Royal Life Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Royal Life. Here they are! All 100 of them:

It’s you I love,” he says. “I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.” He walks to the door to the royal chambers, as though to end the conversation. “You probably guessed as much,” he says. “But just in case you didn’t.
Holly Black (The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3))
You are enough to drive a saint to madness or a king to his knees.
Grace Willows (To Kiss a King)
She was a ray of sunshine, a warm summer rain, a bright fire on a cold winter’s day, and now she could be dead because she had tried to save the man she loved.
Grace Willows
You see, for me, memories are difficult. Very often, they hurt. A curious thing about grief is the way it takes your entire life, all those foundational years that made you who you are, and makes them so painful to look back upon because of the absence there, that suddenly they’re inaccessible. You must invent an entirely new system.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
What?" Henry shouts over the noise when he sees the look on Alex's face. "My life is a cosmic joke and you're not a real person," Alex says, wheezing. "What?" Henry yells again. "I said, you look great, baby!
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
I've screwed everything up royally. I remember you saying that growing up happens when you start having things you look back on and wish you could change.
Cassandra Clare (City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2))
So, imagine we’re all born with a set of feelings. Some are broader or deeper than others, but for everyone, there’s that ground floor, a bottom crust of the pie. That’s the maximum depth of feeling you’ve ever experienced. And then, the worst thing happens to you. The very worst thing that could have happened. The thing you had nightmares about as a child, and you thought, it’s all right because that thing will happen to me when I’m older and wiser, and I’ll have felt so many feelings by then that this one worst feeling, the worst possible feeling, won’t seem so terrible. “But it happens to you when you’re young. It happens when your brain isn’t even fully done cooking—when you’ve barely experienced anything, really. The worst thing is one of the first big things that ever happens to you in your life. It happens to you, and it goes all the way down to the bottom of what you know how to feel, and it rips it open and carves out this chasm down below to make room. And because you were so young, and because it was one of the first big things to happen in your life, you’ll always carry it inside you. Every time something terrible happens to you from then on, it doesn’t just stop at the bottom —it goes all the way down.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
For, after all, every one who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better, I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory. One more effort and I reach the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky, the uplands of my desire.
Helen Keller (The Story of My Life)
Come, hunt with me, the invitation whispers in my heart. Leave the pain behind and let your life be your own again. There is a place where all time is now, and the choices are simple and always your own. Wolves have no kings.
Robin Hobb (Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2))
There were people who believed their opportunities to live a fulfilled life were hampered by the number of Asians in England, by the existance of a royal family, by the volume of traffic that passed by their house, by the malice of trade unions, by the power of callous employers, by the refusal of the health service to take their condition seriously, by communism, by capitalism, by atheism, by anything, in fact, but their own futile, weak-minded failure to get a fucking grip.
Stephen Fry (Revenge (aka The Stars’ Tennis Balls))
There will be other lives. There will be other lives for nervous boys with sweaty palms, for bittersweet fumblings in the backseats of cars, for caps and gowns in royal blue and crimson, for mothers clasping pretty pearl necklaces around daughters' unlined necks, for your full name read aloud in an auditorium, for brand-new suitcases transporting you to strange new people in strange new lands. And there will be other lives for unpaid debts, for one-night stands, for Prague and Paris, for painful shoes with pointy toes, for indecision and revisions. And there will be other lives for fathers walking daughters down aisles. And there will be other lives for sweet babies with skin like milk. And there will be other lives for a man you don't recognize, for a face in a mirror that is no longer yours, for the funerals of intimates, for shrinking, for teeth that fall out, for hair on your chin, for forgetting everything. Everything. Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that's not how it works. A human's life is a beautiful mess.
Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere)
You all have your own distinct personal backgrounds. Of course some of you come from rich families, some from poor families. But circumstances beyond your control like that shouldn’t determine who you are. You must all realize what you’re worth on your own.
Koushun Takami (Battle Royale)
The class is Ethical Issues in International Relations. He really has got to stop taking classes so painfully relevant to his life.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
I’m only seventeen. Sometimes that feels too young to have lived the life I have. Sometimes I look around at my surroundings and think, I don’t belong here
Erin Watt (Paper Princess (The Royals, #1))
The truth was I'd given up waiting long ago. The moment had passed, the door between the lives we could have led and the lives we led had shut in our faces. Or better to say, in my face. Grammar of my life: as a rule of thumb, wherever there appears a plural, correct for singular. Should I ever let slip a royal We put me out of my misery with a swift blow to the head.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
When Alex was a kid, before anyone knew his name, he dreamed of love like it was a fairy tale, as if it would come sweeping into his life on the back of a dragon one day. When he got older, he learned about love as a strange thing that could fall apart no matter how badly you wanted it, a choice you make anyway. He never imagined it’d turn out he was right both times.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
Are you quite finished?" Henry says, sounding strangled. "Can you perhaps stop putting your sodding life in danger now?" "Aw, you do care," Alex says. "I'm learning all your hidden depths today, sweetheart." Henry exhales and slumps off him. "I can't believe even mortal peril will not prevent you from being the way you are.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
My life flies away like a dream: Why should I stay behind?
Julia Golding (Cat-O'nine Tails (Cat Royal, #4))
Sometimes all our plans for life go to shit. You end up doing something you never dreamed of and you know what you do? You make the best out of it you can. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as you think it will be. It’s what you make of it.
Nichole Chase (Suddenly Royal (The Royals, #1))
This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands, This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings, Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth, Renowned for their deeds as far from home, For Christian service and true chivalry, As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son, This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land, Dear for her reputation through the world, Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it, Like to a tenement or pelting farm: England, bound in with the triumphant sea, Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame, With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds: That England, that was wont to conquer others, Hath made a shameful conquest of itself. Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life, How happy then were my ensuing death!
William Shakespeare (Richard II)
A curious thing about grief is the way it takes your entire life, all those foundational years that made you who you are, and makes them so painful to look back upon because of the absence there, that suddenly they’re inaccessible. You must invent an entirely new system.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
Oh honey, someday a real man is going to make you see stars and you won't even be looking at the sky." Excerpt from Grace Willow's Last Minute Bride
Grace Willows
You are the thistle in the tender and sensitive arse crack of my life.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
A wave of intense happiness washed over me, and I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it.
Heather Cocks (The Royal We (Royal We, #1))
He shook his head pityingly. “This, more than anything else, is what I have never understood about your people. You can roll dice, and understand that the whole game may hinge on one turn of a die. You deal out cards, and say that all a man's fortune for the night may turn upon one hand. But a man's whole life, you sniff at, and say, what, this naught of a human, this fisherman, this carpenter, this thief, this cook, why, what can they do in the great wide world? And so you putter and sputter your lives away, like candles burning in a draft.” “Not all men are destined for greatness,” I reminded him. “Are you sure, Fitz? Are you sure? What good is a life lived as if it made no difference at all to the great life of the world? A sadder thing I cannot imagine. Why should not a mother say to herself, if I raise this child aright, if I love and care for her, she shall live a life that brings joy to those about her, and thus I have changed the world? Why should not the farmer that plants a seed say to his neighbor, this seed I plant today will feed someone, and that is how I change the world today?” “This is philosophy, Fool. I have never had time to study such things.” “No, Fitz, this is life. And no one has time not to think of such things. Each creature in the world should consider this thing, every moment of the heart's beating. Otherwise, what is the point of arising each day?
Robin Hobb (Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2))
My life is mine. I live it. I control it.
Erin Watt (Paper Princess (The Royals, #1))
I want you—" "Then fucking have me." "—but I don't want this." Alex wants to grab Henry and shake him, wants to scream in his face, wants to smash every priceless antique in the room. "What does that even mean?" "I don't want it!" Henry practically shouts. His eyes are flashing, wet and angry and afraid. "Don't you bloody see? I'm not like you. I can't afford to be reckless. I don't have a family who will support me. I don't go about shoving who I am in everyone's faces and dreaming about a career in fucking politics, so I can be more scrutinized and picked apart by the entire godforsaken world. I can love you and want you and still not want that life. I'm allowed, all right, and it doesn't make me a liar; it makes me a man with some infinitesimal shred of self-preservation, unlike you, and you don't get to come here and call me a coward for it.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
Because sometimes, life is very much like a book – we don't get to write our own ending; we have to accept the one that's already on the page.
Emma Chase (Royally Matched (Royally, #2))
No matter how thoroughly you plan, no matter how much you think you know, you've never thought of everything.
John Flanagan (The Royal Ranger (Ranger's Apprentice #12 Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger #1))
Lightly, caressingly, Marie Antoinette picked up the crown as a gift. She was still too young to know that life never gives anything for nothing, and that a price is always exacted for what fate bestows. She did not think she would have to pay a price. She simply accepted the rights of her royal position and performed no duties in exchange. She wanted to combine two things which are, in actual human experience, incompatible; she wanted to reign and at the same time to enjoy.
Stefan Zweig (Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman)
Beware, Underlanders, time hangs by a thread. The hunters are hunted, white water runs red. The Gnawers will strike to extinguish the rest. The hope of the hopeless resides in a quest. An Overland warrior, a son of the sun, May bring us back light, he may bring us back none. But gather your neighbors and follow his call Or rats will most surely devour us all. Two over, two under, of royal descent, Two flyers, two crawlers, two spinners assent. One gnawer beside and one lost up ahead. And eight will be left when we count up the dead. The last who will die must decide where he stands. The fate of the eight is contained in his hands. So bid him take care, bid him look where he leaps, As life may be death and death life again reaps.
Suzanne Collins (Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1))
They say it doesn’t take long for your life to be flipped upside down. A moment. A second. And it’s all over. I should’ve known. If I had, I would’ve done things differently. Maybe I would’ve walked the other way. Maybe my tale wouldn’t have ended the way it did. But the thing about ‘maybes’? They’re useless.
Rina Kent (Deviant King (Royal Elite, #1))
The woman was putting her purse in the drawer and settling down behind the desk, and I realized I had never seen her before in my life. Her face was as wrinkled as one of those forgotten apples you sometimes find in the pocket of last year's winter jacket. Yes?" she said, peering over her spectacles. They teach them to do that at the Royal Academy of Library Science.
Alan Bradley (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1))
Fate is for the weak--those people who don't have enough power or will to shape life into what they need it to be.
Erin Watt (Paper Princess (The Royals, #1))
Your life is too precious to risk it by protesting, right?
Koushun Takami (Battle Royale)
She heard footsteps thumping from the crew quarters and Jacin appeared in the cargo bay, eyes wide. “What happened? Why is the ship screaming?” “Nothing. Everything’s fine,” Cinder stammered. “No, everything is not fine,” said Iko. “How can they be invited? I’ve never seen a bigger injustice in all my programmed life, and believe me, I have seen some big injustices.” Jacin raised an eyebrow at Cinder. “We just learned that my former guardian received an invitation to the wedding.” She opened the tab beside her stepmother’s name, thinking maybe it was a mistake. But of course not. Linh Adri had been awarded 80,000 univs and an official invitation to the royal wedding as an act of gratitude for her assistance in the ongoing manhunt for her adopted and estranged daughter, Linh Cinder. “Because she sold me out,” she said, sneering. “Figures.” “See? Injustice. Here we are, risking our lives to rescue Kai and this whole planet, and Adri and Pearl get to go to the royal wedding. I’m disgusted. I hope they spill soy sauce on their fancy dresses.” Jacin’s concern turned fast to annoyance. “Your ship has some messed-up priorities, you know that?” “Iko. My name is Iko. If you don’t stop calling me the ‘ship,’ I am going to make sure you never have hot water during your showers again, do you understand me?” “Yeah, hold that thought while I go disable the speaker system.” “What? You can’t mute me. Cinder!
