This is Sansa, my favourite POV character of A Song of Ice and Fire <3
Sansa is the oldest Stark sister and she's 11 years old. The books have several POV (point of view) characters to help you understand the story and different views of the main characters. Before Sansa gets her first POV chapter, we already got to read one or more chapters of Will, Bran, Catelyn, Daenerys, Eddard, Jon, Arya and Tyrion. So hers is pretty late in the story, yet it's not very spoilerous I think! I also shared a Bran chapter a while ago so there's really no point in sharing another Game of Thrones chapter but.. but Sansa's my favourite! <3
Eddard Stark had left before dawn, Septa Mordane informed Sansa as they broke their fast. “The king sent for him. Another hunt, I do believe. There are still wild aurochs in these lands, I am told.”
“I’ve never seen an aurochs,” Sansa said, feeding a piece of bacon to Lady under the table. The direwolf took it from her hand, as delicate as a queen.
Septa Mordane sniffed in disapproval. “A noble lady does not feed dogs at her table,” she said, breaking off another piece of comb and letting the honey drip down onto her bread.
“She’s not a dog, she’s a direwolf,” Sansa pointed out as Lady licked her fingers with a rough tongue. “Anyway, Father said we could keep them with us if we want.”
The septa was not appeased. “You’re a good girl, Sansa, but I do vow, when it comes to that creature you’re as willful as your sister Arya.” She scowled. “And where is Arya this morning?”
“She wasn’t hungry,” Sansa said, knowing full well that her sister had probably stolen down to the kitchen hours ago and wheedled a breakfast out of some cook’s boy.
“Do remind her to dress nicely today. The grey velvet, perhaps. We are all invited to ride with the queen and Princess Myrcella in the royal wheelhouse, and we must look our best.”
Sansa already looked her best. She had brushed out her long auburn hair until it shone, and picked her nicest blue silks. She had been looking forward to today for more than a week. It was a great honor to ride with the queen, and besides, Prince Joffrey might be there. Her betrothed. Just thinking it made her feel a strange fluttering inside, even though they were not to marry for years and years. Sansa did not really know Joffrey yet, but she was already in love with him. He was all she ever dreamt her prince should be, tall and handsome and strong, with hair like gold. She treasured every chance to spend time with him, few as they were. The only thing that scared her about today was Arya. Arya had a way of ruining everything. You never knew what she would do. “I’ll tell her,” Sansa said uncertainly, “but she’ll dress the way she always does.” She hoped it wouldn’t be too embarrassing. “May I be excused?”
“You may.” Septa Mordane helped herself to more bread and honey, and Sansa slid from the bench. Lady followed at her heels as she ran from the inn’s common room.
Outside, she stood for a moment amidst the shouts and curses and the creak of wooden wheels as the men broke down the tents and pavilions and loaded the wagons for another day’s march. The inn was a sprawling three-story structure of pale stone, the biggest that Sansa had ever seen, but even so, it had accommodations for less than a third of the king’s party, which had swollen to more than four hundred with the addition of her father’s household and the freeriders who had joined them on the road.
She found Arya on the banks of the Trident, trying to hold Nymeria still while she brushed dried mud from her fur. The direwolf was not enjoying the process. Arya was wearing the same riding leathers she had worn yesterday and the day before.
“You better put on something pretty,” Sansa told her. “Septa Mordane said so. We’re traveling in the queen’s wheelhouse with Princess Myrcella today.”
“I’m not,” Arya said, trying to brush a tangle out of Nymeria’s matted grey fur. “Mycah and I are going to ride upstream and look for rubies at the ford.”
“Rubies,” Sansa said, lost. “What rubies?”
Arya gave her a look like she was so stupid. “Rhaegar’s rubies. This is where King Robert killed him and won the crown.”
Sansa regarded her scrawny little sister in disbelief. “You can’t look for rubies, the princess is expecting us. The queen invited us both.”
“I don’t care,” Arya said. “The wheelhouse doesn’t even have windows, you can’t see a thing.”
“What could you want to see?” Sansa said, annoyed. She had been thrilled by the invitation, and her stupid sister was going to ruin everything, just as she’d feared. “It’s all just fields and farms and holdfasts.”
“It is not,” Arya said stubbornly. “If you came with us sometimes, you’d see.”
“I hate riding,” Sansa said fervently. “All it does is get you soiled and dusty and sore.”
Arya shrugged. “Hold still, “ she snapped at Nymeria, “I’m not hurting you.” Then to Sansa she said, “When we were crossing the Neck, I counted thirty-six flowers I never saw before, and Mycah showed me a lizard-lion.”
Sansa shuddered. They had been twelve days crossing the Neck, rumbling down a crooked causeway through an endless black bog, and she had hated every moment of it. The air had been damp and clammy, the causeway so narrow they could not even make proper camp at night, they had to stop right on the kingsroad. Dense thickets of halfdrowned trees pressed close around them, branches dripping with curtains of pale fungus. Huge flowers bloomed in the mud and floated on pools of stagnant water, but if you were stupid enough to leave the causeway to pluck them, there were quicksands waiting to suck you down, and snakes watching from the trees, and lizard-lions floating half-submerged in the water, like black logs with eyes and teeth.
None of which stopped Arya, of course. One day she came back grinning her horsey grin, her hair all tangled and her clothes covered in mud, clutching a raggedy bunch of purple and green flowers for Father. Sansa kept hoping he would tell Arya to behave herself and act like the highborn lady she was supposed to be, but he never did, he only hugged her and thanked her for the flowers. That just made her worse.
Then it turned out the purple flowers were called poison kisses, and Arya got a rash on her arms. Sansa would have thought that might have taught her a lesson, but Arya laughed about it, and the next day she rubbed mud all over her arms like some ignorant bog woman just because her friend Mycah told her it would stop the itching. She had bruises on her arms and shoulders too, dark purple welts and faded green-and-yellow splotches, Sansa had seen them when her sister undressed for sleep. How she had gotten those only the seven gods knew.
Arya was still going on, brushing out Nymeria’s tangles and chattering about things she’d seen on the trek south. “Last week we found this haunted watchtower, and the day before we chased a herd of wild horses. You should have seen them run when they caught a scent of Nymeria.” The wolf wriggled in her grasp and Arya scolded her. “Stop that, I have to do the other side, you’re all muddy.”
“You’re not supposed to leave the column,” Sansa reminded her. “Father said so.”
Arya shrugged. “I didn’t go far. Anyway, Nymeria was with me the whole time. I don’t always go off, either. Sometimes it’s fun just to ride along with the wagons and talk to people.”
Sansa knew all about the sorts of people Arya liked to talk to: squires and grooms and serving girls, old men and naked children, rough-spoken freeriders of uncertain birth. Arya would make friends with anybody. This Mycah was the worst; a butcher’s boy, thirteen and wild, he slept in the meat wagon and smelled of the slaughtering block. Just the sight of him was enough to make Sansa feel sick, but Arya seemed to prefer his company to hers.
Sansa was running out of patience now. “You have to come with me,” she told her sister firmly. “You can’t refuse the queen. Septa Mordane will expect you.”
Arya ignored her. She gave a hard yank with the brush. Nymeria growled and spun away, affronted. “Come back here!”
“There’s going to be lemon cakes and tea,” Sansa went on, all adult and reasonable. Lady brushed against her leg. Sansa scratched her ears the way she liked, and Lady sat beside her on her haunches, watching Arya chase Nymeria. “Why would you want to ride a smelly old horse and get all sore and sweaty when you could recline on feather pillows and eat cakes with the queen?”
“I don’t like the queen,” Arya said casually. Sansa sucked in her breath, shocked that even Arya would say such a thing, but her sister prattled on, heedless. “She won’t even let me bring Nymeria.” She thrust the brush under her belt and stalked her wolf. Nymeria watched her approach warily.
“A royal wheelhouse is no place for a wolf,” Sansa said. “And Princess Myrcella is afraid of them, you know that.”
“Myrcella is a little baby.” Arya grabbed Nymeria around her neck, but the moment she pulled out the brush again the direwolf wriggled free and bounded off. Frustrated, Arya threw down the brush. “Bad wolf!” she shouted.
Sansa couldn’t help but smile a little. The kennelmaster once told her that an animal takes after its master. She gave Lady a quick little hug. Lady licked her cheek. Sansa giggled. Arya heard and whirled around, glaring. “I don’t care what you say, I’m going out riding.” Her long horsey face got the stubborn look that meant she was going to do something willful.
“Gods be true, Arya, sometimes you act like such a child,” Sansa said. “I’ll go by myself then. It will be ever so much nicer that way. Lady and I will eat all the lemon cakes and just have the best time without you.”
She turned to walk off, but Arya shouted after her, “They won’t let you bring Lady either.” She was gone before Sansa could think of a reply, chasing Nymeria along the river.
Alone and humiliated, Sansa took the long way back to the inn, where she knew Septa Mordane would be waiting. Lady padded quietly by her side. She was almost in tears. All she wanted was for things to be nice and pretty, the way they were in the songs. Why couldn’t Arya be sweet and delicate and kind, like Princess Myrcella? She would have liked a sister like that.
Sansa could never understand how two sisters, born only two years apart, could be so different. It would have been easier if Arya had been a bastard, like their half brother Jon. She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks, and nothing of their lady mother in her face or her coloring. And Jon’s mother had been common, or so people whispered. Once, when she was littler, Sansa had even asked Mother if perhaps there hadn’t been some mistake. Perhaps the grumkins had stolen her real sister. But Mother had only laughed and said no, Arya was her daughter and Sansa’s trueborn sister, blood of their blood. Sansa could not think why Mother would want to lie about it, so she supposed it had to be true.
As she neared the center of camp, her distress was quickly forgotten. A crowd had gathered around the queen’s wheelhouse. Sansa heard excited voices buzzing like a hive of bees. The doors had been thrown open, she saw, and the queen stood at the top of the wooden steps, smiling down at someone. She heard her saying, “The council does us great honor, my good lords.”
