Chapter 36 – Dancing
A wonderful chapter. It seems strange for arms training to be combined with dancing (!), but the writing is so fine and subtle (as well as thrusting onward in a simple fashion), all seems to fit into place. I love gullible, sensitive Fluff – with unlikely whorish potential? – the subtlety (again) of relationships between Bosset, Fluff and Tuerqui –
Regarding the arms training and dancing:
“Well,” he said, “this shed has seen shiny breastplates and plumed helmets – but nothing like this. When I said about you doing arms training in sequins and tights, I’m not sure that I was serious, but you’re a lovely sight. If you could show me some of your dance moves, I’ll see how they might fit in with weapons practice – and Alice Arrowshaft’s wisdom.”
We went through our moves and, afterwards, Bob Bosset supplied us with daggers. It was an instant success. Sarah James and the music took us through the movements. The Sergeant General’s orders turned our routines into the dance of death and, almost immediately, we began to acquire the skills that had been eluding us.
Unexpectedly, I found that I was no longer gripping the dagger too tightly. The weapon felt, for the first time, a trusted friend. A confidence surged through me, and – I think – through all of us. Moving to the music, I knew instantly that my every movement was right.
Is this the Jane from the next novel (JANE) currently being written by PFJ:
The flautist was Jane, perhaps a year or two younger – a redhead in a bright yellow dress, lips curved into a smile whenever they were not pursed at her instrument.
A good joke:
“No need to come the shrinking maiden with a brothel mark on your forehead, my girl. It won’t wash.”
The wretched idlers (or gymnasium gongoozlers) represent an excellent conceit within the context. I hope none of the novel’s current readers fall into this category. ;-)
And a wondrous footnote (adding to the texture of the novel), a footnote that (unusually?) ends with a rhetorical question!
 Shabbath and Mottran – legendary giants who were supposed to guard the Halls of the Damned in which the wicked dead were punished.
Shabbath and Mottran are mentioned in one of the fragmentary pieces in Tuerqui’s handwriting preserved in the archives of the University of Pain. It reads as follows:
Of Life and Legends
Comparisons between persons I’ve met and figures of legend.
My father had the idea that the souls of the wicked would, after death, be consigned to the Halls of the Damned, guarded by two giants called Shabbath and Mottran. As a child, the schoolroom seemed to me the Halls of the Damned. Miss Lace, my governess, was, of course, one of the fearsome giants. Her hard hand, cane and strap were her weapons. Much later, I was placed under another governess, Miss Miles, whose armoury was – if anything – even more terrible. If Miss Lace was Mottran, Miss Miles was Shabbath.
12/8/09 – showed this to my mistress. She doesn’t think it has the makings of a book. If I mention anyone famous, my comparisons will either agree with received opinion (which would be dull) or disagree (which might be dangerous). She’s right, isn’t she?
A ? after ‘Glitter’ and a new sentence starting with ‘after’?
Had Fluff come purely for another glimpse of Gloria Glitter, after seeing the dancer’s stage persona, I might have expected her to be disappointed.
Would this be better: “...she had recourse to spanking, caning and finally strapping”?
...she had recourse to spanking, the cane and finally the strap.
Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.
The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: