Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 13 –

– 13 –

And after a while, she rolls over on the ocean —

I don’t know if she can do this because she is a trained fighter; or because of St. Peter’s blessing; or because she is a saint —

And the laughter has gone from her, and a wild mood is on her, and she is explaining herself to the nithrid because, well, to who else?

She is saying, “I made a hat, you know. After Tom’s hat —

“I made one of my own.”

The nithrid is fire in the sky. It is a world-devouring storm. It is wind and rain and the flickering of lightning.

“There is a space beyond the world,” she says, “where someone trained in the ninja arts may go; and a space beyond that, where hope is locked in a wardrobe, and you can bend it down with the power in you and make it into clothing or a hat.”

The nithrid is not interested in millinery.

If ever it had the power to impress others by rocking a hat and a bit of modern fashion, it lacks that power now.

“So I took the substance of that place and made a hat that had no equal in the world; and it was red, red, red, to match my heart.”

She listens to her heart. It is beating.

“And it was a hat of the substance of happy endings,” says she. “It was the hat that says: in this world, things will be OK.

If you are good and strong, Bethany.

If you seize it, Bethany.

If you will fight for what is worth fighting for, and do what a Bethany ought to do, and live, and love, and linger well, then everything will end OK. No matter what.

To be a person in the world — it is to be enough.

It’ll be OK.

The nithrid ponders this. It makes sculptures out of lightning on the sea.

“Then Edmund ate it,” Bethany says. “He took it from my head and ate it.”

She’s lost the last of the laughter now. She is crying.

What a jerk!

The nithrid doesn’t know what to do about this. It thinks about killing her. Instead it tries to wipe her tears. This does not work out well for anybody. It is extremely embarrassing for the nithrid. After a while it finds a silver crown floating past under the sea and spends a while trying to fish that up instead.

Why would you even do that? Bethany can’t wear a silver hat!

“Don’t you understand?” Bethany says. “If the world is wrong, then there’s nothing I can do. If the world is wrong then I’m just broken. I can’t make there be hope. I had that power. For a few minutes I had that power. Then he took it.”

The nithrid comes to a conclusion. It abandons the crown. It seethes in the sky and ocean.

It writes on the surface of the water:



Bethany is distracted.

“He took it,” she re-explains.

The letters trace themselves out another time or two, and then they’re gone.

And like I’ve said, this isn’t the story of how the nithrid redeemed itself, because it didn’t; it was all and ever only the nithrid. And it’s not the story of how it didn’t redeem itself either. It’s just —

She is Bethany — St. Bethany, I suppose — and it is the nithrid.

After a while she dries her tears. She looks up at it.

He took it. But —

The lightning comes down at her; it strikes at her from Heaven.

She catches it. She moves with it.

She flies.



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