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her uncertainty, showed to the experienced eye. Her look said to Jeremy:There are mat-ters we must
discuss, but later.
Then she evidently decided that the general idea should be made clear at once. "You will do something
for me, won't you, Jonathan? If I should ask?"
Jeremy nodded, more in response to the look than to the words, and went on making griddle cakes. The
lady he could try to think of her as a lady, if that made her happy gazed at him thoughtfully for a long
moment, then went to the rail and stood looking out over it. Her look was hopeful, as if she was
ex-pecting to make some new discovery.
"Sleep well, Jonathan?" the Scholar asked, absently, when he emerged in his turn, a little later.
"Yes, sir. Couple of dreams." Jeremy's voice was steady and ca-sual; he didn't look at the lady as he
spoke.
"Ah." Arnobius nodded slowly, gazing over the rail at some-thing that only he could see. "We all have
those."
* * *
What had happened on deck that first night did not happen again during the remainder of the voyage. All
was proper and businesslike between the lady of ambiguous status and the new servant. In any case their
conduct was constrained by the fact that Arnobius had snapped out of his withdrawal and at night Jeremy
heard faint sounds from the deckhouse indicating that only one of the two beds was in use.
Jeremy had other matters to concern him. He thought the time was ripe to ask the Scholar whether he
knew either of the peo-ple to whom Jerry was supposed to convey the message.
"Yes, though I don't know Margaret all that well she's a vis-iting scholar, from Morelles I think and
Professor Alexander, of course, a sound man." Arnobius ceased his contemplation of whatever it was
Page 73
that he was thinking about and turned to look at the boy with interest. "How did you happen to hear of
my col-leagues?"
Jeremy was ready with what he hoped would be an acceptable answer. "Someone in our village ... told
me that she had worked for him once."
"Ah," said the Scholar vaguely, turning away again. If there was anything wildly improbable in the claim,
he did not appear to notice it. And Jeremy had chosen a moment when Carlotta was not around.
Emboldened, he pushed his luck. "I thought if I might talk to the professor, then he might offer me a job.
When I've finished with the job you've given me, of course."
Arnobius once more looked at him with his usual air of benign remoteness. "Well, who knows?" Then a
new thought occurred. "I might possibly be able to retain you in my employ when we get home. Reliable
people are hard to find, and you've shown yourself reliable though of course if you wish to speak to
Alexander it won't hurt for you to try." A pause. "Where is your family?"
"They're all dead, Scholar."
"I see. That is sad." Arnobius nodded, blinking. It seemed that in his remote, abstracted way he actually
felt some sympathy. "Did they all die at the same time? Fever, perhaps? Or maybe you'd rather not talk
about it ?"
"I don't mind. Yes, sir, they all died at about the same time."
As he spoke the words they seemed quite true. "There was an at-tack on my home village. I don't know
why."
"War," said the Scholar, nodding wisely again. "War is always ..." He made a gesture of futility and let it
go at that.
It was still difficult for three people to propel and steer the cata-maran, especially in narrow channels,
but after all, their goal was downstream, and mere drifting would get them there sooner or later if their
enemies did not show up to interfere.
Jeremy still looked back, from time to time, over his shoulder, for the boats full of armed men, or the
furies, who could be pur-suing him from upstream. They were still comfortingly absent.
And from time to time he noticed that Carlotta also kept look-ing back, along the way they had come,
while Arnobius rarely glanced up from his table of what he preferred to call not magic but odylic
computations.
On the walls of the cabin there were posted maps, or charts, in-cluding one ancient-looking one.
Arnobius was about convinced now that there wasn't any real reason to go back there, and so he
treated that map as unimpor-tant.
But Carlotta studied the map so intently that Jeremy got the idea she might be trying to memorize it.
Page 74
TWELVE
On a morning when everything for once seemed to be going smoothly, with the catamaran drifting more
or less steadily downstream, Carlotta briskly discussed with the new employee the matter of wages. In
return for a certain increase in the sum already contracted, payable on reaching port, he would be [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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