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Pet Samatary, Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 8 (2)

Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 8 (2)

They walked on. Louis began to get a dull cramp of pain in his back from the baby-carrier. Every now and then Gage would grab a double handful of his hair and tug enthusiastically or administer a cheerful kick to Louis's kidneys. Late mosquitoes cruised around his face and neck, making their eye-watering hum.

The path curved down, bending in and out between very old firs, and then cut widely through a brambly, tangled patch of undergrowth. The going was soupy here, and Louis's boots squelched in mud and some standing water. At one point they stepped over a marshy bit using a pair of good-sized tussocks as stepping-stones. That was the worst of it. They started to climb again and the trees reasserted themselves. Gage seemed to have magically put on ten pounds, and the day had, with some similar magic, suddenly warmed up ten degrees. Sweat poured down Louis's face.

‘How you doing, hon?' Rachel asked. ‘Want me to carry him for a while?'

‘No, I'm fine,' he said, and it was true, although his heart was larruping along at a good speed in his chest. He was more used to prescribing physical exercise than he was to doing it.

Jud was walking with Ellie by his side, her lemon-yellow slacks and red blouse bright splashes of color in the shady brown-green gloom.

‘Lou, does he really know where he's going, do you think?' Rachel asked in a low, slightly worried tone.

‘Sure,' Louis said.

Jud called back cheerily over his shoulder: ‘Not much further now … You bearin' up, Louis?'

My God, Louis thought, the man's well past eighty but I don't think he's even broken a sweat.

‘I'm fine,' he called back a little aggressively. Pride probably would have led him to say the same thing even if he had felt the onset of a coronary. He grinned, hitched the straps of the Gerrypack up a bit, and went on.

They topped the second hill, and then the path sloped through a head-high swatch of bushes and tangled underbrush. It narrowed and then, just ahead, Louis saw Ellie and Jud go under an arch made of old weatherstained boards. Written on these in faded black paint, only just legible, were the words PET SEMATARY. He and Rachel exchanged an amused glance and stepped under the arch, instinctively reaching out and grasping each other's hand as they did so, as if they had come here to be married.

For the second time that morning Louis was surprised into wonder.

There was no carpet of needles here. Here was an almost perfect circle of mown grass, perhaps as large as forty feet in diameter. It was bounded by thickly interlaced underbrush on three sides and an old blowdown on the fourth, a jackstraw-jumble of fallen trees that looked both sinister and dangerous. A man trying to pick his way through that or climb over it would do well to put on a steel jock before making the try, Louis thought. The clearing was crowded with markers, obviously made by children from whatever materials they could beg or borrow – the slats of crates, scrapwood, pieces of beaten tin. And yet, seen against the perimeter of low bushes and straggly trees that fought for living space and sunlight here, the very fact of their clumsy manufacture seemed to emphasize what symmetry they had, and the fact that humans were responsible for what was here. The forested backdrop lent the place a crazy sort of profundity, a charm that was not Christian but pagan.

‘It's lovely,' Rachel said, not sounding as if she meant it.

‘Wow!' Ellie cried.

Louis unshouldered Gage and pulled him out of the baby-carrier so he could crawl. His back sighed with relief.

Ellie ran from one monument to the next, exclaiming over each. Louis followed her while Rachel kept an eye on the baby. Jud sat down cross-legged, his back against a protruding rock, and smoked.

Louis noticed that the place did not just seem to have a sense of order, a pattern; the memorials had been arranged in rough concentric circles.

SMUCKY THE CAT, one crate-board marker proclaimed. The hand was childish but careful. HE WAS OBEDIANT. And below this: 1971–1974. A little way around the outer circle he came to a piece of natural slate with a name written on it in fading but perfectly legible red paint: BIFFER. And below this a bit of verse that made Louis grin. Biffer, Biffer, a helluva sniffer/Until he died he made us richer.

‘Biffer was the Desslers' cocker spaniel,' Jud said. He had dug a bald place in the earth with the heel of his shoe and was carefully tapping all his ashes into it. ‘Got run over by a dumpster last year. Ain't that some poime?'

‘It is,' Louis agreed.

Some of the graves were marked with flowers, some fresh, most old, not a few almost totally decomposed. Over half of the painted and penciled inscriptions Louis tried to read had faded away to partial or total illegibility. Others bore no discernible mark at all, and Louis guessed that the writing on these might have been done with chalk or crayon.

‘Mom!' Ellie yelled. ‘Here's a goldfishie! Come and see!'

