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Of Roland’s Tale and the Wolf Scout

ROLAND WAS RELUCTANT to pause for the night, for he was anxious to continue his quest and he was concerned about the wolves that were pursuing David, but Scylla was tiring and David was so exhausted that he could barely hold on to Roland’s waist. Eventually, they came to the ruins of what looked like a church, and there Roland agreed to rest for a few hours. He would not allow a fire, even though it was cold, but he gave David a blanket in which to wrap himself, and he allowed him to sip from a silver flask. The liquid inside burned David’s throat before filling him with warmth. He lay down and stared at the sky. The spire of the church loomed over him, its windows empty as the eyes of the dead.

“The new religion,” said Roland dismissively. “The king tried to make others follow it when he still had the will to do so, and the power to enforce that will. Now that he broods in his castle, his chapels lie empty.”

“What do you believe in?” asked David.

“I believe in those whom I love and trust. All else is foolishness. This god is as empty as his church. His followers choose to attribute all of their good fortune to him, but when he ignores their pleas or leaves them to suffer, they say only that he is beyond their understanding and abandon themselves to his will. What kind of god is that?”

Roland spoke with such anger and bitterness that David wondered if he had once followed the “new religion,” only to turn his back upon it when something bad happened to him. David had felt that way himself at times as he sat in church in the weeks and months after his mother’s death, listening to the priest talking of God and how much He loved his people. He had found it hard to equate the priest’s God with the one who had left his mother to die slowly and painfully.

“And who do you love?” he asked Roland.

But Roland pretended not to hear him.

“Tell me about your home,” he said. “Talk to me of your people. Talk to me of anything but false gods.”

And so David told Roland of his mother and his father, of the sunken garden, of Jonathan Tulvey and his old books, of hearing his mother’s voice and following it into this strange land, and, finally, of Rose and the arrival of Georgie. As he spoke, he could not hide his resentment of Rose and her baby. It made him feel ashamed, and more like a child than he wished to appear in front of Roland.

“That is hard indeed,” said Roland. “So much has been taken from you, but so much has been given too, perhaps.”

He did not say any more, for fear that the boy might think he was preaching to him. Instead, Roland lay back against Scylla’s saddle and told David a tale.

Date: 2015-02-03; view: 943

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