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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Apple iPhone 6s
   "Rangers sent me, Sam." Mick's little pepperbox pistol looked a toy in the Texian's hand, the clustered barrels winking as he took aim.
   "Who are you, son?" Houston asked, all trace of drunkenness abruptly gone from his deep voice. "You Wallace? Take off that neckcloth. Face me man-to-man… "
   "You ain't giving no more orders, General. Shouldn't ought to have took what you did. You robbed us, Sam. Where is it? Where's that treasury money?"
   "Ranger," Houston said, his voice a rich syrup of patience and sincerity, "you've been misled. I know who sent you, and I know their lies and slanders against me. But I swear to you that I stole nothing—those funds are mine by right, the sacred trust of the Texas government-in-exile."
   "You sold Texas out for British gold," the Ranger said. "We need that money, for guns and food. We're starvin', and they're killin' us." A pause. "And you mean to help 'em do it."
   "The Republic of Texas can't defy the world's great powers, Ranger. I know it's bad in Texas, and my heart aches for my country, but there can't be peace till I'm back in command."
   "You got no money left, do you?" the Ranger said. "I looked, and it ain't here. You sold your fancy estate in the countryside… You threw it all away, Sam, on whores and drink and fancy theatre shows for foreigners. And now you want to come back with a Mexican army. You're a thief, and a drunk, and a traitor."
   "God damn you," Houston roared, and flung open his coat with both hands, "you're a cowardly assassin, you filthy-mouthed son of a bitch. If you think you have the guts to kill the father of your country, then shoot for the heart." He thumped his chest.
   "For Texas." The pepperbox spat a flare of orange flame, edged with blue, hurting Houston back against the wall. Houston crashed to the floor as the avenger pounced, crouching to thrust the muzzles of the little pistol against the gaudy leopard waistcoat. There was a gun-blast into Houston's chest, then another, then a loud snap as the delicate trigger broke in the Ranger's fist.
   The Ranger flung Mick's gun aside. Houston sprawled, unmoving, red sparks crawling through the fur of the leopard waistcoat.
   There were sleepy shouts of alarm from another room. The Texian seized Houston's cane and began to batter the window; glass shattered, crashing to the pavement below; mullions gave way, and then he was scrambling out, across the sill. He froze there, for an instant, icy wind tugging at his long coat, and Sybil, in her trance, was reminded of her first sight of him: a vast dark crow, poised now for flight.
   He jumped from sight, Houston's destroyer, the angel of Goliad, and was gone, leaving her in silence and rising terror, as if his vanishing had broken a spell. She began to crawl forward, quite without aim and cruelly hampered by her crinoline, yet it was as if her limbs moved of their own accord. The heavy cane lay on the floor, but its head, a gilt brass raven, had snapped free of the shaft.
   Houston moaned.
   "Please be quiet," she said. "You're dead."
   "Who are you?" he said, and coughed.
   The floor was littered with shards of glass, sharp under her palms. No. Bright. Like pebbles. The cane, she saw, was hollow, and had spilled its tight nesting of cotton-wool, where more of the pebbles nested. Bright, bright diamonds. Her hands scooped them together, wadding the cotton-wool, to thrust the lot into her bodice, between her breasts.
   She turned to Houston then. He still lay on his back, and she watched in fascination as a bloodstain spread along his ribs. "Help me," Houston grunted. "I can't breathe." He tugged at his waistcoat's buttons and it came open, showing neat inner pockets of black silk, stuffed tight with dense packs of paper: thick punch-card packs in glued brown wrappers, their intricate perforations surely ruined now by the hot impact of bullets… And blood, for at least one slug had struck him true.
   Sybil rose, and walked, giddily, toward the door. Her foot squelched moistly in the red-splashed shadows by the wardrobe, and she looked down, to see an open card-case in red morocco, with a pair of tickets in a heavy nickel-plate clip. She stooped, picked it up.
   "Get me to my feet," Houston demanded, his voice stronger now, tinged with urgency and irritation. "Where's my walking-stick? Where's Radley?"
   The room seemed to rock beneath her, like a ship at sea, but she crossed to the door, opened it, stepped out, closed it behind her, and continued, like any gentry-girl, along the gas-lit and utterly respectable corridors of Grand's Hotel.

   The South-Eastern Railway Company's London Bridge Terminus was a vast drafty hall of iron and soot-blown glass. Quakers moved among the avenues of benches, offering pamphlets to the seated travelers. Red-coated Irish soldiers, red-eyed from the night's gin, glowered at the close-shaven missionaries as they passed. The French passengers all seemed to be returning home with pineapples, sweet exotic bounty from the docks of London. Even the plump little actress who sat opposite Sybil had her pineapple, its green spikes protruding from a covered basket at her feet.

   The train flew through Bermondsey and out into little streets of new brick, red tile. Dust-heaps, market-gardens, waste-ground. A tunnel.
   The darkness about her stank of burnt gunpowder.
   Sybil closed her eyes.
   When she opened them, she saw crows flapping above a barren down, and the wires of the electric telegraph all alive, blurring, moving up and down in the intervals between poles, dancing in the wind of her passage toward France.

   This image, surreptitiously daguerreotyped by a member of the Public Morals Section of the Surete Generale, January 30, 1855, presents a young woman seated at a table on the terrace of the Cafe Madeleine, No. 4 Boulevard Malesherbes. The woman, seated alone, has a china teapot and cup before her. Justification of the image reveals certain details of costume: ribbons, frills, her cashmere shawl, her gloves, her earrings, her elaborate bonnet. The woman's clothing is of French origin, and new, and of high quality. Her face, slightly blurred by long camera exposure, seems pensive, lost in thought.
   Justification of background detail reveals No. 3 Boulevard Malesherbes, the offices of the Compagnie Sud Atlantique Transport Maritimes. The office window contains a large model steamboat with three funnels, a French-designed craft for the trans-Atlantic colonial trade. A faceless elderly man, evidently an accidental subject, seems lost in contemplation of the ship; his lone figure emerges therefore from the swiftly moving blurs of the Parisian street-crowd. His head is bare, his shoulders slump, and he leans heavily on a cane, apparently of cheap rattan. He is as unaware of the young woman's proximity as she is of his.
   She is Sybil Gerard.
   He is Samuel Houston.
   Their paths diverge forever.
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SECOND ITERATION
Derby Day

   He is frozen in mid-stride as he edges diagonally into the depths of the holiday crowd. The angle of aperture has captured a fraction of his face: high cheekbone, thick dark beard trimmed close, right ear, stray lock of hair visible between corduroy coat-collar and striped cap. The cuffs of his dark trousers, buttoned tight in leather spats above hobnailed walking-boots, are speckled to the shins with the chalky mud of Surrey. The left epaulet of his worn, waterproof coat buttons sturdily over the strap of a military-issue binocular case; the lapels flap open in the heat, showing stout gleaming toggles of brass. His hands are jammed deep in the long coat's pockets.
   His name is Edward Mallory.
   He tramped through a lacquered gleam of carriages, blindered horses cropping noisily at the turf, amid childhood smells of harness, sweat, and grassy dung. His hands inventoried the contents of his various pockets. Keys, cigar-case, billfold, card-case. The thick staghorn handle of his multi-bladed Sheffield knife. Field notebook—most precious item of all. A handkerchief, a pencil-stub, a few loose shillings. A practical man. Dr. Mallory knew that every sporting-crowd has its thieves, none of them dressed to match their station. Anyone here might be a thief. It is a fact; it is a risk.
   A woman blundered into Mallory's path, and his hobnails tore the flounce of her skirt. Turning, wincing, she tugged herself loose with a squeak of crinoline as Mallory touched his cap, and marched quickly on. Some farmer's wife, a clumsy, great red-cheeked creature, civilized and English as a dairy-cow. Mallory's eye was still accustomed to a wilder breed, the small brown wolf-women of the Cheyenne, with their greased black braids and beaded leather leggings. The hoop-skirts in the crowd around him seemed some aberrant stunt of evolution; the daughters of Albion had got a regular scaffolding under there now, all steel and whalebone.
   Bison; that was it. American bison, just that very hoopskirt silhouette, when the big rifle took them down; they had a way of falling, in the tall grass, suddenly legless, a furry hillock of meat. The great Wyoming herds would stand quite still for death, merely twitching their ears in puzzlement at the distant report of the rifle.
   Now Mallory threaded his way among this other herd, astonished that mere fashion could carry its mysterious impetus so far. The men, among their ladies, seemed a different species, nothing so extreme—save, perhaps, their shiny toppers, though his inner eye refused to find any hat exotic. He knew too much about hats, knew too many of the utterly mundane secrets of their manufacture. He could see at a glance that most of the hats around him were dead cheap, Engine-made, pre-cut in a factory, though looking very nearly as fine as a craftsman-hatter's work, and at half the price or less. He had helped his father in the little haberdashery in Lewes: punching, stitching, blocking, sewing. His father, dipping felt in the mercury bath, had seemed not to mind the stench…
   Mallory was not sentimental about the eventual death of his father's trade. He put it from his mind, seeing that drink was being sold from a striped canvas tent, men crowding the counter, wiping foam from their mouths. A thirst struck him at the sight of it. Veering around a trio of sporting-gents, crops under their arms, who argued the day's odds, he reached the counter and tapped it with a shilling.
   "Pleasure, sar?" asked the barman.
   "A huckle-buff."
   "Sussex man, sar?"
   "I am. Why?"
   "Can't make you a proper huckle-buff, sar, as I haven't barley-water," the fellow explained, looking briskly sad. "Not much call for it outside Sussex."
   "Very nearly two years since I've tasted huckle-buff," Mallory said.
