Certainly Regent Sable's probes found nothing aboard the Agni. Only the deep cold that clawed at the bone, that froze the heart in place. He could touch the walls of the tanker pods and feel it crouched in there, waiting to seize his throat, to stop his voice, to slow and still his life. He felt, in the end, that no one could live in there, and he had searched the rest of the vessel so thoroughly he knew that Peter and his group were not aboard.
Yet when he left, he was uneasy. He felt that he was missing something vital.
"What is it you fear?" Alef asked him when he returned to Geneva empty-handed. "What, precisely, do you fear?" Her insistence irritated him, and he moved out onto the balcony overlooking the lake. The first winds of a sullen storm stirred his hair. He watched the clouds move over the waters, turning them dark and impenetrable.
At last he turned. "What do I fear? A good question, my dear Alef. I do wish I knew an answer. Do you know the Aphorisms of Mentor? No? Well, he has said, 'To knit, one must first shear.'"
"What can that mean, Regent?"
"Oh," he threw the words away with a gesture. "It's an old-fashioned idea, having to do with sheep. Sheep, you see, are placid animals, and rather stupid. Shearing is taking off their coats, thereby, you see, making them quite naked. Are we the sheep, Alef, to be stripped? Mentor has met Peter face to face by now, I feel sure. And that is something I fear greatly."
Keywords: fear, sheep, alef, face, see, mentor, something, peter, knew, felt, feel, aboard, regent
All text © 1986 Rob Swiggart. "Portal : A Dataspace Retrieval" is available courtesy of the Author's Guild Backprint Programme. ISBN: 0595197841All programming and software © 2002 Salim Fadhley. Released under the GPL. Code available on request.
Updated: Sun Apr 14 2002
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