Study Guide

Midwinterblood Part 7, Chapter 4

By Marcus Sedgwick

Part 7, Chapter 4

Evocation of the Ancestors

  • After Eirikr dies, Melle disappears. No one knows where she has gone.
  • Of course, they don't much care—while everyone is glad for the king's sacrifice, two less mouths to feed really helped things out.
  • But when spring swings back around, the people see that Eirikr's sacrifice has worked: The crops come back, fruit grows on the trees, and life flourishes again.
  • Once they're out of danger the people start to wonder about Melle—where exactly did she go? How is she surviving by herself? She's probably dead, right?
  • Then, one day, about seven years after Eirikr's death, Melle walks back into the village.
  • At first people think she's a ghost, but then they realize she's a real lady. She doesn't look any older, but she is a little worn out and thin. When the villagers ask her questions, she won't answer—in fact, she won't speak to anyone.
  • So they set her up in a little house at the edge of town, and they give her food and clothes, but no one can get a word out of her. She just stares off into space like she's seeing something that no one else can see.
  • In the summers, Melle heads over to the western side of the island and brings back whole bunches of dragon orchids.
  • This really freaks people out. Since Eirikr's death, the people started to notice that anyone who drank from the dragon orchid ended up not being able to have kids. Even Thorolf cuts way back.
  • Years pass and the people on the island grow older and die.
  • Gunnar dies during a raid and the people are pretty sad because he had turned out to be an okay king after all—he had really changed after ritually murdering the previous king. And he had brought new religion to the island. He had found a new god, one who didn't require sacrifices. Lucky break for the new king.
  • Thorolf dies, too, but of old age.
  • But Melle keeps on going. Even when she is super old and crippled, she walks to the western side of the island and picks dragon orchids, stopping by the stone table, though the Temple had been torn down since.
  • One day, when Melle knows she is about to die, she pays one last visit to the stone table. She lays down on it and sees the face of her king and love.
  • Then, as she shuts her eyes and takes her last breaths, she finally answers his question. "Yes," she tells him, "I will follow you."
  • And so begins their journey.

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