile Bao-yu and Bao-chai go to visit with Miss Shi when she comes to call.

When arriving at Grandmother Jia’s room, Dai-yu was there giving Bao-yu a hard time about spending time with Bao-chai. She exits, and Bao-yu goes after her wondering why she was mad, she stubborn and Bao-yu getting pulled away by Bao-chai on behalf of Cousin Shi, the two leaving Dai-yu upset, and when Bao-yu returns later, she is more distressed and so he attempts calming her with how close they were compared to Bao-chai, whom was too new to be considered more of a closer cousin. Cousin Shi then comes to say how perfect it was they deserting her the one time she’s actually available to them, the two laughing at her lisp and she quickly exiting after a joke about Dai-yu marrying a lisper. Bao-yu blocks Dai-yu’s attempts at chasing her and Bao-chai tries to diffuse the situation by waving the white flag, Dai-yu having a Nannie Li moment when she sticks to her pursuit and belief there was collusion against her. Bao-yu makes her realize how this nonsense began due to her own tom-foolery, a servant interrupting with news of Grandmother Jia starting supper, after which Bao-yu hangs around with Dai-yu and Xiang-yun until quite late, Aroma asking for him periodically.

The next morning, Bao-yu is up with the light and fussing at Xiang-yun’s blankie, Dai-yu having him leave temporarily whilst they dressed, and after finishing cleaning their faces, Bao-yu requests Xiang-yun style his hair, Aroma sees this and returns to Bao-yu’s room where Bao-chai comes looking for him, she taking a moment to speak with Aroma about herself, liking the girl. When Bao-yu returns, he notes how quickly Bao-chai leaves, Aroma not in a good humor and Bao-yu stating as much, she confessing she’d like to work for Grandmother Jia once more. This worries Bao-yu, but he doesn’t get anything more from her, and when he receives similar attitude from Musk, he lets it go and lays down for a nap. When Aroma covers him and he takes the blanket off, they begin speaking, he stating how she wouldn’t even let him in on why she was mad, and she maintaining he should know already and when he finishes lunch and returns, she has fallen asleep. He goes to his room and reads for awhile until seeing one of his maids, Citronella, standing in the room awaiting instruction, he changing her nickname given to her by Aroma to Number Four due to the number of girls in her family and she being the baby, he growing tired of the flower and fragrance theme.

Aroma and Musk quietly find this amusing, Bao-yu now bored with his uneventful day, Number Four wanting to make a favorable impression on him, and after dinner, Bao-yu now a bit inebriated, he considered how best to bide his time from Aroma, reading and becoming inspired by a passage and adding his own thoughts in the book regarding Aroma, Musk, Dai-yu, and Bao-chai, then retiring. Aroma is asleep next to him when he wakes in the morning, he rousing her so she could go sleep comfortably on her own kang (which everyone seems to lounge and sleep on, so I presumed). When Bao-yu attempts to get her more comfortable, she resists, still playing her game of having him see his wrongful ways. Instead, it seems to be left alone once Bao-yu breaks a hair-pin, they both washing up. Bao-yu leaves and Dai-yu comes looking for him, seeing his open book, and ads her own lines to his. She then goes to Grandmother Jia’s, and after to Lady Wang’s, the doctor having seen her daughter, she being sick with smallpox. The doctor advises the potential for recovery and how to treat it for the little girl’s comfort. A room was then prepared for the girl, doctors, and parents, since it would be a 12 day process.

Jia Lian was affected by this set up because of the forced abstinence it entailed, which would be satiated by a lady known as “the mattress”, the wife of a cook called “Droopy Duo”. Jia Lian soon had her brought to him, she delighted, they meeting in the evening, and upon getting down, her nickname explained as coming from an affectation her body took, and once finished, the two ‘come’ (wink) to an agreement. When the baby’s illness had passed and everything was normal, Patience discovers a lock of hair under Jia Lian’s pillow, she confronting him about what it could be, and when he makes a lunge for it and fails to retrieve it before Xi-feng was heard heading towards them and requesting an item for Grandmother Jia, asks whether anything was found or missing from Jia Lian’s temporary quarters, she knowing the possibility of her hubby’s naughtiness.

Patience keeps his secret and when they’re alone again, was about to negotiate terms when he tricks her into releasing the hair, and her frustration making him ask for her to let him lay her, she leaving whilst the getting was good. He then vows to make Xi-feng realize whom was actually in power in their relationship, it sounding murderous, he claiming she was using the double-standard on him (rightly), Patience defending Xi-feng for not being a cheat. When she mentions how trustworthy she thought of him, he widens his threat to include anyone who thought his conduct unsavory, Xi-feng then happening to return to see Patience conversing through an open window, she giving Xi-feng some attitude when she mentions why she was outside to speak with Jia Lian inside, then exiting, Jia Lian also trying to excuse himself, but Xi-feng having a topic to discuss.

Xi-feng inquires about their plans for Bao-chai’s birthday, since she’d be turning fifteen and Grandmother Jia wanted a nice party for her, so Jia Lian comes up with a simple solution, Xi-feng only making certain he had final say, he not caring as long as she eased up her surveillance of him. Shi Xiang Yun is then followed, she preparing to end her stay, but Grandmother Jia insisting she wait til after the party, she agreeing and sending word back home. Meanwhile, Xi-feng speaks with Grandmother Jia about what her thoughts were for entertainment, she going off on her in a burst when she was offered a meager sum to obtain said festivities, fortunately everyone taking it lightly. Grandmother Jia had caught on to the situation being for her benefit, she enjoying these set up digs on her.

On the day of the party, a different child acting troupe is scheduled. The party stayed a private affair, and Dai-yu was still acting aloof toward Bao-yu, as he’d come to her room to offer choosing her favorite plays for her, she not impressed, but still allowing him to lead her out. After the family had eaten, Bao-chai chooses the first play to be from a piece of Journey to the West, Grandmother Jia happy with her decision. The others also get a choice and everyone sits to watch the set, Bao-yu asking Bao-chai why she kept requesting similarly themed plays, her answer having to do with the music and lyrics, Bao-yu having her share which part she particularly liked, she obliging by quietly singing the section.

Bao-yu agrees with her assessment, Dai-yu voicing her annoyance at his talking, and after everyone had watched the plays into the evening, Grandmother Jia gave extra gifts to two of the girls who stood out, afterward. As the troupe was packing it in, some noted how one of them looking like one of their party, Xiang-yu naming the person, then becoming angry when receiving a look from Bao-yu, which she mistakenly perceived to be a look of insult, and she not caring for his explanation, he then getting pushed out of a room by Dai-yu when he was looking for her. He waits her out and when she opens the door once more to find him still waiting, she allows him entry, alluding to how he seemed to support her being teased, he declaring the statement hadn’t been made by him, and she concluding with a baffling answer, since she supported everyone’s reaction, whilst wasn’t ideal, she thought his staying straight-faced made it worse, like she couldn’t take the joke. Besides this, how he’d reacted to Xiang-yu confused her into thinking it was due to she being on a lower rung-of-importance to Xiang-yu and shouldn’t have been joining with her, for risking a comeback, and so believed his excuse of she being sensitive was to distract from this, Dai-yu not liking he’d stuck in nose in. Bao-yu realizes how his actions had received negative results from both ends and his book reading reminded him of the philosophies saying how unfulfilling the task he’d put on himself was, making him feel worse, so he ditches her in favor of his quarters.

Dai-yu took this even more insulting and declared he stay away from her and not speak with her again. Bao-yu doesn’t respond, and when Aroma sees him, lets it be and talks of different subjects, her attempts being met with indifference. Bao-yu was determined to keep out of any suggestion referring to the ladies and so stayed aloof with all of Aroma’s ideas regarding good spirits toward the women. After quoting a line describing how he felt, he became upset and began writing some verses. When he was satisfied, he goes to bed, Dai-yu wandering in later and Aroma detaining her before she withdrew, after learning Bao-yu had retired, but was amused by Bao-yu’s writing which Aroma gives her, she showing Xiang-yu and Bao-chai, the latter disposing of it, since believing Bao-yu had written it because of what she’d told him of the play, Dai-yu finding her reaction amusing. She states how destroying the paper was unnecessary and could reverse Bao-yu’s reaction by posing a specific question to him, which when he heard, could not find a reply, all who watched on amused and suggesting alternatives to his torn up thoughts, he then realizing his Enlightened moment was false, taking the three’s ribbing lightly, since they also hadn’t obtained Enlightenment, regardless of knowing more than he.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun had sent a riddle for the family to decipher and return a riddle of their own to her. Everyone took part in answering the riddle and supplying one of their own and the answers along with the riddles were delivered and returned in kind. So, whilst some of Yuan-chun’s guesses were incorrect, those who’d stumped her pretended she’d succeeded in solving them. Jia Huan was the only one whom had given a riddle Yuan-chun admitted she couldn’t solve, the answer being sent to her, Grandmother Jia so taken with the game, she sets up one of her own for everyone, Jia Zheng also taking part, and after Grandmother Jia had Li Wan join them, also noting Bao-yu staying monosyllabic due to his father’s presence, the other ladies were also lacking in conversation, Bao-chai the least affected by whatever was putting the others off, Grandmother Jia considering the cause to be Jia Zheng, she attempting to convince him to turn in, but he wanting to be a part of the fun, Grandmother Jia relenting by offerring him a riddle, the two soon trading riddles, Jia Zheng giving presents when Grandmother Jia’s answers were correct.

After, she suggest he has a go at the kids riddles, getting them with one guess, but becoming depressed by how dark they were. Grandmother Jia could tell something had darkened his mood and didn’t want him bringing down the party anymore and again brings up of he readying to retire for the night, he agreeing this time and doing so after a couple more drinks and conversation with her before making his exit, his mood not improving. At the table, upon Grandmother Jia stating they loosen up, Bao-yu immediately begins critiquing the riddles, Dai-yu and Xi-feng making fun of how animated he’d become and realizing Jia Zheng should stick close to him more often if they wanted peace, he retaliating against Xi-feng’s comment by play-wrestling with her. After some little time, Grandmother Jia becomes tired and breaks up the party so all could settle for bed.

A bit after Yuan-chun’s visit, she has a copy of the poems made about the garden and has the best ones engraved in the family’s honor. Jia Zheng goes about passing the responsibility to have her wishes met and was considering how to proceed with transplanting the nuns and monks elsewhere (this being mentioned way back…), Zhou-shi turning up thinking a job for her son, Jia Qin could be acquired, since the family needed the money, she getting the opportunity to chat with Xi-feng, whom liked her, and after hearing her idea of how to keep the nuns and monks with no problems of separating them, Xi-feng has Jia Zheng informed because it was so clever, she being reminded by her hubby Jia Lian they had to think of Jia Yun first, she already having plans for him, Jia Lian agreeing and asking about a little romp they had the night before, she giving a small laugh and not answering. Later, when Jia Lian relays all of their plans for the boys to Jia Zheng, he allows this quickly for indifference in these matters, Jia Qin being hired and he stating his gratitude to them, Xi-feng also having Jia Lian supply him with an advance, he immediately starting his work after speaking with his mother.

Meanwhile, Yuan-chun was reminiscing  about the beauty of the garden as she worked on the poems it had inspired and thinking how terrible it was knowing they wouldn’t be using it in her absence, so she decides to have the girls and Bao-yu move in there. She writes her wish of this and has it sent to Jia Zheng and Xi-feng, and when Grandmother Jia is informed, they begin setting up for this to happen, Bao-yu quite ready to move in and chatting to Grandmother Jia of his plans of what he wished put there, he then being called by Jia Zheng, his attitude changing obviously, Grandmother Jia comforting him and telling him how to respond to his father during this visit, and when she sends him off with some nannies as “protection”, he makes his way to his father slowly, the nannies awaiting outside the area his father was enjoying seeing him take his time, one making light of his apprehension and letting him know his father was in a decent mood, so he should take advantage whilst he could.

Jia Zheng states what he expected from Boa-yu once he’d moved and the consequences if he got out of line, his mother then reminding him to have Aroma give him his pill each night, Jia Zheng becoming irritated upon hearing the maids nicknames, the two then dismissing him. When he returns to Grandmother Jia’s and sees Dai-yu, they decide which part of the garden they wanted, the two being neighbors and a date set for them all to move in, Bao-yu’s life becoming a thing of idyllic freedom. He’d composed for poems indicated by season of how he fest and had become popular as a source for knocking them out, pleased with the attention: what with being thirteen and liking having people refer to him for his work. One day, though he’d grown unfulfilled and couldn’t get comfortable. Tealeaf realizes Bao-yu had yet to try one thing, he gifting some books the boy hadn’t seen before, and Tealeaf asking he keep them secret.

Bao-yu attempts to, but one day as he’s reading under a tree, Dai-yu walks in on him, explaining what she’d been doing with the fallen tree blossoms, as Bao-yu had been dumping them in the water, she then mentioning the book he’d been reading and disbelieving his reply, so he promises her to secrecy and praises its absorption capacity. Dai-yu soon realizes the truth in his claim she agreeing after reading a bit. When Bao-yu quotes a couplet which Dai-yu takes personally, he quickly apologizes, she brightening and the two burying petals when Aroma announces Uncle She was sick and the two were summoned by Grandmother Jia to attend. After, Dai-yu was walking by herself and heard the girl troupe practicing a song, she concluding how a song could have wonderful pietry and is soon brought to her knees and tears as she listened, someone interrupting.

Caltrop explains why she’d been wandering and then walks Dai-yu back to Naiad’s House. They see a gift sent to Dai-yu, hang out, and after, Caltrop leaves her. Meanwhile, Bao-yu was expected by Grandmother Jia to check on his Uncle She, and as he wait for his change of clothes, essentially wraps himself around Faithful, Grandmother Jia’s servant and wanting to eat her lipstick, Aroma walks in and states how he was becoming a lost cause. Then, before he away’s to She’s, he’s greeted by Jia Lian, the two interrupted by Jia Yun, Bao-yu and Jia Lian’s nephew, a joke being made about Jia Yun not minding if Bao-yu wished to be his father, even though Jia Yun was years older. As they all part ways, Bao-yu invites Jia Yun to visit him the next day, he then riding (by horse) to She’s. After seeing him, and noting he only had a chill, he relates Grandmother Jia’s message, he’s then brought to Lady Xing’s room where they chat, being briefly interrupted by Jia Cong, Jia Huan, and Jia Lan, Lady Xing making an excuse to have them leave, Bao-yu then being invited for dinner with she, Ying-chun, and her nieces before returning to Grandmother Jia, then his quarters.

As this is going on, Jia Yun was after a job from Jia Lian, he conveying an opening when the planting was to be started, then going to his uncle, Bu Shi-ren for a loan of goods, but he hard up not only for the products, but the money from someone else already being owed. Jia Yun puts perspective to his Uncle’s words, noting he could be more trouble, his Uncle mentioning Jia Yun’s other cousin whom had gotten the priests and nuns position (to transport them to different temples), Jia Yun having enough of hearing about why he couldn’t acquire a job like him was ready to leave when his Uncle offered he stay for dinner, but declines. As he’s walking away moodily,he walks into a drunk man, whom turns out being his neighbor, Ni Er, a dirty businessman, he about to knock his clock off until realizing who him was, then telling he’d help him out if need be, Jia Yun accepting if only to keep the man friendly. They part ways after he’s given a message to pass to his wife.

Jia Yun begins his plan the next morning, back to the Rong-guo House and sees Xi-feng, he giving her his purchase of oil scents, pleasing her with his surprise, but not getting anymore information about a job, he remembering his invitation from Bao-yu, and the boy’s pages leaving him to wait, Jia Yun hearing a girl from outside, and Tealeaf returning by then and having her take a message to Bao-yu, Jia Yun fascinated by the maid and taking her advice to return next day. He again speaks with Xi-feng, she having learned his reasoning for his gift, she playing hard to get, but he making clear he’d take whatever she could give, they scheduling a meeting so he could start. After recieving payment, he gives Ni Er his money back, then goes to buy the trees after sharing the news with his mother.

As for Bao-yu, it’s clarified he’d invited Jia Yun flippantly, and so had been away a couple days with the Prince of Beijing, and then returning to note his maids were detained someway or another and when he called, turned away the older maids who answered. A young lady, then comes in to pour his for him, she able to relay Jia Yun having come by, Ripple and Emerald then return and confront Crimson outside, she explaining her presence and Ripple insulting her, they interrupted by an old lady delivering the information about how they conducted themselves when the trees were planted the next day. Crimson soon realizes she had more information then the two bitches. She had been resident in the House of Green Delights before Bao-yu and girls had moved, she retreats to her room, then hears her name being called, discovering it was Jia Yun, and when he attempts to pull her closer, she falls in her attempt to run off. She awakes realizing she’d dreamt it, beginning her chores when dawn comes.

Bao-yu had been thinking of Crimson and wanted to invite her to become a closer attendant, but doesn’t get a chance before his washing. Then, Aroma speaks with Crimson to have her borrow a spittoon from the Naiad’s House, Crimson seeing the tree workers with Jia Yun, but not up to speaking with him, feeling sorry for herself, and instead lies down after she completes her mission. The following day brought Wang Zi-teng’s “lady”‘s birthday, Lady Wang wishing to go, but not since Grandmother Jia wasn’t up for it, but Aunt Xue, Xi-feng, Bao-chai, Bao-yu, and a few other girls accepted the invitation. Jia Huan had returned from school recently and was getting to work on some copying, delegating tasks as he did, Sunset decided to advise him to speak more kindly, since the other maids thought he was a schmuck, he not taking her helpful criticism well, but being interrupted by Bao-yu’s return, his mother suggesting he rest for awhile, since he’d been drinking. So, whilst he lay, Sunset massaged his legs, but not giving her undivided attention, she warning he’d tell on him, since he’d captured her hand, Jia Huan, Sunset’s master, deciding to punish him anyways, dropping a candle brimming with melted wax on his face, Lady Wang and Xi-feng both talking harshly about Jia Huan’s thick-motioned ways, then Lady Wang turning to Jia Huan’s mother, Aunt Zhao (Why must there be a Zhou and Zhao?!), she taking the put-downs and making certain she was seen helping Bao-yu.

Lady Wang knew she’d be hearing about this from Grandmother Jia, and begins applying lotion on her son, Bao-yu. He was prepared to take the blame, but Xi-feng knew there’d be hell, regardless. Bao-yu was returned to his room, Dai-yu visiting once learning of what happened, and he expected to see Grandmother Jia the next day, she blaming his care-takers. Bao-yu’s “Wise Woman”, Mother Ma also visited and did her magic lady words to make certain he healed properly, Grandmother Jia also learning of an incense-related ritual to keep him safe. Mother Ma explains how her other customers would purchase various amounts of oil to keep a light burning of which she herself would upkeep at her home (Bloo), Grandmother Jia considering carefully, so Mother Ma presents a suitable possibility for her in the case of Bao-yu, which she agrees, also making certain his attendants had extra cash for giving to good karmic charitable cases, like monks or various poor they meet on their way with Bao-yu.

After, Mother Ma visits Aunt Zhao for some silk and discusses Jia Huan and her contribution for him, she sharing her frustration about how Bao-yu would always overshadow him, even whilst understanding the reason. Mother Ma then deduces Aunt Zhao’s true problem being with Mrs. Lian, Aunt Zhao checking to be certain there weren’t any prying ears before agreeing and feeling she had to put up with the woman’s will. Mother Ma sees the potential for more money and plays hard-to-get when Aunt Zhao shows interest in the idea of investing in an underhanded way of dealing with the woman whom seemed to be in line to claiming all property and goods leftover in the Jia name, Mother Ma taking her more seriously when Aunt Zhao brings her attention to how she’d be able to name her price if her idea worked.

So, Aunt Zhao bargains with her by giving her a bundle of goods and a little extra cash, as well as an IOU, Mother Ma giving her paper cut-outs of people and demons, she explaining how to use them and placement of them under the targets beds, she then leaving after being summoned by Lady Wang. Meanwhile, Bao-yu had become a homebody since his burn, so Dai-yu would chat with him most of the time in his room, and one day, after getting bored of reading and sewing, walked to Bao-yu’s and found Li Wan, Xi-feng, and Bao-chai having a blast, Xi-feng inquiring about the tea she’d sent her, Bao-yu piping in with his opinion of them being nasty flavored. When Dai-yu states the opposite, Xi-feng gifts her the rest of her supply and would have someone speak of a favor she had in mind for her upon its delivery.

Dai-yu remarks how the gift seemed to be attached to strings and Xi-feng retorts with a phrase which alluded to she being a bride which would attach her to the family, this embarrassing her and she stating how it wasn’t funny, Xi-feng not resisting her jabs and speaks of Bao-yu and she, which had her running out, Bao-chai going after her as Aunts Zhou and Zhao enter, Xi-feng and Dai-yu actively not conversing with them. Then a summons is given for the younger ladies to visit Wang Zi-teng’s wife, so Li Wan and Xi-feng leave, as well as the Z’s, Bao-yu calling for Dai-yu, whom hadn’t gotten very far outside. When she returns, he holds her hand and only smiles at her, making her self-conscious, then he complains of his head before having a fit and scaring the maids and herself, he attempting suicide multiple times before Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia arrive, they soon distraught, many other family members hearing and milling about in bewilderment outside. Xi-feng’s reaction was to start gutting dogs and chickens with a knife and was looking at the crowd with blood-lust until some servants overpowered her and put her in her quarters. Many began suggesting what should be done metaphysically and otherwise, and by sunset Zi-teng’s lady leaves for home and visits again to ask after everyone the following day. Others visited with well-wishing and help from doctors, and the family had resorted to moving “the cousins” into Lady Wang’s room, Jia Yun and pages tasked with watching them at night due to their conditions still on the raving side.

The search for a cure continues and the fourth day Bao-yu requests Grandmother Jia to prepare his belongings and himself to be expelled from the family, Aunt Zhao gleeful, but acting sad, she attempting to convince Grandmother Jia to bide his words so he could die peacefully, her response being to hock a loogie in her face. She berates her and declares she wouldn’t gain anything from his death, along with anyone else, a servant then informing of the coffins having been finished, this putting Grandmother Jia over the edge and ordering the wood-smith to be whipped to death, and then hearing a chanting monk outside. Upon seeing him and his companion, they being a scraggly sight, they are invited in, the monk requesting to pray over Bao-yu’s jade to aid its ability to ward off the evil. When the monk holds it, he speaks familiarly to it of the time they’d met 13 years before on Green-sickness Peak, and once finishing his prayers, instructs Jia Zheng where to place it and the cousins recovery to be expected in 33 days. The two then leave before he could offer sustenance, and his instructions are followed diligently, Bao-yu and cousin regaining sanity and appetite by evening, Dai-yu relieved along with the others.

When Bao-yu’s month of rest is up, his face has healed, as well. This time also allows Jia Yun and Crimson to be around each other more, she noticing, but not remarking on the handkerchief he carried looking like her missing one. Later, a young maid, Melilot comes to her for the favor of looking after some money for her, she advising Crimson to go home and see a doctor, Crimson acting emo and declaring she would be better to die, Melilot warning her to not speak in such a way. They are interrupted by a quite young maid giving Crimson the task of copying patters for Mackerel, but she needing to retrieve a tool from Oriole and meeting Grannie Li, whom had told Jia Yun Bao-yu wished to see him.

Crimson loiters and soon the two eye each other as she speaks with his guide, Trinket. Jia Yun and she continue to Bao-yu’s, he impressed with his uncle’s home. Bao-yu asks after him when he invites him in his bedroom to sit, Bao-yu remarking how long it’d taken for him to remember his long ago invitation, but Jia Yun only glad he’d recovered. Bao-yu makes idle chat and when Jia Yun notes he was growing tired, decides to take his leave, Bao-yu wishing he return sometime. On his way back, Jia Yun asks Trinket a variety of questions about herself and the other maids, soon landing on the handkerchief, she mentioning how Crimson had even offered her a reward if found. Jia Yun had a plan for the item and gives Trinket a different hankie, he having her promise to let him know what she did.

Meanwhile, Bao-yu was being awoken by Aroma to go have a walk, he reluctantly relenting, soon running into Jia Lan, whom was after some deer to shoot with bow, and after allowing the young boy to continue, headed unconsciously to  Naiad’s House. As he approaches closer to the window, he hears a quote from a book he knew, Dai-yu speaking, and when he enters and startles her, she denies having said anything, she dismissing her “guardians of morality”, Bao-yu quoting a line, himself and upsetting her, she walking out and he following in distress, but they being interrupted by Tealeaf with a summons from his father, and so Bao-yu rushes off and is led outside the gate, where he’s met by Xue Pan, he laughing and apologizing, and Bao-yu taking his jest lightly, but readying to return the favor.

Xue Pan then gets to his point, which was in celebration of his birthday next month, some buddies had put together a feast and he wished Bao-yu to join them, the with a singer already in attendance. When they sit, Xue Pan brings up how Bao-yu could draw him something for his birthday present, he seeing some good erotic ones recently. Then another buddy comes in, Feng Zi-ying, Xue Pan asking after his family and how his black eye had come from a hawk’s wing during a hunting trip with his pops. As he finishes with it being good fortune he’d gone rather than stayed home in comfort, he attempts to bow out, but the group refuses him, wanting more deets, he playing at being annoyed, but after agreeing as long as they supplied him with a couple decent-sized drinks, he still keeps his news to himself, but hits it would be shared at a get-together of his own in under two weeks, he then driving his horse away (yes, drive).

The group sticks around for awhile longer and when Bao-yu returns to a worried Aroma and clarifies what had become of him, due to his toasty state, she was a bit perplexed he hadn’t at lease sent word, but Feng Zi-ying was a distracting fellow. Bao-chai joins them, she relating how she’d refused the invitation, taking her tea and speaking of unimportant topics. Before Bao-chai had dropped by, Dai-yu had also planned to visit Bao-yu once learning he’d returned, she even seeing Bao-chai ahead of her, but distracted herself with some beautiful fish, so when she did finally get to his home, she had to knock to be let in the gate. Unfortunately for her, Skybright was in a bad mood and not recognizing her voice, turns her away, Dai-yu debating what to do and feeling bad for herself, she then hearing Bao-yu and Bao-chai inside, her mind going to even further paranoia of what reason could make Bao-yu turn her away, she becoming distraught and sits under a tree, someone eventually exiting from the house, but only to be known upon continuation of the second volume.

I’m hooked, I’ll be quite happy to continue. In the Appendix we learn who Bao-yu had seen the fates for in the fairy’s library, beginning with Skybright’s terrible fate by slanderers. Aroma does marry, Caltrop/Ying-lian is murdered by Xue Pan’s horrible wife, Xin Jin-gui. As for Bao-chai and Dai-yu, they are represented as two halves of a perfect woman and the meaning behind their songs are up for debate as to whether the first or second refer to one or the other, or the first two both, or the first and second about Bao-yu. There are other characters explained, but I’ll only list those I remember, the last being Xi-feng, whom will have an unfulfilled life which may end in divorce.

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Rose Madder

 https://2aughlikecrazy.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/rose-madder/

A woman, Rose, is having trouble breathing as she sees her husband, Norman after he gets home. She’s pregnant and not having felt a pain similar to this in her life, she hoping nothing is wrong, but feeling like there might be, since it is hinted of Norman having punched her a few times in the stomach. She’s close to miscarrying and he’s on the phone, she thinking of his status as a cop, and in the process of calling an ambulance. She wants to scream in pain, but Norman didn’t allow such noise, and when he ends the call, he regards the mess around them, she showing her bloody fingers in response as he picks up the shredded paperback she’d been reading and placing blame on his temper to it, she knowing he would’ve done the same with anything she could’ve been doing, he prickly because some woman was hassling him. As he dumps the trashed novel, she starts cramping and having thoughts of loathing of him without truly registering them.

When Norman returns, he has such a look and demeanor, she thinks he means to murder her, but instead, handsome Norman approaches to pick her up, after having told the emergency dispatcher he wouldn’t, but he needing the story he gave to stick, so places her at the foot of the stairs. She begins bleeding more profusely as he checks the spot in the corner for blood, then goes to the kitchen and comes out with a sandwich and rag, cleaning up the spot in the corner. When they hear the ambulance approach, he makes certain she knows the story and then has her say what would happen if she mentioned anything else. Before he walks away to get the door, she stops him to ask why he’d done it, he looking scared for a moment, then claiming it was an accident and she’d be able to have another baby. The EMT give her something to make her sleep and she drifts into a dream where she’s running away from something she knew would catch her (Rose doesn’t seem quite strong, she wanting a baby by this numbskull). It’s told she stays in Norman’s crazy world for nine more years.

