It was written in 1992 and set in 1145, but the situation discussed in these excerpts from Ellis Peters' The Holy Thief—part of her Brother Cadfael series—sounds as fresh as this morning's dawn.

Robert Bossu This has become a war which cannot be won or lost. Victory and defeat have become alike impossible. Unfortunately it may take several years yet before most men begin to understand. We who are trying to ride two horses know it already.

Hugh Beringar If there is no winning and no losing, there has to be another way. No land can continue for ever in a chaotic stalemate between two exhausted forces.

Robert It has gone on too long, and it will go on some years yet, make no mistake. But there is no ending that way.

Hugh What does a sane man do while he's enduring such waiting as he can endure?

Robert Tills his own ground, shepherds his own flock, mends his own fences, and sharpens his own sword.

Hugh Collects his own revenues? And pays his own dues?

Robert Both. To the last penny. And keeps his own counsel. Even while terms like traitor and turncoat are being bandied about like arrows finding random marks.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 10, 2020 at 4:14 am | Edit
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