‘I'll pass,' Rachel said, and Louis glanced at her. She was standing by herself, outside the outermost circle, looking more uncomfortable than ever. Louis thought: Even here she's upset. She never had been easy around the appearances of death (not, he supposed, that anyone really was), probably because of her sister. Rachel's sister had died very young, and it had left a scar which Louis had learned early in their marriage not to touch. Her name had been Zelda, and it had been spinal meningitis. Her dying had probably been long and painful and ugly, and Rachel would have been at an impressionable age. If she wanted to forget it, he thought there could be no harm in that.

Louis tipped her a wink, and Rachel smiled gratefully at him.

Louis looked up. They were in a natural clearing. He supposed that explained how well the grass did; the sun could get through. Nevertheless, it would have taken watering and careful tending. That meant cans of water lugged up here, or maybe Indian pumps, even heavier than Gage in his Gerrypack, carried on small backs. He thought again that it was an odd thing for children to have kept up for so long. His own memory of childhood enthusiasms – reinforced by his dealings with Ellie – was that they tended to burn like newsprint, fast … hot … and quick to die.

But they had kept it up for a long time; Jud was right about that. It became obvious as he cut across the circle toward its approximate center. Moving inward, the pet graves became older; fewer and fewer of the inscriptions could be read, but those that could yielded a rough timeline extending into the past. Here was TRIXIE, KILT ON THE HIGHWAY SEPT 15, 1968. In the same circle was a wide flat board planted deep in the earth. Frost and thaw had warped it and canted it to one side, but Louis could still make out IN MEMORY OF MARTA OUR PET RABIT DYED MARCH 1 1965. A row further in was GEN. PATTON (OUR! GOOD! DOG!, the inscription amplified), who had died in 1958; and Polynesia (who would have been a parrot, if Louis remembered his Doctor Dolittle aright), who had squawked her last ‘Polly want a cracker' in the summer of 1953. There was nothing readable in the next two rows, and then, still a long way in from the center, chiseled roughly on a piece of sandstone, was HANNAH THE BEST DOG THAT EVER LIVED 1929–1939. Although sandstone was relatively soft – and as a result the inscription was now little more than a ghost – Louis found it hard to conceive of the hours some child must have spent impressing those nine words on the stone. The commitment of love and grief seemed to him staggering; this was something parents did not even do for their own parents, or for their children if they died young.

‘Boy, this does go back some,' he said to Jud, who had strolled over to join him.

Jud nodded. ‘Come here, Louis. Want to show you something.'

They walked to a row only three back from the center. Here the circular pattern, perceived as an almost haphazard coincidence in the outer rows, was very evident. Jud stopped before a small piece of slate that had fallen over. Kneeling carefully, the old man set it up again.

‘Used to be words here,' Jud said. ‘I chiseled 'em myself, but it's worn away now. I buried my first dog here. Spot. He died of old age in 1914, the year the Great War began.'

Bemused by the thought that here was a graveyard that went further back than many graveyards for people, Louis walked toward the center and examined several of the markers. None of them were readable, and most had been almost reclaimed by the forest floor. The grass had almost entirely overgrown one, and when he set it back up, there was a small tearing, protesting sound from the earth. Blind beetles scurried over the section he had exposed. He felt a small chill and thought: Boot Hill for animals. I'm not sure I really like it.

‘How far do these go back?'

‘Gorry, I don't know,' Jud said, putting his hands deep in his pockets. ‘Place was here when Spot died, of course. I had a whole gang of friends in those days. They helped me dig the hole for Spot. Digging here ain't that easy, either – ground's awful stony, you know, hard to turn. And I helped them sometimes.' He pointed here and there with a horny finger. ‘That there was Pete LaVassuer's dog, if I remember right, and there's three of Albion Groatley's barncats buried right in a row there.

‘Old man Fritchie kept racing pigeons. Me and Al Groatley and Carl Hannah buried one of them that a dog got. He's right there.' He paused thoughtfully. ‘I'm the last of that bunch left, you know. All dead now, my gang. All gone.'

Louis said nothing, only stood looking at the pet graves with his hands in his pockets.

‘Ground's stony,' Jud repeated. ‘Couldn't plant nothing here but corpses anyway, I guess.'

Across the way, Gage began to cry thinly, and Rachel brought him over, toting him on her hip. ‘He's hungry,' she said. ‘I think we ought to go back, Lou.' Please, okay? her eyes asked.

