Lord Sheffield tucked a stray tendril behind her ear and cupped her cheek in one hand. 'Do you see a kissing ball anywhere?' 'N-no.' She darted a quick glance about the room. It was decorated as a Venetian masquerade, not as a Christmastide celebration. There was no holly to be found. 'Why do you ask?' 'Because I don't want you to think I have any reason for doing this other than because I wish to.
One can't help thinking, Daddy, what a colourless life a man is forced to lead, when one reflects that chiffon and Venetian point and hand embroidery and Irish crochet are to him mere empty words. Whereas a woman- whether she is interested in babies or microbes or husbands or poetry or servants or parallelograms or gardens or Plato or bridge- is fundamentally and always interested in clothes.
The death industry markets caskets and embalming under the rubric of helping bodies look 'natural,' but our current death customs are as natural as training majestic creatures like bears and elephants to dance in cute little outfits, or erecting replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Venetian canals in the middle of the harsh American desert.
Billy took off his tri-focals and his coat and his necktie and his shoes, and he closed the venetian blinds and then the drapes, and he lay down on the outside of the coverlet. But sleep would not come. Tears came instead. They seeped. [... ] He closed his eyes, and opened them again. He was still weeping, but he was back in Luxembourg again. He was marching with a lot of other prisoners. It was a winter wind that was bringing tears to his eyes.
Light is important to us humans. It influences our moods, our perceptions, our energy levels. A face glimpsed among trees, dappled by the shadows and the green-tinged light reflected from the forest, will seem quite different to the same face seen on a beach in hard, dry, sunlight, or in a darkening room at twilight, with the shadows of a venetian blind striped across it like a convict's uniform.
I feel moderately bad about this whole thing. On the one hand, I am providing myself with urgently required survival skills. Other lessons in this series include Shoplifting, Beating People Up, Picking Locks, Climbing Trees, Driving, Housebreaking, Dumpster Diving, and How to Use Oddball Things like Venetian Blinds and Garbage Can Lids as Weapons. On the other hand, I'm corrupting my poor innocent little self. I sigh. Somebody's got to do it.
The general public have a warped view of the speed at which an investigation proceeds. They like to imagine tense conversations going on behind the venetian blinds and unshaven, but ruggedly handsome, detectives working themselves with single-minded devotion into the bottle and marital breakdown. The truth is that at the end of the day, unless you've generated some sort of lead, you go home and get on with the important things in life - like drinking and sleeping, and if you're lucky, a relationship with the gender and sexual orientation of your choice.
Then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well, Of one not easily jealous but, being wrought, Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand, Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes, Albeit unused to the melting mood, Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees Their medicinable gum. Set you down this, And say besides that in Aleppo once, Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk Beat a Venetian and traduced the state, I took by th' throat the circumcised dog And smote him thus.
After Portia has trapped Shylock through his own insistence upon the letter of the law of Contract, she produces another law by which any alien who conspires against the life of a Venetian citizen forfeits his goods and places his life at the Doge's mercy. [... ] Shakespeare, it seems to me, was willing to introduce what is an absurd implausibility for the sake of an effect which he could not secure without it: at the last moment when, through his conduct, Shylock has destroyed any sympathy we may have felt for him earlier, we are reminded that, irrespective of his personal character, his status is one of inferiority. A Jew is not regarded, even in law, as a brother.
From out the midst of this warm mass of glistening colour, swung a gold lamp which shed its light through amber-hued crystal, -while the floor below was carpeted with the thickest velvet pile, the design being pale purple pansies on a darker ground of the same almost neutral tint. A specimen of everything beautiful, rare and costly seemed to have found its way into this one room, from the exquisitely wrought ivory figure of a Psyche on her pedestal, to the tall vase of Venetian crystal which held lightly up to view, dozens of magnificent roses that seemed born of full midsummer, though as yet in the capricious English climate, it was scarcely spring.
Occasionally, events in one's life become clearer through the prism of experience, a phrase which simply means that things tend to be clearer as time goes on. For instance, when a person is just born, they usually have no idea what curtains are and spend a great deal of their first months wondering why on earth Mommy and Daddy have hung large pieces of cloth over each window in the nursery. But as the person grows older, the idea of curtains becomes clearer through the prism of experience. The person will learn the word "curtains" and notice that they are actually quite handy for keeping a room dark when it is time to sleep, and for decorating an otherwise boring window area. Eventually, they will entirely accept the idea of curtains of their own, or venetian blinds, and it is all due to the prism of experience.
Alone, [Chamcha] all at once remembered that he and Pamela had once disagreed, as they disagreed on everything, on a short-story they'd both read, whose theme was precisely the nature of the unforgivable. Title and author eluded him, but the story came back vividly. A man and a woman had been intimate friends (never lovers) for all their adult lives. On his twenty-first birthday (they were both poor at the time) she had given him, as a joke, the most horrible, cheap glass vase she could find, in colours a garish parody of Venetian gaiety. Twenty years later, when they were both successful and greying, she visited his home and quarrelled with him over his treatment of a mutual friend. In the course of the quarrel her eye fell upon the old vase, which he still kept in pride of place on his sitting-room mantelpiece, and, without pausing in her tirade, she swept it to the floor, crushing it beyond hope of repair. He never spoke to her again; when she died, half a century later, he refused to visit her deathbed or attend her funeral, even though messengers were sent to tell him that these were her dearest wishes. 'Tell her, ' he said to the emissaries, 'that she never knew how much I valued what she broke.' The emissaries argued, pleaded, raged. If she had not known how much meaning he had invested in the trifle, how could she in all fairness be blamed? And had she not made countless attempts, over the years, to apologize and atone? And she was dying, for heaven's sake; could not this ancient, childish rift be healed at last? They had lost a lifetime's friendship; could they not even say goodbye? 'No, ' said the unforgiving man. - 'Really because of the vase? Or are you concealing some other, darker matter?' - 'It was the vase, ' he answered, 'the vase, and nothing but.' Pamela thought the man petty and cruel, but Chamcha had even then appreciated the curious privacy, the inexplicable inwardness of the issue. 'Nobody can judge an internal injury, ' he had said, 'by the size of the superficial wound, of the hole.