Quotes from Pawn in Frankincense

Dorothy Dunnett ·  486 pages

Rating: (3K votes)


“The coast's a jungle of Moors, Turks, Jews, renegades from all over Europe, sitting in palaces built from the sale of Christian slaves. There are twenty thousand men, women and children in the bagnios of Algiers alone. I am not going to make it twenty thousand and one because your mother didn't allow you to keep rabbits, or whatever is at the root of your unshakable fixation."

"I had weasels instead," said Philippa shortly.

"Good God," said Lymond, looking at her. "That explains a lot.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“I have learned,’ said Lymond, ‘that kindness without love is no kindness.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Perfectly prepared to be an eavesdropper but unwilling to look like one, Philippa backed quickly towards the door and collided, hard, with an unseen person striding forward equally fast into the room. There was a hiss, more than echoed by herself as the breath was struck from her body. Then two cool, friendly hands held and steadied her, one on her shoulder and one on her flat waist, and a low voice said, ‘Admirable Philippa. I always enter my battlefields in reverse, too. But my own battlefields, my little friend. Not other people’s.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“If you can repress for a moment your spinster-like longing to meddle in my affairs,’ said Lymond cuttingly, from the door, ‘I am waiting to go.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Philippa, enviously, wished she could do the same, and then decided she would rather be interesting and sensitive.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



“Then Lymond’s voice, the chill gone, said, ‘Don’t be an ass, Jerott? You know I can’t do without you.’ It was an obvious answer. But it was also something Jerott had never had from Lymond before: an apology and an appeal both at once.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“It seems to me,’ said Philippa prosaically, ‘that on the whole we run more risks with Mr Crawford’s protection than without it.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“He’d heard of this woman. The Dame de Doubtance, they called her: a madwoman and a caster of horoscopes. Gaultier gave her house-room and men and women came to her from all the known world and had their futures foretold—if she felt like it. She had given some help once to Lymond, on her own severe terms, because of a distant link, it was said, with his family. Plainly, a crazy old harridan. But if she was going to tell Lymond he ought to find a nice girl and marry her, Jerott wanted very much to be there.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Philippa’s letter, from an afflicted conscience, was not very much longer. … if I don’t look for him, no one else will. You know I’m sorry. But I couldn’t leave that little thing to wither away by itself Don’t be sad. We’re all going to come back. And you can teach him Two Legs and I Wot a Tree, and save him the top of the milk for his blackberry pie. He’ll never know, if we’re quick, that nobody wanted him.… Which had, Kate considered as she scrubbed off her tears, a ring of unlikely confidence about it, as well as rather a shaky understanding of the diet of one-year-old babies.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“I never expect anything,’ said Marthe. ‘It provides a level, low-pitched existence with no disappointments.’

‘I’m all for a level, low-pitched existence,’ said Philippa. ‘And when you see your way back to one, for heaven’s sake don’t forget to tell me.’ At which Marthe, surprisingly, laughed aloud.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



“Disdainful of fur and fretful, privately, about the cost of his buttons, Jerott Blyth sat like the born horseman he was, and watched discreetly for trouble.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“… Jerott?’ Two steps away, Jerott stood perfectly still.

‘I hear you.’

‘You sound like a schoolmaster,’ said Lymond’s voice at his ear, with a trace of its usual lightness. ‘It doesn’t matter. Go on.’ Jerott did not move.

‘What were you going to say?’

‘Something regrettable. I’ll say it; and then we can both forget it,’ said Lymond. ‘You put up with a lot, you know. More than you should. More than other people can be expected to do.… I find I need a sheet anchor against Gabriel. However much I try—don’t let me turn you against me.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“She got in, as she had persuaded Jerott Blyth to bring her half across France, by force of logic, a kind of flat-chested innocence and the doggedness of a flower-pecker attacking a strangling fig.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“There was a silence. Then: ‘What you are saying,’ said Philippa slowly, ‘is that the child Khaireddin would be better unfound?’ The Dame de Doubtance said nothing. ‘Or are you saying,’ pursued Philippa, inimical from the reedy brown crown of her head to her mud-caked cloth stockings, ‘that you and I and Lymond and Lymond’s mother and Lymond’s brother and Graham Malett would be better off if he weren’t discovered?’

‘Now that,’ said the Dame de Doubtance with satisfaction, ‘is precisely what I was saying.’

‘How can I find him?’ said Philippa.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Jerott’s eyes and Philippa’s met. ‘When I meet my friend,’ said Jerott Blyth carefully, ‘there is likely to be a detonation which will take the snow off Mont Blanc. I advise you to seek other auspices. Philippa, I think we should go down below.’

‘To swim?’ said that unprepossessing child guilelessly. ‘I can stand on my head.’

‘Oh, Christ,’ said Jerott morosely. ‘Why in hell did you come?’ The brown eyes within the damp, dun-coloured hair inspected him narrowly.

‘Because you need a woman,’ said Philippa finally. ‘And I’m the nearest thing to it that you’re likely to get. It was very short notice.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



“So: ‘Why did you laugh?’ demanded Philippa, and shook Jerott’s hand off her arm.

