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Pirate Freedom, Gene Wolfe

Page 58

“In a minute I’m going to tell about pirates, but there is not any real difference between pirates and wise guys. One is at sea and the other is in cities. A big part of it is money, and money is just another way of saying freedom. If you have money, you can do pretty much whatever you want to do. (If you do not believe me, look at the people who have it.) You eat what you want to eat and you drink when you want to drink. Can have two or three women at the same time, if that is what you want. You can sleep late if you want to, and you do not have to work. If you want fifteen suits, you can have fifteen suits, and you can travel if that’s what you want. If you like a certain kind of work, you can do it. But nobody can make you.”

Page 76

“We would go where I said to go, and anybody who did not like it would have a long swim. There was no novice master to worry about, and no feds. Just about everybody on earth was chained up, even if they could not see their chains, but I was not. I could breathe in a way most people never get to breathe. I stayed at the wheel like that for the whole watch, and I cannot tell you how wonderful it was.”

Page 99

“Two things saved us. The first was that the crew was not armed. After that I asked about it, talking to a guy who had been in the French Navy and later to Capt. Burt, who had been in the British. Both navies were so scared of their own men that they kept all the weapons locked up and did not issue them until they thought their men might need them
The Spanish were the same way—more scared of their own crew that they had been of us. Most of the soldiers had gone ashore, and some of the sailors had, too. The only men on board who had swords, pistols, or anything like that were the officers and a couple of soldiers. My father told me one time that a good lawyer means a lawyer who is more scared of you that he is of the cops, and it seems to me that if somebody is more scared of his own men than he is of the enemy, he ought to go home and go to law school.”

Page 108

“I have fought quite a bit in my life. I do not think I am a real good fighter, only pretty fair one. Just the same, I have learned two big things about fighting and I will pass them along. The first one is that if you rush somebody you have to make good on it. Rushing works best when the man you are fighting does not expect it. If he knows you are coming, maybe you better think of something else.

The second one is even more important. It is that if everybody knows you are a good fighter, you do not have to do it much. People who go around picking fights do not want to lose them. It means that every fight you have is more important than it looks. You want to win it, and you want to tear the other guy up so everybody knows who won and there is no doubt about it. Never listen to guys who talk about fighting fair. Half the time they are just trying to time one hand behind you. If you box or play cards or shoot dice, you ought to play fair. Those are games. A fight is not a game.”

Page 147

“The night sky was as clear a s crystal, and there was no moon. I looked out into the vast universe, saluting suns and families of suns far away, and watched the planets creep among them—bloody Mars, and Venus radian and pure in her robe of cloud. For the first time in my life I really understood that I rode a planet like those, that Earth and I were swinging through the dark vault even when we smiled in the sunlight. All my life I had thought of Heaven as a vague place far away, a mysterious land outside the universe where God sits a golden throne. That night I realized that Heaven is not far away at all—that Heaven is wherever God is, and that God is everywhere. That every human soul is His throne room.

Hell is right here, too.”

Page 251

“It is a mortal sin to take your own life. I know that, and it was one of the things the monks pounded home to us—do not kill yourself so that your soul can be with God. It will not. You are not free to reject His gift of life.”

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