“I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.
'You should put a lock on that tongue of yours. It's long enough and sharp enough to slit your own throat,' our guardian warned me, the night before I left home to go to the royal court at Versailles ... I just laughed. 'Don't you know a woman's tongue is her sword? You wouldn't want me to let my only weapon rust, would you?”
“Each word was shaped with certainty, and I felt, more strongly than ever before in my life, that I had at last found my true path. I knew the story would change as I told it. No one can tell as tory without transforming it in some way; it is part of the magic of storytelling. Like the troubadors of the past, who hid their messages in poems, songs and fairy tales, I too would hide my true purpose [ … ]
It was by telling stories that I would save myself.”
“The world is a cruel place, Petrosinella, and it wounds the weak.”
“Can we make promises to each other, as if we were truly married? Can we swear to be true and faithful and love only each other and all those things? Because I'm in such pain, Margherita, I need to have you, I need to know that you're mine. I've been in torment since I first saw you. No, since I first heard you singing from you tower height. Please, mia bella bianca, please let us swear to each other. Love breaks all spells, I know it does. Wear my ring and let me know-"
She stopped his words with her mouth, cupping both hands about his face. Then she sat back to show him the ring on her finger. "I swear it all. Is that good enough? Because I really need you to kiss me again.”
“She paced her room all day, tossed sleeplessly in her bed all night. At dusk, she sat in her window and poured all her longing and desire into her songs, hoping he would somehow hear her and return.
And he did.”
“I wish I could paint like Raphael," Lucio said. "I'd paint you! You should smile more often - it's like dawn breaking over a snowfield.”
“I know you find your banishment from court hard, but, believe me, it could be much, much worse. This is not a true prison. You can come out here to the garden and see the sky and listen to the birds singing and the bees humming in the flowers. You can work with your own two hands and see things you have planted grow and bring beauty to the world. You can eat what you have grown, and that is a joy too. Then there is the music and the singing, which is a balm to the soul, and the convent itself is filled with beauty, the soaring pillars and the windows glowing like jewels and the embroidered tapestries.”
“The garden was the most beautiful place Margherita had ever seen. In spring, it was a sea of delicate blossom. In summer, it was green and fruitful. In autumn, the trees blazed gold and red and orange, as vivid as Margherita's hair. Even in winter, it was beautiful, with bare branches against the old stone walls and green hedges in curves and curlicues about beds of winter-flowering herbs and flowers.”
“Farfallina, bella e bianca, vola vola, mai si stanca, gira qua, e gira la- poi si resta sopra un fiore, e poi si resta sopra un fiore... Butterfly, beautiful and white, fly and fly, never get tired, turn here and turn there- she rests upon a flower... and she rests upon a flower.”
“It seemed like a magical city, floating on the lagoon as if conjured by an enchanter's wand. I sat in the meadow and stared at it, picking meadow flowers from around my feet- clover and daisies and wild garlic- and making myself a wreath.”
“Belle laide, Athénaïs calls me,' I replied with a little shrug. The expression was usually used to describe a woman who was arresting despite the plainness of her looks.”
“I wanted to rest my eyes on green meadows. I wanted to sit on green grass under the shade of a green tree. I wanted to eat cool green salads. I longed for arugula tossed with olive oil and parmesan, for asparagus tips dripping with melted butter, for a salad of sweet and bitter green leaves. Most of all, I longed for fish and parsley soup.”
“Perhaps there was a secret door down low in the wall, a door only large enough for a child. If I stepped through that door, I would be in another world, in fairyland perhaps. It would be warm and bright there, and I would have a magical wand to protect myself. I'd ride on the back of a dragonfly, swooping through the forest. I'd battle dragons and talk to birds and have all kinds of grand adventures.
Later, I found that small door into fairyland could be conjured any time I needed it. The world beyond the door was different every time. Sometimes, I found a little stone house in the woods where I could live with just Nanette and my sister, Marie, and a tabby cat who purred by the fire. Sometimes, I lived in a castle in the air with a handsome prince who loved me. Other times, I was the prince myself, with a golden sword and a white charger.”
“I want to stay here and think about the secret door.'
'You can think about it on the way. That's the beautiful thing about the secret door. You can open it anywhere, any time.'
In later years, the court ladies often laughed behind their fans at the Dauphin, saying cruelly that he could spend a whole day tapping his cane against his foot and staring into space. I knew, though, that he was building castles in the air.”
“I'm sorry, I'm afraid I have no time to be a wet-nurse for a bantling.'
To my surprise, he did not flush or draw away in embarrassment. He grinned and winked at me, as if to say I could suckle him any time, and to my horror I felt myself grow red.”
“I did not really listen, fixing my eyes on the nearest tapestry, which showed a white unicorn sitting with its front hooves in the lap of a fair-haired maiden in a gorgeous medieval gown. The embroidered grass was studded with flowers, and the two overarching trees were hung with pomegranates. Small beasts- rabbits and squirrels and badgers- watched from the shelter of the forest, not noticing the hunters creeping closer with their dogs and spears. I stared at this tapestry for an hour every day and still I found new things in it- a nest of baby birds, a hunter who looked sad, a ladybird on a leaf.”
