Rituals of the King

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BookOne:eRitualsoftheKing Chapter0:eWasteBook Impelledasthoughinsympathywiththeearth,aspittle’s-worthofdarkhumourslips frombetweenthehighbranchesofthetreeintothemildair.Soitplungesfromits zenith,drawnbyitsyearningforthehonestLincolnshirelime.usdoesbasematter descend,whilepurespiritrisestojointhelight. ishungryglobdoesnothoweverfindthesoil,butimpactsinsteaduponthehead ofaboystretchedoutinquietcontemplationuponthegroundatthefootofthetree. Soastoryisa-borning,onethatshallbearrepetitionuntilJudgementandyetgrow moregrandandpregnantwitheachtelling.Likeacoinitshallbepassedfrompartyto party,itssovereignfeaturesslowlyobliteratedbytheerosionofhands,untilthemark- ingsbesmoothedandunrecognised.usthefallenmatter,whichinfactmostkeenly resemblesthemanurefromwhichallgardenidyllsspring,becomesinfictionahappier symbol;howslythatitshouldbetheapple,thatsweetfruitofbitterknowledgeandex- ile.ButthisisnotEdenboundedbytheWitham,andthisboy,thisyouth,isnoAdam. Heisachildofninesummerswithshiteonhisbrow. Observetheboy,onhisblanketofwarmgrass,inhiscradleofgreytorturedtree- roots,inhisopen-roofedbedchamberofhazyautumnalwarmth.Observehislank limbs,spreadcarelessandemptyofpurpose.Observehislollinghead,theblondcropof hisscalp,thebeak’dface,theeyesoscillatingpalpablybelowthedroopedlids.Youmight thinkhimidle.Youmightthinkhimasleep,andheisdreaminginhisownfashion,but heisnotidle.Slothisnothissin;hehasspenthisdaydialing(ithavingbeendetermined thatheisnotfittedasashepherd,neitherasamerchant,andisthereforedoomedtobe thatleastpracticalofanimals,aneducatedman).Inhisdreamshedialsstill,smoothing andshapingrawstonewithadiamond-sharpblueblade.Itisamorepreciseinstrument thanhehaseverfoundinhiswakinglife,makingforanicerdialonwhicheverfiner gradientsofshadowwillrevealthestationsofthehourindetailunknowneventothe astrologersofCathayorÆgypt.eseare,hecontemplatesinhisdream,theoldest machinestobetheworkofman;onlytheheavensthemselvesturnonafinerandmore perfectmechanism.InhisdreamhebuildsagreatPalaceofTimetocontainallhis dials,aplainwoodhouseofever-expandingwingsandatria.isisHeavenandhewill beitsarchitect. esearenotthedreamsofanidlechild. Butheisachildofmanandthereforesinful,andthissin–becausehefollowsthe truefaith–cannotbewipedcleanbythesanctifiedpisspot-fontsofRomeorallher whorishindulgences.Ifnotsloth,then–what?Itisnotgluttony,hismeatisonthe brainnotthebone.Lust,then?Lusthasitssmilingpossibilities.esearecoldyears, butthesummersareyetwarmenoughforthelocalchildrentoseekoutcoolandlonely waters.eygoingroupstobatheinthepondsorthestreams,thisladamongthem, thoughheisneitheranintrepidboynorahealthyoneandiscontentonlytowade whilehishalf-friendssinknakedtoswimbelowthelineofthewater.Onceinjestthey caughthimandheldhisheadunderthesurface,untroubledbyhisthrashing,releasing himattheirleisure.Hisskullswelledwhenhebrokeintothefreeair,whilebloodand2NS biledribbledfromhisnoseandmouth;hehadswallowedfromthestream,andwas afflictedforamonthbyfeversandflux.eyhadmostblasphemouslybaptisedhim, butwhilea-bedhehadcontemplatedthequalityoflightthatpenetratedthemurk,and foundthereariddlethatheturnedcasuallyinhismind.Hewillunlockitlater;more oftenhisthoughtsturnedtothebodiesofhiscompanions,friendsandvillains,sons anddaughtersalike;butthisistheinnocentcuriosityofachild.Asanadulthewill lustformen–andalsoforwomen,butmostoftenformen–butitwillbeapenitent’s flagellantlust,atamedthingthatinspiresasmuchdisgustaspleasure.Itbringshome properGodlyguiltasitsharvest.Donotlookforlusthere;itdoesnotdrivehim. Oh,butthereispride. Hissleepandhisdreamsarethoseofawokenmind.Hemerelycovershiseyesfrom thesun,whichliesinawarmpaneacrosshisface.esunhasbeenapitifulthingin theseyearsofhislife;thereisacoldwintercomingin,buttherearebetterdaysyetto come.Hedreamsofhowhewillfillthosebetterdays.eshitespattersonhisfaceas thoughitwereanewthought,inspirationfromthedivine.Iwillhaveabook,hedecides. Hecanseeitalready,waitingforhimonatrader’sstall.Aheavybook,withyellowed pagesthatsmellofmustandlearning,thoughallthosesheetsbeyetblank.Itwasonce proudlybound,butthestitchinghasdisrepairedinitstravels,itsspineinfestedwith spidersandsmallinsectsjustasthespineofmancontainshisunprovenseed.Hesees himself,alittleolder,touchingthebook,worshippingit,wooingit.Eachseasonitis taken,andeachseasonitreturns,andhecomesasthoughapuppyinlovetowatchit layuponitsstall.Howhefearsthatotherhandswillspoilher.Howheyearnstospill inkonherpageswithhisthoughtsanddesigns.estallsman,oncesuspiciousofhis attentions,growstolovethisganglymoon-struckboy.–Youmightsaveenoughcoin tobuyit(sayshe)–Andhowlongwillthattake?(repliestheboy,nowtrulyayouth). ebook’skeeperlaughs,thenshakeshisheadsadly,thenlaughsagainandruffles theyouth’sbowlofhair.–Maybeonedayyoucouldprevailonsomeonetopresentit you?(hespeculates,correctlyasitwilltranspire)–Andwillyoukeepitformeuntil thatday?–(anotherlaugh)Imustsellittowhowillpayforit.Oh,don’tlooksoglum, boyerewillbeotherbooks. –ButIwantthatone OnedayIwillhaveawastebookofblankleavesthatIwilldecorate. Beneaththetree,heshakesthesethoughtsfromhishead,somehowuncertainin himselfthatthedreamhasnotalreadycometopass.Inshaking,hefeelsthepatchof foreignskinthatnowdislodgesfurtheranddripsacrosshiseye;andforamomenthe thinkshimselfwounded;andforamomenthethinkshimselfdead. Latelycannonballshaveflowntheirarcs,leavingthecrystalskyunbroken,whileon Earththeirtracesarealltoovisible:Englishmenreducedtopilesofoffalandpowdered bone;theruinsoffastnesses,onceimpregnable,nowshatteredandexposed;theearth rippedasunderandscorchedbysizzlingviolentimpacts.eglassdomeoftheskyis undisturbed,andHeavenhasneverseemedsofaraway.Soareprovedtheobservations oftheEuropeans;ofCopernicus,Galileo,Brahe,Kepler,andoffreshly-deadCartesius (whoseworldswhirlnotbythecommandoftheprimummobilebutondimly-imagined vortices):thecelestialspheresareofadistanceonlyGodcanconceive.Yetasthedivine recedes,itseemsalsoterriblycloser.WaronEarthpresagesWarinHeaven;thestrug- glebetweentheholyhousesofChristandtheireternalAdversaryhaseruptedamong theliving.epartyofangelsisinascendant,thoughnotyettriumphant.egood Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition3 oldcausehasroutedtheforcesofkinglytyrannyuponthefield,andthoseEnglishmen whodespiseourProtestantlibertieshavefallensilent;buttheyarenotyetextirpated, androyalsympathies–sooftenclothedasthoughofapartwithgentlelivingandgood government–concealtheactionsofthosetrueandmonstroustraitorswhohavesuck- ledtheirloveofslaveryfromtheteatoftheShe-Wolf.AllEarthlyaffairsthuslightly concealthetrueconflictthatshapesthecosmos,andalloccurrencesareasportentsof thedivine,orofthedamned. Anddoesourboybelievethis?Perhapshehasnotyetthoughtonittoolongnor toohard,butifprevailedupon,andifassuredthatanhonestanswerwillyieldnoharsh reward,hemightsaythatheisnotyetwiseenoughtodrawaconclusionandthatmore observationandpatientmeasurementisrequired.Suchequivocationobscureshistrue convictionaboutthecaseoftheworld:ifwarbefoughtinHeaventhenEarthbestrewn withitsportents.Hebelievesthis:asabove,sobelow. Whattomakethenofthiscaulbespecklinghisface?Heputshisfingerstoitand