Peace Like a River

Davy is Reuben and Swede's older brother and Dad's oldest son. At 16, Davy seems to be fully adult. Though he comes from a devoutly religious family, he finds the idea of a fatherly God annoying, as he'd rather go through life alone. When the teenagers Israel and Tommy threaten the Land family, Davy shoots them, goes to jail, and then escapes to become an outlaw. Ostensibly, Davy killed the Israll and Tommy to follow his own code of honor and to protect his family, but his motives are somewhat murky—it seems that Davy was looking for a reason to kill, making his act perhaps more vengeful and violent than heroic. Though convicted, Davy escapes prison and flees to North Dakota. The Land family chases after him, throwing their lives into chaos. When Reuben reunites with Davy later, it's obvious that Davy has not changed: he has no remorse for what he’s done, and he plans to continue following his own honor code rather than respecting the law. That code of honor means that Davy is comfortable taking shelter with the villainous Mr. Waltzer, but also comes to the conclusion that he can’t allow Waltzer to force Sara into marriage and therefore helps her escape from Waltzer. Ultimately, Davy and Reuben continue to have a relationship as adults, but Davy remains somewhat of an outsider. He’s the only member of the family with uncertain faith, and he does not seem fully part of the nuclear family.

Davy Land Quotes in Peace Like a River

The Peace Like a River quotes below are all either spoken by Davy Land or refer to Davy Land. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Atlantic edition of Peace Like a River published in 2002.
His Separate Shadow Quotes

It took me a second to realize he meant us. Dread landed flopping in my stomach. We'd never had an enemy before, unless you counted Russia.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Davy Land, Tommy Basca
Page Number: 12
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"Rube, you're almost like Davy now, aren't you. I mean, you shot a goose this morning."

Related Characters: Swede Land (speaker), Reuben Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 15
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Your Toughened Heart Quotes

When did it come to Davy Land that exile is a country of shifting borders, hard to quit yet hard to endure, no matter your wide shoulders, no matter your toughened heart?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 50
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Peeking at Eternity Quotes

But the whole thing bothered Davy, and with Dad out of earshot he'd say so. You couldn't get blown around in a tornado, he said, and not get banged up. It didn't make sense. It wasn't right.
Swede challenged him. "Are you calling Dad a liar?"
"Of course not. I know it happened. It just shouldn't have. Don't you see that?"

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land (speaker), Davy Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad)
Page Number: 56
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Late in the Night When the Fires Are Out Quotes

"We'll wait till they're asleep—take some of Mrs. DeCuellar's cookies—offer 'em to the guard, tell him we've got to see Davy—when he turns to me you grab his gun," and so on. It was one of those rare moments when I actually felt older than Swede. Seizing it, I told her to grow up.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land (speaker), Davy Land, Mrs. DeCuellar
Page Number: 87
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A Boy on a Horse Quotes

They were the harshest words I'd ever heard him speak. I watched him sipping his coffee, his face foreign with misgiving. How I wanted to understand him! But I was eleven, and my brother had escaped from the pit where my vanity had placed him (a vain notion itself, Swede has since pointed out, yet it was certainty to me). How could my father not be joyous over such a thing? Who in this world could ask for more?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 95
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At War with This Whole World Quotes

I feared the outcome of honest speech—that it might reach forward in time and arrange events to come. If I told Swede I wanted Davy back, even at the cost of his freedom, might that not happen? And if I said what I sensed was the noble thing... might that not bring despair on this whole crusade of ours?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land
Related Symbols: Valdez
Page Number: 152
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Could a person believe so strongly one way, yet take the opposite route? I wanted to ask Swede, but again, if I posed it aloud, it might become true, and then we were in for all sorts of tangles.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land, August Schultz
Page Number: 153
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Under the Gibbon Moon Quotes

Were Dad's heart my tablet I'd have taken it up and erased Davy's name, so terribly did I wish to stay, and had it been whispered to me that all of Roofing had burned... I'd have rolled down the window and shouted thanks to Heaven...

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Davy Land, Roxanna Crawley
Page Number: 198
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The Throbbing Heart of News Quotes

For some reason I recalled old Mr. Finch, freezing in the wind outside the post office. I felt awful about Mr. Finch and wanted to believe Davy might have too.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Davy Land, Israel Finch, Mr. Finch
Page Number: 211
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Winning Her Hand Quotes

But after talking with Dad, it was plain to me that Davy had done a grievous wrong. Don't misunderstand, I backed my brother all the way. Yet it had come to mean something whether he felt anything like repentance.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Davy Land
Page Number: 248
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The Red Farm Quotes

"I can't," he replied, after a moment. "You know that, Swede." He looked, right then, for the first time in years, his age, which was seventeen.

