It was, in point of fact, too hard for Fezzik, so he began to run, crying out, "Be with you in a minute, Inigo," and "Right behind you, Inigo" and "Hey, Inigo, wait up" (wait up, straight up which was the way he ran, and wouldn't there be fun with rhymes once he and Inigo were together again), but after an hour or so of shouting his throat gave out because he had, after all, been strangled almost to death in the very recent past. On he ran, on and on and on until finally he reached a tiny village THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница and found, just outside town, some nice rocks that formed kind of a cave, almost big enough for him to stretch out in. He sat with his back against a rock and his hands around his knees and his throat hurting until the village boys found him. They held their breath and crept as close as they dared. Fezzik hoped they would go away, so he froze, pretending to be off with Inigo and Inigo would say "barrel" and Fezzik right quick would come back "carol" and maybe they would sing a little something until Inigo said "serenade" and you THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница couldn't stump Fezzik with one that easy because of "centigrade" and then Inigo would make a word about the weather and Fezzik would rhyme it and that was how it went until the village boys stopped being afraid of him. Fezzik could tell that because they were creeping very close to him now and all of a sudden yelling their lungs out and making crazy faces. He didn't really blame them; he looked like the kind of person you did that to, mocked. His clothes were torn and his throat was gone and his eyes were wild THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница and he probably would have yelled too if he'd been their age.
It was only when they found him funny that he found it, though he did not know the word, degrading. No more yelling. Just laughter now. Laughter, Fezzik thought, and then he thought giraffeter, because that's all he was to them, some huge funny thing that couldn't make much noise. Laughter, giraffeter, from now to hereafter.
Fezzik huddled up in his cave and tried looking on the bright side. At least they weren't throwing things at him.
Not yet, anyway.
WESTLEY AWOKE THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница CHAINED in a giant cage. His shoulder was beginning to fester from the gnawing and digging that the R.O.U.S. had done into his flesh. He ignored his discomfort, momentarily, to try and adjust to his surroundings.
He was certainly underground. It was not the lack of windows that made that sure; more the dankness. From somewhere above him now, he could hear animal sounds: an occasional lion roar, the yelp of the cheetah.
Shortly after his return to consciousness, the albino appeared, bloodless, with skin as pale as dying birch. The candlelight that served THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница to illuminate the cage made the albino seem totally like a creature who had never seen the sun. The albino held a tray which carried many things, bandages and food, healing powders and brandy.
"Where are we?" from Westley.
A shrug from the albino.
"Who are you?"
That was almost the entire extent of the fellow's conversation. Westley asked question after question while the albino tended and redressed his wound, then fed him food that was warm and surprisingly good and plentiful.
"Who knows I'm here?"
"Lie, but tell me something—give an answer THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница. Who knows I'm here?"
Whispered: "I know. They know."
"The Prince and the Count, you mean?"
"And that is all?"
"When I was brought in I was half conscious. The Count was giving the orders, but three soldiers were carrying me. They know too."
Shake. Whispered: "Knew."
"They're dead, that's what you're saying?"
"Am I to die then?"
Westley lay back on the floor of the giant underground cage watching as the albino silently reloaded the tray, glided from sight. If the soldiers were dead, surely it was not unreasonable THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница to assume that he would eventually follow. But if they wanted his erasure, surely it was also not unreasonable to assume that they had not the least intention of doing it immediately, else why tend his wounds, why return his strength with good warm food? No, his death would be a while yet. But in the meantime, considering the personalities of his captors, it was finally not unreasonable to assume that they would do their best to make him suffer.
Westley closed his eyes. There was pain coming and he had to be ready for it. He THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница had to prepare his brain, he had to get his mind controlled and safe from their efforts, so that they could not break him. He would not let them break him. He would hold together against anything and all. If only they gave him sufficient time to make ready, he knew he could defeat pain. It turned out they gave him sufficient time (it was months before the Machine was ready).
But they broke him anyway.
