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Alvin Journeyman: The Tales of Alvin Maker, Volume IV

Orson Scott Card


  It wasn’t till afternoon that Alvin realized something serious was wrong. A couple of months ago, Alvin had asked Clevy Sump, Goody Sump’s husband, to teach them all how to make a simple one-valve suction pump. It was apart of Alvin’s idea to teach folks that making is making, and everybody ought to know everything they can possibly learn. Alvin was teaching them hidden powers of Making, but they ought to be learning how to make with their hands as well. Secretly Alvin also hoped that when they saw how tricky and careful it was to make fine machinery like Clevy Sump did, they’d realize that what Alvin was teaching wasn’t much harder if it was harder at all. And it was working well enough.

  Except that today, after the noon bread and cheese, he went on out to the mill to find the men gathered around the wreckage of the pumps they’d been making. Every one of them was broke in pieces. And since the fittings were all metal, it must have have took some serious work to break it all up. “Who’d do a thing like this?” Alvin asked. ‘There’s a lot of hate goes into something like this.” And thinking of hate, it made Alvin wonder if maybe Calvin hadn’t come back secretly after all.

  “There’s no mystery who done it,” said Winter Godshadow. “I reckon we ain’t got us a pump-making teacher no more.”

  “Yep,” said Taleswapper. “This looks like a specially thorough way of telling us, ‘Class dismissed.’ ”



  The Folk of the Fringe

  Future on Fire (editor)

  Future on Ice (editor)

  Hart’s Hope

  Invasive Procedures

  (with Aaron Johnston)

  Lovelock (with Kathryn Kidd)

  Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus



  The Worthing Saga



  Ender’s Game

  Speaker for the Dead


  Children of the Mind

  Ender’s Shadow

  Shadow of the Hegemon

  Shadow Puppets

  Shadow of the Giant


  Seventh Son

  Alvin Journeyman

  Prentice Alvin

  Red Prophet


  The Crystal City


  The Memory of Earth

  The Call of Earth

  The Ships of Earth






  Rachel & Leah


  Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card (hardcover)

  Maps in a Mirror, Volume 1: The Changed Man (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror, Volume 2: Flux (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror, Volume 3: Cruel Miracles (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror, Volume 4: Monkey Sonatas (paperback)










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  NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


  Copyright © 1995 by Orson Scott Card

  All rights reserved.

  A Tor Book

  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

  175 Fifth Avenue

  New York, NY 10010

  Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  ISBN-13: 978-0-8125-0923-6

  ISBN-10: 0-8125-0923-4

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-22693

  First Edition: September 1995

  First International Mass Market Edition: February 1996

  First Mass Market Edition: September 1996

  Printed in the United States of America

  0 9 8 7

  To Jason Lewis,

  long-legged wanderer,

  walker through woods,

  dreamer of true dreams.


  For the past few years, at every book signing or speech I gave, I was asked one question more than any other: Will there be another Alvin Maker book? The answer was always, Yes, but I don’t know when. My original outline for The Tales of Alvin Maker had long since been abandoned, and while I knew certain incidents that would happen in this book, I still did not know enough about what would happen to Alvin, Peggy, Taleswapper, Arthur Stuart, Measure, Calvin, Verily Cooper, and others to be able to start writing.

  At last the logjam broke and the story came right, or as near right as I could get it. As I composed, I was constantly aware of those hundreds of readers who were waiting for Alvin Journeyman. It was encouraging to know that this book was much looked for; it was also frightening, because I knew that for some, at least, the expectations would be so high that any story I wrote would be bound to disappoint. To the disappointed I can only express my regret that the reality is never as good as the anticipation (cf. Christmas); and to all who hoped for this book, I give my thanks for your encouragement.

  I thank the many readers on America Online who came to the Hatrack River Town Meeting and downloaded each chapter of the manuscript as I wrote it, responding with many helpful comments. These sharp-eyed readers caught inconsistencies and dangling threads—questions raised in earlier books that needed to be resolved. Newel Wright, Jane Brady, and Len Olen, in particular, won my undying gratitude: Jane, by preparing a chronology of the events in the previous books, Newel, by saving me from two ghastly continuity errors, and Len, by a thorough proofreading that caught several errors that all the editors and I had missed. Thanks also go to David Fox for an insightful reading of the first nine chapters at a key point in the composition of the book.