Related Characters: Davy Land (speaker), Reuben Land, Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land
Page Number: 295
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Davy Land Character Timeline in Peace Like a River

The timeline below shows where the character Davy Land appears in Peace Like a River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
His Separate Shadow
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...first goose. At the time, the tension was so great between Dad and Reuben’s brother Davy that on the way to August Schultz's farm in North Dakota, Reuben fell asleep immediately... (full context)
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On the morning of the hunt, Dad, Davy, Reuben, and Swede settle into the field amongst their decoys. Reuben and Swede are too... (full context)
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...but the angry goose turns to Swede and begins to chase her back towards Reuben, Davy, and Dad. Dad laughs, and as Swede and the goose run past, Davy grabs the... (full context)
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Back at August's farm, Davy asks Reuben if he wants Davy to show him how to gut the goose. Reuben... (full context)
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Reuben says that he doesn't understand what's going on with Dad and Davy. Swede explains that she heard in the car last night that Israel Finch and Tommy... (full context)
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Davy misses pancakes, but Dad doesn't comment. After pancakes Dad, Reuben, and Swede nap, but Reuben... (full context)
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...hadn't felt so mature after shooting the goose that morning. When Reuben, Swede, Dad, and Davy reach the crest of the hill, the geese are waddling away from them. Reuben is... (full context)
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The geese panic and take flight. Dad begins to rise but Davy instructs him to wait. Davy points out a goose that broke off from the group... (full context)
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That night, Reuben and Swede lie snuggled under mounds of quilts. Swede wonders if Davy will fight Israel Finch and Tommy Basca. Reuben thinks justice has been served already. He... (full context)
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...go back to her own room. After kissing Reuben, she remarks that he's "almost like Davy now" since he shot the goose. Reuben thinks that Davy's shot during the crawlup had... (full context)
Beauteous Are My Cakes Indeed
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Reuben says he learned later from Davy that Dolly, a clarinetist in the pep band, had gone to the locker room to... (full context)
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...usual Pastor Reach), and Bethany Orchard, Reuben's crush, will be at the service. Swede and Davy stay home, and Reuben thinks it quite convenient that he'll be able to talk to... (full context)
Your Toughened Heart
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...been working on, in which Sunny Sundown prepares to destroy his adversary, Valdez. At home, Davy is in the garage working on a secret. Swede, alone in the house, runs to... (full context)
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...seemed commonplace at the time, but that a nine-year-old should never suffer what Swede did. Davy reenters the house from the garage just as Swede returns from her ordeal, white as... (full context)
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...the local police officer, telling Dad that he'll talk to "those boys" in the morning. Davy asks how many times a dog can bite before the dog should be put down,... (full context)
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Swede turns nine the following morning. Dad, Davy, and Reuben wake her up in the morning singing "Happy Birthday" to her, and Reuben... (full context)
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The Lands then hear a honk in the front of the house. Davy runs around to look and when he returns, he says it's Tin Lurvy. Swede looks... (full context)
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As Davy and Reuben walk, Davy asks Reuben if he saw Swede's bruises. They wonder if Dad... (full context)
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Reuben and Davy encounter a tramp sleeping in the woods and quietly back away. Reuben tells the reader... (full context)
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Swede's birthday dinner is the Land family's favorite chowder. When Reuben and Davy enter the house, it's evident that Tin Lurvy is planning on staying for supper. Reuben... (full context)
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...over Swede's saddle on his way to bed, and Swede and Reuben head to bed. Davy goes out, and Reuben wonders again about Swede's bruises. He gets out of bed to... (full context)
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After midnight Reuben hears the back door open and notices that both Dad and Davy are in bed asleep. Reuben listens to footsteps in the living room but can't bring... (full context)
Peeking at Eternity
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Reuben explains that Davy would be very annoyed if Reuben tried to cast what happened in a "redemptive glow."... (full context)
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...married to Mom and attending school in Iowa, on his way to becoming a doctor. Davy was one year old. Dad had a part-time job working as a janitor in the... (full context)
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...explain this logic with Dad's own words that "he was treated so gently up there." Davy, however, is bothered by the fact that Dad wasn't hurt—he insists the event shouldn't have... (full context)
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Returning to the narrative, Reuben says the police put Davy in cuffs and took him to jail. The rest of the Lands spend the night... (full context)
