Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Le Guin on reasons for action

`Do Mages often beg?' asled Tenar, on the road between green fields, where goats and little spotted cattle grazed.

`Why do you ask?'

`You seemed used to begging. In fact you were good at it.'

`Well, yes. I've begged all my life, if you look at it that way. Wizards don't own much, you know. In fact nothing but their staff and clothing, if they wander. They are received and given food and shelter, by most people, gladly. They do make some return.'

`What return?'

`Well, that woman in the village. I cured her goats.'

`What was wrong with them?'

`They both had infected udders. I used to herd goats when I was a boy.'

`Did you tell her you'd cured them?'

`No. How could I? Why should I?'

After a pause she said, `I see your magic is not good only for large things.'

`Hospitality,' he said, `kindness to a stranger, that's a very large thing. Thanks are enough, of course. But I was sorry for the goats.'
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan, 1971

1 comment:

byron smith said...

I love that series. I thought it continued to improve as she went on, especially the fourth book.