Study Guide

Nation Chapter 10

By Terry Pratchett

Chapter 10

Believing is Seeing

  • Into the cave of the Grandfathers we go.
  • The dark cave, lit only by hand-held lamplight.
  • The scary cave.
  • Mau comforts Daphne (and us) by saying "there would probably be bones […] Bones didn't try to kill you" (10.1). Um, try telling that to special effects guru Ray Harryhausen.
  • Inside the cave is a row of sitting skeletons. It's the Grandfathers. Dead, honored warriors. Thousands of them.
  • Despite the fact that they're literally surrounded by creepy skeletons, Mau, Daphne, and Ataba travel deeper and deeper into the cave.
  • Mau and Ataba bicker about the gods (or lack of them) the entire way.
  • If we were in Daphne's shoes (she's not wearing shoes anymore, but you know what we mean), we would roll back the stone and leave them in there.
  • At the end of the tunnel, they find a giant golden door. Their multicolored lamplight flickers off it, "red, yellow, and green" (10.67) like a traffic light. Should they stop or should they go?
  • Duh. They go, opening the door and descending into the sea cave behind it. The steps are god stones that lead them to a giant statue of the gods.
  • Daphne sees something incredible, but Mau and Ataba are too busy arguing to notice.
  • Being underground for so long is affecting Ataba's breathing, so Mau urges Daphne to leave, even though she's trying to show them what she sees.
  • Mau's shout to leave causes one of the Grandfathers to fall over, then another, then another, "like a trick with dominoes" (10.128). We've heard of dominoes being called bones, but never knew it could be literal. It's like this, except with skeletons.
  • The centuries-old skeletons crumble into dust, a choking cloud that chases the three out of the cave.
  • After a long run, they reach outside, and fresh air. The cloud of dead Grandfathers escapes into the air.
  • As their eyes adjust to the bright light, a foreign voice speaks to them: the voice of Mr. Foxlip, one of the mutineers from the Sweet Judy.
  • He and his buddy, Mr. Polegrave, have arrived on the island, and oh boy do they look like trouble.
  • Daphne thinks fast, trying to save herself and the island people. She tells them that her father will pay them if they bring her safely to Port Mercia.
  • It almost works, until Ataba charges at them, railing about the gods in his native tongue.
  • Ataba grabs a spear and brandishes it at Foxlip, who shoots him dead.
  • Well, gee. We didn't exactly like him, but still: not cool, Foxlip.