Read World's End Online

Authors: T. C. Boyle

World's End

T. CORAGHESSAN BOYLE

WORLD'S END

A NOVEL

In memory of my own lost father

After such knowledge, what forgiveness?

—T. S. Eliot,
“Gerontion”

Contents

Principal Characters

Part I
MARTYR'S REACH

A COLLISION WITH HISTORY

O PIONEERS!

ANCESTRAL DIRT

PROSTHESIS

NEELTJE WAVED BACK

THE LAST OF THE KITCHAWANKS

THE FINGER

PATRIMONY

AMONG THE SAVAGES

CHIEFLY NUPTIAL

WITH THE PATROON'S BLESSING

LANDLESS GENTRY

THE DUNDERBERG IMP

MOHONK, OR THE HISTORY OF A STAB IN THE BACK

THE WAILING WOMAN

TOFU

MARTYR'S REACH

SONS AND DAUGHTERS

COLLISION THE SECOND

Part II
WORLD'S END

THE HOODWINKING OF SACHOES

OPEN HOUSE

IN DE PEKEL ZITTEN
3

GRAND UNION

A QUESTION OF BALANCE

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

SUCH SWEET SORROW

COSTUMES

VAN WARTWYCK, SLEEPING AND WAKING

BARROW

TRUMAN'S STORY

GALLOWS HILL

HAIL, ARCADIA!

WORLD'S END

HEIR APPARENT

Acknowledgments

Footnote

By the Same Author

Principal Characters

In the Seventeenth Century

At Nysen's Roost

Among the Kitchawanks

SACHOES,
sachem
of the Kitchawanks

WAHWAHTAYSEE, his wife

MINEWA, their daughter

MOHONK (MOHEWONECK), their son

JEREMY MOHONK (SQUAGGANEEK), son of Katrinchee Van Brunt and Mohonk

At Van Wartwyck

 

 

 

IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

At Kitchawank Colony

At the Shawangunk Reservation

JEREMY MOHONK
père

MILDRED TANTAQUIDGEON, his wife

JEREMY MOHONK, their son and last of the Kitchawanks

HORACE TANTAQUIDGEON, Mildred's brother

In Van Wartville

ROMBOUT VAN WART, eleventh heir to Van Wart Manor

CATHERINE DEPEYSTER VAN WART, his wife

DEPEYSTER VAN WART, their son and heir

JOANNA VAN WART, Depeyster's wife

MARDI VAN WART, their daughter

 

PELETIAH CRANE

STANDARD CRANE, son of Peletiah

TOM CRANE, son of Standard

PIET AUKEMA

Part I
Martyr's Reach

He began to doubt
whether both he and the world around him
were not bewitched.

—Washington Irving,
“Rip Van Winkle”

A Collision with History

On the day he lost his right foot, Walter Van Brunt had been haunted, however haphazardly, by ghosts of the past. It began in the morning, when he woke to the smell of potato pancakes, a smell that reminded him of his mother, dead of sorrow after the Peterskill riots of 1949, and it carried through the miserable lunch break he divided between nostalgic recollections of his paternal grandmother and a liverwurst sandwich that tasted of dead flesh and chemicals. Over the whine of the lathe that afternoon he was surprised by a waking dream of his grandfather, a morose, big-bellied man so covered with hair he could have been an ogre out of a children's tale, and then, just before five, he had a vague rippling vision of a leering Dutchman in sugarloaf hat and pantaloons.

The first ghost, the ghost of the pancakes, was conjured by the deft culinary hand of Lola Solovay, his adoptive mother. Though Walter was only midway through his fourth year when his natural mother succumbed to the forces of bigotry and misguided patriotism, he remembered her chiefly for her eyes, which were like souls made flesh, and her potato pancakes, which were light, toothsome, and drowned in sour cream and homemade applesauce. Lying abed, waiting in the limbo between dreaming and consciousness for the alarm to summon him to his hellish job at Depeyster Manufacturing, he caught the scent of those ethereal pancakes, and for just a moment his mother was there with him.

The ghost of his grandmother, Elsa Van Brunt, was also mixed up with the scent of food. He unwrapped the liverwurst on white Lola
had concocted for him in the penumbral dawn, and suddenly he was ten years old, spending the summer on the river with his grandparents, the day as dark as December with the storm sitting atop Dunderberg Mountain. His grandmother had got up from her potter's wheel to fix his lunch and tell him the story of Sachoes' daughter. Sachoes, as Walter knew from previous episodes, was chief of the Kitchawanks, the tribe that was flimflammed out of its land by the founders of Peterskill-on-the-Hudson back in the days of the Colony. At that time, the Kitchawanks, who were, generally speaking, a lethargic, peace-loving, oyster-eating clan of layabouts and bark-hut builders, owed fealty to the fierce Mohawk to the north. Indeed, so fierce, so savage, so warlike and predatory were these Mohawk that a single brave could be sent down to collect tribute, and Manitou have mercy on the tribe that failed to feast him like a god and laden him with
wampumpeak
and
seawant. Kanyengahaga,
the Mohawk called themselves, people of the place of flint; the Kitchawanks and their Mohican cousins called them
Mohawk,
people who eat people, a reference to their propensity for roasting and devouring those who failed to please them.

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