Rose spends fourteen years with him, in all, she able to ignore most of it since she usually only received four beatings per year, but the Wendy Yarrow year brought twelve, Rose having to be taken to the hospital after the miscarriage for coughing up blood, learning her lung was being poked by a broken rib, and even though the staff didn’t seem to believe her “falling” story, they only patch her up and let her go, it being 1985. Norman knew he skirted getting in trouble though, so intended to be more tactful. It’s then shared of what Rose had gone through with Norman and what finally gets her attention being a spot of blood. She debates whether to change the sheets, she wanting to save some work by moving the pillow over it, most anything to do with how she kept house being under scrutiny for a physical reprimand, he normally careful not to clock her in the face, but when his temper flared, she still having to be careful not to make a mess or be loud in any way. After one of the unruly temper flares, he gauges the damage done to her nose, gets her an ice-filled wash cloth to minimize swelling and bleeding, she noting the next morning it had done the job for the most part, with the exception of this errant drop on the sheet. Rose didn’t look forward to remaking the entire bed since Norman’s favorite spot to punch her was her back, which after fourteen years had begun to leave noticeable signs of her kidney’s being hit. She considers how if she kept allowing this, Norman could kill her, but the worst thought being he may not.

To Rose’s surprise, she began to feel rage and considered leaving, but at the same time attempting to abate the feeling and talk herself out of it for Norman being a decent provider, regardless of being a smidgen temperamental. Rose couldn’t let it go though, since not being able to stop staring at the blood, considering how her life would be after fourteen more years, the damage she could live through, she then walking out of the bedroom, grabbing her bag and struggling to open the door, then deciding to grab their ATM card even whilst her beaten side begged her not to, but the drop of blood giving her drive, then hesitating no longer, walking outside, she ready to get the hell out of there. As she passes the store, she thought of how Norman claimed to have developed his sixth sense and whether she needed to be more careful in being seen, she then noticing his car coming down the street, she thinking of a believable reason for being out, but not needing to for having scared herself needlessly, she determined to turn onto the next street so as to avoid his driving route. She walks along a residential neighborhood, she desperately needing a bathroom and was lucky to choose a home of someone who had been away for a couple of days already, relieving herself in the backyard, she lightening physically and mentally by her actions.

Rosie, as she prefers to be called, walks for almost two hours before locating a pay phone and calling a cab, she buys sunglasses and a kerchief for her hair before it comes, she requesting an ATM and bus depot, meanwhile deciding she’d return to her maiden name, only when necessary using Norman’s. When getting to the ATM, she then struggles with the amount to withdraw, she ending up going for a few bills since she may as well, she in for trouble either way by now. She makes it to the bus depot, again having to work up her motivation to continue, she entering the building and trashing the card, it being noticed and fished, after she’d moved on, and once getting to the ticket window, contemplates a name to give, she flubbing up and saying the fake name rather than where she wanted to go, feeling quite out of place for not having socialized outdoors for fourteen years. She gets her ticket, though and once on the bus and out of sight of the police station, she relaxing to the point of dozing and seems to enter the Territories, at first sight tranquil, but then sensing wild creatures, and what ends up jerking her awake is the thought of Norman’s fist coming at her, and whilst relieved to be away from him, she knew she couldn’t slip up from covering her tracks, she not certain he wouldn’t still detect her whereabouts, but ready for whatever she found ahead.

Rosie’s first few weeks were tough, but she didn’t have second thoughts, regardless of being fear-stricken. When she’d gotten to the second bus terminal, she didn’t entertain the thought of walking outside so early in the morning, thinking the worst if she did, so heads for a seat as two cops pass, she hoping they’d leave her alone until dawn broke in a few hours. At four, she gets some cereal and coffee at the cafeteria, she then spotting a customer service desk, and debating whether to ask for assistance, she deciding to go for it, and the man attentive enough to ask about her vague plans, nothing coming of it, and she asking for his opinion, he offering her his card where he wrote the address of a battered women’s shelter on the back, then giving her directions so she could go at daylight. When she walks off the bus in the morning, to continue on foot, she loses her way and the people around didn’t look friendly to ask for directions, she walking in the wrong direction for three hours, then regaining some familiarity when recognizing where she’d started. The first person she asks about directions isn’t accommodating, but at least solidifies the truth of the place being known and when seeing a shop, is told how she was sixteen to eighteen blocks away. When she finally gets to the right street, her second encounter with a citizen in regards to whether she was close to the cross street she was looking for again began badly, she learning nothing, but does eventually get there, turning the wrong way, but righting herself, and reaching the house. When buzzing the door, she is instructed to show the business card given, she finally allowed inside.

As Norman contemplates his first move to locating Rosie, she was being led to Anna, the proprietress, when first arriving, given a meal, allowed to sleep, then another meal before seeing her, whom upon getting Rosie’s name, asks for the details of how she’d left. Anna then informs Rosie how long she could stay, if needed and how Providence had led her there like in a Charles Dickens novel, then she asks about Rosie’s skills which makes her break down for not knowing or able to do much, but Anna taking it lightly and offering her a job at a partnering hotel. She assigns her a counselor to shadow, then making clear Rosie is getting the chance to free herself from Norman, officially welcoming her. Three weeks later, Norman gets a lead from the guy, Ramon, whom Rosie passes in the bus station rummaging for the bank card, he now confronting Norman in the park as he relayed how he’d been instructed to meet him out there, the man having been arrested on a drug charge and the ATM card found on him.

The man was now sensing the trouble he was in with Norman, but getting offered being let go for his help, Norman doing a fairly odd thing after noting Ramon being gay, he feeling him up and talking about how he was going to be his good buddy since being laughed about by some cops he knew and then began squeezing Ramon’s boner in a vice grip. Ramon was glad he was able to answer Norman’s questions of what window and time she was in the station, not saving himself much pain. Norman then plans his next move of tracking her on weekends until he was free, he certain he’d detect her whereabouts easily enough and how he was going to teach her a severe lesson when he did. After being away for a month Rosie was noticing her physical changes for the better, working at the Whitestone Hotel. She liked how she knew what would happen throughout her day, she taking a banana break in the room she was finishing turning down, Pam sticking her head in and scaring Rosie, but asking if she wanted to join forces on the last two rooms, she taking her up on it and treating her to coffee and pie after. Rosie is content with her current set up, but expecting soon not having Norman around will be enough, she readying for the time it’ll be her turn to vacate the shelter as she drifts to sleep at night.

The next Wednesday, Pam leaves Rosie after work for not feeling well, she denying Rosie should accompany her in preference of she going to get coffee independently. Rosie then notices her wedding band, having forgotten she could get rid of it if she chose, but after seeing Pam off, walks to the cafe, but passing it as she became distracted by her memory of the pervert whilst she’d been lost her first day in the city. A young man stops her before she mindlessly walked into a busy street, she then aware how far past the cafe she’d gone, but as she approached the coffee shop, she decides to return home instead, then noticing the pawn shop, carefully deciding to see what her ring would fetch since she had no fond memories nor reservations holding her back, instead thinking about paying for her time at Daughters and Sisters hopefully having enough for herself after. When she guesses it actually wasn’t worth much, her thoughts confirmed by the young man behind the counter, she keeps it as a reminder to not be gullible again. As she makes her way out, a picture seems to grab her attention, of a woman on a hill, which she gravitated to for the new place she was going to get.

Rosie walks back with the painting and asks the young man if he’d be willing to trade for the ring as an older man watched, and when he agrees, Rosie is ecstatic, the two men discussing the odd qualities of the painting, she thinking about when she’d be able to hang it. Then, Rosie wished to complete the transaction so she could leave, the young man agreeable and wrapping it up. The older man follows her outside, introducing himself and asking she read a couple passages from a book, she at first guarded, but after the first paragraph, curious. When she had finished, Rob was delighted with her reading, she shocked when he gave her a job offer. Meanwhile, Norman had cleaned his desk of all unnecessary trash, he having specific thoughts on black people’s abilities when it came to work ethic, which he’d learned from his pappy. His home had switched roles, it looking bomb-blasted with trash whilst is desk at work was clean as a whistle. Norman had apparently been promoted, getting a real office, his bust going perfectly, he considering how his desk being this clean would have only come about if he’d been fired.

Norman then recalls how his assumption Rosie wouldn’t go far from her childhood town had set him back, he unable to know for certain which bus she’d taken, and whilst his job had taken a turn for the better, he was obsessed with the idea it canceled out with Rosie still missing, he having been blind by thinking she wouldn’t leave, the amount she took meaning nothing, only concerned with she having taken something of his, and he owing retribution. He also thought back to the women he’d had sex with since Rosie left, one in particular not living through it, he choking her when she resembled Rosie for a moment, but not being concerned after she’d died since he’d taken care of murders committed before. He then considered if Rosie knew of this, but shrugging it off, instead going through the meticulous process of tracking her down. He enlisted help from a neighboring city’s police station on false pretenses, nothing coming of it. As he readied to move his office belongings to his new office, he gets a call from the bus cashier, he remembering the odd way Rosie had asked for a ticket, Norman now feeling the upper hand returning, and easing him.

Rosie saw Pam sitting whilst watching an overweight, but muscle-y Gert with a punk-looking Cynthia, Gert teaching her self-defense, which she did for anyone who wanted to learn, Rosie having been taught some moves she didn’t expect to use, but appreciating Gert’s kindness and interest in her mentoring. As Rosie sat with Pam and relayed her time after Pam had gone home, Gert flipped Cynthia, whom squealed upon the take-down giddily, bouncing back quickly, Pam wanting to hear more about the younger guy than giving her opinion on the painting Rosie tried to focus her on. Gert was encouraging Cynthia to help flip her in return, Cynthia exhilarated once succeeding, Anna then walking in and sobering her victory with how she had only aided Gert’s body to follow it’s own inertia. Rosie then asked her opinion of the picture when she’d shown interest, there now seven ladies staring and not saying a word until Rosie prompts a response, feeling awkward, receiving the similar opinion of it being strange. Soon, Cynthia is relating a story where she’d had a similar experience to Rosie’s in regards to a picture her mother owned, drawing her in, she not knowing what happened to the painting, but guessing her mother had trashed it. Anna then states Rosie needed to come to the office with her after she told them all about her new job offer, she admitting it may regard what Rosie had been waiting for.

Anna describes the studio Rosie would be getting being one of their better ones, Rosie overcome with happiness in moving forward. Anna then asks after how Rosie was feeling in regards to Norman attempting to locate her, Daughters and Sisters policy being to not discuss where anyone relocated to, with outsiders. Anna prompts Rosie to go through how she’d deal with the possibility he did find her, they moving on to her financial stability to maintain the apartment and her new job’s unknown stability as of yet, until she started, she not knowing, but believing it will pan out, she also knowing she had back ups on the off chance it fell through. Anna lets her know she could move in the next day if she chose and hoped she would attend the upcoming picnic, she continuing to study the painting and noting how the painter hadn’t signed it and the printing of ‘Rose Madder’ on the back seemed much newer than the picture, it looking 40 years or older.

Norman leaves by bus, the day before Rosie begins her new position, he ignoring how much her ditching him had affected him, and needing to infiltrate her mind once more, quickly. He allows himself to blind himself to the fact it was about how he hadn’t sensed her movements and less about the card theft. He attempts to track when she could’ve decided her escape and how long she planned it out. Once on the bus though, trying to sense which seat she’d have chosen, he then going over how much effort telepathy took in practice. As he traveled, he attempts to retrace her steps at the rest stops as well, he repeating his new mantra and eager in imagining he was underneath her bed so he could stab her. When arriving at the final stop, he gauges what her next step would’ve been, distracting himself for a moment with the thought some low-life could’ve killed her before he could, but then getting back on track and after doing a step-for-step of Rosie’s movements, learns the information desk man’s name, then goes to a cab where he’s taken to The Whitestone. Meanwhile, Rosie is slowly becoming overwhelmed by the actual doing of her new job, fear setting in when sitting in the recording booth. Thoughts breaking her self-worth returning as she starts talking herself out of succeeding, worse case scenarios in how she’d survive crashing on her, as well. Then, thought’s of her picture motivated her to sit down as asked, gaining courage by thinking of the woman in the picture, and once talking to allow the sound engineer to level the console, everyone looking pleased with Rosie’s speaking voice. She has one more thought of insecurity before action, but begins her lines like a champ.

When finished for the day, Rosie goes to Daughters and Sisters to update them of her day, she still riding the buzz and even agreeing to ask shop owners in her area  to post their fliers to sell tickets for the picnic and concert, also to remember to mention they weren’t gay and didn’t harbor underage runaways, a couple of the reasons sales were low. Rosie knew she wouldn’t be putting it in those terms, but would talk them up as best she could, she again reveling in being on her own.  She then thinks for a moment, in the painting, the woman’s toga’s creases had changed, but deciding she’d tricked herself, now talking aloud to her like she would a good buddy about how she sensed she had needed to prove to the director she could do the work. When she looked outside, the car she saw pull up didn’t bother her like it normally would, she then distracted by seeing more of one of the two “gods'” faces, thinking then the painting had expanded, but realizing it actually seemed more like she’d gotten a widescreen view and this helped her discovery of new statues in the picture. Rose froze when the light, rapid knocking began, she kicking herself for not locking the door and putting off buying a phone for a better deal, but does remember her groceries containing some cans, and after grabbing the largest, announces of coming.

Norman is then shown on his hotel bed smoking, back-story of when he’d started and how Rosie’s family had died, following. Norman not having felt bad for them since Rose’s father in particular had tended to ask probing questions Norman didn’t deem viable as he was no longer in charge of his daughter. Then it’s told of Norman picking up his two pack a day habit after eleven years, he planning on quelling his stress with smoke and control over his style of divorce. Norman then readied to leave, he feeling charmed in his chances of detecting Rosie, he taking the bus for anonymity and once getting out, uses his map to guide himself to Information desk man, Peter’s home. When he gets to the door, he thinks about how his plan involved the man not speaking to anyone after he was finished, so he not bothering with a face mask, and when Peter answers the door, he senses Norman was bad news, but couldn’t shut his door in time, Norman kicking it closed behind him and similarly threatening to assault him the way he had Ramon. He proceeds to locate oven mitts, then leads Peter to his cellar, Norman satisfied with his results, but needing to dispose of his shirt and mitts later.

Bill Steiner, from the pawn shop waited outside Rose’s door with flowers, she having made such an impression, he was unnerved by attempting to ask her out, and intrigued as well as smitten as he’d been before holding out the flowers as a peace-offering when she opened the door with her raised can of fruit in the air. Rosie ended up agreeing to the date out of relief for not needing to use the fruit-weapon, as he drove, she now paranoid of Norman catching her, but when seeing the warm atmosphere of the restaurant, it receding temporarily, flaring up again when her ‘Norman voice’ begins talking her out of staying, she then visualizing her picture and calming. Rosie confesses of being fine after Bill inquires, adding she was a bit afraid, which once Rosie elaborates of Bill being the second man she’s been out with, he announcing of feeling similarly, they then led to a booth. They first discussed how he’d gotten Rosie’s address, he automatically calling her Rosie to her delight, they then discussing some important topics about Rosie’s marital status and the two vowing to be up front with the other, Bill to Rosie, and the latter to herself in return to Bill. Their chat turns to lighter interests as their night progressed, thoughts of Norman only invading as Bill walked her to her door. She debates asking him in, but when doing so, is declined, he again mentioning how strongly he was affected by her. When he asks for a second date, Rosie is again flattered, but then remembers the picnic, she passing along this revelation, and he offering to drive her back before her t-shirt selling shift, which still made her first instinct to pass up the offer, but the Rose Madder picture making her want to match the imagined bravery of the figure, so instead consents and also has him agree to stay at the concert with her, Bill all for it and suggesting a coat due to chill in the morning, then leaving on a charged excitement.

After she secures the door, she notices another change in the painting, some trees now visible on one side with the statue and a pony with cart and possible other person on the other. As she readied for bed, she thought only of her date, then dreams between sleep and wakefulness about the little girl she doesn’t have and the man, Richie Bender whom had caused all the issues of 1985 in some way, then going deeper into unconsciousness. Norman was also going to sleep, only three miles from Rosie, he also thinking of Richie Bender, the reason being he the one accused of a shooting in Payless. A clerk pointed him out and gave detailed directions to his motel room where Norman and his partner found Wendy Yarrow, they physically and sexually assaulting her and Norman sustaining scratches the two claim she’d made. They close, but not locating Richie Bender’s room, their official reprimand in regards to the excessive force of her broken fingers. Norman then vows to deal with Rose and proceeds to fall asleep. As Rosie was drifting off (one thing I’m getting annoyed with being these overlapped time-frames, also happening in Firestarter), she thinks of the Wendy Yarrow case after she’d found a lawyer, on the course to making more trouble by filing a civil case. She’s discovered murdered in an obvious crime of passion, multiple stab wounds and cut bosom. When Rosie had heard the story, she puts together what had happened, she going deeper into sleep as her thoughts turn to Bill, smelling grass sleepily and thinking it was from the park, but then when thunder and crickets are heard, realizing she’d closed her window and had seen a clear night earlier.

In the late afternoon of a Wednesday, Rosie was on feeling grand as she got a cup of coffee at the cafe, a bit out of her way now, but comfortable with the spot, she reveling in knowing the fact they wanted her for the readings of the other novels in the series. Then she recalls how she’d been told by Rhoda, the director whilst she snuck a smoke in the bathroom, relaying to Rosie of Robbie planning on offering her a contract, but to watch out for herself and not sign only for gratitude, she attempting to make her realize how much talent she had, Rosie halfway believing, but also becoming annoyed by her attempt to instill caution. Rhoda then makes clear what Rosie should ask for, the number shocking her, Rhoda asking how she’d gotten such vocal control without being a singer, Rosie recalling the times she’d had to manager her breathing for pain. Rob calls to set up a lunch meeting with her, afterwards getting similar advice from Curtis, the sound guy, then thinking about her date and bright future as she finished her pastry. Meanwhile, Pam finished her shift and was heading toward the cafe, Norman waiting for the walk sign with her, she feeling an aversion due to his eyes, and Rosie promptly getting a second tea for no particular reason. Norman was looking at Pam’s butt, glancing inside the cafe she’d walked into, seeing Rosie without knowing, she resembling Rose Madder.

Pam doesn’t recognize her at first, either, but yelps when it hits her, and the two take their drinks to their old table, Rosie sharing her good news and accepting another pastry, even though she planned on keeping off the fifteen pounds she’d lost after getting to the city. Pam was still processing Rosie’s new look in shock, her face looking younger and the blonde hair apparently working on her, seeing how Rosie had copied Rose Madder’s style, and deducing Rosie having met someone, she bursting out laughing in reply. When Rosie’d walked home for her energized happiness, she remembered how she’d dreamed she and Bill were riding his bike in the scenery of the painting, she forgetting the magic word which had made them fly, but then undoing the French braid she’d given herself, she hearing a cricket, catching it, and rationalizing how this is the cricket she must’ve heard last night, her inner voice mentioning how it’d sounded like an orchestra of them, then before dumping it out the window, she realized the cricket couldn’t have hitched a ride on Bill, and when the cricket jumps, she discovers two dead ones along with a pink clover, slowly looking at the painting, the pony now seen grazing. It didn’t taker her long to start thinking the evidence she’d collected came from her picture, and whilst she knew it was a mad way to think, she believed it, the idea most likely receding if other people were present, but currently the fantastic supposition sticking.

Rosie examined the picture closely at her kitchen counter, the back where the paper had writing, crinkling more than before when she had touched it. She reached for a knife as her timid conscience urged her to stop, she hesitating a moment longer before carefully cutting it, some dead and one live cricket falling out with a dead leaf, some more clover flowers, and grass. She then continues to trace the outer edge of the backing with her knife, and with removing the paper, detects more dead insects and some gray hairs she deduced was from the pony. Rosie then thinks matter-of-factly to herself of her obvious loss of common sense once more. She decides to separate picture from frame, she probing the naked canvas until her phone’s ring scares the bejesus out of her. She picks up to hear Anna preparing to deliver some news which may or may not involve her. After hearing what she relays, Rosie hangs up before deciding whether she was going to spend her night at Daughters and Sisters, calling Bill to inform him of not being able to see him, not wanting to explain, and after hanging up, revealing her thoughts of belief it was Norman, and he’d murdered Anna’s ex, Peter. Norman was setting himself up with a mild disguise before heading to Daughters and Sisters. He remembered the aches he’d woken up with which stemmed from his fastly regretted time with Peter, it not in the paper yet, but knowing a man like Peter would be looked for soon enough, and then he seeing the paper a day later to note his thoughts  had been realized, the story covered on the front page. Norman also does his research about the Daughters and Sisters organization, learning Anna’s connection to Peter, he sensing the ladies would be quite careful now. Norman reaches the house, walking on the sidewalk across the street from it, getting a good eyeful in small doses, keeping his pace leisurely. He’s briefly noticed by Cynthia, he having to calm himself before returning her wave, he then moving along. He stays deep in thought as he walks away, soon stress-biting his finger until it bled, he then noticing a sign for fresh rolls, and the Daughters and Sisters flier.

Rosie wasn’t having a productive day at work due to her almost sleepless night, Rhoda calling an early lunch and Rosie attempting to make she and Curtis believe she’d do better at noon. When she gets to the lobby, Bill is waiting for her. She’s at first uncertain and scared, but when he confesses of being unable to do as she’d bid, she is overwhelmed with being in unknown territory, but when he gives her an opening for a hug, she takes it automatically. As they walk, she confides how happy she was he’d come to see her, she beginning to share the fear she’d had about Norman being close, but first has him buy them a couple hot dogs before getting down to the grit. After she had a bite, she has a moment to think he’d stop talking to her after this, but decides to dive in, starting with how they’d met. By the end, she’d shared Anna’s information, the police not having released the killer having bitten Peter over thirty six times, she expecting Bill to ask why she’d put up with him for so long, but instead inquiring whether she thought Norman had killed Wendy Yarrow, she thinking it possible, but then having to get back for being five minutes late. As they go, she explains her worry about Anna thinking Norman could be dealt with like any other abusive husband, and why Rosie wouldn’t go to the police like Bill had suggested, she also explaining how another women’s group had gathered intelligence on Norman, and Daughters and Sisters now knew what he looked like. The conversation winds down as they reach her building and are met by Rhoda and Curt outside. Rosie introduces them to Bill and he takes the opportunity to finalize their plans to go out Saturday, Rosie reluctantly agreeing and he walking off, Rhoda remarking on his charming looks.

On Thursday, Rosie calls Anna to make certain she hadn’t heard anything more about Norman, this being so, and relaying the remembrance for Peter happening on the same day as the picnic, then realistically explaining to Rosie about how common it was for battered women to believe their spouse capable of murder, the two moving on to other topics after. Rosie then attempts to sleep, but is distracted by the noise of a baby’s cry, thunder, crickets, and lightning, finally getting to sleep, but being woken by a bright flash and thunder, when looking at her window, seeing a real scene of the painting, her view of the street replaced. Rosie ignored her conscience as she steps into the picture-no-longer-picture. After stepping through and looking back for her bedroom, it wasn’t there, an easel and painting of Rosie in her outfit for the outing with Bill in front of her, she unnerved as she also sees the pony and a woman with it in front of her now, whilst Rose Madder still looked down at the temples. The young woman reassures the pony didn’t mean to startle her when he’d bumped his head into her, she recognizing the lady as Wendy Yarrow, now certain she was dreaming.

When she hears the baby cry for a moment again, Wendy warns Rosie not to look straight at Rose Madder after hearing her call to her, which Rosie then turns to approach, noting something odd about her hairline, Rosie unaware she was meeting her twinner, but getting the gist when she showed Rosie her scar, which she had on the opposite hand. Rose Madder then relates how she would return whatever Rosie did for her, then requesting she bring her baby to her. Rose Madder bids Rosie go to the temple, Wendy accompanying her only so far, since also having what Rose Madder had, only not as bad, yet. Wendy warns her of the bull, Erinyes whom guarded the temple which hurt Rosie’s eyes to look at, Wendy instructing her to rip two strips of her gown, using one to wrap a rock in as the rain began to fall. Wendy cuts herself and soaks a piece of cloth, then instructs Rosie on what she must do with it as she uses the second cloth to cover her wound.

Rosie is urged to walk through the temple and not to stop until through it, it unable to harm her for only containing spirits. She then relates how Rosie would get to the baby and return to Rose Madder, but to be careful of Erinyes. She walks, uncomfortably naked and cold to the temple, the statue’s face is of the perv outside the bar, when she enters, she’s still quite cold, recognizing the details inside to the church she used to attend and against Wendy’s advice, picks up a book, which smelled terrible upon opening. She walks through to the dead garden to the stream where the stepping stones lay, she considering drinking for the thirst and the possibly upside in forgetting all, but thinking of Bill keeping her moving and across, she entering a forest where the trees looked like they had shrieking faces on the trunks, finally seeing the tree in the clearing with the fruit. She collects quite a few as she’s overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma, saving herself in time, she almost licking her fingers. She then walks toward the tunnel with the word “Maze” above it, the baby’s cries now infrequent. After getting down the over 200 steps, she debates which of the four break-offs from the main tunnel she should take, bringing back her extremely loud cry she’d not used since childhood, the baby screaming and the bull hearing, moving as well, but Rosie deciding on which tunnel and starting through.

When Rosie reaches another spot where she must decide which passage to choose, it dawns on her why she had the seeds, she placing one at the next tunnel she tries, but it being a dead end, so replaces it at a different entrance. Rosie had been doing this for some time when she begins to see a heightened brightness, now having only three seeds left. Finally though, she sees the baby, she wondering whom she truly was and whom had left her there, but letting this go as she picks up the child and is readying to leave when Erinyes detects her, it taking Rosie a few moments to figure out what she must do, unwrapping the rock and tossing it away from the tunnel she needed, streaking for it (no pun intended) as Erinyes charged. Rosie makes it a bit away until Erinyes almost catches up, but Rosie continues on with no real trouble, only scaring herself when not seeing a seed she thought she’d put down at first, eventually locating it and going on. She reaches the steps and gets out with only minor aches, retracing her steps to the stones at the stream, what had previously drawn her to drink, not affecting her at all, then seeing what looked like many vultures perched on the temple, moving away as she stared and once out, being urged by Wendy to return the baby, she now hesitating, but reassured by Wendy to follow through, Rose Madder giving Rosie her armlet and stating of she and Norman divorcing, but to be careful outside her realm.

Rosie goes back to her world, sleeping and when awoken by her alarm, unable to remember why she was naked or where her terrible aches came from. She showers, only half remembering the warning of not to taste her red fingers, she thorough in cleaning them and when seeing the painting again, is surprised to see birds in the sky above the temple and the clouds gone, she not willing to pause on what else was missing and storing the painting, at least temporarily in the closet. When she’d met with Robbie, she gets her contract offer which she decides to think over, and as she goes to the studio, she realizes Rose Madder’s armlet had been missing. When she returns home, she discovers the armlet and the piece of her nightie which carried the seeds, with the three seeds still remaining within, under her bed, Rosie then reminded of Rose Madder’s promise. Before she had been transported to the supposed Territories, Norman had been lying in his bed as well, wondering how Rosie had found the balls to run, he then thinking how she was probably whoring herself out for not having experience doing anything else. When he’d woken from an odd dream-filled night, he sees Rosie walking through the temple (Rosie’s feeling of Norman watching her being closer to the truth than she wanted to admit), he thinks about what he’d do if he found her with a guy. After seeing her walk into the maze, he’s visited by Rose Madder and then wakes, thinking of how he’d keep eyes on the park and sensing Rosie wouldn’t be the only one watching out for him. As he’s in the lobby, Pam passes him again with two other maids, talking about the concert, he praising the luck he’d caught when confirming it was Pam whom knew.

Norman’s next move was in hot-wiring a car in the long-term parking of the airport, after getting the car washed, he stops at an army surplus store and purchases a taser, then goes to a barber to get his hair shaved off, afterwards having trouble recognizing himself. He then drives to a secondhand clothing shop, people staring at his head, which didn’t bother him since they wouldn’t remember his face. He buys a motorcycle jacket and plans on immediately returning to his room to sleep, before doing so though, hitting a gift shop at the Women’s Cultural Center and Museum. Once back at the hotel, he has no further motive then to get to his room for the migraine he’d built up. He falls unconscious, his headache following a ways, but then he getting deep enough to ditch the pain, and upon waking refreshed, thinks of Rosie needing to wake up to view the last sunrise she’ll ever witness. Rosie does as she’s told, waking a little after four A.M., scared Norman was in her room, she calming when seeing she was alone, looking at the armlet, not knowing where she’d come to possess it. Eventually, her thoughts turn to getting ready and once seeing Bill parked, goes down to meet him. He gives her his father’s riding jacket since her sweater was estimated not being warm enough, once getting set up with jacket and helmet, the two setting off.

