The princess bride, p.33
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       The Princess Bride, p.33

           William Goldman
 

  And it went that way until the day Piccoli had to go to the village for provisions. Inigo was alone in the stone house, and then there were soft footsteps approaching, and a soft voice, enquiring for the owner, and then Inigo was alone no longer. He looked toward the figure framed in the doorway, stood. And spoke these most remarkable and unexpected words:

  "I cannot marry you."

  She looked at him. "Have we met, sire?"

  "In my dreams."

  "And we decided not to marry? What strange dreams from such a young fellow."

  "No younger than you."

  "You work for Piccoli?"

  Inigo shook his head. "Mostly I sleep for Piccoli. Come closer?"

  "I have no choice."

  "You work in the castle?"

  "I have lived there all my life. My mother too."

  "Inigo Montoya of Spain. You...?" He waited for her name. He knew it would be a wondrous name, a name he would remember forever.

  "Giulietta, sire."

  "Do you think me strange, Giulietta?"

  "I'd be pretty dopey if I didn't," Giulietta said. Before adding, "sire."

  "Do you feel your heart at this moment? I feel mine."

  "I'd be pretty dopey if I didn't," Giulietta said. Her black eyes studied his face so closely before she said, "I think you better tell me of your dreams."

  Inigo began. He told of the slaughter and his scars, and how, when he had healed he had begun his quest. And how wandering through the world, town to city to village, alone, always that, sometimes he made up companions since there were none really for company.

  And when he was perhaps thirteen, there was a someone always waiting for him at the end of the day. As he grew up and older, she grew older, too, the girl, and she would be there, always there, and they would eat scraps together for dinner and sleep in haylofts in each other's arms, and her black eyes were so kind when they looked at him. "As your eyes are kind now, as you look at me, and her black hair tumbled down as I can see yours now, tumbling down, and you have kept me blessed company all these years, Giulietta, and I love you and I will forever, but I cannot, and I hope you understand, because my quest comes first, above all else, even with what I see in your eyes, I cannot marry you."

  She was so obviously touched. Inigo knew that. Inigo saw that he had moved her deeply. He waited for her reply.

  Finally Giulietta said, "Do you tell that story often? I'll bet the village girls go nuts over you." She turned toward the door then. "Go try it on them." And she was gone.

  The next morning before he went into his mind, she was back. "Let me get this thing straight, Inigo--we had scraps for dinner? I'm in your fantasy and the best you can come up with is scraps?" She turned toward the door then. "You have no chance of winning my heart."

  Inigo went back into his mind.

  The next noon she poked him awake. "Let me get this straight, Inigo--we slept in haylofts? You couldn't even come up with a clean room at an inn? Do you know how scratchy haylofts are?" She turned toward the door then. "You have less chance of winning my heart today than you had yesterday."

  Inigo went back into his mind.

  The next dusk she stood in the doorway. It was just before his fifteen minutes of movement, and she said, "How do I know you're going to find this six-fingered man? And how do I know you can beat him? What if I took some kind of weird pity on you and waited and then he won?"

  "That is my nightmare. That is why I study."

  She pointed at his sword. "Are you any good with that thing?"

  Inigo went outside and danced with the six-fingered sword in the dying light. He tried hard to be particularly dazzling and ended with a special flourish taught him years before by MacPherson in Scotland. It involved a spin and a sword toss and ended with a bow.

  "Impressive stuff, Inigo, I admit it," she said when he was done. "But what happens after you find this guy and run him through? How are you going to earn a living? Doing stunts like that? What do you expect me to do, play the tambourine and gather the crowd? You have so little chance of winning my heart, there is no point to our ever seeing each other again. Good-by."

  Watching her leave there was no question: Inigo's heart was aching....

  SHE DID NOT return 'til the night of the Ball. Inigo could not help but hear the music pouring out of the castle down through the night. Musicians had been practicing for days. Suddenly Giulietta was there, beckoning. "It's so beautiful," she whispered. "I thought you might want to see. I can sneak you in, but you must do exactly what I say--it will go badly if we are found out."