‘Sure,' he said, answering her eyes. He shouldered the Gerrypack again and turned around so Rachel could pop Gage in. ‘Ellie! Hey Ellie, where are you?'

‘There she is,' Rachel said, and pointed toward the blow-down. Ellie was climbing as if the blowdown was a bastard cousin to the monkeybars at school.

‘Oh, honey, you want to come down off there!' Jud called over, alarmed. ‘You stick your foot in the wrong hole and those old trees shift, you'll break your ankle.'

Ellie jumped down. ‘Ow!' she cried, and came toward them, rubbing her hip. The skin wasn't broken, but a stiff, dead branch had torn her slacks.

‘You see what I mean,' Jud said, ruffling her hair. ‘Old blowdown like this, not even someone wise about the woods will try to climb over it if he can go around. Trees that all fall down in a pile get mean. They'll bite you if they can.'

‘Really?' Ellie asked.

‘Really,' Louis said before Jud could answer.

Jud amplified. ‘They're piled up like straws, you see. And if you was to step on the right one, they might all come down in an avalanche.'

Ellie looked at Louis. ‘Is that true, daddy?'

‘I think so, hon.'

‘Yuck!' She looked back at the blowdown and yelled: ‘You tore my pants, you cruddy trees!'

All three of the grown-ups laughed. The blowdown did not. It merely sat whitening in the sun as it had done for decades. To Louis it looked like the skeletal remains of some long-dead monster, something slain by a parfait good and gentil knight, perchance. A dragon's bones, left here in a giant cairn.

It occurred to him even then that there was something too convenient about that blowdown and the way it stood between the pet cemetery and the depths of woods beyond, woods to which Jud Crandall later sometimes referred absently as ‘the Indian woods'. Its very randomness seemed too artful, too perfect, for the work of nature. It—

Then Gage grabbed his ear and twisted it, crowing happily, and Louis forgot all about the blowdown in the woods beyond the pet cemetery. It was time to go home.


Part One: The Pet Sematary - Chapter 8 (2)

They walked on. Siguieron caminando. Louis began to get a dull cramp of pain in his back from the baby-carrier. Louis empezó a sentir un calambre sordo de dolor en la espalda debido al portabebés. Every now and then Gage would grab a double handful of his hair and tug enthusiastically or administer a cheerful kick to Louis's kidneys. De vez en cuando, Gage agarraba dos mechones de su cabello y tiraba con entusiasmo o le daba una alegre patada a los riñones de Louis. Late mosquitoes cruised around his face and neck, making their eye-watering hum. Los mosquitos tardíos revoloteaban alrededor de su cara y cuello, emitiendo un zumbido que hacía llorar los ojos.

The path curved down, bending in and out between very old firs, and then cut widely through a brambly, tangled patch of undergrowth. El camino se curvaba hacia abajo, entrando y saliendo entre abetos muy viejos, y luego cortaba ampliamente a través de un trozo de maleza enmarañada y llena de zarzas. The going was soupy here, and Louis's boots squelched in mud and some standing water. La marcha era espesa aquí, y las botas de Louis chapoteaban en el barro y un poco de agua estancada. At one point they stepped over a marshy bit using a pair of good-sized tussocks as stepping-stones. En un momento, cruzaron un trozo pantanoso usando un par de matas de buen tamaño como peldaños. That was the worst of it. Eso fue lo peor de todo. They started to climb again and the trees reasserted themselves. Empezaron a trepar de nuevo y los árboles se reafirmaron. Gage seemed to have magically put on ten pounds, and the day had, with some similar magic, suddenly warmed up ten degrees. Gage parecía haber engordado cinco kilos como por arte de magia y, con una magia similar, el día había subido repentinamente diez grados. Sweat poured down Louis's face. El sudor corría por la cara de Louis.

‘How you doing, hon?' Rachel asked. '¿Cómo estás, cariño?' preguntó Raquel. ‘Want me to carry him for a while?' '¿Quieres que lo cargue por un rato?'

‘No, I'm fine,' he said, and it was true, although his heart was larruping along at a good speed in his chest. 'No, estoy bien', dijo, y era cierto, aunque el corazón le latía a buen ritmo en el pecho. He was more used to prescribing physical exercise than he was to doing it. Estaba más acostumbrado a prescribir ejercicio físico que a hacerlo.

Jud was walking with Ellie by his side, her lemon-yellow slacks and red blouse bright splashes of color in the shady brown-green gloom. Jud caminaba con Ellie a su lado, sus pantalones amarillo limón y su blusa roja brillantes toques de color en la penumbra marrón verdosa.

