There's a scene near the end of the Princess Bride where the evil Count Rugen confronts Fezzik, Inigo and Westley in the castle, and orders his guards, "kill the dark one and the giant, but leave the third for questioning."

One thing about those orders has been bothering me, and if I were one of those guards I would have survived by stopping to ask a question. Did Rugen mean to kill Westley, the "dark one" dressed in black, and question Inigo, the ringleader and (seeming) stranger to Rugen?

Or did he mean to kill Inigo, the one with dark hair, and question Westley?

I'm hoping there's more clarity in description or Rugen's thoughts in the book, but I do not have it.

  • Your Youtube link has gone dead. – Rand al'Thor Aug 21 '16 at 14:23
  • Thanks - I removed the link and added a little description to make up for it. – Nathan Aug 23 '16 at 15:10

By the "dark one," Rugen probably meant Inigo.

First, dark usually refers to hair color or complexion, not to the sort of clothing someone is wearing.

Later, this scene occurs:

Chase. Fezzik looks for Westley. More chases. Rugen pulls a dagger from his boot and throws it into Inigo's stomach.

Inigo: Falls against wall. Sorry, father. I tried. I tried.

Count Rugen: You must be that little Spanish brat I taught a lesson to all those years ago. Simply incredible. Have you been chasing me your whole life, only to fail now? I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard. How marvelous. Inigo slides to the ground.

Besides showing that he seemingly has little desire to leave Inigo alive, Rugen also demonstrates that he has only just figured out his identity. He would have had no reason to want to question Inigo before knowing who he was—at least no more than for wanting to question Fezzik.

On the other hand, Rugen works for Prince Humperdink, and has previously tortured Westley. He may well want to know how Westley survived, or how he escaped.

  • It's the inevitable conclusion based on context. Westley is the only one he would care to question. Simply based on proximity and relative danger posed by each, if I were a guard, I would never consider the order might mean leaving anyone but Westley. – Mat Cauthon Apr 26 '16 at 4:10
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    I'm not convinced. Rugen has little desire to try to capture Inigo alive himself, because he's a villain and therefore a coward. This doesn't mean he wouldn't order underlings to risk their lives to do it. As for why he'd want to question Inigo before recognizing him, I assumed that Rugen would want to know Inigo's motivation for working with Westley, and how many other allies Westley had. – user18979 Apr 26 '16 at 23:15
  • @WumpusQ.Wumbley - Then why wouldn't he want to question Fezzik as well? Any argument for wanting to question Inigo works for wanting to question Fezzik, yet Rugen only wants to capture one person. – Adamant Apr 26 '16 at 23:17
  • @Jonah Inigo at first glance looks easier to capture than Fezzik, and it's easy to assume Fezzik is a brute who wouldn't know much anyway. – Nathan Apr 27 '16 at 15:10
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    Interestingly, in the same book scene Rugen says, "Kill them, but leave the middle-sized one until I tell you." Luckily there's a direct comparison of their sizes from Fezzik: "Inigo has not lost to the man in black, he has defeated him. And to prove it he has put on all the man in black's clothes and masks and hoods and boots and gained eighty pounds." I think you hit the heart of it first, though, so I'll accept your answer. – Nathan Apr 28 '16 at 11:16

Yes he is speaking about Indigo as the dark one. He clearly is referring to his complexion & hair. The count does seem to have a hatred for Spaniards. Its not a stretch to say Rugen has an air of superiority about him (surely lots to do with his position in the kingdom?) Imho, the “dark one“ comment was used not only as a descriptive term, but also in a derogatory manner.

Also the reason Rugen wants to "keep the third one for questioning" is of course because the scientist in him wants to know how Wesley could possibly be alive, especially after seeing him die tortuously in The Machine!? It must be recorded for posterity;)

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