AT THE END of the thirtieth day of festivities, with sixty days more of partying to enjoy, Buttercup was genuinely concerned that she might THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница lack the strength to endure. Smile, smile, hold hands, bow and thank, over and over. She was simply exhausted from one month; how was she to survive twice that?
It turned out, because of the King's health, to be both easy and sad. For with fifty-five days to go, Lotharon began to weaken terribly.
Prince Humperdinck ordered new doctors brought in. (There was still the last miracle man alive, Max, but since they had fired him long before, bringing him back on the case now was simply not deemed wise; if he was incompetent then THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница, when Lotharon was only desperately ill, how could he suddenly be a cure-all now, with Lotharon dying?) The new doctors all agreed on various tried-and-true medications, and within forty-eight hours of their coming on the case, the King was dead.
The wedding date, of course, was unchanged—it wasn't every day a country had a five hundredth anniversary—but all the festivities were either curtailed entirely or vastly cut down. And Prince Humperdinck became, forty-five days before the wedding, King of Florin, and that changed everything, because, before, he had taken nothing but his hunting seriously THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница, and now he had to learn, learn everything, learn to run a country, and he buried himself in books and wise men and how did you tax this and when should you tax that and foreign entanglements and who could be trusted and how far and with what? And before her lovely eyes, Humperdinck changed from a man of fear and action to one of frenzied wisdom, because he had to get it all straight now before any other country dared interfere with the future of Florin, so the wedding, when it actually took place, was a tiny THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница thing and brief, sandwiched in between a ministers' meeting and a treasury crisis, and Buttercup spent her first afternoon as queen wandering around the castle not knowing what in the world to do with herself. It wasn't until King Humperdinck walked out on the balcony with her to greet the gigantic throng that had spent the day in patient waiting that she realized it had happened, she was the Queen, her life, for whatever it was worth, belonged now to the people.
They stood together on the castle balcony, accepting the cheers, the cries, the endless thunderous "hip THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница hips," until Buttercup said, "Please, may I walk once more among them?" and the King said with a nod that she might and down she went again, as on the day of the wedding announcement, radiant and alone, and again the people swept apart to let her pass, weeping and cheering and bowing and—
—and then one person booed.
On the balcony watching it all Humperdinck reacted instantly, gesturing soldiers into the area where the sound had come from, dispatching more troops quickly down to surround the Queen, and like clockwork Buttercup was safe, the booer apprehended THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница and led away.
"Hold a moment," Buttercup said, still shaken by the unexpectedness of what had happened. The soldier who held the booer stopped. "Bring her to me," Buttercup said, and in a moment the booer was right there, eye to eye.
It was an ancient woman, withered and bent, and Buttercup thought of all the faces that had gone by in her lifetime, but this one she could not remember. "Have we met?" the Queen asked.
The old one shook her head.
"Then why? Why on this day? Why do you insult the Queen?"
"Because you are not worthy of THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница cheers," the old woman said, and suddenly she was yelling, "You had love in your hands and you gave it up for gold!" She turned to the crowd. "It is true what I tell you—there was love alongside her in the Fire Swamp and she dropped it from her fingers like garbage, and that is what she is, the Queen of Garbage."
"I had given my word to the Prince—" Buttercup began, but the old woman would not be quieted.
"Ask her how she got through the Fire Swamp? Ask her if she did it alone? She threw love THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница away to be the Queen of Grime, the Queen of Muck—I am old and life means nothing to me, so I am the only person in all this crowd to dare to tell truth, and truth says bow to the Queen of Feculence if you want to, but not I. Cheer the Queen of Slime and Ordure if you want to, but not I. Rave over the beauty of the Queen of Cesspools, but not I. Not I!" She was advancing on Buttercup now.
"Take her away," Buttercup ordered.
But the soldiers could not stop her THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница, and the old woman kept coming on, her voice getting LOUDER and louder and Louder! and louder! and LOUDER and LOUDER! and—
Buttercup woke up screaming.
She was in her bed. Alone. Safe. The wedding was still sixty days away.
