By C.J. Cherryh

ISBN-10: 0671654179

ISBN-13: 9780671654177

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She named plants and asked if they grew on his mountain and he confessed he did not know all the answers. "It was not part of my study," he said, "in Cheng'di or in Yiungei. " She made a sound past a mouthful of rice. "I know. " Meaning that he should not send her to the nuns or to the village. So she was still eager to stay, even considering the work he heaped on her— "It's good," he said, tapping the bowl. "Very good. " Her face darkened, as if that had made her remember something or someone; and he thought desperately, searching for something to draw her away from that: Ask her what?

He also, no matter that she was a scrawny, scarred urchin, wished she had less virtue. But she was not staying on the mountain, so it made no difference. She was still going to the nuns or to the village, and he had no mind to deliver her pregnant. "All right," he said. "Those are the terms. You cook and you clean, and I'll teach you. And when you've had enough, you can tell me. I give you my solemn word. " There was a moving in the brush further down the trail. In a few moments she came around the bend of the path, sweaty and scratched and filthy, her shorn hair standing on end and matted with twigs and leaves; but her eyes were shining.

That's the greatest wisdom I've learned up here on this damn mountain. Manage your own troubles. Live peacefully. The sunrise and the sunset are more important than the rise and fall of Emperors. That's my whole philosophy. " She frowned and stared at her empty bowl. " he asked her. He was not sure, sometimes, with her accent, that she did understand the language he spoke, or the words he used. He tried to keep things simple. " "Teach me to make a proper bow. Teach me the sword. " She shot him a wary, worried look under one brow, the kind of warning the man might have gotten before she flung the axe.

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The Paladin by C.J. Cherryh


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