“What’s happening?” she asked a squire she knew.
“The council sent riders from King’s Landing to escort us the rest of the way,” he told her. “An honor guard for the king.”
Anxious to see, Sansa let Lady clear a path through the crowd. People moved aside hastily for the direwolf. When she got closer, she saw two knights kneeling before the queen, in armor so fine and gorgeous that it made her blink.
One knight wore an intricate suit of white enameled scales, brilliant as a field of new-fallen snow, with silver chasings and clasps that glittered in the sun. When he removed his helm, Sansa saw that he was an old man with hair as pale as his armor, yet he seemed strong and graceful for all that. From his shoulders hung the pure white cloak of the Kingsguard.
His companion was a man near twenty whose armor was steel plate of a deep forest-green. He was the handsomest man Sansa had ever set eyes upon; tall and powerfully made, with jet-black hair that fell to his shoulders and framed a clean-shaven face, and laughing green eyes to match his armor. Cradled under one arm was an antlered helm, its magnificent rack shimmering in gold.
At first Sansa did not notice the third stranger. He did not kneel with the others. He stood to one side, beside their horses, a gaunt grim man who watched the proceedings in silence. His face was pockmarked and beardless, with deepset eyes and hollow cheeks. Though he was not an old man, only a few wisps of hair remained to him, sprouting above his ears, but those he had grown long as a woman’s. His armor was iron-grey chainmail over layers of boiled leather, plain and unadorned, and it spoke of age and hard use. Above his right shoulder the stained leather hilt of the blade strapped to his back was visible; a two-handed greatsword, too long to be worn at his side.
“The king is gone hunting, but I know he will be pleased to see you when he returns,” the queen was saying to the two knights who knelt before her, but Sansa could not take her eyes off the third man. He seemed to feel the weight of her gaze. Slowly he turned his head. Lady growled. A terror as overwhelming as anything Sansa Stark had ever felt filled her suddenly. She stepped backward and Burnped into someone.
Strong hands grasped her by the shoulders, and for a moment Sansa thought it was her father, but when she turned, it was the burned face of Sandor Clegane looking down at her, his mouth twisted in a terrible mockery of a smile. “You are shaking, girl,” he said, his voice rasping. “Do I frighten you so much?”
He did, and had since she had first laid eyes on the ruin that fire had made of his face, though it seemed to her now that he was not half so terrifying as the other. Still, Sansa wrenched away from him, and the Hound laughed, and Lady moved between them, rumbling a warning. Sansa dropped to her knees to wrap her arms around the wolf. They were all gathered around gaping, she could feel their eyes on her, and here and there she heard muttered comments and titters of laughter.
“A wolf,” a man said, and someone else said, “Seven hells, that’s a direwolf,” and the first man said, “What’s it doing in camp?” and the Hound’s rasping voice replied, “The Starks use them for wet nurses,” and Sansa realized that the two stranger knights were looking down on her and Lady, swords in their hands, and then she was frightened again, and ashamed. Tears filled her eyes.
She heard the queen say, “Joffrey, go to her.”
And her prince was there.
“Leave her alone,” Joffrey said. He stood over her, beautiful in blue wool and black leather, his golden curls shining in the sun like a crown. He gave her his hand, drew her to her feet. “What is it, sweet lady? Why are you afraid? No one will hurt you. Put away your swords, all of you. The wolf is her little pet, that’s all.” He looked at Sandor Clegane. “And you, dog, away with you, you’re scaring my betrothed.”
The Hound, ever faithful, bowed and slid away quietly through the press. Sansa struggled to steady herself. She felt like such a fool. She was a Stark of Winterfell, a noble lady, and someday she would be a queen. “It was not him, my sweet prince,” she tried to explain. “It was the other one.”
The two stranger knights exchanged a look. “Payne?” chuckled the young man in the green armor.
The older man in white spoke to Sansa gently. “Ofttimes Ser Ilyn frightens me as well, sweet lady. He has a fearsome aspect.”
“As well he should.” The queen had descended from the wheelhouse. The spectators parted to make way for her. “If the wicked do not fear the Mng’s Justice, you have put the wrong man in the office.”
Sansa finally found her words. “Then surely you have chosen the right one, Your Grace,” she said, and a gale of laughter erupted all around her.
“Well spoken, child,” said the old man in white. “As befits the daughter of Eddard Stark. I am honored to know you, however irregular the manner of our meeting. I am Ser Barristan Selmy, of the Kingsguard.” He bowed.
Sansa knew the name, and now the courtesies that Septa Mordane had taught her over the years came back to her. “The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard,” she said, “and councillor to Robert
our king and to Aerys Targaryen before him. The honor is mine, good knight. Even in the far north, the singers praise the deeds of Barristan the Bold.”
The green knight laughed again. “Barristan the Old, you mean. Don’t flatter him too sweetly, child, he thinks overmuch of himself already.” He smiled at her. “Now, wolf girl, if you can put a name to me as well, then I must concede that you are truly our Hand’s daughter.”
Joffrey stiffened beside her. “Have a care how you address my betrothed.”
“I can answer,” Sansa said quickly, to quell her prince’s anger. She smiled at the green knight. “Your helmet bears golden antlers, my lord. The stag is the sigil of the royal House. King Robert has two brothers. By your extreme youth, you can only be Renly Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End and councillor to the king, and so I name you.”
Ser Barristan chuckled. “By his extreme youth, he can only be a prancing jackanapes, and so I name him.”
There was general laughter, led by Lord Renly himself. The tension of a few moments ago was gone, and Sansa was beginning to feel comfortable... until Ser Ilyn Payne shouldered two men aside, and stood before her, unsmiling. He did not say a word. Lady bared her teeth and began to growl, a low rumble full of menace, but this time Sansa silenced the wolf with a gentle hand to the head. “I am sorry if I offended you, Ser Ilyn,” she said.
She waited for an answer, but none came. As the headsman looked at her, his pale colorless eyes seemed to strip the clothes away from her, and then the skin, leaving her soul naked before him. Still silent, he turned and walked away.
Sansa did not understand. She looked at her prince. “Did I say something wrong, Your Grace? Why will he not speak to me?”
“Ser Ilyn has not been feeling talkative these past fourteen years,” Lord Renly commented with a sly smile.
Joffrey gave his uncle a look of pure loathing, then took Sansa’s hands in his own. “Aerys Targaryen had his tongue ripped out with hot pincers.”
“He speaks most eloquently with his sword, however,” the queen said, “and his devotion to our realm is unquestioned.” Then she smiled graciously and said, “Sansa, the good councilors and I must speak together until the king returns with your father. I fear we shall have to postpone your day with Myrcella. Please give your sweet sister my apologies. Joffrey, perhaps you would be so kind as to entertain our guest today.”
“It would be my pleasure, Mother,” Joffrey said very formally. He took her by the arm and led her away from the wheelhouse, and Sansa’s spirits took flight. A whole day with her prince! She gazed at Joffrey worshipfully. He was so gallant, she thought. The way he had rescued her from Ser Ilyn and the Hound, why, it was almost like the songs, like the time Serwyn of the Mirror Shield saved the Princess Daeryssa from the giants, or Prince Aemon the Dragonknight championing Queen Naerys’s honor against evil Ser Morgil’s slanders.
The touch of Joffrey’s hand on her sleeve made her heart beat faster. “What would you like to do?”
Be with you, Sansa thought, but she said, “Whatever you’d like to do, my prince.”
Joffrey reflected a moment. “We could go riding.”
“Oh, I love riding,” Sansa said.
Joffrey glanced back at Lady, who was following at their heels. “Your wolf is liable to frighten the horses, and my dog seems to frighten you. Let us leave them both behind and set off on our own, what do you say?”
Sansa hesitated. “If you like,” she said uncertainly. “I suppose I could tie Lady up.” She did not quite understand, though. “I didn’t know you had a dog...”
Joffrey laughed. “He’s my mother’s dog, in truth. She has set him to guard me, and so he does.”
“You mean the Hound,” she said. She wanted to hit herself for being so slow. Her prince would never love her if she seemed stupid. “Is it safe to leave him behind?”
Prince Joffrey looked annoyed that she would even ask. “Have no fear, lady. I am almost a man grown, and I don’t fight with wood like your brothers. All I need is this.” He drew his sword and showed it to her; a longsword adroitly shrunken to suit a boy of twelve, gleaming blue steel, castle-forged and double-edged, with a leather grip and a lion’s-head pommel in gold. Sansa exclaimed over it admiringly, and Joffrey looked pleased. “I call it Lion’s Tooth,” he said.
And so they left her direwolf and his bodyguard behind them, while they ranged east along the north bank of the Trident with no company save Lion’s Tooth.
It was a glorious day, a magical day. The air was warm and heavy with the scent of flowers, and the woods here had a gentle beauty that Sansa had never seen in the north. Prince Joffrey’s mount was a blood bay courser, swift as the wind, and he rode it with reckless abandon, so fast that Sansa was hard-pressed to keep up on her mare. It was a day for adventures. They explored the caves by the riverbank, and tracked a shadowcat to its lair, and when they grew hungry, Joffrey found a holdfast by its smoke and told them to fetch food and wine for their prince and his lady. They dined on trout fresh from the river, and Sansa drank more wine than she had ever drunk before. “My father only lets us have one cup, and only at feasts,” she confessed to her prince.
“My betrothed can drink as much as she wants,” Joffrey said, refilling her cup.
They went more slowly after they had eaten. Joffrey sang for her as they rode, his voice high and sweet and pure. Sansa was a little dizzy from the wine. “Shouldn’t we be starting back?” she asked.
“Soon,” Joffrey said. “The battleground is right up ahead, where the river bends. That was where my father killed Rhaegar Targaryen, you know. He smashed in his chest, crunch, right through the armor.” Joffrey swung an imaginary warhammer to show her how it was done. “Then my uncle Jaime killed old Aerys, and my father was king. What’s that sound?”