“Her papa called her 'chiacchere' because he said she chattered away all day, just like a magpie. He had all sorts of funny names for her: 'fiorellina', my little flower; 'abelie', which meant honeysuckle; and 'topolina', my sweet little mouse. Margherita's mother only called her 'piccolina', my little one, or 'mia cara Margherita,' my darling daisy.”
“Margherita was not allowed to play in the 'portego,' for one never knew when a customer would come, and the room must always be clean and tidy and respectable. It was only ever used by the family on special occasions, and so Margherita's eyes widened when she saw that her mother had spread the table with a spotless white cloth and the best pewter bowls and mugs. A small bunch of 'margherita' daisies was in a fat blue jug, and three sweet oranges sat in an earthenware bowl. Coarse brown bread stood ready on a wooden board, next to a bowl of soft white cheese floating in golden oil and thyme sprigs. Soup made with fish and clams and fennel and scattered with sprigs of fresh parsley steamed in a big clay pot.”
“Margherita stared at the mask. It was painted bright yellow and marked with little copper-colored circles to suggest florets. White petals streaked with gold radiated out in all directions. Long golden eyelashes fringed the eye slits, and the mouth was painted as a big happy smile. 'La sua bella,' she whispered, her lisp more pronounced than ever.”
“Huge tureens of puréed chestnut soup with truffles were carried in and served to each guest, filling the air with a rich earthy small. Then the servants brought in ballotine of pheasant, served with cold lobster in aspic and deep-sea oysters brought up the river by boat that morning. Our own foie gras on tiny rounds of bread was followed by 'margret de canard,' the breast meat of force-fed ducks, roasted with small home-grown pears and Armagnac. There was a white-bean cassoulet with wild hare, a haunch of venison cooked in cinnamon and wine, eel pie, and a salad of leaves and flowers from the garden, dressed in olive oil and lemon.”
“Do you deny the Scriptures, madame? For is it not said that a woman should be silent and have no authority over man?'
'Of course I do not deny the Scriptures, Your Majesty.'
'Yet you are on of these 'réformés,' are you not?'
She met the King's gaze. 'I am, Your Majesty. But we do not deny the Scriptures. We believe they contain all that is necessary for the service of God and our own salvation.'
He frowned. 'Yet you argue against the one true Church, is that not so?'
She picked her words with care. 'The one true Church is made up of those faithful who agree to follow the word of God.”
“Autumn into winter was called Shadowfest, and was the night to predict the future and communicate with the dead. Winter into spring was called the Feast of the Wolf, and was a time to celebrate and make love. Spring into summer was called Lady's Day, and was a time to be handfasted and to dance about the maypole. Summer into autumn was called Cornucopia, when we celebrated the harvest and and enjoyed the fruits of the earth.”
“Ah-ah! Another kiss. Come here to me, Charlotte-Rose. Come and kiss me.'
He flung himself down on the couch and held out his arms to me. I rose and went slowly towards him, searching his face, my stomach fluttering with nerves. His face softened. 'I will not hurt you, chérie.' He drew me down so our mouths met and clung.
It was a long, long kiss. Somehow, I found myself lying back on the cushions, the Marquis' body half-covering mine, his hand tangling my hair, one shoulder bared to the cool night air. He lifted his mouth from mine, smiled at me and then shifted his body so that his mouth was at the junction of my collarbones, his tongue tracing lazy circles in the hollow. I sighed. My bones seemed made of honey, my skin dancing with a million tiny stars.”
“Footmen stood stiffly with trays laden with foaming goblets and plates filled with tiny delicacies, such as sautéed scallops, salt cod and caviar on potato pancakes, basil palmiers, and roasted brie with gooseberries.”
“Words. I had always loved them. I collected them, like I had collected pretty stones as a child. I liked to roll words over my tongue like a lump of molten honeycomb, savoring the sweetness, the crackle, the crunch. Cerulean, azure, blue. Shadowy, sombre, secret. Voluptuous, sensuous, amorous. Kiss, hiss, abyss.
Some words sounded dangerous. Pagan. Tiger.
Some words seemed to shine. Crystal. Glissade.
Some words changed their meaning as I grew older. Ravishing.”
“I stood in a clearing among a stand of beech trees, leaves as red as rubies, branches black as jet. It was sunset, and shafts of richly colored sunlight struck through the delicate pillars of the tree trunks, as if through the lancet windows of a cathedral.”
“in order to isolate what was possible, you had to eliminate everything that was impossible”
“The simple fact that something has not been done, is no proof that it cannot be.”
“Damn, amigo. Just how much Oprah have you been watching since I’ve been gone?”
“A study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn't we use a little art jargon? There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”
“Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world.”
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