Home > Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6)(5)

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6)(5)
Author: Stephen King

On his shell he holds the earth,

His thought is slow but always kind;

He holds us all within his mind."

At this point, Rosalita took up the verse

"On his back the truth is carried,

And there are love and duty married.

He loves the earth and loves the sea,

And even loves a child like me."

"Not quite the way I learned it in my cradle and taught it to my friends," Roland said, "but close enough, by watch and by warrant."

"The Great Turtle's name is Maturin," Jake said, and shrugged. "If it matters."

"You have no way of telling which one broke?" Callahan said, studying Roland closely.

Roland shook his head. "All I know is that Jake's right - it wasn't ours. If it had been, nothing within a hundred miles of Calla Bryn Sturgis would be standing." Or maybe within a thousand miles - who could know? "The very birds would have fallen flaming from the sky."

"You speak of Armageddon," Callahan said in a low, troubled voice.

Roland shook his head, but not in disagreement. "I don't know that word, Pere, but I'm speaking of great death and great destruction, sure. And somewhere - along the Beam connecting Fish to Rat, perhaps - that has now happened."

"Are you positive this is true?" Rosa asked, low.

Roland nodded. He had been through this once before, when Gilead fell and civilization as he then understood it had ended. When he had been cast loose to wander with Cuthbert and Alain and Jamie and the few others of their ka-tet. One of the six Beams had broken then, and almost certainly not the first.

"How many Beams remain to hold the Tower?" Callahan asked.

For the first time, Eddie seemed interested in something other than the fate of his lost wife. He was looking at Roland with what was almost attention. And why not? This was, after all, the crucial question.All things serve the Beam, they said, and although the actual truth was that all things served the Tower, it was the Beams which held the Tower up. If they snapped -

"Two," Roland said. "There have to be at least two, I'd say. The one running through Calla Bryn Sturgis and another. But God knows how long they'll hold. Even without the Breakers working on them, I doubt they'd hold for long. We have to hurry."

Eddie had stiffened. "If you're suggesting we go on without Suze - "

Roland shook his head impatiently, as if to tell Eddie not to be a fool. "We can't win through to the Tower without her. For all I know, we can't win through without Mia's chap. It's in the hands of ka, and there used to be a saying in my country: 'Ka has no heart or mind.' "

"That one I can agree with," Eddie said.

"We might have another problem," Jake said.

Eddie frowned at him. "We don'tneed another problem."

"I know, but...what if the earthquake blocked the mouth of that cave? Or..." Jake hesitated, then reluctantly brought out what he was really afraid of. "Or knocked it down completely?"

Eddie reached out, took hold of Jake's shirt, and bundled it into his fist. "Don't say that. Don't you eventhink that."

Now they could hear voices from town. Thefolken would be gathering on the common again, Roland guessed. He further guessed that this day - and now this night - would be remembered in Calla Bryn Sturgis for a thousand years. If the Tower stood, that was.

Eddie let go of Jake's shirt and then pawed at the place he had grabbed, as if to erase the wrinkles. He tried a smile that made him look feeble and old.

Roland turned to Callahan. "Will the Manni still turn up tomorrow? You know this bunch better than I."

Callahan shrugged. "Henchick's a man of his word. Whether he can hold the others to his word after what just happened...that, Roland, I don't know."

"He better be able to," Eddie said darkly. "He just better be."

Roland of Gilead said, "Who's for Watch Me?"

Eddie looked at him, unbelieving.

"We're going to be up until morning light," the gunslinger said. "We might as well pass the time."

So they played Watch Me, and Rosalita won hand after hand, adding up their scores on a piece of slate with no smile of triumph - with no expression at all that Jake could read. At least not at first. He was tempted to try the touch, but had decided that to use it for any but the strongest reasons was wrong. Using it to see behind Rosa's poker face would be like watching her undress. Or watching her and Roland make love.

Yet as the game went on and the northeast finally began to grow lighter, Jake guessed he knew what she was thinking of after all, because it was whathe was thinking of. On some level of their minds, all of them would be thinking of those last two Beams, from now until the end.

Waiting for one or both of them to snap. Whether it was them trailing Susannah or Rosa cooking her dinner or even Ben Slightman, mourning his dead son out there on Vaughn Eisenhart's ranch, all of them would now be thinking of the same thing: only two left, and the Breakers working against them night and day, eating into them,killing them.

How long before everything ended? Andhow would it end? Would they hear the vast rumble of those enormous slate-colored stones as they fell? Would the sky tear open like a flimsy piece of cloth, spilling out the monstrosities that lived in the todash darkness? Would there be time to cry out? Would there be an afterlife, or would even Heaven and Hell be obliterated by the fall of the Dark Tower?

He looked at Roland and sent a thought, as clearly as he could:Roland, help us.

And one came back, filling his mind with cold comfort (ah, but comfort served cold was better than no comfort at all):If I can.

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