scrapesitaway.Heholdsitonhistipsandithastheglisteninglookofshite,notbird- shiteasmightbeexpected,buttheshiteofbeastsormen.Seehimfurrowhisbrow, disgustedasanyboywouldbewhenshoweredwithdiseasedsoil;butseethathestill doesnotremovehimself,asanyboywould,butstayslyinginhispoiseofdeceptive contemplation.Hedoesnotruntothenearestbrookorwell.Hedoesnotevenwipe hishands.atwrinklehewearsgrows,witheachpassingsecond,lessamaskofdisgust andmoreoneofperplexionandenquiry.issubstanceisnotwet.Itdoesnothavethe textureofshite,itisuncommonlysmooth.Itdoesnot(hesniffs)smellofshite.Itdoes not(hepecks)tasteofshite.Itisblackandviscous,butheknowsnoearthlysubstance likethis.Itisanunknownhumour. Herollstheglobontohispalmandstares,asifwringingfurthertruthsfromit.ey donotcome.ey– Henolongerhasaboy’ssmoothhands.eskinistautenedandlinedwithexperi- ence,thefingertipssharpenedandflattenedlikeawornnib.eycontainoldachesand twinges.esehandshavebeenwashedcleanofinkonmoreoccasionsthanthenum- bereddaysofhisspan.ereisnodirtonhispalms,butapuffedsatinpillowbearing cleancoins,sparklingmetalfreshfromthemint,bearingthelikenessesofmonarchsas yetuncrowned,perhapsnotyetborn. Heholdsthemoutforinspection.IfitpleaseYourMajesty– No.Hetriestoflingthemaway.Hehasaboy’shands.Hehasshiteonhispalm.ere wasnopillow,therewerenocoins,thereisnoMajesty.Hefindshimselfshiveringout ofawakingnightmare.Carefullyherollstheunexplainedmatterintoaball,ashewould theskinofacheese.Itsuckstohisfingers.erearenomoreanswerstobefoundhere, soheshiftshisinvestigationelsewhere,turninghisheadupwardstowardsthesource, thehighbranchesabovehishead. Caughtandheldamongthetangledlimbsistheshapeofaman.eboywonders howhecametobethere,forhecouldhavenothaveclimbedsohighwithoutsetting loosesomealarumormotiontostirtheboyfromhiscontemplation.Norhashebeen restingtheresincebeforenoon;theshroudofleavesmightconceal,butnotfromthis distance,norabodysolarge.Besides,thereissomethingaboutthisbodikinthatdraws theeye,ablanknessthatcannotbeavoided.Well,then,hemusthavefallenfromthe sky. eboylaughs.Hislaughterisadeath-rattleinhisgullet,andisnotpleasingto Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net4NS theearsofothers,whohaveheardsuchnoisestoofrequentlybeforeandtoooftenin circumstancesnotconducivetogoodhumour.Sohedoesnotlaughamongthem,and isthoughttobeamosthumourlessfellow.Hespringsfromwherehelies,forhewas alwaysalert,anddeterminestoclimbthetree.Itisaneasybusinessforhim;heis foreverscramblingintounlikelyplacesinhisinvestigations.Hishandspasslightlyover thegreenmossesofthetrunk,acrossthepeekingpurplesandyellowsofwildflowers, aroundthesecretcrevicesthathouseteemingcolonies–roanokes,jamestowns,whole americas–ofamillioninsects,untilhefindsasecurehandhold.Anotherfollows,a third,afourth,sohescramblesupthetreebyincrementsuntilhishandsandfeetbe restingsafelyonbranchesandboughs,andhecomesatlasttohisdrippingbenefactor. emaninthetreehasnoface,whichisthesecondofthreeremarkableattributes tocommandourlad’sattention;firstandmostterrifyingisthatheisablackman.And ourladalmostplungesfromhisperchinterror–theBlackBastard ForitisknownthattheBastard,thoughroutedandfugitive,isabroadinEngland. HenolongerstandsattheheadofatroopofPapishScots,norahordeofwildIrish– theyweresmashedbyOliver’sarmysomeweekssince–buttheBastardhimselfes- capedthefield,hisheadintactuponhisshoulders.Heisasuppleone;heslitherslike aserpent,hedanceslikeareed,unlikehisfatherwhowouldnotbenduponthewinds ofrighteousnessandsosnappedandlosthishead.eBastardisatlarge,andthough hunted,hehastheKnot,thatinvisiblecohortofsupportersandsympathisers,toaid himinhisflightandhisdissemblances.Whilecoolheadsadvisethathewillmostlikely bemakinghiswaytothesea(andthencetoexile,tosomecavefromwherehemight makepronouncementsofblood-curdlingimpotence),othervoicesaremorestridentin theirfears.HehauntsEnglandlikeamonster,devouringitsbread,leechingitsblood. Heclimbsthroughwindowstopluckjuicybabiesfromtheircradles;heeruptsfrom wellsanddragshonestmendowntodrown;helurestheunwarymaidenwithhoneyed wordsthathemightdespoilher,andiftherebenomaidenswhythenhewillmakedo withaprettyboy;heinsinuatesintochurchesthathemightshitonthelecternandwipe hisarseonpagesrippedfromhisgrandfather’sbible. esearethewordsofhotheads,andouryoungmanknowsthiswell.Heisnot swayedbypanicorbasegossip,thoughhishearttollslikeamonkishbellinhisribs’ cage.efearthatgripshimisinstead,quiterational.Forheis,asbesthecanbein suchprovincialcircumstances,awell-informedyouth.isisnottheBastard.Forone thing,theBastardwouldbeafooltofleetowardstheWash;thisShireissolidlyfor Parliament;itssoilissosensibleofitsfaiththatwerehetocrossintoitsbordersthe veryairwouldcausehimtoshrivelintostone.Foranotherthing,thoughcalledblack, theBastardismerelyaswarthyman,darkofcomplexionandthickofhair;wereheto betransportedtothemarketsofAfricaorAraby,hewouldseemaspaleasanyother sun-pinchedScot.inksthechildthenofthosemerchantsofhotterlands;hehas neverseteyesuponaNegro,buthisreasontellshimthattheycannotbetrulyblack either,nottheblacknessofcoalorpitchornight,anymorethanhewithhispallidpink skincouldbecalledwhiteassnow,orthesavageredmanofAmericaapproachesthat idealcolourfoundintheembersofaspentfire.esearesimilesandapproximations; theydonotdescribemenastheyare. Buttheydescribethisman,whoistrulyblack,asofcoal,orofpitch,orofnight. Andthesecondmiracle:thismanhasnoface;hehasahead,butitisentirelywithout feature.Itisasmoothbowlonhisshoulders,soperfectthatitmightbeahelmet,but Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition5 itisnotofmetalorglass.osefabricshavethequalityofreflection;ifitwereeither, theboywouldseetheanglesofhisownfacepeeringbackathim,thoughstretchedand distortedastheywouldbeinapuddle.Helooksintothatface,thatno-face,andsees nothingofhimselfthere,andnothingofcreation. ethirdmiracle;thisisnotamanatall.Heisnaked,heisspreadamongthetree withbluntbranchespunchedsmoothlythroughhisbodyasthoughunbroken;hisarms andlegsarethrownopen,andheisvisiblywithouttheprivypartsofaman.Yetnoris therethatpuckeredfemaledifferencethatourboyhassightedwhilepaddlingsullenly inLincolnwaters;noristhereanymarkleftbybarbaroussurgery.ethighsmeetwith asmoothanduncomplicatedjoin. OurboyrecallsChristamongtheSadducees,andtheunsexedangelsofHisdescrip- tion.Howhisheartpounds,andhowheregretsthefoolishlaughterwhenhefirst thoughtthiscreaturemighthavefallenfromthesky.Yet,ifthisisanangelplung’d toearth,wherearehiswings?Wherehishalo?Whyhashebeensoexpelled?Ishe perhapsacasualtyofthatgreatconflictimaginedtoragebeyondthehorizon?Ifthis isanangelandnotsomeeructationfromthepit,thenhowfarestheWar,forGodand Manalike?Windcatchesthebranches,theleavesrustle,theboyshivers,thegreen-cast lightmovesinpatternsacrosstheangel’sbrokenbody. Itissurelydead.Itisimpaled.Itisburst.Itbleedsfromeverypartofitsbody,its skin–thecolourbutnotthetextureofcoal–hanginginripeningbeads.eboyfeels forthisdeadthing,nomatterwhatitsprovenance,foritmusthavebeenexposedto intolerablepressuresinitsjourneythroughthevoids.Heimaginesitfallingandendur- ing,sparkinglikeafirework,onlytodrophitherintothistreeandexpireunnoticedand unmourned,saveonlyforachildcaughtbeneathitswake. Heputsahandtoitsbody.Heseemstotouchemptyair;itisnotevencold. Heremoveshishandandthebodycomeswithit,theblackenedskinmouldedround