Sansa heard it too, floating through the woods, a kind of wooden clattering, snack snack snack. “I don’t know,” she said. It made her nervous, though. “Joffrey, let’s go back.”
“I want to see what it is.” Joffrey turned his horse in the direction of the sounds, and Sansa had no choice but to follow. The noises grew louder and more distinct, the clack of wood on wood, and as they grew closer they heard heavy breathing as well, and now and then a grunt.
“Someone’s there,” Sansa said anxiously. She found herself thinking of Lady, wishing the direwolf was with her.
“You’re safe with me.” Joffrey drew his Lion’s Tooth from its sheath. The sound of steel on leather made her tremble. “This way,” he said, riding through a stand of trees.
Beyond, in a clearing overlooking the river, they came upon a boy and a girl playing at knights. Their swords were wooden sticks, broom handles from the look of them, and they were rushing across the grass, swinging at each other lustily. The boy was years older, a head taller, and much stronger, and he was pressing the attack. The girl, a scrawny thing in soiled leathers, was dodging and managing to get her stick in the way of most of the boy’s blows, but not all. When she tried to lunge at him, he caught her stick with his own, swept it aside, and slid his wood down hard on her fingers. She cried out and lost her weapon.
Prince Joffrey laughed. The boy looked around, wide-eyed and startled, and dropped his stick in the grass. The girl glared at them, sucking on her knuckles to take the sting out, and Sansa was horrified. ‘Arya?” she called out incredulously.
“Go away,” Arya shouted back at them, angry tears in her eyes. “What are you doing here? Leave us alone.”
Joffrey glanced from Arya to Sansa and back again. “Your sister?” She nodded, blushing. Joffrey examined the boy, an ungainly lad with a coarse, freckled face and thick red hair. “And who are you, boy?” he asked in a commanding tone that took no notice of the fact that the other was a year his senior.
“Mycah,” the boy muttered. He recognized the prince and averted his eyes. “M’lord.”
“He’s the butcher’s boy,” Sansa said.
“He’s my friend,” Arya said sharply. “You leave him alone.”
“A butcher’s boy who wants to be a knight, is it?” Joffrey swung down from his mount, sword in hand. “Pick up your sword, butcher’s boy,” he said, his eyes bright with amusement. “Let us see how good you are.”
Mycah stood there, frozen with fear.
Joffrey walked toward him. “Go on, pick it up. Or do you only fight little girls?”
“She ast me to, m’lord,” Mycah said. “She ast me to.”
Sansa had only to glance at Arya and see the flush on her sister’s face to know the boy was telling the truth, but Joffrey was in no mood to listen. The wine had made him wild. “Are you going to pick up your sword?”
Mycah shook his head. “It’s only a stick, m’lord. It’s not no sword, it’s only a stick.”
“And you’re only a butcher’s boy, and no knight.” Joffrey lifted Lion’s Tooth and laid its point on Mycah’s cheek below the eye, as the butcher’s boy stood trembling. “That was my lady’s sister you were hitting, do you know that?” A bright bud of blood blossomed where his sword pressed into Mycah’s flesh, and a slow red line trickled down the boy’s cheek.
“Stop it!” Arya screamed. She grabbed up her fallen stick.
Sansa was afraid. “Arya, you stay out of this.”
“I won’t hurt him... much,” Prince Joffrey told Arya, never taking his eyes off the butcher’s boy.
Arya went for him.
Sansa slid off her mare, but she was too slow. Arya swung with both hands. There was a loud crack as the wood split against the back of the prince’s head, and then everything happened at once before Sansa’s horrified eyes. Joffrey staggered and whirled around, roaring curses. Mycah ran for the trees as fast as his legs would take him. Arya swung at the prince again, but this time Joffrey caught the blow on Lion’s Tooth and sent her broken stick flying from her hands. The back of his head was all bloody and his eyes were on fire. Sansa was shrieking, “No, no, stop it, stop it, both of you, you’re spoiling it,” but no one was listening. Arya scooped up a rock and hurled it at Joffrey’s head. She hit his horse instead, and the blood bay reared and went galloping off after Mycah. “Stop it, don’t, stop it!” Sansa screamed. Joffrey slashed at Arya with his sword, screaming obscenities, terrible words, filthy words. Arya darted back, frightened now, but Joffrey followed, hounding her toward the woods, backing her up against a tree. Sansa didn’t know what to do. She watched helplessly, almost blind from her tears.
Then a grey blur flashed past her, and suddenly Nymeria was there, leaping, jaws closing around Joffrey’s sword arm. The steel fell from his fingers as the wolf knocked him off his feet, and they rolled in the grass, the wolf snarling and ripping at him, the prince shrieking in pain. “Get it off,” he screamed. “Get it off!”
Arya’s voice cracked like a whip. “Nymeria!”
The direwolf let go of Joffrey and moved to Arya’s side. The prince lay in the grass, whimpering, cradling his mangled arm. His shirt was soaked in blood. Arya said, “She didn’t hurt you... much.” She picked up Lion’s Tooth where it had fallen, and stood over him, holding the sword with both hands.
Joffrey made a scared whimpery sound as he looked up at her. “No,” he said, “don’t hurt me. I’ll tell my mother.”
“You leave him alone!” Sansa screamed at her sister.
Arya whirled and heaved the sword into the air, putting her whole body into the throw. The blue steel flashed in the sun as the sword spun out over the river. It hit the water and vanished with a splash. Joffrey moaned. Arya ran off to her horse, Nymeria loping at her heels.
After they had gone, Sansa went to Prince Joffrey. His eyes were closed in pain, his breath ragged. Sansa knelt beside him. “Joffrey,” she sobbed. “Oh, look what they did, look what they did. My poor prince. Don’t be afraid. I’ll ride to the holdfast and bring help for you.” Tenderly she reached out and brushed back his soft blond hair.
His eyes snapped open and looked at her, and there was nothing but loathing there, nothing but the vilest contempt. “Then go,” he spit at her. “And don’t touch me.”
I present to you:
CHAPTER FIVE Diagon Alley
(Spoiler: Ron and Hermoine don't appear until chapter six ;-;..)
Harry woke early the next morning. Although he could tell it was daylight, he kept his eyes shut tight.
It was a dream, he told himself firmly. I dreamed a giant called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for wizards. When I open my eyes I’ll be at home in my cupboard.
There was suddenly a loud tapping noise.
And there’s Aunt Petunia knocking on the door, Harry thought, his heart sinking. But he still didn’t open his eyes. It had been such a good dream.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
“All right,” Harry mumbled, “I’m getting up.”
He sat up and Hagrid’s heavy coat fell off him. The hut was full of sunlight, the storm was over, Hagrid himself was asleep on the collapsed sofa, and there was an owl rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak.
Harry scrambled to his feet, so happy he felt as though a large balloon was swelling inside him. He went straight to the window and jerked it open. The owl swooped in and dropped the newspaper on top of Hagrid, who didn’t wake up. The owl then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrid’s coat.
“Don’t do that.”
Harry tried to wave the owl out of the way, but it snapped its beak fiercely at him and carried on savaging the coat.
“Hagrid!” said Harry loudly. “There’s an owl —”
“Pay him,” Hagrid grunted into the sofa.
“He wants payin’ fer deliverin’ the paper. Look in the pockets.”
Hagrid’s coat seemed to be made of nothing but pockets — bunches of keys, slug pellets, balls of string, peppermint humbugs, teabags… finally, Harry pulled out a handful of strange-looking coins.
“Give him five Knuts,” said Hagrid sleepily.
“The little bronze ones.”
Harry counted out five little bronze coins, and the owl held out his leg so Harry could put the money into a small leather pouch tied to it. Then he flew off through the open window.
Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up, and stretched.
“Best be off, Harry, lots ter do today, gotta get up ter London an’ buy all yer stuff fer school.”
Harry was turning over the wizard coins and looking at them. He had just thought of something that made him feel as though the happy balloon inside him had got a puncture.
“Um — Hagrid?”
“Mm?” said Hagrid, who was pulling on his huge boots.
“I haven’t got any money — and you heard Uncle Vernon last night… he won’t pay for me to go and learn magic.”
“Don’t worry about that,” said Hagrid, standing up and scratching his head. “D’yeh think yer parents didn’t leave yeh anything?”
“But if their house was destroyed —”
“They didn’ keep their gold in the house, boy! Nah, first stop fer us is Gringotts. Wizards’ bank. Have a sausage, they’re not bad cold — an’ I wouldn’ say no teh a bit o’ yer birthday cake, neither.”
“Wizards have banks?”
“Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins.”
Harry dropped the bit of sausage he was holding.
“Yeah — so yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it, I’ll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe — ‘cept maybe Hogwarts. As a matter o’ fact, I gotta visit Gringotts anyway. Fer Dumbledore. Hogwarts business.” Hagrid drew himself up proudly. “He usually gets me ter do important stuff fer him. Fetchin’ you — gettin’ things from Gringotts — knows he can trust me, see.”
“Got everythin’? Come on, then.”
Harry followed Hagrid out onto the rock. The sky was quite clear now and the sea gleamed in the sunlight. The boat Uncle Vernon had hired was still there, with a lot of water in the bottom after the storm.
“How did you get here?” Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
“Flew,” said Hagrid.
“Yeah — but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic now I’ve got yeh.”
They settled down in the boat, Harry still staring at Hagrid, trying to imagine him flying.
“Seems a shame ter row, though,” said Hagrid, giving Harry another of his sideways looks. “If I was ter — er — speed things up a bit, would yeh mind not mentionin’ it at Hogwarts?”
“Of course not,” said Harry, eager to see more magic. Hagrid pulled out the pink umbrella again, tapped it twice on the side of the boat, and they sped off toward land.
“Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?” Harry asked.