   "Mix you a lovely bumbo, sar. Much like a huckle-buff. No? A good cigar, then. Only tuppence! Fine Virginia weed." The barman presented a crooked cheroot from a wooden box.
   Mallory shook his head. "When I've the taste for something, I'm a stubborn man. A huckle-buff or nothing."
   The barman smiled. "Won't be drove? A Sussex man, sure! I'm a county-man meself. Take this fine cigar gratis, sir, with my complimums."
   "Very decent of you," Mallory said, surprised. He strolled off, shaking a lucifer from his cigar-case. Firing the match on his boot, he puffed the cheroot into life and tucked his thumbs jauntily in the arm-holes of his waistcoat.
   The cigar tasted like damp gunpowder. He yanked it from his mouth. A cheap paper band girdled the foul, greenish-black leaf, a little foreign flag with stars and bars and the motto VICTORY BRAND. Yankee war-rubbish; he flung it away, so that it bounced sparking from the side of a gypsy-wagon, where a dark-headed child in rags snatched it quickly up.
   To Mallory's left, a spanking new steam-gurney chugged into the crowd, the driver erect at his station. As the man drew his brake-lever, a bronze bell clanged in the gurney's maroon prow, people scattering sulkily before the vehicle's advance. Above them, passengers lounged in velvet coach-seats, the folding spark-shield accordioned back to admit the sun. A grinning old swell in kid gloves sipped champagne with a pair of young misses, either daughters or mistresses. The gurney's door gleamed with a coat-of-arms, cog-wheel azure and crossed hammers argent. Some Rad's emblem unknown to Mallory, who knew the arms of every savant Lord—though he was weak on the capitalists.
   The machine was headed east, toward the Derby garages; he fell in behind it, letting it clear his path, easily keeping pace and smiling as draymen struggled with frightened horses. Pulling his notebook from his Docket, stumbling a little in the gouged turf-tracks of the brougham's thick wheels, he thumbed through the colorful pages of his spotter's guide. It was last year's edition; he could not find the coat-of-arms. Pity, but it meant little, when new Lords were ennobled weekly. As a class, the Lordships dearly loved their steam-chariots.
   The machine set its course for the gouts of greyish vapor rising behind the pillared grandstands of Epsom. It humped slowly up the curb of a paved access-road. Mallory could see the garages now, a long rambling structure in the modern style, girdered in skeletal iron and roofed with bolted sheets of tin-plate, its hard lines broken here and there by bright pennants and tin-capped ventilators.
   He followed the huffing land-craft until it eased into a stall. The driver popped valves with a steaming gush. Stable-monkeys set to work with greasing-gear as the passengers decamped down a folding gangway, the Lord and his two women passing Mallory on their way toward the grandstand. Britain's self-made elite, they trusted he was watching and ignored him serenely. The driver lugged a massive hamper in their wake. Mallory touched his own striped cap, identical with the driver's, and winked, but the man made no response.
   Strolling the length of the garages, spotting steamers from his guidebook. Mallory marked each new sighting with his pencil-stub and a small thrill of satisfaction. Here was Faraday, great savant-physicist of the Royal Society, there Colgate the soap magnate, and here a catch indeed, the visionary builder Brunei. A very few machines bore old family arms; landowners, whose fathers had been dukes and earls, when such titles had existed. Some of the fallen old nobility could afford steam; some had more initiative than others, and did what they could to keep up.
   Arriving at the southern wing. Mallory found it surrounded by a barricade of clean new saw-horses, smelling of pitch. This section, reserved for the racing-steamers, was patrolled by a squad of uniformed foot-police. One of them carried a spring-wind Cutts-Maudslay of a model familiar to Mallory, the Wyoming expedition having been provided with six of them. Though the Cheyenne had regarded the stubby Birmingham-made machine-carbine with a useful awe. Mallory knew that it was temperamental to the point of unreliability. Inaccurate to the point of uselessness as well, unless one were popping off the entire thirty rounds into a pack of pursuers—something Mallory himself had once done from the aft firing-position of the expedition's steam-fortress.
   Mallory doubted that the fresh-faced young copper had any notion what a Cutts-Maudslay might do if fired into an English crowd. He shook off the dark thought with an effort.
   Beyond the barricade, each separate stall was carefully shielded from spies and odds-makers by tall baffles of tarpaulin, tautly braced by criss-crossed cables threaded through flagpoles. Mallory worked his way through an eager crowd of gawkers and steam-hobbyists. Two coppers stopped him brusquely at the gate. He displayed his citizen's number-card and his engraved invitation from the Brotherhood of Vapor Mechanics. Making careful note of his number, the policemen checked it against a thick notebook crammed with fan-fold. At length they pointed out the location of his hosts, cautioning him not to wander.
   As a further precaution, the Brotherhood had appointed their own look-out. The man squatted on a folding-stool outside the tarpaulin, squinting villainously and clutching a long iron spanner. Mallory proffered his invitation. The guard stuck his head past a narrow flap in the tarpaulin, shouted, "Your brother's here, Tom," and ushered Mallory through.
   Daylight vanished in the stink of grease, metal-shavings, and coal-dust. Four Vapor Mechanics, in striped hats and leather aprons, were checking a blueprint by the harsh glare of a carbide lamp; beyond them, a queer shape threw off highlights from curves of enameled tin.
   He took the thing for a boat, in the first instant of his surprise, its scarlet hull absurdly suspended between a pair of great wheels. Driving-wheels, he saw, stepping closer; the burnished piston-brasses vanished into smoothly flared openings in the insubstantial-looking shell or hull. Not a boat: it resembled a teardrop, rather, or a great tadpole. A third wheel, quite small and vaguely comical, was swivel-mounted at end of the long tapered tail.
   He made out the name painted in black and gilt across the bulbous prow, beneath a curved expanse of delicately leaded glass: Zephyr.
   "Come, Ned, join us!" his brother sang out, beckoning. "Don't be shy!" The others chuckled at Tom's sauciness as Mallory strode forward, his hobnails scraping the floor. His little brother Tom, nineteen years old, had grown his first mustache; it looked as though a cat could lick it off. Mallory offered his hand to his friend, Tom's master. "Mr. Michael Godwin, sir!" he said.
   "Dr. Mallory, sir!" said Godwin, a fair-haired engineer of forty years, with mutton-chop whiskers over cheeks pitted by smallpox. Small and stout, with shrewd, hooded eyes, Godwin began a bow, thought better of it, clapped Mallory gently across the back, and introduced his fellows. They were Elijah Douglas, a journeyman, and Henry Chesterton, a master of the second degree.
   "A privilege, sirs," Mallory declared. "I expected fine things from you, but this is a revelation."
   "What do you think of her. Dr. Mallory?"
   "A far cry from our steam-fortress, I should say!"
   "She was never made for your Wyoming," Godwin said, "and that accounts for a certain lack of guns and armor. Form emerges from function, as you so often told us."
   "Small for a racing-gurney, isn't she?" Mallory ventured, somewhat at a loss. "Peculiarly shaped."
   "Built upon principles, sir, newly discovered principles indeed. And a fine tale behind her invention, having to do with a colleague of yours. You recall the late Professor Rudwick. I'm sure."
   "Ah, yes, Rudwick," Mallory muttered, then hesitated. "Hardly your new-principle man, Rudwick…"
   Douglas and Chesterton were watching him with open curiosity.
   "We were both paleontologists," Mallory said, suddenly uncomfortable, "but the fellow fancied himself gentry of a sort. Put on fine airs and entertained outmoded theories. Rather muddy in his thinking, in my opinion."
   The two mechanics looked doubtful.
   "I'm not one to speak ill of the dead," Mallory assured them. "Rudwick had his friends, I've mine, and there's an end to it."
   "You do remember," Godwin persisted, "Professor Rudwick's great flying reptile?"
   "Quetzalcoatlus," Mallory said. "Indeed, that was a coup; one can't deny it."
   "They've studied its remains in Cambridge," Godwin said, "at the Institute of Engine Analytics."
   "I plan to do a bit of work there myself, on the Brontosaurus," Mallory said, unhappy with the direction the conversation seemed to be taking.
   "You see," Godwin continued, "the cleverest mathematicians in Britain were snug there, spinning their great brass, while you and I froze in the mud of Wyoming. Pecking holes in their cards to puzzle out how a creature of such a size could fly."
   "I know about the project," Mallory said. "Rudwick published on the topic. But 'pneumo-dynamics' isn't my field. Frankly, I'm not sure there's much to it, scientifically. It seems a bit… well… airy, if you follow me." He smiled.
   "Great practical applications, possibly," Godwin said. "Lord Babbage himself took a hand in the analysis."
   Mallory thought about it. "I'll concede there's likely something to pneumatics, then, if it's caught the eye of the great Babbage! To improve the art of ballooning, perhaps? Balloon-flight, that's a military field. There's always ample funding for the sciences of war."
   "No, sir; I mean in the practical design of machinery."
   "A flying machine, you mean?" Mallory paused. "You're not trying to tell me this vehicle of yours can fly, are you?"
   The mechanics laughed politely. "No," Godwin said, "and I can't say that all that airy Engine-spinning has come to much, directly. But we now understand certain matters having to do with the behavior of air in motion, the principles of atmospheric resistance. New principles, little-known as yet."
   "But we mechanics," said Mr. Chesterton proudly, " 'ave put 'em to practical use, sir, in the shaping of our Zephyr."
   " 'Line-streaming,' we call it," Tom said.
   "So you've 'line-streamed' this gurney of yours, eh? That's why it looks so much like, er…"
   "Like a fish," Tom said.