hisfingerslikeaglove.Itfeelsnotunpleasant;itlooksfarworse.eboy,brieflycareless ofhisfooting,stumblesback,andthebodystumbleswithhim.efuliginoustiderolls ontohisforearm,andadvancessteadilytowardhiselbow.Hescratchesatit,buthis bluntednailsmakenomarkonhisnewsecondskin.Hekicksatthebody–stillmore foolish,hisnakedtoeplungesintotheyieldingcorpseandisswallowed,followedby footandankle.Hestruggles,butitisonlypanicanditisineffective;inafewmoments thebodyoftheangelhasconsumedhimfromtiptotoe.Itsaveshisfaceforlast,and onlyasitswarmsacrosshiseyes,hisnose,hisears,andintohismouthdoeshethinkto scream.Itcomesoutlikeasqueakonareed.eangelskinwearshimnow,smothering him,sinkingintohispores,hisorgansandbeyondintohisvery– Heisnotdead.Hedidnotdiethen,allthosesummersagoasaboy.Todaythey callhimtheMaster.HecamethroughdraughtyWhitehallpassagesbearingthenew coinsonapuffedsatinpillowfortheinspectionofHisMajesty.AllMastersanswerto higherpowers,andevenKingsarecommandedbyGod;hehas,aftersomeconsidera- tion,growntoacceptthisasapracticalposition,thoughhemightgrumblesometimes inhiscupsaboutthatpromisedrepublicanparadise,nowlosttotime.Ifwemusthave aking,thenletitbeareasonablekingasHisMajestyis,adullpersonagewhoturns hisattentionstoEnglandandherattendantnationswithboredreluctance,notwith anykinglypassionthatturnsintimetooppression.LethimbethisbluntOrangeDuke, thisPrinceoftheRepublic.Lethimsetasidekinglywrathonlyforthosewhoseekalter- nativegovernanceoutofspiteandwickedness;thenoisomePapists,theheathenIrish, Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net6NS andthattinyToryrabble(outof–hesighs–manygoodTorieswhohaveabidedthe newstatusquo)whohavepitchedoutrightintotreasonableJacobitism.eMastersits inParliamentforCambridgenow– DoIyet?atwillhappen,butisithappenedyet? –andstillspeaksforthegoodoldcause,butacceptsthatthecausehasbeentrans- formedbytimeandnewcertainties.HesitsinaParliamentthathasapprovedand checkedtheKing’spowers,thusisthecirclesquaredandoldgrievancesresolved.Roy- alistandrepublican,WhigandTory,nowweareallone.Besides,heisolder. But–ohiskingisatiresomeman eMasterspeakstohimofthenewœconomicks,ofhowthewealthofanation bemeasurednotinthecontentsofitscoffersbutinthesumofitsproductionsandthe harvestofitstrade.eKingnodshisbulletheadandburbleshisenthusiasmsinhisac- centedEnglish,buthedoesnotsee;orratherheseesonlytheprofitthatmightbemade outofthisnewarrangementofaffairs.eMaster,temperinghisfrustration,attempts toenlighten;theKingwagsafingerasthoughhewerestillaboy.‘Uh,uh,uh,’sayshis scoldinggutturalDutchmouth.eMasterperceivesatree,aproudsaplingcarefully nurturedingoodsoil,trimmed,regulated,organised;heseesalsothatthegrowthis governedbynumbers,buriedsofarintheinfinitesimalthatevenhiscalculationscan- notteasethemfree,butheknowsthatthoseunguessablenumbersmustbebeautiful. eyarethetruestofGod’sworks,theyspeaktohissouloftheircreator;thisiswhat thetreerepresents. Whereheseesatree–whereheseesanactofGod–thisdullkingseesfirewood,to besoldforaprettyprofit. Soitiswiththerecoinage,whentradingthroughoutthenationshallbesuspended. eKingwaseasilypersuaded;heseesanopportunitytolinehispockets,tosuckwealth outofthelandandpayforhissports,hisrevels,andhispursuits.eMasterfeelsfaintly excludedfromthesesodomiticalactivities;hedisapproves,becauseallcarnalityinvites disapproval,butheachestoknowmoreofthem.eroughandboisterouskingfinds thecompanyofroughandboisterousmenpleasing,whichhasneverbeentheMaster’s preference.Hisdesireisforthesmoothskin,theshyyoungmanorgenteelyounglady, whosepallidbodieswillreflecthisnervousenquiries. Oh,wouldthatIhadSirXtofer’sgraceandwitWouldthattheQueenstilllived Shewasgraceful,shewasairwhileheroafishhusbandisoftheearth.YetIcouldnever speaktoherwithoutlosingmytonguetoaGordiantangle,whilethatwing’dtroglodyte founditsoeasytocharmher. eMasterexplainsthesignificanceofeachnewcoinintediousdetail.eKing yawns. Hehasanoddsensation,asoffallingfromagreatheight. No,thepointoftherecoinageisnottofacilitatethegreedofthewealthy(though,he admitstohimself,thiswillcertainlybeanoutcome),buttoattainprecision.Allthings musttendtowardsperfection,andifthatcannotbeachievedingovernance,thenletit besoughtinotherendeavours.osecoinswehavepassedamongourselvesthrough ourlives,whethertheybeissuedforthepurposesofaJames,aCharles,oranOliver, havebecomedebased.eyarecut.eyareshaved.eyarereconstitutedwith impurities.Itisintolerablethatthisstatepersists.Itismotivatedbythievery,butitis worsethanthievery.edilutionofthecoinisafallawayfromprecision,justasthe dilutionofthesoulwithdrossrendersonemoreremotefromthegraceofGod.Sohe Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition7 saystothosewhocallhimundulyharsh.ereisaworsecrimethanstealingbread, andforthistheymusthang,thesewickedcounterfeitersofsouls. –Iwouldnotcaretobeahangman. oulifwilunfolasyoseher.ratofchangthrougtimisexponentia. erwilbnperceptiblalteratiowithiyoulifetim. –Iwillnotbeahangman. owilbhangma.iswritte. ‘Master?’eKing.Hisheadbobsforward,amaskofgenuineconcern.Heseemsun- shaventoday,thoughtheMastercannotbesureofhisimpression.eMastertouches histempleandwinces,feigningpain;heismoreprofoundlydisturbed,theworldseem- ingforamomenttohaveslippedawayandbeachedhimonaforeignshore. ‘A–aslightheadache,’heprotests,affectedly. eKing’sfingerspercussonhisbristledcheek.‘Youthinktoomuch.’ GraciouslytheMasternods,theMastersmilesinacknowledgementoftheKing’s triteobservation. eblackghostinsidehimrisesuponhisgullet,butwillnotspewforth;ithasmadea nestinhim.eworldslipsagain,heistumbling,notthroughairbutthroughmoments ofhislife.Herecallsseeinginamemoryasilver-skinnedmanframedbythemoon throughhiswindow,nakedsaveforhisflathelmandwingedsandals;herecallsnext thathismemorywasinflamedandaddledbythefumesandretortsofhisexperiments andhesawnothingmoreremarkablethantreesswayingandscrapingonthenight- winds.Herecallshisindustryintheplagueyears,hisannusmirabilisthatborefecund innovationfromtheisolationofhisLincolnshireGhetto.Herememberscomposing thePrincipia,andthetreatiseonOpticks(whichisnotyetwritten),andhissumma vitaePraxis(whichshallneverbecompletedbutwillliestillborninhisfingersonhis deathbed).Herecallshisstruggleswithhisenemies,thosebaseplagiaristswhowould claimhisrightfulanduniqueinsightsastheirown;hewouldhangthemifhecould;he imagineshimselfinHellandattheirmercy;theyhaveputtheirhookesintohisflesh… Herecallsbeingborn,beingthrustoutofhismother’sbodyintothefallenworld. Iwilcalthisthlimi.ispossibltextenearlie,buathispointhgiftsof youlifbecominterminglewitthosofyoumothe. espiritiswiththeboy,watchinghimashehauntsthemomentsofhislife,those fewdisastershehasalreadylived,thosemanytriumphsyettocome.Itdwellswithin himasthequietestandmostunassumingofguests.Itmustthenbeadevilafterall,but no–itdoesnotguidehim,itsimplyridesandseestheworldthroughhiseyes. –Sir,amItobeyourvessel? .Ihavneeofvesse,buiwilnobyo.oujourneyswilbyouow. –enwhatamI? oarmypor. –AmIagoodport? oarthbes-defendeporothisworl.yenemiescannotoucyo.ey darno. –Youimplyapurposesir,andamission.Whatthenisourenterprise? Imusfufithinstructiogivetmbymycreato. –Andwhatisthatinstruction? estroythdversary. –atisthenoblestofcauses.HowmayIaidyou? Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net8NS ivyoulif,anlemshelteiitsshadow. –Iwilldomybest. owwak. Hestrikestheearthwithathunderclap,thatnowhethinksuponit,rumblesnot withinhisskullbutinthesky.Greylatesummerweatherhassnuckuponhimashe laybeneaththetree.Crackedbranchesandwoodsplintersliearrayedaroundhim,and dislodgedyellowingleavesdescendlikedyingmothstofestoonhislimpbody.ereis ajoltofimpactinhisspine;hishandsextendupwards,thefingerscurvedasiftogripon theemptyair.Hehasacertainmemoryoffalling,a-whirlinganda-tumblingthrough thesky,fromaboughthatcouldnottakehisweight;inspiteofhisachesheisnotcertain thatthiswasnotadream,butonesovividthathisbodynowtrustsittobetrue.He doesnotrecallclimbingthetree,noranyreasonwhyhemightwishto.Heremembers nothingofwhathemighthavefoundinthehighbranches,thoughhenceforthhewill findthatcertaindarkorbronzedmirrorswillhaveanequivocalmagnetismforhim, onethatattractsinfascinationandrepelsforfearofwhatmightberevealed. efieldsandthevillagesofthislittleEarthextendaroundhim.Hehearshisworld, thechatteringofbirdsandthetumblingofwater-dropsdownthestreams;hebreathes hisworld,thefreshsheep-dungandtheshornfieldsandthegalvanicsizzleofthestorm. Heknowsonsomedistantmorninghewillwakewithallfacultyfortasteandsmellgone, wornawaylikesiltupontheshorebynightsofstrangealchemy.Raincracksthesky, andourboy,whoselife-to-comehasbeenforgotten,laughsheartilyandlikedeathas itwasheshisface.Heisnotmerelycleansedbyit,butwipedtoablank.ereisso muchtoachieve.Heremembershisdreamofthebook,withcleanpagestobefilled andordered.HeimaginesGodbirthingacreationthatisbothmatterand–asthe DivineJohndescribes–aword.ebookofallthingsisopened.eLordtakesup Hisinstrument,andmovingHisbloodyandinvisiblehand,HemakesHisfirstmark. Chapter1:KillerofSheep ItwasableakJanuarymorning,tastingofbloodevenbeforethedolorousstrokecame down,tastingofthesmokefromsomanywinterfires.ewindhowleddownfrom StGiles’sCircusintotheheartofWestminster,acrossthePalaceofWhitehalltowards theames.eentirecrowdfeltit,eachandeveryindividualnomatterhowwell- wrappedtheywerefortheday.Afterwardsastorywasstartedthatthesacrificehad dressedintwoshirtsthatmorning,sothathemightnotbeseenshiveringonthestage andhavehischillmistakenforfear.Itmayhavebeentrue,itmightnot;itwasoneof manyrumours.ItwasoneoftheearliestobservationsrecordedbyNathanielSilver, whowasthereinthecrowdwhenthebladefellandhistorybegan. Hewasdistractedbytheoldwound.Itbulgedinhisskullbelowhisbrow,abovehis eye.Itfeltasthoughafatbulbousspiderhadcrawledintohishead,firsttolayhereggs there,thentodiethrashing.Noonearoundhimacknowledgedhisdiscomfort;perhaps theymistookitforroyalistdistress.erewereasmanymournershereastherewere celebrants.Whenhebowedhishead,hewasasubjectofakingdom.Whenhelooked upagain,hewasacitizenofacommonwealth.Hefeltlikeneither. Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition9 iswastrue:alowmoanrosefromthelipsofthegatheringwhenthesacrifice’s headcameawayfromitsbody;butitwasalsotruethattherewereraggedcheersand whistles.eguardpressedtightroundtheedgesofacrowdthatjostledthem,but themovementwasasmuchrevelryasitwasangerordespair.efalloftheaxewasa symbolicmomentforrepublicanandroyalistalike,tobepicked-overatlengthinrival accounts.efirstduellingapologieswouldappearinthenextfewdays:theEikon Basilike,saidtobefromtheKing’sownhand,andtheEikonoklastespennedbythe SecretaryofForeignTongues(or‘somePuritannobody’astheotherpartyhadit). Beyondthewarofwordstherewastheever-growinglibraryofmythsandlegends abouttheday,whichseemedconceivedtobolstertheKing’scaseyetintheendwere toostrangetoargueforanycause.Astarofill-omenfellfromtheskythatnight;awhale beacheditselfatDover,andthrashed,anddiedatthemomentofthestroke;araggedy mandancedagleefuljiginthestreettocelebratetheregicide,andaflockofbirdsfell uponhimtopecktheeyesfromtheirsocketsandthetonguefromhisjaw.NateSilver wasnotbotheredwiththetruth-hoodorfalsityoftheselittlepearlsofrumour,but observedtheireffectdispassionately.Whalebonesweresoonsoldasholyrelics;any numberofdisreputabletravellerscouldproduce(forafee)anunlovelystonethathad droppedfromtheheavens;andeveryblind-mutebeggarfromBerwicktotheLizard hadataletotell–or,tobeaccurate,mime–inexchangeforpennies. WhenthatcowledandanonymousfellowwhohadkilledtheKingdisplayedhisun- crownedhead,itwasinsilence,withoutthecustomarydenunciationofatraitor.e onlywordsthatrosefromthatstagetoaddressthecrowdcame,likeaGreekoracle, fromthelipsoftheseveredhead.Itwassaidtheexecutedkingheldforthonavariety ofsubjectsforhalfanhourbeforehiseyesrolledbackintothesocketsandtheroyal tongueslurredintostillnessforever.Andthatwascertainlyuntrue,Silvernotedinhis commentary;he’dbeenthere,hewouldhavenoticed. Forallhisdispassionatepoise,NathanielSilverwasnodifferentfromanyotherEn- glishman,buthedidnotcarethatmorningtosharehisconvictionswiththemob.As themoodofthecrowdsurgedandturnedlikeatide,hefeltgratefulthathehadne- glectedtowearhisred-coat.Hehadnodesiretobebooedandspatuponbystrangers, anymorethanhewantedtobeapplaudedorkissed.Hehadnotmeanttocometo Whitehallatall,butfatehadmadehimunwell–hisheadachesgrewharsherthanusual inwinter,andonthesixthanniversaryofhisdeliveranceonehadacomeuponhim violently,asthoughitwereafreshwound.FatethusplacedhimincareinLondonaway fromthetroop;fatehadalsoclearedhisheadthatmorningandreplacedthepainwith curiosity.Hewascompelledtoattendtheexecution.ItwasinGod’shands. Evenso,hehadnoparticulardesiretoseeanotherdeath,especiallyoneperformed sodetachedly,likesurgerybuttoanoppositeend.Hecametowalkamongthecrowd, togatherimpressionsofthecommonersofthenew-bornweal,toseethepeoplefor whomhehadfought.Cragsoffacespeeredoutfrombehindbonnetsandbeneathhats; theyoungandtheelderlyboth,theyallseemedcarvedfrombreathingstone.ey werewaitingforlifetobepouredintothem,tobeanimated.Oh,therewasmovement andgossip,andthelaughterofchildren–whoaloneinthecrowdseemedtrulyfree, scamperingandplayingandjapingandformingwhorlswiththechildrenofstrangers untiltheireldersgrippedthemandshushedthem.Alladultbodiesheretwitched,but theirsoulswereheldtightinanticipation.eystoodspirituallyasstillasthepikemen andcavalrywhoguardedtheirperimeter.Silverfelthumbledamongthem.Hefelthe Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net10NS shouldstandoutfromthecrowd,saysomething,declarehimself.Hedidnot–thiswas notthemoment,andhedidnotwishtobemisinterpreted. Inlateryears,heforgotthefacesthathehadcarefullycommittedtomemory.He didnot,however,forgetthesmellorthecrush,thetwinandoverwhelmingpressures ofthehumanflock.eysmelledofsweatanddustandbloodandfever,mingledwith themuscularperfumeofhorsefleshandthedecayofwintervegetables.eypushed aroundhimuntilhecouldnotbreathe,whileoctopus-armedpassers-bypawedand tuggedathim;somemeanttorobhim,hehadnodoubt,butforthemostpartitwas simplyaproductionofthehumanentity.Handsreachedouttotouchunexpectedly acrossavoid.Itwas,attimes,intolerable,andhesometimeswishedhimselfontothe balconyoverlookingthestage;thenagain,quiteadensecongregationwasgathered there,andwouldhardlybeaffordedahappierperspectiveonthisfinalritualofthe King. Attheappointedhour,CharlesStuart–bytheGraceofGodKingofEngland,Scot- land,andIreland–wasledfromthewindowonhislastparade.ecrowdsighed,the