Game of Kings
“I wish to God,” said Gideon with mild exasperation, “that you’d talk—just once—in prose like other people.”
Phelim O’Liam Roe
“It’s fairly dispiriting, I know, ‘ said Thady Boy, ‘when he makes a virtue of the very things that you would be after being sorry at him for.’
Stewart’s voice slid, aggrieved, into its common note. ‘Shambling here and yon, looking at the Seven Wonders of the world as if they were pared from his toenails, and making such a parade of his poorness and silliness that no man of feeling could bring himself to discomfit him. And all the while you’ve got a gey queer feeling that he thinks you’re the fool and he’s the wise, tolerant fellow laughing up the holes in his sleeve.
Thady Boy at the table of the King of France
Each in its nest of gauze and gilt thread, of tissue and taffeta, swathed in silver and satin, in velvet and white fur sugared with diamonds, each face painted, each brow plucked, hair hidden by sparkling hair of raw silk, the well-born of France sat in waxlight and flowers like half a hundred candied sweets in a basket. Last at the last table, soggy gristle next the sugar plums, sat Thady Boy Ballagh.
The French court goes hunting
The dogs were out, rolling yapping, scampering in the paddock: tumblers and lurchers;spaniels for hawking and fowling; the hare hounds, light and nervy, the mastiffs with their flop ears for boar; the flat-headed vicious allaunts and the white, fleet children of Souillard, the famous Royal White Hounds, which never give tongue without cause.
With them were the wolfhounds, Luadhas and her brother, each three feet high; 120 pounds of big boned, brindle dog with thin muzzles and arched loins and mild flat-browed noble heads, who could catch and slaughter a wolf.
Taut, merry, nervous, expertly mounted, exquisitely clothed, haughty in their bright youth, the chevaliers of France poured from the disheveled clearing. Sunlit, all that morning, they spanned the glittering woods: diamond on diamond, grey on grey, riches on riches; bough and limb indistinguishable; skirts and meadows sewn in the same silks; skulls in antique fantasy knotted with fhyzome and leafy with fern frond. Webs, manes, beards, spun the same smoke-like filament; rim flashed; jewels sparked, red and fat, on rosebush and ring. Earth and animals wore the same livery. Jazerained in its berries, the oak tree matched their pearls, and paired their brilliant-sewn housings with low mosses underfoot, freshets winking half-ice in the pile.
The Tsar receives Lymond in the Kremlin
The figured vaults, prismatic with colour, chambered the room like a honeycomb, in which sat the Tsar’s golden princes, like bees in the cell. And facing them across the empty tapestried floor, the Tsar sat on his raised golden throne, foiled and jeweled as the ikon above his crowned head, the brocade of his gown seeded with pearls and plated with deep-moulded orphrey.
Hunting with the golden eagle
Free of the forest, he had watched Lymond fly Slata Baba at her proper prey, as the Turkestan hunters did; or the Tartars who killed wild horses with hawks, lured to seize mane and neck with their talons, and with wing and claw, to terrify and blind and exhaust.
In the same way, Slata Baba took deer, blinding with her powerful wings; sinking through eye and muscle and nerve with her razor-sharp talons, until the huntsman, with bow or spear, could ride to the kill. Diccon saw her swoop once, with her great, sooty brown pinions, and lift a calf from the ground, transfixed like rotten fruit, in passing.
He could tell the sound of her dive, with its swishing moan of twice-compressed air, and the tranquil flight, beating slow as the waves of the sea, and the silly, weak chirrup, which was the only song she possessed. See from behind, her golden tipped ruff pricked in cold, or anger, she looked like a ringleted girl-child. Then the pretty wigged shoulders would swivel, and there was the tearing beak, hooked below the soul-piercing gaze. To hold her, Lymond had his arm gloved to the elbow, and even he, Chancellor saw, turned his head when the bird came to land. Then she was chained to her traveling post, since no man’s arm could bear the weight of a full-grown golden eagle, unsupported.
The burial of the Lapp
In front, uncoffined, they carried their dead, gray and hard on a board, in the sheepskin tunic and cap, the crucifix and skin boots he was accustomed to wearing. And when they took him inside the belfry, and lowered him stiff on his feet, Chancellor saw round him a leaning stack of dead and stony companions, staring out, head upon head at the living. And in the hand of each rigid monolith of humanity was clenched a scrap of birch bark for St. Nicholas, affirming that this old wrinkled Lapp in his furs, that young Russian woman, this hairless baby, its half-made eye open on nothing, had died devout and shriven in Christ.
“Even in Moscow,” Lymond said, “they store them like billets all winter, until, in the spring each man takes his friend, and buries him. Before, the ground is too hard. It is the crown of dead men to see the sun before they are buried. Or so they say. And each has new shoes on his feet, because, they say, he hath a great journey to go.”
The Death of Chancellor
Although the fishing boats searched, for their own venal reasons, for quite a fair length of time, no man that night or any other laid hands on Richard Chancellor, Grand Pilot of the Muscovy Fleet, or his beloved son, Christopher.
Long before then, they had moved out of the bay, at first tangled kindly together, and later alone, out of sight of each other, but with the same broad and harmonious current bearing them east.
Over the lightening sea lay the path Chancellor had discovered, and the door he had opened, expending on it a sovereign order of courage in an element exacting of courage, for he sailed from home, and not towards it.
We commit a little money to the hazard of fortune; he commits his life. Wherefore, Sidney had said, you are to favour and love the man departing thus from us.
The way he had found opened for him, and his long-studied seas with dignity gave him his bier. And in the morning he was accorded the crown of dead men, to see the sun before they are buried, and he set out with shoes on his feet as do the Muscovites, for he had a long way to go.
Philippa realizes she loves Lymond
Though she combed the earth and searched through the smoke of the galaxies there was no being she wanted but this, who was not and should not be for Philippa Somerville.
The marriage of the queen of Scotland to the Dauphin
The traditional gesture consisted of the release into the air of two hundred dozen birds of all species….The air blackened with wings of all colors, and then blanched with the fruits of their disquietude. On the epaulette of the Archer by Philippa arrived a small portly creature in green, which puked; remarked, ‘Hė, petit capitaine de merde!’ and whirred off as he reached up to throttle it.