“Spells — enchantments,” said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke. “They say there’s dragons guardin’ the high security vaults. And then yeh gotta find yer way — Gringotts is hundreds of miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground. Yeh’d die of hunger tryin’ ter get out, even if yeh did manage ter get yer hands on summat.”
Harry sat and thought about this while Hagrid read his newspaper, the Daily Prophet. Harry had learned from Uncle Vernon that people liked to be left alone while they did this, but it was very difficult, he’d never had so many questions in his life.
“Ministry o’ Magic messin’ things up as usual,” Hagrid muttered, turning the page.
“There’s a Ministry of Magic?” Harry asked, before he could stop himself.
“’Course,” said Hagrid. “They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o’ course, but he’d never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if ever there was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin’ fer advice.”
“But what does a Ministry of Magic do?”
“Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there’s still witches an’ wizards up an’ down the country.”
“Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.”
At this moment the boat bumped gently into the harbor wall. Hagrid folded up his newspaper, and they clambered up the stone steps onto the street.
Passersby stared a lot at Hagrid as they walked through the little town to the station. Harry couldn’t blame them. Not only was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else, he kept pointing at perfectly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, “See that, Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?”
“Hagrid,” said Harry, panting a bit as he ran to keep up, “did you say there are dragons at Gringotts?”
“Well, so they say,” said Hagrid. “Crikey, I’d like a dragon.”
“You’d like one?”
“Wanted one ever since I was a kid — here we go.”
They had reached the station. There was a train to London in five minutes’ time. Hagrid, who didn’t understand “Muggle money,” as he called it, gave the bills to Harry so he could buy their tickets.
People stared more than ever on the train. Hagrid took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.
“Still got yer letter, Harry?” he asked as he counted stitches.
Harry took the parchment envelope out of his pocket.
“Good,” said Hagrid. “There’s a list there of everything yeh need.”
Harry unfolded a second piece of paper he hadn’t noticed the night before, and read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry name tags
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1)by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginners’ Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set of glass or crystal phials
1 telescope set
1 brass scales
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS
“Can we buy all this in London?” Harry wondered aloud.
“If yeh know where to go,” said Hagrid.
Harry had never been to London before. Although Hagrid seemed to know where he was going,
he was obviously not used to getting there in an ordinary way. He got stuck in the ticket barrier on the Underground, and complained loudly that the seats were too small and the trains too slow.
“I don’t know how the Muggles manage without magic,” he said as they climbed a broken-down escalator that led up to a bustling road lined with shops.
Hagrid was so huge that he parted the crowd easily; all Harry had to do was keep close behind him. They passed book shops and music stores, hamburger restaurants and cinemas, but nowhere that looked as if it could sell you a magic wand. This was just an ordinary street full of ordinary people. Could there really be piles of wizard gold buried miles beneath them? Were there really shops that sold spell books and broomsticks? Might this not all be some huge joke that the Dursleys had cooked up? If Harry hadn’t known that the Dursleys had no sense of humor, he might have thought so; yet somehow, even though everything Hagrid had told him so far was unbelievable, Harry couldn’t help trusting him.
“This is it,” said Hagrid, coming to a halt, “the Leaky Cauldron. It’s a famous place.”
It was a tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn’t pointed it out, Harry wouldn’t have noticed it was there. The people hurrying by didn’t glance at it. Their eyes slid from the big book shop on one side to the record shop on the other as if they couldn’t see the Leaky Cauldron at all. In fact, Harry had the most peculiar feeling that only he and Hagrid could see it. Before he could mention this, Hagrid had steered him inside.
For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby. A few old women were sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking a long pipe. A little man in a top hat was talking to the old bartender, who was quite bald and looked like a toothless walnut. The low buzz of chatter stopped when they walked in. Everyone seemed to know Hagrid; they waved and smiled at him, and the bartender reached for a glass, saying, “The usual, Hagrid?”
“Can’t, Tom, I’m on Hogwarts business,” said Hagrid, clapping his great hand on Harry’s shoulder and making Harry’s knees buckle.
“Good Lord,” said the bartender, peering at Harry, “is this — can this be —?”
The Leaky Cauldron had suddenly gone completely still and silent.
“Bless my soul,” whispered the old bartender, “Harry Potter… what an honor.”
He hurried out from behind the bar, rushed toward Harry and seized his hand, tears in his eyes.
“Welcome back, Mr. Potter, welcome back.”
Harry didn’t know what to say. Everyone was looking at him. The old woman with the pipe was puffing on it without realizing it had gone out. Hagrid was beaming.
Then there was a great scraping of chairs and the next moment, Harry found himself shaking
hands with everyone in the Leaky Cauldron.
“Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can’t believe I’m meeting you at last.”
“So proud, Mr. Potter, I’m just so proud.”
“Always wanted to shake your hand — I’m all of a flutter.”
“Delighted, Mr. Potter, just can’t tell you, Diggle’s the name, Dedalus Diggle.”
“I’ve seen you before!” said Harry, as Dedalus Diggle’s top hat fell off in his excitement. “You bowed to me once in a shop.”
“He remembers!” cried Dedalus Diggle, looking around at everyone. “Did you hear that? He remembers me!” Harry shook hands again and again — Doris Crockford kept coming back for more.
A pale young man made his way forward, very nervously. One of his eyes was twitching.
“Professor Quirrell!” said Hagrid. “Harry, Professor Quirrell will be one of your teachers at Hogwarts.”
“P-P-Potter,” stammered Professor Quirrell, grasping Harry’s hand, “c-can’t t-tell you how p-pleased I am to meet you.”
“What sort of magic do you teach, Professor Quirrell?”
“D-Defense Against the D-D-Dark Arts,” muttered Professor Quirrell, as though he’d rather not think about it. “N-not that you n-need it, eh, P-P-Potter?” He laughed nervously. “You’ll be g-getting all your equipment, I suppose? I’ve g-got to p-pick up a new b-book on vampires, m-myself.” He looked terrified at the very thought.
But the others wouldn’t let Professor Quirrell keep Harry to himself. It took almost ten minutes to get away from them all. At last, Hagrid managed to make himself heard over the babble.
“Must get on — lots ter buy. Come on, Harry.”
Doris Crockford shook Harry’s hand one last time, and Hagrid led them through the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a trash can and a few weeds.
Hagrid grinned at Harry.
“Told yeh, didn’t I? Told yeh you was famous. Even Professor Quirrell was tremblin’ ter meet yeh — mind you, he’s usually tremblin’.”
“Is he always that nervous?”
“Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin’ outta books but then he took a year off ter get some firsthand experience… They say he met vampires in the Black Forest, and there was a nasty bit o’ trouble with a hag — never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject — now, where’s me umbrella?”
Vampires? Hags? Harry’s head was swimming. Hagrid, meanwhile, was counting bricks in the wall above the trash can.
“Three up… two across…” he muttered. “Right, stand back, Harry.”
He tapped the wall three times with the point of his umbrella.
The brick he had touched quivered — it wriggled — in the middle, a small hole appeared — it grew wider and wider — a second later they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway onto a cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight.
“Welcome,” said Hagrid, “to Diagon Alley.”
He grinned at Harry’s amazement. They stepped through the archway. Harry looked quickly over his shoulder and saw the archway shrink instantly back into solid wall.
The sun shone brightly on a stack of cauldrons outside the nearest shop. Cauldrons — All Sizes — Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver — Self-Stirring — Collapsible, said a sign hanging over them.
“Yeah, you’ll be needin’ one,” said Hagrid, “but we gotta get yer money first.”
Harry wished he had about eight more eyes. He turned his head in every direction as they walked up the street, trying to look at everything at once: the shops, the things outside them, the people doing their shopping. A plump woman outside an Apothecary was shaking her head as they passed, saying, “Dragon liver, sixteen Sickles an ounce, they’re mad…”
A low, soft hooting came from a dark shop with a sign saying Eeylops Owl Emporium — Tawny, Screech, Barn, Brown, and Snowy. Several boys of about Harry’s age had their noses pressed against a window with broomsticks in it. “Look,” Harry heard one of them say, “the new Nimbus Two Thousand — fastest ever —” There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon…
“Gringotts,” said Hagrid.
They had reached a snowy white building that towered over the other little shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was —
“Yeah, that’s a goblin,” said Hagrid quietly as they walked up the white stone steps toward him. The goblin was about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard
and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet. He bowed as they walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver this time, with words engraved upon them:
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
“Like I said, Yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it,” said Hagrid.
A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors and they were in a vast marble hall. About a hundred more goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these. Hagrid and Harry made for the counter.
“Morning,” said Hagrid to a free goblin. “We’ve come ter take some money outta Mr. Harry Potter’s safe.”
“You have his key, sir?”
“Got it here somewhere,” said Hagrid, and he started emptying his pockets onto the counter, scattering a handful of moldy dog biscuits over the goblin’s book of numbers. The goblin wrinkled his nose. Harry watched the goblin on their right weighing a pile of rubies as big as glowing coals.
“Got it,” said Hagrid at last, holding up a tiny golden key.
The goblin looked at it closely.
“That seems to be in order.”
“An’ I’ve also got a letter here from Professor Dumbledore,” said Hagrid importantly, throwing out his chest. “It’s about the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen.”
The goblin read the letter carefully.
“Very well,” he said, handing it back to Hagrid, “I will have someone take you down to both vaults. Griphook!”
Griphook was yet another goblin. Once Hagrid had crammed all the dog biscuits back inside his pockets, he and Harry followed Griphook toward one of the doors leading off the hall.
“What’s the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen?” Harry asked.
“Can’t tell yeh that,” said Hagrid mysteriously. “Very secret. Hogwarts business. Dumbledore’s trusted me. More’n my job’s worth ter tell yeh that.”
Griphook held the door open for them. Harry, who had expected more marble, was surprised. They were in a narrow stone passageway lit with flaming torches. It sloped steeply downward and there were little railway tracks on the floor. Griphook whistled and a small cart came hurtling up the tracks toward them. They climbed in — Hagrid with some difficulty — and were off.
