Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stroke of Midnight chapter 10, Elsie chapter 7-8

So after bonding with a long lost relative over wanton violence, Rhys's sword starts ringing.

Like a phone. His sword is a phone.

A HIGH, RINGING SOUND CAME. WE ALL LOOKED AROUND THE room, but there was nothing to account for the sound. It came again. It was as if the finest crystal goblet were being struck with metal, so that it made that high, ringing, bell- like tone only the best crystal makes. Rhys was unsheathing his short sword. “I left Crystall in charge outside with the police.” He held the naked blade up before his face. “You rang?”
It turns out that the cops are having--what else?--a gigantic pissing contest about who is in charge of the crime scene. Because expecting people to be professional is apparently too much fucking work.

“Everything,” Crystall said. “They seem to have no clear hierarchy. It is like a game of too many princes.”
You know, if anybody ever says that LKH likes cops, I'm going to point them at this passage. Anyhoo, Rhys heads off to talk to the cops. Not three seconds later, Merry sees something moving behind a curtain. Apparently nobody searched the kitchen for live bodies.

Merry tips Doyle off and he makes a big deal of questioning Onilwyn, while keeping his eye on the magic curtain.

I am now praying that this random person will be neither the killer nor a sudden witness that can resolve the plot with one conversation, but I ain't holding out too much hope.

Galen finds two fairies hiding in an unrelated part of the kitchen. They were hiding from Maggie.  We spend a few paragraphs sexualizing the fairies because of course we do. We waste a few more paragraphs trying to get the fairies out of the cabinet. They're scared of the guards, and the guards have to be scary because we don't know if they're the killers or not. Meanwhile there's still something hiding in the curtain under the fucking sink.

And then the guards step in front of Merry and shit happens. Let me repeat this: random characters step in front of the viewpoint character in a first person narration so that she can't see the action. It turns out to be a non-event. It's a hob named Harry, who was romantic with the murdered Fae woman and figures Onilwyn did it. Only he didn't see a thing, so it's a moot point.

It also takes about three pages for him to say "No, I didn't see anything."

They ask Onilwyn why he came down to the kitchen. Apparently he didn't want to watch Merry have sex and came down to poke around the crime scene.

That sounds perfectly sane and reasonable.

Everyone acts like he just admitted to flossing his teeth with the dead fairy's intestine. 

“You didn’t hit him hard enough, Merry,” Galen said, and my gentle knight had a decidedly ungentle look on his face.
They all figure that the dead woman, Beatrice, had a sidhe lover who was also a guard and thus risking death to sleep with her. Everyone asks who would risk death for anything less than sidhe flesh. She's also doing Harry. So it's your standard love triangle with the predictable result. Onilwyn insists he came back to investigate the crime scene because it'll earn favor with Merry and boost his chances of sleeping with her. Because it's all about Merry.

The chapter ends with Doyle wondering what stinks.

I think it's this book.

Meanwhile, over in Elsie...

Elsie is severely depressed, and hasn't gotten good grades this month. Yep, it's time for Daddie Dearest to pile it on some more.

The book also goes out of its way to make it clear that everybody hates Elsie. Mrs. Day is very satisfied that she can finally give Elsie a bad report, everyone else is relatively gleeful--it's to the point of cartoon villainy now.

He demands that Elsie explain why her studies have slumped. Elsie doesn't know, because she's fucking eight, and is so depressed she can barely function. Horace continues to scream at her.

"You don't know? Very well, then, I think you could not be very ill without knowing it, and so you seem to have no excuse at all to offer? However, I will not inflict any punishment upon you this time, as you seem to be really sorry, and have promised to do better; but beware how you let me see such a report as this, or hear such complaints of idleness again, unless you wish to be severely punished; and I warn you that unless your next copy-book presents a better appearance than this, I certainly shall punish you.
He tells her that her next set of lessons had better be done perfectly. Then he demands that she leave.

Her biggest worry is that Arthur will keep bullying her when her back is turned, to the point of making her mess up on purpose.

