for want of a nail the shoe was lost
Aral had been raging around the Residence all morning. They'd lost by one vote. Gregor was keeping well out of the way, because he'd been over it all before. Yes, he agreed that it would be good if Komarrans were permitted to join the Imperial Service. Yes, of course he understood the arguments. No, he'd had no idea that those Counts would bolt at the last minute. By evening, Gregor knew, Aral would have calmed down and be moving on to the next fight, but until then, he was keeping clear. It was hardly the most important vote they'd lost.
for want of a shoe the horse was lost
Duv hadn't ever been really sure he'd wanted it. Military service was the traditional route to power on Barrayar, but it wasn't the only route. Some Ministers had come up from the universities, especially in more specialised areas. And he did love history, and teaching, and immersing himself in complex problems, and understanding how the past shaped the future. So he took up the fellowship, and gained a reputation as an insightful thinker. Four years later the decision was reversed and Komarrans were allowed to enter, but by then he was over the age limit. Besides, he loved his job.
for want of the horse the rider was lost
Ivan was deeply relieved when Miles finally left. He hadn't been himself the whole time he'd been here: the only time he'd got even a little excited had been when someone had tried to hire the Dendarii Mercenaries to kidnap Miles himself, and once that had fizzled out instead of leading to tremendous and life-threatening adventures, he'd gone all mopey and refused to talk, leaving the Dendarii to sort their own problems out. And only two days later the staid and priggish Captain Vorventa had informed Miles that he was required on Barrayar, and Miles had left without another word.
for want of the rider the message was lost
All work in the department had stopped when the news broke. The Prime Minister had been assassinated. Rumours were whipping across the campus like wildfire, breaking out in every corridor and common room. It was the Cetagandans, the Komarrans, a relative, his son, ImpSec going rogue (that in the lowest of whispers), the conservatives, the democratic radicals. Duv tried to keep teaching his class, but couldn't stem the tide--and perhaps it would look bad for him to keep working instead of beating his breast and demonstrating how broken-hearted the Komarran professor was at the Butcher's death. Besides, he truly was.
for want of the message the battle was lost
It wasn't Miles. Illyan was numb now, but if he could have felt relief, he would. Aral had been murdered by a clone, and his final dying act had been to kill his assassin. Illyan knew that would have mattered to Aral, but he felt cheated, both of his interrogation and of his own revenge. But Miles might yet be alive. That hope was all that held the Countess--the Dowager Countess--together, and all ImpSec was searching. But what they found was Ser Galen, and Illyan learned that Galen's son was here in Vorbarr Sultana. He signed the arrest warrant himself.
for want of the battle the war was lost
ImpSec held him without charge for two months. Duv repeated the facts endlessly: he had no idea that his father had been alive, he had not known of the plot, he had not been involved, he was a loyal subject of the Imperium. His faith in the Emperor's justice waned as the days passed, but at last he was released. But he found that his colleagues avoided him, and when he tried to renew his residence permit, he was deported. On Komarr conditions were much worse, and one day, when an old friend of his father's approached him, Duv went.
for want of the war the kingdom was lost
Even without Aral, life limped on. They found Miles' body on Earth, and Ivan was declared Count Vorkosigan. And Gregor knew that he had no choice now but to marry. He read the CVs Lady Alys gave him without enthusiasm, selected the most promising Vorish candidate, proposed, and married her with full Imperial ceremony, but the star point where his father should have stood was empty. And when he gave an audience to the Komarran trade lobbyists, his eyes slid past the short plump woman who was taking notes. She was interned with the others when the Komarrans revolted again.
and all for the want of a horseshoe nail
"I think I've nailed him." Lady Alys wiped a hand across her forehead in real relief. "It was touch and go for a while, but if you're happy to let him have the increased agricultural subsidies for another year, he'll support us."
"What about Vorpatril and his amendments?" Aral said.
"It's all frills, nothing of substance. He just wanted a chance to make a noise. And I've got you a spare vote too, now--complete coincidence, but we can buy Vorsmythe off with the same agricultural subsidies Vorparadijs wants. So you'll get your Komarrans."
Aral smiled. "And a good thing too."