Marissa Meyer (Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3))
But we fell in love, day by day, he’d said. Real love comes from facing life together, with all its messes and surprises and joys.
Katharine McGee (Majesty (American Royals, #2))
He was a volatile mixture of confidence and vulnerability. He could deliver extended monologues on professional matters, then promptly stop in his tracks to peer inquisitively into his guest's eyes for signs of boredom or mockery, being intelligent enough to be unable fully to believe in his own claims to significance. He might, in a past life, have been a particularly canny and sharp-tongued royal advisor.
Alain de Botton (The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work)
I was unsure about many things in my life, but I was fairly certain God did not intend bacon to be made from a plant.
Suzanne Johnson (Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans, #1))
You’re awfully quiet, Princess,” Puck said as he arranged the firewood into a tepee. His slanted green eyes shot me a knowing look. “In fact, you haven’t said a word since his royal iciness left. What’s wrong?” “Oh.” I cast about for an excuse. No way was I telling Puck about my feelings for Ash. He’d probably challenge him to a duel the moment he walked through the door. “I…um…I’m just weirded out, you know, with all those wiremen bodies around. It’s kinda creepy, like they might come to life and attack us while we’re sleeping.
Julie Kagawa (The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, #2))
Another step had her backed up against the wall, and he braced his arms on both sides of her. "I'm beginning to look forward to this marriage, just so I can spend the rest of my life making you miserable." Alexandra was too angry to be intimidated. "Misery loves company, sweetheart," she shot back. "So don't think I'll be suffering mine alone." She slipped out from under his arm and marched out the door.
Johanna Lindsey (You Belong to Me (Cardinia's Royal Family, #2))
We are as we are. How can you claim to know what life I was meant to lead, let alone threaten to force me into it? All your quibbling is nonsense. As well forbid your nose to snuff, or your ears to hear. We are as we do.
Robin Hobb
Blaming the woman for the loss of a child is like blaming the soldier for the loss of his life in battle.
Katherine Longshore (Brazen (Royal Circle, #3))
Real love comes from creating a family together, from facing life together -- with all its messes and surprises and joys.
Katharine McGee (American Royals (American Royals, #1))
Life changes us, with its twists and turns, in ways we don't always see coming. It changes what we want, what we dream, lays blessings in our hands better than anything we could've imagined.
Emma Chase (Royally Endowed (Royally, #3))
Love is like a fairy tale, it would come sweeping into your life on the back of a dragon one day.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
Whatever it is that you're afraid of, I'll stand between you and it my whole life.
Louise Bay (Duke of Manhattan (The Royals Collection, #3))
I’ll not be a secondary character in my own life.
Rina Kent (Cruel King (Royal Elite, #0))
She looked up at the sky, now tinged with orange. "Please live. Talk, think, act. And sometimes listen to music..." She stopped briefly. "Look at paintings, allow yourself to be moved. Laugh a lot, and at times, cry. And if you find a wonderful girl, then you go for her, and love her.
Koushun Takami (Battle Royale)
You really are a complete idiot if you believe that," Henry hisses, the note balled in his fist. "When have I ever, since the first instant I touched you, pretended to be anything less than in love with you? Are you so fucking self-absorbed as to think this is about you and whether or not I love you, rather than the fact I'm an heir to the fucking throne? You at least have the option to not choose a public life eventually, but I will live and die in these palaces and in this family, so don't you dare come to me and question if I love you when it's the thing that could bloody well ruin everything.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
I'd much rather fall to my death than admit my weakness to you." "The captain of the Royal Guard wants to impress a lowly handmaiden?" "A clumsy young man wants to impress a beautiful young woman.
Renée Ahdieh (The Moth & the Flame (The Wrath & the Dawn, #0.25))
Is there a real life block button? Because I need that in my life.
Erin Watt (Broken Prince (The Royals, #2))
How are you coming with your home library? Do you need some good ammunition on why it's so important to read? The last time I checked the statistics...I think they indicated that only four percent of the adults in this country have bought a book within the past year. That's dangerous. It's extremely important that we keep ourselves in the top five or six percent. In one of the Monthly Letters from the Royal Bank of Canada it was pointed out that reading good books is not something to be indulged in as a luxury. It is a necessity for anyone who intends to give his life and work a touch of quality. The most real wealth is not what we put into our piggy banks but what we develop in our heads. Books instruct us without anger, threats and harsh discipline. They do not sneer at our ignorance or grumble at our mistakes. They ask only that we spend some time in the company of greatness so that we may absorb some of its attributes. You do not read a book for the book's sake, but for your own. You may read because in your high-pressure life, studded with problems and emergencies, you need periods of relief and yet recognize that peace of mind does not mean numbness of mind. You may read because you never had an opportunity to go to college, and books give you a chance to get something you missed. You may read because your job is routine, and books give you a feeling of depth in life. You may read because you did go to college. You may read because you see social, economic and philosophical problems which need solution, and you believe that the best thinking of all past ages may be useful in your age, too. You may read because you are tired of the shallowness of contemporary life, bored by the current conversational commonplaces, and wearied of shop talk and gossip about people. Whatever your dominant personal reason, you will find that reading gives knowledge, creative power, satisfaction and relaxation. It cultivates your mind by calling its faculties into exercise. Books are a source of pleasure - the purest and the most lasting. They enhance your sensation of the interestingness of life. Reading them is not a violent pleasure like the gross enjoyment of an uncultivated mind, but a subtle delight. Reading dispels prejudices which hem our minds within narrow spaces. One of the things that will surprise you as you read good books from all over the world and from all times of man is that human nature is much the same today as it has been ever since writing began to tell us about it. Some people act as if it were demeaning to their manhood to wish to be well-read but you can no more be a healthy person mentally without reading substantial books than you can be a vigorous person physically without eating solid food. Books should be chosen, not for their freedom from evil, but for their possession of good. Dr. Johnson said: "Whilst you stand deliberating which book your son shall read first, another boy has read both.
