The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King Read Free Book Online

Book: The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephen King
will let you go about your work with no further complaint, Lord High Groom, if I may put a single question to you which you answer yes.”
    â€œAsk your question,” Yosef said. He was impressed with the boy, almost against his will. When he had told Yosef that he, Peter, would tell his father of the incident first, Yosef believed he meant what he said—the simple truth shone in the lad’s eyes. Also, he had never been called Lord High Groom before, and he rather liked it.
    â€œHas the horse doctor seen this animal?” Peter asked.
    Yosef was thunderstruck. “That is your question? That? ”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œDear creeping gods, no !” he cried, and, seeing Peter flinch, he lowered his voice, squatted before the boy, and attempted to explain. “A horse with a broken leg is a goner, y’Highness. Always a goner. Leg never mends right. There’s apt to be blood poisoning. Turrible pain for the horse. Turrible pain. In the end, its poor heart is apt to burst, or it takes a brain fever and goes mad. Now do you understand what I meant when I said this hammer was mercy rather than murder?”
    Peter thought long and gravely, with his head down. Yosef was silent, squatting before him in an almost unconscious posture of deference, allowing him the full courtesy of time.
    Peter raised his head and asked: “You say everyone says this?”
    â€œEveryone, y’Highness. Why, my father—”
    â€œThen we’ll see if the horse doctor says it, too.”
    â€œ Oh . . . PAH !” the groom bellowed, and threw the hammer all the way across the courtyard. It sailed into a pigpen and struck head down in the mud. The pigs grunted and squealed and cursed him in their piggy Latin. Yosef, like Flagg, was not used to being balked, and took no notice of them.
    He got up and stalked away. Peter watched him, troubled, sure that he must be in the wrong and knowing he was apt to face a severe whipping for this little piece of work. Then, halfway across the yard, the head groom turned, and a reluctant, grim little smile hit across his face like a single sunray on a gray morning.
    â€œGo get your horse doctor,” he said. “Get him yourself, son. You’ll find him in his animal surgery at the far end of Third East’rd Alley, I reckon. I’ll give you twenty minutes. If you’re not back with him by then, I’m putting my maul into yon horse’s brains, prince or no prince.”
    â€œYes, Lord Head Groom!” Peter yelled. “Thank you!” He raced away.
    When he returned with the young horse doctor, puffing and out of breath, Peter was sure that the horse must be dead; the sun told him three times twenty minutes had passed. But Yosef, curious, had waited.
    Horse doctoring and veterinary medicine were then very new things in Delain, and this young man was only the third or fourth who had practiced the trade, so Yosef’s look of sour distrust was far from surprising. Nor had the horse doctor been happy to be dragged away from his surgery by the sweating, wide-eyed prince, but he became less irritated now that he had a patient. He knelt before the horse and felt the broken leg gently with his hands, humming through his nose as he did so. The horse shifted once as something he did pained her. “Be steady, nag,” the horse doctor said calmly, “be oh so steady.” The horse quieted. Peter watched all this in an agony of suspense. Yosef watched with his maul leaning nearby and his arms folded across his chest. His opinion of the horse doctor had gone up a little. The fellow was young, but his hands moved with gentle knowledge.
    At last the horse doctor nodded and stood up, dusting stableyard grime from his hands.
    â€œWell?” Peter asked anxiously.
    â€œKill her,” the horse doctor said briskly to Yosef, ignoring Peter altogether.
    Yosef picked up his maul at once, for he had expected no other conclusion to the affair.

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