Home > Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6)

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6)
Author: Stephen King

1st Stanza: Beamquake

One

"How long will the magic stay?"

At first no one answered Roland's question, and so he asked it again, this time looking across the living room of the rectory to where Henchick of the Manni sat with Cantab, who had married one of Henchick's numerous granddaughters. The two men were holding hands, as was the Manni way. The older man had lost a granddaughter that day, but if he grieved, the emotion did not show on his stony, composed face.

Next to Roland, holding no one's hand, silent and dreadfully white, sat Eddie Dean. Beside him, cross-legged on the floor, was Jake Chambers. He had pulled Oy into his lap, a thing Roland had never seen before and would not have believed the billy-bumbler would allow. Both Eddie and Jake were splattered with blood. That on Jake's shirt belonged to his friend Benny Slightman. That on Eddie's belonged to Margaret Eisenhart, once Margaret of Redpath, the lost granddaughter of the old patriarch. Both Eddie and Jake looked as tired as Roland felt, but he was quite sure there would be no rest for them this night. Distant, from town, came the sounds of fireworks and singing and celebration.

There was no celebration here. Benny and Margaret were dead, and Susannah was gone.

"Henchick, tell me, I beg: how long will the magic stay?"

The old man stroked his beard in a distracted fashion. "Gunslinger - Roland - I can't say. The magic of the door in that cave is beyond me. As thee must know."

"Tell me what you think. Based on what youdo know."

Eddie raised his hands. They were dirty, there was blood under the nails, and they trembled. "Tell, Henchick," he said, speaking in a voice, humble and lost, that Roland had never heard before. "Tell, I beg."

Rosalita, Pere Callahan's woman of all work, came in with a tray. There were cups on it, and a carafe of steaming coffee. She, at least, had found time to change out of her bloody, dusty jeans and shirt and into a housedress, but her eyes were still shocked. They peered from her face like small animals from their burrows. She poured the coffee and passed the cups without speaking. Nor had she gotten all the blood, Roland saw as he took one of the cups. There was a streak of it on the back of her right hand. Margaret's or Benny's? He didn't know. Or much care. The Wolves had been defeated. They might or might not come again to Calla Bryn Sturgis. That was ka's business. Theirs was Susannah Dean, who had disappeared in the aftermath, taking Black Thirteen with her.

Henchick said: "Ye ask of kaven?"

"Aye, father," Roland agreed. "The persistence of magic."

Father Callahan took a cup of coffee with a nod and a distracted smile, but no word of thanks. He had spoken little since they'd come back from the cave. In his lap was a book called'Salem's Lot, by a man of whom he had never heard. It purported to be a work of fiction, but he, Donald Callahan, was in it. He had lived in the town of which it told, had taken part in the events it recounted. He had looked on the back and on the rear flap for the author's photograph, queerly certain that he would see a version of his own face looking back at him (the way he'd looked in 1975, when these events had taken place, most likely), but there had been no picture, just a note about the book's writer that told very little. He lived in the state of Maine. He was married. He'd written one previous book, quite well reviewed, if you believed the quotations on the back.

"The greater the magic, the longer it persists," Cantab said, and then looked at Henchick questioningly.

"Aye," Henchick said. "Magic and glammer, both are one, and they do unroll from the back." He paused. "From the past, do'ee ken."

"This door opened on many places and many times in the world my friends came from," Roland said. "I would open it again, but just on the last two. The most recent two. Can that be done?"

They waited as Henchick and Cantab considered. The Manni were great travelers. If anyone knew, if anyone could do what Roland wanted - what they all wanted - it would be these folk.

Cantab leaned deferentially toward the old man, the dinh of Calla Redpath. He whispered. Henchick listened, his face expressionless, then turned Cantab's head with one gnarled old hand and whispered back.

Eddie shifted, and Roland felt him getting ready to break loose, perhaps to begin shouting. He put a restraining hand on Eddie's shoulder, and Eddie subsided. For the time being, at least.

The whispered consultation went on for perhaps five minutes while the others waited. The sounds of celebration in the distance were difficult for Roland to take; God knew how they must make Eddie feel.

At last Henchick patted Cantab's cheek with his hand and turned to Roland.

"We think this may be done," he said.

"Thank God," Eddie muttered. Then, louder: "ThankGod! Let's go up there. We can meet you on the East Road - "

Both of the bearded men were shaking their heads, Henchick with a kind of stern sorrow, Cantab with a look that was almost horror.

"We'll not go up to the Cave of the Voices in the dark," Henchick said.

"Wehave to!" Eddie burst out. "You don't understand! It's not just a question of how long the magic will or won't last, it's a question of time on the other side! It goes faster over there, and once it's gone, it's gone! Christ, Susannah could be having that baby right now, and if it's some kind of cannibal - "

"Listen to me, young fellow," Henchick said, "and hear me very well, I beg. The day is nigh gone."

This was true. Never in Roland's experience had a day run so quickly through his fingers. There had been the battle with the Wolves early, not long after dawn, then celebration there on the road for the victory and sorrow for their losses (which had been amazingly small, as things had fallen). Then had come the realization that Susannah was gone, the trek to the cave, their discoveries there. By the time they'd gotten back to the East Road battlefield, it had been past noon. Most of the townsfolk had left, bearing their saved children home in triumph. Henchick had agreed willingly enough to this palaver, but by the time they'd gotten back to the rectory, the sun had been on the wrong side of the sky.

 

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