Rosie gradually started with liking to loving the ride, and once getting to the lake, quite impressed with the deserted tranquility. They move the cooler, then Bill leads her to a spot where a vixen and cubs were resting, the two heading back after watching them for a bit. When Bill began setting out their spread, the amount of food brought, made Rosie giggle hysterically, he letting her know he’d wanted to be certain she’d enjoy her meal, he giving some history on his modest love life and how he’d fallen for her, then suggesting they dig in. Afterward, they sit on a rock and fool around for awhile, Bill insisting they walk it off, he not wanting to be interrupted or have it done in such an unromantic way (either a true gentleman or not having a rubber), then returning to the campsite after seeing some flowers and a woodpecker in a meadow. They get to the park on time, foreshadowing of Rosie looking back on her joy-filled moment upon seeing the sign turning into intense fear later, upon reminiscence.

Norman was currently parking the car a good distance away from any traffic which could effect his plans, then preparing the wheelchair he bought with female friendly bumper stickers and his new identity’s back story. He goes over his plan for discovering her and what he’d do when he did (some words not having been caught as the wrong one by a careless editor). Best case scenario, he’d get her after she’d arrived home, he following her, worst, if she spotted him and he ending her on the spot. When he paid his entrance fee and wheeled away, the ticket guy kept calling him back since he’d paid too much, Norman getting on himself for already bringing unwanted attention to himself. He does fairly well after, but gets nervous when not seeing Rosie at noon. Meanwhile, Gert had taken notice of him, but hadn’t placed him, yet. Norman had ridden through the grounds, making himself scarce as the women sat for lunch, his migraine returning with his continual paranoia, his knowledgeable inner voice keeping him calm and supplying a new tactic. Gert was talking herself out of thoughts of whom she’d seen being Norman, but decides to check so she didn’t continue to feel bothered. She attempts to have the ticket guy help her, but he wasn’t feeling particularly welcoming, only getting how the man he’d helped had forgotten what price to pay, she next wanting to locate the ladies she’d seen speaking with him, but none currently within sight.

Norman’s new plan involved staking out the restrooms, he letting himself out of his chair out of view of anyone. He waits for a lady to come to the bathroom by herself, it almost being one of the ladies he’d spoken with earlier, but Gert calling her back, Cynthia now being the target, he catching her before she walked in. Gert’s conversation with Lana shows how she was the first to identify Norman, whilst Cynthia was being sexually assaulted. Gert was then on her way to the restroom when she heard the threat from behind the building. She was readying to knock Norman out when he turned, she catching his face (Grendel being mentioned in regards to Norman’s look). Cynthia doesn’t move for being in shock, Norman now taunting Gert, she estimating her best move was to egg him on, and when she interrupted his constant insults and movement, he goes after her, she gets the upper hand until he is able to wriggle away after she peed on him after having needed to since confronting the ticket guy, Norman charging again, but Cynthia tripping him up. Gert goes after him once he retrieves his taser, she throwing the wheelchair at him to disarm him, Cynthia failing to warn her in time to save her from the taser’s bite, but after, he didn’t have enough time to do much more since security was approaching, he walking toward the rides. Rosie had made her way to the hospital, locating Gert where she updates her of Cynthia being tended to, unaware of the policemen’s presence until Gert introduces her to one. She’s overwhelmed for a moment, then resigns to confiding to the Lieutenant of what she knew.

Norman was struggling to get his head around what Gert had done to him as he walked, remembering his decision to flee having to do with his own pain more than the approach of people, he attempts to quiet his mind as he desperately thought about needing to end her. His mind flitted back and forth between sanity, he noticing the attention he was getting, but after turning between two amusement areas, gets a kid’s mask to cover his face with. After reaching the car again, he begins to hope Gert’s voice won’t be a fixture in his head, now. Once Norman had gotten out of the parking lot, he hears a voice from the mask confide of Rosie’s make out session, he then stating what he planned on doing to her when he found her. He remembers Pam after, and plans on getting the information he wanted this time. Rosie is accompanied by Gert as they are driven by the Lieutenant and his partner to the station, Bill following. Norman has made it back to the parking garage, he deciding on keeping the “lucky” bull mask, the next moment he’s aware, being of getting Pam back into the housekeeping room, but before he can succeed gaining any information, Pam has one helluva nasty accident, Norman finishing her off. After dropping her on a pile of sheets, he notices a key on her bracelet, takes it and looks for her locker, after searching through her purse and detecting her key card and code, he leaves.

Meanwhile, despite the detectives mellow attitudes, Rosie is scared and angry, they repeatedly having Gert go through the events, and once finished, focusing on Rosie. Norman had found himself down the street from Daughters and Sisters, he noticing he’d changed his clothes, still had the mask, but not his gun, then planning what he’d do if coming across residents (which he thinks of handling by shooting with his forgotten revolver…) or police, not thinking about the possibility of all being quiet, which it was. After speaking to Ferdinand the Bull (of whom is shown on the cover), he’s reassured, yet disappointed the ladies hadn’t been more affected by him. Once overcoming his hesitation of it possibly being a set up, he enters, no one bothering him. He looks around and discovers Anna’s office, then seeing a basket of outgoing mail, he sees a letter to Rosie, and whilst he’s reading it, hears the house alarm go off as someone comes in. Anna is then followed before she enters the house, she going over how painstaking the ceremony had been, she having only stayed for knowing her movements would be scrutinized, also not having answered her three pages, deciding to check her answering machine when she got in. She doesn’t notice anything wrong until seeing her door slightly open, and when trying the light and it doesn’t turn on, Norman catches her, biting her after closing the door.

Rosie finishes her interview and the Lieutenant again vows to get Norman, he also informing her of police cars being stationed at and around her home. As Gert was taken back to the park by a police car, Rosie and Bill planned on heading to her place. When they get there and she’s heading for the door, it doesn’t occur to her until she’d unlocked the lobby door, realizing the cop she heard coming up behind them wasn’t the one the Lieutenant had sent. Norman is shown washing off at Daughters and Sisters before his mind jumps ahead again to Rosie’s apartment, he wearing a new coat, and wondering what he’d do about the cops. Once receiving the idea from Ferdinand again, he tricks both cops by getting them to approach after faking a heart attack, taking out the elder one, then the younger, whilst the older cop stumbled off, no one having seen anything, yet. Norman manages to lead the older cop back to the car where he stuffs him in the trunk, then returns to the younger one to strangle him to death before depositing him into the passenger seat. Norman blacks out again and next notes he’d done something to the entrance light, the next time he blacks out, coming to as he’s grasping at Bill, he ready to choke him. As he’s proceeding, Rosie finds courage and strength with the armlet, throwing him off, then attempting to get Bill to her room, Norman stops them with gunshots, which helped him see where they were, then coming at them.

Rosie blocks his way temporarily, getting herself and Bill up the stairs, she even able to kick Norman back down once he’d grabbed her leg. When she gets to her door, Norman catches up and again tries strangling Bill, Rosie turning back to stop him, he biting her hand, but she breaking his jaw. When she gets them both into her apartment, she realizes she hadn’t been wearing the armlet which she thought had lent her strength, but their danger was still close, Norman ramming the door after she’d locked them inside, she pulling Bill to the closet when the painting opened up for them. Norman’s perspective is switched to during his hang up on the stairs with the “coat-tree”, all the way to when Rosie dislocated his jaw, of which he resets. When finally getting into Rosie’s room, he fires twice at the shower before seeing the way they exited. He looks to the other world, he feeling he was seeing through one eye-hole as he wore the mask, and after stepping through, still seeing through a single eye, he realizes he couldn’t remove the mask.

As Bill and she look around, he questions whether what he saw was real, but before being able to answer, Wendy calls to Rosie to bring Bill down to her, informing them how close Norman was and Rosie needing to participate in essential ways. After partially carrying Bill to her, Wendy shares of how much she’d gotten done, which Rosie only half understood, the two then helping Bill move toward the Temple, but around to the back where a similar looking tunic for Rosie hung, she hesitant in dressing, but as Norman closes in, she does as Wendy relays, Rose Madder having made the command for Rosie to fulfill. She knows the part she must play and calls for Norman, Wendy assuring them Rose Madder would handle the rest. Bill is quite confused by their knowing exchange, Rosie leaving him with Wendy as she readied to lure Norman, the two hearing her baiting statements to him, he and Wendy thinking for a moment Norman wouldn’t go through the Temple, but around it, their fears appeased when hearing sounds to prove he was inside. Next, Norman’s perspective shows his terror of being stuck with the mask on his face, but Rosie’s sweater and jacket distracting him from this, especially when hearing her call him. As he follows her voice, it’s shown he’s distracted by the statue outside looking like his father, which Bill and Wendy had been confused by his one-sided statements to, but again, Rosie distracts him, he getting the sensible voice suggesting he go back and await her return at her apartment, Norman ignoring this since anticipating the cops to come and how Rosie was speaking to him with such disrespect; His final decision made once reading the sign above the Temple.

As Norman goes through what looked like Rosie’s hometown church, he kills a bat which comes at him, and Rosie gets his attention by commenting on it, he charging at her as she stood in the dead garden. When Rosie sees him coming, she at first can’t move, but gets herself going by remembering a terrible memory, getting across the stream, but sliding back toward it after she’d made it across. When Norman sees this and her look of panic at getting near the water, he doesn’t think much of it, finding it amusing, but after seeing her make it to the crest of the incline and flip him off, he notes her concern and is careful upon crossing. He sees Rosie watching him and then is caught by the naked boy statue, Norman running to take advantage of his good luck, Rosie becomes angered by the boy’s rude questions and gets him off her by punching him, but now Norman is quite close, he brushing her tunic strap, but Rosie getting a good lead after a short while, and they again meeting at the dead tree, Norman giving her a chance to give in, but she continuing on and when next he hears her, Rosie’s voice sounds slightly different. When she reaches the entrance to the maze, Rose Madder instructs her to go partially down the steps so she didn’t have to witness what would come next, unless she truly wanted.

As Norman neared, he thought he’d heard Rosie speaking, which made him hope Gert were there to be slayed, as well. Rosie currently ached for Norman’s death to come quickly so she could move on with her life, and when Norman sets eyes on Rose Madder, he notices small differences in her body type and attitude, but considers it meant he’d have to refresh her memory of what she needed to act like, her back still turned from him. After he’d commented on the reason she’d dyed her hair and she’d stated of the brown color being the dye job, he is incensed for being opposed, but then wonders where the person she’d spoken to had gone (hopefully, not believing he’d get a rock “chunk”-ed at him). When he demands Rosie turn to him, his gun out, the mask doesn’t feel like a mask anymore and his vision is darkening as Rosie turns and he sees her blackened skin as she states of Erinyes breaking the rule of the bull having exited the maze meaning he’d be put to death. Rosie Madder turns to Norman and what he sees brings terror and shrieking, she biting him (reminding me of American Gods, a bit). Whilst this occurs, Rosie doesn’t watch, but is listening, she not moving until Rose Madder calls for her. She slowly notices the state of Norman’s body lying before her, Rose Madder planting seeds on him and then dumping his body in the maze. Rose Madder then directs her back out where Dorcas/Wendy and Bill waited, she advising Rosie to “Remember the tree”.

Rosie locates them at the top of the hill, Bill meets her to make certain she was okay, the two walking back to Dorcas, Rosie changing her clothes when prompted, then relaying Rose Madder’s message of she having something for her. Dorcas hands her a little corked bottle which Dorcas instructs Rosie to use for Bill when they returned. Afterwards, the three wait silently for Rose Madder, she walks to them in the light of the moon, Dorcas and Rosie instructing Bill to keep his gaze down and not to stop until told, Rosie going along with the idea they were dreaming when he inquires. When Rose Madder stops in front of them, Rosie states of receiving the bottle, Rose Madder then giving her Norman’s police academy ring, she commenting about if she watched Bill’s back, he would do the same for her, Rosie then looking at Rose Madder’s face, it not being the same as what Norman saw, but not wonderful either, she confiding to Rosie she should go back to her natural hair color. Rose Madder then offers her a hug and wishes they’d met sooner, as well as reminding her not to forget the tree, which Rosie asks for clarification to, but not getting an answer. She then inquires whether she was Rose Madder, but not getting confirmation of this either, Rose Madder instead urging them to return home.

Rosie takes Bill’s hands and leads him to the widening view of her apartment. Before they’d gotten through though, Rose Madder starts to lose it, wanting her armlet back, Rosie hastily throwing it near her and getting them both out. When they’d fallen back into reality, Bill noted how it must have all been real, Rosie not attesting this, but apologizing for losing the jacket he’d lent her. They then hear the injured neighbor yelling in pain, Bill off to tend to him, Rosie first calling for an ambulance, then uncorking the tiny bottle, realizing what she’d been given was a few drops of the stream at the Temple of the Bull. She puts one drop in some soda, then calls the police again so she could speak with Detective Hale, whom she informs of Norman having been there and was now gone, Hale planning on meeting her at her place, and she stating she’d wait for him, afterwards Bill coming back, and when coughing, getting him to drink the soda, Bill admitting after a few moments, of having forgotten his own and her name for a second.

As Hale got their stories, he wasn’t sure whether Rosie was withholding some detail, but after he goes over his notes of their confession, Rosie agrees with him. Later, Bill agrees to stay over and passes out quickly, Rosie taking a moment to look at her now, devoid-of-humans painting, this aiding her ability to fall asleep. She awoke them both with her nightmare, but the two moving on to a little fun-time, then much later, when Bill had gone for sustenance, Rosie put away the stream water and discovered Norman’s police academy ring, she ending up placing it with the rediscovered poison seeds, dumping all but one, which she then transfers to her purse. They learn of Anna, and Norman stays in the papers for a week, Rosie deciding to burn the picture in the incinerator and attempting to ignore her memories of Rose Madder’s words.

In October, Bill and she go to the picnic grounds again, and she accepts his proposal, she still wondering about the tree Rose Madder spoke about. After their wedding, Rosie has had to use the ‘forgetful water’ for Bill’s nightmares, the last being used on their honeymoon. In January, Rosie confirms she’s pregnant, she still remembering the tree, but Rose Madder also mentioning to add keeping her temper in check, Rosie unsettled with this thought and demanding Rose Madder leave her alone. When her little girl does arrive, she commemorates her friends instead of the wanted name, Caroline. So, Pamela Gertrude is born, Rosie wanting the middle name to be Anna, but being talked out of it by Bill. When Pamela is two, they move to the suburbs and during their finalizing what house they want, their opinions divert and they begin arguing. When Bill apologizes for raising his voice, Rosie is struggling to suppress her violent anger, which he takes as her not forgiving him, so he withdraws to the other room as she continues preparing dinner. She’s plagued by the disturbing thought of hurting Bill drastically, well into the night as she remembers Rose Madder’s words of, “I repay”.

The next few days bring obsessive awareness to her arms, face, and hands, the latter more so with the unknown idea of whatever she thought would develop would begin there. She takes up going to the batting cages where she develops her skills to the point of impressing all the men and boys with her form: both bodily and technique, who bat there; She even knocks one through the netting due to hitting the ball at such high velocity. A month after, Rosie doesn’t take Rhoda’s suggestion they end early due to Rosie’s voice losing inflection, calmly, she then having a terrible daydream of killing Rhoda, until she’s brought back to reality by Rhoda asking after her. Rosie reminds herself of the tree once more, and agrees to stop for the day, but her rage is masked with difficulty. When she dreams after falling to sleep later at night, she realizes she’d been remembering a different tree, but now knew her next move. She calls out of work the next morning and goes to the picnic grounds alone, to the fallen tree where the fox was, she burying the final seed and Norman’s ring. She dumps everything else out of her purse as well, and on her drive back, chucks the bag out her window. Years pass, Pamela is now a teenager, and Rosie no longer deals with bouts of anger, Bill having sold his bike since he felt he could no longer ride safely. Rosie and he don’t go to the picnic grounds anymore, but Rosie goes alone every year, where a new tree has grown, she believing it has quelled her rage. She worries over the day the tree will start bearing fruit, but doesn’t obsess over the thought, since no signs of people have revealed this spot to be popular, the vixen returns and watches her as she sits and sings Rosie Real.

The ending feels a bit rushed, and whilst I know Gert survived, it seemed odd she decided naming her daughter after those two women, rather than the name she wanted and the middle name to be Anna, it would still sound country, but it seemed like it would have been more true for herself. Otherwise the story moved along nicely, enough, and whilst I have read reviews not interested in the fantasy side of this story, it definitely suits King’s style, and wasn’t clunky compared to the others I’ve read of his, it only not being his strongest and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Now I’ve read it though, I can continue on to his other Dark Tower-related books.

Black House (The Talisman #2)

I realize this is a sequel, but I’m ignoring my usual way of going in order in preference of the chronology of The Dark Tower, which may not even matter in the long run, since this book contains only the relation to the setting of The Dark Tower series, but I’ve been reading some negative reviews which make it seem this could be “weaker” than The Talisman and I may end up preferring the order I’ve chosen, time will tell.

Wisconsin is our setting on a Friday in mid-July, a few minutes past six a.m., possibly right before the year 2000, this being Coulee County, the freshness of the air bringing to mind a small town near or around the country. Background of the town’s history and how the pleasant environment may have darkened since the town’s conception is described, a motorcycle gang being hinted at, along with their shady appearances. Introduction’s to the Thunder Five, who call themselves the Hegelium Scum (not mentioned again) are lightly touched on, the promise of learning more, later. Suffice it for now they being university undergrads, most majoring in English and Philosophy, and one in residency in the surgery department. An odd sign threatening a fisherman to conclude the town environment. A flood hit the town decades before and is touched on due to the watermarks left on buildings. A map of the town and what surrounds it, fleshes out the location, finally landing on the first person being followed as Bobby Dulac, a police officer whom is fleshed out as being tall, dark, and delicate with his newspaper handling which was delivered moments before (this reading like one is watching a movie).

Following as Bobby walks back into the station, the layout given, Bobby goes to a room with a non-descriptive door, seemingly Bobby’s office space, another door leading to the Chief of Police, Dale Gilbertson’s office, he not in for a half hour or more. Then Tom Lund, Bobby’s partner is shown at the second desk, he noticing how Bobby was holding the paper, then two conversations are followed as Bobby chats with Tom about Wendell, a journalist, and the radio talk show host fielding calls about the game distracting from the first. Then they’re talking about the talk show host, they bagging on each other’s musical taste, Bobby believing Tom was stalling, he acting innocent, and as they listen to the talk radio D.J. calling shots about the game, it’s made known both are procrastinating, then Tom opens the paper and hints at bad news on the headline, Tom bringing up how incremental he was to a case, but Bobby thinking how one piece of information supplied didn’t make him the better cop of the two, he instead voicing his notice of the conversation having been turned to Tom’s heroism.

A flashback of the night before of Tom and Bobby’s confrontation with the Thunder Five given, they asking about a missing child (which isn’t immediately made clear), Irma Freneau. The Thunder Five leave when realizing the police had no new leads, the morning paper article being referred to, by Wendell whom wrote of the police stumped over a serial psychopath, called the Fisherman, at large. Then a portion of the article is quoted about children missing, some found killed and partially consumed, the reporter playing off on the lives the kids could have lived and how play groups around the county on indefinite hiatus. Irma is the latest, and a rash of men taking the law into their own hands, have left two men, so far, needing medical assistance, it being assumed, the next victim may lose his life. Tom shares the conclusion of the article, Bobby flustered since it calls out the police chief about doing his job properly, he vowing to take the Fisherman down. Tom suggests he speak with a man called Hollywood, since Dale didn’t have luck getting any information from him. Hollywood is a retired cop (again, not made clear), Bobby nixing the idea of going to him since he believed he, Tom, and Dale had the case handled, Tom making a joke about how wet behind the ears Bobby was, they sharing a laugh.

Moving on to Queen street and to a “school” where the same D.J. is heard and a lady putting up a flyer regarding a strawberry festival is followed. It is then made clear this place is a nursing home, the big boss being one William “Chipper” Maxton, he having dreamt of making money at the government’s expense, but once learning useful loopholes, noticed it still wasn’t lucrative at his father’s nursing home, he taking over at his father’s behest. (It’s funny, odd how as I’m planning to edit my previous posts to take out as many ‘we’/’us”s as I can manage, I have thrust into my face how the authors use it a-plenty as a writing technique, hm!) Following Rebecca, the secretary back into the office, her position going far beyond the normal duties required, she being thanked with gifts, one being a ring, Chipper is shown withdrawing some cash from a stuffed safe, the two talking about the strawberry festival and how Chipper despised it because of the families visiting the resident “zombies”. Chipper apparently had Rebecca come in earlier to deposit the stolen money in a bank more than a few miles away, and we (I caved) being told of his wife and two kids he must support (the dog). As Chipper attempts to flirt and get handsy, a new scene is shown of the facilities, only expensive rooms having the luxury of (what I hope I’m understanding correctly) more than a sink, the other wings sharing facilities.

Some general knowledge of a few of the sleeping residents are shared to give contrast to the one being the main draw, Charles ‘Burny’ Burnside, whom doesn’t clean up after himself, has no personal family items lying about, dust accumulating over every surface, and stinks like the dickens. Alice, one of the resident’s visited, is then mentioned to entail further of her family and how she came to the Home, but Burny, whom is lying on his metal bed, isn’t all there, he one of the few still awake, having gone to the bathroom in his bed, his aggressive Alzheimer’s aiding his not minding his current state. Whilst this was an off-day for him, he had lucid moments, but wasn’t a pleasant man to encounter, making some employees question whether he truly had the illness due to his uncommon periodic remissions.

In ’96, he’d been taken from the hospital to the Home due to his incoherence, but relaying a story of having walked a changing amount upon repeating of the story, of miles to get to the hospital, his smell determining the probable truth of this, they caring for him and attempting to learn more about him, he sharing of having an Aunt whom he’d lived with, but nothing else much useful. When looking into the relative’s whereabouts, they found no listings in the surrounding towns, the Social Worker assigned to him also unable to uncover more information about Burny, and was sent to Maxton’s until a place opened at the state hospital, but when Chipper receives a check from the ‘Aunt’, decides to keep Burny on. Then the Summer before the serial killings, Burny snapped back into the world, and now he’d fade in and out in the same day, normally, the man looking worse with time, and sinister in demeanor. Burny’s true identity revealed, as well as the dark secret of his early adulthood of pastimes he still got sick delight from. Burny starts muttering nonsense and getting excited, he staring at the woods, and muttering more weirdness, then Burny is left to it and a neighborhood is shown with children’s playthings in the yards, all asleep, the children dreaming peacefully, and the parents, restless, soon to get worse with the article by Wendell.

A sign off the highway to a concealed dirt road is mentioned, a no trespassing sign giving the impression something is being hidden at great expense. A crumbling house is shown, along with a second sign, adding the sense of being a place to detour, the house all black, but faded, it seeming lifeless, most people not noticing the sign, but the possibility of children exploring near their homes giving the suggestion of if they’d seen it, they would high-tail away from it. This house sticks out unnoticeably in the quiet town, leading into explanation of borderlands, an example given where a bad feeling and scenery seem foreign in a place which was normal a moment before, but then goes back to a feeling of ease when the destination is reached. Slippage being the definition, the main one being the black house. More descriptions of people soon to be heard back from later are related, and then an ancient gas pump is looked at more closely, the comparison between what lay here, to the bad vibes of the black house assuring this was for the win. Before showing what was hidden, a secondary definition of slippage is shared where a feeling of everything has gotten, or will soon be much worse. Then a back story of Dale Gilbertson’s uncle is shared, he long dead, and his most definitely F-grade little restaurant being indiscriminately popular amongst the young people in the town. When the man had finally died of a heart attack (he, a big fella), the shack wasn’t torn down like one would suppose, instead still popular with the young folk for teenage couples or drunken experiments. Unfortunately what’s shown isn’t something so easily witnessed, since behind the counter, a dog was attempting to gnaw out a severed foot from its shoe, then showing Irma’s body, Dale discovering her a bit over a day from this point.

A recap of possible events of the Fisherman’s process in removing Irma’s leg, and how he got her to the shack are detailed, another example of slippage. In an attempt to ‘lighten’ the mood, next stop is in Libertyville, to follow Fred Marshall getting ready for his morning run, reading an article by Wendell which only makes him hope he’ll not have to experience what select parents about town are living through with their missing children being found in pieces. Fred read as far as he could until the article mentions how the child victim was found, Fred preparing to instruct his son, Tyler of abiding the Buddy system until further notice, his wife also showing signs of being affected by these developments, Tyler aware of the odd behavior. Fred begins his jog and thinks about how long his wife had been showing these signs of neuroses, which worried him all the more since she wasn’t prone to such sensitivities and they began before the first victim was found, a flashback of Fred and his wife, Judy, when they’d started dating, of they walking back from a Jazz show and hearing a car accident, Judy going off to defend the man at fault since he was about to get a severe beating, Judy not ruled by fear, only wanting to help settle the situation for the better, Fred in reverie over her unshakeable demeanor. So as he runs, he gets optimistic about Judy regaining herself, and more intent on speaking with Tyler about not roaming around without a friend.

Fred is left, and focus goes to Judy, whom hadn’t slept since three in the morning, and was talking to herself about seeing a crimson “Eye of the King”, she repeating some of the ‘nonsense’ seen of Burny. She also envisions a tower in a field of blood, and then writes some of the thoughts down to enforce denying them, but dreads the possibility of they making sense at some point. She then chews and swallows the note, easing back to sleep, before drifting completely, mentioning Burnside. Tyler’s room is viewed, a poster on the wall of a dark castle in a foggy meadow, to Tyler, “the Kingdom of Entirely Else”, it being a comforting picture of a foreign wonderment, the buildup of Tyler being the fourth victim, repeated. When Tyler awakens to George Rathbun, the popular radio D.J.’s show, he’s kicking himself for having forgotten to enter a contest he was hoping his father had remembered to enter him into, since it was the chance to be a bat boy for the Brewer’s for the Cincinnati series, but mostly because of a baseball celebrity’s bat awarded, as well. His father also didn’t get why Tyler woke up so early due to it being Summer vacation, Tyler not making him get he wanting to take advantage of the pleasant weather as much as he could. One piece of talk pauses Tyler’s getting ready, and it’s of the Fisherman, he not sure whether to believe the gossip of the bigger kids, Rathbun calming Tyler’s unease with playing down the Fisherman’s seriousness, Tyler admiring the commentator.

Then going to Rathbun, himself, he near Nailhouse Row where the radio tower stood, a man exiting the station, in khaki, white button-up, thin, verging on pure-white hair, and stylish straw fedora, this being Rathbun (his real name mentioned later, as well as how many other identities he assumed), the man blind, and when an intern, Morris comes out, the station manager, Tom, is mentioned having loved free workers (the reference to Smaug reinforcing my need to read The Lord of the Rings). Morris gives Rathbun a c.d. he hopes he’ll play a certain track of on his show later, his helpful hint to why being of he knowing Rathbun was moonlighting on another popular station with only two people now apparently, knowing. Rathbun scares Morris a bit with the thought of he potentially being the Fisherman, but when Morris insists he won’t say anything, they move on to what the track was Morris wanted to be played so badly, he then going off to leave the c.d. in Rathbun’s locker, as requested, then a list of Rathbun’s other ‘personalities’, the last to be described further on, Rathbun had a long day ahead, one which included the Strawberry Fest!, which is related like torture when it came to coming in contact with Chipper, he hoping he’d have time for a reading of Bleak House with a buddy.

As Rathbun finishes his cigarette before doing his show, the drift to Dale’s home occurs, where he sits in the kitchen, reeled in by the Fisherman article (no pun intended), and how these killings are similar to another, down to letters written to the parents. The first murders in the late 1920s. The comparison between old and new letters are perused through with Dale, he interrupted by his wife calling to him from the stairs, they having general chat until she shares their son’s worry of Dale losing his job, he agreeing her response being the correct one by denying this possibility, at least unless he didn’t catch the culprit. He had an FBI agent and two state police who weren’t much of a comfort to him due to they taking minor roles in helping, Dale truly wanting Jack ‘Hollywood’ to enlist his instinctive expertise. An example of his police work related when questioning a lead, he getting his collar, and had gone back to L.A., until Dale had hooked him up with knowledge of a place being on the market, Jack didn’t want to accept this case though, regardless of whether he owed Dale, he seemed apprehensive to do so. Dale is readying to water the flowers out front and becoming stubborn about getting Jack to agree to help when a change of scenery is shared, focusing in on the Thunder Five’s hangout and why they first came to town, then refocusing on the ‘hero’ of a previous story.

Some detail about the property Dale offered to Jack was it being a farm owned by his father and he feeling proud to let Jack buy it cheap if he wanted it. Jack overcome with emotion on his first visit, a mention to the first introduction of Jack with The Talisman, then moving in on Jack preparing breakfast and listening to Rathbun. A flashback of Jack settling in is given, as well as Dale’s introduction to his uncle, Henry whom had as an eclectic a taste in music as Jack. Next Dale has a look at his childhood home in mid-transformation when he comes to help Jack hang some pictures. The new look surprises him, but suited the place. On further mentioning of his Uncle, it impresses on being one of Rathbun’s many identities. As the night settles in, Dale learns the bare minimum of Jack’s history. Back to real time, Jack is in thought as he’s preparing an omelette, the detail of his character and charm belying his age, but loneliness permeating his attributes. Then another flashback of a case he became involved with about the death of a black man is related. After which a vague reason why Jack refused to get involved with the Fisherman case going through his mind. He then thinks of Rathbun’s other identity whom knew of obscure Jazz musicians. Jack attempts to ignore the Wendell article, but glances at it a couple times, unable to read it all. Then his impression of Wendell’s integrity is measured, the man portrayed as a class act of scum. (A little snafu of working in a flashback conversation between Jack and Wendell, tsk tsk, editor.)