   "Exactly," said Godwin. "A fish! It's all to do with the action of fluids, you see. Water. Air. Chaos and turbulence! It's all in the calculations."
   "Remarkable," Mallory said. "So I take it that these principles of turbulence—"
   A sudden blistering racket erupted from a neighboring stall. The walls shook and a fine sifting of soot fell from the ceiling.
   "That'll be the Italians," Godwin shouted. "They've brought in a monster this year!"
   "Makes a mortal hogo of a stink!" Tom complained.
   Godwin cocked his head. "Hear them try-rods clacking on the down-stroke? Bad tolerances. Slovenly foreign work!" He doffed his cap and dusted soot against his knee.
   Mallory's head was ringing. "Let me buy you a drink!" he shouted.
   Godwin cupped his ear blankly. "What?"
   Mallory pantomimed; lifted a fist to his mouth, with his thumb cocked. Godwin grinned. He had a quick, bellowed word with Chesterton, over the blueprints. Then Godwin and Mallory ducked out into the sunshine.
   "Bad try-rods," the guard outside said smugly. Godwin nodded, and handed the man his leather apron. He took a plain black coat, instead, and traded his engineer's cap for a straw wide-awake.
   They left the racing-enclosure. "I can only spare a few minutes," Godwin apologized. " 'The Master's eye melts the metal,' as they say." He hooked a pair of smoked spectacles over his ears. "Some of these hobbyists know me, and might try to follow us… But never mind that. It's good to see you again, Ned. Welcome back to England."
   "I won't keep you long," Mallory said. "I wanted a private word or two. About the boy, and such."
   "Oh, Tom's a fine lad," said Godwin. "He's learning. He means well."
   "I hope he'll prosper."
   "We do our best," Godwin said. "I was sorry to hear from Tom about your father. Him taking so ill, and all."
   " 'Ould Mallory, he won't a-go till he's guv away his last bride,' " Mallory quoted, in his broadest Sussex drawl. "That's what Father always tells us. He wants to see all his girls married. He's a game sort, my poor old dad."
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Poruke Odustao od brojanja
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Apple iPhone 6s
   "He must take great comfort in a son like yourself," Godwin said. "So, how does London suit you? Did you take the holiday train?"
   "I've not been in London. I've been in Lewes, with the family. Rode the morning train from there to Leatherhead; then I tramped it."
   "You walked to the Derby from Leatherhead? That's ten miles or more!"
   Mallory smiled. "You've seen me tramp twenty, cross-country in the badlands of Wyoming, hunting fossils. I'd a taste to see good English countryside again. I'm only just back from Toronto, with all our crates of plastered bones, while you've been here for months, getting your fill of this." He waved his arm.
   Godwin nodded. "What do you make of the place, then—now you're home again?"
   "London Basin anticline," Mallory said. "Tertiary and Eocene chalk-beds, bit of modern flinty clay."
   Godwin laughed. "We're all of us modern flinty clay… Here we go, then; these lads sell a decent brew."
   They walked down a gentle slope to a crowded dray laden with ale-kegs. The proprietors had no huckle-buff. Mallory bought a pair of pints.
   "It was good of you to accept our invitation," Godwin said. "I know that you're a busy man, sir, what with your famous geologic controversies and such."
   "No busier than yourself," Mallory said. "Solid engineering work. Directly practical and useful. I envy that, truly."
   "No, no," said Godwin. "That brother of yours, he thinks the world of you. So do we all! You're the coming man, Ned. Your star is rising."
   "We had excellent luck in Wyoming, certainly," Mallory said. "We made a great discovery. But without you and your steam-fortress, those red-skins would have made short work of us."
   "They weren't so bad, once they cozied up and had a taste of whiskey."
   "Your savage respects British steel," Mallory said. "Theories of old bones don't much impress him."
   "Well," Godwin said, "I'm a good Party man, and I'm with Lord Babbage. 'Theory and practice must be as bone and sinew.' "
   "That worthy sentiment calls for another pint," said Mallory. Godwin wanted to pay. "Pray allow me," Mallory said. "I'm still spending my bonus, from the expedition."
   Godwin, pint in hand, led Mallory out of ear-shot of the other drinkers. He gazed about carefully, then doffed his specs and looked Mallory in the eye. "Do you trust in your good fortune, Ned?"
   Mallory stroked his beard. "Say on."
   "The touts are quoting odds of ten-to-one against our Zephyr. "
   Mallory chuckled. "I'm no gambler, Mr. Godwin! Give me solid facts and evidence, and there I'll take my stand. But I'm no flash fool, to hope for unearned riches."
   "You took the risk of Wyoming. You risked your very life."
   "But that depended on my own abilities, and those of my colleagues."
   "Exactly!" Godwin said. "That's my own position, to the very letter! Listen a moment. Let me tell you about our Brotherhood of Vapor Mechanics."
   Godwin lowered his voice. "The head of our trades-union, Lord Scowcroft… He was simple Jim Scowcroft in the bad old days, one of your popular agitators, but he made his peace with the Rads. Now he's rich, and been to Parliament and such; a very clever man. When I went to Lord Scowcroft with my plans for the Zephyr, he spoke to me just as you did now: facts and evidence. 'Master first-degree Godwin,' he says, 'I can't fund you with the hard-earned dues of our Brothers unless you can show me, in black and white, how it shall profit us.'
   "So I told him: 'Your Lordship, the construction of steam-gurneys is one of the nicest luxury trades in the country. When we go to Epsom Downs, and this machine of ours leaves the competitors eating her dust, the gentry will stand in queues for the famous work of the Vapor Mechanics.' And that's how it will be, Ned."
   "If you win the race," Mallory said.
   Godwin nodded somberly. "I make no cast-iron promises. I'm an engineer; I know full well how iron can bend, and break, and rust, and burst. You surely know it too, Ned, for you saw me work repair on that blasted steam-fortress till I thought I should go mad… But I know my facts and figures. I know pressure differentials, and engine duty, and crank-shaft torque, and wheel diameters. With disaster barred, our little Zephyr will breeze past her rivals as if they were stock-still."
   "It sounds splendid. I'm glad for you." Mallory sipped his ale. "Now tell me what should happen if disaster strikes?"
   Godwin smiled. "Then I lose, and am left penniless. Lord Scowcroft was liberal, by his own lights, but there are always extra costs in such a project. I've put everything in my machine: my expedition bonus from the Royal Society, even a small bequest I had of a maiden aunt, God rest her."
   Mallory was shocked. "Everything?"
   Godwin chuckled dryly. "Well, they can't take what I know, can they? I shall still have my skills; mayhap I'd undertake another Royal Society expedition. They pay well enough. But I'm risking all I have in England. It's fame or famine, Ned, and naught between."
   Mallory stroked his beard. "You startle me, Mr. Godwin. You always seemed such a practical man."
   "Dr. Mallory, my audience today is the very cream of Britain. The Prime Minister is here today. The Prince Consort is in attendance. Lady Ada Byron is here, and betting lavishly, if rumor's true. When will I have another such chance?"
   "I do follow your logic," Mallory said, "though I can't say I approve. But then, your station in life allows such a risk. You're not a married man, are you?"
   Godwin sipped his ale. "Neither are you, Ned."
   "No, but I have eight younger brothers and sisters, my old dad mortal ill, my mother eaten-up with the rheumatics. I can't gamble my family's livelihood."
   "The odds are ten-to-one, Ned. Fool's odds! They should be five-to-three in Zephyr's favor."
   Mallory said nothing. Godwin sighed. "It's a pity. I dearly wanted to see some good friend win that bet. A big win, a flash win! And I myself can't do it, you see? I wanted to, but I've spent my last pound on Zephyr. "
   "Perhaps a modest wager," Mallory ventured. "For friendship's sake."
   "Bet ten pounds for me," Godwin said suddenly. "Ten pounds, as a loan. If you lose, I'll pay you back somehow, in days to come. If you win, we'll split a hundred pounds tonight, half-and-half. What do you say? Will you do that for me?"
   "Ten pounds! A heavy sum…"
   "I'm good for it."
   "I trust that you are… " Mallory now saw no easy way to refuse. The man had given Tom a place in life, and Mallory felt the debt. "Very well, Mr. Godwin. To please you."
   "You shan't regret it," Godwin said. He brushed ruefully at the frayed sleeves of his frock-coat. "Fifty pounds. I can use it. A triumphant inventor, on the rise in life and such, shouldn't have to dress like a parson."
   "I shouldn't think you'd waste good money on vanities."
   "It's not vanity to dress as befits one's station." Godwin looked him over, sharp-eyed. "That's your old Wyoming tramping-coat, isn't it?"
   "A practical garment," Mallory said.
   "Not for London. Not for giving fancy lectures to fine London ladies with a modish taste in natural-history."
   "I'm not ashamed of what I am," Mallory said stoutly.
   "Simple Ned Mallory," Godwin nodded, "come to Epsom in an engineer's cap, so the lads won't feel anxious at meeting a famous savant. I know why you did that, Ned, and I admire it. But mark my word, you'll be Lord Mallory some day, as surely as we stand here drinking. You'll have a fine silk coat, and a ribbon on your pocket, and stars and medals from all the learned schools. For you're the man dug up the great Land Leviathan, and made wondrous sense from a tangle of rocky bones. That's what you are now, Ned, and you might as well face up to it."
   "It's not so simple as you think," Mallory protested. "You don't know the politics of the Royal Society. I'm a Catastrophist. The Uniformitarians hold sway, when it comes to the granting of tenures and honors. Men like Lyell, and that damned fool Rudwick."