At first they just hurtled through a maze of twisting passages. Harry tried to remember, left, right, right, left, middle fork, right, left, but it was impossible. The rattling cart seemed to know its own way, because Griphook wasn’t steering.
Harry’s eyes stung as the cold air rushed past them, but he kept them wide open. Once, he thought he saw a burst of fire at the end of a passage and twisted around to see if it was a dragon, but too late — they plunged even deeper, passing an underground lake where huge stalactites and stalagmites grew from the ceiling and floor.
“I never know,” Harry called to Hagrid over the noise of the cart, “what’s the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?”
“Stalagmite’s got an ‘m’ in it,” said Hagrid. “An’ don’ ask me questions just now, I think I’m gonna be sick.”
He did look very green, and when the cart stopped at last beside a small door in the passage wall, Hagrid got out and had to lean against the wall to stop his knees from trembling.
Griphook unlocked the door. A lot of green smoke came billowing out, and as it cleared, Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.
“All yours,” smiled Hagrid.
All Harry’s — it was incredible. The Dursleys couldn’t have known about this or they’d have had it from him faster than blinking. How often had they complained how much Harry cost them to keep? And all the time there had been a small fortune belonging to him, buried deep under London.
Hagrid helped Harry pile some of it into a bag.
“The gold ones are Galleons,” he explained. “Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it’s easy enough. Right, that should be enough fer a couple o’ terms, we’ll keep the rest safe for yeh.” He turned to Griphook. “Vault seven hundred and thirteen now, please, and can we go more slowly?”
“One speed only,” said Griphook.
They were going even deeper now and gathering speed. The air became colder and colder as they hurtled round tight corners. They went rattling over an underground ravine, and Harry leaned over the side to try to see what was down at the dark bottom, but Hagrid groaned and pulled him back by the scruff of his neck.
Vault seven hundred and thirteen had no keyhole.
“Stand back,” said Griphook importantly. He stroked the door gently with one of his long fingers and it simply melted away.
“If anyone but a Gringotts goblin tried that, they’d be sucked through the door and trapped in there,” said Griphook.
“How often do you check to see if anyone’s inside?” Harry asked.
“About once every ten years,” said Griphook with a rather nasty grin.
Something really extraordinary had to be inside this top security vault, Harry was sure, and he leaned forward eagerly, expecting to see fabulous jewels at the very least — but at first he thought it was empty. Then he noticed a grubby little package wrapped up in brown paper lying on the floor. Hagrid picked it up and tucked it deep inside his coat. Harry longed to know what it was, but knew better than to ask.
“Come on, back in this infernal cart, and don’t talk to me on the way back, it’s best if I keep me mouth shut,” said Hagrid.
One wild cart ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside Gringotts. Harry didn’t know where to run first now that he had a bag full of money. He didn’t have to know how many Galleons there were to a pound to know that he was holding more money than he’d had in his whole life — more money than even Dudley had ever had.
“Might as well get yer uniform,” said Hagrid, nodding toward Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. “Listen, Harry, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringotts carts.” He did still look a bit sick, so Harry entered Madam Malkin’s shop alone, feeling nervous.
Madam Malkin was a squat, smiling witch dressed all in mauve.
“Hogwarts, dear?” she said, when Harry started to speak. “Got the lot here — another young man being fitted up just now, in fact.”
In the back of the shop, a boy with a pale, pointed face was standing on a footstool while a second witch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin stood Harry on a stool next to him slipped a long robe over his head, and began to pin it to the right length.
“Hello,” said the boy, “Hogwarts, too?”
“Yes,” said Harry.
“My father’s next door buying my books and mother’s up the street looking at wands,” said the boy. He had a bored, drawling voice. “Then I’m going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don’t see why first years can’t have their own. I think I’ll bully father into getting me one and I’ll smuggle it in somehow.”
Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley.
“Have you got your own broom?” the boy went on.
“No,” said Harry.
“Play Quidditch at all?”
“No,” Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.
“I do — Father says it’s a crime if I’m not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree. Know what house you’ll be in yet?”
“No,” said Harry, feeling more stupid by the minute.
“Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I’ll be in Slytherin, all our family have been — imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?”
“Mmm,” said Harry, wishing he could say something a bit more interesting.
“I say, look at that man!” said the boy suddenly, nodding toward the front window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and pointing at two large ice creams to show he couldn’t come in.
“That’s Hagrid,” said Harry, pleased to know something the boy didn’t. “He works at Hogwarts.”
“Oh,” said the boy, “I’ve heard of him. He’s a sort of servant, isn’t he?”
“He’s the gamekeeper,” said Harry. He was liking the boy less and less every second.
“Yes, exactly. I heard he’s a sort of savage — lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed.”
“I think he’s brilliant,” said Harry coldly.
“Do you?” said the boy, with a slight sneer. “Why is he with you? Where are your parents?”
“They’re dead,” said Harry shortly. He didn’t feel much like going into the matter with this boy.
“Oh, sorry,” said the other, not sounding sorry at all. “But they were our kind, weren’t they?”
“They were a witch and wizard, if that’s what you mean.”
“I really don’t think they should let the other sort in, do you? They’re just not the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What’s your surname, anyway?”
But before Harry could answer, Madam Malkin said, “That’s you done, my dear,” and Harry, not sorry for an excuse to stop talking to the boy, hopped down from the footstool.
“Well, I’ll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose,” said the drawling boy.
Harry was rather quiet as he ate the ice cream Hagrid had bought him (chocolate and raspberry with chopped nuts).
“What’s up?” said Hagrid.
“Nothing,” Harry lied. They stopped to buy parchment and quills. Harry cheered up a bit when he found a bottle of ink that changed color as you wrote. When they had left the shop, he said, “Hagrid, what’s Quidditch?”
“Blimey, Harry, I keep forgettin’ how little yeh know — not knowin’ about Quidditch!”
“Don’t make me feel worse,” said Harry. He told Hagrid about the pale boy in Madam Malkin’s.
“— and he said people from Muggle families shouldn’t even be allowed in —”
“Yer not from a Muggle family. If he’d known who yeh were — he’s grown up knowin’ yer name if his parents are wizardin’ folk. You saw what everyone in the Leaky Cauldron was like when they saw yeh. Anyway, what does he know about it, some o’ the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in ‘em in a long line o’ Muggles — look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!”
“So what is Quidditch?”
“It’s our sport. Wizard sport. It’s like — like soccer in the Muggle world — everyone follows Quidditch — played up in the air on broomsticks and there’s four balls — sorta hard ter explain the rules.”
“And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?”
“School houses. There’s four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers, but —”
“I bet I’m in Hufflepuff,” said Harry gloomily.
“Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,” said Hagrid darkly. “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.”
“Vol-, sorry —You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?”
“Years an’ years ago,” said Hagrid.
They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all. Even Dudley, who never read anything, would have been wild to get his hands on some of these. Hagrid almost had to drag Harry away from Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.
“I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley.”
“I’m not sayin’ that’s not a good idea, but yer not ter use magic in the Muggle world except in very special circumstances,” said Hagrid. “An’ anyway, yeh couldn’ work any of them curses yet, yeh’ll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that level.”
Hagrid wouldn’t let Harry buy a solid gold cauldron, either (“It says pewter on yer list”), but they got a nice set of scales for weighing potion ingredients and a collapsible brass telescope. Then they visited the Apothecary, which was fascinating enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor; jars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders lined the walls; bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of some basic potion ingredients for Harry, Harry himself examined silver unicorn horns at twenty-one Galleons each and minuscule, glittery-black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop).
Outside the Apothecary, Hagrid checked Harry’s list again.
“Just yer wand left — A yeah, an’ I still haven’t got yeh a birthday present.”
Harry felt himself go red.
“You don’t have to —”
“I know I don’t have to. Tell yeh what, I’ll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went outta fashion years ago, yeh’d be laughed at — an’ I don’ like cats, they make me sneeze. I’ll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they’re dead useful, carry yer mail an’ everythin’.”
Twenty minutes later, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which had been dark and full of rustling and flickering, jewel-bright eyes. Harry now carried a large cage that held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn’t stop stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.
“Don’ mention it,” said Hagrid gruffly. “Don’ expect you’ve had a lotta presents from them Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now — only place fer wands, Ollivanders, and yeh gotta have the best wand.”
A magic wand… this was what Harry had been really looking forward to.
The last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over the door read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window.
A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single, spindly chair that Hagrid sat on to wait. Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot of new questions that had just occurred to him and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling. For some reason, the back of his neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.
“Good afternoon,” said a soft voice. Harry jumped. Hagrid must have jumped, too, because there was a loud crunching noise and he got quickly off the spindly chair.
An old man was standing before them, his wide, pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.
“Hello,” said Harry awkwardly.
“Ah yes,” said the man. “Yes, yes. I thought I’d be seeing you soon. Harry Potter.” It wasn’t a question. “You have your mother’s eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work.”
Mr. Ollivander moved closer to Harry. Harry wished he would blink. Those silvery eyes were a bit creepy.
“Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favored it — it’s really the wand
that chooses the wizard, of course.”
Mr. Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were almost nose to nose. Harry could see himself reflected in those misty eyes.
“And that’s where…”
Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead with a long, white finger.
“I’m sorry to say I sold the wand that did it,” he said softly. “Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands… well, if I’d known what that wand was going out into the world to do…”
He shook his head and then, to Harry’s relief, spotted Hagrid.
“Rubeus! Rubeus Hagrid! How nice to see you again… Oak, sixteen inches, rather bendy, wasn’t it?”
“It was, sir, yes,” said Hagrid.
“Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got expelled?” said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern.
“Er — yes, they did, yes,” said Hagrid, shuffling his feet. “I’ve still got the pieces, though,” he added brightly.
“But you don’t use them?” said Mr. Ollivander sharply.
“Oh, no, sir,” said Hagrid quickly. Harry noticed he gripped his pink umbrella very tightly as he spoke.