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...yet. He remarks that Dad seemed to suffer the most in the following weeks, not Davy. Davy seemed to remain the same, just thinner. On one visit, Reuben sees certainty in... (full context)
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Davy begins receiving mail from a number of individuals who read about him in the local... (full context)
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Dad learns that Davy will be charged with two counts of manslaughter rather than murder, because Israel and Tommy... (full context)
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Mr. DeCuellar visits several times over the next week. Davy apparently resists all his attempts to paint Davy's actions in a kind light, insists that... (full context)
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...night, Swede comes into Reuben's room with a sleeping bag and asks to sleep in Davy's bed. She wonders if Davy will ever come home, and Reuben is close to tears.... (full context)
When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll
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Ten days before Davy's trial, a newspaper publishes an article that paints Tommy Basca as a loveable, if misunderstood,... (full context)
Late in the Night When the Fires Are Out
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...at their house. Afterwards, they head to the courthouse, where they're not allowed to visit Davy. Reuben and Swede pace the hallway until someone offers them a private office where they... (full context)
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Reuben thinks that the judge looks like a vain man, while Davy looks short and skinny. Reuben only remembers the first name of the prosecutor, Elvis, who... (full context)
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As the trial continues, Reuben understands that Davy has no chance. Even Dolly's testimony seems to have little effect on the jury. Reuben,... (full context)
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...DeCuellars’ study. Swede states that they're going to lose, and says they need to break Davy out of jail. Swede, pacing, comes up with a childish scheme to bribe the guard... (full context)
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...walks Reuben through the events of the night of Swede's abduction, and Reuben finally repeats Davy's phrase about putting a biting dog down. Elvis looks pleased and extracts a testimony that... (full context)
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That night, Reuben agrees to break Davy out of jail. Swede and Reuben make childish plans, and Reuben explains to the reader... (full context)
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...wakes before dawn to find Dad in between him and Swede, trying to rouse them. Davy has broken out of jail. (full context)
A Boy on a Horse
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Reuben says that Swede delighted in finding out that Davy escaped by pony, but they didn't find this fact out for several days. Early that... (full context)
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...Lands learn that the stolen horse has returned home, hungry but fine. Rumors circulate that Davy rode for miles to the highway and then hitchhiked. The newspapers continue to paint Davy... (full context)
By the Grace of Lurvy
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...to New Mexico. Reuben thinks it sounds fantastic, but Swede asks what will happen if Davy returns and they've left Roofing. Reuben tells Swede that Davy would find them, and says... (full context)
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...Swede finally motions to their Christmas cards and says that they haven't gotten one from Davy. Reuben wonders out loud if any historical desperados sent Christmas cards, which doesn't sway Swede.... (full context)
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...into the kitchen. This man says he is Andreeson, a federal investigator tasked with capturing Davy. Andreeson asks Dad to contact him if Davy makes contact, and says that the feds... (full context)
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...Dad why he keeps laughing, and Dad answers that he prayed that morning for either Davy to be sent home, or for them to be sent to Davy. (full context)
The Substance of Things Hoped For
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...in January, Swede returns from the post office bearing a postcard from August Schultz. Apparently Davy stopped in to see the Schultzes, and August indicates that Andreeson visited them as well.... (full context)
The Last Thing He Would Do
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August and Birdie are able to offer the Lands details on Davy. They say he looked good but skinny, and August admits that he wasn't dressed warmly... (full context)
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...eavesdrop on conversation in the kitchen. Reuben and Swede listen as Birdie tells Dad that Davy doesn't understand how much trouble he's in. August mentions Andreeson's visit, and Swede whispers "ratfink"... (full context)
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...is beyond him. He says that his primary response to witnessing the shooting was missing Davy. Reuben's mind wanders, but Swede tells him later that Birdie said Davy would never turn... (full context)
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Reuben asks August how long he thinks it'll take them to find Davy. August only says that he's sure they'll find Davy, and then points out the little... (full context)
At War with This Whole World
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...journey ended. However, her writing neglected to mention that all parties involved in the story, Davy included, are traveling by car at this point—August had fixed up his old Studebaker for... (full context)
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...few lines of Swede's writing that mention stealing their brother back. The thought of "stealing" Davy troubles Reuben. Reuben tries to remember a time when he convinced Davy of anything, concludes... (full context)