But her nightmares had begun.
The next night she dreamed of giving birth to their first child and
Interruption, and hey, how about giving old Morgenstern credit for a major league fake-out there. I mean, didn't you think for a while at least that they really were married? I did.
It's one of my biggest memories of my father THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница reading. I had pneumonia, remember, but I was a little better now, and madly caught up in the book, and one thing you know when you're ten is that, no matter what, there's gonna be a happy ending. They can sweat all they want to scare you, the authors, but back of it all you know, you just have no doubt, that in the long run justice is going to win out. And Westley and Buttercup—well, they had their troubles, sure, but they were going to get married and live happily ever after. I would THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница have bet the family fortune if I'd found a sucker big enough to take me on.
Well, when my father got through with that sentence where the wedding was sandwiched between the ministers' meeting and the treasury whatever, I said, 'You read that wrong.'
My father's this little bald barber—remember that too? And kind of illiterate. Well, you just don't challenge a guy who has trouble reading and say he's read something incorrectly, because that's really threatening. 'I'm doing the reading,' he said.
'I know that but you got it wrong. She didn THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница't marry that rotten Humperdinck. She marries Westley.'
'It says right here,' my father began, a little huffy, and he starts going over it again.
'You must have skipped a page then. Something. Get it right, huh?'
By now he was more than a tiny bit upset. 'I skipped nothing. I read the words. The words are there, I read them, good night,' and off he went.
'Hey please, no,' I called after him, but he's stubborn, and, next thing, my mother was in saying, 'Your father says his throat is too sore; I told him not THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница to read so much,' and she tucked and fluffed me and no matter how I battled, it was over. No more story till the next day.
I spent that whole night thinking Buttercup married Humperdinck. It just rocked me. How can I explain it, but the world didn't work that way. Good got attracted to good, evil you flushed down the john and that was that. But their marriage—I couldn't make it jibe. God, did I work at it. First I thought that probably Buttercup had this fantastic effect on Humperdinck and turned him THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница into a kind of Westley, or maybe Westley and Humperdinck turned out to be long-lost brothers and Humperdinck was so happy to get his brother back he said, 'Look, Westley, I didn't realize who you were when I married her so what I'll do is I'll divorce her and you marry her and that way we'll all be happy.' To this day I don't think I was ever more creative.
But it didn't take. Something was wrong and I couldn't lose it. Suddenly there was this discontent gnawing away until it had a place THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница big enough to settle in and then it curled up and stayed there and it's still inside me lurking as I write this now.
The next night, when my father went back to reading and the marriage turned out to have been Buttercup's dream, I screamed I knew it, all along I knew it,' and my father said, 'So you're happy now, it's all right now, we can please continue?' and I said 'Go' and he did.
But I wasn't happy. Oh my ears were happy, I guess, my story sense THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница was happy, my heart too, but in my, I suppose you have to call it 'soul,' there was that damn discontent, shaking its dark head.
All this was never explained to me till I was in my teens and there was this great woman who lived in my hometown, Edith Neisser, dead now, and she wrote terrific books about how we screw up our children—Brothers and Sisters was one of her books, The Eldest Child was another. Published by Harper. Edith doesn't need the plug, seeing, like I said, as she's no longer with us, but if there THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница are any amongst you who are worried that maybe you're not being perfect parents, pick up one of Edith's books while there's still time. I knew her 'cause her kid Ed got his haircuts from my pop, and she was this writer and by my teens I knew, secretly, that was the life for me too, except I couldn't tell anybody. It was too embarrassing—barber's sons, if they hustled, maybe got to be IBM salesmen, but writers? No way. Don't ask me how, but eventually Edith discovered my shhhhhh ambition and THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница from then on, sometimes, we would talk. And I remember once we were having iced tea on the Neisser porch and talking and just outside the porch was their badminton court and I was watching some kids play badminton and Ed had just shellacked me, and as I left the court for the porch, he said, 'Don't worry, it'll all work out, you'll get me next time' and I nodded, and then Ed said, 'And if you don't, you'll beat me at something else.'