The encounter described, mentions Jack sharing with Wendell of the Fish case in the 1920s, Jack not having any idea he’d decided to give Wendell anything. (Cripes, then another, pluralizing Jack’s name with no punctuation, and apparently no reason. I suppose harder to catch since it was placed among Jack’s overuse of the word opopanax). Jack then gets a bit sideways with word obsession and questioning the amount of eggs he had left due to ruining his omelette, then thinking of a bald man’s face, unwillingly. He believes the only egg left is a robin’s blue egg, he dumping it, then thinking to call his mother, he forgetting he couldn’t. Fortunately the drive, and seeing his good buddy, Henry helped him move past this rocky start to the morning. As Henry walks to his truck, Jack realizes the “luv” he had for the man, albeit more of a platonic bromance sort. (Then a flashback where a short-style conversation where a “-” precedes each man’s dialogue is stunted with a “Jack said” in the middle of one…confusion as to why if we are already following the one, two, of the conversation…grr.)

Back to the present, as Jack drives, Harry dictates the track from the c.d. given by Morris, Henry agreeing it was the “Wisconsin Rat’s” style, he then mentioning another persona, Symphonic Stan being hired for the Strawberry Fest!, Jack confessing he was glad Rathbun had mentioned the Fisherman on his show, which led to Henry confiding his thoughts on Jack stepping in to help his nephew, Dale. After letting the subject drop, Henry brings up a paranoia, Jack having been debating earlier about whether to confide his weird waking dreams to him, Henry confessing a few times having occurred when he’d thought he’d heard his dead wife walking around downstairs. Jack gives him a comforting and reasonable response and the two part ways, but plans of meeting up later to start their book is made. When he gets home, he’d been hearing a clinking in the ashtray, when checking, an “almond M&Ms-sized” robin egg appears, he taking it, and destroying it again before going inside. (Also, when mentioning authors characters read is always fun. To-reads of authors for Henry and Jack are Chester Himes, Charles Willeford, S.J. Perelman, James Thurber, Ford Maddox Ford, Vladimir Nabokov, and Marcel Proust.)

The janitor, Pete is briefly mentioned once more to detail his sadistic attitude toward the residents. He was currently deciding whether he wanted to be the messenger for Burny’s latest mess or let Butch discover it in his own time, when he’s interrupted by Rebecca whom reminded him he was supposed to be in the common room in preparation for Strawberry Fest! As the two leave, Burny regains clarity and swipes Butch’s pet rock before heading to the bathroom, he recovering his old self, as well as a little dark something extra. Then back to Rebecca and Pete setting up the room, Pete getting a moment to view sweet undies when Rebecca must point out the hook he was to hang the lights from, she on the ladder and once noticing where his gaze was aimed, takes his wandering eyes in stride, apparently used to the behavior (when one’s skirt is so short, one would hope so). Then a switch over to Tyler attempting to keep up with his buddies, all on bikes, he deciding it wasn’t worth it, knowing where they’d end up anyways, viewing the sign for Strawberry Fest! outside the old folks home, then readying to ride on. Burny sees Tyler from the bathroom, he having a salivatory reaction, then goes to a stall after commenting to “Gorg”.

Tyler is then distracted from riding off when a crow appears saying his name, he uncertain of what he heard, but happily curious to see if he heard right, getting closer to the bird as it lured him to a bush. Meanwhile, one of his ‘buddies’, Ebbie, Pete’s son, commands one of the other boys to fetch Tyler, since he usually had cash, but the boy didn’t immediately see Tyler, so goes faster. Then we see Burny still sitting in a stall when all of the toilets and urinals flush, he disappearing and slippage being heard. Tyler is still enthralled by the bird as it enters the bush, he getting grabbed and losing a shoe on his forced entry, it’s alluded he’s hit on the head, but his disappearance, a certainty. The boy whom was sent for Tyler, sees his bike, then his shoe, at first giving the benefit of Tyler messing around, but then senses the seriousness, getting spooked and quickly biking away. Tyler’s mother, Judy meanwhile, is groggily waking from a nightmare, and also defines “Gorg”, she then noticing the creel, a wicker box used by fisherman, on the table, she seeing the note atop it addressed to her with a nickname she hated. She finally opens the note and box, neither being good news. Judy has then jumped off the cliff of sanity.

Butch is then shown coming back from his smoke break to see a shit and red-face smeared Burny with his hand over the pet rock, he knowing Burny had his mind for now, they going back to the bathroom. Ebbie is listening to T.J. relay what he’d seen, Ebbie deciding their plan would remain unchanged, and if asked, would doctor the time and place a bit for when Tyler rode off by himself. Ebbie convinces himself Tyler would show up later, the three going to the park. Fred, whilst at work, receives a call from a neighbor about his Judy. He leaves to be sure she was alright as a flashback of the neighbor’s interaction with Judy is shared. When Fred gets home, he at first doesn’t know where she is until he hears her singing, Rock-a-bye, baby from upstairs, he noting the odd aftermath of pictures taken off the walls and the wallpaper torn behind where the frames had been. He locates her in Tyler’s room, her legs covered in blood, sitting on his bed, with most everything from his closet and drawers dumped on the floor, the oddly comforting scenic picture still hanging on the wall. She explains how after stating of Tyler missing, she thought he’d be behind one of the pictures, especially the Ireland one, then describes how he was taken, Gorg luring him and the Abbalah snatching him, Fred not believing it, yet. He carries her to their room, she having left it alone, then passing out whilst he was searching for her sleeping pills. Fred had a moment to consider how he could contact Tyler or learn where he was. Fred decides since it was close to lunchtime, he’d wait, then changing his mind about calling two of the boys’ mothers, he then remembering their hangout at 7/11, calling the store, but only learning three boys had come in earlier, the number bothering him. He decides to clean up the glass, move Tyler’s dresser to block the scratch marks on the wall, then laid down and surprised himself by sleeping, Judy thinking of the Crimson King, the two other usual’s, and the name Sophie.

Bobby Dulac receives a call from an on-solo cop whom had come across Tyler’s bike and shoe, after hearing all the details, he puts him on hold to inform Dale. One of the missing children’s mothers had exited from Dale’s office, the woman not having received a letter, but it potentially being a matter of time, Bobby then walks in to have him take the call from the officer. Henry is sent for and arrives an hour and a half before showtime, Pete designated to generally set up Henry’s equipment and hang his suit. Henry inquires about the police having been there, surprising Pete on how he could know, but gives the supposition on another child missing, the cops not having said much. Meanwhile Fred is dreaming of he and his wife fishing, the creel between them, he getting a bite as he was going to look inside. The fish he pulls up has Tyler’s face and is choking, he unable to unhook him and throw him back, then waking, he realizing Judy was no longer beside him, but he hearing choking still, she in a corner with paper and what looks like a sausage protruding from her mouth, Fred gets the three papers out, then Heimlich’s two more papers loose, he dropping her on the bed, mad at how she’s broken. He looks at one paper with ‘meaningless’ scribbles, notices the hour, and checks Tyler’s room even whilst knowing he wasn’t there. He goes back to his bedroom, calls 9-1-1, and asks for Dale, Bobby unable to put him through since he was meeting with some officials and an FBI agent, Fred mentions his wife going crazy and his son gone, Bobby not thinking and asking if Tyler owned the bike they found, giving the details, Fred snapping and demanding to speak with Dale, when Dale picks up, Fred having broken down.

Where Henry found his one-of-a-kind suit is debated upon, the most being hinted at was it having been tailored by one of four of the era, and unknown how Henry had gotten his hands on it. Then as the trio are walking to the common room, after a brief mention of Henry’s suit by Rebecca, the conversation gets turned to Pete’s information about the cop he saw picking up the bike, Henry supposing Maxton’s wouldn’t be affected as long as no one there was involved, per Rebecca’s worry. They finish their walk to the common room, Henry familiarizing himself with the setup. Meanwhile, Chipper is outside attempting to corral the old folks in and get handouts from their families on their way out. As the elderly are brought in, Henry wows them with his slick Symphony Stan act and starts the music (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey “How Am I to Know You“, Artie Shaw “Begin the Beguine“, Woody Herman “Wild Root” and “Lady Magowan’s Dream” (which was only mentioned), Benny Goodman “Moonglow“, Bunny Berigan “I Can’t Get Started“). Most everyone is affected by Henry’s performance, and most of the room is dancing, Rebecca also getting caught up in the fray, her dance partner taking them to the front, where Alice, a resident was in mid-request of a song when Burny interrupts loudly, claiming to have been there first.  In the end, Henry puts on a song they both agree on, Burny seeming to withdraw into his particular sort of dementia once more, Rebecca seeing him in the hall on her way out, Burny speaking some unsettling nonsense to her, and she retreating after suggesting he rest in his room before dinner if he wanted to join later. When she makes a note of a name Burny had mentioned and depositing it in her bag, Chipper calls to her from his office, he reminding her of something else Burny had babbled of, which made it seem like he was referring to Chipper, she also reminded of the Fisherman by one of his other statements during his mysterious gibbering.

Jack is pulled from his slowly receding, forced tranquility for multiple reasons: One – Henry had called to insist he stop being stubborn, due to another missing child, then he receives a call from Dale, confirming this, and of the state of Tyler’s parents, his father, Fred, at the station and persistently asking to see Jack. Fred having taken Judy to the hospital where she was immediately admitted to the psychiatric wing. The second other, minor reason – Jack agreed to get out of his house, so he wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility of robin eggs being found in any more enclosed compartments. Jack is shown into Dale’s office as soon as he arrives, where Fred and Dale wait. Fred starts his story of the day’s events, Dale adding a small bit, and Jack realizing he’d seen all four boys riding their bikes earlier, after sharing this, wanting to speak with the three, who were currently being questioned. Jack notices how he’s going to have to instill some apprehension in them since they’d been questioned together, he doing well by striking at Ebbie first, he taken outside the room. The two boys confess more, and when he has the last boy alone, he learns of the black feathers, one in Tyler’s shoe. After releasing the boys, Jack relates the small amount he’d learned. He then scheduling a time the next day to speak with Judy. He discusses his motives for helping with Henry, later on, as he cooked food in Henry’s home. Jack then confides all he learned at the station, and why he was planning on seeing Judy. After, they begin Bleak House, then upon reaching their fill, part ways and end the night.

Next Jack has an old memory of a theme park during a time with his mother, he unsettled, and they running from Sloat, or Uncle Morgan. Then he has a chat with Speedy as a twelve-year-old, the man stating how Jacky had more traveling to do, and all the signs (robin eggs and feathers) he’d sent as confirmation of this. Speedy goes on to mention of Jack needing to find the latest missing boy, for he being a Breaker, and could be the source the Crimson King needed to gain enough power to become free. Jack had been up since four and was watching the sky turn light, when he gets a call from Fred, he then spotting a note he must have written, but in his mother’s hand, meanwhile Fred sounded near the end of sanity, Jack learning the time would need to be pushed to late afternoon for Judy having had a bad night. Jack confirms the new plans, he offering to drive due to Fred’s loss of composure, the two hanging up.

Jack is readying to take a walk to get the bad dream and uncomfortable phone call with Fred out of his mind, when he notices a package outside his door, the only address being the name, “Jacky”, Jack voicing his apprehension of the odd looking box. When he opens the child’s shoe box, he sees it packed with crow feathers and a shoe with a foot still inside. As he slowly gains speed to a run off his porch and failing to convince himself of having a “calm” mind, he goes and gets on his hands and knees, breaking down since he realizes he’s entered the Territories, again. When Jack hears Richard Sloat’s voice, he finally regains composure. Richard’s voice, which was in Jack’s head, logically explains what had occurred, in place of his conscience, even though Jack knows this new reality was actually around him, Richard’s logic helps him maintain true calm. As he looks around, he remembers the first time he’d “flipped” with Richard to the Territories, then hearing a whistle, and realizing his location was near the Mississippi River (at least the name used in the accepted reality, Jack not knowing what they called it in the Territories).

Jack walks toward a dirt road from the Doppelganger version of where his house and garage was, it replaced by a barn and windmill, he soon realizes a terrible vibration coming from a particular direction, along with smoke. When he continues on, the vibration fades and he sees animals which look like a cross between a rabbit and kangaroo pass him, he closer to a village as the sun sets. Jack then views an out of place baseball cap, upon picking it up, seeing Tyler’s name marked on the inside, Jack supposing the Fisherman had done this on purpose. He unknowingly flips back and almost gets hit by a car. Jack calculates the distance walked in the Territories was an extra three miles to where he currently was, then bringing back memories of when he’d first heard about the Territories hinted at when overhearing his father speaking with Richard’s father. Before entertaining any further chat with his imaginary version of his buddy, Henry’s maid sees and pulls over to see if Jack needed a ride, he accepting and deciding during the drive to investigate the shoe box and all other evidence more closely once arriving home. Once he does so, also using plastic baggies for each item, Jack discovers another message at the bottom of the show box, referencing the child Jack had been. He then calls Henry about where Ed’s Eats was, confiding what he’d found, Henry offering to help him get to the place, and Jack relieved to have him. Then back-story of an officer called Arnold Hrabowski, AKA The Mad Hungarian is detailed, learning he’d taken an emergency call from the Fisherman. He plays it back for Dale, whom wants to call Jack, but knowing his plans, instead pairing officers to go to Ed’s Eats, even agreeing to let Arnold come if he can get someone to cover him at the station. Arnold makes the mistake of sharing with his blabby wife about his phone call, to make himself feel better, his wife immediately confiding in her two best buddies, the word getting out even after getting them to promise to keep the news to themselves, French Landing having a Telephone-style game of information about what the police would discover at Ed’s Eats before they even arrived.

Dale, whilst Tom drove, rifled through his wallet, then calling Jack’s cell number only to realize his uncle was answering. Then from Henry’s view, the rest of the chat is shown as Henry hands the cell back to Jack to speak with Dale, he sharing what he and his officers were doing and wanting Jack to meet them, Jack revealing he was already on his way and how he’d gotten on the trail, not pleased to learn Arnold Hrabowski was going to show. The train of events on whom called whom to pass on the news of the location and how many dead bodies would be found is gone over. as well as one of the Thunder Five being notified. Dale and Jack then plan how to go about blocking off the road to Ed’s, Dale sending two officers to check the telephone for prints, Dale then suggesting Jack plant the foot with the rest of the body, to save Jack trouble being questioned by agents or detectives on why it was sent to him, and to save Tyler’s hat for when the boy was found. Jack goes in and sees the body along with another message, he taken by surprise by Dale, whom followed him in. Two officers were on their way back down the road when a truck nearly hits them, another not far behind, with questions about what had been discovered within. The two manage to get them to back off, but don’t remember the back road needing to be blocked, plenty of civilians becoming aware of it, and ready to utilize their knowledge.

Richie Bumstead is then introduced, speaking with one of the telephone gossipers, he then relating his experience with the Thunder Five (and a better understanding of their work). The men had gone to college (smart), worked at a brewery, one man being a head brew-master of a special division, and drank like they needed beer as much as oxygen. Beezer, one of the Thunder Five, is whom Richie calls about Irma’s body being found. Beezer prepares to go, shouting out to his buddies who lived nearby of the news, all waiting for Beezer’s signal of being off. As they get closer to Ed’s Eats, Beezer notices the unusual traffic the closer they get to their destination, perceiving the cops would be having trouble keeping the rubbernecks at bay by this time. Beezer considers how he’ll keep his cool with all the morons about, but then thinks of the best way to get on Dale’s good side is by helpful cooperation. Wendell is then followed as Beezer and crew close in on him as they both race to Ed’s, Wendell recording what he planned to write as he drove like an asshole.

Once Wendell sees who was behind him, a rush of fear enters him due to the threats he’d received by Beezer when he’d indelicately came to interview him after his daughter had been killed. As he allows the Thunder Five to pass him, and they all get closer to the turn off to Ed’s, Wendell is unbothered by the police turning everyone away since he’d surely be treated differently for being press. Though, his resolve dissolves once seeing who was guarding the entrance, Wendell not having made friends with the two, but then noticing, as Beezer and crew U-turn, sensing they must be going to a back entrance, Wendell trailing them. When they turn off the main road and Wendell reaches Goltz’s driveway, he parks and follows on foot due to the run down road, Wendell dreams of getting a morbid shot of Irma’s body and willing to bribe whoever necessary to get the dirty, ugly mess. When he no longer hears the motorcycles ahead, he catches the noise of an old truck behind him, he deciding he’d stop their attempt of following him there, but as he talks with them, decides a bribe may serve him better, he sharing his idea for them to implement. Wendell’s plan was to join the group in the truck, they catching up to the Thunder Five, Wendell hearing Beezer speaking quietly as he readies his camera, he then noticing as Beezer is talking with Dale, Jack is looking anxious to put a baggie back in his truck, Wendell believing he’s seen Jack tamper with evidence. When the newcomer policemen go into the shack, Wendell takes a shot of Henry, whom he thinks is running the show, but Henry hears him, which makes Wendell give the signal to his truck posse to charge.

The two officers are feeling the pressure as more people come, whilst the last turns around, everyone spoken to as kooky as the last. The two see the Thunder Five coming, and Wendell waits his turn, when Tcheda continues turning people way, those waiting begin honking their horns and pointing, the two seeing nothing and waiting awhile longer after the road had cleared to return to Ed’s. They soon see a new group parking and heading at them with banners. When Dale approaches with the Thunder Five in tow, he informs the two of they now having more backup for crowd control. Two more officers arrive, then the agents Brown and Black, as well as the Arnie, they then hearing a haunting scream. Meanwhile, Jack suggests to Dale to have Henry listen to the emergency call, to see if he hears something they hadn’t. Jack also thinking about the connection with the Territories and the Fisherman, the scream mentioned earlier being heard by those up top. When they chase down the hicks, Beezer’s point of view is given as he follows Wendell, whom was taking pictures, but stops when he sees Beezer coming. Wendell attempts to play like he didn’t know of the hicks making a ruckus, but Beezer deduces the reasoning behind the noise correctly, he then keeping Wendell distracted enough to grab his camera and taking out the film. Jack is then shown partially glad the case would be taken over, but also hoping Dale isn’t too slapped down for the mess the agents had walked into. Jack then realizes Arnie was the loose-lipped reason the town was there, he convincing him to confess to Dale, Jack then joining Beezer and Wendell, the latter threatening, then attempting to bribe Jack, he punching Wendell in the stomach, after he leaves, Beezer and Jack acquaint themselves with each other, Beezer offering his help if Jack ever desired.

Fred and Jack are driving when Fred pulls over to show and tell Jack of the view being a place his wife liked to stop to “smell the roses” before getting back ‘into life”, Jack lets Fred talk since sensing he was working up to confide something deeper. Fred goes on to mention his ability to have some normal conversations with his wife, attempting to confess his theory of how his wife actually was doing, reminding Jack of when she’d foretold of their son’s disappearing, and now she acting much calmer, claiming to know Tyler wasn’t dead and Jack was the only one whom could help, he revealing the names Jack recognized from the Territories, and then suggesting they go see his wife. When inside the hospital, they are escorted part of the way by a large female nurse, Fred leading Jack to the bench where she sat. They speak formally of Judy’s awareness of how she’s changed as a mother and the view Fred showed Jack earlier. She shares of her childhood memory of Faraway and how she had sensed Jack had knowledge of the place, as well. He admits to having his own name for the land, she admitting to feeling her son was being held captive there, and whether Jack believed this were possible, he agreeing he was on the case for this reason, they having to leave her since the warden had arrived. When they go back to Judy’s favorite spot, Jack shows Fred, Tyler’s cap, he revealing where he’d found it, he then promising to do all he could to recover Tyler.

Arnold Hrabowski has been suspended and not looking forward to the obvious truth his wife played in his getting in trouble, and Dale had gone home with the plan of spending the evening with his family, but Agent Black had called, and left Dale with a vibe he needed to go there. He then has a scare his son had disappeared from coloring to swing in the thickening fog. Jack and Fred part ways, the latter keeping Tyler’s cap, eating a microwaveable, and turning off the news for feeling sympathy for the reporters stalking Irma’s grieving mother. He thinks of how impossible Jack’s view was, and feeling ridiculous for hoping it was true. Beezer is struggling with whether to score crank, as he’s had since his daughter’s death, but eventually vengeance on the Fisherman wins preference. Henry’s listening to Warren Vaché, John Bunch, and Phil Flanagan sing, “I Remember April“, whilst smelling the fog and wondering how Jack’s visit had gone, then thinking of his wife. Whilst most of “our friends” are available to check up on, Burny has disappeared for the moment, a yellow bee-style slipper in the bathroom being the only sign he’d been there. Then it’s shown he’s appeared on the third floor of the Nelson Hotel, where he’s been spotted testing doorknobs by a resident, away from the old man’s view. He’s wary of him, sensing possible danger, but then Burny turns the corner and is out of the man’s view, he debating his options, glancing around the corner since he didn’t have a phone in his room to call the front desk. He supposes Burny could currently be inside a fellow resident’s room, and has the thought cross of he possibly being a lost head-case from Maxton’s, but when he checks the ajar room, no one’s there, he investigating the room’s only hiding places, discovering something in the closet which freezes him, and knows the owner would kill to keep secret.

Meanwhile, Burny has reappeared at the home, spotted by the lady at the front desk, stopping him to claim the slippers which belong to another resident, Burny amusing himself by whipping out his ding-dong to consider showering her, but decides against it, put himself away, all before she looked back up from taking the slippers from his feet, he having one more errand to run. When Burny returns to his room, it’s learned he had been searching for the man of the room he’d entered, George Potter, he having messed up a deal for Burny in the 70s. Burny had been exacting his revenge on George, and glad the old fella had followed him, since he was tired of doing all of his mischievous work, knowing a terrified call would be made about what had been seen. Then, before Burny drifts off, a translation of his “nonsense” talk is shown, regarding Irma’s mother. The old man at the Nelson bursting into the manager’s office and convincing him to call the police for seeing horrible pictures of children in Potter’s closet, believing he’s discovered the Fisherman. Tansy, Irma’s mother is currently quite high, staving off her grief and reminiscing of her daughter through scrapbook. She then remembers “The Raven”, quoting the beginning, hearing a tapping at her door after saying it, and when opening the door, seeing a ‘raven’ on her doormat, she thinking she’s imagining it, Gorg entering the trailer and unnerving her, she eventually asking why he’d come, Gorg repeating two key words, then upon her further questioning says her name, and to come. When Tansy falls, Gorg whispers in her ear, it then known Tansy will not be returning to sanity (quite quickly, anyways).

At six in the evening, Chipper is doing overtime by allowing Rebecca to “work” on his boner with her face. The residents are watching The Sound of Music, all except for Burny, whom is quite asleep, the demon which controls him having worked him extra hard this week, but he being a willing host. Meanwhile, Jack has driven to Henry’s for more reading of Bleak House, but will first listen to the track Henry had chosen for the Wisconsin Rat. Fred is distraught and cleaning whilst wearing Tyler’s cap, Tansy’s still listening to Gorg, and Dale is readying to leave when getting another call, this one from the station, and it having to do with the pictures in George Potter’s room, Ernie, a retired cop helping, has Doc, from the Thunder Five with him, and the two are about to enter the station, it switching back to Dale, whom had been connected by the station to the old man at the Nelson, Andy Railsback’s call, Dale reassuring him backup was coming and to wait outside for Potter’s return and report back to him. Dale then requests to speak with Doc, he and Ernie then walking in, Dale instructing him to ask for a cell in evidence and to walk to Lucky’s Tavern to see if he can spot Potter, and if he does, to call back. Dale then starts moving, planning on calling Jack from the car. Doc has made it inside the bar, seeing the man depicted, leaves to make the call, and is told to come back to the station, before doing so, making a final call to Beezer, he relaying the particulars of whom he may have seen, instructing him to get the boys and meet him at the station since going straight to the bar may not be the best decision in Beezer’s case, plus Doc not being certain of the man’s role concerning the Fisherman, yet.

Dale is then shown trying Jack’s number and getting voicemail, then Henry’s, whom answers, Dale making it clear it was urgent he get Jack on the line, upon doing so, Dale feeling Jack’s appreciation is a bit understated, he more interested in whom Andy had followed prowling around his floor (someone forgot a ‘whom’ in their sentence, tsk tsk, bad editor! Only a couple minor missing words so far.), the two hanging up after Jack agreed to meet them there, Dale reaching the station, and upon walking to the door, hears bikes approaching, accusing Doc of letting his crew know, he not denying this, and Dale not blaming him. Henry and Jack are on their way as they discuss the likelihood of Potter being the right man, the two agreeing it was most likely the man Railsback had seen in the hall, the two then sharing favorite record and song, Jack sharing his and getting emotional after Henry confides his own. Everything begins to converge as Dale and two officers set up at Nelson’s Hotel, Jack and Henry arriving to see the Thunder Five and the rest of the force in the parking lot of the station, and Tansy trying to organize the high drunks at the bar to do something drastic since knowing the police were about to make a Fisherman-related arrest. Meanwhile Wendell is also drowning his sorrows in his Inn’s bar when getting a call, it being one of the cops whom picked up the evidence cell Doc had returned, the caller informing Wendell of their collar, letting him know the possibility of he getting first picture before hanging up.

Dale and the two are then shown taking Potter into custody, Jack and Henry hearing the car on its way back from its pick up, Andy and Morty, the manager also being brought, as well as Wendell showing his ugly mug, the Mad Hungarian bringing up the rear. Jack is then shown making conversation with Beezer whom isn’t regarding him other than to state how everyone will see if Potter’s processing goes without a hitch, he showing what he preferred, by blocking Potter’s entrance into the building. He asks a simple question of Potter though, whether he’d killed his daughter, Potter giving the simple, “quiet” answer in return of not having killed anyone, Jack then urging Beezer to move, he doing so, for now being uncertain of the man’s guilt. Wendell is whom gets everyone moving indoors when he shouts for a good shot of Potter, after which, Henry is escorted from the truck and into Dale’s office with Jack. Dale has sobered from his detainment high after Potter had been booked, asking Jack his opinion of whether Potter was the right guy, Jack confessing his thoughts, wanting to speak with Railsback about what he’d seen, and probably needing to question Potter closely after deducing the Fisherman may have set him up in revenge, an officer coming in after Henry reports of the sounds they were hearing being many engines, and a bartender having called with the news of dozens of people heading for the station, at the head being Tansy.

Dale leaves to begin dealing with the approaching situation, whilst Jack handles a call he recognizes as Speedy, he suggesting Jack get to Dale’s private lavatory, Jack about to decline for the urgency of asking Potter about the details he was curious about, what with Brown and Black coming, but Speedy brings clarity about the importance of being able to use what’s there twice, he having to take the first opportunity or Potter being fucked, the call ending. Tansy is then shown leading the bar’s customers out, she having shared Gorg’s poison with them, half a dozen immune, but those who had gone, connected to Tansy like she was a queen bee, one woman fashioning a noose on the ride and giving it to Tansy, whom holds it up in the air and leads the crowd to the station. The Thunder Five are outside, Beezer announcing he wouldn’t move, and wasn’t going to fight for seeing the pointlessness, but Tansy stopping short and instead, yelling for Potter to be brought out in an unnatural volume, the swarm taking up the chant, Beezer advising his crew to stay complacent if approached.

Jack comes out carrying a bouquet of flowers he’d discovered from the Territories, walking toward Tansy and when she smells them, she and the group slowly come around, she mentioning what Gorg had told her, Jack noting the feather in her belt and getting it away from her, sharing of Gorg’s untrustworthiness. Jack then confessing of Potter not being the one they wanted, vowing he’d catch him, this calming her, but still seeing the madness hadn’t left, hoping it would with the Fisherman’s defeat. Jack had gotten someone to volunteer to give Tansy a ride home when another chant starts at the back. Meanwhile inside, the cops are looking on with interest, Bobby relating to Henry what was happening, as requested, Henry then hearing Wendell take up the cry after Jack had diffused the situation and the news trucks coming in. Wendell gets pumped with leading the new charge, when Arnold clocks him and he passes out. This receives a big cheer from the officers, Henry happy, but also apprehensive for them all. Dale meets Jack outside the door and brings him back in, the two discussing how Brown and Black had arrived and Jack hoping Dale could stall them for awhile, Dale sure he could. Jack remembering the flowers he’d given Tansy were still good for a second time after he’d given them to her, but realizing they could still be available to him for whiffing them inside the station.

