(Coup d'état; E to Z; Goodparley and Granser; flash and bang)
Walking with the dog pack back to the Fork Stoan outpost, Riddley finds Goodparley being deposed and maimed by a new coalition of Orfing and the Eusa folk. The ex-Pry Mincer is sent off with Riddley and they return to the alders, where Granser is reunited with his former servant. Goodparley discovers, a bit late, that the secret of the "1 Littl 1" has been passed down by the charcoal burners; using Riddley's bag of sulfur, they finally recreate the formula, with fatal results. Riddley ends up alone and back on the road to Cambry.
"the Ardships no eyes face staring like a blyn owl"
Hoban's interest in Middle Eastern mysticismand the many mentions of shadows in this scenemake this possibly a reference to The Blind Owl by Sadeq Hedayat (1938). This famous work of modern Iranian fiction is a hallucinatory and violent allegory of spiritual conflict. At a pivotal moment just before a murder, Hedayat's narrator says this: "I was talking to myself with immobile lips and with an inaudible voice .... In front of the smoking tallow burner, my shadow ... was mutely cast on the wall. My shadow was more profound and exact than my real being .... At this moment I resembled an owl. .... Perhaps the owl, too, is sick and because of the sickness it thinks as I do."
"theres hoap of a tree if its cut down yet itwl sprout agen ... Tho the root of it works old in the earf and the stick of it dead on the groun yet even jus only the smel of water and itwl bud and bring forit bowing like the plan"
This is the most direct Biblical quotation in the novel, from Job 14:7-9. [BJB]
"the arper sitting in the Mincery ... it ben past down 1 shadder mincer to the nex"
Arper sitting: Opposition. Shadder mincer: Shadow minister.
A shadow minister does not make government policy but argues against it. [SW] In England's current parliamentary system, the party that holds a majority in Parliament appoints the Cabinet ministers. The second largest party in Parliament, the opposition, maintains a corresponding Shadow Cabinet whose role is mainly symbolic. For instance, the shadow minister for health is the person who presumably would be in charge of the Department of Health if the opposition party were in power, and offers public criticism of the ruling party's health policy.
The role of the Wes Mincer or shadder mincer seems slightly different: he appears to be second in command to the Pry Mincer, but in this context the role seems to be almost a separate branch of government with separate and secret traditions. The idea of an unbroken line of shadder mincers supports [BW]'s view that the roles of the Big 2 are not only political but mythological, so that the Wes Mincer stands in for the ultimate "opposition": night and death (see Diana and Aunty).
"In my head I wer singing .... hard as I cud hoaping he wunt lissen nothing only that"
Catchy songs as a defense against mind-reading are a staple of science fiction, dating back to Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man.
"Mort your clof with Saul & Peter (Dy it red)"
A mordant is a substance used by dyers to fix a color in a fiber. The word comes from the French word mordre, meaning "to bite"; many mordants are acidic or alkaline, and have a sharp taste or smell. They work by making it chemically possible for the dye's molecules to bond directly with those of the fiber. The red dye might be the natural dye that can be made from the root of the madder plant. [BJB]
The mordant being used here, saltpeter or potassium nitrate, is a white crystalline salt that can be mined from the ground or processed from manure. Like Goodparley's earlier analysis of St. Eustace, the names Saul & Peter refer to religious stories that dovetail with the action of the novel: Saul was a ruthless government official who, after being struck and temporarily blinded by a divine light, gave up his name to become the Apostle Paul; Peter, first among Jesus' twelve disciples, was named after stone.
"The 3 of the 1 Littl 1 is yellerboy stoan and Saul & Peter and chard coal"
Besides the family trios already mentioned (Eusa and his sons, Punch and Pooty and the baby), and the Christian trinity which is not mentioned, Hoban finally names the physical ingredients of power that have just been rediscovered: sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal, in other words gunpowder.
"I aint saying them words wylst youre lissening thems the fissional seakerts of the act"
A pun between nuclear fission and the Official Secrets Act, the British law against disclosing classified information.
"What can I do then aswl be my oan doing?"
Riddley returns to the theme of fate and the "other thing whats looking out thru your eye hoals" (6:11).