“But I really would love to give her a very special gift. I was hoping if I did, she might give me a kiss in return, instead of the brotherly hugs I always get instead.”
“Earnest young knights are my favorite. I love the looks on their faces when they realize that they're being slow-cooked in their own armor.”
“It looks as though your shop is doing well,” Luka said, gazing around. “Could you help me find a gift for a lady friend of mine?” My heart plunged to my green satin slippers, and I had to stare down at Azarte for a minute, petting him hard. Naturally Luka had a “lady friend.” She was probably nobly born: the daughter of a count or a duke. I imagined her having thick dark hair and clear skin, and was bitterly jealous. “Of c-course,” I stammered after a time. “What would she like? A gown? A sash?” If she came in for a fitting, I decided to “accidentally” poke her with every pin. “Hmm, well, she is wearing a lovely gown today,” he said. “Although no sash.” So. He’d already seen her today, and it was not yet noon. I rubbed Azarte’s ears furiously. “What color is her gown?” “It’s sort of green, with more green, and the design looks like stained glass windows,” he said. “It’s very beautiful, like her.” I stopped petting the dog and looked up at him, not sure what I was hearing. “Oh?” My heart thumped painfully. “Yes, so perhaps she doesn’t need a sash after all. No sense gilding the lily.” He gave a melancholy sigh. “But I really would love to give her a very special gift. I was hoping if I did, she might give me a kiss in return, instead of the brotherly hugs I always get instead.” I raised my eyebrows, trying for casual interest even though I could feel my pulse beating in the blood rushing to my cheeks. “I know!” Luka snapped his fingers. “Forget a sash. I’ll give her this!” And with a flourish, he pulled a roll of parchment from his belt pouch. More confused than ever, I unrolled the paper and read. It was a letter from a priest in the Southern Counties, addressed to King Caxel. In it the priest begged for a grant of money. They had recently built a large chapel, the finest that had ever been dedicated to the Triune Gods in that region, and it had only been completed the year before. “But we do need another grant from the crown,” the priest wrote. “For a most heinous act of vandalism has taken place. Our rose-glass window, which illuminates the Triple Altar in glorious colors pleasing to the gods, has been stolen. It was removed from its frame the night before last, and not a pane of it can be found.” “Shardas?” I looked up at Luka with my eyes brimming. “Shardas!” “I have a pair of horses waiting outside,” Luka said. “We can be at Feniul’s cave by nightfall.” I threw my arms around him again, and this time I gave him the kiss he’d been waiting for.”
“Why should anyone be rewarded for defeating a dragon by being saddled with a dowryless, freckled wife and well over a dozen daft and impoverished in-laws? No”
“It was almost exactly like the caves to the east where my girl cousins met their swains to canoodle.”
“The scale of Monument Avenue also amplified the weirdness of the whole enterprise. After all, Davis and Lee and Jackson and Stuart weren't national heroes. In the view of many Americans, they were precisely the opposite; leaders of a rebellion against the nation - separatists at best, traitors at worst. None of those honored were native Richmonders. And their mission failed. They didn't call it the Lost Cause for nothing. I couldn't think of another city in the world that lined its streets with stone leviathans honoring failed rebels against the state.”
“Silence made space for other people's words, which was important for those who needed to be listened to.”
“Just wanted to make sure the number wasn't a fake," Az said.
She couldn't help her bitter laugh. "Well, you can go ahead and erase it. A bit of advice? Either kiss a girl or don't. Never stop halfway through.”
“Had the situation not been so tragic, we might have laughed.”
“Like all rich men, he had never before paid any attention to advertisements. He had never realized the enormous commercial importance of the comparatively poor. Not on the wealthy, who buy only what they want when they want it, was the vast superstructure of industry founded and built up, but on those who, aching for a luxury beyond their reach and for a leisure for ever denied them, could be bullied or wheedled into spending their few hardly won shillings on whatever might give them, if only for a moment, a leisured and luxurious illusion.”
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