Castle Black seemed a bleak and forlorn place in the pale dawn light. My command, Jon Snow reflected ruefully, as much a ruin as it is a stronghold. The Lord Commander’s Tower was a shell, the Common Hall a pile of
blackened timbers, and Hardin’s Tower looked as if the next gust of wind would knock it over … though it had looked that way for years. Behind them rose the Wall: immense, forbidding, frigid, acrawl with builders pushing up a
new switchback stair to join the remnants of the old. They worked from dawn to dusk. Without the stair, there was no way to reach the top of the Wall save by winch. That would not serve if the wildlings should attack again.
“How well, though?” Ser Godry drew his own blade. “Show us. I promise not to hurt you, lad.”
How kind of you. “Some other time, ser. I fear that I have other duties just now.”
“You fear. I see that.” Ser Godry grinned at his friends. “He fears,” he repeated, for the slow ones.
“You will excuse me.” Jon showed them his back.
“Yes, it is,” said Father, annoyed. “It may very well savetheir lives.”Save our lives! It was no longer a small alarm bell thatwas ringing in my head – they
were big bells now, like theones we heard from Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, not farfrom the zoo.
“But Piscine? He’s only eight,” Mother insisted.
“He’s the one who worries me the most.””I’m innocent!” I burst out. “It’s Ravi’s fault, whatever it is.
He did it!””What?” said Ravi. “I haven’t done anything wrong.” Hegave me the evil eye.
“Shush!” said Father, raising his hand. He was looking atMother. “Gita, you’ve seen Piscine. He’s at that age when boysrun around and poke their noses everywhere.”Me? A run-arounder? An everywhere-nose-poker? Not so,not
so! Defend me, Mother, defend me, I implored in myheart. But she only sighed and nodded, a signal that theterrible
Boy was not the worst of the things that Jon Snow had been called since being chosen lord commander. He ignored it.
“Snow,” the voice insisted, “Lord Commander.”
This time he stopped. “Ser?”
The knight overtopped him by six inches. “A man who bears Valyrian steel should use it for more than scratching his arse.”
Jon had seen this one about the castle—a knight of great renown, to hear him tell it. During the battle beneath the Wall, Ser Godry Farring had slain a fleeing giant, pounding after him on horseback and driving a lance through his back,
then dismounting to hack off the creature’s pitiful small head. The queen’s men had taken to calling him Godry the Giantslayer.
Jon remembered Ygritte, crying. I am the last of the giants. “I use Longclaw when I must, ser.”
Countless stories are told of them. They are the pendants ofthose “vicious”, “bloodthirsty”, “depraved” animals that inflamethe ire of the maniacs I have
just mentioned, who vent theirspite on them with walking sticks and umbrellas. In both caseswe look at an animal and see a mirror. The obsession
withputting ourselves at the centre of everything is the bane notonly of theologians but also of zoologists.
I learned the lesson that an animal is an animal, essentiallyand practically removed from us, twice: once with Father andonce with Richard Parker.
It was on a Sunday morning. I was quietly playing on myown. Father called out.
“Children, come here.”Something was wrong. His tone of voice set off a smallalarm bell in my head. I quickly reviewed my conscience. Itwas clear. Ravi must be in trouble again. I wondered what hehad done this time. I
“Ravi, Piscine, I have a very important lesson for you today.””Oh really, is this necessary?” interrupted Mother. Her facewas flushed.
I swallowed. If Mother, normally so unruffled, so calm, wasworried, even upset, it meant we were in serious trouble. Iexchanged glances with Ravi.
walked into the living room. Mother wasthere. That was unusual. The disciplining of children, like thetending of animals, was generally left to Father. Ravi
“Three corns and one roast raven,” said Dolorous Edd. “Very good, m’lord, only Hobb’s made boiled eggs, black sausage, and apples stewed with prunes. The apples stewed with prunes are excellent, except for the prunes. I won’t
eat prunes myself. Well, there was one time when Hobb chopped them up with chestnuts and carrots and hid them in a hen. Never trust a cook, my lord. They’ll prune you when you least expect it.”
“Later.” Breakfast could wait; Stannis could not. “Any trouble from the stockades last night?”
“Not since you put guards on the guards, m’lord.”
“Good.” A thousand wildlings had been penned up beyond the Wall, the captives Stannis Baratheon had taken when his knights had smashed Mance Rayder’s patchwork host. Many of the prisoners were women, and some of the
guards had been sneaking them out to warm their beds. King’s men, queen’s men, it did not seem to matter; a few black brothers had tried the same thing. Men were men, and these were the only women for a thousand leagues.
“Two more wildlings turned up to surrender,” Edd went on. “A mother with a girl clinging to her skirts. She had a boy babe too, all swaddled up in fur, but he was dead.”
“Dead,” said the raven. It was one of the bird’s favorite words. “Dead, dead, dead.”
“Religion will save us,” I said. Since when I could remember,religion had been very close to my heart.
“Religion?” Mr. Kumar grinned broadly. “I don’t believe inreligion. Religion is darkness.”Darkness? I was puzzled. I thought, Darkness is the lastthing that
religion is. Religion is light. Was he testing me? Washe saying, “Religion is darkness,” the way he sometimes said inclass things like “Mammals lay eggs,”
to see if someone wouldcorrect him? (“Only platypuses, sir.”)”There are no grounds for going beyond a scientificexplanation of reality and no sound
reason for believinganything but our sense experience. A clear intellect, closeattention to detail and a little scientific knowledge will exposereligion as
superstitious bosh. God does not exist.” -Did he say that? Or am I remembering the lines of lateratheists? At any rate, it was something of the
sort. I had neverheard such words.
