“Mendanbar took a deep breath. “You could stay here. At the castle, I mean. With me.” This wasn’t coming out at all the way he had wanted it to, but it was too late to stop now. He hurried on, “As Queen of the Enchanted Forest, if you think you would like that. I would.”
“Would you, really?”
“Yes,” Mendanbar said, looking down. “I love you, and—and—”
“And you should have said that to begin with,” Cimorene interrupted, putting her arms around him.
Mendanbar looked up, and the expression on her face made his heart begin to pound.
“Just to be sure I have this right,” Cimorene went on with a blinding smile, “did you just ask me to marry you?”
“Yes,” Mendanbar said. “At least, that’s what I meant.”
“Good. I will.”
Mendanbar tried to find something to say, but he was too happy to think. He leaned forward two inches and kissed Cimorene, and discovered that he didn’t need to say anything at all.”
“Well, it doesn't sound particularly noble and knightly to say you've rescued the Chief Cook and Librarian, does it? And it has cut down on the number of interruptions. I used to get two or three knights a day, and now there's only about one a week. And the ones who do come are at least smart enough to figure out that I'm still a princess even if the dragons call me Chief Cook”
“They always do the same thing - come in, ask for a meal, hide, and then run off with a harp or a bag full of money the minute I fall asleep,' Dobbilan said. 'And they're always named Jack. Always. We've lived in this castle for twenty years, and every three months, regular as clockwork, one of those boys shows up, and there's never been a Tom, Dick, or Harry among 'em. Just Jacks. The English have no imagination.”
“I'm sorry. I'm used to people objecting to things because they think I can't do them or shouldn't do them. It didn't occur to me that you might have a real reason.”
“Buckets,' said Cimorene. 'Lots of buckets, and soap, and lemon juice. Where do you keep your buckets, Mendanbar?'
'Around somewhere,' Mendanbar said vaguely.”
“Four of us,' said Morwen. The cats yowled. 'Yes, I know, and of course you're coming, but you can't carry a bucket of soapy water, so for the purposes of this discussion it doesn't matter,' she told them.
The cats gave her an affronted look, turned their backs, and began making indignant little noises at each other.”
“The ceremony went by in a blur, but Mendanbar was pretty sure he hadn't made any mistakes because suddenly he was kissing Cimorene and everyone was cheering. He felt like cheering himself, except he would have had to stop kissing Cimorene.”
“Ballimore! Ballimore, where's the inkwell?' Dobbilan's voice echoed down the corridor, interrupting Cimorene in mid-sentence. 'Where are you? Why can't I find anything around here when I want it?'
'Because you never look in the right place, dear,' Ballimore called. 'The inkwell is in the kitchen next to the grocery list, where it's been for the past six months, and I'm in the dining room. Which is where you'd be if you'd done what I asked you to, instead of wandering off in all directions.”
“One of the previous Kings of the Enchanted Forest had been very fond of sweeping up and down staircases in a long velvet robe and his best crown, so he had added stairs wherever he thought there was room”
“- The local prince had gotten a notion that the girl could spin straw into gold, the dwarf said. Brainless young idiot, but they’re all like that. If she could spin straw into gold, why was she living in a hovel? Anyway, Gramps said he’d do her spinning for her in return for part of the gold and her firstborn child. She agreed, but naturally when the baby was born she didn’t want to give him up. So Gramps agreed to a guessing game: if she could guess his name, she could keep the baby. Then he let her find out what his name was. She kept the baby and Gramps kept the gold, and everyone went home happy.
- I think I’m beginning to get the idea, Cimorene said. It’s not just spinning straw into gold that’s a family tradition, is it? It’s the whole scheme.
The dwarf nodded sadly.
- Right the first time. Only I can never make it work properly. I can find plenty of girls who’re supposed to spin straw into gold, and most of them suggest the guessing game, but I’ve never had even one who managed to guess my name.
- Oh, dear, said Cimorene.
- I even changed my name legally, so it would be easier, the dwarf said sadly. Herman isn’t a difficult name to remember, is it? But no, the silly chits can’t do it. So I end up with the baby as well as the gold, and babies eat and cry and need clothes, and the gold runs out, and I have to find another girl to spin gold for, and it happens all over again, and I end up with another baby. It isn’t fair!”
“Fee, fie, foe, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Ballimore shook her head. “Nonsense, dear. It’s just Princess Cimorene and the King of the Enchanted Forest.” “And neither of us is English,” Cimorene added.”
“You're the one taking all the romance out of this," he said. "It's supposed to go, 'that was so brave, how you stood up for your sister like that!' 'Oh, that, what, no, it's what any dragon would do.' 'No, no - you're special. I can tell.' 'Not as special as you. There's a magic about you I've never found in any other dragon!' 'Why - why do I feel as though I've known you forever?' 'Because you have...and you will.' Fireworks! True love and happiness for the rest of our lives!”
“As long as there was hope, there was promise. And promise was enough to light all the stars in the sky.”
“right arm got wrecked in a fireworks calamity, of all things. He was setting some off for a big display and part of the metal rig that they were resting on had a loose bolt or something, and the whole thing came down and crushed his arm. He can’t use it much and it looks a bit weird, kind of twisted to one side. He got some money from the insurance company, and he stopped working at the factory.”
“Water has its own archaeology, not a layering but a leveling, and thus is truer to our sense of the past, because what is memory but near and far events spread and smoothed beneath the present's surface.”
“Bridget Jones can kiss my spotty arse.”
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