   "Charles Darwin's a Lordship. Gideon Mantell's a Lordship, and his Iguanodon's a shrimp, ranked next to your Brontosaur."
   "Don't you speak ill of Gideon Mantell! He's the finest man of science Sussex ever had, and he was very kind to me."
   Godwin looked down into his empty mug. "I beg your pardon," he said. "I spoke a bit too frankly, I can see that. We're far from wild Wyoming, where we sat about a campfire as simple brother Englishmen, scratching wherever it itched."
   He put his smoked spectacles on. "But I remember those theory-talks you'd give us, explaining what those bones were all about. 'Form follows function.' 'The fittest survive.' New forms lead the way. They may look queer at first, but Nature tests them fair and square against the old, and if they're sound in principle, then the world is theirs." Godwin looked up. "If you can't see that your theory is bone to my sinew, then you're not the man I take you for."
   Mallory removed his cap. "It's I who should beg your pardon, sir. Forgive my foolish temper. I hope you'll always speak to me frankly, Mr. Godwin, ribbons on my chest or no. May I never be so unscientific as to close my eyes to honest truth." He offered his hand.
   Godwin shook it.
   A fanfare rang from across the course, the crowd responding with a rustle and a roar. All around them, people began to move, migrating toward the stands like a vast herd of ruminants.
   "I'm off to make that wager we discussed," Mallory said.
   "I must get back to my lads. Join us after the run? To split the winnings?"
   "Certainly," Mallory said.
   "Let me take that empty pint," Godwin offered. Mallory gave it to him, and walked away.

   Having taken leave of his friend. Mallory instantly regretted his promise. Ten pounds was a stiff sum indeed; he himself had survived on little more per annum, during his student days.
   And yet, he considered, strolling in the general direction of the book-makers' canopied stalls, Godwin was a most exacting technician and a scrupulously honest man. He had no reason whatever to doubt Godwin's estimates of the race's outcome, and a man who wagered handsomely on Zephyr might leave Epsom that evening with a sum equivalent to several years' income. If one were to bet thirty pounds, or forty…
   Mallory had very nearly fifty pounds on deposit in a City bank, the better part of his expedition bonus. He wore an additional twelve in the stained canvas money-belt firmly cinched beneath his waistcoat.
   He thought of his poor father gone feeble with hatter's madness, poisoned by mercury, twitching and muttering in his chair by the hearth in Surrey. A portion of Mallory's money was already allocated for the coal that fed that hearth.
   Still, one might come away with four hundred pounds… But no, he would be sensible, and wager only the ten, fulfilling his agreement with Godwin. Ten pounds would be a sharp loss, but one he could bear. He worked the fingers of his right hand between the buttons of his waistcoat, feeling for the buttoned flap of the canvas belt.
   He chose to place his bet with the thoroughly modern firm of Dwyer and Company, rather than the venerable and perhaps marginally more reputable Tattersall's. He had frequently passed Dwyer's brightly lit establishment in St. Martin's Lane, hearing the deep brassy whirring of the three Engines they employed. He did not care to lay such a wager with any of the dozens of individual book-makers elevated above the throng on their high stools, though they were nearly as reliable as the larger firms. The crowd kept them so; Mallory himself had witnessed the near lynching of a defaulting betting-man at Chester. He still recalled the grisly shout of "Welsher!" pitched like a cry of "Fire!" going up inside the railed enclosure, and the rush against a man in a black cap, who was buried down and savagely booted. Beneath the surface of the good-natured racing-throng lay an ancient ferocity. He'd discussed the incident with Lord Darwin, who'd likened the action to the mobbing of crows…
   His thoughts turned to Darwin as he queued for the steam-racing wicket. Mallory had been an early and passionate supporter of the man, whom he regarded as one of the great minds of the age; but he'd come to suspect that the reclusive Lord, though clearly appreciating Mallory's support, considered him rather brash. When it came to matters of professional advancement, Darwin was of little use. Thomas Henry Huxley was the man for that, a great social theorist as well as an accomplished scientist and orator…
   In the queue to Mallory's immediate right lounged a swell in subdued City finery, that day's number of Sporting Life tucked beneath an immaculate elbow. As Mallory watched, the man stepped to the wicket and placed a wager of one hundred pounds on a horse called Alexandra's Pride.
   "Ten pounds on the Zephyr, to win," Mallory told the betting-clerk at the steam-wicket, presenting a five-pound note and five singles. As the clerk methodically punched out the wager, Mallory studied the odds arrayed in kino-bits above and behind the glossy faux-marble of the papier-mache counter. The French were heavily favored, he saw, with the Vulcan of the Compagnie Generate de Traction, the driver one M. Raynal. He noted that the Italian entry was in little better position than Godwin's Zephyr. Word of the try-rods?
   The clerk passed Mallory a flimsy blue copy of the card he'd punched. "Very good, sir, thank you." He was already looking past Mallory to the next customer.
   Mallory spoke up. "Will you accept a check drawn on a City bank?"
   "Certainly, sir," the clerk replied, raising one eyebrow as if noticing Mallory's cap and coat for the first time, "provided they are imprinted with your citizen-number."
   "In that case," Mallory said, to his own amazement, "I shall wager an additional forty pounds on the Zephyr."
   "To win, sir?"
   "To win."

   Mallory fancied himself a rather keen observer of his fellow man. He possessed, Gideon Mantell had long ago assured him, the naturalist's requisite eye. Indeed, he owed his current position in the scientific hierarchy to having used that eye along a monotonous stretch of rock-strewn Wyoming riverbank, distinguishing form amid apparent chaos.
   Now, however, appalled by the recklessness of his wager, by the enormity of the result in the event of his losing, Mallory found no comfort in the presence and variety of the Derby crowd. The eager roaring of massed and passionate greed, as the horses ran their course, was more than he could bear.
   He left the stands, almost fleeing, hoping to shake the nervous energy from his legs. A dense mass of vehicles and people had congregated on the rails of the run-in, shrieking their enthusiasm as the horses passed in a cloud of dust. The poorer folk, these, mostly those unwilling to put down a shilling fee for admission to the stands, mixed with those who entertained or preyed upon the crowd: thimble-riggers, gypsies, pick-pockets. He began shoving his way through toward the outskirts of the crowd, where he might catch his breath.
   It occurred to Mallory suddenly that he might have lost one of his betting-slips. The thought almost paralyzed him. He stopped dead, his hands diving into his pockets.
   No—the blue flimsies were still there, his tickets to disaster…
   He was almost trampled by a jostling pair of horses. Shocked and angered, Mallory grabbed at the harness of the nearer horse, caught his balance, shouted a warning.
   A whip cracked near his head. The driver was trying to fight his way free of the entangling crowd, standing on the box of an open brougham. The fellow was a race-track dandy, gotten up in a suit of the most artificial blue, with a great paste ruby glinting in a cravat of lurid silk. Beneath the pallor of a swelling forehead, accentuated by dark disheveled locks, his bright gaunt eyes moved constantly, so that he seemed to be looking everywhere at once—except at the race-course, which still compelled the attention of everyone, save himself and Mallory. A queer fellow, and part of a queerer trio, for the passengers within the brougham were a pair of women.
   One, veiled, wore a dark, almost masculine dress; and as the brougham halted she rose unsteadily and groped for its door. She tried to step free, with a drunken wobble, her hands encumbered by a long wooden box, something like an instrument-case. But the second woman made a violent grab for her veiled companion, yanking the gentlewoman back into her seat.
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   Mallory, still holding the leather harness, stared in astonishment. The second woman was a red-haired tart, in the flash garments appropriate to a gin-palace or worse. Her painted, pretty features were marked with a look of grim and utter determination.
   Mallory saw the red-haired tart strike the veiled gentlewoman. It was a blow both calculated and covert, jabbing her doubled knuckles into the woman's short ribs with a practiced viciousness. The veiled woman doubled over and collapsed back into her seat.
   Mallory was stung into immediate action. He dashed to the side of the brougham and yanked open the lacquered door. "What is the meaning of this?" he shouted.
   "Go away," the tart suggested.
   "I saw you strike this lady. How dare you?"
   The brougham lurched back into motion, almost knocking Mallory from his feet. Mallory recovered swiftly, dashed forward, seized the gentlewoman's arm. "Stop at once!"
   The gentlewoman rose again to her feet. Beneath the black veil her rounded, gentle face was slack and dreamy. She tried to step free again, seeming unaware that the carriage was in motion. She could not get her balance. With a quite natural, ladylike gesture, she handed Mallory the long wooden box.
   Mallory stumbled, clutching the ungainly case with both hands. Shouts arose from the milling crowd, for the tout's careless driving had infuriated them. The carriage rattled to a halt again, the horses snorting and beginning to plunge.
   The driver, shaking with rage, tossed his whip aside and leapt free. He marched on Mallory, shoving by-standers aside. He whipped a pair of squarish, rose-tinted spectacles from his pocket, and slipped them over the pomaded hair at his ears. Halting before Mallory, he squared his sloping shoulders and extended one canary-gloved hand with a peremptory gesture.
   "Return that property at once," he commanded.
   "What is this about?" Mallory countered.
   "I'll have that box now, or it will be the worse for you."
   Mallory stared down at the little man, quite astonished at this bold threat. He almost laughed aloud, and would have done so, save that the fellow's darting eyes behind the square spectacles had a maddened gleam, like a laudanum fiend's.
   Mallory set the case deliberately between his muddied boots. "Madame," he called, "step free, if you will. These people have no right to compel you—"
   The tout reached swiftly within his gaudy blue coat and lunged forward like a jack-in-the-box. Mallory fended him off with an open-handed push, and felt a stinging jolt tear at his left leg.