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Swede asks why August gave Davy the Studebaker if he wanted Davy to turn himself in. Reuben has no real answer,... (full context)
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...in the Dakotas in the middle of winter. Dad tells the truth and admits that Davy contacted August and Birdie. Andreeson says that they don't have to be enemies, which Dad... (full context)
The Skin Bag
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...is too engrossed in his own self-pity and says that they're not going to find Davy if they stay. Swede retorts that they can't leave anyway, and begins to describe the... (full context)
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Swede confesses that she really did forget about Davy for a while. She says she likes Roxanna, and they agree that it's better they... (full context)
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...is extremely upset, and isn't comforted by Reuben's suggestion that Dad heard from God about Davy's whereabouts. In her anger, Swede throws her toothbrush at Reuben. She asks him if he... (full context)
Under the Gibbon Moon
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...pile into the Plymouth. Roxanna gives directions and Dad drives. Reuben wishes he could erase Davy out of Dad's mind, and thinks that if he'd been able to write the scene,... (full context)
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...cigarette. Swede mysteriously disappears from the gathering. Andreeson tells Dad that they're getting close to Davy, and it's getting more dangerous for Davy as time goes on. He asks Dad for... (full context)
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...this. Reuben tells the reader that judging by the look on her face, she'd raised Davy herself. Andreeson asks Dad if he'd help by driving around with him, suggesting that he... (full context)
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...Reuben wonders why Andreeson is hoping to employ such measures if he's so close to Davy. Swede is thrilled that there's been a sighting of Davy. (full context)
The Throbbing Heart of News
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...barn when he sees a man on horseback up on the hill. He knows it's Davy and waves to the horseman. Davy doesn't wave back but turns his horse away. Reuben... (full context)
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...feels adventurous and imagines Swede later telling him that taking off after the possibility of Davy was heroic. Reuben wonders if it really was Lonnie Ford, and imagines several possibilities for... (full context)
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...to follow it, still imagining meeting Mr. Ford. As he crests a hill, Reuben sees Davy sitting just on the other side on a horse. Reuben and Davy look at each... (full context)
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Davy pulls Reuben up behind him on the horse and they pick their way down the... (full context)
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Davy says he spied on Reuben and the rest of the family last night at the... (full context)
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Davy asks about Roxanna, and Reuben gives a cursory explanation. Reuben suggests that Davy come down... (full context)
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Davy abruptly changes the subject. He says he didn't steal the horse; the horse belongs to... (full context)
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Reuben asks what Davy's friend's name is. Davy says that his friend is in a lot of trouble, but... (full context)
The Little Man's Country
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...characters to give him strength, but finds he's still afraid. Finally, he calls out for Davy and a snort from a horse answers. Davy pulls Reuben up behind him and they... (full context)
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Davy and Reuben ride silently and Reuben loses track of time. Finally they come upon a... (full context)
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...know what to make of any of this, so he asks how Mr. Waltzer knows Davy. Mr. Waltzer describes being in a cafe and hearing the fry cook answer a call... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer calls for Sara to prepare dinner as Davy enters the cabin. Davy offers to help Sara, and she smiles at him. Mr. Waltzer... (full context)
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...came straight here. Mr. Waltzer asks who led them and Reuben realizes he thinks that Davy tipped them off. Reuben thinks that God led them, but asks Mr. Waltzer what kind... (full context)
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...he wants to do with his life, and Reuben answers that he'd like to breathe. Davy explains that Reuben has lung trouble. Reuben's breath is worsening, and Mr. Waltzer tries to... (full context)
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...again and wakes to Mr. Waltzer's face close to his own. Mr. Waltzer explains that Davy is getting his horse ready to take Reuben home. He tells Reuben he cannot tell... (full context)
Winning Her Hand
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...get air into his lungs. Reuben thinks of this as he rides in front of Davy and feels better. Davy lets him off behind the barn. Reuben wakes several hours later... (full context)
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...Roxanna shares that there's been no big news, and Reuben sees that she's scared for Davy. Roxanna tells them they must be steadfast and have faith, and Reuben notes that she's... (full context)
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...was an enemy. Dad leads Reuben in questioning what role Mr. Andreeson plays in what Davy did. Reuben admits that he'd like for Davy to escape consequences even if he did... (full context)
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That afternoon, Reuben spots Davy on the hillside. Davy is waiting for Reuben behind the barn again that night with... (full context)
