THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 18: IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS
No, confound her, her intellect was good, she had brains enough,
but her training made her an ass--that is, from a many-centuries-later
point of view. To kill the page was no crime--it was her right;
and upon her right she stood, serenely and unconscious of offense.
She was a result of generations of training in the unexamined and
unassailed belief that the law which permitted her to kill a subject
when she chose was a perfectly right and righteous one.
Well, we must give even Satan his due. She deserved a compliment
for one thing; and I tried to pay it, but the words stuck in my
throat. She had a right to kill the boy, but she was in no wise
obliged to pay for him. That was law for some other people, but
not for her. She knew quite well that she was doing a large and
generous thing to pay for that lad, and that I ought in common
fairness to come out with something handsome about it, but I
couldn't--my mouth refused. I couldn't help seeing, in my fancy,
that poor old grandma with the broken heart, and that fair young
creature lying butchered, his little silken pomps and vanities
laced with his golden blood. How could she pay for him!
Whom could she pay? And so, well knowing that this woman, trained
as she had been, deserved praise, even adulation, I was yet not
able to utter it, trained as I had been. The best I could do was
to fish up a compliment from outside, so to speak--and the pity
of it was, that it was true:
"Madame, your people will adore you for this."