Chapter Eight – The Little People
After breakfast the next day Sarah asks Olina, the girl, if she could fix something for them to take a bath in. For some reason now either Olina speaks English or Sarah can speak Middle English.
Olina gives them a couple of dishpans filled with hot water and some boxes piled between them. They bathe. It’s not that interesting, but it takes up three pages. This book isn’t really concerned with having an actual plot.
Olina takes them out to play. Reb rides on a giant beetle. They go fishing. It’s still not interesting. And suddenly Bitch screams. She’s been cornered by a giant snake. And…
Josh hesitated. If there was anything he didn’t like and was afraid of, it was snakes! (page 86).
I’d really expect this fear to have been mentioned back in book 1, when they had a huge fight with a bunch of Snakepeople, but apparently this is just a new symptom Morris invented to spice up this chapter. Much like the snake’s entire appearance. I can see him thinking… “Hmmm. So far they’ve eaten breakfast, taken a bath, walked around outside, and gone fishing. Not very exciting. I know! I’ll throw in a poisonous snake! That happens all the time in real life!”
And then suddenly, with a crash of triumphant music, Abercrombie leaps between Bitch and the snake. He’s holding a staff, which, as the book points out, is a pretty pitiful weapon against a thirty-foot snake. He tells Bitch to get out of there. She backs off. And…then the snake strikes.
The snake had timed its strike perfectly; but instead of the fangs burying themselves in flesh, the staff caught the reptile directly on the nose and broke its strike (page 86).
I think that this would be not timing its strike perfectly. Also, when snakes strike, they do it extremely fast. Faster than the eye can see. I really doubt that Abercrombie could move the staff to intercept the snake, which means the snake deliberately drove itself against a stick that’s several feet away from its target. Not to mention that if a thirty-foot snake strikes at you, it’s going to knock you backward, I don’t care how strong you are. At the very least you would be off-balance and completely unable to use the snake’s momentary disorientation to smash one of the snake’s eyes in, which is what Abercrombie does. A moment later, Olina comes up and clubs the snake over the head, killing it.
Sarah suddenly realizes that Bitch is fainting.
[Abercrombie] turned to see [Bitch] slowly collapsing (page 87).
I’ve seen someone faint. It’s not slow. It’s not dramatic. It’s not carefully lowering yourself to the floor. You keel over and hit the ground, often quite hard. But Abercrombie runs over and catches Bitch and carries away in his strong, manly arms. Bitch flushes and tells him he saved her life. Awww.
Later, Abercrombie and Bitch share a Moment where Bitch talks about how she’s found a new appreciation for everything she has instead of merely wanting things she doesn’t have.
That night they see some rats crawling along outside their cage. File this one under “not-quite-obvious” foreshadowing.
The next morning Gant says that the Little People are going to make them rich. He’s going to sell them to rich people. He tells Olina that they’re not people, they’re pets. Then he grabs Bitch and Abercrombie, puts them in a box, and takes off.
Chapter Nine – Sold to the Highest Bidder
Bitch is frightened. She clings to Abercrombie. They talk about Goel and share a couple touching Moments and she starts calling Abercrombie by his first name.
They reach the city. Giants haggle over them. Then the King shows up and decides to buy them and he’ll give Gant thirty pieces of gold, which is a hell of a lot of money but less than Gant wanted.
Gant gloats over the money, and decides to sell the others to different people.
…It’s not really a very interesting chapter.
Chapter Ten – “We’re Not Animals!”
The Sociopaths talk. They see a rat. Jake brings up a completely random anecdote about rats spreading the Black Plague. This pisses Sarah off because apparently Jake can’t think of anything pleasant to say. Everyone starts arguing and finally Abbey butts in and asks everyone to please not fight with each other.
Sarah turned to look at Abbey, a smile on her face. She thought how the girl had changed since the [Sociopath’s] last dangerous encounter where she had offered to give up her beauty for the same of others (page 99).