   The tout half-stumbled, caught himself, leapt forward again with a snarl. There was a narrow gleam of steel in his hand.
   Mallory was a practicing disciple of Mr. Shillingford's system of scientific boxing. In London, he sparred weekly in one of the private gymnasia maintained by the Royal Society, and his months in the wilds of North America had served as an introduction to the roughest sort of scrapping.
   Mallory parried the man's knife-arm with the edge of his own left arm and drove his right fist against the fellow's mouth.
   He had a brief glimpse of the stiletto, fallen on the trampled turf: a viciously narrow double-edged blade, the handle of black gutta-percha. Then the man was upon him, bleeding from the mouth. There was no method whatever to the attack. Mallory assumed Shillingford's First Stance and had at the villain's head.

   Now the crowd, which had drawn back from the initial exchange and the flash of steel, closed around the two, the innermost ring consisting of working-men and the race-course types who preyed on them. They were a burly, hooting lot, delighted to see a bit of claret spilt in unexpected circumstances. When Mallory took his man fair upon the chin with one of his best, they cheered, caught the fellow as he fell in their midst, and hurled him back, square into the next blow. The dandy went down, the salmon silk of his cravat dashed with blood.
   "I'll destroy you!" he said from the ground. One of his teeth—the eye-tooth by the look of it—had been bloodily shattered.
   "Look out!" someone shouted. Mallory turned at the cry. The red-haired woman stood behind him, her eyes demonic, something glinting in her hand—it seemed to be a glass vial, odd as that was. Her eyes darted downward—but Mallory stepped prudently between her and the long wooden box. There followed a moment's tense stand-off, while the tart seemed to weigh her alternatives—then she rushed to the side of the stricken tout.
   "I'll destroy you utterly!" the tout repeated through bloodied lips. The woman helped him to his feet. The crowd jeered at him for a coward and empty braggart.
   "Try it," Mallory suggested, shaking his fist.
   The tout's eyes met his in reptilian fury, as the man leaned heavily on his woman; then the two of them were gone, stumbling into the throng. Mallory snatched up the box triumphantly, turned and shoved his way through the laughing ring of men. One of them clapped him heartily on the back. He made for the abandoned brougham.
   He pulled himself up and inside, into worn velvet and leather. The noise of the crowd was dying down; the race was over; someone had won.
   The gentlewoman sat slumped in the shabby seat, her breath stirring the veil. Mallory looked quickly about for possible attackers, but saw only the crowd; saw it all in a most curious way, as if the instant were frozen, daguerreotyped by some fabulous process that captured every least shade of the spectrum.
   "Where is my chaperone?" the woman asked, in a quiet, distracted voice.
   "And who might your chaperone be, madame?" Mallory said, a bit dizzily. "I don't think your friends were any proper sort of escort for a lady… "
   Mallory was bleeding from the wound in his left thigh; it was seeping through his trouser-leg. He sat heavily in the worn plush of the seat, pressed his palm against his wounded leg, and peered into the woman's veil. Elaborate ringlets, pale and seeming shot with grey, showed the sustained attentions of a gifted lady's-maid. But the face seemed to possess a strange familiarity.
   "Do I know you, madame?" Mallory asked.
   There was no answer.
   "May I escort you?" he suggested. "Do you have any proper friends at the Derby, madame? Someone to look after you?"
   "The Royal Enclosure," she murmured.
   "You desire to go to the Royal Enclosure?" The idea of troubling the Royal Family with this dazed mad-woman was rather more than Mallory was willing to countenance. Then it struck him that it would be a very simple matter to find police there; and this was a police business of some kind, without a doubt.
   Humoring the unhappy woman would be his simplest course of action. "Very well, ma'am," he said. He tucked the wooden box under one arm and offered her his other elbow. "We shall proceed at once to the Royal Enclosure. If you would come with me, please."
   Mallory led her toward the stands, through a torrent of people, limping a bit. As they walked, she seemed to recover herself somewhat. Her gloved hand rested on his forearm as lightly as a cobweb.
   Mallory waited for a break in the hubbub. He found one at last beneath the whiled pillars of the stands. "May I introduce myself, ma'am? My name is Edward Mallory. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society; a paleontologist."
   "The Royal Society," the woman muttered absently, her veiled head nodding like a flower on a stalk. She seemed to murmur something further.
   "I beg your pardon?"
   "The Royal Society! We have sucked the life-blood from the mysteries of the universe… "
   Mallory stared.
   "The fundamental relations in the science of harmony," the woman continued, in a voice of deep gentility, great weariness, and profound calm, "are susceptible to mechanical expression, allowing the composition of elaborate and scientific pieces of music, of any degree of complexity or extent."
   "To be sure," Mallory soothed.
   "I think, gentlemen," the woman whispered, "that when you see certain productions of mine, you will not despair of me! In their own way, my marshaled regiments shall ably serve the rulers of the earth. And of what materials shall my regiments consist?… Vast numbers."
   She had seized Mallory's arm with feverish intensity.
   "We shall march in irresistible power to the sound of music." She turned her veiled face to him, with a queer sprightly earnestness. "Is not this very mysterious? Certainly my troops must consist of numbers or they can have no existence at all. But then, what are these numbers? There is a riddle… "
   "Is this your box, ma'am?" Mallory said, offering it to her, hoping to spark some return to sense.
   She looked at the box, without apparent recognition. It was a handsome thing of polished rosewood, its corners bound in brass; it might have been a lady's glove-box, but it was too stark, and lacked elegance. The long lid was latched shut by a pair of tiny brass hooks. She reached out to stroke it with a gloved forefinger, as if assuring herself of its physical existence. Something about it seemed to sting her into a dawning recognition of her own distress. "Will you hold it for me, sir?" she asked Mallory at last, her quiet voice trembling with a strange, piteous appeal. "Will you hold it for me in safe-keeping?"
   "Of course!" Mallory said, touched despite himself. "Of course I will hold it for you; as long as you like, madame."
   They worked their way slowly up the stands to the carpeted stairs that led to the Royal Enclosure. Mallory's leg smarted sharply, and his trouser was sticky with blood. He was dizzier than he felt he should have been from such a minor wound; something about the woman's queer speech and odder demeanor had turned his head. Or perhaps—the dark thought occurred to him—there had been some sort of venom coating the tout's stiletto. He was sorry now that he had not snatched up the stiletto for a later analysis. Perhaps the mad-woman too had been somehow narcotized; likely he had foiled some dark plot of abduction…
   Below them, the track had been cleared for the coming gurney-race. Five massive gurneys—and the tiny, bauble-like Zephyr—were taking their places. Mallory paused a moment, torn, contemplating the frail craft upon which his fortunes now so absurdly hinged. The woman took that moment to release his arm and hasten toward the white-washed walls of the Royal Box.
   Mallory, surprised, hurried after her, limping. She paused for a moment beside a pair of guards at the door—plain-clothes policemen, it seemed, very tall and fit. The woman brushed aside her veil, with a swift gesture of habit, and Mallory caught his first proper glimpse of her face.
   She was Ada Byron, the daughter of the Prime Minister. Lady Ada Byron, the Queen of Engines.
   She slipped through the door, beyond the guards, without so much as a glance behind her, or a single word of thanks. Mallory, lugging the rosewood box, hurried after her at once. "Wait!" he cried. "Your Ladyship!"
   "Just a moment, sir!" the larger policeman said, quite politely. He held up a beefy hand, looked Mallory up and down, noting the wooden case, the dampened trouser-leg. His mustached mouth quirked. "Are you a guest in the Royal Enclosure, sir?"
   "No," Mallory said. "But you must have seen Lady Ada step through here a moment ago. Something quite dreadful has happened to her; I'm afraid she's in some distress. I was able to be of some assistance—"
   "Your name, sir?" barked the second policeman.
   "Edward… Miller," Mallory blurted, a sudden chill of protective suspicion striking him at the last instant.
   "May I see your citizen-card, Mr. Miller?" said the first policeman. "What's in that box you carry? May I look inside it, please?"
   Mallory swung the box away, took a step back. The policeman stared at him with a volatile mix of disdain and suspicion.
   There was a loud report from the track below. Steam whistled from a ruptured seam in the Italian gurney, fogging out across the stands like a geyser. There was some small panic in the stands. Mallory seized this opportunity to hobble off; the policemen, worried perhaps about the safety of their post, did not choose to pursue him.
   He hurried, limping, down the stands, losing himself as soon as possible amid the crowd. Some notion of self-preservation caused him to snatch his striped engineer's cap from his head and shove it in the pocket of his coat.
   He found a place in the stands, many yards from the Royal Enclosure. He balanced the brass-bound box across his knees. There was a trifling rip in his trouser-leg, but the wound beneath it was still oozing. Mallory grimaced in confusion as he sat, and pressed the palm of his hand against the aching wound.
   "Damme," said a man on the bench behind him, his voice thick with self-assurance and drink. "This false start will take the pressure down. Simple matter of specific heat. It means the biggest boiler wins surely."
   "Which one's that, then?" said the man's companion, perhaps his son.
   The man ruffled through a racing tip-sheet. "That'll be the Goliath. Lord Hansell's racer. Her sister-craft won last year… "
   Mallory looked down upon the hoof-beaten track. The driver of the Italian racer was being carried off on a stretcher, having been extricated with some difficulty from the cramped confines of his pilot's station. A column of dirty steam still rose from the rent in the Italian boiler. Racing-attendants hitched a team of horses to the disabled hulk.
   Tall white gouts rose briskly from the stacks of the other racers. The crenellations of polished brass crowning the stack of the Goliath were especially impressive. It utterly dwarfed the slender, peculiarly delicate stack of Godwin's Zephyr, braced with guy-wires, which repeated in cross-section the teardrop formula of line-streaming.