crowdseethed.ereweresomecheersbuttheyweresoonsilenced,perhapsbyforce, perhapsnot.eKingcameoutdressedsimply,allinwhitebeneathhishatandrobe, sothatheappearedasanewChristonhisroadtoCalvary.Longdarkhairfellincurls uponhisshoulders,soontobeshorntorepublicansatisfaction.Hetookhislastmortal stepsdowntothestageaccompaniedbyachaplainandretainer,bothofwhomloomed. Hehadthesaturnineeyesofahawk,stillregardinghissubjectsasprey;yethandsstill clutchedforhim,totouchhishemashecameby.Silver,perhapsaloneinthecrowd, wasunimpressed.CharlesStuartwas,afterall,justaman.Silverbelievedthat.Hehad foughtforthat.Hehadkilledforthat.Hehadnearly,untilthemiraclehaddelivered him,diedforthat. ToputCharles’sheadontheblocknowandwithsuchceremonywastoundothe greatworkoftheRepublic.Itwasanacknowledgementoftheking’sseparationfrom hisnation,andthusofhisdivinity.Itwas,inasubtlewaythatCharleshimselfmight nothaveappreciated,hisvictory. estagewasraisedabovetheleveloftheground,sothegatheredmasseshadto cranetheirnecks,eventhetallestofthem.eshortestshuffledorstoodontiptoe;the short-arsedkinghimself,hadhebeenamongtheaudience,wouldhavebeenlostbehind atideofhatsandhelmsandplumes.Childrenwerehoistedupabovethelineofheads, asofferings,orforabetterview.ewatchersonthebalconyleanedgingerlyforward, andseemedreadytotoppleontothestagesotheKingmightdieamongashowerofwell- wishers.eKing,strippedofhisrobeandhatandmedal,pulledonawhitecaptomake himselfholierstill.Hekneltbeforetheblock,asifseekingsupplication.Silverfound hatedifficulttomuster,butresentmentcameeasily;hisheadnowthrobbedthicklyfrom theblowtheKinghadstruckhimatEdgehill. Uponthesacrifice’ssignal,thebladecamedown.Blooddecoratedthefrontrowof thecrowd.encamethemoansandthecheers,andwhenSilverlookedagain,there wasonlyastumpleakingontothestage,whilethenamelessaxemanleantdowntoclaim theheadandholditaloftbyitshair.erewerestillgaspsandshrieksfromtheassem- bly,and–Silverimagined–thestrangledsoundofamanspending.Onthebalcony, womenturnedtheirheadstolookaway,andonthegroundaswellpressedforward, theirhandkerchiefsandclothsandsometimesragsextendedtocatchthebloodormop itfromthedampredwood.Silverleanedforward,fascinatednowbytheaftermathas Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition11 hehadnotbeenbytheact. ePuritanswouldbantheplayhouse.Perhapstheysensedthatitwasnolonger necessary;alltheatrehadbeeneclipsed,allstagesbecomescenery,andallscribblers out-pennedbythewrightsofhistory. SilversawthatalreadyCharleswasaMartyrKing.eKing’sbloodwasaholysou- venir.Itwouldbetakenawayandcherished;itwouldbescatteredlikeseedlingsthrough therealm.osedirtiedhandkerchiefswouldnotbedisplayedonastallorasarelic, andcertainlywouldneverbeofferedforsale–thatwastheirsignificance.Faustusesand charlatanscouldconstructchimæricalwhalesoutofthebonesofmanydeadanimals, andanyable-bodiedvagabondmightconcoctafictionaboutthecrueltyofpecking birds,buttheywouldfoolonlythosewhowishedtobesoldayarn.Butthesekeepers oftheroyalbloodhadwitnessedadivineMysteryandadivineconspiracy;theirlips wouldwilfullybesealed. eKingisdead–andonthecontinent,acourtiercommencesareportwiththe fatefulphraseYourMajesty,andismortifiedwhenhisteen-agedchargeburstsinto tears–andremainsdead,longlivethepeopleSo?esunwillstillshine,thecropswill stillgrow.Evenasthehumanseabegantobreakintotheirindividualbeads,thewary pikeandhorsesyieldingtoletthemslinkaway,Silverstoodunmovedonhisplace.He wasstaringdirectly,herealised,atthenakedsun,apoorthingthesedaysandobscured bywhitecloudsandblacksmoke.Itwasstillsharpenoughtostinghiseyesandleave itsimpressionontheinsideofthelids.esunwillriseonhiscycle;theseedwillgrow onhers. Hewasnotthinkingofthatyet,hewasthinkingofthepagankingsfoundedinEng- landbyBrutusintheagebeforeChrist.Hehadsomeschoolingandalittleunderstand- ingoftheoldRomanaccountsthatdescribedafearfulheathenepochofbloodand sacrifice,anagethatextendedinthenumberlessyearssincethefall.osepaganlords, thoughnotordainedbyanyrememberedgod,werethemselvesofferedasbloodysacri- ficeattheendoftheirshortreigns.Tobeelevatedwastobecondemned,afteracertain cycleofyearshadelapsed,todeathinthemostbarbaricfashion,ameansthatwouldin themodernworldbegrantedonlytotheworstoftraitors.Oh,theyhadpower,these kings,anddoubtlesstheyabuseditasferventlyasanyChristianmonarch,buttheymust alsohaveswallowedhumblywhentheycametobeelected. Yetitwastheirsacrificethatmadetheearthrichandkeptthesunturninginthesky (orasnowseemedtobethecase,theearthturningintheskyaroundthesun);andtheir successorwasthesamelordofmisrule,reborninanewbodywithanewfaceandanew personandsometimesevenanewsex.osedays,Silversaw,weregone,buthefelthe hadseenthemre-enactedorevolvedonthemorningstage. Withhismind’seyeheglimpsedagranddesign.Hewasdistractedanditwasgone, butthememoryofitremained. ‘Movealongnow,sir,’saidthered-coat,whohadputhishandnotunkindlyonSilver’s shoulder,‘there’snothingtoseehere.’ Silvershookandclearedhishead.‘Iwasthinking.’ etrooperfrownedbeneathhisvisorandlookedagain.‘You’reNateSilver,aren’t you?’Silverstaredathimblankly.‘DonTaylor’smate?Wefoughttogether?’ ‘I’vefoughtinmanybattles.’ ‘WefoughtforourmoneywhenParliamentwouldn’tcoughup.’etroopercocked hisheadtowardsthebloodyremains,stillonthestage,soontoberemovedandstitched Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net12NS backtogetherforproperburial.‘Yououghttobepleased.’ ‘Yes,IsupposeIoughttobe.’ Silverleftsoonafterthat,withhismindfilledwiththoughtsofpagankings.ey shriekedastheskull-headeddruidscutthemopenstilllivingandscoopedouttheir lightstomakeabettergarrotte;theyhowledwhenplacedlikeGuidoFawkesupona bone-fire;theydiedworshippedandinagonywithpaintedmenandflower-decorated womendancingaroundthem,singingandcarousingandcelebratingthedeathofone sunandthebirthofanother.iswasthefirstofthemanyobservationsinhiscollection, soonjoinedbythelegendsofbeachedwhalesandfallenstars,andother,moresubtle andsophisticatedthoughts,ashesoughttorecreatethatperfectvisionoftheordering ofmankind.Butthefirstwasscribbledonlyidlyandonascrapofpaperasheprepared tomoveout.Havingdonewithit,heputthepaperaway,thenscrabbledtofinditmere secondslater,sothathecouldadd,inunderlinedtext,thedescription: Observationsuponthecycleofthesunintheskyandtheseedinthefields;anduponthe samecycleasmightbereflectedintheaffairsofkingsandofallhumanpolitiesancient andmodern,inthenaturalphilosophyofthepresentage,andintheformationofthe worldthatisyettocome. Withinafewdays,NathanielSilverreturnedtohistroop,andwasmarchedhither andthitheraroundanationthat–thoughnowshornofitsLeviathan–wasfarfrom peaceful.entheothernationswererousedinrevolt;hewasdispatchedtherealso, andconductedhimselfaccordingtothestandardshehadsethimselflongbefore,which werehighbutnotinsurmountableevenintryingcircumstances.Hegatheredobserva- tionswhereverhewent,spokealoudwhensoeveritwaspolitic,andfeltthestirringsof apearlformingaroundhisgrit. WhereverSilverwenthetookthreethingswithhim.efirstwasthepaininhis head,whichwaxedandwanedlikethemoon,buteveninlullswastangiblebyitsab- senceanditspromisedreturn.Hecopedsilently. esecondthingwashisscrapofpaper,whichswelledovertheyearstobecomea pileofsuchscraps,thenabundle,andthenabook.Hespenthisfreemomentsadding tothesumofhisknowledgeoramendingearlierreports.Hereadandre-readeachpage religiously,likeaforgetfulmanwithascrollhehadwrittentodescribeuntohimselfhis life;butitwas–heinsistedtohimself–apracticalbookandnotscripture.Muchof whathehadwritteninearlierdaysgrewobscuretohim,asifblazedontothepageonly half-understood,andaswellasnewobservationsherevisedandclarifiedandmade freshinterpretation. ethirdthingSilvercouldnotbepartedfromwasawoodenboxhehadmade himself,smallenoughtobecarriedinhishandorconcealedinhispocket.isbox containedthemostpreciousobjectintheworld,theproofofhisdeliveranceandhis miracle. eridefromLondonwasashortmatterofdays,butthejourneyfeltlonger.Ahundred yearshehadbeentravelling,orathousand,sincethetimethisislandnationwasnotyet Protestant,wasnotyetChristian,wasnotyetanation.Onlynowhewassoclosetohis destinationdidhebegintofeeltheslightestimpatience.Hewascarriedbycart,having noaptitudeformasteringhorses,andwasmetonthetwilightroadbyamountedparty. Hepeeredthroughthegloom.Civilians.Militia?No.Hebreathedout,butdidnot relax. Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition13 ‘NathanielSilver’cameaquaveringcall,inavoicea-fearedtobeoutinthesecir- cumstances. Silvercalledback:‘SirDenzilLynch?’ ‘esame,’theleadhorsemanrepliedandbroughthisbeastalongsidethecartsothat Silvercouldgrasphishandinfriendship.SirDenzil’svoicehadthenaturalcadencesof themummer’sshire,alittlesharpenedperhapsbylearningandcosmopolitancompany. Hewasavaguegreyapparitioninthegloom,underhiscloakandplumedhat,buthe waspalpablytimid.isexpeditionmusthavecosthimmuchcourage.Silverknew himfromhislettersandentreaties,butfelthewouldnotfindthemanforsureuntil theyweresafeindoors. ‘Youaremostwelcome,MasterSilver,’SirDenzildeclaimedfromhishighhorse. ‘Shallwe’–hecoughed,embarrassed–‘giddyup?We’rebutashortmilefrommy home.’ Silvernodded,andbadehisdrivertomovethemon.SirDenzil’spartyrodeleisurely beforethem,butthemanhimselfremainedabreastofthecartforamomentsothathe couldofferastumblingapology. ‘Itrustourabruptappearancedidn’tdisturbyou.Icouldn’tbecertainitwasyou. eothersareappearingontheroadintheironesandtwosandhavebeenforthepast week.Youdonotyethaveanarmy,butbyGodyouhaveaschoolroom’ Silverbrushedasmatteringofinsectsfromhisface,wheretheyhadbeenblownby thebreezeandthevelocityofthecart.‘Idon’tunderstand’hecalled,overthewind. ‘Whatothers?’ ‘Silverites,sirYourfollowers’ Heclosedhiseyes;spiderpainformedinhisskull,andremainedthereevenafterhis lidsopenedagain.‘Ihavenofollowers,’hesaid,cautiously. ‘Callthemwhatyouwill,theyhavefollowedtherumoursofyourcoming.’ ‘enImayhaveledthemtothegaolorthegallows.’ SirDenzillaughedthen,hisfirstsignofheartinessbutsomehownotatallreassuring toNathanielSilver’sears. Silverputcoldfingerstohistemple,buttheyfailedtodrawoutthestingashe’d hoped.SirDenzillefthimafterthattoridewithhisownmen,andhecontinuedthe journeysouthinsilence,saveforthegrindingwheelsofthecartoverhardenedmud. Turningawayfromthepain,hesawraggedfiresthroughalineoftrees,andheimagined ironsidesputtingtorchestothatchesandbarnstomakegreatconflagrations,cleansing killingblazes.Butthecartskirtedroundthecopse,andinplaceofhismorbidimag- iningshefoundanitinerantcamparrayeduponagreygloomyfieldlikeamakeshift freshly-plantedNewWorldvillage,aclusterofadequatetentsandtumble-downhuts. efireswerelithere,pitifulwill-o’-the-wispthingsthatmighthavebeenpissedout, yethesawanenduranceandheheardacommunity,thechorusofhumanvoicesrising sometimesinfearandsometimesinangerbutmostlyinhope.Andsomeweresinging, amedleyofplainhymnsononesideandfoul-mouthedcarousingontheother.Silver bowedhishead,havingnodoubtthattheseweretheSilveritesofwhomSirDenzilhad spoken.eydidnotheartenhim;gazingdownonthatpoorcampmerelyprovedthe enormityofthetaskhehadsethimself. eycameatlasttoSirDenzil’shome,deeperinhisestates.Itwasaplainhouseon theoutside,buttheinteriorwasrichlyfurnished,speakingmoreofluxurythanpiety. Silverwarmedhimselfuponthehearthandwonderedagainathishost’ssympathies, Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net14NS whichhislettershadalwaysmadeseemambivalentandunclear.Hemustbewaryofthis bluffknight,whowassurelyquicker-wittedthanheappeared.SirDenzilhadhugged himmightilybeforetheycamethroughthedoor.Bewarythen,heamended,butalso generous.Heowedthismaneverything. Servantsscurriedforthtorelieveofhimofhisbelongings,buthekeptthecasewith hismanuscript,andhisbox.HehaddreamedlatelyofcrossingLondonBridgewith themandunexpectedlyhurlingbothintotheair,sothattheyfellintotheamesand werelostforever.Hewokefromthatdreamsweating,andhadsincetakencarenot topartwithbooknorbox,notevenforamoment.Hewasbustledthroughintoa diningroomwhereasupperwaspreparedforhim;herehegotafirstproperlookathis companioninlettersandthemanwho,toallintentsandpurposes,wasnowthelordof Silver’smanor. SirDenzilwas,bySilver’sestimation,sometwentyyearshiselder,thetallermanhere byagoodfoot,butalsoheavier.Ageandworry–andperhapsgoodliving,thoughnot recent–hadputweightonhisfleshandhisbones,andthoughbalding,hehadcontrived aneatgreybeardandmoustacheintheoldCavalierstyletooffsetthis.Hehadnot seenaction,Silverwascertain,andenviedhim.erewasakeennessinhiseyesthat beliedthesoftnessofhistongueandtheheavinessofhisbody;notgreatintelligence, butshrewdnessmaybeandsadnesscertainly.Sadnesswaseverywhere;itoppressed Englandbyactionorbyconsequence.SilverwonderedhowhemustseeminSirDenzil’s eyes;likesomethinQuakerraven,likesomenarrowscarecrowinaPuritan’sstolencoat. ‘AmIreallysorenownedthattherearerumoursofmycoming?heasked,beforehe couldsit. ‘Someoneputtherumoursabout,’SirDenzilrepliedcheerfully.‘Ican’timaginewho. Nowsitdownandeat,youlookstarved.Ihope’–headded,cautionslippingintohis voice–‘thatyouhavenotchosentostarveyourself?Orhaveanappetiteonlyforveg- etables?’ Attable,NathanielSilverprovedthathehadneither.Hewasdesperatelyhungry. SirDenzilsaidlittleashisguestate,butwatchedhimwithsmilingeyes,asofaboy whohaswonaprize.erewereothereyestoo,notintheroom,butpeeringinfrom theblackbetweentwojambs. ‘MydaughterAlice,’SirDenzilexplainedthen,castinghisheadbacktocallherin: ‘isisthegentlemanItoldyouwouldbecoming,Alice.Comeandmeethim.isis thefam’dNathanielSilverwhoisheretomakehisexperimentonournewlands.’ eeyesblinkedandhesitated,butatlastshecameintotheroom,likeatimidspar- rowcoaxedintothelightbywarmthandspotsoffood.Shewasstillachild,dressedas achildwouldbe,andSilverremovedhishatoutofpoliteness;shepausedthen,seeing theroundheadedtrimofhishair,buthesmiledandthatdrewherfurtherforwarduntil shewasintotheroomandthensatuponherfather’slap. oughshehadmadeapause,itseemedtoSilverthatshewasnotafraidofhim,but wasmeasuringhimandmakingherowncuriousobservations. ‘Howoldareyou,sir?’sheasked,inavoicewithoutanytraceofherfather’syokel imperfections. ‘Alice’SirDenzilsputtered,butSilverraisedanindulgenthand. ‘Iwasbornintheyearthelastkingcametothethrone,’hetoldher.‘Olderthanyou,’ heclarified. ‘I’molderthanIlook,’sheprotested.Shewasaclean-skinnedchild,savefortwo Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition15 blemishesonherrightcheek. ‘She’sseven.Eightsoon.’efatherruffledthedaughter’shair.‘She’sofanagethat shewon’trememberthethingswehavedone.’ ‘Justtheconsequencesofthem,’Silvermurmured,butnoonehadheardhim,ashe intended. ‘Sheisaspark’SirDenzilcontinued,butSilverwasthinkingjusttheopposite.Alice Lynchwasnotasparkbutadeeppool,inwhichalllightwasextinguishedbyemerald coolness.Shewasleanandworeherhairinlongtressessmoothedbycarefulbrushing. ‘Sheisthat,sir,’Silverthoughtitpolitetoagree. ‘Andshesings.Iwillhavehersingforustonight,’SirDenzilannounced.Onhislap, unseen,Alicepulledaface.Silver’ssmileconveyedapprovaltofatheranddaughter alike. Hermotherwasdead,heknewthat;inchildbirthorsoonafter,heguessed.Arich farmer,then,andhisindulgedbuttroublingchild;heknewthetypeandwouldcut throughthemintime,tofindthehonestpeoplebeneath–butwait,SirDenzilwas holdingforthagain. ‘Imustadmit,MasterSilver,thatwhenIfirstlaideyesonyouIwasperplexed.From themannerofyourwritingsIimaginedyoutobeanoldermanthanmebyfar,then whenImeetyouontheroadIfindmyselfgreetingastripling.Iwouldhaveputyour ageatnomorethanascorebutnowitseemsyouarehalfthatagain.Tellmeyoursecret, sir,sowemightbothprofitfromit.’ Silverpursedhislipsseriously.‘Alchemy,’hesaid.SirDenzil’slaughtersoundedlike adevil’sfit.Itwasgoingtobealongevening. enAlice’stinyvoicepipedup:‘Andareyoustillasoldiersir?’ Alongevening,yes,butperhapsnotaslongasallthat.‘Ihavegiventhatup,’hesaid honestly. NathanielSilverwasrarelylessthanhonest,ifhecouldhelpit,andwasafflictedby consciencewhenhecouldnot. Aspromised,AlicedidsingforSilverthatnight,accompanyingherfatheronthe virginals.Shewasapoorsinger.Shetoldhimso,tuggingpolitelyathishemtocatch hisattentionwhileherfatherwasexcusinghimself.‘Iamverybad,’shetoldhim.He leaneddownfromhischair,brushedthehairbackfromherear,andwhispered:‘ButI amyourfather’sguestandhelovesyou,soonceyou’vefinishedI’mgoingtositthere andapplauduntilmyhandsfalloff.Gotit?’Shegotit.ShewailedoutItwasaLover andhisLassinamannerthatimpliedbothloverandlasswereferalcats.Silverpraised heraseffusivelyashecould,andshe,hisco-conspirator,acceptedhiswordswithquiet grace.Truthbetold,shewasonlyasbadasingerasSirDenzilwasaplayer,andSilver spenttherecitalimagininghimselfpluckingthestringsfromtheinstrumentonebyone withabluntknife. IntimeAlicewassenttobed,andthetwomensatbythefiretodiscusstheirserious business.SirDenzillitalongpipeoffoul-smellingtobacco.Silverdeclined,notwishing tosopollutehisbody,butindulgedhishost.SirDenzilwasimplicatinghiminhisvices andhabits. ‘Ihopeyouknowwhatyou’redoing,’Silvertoldhim,notunkindly. ‘I’mamanoftheworld,whichismorethanyouare.Youfellowswilleverneedpeople likeme,ormustturntomenwhoareworsebyfar.I’mnotofferingpatronageandI expectnofealty.’ Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net16NS ‘atwasunderstood,’Silveragreed.ebluffoldmanhadretreated,theshrewd marketeerwastakingover.Silverdidnotcaretospeculatetoomuchontheextentto whichhishostwouldbendlawsforhisownenrichment.Smugglingperhaps?Anything worsewouldprickhisconscience. SirDenzil’smouthexpelledsmoke.‘Iwasneverasoldier,butIhavedonemybitfor thewar.’ ‘Totheprofitofallconcerned,’Silversuggested,andSirDenzilwasnotoffended. ‘Indeed,andIseenowronginthat.Tomakegainsformynationandmyfamily fromthemiseriesoftheFrenchortheDutchortheSpanishisonething.encame Parliament’swar,andthatwasanothermatter.Mycountryrippeditselfapart,andonly stoppedbecauseitwastoospenttoraisebladeormusketagain.Onlyfiendswouldseek togrowrichfromthat,andinsteadIgrewpoor.’ HeplacedafamiliarhandonSilver’swrist,andleanedforwardasiftopersuadehim withthemeretensionofhisbody.‘IneverdeclaredfortheKing.Myneighboursflocked totheroyalstandard,butIdamnedbothsidesequally.atcostmemuch.’ Silverunderstoodandnodded. SirDenzil:‘ImeantwhatIsaidthough,aboutthewillbeingspent.erewillbeno morewarwithinEnglandforatleasttwogenerationsnow,Iamsureofthat.eScots, perhaps.eIrishforsure,unlessCromwelldrownsthemallinblood.Foreignwars… wellthatisthewayofthings.ButEnglishmanagainstEnglishman?Notinmylifetime, oryours.eProtectoratemayendureandtheprincewilldonothingtodislodgeit. OritmayfallandthennohandwillberaisedtopreventanewKingCharlesridingto Londonintriumph.’ ‘Youaresir,Ithink,moreoptimisticthanI.’ ‘No,I’mjusttired.erewillalwaysbehotheadsandrabblerousers,butwearewise tothemnow.Wewouldratherflinchandwalkawaythandeclarewaronourownlands. isyearwehaveseenhowfeeblearmedrevolthasbecome.’Hepuffedonhispipe.‘You believeinEngland’sfuture,MasterSilver,andmenlikeyoumustbenurtured.at’s whyI’mdoingthis,soImightleavethislifeingoodconscience.’ Silversawhisothermeaning,andleanedbackinhischair.‘Youthinktheageof fightingispassed,andIwillthereforebeoverlooked.Ifearyouarenotalerttothe stateofEngland,orthecuriousinterpretationoflibertythatnowprevails.eageof experimentsisfiveyearsgone;theyweretriedandtheywerecrushed.’ ‘Whichiswhywenowhaveabetteropportunity.Howmanypoornonconformists weretarredwiththebrushoftheLevellersandcrushedalongsidethem?Lilburnerots ingaolnow,andnoonewillmistakeyourenterpriseforhis.’ ‘IheardLilburnespeak,andWinstanleytoo.Iwasmindedtofollowtheoneorthe other.’ ‘Yetyoudidnot.AndWinstanley’sproblemwasmoretrivialstill:hecontrivedto pissonhisneighboursonebyone.HereIamyourneighbour,andhowmorecosycan itbethanthat?oseotherswhohadcloutroundherefoolishlyshowedtheircolours, andlivenowonlyinexpectationofthenoose,theirlandsforfeitedandgiventous–to you,Nate.Itisagifttoyou.Takeit.’ ‘I’mstillnotconvinced.’ ‘Yes,youare.Youwerewhenyousawthestrangerscampedonmyland.Itdaunts you,butyouaresworntoit.Youwouldnothavecomehereotherwise.’ ‘ereisthedecimationandthemilitia.’ Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition17 ‘eoneispaid.eothermaybepaid-off.’ ‘eMajor-General…’ ‘Goffeisapussycat.Hewouldsipmilkfrommybowlandsitinmypocketifitpleased me.’ ‘AndifIpreachblasphemyorsedition?’ ‘Youwon’t.’ ‘Youwouldbesurprisedhoweasyithasbecometopreachblasphemyorsedition withoutmeaningto.’ ‘Solongasyouarediscreet,there’snochargethatcanbebroughtagainstyouthatI can’tmakevanish,orreducetothesizeofafleabite.Iknowyoufromyourletters,Nate; youareagoodmanputonEarthtodogood,andIwillprotectyou.Nowletuscutto theheartofyourobjections.’ SirDenzilcouldnothaveburnedfiercerthanhisfire,butheseemedwillingtofill Silver’slungswithhissulphurouspersonality. ‘Idon’tknowifIcandothis,’Silveradmitted. SirDenzilmadehisdreadfullaugh:‘Havefaith,’heinsisted.ItimpressedonSilver noconfidencewhatsoever.Still,theoldknightwasfullofplansthathebegantolayout atlengththroughhistobaccohaze;itwassaidthatthiscoatedtheinsidesofahuman bodywiththesamesootyexcrementthatcakedthewallsofachimney.Silverleaned forwardandheldhisbreathandlistened. Tomorrowtheywouldinspectthesiteandassesstheexistingbuildings,perhapsalso meetingtheso-calledSilveritesandarrangingthefirstmigrationintotheexperiment; thenextdaywouldseethestartofconstructionofthewalls,andifenoughhandswere willing,thefirstnewhouses;sundrydetailsextendedintotheweeksahead.Inthe longerterm,SirDenzilwouldsupportthecolonywithapercentageoftheoutputfrom hisestates;theyhammeredthefinaldetailsoutbetweenthem,theexactquantities,the limitationsontheperioddependentontheweatherandtheharvestandthesizeofthe commune;alsothoserespectsinwhichSilverwasobligedtobeSirDenzil’stenantand thoseinwhichhewasnot;alsothosecircumstancesinwhichSirDenzilmightrequest farmingandlabouringassistancefromthecommune;alsothetermsoftradeandthe termsoflaw;andahundredhundredant-sizeddetails.SirDenzilhaditallworkedout