I went to the porch and sipped iced tea THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница and Edith was reading this book and she didn't put it down when she said, 'That's not necessarily true, you know.'
I said, 'How do you mean?'
And that's when she put her book down. And looked at me. And said it: 'Life isn't fair, Bill. We tell our children that it is, but it's a terrible thing to do. It's not only a lie, it's a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it's never going to be!
Would you believe that for me right then it THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница was like one of those comic books where the lightbulb goes on over Mandrake the Magician's head? 'It isn't!' I said, so loud I really startled her. 'You're right. It's not fair.' I was so happy if I'd known how to dance, I'd have started dancing. 'Isn't that great, isn't it just terrific?' I think along about here Edith must have thought I was well on my way toward being bonkers.
But it meant so much to me to have it said and out and free and flying—that was the discontent THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница I endured the night my father stopped reading, I realized right then. That was the reconciliation I was trying to make and couldn't.
And that's what I think this book's about. All those Columbia experts can spiel all they want about the delicious satire; they're crazy. This book says 'life isn't fair' and I'm telling you, one and all, you better believe it. I got a fat spoiled son—he's not gonna nab Miss Rheingold. And he's always gonna be fat, even if he gets skinny he'll THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница still be fat and he'll still be spoiled and life will never be enough to make him happy, and that's my fault maybe—make it all my fault, if you want—the point is, we're not created equal, for the rich they sing, life isn't fair. I got a cold wife; she's brilliant, she's stimulating, she's terrific; there's no love; that's okay too, just so long as we don't keep expecting everything to somehow even out for us before we die.
Look. (Grownups skip this paragraph.) I'm not THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница about to tell you this book has a tragic ending, I already said in the very first line how it was my favorite in all the world. But there's a lot of bad stuff coming up, torture you've already been prepared for, but there's worse. There's death coming up, and you better understand this: some of the wrong people die. Be ready for it. This isn't Curious George Uses the Potty. Nobody warned me and it was my own fault (you'll see what I mean in a little) and that was my mistake, so I THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница'm not letting it happen to you. The wrong people die, some of them, and the reason is this: life is not fair. Forget all the garbage your parents put out. Remember Morgenstern. You'll be a lot happier.
Okay. Enough. Back to the next. Nightmare time.
THE NEXT NIGHT she dreamed of giving birth to their first child and it was a girl, a beautiful little girl, and Buttercup said, "I'm sorry it wasn't a boy; I know you need an heir," and Humperdinck said, "Beloved sweet, don't concern yourself with that; just THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница look at the glorious child God has given us" and then he left and Buttercup held the child to her perfect breast and the child said, "Your milk is sour" and Buttercup said, "Oh, I'm sorry," and she shifted to the other breast and the child said, "No, this is sour too," and Buttercup said, "I don't know what to do" and the baby said, "You always know what to do, you always know exactly what to do, you always do exactly what's right for you, and the rest of the world can go hang," and Buttercup THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница said, "You mean Westley" and the baby said, "Of course I mean Westley," and Buttercup explained patiently, "I thought he was dead, you see; I'd given my word to your father" and the baby said, "I'm dying now; there's no love in your milk, your milk has killed me" and then the child stiffened and cracked and turned in Buttercup's hands to nothing but dry dust and Buttercup screamed and screamed; even when she was awake again, with fifty-nine days to go till her marriage, she was still screaming.