Earl Nightingale
It wasn’t me,” Lars supplied, from the front seat. “I didn’t tell.” “Of course it wasn’t Lars,” Michael said, having overheard him. “Tell Lars no one is blaming him.” Seriously, if my life were one of those romance novels with a love triangle, Lars and Michael would be the sexy paranormal alpha males, but the two of them would be in love with each other and just ignore me.
Meg Cabot (Royal Wedding (The Princess Diaries, #11))
Love is the only bow on Life’s dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the mother of art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart – builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody – for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to Joy, and makes royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods.
Robert G. Ingersoll
ولا بد دائماً أن تنسرب الملايين من الساعات في تاريخ العالم هدراً، قبل أن تظهر إلى حيز الوجود ساعة تاريخية حقاً، ساعة حاسمة من ساعات البشرية
Stefan Zweig (Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman & The Royal Game)
Tea! Thou soft, thou sober, sage and venerable liquid ... to whose glorious insipidity, I owe the happiest moments of my life, let me fall prostrate.
Colley Cibber (The Lady's Last Stake, or the Wife's Resentment. a Comedy. as It Is Acted at the Theatre-Royal, in Crow-Street, by His Majesty's Servants.)
The urge to wrap my arms around her and promise that everything will be all right. I don’t think she has anyone in her life who does that for her.
Emma Chase (Royally Screwed (Royally, #1))
Ehri did not wish to be charmed. “Must you make a joke of everything?” “I must. By royal mandate and the curse of my own disposition. I find life quite unbearable without laughter.
Leigh Bardugo (Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2))
The Jetavana Temple bells ring the passing of all things. Twinned sala trees, white in full flower, declare the great man's certain fall. The arrogant do not long endure: They are like a dream one night in spring. The bold and brave perish in the end: They are as dust before the wind.
Royall Tyler (The Tale of the Heike)
...I understand that at times, life takes us in different directions than we planned.
Nichole Chase (Suddenly Royal (The Royals, #1))
I hate it when life forces me to be mature.
Suzanne Johnson (Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans, #1))
I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed-Michael Jordan
Louise Bay (King of Wall Street (The Royals Collection, #1))
Real love comes from facing life together, with all its messes and surprises and joys.
Katharine McGee (Majesty (American Royals, #2))
It’s not cool to stare, I know that, but this is literally the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in my life.
Rachel Hawkins (Her Royal Highness (Royals, #2))
The thing is, when you`re dependent on others, they hold a part of your happiness in their hands. They can nurture it or crush it at any moment. Your fate doesn`t belong to you.
Emma Chase (Royally Matched (Royally, #2))
It had been a royal time of luxury to him, with all its stings and contumelies, compared to the poverty that crept round and clipped the anticipation of the future down to sordid fact, and life without an atmosphere of either hope or fear.
Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South)
Look at them, Mum. They’re not props of a legacy. They’re my children. And I swear on my life, and Arthur’s I will take you off the throne before I will let them feel the things you made me feel.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
When she’s scared and hurt, she lashes out. Someone less stubborn than me would’ve left by now. But that’s why she’s alone—because she doesn’t have anyone in her life willing to stick it out with her.
Erin Watt (Fallen Heir (The Royals, #4))
Tirian, with his head against Jewel's flank, slept as soundly as if he were in his royal bed at Cair Paravel, till the sound of a gong beating awoke him and he sat up and saw that there was firelight on the far side of the stable and knew that the hour had come. "Kiss me, Jewel," he said. "For certainly this is our last night on earth. And if ever I offended against you in any matter great or small, forgive me now." "Dear King," said the Unicorn, "I could almost wish you had, so that I might forgive it. Farewell. We have known great joys together. If Aslan gave me my choice I would choose no other life than the life I have had and no other death than the one we go to.
C.S. Lewis (The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7))
I was happy with myself before – with my little life. But this is different. It feels like I’m on the edge of a mountain cliff, the wind whipping my hair, the sun blinding – but there is no fear. Only exhilaration, pure and right. I’m not going to fall. I can’t. Because Henry has shown me how to fly.
Emma Chase (Royally Matched (Royally, #2))
Shogo looked at Shuya and Noriko. "The winner's forced to transfer to another school where he or she is ordered not to mention the game and is instructed instead to lead a normal life. That's all." Shuya felt his chest well up inside and his face froze. He stared at Shogo and realized that Noriko was holding her breath. Shogo said, "I was a student in Third Year Class C, Second District, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture." He added, "I survived the Program held in Hyogo Prefecture last year.
Koushun Takami (Battle Royale)
Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80's movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.
Bert V. Royal (Easy "A")
The separate parts of my life became like beads and I the string that ran through them all. I believe if I had ever paused to consider the intricacy of all I did to keep those parts separate, I would have found it impossible. But I was young then, much younger than I suspected, and somehow I found the energy and time to do and be it all.
Robin Hobb (Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2))
She was tired in her bones, but she rallied her energy one last time and told him of they years in Rifthold, of stealing Asterion horses and racing across the desert, of dancing until dawn with the courtesans and thieves and all the beautiful, wicked creatures in the world. And then she told him about losing Sam, and of that first whipping in Endovier, when she'd spat blood in the Chief Overseer's face, and what she had seen and endured in the following year. She spoke of the day she had snapped and sprinted for her own death. Her heart grew heavy when at last she got to the evening when the Captain of the Royal Guard prowled into her life, and a tyrant's son had offered her a shot at freedom. She told him what she could about the competition and how she'd won it, until her words slurred and her eyelids drooped.
Sarah J. Maas (Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3))
Listen, everyone, you all have your own circumstances. Some of you come from rich families,and some poor. But your value isn't determined by such things--by things beyond your control. Each one of you must discover your own worth through your own efforts. So... don't make the mistake of thinking you alone are special.
