However, we have to derail our movement towards plot so that somebody can try to kill Merry with cold feelings.
I focused on the fight to lift one foot, then the next, and struggle through drifts that the taller sidhe walked through effortlessly . It was undignified for a princess to fall on her face , but it took effort to keep from doing it. I suppose that struggling through the snow wasn’t exactly dignified either, but that I could do nothing about.PLOT. PLOT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL. STOP DERAILING AND GO TOWARDS PLOT.
So they find a spell that makes people cold, and it's hurting Biddy more than Merry because Biddy is half human and Merry is only a fourth human. Which makes very little sense given how much people hate Merry for being mortal, but I guess we have to give Merry somebody to rescue again.
And oh, goody, it's contageous so if they go anywhere near the police it'll start to kill them. NO. LET'S NOT DO PLOT. I DON'T SEE ANY REASON WHY WE SHOULD FOLLOW THE VERY INTERESTING PLOT WE"VE BEEN PROMISED SINCE THE BEGINNING.
So now the men fight among themselves because some of them are Cel's men. I don't care. Plot. Plot is over there. You're almost there.
Seriously. I've never read any author this allergic to following through on plot plans.
Doyle burns the spell away. It's a non-issue. He decides to chase the spell on Biddy back to whoever casts it, so him and a couple random guards decide to follow it.
Rhys makes a dumb joke comparing badges to balls. It's not that clever. The chapter ends.
Meanwhile, over in Elsie...
This is not the most fucked up chapter in the series. This is not even one of the top five most fucked up things in the series. But guys? This chapter is disturbing.
It's Sunday and Horace has friends over. One of them looks for Elsie.
"Yes, Miss Adelaide; I was looking for little Miss Elsie. Travilla has given me so very glowing an account of her precocious musical talent, that I have conceived a great desire to hear her play and sing."
Mrs. Dinsmore, ever the shit-stirrer, decides to stir the shit.
"No, she will not," persisted Mrs. Dinsmore, in the same cold, quiet tone; "she will tell you she is wiser than her father, and that it would be a sin to obey him in this. Believe me, she will most assuredly defy your authority; so you had better take my advice and let her alone—thus sparing yourself the mortification of exhibiting before your guests your inability to govern your child."Horace sends for her anyway.
"Thank you," he said, haughtily, "but I prefer convincing you that that inability lies wholly in your own imagination; and I am quite at a loss to understand upon what you found your opinion, as Elsie has never yet made the very slightest resistance to my authority."
He then remembers too late that Elsie doesn't like doing things on Sunday, but he thinks "Well, we were going to have that confrontation anyway." and sets himself up to make Elsie do what he tells her.
So before she even gets in the room, Elsie has been set up to fail. And yes, indeed, she says that it wouldn't be right to sing or play the song he wants on the Sabbath. He starts pushing her. The other guests start getting uncomfortable and try to laugh it off and let the kid off the hook--because, you know, they're decent human beings--and Horace ignores them. It's got nothing to do with right or wrong here. It's about Horace getting what Horace wants out of a little kid.
She begins to cry. He tells her that she's going to sit at the piano until she obeys. She accepts this. That she's going to sit there until the next day, when it'll be okay for her to play the song. That this is the way her life is. To be an obediant, good little girl, she has to submit to this.
We get several paragraphs of how torturous and horrible it is for a little kid to be made to sit on a chair for a while, and we are expected to believe that it really is that horrible. Then Edward Travilla, who is a Christian and one of the good guys, tries to suggest that she just comply and get it over with. Elsie replies.
"O Mr. Travilla!" she said, looking up at him in great surprise, "surely you know that there is no such thing as a little sin; and don't you remember about the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath day?"
Yeah, he got stoned to death. However, in the New Testament, there's a story where Jesus and his deciples thresh wheat by hand so they can eat something, get thumped for it by the Pharasees, and Jesus thumps back. Every single thing here is completely unnecessary, this is a theological point that got resolved an incredibly long time ago, and I have no idea why Martha Finley thought it was a good idea to frame it as an issue between an eight year old and her abusive asshole of a father.
"Never, Travilla," he answered, with stern decision. "This is the first time she has rebelled against my authority, and if I let her conquer now, she will think she is always to have her own way. No; cost what it may, I must subdue her; she will have to learn that my will is law."
And why the fuck do these people keep framing child discipline as something akin to horse breaking? Even horse trainers agree that breaking the animal's spirit is a bad move, and children are not animals.
Travilla tries to get Adelaide to intervene. Adelaide points out that there's nothing anybody can do about it, Horace won't change his mind.
Elsie sits there at the piano until she fucking passes out from the stress.
Guys, if Elsie passes out because she had to sit in a chair, there's medical issues involved. And what the fuck kind of message is this? If you have a religious conflict between yourself and your parents, the only way to resolve it is to resist until you put yourself in physical danger? How does the bible study address this chapter? At what point does a parent read this and go "Yes, let's absolutely expose our kids to this notion."
Horace is...immediately and oddly repentant.
STOP. A bump on the head with extended unconsciousness is BAD. This is an active emergancy in a time when "Doctor" means "bleed patient."
It was some time ere consciousness returned,
"Never mind, daughter," he said, "you have been ill; but you are better now, so don't think any more about it."
DON'T THINK ABOUT...dude. On YOUR ORDERS, she sat on a chair until she fucking fainted, hit her head, and stayed unconsious for a WHILE. This is DIRECTLY YOUR FAULT and you are telling YOUR VICTIM to forget what YOU DID.
Horace, probably realizing that he's gone too far, the way abusers usually do, takes Elsie upstairs and puts her to bed. He even lets her say her prayers first!
The next day he tells her she nearly died. Which...yeah, she nearly did. Elsie asks him if he would be so sorry.
Horace says of course he'd be upset.
"Sorry, darling! do you not know that you are more precious to me than all my wealth, all my friends and relatives put together? Yes, I would rather part with everything else than lose this one little girl," he said, kissing her again and again.
This is what abusers do when they realize they've gone too far. They act very, very, very sorry. In part because they do know they fucked up, and in part because they don't want their victims to get away. Horace does not realize that he has actually done anything wrong. And note how he values Elsie: She's a thing to value. Not another person that he may or may not get to agree with.
And now it's time for RELIGIOUS MASTURBATION.
"Because, Mr. Travilla, the Bible says, 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha,' accursed from God. Oh! sir, think how dreadful! You cannot be saved unless you love Jesus, and believe on Him. 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' That is what God says in his word."
Look, I share these beliefs and even I agree that putting responsibility for an adult's spiritual wellbeing is a little much for a fucking eight year old.
This also gets very, VERY creepy in light of Elsie's relationship with Travilla later on in the series.
So Elsie sings her song now that it's not Sunday anymore, and everybody thinks she's very special. End of chapter.