   "A terrible business!" opined the younger man. "I do believe the burst took that poor foreigner's head clean off, quite."
   "Not a bit of it," said the older man. "Fellow had a fancy helmet."
   "He's not moving, sir."
   "If the Italians can't compete properly in the technical arena, they've no business here," the older man said sternly.
   A roar of appreciation came from the crowd as the disabled steamer was hauled free by the laboring horses. "We'll see some proper sport now!" said the older man.
   Mallory, waiting tensely, found himself opening the rosewood box, his thumbs moving on the little brass catches as if by their own volition. The interior, lined with green baize, held a long stack of milky-white cards. He plucked one free from the middle of the stack. It was an Engine punch-card, cut to a French specialty-gauge, and made of some bafflingly smooth artificial material. One corner bore the handwritten annotation "#154," faint mauve ink.
   Mallory tucked the card carefully back into place and shut the box.
   A flag was waved and the gurneys were off.
   The Goliath and the French Vulcan lurched at once into the lead. The unaccustomed delay—the fatal delay. Mallory thought, his heart crushed within him—had cooled the tiny boiler of the Zephyr, leading no doubt to a vital loss of impetus. The Zephyr rolled in the wake of the greater machines, bumping half-comically in their deep-gouged tracks. It could not seem to get a proper traction.
   Mallory did not find himself surprised. He was full of fatal resignation.
   Vulcan and Goliath began to jostle for position at the first turn. The three other gurneys fell into file behind them. The Zephyr, quite absurdly, took the widest possible turn, far outside the tracks of the other craft. Master second-degree Henry Chesterton, at the wheel of the tiny craft, seemed to have gone quite mad. Mallory watched with the numb calm of a ruined man.
   The Zephyr lurched into an impossible burst of speed. It slipped past the other gurneys with absurd, buttery ease, like a slimy pumpkin-seed squeezed between thumb and forefinger. At the half-mile turn, its velocity quite astonishing, it teetered visibly onto two wheels; at the final lap, it struck a slight rise, the entire vehicle becoming visibly airborne. The great driving-wheels rebounded from earth with a gout of dust and a metallic screech; it was only at that moment that Mallory realized that the great crowd in the stands had fallen into deathly silence.
   Not a peep rose from them as the Zephyr whizzed across the finish-line. It slithered to a halt then, bumping violently across the gouged tracks left by the competition.
   A full four seconds passed before the stunned track-man managed to wave his flag. The other gurneys were still rounding a distant bend a full hundred yards behind.
   The crowd suddenly burst into astonished outcry—not joy so much as utter disbelief, and even a queer sort of anger.
   Henry Chesterton stepped from the Zephyr. He tossed back a neck-scarf, leaned at his ease against the shining hull of his craft, and watched with cool insolence as the other gurneys labored painfully across the finish line. By the time they arrived, they seemed to have aged centuries. They were, Mallory realized, relics.
   Mallory reached into his pocket. The blue slips of betting-paper were utterly safe. Their material nature had not changed in the slightest, but now these little blue slips infallibly signified the winning of four hundred pounds. No, five hundred pounds in all—fifty of that to be given to the utterly victorious Mr. Michael Godwin.
   Mallory heard a voice ring in his ears, amid the growing tumult of the crowd. "I'm rich," the voice remarked calmly. It was his own voice.
   He was rich.
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   This image is a formal daguerreotype of the sort distributed by the British aristocracy among narrow circles of friendship and acquaintance. The photographer may have been Albert, the Prince Consort, a man whose much-publicized interest in scientific matters had made him an apparently genuine intimate of Britain's Radical elite. The dimensions of the room, and the rich drapery of its back-drop, strongly suggest the photographing salon that Prince Albert maintained at Windsor Palace.
   The women depicted are Lady Ada Byron and her companion and soi-disant chaperone. Lady Mary Somerville. Lady Somerville, the authoress of 'On the Connection of the Physical Sciences' and the translator of Laplace's 'Celestial Mechanics', has the resigned look of a woman accustomed to the vagaries of her younger companion. Both women wear gilded sandals, and white draperies, somewhat akin to a Greek toga, but strongly influenced by French neoclassicism. They are, in fact, the garments of female adepts of the Society of Light, the secret inner body and international propaganda arm of the Industrial Radical Party. The elderly Mrs. Somerville also wears a fillet of bronze marked with astronomical symbols, a covert symbol of the high post this femme savante occupies in the councils of European science.
   Lady Ada, her arms bare save for a signet-ring on her right forefinger, places a laurel wreath about the brow of a marble bust of Isaac Newton. Despite the careful placement of the camera, the strange garb does not flatter Lady Ada, and her face shows stress. Lady Ada was forty-one years old in late June 1855, when this daguerreotype was taken. She had recently lost a large sum of money at the Derby, though her gambling-losses, common knowledge among her intimates, seem to have covered the loss of even larger sums, most likely extorted from her.
   She is the Queen of Engines, the Enchantress of Number. Lord Babbage called her "Little Da." She has no formal role in government, and the brief flowering of her mathematical genius is far behind her. But she is, perhaps, the foremost link between her father, the Great Orator of the Industrial Radical Party, and Charles Babbage, the Party's grey eminence and foremost social theorist.
   Ada is the mother.
   Her thoughts are closed.
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THIRD ITERATION
Dark-Lanterns

   Picture Edward Mallory ascending the splendid central staircase in the Palace of Paleontology, its massive ebony railing supported by a black-enameled ironwork depicting ancient ferns, cycads, and ginkgoes.
   Say that he is followed by a red-faced bellman burdened with a dozen glossy parcels, fruit of a long afternoon's careful, methodical shopping. As Mallory climbs, he sees that Lord Owen is heaving his massive way down the stairs, a peevish look in his rheumy eyes. The eyes of the distinguished reptile anatomist resemble shelled oysters, Mallory thinks, peeled and propped for dissection. Mallory doffs his hat. Owen mutters something that might be a greeting.
   At the turn of the first broad landing. Mallory glimpses a group of students seated by the open windows, quietly debating, while twilight settles over the crouching plaster behemoths of the Palace's rock gardens.
   A breeze disturbs the long linen curtains.

   Mallory turned, right-face, left-face, before the wardrobe mirror. Unbuttoning the coat, he thrust his hands into the trouser-pockets, the better to display the waistcoat, which was woven in a dizzy mosaic of tiny blue-and-white squares. Ada Checkers, the tailors called them, the Lady having created the pattern by programming a Jacquard loom to weave pure algebra. The waistcoat carried off the whole business, he thought, though still it needed something, perhaps a cane. Flicking the hinge of his cigar-case, he offered a prime Havana to the gent in the mirror. A fine gesture but one couldn't carry a silver cigar-case about like a lady's muff; that was a faggot-above-a-load, surely.
   A sharp metallic tapping issued from the speaking-tube set into the wall beside the door. Crossing the room, he flicked open the rubber-lined brass lid. "Mallory here!" he bellowed, bending. The desk-clerk's voice rose up, a distant hollow-throated ghostliness. "Visitor for you. Dr. Mallory! Shall I send up his card?"
   "Yes, please!" Mallory, unaccustomed to closing the pneumatic grate, fumbled at the gilt-tin clasp. A cylinder of black gutta-percha shot from the tube as if fired from a gun, impacting solidly against the wall opposite. Hastening to fetch it, Mallory noted without surprise that the papered plaster wall there was already peppered with dents. He unscrewed the lid of the cylinder and shook out its contents. Mr. Laurence Oliphant, on lavish cream-laid card-stock, Author and Journalist. A Piccadilly address and a telegram-number. A journalist of some pretensions, to judge by his card. Vaguely familiar name. Hadn't he read something by an Oliphant in Blackwood's? Turning the card over, he examined the Engine-stippled portrait of a pale-haired gentleman gone balding in front. Large brown spaniel eyes, a quizzical half-smile, a draggle of beard beneath the chin. With the beard and the baldness, Mr. Oliphant's narrow skull looked as long as an Iguanodon's.
   Mallory tucked the card into his notebook and glanced about his room. His bed was littered with the truck of his shopping: charge-slips, tissue-paper, glove-boxes, shoe-lasts.
   "Please tell Mr. Oliphant I'll meet him in the lobby!" Quickly filling the pockets of his new trousers, he let himself out, locking the door, and strode down the hall, past white walls of pocked and dotted fossil limestone framed by sweating columns of square dark marble, his new shoes squeaking with his every step.

   Mr. Oliphant, unexpectedly long of limb, and most neatly but sumptuously dressed, reclined against the front desk, his back to the clerk. With elbows resting against the marble counter-top, and feet crossed at the ankles, the journalist's ramshackle pose conveyed the gentleman sportsman's easy indolence. Mallory, having met more than his share of gin-and-water reporters, hacks pursuing wide-eyed articles on the great Leviathan, registered a faint twinge of anxiety; this fellow evinced the smooth self-possession of the extremely well-advantaged.
   Mallory introduced himself, discovering a sinewy strength in the journalist's long-fingered hand.
   "I'm on the business of the Geographical Society," Oliphant announced, loudly enough to be overheard by a nearby group of loitering savants. "Exploration Committee, you see. Wondered if I mightn't consult you on a certain matter. Dr. Mallory."
   "Of course," Mallory said. The Royal Geographical Society was lavishly funded; its powerful Exploration Committee decided upon the recipients of the Geographical's grants.
   "May I suggest we speak in private, sir?"