  They raced through the long shadows, paused only briefly outside the kitchen--then she nodded and they were inside and she pointed left to show that was their way, then right, and he followed 'til the ballroom itself stood before them.

  It was a sight beyond his conceiving. A room of such size, such elegance, with flowers to fill a forest and musicians playing softly. Inigo stared--and kept staring--until he heard a gasp and Giulietta whispered, "Oh, no, the Count is here. I must go, get behind the door."

  Inigo slipped behind the door, wondering how horrible the punishment was for sneaking into a castle, for peering in rooms only the mighty should behold. He closed his eyes and made a silent prayer that the Count would never see him.

  He opened his eyes to nightmare: the Count was staring at him. An old, old man. Dressed in such magnificence. With a look of such disdain. And a voice of shattering power.

  "You," he began, his rage already building, "are a thief!"

  "I have never stolen--" Inigo started to say.

  "Who are you?"

  Inigo could not get the words out. "Ummmm ... Montoya. Inigo Montoya of Arabella, Spain."

  "A Spaniard? In my house? I shall have to fumigate!" And then the Count came close. "How did you get in here?"

  "Someone brought me. But I will never reveal her name. Punish me, do anything you will with me, but her name will always be a secret from you." Then he gasped as Giulietta stood in a distant doorway. He gestured for her to run, but the Count's turn was too fast and he saw. "Do nothing to her," Inigo cried out. "She has lived here all her life as did her mother before her."

  "Her mother was my wife," the Count roared, loudest of all. "You pathetic excuse for a money-grubbing fool, you disgrace to the face of the world." And with a shriek of disgust he turned and was gone.

  Giulietta was beside Inigo then, so excited. "Daddy likes you," she said.

  THEY DANCED THROUGH the night. They held each other as lovers do. Inigo, with all of his study of movement, swirled like a light-footed dream and Giulietta had been trained since childhood for such things, and the musicians had played for fat dukes and grotesque merchants but now, looking at this dark couple hardly touching ground, they realized their music had to match the dancers.

  Even today, all the servants in the Castle Cardinale remember the sound of that music.

  Of course, before the spinning and the holding, there were a few minor points that needed a bit of ironing out.

  "Daddy likes you," Giulietta said, watching as her father stormed away.

  "Time out," Inigo said. "If you're his daughter, that makes you a Countess. And if you are a Countess that makes you a liar, because you said you were a servant. And if you're a liar, I cannot trust you, because there is no excuse for lying, especially when you knew of my dreams and my love. And so I must say farewell." He started to go.

  "One thing?" This from Giulietta.

  "More lies?"

  "You judge. Yes, I am a Countess. Yes, I lied. It is not all that easy being me. I do not expect sympathy but you must hear my side. I am one of the richest women on earth. In the eyes of many men, one of the more attractive. I am also, please believe me, and I know it sounds arrogant, but I am also wise and tender and kind. I did not dress as a servant girl to fool you. I always dress as a servant girl. To try and find truth. Every eligible noble for a thousand miles has come to the castle. To ask my father for my hand. They say they want m
y happiness, but they only want my money. And all I want is love."

  Inigo said nothing.

  She took a step so she was closer. Then another so she was beside him. Then she whispered quickly, "When you came here with your dream, you won my heart. But I had to wait. To think. And now I have thought." She gestured for the musicians to play even more beautifully. "This is our party. We are the only guests. I did all this to please you, and if you do not kiss my mouth, Inigo Montoya of Spain, I will more than likely die."

  How could he not obey her?

  They danced through the night. Ohhh, how they danced. Inigo and Giulietta. And they embraced. And he kissed her mouth and her tumbling hair. And Inigo felt, for the first time since the dying, such happiness. It had fled from him, happiness, and when you spend years without, you forget that no blessing compares....

  ***

  Guess what? It stops there. Bang, the little riff on happiness, end of section.

  I call this the 'Unexplained Inigo Fragment.' And what Peter objected to, as well as the fact that he finds it confusing, is simply this: nothing happens.