When Jack sees Potter, he can immediately sense his innocence, he believing the Territories affecting his senses having to do with it, then starting his questioning, Potter speaks of being ill, then of his career and how he ended up in French Landing, Jack building rapport until a phrase hits Potter in the right way, Jack asking about the murder, and once Potter hears how Railsback had instigated the events, Potter rants about him and a couple others before Jack has him refocus on Railsback having followed someone to his room. At first Potter can’t imagine, but as Jack keeps him talking, he gets on the subject of a man sounding like Burny, Potter realizing later this could be whom Jack meant, he speaking of their last encounter in town and how he’d been building his own house, men getting hurt during the construction. After Potter admits to remembering no more, Jack thrusts his hands in his face for a whiff of the flowers, it doing enough to get Potter to remember Burny’s name and what the house was called. Brown and Black then walk in, ending the chat, but Potter asking for Jack to give Burny his hello if he locates him.

When Black handles Potter too roughly, Jack threatens the two men’s careers, it affecting them, and they leaving with Potter. Jack then inquiring of Dale about the two names, Burny ringing a bell, slightly, but Black House not familiar at all. Jack seeing a flutter in his eyes which proved Dale was holding something back, also sensing he didn’t know he knew, Jack planning on extracting the information delicately. He doesn’t succeed in getting more details in this meeting, though, since Dale was unconsciously acting squirrelly and Jack didn’t want Dale going over the edge, the two going back to where everyone was waiting, they giving Jack a round of applause. Jack and Henry leave about an hour later, Beezer and crew still outside, Jack hooking up a time next day for them to meet up and look for Black House. On the ride, Henry is quiet, and when informing Jack of no reading for being beat, Jack agrees for feeling the same, deciding to ask him about Black House tomorrow, giving him time to get back to himself. Jack goes home, attempts to sleep and fails, going outside with a pillow and lying down in his field, flipping to the Territories where his pillow was now filled with goose-down and his undies changing fabric, as well, he going to sleep and waking in his own field, noting his undies were mostly dry for not being on him for most of the night whilst the rest of him was wet from dew, he returning inside for a few more hours unconsciousness time and when waking again, the flipping seeming like a dream, but knowing its reality.

The next day, the news was fairly completely covered with Arnold’s clocking of Wendell, Jack watching the footage and reflecting how this act of Arnold’s will most assuredly frame his grovelling to end his suspension, Dale being too kind to deny him, and Wendell most likely getting leniency for his unprofessional behavior through pure fabrication. He then muses over Railsback’s story of the Fisherman and his outfit, Jack believing the man’s idea of he being at Maxton’s a good spot for hiding in plain sight. Wendell also watches the news, angered and embarrassed by what Arnold had done to him, boosting himself with how he’d had a hand in the naming of the Fisherman and getting the most information, at the earliest point, he already organizing how he’d win his editor over again, and then go see Fred. Arnold’s wife is convinced she’s right in thinking Arnold should call about canceling his suspension after watching the news, even Dale thinks so since it made him happy to watch. Wanda Kinderling is listening to the news, thinking of how Jack had ruined her life caused by his accusations of illegal activity by her husband whom was now in jail, she not believing he could kill hookers for not having a sex drive, and a winky which didn’t grow up (wah-wah-wah). Burny was dreaming, compliments of Mr. Munshun, whom had him see children working on wheels and demon lizards whipping them on. Then Chipper is brainstorming on how he’s going to pay his bookie with six thousand short of paying in full, he knowing it’ll have to be one hell of an explainable skim.

Jack is then shown debating his reasoning for wanting to visit Tansy, he convincing himself, and when she opens the door and ushers him in quickly, he realizing she’s definitely not all there still, she making sure the door is locked before sitting down, Jack asking about whom she was keeping out, his guess of Gorg being correct, she pointing out the flowers he’d given her and he considering how once they died, she would be overcome by madness. Jack asks her about Gorg which she doesn’t wish to get into, but shares of what it looks like, speaking of Poe, the similarities of conversation between she and Judy making him want to see her, knowing she’s special, but Jack also sympathizing with Tansy’s state. She then shares of how Gorg described his world to her and the letter the Fisherman sent her, after deciding it was time for Jack to leave, he still feeling an urge to see Judy. Once on the road though, he remembers the Sand Bar, upon entering, deciding he’d order lunch, the bartender, Tansy’s boyfriend, Stinky Cheese, making Jack feel foolish when not noticing the menu on the wall and when lunch started, he taking his order anyways to be made when his mother was ready. Stinky then switches the TV over to a movie with Jack’s mother, he flashing back to when his mother explained a funny scene involving a fly. As he watches, his food soon arrives and he’s then distracted by tasty burger and figuring where Tansy had meant Gorg’s world was and the location he’d shown her, Jack not knowing the area, but considering how she could’ve been talking about a tower, the description unfamiliar to him, he thinking it had to do with the smoke he’d seen in the Territories.

Jack’s train of thought is interrupted by the Thunder Five’s bikes approaching, Stinky warning Jack about them, but he easing his mind, sort of, by knowing and expecting them, Beezer commanding Stinky to the kitchen, Jack asking them if they’d heard of George Potter before yesterday. Jack goes over the information with them and Burny’s name, Beezer inquiring of Jack’s certainty this is the guy, Jack 99% definite. The boys didn’t know of Black House though, making Jack wonder how people could forget a weird house. As they talk out its history and where it could be, Mouse begins to remember having seen it, talking himself through his day with a girl the couple years back he’d viewed it on acid, he mentioning the no trespassing sign and getting the feeling he shouldn’t go in, seeing things in the darkness and believing he saw another girl the Thunder Five used to hang with before she died, standing in front of him. He rides on though, only stopping when seeing the house and his girl telling him to stop so she can vomit, he hearing what sounds like many dogs growling around them. The house looks intimidating and after seeing the second sign, he heads back with his girl, whom is ill for three days, not quite getting better, and dying a month or so later. After the recounting Beezer is ready for Mouse to try and find it, Jack letting them know his plans of going to see Judy, and if locating the house, not to go in without him, Beezer reluctantly agreeing, calling Stinky to allow him back in the front.

As Jack goes, the Thunder Five is followed, it being told of how they reacted to fear being out of the ordinary, but they also knowing someone always had their backs. Mouse fairly easily senses the road again, he thinking about how proud he had been to have the details resurface, but now heading toward the spot, overcome with more realization of Black House being responsible for his girl’s death, and the repulsion to stay away at the surface, but then the feeling fading. Sonny motions the crew to the side of the road since believing Mouse missed the turnoff, they close to riding back into town, Mouse confirming it may be back the way they came somewhere and hadn’t seen it, the place not keen on being rediscovered. Beezer makes the executive decision on they giving it one more ride through before checking another highway.

This time Mouse leads then at a much slower pace to allow a more thorough view, Sonny then flashing back to a moment he had felt unsettled over a certain environment, the experience leaving one of his buddies dead and the other dazed and losing his mind for not knowing what had occurred overnight, Sonny having slept outside. He comes back to reality, then gets a shine to the face, helping him spot the sign, Doc and Kaiser Bill pulling up, not seeing it, but also not going after Beezer and Mouse to inform them, instead getting caught up attempting to see the sign for themselves, and then where the road led. Kaiser Bill then decides he’ll go get the two, and they all return to Sonny and Doc. Beezer game planning by having all the boys make their weapons readily available and riding in fast, he stating of capturing the Fisherman regardless of his promise to Jack, if he sensed he was in the house. As they ready to take off, Sonny locks eyes with a crow, which hops backward into the forest (as if making the hand sign meaning, “I’m watching you”), he convincing himself the crow must’ve been looking at them all, Beezer then shouting for them to ride.

Mouse is again plagued with his girl’s rotting corpse hanging on his back, making him physically attempt to shake her off, the sensation only getting worse, he not only now feeling like he was going slower, but also seeing his girl as if she were flesh and bone. When he takes the curve into the woods, he overturns his bike, it skidding over his leg, and the girl covering his eyes after seeing the house, Mouse letting out a shriek, hearing the growling dog get closer. Beezer gets affected as well, he having a blossoming headache and also hearing the big dog. As he sees Mouse approach the curve, his headache gets worse, bursting blood vessels in his eyes, his vision darkening and hearing terrible things about his daughter, seeing a figure for a flash then falling, his bike landing on top of him. When he looks over at Mouse, seeing everything in red, he views the large dog coming at him as he screams. Beezer runs at Doc, whom keeps going, he not feeling well either, his head feeling heavy to the point of him wanting to drop it down to his chest, seeing Beezer whipping out his gun, knowing he should follow suit, but overcome with a memory which stops him, it involving the end of his medical career. He then pukes on his shoulder, his pain worsening, seeing Beezer’s crash, but making the curve himself, and deciding what he should shoot, he then hearing and seeing the dog running at Mouse, aiming for it, only making it turn to him for a moment, the shape fuzzy, before it going forward again at Mouse.

Doc shoots a second time which he knows connects, his arms heavy. Doc then hears Sonny before a loud noise, then silence. Sonny’s perspective shows he’d been hit with pain and darkness simultaneously, but does see the Kaiser grab his head and start to faint, blood bursting from his nose, Sonny grabbing hold of his handlebars, the man falling off and getting dragged a little ways. Sonny stops for a second before continuing on after another good vomit, he hearing the dog and ready to defend his friends. Sonny sees the aftermath of Beezer and Doc, he getting off his bike to see what Doc was shooting at, then running ahead, shooting at the same target. The bullet connects as it bites Mouse’s leg, but again, only knocking it off-course for a moment, it giving him a look suggesting if he didn’t back off, it would come for him next. This doesn’t put Sonny off though, shooting again at its head, nothing happens other than a clearer view of the thing, he shooting again, the first sign of blood from the creature bursting forth, another shot coming from behind him, he seeing Beezer, whom commands he keep shooting. Finally, whilst all three shot at it, the thing runs into the woods, the three conferring a moment, discussing how many hits the creature took before hearing Mouse yelling for them, they helping him up, and everyone estimating the damage they’d endured. They all return to their bikes before checking on Kaiser Bill. Beezer determines to hear all about this weird shit from Jack when he returned. None of the others admitted to the psychological side of their experiences when asked by Beezer, which was answer enough. They waking Kaiser Bill, and heading out of the forest, Doc noting Mouse’s injury not being a normal dog bite, but he refusing to go to the hospital, allowing Doc to needle him with antibiotics at Beezer’s.

Meanwhile, Jack is driving and contemplating getting off the call of anyone, but Henry’s until speaking with Fred. He relays of Judy having a meltdown over a tape given to her and wanted Jack to go with him to see her, he letting Fred know he was already en-route, having to lie about why, but Fred too distraught to get further into it, and instead sharing of what the doctor said the tape had on it being of the Fisherman and Tyler’s voices, Jack willing to give him any information learned once getting to the hospital, Fred then confessing he’d spoken to Wendell. After getting off the line, Jack speaks with Henry about the new tape, he not having listened to the first, yet and would wait for the second until doing so, he getting prepared for a George Rathbun show, Jack making plans with him for after. When he arrives at the hospital he has a few epiphanies about Judy’s twinner, the Fisherman, and Gorg, after which he gets as far as the proper ward, but is stopped by the attendant whom didn’t know Jack and due to Nurse Bond not being in, was hard-pressed to allow a non-family member or doctor to see Judy. Jack runs into more resistance until insisting the young man call to see if the doctor was in, he getting a shock when learning whom Jack was, and once off the phone, the two speaking of the Kinderling case and how the man’s wife was this schmo’s Sunday school teacher, he sharing how “townspeople” couldn’t believe Kinderling’s guilt and how confessions can be bullied from people, the doctor then coming in, and Wendell tailing him.

Jack and Wendell soon begin debating the circumstances and reasoning behind his being physically abused as of late, the doctor then speaking with Jack about how he wanted to conduct his interview, Wendell being told to wait with the disgruntled attendant. As Jack and the doctor walk away, Wendell makes a deal with the attendant to hook him up with a spot to listen to Jack and Judy’s conversation. The doctor is then explaining to Jack how Judy had heard the Fisherman’s tape, they also discussing the accent of the man on the tape, as well as Jack’s stance on the other world Judy spoke of being a clever interpretation of the truth, the doctor giving in and showing Jack to his office whilst he prepared Judy to meet him. Wendell is currently nestled in the closet, Jack getting an urgent call from Beezer about Mouse, Jack relaying how long his interview would last, having them hang in there, and hanging up. Judy then brought in, Wendell certain they were about to get sordid for how they spoke to each other, the two speaking of what Jack had to do and Judy hearing her twinner, they readying themselves so Jack could flip to where Sophie, her twinner was waiting, Jack unaware of Wendell being sucked in, too.

Jack is breathless as he attempts to say Sophie’s name in a normal tone after flipping. He repeats it a few times, she confirming each utterance, he feeling off and asking whether he was still speaking English, she affirming he wasn’t. He’s totally taken with her beauty, she asking if he was aware of how he arrived and he actually being in the Territories, he confirming this and also notes some of the doctor’s belongings having been brought with him, she then confessing how she needed a minute herself to catch her breath, the two properly overcome by the other. He gauges her features more thoroughly, the same and slightly different from Judy. Sophie shares of how she and Judy used to talk and now it occurring in dreams, she becoming upset with the thought she’d driven Judy crazy because of their more recent conversations, Jack denying this. Sophie relates how Tyler must be returned to her twinner, Sophie unable to have children because of Morgan Sloat’s twinner (a character I’ll obviously run into in The Talisman), Morgan of Orris, this happening when she was twelve and Jacky preoccupied with saving his mother, he visibly furious with her confession, and she allowing him a few more questions involving their past, the two possibly having met when they were younger, Jack then deducing how Judy and she communicated with each other through the picture in Tyler’s room, Sophie confiding how important it was to return Judy’s son, but also other matters riding on this. Sophie wouldn’t divulge much since Jack would be hearing from someone more suited with the information. He then asks where they were, it being an old tent, which apparently was a traveling hospital, it run by the Little Sisters, vampires, Sophie showing him around as they waited for the man whom would inform Jack. Jeez, King and Straub even allude to themselves when mentioning not glossing over Jack’s love story due to this being bad story-telling etiquette. 

The view goes outside the tent where more Earth-debris is found from the office, then settling on Wendell, in robe, and unable to allow himself to move on from the reality of his recorder now being paper. Wendell speaks to himself with effort, attempting to shove batteries into the paper, a man approaches him, and he refuses to acknowledge the presence. The man, Parkus, stops and coaxes Wendell to speak with him though, due to his position of law enforcement, his parrot with two heads intimidating Wendell with their talk, he resuming his thrusting batteries into the paper, Jack and Sophie interrupting Parkus’ conversation, Jack revealing this was Speedy. The three make their way to the top of a hill, inviting Wendell to join them if he wished, Speedy preparing food, Sophie and he making certain to move him before dark (aww, I was looking forward to Wendell getting drained!), they continuing to the spot which was unsettling for both Jack and Sophie, but the place harmless and good for sharing stories, according to Speedy. Upon entering, Jack hears the weird voice of the Fisherman speak of Munshun, he also confirming the Black House being close by, as well by Speedy. The group then begin speaking of Burny and how he wasn’t the main threat, the creature, Mr Munshun/Mr. Monday, by Albert Fish, Speedy confiding how all of this concerned the Dark Tower and Ram Abbalah wishing to stop its work as in-between to the worlds. Abbalah, the Crimson King, having another entity of himself trapped within the tower and if set free, able to wreak havoc everywhere.

The Crimson King has been using precognates, teleports, and telekinetics to aid him in his plan, they called Breakers, and the Beams, holding the Tower in place, crumbling, the gunslingers the ones to protect the Beams, only one left, but Roland having made other gunslingers. Jack then learns how the gunslingers were supposed to be coming to defend the Tower, Jack deducing Tyler must be a Breaker. Speedy continues to explain the sorts who found Breakers and they being rewarded well according to the talent they had. As for Burny’s deal, he’s allowed as many children as he can eat as long as they have no talent, otherwise they are to be turned over. Tyler being similar to a guided missile, Jack then thinking over how he could help, he going over the scenarios and which was best. Jack then figures the two must’ve realized what was coming since Judy knew months before, he then considering Sophie must be his mother’s successor and Sophie knowing of Tyler’s importance, he being the closest to a son she’d ever get. Jack then asks if the Talisman he’d touched would take out the Crimson King, Speedy relaying it wouldn’t, but would be enough for Munshun and to retrieve Tyler. (This also being where the editor didn’t catch ‘Transy’ Freneau.) Speedy then allows of Black House being the key to locating Munshun and Tyler, discovering Burny depending on Jack using his sources, including Henry. Their meeting ends, Jack and Sophie heading back toward the tent, the two departing with hopes of meeting again, he professing his love before flipping with Wendell.

Jack has a flashback and then is slowly brought back to reality after having lost Wendell in the return trip. Once he realizes he’s with Judy and how close to his face she was, he steals a kiss which she returns. The two are getting hot and heavy when they’re interrupted by the attendant, alarms having been ringing during all of this, another door thrust open to reveal Wendell in a worse unkempt state than Jack, his clothing only hanging off of him whilst Wendell’s was ripped. Upon seeing the close proximity and state of Jack and Judy, Wendell still takes the opportunity to shout, “RAPE!”, he not seeming to register the panic already occurring outside the room in the common area, and as he takes preemptive steps to distance himself from Jack, he steps on some glass and his hanging pants trip him up, falling into a chair and giving Jack the chance to approach as he starts his rape claim again, then Jack popping him in the face only hard enough to knock him out. A worker comes in and informs them they needed to leave for what was believed to have been an earthquake. The girl leaves, Jack and Judy catching up on how much time had passed and Tyler’s living status, Jack then noticing the wrapping paper of the note from Burny in the doctor’s desk, as well as a cassette tape, which he takes, telling Judy to stay strong and leaving the hospital. He then sees the attendant shaking an old woman and yelling in her face, Jack knocking him on the side of the head, putting the young man in a daze. Jack vows he’d get worse if ever seen doing anything similar to someone again.

Ten minutes after, a doctor announces of the emergency concluding and all staff required to escort the patients to their floor’s common room, Wendell and the attendant bonding over their bruises and Wendell declaring of needing to out Jack as a rapist, the attendant indifferently agreeing. Meanwhile, Jack is speeding down the highway and passing firetrucks heading in the opposite direction, he then picking up his cell when hearing a call coming in, Beezer desperately conveying Jack needed to get to his place quickly, Mouse asking for him between raving, he stepping on the gas and informing Beezer where he was and an E.T.A., Beezer then giving Mouse the cell, he sharing with Jack how he was the last one to remember what the gang had gone through, but the poison getting at him, Jack going faster still. Soon he’s close to home and Henry, debating whether to drop off the cassette, he then thinking of Abbalah and where his outside self currently was, thinking of how he, Mr. Munshun, or the Fisherman could try to mess with his buddies since they must now know his involvement, which made him want to check on Henry, he deciding to employ the buddy system until things settled. When he arrives though, Elvena, the maid reminds him how Henry had gone to the studio, Jack feeling a fool for having wasted time, but leaves the tape for him and returns to his truck. When he gets to Nailhouse Row, he goes up the walkway, Beezer opening the door and stating of Mouse’s deterioration, Jack not ever planning on sharing how Mouse’s injury could’ve been pointless, Beezer ushering him in.

Henry’s had a drink with the schmuck offering him the deal with ESPN, but he’s had enough and had the bartender call him a cab, the representative attempting to bully him to stay for another drink, Henry giving him his decisive parting words, and leaving, he believing he felt oddly due to not listening to the tape yet, and planned his night around it. Jack is then shown walking into Beezer’s living room, the place darkened with heavy blankets covering the windows. Beezer shares how Mouse couldn’t abide any light, his skin dissolving when hit by it, Jack attempts to ignore the offending smell and steps into the adjoining room Mouse is lying in, he at first not recognizing him, but when hearing Jack’s nickname, grabs his hand, he trying to focus, Mouse still talking nonsense, and Beezer encouraging him to wait for Mouse to resurface, he starting to speak of the King, Jack urging him to say more, but Mouse drifting off the subject, and after vomiting black squigglies in yellow ooze, which eats through the couch like acid, he passes out.

Doc shows Jack what there was to see under Mouse’s blanket, the view making him shriek. Henry, meanwhile has gotten home and feels proud of himself, until smelling his wife’s perfume again, the imagined sigh rattling him. He ignores the feeling and listens to the message left by Elvena informing him of the second tape as he gets a beer, he calling Jack back as requested, but Jack having left his cell in his truck. Henry then decides to wait to hear the tapes until Jack returns his call, he going to the living room and hoping he didn’t feel his wife’s dead face with his outstretched arm as he walked. Jack is currently eyeing the mess of Mouse’s leg, the likes of which he hasn’t seen before. The fact Mouse’s foot was unharmed making the thought of how easy it could come away from his leg sickening Jack. Doc explains how the infection had spread, he hoping Mouse’s sacrifice for the house’s location worth it, Jack then deciding he needed a moment to quench his thirst or he’d “die” (great choice to go by in this situation, eh?), and after doing so, he reminds himself of the reason he’s come, and still bothered by Mouse’s delirious talk of the perfume not being “his dead wife”, not understanding his intuition of dread. Beezer comes in to have him see Mouse, he waking up.

Henry is relating a dream he was having of a man following him with a single eye, he sensing the man was veering him toward his home and Henry’s death. When he realizes it’s a dream, having been worrying how he could get away from the house, he notes how both book and beer weren’t where he’d left them, and the smell of perfume was receding, Henry now wishing it’d return for preferring it over being alone with the tapes and his spooky dream. He begins to wonder about the details of his dream and how it was the first where he could see, but ignores his curiosity to get started on the tapes. Jack is now getting impatient to go since Mouse hadn’t spoken since since waking, Doc trying the last resort of speed, which does the trick, he first noting how he was in trouble and whilst it had worked, the dog’s poison was more powerful, so requested paper to draw a map, his skin becoming more easy to come off, and when he starts speaking of Goltz’s, his body revolts and his face blisters burst, pausing him for pain, Jack realizing the black stuff coming out of Mouse was stopping him and he should try and dispose of it.

Jack gets the stuff off of his face, the bit he throws down trying to slither away, but is caught partially by Doc and some by Beezer, Mouse clear-minded still and no longer in pain for now, finally gets out the specifics and the No Trespassing sign, making certain Jack was listening before switching back to Henry, whom was readying to play the tape when getting the overwhelming feeling he wasn’t alone, (the bee slippers being seen by the readers, as well as hedge clippers from Henry’s garage) he again attempting to get the intruder doused in his wife’s perfume, to speak, but Burny staying quiet, Henry finally listening to the police tape and recognizing the voice, but not remembering from where, he also noting the Fisherman’s dialect origins. When Henry listens to the tape for Judy, Henry figures out where he’d heard the voice, then deduces the old woman’s name whom had requested a song, Burny then knocking on the glass part of the door. Mouse is currently making his last requests regarding how he wanted to go, what they should do when he did, his funeral, and for Jack to postpone looking for the house until noon tomorrow, Speedy relaying information about Munshun to him, as well. He then gives Jack a word to go with whatever was left of the Talisman in him, Doc noting the request for drugs not being necessary, and Jack leaving them.

The magic word’s power effects some of the main players, besides Mouse, Henry, and Tansy, she seeing what her daughter would’ve looked like when she was older, Judy, seeing her son safe, Dale, Mr. Munshun, and Henry, his forming as lucidity, he knowing Burny was waiting for him and deciding to feign pleasant surprise, hoping he was ready, he fortunately having a couple options of weapons for defense. Burny then opens the door and walks toward Henry, the latter waiting for a specific rustle before attacking, his plan working at first, but whilst Henry gives a few wounds, he takes some, as well. Finally, he gets the chance to escape through the door, Burny announcing the damage Henry had done to him, and following him out, whom now has doubts about his survival. Burny walks around looking for Henry for the light of sunset finally leaving enough to shroud him in darkness, Burny chatting of what he was going to do to him and then Munshun calling it off for wasting time. Munshun reminds him of Burny’s desire to go after Chipper and Rebecca, Henry overhearing his madness and trying to stay conscious long enough to leave a message for Jack. Burny finally going after leaving a message of his own,

Henry decides to go to his studio, motivating himself with pain. When he arrives, he records his revealing message for Jack. Meanwhile, Jack was currently being enmeshed in bees, but in a comforting way, he not getting stung. He feels like he could be borne off, the bees leaving him at sunset, and he feeling like he needed to go to sleep with what he’d gone through this day, but decides he could make it long enough to visit Henry, which makes him think how grand it would be if Henry were nationally recognized, and realizing where his fashion sense must have come from, he then deciding from then on, he’d be completely open with Henry about the more unbelievable bits of his life, and ready to share as soon as he saw him as well as making plans after he came out of Black House. He then thinks about the possible terrible fate of Tyler if he failed, he reminiscing about the bees and their message of love for a couple of the people around him, he vowing to confess his story to Henry, looking forward to not being the only one to know.

When he sees Henry’s lights were off, he thinks he’d fallen asleep, but after going inside and still not getting a response, he goes over other possibilities until smelling blood, then decides Henry was either wounded and abducted, or worse. When he turns the living room light on, he sees the Fisherman’s message and returns outside for a moment to consider calling the police, his need to see what the Fisherman had done, more pressing. He follows the blood to Henry’s studio, the door of which was open, and Jack indignant toward the Fisherman for causing the change of order to Henry’s home. Upon hearing the tape continue to run at the end of the reel and viewing Henry made his death real to him. He listens to the last message Henry leaves him, also discovering why the bees must have hugged him, then returns outside, calls the station where Arnie picks up, relays the two pieces of news, and then walks off into a cornfield. He walks along until locating a good spot to stop and lays down, he finding sleep easier than he thought and then flipping.

Burny is then followed to the bathroom stall in Maxton’s and goes down the list of wounds he sustained, hedge clippers still in hand. He walks out to where the sinks are, removes his shirt, and leaves a trail of blood to the bandages cabinet. He cleans himself up to a reasonable degree, but when seeing his mirrored self, is unsatisfied with the state of his face, which hadn’t bothered him before, but Munshun reminding him of the time, he wanting to get to Black House, Burny also desiring to go for a few reasons, one of them, Tyler. Burny then notes Butch on duty, asleep, he glad he had the hedge clippers, Henry’s fingers getting cut, purely by happenstance. Burny hides the clippers under his shirt as he passes the nurses’ station, he feeling like he was getting rightful retribution for Chipper stealing from him. The nurse at the station was given a chance to be left unscathed until she mentioned him tracking something on the floor, Burny taking her out. He goes to Chipper’s office and sneaks in without Chipper noticing, he kicking the door shut to get his attention from fixing the books, Chippy being pleasant and stating how he’d been wanting to speak with him, then realizing his shirt was wet and going around to find a fresh one, but when none of the workers are to be found, he confides how he wasn’t fooled by Burny’s Alzheimer’s act when Burny had insulted him like he does.

Burny thinks Chipper was about to con him and relishing the idea before he set his own plans in motion, but Chipper apparently was focused on Burny’s real name being Carl, Burny unphased, but hoping Butch didn’t wake, knowing he’d be difficult to cut down. Chipper goes on to reveal a detective calling and confiding how Carl Bierstone may be a resident, Burny not replying and Chipper bringing out a letter from his Aunt stopping payments, Chipper attempting to see if he’d remedy the payment situation, Burny now losing momentum (and apparently grammar, what with ‘devise’ seeming to work better with an [-ing] at the end, cripes) and wanting to go to Black House for revitalization, even though two of the rooms didn’t comfort him, his conquests not making him feel proud, nor his childhood, each getting a room of their own, courtesy of Munshun.

Burny then hears the coming sirens and gets to work on Chipper by noting how he was fixing the books before letting him have a taste of clippers, he barely making it back to the toilet stall as cops came through the front door. Meanwhile, Jack is still away and having a dream, a reminder being given about Henry knowing “Darn that Dream” being the last song on an album called Daddy Plays the Horn by Dexter Gordon. Jack then greets Sophie, whom it’s assumed gets opportunity to fool around with Jack (the authors respecting their privacy). When Jack wakes in reality, he sees his truck, noticing the lack of police activity meaning they left, and he deciding to confess to Dale so he would accompany him to Black House. When he gets to his truck and sees the voicemails from Dale, he doesn’t bother listening to them and upon getting home, listens to the one’s left on his landline, he then realizing the early hour, falling back to sleep, and having a disturbing dream about fighting to approach Black House, an unnaturally large face looking like many scary men from his past and present morphing in the face, looking for Jack, he finally screaming the magic word as the face finds him. He then gets ready, calling Dale so they could meet at the Sand Bar where Beezer and Doc would be waiting.