  Quite without my planning it, a peculiar and delightful community has grown up within the Hatrack River Town Meeting on AOL; people began to arrive, not as themselves, but as characters living within Alvin’s world, and set up in trade or farming in that fictional town. Thus Hatrack River has taken on a life of its own. The temptation was irresistible to include mention of as many of these characters as I could within this storyline; I only regret that I couldn’t work them all into the plot. If you want to know more about the wonderful characters these good people have created, come visit us online (keyword: Hatrack).

  The only active online character I made extensive use of in this book was one I devised myself as a fictional foil, whom Kathryn Kidd (town identity: GoodyTradr)
and I (town identity: HoracGuest) referred to from time to time in a comical way as a notorious gossip: Vilate Franker. A couple of years after we invented her, along came a good friend, Melissa Wunderly, who volunteered to portray her in the online community; so it was Melissa who brought her to life, false teeth, hexes, and all. Vilate’s “best friend,” however, was mine, and Melissa is not to be blamed for Vilate’s unpleasant behavior in this book. And I appreciate Kathryn Kidd’s allowing me to use her character, Goody Trader, at a couple of key moments.

  I must tip my hat to Graham Robb, whose excellent, well-written Balzac: A Biography (Norton, 1994) gave me not only respite from writing but also the foundation of a character I personally enjoy.

  As with many previous novels, each chapter was read as it emerged from the printer or the fax machine by my wife, Kristine; my son Geoffrey; and my friend and sometime collaborator, Kathryn H. Kidd. Their responses have been of incalculable value.

  My thanks also go to those who keep our office and household functioning when I’m (too rarely) in writer mode: Kathleen Bellamy, who tends to the business, and Scott Allen, who keeps the computers and the house itself in running order. A tip of the hat also goes to Jason, Adam, and (on one occasion) Michael Lewis, for holes dug and holes filled; and to Emily, Kathryn, and Amanda Jensen for giving us those nights out.

  If it weren’t for Kristine, Geoffrey, Emily, Charlie Ben, and Zina Meg, I doubt that I would ever write at all: They make the work worth doing.



  1 I Thought I Was Done

  2 Hypocrites

  3 Watchers

  4 Quest

  5 Twist

  6 True Love

  7 Booking Passage

  8 Leavetaking

  9 Cooper

  10 Welcome Home

  11 Jail

  12 Lawyers

  13 Maneuvers

  14 Witnesses

  15 Love

  16 Truth

  17 Decisions

  18 Journeys

  19 Philadelphia


  I Thought I Was Done

  I thought I was done writing about Alvin Smith. People kept telling me I wasn’t, but I knew why. It’s because they’d all heard Taleswapper and the way he tells stories. When he’s done, it’s all tied up neat in a package and you pretty much know what things meant and why they happened. Not that he spells it all out, mind you. But you just have this feeling that it all makes sense.

  Well I ain’t Taleswapper, which some of you might already have guessed, seeing how we don’t look much alike, and I don’t plan on becoming Taleswapper anytime soon, or anything much like him, not cause I don’t reckon him to be a fine fellow, worthy of folks emulating him, but mainly because I don’t see things the way he sees them. Things don’t all make sense to me. They just happen, and sometimes you can extract a bit of sense from some calamity and sometimes the happiest day is just pure nonsense. There’s no predicting it and there’s sure no making it happen. Worst messes I ever saw folks get into was when they was trying to make things go in a sensible way.

  So I set down what I knew of the earliest beginnings of Alvin’s life right up till he made him the golden plow as his journeyman project, and I told how he went back to Vigor and set to teaching folks how to be Makers and how things already wasn’t right with his brother Calvin and I thought I was done, because anybody who cares was there from then on to see for themselves or you know somebody who was. I told you the truth of how Alvin came to kill a man, so as to put to rest all the vicious rumors told about it. I told you how he came to break the runaway slave laws and I told you how Peggy Larner’s mama came to die and believe me, that was pretty much the end of the story as far as I could see it.

  But the ending didn’t make sense of it, I reckon, and folks have been pestering me more and more about the early days and didn’t I know more I could tell? Well sure I know. And I got nothing against telling it. But I hope you don’t think that when I’m done telling all I know it’ll finally be clear to everybody what everything that’s happened was all about, because I don’t know myself. Truth is, the story ain’t over yet, and I hope it never will be, so the most I can hope to do is set down the way it looks to this one fellow at this exact moment, and I can’t even promise you that tomorrow I won’t come to understand it much better than anything I’m writing now.