‘Oh, that?’ said Lymond. ‘But, my dear child, the picture was irresistible. Daddy, afflicted but purposeful, ransacking the souks of the Levant for one of his bastards, with an unchaperoned North Country schoolgirl aged—what? twelve? thirteen?—to help change its napkins when the happy meeting takes place.… A gallant thought, Philippa,’ said Lymond kindly, sitting down at the table. ‘And a touching faith in mankind. But truly, all the grown-up ladies and gentlemen would laugh themselves into bloody fluxes over the spectacle. Have some whatever-it-is.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“There was a silence. 'You didn't as,' said Jerott at length. 'But I would have forgone even the body for the sake of the mind. And I would have claimed neither body nor mind, had I discovered a soul.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“To pass over grief, they say, the Italian sleeps; the Frenchman sings; the German drinks; the Spaniard laments, and the Englishman goes to plays. What then does the Scot?’ To Jerott’s mind sprang, unbidden, a picture of the sword Archie Abernethy was trying to clean at this moment below.

‘This one,’ he said, ‘kills.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Jerott’s hand increased its grip on her arm. ‘He is an island with all its bridges wantonly severed. What hostage to evil,’ said Jerott, poetic in his thumping displeasure, ‘will this night’s business conceive?’

‘I don’t know. But they’re both nice and clean, if that’s anything,’ said Philippa. And led the way philosophically down.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“O England,’ said Kiaya Khátún. Her voice, mellow and strong, held an accent or a mingling of accents Philippa was unable to name. ‘O England, the Hell of Horses, the Purgatory of Servants and the Paradise of Women.’ She turned her splendid eyes on the soothsayer. ‘She will be like Avicenna, and run through all the arts by eighteen.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



“Jerott?’ said Lymond. ‘What are you not saying?’ His eyes, as the orderly cavalcade paced through the muddy streets, had not left that forceful aquiline face since they met. And Jerott, Philippa saw with disbelief, flushed. For a moment longer, the strict blue eyes studied him; and then Lymond laughed. ‘She’s an eighteen-year-old blonde of doubtful virginity? Or more frightful still, an eighteen-year-old blonde of unstained innocence? I shall control my impulses, Jerott, I promise you. I’m only going to throw her out if she looks like a troublemaker, or else so bloody helpless that we’ll lose lives looking after her. Not everyone,’ he said, in a wheeling turn which caught Philippa straining cravenly to hear, ‘is one of Nature’s Marco Polos like the Somerville offspring.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“I do admire efficiency,’ said Marthe. ‘But how tedious it can be in excess.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“I wish to make my fortune with you.’ ‘Well, you can forget about that, for a start,’ said Francis Crawford. ‘And if your place in Paradise has been written, then for God’s sake hang on to it. Because we’re going in the opposite direction.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“And, echoing Jerott, ‘So why in hell have you come?’ Philippa’s gaze, bright and owlish and obstinate, held his to the end.

‘To look after the baby,’ she answered. And disconcertingly, after a second’s blank pause, Francis Crawford flung back his damp head and laughed.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“They’re talking about Marthe, Maître Gaultier’s assistant. What’s she like? Pretty?’ ‘She’s pretty,’ said the man. Philippa studied the taciturn face. ‘Oh, I see,’ she said. ‘Mr Blyth wants her all to himself?’ For a moment, she thought it hadn’t worked. Then the man gave a snort.

‘Mr Blyth want her? He held us up at Avignon for two days refusing to go on until she was sent back home, but Gaultier wouldn’t do it, and he had to give in. Mr Blyth and Gaultier haven’t spoken since. Aye,’ said Jerott’s man morosely. ‘It’s going to be a grand, sociable trip.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



“He was a second too late. Ducking, the felt-capped man, muscles hard, dragged himself out of that grasp and, flinging off to one side, got his balance, glanced once at Jerott, and then darted off into the darkness. After the first step, breathing hard, Jerott stayed where he was, swearing. But he could hardly leave Lymond. He looked up. ‘Bravo,’ said Francis Crawford, sitting crosslegged on top of the wall, his hood shaken free on his shoulders. ‘You’re a credit to the bloody Order, aren’t you? You know you’ve got a knife in your hand?”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Gabriel,’ said Jerott firmly, ‘is now at Birgu, Malta, engaged in a life-and-death struggle for the Grand Mastership of the Order of St John. He is unlikely to spend a large part of his time arranging esoteric disasters for his adversaries. He is far more likely to arrange to kill them stone dead.’

‘All right. You go and get killed stone dead on that side of the garden, and I’ll stick to this,’ said Lymond.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Standing safely on the opposite bank with her dry maid, her dry escort, and a company of streaming horsemen, Philippa said scathingly, ‘That’s men for you. Cover the lady’s retreat, the book says. A hundred years ago, maybe. And what stopped you from coming with me just now? I can swim, you know.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“Philippa drew a deep breath, and found relief in expelling it. ‘Do you think,’ she said carefully, ‘that someone is going to be goaded into doing something soon?’ There was a long pause. ‘I think,’ said Jerott at length, equally carefully, ‘that someone is going to the court of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and someone else is going to Flaw Valleys, England, to Mother.’ Which summed it up, Philippa supposed, with regret.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense


“So Philippa got her leave to bring Archie Abernethy with her and sail on the Dauphiné. But they had not seen the woman Marthe before they left Lyons. And permission to sail from Marseilles depended still, Philippa was grimly aware, on whether or not the woman Marthe was found to be eligible. Kiaya Khátún, she imagined, would pass like a shot.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, quote from Pawn in Frankincense



About the author

Dorothy Dunnett
Born place: in Dunfermline, Scotland, The United Kingdom
Born date August 25, 1923
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