The Walking Drum

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The Walking Drum (1984) is a novel by Louis L'Amour.


  • A ship does not sail with yesterday's wind.
    • Red Mark, p. 6
  • I have been nothing, but there is tomorrow.
    • Mathurin
  • Any time is a time for thinking of women, and when they thrust the blade that takes my life I shall be thinking of women, or of a woman. If not, then death has come too late.
    • Mathurin Kerbouchard, p. 452
  • I have only a sword, but a strong man need wish for no more than this: a sword in the hand, a horse between his knees, and the woman he loves at the battle's end. ~Mathurin Kerbouchard
    • Page 415
  • Much of command is the ability to take command.
    • Page 24
  • A lion is not to be slain by jackals.
    • Page 47
  • If I do not travel late I may not travel at all. -Mathurin
    • Page 58
  • How many are the lives we meet and pass! -Mathurin
    • Page 58
  • You have saved my life.
    Wait. Perhaps I have only made you aware of death. We do not yet know what the night may bring. -Mathurin
  • Have you heard about the Devil quoting scriptures for his own ends?
    The Devil survives.
    Is survival, then, the first thing? Is there not something else?
    Honor first, then victory, but if a man is to learn, first he must live.
    You would be wise to go to Co'rdoba or to Toledo. The best of things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen, health and strength may fail, but what you have committed to your mind is yours forever.
  • Reading without thinking is as nothing, for a book is less important for what it says than for what it makes you think.
    • Page 202
  • On that I had no comment, for the future is the future, and I place no trust in the reading of the stars.
    • Page 208
  • If the dead live only in the memories of those they leave behind, then she would never die while I lived.
    • Note: This is Mathurin thinking of his mother.
    • Page 219
  • We rode to war. What matter if only a small war. Is the blade less sharp? The arrow less deadly? My blade this night would avenge not only my mother but my Arab teacher and all the others Tournemine had slain.
    • Page 219
  • Aye, he would cheat his own mother, and willingly, if he could have a coin by doing it.
    • Page 231
  • Blasphemy? Not unless it is blasphemy to seek the truth. No, I am no blasphemer, but something worse, I am an asker of questions.
    • Page 252
  • That man is a fool who would descend into a well on another man's rope.
    • Page 253
  • To die for what one believes is all very well for those so inclined, but it has always seemed to me the most vain of solutions. There is not a cause worthy dying for that is not better served by living.
    • Page 254
  • The radical ideas of today are often the conservative policies of tomorrow, and dogma is left protesting by the wayside.
    • Page 256
  • The companion of vagabonds. Few men are so poor they cannot have fire.
    • Page 260
  • Be a philosopher. A man can compromise to gain a point. It has become apparent that a man can, within limits, follow his inclination within the arms of the Church if he does so discreetly. Remember this, Julot, even a rebel grows old, and sometimes wiser. He finds the things he rebelled against are now the things he must defend against newer rebels. Aging bones creak in the cold. Seek warmth, my friend; be discreet, but follow your own mind. When you have obtained position you will have influence. Otherwise you will tear at the bars until your strength is gone, and you will have accomplished nothing but to rant and rave.
    • Page 261
  • Think a little, Julot. All our lives we compromise, and without it there would be no progress, nor could men live together. You may think a man a fool, but if he is an agreeable fool you say nothing. Is that no compromise?"
    • Page 261
  • There are many ways of fighting. Many a man or woman has waged a good war for truth, honor, and freedom, who did not shed his blood in the process. Beware of those who would use violence, too often it is the violence they want and neither truth nor freedom.
    The important thing is to know where you stand and what you believe, then be true to yourself in all things. Moreover, it is foolish to waste time in arguing questions with those who have no power to change.
    • Page 261-262
  • Trade is much superior to piracy. You can rob and kill a man but once, but you can cheat him again and again.
    • Page 272
  • The soul of business is to inspire people to buy that which they neither need nor want.
    • Page 272
  • Barons, my Comtesse, bleed as easily as merchants or peasants. This one bled like the thief he was.
    • Page 281
  • Adding, for my own information, that I did not intend to die. Too much remained to be done.
    • Page 282
  • Stand aside, I said! Or I shall spill your innards and walk over them to the room.-Count Robert
    If you come up these stairs, we shall see whose innards lie upon them. Come if you wish. You can bite on this steel.-Mathurin
    I do not fight with commoners. These do it for me. -Count Robert
    An excuse for cowardice.-Mathurin
    Kill him. - Count Robert
    If they advance one step, I shall hang the lot of them, and you higher than the rest. I am the Hansgraf Rupert von Gilderstern, of the White Company of traders. This man [Mathurin] is a merchant of our company. -Rupert von Gilderstern