‘Lou, does he really know where he's going, do you think?' Rachel asked in a low, slightly worried tone. 'Lou, ¿realmente sabe a dónde va, crees?' Rachel preguntó en un tono bajo y ligeramente preocupado.

‘Sure,' Louis said. 'Claro', dijo Luis.

Jud called back cheerily over his shoulder: ‘Not much further now … You bearin' up, Louis?' Jud respondió alegremente por encima del hombro: 'No mucho más ahora... ¿Estás aguantando, Louis?'

My God, Louis thought, the man's well past eighty but I don't think he's even broken a sweat. Dios mío, pensó Louis, el hombre tiene más de ochenta años, pero no creo que haya sudado siquiera.

‘I'm fine,' he called back a little aggressively. "Estoy bien", respondió un poco agresivamente. Pride probably would have led him to say the same thing even if he had felt the onset of a coronary. El orgullo probablemente lo habría llevado a decir lo mismo incluso si hubiera sentido el inicio de un infarto. He grinned, hitched the straps of the Gerrypack up a bit, and went on. Sonrió, subió un poco las correas del Gerrypack y siguió adelante.

They topped the second hill, and then the path sloped through a head-high swatch of bushes and tangled underbrush. Llegaron a la cima de la segunda colina, y luego el camino descendió a través de una muestra de arbustos a la altura de la cabeza y maleza enmarañada. It narrowed and then, just ahead, Louis saw Ellie and Jud go under an arch made of old weatherstained boards. Se estrechó y luego, un poco más adelante, Louis vio que Ellie y Jud pasaban por debajo de un arco hecho de viejas tablas manchadas por la intemperie. Written on these in faded black paint, only just legible, were the words PET SEMATARY. Escritas en éstas con pintura negra descolorida, apenas legibles, estaban las palabras PET SEMATARY. He and Rachel exchanged an amused glance and stepped under the arch, instinctively reaching out and grasping each other's hand as they did so, as if they had come here to be married. Él y Rachel intercambiaron una mirada divertida y pasaron bajo el arco, extendiendo instintivamente la mano y tomándose la mano mientras lo hacían, como si hubieran venido aquí para casarse.

For the second time that morning Louis was surprised into wonder. Por segunda vez en la mañana, Louis se quedó asombrado.

There was no carpet of needles here. Aquí no había alfombra de agujas. Here was an almost perfect circle of mown grass, perhaps as large as forty feet in diameter. Aquí había un círculo casi perfecto de hierba cortada, quizás tan grande como cuarenta pies de diámetro. It was bounded by thickly interlaced underbrush on three sides and an old blowdown on the fourth, a jackstraw-jumble of fallen trees that looked both sinister and dangerous. Estaba delimitado por maleza densamente entrelazada en tres lados y una vieja barrida en el cuarto, un revoltijo de árboles caídos que parecía siniestro y peligroso. A man trying to pick his way through that or climb over it would do well to put on a steel jock before making the try, Louis thought. Un hombre que intenta abrirse camino a través de eso o trepar por él haría bien en ponerse un suspensorio de acero antes de hacer el intento, pensó Louis. The clearing was crowded with markers, obviously made by children from whatever materials they could beg or borrow – the slats of crates, scrapwood, pieces of beaten tin. El claro estaba atestado de marcadores, obviamente hechos por niños con cualquier material que pudieran pedir o pedir prestado: listones de cajas, chatarra, pedazos de estaño batido. And yet, seen against the perimeter of low bushes and straggly trees that fought for living space and sunlight here, the very fact of their clumsy manufacture seemed to emphasize what symmetry they had, and the fact that humans were responsible for what was here. Y, sin embargo, visto contra el perímetro de arbustos bajos y árboles desaliñados que luchaban por el espacio vital y la luz del sol aquí, el hecho mismo de su torpe fabricación parecía enfatizar la simetría que tenían y el hecho de que los humanos eran responsables de lo que había aquí. The forested backdrop lent the place a crazy sort of profundity, a charm that was not Christian but pagan. El fondo boscoso le daba al lugar una especie de profundidad loca, un encanto que no era cristiano sino pagano.

‘It's lovely,' Rachel said, not sounding as if she meant it. —Es encantador —dijo Rachel, sin sonar como si lo dijera en serio—.

‘Wow!' Ellie cried. '¡Guau!' Ellie lloró.

Louis unshouldered Gage and pulled him out of the baby-carrier so he could crawl. Louis quitó a Gage del hombro y lo sacó del portabebés para que pudiera gatear. His back sighed with relief. Su espalda suspiró de alivio.