inhishead,andSilverfollowedclosely.Hewasafraidoffindingtheitemthatwould provebeyonddoubtthathewasbeingcheated,butitdidnotarise.Instead,hebegan toseetheoldknight’spurpose,andcametounderstandtheeasewithwhichhewrote offSilver’sdoubts.Itmatteredlittletohimwhethertheexperimentworkedorno,but itwasagoodthingtotryandwouldbehismarkleftontheworldandthelegacytohis Alice.SirDenzilLynchimaginedhimselftobedamned.Togethertheywereplotting nothinglessthanhisescapefromHell. atthoughtkeptNathanielSilverawakeintothenight,thatandhistrepidation aboutthemorning’sevents.Heplacedthecasecontainingthebookandtheboxbeside hisbed,thefirsttimehehadnotsleptwithitsafelyinhisarmsformanymonths.He hadnotdescribedthebooktohishost.Hehadmentionedtheboxanditscontentsto noone.AshelayonhiscotheheardSirDenzil’sraspingsnoresfromanadjacentroom, andfromtheother,thesighingbreathsofAliceLynch. HowhadNathanielSilvercometohavefollowers?Itwastruehehadspokenmorethan onceinpublic,andhadputhisnametopamphlets,slimdigestsofhislatestobserva- Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net18NS tions.Itwassomethingheimaginedalleducatedmendid,andheaspireddiligentlyto thatcondition.Somewhereinthathisnamehadbecomecurrency.Ithadturnedpotent enoughtodrawpeoplefromacrossEnglandtojoinhisexperiment.Hemislikedthat. Itwasadangerousyeartohaveacelebratedname.Still,theirenthusiasmandnumbers excitedhim. Blasphemouslyhewonderedwhereitmightend.MaybeJesusofNazarethhadonly everbeenamanwhocouldn’tkeephismouthshut?Divine,yes,headdedtohimselfin hisnextbreath,therecanbenodoubtingthat,yetperhapshisministrywasshapedas muchbycircumstanceasdesign. eystartedarrivingfromthecampwhileSirDenzilwasleadinghimonhisfirstin- spectionoftheland.eoldmanor,formerlyoccupiedbyasinglefamilynowfledto exile,couldbesetasideforthosecommuniteswhocamewithlargefamilies,andalso asthecommune’sheart,theschola.Arecentbrickstructureofuncertainpurpose– possiblyastudioofsomekind,astheformerresidentwasknownforhisartisticlean- ings–wouldserveasSilver’sownquarters.‘AgrimPuritanhole,’SirDenzilobserved. ‘Youcouldsleeponthefloor’.Silvernoddedhappily,notentirelymockinghim.en therewasabarn,whichcouldprovideadequatesleepingspacefortemporarydozens. Itwasallmostpromising.Astheyemergedfromthebarn,theysawtheraggedlineof Silveritesdescendingthetrackfromthehillsidelikeanarmyofthelivingdead. erewasnosharedcharactertotheirbackground,savethatmostprofessedProtes- tantismofsomestripeorcreed,thoughSilverdetectedacertainCatholicreticence here,aRanterishinsolencethere,and,inoneparticularcase,asharp-wittedatheist zeal.Hethrewtheseobservationsunspokenontothewind.Letthemallcome;like Joseph’scoat,lethiscongregationbeofmanycolours.HewouldhavehadJews,Mo- hammadans,andHindooshadsuchbodiespresentedthemselves.Hewassurprisedat howfewwereuncomplicatedvagabonds,andhowmanywereskilledintradeorcraft. eyhadonethingincommon,whethertheyadmitteditorno:theyweredisplaced, theywerescarredbyeternalwarandhadturnedtheirbackuponit.eywouldnotbe hisarmy;theworldhadenougharmiesalready. efirstmanthroughtheasyetintangiblegateswaslatelyacooper,fromLondon, namedJohnBraybon.Silverclappedarmsaroundhimandclaspedhiminwelcome. Laterheresortedtoshakingandkissinghands,orhewouldhaveexpiredfromasurfeit ofhugging.ereweresomanyfacesandsomanynamescomingintohisexperiment, hedespairedofrememberingthemall.Still,hetried.HerecameDonaldBulland ElizabethFrickandomasWilsonwithhisfamilyandRobertPettiferandMister& MistressHardingandSolomonDevicesandMartinCreadleandIncorruptibilityBrown andJamesKendallandEmilyMarnerandNoahGayandHoward&ElizabethPenswick andAnnBrownlow… AnnBrownlowwasnotbeautifulassocietyreckonedbeauty,butsheturnedSilver’s head.Shewas,hewouldlearn,daughterofaBristolvintnerwhosefamilyhadfractured intofivedifferentfactionswhenwarcame;shebelievedherbrothersalldead,andhad livedtheselastyearsfirstinthecompanyofradicalwomenandsecondinthecompany ofherowndisappointment.Hesawlittleofthiswhentheyfirstmet,saveperhapsa smidgenofthelatter.Hetookherhand,andsheforcefullytookitbackandrefusedto bekissed.Shehaduncleanstringsofdarkhairunderherbonnet,aplainandhorsey nose,amouthfullofoutsizeteeth,andsensibleeyes,brownpointsinwideall-seeing whites.ShewasbeautifulasSilverreckonedbeauty. Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.netOnlineEdition19 MostoftheSilveritessleptinvariousroomsoftheoldhousethatnight,butnotSilver himself.Hehadmeantto,butitfelttoomuchlikeanunexpectedtemptation.Besides, hehadhisbrick-and-plastercelltomakehabitable.Helayonahardcotwithhiscoat ashispillowandthebookandtheboxathisfeet.Hedidn’tsleep,butcontemplatedthe walls,splashedwithalittlegrimehere,stainslikebloodthere,andcarvedwithobscure andobscenesymbols.Itsmelledofoldpaintandoldcabbage;hefeltasthoughhehad takenupresidenceinanotherman’ssoul,andthatthissoulwasameanthingbounded inbasematerialswithoutbeauty,withoutAnn. ewallsbegantogoupthenextday,paidforfromSirDenzil’spurseandoverseenby SirDenzil’smen.Silverhadhopedforalowandfriendlybarrier,awood-fencingatfirst thatmightbereplacedintimebystone;mosseswouldgrowthere,childrencouldplay onitstop,oldmencouldsitinquietcontemplationofthebleakHampshirelandscape, andloverswouldmeethereundercoverofcowlsanddusktomaketheirtrysts.e wallsofhisimaginationweredwarfedbythehightightpolesofrealwooderectedround theboundariesoftheexperiment.Hecomplained–nottoSirDenzil,whohadbusiness elsewhere,buttohismanHudd. ‘Youhaveenclosedus’Notsomuchangerashonestprotest.‘eywillsayIhave builtaprison.’ ‘esearedangeroustimes,’Huddexplained,conveyingSirDenzil’swords.Hewas ablankbaldmanwholefttheimpressionthathewouldabideallmannerofnonsense inpursuitofaquietlife.HaeverysoulofOliver’sEngland.‘SirDenzilwantsyouto presentaformidablefacetotheworld.’ ‘Wepresentnofacewhatsoever;thisisamaskwithoutholes.Itismostuninviting.’ ‘etimemaycomewhenyouneedstoutwalls.‘Tisonlyaprecaution.’ ‘WearenotAmericanscoweringbehindblockadesforfearoftheredmen.’Hewas losinghistemper.‘Wemayhaveenemies,itistrue,butletthemcome.Allarewelcome. Lettheirenmitiesbeturnedtofriendshipbyourhonestcountenanceandwelcoming walls.’ Huddshookhisheavyhead,atoncesadandamused.Silverpacedforawhiletowork outhisfrustration.ItwouldnotbehealthytowasteangeronanyonesaveSirDenzil himself,andSirDenzilwaswiselywellawayfromthescene.Besides,itwasathearta sensibleprecaution.atpreciousbloomtolerancegrewinunexpectedabundanceon England’swoundedland,butittookonlyonesniptopruneitdownorcutoffitslifeat thestem. Butastockade–thatseemedtoinvitetrouble. ‘Ilikedyourideaforalovers’wall.’ Hestoppedmid-pace.‘ankyou;perhapsyoucouldpersuadeyourfather?’Alice hadcomedownfromthehousewithHudd,andhadspentthemorningtrottinground thelimitsofthecommuneanddrawinginitssightswithherseldom-blinkingeyes.She seemedimpressed.Itwasarareopportunityforhertoplayinthemudandslickdirtall overhershoesandskirts.Shewasnotheavy,butshemovedheavily,asifmockingher fatherwhodidnotresembleherintheslightest. ‘Myfatherwon’tchangehismind,’shesaid,notsadly.Herface,nomattertheex- pressionitwore,conjuredaneasyinsolence.‘It’slikeshoutingattherainorhittinga rock.’ ‘Areyoureallysevenyearsold,younglady?’ ‘Nearlyeight.’ Ifyouenjoythisbook,pleaseconsiderbuyingaphysicalcopyfromwww.randomstatic.net

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