Koushun Takami (Battle Royale)
Princess, you have decided to follow the hard path. I cannot promise you the life a royal princess deserves,' he began slowly. 'I am a wandered myself, stuck in an eternal search. I am a vagabond who doesn't know where I am going. My past beckons my present, but I can see only a blurred future. All my life, I have been slighted as a person of low birth- and the stigma will rub off on you as well. Yet, I am not ashamed of who I am...
Kavita Kané (Karna's Wife: The Outcast's Queen)
Until he met the most devastatingly gorgeous peasant boy from a nearby village who said absolutely ghastly things to him that made him feel alive for the first time in years and who turned out to be the most mad sort of sorcerer, one who could conjure up things like gold and vodka shots and apricot tarts out of absolutely nothing, and the prince’s whole life went up in a puff of dazzling purple smoke, and the kingdom said, “I can’t believe we’re all so surprised.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
What I do know, what I’m sure of, is that I would die for Ellie. Kill for her, live for her. The vow echoes through me with every beat of my heart. She is the most important person in my life. She has been from the beginning, and she always will be. There will never be another. I don’t know if I’ll be any fucking good at love. I’m not quite sure how it’s done. But for her, I’ll learn. And I’ll do my damnedest to get it right.
Emma Chase (Royally Endowed (Royally, #3))
P.S. Wilfred Owen to Siegfried Sassoon—1917: And you have fixed my Life—however short. You did not light me: I was always a mad comet; but you have fixed me. I spun round you a satellite for a month, but shall swing out soon, a dark star in the orbit where you will blaze.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
Prunella had once thought life in London would be all flirting and balls and dresses, hitting attentive suitors on the shoulder with a fan, and breakfasting late upon bowls of chocolate. She sighed now for her naïveté. Little had she known life in London was in fact all hexes and murder and thaumaturgical politics, and she would always be rising early for some reason or other!
Zen Cho (Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1))
This, more than anything else, is what I have never understood about your people. You can roll dice, and understand that the whole game may hinge on one turn of a die. You deal out cards, and say that all a man's fortune for the night may turn upon one hand. But a man's whole life, you sniff at, and say, what, this naught of a human, this fisherman, this carpenter, this thief, this cook, why, what can they do in the great wide world? And so you putter and sputter your lives away, like candles burning in a draft.
Robin Hobb
My skill, if I have one, isn’t dancing. It’s my ability to believe that tomorrow can be a better day. I don’t really know where I got this optimism. Maybe it was from Mom. Somewhere along the line, I started thinking that if I just got through this bad experience, this bad day, that tomorrow I’d have something better, brighter, newer. I still believe that. I still believe that there’s something good out there for me. I just have to keep going until my time comes, because surely, surely, none of this would happen if there wasn’t a reward down the line.
Erin Watt (Paper Princess (The Royals, #1))
Sorry Johnny." "Sorry for what " "For shouting at you. It's just that when I think about the future I keep panicking. It's like falling from the top of the stairs in the dark not knowing where I'll end up." He put his arm around my shoulders. "I understand. Life is precarious for most of us but more so for you. What you forget is what most of your friends see in you." "What's that " "The ability to beat the odds..." "And fall on my feet " He nodded. "I just hope that lasts." "It will Catkin it will. It wouldn't dare fail you.
Julia Golding (Den of Thieves (Cat Royal, #3))
While I have the floor, here's a question that's been bothering me for some time. Why do so few writers of heroic or epic fantasy ever deal with the fundamental quandary of their novels . . . that so many of them take place in cultures that are rigid, hierarchical, stratified, and in essence oppressive? What is so appealing about feudalism, that so many free citizens of an educated commonwealth like ours love reading about and picturing life under hereditary lords? Why should the deposed prince or princess in every clichéd tale be chosen to lead the quest against the Dark Lord? Why not elect a new leader by merit, instead of clinging to the inbred scions of a failed royal line? Why not ask the pompous, patronizing, "good" wizard for something useful, such as flush toilets, movable type, or electricity for every home in the kingdom? Given half a chance, the sons and daughters of peasants would rather not grow up to be servants. It seems bizarre for modern folk to pine for a way of life our ancestors rightfully fought desperately to escape.
David Brin (Glory Season)
You know, when you go to Oxford to get a degree in English literature, as I have, people always want to know who your favorite English author is. The press team compiled a list of acceptable answers. [...] In the end they picked Dickens, which is hilarious. They wanted something less fruity than the truth, but truly, what is gayer than a woman who languishes away in a crumbling mansion wearing her wedding gown every day of her life, for the drama?
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
I’M LOSING FAITH IN MY FAVORITE COUNTRY Throughout my life, the United States has been my favorite country, save and except for Canada, where I was born, raised, educated, and still live for six months each year. As a child growing up in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I aggressively bought and saved baseball cards of American and National League players, spent hours watching snowy images of American baseball and football games on black and white television and longed for the day when I could travel to that great country. Every Saturday afternoon, me and the boys would pay twelve cents to go the show and watch U.S. made movies, and particularly, the Superman serial. Then I got my chance. My father, who worked for B.F. Goodrich, took my brother and me to watch the Cleveland Indians play baseball in the Mistake on the Lake in Cleveland. At last I had made it to the big time. I thought it was an amazing stadium and it was certainly not a mistake. Amazingly, the Americans thought we were Americans. I loved the United States, and everything about the country: its people, its movies, its comic books, its sports, and a great deal more. The country was alive and growing. No, exploding. It was the golden age of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The American dream was alive and well, but demanded hard work, honesty, and frugality. Everyone understood that. Even the politicians. Then everything changed. Partly because of its proximity to the United States and a shared heritage, Canadians also aspired to what was commonly referred to as the American dream. I fall neatly into that category. For as long as I can remember I wanted a better life, but because I was born with a cardboard spoon in my mouth, and wasn’t a member of the golden gene club, I knew I would have to make it the old fashioned way: work hard and save. After university graduation I spent the first half of my career working for the two largest oil companies in the world: Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell. The second half was spent with one of the smallest oil companies in the world: my own. Then I sold my company and retired into obscurity. In my case obscurity was spending summers in our cottage on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, Ontario, and winters in our home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My wife, Ann, and I, (and our three sons when they can find the time), have been enjoying that “obscurity” for a long time. During that long time we have been fortunate to meet and befriend a large number of Americans, many from Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” One was a military policeman in Tokyo in 1945. After a very successful business carer in the U.S. he’s retired and living the dream. Another American friend, also a member of the “Greatest Generation”, survived The Battle of the Bulge and lived to drink Hitler’s booze at Berchtesgaden in 1945. He too is happily retired and living the dream. Both of these individuals got to where they are by working hard, saving, and living within their means. Both also remember when their Federal Government did the same thing. One of my younger American friends recently sent me a You Tube video, featuring an impassioned speech by Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida. In the speech, Rubio blasts the spending habits of his Federal Government and deeply laments his country’s future. He is outraged that the U.S. Government spends three hundred billion dollars, each and every month. He is even more outraged that one hundred and twenty billion of that three hundred billion dollars is borrowed. In other words, Rubio states that for every dollar the U.S. Government spends, forty cents is borrowed. I don’t blame him for being upset. If I had run my business using that arithmetic, I would be in the soup kitchens. If individual American families had applied that arithmetic to their finances, none of them would be in a position to pay a thin dime of taxes.