Ellie ran from one monument to the next, exclaiming over each. Ellie corrió de un monumento a otro, exclamando sobre cada uno. Louis followed her while Rachel kept an eye on the baby. Louis la siguió mientras Rachel vigilaba al bebé. Jud sat down cross-legged, his back against a protruding rock, and smoked. Jud se sentó con las piernas cruzadas, con la espalda apoyada en una roca que sobresalía, y fumó.

Louis noticed that the place did not just seem to have a sense of order, a pattern; the memorials had been arranged in rough concentric circles. Louis notó que el lugar no solo parecía tener una sensación de orden, un patrón; los monumentos se habían dispuesto en toscos círculos concéntricos.

SMUCKY THE CAT, one crate-board marker proclaimed. SMUCKY EL GATO, proclamó un marcador de cartón. The hand was childish but careful. La mano era infantil pero cuidadosa. HE WAS OBEDIANT. ÉL ERA OBEDIENTE. And below this: 1971–1974. Y debajo de esto: 1971–1974. A little way around the outer circle he came to a piece of natural slate with a name written on it in fading but perfectly legible red paint: BIFFER. Un poco más allá del círculo exterior llegó a un trozo de pizarra natural con un nombre escrito con pintura roja desvaída pero perfectamente legible: BIFFER. And below this a bit of verse that made Louis grin. Y debajo de esto, un poco de verso que hizo que Louis sonriera. Biffer, Biffer, a helluva sniffer/Until he died he made us richer. Biffer, Biffer, un husmeador cojonudo/Hasta que murió nos hizo más ricos.

‘Biffer was the Desslers' cocker spaniel,' Jud said. —Biffer era el cocker spaniel de los Dessler —dijo Jud—. He had dug a bald place in the earth with the heel of his shoe and was carefully tapping all his ashes into it. Había cavado un lugar calvo en la tierra con el tacón de su zapato y estaba golpeando cuidadosamente todas sus cenizas en él. ‘Got run over by a dumpster last year. Me atropelló un contenedor de basura el año pasado. Ain't that some poime?' ¿No es un poco de poime?

‘It is,' Louis agreed. —Lo es —asintió Louis—.

Some of the graves were marked with flowers, some fresh, most old, not a few almost totally decomposed. Algunas de las tumbas estaban marcadas con flores, algunas frescas, la mayoría viejas, no pocas casi totalmente descompuestas. Over half of the painted and penciled inscriptions Louis tried to read had faded away to partial or total illegibility. Más de la mitad de las inscripciones pintadas y dibujadas a lápiz que Louis trató de leer se habían desvanecido hasta convertirse en una ilegibilidad parcial o total. Others bore no discernible mark at all, and Louis guessed that the writing on these might have been done with chalk or crayon. Otros no tenían ninguna marca perceptible en absoluto, y Louis supuso que la escritura en estos podría haber sido hecha con tiza o crayón.

‘Mom!' Ellie yelled. '¡Mamá!' gritó Ellie. ‘Here's a goldfishie! '¡Aquí hay un pez dorado! Come and see!' ¡Ven y mira!

‘I'll pass,' Rachel said, and Louis glanced at her. —Paso yo —dijo Rachel, y Louis la miró. She was standing by herself, outside the outermost circle, looking more uncomfortable than ever. Estaba parada sola, fuera del círculo exterior, luciendo más incómoda que nunca. Louis thought: Even here she's upset. Louis pensó: Incluso aquí está molesta. She never had been easy around the appearances of death (not, he supposed, that anyone really was), probably because of her sister. Nunca se había sentido cómoda con las apariencias de la muerte (no, supuso, nadie lo estaba realmente), probablemente debido a su hermana. Rachel's sister had died very young, and it had left a scar which Louis had learned early in their marriage not to touch. La hermana de Rachel había muerto muy joven y le había dejado una cicatriz que Louis había aprendido a no tocar al principio de su matrimonio. Her name had been Zelda, and it had been spinal meningitis. Su nombre había sido Zelda, y había sido meningitis espinal. Her dying had probably been long and painful and ugly, and Rachel would have been at an impressionable age. Su muerte probablemente había sido larga, dolorosa y fea, y Rachel habría tenido una edad impresionable. If she wanted to forget it, he thought there could be no harm in that. Si ella quería olvidarlo, pensó que no podía haber ningún daño en eso.

Louis tipped her a wink, and Rachel smiled gratefully at him. Louis le guiñó un ojo y Rachel le sonrió agradecida.

Louis looked up. Luis miró hacia arriba. They were in a natural clearing. Estaban en un claro natural. He supposed that explained how well the grass did; the sun could get through. Supuso que eso explicaba lo bien que le iba a la hierba; el sol podría pasar. Nevertheless, it would have taken watering and careful tending. Sin embargo, habría requerido riego y cuidado cuidadoso. That meant cans of water lugged up here, or maybe Indian pumps, even heavier than Gage in his Gerrypack, carried on small backs. Eso significaba bidones de agua arrastrados hasta aquí, o tal vez bombas indias, incluso más pesadas que Gage en su Gerrypack, transportadas en pequeños lomos. He thought again that it was an odd thing for children to have kept up for so long. Volvió a pensar que era raro que los niños se mantuvieran así durante tanto tiempo. His own memory of childhood enthusiasms – reinforced by his dealings with Ellie – was that they tended to burn like newsprint, fast … hot … and quick to die. Su propio recuerdo de los entusiasmos de la infancia, reforzados por su trato con Ellie, era que tendían a arder como papel de periódico, rápido... caliente... y rápido para morir.

But they had kept it up for a long time; Jud was right about that. Pero lo habían mantenido durante mucho tiempo; Jud tenía razón en eso. It became obvious as he cut across the circle toward its approximate center. Se hizo evidente cuando atravesó el círculo hacia su centro aproximado. Moving inward, the pet graves became older; fewer and fewer of the inscriptions could be read, but those that could yielded a rough timeline extending into the past. Moviéndose hacia adentro, las tumbas de las mascotas envejecieron; cada vez se podían leer menos inscripciones, pero las que podían arrojar una línea de tiempo aproximada que se extendía hacia el pasado. Here was TRIXIE, KILT ON THE HIGHWAY SEPT 15, 1968. Aquí estaba TRIXIE, KILT EN LA AUTOPISTA EL 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1968. In the same circle was a wide flat board planted deep in the earth. En el mismo círculo había una tabla ancha y plana plantada profundamente en la tierra. Frost and thaw had warped it and canted it to one side, but Louis could still make out IN MEMORY OF MARTA OUR PET RABIT DYED MARCH 1 1965. El hielo y el deshielo lo habían torcido y ladeado hacia un lado, pero Louis aún podía distinguir EN MEMORIA DE MARTA NUESTRA MASCOTA CONEJO TEÑIDA EL 1 DE MARZO DE 1965. A row further in was GEN. Una fila más adentro estaba GEN. PATTON (OUR! PATÓN (¡NUESTRO! GOOD! ¡BUENO! DOG!, the inscription amplified), who had died in 1958; and Polynesia (who would have been a parrot, if Louis remembered his Doctor Dolittle aright), who had squawked her last ‘Polly want a cracker' in the summer of 1953. ¡PERRO!, la inscripción ampliada), que había muerto en 1958; y Polynesia (que habría sido un loro, si Louis recordaba bien a su Doctor Dolittle), que había graznado su último 'Polly quiere una galleta' en el verano de 1953. There was nothing readable in the next two rows, and then, still a long way in from the center, chiseled roughly on a piece of sandstone, was HANNAH THE BEST DOG THAT EVER LIVED 1929–1939. No había nada legible en las siguientes dos filas, y luego, todavía muy lejos del centro, cincelado toscamente en un trozo de piedra arenisca, estaba HANNAH EL MEJOR PERRO QUE JAMÁS VIVIÓ 1929-1939. Although sandstone was relatively soft – and as a result the inscription was now little more than a ghost – Louis found it hard to conceive of the hours some child must have spent impressing those nine words on the stone. Aunque la piedra arenisca era relativamente blanda, y como resultado la inscripción ahora era poco más que un fantasma, a Louis le resultó difícil concebir las horas que un niño debió pasar grabando esas nueve palabras en la piedra. The commitment of love and grief seemed to him staggering; this was something parents did not even do for their own parents, or for their children if they died young. El compromiso de amor y dolor le pareció asombroso; esto era algo que los padres ni siquiera hacían por sus propios padres, o por sus hijos si morían jóvenes.

‘Boy, this does go back some,' he said to Jud, who had strolled over to join him. —Vaya, esto se remonta un poco —le dijo a Jud, que se había acercado para unirse a él.

Jud nodded. Jud asintió. ‘Come here, Louis. Ven aquí, Luis. Want to show you something.' Quiero mostrarte algo.