  He's right, in a strictly narrative way. But I feel that here, for the first time, Morgenstern shows us the human side of Inigo so we know he's more than just this Spanish Revenge Machine. (Frankly, I wish I had known this part existed before I read The Princess Bride.) I don't think I could have cared any more deeply than I did, but my God, what poor Inigo gave up to honor his father! Think about it. We all have fantasies, right?

  You think before I met and married her I carried about this vision of Helen, my genius shrink wife? Of course not. But here Inigo has made this perfect creature for his own heart--and he finds her. And she loves him back.

  And they part.

  That's an assumption of mine, I know. But since we are told Inigo had a heavy heart when he reached Despair (and he came there from Italy), I have to go that way.

  I included this section here for a very simple reason: I think it's Morgenstern at his best. I ran it by King, of course, and he felt I had to include it, since Morgenstern did. He also put me in touch with this professor cousin he has at Florin University--the son of the lady who runs the great restaurant. And this cousin, a Morgenstern expert, feels that the confusion on my part is my fault. That if I'd done sufficient scholarly preparation, I would understand Morgenstern's symbolism, and would therefore know that plenty happens here. Namely, according to this cousin anyway, it is here that Inigo first learns that Humperdinck has set a plan in motion to kidnap Westley and Buttercup's first child, right after it's born. And then Inigo has to race back to One Tree and stop that from happening. King's cousin says this Unexplained Inigo Fragment isn't a fragment at all, but a completed part of the whole of the novel.

  I don't get any of that; if you do, great. And while you're at it, decide if you think I was right or not, including it. If you disagree, that's OK. All I know is my heart was pure....

  3. Buttercup and Westley

  THE FOUR GREAT horses seemed almost to fly toward Florin Channel.

  "It appears to me as if we're doomed, then," Buttercup said.

  Westley looked at her. "Doomed, madam?"

  "To be together. Until one of us dies."

  "I've done that already, and I haven't the slightest intention of ever doing it again," Westley said.

  Buttercup looked at him. "Don't we sort of have to sometime?"

  "Not if we promise to outlive each other, and I make that promise now."

  Buttercup looked at him. "Oh my Westley, so do I."

  From behind them suddenly, closer than they had imagined, they could hear the roar of Humperdinck: "Stop them! Cut them off!" They were, admittedly, startled, but there was no reason for worry: they were on the fastest horses in the kingdom, and the lead was already theirs.

  However, this was before Inigo's wound reopened, and Westley relapsed again, and Fezzik took the wrong turn, and Buttercup's horse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit....

  ***

  You see what he's done here?

  This half page above is, of course, the ending of The Princess Bride, and this will only take a sec, but I'd like to draw attention to what he's doing in the sequel: playing with time. Look, I snitched in my explanation that Waverly was going to get kidnapped, forget that. Morgenstern tells you the same in the very opening pages with Fezzik on the mountain.

  OK, so the kidnapping's already happened. Then in the Unexplained Inigo Fragment, he tells us that the kidnapping's about to happen (at least according to King's cousin he does). Now here, he goes back to before Buttercup and Westley have even safely gotten away from Humperdinck.

  I think it's interesting, but some of you may find it confusing. Willy, my grandchild, did. I was reading it out loud to him (and how great a feeling was that, sports fans) when he said, 'Wait a sec,' so I did. And he said, 'How can Inigo hear about the kidnapping and the next sentence practically, it's Princess Bride all over again?' I ex- plained it was the way Morgenstern chose to tell this particular story. Then he said this: 'Can you do that?'

  I sure hope so.

  ***

  HOWEVER, THIS WAS before Inigo's wound reopened,--me again, and no, that was not a typo, I just thought it would make the transition easier if I repeated the last paragraph, go right on now--and Westley relapsed again, and Fezzik took the wrong turn, and Buttercup's horse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit....

  Fezzik's mistake came first. He was in the lead, a position he tried to avoid whenever possible, but here he had no choice, since Inigo was losing strength with each stride and the lovers, well, they just sopped back and forth to each other about Eternity.

  Which meant Fezzik, the ideal friend, the loyal follower, the lover of rhymes, perhaps not the most brilliant of fellows but certainly the most devoted bringer-up of any rears you might mention, found himself facing the most hateful, the most insidious bewilderment ever conceived of by the mind of man--

  --a fork in the road.

