“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.”
“Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.”
“You don't pay back your parents. You can't. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It's a sort of entailment. Or if you don't have children of the body, it's left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one.
The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It's the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren't bankrupted - but rather, vastly enriched.”
“There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul-destroying. The other way around is merely very, very irritating.”
“When you give each other everything, it becomes an even trade. Each wins all.”
“Too late, he recalled Miles's dictum that the reward for a job well done was usually a harder job.”
“Not that I haven't leaped up into the blinding light of competence now and then. It's sustaining the altitude that defeats me.”
“[Koudelka] looked back, "You?! I know you! You trust beyond reason!"
[Cordelia] met his eyes steadily, "Yes, it's how I get results beyond hope, as you may recall.”
“There's something to that in both directions," said Ekaterin mildly. "Nothing is more guaranteed to make one start acting like a child than to be treated like one. It's so infuriating. It took me the longest time to figure out how to stop falling into that trap."
"Yes, exactly," said Kareen eagerly. "You understand! So—how did you make them stop?"
"You can't make them—whoever your particular them is—do anything, really," said Ekaterin slowly. "Adulthood isn't an award they'll give you for being a good child. You can waste . . . years, trying to get someone to give that respect to you, as though it were a sort of promotion or raise in pay. If only you do enough, if only you are good enough. No. You have to just . . . take it. Give it to yourself, I suppose. Say, I'm sorry you feel like that, and walk away. But that's hard.”
“If power was an illusion, wasn't weakness necessarily one also?”
“My dinner party,' Miles grated. 'It's just breaking up.' And sinking. All souls feared lost.”
“I wanted to give you a victory. But by their essential nature triumphs can’t be given.”
“Dear Madam Vorsoisson, I am sorry.
This is the eleventh draft of this letter. They’ve all started with those three words, even the horrible version in rhyme, so I guess they stay.
You once asked me never to lie to you. All right, so. I’ll tell you the truth now even if it isn’t the best or cleverest thing, and not abject enough either.
I tried to be the thief of you, to ambush and take prisoner what I thought I could never earn or be given. You were not a ship to be hijacked, but I couldn’t think of any other plan but subterfuge and surprise. Though not as much of a surprise as what happened at dinner. The revolution started prematurely because the idiot conspirator blew up his secret ammo dump and lit the sky with his intentions. Sometimes these accidents end in new nations, but more often they end badly, in hangings and beheadings. And people running into the night. I can’t be sorry that I asked you to marry me, because that was the one true part in all the smoke and rubble, but I’m sick as hell that I asked you so badly.
Even though I’d kept my counsel from you, I should have at least had the courtesy to keep it from others as well, till you’d had the year of grace and rest you’d asked for. But I became terrified that you’d choose another first. So I used the garden as a ploy to get near you. I deliberately and consciously shaped your heart’s desire into a trap. For this I am more than sorry, I am ashamed.
You’d earned every chance to grow. I’d like to pretend I didn’t see it would be a conflict of interest for me to be the one to give you some of those chances, but that would be another lie. But it made me crazy to watch you constrained to tiny steps, when you could be outrunning time. There is only a brief moment of apogee to do that, in most lives.
I love you. But I lust after and covet so much more than your body. I wanted to possess the power of your eyes, the way they see form and beauty that isn’t even there yet and draw it up out of nothing into the solid world. I wanted to own the honor of your heart, unbowed in the vilest horrors of Komarr. I wanted your courage and your will, your caution and your serenity. I wanted, I suppose, your soul, and that was too much to want.
I wanted to give you a victory. But by their essential nature triumphs can’t be given. They must be taken, and the worse the odds and the fiercer the resistance, the greater the honor. Victories can’t be gifts.
But gifts can be victories, can’t they. It’s what you said. The garden could have been your gift, a dowry of talent, skill, and vision.
I know it’s too late now, but I just wanted to say, it would have been a victory most worthy of our House.
Yours to command,
“Pym!" The Countess spotted a new victim, and her voice went a little dangerous. "I seconded you to look after Miles. Would you care to explain this scene?"
There was a thoughtful pause. In a voice of simple honesty, Pym replied, "No, Milady.”
“I miss it every minute, and I have no wish at all to go back.”
“For a while, I thought I was going mad. At last, I became reconciled to my despair.
The medications helped, too, I thought, sir.”
“Vormurtos leaned on the frame with his arms crossed, and failed to move aside.
At Miles's polite, "Excuse us, please," Vormurtos pursed his lips in exaggerated irony.
"Why not? Everyone else has. It seems if you are Vorkosigan enough, you can even get away with murder."
Ekaterin stiffened unhappily. Miles hesitated a fractional moment, considering responses: explanation, outrage, protest? Argument in a hallway with a half-potted fool? No. I am Aral Vorkosigan's son, after all. Instead, he stared up unblinkingly, and breathed, "So if you truly believe that, why are you standing in my way?"