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Reuben tells the reader that he made the trip with Davy three more times and struggled to justify deceiving Dad. One night, Reuben mentions how sad... (full context)
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Reuben asks Davy if he's afraid of Mr. Waltzer. Davy says he isn't, he just listens closely when... (full context)
Boy Ready
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Reuben decides to tell Swede about Davy, but when he opens his eyes Swede is reading her newest Sunny Sundown poem out... (full context)
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Reuben still doesn't feel any better. All he can think of is Davy in the shack, and Reuben feels convinced that his lungs won't get better. As he... (full context)
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...can't quite bring himself to feel that way. Andreeson tells Reuben that people have sighted Davy. He promises Reuben they won't hurt Davy. Reuben thinks he wants nothing from Andreeson, and... (full context)
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Reuben prays throughout the day and sneaks outside several times, hoping to see Davy. Finally, in the evening he hears a horse neigh. Reuben goes with Davy to the... (full context)
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...declares it dull), and then Mr. Waltzer describes the taste of the pig's diet. As Davy saddles his horse later, Mr. Waltzer points out constellations to Reuben. Reuben has never heard... (full context)
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...the next morning with news that the man who was supposed to accompany him to Davy never showed. Dad suggests prayer. When Dad hangs up, he asks Reuben if there's something... (full context)
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...Lands hear nothing from Andreeson. A chilling wind picks up outside, and Reuben, thinking of Davy and Sara, wonders out loud to Swede how long it'd take to freeze in the... (full context)
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...shovel and Reuben is tasked with waiting by the phone. Reuben continues to worry about Davy in the cold. Dad calls Andreeson's motel in the afternoon. The desk clerk tells Dad... (full context)
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...of concern at hearing about Andreeson, and Andreeson's happiness that he'd found someone who'd seen Davy. Reuben tells Dad that Andreeson's man is called Jape Waltzer, he's with Davy, and he’s... (full context)
The Ledger of Our Decisions
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...sits with the posse that will ride on horseback to Mr. Waltzer's cabin and take Davy. Mr. Ford is there, as well as Mr. Juval, a federal investigator. They debate whether... (full context)
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...unsurprisingly took Reuben's betrayal very badly. Swede feels betrayed that Reuben didn't tell her about Davy, and then even more betrayed that Reuben snitched. She threw a massive tantrum the night... (full context)
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...Reuben feels like a turncoat, and if he wishes he'd kept quiet. Reuben insists that Davy isn't the problem; Mr. Waltzer is. Reuben explains to the reader that the night before,... (full context)
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...begins to recognize the landscape. He questions whether he did the right thing ratting out Davy, and thinks that Mr. Waltzer is certainly crazy and therefore it's silly to ascribe meaning... (full context)
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...hill. The posse climbs the hill strung out, and Reuben feels exhilarated that he's protecting Davy. At the top, Mr. Juval and Mr. Ford trot a small distance away and look... (full context)
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...oil, and a book. Reuben imagines what's going on at the cabin and thinks that Davy won't be able to survive multiple gunshot wounds. He wonders what Davy will think of... (full context)
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Snuggled against Mr. Ford's horse, Reuben cries and prays for Davy, Andreeson, Sara, and Mr. Waltzer. When he hears Mr. Ford speak, Reuben scrambles back to... (full context)
The Red Farm
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...Dad to take him home, and spends his days looking out the window, waiting for Davy. A number of investigators stop by over the next few months, but Andreeson is never... (full context)
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In June, a Ford pulls up the driveway bearing Davy and Sara. The reunion is joyful. Though they don't mention Mr. Waltzer by name, they... (full context)
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Throughout the evening, Davy regales his family with the story of his escape from jail and his following exploits... (full context)
Be Jubilant, My Feet
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...thinks he wants to join the rivers of people, but Dad tells Reuben to tell Davy about this place. Dad then jumps into the river, singing, and Reuben watches him disappear. (full context)
The Curious Music That I Hear
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Jape Waltzer was never caught, much like Valdez. Davy eventually tells Reuben that Waltzer bludgeoned Andreeson and rolled the body into the lignite vein.... (full context)
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...says that finally, the reader needs to know that one Thanksgiving when all except for Davy were home, they held hands around the table to pray. Swede released Reuben's left hand... (full context)
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Davy, meanwhile, shows up some years in a small hunting town in Canada. Reuben goes every... (full context)
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Davy asks if Reuben ever doubts what happened. Reuben tells the reader that sometimes he does,... (full context)