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She led him down one of the lanes to where she had tied her horse. Pylon nodded his head and whickered softly at Roland. He saw the horse had been rigged for silence-every buckle padded, and the stirrups them-selves wrapped in felt.

Who can remember the pangs and sweetness of those early years? We remember our first real love no more clearly than the illusions that caused us to rave during a high fever. On that night and beneath that fading moon, Roland Deschain and Susan Delgado were nearly torn apart by their desire for each other; they floundered for what was right and ached with feelings that were both desperate and deep.

He nodded without speaking and held out his hand. She took it, and they walked on in the direction they had been going when they had been so sweetly distracted.

"But . . ." She paused, biting her lip, shaking her head. "Surely even Farson must know . .. understand ..." She looked up at him with wide eyes. "The ways of the Old People are the ways of death. Everyone knows that, so they do."

He didn't answer at first, but turned and walked back down the line of bright steel cans. Fourteen on this side of the mysteriously reactivated oil-supply pipe, and, she assumed, a like number on the other. As he walked, he rapped his fist on the side of each. The sound was dull and clunky. They were full of oil from the Citgo oilpatch.

He nodded without speaking and held out his hand. She took it, and they walked on in the direction they had been going when they had been so sweetly distracted.

It seemed to the lovers (for so they now were, in all but the most physical sense) that hours had passed, but it had been no more than forty-live minutes. Summer's last moon, diminished but still bright, continued to shine above them.

"But mayhap they're not broken. Mayhap they only need this stuff. And mayhap Farson knows it."

"But . . ." She paused, biting her lip, shaking her head. "Surely even Farson must know . .. understand ..." She looked up at him with wide eyes. "The ways of the Old People are the ways of death. Everyone knows that, so they do."

"For Parson," Roland said with a calm he didn't feel. "For the Good Man. The Affiliation knows he's found a number of war-machines; they come either from the Old People or from some other where. Yet the Affilia-tion fears them not, because they don't work. They're silent. Some feel Farson has gone mad to put his trust in such broken things, but..."

"I think they daren't wait much longer to strike Farson a mortal blow. If they do, the Affiliation will simply rot out from the inside. And if that happens, a good deal of Mid-World will go with it."

She led him down one of the lanes to where she had tied her horse. Pylon nodded his head and whickered softly at Roland. He saw the horse had been rigged for silence-every buckle padded, and the stirrups them-selves wrapped in felt.

It seemed to the lovers (for so they now were, in all but the most physical sense) that hours had passed, but it had been no more than forty-live minutes. Summer's last moon, diminished but still bright, continued to shine above them.

"But why?" She took him by the arm and asked her question again. "What are they for? "

She led him down one of the lanes to where she had tied her horse. Pylon nodded his head and whickered softly at Roland. He saw the horse had been rigged for silence-every buckle padded, and the stirrups them-selves wrapped in felt.

Roland inspected along the line of tangled pine branches, then stopped and plucked several aside. This created an opening like a door-way, and he gestured her to go through. "Be sharp in your looks," he said. "I doubt if they've bothered to set traps or tripwires, but 'tis always best to be careful."

"I think they daren't wait much longer to strike Farson a mortal blow. If they do, the Affiliation will simply rot out from the inside. And if that happens, a good deal of Mid-World will go with it."

"Roland-Will, I mean-what are they for? "

There was a kind of rough path behind the tankers. Roland walked slowly along it, pacing like a preacher with his hands clasped at the small of his back, reading the incomprehensible words writ upon the tankers' rear decks: citgo. sunoco. exxon. conoco. He paused once and read aloud, haltingly: "Cleaner fuel for a better tomorrow." He snorted softly. "Rot This is tomorrow."

It was the pine-boughs, of course; the ones which had been whacked from the trees on the slope. What they had been interlaced to camouflage were the big silver cans now missing from the paved area. The silver stor-age containers had been dragged over here-by the oxen, presumably- and then concealed. But why?

She touched the side of one of the tankers. Her fingers came away oily. She rubbed the tips together, smelled them, then bent and picked up a swatch of grass to wipe her hands. "This doesn't work in our machines. It's been tried. It clogs them."

Roland inspected along the line of tangled pine branches, then stopped and plucked several aside. This created an opening like a door-way, and he gestured her to go through. "Be sharp in your looks," he said. "I doubt if they've bothered to set traps or tripwires, but 'tis always best to be careful."

"Death," he said, "is what John Parson's all about."

She recalled looking around and thinking that times had been good for sai Hookey, and of course she had been right. Work in the blacksmithing line had been plentiful. Hookey had been making lots of wheels and rims, for one thing, and someone must have been paying him to do it. Eldred Jonas was one possibility; Kimba Rimer an even better one. Hart? She simply couldn't believe that. Hart had his mind-what little there was of it-fixed on other matters this summer.

He didn't answer at first, but turned and walked back down the line of bright steel cans. Fourteen on this side of the mysteriously reactivated oil-supply pipe, and, she assumed, a like number on the other. As he walked, he rapped his fist on the side of each. The sound was dull and clunky. They were full of oil from the Citgo oilpatch.

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