The third nightmare came quickly the THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница following evening, and again it was a baby—this time a son, a marvelous strong boy—and Humperdinck said, "Beloved, it's a boy" and Buttercup said, "I didn't fail you, thank heavens" and then he was gone and Buttercup called out, "May I see my son now" and all the doctors scurried around outside her royal room, but the boy was not brought in. "What seems to be the trouble?" Buttercup called out and the chief doctor said, "I don't quite understand, but he doesn't want to see you" and Buttercup said, "Tell him THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница I am his mother and I am the Queen and I command his presence" and then he was there, just as handsome a baby boy as anyone could wish for. "Close it," Buttercup said, and the doctors closed the door. The baby stood in the corner as far from her bed as he could. "Come here, darling," Buttercup said. "Why? Are you going to kill me too?" "I'm your mother and I love you, now come here; I've never killed anybody." "You killed Westley, did you see his face in the Fire Swamp? When you walked away and THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница left him? That's what I call killing." "When you're older, you'll understand things, now I'm not going to tell you again—come here." "Murderer," the baby shouted. "Murderer!" but by then she was out of bed and she had him in her arms and was saying, "Stop that, stop it this instant; I love you," and he said, "Your love is poison; it kills," and he died in her arms and she started to cry. Even when she was awake again, with fifty-eight days to go till her marriage, she was still crying THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница.
The next night she simply refused to go to sleep. Instead, she walked and read and did needlework and drank cup after cup of steaming tea from the Indies. She felt sick with weariness, of course, but such was her fear of what she might dream that she preferred any waking discomfort to whatever sleep might have to offer, and at dawn her mother was pregnant—no, more than pregnant; her mother was having a baby—and as Buttercup stood there in the corner of the room, she watched herself being born and her father gasped at her beauty and THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница so did her mother and the midwife was the first to show concern. The midwife was a sweet woman, known throughout the village for her love of babies, and she said, "Look—trouble—" and the father said, "What trouble? Where before did you ever see such beauty?" and the midwife said, "Don't you understand why she was given such beauty? It's because she has no heart, here, listen; the baby is alive but there is no beat" and she held Buttercup's chest against the father's ear and the father could only nod and THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница say, "We must find a miracle man to place a heart inside" but the midwife said, "That would be wrong, I think; I've heard before of creatures like this, the heartless ones, and as they grow bigger they get more and more beautiful and behind them is nothing but broken bodies and shattered souls, and these without hearts are anguish bringers, and my advice would be, since you're both still young, to have another child, a different child, and be rid of this one now, but, of course, the final decision is up to you" and the father THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница said to the mother, "Well?" and the mother said, "Since the midwife is the kindest person in the village, she must know a monster when she sees one; let's get to it," so Buttercup's father and Buttercup's mother put their hands to the baby's throat and the baby began to gasp. Even when Buttercup was awake again, at dawn, with fifty-seven days to go till her marriage, she could not stop gasping.
From then on, the nightmares became simply too frightening.
When there were fifty days to go, Buttercup knocked, one night, on THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница the door to Prince Humperdinck's chambers. She entered when he bid her to. "I see trouble," he said. "You look very ill." And so she did. Beautiful, of course. Still that. But in no way well.
Buttercup did not see quite how to begin.
He ushered her into a chair. He got her water. She sipped at it, staring dead ahead. He put the glass to one side.
"At your convenience, Princess," he said.
"It comes to this," Buttercup began. "In the Fire Swamp, I made the worst mistake in all the world. I love Westley. I always have. It seems THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница I always will. I did not know this when you came to me. Please believe what I am about to say: when you said that I must marry you or face death, I answered, 'Kill me.' I meant that. I mean this now too: if you say I must marry you in fifty days, I will be dead by morning."
The Prince was literally stunned.
After a long moment, he knelt by Buttercup's chair and, in his gentlest voice, started to speak: "I admit that when we first became engaged, there was to be no love THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница involved. That was as much my choice as yours, though the notion may have come from you. But surely you must have noticed, in this last month of parties and festivities, a certain warming of my attitude."
"I have. You have been both sweet and noble."
"Thank you. Having said that, I hope you appreciate how difficult this next sentence is for me to say: I would die myself rather than cause you unhappiness by standing in the way of your marrying the man you love."
Buttercup wanted almost to weep with gratitude. She said: "I will bless THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница you all my days for your kindness." Then she stood. "So it's settled. Our wedding is off."
He stood too. "Except for perhaps one thing."
"Have you considered the possibility that he might not now want any longer to marry you?"