   "Surely," Mallory agreed, and followed the journalist into the Palace's saloon, where Oliphant found a quiet corner half-shadowed by a lacquered Chinese screen. Mallory threw back his coat-tails and took a chair. Oliphant perched at the far end of a red silk couch, his back to the wall. He gazed limpidly down the length of the saloon, and Mallory saw that he was checking for eavesdroppers.
   "You seem to know the Palace well," Mallory ventured. "Are you often here, on your Committee's work?"
   "Not frequently, no, though I once met a colleague of yours here, a Professor Francis Rudwick."
   "Ah, Rudwick, yes; poor chap." Mallory was nettled a bit, but not surprised, to meet a professional connection of Rudwick's. Rudwick had rarely missed a chance to scruffle grant-money, from whatever source.
   Oliphant nodded soberly. "I'm no savant, Dr. Mallory. I'm a writer of travel-books, actually. Trifles, really, though some have met with a degree of public favor."
   "I see," Mallory said, convinced he'd the fellow's number now: wealthy idler, dilettante. Very likely he'd family connections. Most such eager dabblers were quite worthless to Science.
   "Within the Geographical, Dr. Mallory," Oliphant began, "there presently exists intense debate as to our proper subject-matter. You are, perhaps, aware of the controversy?"
   "I've been overseas," Mallory said, "and have missed a deal of news."
   "No doubt you've been fully occupied with your own scientific controversy." Oliphant's smile was disarming. "Catastrophe versus Uniformity. Rudwick spoke of the matter often. Quite fiercely, I must say."
   "A difficult business," Mallory muttered, "rather abstruse… "
   "I personally found Rudwick's argument weak," Oliphant said offhandedly, to Mallory's pleasant surprise. The journalist leaned forward, with flattering attention. "Permit me to further explain the purpose of my visit, Dr. Mallory. Within the Geographical, some consider that the Society might be better advised, rather than plunging into Africa to discover the sources of the Nile, to investigate the sources of our own society. Why confine exploration to physical geography, when there are so many problems of political, and indeed moral, geography, problems as yet unsolved?"
   "Interesting," Mallory said, quite at a loss as to what his visitor might be getting at.
   "As a prominent explorer," Oliphant said, "what might you say to a proposition of the following sort?" The man's gaze, curiously, seemed fixed now on the middle distance. "Suppose, sir, that one were to explore not the vastness of Wyoming but a specific corner of our own London… "
   Mallory nodded meaninglessly, and briefly entertained the possibility that Oliphant was mad.
   "Mightn't we then, sir," the man continued, with a slight shiver, as of suppressed enthusiasm, "make utterly objective, entirely statistical investigations? Mightn't we examine society, sir, with a wholly novel precision and intensity? Divining, thereby, new principles—from the myriad clusterings of population over time, sir; from the most obscure travels of currency from hand to hand; from the turbulent flows of traffic… Topics we now vaguely call police matters, health matters, public services—but perceived, sir, as by an all-searching, an all-pervasive, a scientific eye!"
   There was far too much of the enthusiast's gleam in Oliphant's gaze, a sudden fierce kindling that showed his air of languor as a sham.
   "In theory," Mallory hedged, "the prospect seems promising. As a practical matter, I doubt that the scientific societies could provide the Engine-resources necessary to such a broad and ambitious project. I myself have had to struggle to arrange a simple stress-analysis of the bones I've discovered. Engine-work is in constant demand. In any case, why should the Geographical Society tackle this matter? Why take funding from necessary foreign exploration-work? I should think perhaps a direct Parliamentary inquiry… "
   "But Government lack the vision necessary, the sense of intellectual adventure, the objectivity. Suppose it were the Engines of the police, though, instead of those of, say, the Cambridge Institute. What would you say then?"
   "The Engines of the police?" Mallory said. The idea was quite extraordinary. "How should the police agree to a loan of their Engines?"
   "The Engines are frequently idle at night," Oliphant said.
   "Are they, really?" Mallory said. "My word, that is interesting… But if those Engines were put to the use of Science, Mr. Oliphant, I imagine other, more urgent projects would quickly consume the idle spinning-time. A proposal like yours would need powerful backing to make its way to the front of the queue."
   "But, in theory, you do agree?" Oliphant persisted. "If the resources were available, you'd find the basic tenet worthy?"
   "I would have to see a detailed proposal before I could actively support such a project, and I frankly doubt my voice would carry much weight in your Geographical Society. I'm not a Fellow there, you know."
   "You underestimate your growing fame," Oliphant protested. "The nomination of Edward Mallory—discoverer of the Land Leviathan—would carry the Geographical with great ease."
   Mallory was speechless.
   "Rudwick became a Fellow," Oliphant said smoothly. "After the pterodactyl business."
   Mallory cleared his throat. "I'm sure it's a worthy—"
   "I shall consider it an honor if you will let me see to the matter personally," Oliphant said. "There will be no difficulty, I can promise you."
   Oliphant's air of assurance brooked no doubt. Mallory recognized the fait accompli. He had been neatly maneuvered. There was no graceful way to refuse the favor, and a Fellowship in the wealthy and powerful Geographical was certainly not to be scorned. It would be a professional boon. He could see the Fellowship in his mind's eye, tacked to his name: Mallory, F.R.S., F.R.G.S. "The honor is all mine, sir," Mallory said, "though I fear you too much trouble yourself on my account."
   "I take a profound interest in paleontology, sir."
   "I'm surprised that a writer of travel-books would take such an interest."
   Oliphant steepled his elegant fingers and brought them to his long, bare upper-lip. "I have found. Dr. Mallory, that 'journalist' is a usefully vague term, allowing one to make any number of odd inquiries. By nature, I am a man of broad but woefully shallow curiosity." Oliphant spread his hands. "I do what I can to be useful to true scholars, though I doubt I fully deserve my present unsought role in the inner circle of the august Geographical. Overnight fame has peculiar repercussions, you see."
   "I must confess I'm not familiar with your books," Mallory said. "I've been overseas, and far behind in my reading. I take it you hit the public mark, then, and had a great success?"
   "Not the books," Oliphant said, with surprised amusement. "I was involved in the Tokyo Legation affair. In Japan. Late last year."
   "An outrage against our embassy in Japan, am I correct? A diplomat was injured? I was in America…"
   Oliphant hesitated, then bent his left arm, tugging back coat-sleeve and immaculate cuff to reveal a puckered red scar at the outer joint of his left wrist. A knife-slash. No, worse than that: a saber-blow, into the tendons. Mallory noticed for the first time that two of the fingers on Oliphant's left hand were permanently bent.
   "You, then! Laurence Oliphant, the hero of the Tokyo Legation! Now I remember the name." Mallory stroked his beard. "You should have put that upon your card, sir, and I would have recalled you instantly."
   Oliphant worked his sleeve back, looking mildly embarrassed. "A Japanese sword-wound makes so odd a carte d'identite… "
   "Your interests are varied indeed, sir."
   "Sometimes one can't avoid certain entanglements, Dr. Mallory. In the interests of the nation, as it were. I think you yourself know that situation very well."
   "I'm afraid I don't follow you… "
   "Professor Rudwick, the late Professor Rudwick, certainly knew of such entanglements."
   Mallory now grasped the nature of Oliphant's allusion. He spoke up roughly. "Your card, sir, declares you a journalist. These are not matters one discusses with a journalist."
   "Your secret, I fear, is far from hermetic," said Oliphant, with polite disdain. "Every member of your Wyoming expedition knows the truth. Fifteen men, some less discreet than one might hope. Rudwick's men knew of his covert activities as well. Those who arranged the business, who asked you to carry out their scheme, know as well."
   "And how, sir, do you know?"
   "I've investigated Rudwick's murder."
   "You think Rudwick's death was linked to his… American activities?"
   "I know that to be the case."
   "Before we go any further, I must be sure where we stand, Mr. Oliphant. When you say 'activities,' what exactly do you mean? Speak plain, sir. Define your terms."
   "Very well." Oliphant looked pained. "I refer to the official body that persuaded you to smuggle repeating rifles to the American savages."
   "And the name of this body?"
   "The Royal Society's Commission on Free Trade," Oliphant said patiently. "They exist—officially—to study international trade-relations. Tariffs, investments, and so forth. Their ambition, I fear, over-reaches that authority."
   "The Commission on Free Trade is a legitimate branch of Government."
   "In the realm of diplomacy. Dr. Mallory, your actions might be construed as clandestinely arming the enemies of nations with whom Britain is not officially at war."
   "And shall I conclude," Mallory began angrily, "that you take a very dim view of—"
   "Gun-running. Though it has its place in the world, make no mistake." Oliphant was watching for eavesdroppers again. "But it must never be undertaken by self-appointed zealots with an overweening notion of their role in foreign policy."
   "You don't care for amateurs in the game, then?"
   Oliphant met Mallory's eye, but said nothing.
   "You want professionals, then, Mr. Oliphant? Men like yourself?"
   Oliphant leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "A professional agency," he said precisely, "would not abandon its men to be eviscerated by foreign agents in the very heart of London, Dr. Mallory. And that, sir, I must inform you, is very near the position you find yourself in today. The Commission on Free Trade will help you no longer, however thoroughly you've done their work. They have not even informed you of the threat to your life. Am I wrong, sir?"
   "Francis Rudwick died in a brawl in a ratting-den. And that was months ago."
   "It was last January—five months only. Rudwick had returned from Texas, where he had been secretly arming the Comanche tribe with rifles supplied by your Commission. On the night of Rudwick's murder, someone attempted to take the life of the former President of Texas. President Houston very narrowly escaped. His secretary, a British citizen, was brutally knifed to death. The murderer is still very much at large."
