Cities of the Plain

Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy

Book: Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cormac McCarthy
Tags: Fiction, Sagas
time and he thought perhaps they had already been or perhaps they were
    not coming. When the little girl pushed open the door she saw him and looked up at her
     father but she said nothing. They took a table near the door and the waiter came and
     poured a glass of wine.
    He rose and crossed the room and stood at their table. Maestro, he said.
    The blind man turned his face up and smiled at the space alongside John Grady. As if some
     unseen double stood there.
    Buenas noches, he said.
    C—mo esti?
    Ali, said the blind man. My young friend.
    Please. You must join us. Sit down.
    Thank you.
    He sat. He looked at the girl. The blind man hissed at the
    waiter and the waiter came over.
    QuŽ toma? said the maestro.
    Nothing. Thank you.
    Please. I insist.
    I cant stay.
    Traiga un vino para mi amigo.
    The waiter nodded and moved away. John Grady thumbed back his hat and leaned forward with
     his elbows on the table. What is this place? he said.
    The Moderno? It is a place where the musicians come. It is a very old place. It has always
     been here. You must come on Saturday. Many old people come. You will see them. They come
     to dance. Very old people dancing. Here. In this place. The Moderno.
    Are they going to play again?
    Yes, yes. Of course. It is early. They are my friends.
    Do they play every night?
    Yes. Every night. They will play soon now. You will see.
    Good as the maestro's word the violinists began to tune their instruments in the inner
     room. The cellist leaned listening with his head inclined and drew his bow across the
     strings. A couple who had been sitting at a table against the far wall rose and stood in
     the archway holding hands and then sallied forth onto the concrete floor as the musicians
     struck up an antique waltz. The maestro leaned forward to hear. Are they dancing? he said.
     Are any dancing now?
    The little girl looked at John Grady. Yes, John Grady said. They're dancing.
    The old man leaned back, he nodded. Good, he said. That is good.
    THEY SAT AGAINST a rock bluff high in the Franklins with a fire before them that heeled in
     the wind and their figures cast up upon the rocks behind them enshadowed the petroglyphs
     carved there by other hunters a thousand years before. They could hear the dogs running
     far below them. Their cries trailed off down the side of the mountain and sounded again
     more faintly and then faded away where they coursed out along some rocky draw in the dark.
     To the south the distant lights of the city lay strewn across the desert floor like a
     tiara laid out upon a jeweler's blackcloth. Archer had stood and turned toward the running
     dogs the better to listen and after a while he squatted again and spat into the fire.
    She aint goin to tree, he said.
    I dont believe she will either, said Travis.
    How do you know it's the same lion? said JC.
    Travis had taken his tobacco from his pocket and he smoothed and cupped a paper with his
     fingers. She's done us thisaway before, he said. She'll run plumb out of the country.
    They sat listening. The cries grew faint and after a while there were no more. Billy had
     gone off up the side of the mountain to look for wood and he came back dragging a dead
     cedar stump. He picked it up and dropped it on top of the fire. A shower of sparks rose
     and drifted down the night. The stump sat all black and twisted over the small flames.
     Like some amorphous thing come in out of the night to warm itself among them.
    Couldnt you find a bigger chunk of wood, Parham?
    It'll take here in a minute.
    Parham's put the fire plumb out, said JC.
    The darkest hour is just before the storm, said Billy. It'll take here in a minute.
    I hear em, Travis said.
    I do too.
    She's crossed at the head of that big draw where the road cuts back.
    We wont get that Lucy dog back tonight.
    What dog is that?
    Bitch out of that Aldridge line. Them dogs was bred by the Lee Brothers. They just forgot
     to build in the quit.
    Best dog we ever

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