Adelaide writes a letter to Rose Allison, the nice Christian lady from the beginning of the book. Elsie tells Adelaide everything that's happening, hoping that she'll write to Rose. Instead, Adelaide decides to spend her afternoons in the school room so that Arthur can't do anything to Elsie.

Elsie then knits a purse for Horace and sneaks into his room to give it to him. He catches her and shouts at her. She gives him the purse. He asks her why she's so afraid of him, and she falls over sobbing and begs him to love her. He says that he does--and that if she loves him she'll stop being afraid of him.

She's afraid of you because you keep treating her like crap, you dumb shit.

Near the end of the month, Mrs. Day sabotages all of Elsie's lessons on purpose. Elsie speaks up for herself. Mrs. Day takes her up to Horace, who threatens to spank her, and then decides that she'll sit in his office all day and have only bread and water for dinner. She isn't very hungry, so Horace stands over her and demands that she eat.

When he leaves, he runs into Adelaide, who tells him that Mrs. Day is abusing his daughter. Horace insists that can't be true, and that if it is it's Elsie's fault for not speaking up in her own defense. He makes her sit in the office all day and finally sends her back to her room. End of chapter.

Next chapter, it's report day. Elsie has one bad mark, due to Mrs. Day's preformance, and an absolutely perfect copybook. Perfect handwriting, no ink blots. She's very proud, so she puts it in her desk and leaves the room.

Arthur goes in the room, figures he can get back at Elsie for the episode with his grandfather's watch, and fucks up her copybook on purpose. So when she gets sent up to Horace, he says he'll have to punish her for the bad work. She insists that she didn't do it, her book was perfect, but OF COURSE Horace doesn't believe her. He drags her out of the room, promising to punish her for the mistakes in her schoolwork AND for lying.

Lora proves that the entire family is aware of how shitty Horace is and demands that Arthur tell his brother the truth. Arthur refuses to do so. She decides to run up and tell Horace anyway, and then this happens:

She was just in time; he had a small riding whip in his hand, and Elsie stood beside him pale as death, too much frightened even to cry, and trembling so that she could scarcely stand.

Horace is about to horse whip his daughter. HORSE WHIP.

Lora points out the obvious:

1. Elsie never, ever, ever lies.
2. She saw Elsie's work the day before and she KNOWS that it's perfect
3. Arthur hates Elsie's guts and has been gunning for her ever since the watch episode.

Horace decides there might maybe be something to this and puts the whip away. Then he bullies Elsie into telling him what really happened between herself and Mrs. Day. She doesn't want to, but eventually complies.

"Elsie," he said when she had done, "if I had known all this at the time, I should not have punished you at all. Why did you not tell me, my daughter, how you have been ill treated and provoked?"

BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T TRUST YOU NUMBNUTS. And she did tell you and you did not believe her. You didn't believe her two minutes ago with her copybook, you didn't believe her with the episode with the candy, you've been needlessly cruel with no reason and not ten seconds ago you were about to HORSE WHIP HER.

Then we spend a few minutes of Horace fondling Elsie while thinking about how much she looks like his dead wife.

Elsie admits that she hopes to see her mother in heaven, and that she loves Jesus more than she loves Horace. Horace is taken aback by this. He then manipulates an incredibly half-assed accusation out of Elsie, confirming that Arthur was being a little shit and fucked with her book. He sends her to dinner and then hunts down Arthur.

And while the most obvious solution to Elsie's woes is clear

Horace just goes to talk to his brother..

"You'll get no dinner to-day, I can tell you," replied his brother. "I am going to lock you into your bedroom, and keep you there until your father comes home; and then if he doesn't give you the flogging you deserve, I will; for I intend you shall have your deserts for once in your life.
Yep. That's Horace. Violence and food deprivation. And satisfying as it is to watch Arthur get the snot beat out of him, it's no cooler to beat him than Elsie. All you do when you hit a kid is teach them that adults can hurt. It doesn't actually instil any real values in the kid.

The chapter ends with Arthur getting horse-whipped instead of Elsie.

I hate everything about this book.


No comments:

Post a Comment