Until that moment, she had not.
"You were, I hate to remind you, not altogether gentle with his emotions in the Fire Swamp. Forgive me for saying that, beloved, but you did leave him in the lurch, in a manner of speaking."
Buttercup sat down hard, her turn now to be stunned.
Humperdinck knelt again beside THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница her. "This Westley of yours, this sailor boy; he has pride?"
Buttercup managed to whisper, "More than any man alive, I sometimes think."
"Well consider, then, dearest. Here he is, off sailing somewhere with the Dread Pirate Roberts; he has had a month to survive the emotional scars you dealt him. What if he wants now to remain single? Or, worse, what if he has found another?"
Buttercup was now even beyond whispering.
"I think, sweetest child, that we should strike a bargain, you and I: if Westley wants to marry you still, bless you both. If, for reasons unpleasant to THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница mention, his pride will not let him, then you will marry me, as planned, and be the Queen of Florin."
"He couldn't be married. I'm sure. Not my Westley." She looked at the Prince. "But how can I find out?"
"What about this: you write him a letter, telling him everything. We'll make four copies. I'll take my four fastest ships and order them off in all directions. The Dread Pirate Roberts is not often more than a month's sail from Florin. Whichever of my ships finds him will run the white flag THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница of truce, deliver your letter, and Westley can decide. If 'no,' he can speak that message to my captain. If 'yes,' my captain will sail him here to you, and I will have to content myself somehow with a lesser bride."
"I think—I'm not sure—but I definitely think, that this is the most generous decision I have yet heard."
"Do me this favor then in return: until we know Westley's intentions, one way or another, let us continue as we have, so the festivities will not be halted. And if I seem too fond of THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница you, remember that I cannot help myself."
"Agreed," Buttercup said, going to the door, but not before she kissed his cheek.
He followed her. "Off with you now and write your letter," and he returned the kiss, smiling with his eyes at her until the corridor curved her from his sight. There was no doubt whatsoever in his mind that he was going to seem too fond of her in the days ahead. Because when she died of murder on their wedding night, it was crucial that all Florin realize the depth of his love, the epochal THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница size of his loss, since then no one would dare hesitate to follow him in the revenge war he was to launch against Guilder.
At first, when he hired the Sicilian, he was convinced it was best that someone else do her in, all the while making it appear the work of soldiers from Guilder. And when the man in black had somehow materialized to spoil his plans, the Prince came close to going insane with rage. But now his basically optimistic nature had reasserted itself: everything always worked out for the best. The people were infatuated with Buttercup THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница now as they had never been before her kidnapping. And when he announced from his castle balcony that she had been murdered—he already saw the scene in his mind: he would arrive just too late to save her from strangling but soon enough to see the Guilderian soldiers leaping from the window of his bedroom to the soft ground below—when he made that speech to the masses on the five hundredth anniversary of his country, well, there wouldn't be a dry eye in the Square. And although he was just the least bit perturbed, since he THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница had never actually killed a woman before with his bare hands, there was a first time for everything. Besides, if you wanted something done right, you did it yourself.
THAT NIGHT, THEY began to torture Westley. Count Rugen did the actual pain inducing; the Prince simply sat by, asking questions out loud, inwardly admiring the Count's skill.
The Count really cared about pain. The whys behind the screams interested him fully as much as the anguish itself. And whereas the Prince spent his life in physically following the hunt, Count Rugen read and studied anything he could get his hands on THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница dealing with the subject of Distress.
"All right now," the Prince said to Westley, who lay in the great fifth-level cage; "before we begin, I want you to answer me this: have you any complaints about your treatment thus far?"
"None whatever," Westley replied, and in truth he had none. Oh, he might have preferred being unchained a bit now and then, but if you were to be a captive, you couldn't ask for more than he had been given. The albino's medical ministrations had been precise, and his shoulder was fine again; the food THE PRINCESS BRIDE 12 страница the albino brought had always been hot and nourishing, the wine and brandy wonderfully warming against the dankness of the underground cage.