By Franny Billingsley
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To dwell in a pristine land . . . roam the desolate tract . . . construct a house. . . . hundreds of thousands have had such desires, yet Richard Proenneke lived them. here's a tribute to a guy who carved his masterpiece out of the past.
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Red and yellow checks swam into the window glass, and I knew without turning that it was Eldric who’d entered. There was no mistaking that university waistcoat. “I like iced buns,” said Rose, her voice deadened by the cupboard—not that her real voice has ever been what you might call lively. ” said Eldric. ” Rose would never come out of the cupboard now, not with Eldric in the kitchen. I was trapped in the Parsonage. I turned away from the reflected waistcoat to a flesh-and-blood Eldric, who quite filled up the doorway.
Sweaty jerseys? Eldric turned on his high-tension muscles to the window, which overlooked the swamp. ” I used to visit the swamp every day. I used to imagine myself into a wolfgirl and prowl and lope and sniff and howl. ” I knew exactly how long: three years come September. ” I remembered that September day with terrible clarity. It was the day Stepmother told me I’m a witch. I’m still astonished she had to tell me. How could I not have known? Or at least guessed? I had, after all, left a trail of destruction behind me, wide as a football field.
Let Rose cough herself to death. Why waste money on the doctor? There is, after all, no cure for the swamp cough. The Shire horses came to a stop, steam puffing from their great pink nostrils. The barge had arrived. I looked for Mr. Clayborne’s son among the passengers. I hoped he wouldn’t be one of those grubby stone-throwing boys. But they all are, aren’t they? I base my knowledge of boys on Tiddy Rex, nine years old, with the requisite grubby hands, but not altogether a bad sort. At least I needn’t talk to Eldric.