“Why tolerate darkness? Everything is here and clear, if onlywe look carefully.”He was pointing at Peak. Now though I had greatadmiration
They had free folk drifting in most every night, starved half-frozen creatures who had run from the battle beneath the Wall only to crawl back when they realized there was no safe place to run to. “Was the mother questioned?” Jon
asked. Stannis Baratheon had smashed Mance Rayder’s host and made the King-Beyond-the-Wall his captive … but the wildlings were still out there, the Weeper and Tormund Giantsbane and thousands more.
“Aye, m’lord,” said Edd, “but all she knows is that she ran off during the battle and hid in the woods after. We filled her full of porridge, sent her to the pens, and burned the babe.”
Burning dead children had ceased to trouble Jon Snow; live ones were another matter. Two kings to wake the dragon. The father first and then the
son, so both die kings. The words had been murmured by one of the queen’s men as Maester Aemon had cleaned his wounds. Jon had tried to dismiss
them as his fever talking. Aemon had demurred. “There is power in a king’s blood,” the old maester had warned, “and better men than Stannis have done
worse things than this.” The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast? Only a monster would give a living child to the flames.
He spoke again. “Some people say God died during thePartition in 1947. He may have died in 1971 during the war.
Or he may have died yesterday here in Pondicherry in anorphanage. That’s what some people say, Pi. When I was yourage, I lived in bed, racked with
polio. I asked myself every day,‘Where is God? Where is God? Where is God?’ God nevercame. It wasn’t God who saved me – it was medicine. Reasonis my
prophet and it tells me that as a watch stops, so wedie. It’s the end. If the watch doesn’t work properly, it must befixed here and now by us. One day we will take hold of themeans of production and there will be justice on
earth.”This was all a bit much for me. The tone was right – lovingand brave – but the details seemed bleak.
Recently, a Dutch court ruled against a lawsuit by Fujian villagers of China
against Dutch Tibetans for reclaiming the statue of Master Zhang sitting in the body of Buddha, on the grounds that it was unclear whether the villagers’Committee of China had the right to file a lawsuit.
A lot of Chinese people are angry when news of the verdict comes out. This is the logic of robbers. The Buddha is ours. It also says that we have no right to appeal to the law. That’s a wonderful reason.
Maybe some netizens don’t know what happened. One night in December 1995,
the guard of Lin’s ancestral temple in Yangchun Village, Wushan Township,
Datian County, Fujian Province, fell asleep and the ancestor Zhang, who was enshrined in the ancestral temple, disappeared.
Zhang Gongzu, known by villagers in Yangchun Village, Fujian Province as
“the benefactor of Kaishan”, is a Taoist monk. Zhang Gongzu sat down and
became a Buddha. The ancestors of Yangchun Village in Fujian made it into a
body sitting Buddha, which has been enshrined in Lin’s ancestral temple.
In October 2014, the Hungarian Museum
of Natural Science held an exhibition “Mummy World”, where a statue of Chinese Buddhist and monk’s body,
labeled about 1100 A.D., was also displayed.
Some people are surprised to find that this Chinese Buddha statue is very similar to the body treasure of Zhang
Gong-liu Quan, who was stolen in the Song Dynasty in 1995. Moreover, there are some words on the Buddha cushion,
such as “this hall’s general seal of Zhang
this Buddha statue on display is the stolen Buddha statue in Yangchun Village.
So the villagers of Yangchun Village, Wushan Township, Datian County,
Fujian Province, submitted evidence to the Dutch court, saying that the
mummies in the exhibition were the Buddha statues they had lost.
According to Dutch media reports, the owner of the Buddha statue is an
architect in Amsterdam. He said his collection of Buddha statues is indeed very similar to those lost in Yangchun
Village, Fujian Province. However, the Yangchun village Buddha statue in Fujian Province was stolen in October of the Lunar calendar in 1995, and his
collection of Buddha statues was earlier than this time, that is to say, the possibility of the two Buddha statues
being the same is small. However, such collectors claim
According to the Beijing Youth Daily, on the afternoon of December 31, six younger
children held the Beijing launch ceremony of the autobiography “Pedestrian” and the readers’signing and selling meeting at Xinhua Shangli Bookstore in Shijingshan,
Beijing. The organizer notified that a release and signing event would be held at 14:30 p.m. on that day, and that a media interview session of about 20 minutes would be arranged before that.
But when a reporter from Beijing Youth Daily arrived at the bookstore before 14 o’clock, he was told that the interview had been temporarily cancelled. It is
understood that the decision was made by a six-year-old broker who told the organizers that the main reason is that too much negative news has been taken into account recently.
However, other activities are still carried out according to the original plan, enthusiastic fans are also very supportive of the six-year-old children, less than 14:30, there are many readers lined up.
But in recent signing meetings, the six-year-olds did not perform very fiercely. Some netizens released the signing video No. 12. Six-year-olds, like a bosom grandfather,
chattered with fans once, “How do you buy so many books”, “Give away?” Once in a while, the tip of the pen was too fast to be signed by the fans. Six younger children
rushed back to the book and sketched a few more strokes. Their attitude was extremely serious. When fans love six-year-olds and say “hard work” to them, six-
year-olds also smile and say “no hard work, no hard work”, contrary to the six-year-olds demonized online.
Previously, there were many questions about his words and deeds on the Internet, and the news of “turning the Wu Chengen Memorial into the Monkey King
Memorial” came out. Six-year-olds once said that the contents of the Monkey King in Wu Chengen Memorial only account for one-tenth of the total, and that the
courtyard is not full of pictures of themselves, as the Internet said. He also emphasized: “It’s not that one is questioning me, but that there is a very bad group in