Westminster Term Rhetoric
Excerpt From Dorothy Dunnett’s Queens Play: Wolfhound (Luadhas) Verses Cheetah
She was a noble bitch, high in heart and honest after her calling. She could overthrow a wolf, but the alien, wicked beauty slipping through the grasses ahead was of an element she had never known. She raced uphill, tail streaming, rough hair blown and parted with her speed, loping high on her long legs; and fast as the gap was closing between cheetah and hare, the gap between dog and cat began to close faster still…
There was never a doubt as to its end…the dog had no chance. Hound and cheetah rolled over and over, compacted silk hair and rough, mean, triangular head and long-nosed Byzantine; then Luadhas, lips bared, would seek a grip on the spotted spine and the sinuous snakelike fur would unroll and untwine; the heavy soft paw would flash, and on the skull of the dog the brindled hair sank, wet and dark, as the deep lifeblood welled.
She was a brave dog. As she bled she bit, her strong teeth sunk again and again in the dirty yellow-white plush. She shook her head and the cat, blood-spotted and scarred, wrenched free and staggered a pace: a dancer tripped, inelegant and baleful. There was a pause. Then, his haunches tightened, the cheetah called on the great muscles of thigh and hock and with all his power sprang quiet, curved and deadly into the sunlit air. The soft body fell and its great paws, needle-sharp and fatal, sank into the great cords and vessels of Luadhas’s neck and spine. The bitch screamed, rolling over; and on the squeaking, flattened grass her great body opened and shut, the soft fur like a woman’s twined about it, the cat’s claws deep in her back.