Cold Mountain Chapter 20
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Spirits of Crows, Dancing
- Day #3 in the village. Sun comes out, and the snow starts to melt. Perky weather forecasters appear on local TV.
- Ada and Inman are in bed together that night, talking about the future.
- They know the South can't win the war, and they think it can't last past late summer.
- Inman pretty much has three choices: #1: Inman can go back to the war. The dudes need help, so they'll forgive him any wanderings in between. Great! But also send him straight back to the trenches at Petersburg, where he was wounded. Not so great.
- #2: Hide out in the mountains, with the risk of being hunted down by the Home Guard like Pangle and lots of others.
- #3: Go north and surrender individually to the Federals who will pretty much let him sit out the rest of the war so he can come home at the end. He won't be too proud of it, having fought them for four years, but they're not likely to hurt him.
- None of these options are exactly great, so they try to come up with something else.
- No luck.
- Inman can't accept going back to the war, and Ada thinks hiding out around Cold Mountain is the most dangerous, so Inman decides to head north for now.
- Ada and Inman agree to focus on the homecoming at the end of that time, not the trouble in between.
- By the fourth day in the village, the snow is melting away and small birds are appearing.
- Stobrod can sit up and talk. Yay! He's not making perfect sense, but Ruby says he doesn't even when he's well, so no one is too worried.
- The fifth day, Stobrod's even ready to travel. Everyone plans to head back to the farm.
- Inman insists that Ruby and Ada go on ahead, and he and Stobrod travel together behind. He says that will keep Ruby and Ada safe, since the Home Guard would only be interested in the men.
- As Ada leaves to go on ahead, Inman thinks that part of the richness of the world has gone with her. He also thinks about how satisfied he is now that he's found his way to her and they've agreed to a relationship.
- Inman and Stobrod are traveling along, getting on pretty well. It's not quite a buddy movie, but things are peaceful.
- Stobrod talks about Pangle as they pass his grave. It's a poignant moment.
- Then Teague turns back up with a bunch of the Home Guard and some mean-looking dogs. Talk about bad timing.
- Teague taunts Stobrod. Teague would totally be the bully on the playground.
- Always smart, Inman whispers to Stobrod to hold on.
- Then in an action-movie moment, he hits the horse on the rump to get it running and swings around shooting.
- Stobrod's away and safe before anyone has time to react.
- The shot kills one of the riders, and his horse starts to run. It trips over its dangling reins and bumps into a bunch of the other horses.
- This helps Inman.
- He takes advantage of the mess and charges, shooting. In the chaos, he's doing pretty well.
- Of course there's a movie moment with Inman and Teague grappling hand to hand, before Inman shoots him.
- Teague is dead, and Inman takes out another rider by knocking him on the head with a gun. After this, it gets even more action-movie tense.
- There's just one guy left, hiding in a stand of hickory far enough away to make a pistol shot hard.
- The last guy is dangerous, but he looks to be still a kid, and Inman doesn't want to shoot a boy.
- Inman and the boy debate for a while, every minute growing tenser. Inman wants him to throw away the gun and go home, but the boy refuses, saying Inman will shoot him anyway.
- Inman says he doesn't do that kind of thing, but he will shoot the boy if he doesn't throw down his gun, because Inman doesn't want to be worried about the boy following him and shooting out of nowhere.
- The boy says basically that's exactly what he'd do: try to shoot Inman in the back.
- Inman makes a moving plea to the boy.
- It fails.
- Inman and the boy start to move, and they have a tense scene of struggling to get a clear shot.
- The boy's horse knocks him off and runs away to be with the other horses.
- Inman and the boy stand facing each other.
- Inman tells the boy to put the gun down.
- The boy fires fast.
- Inman falls to the ground.
- Ada hears the shot and runs to Inman.
- The boy is gone by the time she gets there.
- Ada goes to hold Inman.
- He dreams of a home, a farm, and all the seasons blend together in his dream.
- The book tells us that an observer would have looked down and seen a pair of lovers in a secluded glade. Those with hopeful imaginations might imagine the possibility that they would spend long decades of happy life together.
- That's it? The book doesn't even tell us whether Inman lives or dies? Yep, that's it. Unless you read the Epilogue, that is. Actually, we can't lie. It doesn't really tell you, either. But it does sort of answer the question. It's complicated with literary fiction.
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