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William Goldman

“I’m going to tell you something once and then whether you die is strictly up to you," Westley said, lying pleasantly on the bed. "What I’m going to tell you is this: drop your sword, and if you do, then I will leave with this baggage here"—he glanced at Buttercup—"and you will be tied up but not fatally, and will be free to go about your business. And if you choose to fight, well, then, we will not both leave alive."

You are only alive now because you said 'to the pain.' I want that phrase explained."

My pleasure. To the pain means this: if we duel and you win, death for me. If we duel and I win, life for you. But life on my terms. The first thing you lose will be your feet. Below the ankle. You will have stumps available to use within six months. Then your hands, at the wrists. They heal somewhat quicker. Five months is a fair average. Next your nose. No smell of dawn for you. Followed by your tongue. Deeply cut away. Not even a stump left. And then your left eye—"

And then my right eye, and then my ears, and shall we get on with it?" the Prince said.

Wrong!" Westley’s voice rang across the room. "Your ears you keep, so that every shriek of every child shall be yours to cherish—every babe that weeps in fear at your approach, every woman that cries 'Dear God, what is that thing?' will reverberate forever with your perfect ears. That is what 'to the pain' means. It means that I leave you in anguish, in humiliation, in freakish misery until you can stand it no more; so there you have it, pig, there you know, you miserable vomitous mass, and I say this now, and live or die, it’s up to you: Drop your sword!"

The sword crashed to the floor.”


William Goldman, The Princess Bride
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The Princess Bride The Princess Bride by William Goldman
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