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Cold Mountain

Charles Frazier

exile and brute wandering

like any other thing, a gift; ashes of roses

exile and brute wandering, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Inman continues his journey. He asks a woman sitting on a porch in the fork of a road for directions to Salisbury. He steals lunch from a laundrywoman but leaves some money behind. Inman meets the preacher, who reveals his name to be Solomon Veasey, striding along the road. The preacher thanks Inman for saving him from sin, stating that he was thrown out of the community on account of his crimes. Veasey tells Inman of his plan to claim land in Texas and start up a cattle ranch. The two walk on together, although Inman does not want the preacher to accompany him. Veasey explains that he stole his revolver from an elderly neighbor.

The two pilgrims find an abandoned house where Inman forages for honey. They talk about sating their hunger, finding contentment, and God before they leave and follow the course of a stream. Veasey spies a catfish and insists on killing it. After Veasey dams the stream and unsuccessfully wrestles with the catfish, Inman shoots it in the head. The men camp for the evening and eat the fish. Veasey tries to draw out Inman’s story, so Inman tells Veasey about a “blowup” at Petersburg. The Federals had successfully exploded a trench but were so shocked at what they had done that they found themselves routed by Inman’s regiment.

It rains hard the next day. Inman and Veasey go into a store to buy supplies, but Veasey pulls his gun on the shopkeeper. Inman hits Veasey over the head and takes his pistol, and the men leave. A slave woman directs them to an inn where they can lodge for the night. A big “black whore” appears and identifies herself as Big Tildy. Veasey begins a quarrel with a customer over the whore. Inman and Big Tildy intervene to prevent him from getting shot. Veasey leaves to spend the night with Big Tildy, and Inman pays for dinner and a bed. He finds he is sharing the loft with a peddler called Odell. The man shares a flask of liquor with Inman and explains that he is heir to a plantation in Georgia.

Odell relates the unhappy story of how he fell in love with a slave, Lucinda, whom he wished to wed even though he was already married. Odell’s father rented Lucinda to a farm when he confessed that he was in love with her. Nevertheless, Odell and Lucinda began an affair. When he discovered she was pregnant, Odell offered to buy the slave from his father, who asks cruelly whether he is buying her for the “fieldwork or the pussy.” Odell punched him, and his father sent Lucinda to Mississippi. Odell was devastated and left home forever to look for the girl. He became a peddler in order to earn money to continue his search.

Odell and Inman drink more liquor. Odell describes some of the things he has seen on his travels, including a woman locked in a cage getting eaten alive by buzzards. After Odell determined that she wasn’t Lucinda, the woman died on the ground in front of him.

The next morning Inman leaves the inn and meets Veasey. The preacher has a cut under his eye from Big Tildy but insists that the night has been worth it. He admits to being “stunned” by the sight of the naked prostitute.

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