Stephen Douglass
The historical problems with Luke are even more pronounced. For one thing, we have relatively good records for the reign of Caesar Augustus, and there is no mention anywhere in any of them of an empire-wide census for which everyone had to register by returning to their ancestral home. And how could such a thing even be imagined? Joesph returns to Bethlehem because his ancestor David was born there. But David lived a thousand years before Joseph. Are we to imagine that everyone in the Roman Empire was required to return to the homes of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier? If we had a new worldwide census today and each of us had to return to the towns of our ancestors a thousand years back—where would you go? Can you imagine the total disruption of human life that this kind of universal exodus would require? And can you imagine that such a project would never be mentioned in any of the newspapers? There is not a single reference to any such census in any ancient source, apart from Luke. Why then does Luke say there was such a census? The answer may seem obvious to you. He wanted Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, even though he knew he came from Nazareth ... there is a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Micah that a savior would come from Bethlehem. What were these Gospel writer to do with the fact that it was widely known that Jesus came from Nazareth? They had to come up with a narrative that explained how he came from Nazareth, in Galilee, a little one-horse town that no one had ever heard of, but was born in Bethlehem, the home of King David, royal ancestor of the Messiah.
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them)
The calcium in your bones came from a star. We are all made from recycled bits and pieces of the universe. This matters because origins matter. For example, if you were born to a reigning monarch but kidnapped by the black market baby underground shortly after birth and sent to America where you were raised by common, unremarkable people from Ohio, and when you were in your thirties working as a humble UPS driver, dignitaries landed their helicopter on the roof of your crummy apartment building and informed you of their thirty-plus year search for you, His Royal Highness, the course of your life might change. You know? Our familial genetic origins -medical histories- inform us of medical conditions which exist in our families and when we know about these specific conditions, we can sometimes take certain actions to prevent them. Which is why I think it’s important to consider that billions of years before we were students and mothers and dog trainers and priests, we were particles that would form into star after star after star until forever passed, and instead of a star what formed was life; simplistic, crude, miraculous. And after another infinity, there we were. And this is why for you, anything is possible. Because you are made out of everything.
Augusten Burroughs (This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.)
The beasts of the field and forest had a Lion as their king. He was neither wrathful, cruel, nor tyrannical, but just and gentle as a king could be. During his reign he made a royal proclamation for a general assembly of all the birds and beasts, and drew up conditions for a universal league, in which the Wolf and the Lamb, the Panther and the Kid, the Tiger and the Stag, the Dog and the Hare, should live together in perfect peace and amity. The Hare said, “Oh, how I have longed to see this day, in which the weak shall take their place with impunity by the side of the strong.” And after the Hare said this, he ran for his life.
Aesop (Aesop’s Fables)
Once to swim I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty son-bird, perished. Never come a-fishing, father, To the borders of these waters, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest daughter Aino. Mother dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors, Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never mix thy bread, dear mother, With the blue-sea's foam and waters, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest daughter Aino. Brother dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never bring thy prancing war-horse, Never bring thy royal racer, Never bring thy steeds to water, To the borders of the blue-sea, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest sister Aino. Sister dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never come to lave thine eyelids In this rolling wave and sea-foam, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest sister Aino. All the waters in the blue-sea Shall be blood of Aino's body; All the fish that swim these waters Shall be Aino's flesh forever; All the willows on the sea-side Shall be Aino's ribs hereafter; All the sea-grass on the margin Will have grown from Aino's tresses.
Elias Lönnrot (The Kalevala)
I never thought I would have this … You.” I grip his shirt and look up into those beautiful eyes. “I never thought I would have you. I never even let myself hope for you, dream for you, and yet somehow here you are. You have changed my whole life, Edward. You’ve changed me, and I couldn’t do this alone.” He smiles gently and strokes my face. “Yes, you could.” “But I wouldn’t be me, not who I am now. I would be some other, emptier version of me.” Another tear falls and another, and my voice breaks. “You are my joy and my heart…you are my home…and I would be lost without you.” … “You will never be lost. I will be with you always. The vows were wrong. When death comes, he can have my body…but my soul will stay with you, I swear it.
