Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Monday, October 16, 2006

From C.J. Cherryh, "Fires of Azeroth"

Ah. Here it is:

Changeling had killed, had taken lives none of them could count, and more than that--it had taken another friend; that was the weight on her soul now, he thought: that and worry for the morrow....

Morgaine said nothing. Perhaps she took peace of it. She turned back to the view into the dark, where cries drifted up fainter and fainter. Vanye looked in that direction and then back at her, with a sudden chill, for he saw her draw her Honor-blade. But she cut one of the thongs that hung at her belt-ring and gave it to him, sheathing the blade again.

"What am I do to with this?" he asked, thoroughly puzzled.

She shrugged, looking for once unsure of herself. "Thee never told me thoroughly," she said, lapsing into that older, familiar accent, "for what thee was dishonored... why they made thee ilin, that I know; but why did they take thy honor from thee too? I would never," she added, "order thee to answer."

He looked down, clenching the thong taut between his fists, conscious of the hair that whipped around his face and neck. He knew then what she was trying to give him, and he looked up with a sudden sense of release. "It was for cowardice," he said, "because I would not die at my father's wish."

"Cowardice." She gave a breath of a laugh, dismissing such a thought. "Thee?--Braid they hair, Nhi Vanye. Thee's been too long on this road for that."

She spoke very carefully, watching his face: in this grave matter even liyo ought not to intervene. But he looked from her to the dark about them and knew that this was so. With a sudden resolve he set the thong between his teeth and swept back his hair to braid it, but the injured arm would not bear that angle. He could not complete it, and took the thong from his mouth with a sigh of frustration. "Liyo--"

"I might," she said, "if they arm is too sore."

He looked on her, his heart stopped for a moment and then beginning again. No one touched an uyo's hair, save his closest kin... no woman except one in intimate relation with him. "We are not kin," he said.

"No. We are far from kin."

"She knew, then, what she did. For a moment he tried to make some answer, then as it were of no consequence, he turned his back to her and let her strip out his own clumsy braiding. Her fingers were deft and firm, making a new beginning.

"I do not think I can make a proper Nhi braid," she said. "I have done only my own once and long ago, Chya."

"Make it Chya, then; I am not ashamed of that."

She worked, gently, and he bowed his head in silence, feeling what defied speaking. Long-time comrades, she an dhe, at least in distance and time as men measured it; ilin and liyo--he thought that there might be great wrong in what had grown between them; he feared that there was--but conscience in this area grew very faint.

And that Morgaine kri Chya set affection on anything vulnerable to loss--he knew what that asked of her.


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