Jonnie is packing for his epic adventure, and nearby some neighbors are roasting a dog that got killed in a fight during the funeral. We can only assume that it won't be long before these folks stop throwing good food to the coyotes. Chrissie and Pattie are on-duty as shallow supporting females, and we also meet a new character, Brown Limper Staffor, who just edges Jonnie Goodboy Tyler out for the title of "worst named human." Limper was born with a clubfoot but not tossed into the cold, since he's the parson's only son. An old enemy of Jonnie's, at the funeral Limper made snide comments until Jonnie smacked him.
While packing, Jonnie is startled when Chrissie draws close, and hopes that he won't have to talk to her. Unfortunately, she does indeed intend on interacting with him, and offers him some tools, a "large bone needle with a thong hole in it, and the other was a skin awl. Both were worn and polished and valuable," and belonged to her mother. Jonnie tries to refuse, but Chrissie wails "If you lose your clothes, how are you going to sew?"
Now, this could be a romantic thing where both parties are communicating on a different level than the words they're saying. Or, Chrissie is just an airhead with terrible priorities and an unfathomable attraction to this unlikeable main character.
Our hero caves only to avoid further outbursts, and is shocked by how pale Chrissie is. Then he notices Brown Limper behind her talking to someone named Petie Thommso, whose name is mangled but at least free of childish nicknames.
Jonnie's resolution wavered. He grabbed Chrissie and kissed her hard. It was as though he had taken a board from an irrigation trough: the tears went down her cheeks.
Because when you think romance, you think of metaphors based on farming implements.
Jonnie urges her not to follow him, Chrissie swears "by all the gods on Highpeak" that she'll come after him if he's not back in a year. Do they think that the dead guys Jonnie found were sub-gods under God, or something? Or do they think their mountain is Olympus?
Anyway, Jonnie takes Windsplitter, gives his other four horses to Chrissie (only eat them if it's winter and you're out of other food), then heads out. He makes Windsplitter rear so Jonnie can strike a heroic pose for the fifteen villagers watching, and he's off!
The rest of the people drifted off. Chrissie still stood there, hoping with a wild crazy hope that he would ride back into sight, returning.
Pattie tugged her leg. "Chrissie. Chrissie, will he come back?"
Chrissie's voice was very low, her eyes like ashes in a dead fire. "Goodbye," she whispered.
Wishful thinking, dearie. We end two-thirds of the way down page 20. Next chapter: Terl gets a car!
Back to Chapter Four