“Hmmm,” said Mr. Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look. “Well, now — Mr. Potter. Let me see.” He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. “Which is your wand arm?”
“Er — well, I’m right-handed,” said Harry.
“Hold out your arm. That’s it.” He measured Harry from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured, he said, “Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard’s wand.”
Harry suddenly realized that the tape measure, which was measuring between his nostrils, was doing this on its own. Mr. Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.
“That will do,” he said, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. “Right then, Mr. Potter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. just take it and give it a wave.”
Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once.
“Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try —”
Harry tried — but he had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.
“No, no — here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out.”
Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.
“Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we’ll find the perfect match here somewhere — I wonder, now — yes, why not — unusual combination — holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.”
Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls. Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr. Ollivander cried, “Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well… how curious… how very curious…”
He put Harry’s wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering, “Curious… curious…”
“Sorry,” said Harry, “but what’s curious?”
Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare.
“I remember every wand I’ve ever sold, Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother — why, its brother gave you that scar.”
“Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember… I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter… After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.”
Harry shivered. He wasn’t sure he liked Mr. Ollivander too much. He paid seven gold Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.
The late afternoon sun hung low in the sky as Harry and Hagrid made their way back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, back through the Leaky Cauldron, now empty. Harry didn’t speak at all as they walked down the road; he didn’t even notice how much people were gawking at them on the Underground, laden as they were with all their funny-shaped packages, with the snowy owl asleep in its cage on Harry’s lap. Up another escalator, out into Paddington station; Harry only realized where they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.
“Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves,” he said.
He bought Harry a hamburger and they sat down on plastic seats to eat them. Harry kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.
“You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet,” said Hagrid.
Harry wasn’t sure he could explain. He’d just had the best birthday of his life — and yet — he chewed his hamburger, trying to find the words.
“Everyone thinks I’m special,” he said at last. “All those people in the Leaky Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander… but I don’t know anything about magic at all. How can they expect great things? I’m famous and I can’t even remember what I’m famous for. I don’t know what happened when Vol-, sorry — I mean, the night my parents died.”
Hagrid leaned across the table. Behind the wild beard and eyebrows he wore a very kind smile.
“Don’ you worry, Harry. You’ll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you’ll be just fine. Just be yerself. I know it’s hard. Yeh’ve been singled out, an’ that’s always hard. But yeh’ll have a great time at Hogwarts — I did — still do, ’smatter of fact.”
Hagrid helped Harry on to the train that would take him back to the Dursleys, then handed him an envelope.
“Yer ticket fer Hogwarts, “ he said. “First o’ September — King’s Cross — it’s all on yer ticket. Any problems with the Dursleys, send me a letter with yer owl, she’ll know where to find me… . See yeh soon, Harry.”
The train pulled out of the station. Harry wanted to watch Hagrid until he was out of sight; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against the window, but he blinked and Hagrid had gone.
I'm so unlucky. I bought a book for 16 euro (a paperback!) and a couple of hours later I found the e-book for free... I spent my last euro's on that book! Yes, my last euro's, for my bank card is still in Holland and I have no other means to get more money from my bank account, so this week I've got no other choice than staying at home all day. ;-;
I also found one of my favourite books on the same website (gutenberg.org) and I'd like to share the first chapter! Really, I can't think of a book character that I care more about than d'Artagnan *o* This translation is slightly different compared to the version I have at home, and mine is slightly better imo, but this will have to do.
On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the market town of Meung, in which the author of ROMANCE OF THE ROSE was born, appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the Huguenots had just made a second La Rochelle of it. Many citizens, seeing the women flying toward the High Street, leaving their children crying at the open doors, hastened to don the cuirass, and supporting their somewhat uncertain courage with a musket or a partisan, directed their steps toward the hostelry of the Jolly Miller, before which was gathered, increasing every minute, a compact group, vociferous and full of curiosity.
In those times panics were common, and few days passed without some city or other registering in its archives an event of this kind. There were nobles, who made war against each other; there was the king, who made war against the cardinal; there was Spain, which made war against the king. Then, in addition to these concealed or public, secret or open wars, there were robbers, mendicants, Huguenots, wolves, and scoundrels, who made war upon everybody. The citizens always took up arms readily against thieves, wolves or scoundrels, often against nobles or Huguenots, sometimes against the king, but never against cardinal or Spain. It resulted, then, from this habit that on the said first Monday of April, 1625, the citizens, on hearing the clamor, and seeing neither the red-and-yellow standard nor the livery of the Duc de Richelieu, rushed toward the hostel of the Jolly Miller. When arrived there, the cause of the hubbub was apparent to all.
A young man--we can sketch his portrait at a dash. Imagine to yourself a Don Quixote of eighteen; a Don Quixote without his corselet, without his coat of mail, without his cuisses; a Don Quixote clothed in a woolen doublet, the blue color of which had faded into a nameless shade between lees of wine and a heavenly azure; face long and brown; high cheek bones, a sign of sagacity; the maxillary muscles enormously developed, an infallible sign by which a Gascon may always be detected, even without his cap--and our young man wore a cap set off with a sort of feather; the eye open and intelligent; the nose hooked, but finely chiseled. Too big for a youth, too small for a grown man, an experienced eye might have taken him for a farmer's son upon a journey had it not been for the long sword which, dangling from a leather baldric, hit against the calves of its owner as he walked, and against the rough side of his steed when he was on horseback.
For our young man had a steed which was the observed of all observers. It was a Bearn pony, from twelve to fourteen years old, yellow in his hide, without a hair in his tail, but not without windgalls on his legs, which, though going with his head lower than his knees, rendering a martingale quite unnecessary, contrived nevertheless to perform his eight leagues a day. Unfortunately, the qualities of this horse were so well concealed under his strange-colored hide and his unaccountable gait, that at a time when everybody was a connoisseur in horseflesh, the appearance of the aforesaid pony at Meung--which place he had entered about a quarter of an hour before, by the gate of Beaugency--produced an unfavorable feeling, which extended to his rider.
And this feeling had been more painfully perceived by young d'Artagnan--for so was the Don Quixote of this second Rosinante named--from his not being able to conceal from himself the ridiculous appearance that such a steed gave him, good horseman as he was. He had sighed deeply, therefore, when accepting the gift of the pony from M. d'Artagnan the elder. He was not ignorant that such a beast was worth at least twenty livres; and the words which had accompanied the present were above all price.
"My son," said the old Gascon gentleman, in that pure Bearn PATOIS of which Henry IV could never rid himself, "this horse was born in the house of your father about thirteen years ago, and has remained in it ever since, which ought to make you love it. Never sell it; allow it to die tranquilly and honorably of old age, and if you make a campaign with it, take as much care of it as you would of an old servant. At court, provided you have ever the honor to go there," continued M. d'Artagnan the elder, "--an honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been worthily borne by your ancestors for five hundred years, both for your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you. By the latter I mean your relatives and friends. Endure nothing from anyone except Monsieur the Cardinal and the king. It is by his courage, please observe, by his courage alone, that a gentleman can make his way nowadays. Whoever hesitates for a second perhaps allows the bait to escape which during that exact second fortune held out to him. You are young. You ought to be brave for two reasons: the first is that you are a Gascon, and the second is that you are my son. Never fear quarrels, but seek adventures. I have taught you how to handle a sword; you have thews of iron, a wrist of steel. Fight on all occasions. Fight the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is twice as much courage in fighting. I have nothing to give you, my son, but fifteen crowns, my horse, and the counsels you have just heard. Your mother will add to them a recipe for a certain balsam, which she had from a Bohemian and which has the miraculous virtue of curing all wounds that do not reach the heart. Take advantage of all, and live happily and long. I have but one word to add, and that is to propose an example to you--not mine, for I myself have never appeared at court, and have only taken part in religious wars as a volunteer; I speak of Monsieur de Treville, who was formerly my neighbor, and who had the honor to be, as a child, the play-fellow of our king, Louis XIII, whom God preserve! Sometimes their play degenerated into battles, and in these battles the king was not always the stronger. The blows which he received increased greatly his esteem and friendship for Monsieur de Treville. Afterward, Monsieur de Treville fought with others: in his first journey to Paris, five times; from the death of the late king till the young one came of age, without reckoning wars and sieges, seven times; and from that date up to the present day, a hundred times, perhaps! So that in spite of edicts, ordinances, and decrees, there he is, captain of the Musketeers; that is to say, chief of a legion of Caesars, whom the king holds in great esteem and whom the cardinal dreads--he who dreads nothing, as it is said. Still further, Monsieur de Treville gains ten thousand crowns a year; he is therefore a great noble. He began as you begin. Go to him with this letter, and make him your model in order that you may do as he has done."
Upon which M. d'Artagnan the elder girded his own sword round his son, kissed him tenderly on both cheeks, and gave him his benediction.
On leaving the paternal chamber, the young man found his mother, who was waiting for him with the famous recipe of which the counsels we have just repeated would necessitate frequent employment. The adieux were on this side longer and more tender than they had been on the other--not that M. d'Artagnan did not love his son, who was his only offspring, but M. d'Artagnan was a man, and he would have considered it unworthy of a man to give way to his feelings; whereas Mme. d'Artagnan was a woman, and still more, a mother. She wept abundantly; and--let us speak it to the praise of M. d'Artagnan the younger--notwithstanding the efforts he made to remain firm, as a future Musketeer ought, nature prevailed, and he shed many tears, of which he succeeded with great difficulty in concealing the half.
The same day the young man set forward on his journey, furnished with the three paternal gifts, which consisted, as we have said, of fifteen crowns, the horse, and the letter for M. de Treville--the counsels being thrown into the bargain.
