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Day 7

From p. 108 to p. 123 ("You too, Moon.")

September 9, 2020 by Ed Park

We now enter the long penultimate chapter—60 pages—that will occupy us for the next four days. You’ll be forgiven for dashing ahead and finishing it all in one go. I found myself unable to put it down.

While R. goes fact-finding, M. muses sternly on religion: “I say nothing against the Cumberlands…but they are not sound on Election. They do not fully accept it. I confess it is a hard doctrine, running contrary to our earthly ideas of fair play…”

“But I can see no way around it.” Mattie cites chapter and verse. “It was good for Paul and Silas and it is good enough for me. It is good enough for you too.” Mic drop! Something magical in how her voice comes barreling through the ages to scold us.

Just for fun, here’s Bill Clinton in mock-stern mode in My Life: “Baptists require an informed profession of faith; they want people to know what they are doing, as opposed to the Methodists’ infant-sprinkling ritual that took Hillary and her brothers out of hell’s way.”

To the boys who have teased the mule, Rooster impersonates one of the James brothers (the notorious Frank and Jesse both also rode with Quantrill). “One of them has grown fat.”

For some reason I find the “grub” strangely appetizing, though Mattie “can scarcely credit it.” Coffee, salt pork, and 120 “corn dodgers.” “Fried bread!”

Mattie tries to tell a ghost story, but Rooster and LaBoeuf are not interested—a periodic reminded that part of her is still a child. Sleep, then: “When I awoke there were snowflakes on my eyes.” Beautiful.

The dugout: “It put me in mind of something made by a water bird, some cliff martin or a swift, although the work of those little feathered masons (who know not the use of a spirit level) is a sight more artful.” What @rebeccabengal would call one of M.’s sick burns.

Portis has grounded the story in tragedy, humor, history. Now it’s pure excitement as we see Rooster in action, visiting Emmett Quincy and the wounded Moon. Now we know why Mattie chose him.

“Who is in there?” “A Methodist and a son of a bitch! Keep riding!” (My new way of answering the phone.)

The dialogue is marvelous—tense and a little funny. Quincy dissembling. R.: “You don’t know anything I want to know, do you?” Q.: “No, and if I did I would not blow.” He’s already said too much.

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