Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 4 –

– 4 –

“He’s hurting,” says Saul. He clenches and unclenches his hand baffledly. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

Peter tilts his head to one side. “Is it gout?”

“It’s not gout,” says Saul.

“Hm,” says Peter.

They’re playing rummy. In between their words they flip cards about. The cards are special cards that will never get gout or suffer unnecessarily from storms at sea.

“Or storms at sea,” clarifies Saul.

“I don’t think you should help him,” says Peter. “On account of he’s a wicked thing.”

“Oh, since when,” says Saul.

He means, “since when do saints prejudge people?” Or “since when do saints apply that kind of criterion?”

Obviously there’s no point in asking when Edmund of Hunger went bad.

Peter sighs.

“You can’t help him, though,” says Peter, “because he’ll do bad things with that help. That’s the edge that the wicked things have. They can be kind to us, or mean to us; but we can’t hardly do much to them of anything but stand sadly by and watch. That’s why Bethany’s running around the world with the nithrid instead of attending to important saint business with us, you know. She couldn’t help Edmund!”

“That’s an oversimplification,” Saul says.


“We could become saint-advisors,” proposes Saul. “We could lurk in the background behind wicked things and give them useful advice. Eventually they would internalize it and grow flowers of grace in their gardens of evil, at which point we’d smirk smugly at them, like so.”

“Like so?”

“Rummy,” says Saul. He spreads out the cards. He smirks smugly.

“If you can do that,” says Peter, “then I think you should do that. But if you can’t, then they make tofu that tastes like people.”


“I mean, if you want to get him a gift basket —”

“I can’t just feed him tofu that tastes like people!” says Saul. “What if the tofu is secretly alive?”


“Like, a tofu-person,” says Saul. “A tofu-person, that feels and bleeds and breathes and loves and lives like all the rest of us, until it’s slaughtered by the tofarmer and fed to beasts?”

“I don’t think you understand what tofu is,” says Peter.

“It wouldn’t matter,” says Saul. “It wouldn’t make them stop hurting.”

He looks away.

There’s just a little bit of blood from his nose. He rubs at it awkwardly.

“I have to stop,” he says. “I have to stop it. I can’t help them.”

He rubs at his hair. He gets blood in it. Somehow it just makes his hair look better. That’s his beatific hairstyling!

He is holy. He is the substance of miracles.

But he mutters, “I have to stop being a saint.”




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