The houses of French Landing are mentioned to be barriers of slippage, Black House being the opposite, the space within much larger than the outside (Hello, Doctor, fancy seeing your time-ship copied.) Going within tells of some of the people becoming trapped inside or lost, and whilst Black House was built in the ’70s, parts of it are older. Burny is currently resting on a sofa, it being revealed his ownership of the home purely in his mind and being supported by Munshun, whom attempts to get Burny up so he could move Tyler, but Burny is insisting on needing to rest, Munshun knowing Jack would locate him if Burny didn’t get him to the great furnace, Din-tah. Munshun continues to prod his wound and bribe Burny into action with dreams of being turned young again, but goes to death threat and more pain when Munshun explains Burny’s options, which get him ready to obey. Tyler currently was having a grand ole time at a baseball game with George Rathbun, he recovering from a concussion.

Before being rudely awakened, Rathbun takes on Henry’s consciousness and placates Tyler’s situation with the news of help coming, Tyler thrown back into reality with Burny. He urges Tyler to stand whilst the latter feels his head where Burny had beaned him with the rock, it still painful. Burny shows the taser he carried to give the gravity of what Tyler would get if he ran off, but after Burny grabs the bit of Tyler he planned on cooking, Tyler is in mid-smart-aleck mode and Burny gives him a taste of the taser to the shoulder, commanding he begin walking and stop talking. They reach a staircase, where Tyler thinks of escape or safety, Burny remarking how futile those options were, and when reaching the bottom, Burny stopping Tyler and having him put on a cap which vibrates in his hand, Tyler soon realizing the cap’s mind-dulling power as they continue to walk, Burny instructing Tyler to drive the golf cart awaiting them, Tyler jerking the cart forward and recieving threats from Burny. Tyler drives them down the curved road, Burny pointing out the Crimson King’s power plant and how he’d soon take his 10% from Tyler for working so diligently. Then when Burny points out the wall of skulls, Tyler can’t wish hard enough for Burny’s forthcoming death, his mother, and help to come quickly.

Jack and Dale enter to see Beezer and Doc drinking soda, Stinky nestled in back near the kitchen, one of Jack’s mother’s movies playing, Jack confiding whom she was to Dale after he’d been speaking her lines from the movie, the four then talking about the weapons they had, Jack deciding they should wait until exactly noon to leave, giving Beezer and Doc a chance to change their minds, but the former staying for his daughter, and the latter due to the possibility they were already infected some way already. Jack also learns Mouse had been correct in assuming what would happen to his body by morning, Beezer not wanting to dwell on the thought, he and Doc then sharing their physical reactions to getting near Black House and Doc deciding he’d go for Mouse. Doc then warns how serious Black House could affect them all, regardless of what Jack may think he knows, Jack debating whether the two remembered the magic word, and whilst realizing he shouldn’t use it frivolously, he needing to be sure they understood the importance of their belief. He requests honey from Stinky and had it placed at the end of the bar, he then using the word to summon the bees and have them deliver the honey to his hand, the wanted reaction given by the three, Jack then instructs how they’d go and the honey to be used under their noses (not like Vicks, but Jack not explaining the difference).

Fred then bursts on to the scene with a long package which makes most of them react oddly, no one deciphering what it was. Meanwhile, Burny is currently ordering Tyler to stay near a wall as the bees are moving the honey bottle to Jack. They are now nearer the Big Combination, Tyler able to hear screams and whips cracking at the working children. As they waited, Burny mentions the place he was to take Tyler, the two others, Patricia and Blaine no longer there due to killing themselves caused by madness, Tyler not understanding how the two could be monorails. Burny then directs Tyler to their next destination being on the way to Station House Road where he was supposed to deliver Tyler, but planning on taking his commission first. Burny is ordering Tyler to put his hands through shackles on a wall, the boy’s cap helping him to manage his rising hysteria, knowing he must choose his moment wisely, but because of his second smart remark, gets tased, he seeming to acquiesce after, but readying to make his move, his hands now through the shackles as he hears Burny going through his pack where Tyler sensed Burny’s plan included handcuffs, correct in his presumption when Burny attaches one to his wrist, Tyler getting his moment to fight back when Burny takes the taser off Tyler, distracted when the other cuff falls slack. Tyler debates his next move as Burny is overcome with pain and denial the little boy could hurt him in such an intimate area. Tyler then goes for the same pressure spot as Munshun, but taking it a step further, and succeeding in his goal (gruesome), but now having to get someone to free him.

Fred is hysterical when he confirms he had heard his son, the package addressed to Tyler and concerning the Brewer’s Bash, Beezer ready to get going since he knew Tyler was stuck in a shed, Jack having seen through Tyler’s eyes, focusing on Fred, he learning whom had given Fred the package and why he’d been sent to show Jack, he then instructing Fred to go home and ready the place for Tyler and Judy’s return. As Dale drives, Jack begins to open the package, also answering Dale’s questions about what they’d felt earlier and how Jack knew the details, he seeing the gift of a baseball bat inside the box, reminded of The Natural by Bernard Malamud. Dale admires the bat as well, when Jack sees Beezer and Doc ride past the sign to Black House, he having Dale pull over, Beezer and Doc insisting they didn’t have the right spot. Jack instructs Dale to apply more honey (which is a placebo in helping with the buzzing in the brain), Jack seeing in his periphery something flying and deciding not to catch it so whatever it was could believe it hadn’t been seen, yet. Jack then offers the honey to Beezer and Doc, once applying, realizing the mistake they’d made, Jack slowly drawing his weapon as the fluttering shadows gathered in the distance. Jack shoots before getting a good view, afterward realizing he’d popped Gorg, he urging everyone into the car before they got Munshun’s attention. As they approach the shape-changing house, Jack advises all to be ready for anything.

The trees were noticed to be changing, Dale hearing discouraging whispers among them, a loud, odd growl getting everyone’s attention as Dale is first to lose his breakfast. Jack gets to the porch, but notices the door looking painted on, and as strange noises continued to distract, it is soon overwhelmed by a swarm of bees. Jack then saying the right words necessary to have the door become movable (similar to Beetlejuice: draw a door in case of an emergency), but before they can enter, Doc lets out a shriek. Tyler is currently being yanked back into consciousness by the buzzing in his head, he then noting sounds of a monorail which must mark the return of Munshun, which also meant he would soon be searching for him, he trying to think of alternatives to get himself loose, his chances dwindling. Meanwhile Jack brings Doc out of his horrified reverie to state of its illusion and everyone should be prepared for similar haunts, but Dale brings their attention to the inside of Black House looking like a maze of stairways and doors which kept multiplying on every blink.

Tyler soon imagines Munshun’s characteristics and is back to figuring a way to get Burny’s bag. Jack then calls again for assistance, a queen bee resting on his finger. He first wonders whom had sent her, but decides it is unimportant, he getting the others to follow the bee as she chose a door. No one could say how long they walked through the house, seeing unsettling sights and forgetting them quickly, but they stayed with the queen bee, and were as protected as possible by the swarm. They end up seeing the cell Burny had left Tyler in, then following their wet footsteps out. Tyler is still working on getting the bag closer as he senses Munshun coming nearer, as well as trying to stay motivated as he repeatedly fails in capturing the bag. Jack and crew are walking quickly on the road when a green-tinted man with a whip gets in their way, but when Jack raises the bat, the man runs off, Jack remembering this place wasn’t the Territories and so they, nor their weapons would morph. They take stock as to where they must go as they hear the machinery, whips, and children, getting distracted by particularly loud screams whilst Tyler is still struggling with the bag, the mind-dulling cap forgotten, and the droning bees believed to be buzzing in his head.

Tyler succeeds to catch the bag by stubborn strength of will, attempting to move carefully as he finally gets hold of the key and releases himself. Now he’s thinking he must be dreaming still in his cell, but upon seeing the sky again, believes the reality he stood in, Munshun then grabbing him. He quiets Tyler with a magic word, informing him of his visit with the King before meeting the Chief Breaker, Brautigan, stowing Tyler under his arm and thinking of the young man in New York whom had potential in replacing Burny. He walks back to the road and meets Jack and crew, Munshun recognizing Jack as the annoying boy he once was, and the bat containing some of the light of the Talisman, then seeing the bees blocking his way back onto Station House Road, he knowing his life’s happiness depended on the boy reaching the King, Munshun acting pleasant toward them until the bat gathered more light, Jack stating of Tyler’s mother wanting her son returned, Munshun getting scared and angry, using his magic word to quiet the normal men, but succeeding in only having the three step closer, Munshun then resorting to threats of killing Tyler. He gets a surprise when Jack fires a shot, Beezer’s ring having the same effect when the dying Munshun still attempts to bite Tyler, Dale stepping forward and grabbing the boy so Jack could finish the job. Tyler then shares how he’d dreamt of the bat, and as they discussed returning, Jack informs them all Tyler had one more task in front of him.

Jack has to be callous to get Tyler back to reality, the trio not approving, and when smacking Tyler, the cap comes off, Tyler pushing him without touching him, everyone surprised, and when Tyler shouts angrily about why Jack had hit him, Jack answers truthfully of it being to wake him, he then requesting again for Tyler to break the Big Combination, able now to do as bid, once seeing the start, they then being led back to the Black House by the queen bee. Evil people fall in worlds affected by the Crimson King, soon he as well feeling the change. The children who had been working were now running to exits back into their own worlds. When they walk out of Black House four hours later, the house now looking normal and unkempt, they are readying to leave when Tyler points out the kids walking out the door, Jack suggesting Dale call the agents to handle them whilst he got the credit, Jack placating Tyler in knowing the kids would be fine, they driving Tyler to his father. Jack and Beezer planning on returning at midnight to close the entrance between worlds after all the children had gotten through. The authors again reference themselves when mentioning how normally minor characters wouldn’t make it through these situations: Doc being named. (but I believe Mouse being a suitable substitute in this case) they giving the option of this being a good place to stop for a happy ending, but beyond would bring the opposite. A report of the missing children is supplied and Dale is preparing to hold a press conference.

Dale inquires if the boys were ready for the press storm they were about to step into, courtesy of Jack’s fine ideas, Dale being reassured by Jack of their simplified story being the right way to handle the attention, they giving most of the credit to Henry when identifying Burny, deservedly. They walk to the platform where the many press and townspeople wait, Kaiser Bill and Sonny among them, Speedy attempting to warn Jack of the danger approaching, but remains unheard because of the cheering crowd. Jack only notices when Dale begins speaking to the group to quiet them, being misunderstood when shouting ‘gun’, but Doc realizing first, no one able to do anything about it. Wendell makes use of his spot in the front, getting the second picture to throw him into celebrity and money. Wanda Kinderling being body-slammed by Doc, Speedy finally reaching the platform, speaking with Dale, then he and Jack disappearing inside the motor home, Dale wanting to speak with Beezer and Doc to share the news which could help with their guilt. When leading them away, he repeats what Speedy told him, it helping the two as hoped (Our Mutual Friend being used in reference to Jack) and the three able to wait to see if Jack would come back recovered. A tale from the past of Jack as a small boy being led by a Captain Farren through the Queen’s Pavilion is described, Jack opening a panel which he first saw his mother’s twinner through, he now lying in the same bed, as Sophie and Speedy gazed at him through the same opening. They spoke of the Talisman saving Jack and the likelihood of he being able to return home, Speedy sensing he’d have to reside in the Territories from now on, Jack having plenty to do there when able, and may even be involved in the business of the Tower. Jack comes back to consciousness ten days later, greeted by Sophie.

Enjoyable, but can understand why people called this dull. Despite the amusing references, if one catches them, this definitely feels like a stepping stone to the future stories, and I don’t regret the ride, even if it did read like one of the half entertaining King movies. Onward!

A Song of Ice and Fire

From the prologue, it gets exciting and since it was recommended to me to watch the TV series before reading the book series so one can enjoy the main story of the TV show and then enjoy reading it from all the main characters perspectives, I tried it and wasn’t disappointed. It was an epic read and I planned on enjoying the parallels and similarities between book and show, which alas, wasn’t meant to go on for as long as the series would last.

The epic ride continues through the second, which also was pretty good…

The plot continues to thicken…and lengthen, unlike my post-blawg review.

This is where Martin lost me. I continued at a much slower pace, but sticking to it since I felt it was too late to back out, so I did finish, but don’t remember doing so. Having to ditch the series where I did made me pretty cross with Martin. I wish he would have thought it wouldn’t be necessary to introduce everyone in the room until they had talking bits, at least. It only became better towards the last six chapters, which may only have been due finally being at the end, since my lack of remembrance.

A People’s History of the United States

It starts with the Indians greeting Columbus, who takes some prisoner in order for them to show him where gold could be found. After being given a golden mask, they begin dreaming of even more riches. If I had learned about the Indian captives taken aboard the Nina and Pinta, perhaps I would have found more reason to have history stick, due to its depravity. Columbus made up part of his findings by this point, saying he’s “found” Asia (Cuba), basically making him sound like a desperate fool trying to convince his “buddies” back home he’s found a mecca of rivers with gold. It makes me imagine Charlie from Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The Indians begin learning the true intent of Columbus’ crew and retaliate en-force. Since Columbus’ promise of gold fell through, they dedicated their time to gathering more slaves to be sold in Spain. Due to Columbus’ lies, he had to become what we would consider a mob boss and began giving tokens to the Indians who found gold and those who didn’t, lost a limb and were left to bleed to death; hardcore dealings. They began committing mass suicide and taking out their infants to keep them out of the Spaniard’s hands; It only becomes more gruesome from here.

We also get background on the Arawaks and how they were polygamist except without the attachment. They have liaisons as long or short as they wish and women seem to have as much control of the relationship as the men. They also share communally so are unphased by giving personal items to others without a thought since they believe everyone would do the same for them. The Spaniard’s full control became completely cruel to the Indian slaves and is accounted in detail; They were Nazi-nasty cruel. Zinn then cites Las Casas testimony of what other horrible situations happened to the Indians before being wiped out. Quite detestable happenings, only makes my resolve in leaving the country much stronger. We are then shown, even if the numbers were closer to 250 thousand instead of starting at 3 million, end with none, but only before leaving 500? Quite a massacre. So even when we are cited with the detailed biography of Columbus by Morison, he shares the truth of Columbus’ genocide, but does in a way which doesn’t make him seem bad despite of it; pish. Zinn keeps the information simple and adds scope to make sure one grasps the concepts therein. I’m enjoying my second history lesson thus far. Zinn explains why historians don’t focus on the genocidal tendencies of our history, which is pretty logical. I also like how he gives a smattering of references throughout and the view of a community coming together peacefully is a myth and well-preserved. It’s interesting how my view has widened, I didn’t make an assumption of what is covered here, so it’s a bit easy-going into this and being able to let it broaden what little was already there from years ago. Then Zinn extends the fig leaf of knowledge informing outrightly what he’s covering and from what view. Zinn gives pretty sound advice with his declaring of this side of history, as well. He admits, regardless of what view is being presented, they’re both limited in standpoint. The executioners were also victims and the cycle continues, as do the victims themselves, but the executioners being victims doesn’t apply for America apparently: We came from the starting line of bullies as it turns out.

It moves on to the Aztecs and Cortes comparing what Columbus did with Cortes and Mexico. The Spaniards massacre the natives and take what they want and leave. We weave our way through the time comparing massacred native stories by different men for different and sometimes trivial reasons. One story involved a man trying to make a settlement in VA where he sacked and burned the Indian village when a silver cup was stolen. Then a governor runs into a chief in Jamestown, Powhatan and when some Englishman go to the Indians when they’re starving in the winter and the governor requests their return, he sees the chief’s response as arrogant and so sends a soldier to exact revenge by destroying the village and killing a multitude and kidnapping the chief’s wife and children, putting them in boats, then throwing the children overboard with great detail on how brutally they were shot. Over a decade later more of the Indians fought back, killing over 300 Englishman, women and children, starting a war. The English don’t go down easily either, they play at raising a white flag and kill the Indians when they let their guard down and kill them and their crops right when they’re ready for harvest, avenging the deaths of the 300 many times over, due to this plan working over 2 years. Powhatan gives a speech which has a part asking, “Why will you take by force what you have quietly by love?” He goes on to berate them with logic which is of course ignored. Then we start on the Pilgrims. Winthrop decides the Indians may have a “natural right” to the land, but not a “civil” one, which doesn’t make their claim legal and is considered acceptable to bully from them. They lie in wait making nice until an Indian criminal acts out and they use it to start a war and steal their land; We get more terrible comparisons which follow. Whilst the English won these wars, the Indians learn how the English were petty in warfare. Then I come across a passage reminding me of people I know personally, which is why I’m so good at staving them off; Years of practice doesn’t hurt. “They were clearly the aggressors, but claimed they attacked for preventive purposes…’All men of conscience or prudence ply to windward, to maintain their wars to be defensive.'” Hopefully my awareness and ability to smack down those who attack, as such, with my words will soon be noticed so I can put them behind me without them following like blood suckers.

Metacom, also known as King Philip, didn’t go down without taking down a significant number of Englishmen and when they killed him, the attacks by natives continued giving as good as they got. Unfortunately the English literally plagued the natives to death with disease and other tactics of war which dwindled their numbers from 10 million to under a million after Columbus’ arrival. Other islands had similar results of the natives being slaughtered due to inexperience of men with technology and trusting natures. Zinn rounds off the chapter by giving the opposing view’s side a knock down to size, to cover all bases. He questions whether Morison was correct in focusing the story of genocide in relation to human progress, but once he supports this argument with similar situations involving Stalin’s killing peasants for industrial Soviet Union progress and Truman explaining Hiroshima, I at least still follow the feelings of disgust and indignation, but it’s all to support the idea to have all the knowledge from both sides is more important than having one’s country look better or worse because of who won or has control over the history books. It may have been done for progress, but it shouldn’t be buried and forgotten; Own it, bitches. Also, when those who reaped the spoils of war financed more wars, it ultimately failed and left everyone either better (if one was rich) or worse for the others. We also stay ignorant by keeping the incorrect names for the people who were conquered only because of their loss in the war, but Zinn covers both sides consistently by incessantly asking questions to wonder whether these people deserved to be “brought down” by the leaders of “advanced” societies: It’s looking pretty sordid still. Then we trace the history of the people described as Indians to, perhaps validate Columbus in some way for his arrogant assumption. They were the minds to perfect growing corn and other veggies as well as what many claim for their own people’s: peanuts, chocolate, tobacco, and rubber!

Learning again, but seemingly more about the Hopi and Zuñi tribes, it’s deflating to see how comfortably and cleverly they were living before the arrival of the European explorers. We follow more tribes from the Eastern side of the country, among them including the Iroquois and Mohawks, who’s chief was Hiawatha and again showing how liberal and community-oriented they were. Sharing most everything with each other and living contentedly. They were also opposite in how they regarded women. The man would join the woman’s family and ultimately was decided by the wife when a divorce was wanted. They allowed the men to make decisions for the clan, but would veto the men out of office if they strayed too far from the women’s views for the betterment of the clans. Since the women were in charge of everything in the villages and worked closer to them, they were in charge of everything to do with them, whilst the men hunted. Also due to their manufacturing of war moccasins they had a bit of control over military matters. They taught the children their heritage of the tribe and independence and not to bend to overbearing authority (imagine where other cultures would be if they followed those values rather than picking and choosing which arrogant ignorance’s to value?) Iroquois also let the children decide when to potty train and being weaned (an interesting concept). Another interesting tactic (especially when considering this specific upbringing), if someone acted in an untoward fashion in war, they would be ostracized until the people decided he properly atoned for his action and had “morally purified himself.” When the Europeans tried to impose their own ways on the Iroquois, they responded how anyone would: You’re in my land, my rules, as it should have been. Before the Europeans stepped in, the Iroquois seemed to have an extremely idyllic lifestyle which would be nearly impossible to find today, (I’d like to be proved wrong). The Iroquois also were tentatively aware of their psychological health in their people and tried to aid in those developments. It makes one wonder why we don’t hear about more about those who were wiped out other than to hide how we may have mucked up our chances to learn from people who lived in a society which is what their “betters” were striving for.

The next chapter starts us on the African slave trade. Zinn poses the question of whether racism between blacks and whites will ever truly end: Ha, ha. There was a thought the first black slaves were supposed to be looked upon like those from Europe: “indentured servants”, but of course weren’t treated the same due to their trusting and native culture. To give us an idea of what the white settlers were dealing with in Jamestown, we learn of the starvation which lead to cannibalism. The colonists continued to suffer issues with the Indians defiance and resourcefulness due to the Englishmen not having the numbers to overpower them. The men who had decided to come weren’t necessarily all peasants needing to offer their services as servants, but some being skilled and those well off, not wanting to get their hands dirty and being forced to work by John Smith in the fields for necessity. The Indians meanwhile, didn’t need to put forth as much effort, since they knew the land and lived from it properly, making the settlers feel like fools. Then as people started joining the Indians, the jealousy became too much and so killing the Indians made the settlers feel superior and even killed those “traitors” who joined them, although none of this helped the settlers grow crops any more easily. Bringing in black slaves was, supposedly, the “answer”, but it wasn’t legalized for many decades.

The slaves from Africa and the Caribbean were first brought to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies by 1619, fifty years before Columbus; ten black slaves were brought by the Portuguese to Lisbon. So it had already been established for 100 years  which  black  people could be used as slaves. Sadly, their helplessness made their position as slaves easier for them to accept. They were put in a situation where they had no one of the same language, culture, or family to make them feel like they belonged there, of course besides the reason for their being there in the first place. Everything they knew was obliterated other than what they could hold onto by sheer willful tenacity, there being some aspects the Westerners couldn’t overcome by the Africans. They had military capabilities beyond them and would set up on the coast, but couldn’t penetrate the interior land, needing to make deals with the chiefs. African civilization is said to have been as advanced as Europe. The one downside for them was how easily swayed they were to sacrificing their own human lives for religion and or profit. It was a civilization of 100 million people skilled in farming with the use of iron contrivances. They also were skilled in weaving, ceramics and sculpture. There are also reports of even more “civilized”, from a European standpoint, living in 1602 in Benin, a West African kingdom. In 1680, there are more reports of how generous and friendly they are towards visitors.

The African way of punishing crimes which would be taken much more seriously elsewhere, were dealt with in fines or various degrees of servitude. They had more civility than Europe did at the time, which dealt with the same crimes by death. Also, whilst Africa had slaves of their own as well, it was more of a serf situation, but it was still used to justify Europe’s more aggressive slave trade. In African slave situations, most of them began to have more rights and inter-marry with the owner’s family, owning land, inter-merging with the culture, which if it was acceptable to the serf-like slave, I suppose isn’t too terrible to what happened in America at the time. Granted, African slavery wasn’t anything to be proud of either, but America took the whole lit-frosting cake with the terrible reign of hatred slavery brought. Since the blacks being brought into slavery were more impressionable and were being approached by their own people who were making a profit and being torn from their communal living, made it more difficult for them to fight back. They hadn’t the tools to understand this underhanded approach and were being thrust into a singular way of life. They were “smart” about capturing blacks of different tribes mostly who spoke different languages making camaraderie and trust improbable. The process of eliminating the weak was brutal as well. Amistad gave a taste of this line of history, as well as Roots, of course, but to read it in this detail is incomparable. First the Dutch, then the English dominated slave-trade. By 1800 10-15 million slaves were transported to America and Africa lost roughly 50 million to death and slavery in what was popularly called the beginning of modern Western civilization.

So due to the inability to get Indians or the settler to work the difficult land the availability of blacks who had been through the worst traumatic test of survival were easily used as slaves. Although it was the start and seemed controlled by the owner, those who had slaves who ran off or co-mingled were dealt with in a way to sway how they handled the slaves, making it methodically cruel regardless of what one would hope could be an escape-able life. Then there’s also the predisposition at the time of the color black being negatively defined and seen in a terrible light whereas white being described alongside beauty, etc. Also blacks and whites who were slaves and servants of America weren’t necessarily seeing each other as threats, obviously since laws began being passed against fraternization between them. Then punishment of the white servants was usually given by adding years of servitude to their sentence, drawing the line between races more still. Blacks may have been easier to enslave than Indians or whites, but not necessarily easy in itself. From the beginning they resisted enslavement (Ok? I understand the people weren’t pushovers, hell anyone who reads this book should be able to deduce the same!) through mutilation and death throughout the 200 years of slavery African-Americans rebelled. More often than not, they would try to escape, even more common was sabotage and other tactics which might be part of the stereotype of certain races being known as lazy, but only to assert they are human!

Some blacks were so desperate to escape from slavery they would jump ship to drown rather than suffer the sardine conditions aboard the ship, but those who stuck to communal lifestyle would run away in groups and try to live in the wilderness whilst those born into slavery would runaway singly and try to pass off as free men later. Once realizing their tactics, the Americans tried to adapt accordingly. Slave owners began realizing owning slaves and “breaking them” in was not easy and they usually not being “tame-able” until the slave was too old to be as willful. Later, as slavery became legalized, slaves consistently rebelled and drove owners to paranoia of the capacity of their capabilities, rightly. They fought back in groups, but would be defeated eventually due to their numbers not being large enough. There was even a time before racism firmly took hold which whites indentured servants teamed up with slaves due to being treated as badly as slaves and banded together due to the shared predicament. Since the owners saw the potential in winning their favors through offering previously withheld benefits, they began to do so to make it seem they were on their side and attentive towards their interests and well being. There was also an intricate design to keep blacks and poor whites apart, since whites clamored for whatever amount of higher status they could get and the upper class fearing rebellion and needing to control them as well as they could; They certainly did their job well.

The 3rd chapter begins with Bacon’s Rebellion and how to deal with the Indians, which Bacon had blatant enthusiasm in killing. He also came from high class, being more interested in the sport than helping the poor. When elected to the House of Burgesses only to organize armed groups to dispose of Indians, Governor Berkeley believed his to be a “rebel” and had him detained until 2,000 Virginians marched in his support, which Berkeley let Bacon go, only for he to continue on trying to “raid” Indians. He seemed to detest any kind of Indians and also accused Berkeley’s administration for favoritism to positions, not protecting farmers from Indians and giving him one more reason to attack and kill friendly Indians nearby. Bacon soon died from an assortment of bacterium. After his death, the rebellion soon lost steam. In the 1600’s-1700’s, people who were considered beggars would be exiled or put into workhouses. Those forced into exile to different countries had some hellish conditions to live through, including starvation leading to cannibalism and descriptive illness of all sorts. Through the 1600’s, detestable conditions and treatment of servants continued which left the masters invariably paranoid of rebellion. It seems due to the hardship of success and becoming a servant for need of employment gave the rich more reason to believe they were being wronged by the uprising, discontented servants. There was also mass desertion by white servants, so documentation was needed to prove one’s freedom and escape to another state wouldn’t help much since they would be extradited back. More than ½ the colonists in the colonial period were servants.

Mostly English in the 17th century, Irish and German in the 18th and as late as 1755, white servants made up 10% of Maryland. Whilst some indentured servants became successes after their allotted time, few of them were lucky enough to be among them. Those which were forced into labor, usually 1 in 10 would become “decently prosperous” and 80% were “hopeless, ruined individuals” becoming “poor whites”. Also, 17th century’s first group of servants in Maryland became more of a success than the latter half of the century, staying landless. Due to the amount of poor by the 1730s New York, a poor/work house was constructed. Although, some white workers who weren’t bound to servility, were still being mistreated, some having their wages withheld and would turn on the employer and essentially go on strike, but this being before there were unions, the workers were prosecuted for not doing their jobs, regardless of the “binding of their hand” which were the government fees they were charged. There are many stories confirming the greed of merchant dealers, as well. Also, there was a sense of discrimination from the employers by their employees which was noticed and soon being tried to extinguish them from their lofty positions. After one hundred years of discontent between the poor and rich, the gap between them, filled by the threat and doing of violence continued to escalate and needing to be gotten under control.

One fact also stayed the same, Indians were still impossible to enslave and when coupled with whites, not deciding to join the “advanced society”, but when the opportunity for whites to live among the Indians arose, they usually preferred to stay among them (Interesting, en’t it?). Which was soon dealt with by keeping the Indians isolated from poor whites, forcing the “pioneers” to move to the frontier, making them more dependent on the government and making the whites turn on the Indians, thus protecting the “security of the elite”; (crafty English/American bastards). Blacks and Indians had an even lesser chance of teaming up. Only in the Carolinas in the 1750s had they the chance to turn the tables for their numbers, but plans to divide and keep them in check through policies were made, making it so free blacks would be banned from stepping foot in Indian country and if fugitive slaves were to flee to Indian territory, policies were made to “require” them to return them, making it easier for blacks to have an aversion toward the Indians and whilst it did keep the fraternization to a minimum, there were some tribes who would still harbor and integrate black slaves into their communities. To help prohibit the same type of fraternization between black and white servants, it became a numbers game, making it so only 1 white to 6 blacks, to keep the black slaves in line. Racism was coaxed into existence more easily with how whites were given certain rights upon release which blacks were not making “class scorn” and white over black status more obvious and “racial contempt” another way to control the mixing between races (Jeez, how would all them black-haters explain this away? I’m referring to any which don’t rely on uniformed ignorance, if such a person exists). Another “handy control” of keeping the “little people” down was “profiling.