Vormurtos's inebriated sneer drained away, to be replaced by a belated wariness. With an effort at insouciance that he did not quite bring off, he unfolded himself, and opened his hand to wave the couple past. When Miles bared his teeth in an edged smile, he backed up an extra and involuntary step. Miles shifted Ekaterin to his other side and strode past without looking back.
Ekaterin glanced over her shoulder once, as they made their way down the corridor. In a tone of dispassionate observation, she murmured, "He's melted. You know, your sense of humor is going to get you into deep trouble someday."
"Belike," Miles sighed.”
“Gardens were meant to be seen, smelled, walked through, grubbed in. A hundred objective measurements didn't sum the worth of a garden; only the delight of its users did that.”
“How had he rehearsed this vitally-important, utterly-critical meeting, again? "Mother, Father, let me introduce -- she's getting away!”
“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about
yourself... Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And
outlive the bastards.”
“everyone has their folding-point, Miles. Their mortal vulnerability. Some just keep it in a nonstandard location.”
“Pym looked at the bugs, glanced at the sleeve of his proud uniform, stared again at the deadly parody of his insignia the creatures now bore, and shot Miles a look of heartbreaking despair, a silent cry which Miles had no trouble interpreting as, Please, m'lord, please, can we take him out and kill him now?”
“You? I know you! You trust beyond reason."
She met his eyes steadily. "Yes. It's how I get results beyond hope. As you may recall.”
“Honesty is the only way with anyone, when you’ll be so close as to be living inside each other’s skins.”
“Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.... The friction tends to arise when the two are not the same....There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul destroying. The other way around is merely very, very irritating.”
“Lately, I have come to believe that the principal difference between heaven and hell is the company you keep there.”
“Of course, compared to Serg, Tien wasn’t much worse than foolish and venal. But it was hard to watch. No nine-year-old should have to deal with something this vile, this close to his heart. What will it make him?” “Eventually . . . ten,” the Count said. “You do what you have to do. You grow or go under. You have to believe he will grow.” Miles”
“You want to be good. All right, I can understand that. But you have to be careful who you let define your good.”
“Ekaterin glanced back over her shoulder. “He didn’t look very well this morning, Pym. You really shouldn’t have let him get out of bed.” “Oh, I know it, ma’am,” Pym agreed morosely. “But what’s a mere armsman to do? I haven’t the authority to countermand his orders. What he really needs, is looking after by someone who won’t stand his nonsense. A proper Lady Vorkosigan would do the trick. Not one of those shy, simpering ingénues all the young lords seem to be looking to these days—he’d just ride right over her. He needs a woman of experience, to stand up to him.” He smiled apologetically down at her. “I suppose so,” sighed Ekaterin. She hadn’t really thought about the Vor mating scene from the armsmen’s point of view. Was Pym hinting that his lord had such an ingénue in his eye, and his staff was worried it was some sort of mismatch? Pym”
“The Lord created me in the beginning of his ways, for his works; before the world he established me, in the beginning, before he made the earth, before he made the depths, before the mountains were settled,”
“I really don’t worry about that anymore. When you’re dying, you don’t have time for that junk. The shit people did to you? It’s over.”
“Foxy girls know that silence may be golden-but only for four seconds. Anything longer and you're heading for Awkward Avenue.”
“If you have heard a Jewish cantor sing, if he has touched you and made your own sorrow seem trivial when compared with his, you will know my feeling when I follow the curves of her profile, like mobile rivers, to their common delta.”
“The cabby left, muttering under his nose. "What's he muttering about?" Mr. Goliadkin thought through his tears. "I hired him for the evening, I'm sort of...within my rights nows...so there! I hired him for the evening, and that's the end of the matter. Even if he just stands there, it's all the same. It's as I will. I'm free to go, and free not to go. And that I'm now standing behind the woodpile--that, too, is quite all right...and don't you dare say anything; I say, the gentleman wants to stand behind the woodpile, so he stands behind the woodpile...and it's no taint to anybody's honor--so there! So there, lady mine, if you'd like to know. Thus and so, I say, but in our age, lady mine, nobody lives in a hut. So there! In our industrial age, lady mine, you can't get anywhere without good behavior, of which you yourself serve as a pernicious example...You say one must serve as a chief clerk and live in a hut on the seashore. First of all, lady mine, there are no chief clerks on the seashore, and second, you and I can't possible get to be a chief clerk. For, to take an example, suppose I apply, I show up--thus and so, as a chief clerk, say, sort of...and protect me from my enemy...and they'll tell you, my lady, say, sort of...there are lots of chief clerks, and here you're not at some émigrée Falbala's, where you learned good behavior, of which you yourself serve as a pernicious example. Good behavior, my lady, means sitting at home, respecting your father, and not thinking of any little suitors before it's time. Little suitors, my lady, will be found in due time! So there! Of course, one must indisputably have certain talents, to wit: playing the piano on occasion, speaking French, some history, geography, catechism, and arithmetic--so there!--but not more. Also cooking; cooking should unfailingly be part of every well-behaved girl's knowledge!”
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