Cat’s Cradle — Kurt Vonnegut — Contents
We came at last to the castle.
It was low and black and cruel.
Antique cannons still lolled on the battlements. Vines and bird nests clogged the crenels, the machicolations, and the balistrariae.
Its parapets to the north were continuous with the scarp of a monstrous precipice that fell six hundred feet straight down to the lukewarm sea.
It posed the question posed by all such stone piles: how had puny men moved stones so big? And, like all such stone piles, it answered the question itself. Dumb terror had moved those stones so big.
The castle was built according to the wish of Tum-bumwa, Emperor of San Lorenzo, a demented man, an escaped slave. Tum-bumwa was said to have found its design in a child’s picture book.
A gory book it must have been.
Just before we reached the palace gate the ruts carried us through a rustic arch made of two telephone poles and a beam that spanned them.
Hanging from the middle of the beam was a huge iron hook. There was a sign impaled on the hook.
“This hook,” the sign proclaimed, “is reserved for Bokonon himself.”
I turned to look at the hook again, and that thing of sharp iron communicated to me that I really was going to rule. I would chop down the hook!
And I flattered myself that I was going to be a firm, just, and kindly ruler, and that my people would prosper.