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Sheri S. Tepper

Articles
- The Power of Art

Book Excerpts
- The Fresco
- The Visitor

Book Synopses
- The Fresco
- The Visitor

The Visitor (Book Excerpt)
         by Sheri S. Tepper
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Page 2 of 2

It was True Mother who had introduced Dismé to the secret pleasure of early mornings as seen from the ruined tower on the western wall, where a fragment of floor and a bit of curved wall made an aerie open to the air.

On her way to the wall, Dismé made up an enchantment:

"Old wall, old wall,
defender of the Spared
lift me up into your tower,
and let me see the morning."

In the solitude of the alley no one could hear her, so she sang the words, a whisper that barely broke the hush. All the schoolchildren in Bastion were taught the elements of sorcery, and Dismé often imagined what might happen if she suddenly got The Art and said some marvelous enchantment by accident!

She began to embellish the tune, only to be stopped by a sound like a tough fingernail flicking against a wineglass. Only a ping, but pings did not stay only! Dismé turned her face away and hurried, pretending she had not heard it. No use. Before her eyes, the dark air spun into a steely vortex of whirling light with a vacancy at the center which was the ping itself. It made her head hurt to look at it, and she averted her eyes as a voice from nowhere asked, "What are you thinking?"

If she lied, it would ask again, more loudly, and then more loudly yet until she answered truthfully or someone came to fetch her. Since being out alone in the dark was forbidden, being fetched by anyone was a bad idea. She had to tell the truth. If she could decide what it was!

"I was thinking about my father..." she ventured. She thought she had been thinking of him, though the ping had driven all thoughts away for the moment.

"What about him?"

"About...about his book." It was true! She had thought of it, not long ago.

"What book is that?" asked the ping.

"One written by his ancestor."

"What does it..."


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Copyright© 2002, HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. This excerpt has been provided by HarperCollins and printed with their permission.

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