The 4th chapter begins with a summarizing of the 7 Years War, The Stamp Act and Boston’s discontent with the rich, which soon covered The Regulators. Then we get details about the Boston Massacre and once the English saw they had done enough damage, withdrew to settle the people down. Also a source for argument of The Stamp Act, Boston Massacre and the Tea Party is given as well as questions of disobeying the law, government loyalty and rights and obligations. It goes on to cover bits of the Declaration, in particular the bit about being harassed by “Indian Savages” and although Jefferson wrote of his “moral indignation” of slavery this was coming from a man who owned loads until his death, but had the hope of its abolishment and his mentioning of it was taken out of the Declaration, in the end; We also learn who read it after its completion.

The 5th chapter begins with Bunker Hill and a soldier being interviewed of the reason for his service and then heroic doings by William Scott. We move to George Washington and his way of handling a war where black slaves wanted to fight and Washington declining, but the British opposition commander offering freedom to those who fight for him in Virginia. It goes on to describe Indians fighting for their land and fighting on the side of the French, who were also fighting against the British. Then a successful attempt at biological warfare against the Indians is implemented. To those who did fight for the British, thousands were given freedom and chose either to leave on British ships to go to England, Nova Scotia, The West Indies or Africa, but many decided to stay in America, (land of opportunity). In Boston, blacks were trying to get something like welfare like the whites, to educate their children. Charles Beard, an author, realized the makers of the Constitution had a bit of economic interest in founding a federal government. Four groups were excluded from the Constitution: slaves, indentured servants, women and non-land owning men and didn’t reflect the interests of those people. It goes on to explain how the Constitution serves the interests mostly to the wealthy elite, enough to the small property owners to build a base support and they are buffers to the minorities and poor whites, making it easy for the “elite” to stay in control with the least effort, maximum law and made easy to accept with the bonding of patriotism and unity of the people (sounds about right). So by the end of the chapter we learn the Founding Fathers were protecting the rights of mostly the rich, keeping the status quo as it was, a balance of the dominant class, they not wanting equal rights between slaves and masters, property-less and property holders, Indian or whites. Half the people weren’t even considered by the Founding Fathers, specifically speaking, women making up half.

The next chapter starts where we leave off at the last chapter’s end. We’re first told of America and those other societies which oppressed women or saw them as a part of their property, then skip back to tribes who had greater respect, not necessarily not oppressive, but held more positions of authority and were valued more as equals than what women have tried to fight to regain. When girls came to America to be indentured servants they weren’t treated properly either and so from the master’s point of view, they were lazy, stupid, and or malevolent, (no wonder there are stereotypes for any race, as long as one’s a part of the working class). We are also given firsthand accounts, through letters to loved ones of the conditions for indentured servants and slaves alike. After, information of the surviving women who made passage on the Mayflower is given. So this nonsense of men being power-holders or “wearing the pants” came from English marriage indoctrinated religion. It’s not Christian, it’s ignorant teachings brought to the “New World” didn’t die on the ride here. There is also one of the longest dialogues in the book thus far from a woman who has more than a few children out-of-wedlock and fined for each of them. Also due to the severe lack of compromise of religion and the writings published to support the narrow-minded view made it more acceptable to follow these ideas as facts to be made rules and law of marriage. Anne Hutchinson, known for her outspokenness on religious matters is covered and a “coffee party”, the counterpart to Boston Tea Party is mentioned by letter from a woman to her husband. We are also given names of women who helped in the American Revolution who were portrayed as whores whilst women who had a less direct hand in it, like Martha Washington, were more revered (I remember being unimpressed learning about her in school, though the educators tried to make it seem highly important). Although due to the low volume of women on the frontier, they were more valued and like Indian society, had positions of power, at least enough to exert some standing.

Wages of women factory workers come next and literacy of women, since it’s not attended to, or thought important to educate women and became a personal goal to those as primary school teachers between the years 1780-1840. Two power-house sisters, Angelina and Sarah Grimke’ who spoke and wrote for equality for their gender in the 1830s made this chapter gripping. The next one focuses on the “Indian Removal” to make way for white society. This history is also taking away the idea presidents were ever noble, like Washington and Andrew Jackson. Jackson seemed manipulative with his ways of handling the Indians. If it wasn’t by killing, he accepted their help to defeat others, then get them to take part in capitalizing off their own land, becoming a part of “society”. Also the “Florida Purchase” was much more violent than it’s title allows. Jackson burned his way through villages until convincing Spain to sell. As the Indians were overcome and slowly pushed out, leaving them with the “option” to accept compensation for the land being occupied by settlers or staying, but being forced to abide by the American laws, made it impossible for them to continue to live as they did. Any American who tried to defend the Indians right to stay on their land was arrested regardless of being unconstitutional. Indian removal certainly was ruthless, but how else is one supposed to believe a nation was handed over, with no casualties?

Walt Whitman is quoted in the Brooklyn Eagle near the beginning of the American Revolution. Henry David Thoreau is also mentioned when he was put in jail (which I don’t remember hearing anywhere), for not paying a poll tax, which was paid by his friends against his consent, because he opposed the Mexican war and his stay in jail ended up being quite short. After, Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted with a question to Thoreau whilst during his stay in jail. Frederick Douglass is quoted after, continuing on the topic of why going to war with Mexico was supported if not created by reporters to get people to be in line with the popular demand. From there we’re given opinions of the people against the war, increasing because of news supporting it, it seems and how the foreign-born living in the States increased by 10% after the war began. There’s a quote from a “free-thinker” about the war as well, which I’ll leave out so as not to make this longer than necessary. Men were being “persuaded” to join by getting drunk and made to sign the enrollment paper as well as being outright lied to so as to have as many “volunteers” as possible. There was much dissatisfaction from recruits, which today is widely accepted as a part of serving. Graphic war depiction is given after. Then we get quotes about Canada’s take-over by America and the threats to the Indians on the requirements on being allowed to stay, quoted by naval officer Revere. After short blurbs of New Mexico’s rebellion and of Los Angeles being reclaimed, we get first hand accounts of soldiers losing their humanity in support of pillaging and raping in Mexico. Once soldiers experienced what a tour in the military in Mexico consisted of, most didn’t reenlist despite offers to “sweeten” their stay. As the trek to overtake Mexico continued, some soldiers’ detestable behavior is given in more detail by their comrades accounts, most of the men fueled by alcohol. Also, because most soldiers resented and disliked being a soldier and on top of which disliked Mexico and its people, made them more susceptible to act out. Half the time the commanding officers were brutal and sadistic toward their men and so if called upon to help alleviate rebellion, no one would aid him, in particular, Col. Paine’s section. The end of the chapter gives the results of Mexico’s surrender.

The chapter after discloses how slavery is ended and why it failed with John Brown’s attempt and also the reason Lincoln succeeded a year later. It goes on to describe how one is supposed to relate to the details of slavery if one wasn’t one, giving statistics and how they sound in different ways. Also, slave revolts tended to occur more and in greater scale outside America, but we’re given an account of possibly the largest one in America happening near New Orleans and the reason for destroying the trial record of Denmark Vesey is also disgustingly detestable. An account of Harriet Tubman soon follows, after. We are also given more reasons why poor whites decided to help slaves and coincidentally, why they’re hired to oversee slaves; Also the details of marriages between slaves with their mutual monogamy and resistance to planned engagements; they also helped each other care for their children, as a community and gave responsibility to the elder children, making rivalry among them uncommon.

We move on to David Walker’s beliefs of slavery and why a high reward was given in the event of his capture. Then we move back to a quote by Frederick Douglass from his autobiography. It goes on to cover the Fugitive Slave Act and a speech is given by J.W. Loguen, half-black and escaping slavery and going to college to become a minister. His story becomes more interesting with the mention of his role in the Underground Railroad, his mistress and response to her blackmailing letter which his returning letter was printed in a newspaper, this all being covered in his memoir. After, Frederick Douglass’ fourth of July address is quoted, which I couldn’t agree more with at this moment; it’s not my fault America has disillusioned me, and since this seems to give logical support to my logically emotional reaction, I can’t help but tip my never-has-been patriotic hat. Then it moves on to covering Secretary of State, Daniel Webster’s quote in response to the recollection of the Revolution and the 1812 war.

By this time black abolitionists used every tactic available to further their cause and comparisons between the white abolitionists and black are given. It’s also covered whilst white abolitionists did “courageous…pioneering work”, black abolitionists were the backbone, understandably and also less publicized. Sojourner Truth is quoted before moving on to W.E.B. Du Bois quotes from his book, John Brown. When going through more quotes of supporters of John Brown and himself, we get to Abraham Lincoln again and more details as to why he succeeded in his end to slavery. He was fluid in his stance, enough to satisfy according to the city and times of election. We also find through corresponding letters between Lincoln and the editor of the NY Tribune, Greeley found Lincoln was hugely on a single-minded path, whether using the Union to be his main and only concern or helping free the slaves, we learn Lincoln pushed for laws to be passed, another main goal seemed to be trying to make every man equal regardless, even if he failed; enlightening.

We then go back to a quote from Du Bois about the Civil War. Many white slave-owners are surprised when some of their slaves run to join “the enemy”. Many people did seem to delude themselves slaves enjoyed their bondage, oddly. Also, after a time and protest made, blacks did eventually get equal pay as white soldiers in the war; not knowing if this meant much. Even when finally being told of their freedom and happiness for which, they still understood there would be hardships in having an acceptable status and possibly having to offer services as a “housekeeper” of sorts. Lincoln, unfortunately didn’t go on to make it any easier for the freed slaves to live, as it goes on to show. Although, upon Lincoln’s assassination, Andrew Johnson did help to reverse the little progress made. We see the rise and fall of power for black independence and equality from 1873-1901.

The next chapter begins with farmers rebelling against the landlord for collecting rent which seemed unfair, joined together and went up against a sheriff and 500 mounted posse far surpassing their numbers to begin the Anti-Renter movement. Landlords believed and assumed the right to take any and all timber from farms and none of the renters believed their conduct acceptable and when they signed an anti-rent bill and it failed to be passed, the war continued. Once two leaders were caught and given the option for lighter sentencing if they wrote letters to have the anti-renters disbanded, “the Law thus crushed the Anti-Rent movement.” They were made to believe voting would be the only acceptable mode of change. It moves into the Jacksonian period soon after and how he was a strikebreaker. Whilst “Jacksonian Democracy” tried to make every one support the system, the usual players were outside the realm of support: women, foreigners, every race besides white, but despite the white working class still felt they were being spurned, as well. We also cover when Irish immigrants were being overshadowed by the plight of blacks at this time. We move on to women textile workers who continually had to strike for the conditions and employers setting their hours back to get more work from them. An 11-year-old girl also gives testimony for the strike she was a part of. Also in Paterson, New Jersey we get a story about children going on strike due to the lunch hour being changed from noon to an hour later, but the threat of bringing in militia got them back to work, although to alleviate any more trouble, it was switched back. The largest strike to occur before the Civil War, happened in Massachusetts by shoemakers. July 1863 brought many black deaths due to white workers having to compete for jobs and a mob at a recruiting office began a three day killing spree; along the lines of 400 people were killed and a graphic description given from an observer.

We move on to how laws protected companies more than the workers around the time of 1860, one being in Massachusetts when 900, mostly women workers are trapped inside a collapsed mill and even with evidence the building couldn’t support the machinery, the jury found no criminal intent. When unions were being formed, most of the time blacks had to form their own, but apparently there were some who were less discriminating, the National Labor Union in an 1869 convention being mentioned. There are also a couple other races who had their own Declaration of Independence, one quoted from by the German Socialists in Chicago. In 1877, due to infested water and the Depression at its depth, the deaths of babies were being expected and numbers given, also the same year strikes by railroad workers in many cities brought the nations attention like no other conflict in labor had in its history. Those sympathizers of the railroad strikers in Baltimore took a more violent way of showing their support, getting the soldiers to react by firing back at them. The results of which had two handfuls of men and boys dead, one soldier wounded and a crowd of 200 smashing the engine of a passenger train, along with tearing up the tracks. Some soldiers sent to alleviate the riots decided to give up the arms due to the deaths of citizens in Pennsylvania. Many people, among them those who realized the hardships of those dealing with the railroad company’s and blacks learning they didn’t have enough to get the promise of equality in the Civil War and working class people realizing they aren’t united enough nor strong enough to overtake private capital and government power.

The next chapter begins with an opening of how different races and sexes of workers were oppressed differently to keep the wealthy safely in power, only making it seem more of a sick social experiment. From there it shows how labor for farming and mills became more efficient by machines and then goes on to mention who offered themselves for labor and the success driven minds to invent the machines to further the manufacturing processes. We also find the useful tactic of the reality of a “rags to riches” story and how common they truly were; most coming from well-off beginnings. One has to sell their soul before walking into the “club”. We learn more of the dirty dealings between those companies who owned railroads and how they plotted to keep their business between themselves and how much they valued human life. They bought as many companies they could and were able to capitalize off the people working for them, paying them barely enough to survive on due to being such deviously shrewd businessmen. We then learn the finer points of the Cleveland Presidency focusing on keeping bondholders happy more than relieving farmers for a drought which left them without seed-grain.

We then delve deeper into the people’s ideas of how becoming rich occurs and a stigma of one man believing it was the poor’s own fault most of the time they couldn’t extricate themselves from their plight. Also, businessmen began buying and giving charity to universities and coining the phrase “philanthropist” for their “kindness”. Covered after is how other nationalities were taken advantage of to work almost as slaves. In 1883 an anarchist manifesto is excerpted basically supporting equal rights without dividing sex or race. It then goes on to a bombing at Haymarket Square in Illinois where 8 anarchists are arrested and sentenced to death. It made a great stir internationally, but all but three were hanged, one taking himself out dramatically whilst being held. After all of this, the bomber is not confirmed and rumors of an undercover cop being the culprit stayed as such. I also realize now, this moment in history was covered in a thoroughly funny Comedy Central show called Drunk History; worth the gander, as well as being a movie called the Chicago 8. After, we follow more strikes and radicals during the Depression years, then go on to talk of the Farmers Alliance. During this time black farmers were also struggling for the same rights and some white farmers did team up and support having black delegates in the state executive committee. By the end of the chapter it’s declared the “supreme act of patriotism” is war, and how two years after McKinley becomes President, war with Spain is declared.

We begin on the profit system and the overseas continents and countries American government forces overtake and protect for their own cause. After which it focuses on the major manufacturing marketed and successfully sold overseas by well-known companies. It goes on to cover the Cuban Revolution in the 1890’s and how Winston Churchill wrote of how it’d be better if Spain kept it’s reign. It goes on to talk of the Lattimer Massacre and soldiers getting food poisoning, not knowing how many of 5000 died because of it. It reports of Cuba and how they saw the Platt Amendment. It seems American government wanted Cubans to give them rights which should be honored to the Cubans themselves above any others. It also reveals the takeover of the Philippines. Mark Twain as well as others comment on the war in the Philippines being a cruel one and helping America become a definitive power monster. Also the way black soldiers were treated during the war whilst they were in the U.S. drove them to egregious behavior in response to the violence and disdain they were looked upon with. By the end of the chapter, it describes how blacks, whites, men and women were plagued with unpatriotic feeling.

The chapter after gives background and an excerpt of a speech by Emma Goldman. Then it moves on to literary authors of the 20th century including Twain and a brief timeline of Jack London. We then move on to Taylorism and are given quotes of the strikes which occurred. Also a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company is covered which went against certain laws making it so 146 workers were trapped and killed within the building. It goes on to notify of the American Federation of Labor after and how they chose their members, leaving out “unskilled workers”. We then get a background of what the Industrial Workers of the World went through in practicing their right to free speech. Once, in Massachusetts, parents began sending their children to families in New York so they could continue to strike. Lawrence tried to cite a statute preventing anymore children from being sent away, going so far as to post police at the railroad station, and upon trying to board, clubbing and trampling women and children, taking them to military trucks. The strikers held out and negotiations to end the strike began March 1912. Helen Keller is then quoted on her thoughts on the socialist movement and specifically toward Bill Haywood. It goes on to describe the growth of suffrage, which has another quote in response to an editor of the Brooklyn Eagle arguing her socialist stance like a “little bitch”. Keller’s response, printed in another newspaper is quite satisfying. It also gives the start of the NAACP founding and W.E.B. Du Bois’ position in it at the start. We also learn more of the repression of Socialism and the Ludlow Massacre which occurred in Colorado. It goes on to mention the war in Mexico happening at the same time and how WWI would be coming in four months.

The next chapter begins with the idea WWI was an Imperialist War. We are given an idea of the casualties of British and French soldiers against the German soldiers, then America steps in on the Spring of 1917 also giving the idea “conquest” of the foreign market gave prosperity to everyone and not only J.P. Morgan. W.E.B. Du Bois is quoted on his insightful thoughts of “the nature of the First World War”, which is printed several years before Lenin’s Imperialism. In 1917 when America declares war, the public doesn’t rush off in favor of it and it actually became quite an “unpopular war”. Then the Espionage Act is passed, which goes against one’s freedom of speech. Around 900 people went to prison because of it with no mention of its eradication, instead we read of immigrants being deported for unknown reasons and falsified crimes and the “class war” is continuing on through the 20s and 30s despite the U.S. supposedly being a “classless society”. If it’s one other thing this history provides it’s where and why a typical citizen should feel in debt to America. Perhaps one of its charms, to make one aware of whether one is getting the best attributes out of it’s government or not.

In February 1919 in Seattle, WA a strike was beginning for shipyard workers. During the strike, the city’s crime rate decreased to such an exponential proportion as to not being seen before by a commander of the U.S. Army in his forty years of service. The strike ended in five days due to “pressure” from international officers of assorted unions, according to the General Strike Committee. When the strike ended, arrests were made for being “ring-leaders of anarchy”. Then some “crazy shit” starts going down with Frank Everrett, a lumberjack who was a soldier and after he kills the leader of a mob, which was after he shot at the mob earlier, they get major revenge on him through torture and his death not long after. A mayor is quoted about his view of what the strike signified, being to “overthrow the industrial system”. Then in September 1919 another strike begins with steelworkers in Pennsylvania as well as other workers. The year after the war, still more were going on strike. By the start of the 1920s though, work became tolerable enough to the right number of people and the unrest calmed and further rebellion quelled. Immigrants were also having their numbers monitored so as to stay below a certain quota according to race; an interesting range. We move on to how Capitalism still seemed, in 1929 an undependable system. By the start of the 1930s people were losing their jobs. Children and adults alike were demanding to be fed, whether by school officials or restaurants in their town. Once Hoover badly handled veterans being evicted, Roosevelt was successfully able to win the election. He started the New Deal to help stabilize society, but people still dealing with evictions began backing each other up once targeted. Roosevelt’s New Deal was to keep the lower class from starting a revolution, but another example of D.I.Y. was in Pennsylvania when unemployed coal workers dug in small mines, then sold the coal below commercial rate, were prosecuted and local juries and jailers wouldn’t convict or imprison them. It goes on to mention the white and black farmers compensation differences and the committees and meeting they begin holding in regards to the mass unemployment. When the New Deal ended, Capitalism stayed intact and by the end of the chapter, war was still coming to America after covering the early 1930’s.

The next chapter begins with a quote including Great Britain, U.S., Canada plus twenty-one other countries declaring the war wasn’t imperialist and then two years later Germany invades Soviet Russia and the American Communist party continually describe the war an imperialist one and “a people’s war” against Fascism. It goes on to debate if this were true, showing it was the most popular and whether it was what it seemed or if there were those against the war. It mentions the popularity of air-raid shelters in the mid-1950’s and ends the chapter on Kennedy’s budget not changing much in his first year of office. During World War II it was too sensitive a time with war mentality to allow open discussion and the U.S. being a “hero” to “weaker” countries is something one might learn in school, but not through its actions in world affairs: instigation of war in Mexico and taking half the country, pretending to help Cuba get freedom from Spain and making a military base there instead, plus other exploitation’s of Japan and China. At one point setting 7,000 troops in Russia in 1918 and adding 5,000 to a Russian port as an “expeditionary force”.

Apparently there was also hesitation in speaking out on Hitler’s persecution of the Jews at first in 1934. It goes on to question the reasoning behind “covert” support of certain wars between other countries all to advance imperial interests of the United States. Then we are given the reason why America joined WWII, not to try and help the Jews, what did it was Pearl Harbor and whilst the American public was shocked to being bombed, the government wasn’t, also Roosevelt might not have known Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked, but did lie to the public for a cause he thought was right. It goes into quite a bit of detail, as do most of these I’ve mentioned. It continues to report of the United States’ plans to become an economic power and pushed Britain out of the way for oil rights in Saudi Arabia. It also mentions the reason the U.N. was created. As well, whilst Roosevelt started the Fair Employment Practices Commission, he didn’t seem interested in enforcing its orders, so blacks and women still had a hard time being treated as equal, obviously. Then we cover the Japanese and those American-born who experienced the internment camps after Pearl Harbor’s attack. Then we get statistics of the people who fought compared to those who deserted and how differently officers over enlisted men were treated. We get the black men’s perspective of joining the war as well, which didn’t seriously affect them either way. Then we are given to consider whether bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end the war, the answer being to the negative, it was not, but was done so as to have control of Japan before Russia declared war.

The war re-invigorated capitalism in America and Russia worked to rebuild its industry, which gave the Truman administration the ability to present them as an immediate threat. It then goes into the war between North and South Korea and the U.S.’ involvement. McCarthy also became an anti-Communist thorn, going so far as lying about documents from the State Department only to bully the Communist party from power, threatening Republicans and Democrats alike. J.F.K. seemed to share McCarthy’s views, however. Then Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are mentioned and the historical figures who tried to have their sentence appealed by two former Presidents, a stay of execution was given, but only for a short time, to prove a point no one accused of Communism would escape consequences. From this time throughout the 1950’s, America was on the lookout for Communists. There’s also mention of Captain America vowing to take out Communists as well, ha ha. Military funding increased during the 1950’s and got even higher when Kennedy was President in 1960, still gaining power in the 1970’s. Then we segue to Fidel Castro’s rise to power and after going to prison and getting out, he meets Che’ Guevara and after whom takes over Cuba’s government, America trying to make Castro’s uprising difficult, but failing to intimidate. Kennedy, upon election seemed to have adopted the responsibility to continue the attack and tries to bully Castro out, but his army was too much for America to reach its objective. By the end of the chapter Kennedy’s changes concerning economic structure is given and in the 1960’s a “series of…rebellions in every…”part,”of American life…showed…all the systems estimates of security and success were wrong.”

The next chapter starts with an excerpt of a Langston Hughes poem which also titles the chapter, proceeding with other poems showing the discontent of the black community. We than get a background of Angelo Herndon, a black man who joined the Communist Party and eventually was incarcerated for insurrection in Georgia. We then get to Truman’s slow-to-proceed policy of equality. 1965 still had 75% of segregation in schools in the South, 10 years after the guideline was made. We then go to Rosa Parks story and quote also including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s part as one of the leader’s of the boycott at age 27 and his home being bombed. Also whilst King preached to fight back with non-violence and love, others came to realize sometimes there has to be another way, in respect to dealing with Klansmen; even Indians used firearms to defend themselves against them. In 1960 blacks were having sit-ins at restaurants to show they wanted to have equality, peacefully and it continued until “Freedom rides” were added, where blacks and whites would travel by bus together across state lines and whilst J.F.K. was in office at this point he was more concerned getting the support of white southern leaders than enforcing equality. The two buses which tried this didn’t return, getting confronted with violence as local police and FBI stood by and watched, not interfering. Then after M.L.K. Jr.’s “I have a dream…” speech at a march was embraced by President Kennedy and other national leaders, Malcolm X’s quote seemed to be the typical feeling of those at the march, a much more serious than uplifting note. Kennedy found control of the march, making it no longer what it was, but a “democratic coalition”. There’s also a gun fight mentioned comparing it to be as violent as WWII in Watts, Los Angeles, CA in 1965. The Chicago 8 are again mentioned in regards to the Civil Rights Act which was passed being used against them. After, we cover the finer details of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Then we find in the mid to late 1960’s to early 1970’s the FBI was a part of violently silencing any black militancy groups who were getting attention, including the Black Panthers. The chapter ends with a lecture on white and black poor in competition to attend inadequate schools.

The next chapter focuses on Vietnam and starts with the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence from French colonialists. We find the U.S. was also supporting 80% of the French war effort on Vietnam in 1954. Which the reasons for being possibly due to what could be cultivated from their land and if they would be swayed by Communism. After the French withdrew due to support of Ho Chi Minh being too great, the U.S. stepped in to make South of Vietnam their base, which became South Vietnam solely for American reasons. The NLF were helping Vietnam villages keep control whilst Ngo Dinh Diem tried to have otherwise. After Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson outright lies to the public on an American destroyer, Maddox being attacked unprovoked. Then it goes on to describe the mass killings and hut destroying of the Vietnamese people. An American living in Laos at the time of the bombing and knew the language interviewed many locals during the massive upheaval. Once President Johnson declared he wouldn’t run again for all the negative feedback for keeping American soldiers in Vietnam, Nixon announced he would begin withdrawing troops and did, but also carried on the war by different means and also launching an invasion of Cambodia in 1970. In protest of the war, some Americans were going so far as burning themselves alive. We also get descriptions of Americans and some celebrities openly speaking at the White House of their disagreement of the war and the first time I’ve ever heard of Americans hijacking an American ship which had bombs going to airbases in Thailand. Then we find how the Pentagon Papers began. ROTC programs also became impacted by protests of the war. It also turned out grade-school educated people were against the war more so than college-educated. We also get an excerpt from Born on the Fourth of July from Ron Kovic’s point of view and by the end of the chapter Nixon admits in his Memoirs he knew the power of public opinion swayed the stay of war in Vietnam.

The chapter after starts with the struggle of women to get out of the appearance of only being good for making themselves be the support system for their husbands and how much beauty regimens they need in order to keep themselves at par to making their men happy; I paraphrase, of course. We then get a couple excerpts from The Feminine Mystique and it goes on to show even when women were getting more opportunities for equality, it was still a stressful struggle. After a thorough section on women liberation and family values, it goes to the conditions of prison inmates. We are also shown whilst the poor did commit more crimes than the rich, it was solely due to the law being on the side of the rich, not needing to break the law to get what they wanted; also helping was the ability to get attorney’s who could shorten or lessen the severity of a sentence leaving a larger number of poor black people being the ones to stay in jail. Then we get a description of how George Jackson’s murder inspired prisoners of Attica to protest and come together; it also mentions the film. We then revisit American Indians and how they only maintained their reservations because they couldn’t be made to take individual plots of land.

Then describing how many times America made treaties with the Indians only to ignore them for their own selfish reasons; mentioning one the Kennedy administration ignored to make a dam which flooded the Seneca reservation. Then in Washington state, Americans wanted sole fishing rights to what the Indians already had rights to and arrests began for defiance of their rights being ignored. We also get a humorous anecdote from an American Indian who spoke to a “non-Indian” of how they didn’t make proper use of their land when they had it. At one point Indians even stayed on Alcatraz Island making peaceful protest to the conduct of how the United States had ignored their agreements. We also learn in 1977 there was a teacher of 4th and 5th grades trying to break the stereotyped views of Indians by presenting the old and new texts inspiring some students to write to the editor with their opinions, one being quoted. After, we cover the Oglala Sioux Nation’s fight to keep their land at Wounded Knee and then being unencumbered of men and women talking about sex and the lack of use of bras in the 1960’s and ’70’s, gay and lesbian openness to talk, the wearing of pants by both sexes, and the protest musicians which became popular. We also cover the semi-liberalness of religious servants and their starting of families instead of only with Jesus. The end of the chapter imparts how much in the span of two centuries were we able to learn how to control people and how by the mid-seventies it started to show.

The early seventies showed there was not much trust in the government. It then goes into the Watergate debacle and how it would have been the other aid for people to start mistrusting the government, (the first being Vietnam). When Nixon resigned from office, it is made clear because he’d left, didn’t mean his policies would be abandoned. Ford pardoned Nixon from having criminal charges brought against him and was able to live comfortably on his pension in California. It goes on to mention the milk industry hiked up retail prices so as to make more money to contribute to the Nixon campaign. The reason for people’s discontent of the government also came from the inflation of prices and high unemployment occurring. Then we go into the decline of authority the President began to have and how after election he needed to find the support of powerful institutions. By 1960, the interest in voting was waning. James Carter was elected to change the disillusionment those before him had instilled in the public, and apparently did a pretty good job of it, getting the approval of blacks and appointing people who seemed appropriate to the areas mentioned, but then began to make some not so morally high-grounded decisions, like not helping rebuild Vietnam and not changing how the FBI and CIA went about their dealings, supporting their keeping of “secrets”. There was also a point when the public began to show less enthusiasm to his presidency when he made it clear he didn’t care if poor people could afford abortion and if life was unfair to those who didn’t have money. We are then shown the protests of people still working under unfair conditions and fighting for their rights.

