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failed. Hoquat's shame reinforced his innocence. He was more innocent now.
Katsuk stared into the black emptiness of the old mine shaft. He sensed the dimensions of it with his
memory, with his skin, his nose, his ears. There were ghost spirits here, too. The boy's teeth chattered.
Hoquat's fear could almost be touched.
The boy whispered: "Katsuk?"
"Where are we?"
"In the cave."
"The old mine?"
"Are y-you g-going t-to b-build a f-f-fire?"
Lightning gave a brief flicker of illumination: the cave mouth, dripping trees, rain slanting down. Thunder
followed, close, a crash that made the boy gasp.
Katsuk said: "Perhaps we have too much fire."
The world suddenly was shattered by a barren plume of lightning so close they smelled the hell fragrance
of it as the thunder shook them.
The boy whirled, clung to Katsuk's arm.
Again, lightning flickered against wet blackness, this time near the lake. The thunderclap came like an
echo of the one before it.
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The boy trembled and shook against Katsuk.
"That was Kwahoutze," Katsuk said. "That was the god in water, the spirit of all the regions brought
together by water."
"It was s-so close."
"He tells us this is still his land."
Again, the lightning flashed -- beyond the lake now. Thunder followed, rumbling.
The boy said: "I don't want to steal your land."
Katsuk patted his shoulder. "And I was going to over-proud my enemies. This land does not know
who owns it."
David said: "I'm sorry we stole your land."
"I know, Hoquat. You are truly innocent. You are one of the few who feel why this land is sacred to
me. You are the immigrant invader. You have not learned how to worship this land. It is my land
because I worship it. The spirits know, but the land does not know."
Silence fell between them. Katsuk freed himself from the boy's grip, thinking: Hoquat depends upon
me for his strength, but that can be dangerous for me. If he takes strength from me, I must take
strength from him. We could become one person, both of us Soul Catcher. Who could I sacrifice
David listened to the sound of falling rain, the distant progression of lightning and thunder. Presently, he
said: "Katsuk?"
"Are you going to kill me . . . like your aunt said?"
"I use you to send a message."
David chewed his lower lip. "But your aunt said. . . ."
"Unless you tell me to do it, I will not kill you."
Relief flooded through David. He drew a deep breath. "But I'd never tell you to --"
"Hoquat! Why do you prefer mouth-talk to body-talk?"
Katsuk moved into the shaft.
Rebuked, David stood trembling. The old madness had returned to Katsuk's voice.
Katsuk found the pack by smelling the mustiness of it. He squatted, felt the fabric, removed matches, a
packet of tinder. Presently, he had a small fire going. Smoke drifted in a gray line along the ceiling. The
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flame cast raw shadows on old beams and rock.
David approached, stood close to the fire, trembling, holding his hands out to the warmth.
Katsuk gathered the cedar boughs of their bed, spread the sleeping bag. He stretched out on the bag
with his back against a rotting beam.
The boy stood with his head just beneath the smoke. The gray line above him was like a spirit essence
drifting toward the dark entrance into the world.
Katsuk withdrew the willow flute from his waistband, touched it to his lips. He blew softly. The clear
sound circled upward into the smoke, carrying his mind with it. He played the song of cedar, the song to
placate cedar when they took bark for mats and clothing, for rope and net string. He blew the song
softly. It was a bird singing deep in the shade of cedar boughs.
Sweetly on the song, he sensed a vision: Janiktaht carrying a basket piled with curling shreds of cedar
bark. And he thought: This is better for Janiktaht. I should not be forever seeking her face among
the faces of strangers.
The words of the song echoed in his mind: "Life maker cedar . . . fire maker cedar --"
The vision of Janiktaht moved within him. She grew larger, larger, older, uglier. The basket of cedar
bark shriveled.
Sweat broke out on his forehead. His mind stumbled. He dropped the flute.
David asked: "Why did you stop?" [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]