Chapter 39 - Masque
 The future remains a blank book is a quotation from Sage Derrin – repudiating the fatalistic philosophies characteristic of the Intermediate Period.
Somehow the above footnote from this chapter struck me obliquely as the core of something this book presents. (It is no secret that I was the world’s first publisher of a blank short story (4’ 33” in Nemonymous Two (2002))
Another wondrous chapter unfolding a masked ball, a murder and imminent dangers for Tuerqui and those she loves. The fact of a chorus-line of dancers dancing to war with weapons against these dangers is both strange and natural. The craftiness of this novel is thus to to bridge truth and fiction.
Mrs Clay gets her name. Addal gets his destiny. Murder and intrigue and planning. A few passages below that struck me as both good in themselves and exemplary to pointen the plot for readers of these comments. I hope these quotes are not spoilers, but enticements to read the whole novel:
Walking slowly to the door, I was numb, drained of all feeling. The monstrosity of killing my daughter placed me, for the moment, beyond tears. Out in corridor, anger replaced numbness. My father deserved to die – deserved to die slowly and horribly – I knew where Bob Bosset kept the Surrey infantry swords, and stepped purposefully to arm myself.
“...I’m going to kill him. The sword goes in at the crotch and the wound extends to the neck. Slowly.”
“Yes – how we’re going to save Tuerquelle – everyone from the arms training. And it’s almost time for our dancing class. The final rehearsal for tonight’s chorus line routine.”
Perhaps Lord Up Minester was the least odious of the suitors. Seeming no worse than a clumsy bore – he trod on my feet when we attempted to dance, while his conversation was of toe ball and the rival merits of different types of carriage. As far as I could gather through his costume and mask, his person was no more congenial than his dancing or talk. He wore lime green, clashing hideously with my pink flower fairy dress.
“Perhaps it is. Anyway, my uncle may have deserved to die, but your daughter doesn’t. I’d be surprised if Tipsi’s determination is less than the rest of us, when it comes to the crunch.”
“All the same,” said Modesty, “it feels to me that the game is over. From here on, things are serious. Wilfred Addal was the first to die, but he won’t be the last. And we’ll be doing some of the killing.”
The following reminded me of the orchestra on the ‘Titanic’:
There were shrieks from the audience, but the drum, flute and squeezebox – no longer accompanied by the orchestra – rose above this new sound. Something dreadful had obviously happened – in spite of whatever disaster, the professional musicians clearly considered that the show must go on. In response, we continued our high kicks – it didn’t occur to me to do otherwise. Completing the routine, and leaving the stage, some of the audience clapped politely.
A redolent ending to the chapter:
Sinking into an armchair, I felt the masque costume butterfly wings buckling behind me. The whisky burnt my throat on its way down – it was rougher than the bottle I’d left with Tipsi. From somewhere outside, probably beyond the palace walls, revellers cheered and hooted. Circling the room, Modesty refilled our glasses – it surprised me that mine was empty.
your brother with succeed him.
It’s a personal thing, but I don’t like this modern turn of phrase about not being in the space for something:
“Mistress, I’m sorry, I’m really not in the space for that.”
Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.
The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html