They walked to a row only three back from the center. Caminaron hasta una fila de sólo tres atrás del centro. Here the circular pattern, perceived as an almost haphazard coincidence in the outer rows, was very evident. Aquí el patrón circular, percibido como una coincidencia casi fortuita en las filas exteriores, era muy evidente. Jud stopped before a small piece of slate that had fallen over. Jud se detuvo ante un pequeño trozo de pizarra que se había caído. Kneeling carefully, the old man set it up again. Arrodillándose con cuidado, el anciano lo instaló de nuevo.

‘Used to be words here,' Jud said. —Solía haber palabras aquí —dijo Jud—. ‘I chiseled 'em myself, but it's worn away now. Los esculpí yo mismo, pero ahora están desgastados. I buried my first dog here. Enterré a mi primer perro aquí. Spot. Lugar. He died of old age in 1914, the year the Great War began.' Murió de viejo en 1914, el año en que comenzó la Gran Guerra.

Bemused by the thought that here was a graveyard that went further back than many graveyards for people, Louis walked toward the center and examined several of the markers. Desconcertado por la idea de que aquí había un cementerio que estaba más atrás que muchos cementerios para personas, Louis caminó hacia el centro y examinó varios de los marcadores. None of them were readable, and most had been almost reclaimed by the forest floor. Ninguno de ellos era legible, y la mayoría casi había sido reclamada por el suelo del bosque. The grass had almost entirely overgrown one, and when he set it back up, there was a small tearing, protesting sound from the earth. La hierba había cubierto casi por completo a uno, y cuando lo volvió a colocar, se oyó un pequeño sonido de protesta procedente de la tierra. Blind beetles scurried over the section he had exposed. Escarabajos ciegos se escabulleron sobre la sección que había expuesto. He felt a small chill and thought: Boot Hill for animals. Sintió un pequeño escalofrío y pensó: Boot Hill para los animales. I'm not sure I really like it. No estoy seguro de que realmente me guste.

‘How far do these go back?' '¿Cuánto retroceden estos?'

‘Gorry, I don't know,' Jud said, putting his hands deep in his pockets. —Gorry, no lo sé —dijo Jud, metiendo las manos en los bolsillos—. ‘Place was here when Spot died, of course. El lugar estaba aquí cuando murió Spot, por supuesto. I had a whole gang of friends in those days. Yo tenía toda una pandilla de amigos en esos días. They helped me dig the hole for Spot. Me ayudaron a cavar el hoyo para Spot. Digging here ain't that easy, either – ground's awful stony, you know, hard to turn. Excavar aquí tampoco es tan fácil: el suelo es terriblemente pedregoso, ya sabes, difícil de girar. And I helped them sometimes.' He pointed here and there with a horny finger. Y a veces les ayudaba. Señalaba aquí y allá con un dedo córneo. ‘That there was Pete LaVassuer's dog, if I remember right, and there's three of Albion Groatley's barncats buried right in a row there. —Que allí estaba el perro de Pete LaVassuer, si no recuerdo mal, y que hay tres gatos salvajes de Albion Groatley enterrados allí en fila.

‘Old man Fritchie kept racing pigeons. El viejo Fritchie criaba palomas mensajeras. Me and Al Groatley and Carl Hannah buried one of them that a dog got. Yo, Al Groatley y Carl Hannah enterramos uno de ellos que se llevó un perro. He's right there.' He paused thoughtfully. Está justo ahí. Hizo una pausa pensativo. ‘I'm the last of that bunch left, you know. Soy el último de ese grupo que queda, ¿sabes? All dead now, my gang. Todos muertos ahora, mi banda. All gone.' Todo se ha ido.

Louis said nothing, only stood looking at the pet graves with his hands in his pockets. Louis no dijo nada, solo se quedó mirando las tumbas de mascotas con las manos en los bolsillos.

‘Ground's stony,' Jud repeated. —El suelo es pedregoso —repitió Jud—. ‘Couldn't plant nothing here but corpses anyway, I guess.' De todos modos, supongo que aquí no podría plantar nada más que cadáveres.

Across the way, Gage began to cry thinly, and Rachel brought him over, toting him on her hip. Al otro lado del camino, Gage comenzó a llorar débilmente, y Rachel lo acercó, cargándolo en su cadera. ‘He's hungry,' she said. Tiene hambre dijo ella. ‘I think we ought to go back, Lou.' Please, okay? Creo que deberíamos volver, Lou. Por favor, ¿de acuerdo? her eyes asked. preguntaron sus ojos.