    I have thirty men! -Count Robert
    I have five times that number. They are veterans of more than three hundred battles, Count Robert. Any five of my men would take your thirty and spit them like frogs. If you have had no experience of war with a merchant caravan, Count Robert, this will be a lesson to you, a lesson you would not live to appreciate. -Rupert von Gilderstern
  • Where there is gold, there is blood.
    • Page 318
  • Suzanne, a wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat.
    • Page 322
  • Even if we win, it will be an end of this, and it is a pity that every beginning should also be an end. I shall miss the walking drum, Suzanne, miss it indeed. That drum has been our pulse, and often have I wondered what it is that starts the drum of a man's life to beating? For each of us walks to the beat of our own drum, an unheard rhythm to all our movements and thought.
    • Page 323
  • How easily, at such a time, are promises made! And how vain the promises when destiny hangs in the balance!
    • Page 324
  • He is a wise man who can choose the moment. It is not necessary to die to prove you are brave.
    • Page 324
  • I drink the wine and put aside the glass, but the taste lingers, Lolyngton, the taste lingers!"
    • Page 325
  • My mind is my sword, and if you linger you shall feel its edge.
    • Page 349
  • What road has not left its dust upon my feet?
    • Page 349
  • Had I asked in any of those cities, would anyone have believed they someday would lie in ruins? Each age is an age that is passing, and cities, my friend, are transitory things. Each is born from the dust; each matures, grows older, then it fades and dies. A passing traveler looks at a mound of sand and broken stones and asks 'What was here?' and his answer is only an echo or a wind drifting sand.
    • Page 351
  • Perhaps the blood here is thinning now, and perfume appreciated more than sweat.
    • Page 351
  • Are we not all slaves, occasionally? To custom? To a situation? To an idea? Who among us it truly free, Byzantine?
    • Pages 351-352
  • I would not, for we understand each other, and I shall have her until one of us dies.
    That might be arranged.
    Then plan it well, Byzantine, for death is a visitor who can call upon any man.
    • Page 353
  • The goods of this world, Phillip, are soon lost. Fire, storm, thieves, and war are ever with us, but what is stored in the mind is ours forever.
    • Page 362
  • If ever you become a hero to the mob, Phillip, remember this: Every man who cheers you carries in his belt the knife of an assassin.
    • Page 363
  • I shall simply ask. Many things are not done simply because they are not attempted.
    • Page 366
  • I have observed that the steps of a man sound heavier when he is alone in the hall.
    • Page 366
  • Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.
    • Page 373
  • Ah, Beggar, you have come far since I tossed you a coin at the bazaar!
    Thank you, Bardas, it is true I have come far, yet I find you where you were, licking crumbs from the fingers of your superiors.
    • Page 375
  • By the Gods! If it is a duel of wits you wish, you shall have it!
    I am sorry, Bardas. I could never fight an unarmed man.
    • Page 375
  • If one plans to measure blows with a stranger, one had best judge the length of his arm.
    • Page 376
  • Deliver this man safely to Trebizond, or cut your own throat and sink your vessel. If he arrives not safely, we shall hunt you down and feed you, in small pieces, to the dogs. Do you understand?
    • Page 383
  • Such are the amenities of social life, which oft makes a liar of the best of men. Never had I heard of Mas'ud Khan, nor had I any idea whether he was noble, splendid, or rich, but considering my problems, I hope he was all three.
    • Page 392
  • What can the will do when the heart commands?
    • Page 410
  • You are young, and honor rides with you, but honor is important only when dealing with honorable men.
    • Page 418
  • Lie to a liar, for lies are his coin; steal from a thief, for that is easy; lay a trap for the trickster and catch him at the first attempt, but beware of an honest man.
    • Page 418
  • To survive? What is that? A mouse lives, a fly lives, one flees in terror, another lives in filth. They exist, they are, but do they live?
    • Page 419
  • Honor is the thing, for he who is honorable needs no praise. He is secure with the knowledge of what he is, a decent human being first, all else after.
    • Page 420
  • The dried leaves of autumn are lightly blown away, still more easily is the fortune of man destroyed.

My fortune, or his?

    • Page 433
  • Escape you? You misunderstand the situation, Mahmound. It is you who shall not escape me.
    • Page 433
  • So it ever is in moments of trial or decision. One is born alone, one dies alone, and usually faces the trials and tribulations alone.
    • Page 438
  • The weak can be terrible when they wish to appear strong, and he was such a man, darkly vengeful and unforgetting. If dying, he would strike out wickedly in all directions to injure all he could to his last breath."
    • Page 449
  • When one has lost his freedom it is always a long walk back.
    • Page 454
  • A knife is sharpened on stone, steel is tempered by fire, but men must be sharpened by men.
    • Page 461

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