The final chapter relates this textbook is biased in the opposing direction of most historical texts for the reason being the other side is so commonly acknowledged and taken as the whole truth and story. Which is why this covers the people’s movements so closely. The fact Zinn mentions how the “…American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history…” seriously disturbs me, but this chapter, if one is debating whether not they should delve into this slightly daunting text, should read the seven pages and see whether they’d like to learn another side of a history we’ve all heard and been bored silly by the teachers who lectured its requirement; but overall, if one has an open enough mind, one shouldn’t need the extra kick in reading this epilogue-like chapter and go for it straight on. It’s a good one and ends on a positively hopeful note, which at this particular moment in time, seems like an unattainable fantasy from a Californian perspective. Otherwise, tremendously worth the read, I learned more than I ever did in public school and would have read this in a heart-beat if I’d been told of it in my high school days.

Buddha, Vol. 3: Devadatta (Buddha #3)

For the second volume of the series. This one starts with Siddhartha journeying across the mountain and through forest, being met by a peasant and when led back to his home, is introduced to Dhepa who instructs Siddhartha in the ways of a monk. The peasant, who has a James Brown amount of children asks if they’ll train his eldest, who also wishes to become a monk, being said to be smart and not exuding an air at all, but Dhepa gauges his son looking too young to begin anyways and declines which the peasant takes personally. Dhepa decides to make a run for it, informing Siddhartha of his abruptly thought “plan” before bolting. The peasant ties his son to an arrow, in the hopes of his making his mark on the monk being “attached” to teaching the youngster. Upon escaping, Siddhartha asks about Dhepa’s eye and how it happened, again surprising him and having the opinion such self-inflicted torture unnecessary. Dhepa explains the meaning of such “ordeals”, it coming from something quite literal and being expanded upon. Dhepa then sets an ordeal “task”, having Siddhartha walk through a thorny field, leading by example. Siddhartha tries to follow with difficulty, but makes it to the other side.

The next ordeal takes Siddhartha by surprise, depriving him of air. After he continue’s his protest, they soon must slink away for being followed by the peasant’s son, after which they descend upon a city which “houses” a monk Dhepa is searching for. They discover what’s left of the monk in a temple and after their discovery, possible brigands are heading their way. Siddhartha is greeted by Tatta and Magaila and is expected to reclaim his title as king and come with Tatta to return to his country, but when he realizes Siddhartha is sticking to his destiny, Tatta decides to join him on his journey. Siddhartha doesn’t seem to want their company though, so he and Dhepa take a horse and giddy-up away with them trailing pursuit. Meanwhile once they lose them, Magaila declares killing Siddhartha if he doesn’t agree still. Dhepa and Siddhartha hide in a hole when the brigands pass them and they hear the sniffles of the peasant’s son still trailing them. After discovery by th son, they run away again, the boy is questioned by Tatta and the boys asks for a bribe, leading them away from their hidey-hole. The boy asks to come along again, but they run from him again instead, Dhepa not being able to tolerate his accompaniment; but the boy still follows. By the end of the chapter we see Dhepa and Siddhartha still journeying away to enlightenment and stop their story to begin Devadatta’s story, which takes place several years thence.

We are presented with Devadatta watching his stepfather feed his half-brother and upon noticing Devadatta, gets mad at his peeping and is held back by his mother when he gives him a few whacks. The man loathes her first-born takes after his father’s countenance and shows understandable preference to his own son, Ananda. Devadatta senses everyone’s dislike of him and doesn’t wish to attend a picnic his mother has planned for he and his “friends”, but they go off together anyways and sing a funny song on the trek. The kids begin loading Devadatta down with their packs and when he refuses, is bullied to oblige, after which he seems to become their errand-boy with tasks of retrieving water. The kids then see a fox and demand Devadatta go catch the animal. He seems to give up, crying, stopping quite close to the fox and he sees it has a thorn it its paw, the reason for it’s howling. Devadatta gets it out and the fox runs off again with Devadatta chasing him. He then sees a large creature from afar which turns out to be an angry elephant which follows him back to the picnic where everyone scatters.

They notice a hole to hide in and soon blame Devadatta for running in their direction whilst being chased. When they try to have Devadatta climb out, the rocks crumble and everyone gets more upset. Their parents meanwhile soon investigate, uncovering the remains of their picnic and soon gather an elephant’s presence has been there. The kids become thirsty and Devadatta detects a trickle of water dripping form above laying claim and unwilling to share, which one of the outspoken boys insults him for; as per usual to his dealing with him. The boy tries to take command of the water and Devadatta stands up to him by chucking a rock at him, knocking him out. He scares the others by threatening the same fate for them, but they come up with a plan to trick him and try to overpower him, and in response to this, Devadatta is true to his word. The children remain missing for two weeks until they then discover the hole with the dead children and Devadatta, sole survivor. He goes on a trial and is asked why he killed them, Devadatta states it’s what had to be done so his water stayed in his possession. The judge believed the child possessed, due to his actions and it’s decided he will be given to the wild animals. When he’s left bound to a board to die, some dogs come and one lets him loose by biting through the ropes.

The dog leads Devadatta to a cave fore shelter where the little pup he helped is waiting there, offering him a shared meal; the meal they share being also quite amusing. The next day he goes off with the pup and sees his mother again, but his stepfather ruins their reunion, siccing the townspeople on him, Devadatta escapes them retreating back to the cave, and so from then on, he lets go of his humanity and command of language, despising men and wanting to forget his relation to them. He then starts loving his wolf-mother even more than his own, learning the subtlety of the animal language. The coming days go by without event and one day Devadatta and his wolf-brother chase some prey in a field as a contest. Devadatta “accidentally” kills the animal he chases and his wolf-mother punishes him for being wasteful, knowing he wasn’t needing to eat or use the animal’s body to clothe himself, etc. She bids him to leave, but Devadatta is so ashamed, she relents in his staying and gives him a lesser punishment. They begin moving North, due to the dry season and become weakened by their journey from the heat.

The mother requests them to go ahead or she may turn on them for hunger, Devadatta doesn’t give up and makes a mat to carry her on. They make it to the mountain and Devadatta moves a rock to allow water to come down. They both go hunting after and his wolf-brother gets attacked whilst Devadatta tries to advises him to break free from the larger animal, but the wolf has given up already, and when Devadatta mourns him, he is overheard by another human, asking him why he howls. The man welcomes him to his cave and the nuts he’s gathered to Devadatta’s distaste, he threatens to eat the man and he doesn’t resist, upon trying though, he settles on eating an apple. Naradatta finally introduces himself and gives Devadatta the freedom to stay or return to humans, which was an easy decision for Devadatta to make. Naradatta reminisces how Devadatta reminded him of another character in the story we know. The next day Devadatta catches a fish to feast on and Naradatta comes by and shows him a war between two bee tribes to decide who will survive and live in the area. He watches the cruelty of the war and learn the valuable lesson of the strong surviving. Devadatta is seen pondering these words at the chapter’s close.

The next chapter starts with more natural selection, but also taking each of them out by the end, showing the cycle of nature, and by the end, revolving to Devadatta spearing a fish and Naradatta expressing he was wrong in believing he was stronger than the fish because he was able to catch it. Devadatta gets another life lesson expanding upon the first, but Devadatta doesn’t make it through the whole lecture, falling asleep. The next day we see Devadatta has adopted a habit of Naradatta’s and he’s dissuading him from copying his habits, even though Devadatta was doing so out of affection for him. Devadatta refuses his request though, not wanting to keep his human qualities, claiming to be a wolf. Devadatta is discovered by some men, they were going to leave him be due to how his creepy growl unnerved them, but Devadatta, being territorial of the area, attacks one of them and ends up chasing them off, the men vowing not to forget his brutality. Naradatta scolds him for not understanding the ways of men and decides to leave Devadatta so he would join humans and learn their ways, but when Devadatta becomes upset, Naradatta mentions he should locate and serve the man who will become a great ruler, but Devadatta doesn’t want to leave still. In the end he gets his way through stubbornness.

Soon after, Devadatta comes by a rabbit and soon realizes it’s bait to his capture and unexpected circumstances around the trap are shown, before being collected by men. They try to use him as proof of being a wolf-man by circus-act style, but Devadatta makes friends with the wolf, upsetting the paying customers and making an escape. Devadatta nor the wolf get away unscathed, he taking an arrow in the leg. He gets more worked over whilst looking for food and does eventually detect some, pulling a Jim Carrey Me, Myself & Irene/Stewie Griffin-style moment and scaring the poor woman involved. Devadatta escapes again to an old woman’s room, also not pleased by the intrusion. She gives him ointment for his wounds and decides to help him when he licks the concoction. They are soon interrupted by townspeople rapping at her door and she opens up to allow patrolmen in to search her hovel once disguising the boy as a girl. They soon leave and the old woman confides her name to Devadatta, being Ghagra. She goes on to confess her story and her ambition and uses Devadatta to charm a man as a part of her plan, continuing with the ruse of making him look more like a girl. Ghagra begins to chastise him once seeing he didn’t walk, threatening to give him the poison being saved for her revenge. Ghagra’s plan is set into motion and the son of the woman she dispises falls for her bait. Devadatta bungles the poisoning bit and the son catches on and gets guards to chase him, but Devadatta makes good his escape and goes back to the old woman Ghagra for some reason, where she guesses his failure and beats him for it, until the gift the son was going to give him, became seen and she forgave him his failure, this time.

Devadatta then discovered what affect jewels had on women. She sells it the next day and even gives Devadatta a coin, who hadn’t learned the use and the old woman schools him about their usefulness. Devadatta thought over the possibility of returning to the wild for its ease of living, when the old woman returned from splurging her money and demanded he go back to the mansion to get hired as a gardener and steal the woman’s jewels and poison her, as an after-thought. Devadatta succeeds in getting the job, but almost gets recognized and distracts him from thinking too hard. Devadatta goes to the mansion and sees the woman Ghagra is against, reminding him of his mother. He wonders why Ghagra wants him to kill her and alludes to putting poison in her cup, but when she drinks and discovers a worm, realizes someone is hiding and calls out. She observes Devadatta and sees the poison in his hand, demanding him to reveal why he didn’t use it, Devadatta finally speaks one word and she understands his reason and gives him a reward of coins to declare whose idea it was, he does as she asks and upon leaving, has guards follow him to kill everyone in his “home”. Devadatta notices the guards chasing him and devine’s a plan involving a fire to heed their continual stalking. Devadatta warns Ghagra and the chase soon continues until they lose the again and Devadatta, after dispatching Ghagra in an odd way, vows to be the strongest human alive. The chapter ends with what Devadatta will do and how his timeline parallels Siddhartha’s.

We continue on with Siddhartha’s story in the next and it starts with a strong rain and Siddhartha wondering if the boy following them is safe. He goes back a little ways and helps him, discovering he’s fallen. Dhepa doesn’t want to be burdened, but helps Siddhartha when he insists on aiding the child. They reach a closed gate requesting passage and being denied. Siddhartha comes up with a plan and discovers the town is more of a graveyard. The guard comes back up and relents before killing them how so many graves came to be put up, upon questioning. The guard is paranoid of the boy’s illness being contagious and wants to kill him, Siddhartha proposes being allowed to stay the night to aid the boy’s wound and the guard begrudgingly acquiesces. Siddhartha goes to collect fungus for his cure. Assaji, the boy hallucinates talking to a deity and learns how much longer he has to live and how he dies. Siddhartha and Dhepa celebrate Assaji breathing after a scare and we segue to Visakha, the ruler, speaking with the guard and we learn how they are connected. Upon day break the guard calls Siddhartha out and notices he has succeeded. Sukanda, the guard agrees to not kill them, but they must leave since the weather has cleared up. Visakha welcomes them to her home to rest and they confide where they plan on going and what they wish to ascertain, making her laugh and in return she shows them magical potions and is interrupted by Sukanda who has gathered troops to join and lead the travelers to their next destination. Siddhartha becomes tired and everyone else goes ahead whilst he naps and then he is brought back to Visakha. He wakes in confusion and Visakha explains how she drugged him (date-rapist! Ha-ha!) Siddhartha immediately tries to leave and she informs him how she’s fallen for him and not to leave her. He declines and admits how he came about being on his journey and who he’s left in order to pursue it, but she doesn’t care and has the guards stop him from leaving and then Tatta shows up inadvertently helping Siddhartha out. She still refuses to allow him to leave and so as he’s including what will happen otherwise, Tatta’s band discern the steps Siddhartha and Dhepa made and infiltrate. Siddhartha tries to reason with Tatta, but he is set on exploring the town. Migaila meanwhile wants to disfigure Visakha from her voice sounding like she’d be fair and shows her scars for having loved Siddhartha and being bitter still. She makes Visakha fall after she insults her and Tatta has the town further destroyed. Siddhartha vows his dealings with Tatta are at an end and Tatta takes his words lightly and as they leave the town, Siddhartha takes Visakha along. Siddhartha awakens inside Mount Pandava and asks where Visakha is, Tatta letting him know she’s safe, being looked after by his men. Tatta wants to discuss Siddhartha’s return to his throne and giving up his path to monk-dom and even vows to give up thieving and disbanding his gang plus anything else Siddhartha asks, leaving him visibly torn by the prospect. Tatta leaves him to decide and his men report how soldiers have followed them and so he decides to use their hostage as a shield and fight.

Sukanda proclaims if they bring out Visakha unharmed and Siddhartha, most of the bandits will live, but their leader will die, to which Tatta declines, rather fighting them in the ravine. Sukanda decides to try and sneak in to kill Tatta and get Visakha himself, to which he was able to find Visakha, but Tatta comes out from the shadows and they begin to fight. Siddhartha stops them and makes a compromise with Tatta demanding him to release Visakha and he will return home in 10 years, to which Tatta gladly agrees. Sukanda is still on a death-wishing path, when Visakha imparts what happened rather than allow him to believe his mistaken view of the details of Siddhartha’s return to Visakha’s home. Sukanda after hearing the truth still decides to take the criminals back to the king for judgement regardless of knowing Visakha explaining her side of the story again. Sukanda sends his troops back and Tatta disbands the brigand, then Migaila reveals him she’s expecting after Tatta asks if she’s still staying with him and she confessing she doesn’t have a choice in this case. Tatta tries to run off, with this new prospect of responsibility plaguing him, but Migaila’s threats of violence are interrupted by a lingering bandit reporting of the troops retreat. When Siddhartha and Tatta investigate, they see what Sukanda had decided to do.

A sheep herder passes through by the next chapter and Dhepa shares where he might uncover water for them. Assaji wakes from his drowsing and perks up when Dhepa reveals to him about the flock, Assaji claiming poisoned water, Dhepa asks to know more. He follows Assaji, soon learning he speaks the truth. Dhepa now wonders how Assaji seems to know this and other odd facts, soon wanting to reunite with Siddhartha and see what’s become of him. Assaji professes of a whirlwind a-comin’ and they need to run when Dhepa suggests stopping in the village and Assaji claims it’s not far enough, expressing to the villagers the same, they are of course suspicious and ignore Assaji (reminding me of Watership Down and how Fiver gets the same reaction), at first anyways. Soon they follow them both to the mountain and get proof to Assaji’s premonition. After they spot shelter where Assaji claims, we jump to Magadha where a servant notifies his master of Assaji and the master is uninterested and unbelieving, but decides to test him since Assaji was already within his kingdom.

The master introduces himself to Assaji as King Bimbisara and asks him to prophecize his future. Assaji reveals when and how at the end of which the king orders him to confess what trap was set up to kill Assaji in the palace or he will die. He gives him 10 seconds more to guess and then snaps his fingers which brings the thing falling from above. The king feels it difficult to now ignore his prophecy despite his servants protests otherwise. He lets Dhepa and Assaji stay and rest whilst he struggles with his fate. Then Assaji divines Siddhartha passing by the palace and they go to see him, the King wishes to view his as well and once seeing him decides to have his guards follow Siddhartha. They report back to the king he’s sitting atop a boulder at Mount Pandava and he goes there immediately to visit him. He makes the rest of the way by foot and is stopped by Tatta until he learns who he is and then bring him to Siddhartha. He has a proposition to make Siddhartha general of his soldiers and untold wealth to have him stay in his kingdom. Siddhartha declines with a reasonable response which the King understand and pities the waste of an obvious leader. He then requests Siddhartha’s periodic advice as a holy man who Siddhartha accepts to which the King comes up with the name for Siddhartha which titles the series, and departs. So bloody entertaining; until the next!

Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters (Buddha #2)

To read the start of this series. The second volume continues 10 years later; after we see Tatta eat his meal, we go into a palace which he camps on the outside of and see a young prince Siddhartha who wants a toy some young Shudra (slave) boys are being chased out for being caught eating vaisya (commoner) food. The prince is taught the levels of caste, the highest being Brahmin. After his short lesson he’s escorted to the “play room”, which is more suited for an adult, when he falls asleep, then becomes ill. When his parents discuss his condition and how by his age he should be getting military training and how he’s too weak to begin, the King decides he should at least try to become a scholar, and so begins his education on the old way of thought for the shape of the world (flat), elephants supporting it, etc. (it reminding me how I’ll enjoy continuing Pratchett’s Discworld). Siddhartha then asks his teacher why there is a caste system. The teacher explains how if one’s parents are a certain class, the child is the same automatically.

After, Siddhartha’s classmates invite him to play and they go hunt rabbits in the garden. When Siddhartha fails to shoot the one found, the other boy kills it and Siddhartha gets upset. The boy runs away only to fall in a pond and when Siddhartha is unable to save him he runs to search for help, but too late. Siddhartha senses significance between the boy’s death and the rabbit, when his mother comes and they go back to the palace. Siddhartha asks his first philosophical question about death and a minister tries to explain, making up an answer which leaves much to be desired. He asks his teacher the same question and is given an atheistic answer. To get his mind off of these thoughts, the King brings him to a magic show. The performer, a Brahmin from another city predicts Siddhartha’s question and offers an answer at a later meeting place. When his show ends, Bandaka comes in and decides he is going to teach Siddhartha archery, even though his father decided to give up on his idea. Bandaka ignores him and constructs a bow which Siddhartha would be able to draw, setting a time for training, ending the first chapter.

Siddhartha begins training and when failing to get his arrow to go far enough, Bandaka takes him to the gardens and starts shooting the animals and boasts of being better than Chapra and this is when Siddhartha decides to shoot his bow at Bandaka, to give him a taste of what the animals experience, angering him. Bandaka leaves him there after warning him to not try threatening him again and Siddhartha goes to meet the Brahmin waiting not far from there. After revealing Siddhartha he is psychic, Siddhartha asks the question he’s been plagued with. The Brahmin teaches him how he can learn of death from nature since the animals know best and because they wouldn’t be able to answer in human language, he shows him how he can become the animal and experience it through the animal’s eyes and letting it show him. Siddhartha becomes a rabbit, being hunted by Bandaka, shot, and killed. What he sees after the rabbit’s death frightens him, which makes him vehement on not dying ever, which the Brahmin confides he may not have to and perhaps he will live forever by educating people how to live. The Brahmin prophetizes the tree Siddhartha will go to learn what truths he will teach. When he is attending a festival with his parents, he soon meditates into a bird and sees it through its birth until death, awaking later and confiding what he’d dreamed and after, his father informing him of a bird coming down during the festival and killed by a hawk, similar to his dream.

The next chapter begins with Siddhartha asleep among dining guests and two are speaking of selling silks and so inflating the price in the city. Siddhartha wakes during this and entertainment is started. A few more years have passed by this time and he’s asked what game he would like to play in his room with his guests, Siddhartha comes up with a “game” asking for the implements needed including a couple of bulls. The result does not amuse his father, though and Siddhartha requests he disown him or punish him any way he choose, but will continue to make up similar games every day. His father makes his punishment to stay in his playroom, and so his mother decides Siddhartha should be allowed to leave them, relating this to his father. Meanwhile, Siddhartha sits in his room until hearing a bird on the ledge. The bird had a rope in his mouth which Siddhartha realizes the idea and escapes down the rope, out the window. He’s met by a dog upon reaching the bottom, quickly. The dog leads him to a man, whom we soon recognize. Siddhartha asks if the animals are his pets which they of course, aren’t. He leads him to his canoe, stating to him how he knew he wanted to escape and so decided to help. Siddhartha is then introduced to Tatta, who soon warns Siddhartha of the dangers they’ll be facing . They’re soon attacked by some bandits shooting arrows at them. Tatta realizes it’s most likely caused by Siddhartha’s shiny adornments and advises to chuck them over-board. One dumb bandit tries to claim them, jumping in after and makes quick acquaintance with a crocodile.

Siddhartha sees this and once discovering the bandit’s gender asks Tatta to help her, even though he knows she’ll be trouble, Tatta gives in. After continuing down the river a way’s, Tatta makes all of them help him pole through a new danger, needing quick departure. When escaping, the woman is thirsty, so they go ashore to get stalks to satiate for the time being due to the river water’s contamination. She refuses to partake though and runs off, being found not long after leading them with her screams for being bombarded with an ant colony. Siddhartha comes up with a plan and Tatta brings it to fruition giving her healing herbs after it’s completion and hoping for the best, still wondering why Siddhartha seems so inclined to help her. They continue their journey and talk of how one should live life until death, Tatta realizes through their conversation how clever Siddhartha is. They soon come to the rough part of the river which throws them around. They make it through alive and discover where they landed. They continue walking on until meeting an old woman left to die asking for water. Tatta decides to leave her there, shocking Siddhartha even more than he already was and the woman dies before being able to give her what she wanted, making Siddhartha more sad and traumatized, not caring to go on to the city, but deciding to return home. Tatta decides to escort him back since following the river won’t get him there. They make it to Siddhartha’s palace and he walks in looking the worse for wear. His father is furious and knows what he had done and what kind of person led him.

It cuts back to Tatta barbecuing nearby and confessing to Magaila how Siddhartha will become the greatest king and why he’s planning his revenge through his destiny. We skip back to Siddhartha yearning for Migaila and soon gets ill. It takes him more than 1/2 a year to recover and he stays in deep contemplation long after his illness wanes. His parents put a party together for him to bring him out of his funk and Tatta sees him in his longboat, bored. Magaila feels badly for Siddhartha’s condition and circumstance, giving Tatta another opportunity to rub in her face how she’s crushing on him as they, and his parents both oversee his meeting with a princess who they hope Siddhartha will accept as his wife-to-be. Siddhartha wishes to go about it traditionally if he’s suited to marrying the princess and being forced to marry her regardless of his feelings. Bandaka insists a meeting with the princess as she’s returning to her palace, expressing to her his plan to be her suitor and win her for his legacy, Siddhartha not being seen as a worthy opponent. Magaila sneaks into the palace as a suitor and discovers Siddhartha. She reveals her plan which seems fantastic in it’s impossibility when he suggests she hide from the approach of his father and Bandaka, who requires his approval to enter the contest, which he gives. We then see the start of the competition, Tatta observing by becoming a bird. The first fight commences with Bandaka winning. The second has Magaila fighting against a man seemingly there to fix the fight in Siddhartha’s favor, but when the man goes for the death shot, Tatta distracts him for the win in Magaila’s favor. The semi-finals of the competition begin later, so Magaila goes for a refreshing swim when some passersby notice her gear and recognize her as the suitor, wanting her autograph. Tatta comes to the rescue again though, dive-bombing them until it’s safe for Magaila to surface. She figures out Tatta inhabits the bird and makes her way back to the competition.

The next bit is marksmanship and Tatta attempts to fix it so Magaila will come out on top again, but Bandaka smartens to the sneaky plot and Tatta gets him another way, making him fall from his horse and disqualified. Magaila makes it to the final round to “fight” Siddhartha and the King tries to uncover background on Magaila’s fake I.D., coming up with nothing and wondering “his” true identity.Siddhartha and Magaila begin the wrestling match and make the fight look good. Unfortunately, before the King wonders about why “he” had his face covered, can go any further, Magaila’s disguise falls away with a throw, leading to her capture. Siddhartha attempts to explain his ruse to his father, but he won’t relent, so Siddhartha accepts marrying the princess to save Magaila and have his father release her, to which he agrees. He takes Siddhartha to the dungeon where she’s being held, but before letting her go, blinds her and then releases her into exile. The chapter after we begin with Siddhartha’s wedding day and Bandaka is attesting to Siddhartha’s failure to bring prosperity with his marriage. Bandaka sets bulls to deliver an unsigned message to him, which he ignores and continues the proceedings.

A message from Kosala comes after, for the acceptance of Siddhartha going to get an education in the city, but he refuses. Soon he has a conversation with Yashodara, the princess about his love for Magaila and how she understood his feelings. He confides his plan to look for Magaila and she makes it clear she’ll continue to try to vie for his affection.We then see Siddhartha search for Magaila and identifies refugees in the area because the grain stopped coming in, caused by the Kosalan troops, who were trying to get the refugees off their land. Siddhartha gives them ample payment to pay for their food, after which Siddhartha meets the ruler of Kosala and to make up for insulting him by not accepting his invitation, he requests Siddhartha to locate a queen from his own kingdom. To decide, Siddhartha goes to the garden and is despairing in how to make the decision, when the Brahmin from his childhood reappears and leads him to ruins and gives him the choice to choose between the four gates and whichever he prefers, will be the one he should follow. He is told it is a riddle and whether he understands what he saw. Siddhartha learns what he must become and leaves. He confesses to his parents only of the King of Kosala’s demand and they debate about what is best. They seem to go with a ploy, making a maid pretend to be royalty and send her off to the King, who falls for their trick and a year later, his queen is pregnant and the boy soon arrives, the city celebrating for three days and nights. We learn then what will happen to the young prince’s outlook once he detects the ruse his mother was a part of.

The next chapter begins with some gang killing a merchant and trying to pass on to sell his wares, they free the slaves and take a brahmin back to their chief. The man revealing to the chief, being Tatta, he is a Samanna and so Tatta gives him the task of if he puts out his eye he can leave, surprising him and Magaila when he goes through with it. Magaila learns from him the idea of reincarnation and he mentions to her of his master who, upon hearing the name, Tatta recognizes. Dhepa brings Magaila to meet his master who was blinded from his own doing. When a monsoon hits in the summer, those who survive have famine to deal with. Siddhartha contemplates how to save his people, soon realizing he must leave to know what to teach upon returning. Yashodara tries to convince him the city will collapse without him, which fails so she confesses she’s pregnant, which fails to stop him as well, but he doesn’t go far, sitting atop a tower ledge outside and refusing to come down. When they build a room around him, he climbs to it’s highest point and continues his meditation. A man who served Siddhartha goes to Bandaka to report he’s in a position to take the Kapilavastu throne if he desired. Bandaka takes the idea and kills the man for his treason, knowing he wouldn’t have been able to trust him. He sees Yashodara and his thoughts to claim her resume. When he approaches her with a deal to get Siddhartha down, she accepts, not seeming to realize the consequences.

Bandaka goes for recruits: Brahmins who think highly of themselves and he shares of the reward offered if they get Siddhartha off the tower. They accept the challenge and begin their descent from the mountain they trained on. When they arrive at the palace, the King gives permission for them to try their tricks. It fails to fool Siddhartha and one of the Brahmin asks for his reasons for sitting there and to explain why there wasn’t a difference between castes, the Brahmin soon realizes Siddhartha’s talent and asks for him to join them in training, and Siddhartha accepts, to Yashodara’s sadness and Bandaka’s delight. Siddhartha hears Yashodara’s cries and returns to make Bandaka release her, but he requests a fight and Siddhartha forfeits, proving his power non-violently. Yashodara faints and their child soon arrives. When she does give birth, Siddhartha is happy of the resulting prince, but his father has him locked up until he turns the throne over to him in seven days.

The King has a dream-vision of Siddhartha’s request to leave and being unable to give him what he wants to make him stay, upon waking and seeing Siddhartha asleep, he locks the palace down and Siddhartha’s plan to escape still goes off without a hitch and he goes on his way. Once he cuts his hair, he sends the man who helped him escape back with the horse and the instructions to give his hair to his wife. Siddhartha goes on to the mountain to train. The King summons Bandaka and offers him to become general of his army, which he declines unless he’s made king, which the King accepts after realizing the futility of the situation. When he’s told he must go to a council of Brahmin he has it postponed to go to Yashodara’s chambers and he realizes she will vigilantly hate him and leaves in defeat. We see him next trying to make any “ole” noble his wife. Upon his decision, he makes haste back to the castle to lead the army and when they meet their opponents on the field, he is promptly disposed of. His intensity was enough to make the Kosalan army retreat, though. Bandaka’s choice of wife, one year later has his child and this child will go head to head with Siddhartha in twenty years. Which completes the second volume and it’s going to be difficult to await reading the third. I have yet to be disappointed in this detailed history, I’m thoroughly enjoying it and haven’t given the best parts away. One must read it for oneself to truly enjoy this tale.