Emma Chase (Royally Yours (Royally, #4))
The belief that science proceeds from observation to theory is still so widely and so firmly held that my denial of it is often met with incredulity. I have even been suspected of being insincere- of denying what nobody in his senses would doubt. But in fact the belief that we can start with pure observation alone, without anything in the nature of a theory is absurd; as may be illustrated by the story of the man who dedicated his life to natural science, wrote down everything he could observe, and bequeathed his priceless collection of observations to the Royal Society to be used as evidence. This story should show us that though beetles may profitably be collected, observations may not. Twenty-five years ago I tried to bring home the same point to a group of physics students in Vienna by beginning a lecture with the following instructions : 'Take pencil and paper; carefully observe, and write down what you have observed!' They asked, of course, what I wanted them to observe. Clearly the instruction, 'Observe!' is absurd. (It is not even idiomatic, unless the object of the transitive verb can be taken as understood.) Observation is always selective. It needs a chosen object, a definite task, an interest, a point of view, a problem. And its description presupposes a descriptive language, with property words; it presupposes similarity and classification, which in their turn presuppose interests, points of view, and problems.
Karl Popper (Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (Routledge Classics))
At any innocent tea-table we may easily hear a man say, "Life is not worth living." We regard it as we regard the statement that it is a fine day; nobody thinks that it can possibly have any serious effect on the man or on the world. And yet if that utterance were really believed, the world would stand on its head. Murderers would be given medals for saving men from life; firemen would be denounced for keeping men from death; poisons would be used as medicines; doctors would be called in when people were well; the Royal Humane Society would be rooted out like a horde of assassins. Yet we never speculate as to whether the conversational pessimist will strengthen or disorganize society; for we are convinced that theories do not matter.
G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)
For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital—all undreamed of by the fathers—the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service. There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer. Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR: Selected Speeches of President Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Now, it is our understanding that his Majesty Grom is requesting an unsealing from his mating with the Common Paca?” “That is correct,” Antonis says, rolling his eyes. “Poseidon’s beard, but this is repetitive.” Tandel ignores the elder king’s bluster. “It is also our understanding that Prince Galen requests, in exchange for his help, and the help of Emma the Half-Breed, that he is permitted to mate with Emma as if she were full-blooded Syrena.” “You have that correct,” Galen answers gruffly. Tandel pauses. “And do the Royals have any more requests at this time?” “Yes,” Emma says, to Galen’s surprise. She’s never held back from speaking what’s on her mind. But she never acknowledged herself as a Royal until now. “Because of my Half-breed status, and the fact that I’ve lived on land all my life, I would like for the Royals to be able to visit me here whenever they like. I know that under the current laws, that’s not allowed, but I want that changed.” “You might as well agree to that, Tandel,” Antonis says. “Or else you’ll be holding another tribunal for the Royals, because all of us intend to be visiting land more often I think.” “Actually I won’t be visiting land,” Galen says. He turns to Emma. “I’ll be living here.” Tears pool in her eyes. He catches one sliding down her cheek and kisses it away. Her reaction just confirms what he’d suspected all along. That she’s been worried about it. How it would work out between them, where would they live. Emma had said before that she wanted the best of both worlds. Prom, graduation, college. Swimming with dolphins, visiting the Titanic, searching for Amelia Earhart’s plane. He intends to make sure she has it all.
Anna Banks (Of Triton (The Syrena Legacy, #2))
To Juan at the Winter Solstice There is one story and one story only That will prove worth your telling, Whether as learned bard or gifted child; To it all lines or lesser gauds belong That startle with their shining Such common stories as they stray into. Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues, Or strange beasts that beset you, Of birds that croak at you the Triple will? Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns Below the Boreal Crown, Prison to all true kings that ever reigned? Water to water, ark again to ark, From woman back to woman: So each new victim treads unfalteringly The never altered circuit of his fate, Bringing twelve peers as witness Both to his starry rise and starry fall. Or is it of the Virgin's silver beauty, All fish below the thighs? She in her left hand bears a leafy quince; When, with her right hand she crooks a finger, smiling, How many the King hold back? Royally then he barters life for love. Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched, Whose coils contain the ocean, Into whose chops with naked sword he springs, Then in black water, tangled by the reeds, Battles three days and nights, To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore? Much snow if falling, winds roar hollowly, The owl hoots from the elder, Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup: Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward. The log groans and confesses: There is one story and one story only. Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling, Do not forget what flowers The great boar trampled down in ivy time. Her brow was creamy as the crested wave, Her sea-blue eyes were wild But nothing promised that is not performed.
Robert Graves
Snake Street is an area I should avoid. Yet that night I was drawn there as surely as if I had an appointment.  The Snake House is shabby on the outside to hide the wealth within. Everyone knows of the wealth, but facades, like the park’s wall, must be maintained. A lantern hung from the porch eaves. A sign, written in Utte, read ‘Kinship of the Serpent’. I stared at that sign, at that porch, at the door with its twisted handle, and wondered what the people inside would do if I entered. Would they remember me? Greet me as Kin? Or drive me out and curse me for faking my death?  Worse, would they expect me to redon the life I’ve shed? Staring at that sign, I pissed in the street like the Mearan savage I’ve become. As I started to leave, I saw a woman sitting in the gutter. Her lamp attracted me. A memsa’s lamp, three tiny flames to signify the Holy Trinity of Faith, Purity, and Knowledge.  The woman wasn’t a memsa. Her young face was bruised and a gash on her throat had bloodied her clothing. Had she not been calmly assessing me, I would have believed the wound to be mortal. I offered her a copper.  She refused, “I take naught for naught,” and began to remove trinkets from a cloth bag, displaying them for sale. Her Utte accent had been enough to earn my coin. But to assuage her pride I commented on each of her worthless treasures, fighting the urge to speak Utte. (I spoke Universal with the accent of an upper class Mearan though I wondered if she had seen me wetting the cobblestones like a shameless commoner.) After she had arranged her wares, she looked up at me. “What do you desire, O Noble Born?” I laughed, certain now that she had seen my act in front of the Snake House and, letting my accent match the coarseness of my dress, I again offered the copper.  “Nay, Noble One. You must choose.” She lifted a strand of red beads. “These to adorn your lady’s bosom?”             I shook my head. I wanted her lamp. But to steal the light from this woman ... I couldn’t ask for it. She reached into her bag once more and withdrew a book, leather-bound, the pages gilded on the edges. “Be this worthy of desire, Noble Born?”  I stood stunned a moment, then touched the crescent stamped into the leather and asked if she’d stolen the book. She denied it. I’ve had the Training; she spoke truth. Yet how could she have come by a book bearing the Royal Seal of the Haesyl Line? I opened it. The pages were blank. “Take it,” she urged. “Record your deeds for study. Lo, the steps of your life mark the journey of your soul.”   I told her I couldn’t afford the book, but she smiled as if poverty were a blessing and said, “The price be one copper. Tis a wee price for salvation, Noble One.”   So I bought this journal. I hide it under my mattress. When I lie awake at night, I feel the journal beneath my back and think of the woman who sold it to me. Damn her. She plagues my soul. I promised to return the next night, but I didn’t. I promised to record my deeds. But I can’t. The price is too high.