With such a VADE MECUM d'Artagnan was morally and physically an exact copy of the hero of Cervantes, to whom we so happily compared him when our duty of an historian placed us under the necessity of sketching his portrait. Don Quixote took windmills for giants, and sheep for armies; d'Artagnan took every smile for an insult, and every look as a provocation--whence it resulted that from Tarbes to Meung his fist was constantly doubled, or his hand on the hilt of his sword; and yet the fist did not descend upon any jaw, nor did the sword issue from its scabbard. It was not that the sight of the wretched pony did not excite numerous smiles on the countenances of passers-by; but as against the side of this pony rattled a sword of respectable length, and as over this sword gleamed an eye rather ferocious than haughty, these passers-by repressed their hilarity, or if hilarity prevailed over prudence, they endeavored to laugh only on one side, like the masks of the ancients. D'Artagnan, then, remained majestic and intact in his susceptibility, till he came to this unlucky city of Meung.
But there, as he was alighting from his horse at the gate of the Jolly Miller, without anyone--host, waiter, or hostler--coming to hold his stirrup or take his horse, d'Artagnan spied, though an open window on the ground floor, a gentleman, well-made and of good carriage, although of rather a stern countenance, talking with two persons who appeared to listen to him with respect. d'Artagnan fancied quite naturally, according to his custom, that he must be the object of their conversation, and listened. This time d'Artagnan was only in part mistaken; he himself was not in question, but his horse was. The gentleman appeared to be enumerating all his qualities to his auditors; and, as I have said, the auditors seeming to have great deference for the narrator, they every moment burst into fits of laughter. Now, as a half-smile was sufficient to awaken the irascibility of the young man, the effect produced upon him by this vociferous mirth may be easily imagined.
Nevertheless, d'Artagnan was desirous of examining the appearance of this impertinent personage who ridiculed him. He fixed his haughty eye upon the stranger, and perceived a man of from forty to forty-five years of age, with black and piercing eyes, pale complexion, a strongly marked nose, and a black and well-shaped mustache. He was dressed in a doublet and hose of a violet color, with aiguillettes of the same color, without any other ornaments than the customary slashes, through which the shirt appeared. This doublet and hose, though new, were creased, like traveling clothes for a long time packed in a portmanteau. d'Artagnan made all these remarks with the rapidity of a most minute observer, and doubtless from an instinctive feeling that this stranger was destined to have a great influence over his future life.
Now, as at the moment in which d'Artagnan fixed his eyes upon the gentleman in the violet doublet, the gentleman made one of his most knowing and profound remarks respecting the Bearnese pony, his two auditors laughed even louder than before, and he himself, though contrary to his custom, allowed a pale smile (if I may allowed to use such an expression) to stray over his countenance. This time there could be no doubt; d'Artagnan was really insulted. Full, then, of this conviction, he pulled his cap down over his eyes, and endeavoring to copy some of the court airs he had picked up in Gascony among young traveling nobles, he advanced with one hand on the hilt of his sword and the other resting on his hip. Unfortunately, as he advanced, his anger increased at every step; and instead of the proper and lofty speech he had prepared as a prelude to his challenge, he found nothing at the tip of his tongue but a gross personality, which he accompanied with a furious gesture.
"I say, sir, you sir, who are hiding yourself behind that shutter--yes, you, sir, tell me what you are laughing at, and we will laugh together!"
The gentleman raised his eyes slowly from the nag to his cavalier, as if he required some time to ascertain whether it could be to him that such strange reproaches were addressed; then, when he could not possibly entertain any doubt of the matter, his eyebrows slightly bent, and with an accent of irony and insolence impossible to be described, he replied to d'Artagnan, "I was not speaking to you, sir."
"But I am speaking to you!" replied the young man, additionally exasperated with this mixture of insolence and good manners, of politeness and scorn.
The stranger looked at him again with a slight smile, and retiring from the window, came out of the hostelry with a slow step, and placed himself before the horse, within two paces of d'Artagnan. His quiet manner and the ironical expression of his countenance redoubled the mirth of the persons with whom he had been talking, and who still remained at the window.
D'Artagnan, seeing him approach, drew his sword a foot out of the scabbard.
"This horse is decidedly, or rather has been in his youth, a buttercup," resumed the stranger, continuing the remarks he had begun, and addressing himself to his auditors at the window, without paying the least attention to the exasperation of d'Artagnan, who, however placed himself between him and them. "It is a color very well known in botany, but till the present time very rare among horses."
"There are people who laugh at the horse that would not dare to laugh at the master," cried the young emulator of the furious Treville.
"I do not often laugh, sir," replied the stranger, "as you may perceive by the expression of my countenance; but nevertheless I retain the privilege of laughing when I please."
"And I," cried d'Artagnan, "will allow no man to laugh when it displeases me!"
"Indeed, sir," continued the stranger, more calm than ever; "well, that is perfectly right!" and turning on his heel, was about to re-enter the hostelry by the front gate, beneath which d'Artagnan on arriving had observed a saddled horse.
But, d'Artagnan was not of a character to allow a man to escape him thus who had the insolence to ridicule him. He drew his sword entirely from the scabbard, and followed him, crying, "Turn, turn, Master Joker, lest I strike you behind!"
"Strike me!" said the other, turning on his heels, and surveying the young man with as much astonishment as contempt. "Why, my good fellow, you must be mad!" Then, in a suppressed tone, as if speaking to himself, "This is annoying," continued he. "What a godsend this would be for his Majesty, who is seeking everywhere for brave fellows to recruit for his Musketeers!"
He had scarcely finished, when d'Artagnan made such a furious lunge at him that if he had not sprung nimbly backward, it is probable he would have jested for the last time. The stranger, then perceiving that the matter went beyond raillery, drew his sword, saluted his adversary, and seriously placed himself on guard. But at the same moment, his two auditors, accompanied by the host, fell upon d'Artagnan with sticks, shovels and tongs. This caused so rapid and complete a diversion from the attack that d'Artagnan's adversary, while the latter turned round to face this shower of blows, sheathed his sword with the same precision, and instead of an actor, which he had nearly been, became a spectator of the fight--a part in which he acquitted himself with his usual impassiveness, muttering, nevertheless, "A plague upon these Gascons! Replace him on his orange horse, and let him begone!"
"Not before I have killed you, poltroon!" cried d'Artagnan, making the best face possible, and never retreating one step before his three assailants, who continued to shower blows upon him.
"Another gasconade!" murmured the gentleman. "By my honor, these Gascons are incorrigible! Keep up the dance, then, since he will have it so. When he is tired, he will perhaps tell us that he has had enough of it."
But the stranger knew not the headstrong personage he had to do with; d'Artagnan was not the man ever to cry for quarter. The fight was therefore prolonged for some seconds; but at length d'Artagnan dropped his sword, which was broken in two pieces by the blow of a stick. Another blow full upon his forehead at the same moment brought him to the ground, covered with blood and almost fainting.
It was at this moment that people came flocking to the scene of action from all sides. The host, fearful of consequences, with the help of his servants carried the wounded man into the kitchen, where some trifling attentions were bestowed upon him.
As to the gentleman, he resumed his place at the window, and surveyed the crowd with a certain impatience, evidently annoyed by their remaining undispersed.
"Well, how is it with this madman?" exclaimed he, turning round as the noise of the door announced the entrance of the host, who came in to inquire if he was unhurt.
"Your excellency is safe and sound?" asked the host.
"Oh, yes! Perfectly safe and sound, my good host; and I wish to know what has become of our young man."
"He is better," said the host, "he fainted quite away."
"Indeed!" said the gentleman.
"But before he fainted, he collected all his strength to challenge you, and to defy you while challenging you."
"Why, this fellow must be the devil in person!" cried the stranger.
"Oh, no, your Excellency, he is not the devil," replied the host, with a grin of contempt; "for during his fainting we rummaged his valise and found nothing but a clean shirt and eleven crowns--which however, did not prevent his saying, as he was fainting, that if such a thing had happened in Paris, you should have cause to repent of it at a later period."
"Then," said the stranger coolly, "he must be some prince in disguise."
"I have told you this, good sir," resumed the host, "in order that you may be on your guard."
"Did he name no one in his passion?"
"Yes; he struck his pocket and said, 'We shall see what Monsieur de Treville will think of this insult offered to his protege.'"
"Monsieur de Treville?" said the stranger, becoming attentive, "he put his hand upon his pocket while pronouncing the name of Monsieur de Treville? Now, my dear host, while your young man was insensible, you did not fail, I am quite sure, to ascertain what that pocket contained. What was there in it?"
"A letter addressed to Monsieur de Treville, captain of the Musketeers."
"Exactly as I have the honor to tell your Excellency."
The host, who was not endowed with great perspicacity, did not observe the expression which his words had given to the physiognomy of the stranger. The latter rose from the front of the window, upon the sill of which he had leaned with his elbow, and knitted his brow like a man disquieted.
"The devil!" murmured he, between his teeth. "Can Treville have set this Gascon upon me? He is very young; but a sword thrust is a sword thrust, whatever be the age of him who gives it, and a youth is less to be suspected than an older man," and the stranger fell into a reverie which lasted some minutes. "A weak obstacle is sometimes sufficient to overthrow a great design.
"Host," said he, "could you not contrive to get rid of this frantic boy for me? In conscience, I cannot kill him; and yet," added he, with a coldly menacing expression, "he annoys me. Where is he?"
"In my wife's chamber, on the first flight, where they are dressing his wounds."
"His things and his bag are with him? Has he taken off his doublet?"
"On the contrary, everything is in the kitchen. But if he annoys you, this young fool--"
"To be sure he does. He causes a disturbance in your hostelry, which respectable people cannot put up with. Go; make out my bill and notify my servant."
"What, monsieur, will you leave us so soon?"
"You know that very well, as I gave my order to saddle my horse. Have they not obeyed me?"
"It is done; as your Excellency may have observed, your horse is in the great gateway, ready saddled for your departure."
"That is well; do as I have directed you, then."
"What the devil!" said the host to himself. "Can he be afraid of this boy?" But an imperious glance from the stranger stopped him short; he bowed humbly and retired.
