We have here a big long description of Daffak walking up through the few outbuildings, past the bath house and to the men’s house. it’s meant to show his reluctance to do what he has to do and his leave taking of all the things that he is familiar with he remembers how young he was when he decided to go up the valley and work there he remembers herding goats and learning the rocks and sneaking out into the edges of things
he talks about the warmth of the valley, where it is located and where it ends we see a metaphor for leaving the familiar and welcoming
he waits at the entrance to the men’s house. finally someone comes out and he looks pointedly at the ground, holding the cub, which is trying to chew on his fingers he gets a gruff what do you want in a language that he’s pretty sure his sister’s don’t know, but that he’s proud to have learned to speak correctly
he says that he needs to talk to the ship chief – which will be a foreign sounding word – I’ll work on it – that he has a father line question, because he has been raised by women. he knows it’s the right thing to say – that the ship’s ruler is held to be a father by all in his ship – he’s got the cultural spin correct
the message goes in, but not quickly. that wouldn’t do it would give the message too much importance the man has to take a stretch and a casual leak against the wall by the side of the door before wandering back in, scratching his butt ostentatiously.
the chief also does not hurry out. partly this gives the message a chance to spread, in case any of the men want to be present. Daffak is interpreting the action for us and we’re going to have to guess that he’s accurate maybe he can predict about when various people will wander outside and what they will scratch
he has to keep his eyes down, because he’s one of the women, until the chief says his name after that he will look the chief straight in the eye to show that he’s not afraid and that he knows he’ll be a man someday, that he has the right to ask what the right thing to do is, if it involves his place among men
then the chief comes over and pisses in the exact same spot as the other man there is chuckling, but it’s in the back. Daffak can tell from the body language that the men see this as important. that they’re looking forward to doing man things right
the chief steps up and says his name – he lifts his face and looks the man in the eyes. it’s more exciting than he thought – a little scary, thinking of the importance of the thing and being looked at. he’s glad he has a good story, even if it’s a lie. he’s glad he knows that the men will approve, even if it was his stupid sister that told him it would be
He holds up the cub and says honored sir, I’ve had a dream. He talks of seeing a man in a dream who told him that he was his grandfather. He followed the man and with each step the man became older. The man didn’t hold a sword or spear, but had a long knife in his belt and bracelets on his arms. He got older and older. His hair turned white and grew long. His fingernails thickened and his back humped. He lost his teeth, but kept walking strongly. Then he stopped.
Daffak looked around and saw that the men were listening closely to his story. This was clearly something important to them. Daffak said that he tried to catch up to the old man, but he could not run and however fast he walked, the old man was still many steps away. Finally, Daffak tired and stopped. The man pointed at his feet and said sacrifice, then disappeared. Daffak walked up to the place where the man had been and there in the snow was a wolf cub.
“Then I woke, sir. And later that day, while I was climbing in the rocks, I heard a whimpering and followed it and found this. It’s a girl cub and may not be fitting for a sacrifice. I come to ask you what to do, with this dream and this cub.
with dreams, a man must follow his heart – what does your heart tell you to do
my heart tells me to walk out of the valley – to go north and east, then south and west. My heart tells me that I will find my grandfather, who has been looking for – and here he almost makes the mistake of saying my mother, but that would take it out of the strict father line – he almost looks down, not out of fear, but because it’s a habit and when he gets distracted the habit starts to assert itself
looking for his kin. here he looks over and sees his father. his father has a hand on the shoulder of his oldest son. the son’s face is livid with hate and his father is warning him to hold back. for a moment Daffak touches eyes with his father and his father beams with pride. he knows that the connection between them is being denied and he knows why. he approves. he is grateful for the help of an understanding son. he knows that there is something wrong, that Groolette is about to do something stupid and he appreciates the sacrifice being made for his line. then their eyes part
If that is what your heart tells you , then that is what you must do. Is there anyone who can accompany you on this journey.
there is my sister and one aunt who are in my care. I should take them, to see that they are protected and to have someone to cook food.
There are chuckles.
You take two to protect. Do you take no one to protect you?
Daffak blinks. Says proudly – no – as if he had given no thought to being protected and never would. there are more chuckles
the chief unties a wooden ring from his vest and gives it to Daffak. For luck, he says then he turns to the other men. See that he leaves with our good wishes. See that he has proper clothing. He is going where the wind blows hard.
the men take him into the men’s house and sit him down near the entrance. they go to packs stacked around the room. each man comes back with something. usually it is something small, carved out of wood. but one gives a small knife. two give leather thongs, for tying things. Groolette brings over an old pair of leather pants. they’ve been split and tied to let him continue to wear them long after he had outgrown them. It’s clear he wants to be shut of them and that he likes giving this women’s boy his castoffs. But it’s a good gift and Daffak gives a curt nod of acknowledgement. The boy seems to approve of the stern looks.
he also got, a winding of six inch wide linen, a small pouch, and a ball of jute twine. from his father he got a small box, which he didn’t open. it would have been rude. Daffak folded the pants in half, first lengthwise and then up and down. He stacked up all of the small things on the pants and left them spread in his lap for all to see. it was a good haul for a woman’s son.
Finally one last man came over with some dried meat. It had flecks of pepper on it, which made it desirable.
Do you have a water skin, the chief asked
yes sir he answered
are you sister and aunt ready to go?
I know my sister is. I don’t think my aunt will take much more than she is wearing.
Then go quickly. Stop at the other houses for anything you still need. that’s the best way to take our good wishes with you
Daffak stood then and said I thank you for your good wishes. And for your good advice. And he turned and left, slowly, with his head high.