“True stories seldom have endings.
I don't want a happy ending, I want more story.”
“Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad.”
“Where is your sense of patriotism?"
I keep it hid away safe, along with my sense of trust, Mr. Clent. I don't use 'em much in case they get scratched.”
“Truth is dangerous. It topples palaces and kills kings. It stirs gentle men to rage and bids them take up arms. It wakes old grievances and opens forgotten wounds. It is the mother of the sleepless night and the hag-ridden day. And yet there is one thing that is more dangerous than Truth. Those who would silence Truth’s voice are more destructive by far.
It is most perilous to be a speaker of Truth. Sometimes one must choose to be silent, or be silenced. But if a truth cannot be spoken, it must at least be known. Even if you dare not speak truth to others, never lie to yourself.”
“In Mosca’s experience, a ‘long story’ was always a short story someone did not want to tell.”
“You, sir, are a romantic, and I'm afraid the condition is incurable.
“But in the name of all that is holy, Mosca, of all the people you could have taken up with, why Eponymous Clent?" murmured Kohlrabi.
Because I'd been hording words for years, buying them from peddlers and carving them secretly on bits of bark so I wouldn't forget them, and then he turned up using words like "epiphany" and "amaranth." Because I heard him talking in the marketplace, laying out sentences like a merchant rolling out rich silks. Because he made words and ideas dance like flames and something that was damp and dying came alive in my mind, the way it hadn't since they burned my father's books. Because he walked into Chough with stories from exciting places tangled around him like maypole streamers..."
"He's got a way with words.”
“If you want someone to tell you what to think..."
"You will never be short of people willing to do so.”
“If wits were pins, the man would be a veritable hedgehog.”
“Brand a man as a thief and no one will ever hire him for honest labor - he will be a hardened robber within weeks. The brand does not reveal a person's nature, it shapes it.”
“The world is like a broken wrist that healed the wrong way, and will never be the same again.”
“Sometimes fear made you angry. Perhaps after years anger cooled, like a sword taken from a forge. Perhaps in the end you were left with something very cold and very sharp.”
“Ordinary life did not stop just because kings rose and fell, Mosca realized. People adapted. If the world turned upside down, everyone ran and hid in their houses, but a very short while later, if all seemed quiet, they came out again and started selling each other potatoes.”
“I am content to be hated, and bloody, and outnumbered. For in this sickened world, it is better to believe in something too fiercely than to believe in nothing."
Words, words, wonderful words. But lies too.
"No, it isn’t!" shouted Mosca the Housefly, Quillam Mye’s daughter. "Not if what you’re believin’ isn’t blinkin’ well True! You shouldn’t just go believin’ things for no reason, pertickly if you got a sword in your hand! Sacred just means something you’re not meant to think about properly, an’ you should never stop thinking! Show me something I can kick, and hit with rocks, and set fire to, and leave out in the rain, and think about, and if it’s still standing after all that then maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to believe in it, but not till then. An’ if all we’re left with is muck and wickedness and no gods, then we’d better face it and get used to it because it’s better than a lie.”
“If you want someone to tell you what to think," the phantom answered briskly, without looking up, "you will never be short of people willing to do so." . . . "Come now," he said at last, "you can hardly claim that I have left you ignorant. I taught you to read, did I not?”
“I want my chirfugging goose back!”
“My child, you have a flawed grasp of the nature of myth-making. I am a poet and storyteller, a creator of ballads and sagas. Pray do not confuse the exercise of the imagination with mere mendacity. I am a master of the mysteries of words, their meanings and music and mellifluous magic.”
“So this was a nest of radicals. She thought a hotbed of sedition would involve more gunpowder and secret handshakes, and less shuffling of feet and passing the sugar.”
“I find it hard to believe that a lady like...’ Pertellis hesitated, and coughed. ‘There is something elevated in the female spirit that will always hold a woman back from the coldest and most vicious forms of villainy.’
‘No, there isn’t,’ Miss Kitely said kindly but firmly, as she set a dish in his hand. ‘Drink your chocolate, Mr Pertellis.”
“Mosca and Saracen shared, if not a friendship, at least the solidarity of the generally despised. Mosca assumed that Saracen had his reasons for his persecution of terriers and his possessive love of the malthouse roof. In turn, when Mosca had interrupted Saracen’s self-important nightly patrol and scooped him up, Saracen had assumed that she too had her reasons.”
“It did seem hard to be doing something heroic while everyone was too busy to notice.”
“Words were dangerous when loosed. They were more powerful than cannon and more unpredictable than storms. They could turn men’s heads inside out and warp their destinies. They could pick up kingdoms and shake them until they rattled.”
“...the wincing sunlight, the ragged gorse and the slow-blinking wings of the moths were witness to an epic Trade in Exotic Terms.
Mosca’s opening offer was a number of cant words she had heard pedlars use, words for the drool hanging from a dog’s jaw, words for the greenish sheen on a mouldering strip of bacon.
Eponymous Clent responded with some choice descriptions of ungrateful and treacherous women, culled from ballad and classic myth.
Mosca countered with some from her secret hoard of hidden words, the terms used by smugglers for tell-alls, and soldiers’ words for the worst kind of keyholestooping spy.
Clent answered with crushing and high-sounding examples from the best essays on the natural depravity of unguided youth.
Mosca lowered the bucket deep, and spat out long-winded aspersions which long ago she had discovered in her father’s books, before her uncle had over-zealously burned them all.
Clent stared at her.
‘This is absurd. I refuse to believe that you have even the faintest idea what an “ethically pusillanimous compromise” is, let alone how one would...’ Clent’s voice trailed away...”
“I mean...if I told people what to believe, they’d stop thinking. And then they’d be easier to lie to. And...what if I was wrong?’
‘So...if you may not decide what is true, and the men of letters may not, who may?’
‘Nobody. Everybody.’ Mosca looked up at the windows where the jubilant people of Mandelion swung their bells. ‘Clamouring Hour – that’s the only way. Everybody able to stand up and shout what they think, all at once. An’ not just the men of letters, an’ the lords in their full-bottomed wigs, but the streetsellers an’ the porters an’ the bakers. An’ not just the clever men, but the muddle-headed, and the madmen, and the criminals, an’ the children in their infant gowns, an’ the really, really stupid. All of ’em. Even the wicked, Mr Clent. Even the Birdcatchers.”
“She dreamed of a world where books did not rot or give way to green blot, where words and ideas were not things you were despised for treasuring.”
“Oh, painted smirk of a hopeless dawn, the girl is still wearing her breeches...”
“Do you know what courage is? Not a willingness to fling oneself into danger without proper thought – that is nothing, nothing. There is cowardice in all impulse. Real courage lies in thinking things through, seeing all the risks, and taking them anyway. Lady Tamarind has courage.”
“Well, you will have to do. If you had died along with your mother, I would have taught the cat to read.”
“Every time I do what you say I tumble a bit farther down this well of darkness, an' this here is a drop too deep an' too dark for me. I have to stop falling while I can still see a bit of the sky.”
“He was bellowing a great many words that were new to Mosca and sounded quite interesting. She memorized them for future use.”
“clever people will judge the truth according to its usefulness, not validity.”
“I'm afraid... that when I see her, I'll want to keep living. I'm afraid... - Yuu”
“I am a physician, and as a consequence I see things most clearly in medical terms. I am arguing that we need an immunization program, one that injects people with respect, dignity, and equality. One that inoculates them against hatred.”
“I will buy a boat, and I’m going to fish and fish and fish.”
“There is no bombast, no similes, flowers, digressions, or unnecessary descriptions. Everything tends directly to the catastrophe.”
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