  My knack ain’t storytelling. Truth is, Taleswapper’s knack ain’t storytelling either, and he’d be the first to tell you that. He collects stories, all right, and the ones he gathers are important so you listen because the tale itself matters. But you know he don’t do nothing much with his voice, and he don’t roll his eyes and use them big gestures like the real orators use. His voice ain’t strong enough to fill a good-size cabin, let alone a tent. No, the telling ain’t his knack. He’s a painter if anything, or maybe a woodcarver or a printer or whatever he can use to tell or show the story but he’s no genius at any of them.

  Fact is if you ask Taleswapper what his knack is, he’ll tell you he don’t have none. He ain’t lying—nobody can ever lay that charge at Taleswapper’s door. No, he just set his heart on one knack when he was a boy, and all his life that seemed to him the only knack worth having and since he never got it (he thinks) why then he must not have no knack at all. And don’t pretend you don’t know what knack it was he wanted, because he practically slaps you in the face with it whenever he talks for long. He wanted the knack of prophecy. That’s why he’s always been so powerful jealous of Peggy Larner, because she’s a torch and from childhood on she saw all the possible futures of people’s lives, and while that’s not the same thing as knowing the future—the way things will actually happen instead of how they might happen—it’s pretty close. Close enough that I think Taleswapper would have been happy for five minutes of being a torch. Probably would have grinned himself to death within a week if such a thing happened.

  When Taleswapper says he’s got no knack, though, I’ll tell you, he’s wrong. Like a lot of folks, he has a knack and doesn’t even know it because that’s the way knacks work—it just feels as natural as can be to the person who’s got it, as easy as breathing, so you don’t think that could possibly be your unusual power because heck, that’s easy. You don’t know it’s a knack till other people around you get all astonished about it or upset or excited or whatever feelings your knack seems to provoke in folks. Then you go, “Boy howdy, other folks can’t do this! I got me a knack!” and from then on there’s no putting up with you till you finally settle down and get back to normal life and stop bragging about how you can do this fool thing that you used to never be excited about back when you still had sense.

  Some folks never know they got them a knack, though, because nobody else ever notices it either, and Taleswapper’s that way. I didn’t notice it till I started trying to collect all my memories and everything anybody ever told me about Alvin Maker’s life. Pictures of him working that hammer in the forge every chance he got in case we ever forgot that he had an honest trade, hard come by with his own sweat, and didn’t just dance through life like a quadrille with Dame Fortune as his loving partner—as if we ever thought Dame Fortune did anything more than flirt with him, and likely as not if he ever got close to her he’d find out she had the pox anyway; Fortune has a way of being on the side of the Unmaker, when folks start relying on her to save them. But I’m getting off the subject, which I had to read back to the beginning of this paragraph to see what in hell I was talking about (and I can hear you prickle-hearted prudes saying, What’s he doing putting down curses on paper, hasn’t he no sense of decent language? to which I say, When I curse it don’t harm nobody and it makes my language more colorful and heaven knows I can use the color, and I can assure you I’ve studied cussing from the best and I know how to make my language a whole lot more colorful than it is right now, but I already tone myself down so you don’t have apoplexy reading my words. I wouldn’t want to spend half my life just going to
the funerals of people who had a stroke from reading my book, so instead of criticizing me for the nasty words that creep into my writing why don’t you praise me for the really ugly stuff that I virtuously chose to leave out? It’s all how you choose to look at it, I think, and if you have time to rail on about my language, then you don’t have enough to do and I’ll be glad to put you in touch with folks who need more hands to help with productive labor), so anyway I looked back to the beginning of this paragraph again to see what the hell I was talking about and my point is that when I gathered all these stories together, I noticed that Taleswapper seems to keep showing up in the oddest places at exactly the moment when something important was about to happen, so that he ended up being a witness or even a participant in a remarkable number of events.

  Now, let me ask you plain, my friends. If a man seems to know, down in his bones, when something importants about to happen, and where, and enough in advance that he can get his body over there to be a witness of it before it even starts, now ain’t that prophecy? I mean why was it William Blake ever left England and came to America if it wasn’t because he knew that the world was about to be torn open to give birth to a Maker again after all these generations? Just cause he didn’t know it out in the open didn’t mean that he wasn’t a prophet. He thought he had to be a prophet with his mouth, but I say he’s a prophet in his bones. Which is why he just happened to be wandering back to the town of Vigor Church, to Alvin’s father’s mill, for no reason he was aware of, at exactly the day and hour that Alvin’s little brother Calvin Miller decided to run off and go study trouble in faraway places. Taleswapper had no idea what was going to happen, but folks, I tell you, he was there, and anybody who tells you Taleswapper’s got no knack, including Taleswapper himself, is a blame fool. Of course I mean that in the nicest possible way, as Horace Guester would tell you.