‘Sure,' he said, answering her eyes. 'Claro,' dijo él, respondiendo a sus ojos. He shouldered the Gerrypack again and turned around so Rachel could pop Gage in. Volvió a cargar el Gerrypack y se dio la vuelta para que Rachel pudiera meter a Gage. ‘Ellie! '¡Ellie! Hey Ellie, where are you?' Hola Ellie, ¿dónde estás?

‘There she is,' Rachel said, and pointed toward the blow-down. —Ahí está —dijo Rachel, y señaló hacia el desguace. Ellie was climbing as if the blowdown was a bastard cousin to the monkeybars at school. Ellie estaba subiendo como si la voladura fuera un primo bastardo de las barras de mono en la escuela.

‘Oh, honey, you want to come down off there!' Jud called over, alarmed. '¡Oh, cariño, quieres bajar de ahí!' Jud llamó, alarmado. ‘You stick your foot in the wrong hole and those old trees shift, you'll break your ankle.' Si metes el pie en el agujero equivocado y esos viejos árboles se mueven, te romperás el tobillo.

Ellie jumped down. Ellie saltó hacia abajo. ‘Ow!' she cried, and came toward them, rubbing her hip. '¡Ay!' -gritó, y se acercó a ellos, frotándose la cadera. The skin wasn't broken, but a stiff, dead branch had torn her slacks. La piel no estaba rota, pero una rama muerta y rígida le había desgarrado los pantalones.

‘You see what I mean,' Jud said, ruffling her hair. —Ya ves a lo que me refiero —dijo Jud, alborotándole el pelo. ‘Old blowdown like this, not even someone wise about the woods will try to climb over it if he can go around. 'Viejo derribo como este, ni siquiera alguien sabio sobre el bosque intentaría escalarlo si puede rodearlo. Trees that all fall down in a pile get mean. Los árboles que caen todos en una pila se vuelven malos. They'll bite you if they can.' Te morderán si pueden.

‘Really?' Ellie asked. '¿En realidad?' preguntó Ellie.

‘Really,' Louis said before Jud could answer. —De verdad —dijo Louis antes de que Jud pudiera responder—.

Jud amplified. Jud amplificó. ‘They're piled up like straws, you see. Están apilados como pajitas, ¿sabes? And if you was to step on the right one, they might all come down in an avalanche.' Y si fueras a pisar el correcto, podrían caer todos en una avalancha.

Ellie looked at Louis. Ellie miró a Louis. ‘Is that true, daddy?' '¿Es eso cierto, papi?'

‘I think so, hon.' —Creo que sí, cariño.

‘Yuck!' She looked back at the blowdown and yelled: ‘You tore my pants, you cruddy trees!' '¡Qué asco!' Volvió a mirar la caída y gritó: '¡Me rompieron los pantalones, árboles asquerosos!'

All three of the grown-ups laughed. Los tres adultos se echaron a reír. The blowdown did not. La explosión no lo hizo. It merely sat whitening in the sun as it had done for decades. Simplemente se quedó blanqueando al sol como lo había hecho durante décadas. To Louis it looked like the skeletal remains of some long-dead monster, something slain by a parfait good and gentil knight, perchance. A Louis le parecían los restos óseos de algún monstruo muerto hacía mucho tiempo, algo asesinado por un caballero parfait bueno y gentil, tal vez. A dragon's bones, left here in a giant cairn. Los huesos de un dragón, dejados aquí en un túmulo gigante.

It occurred to him even then that there was something too convenient about that blowdown and the way it stood between the pet cemetery and the depths of woods beyond, woods to which Jud Crandall later sometimes referred absently as ‘the Indian woods'. Incluso entonces se le ocurrió que había algo demasiado conveniente en ese derribo y la forma en que se interponía entre el cementerio de mascotas y las profundidades del bosque más allá, bosques a los que Jud Crandall más tarde se referiría distraídamente como "los bosques indios". Its very randomness seemed too artful, too perfect, for the work of nature. Su propia aleatoriedad parecía demasiado ingeniosa, demasiado perfecta para la obra de la naturaleza. It— Eso-

Then Gage grabbed his ear and twisted it, crowing happily, and Louis forgot all about the blowdown in the woods beyond the pet cemetery. Entonces Gage se agarró la oreja y se la retorció, cacareando alegremente, y Louis se olvidó por completo de la voladura en el bosque más allá del cementerio de mascotas. It was time to go home.