  "It's not actually a road (toad)," he reassured himself. "It's more a path (wrath), nothing to cause fret (sweat)." They were on their way to Florin Channel where the great pirate ship Revenge was waiting to scoop them up and head them all toward happiness. So relax, Fezzik, he told himself, treat the escapade as a lark (hark), a memory that would in the future bring warm smiles. After all, it was not even remotely a large fork.

  It was, if you will, petite (sweet). A mere jog in the lane (pain).

  Fezzik almost made himself believe that. Then reality took

  hold--

  --because it was still a fork--

  --something that required thought, wisdom, a plan--

  --and he knew he could screw up something like that anytime.

  ***

  Me here, and no, this is not an interruption, just a note to explain I have gone to a lot of extra work to make this perfect, as you know, and I didn't want anyone writing in to point out that 'screw up' was anachronistic. It isn't. It's an ancient Turkish wrestling expression, a shorter version of 'corkscrew up,' a hold that brings pain of such magnitude that death soon follows. To 'corkscrew down,' of course, has been illegal for centuries. Everywhere.

  ***

  THE FORK CAME closer.

  They were surrounded by trees everywhere, always thickening, and the Brutes behind were clearly gaining, and even though the fork was indeed wee, it had to be there for a reason, and that reason Fezzik believed was that one way led to the Channel and the waiting Revenge while the other led elsewhere. And since the sea was their only profitable destination, elsewhere, no matter where else it elsed, was the same as doom.

  Fezzik turned quickly to ask Inigo his opinion--but Inigo was bleeding so terribly now, the bouncing of the stallion not being helpful when you have recently been slit inside.

  Fezzik instinctively reached back, grabbed his weakening comrade, pulled him onto his horse to see wha
t he might do to save him--

  --and while he was reaching, the fork was on them and Fezzik wasn't even watching as his horse took the left turning--which turned out to be, alas, toward Elsewhere.

  "Hi," Fezzik said, once he had Inigo in front of him. "Are you excited? I'm as excited as can be." Inigo was too weak for reply. Fezzik studied Inigo's wound, pushed one of Inigo's hands deeper into it, hoping to somehow help stop the bleeding. It was clearly up to him to save Inigo now, and to do that he'd have to get him to a good Blood Clogger. Surely the Revenge would employ such a fellow.

  From Inigo this: a groan.

  "I agree completely," Fezzik said, wondering how the trees could become so much thicker so very quickly. It was amazing. They were almost like a wall now in front of them. "I'm also sure that just past this last wall of trees is Florin Channel and all our dreams will come true."

  From Inigo the same, only less of it. Then his fingers managed to clutch Fezzik's great hand. "I go to face my father now ... but Rugen is dead ... so it was not a useless life ... beloved friend ... tell me I did not fail...."

  He was losing Inigo now, and as he held the wounded fencer in his arms, Fezzik knew few things but one of them was this: wherever the bottom of the pit was located, surely he was there now.

  "Mr. Giant?" he heard then.

  Fezzik wondered who Buttercup was talking to, until he realized that they had never actually been introduced. Oh, he had rendered her unconscious, kidnapped her, almost killed her, so you couldn't say they were unacquainted, but none of it was truly a formal how-do-you-do.

  "Fezzik, Princess."

  "Mr. Fezzik," she cried out louder than necessary, but it was because at that moment her horse threw a shoe.

  "Just Fezzik is fine, I'll know you mean me," he told her, watching her face in the moonlight. Never had he seen an equal. No one had. Except at the moment, she was not at her best--since not only was her horse behaving erratically, there was such pain behind her eyes. "What is wrong, Highness? Tell me so that I might help."

  "My Westley has stopped breathing."

  Wrong as usual, Fezzik realized, the pit is bottomless. He instinctively reached back, grabbed his breathless leader, pulled him onto his horse to see what he might do to save him--

  --and while he was doing the reaching, his overburdened horse stopped. Had to. For there was now a wall of trees blocking any progress--

 
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