"It is not necessary for Milady* to be seen by this fellow," continued the stranger. "She will soon pass; she is already late. I had better get on horseback, and go and meet her. I should like, however, to know what this letter addressed to Treville contains."
*We are well aware that this term, milady, is only properly used when followed by a family name. But we find it thus in the manuscript, and we do not choose to take upon ourselves to alter it.
And the stranger, muttering to himself, directed his steps toward the kitchen.
In the meantime, the host, who entertained no doubt that it was the presence of the young man that drove the stranger from his hostelry, re-ascended to his wife's chamber, and found d'Artagnan just recovering his senses. Giving him to understand that the police would deal with him pretty severely for having sought a quarrel with a great lord--for the opinion of the host the stranger could be nothing less than a great lord--he insisted that notwithstanding his weakness d'Artagnan should get up and depart as quickly as possible. D'Artagnan, half stupefied, without his doublet, and with his head bound up in a linen cloth, arose then, and urged by the host, began to descend the stairs; but on arriving at the kitchen, the first thing he saw was his antagonist talking calmly at the step of a heavy carriage, drawn by two large Norman horses.
His interlocutor, whose head appeared through the carriage window, was a woman of from twenty to two-and-twenty years. We have already observed with what rapidity d'Artagnan seized the expression of a countenance. He perceived then, at a glance, that this woman was young and beautiful; and her style of beauty struck him more forcibly from its being totally different from that of the southern countries in which d'Artagnan had hitherto resided. She was pale and fair, with long curls falling in profusion over her shoulders, had large, blue, languishing eyes, rosy lips, and hands of alabaster. She was talking with great animation with the stranger.
"His Eminence, then, orders me--" said the lady.
"To return instantly to England, and to inform him as soon as the duke leaves London."
"And as to my other instructions?" asked the fair traveler.
"They are contained in this box, which you will not open until you are on the other side of the Channel."
"Very well; and you--what will you do?"
"I--I return to Paris."
"What, without chastising this insolent boy?" asked the lady.
The stranger was about to reply; but at the moment he opened his mouth, d'Artagnan, who had heard all, precipitated himself over the threshold of the door.
"This insolent boy chastises others," cried he; "and I hope that this time he whom he ought to chastise will not escape him as before."
"Will not escape him?" replied the stranger, knitting his brow.
"No; before a woman you would dare not fly, I presume?"
"Remember," said Milady, seeing the stranger lay his hand on his sword, "the least delay may ruin everything."
"You are right," cried the gentleman; "begone then, on your part, and I will depart as quickly on mine." And bowing to the lady, sprang into his saddle, while her coachman applied his whip vigorously to his horses. The two interlocutors thus separated, taking opposite directions, at full gallop.
"Pay him, booby!" cried the stranger to his servant, without checking the speed of his horse; and the man, after throwing two or three silver pieces at the foot of mine host, galloped after his master.
"Base coward! false gentleman!" cried d'Artagnan, springing forward, in his turn, after the servant. But his wound had rendered him too weak to support such an exertion. Scarcely had he gone ten steps when his ears began to tingle, a faintness seized him, a cloud of blood passed over his eyes, and he fell in the middle of the street, crying still, "Coward! coward! coward!"
"He is a coward, indeed," grumbled the host, drawing near to d'Artagnan, and endeavoring by this little flattery to make up matters with the young man, as the heron of the fable did with the snail he had despised the evening before.
"Yes, a base coward," murmured d'Artagnan; "but she--she was very beautiful."
"What she?" demanded the host.
"Milady," faltered d'Artagnan, and fainted a second time.
"Ah, it's all one," said the host; "I have lost two customers, but this one remains, of whom I am pretty certain for some days to come. There will be eleven crowns gained."
It is to be remembered that eleven crowns was just the sum that remained in d'Artagnan's purse.
The host had reckoned upon eleven days of confinement at a crown a day, but he had reckoned without his guest. On the following morning at five o'clock d'Artagnan arose, and descending to the kitchen without help, asked, among other ingredients the list of which has not come down to us, for some oil, some wine, and some rosemary, and with his mother's recipe in his hand composed a balsam, with which he anointed his numerous wounds, replacing his bandages himself, and positively refusing the assistance of any doctor, d'Artagnan walked about that same evening, and was almost cured by the morrow.
But when the time came to pay for his rosemary, this oil, and the wine, the only expense the master had incurred, as he had preserved a strict abstinence--while on the contrary, the yellow horse, by the account of the hostler at least, had eaten three times as much as a horse of his size could reasonably supposed to have done--d'Artagnan found nothing in his pocket but his little old velvet purse with the eleven crowns it contained; for as to the letter addressed to M. de Treville, it had disappeared.
The young man commenced his search for the letter with the greatest patience, turning out his pockets of all kinds over and over again, rummaging and rerummaging in his valise, and opening and reopening his purse; but when he found that he had come to the conviction that the letter was not to be found, he flew, for the third time, into such a rage as was near costing him a fresh consumption of wine, oil, and rosemary--for upon seeing this hot-headed youth become exasperated and threaten to destroy everything in the establishment if his letter were not found, the host seized a spit, his wife a broom handle, and the servants the same sticks they had used the day before.
"My letter of recommendation!" cried d'Artagnan, "my letter of recommendation! or, the holy blood, I will spit you all like ortolans!"
Unfortunately, there was one circumstance which created a powerful obstacle to the accomplishment of this threat; which was, as we have related, that his sword had been in his first conflict broken in two, and which he had entirely forgotten. Hence, it resulted when d'Artagnan proceeded to draw his sword in earnest, he found himself purely and simply armed with a stump of a sword about eight or ten inches in length, which the host had carefully placed in the scabbard. As to the rest of the blade, the master had slyly put that on one side to make himself a larding pin.
But this deception would probably not have stopped our fiery young man if the host had not reflected that the reclamation which his guest made was perfectly just.
"But, after all," said he, lowering the point of his spit, "where is this letter?"
"Yes, where is this letter?" cried d'Artagnan. "In the first place, I warn you that that letter is for Monsieur de Treville, and it must be found, he will know how to find it."
His threat completed the intimidation of the host. After the king and the cardinal, M. de Treville was the man whose name was perhaps most frequently repeated by the military, and even by citizens. There was, to be sure, Father Joseph, but his name was never pronounced but with a subdued voice, such was the terror inspired by his Gray Eminence, as the cardinal's familiar was called.
Throwing down his spit, and ordering his wife to do the same with her broom handle, and the servants with their sticks, he set the first example of commencing an earnest search for the lost letter.
"Does the letter contain anything valuable?" demanded the host, after a few minutes of useless investigation.
"Zounds! I think it does indeed!" cried the Gascon, who reckoned upon this letter for making his way at court. "It contained my fortune!"
"Bills upon Spain?" asked the disturbed host.
"Bills upon his Majesty's private treasury," answered d'Artagnan, who, reckoning upon entering into the king's service in consequence of this recommendation, believed he could make this somewhat hazardous reply without telling of a falsehood.
"The devil!" cried the host, at his wit's end.
"But it's of no importance," continued d'Artagnan, with natural assurance; "it's of no importance. The money is nothing; that letter was everything. I would rather have lost a thousand pistoles than have lost it." He would not have risked more if he had said twenty thousand; but a certain juvenile modesty restrained him.
A ray of light all at once broke upon the mind of the host as he was giving himself to the devil upon finding nothing.
"That letter is not lost!" cried he.
"What!" cried d'Artagnan.
"No, it has been stolen from you."
"Stolen? By whom?"
"By the gentleman who was here yesterday. He came down into the kitchen, where your doublet was. He remained there some time alone. I would lay a wager he has stolen it."
"Do you think so?" answered d'Artagnan, but little convinced, as he knew better than anyone else how entirely personal the value of this letter was, and was nothing in it likely to tempt cupidity. The fact was that none of his servants, none of the travelers present, could have gained anything by being possessed of this paper.
"Do you say," resumed d'Artagnan, "that you suspect that impertinent gentleman?"
"I tell you I am sure of it," continued the host. "When I informed him that your lordship was the protege of Monsieur de Treville, and that you even had a letter for that illustrious gentleman, he appeared to be very much disturbed, and asked me where that letter was, and immediately came down into the kitchen, where he knew your doublet was."
"Then that's my thief," replied d'Artagnan. "I will complain to Monsieur de Treville, and Monsieur de Treville will complain to the king." He then drew two crowns majestically from his purse and gave them to the host, who accompanied him, cap in hand, to the gate, and remounted his yellow horse, which bore him without any further accident to the gate of St. Antoine at Paris, where his owner sold him for three crowns, which was a very good price, considering that d'Artagnan had ridden him hard during the last stage. Thus the dealer to whom d'Artagnan sold him for the nine livres did not conceal from the young man that he only gave that enormous sum for him on the account of the originality of his color.
Thus d'Artagnan entered Paris on foot, carrying his little packet under his arm, and walked about till he found an apartment to be let on terms suited to the scantiness of his means. This chamber was a sort of garret, situated in the Rue des Fossoyeurs, near the Luxembourg.
As soon as the earnest money was paid, d'Artagnan took possession of his lodging, and passed the remainder of the day in sewing onto his doublet and hose some ornamental braiding which his mother had taken off an almost-new doublet of the elder M. d'Artagnan, and which she had given her son secretly. Next he went to the Quai de Feraille to have a new blade put to his sword, and then returned toward the Louvre, inquiring of the first Musketeer he met for the situation of the hotel of M. de Treville, which proved to be in the Rue du Vieux-Colombier; that is to say, in the immediate vicinity of the chamber hired by d'Artagnan--a circumstance which appeared to furnish a happy augury for the success of his journey.
After this, satisfied with the way in which he had conducted himself at Meung, without remorse for the past, confident in the present, and full of hope for the future, he retired to bed and slept the sleep of the brave.
This sleep, provincial as it was, brought him to nine o'clock in the morning; at which hour he rose, in order to repair to the residence of M. de Treville, the third personage in the kingdom, in the paternal estimation.