That’s very nice, except for the fact that it didn’t happen. Abbey never offered to give up her beauty, nothing even remotely close to it. But anyway, a quick anecdote about Reb going to the pokey for helping is Uncle Seedy steal hogs later, and everyone’s friends again. They decide to try and convince Olina that they’re real people, not toys.
Sarah tries. She actually manages to use some logic and come up with a pretty convincing argument, which is downright astonishing. Still, it fails. Olina doesn’t understand.
Later, Josh and Sarah share a Moment. And then Gant comes home. He has lots of money. He tells Olina that he’ll buy her a pony now. Olina is sad. Gant promises her that she can keep one of the Little People, so she picks Sarah. Gant says that he’ll take Abbey and sell her the next day.
The Sociopaths are worried. Josh sums things up:
“It would be a nice time for Goel to come and settle all of this.” Josh had spoken impulsively, and for a moment hope gleamed in his eyes. “But he’s taught us to use our heads to get out of our troubles whenever we can” (page 107).
Sorry….you have to admit that was pretty good. I might be missing one or two small things, but so far, they haven’t used their heads to solve any of their problems. Everything that they’ve done has been started or heavily influenced by Goel. Always. And I’m going to bet that this current situation will prove no different.
Chapter Eleven – A Piece of String
The next morning Gant takes off to buy a horse and carriage. The next day he’s going to go sell Abbey. Abbey is frightened. Dave comforts her and tells her about how Goel always saves them when it looks like they’re screwed. Which doesn’t really fit in with what it said one page ago, but then, nothing agrees with what Josh said.
That afternoon Olina takes a nap and the Sociopaths sit in their cage. Suddenly Token wakes up. He’s had a dream about Goel. But he can’t remember what Goel said. He spends the rest of the day thinking about it. Nothing really interesting happens, except Reb rides a chicken around.
That night they’re put in the cage. Morris makes a reference to the latch that locks their door they they’ve tried to reach but always failed. Abbey starts to cry. And suddenly Token remembers. Goel said to get out of there, all they need to do is a little more fishing. And the next page or so is just full of hilarious little quotes:
“I’m a pretty slow thinker” (Token, page 113).
Yes you are.
“Goel has always come like this” (Josh, page 114).
I know he has.
“I think he likes us to figure things out for ourselves” (Sarah, page 114).
Yes. By giving you the answer in an easily phrased riddle that you can figure out in the space of a few seconds. That’s exactly what it is.
Token brought his fishing line with him. For Some Reason. And suddenly he figures it out. They’ll use the line to snag the pin that holds the door shut and pull it out. The next few pages are very awkwardly written and after reading them three or four times I still cannot visualize how this cage is set up, but here we go: They make a pyramid with Josh, Dave, and Reb on the bottom, Jake and Token standing on their shoulders, Sarah standing on theirs, and Abbey standing on Sarah’s shoulders and doing the fishing. It’s difficult and takes awhile but in the end they succeed and get out of the cage. So all in all, it was a solution that anyone with a shred of imagination could have come up with, but since the Sociopaths are all morons, Goel had to save their sorry asses once again.
They wait for the cat to go to sleep, then sneak out, climb down via a chair, and get out of the house via…the rat-tunnel! Finally they’re outside and take off to find Abercrombie and Bitch.
Chapter Twelve – Dangerous Journey
The Sociopaths start walking in the direction that Gant took Abercrombie and Bitch. The road is deserted. After awhile they hear a sound like thunder, which turns out to be a passing wagon. They leap off the road, wait until it passes, and keep going.
Finally they stop to rest. Dave pulls out a slingshot that he made out of some leather at some point. He walks off and returns awhile later with a sparrow that’s the size of a turkey that he managed to kill. They roast it and it’s delicious.
The next day they talk and decide it would probably be better to hitch a ride. When they find a stream, it seems like a perfect spot: after a long, dry stretch, someone is bound to stop and water their horses. Or oxen. But it is a decent plan, and after awhile, they manage to climb aboard a wagon and hide in the hay, which is protecting a load of melons.
After a long ride, they arrive at the palace. Conveniently, this farmer just happens to sell directly to the king.