K. Ritz (Sheever's Journal, Diary of a Poison Master)
The Chorus Line: The Birth of Telemachus, An Idyll Nine months he sailed the wine-red seas of his mother's blood Out of the cave of dreaded Night, of sleep, Of troubling dreams he sailed In his frail dark boat, the boat of himself, Through the dangerous ocean of his vast mother he sailed From the distant cave where the threads of men's lives are spun, Then measured, and then cut short By the Three Fatal Sisters, intent on their gruesome handcrafts, And the lives of women also are twisted into the strand. And we, the twelve who were later to die by his hand At his father's relentless command, Sailed as well, in the dark frail boats of ourselves Through the turbulent seas of our swollen and sore-footed mothers Who were not royal queens, but a motley and piebald collection, Bought, traded, captured, kidnapped from serfs and strangers. After the nine-month voyage we came to shore, Beached at the same time as he was, struck by the hostile air, Infants when he was an infant, wailing just as he wailed, Helpless as he was helpless, but ten times more helpless as well, For his birth was longed-for and feasted, as our births were not. His mother presented a princeling. Our various mothers Spawned merely, lambed, farrowed, littered, Foaled, whelped and kittened, brooded, hatched out their clutch. We were animal young, to be disposed of at will, Sold, drowned in the well, traded, used, discarded when bloomless. He was fathered; we simply appeared, Like the crocus, the rose, the sparrows endangered in mud. Our lives were twisted in his life; we also were children When he was a child, We were his pets and his toythings, mock sisters, his tiny companions. We grew as he grew, laughed also, ran as he ran, Though sandier, hungrier, sun-speckled, most days meatless. He saw us as rightfully his, for whatever purpose He chose, to tend him and feed him, to wash him, amuse him, Rock him to sleep in the dangerous boats of ourselves. We did not know as we played with him there in the sand On the beach of our rocky goat-island, close by the harbour, That he was foredoomed to swell to our cold-eyed teenaged killer. If we had known that, would we have drowned him back then? Young children are ruthless and selfish: everyone wants to live. Twelve against one, he wouldn't have stood a chance. Would we? In only a minute, when nobody else was looking? Pushed his still-innocent child's head under the water With our own still-innocent childish nursemaid hands, And blamed it on waves. Would we have had it in us? Ask the Three Sisters, spinning their blood-red mazes, Tangling the lives of men and women together. Only they know how events might then have had altered. Only they know our hearts. From us you will get no answer.
Margaret Atwood (The Penelopiad)
Cixi’s lack of formal education was more than made up for by her intuitive intelligence, which she liked to use from her earliest years. In 1843, when she was seven, the empire had just finished its first war with the West, the Opium War, which had been started by Britain in reaction to Beijing clamping down on the illegal opium trade conducted by British merchants. China was defeated and had to pay a hefty indemnity. Desperate for funds, Emperor Daoguang (father of Cixi’s future husband) held back the traditional presents for his sons’ brides – gold necklaces with corals and pearls – and vetoed elaborate banquets for their weddings. New Year and birthday celebrations were scaled down, even cancelled, and minor royal concubines had to subsidise their reduced allowances by selling their embroidery on the market through eunuchs. The emperor himself even went on surprise raids of his concubines’ wardrobes, to check whether they were hiding extravagant clothes against his orders. As part of a determined drive to stamp out theft by officials, an investigation was conducted of the state coffer, which revealed that more “than nine million taels of silver had gone missing. Furious, the emperor ordered all the senior keepers and inspectors of the silver reserve for the previous forty-four years to pay fines to make up the loss – whether or not they were guilty. Cixi’s great-grandfather had served as one of the keepers and his share of the fine amounted to 43,200 taels – a colossal sum, next to which his official salary had been a pittance. As he had died a long time ago, his son, Cixi’s grandfather, was obliged to pay half the sum, even though he worked in the Ministry of Punishments and had nothing to do with the state coffer. After three years of futile struggle to raise money, he only managed to hand over 1,800 taels, and an edict signed by the emperor confined him to prison, only to be released if and when his son, Cixi’s father, delivered the balance. The life of the family was turned upside down. Cixi, then eleven years old, had to take in sewing jobs to earn extra money – which she would remember all her life and would later talk about to her ladies-in-waiting in the court. “As she was the eldest of two daughters and three sons, her father discussed the matter with her, and she rose to the occasion. Her ideas were carefully considered and practical: what possessions to sell, what valuables to pawn, whom to turn to for loans and how to approach them. Finally, the family raised 60 per cent of the sum, enough to get her grandfather out of prison. The young Cixi’s contribution to solving the crisis became a family legend, and her father paid her the ultimate compliment: ‘This daughter of mine is really more like a son!’ Treated like a son, Cixi was able to talk to her father about things that were normally closed areas for women. Inevitably their conversations touched on official business and state affairs, which helped form Cixi’s lifelong interest. Being consulted and having her views acted on, she acquired self-confidence and never accepted the com“common assumption that women’s brains were inferior to men’s. The crisis also helped shape her future method of rule. Having tasted the bitterness of arbitrary punishment, she would make an effort to be fair to her officials.
Jung Chang (Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China)