   "You think a Texian killed Rudwick, then?"
   "I think it almost certain. Rudwick's activities may be poorly known here in London, but they're quite obvious to the unhappy Texians, who regularly extract British bullets from the corpses of their fellows."
   "I dislike the way you paint the business," Mallory said, with a slow prickle of anger. "If we hadn't given them guns, they wouldn't have helped us. We might have dug for years, if it weren't for Cheyenne help… "
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   "I doubt one could make that case to a Texas Ranger," Oliphant said. "For that matter, I doubt one could make it to the popular press… "
   "I've no intention of speaking to the press. I regret having spoken with you. Clearly you're no friend of the Commission."
   "I already know far more about the Commission than I should have cared to discover. I came here to convey a warning, Dr. Mallory, not to request information. It is I who have spoken too openly—have been forced to do so, since the Commission's blundering has very obviously endangered your life, sir."
   There was force in the argument. "A point well taken," Mallory admitted. "You have warned me, sir, and I thank you for that." He thought for a moment. "But what of the Geographical Society, Mr. Oliphant? What is their place in this?"
   "An alert and observant traveler may serve his nation's interests with no prejudice to Science," Oliphant said. "The Geographical has long been a vital source of intelligence. Map-making, naval routes…"
   Mallory pounced. "You don't call them 'amateurs', then, Mr. Oliphant? Though they too muck about with dark-lanterns, where they oughtn't?"
   A silence stretched. "They're our amateurs," Oliphant said dryly.
   "But what, precisely, is the difference?"
   "The precise difference. Dr. Mallory, is that the Commission's amateurs are being murdered."
   Mallory grunted. He leaned back in the chair. Perhaps there was real substance to Oliphant's dark theory. The sudden death of Rudwick, his rival, his most formidable enemy, had always seemed too convenient a stroke of fortune. "What does he look like, then, this Texian assassin of yours?"
   "He is described as tall, dark-haired, and powerfully built. He wears a broad-brimmed hat and a long pale greatcoat."
   "He wouldn't be a ratty little race-track swell with a protruding forehead"—Mallory touched his temple—"and a stiletto in his pocket?"
   Oliphant's eyes widened. "Dear heaven," he said softly.
   Suddenly Mallory found he was enjoying himself. Discomfiting the suave spy had touched some deep vein of satisfaction. "Had a nick at me, this feller," Mallory said, in his broadest Sussex drawl. "Derby Day, at the races. Uncommon nasty little rascal… "
   "What happened?"
   "I knocked the scoundrel down," Mallory said.
   Oliphant stared at him, then burst into laughter. "You're a man of unexpected resources. Dr. Mallory."
   "I might say the same of you, sir." Mallory paused. "I have to tell you, though, I don't believe the man was after me. He'd a girl with him, a track-dolly, the two of them bullying a lady—"
   "Do go on," Oliphant urged, "this is uncommonly interesting."
   "I'm afraid I can't," Mallory said. "The lady in question was a personage. "
   "Your discretion, sir," Oliphant said evenly, "does you credit as a gentleman. A knife-attack, however, is a serious crime. Have you not informed the police?"
   "No," Mallory said, savoring Oliphant's contained agitation, "the lady again, you see. I feared to compromise her."
   "Perhaps," Oliphant suggested, "it was all a charade, calculated to involve you in a supposed gambling-brawl. Something similar was worked on Rudwick—who died, you well recall, in a ratting-den."
   "Sir," Mallory said, "the lady was none other than Ada Byron."
   Oliphant stiffened. "The Prime Minister's daughter?"
   "There is no other."
   "Indubitably," Oliphant said, a sudden brittle lightness in his tone. "It does strike me, though, that there are any number of women who resemble Lady Ada, our Queen of Engines being a queen of fashion as well. Thousands of women follow her mode."
   "I've never been introduced, Mr. Oliphant, but I've seen her in Royal Society sessions. I've heard her lecture on Engine mathematics. I am not mistaken."
   Oliphant took a leather notebook from his jacket, propped it against one knee, and uncapped a reservoir-pen. "Tell me, please, about this incident."
   "In strictest confidence?"
   "You have my word."
   Mallory presented a discreet version of the facts. He described Ada's tormentors, and the circumstances, to the best of his ability, but he made no mention of the wooden case with its French Engine-cards of camphorated cellulose. Mallory considered this a private matter between the Lady and himself; she had burdened him with the guardianship of this strange object of hers, and he regarded this as a sacred obligation. The wooden case of cards, carefully wrapped in white specimen-linen, lay hidden among the plastered fossils in one of Mallory's private lockers at the Museum of Practical Geology, awaiting his further attention.
   Oliphant closed his notebook, put away his pen, and signaled the waiter for drinks. The waiter, recognizing Mallory, brought him a huckle-buff. Oliphant had a pink gin.
   "I would like you to meet some friends of mine," Oliphant said. "The Central Statistics Bureau maintain extensive files on the criminal classes—anthropometric measurements, Engine-portraits, and so forth. I should like you to try to identify your assailant and his female accomplice."
   "Very well," Mallory said.
   "You shall be assigned police protection, as well."
   "Protection?"
   "Not a common policeman, of course. Someone from the Special Bureau. They are very discreet."
   "I can't have some copper tagging always at my heels," Mallory said. "What would people say?"
   "I worry rather more what they'll say if you were to be found gutted in some passage. Two prominent dinosaur-savants, the both of them mysteriously murdered? The press would run quite wild."
   "I need no guard. I'm not frightened of the little pimp."
   "He may well be unimportant. We shall at least know that, if you are able to identify him." Oliphant sighed delicately. "No doubt it's all a very trumpery affair, according to the standards of Empire. But I should reckon it as including the command of money; the services, when needed, of that shady sort of Englishman, who lives in the byways of foreign life in London; and lastly, the secret sympathy of American refugees, fled here from the wars that convulse that continent."
   "And you imagine that Lady Ada has fallen somehow into this dire business?"
   "No, sir, none of it. You may rest assured that that cannot possibly be the case. The woman you saw cannot have been Ada Byron."
   "Then I regard the matter as settled," Mallory said. "If you were to tell me Lady Ada's interests were at hazard, I might agree to almost any measure. As things stand, I shall take my own chances."
   "The decision is entirely yours, of course," Oliphant said coolly. "And perhaps it is still early in the game to take such stem measures. You have my card? Let me know how matters develop."
   "I will."
   Oliphant stood. "And remember, should anyone ask, that today we have discussed nothing more than the affairs of the Geographical Society."
   "You've yet to tell me the name of your own employers, Mr. Oliphant. Your true employers."
   Oliphant somberly shook his long head. "Such knowledge never profits, sir; there is nothing but grief in such questions. If you're wise, Dr. Mallory, you'll have nothing more to do with dark-lanterns. With luck, the whole affair will simply come to nothing, in the end, and will fade away, without trace, as a nightmare does. I shall certainly put your name forward for the Geographical, as I have promised, and I do hope that you will seriously consider my proposal regarding possible uses of the Bow Street Engines."
   Mallory watched as this extraordinary personage rose, turned, and strode away, across the Palace's rich carpet, his long legs flashing like scissors.

   Clutching his new valise with one hand, the overhead straps with another, Mallory inched his way along the crowded aisle of the omnibus to the rattling exit-platform. When the driver slowed for a filthy tarmac-wagon. Mallory jumped for the curb.
   Despite his best efforts, Mallory had boarded the wrong 'bus. Or perhaps he had ridden too far on the correct vehicle, well past his destination, while engrossed in the latest number of the Westminster Review. He'd purchased the magazine because it carried an article of Oliphant's, a witty post-mortem on the conduct of the Crimean War. Oliphant, it developed, was something of an expert on the Crimean region, having published his The Russian Shores of the Black Sea a full year prior to the outbreak of hostilities. The book detailed a jolly but quite extensive Crimean holiday which Oliphant had undertaken. To Mallory's newly alerted eye, Oliphant's latest article bristled with sly insinuation.
   A street-arab whipped with a broom of twigs at the pavement before Mallory's feet. The boy glanced up, puzzled. "Pardon, guv?" Mallory realized with an unhappy start that he had been talking to himself, standing there in rapt abstraction, muttering aloud over Oliphant's deviousness. The boy, grasping at Mallory's attention, did a back-somersault. Mallory tossed him tuppence, turned at random, and walked away, shortly discovering himself in Leicester Square, its gravel walks and formal gardens an excellent place to be robbed or ambushed. Especially at night, for the streets about featured theatres, pantos, and magic-lantern houses.
   Crossing Whitcomb, then Oxenden, he found himself in Haymarket, strange in the broad summer daylight, its raucous whores absent now and sleeping. He walked the length of it, for curiosity's sake. It looked very different by day, shabby and tired of itself. At length, noting Mallory's pace, a pimp approached him, offering a packet of French-letters, sure armor against the lady's-fever.
   Mallory bought them, dropping the packet into his valise.
   Turning left, he marched into the chuffing racket of busy Pall Mall, the wide macadam lined by the black iron palings of exclusive clubs, their marbled fronts set well back from the street-jostle. Off Pall Mall, at the far end of Waterloo Place, stood the Duke of York's memorial. The Grand Old Duke of York, Who Had Ten Thousand Men, was a distant soot-blackened effigy now, his rotund column dwarfed by the steel-spired headquarters of the Royal Society.
   Mallory had his bearings now. He tramped the elevated pedestrian-bridge, over Pall Mall, while below him sweating kerchief-headed navvies ripped at the intersection with a banging steel-armed excavator. They were preparing the foundation of a new monument, he saw, doubtless to the glory of the Crimean victory. He strode up Regent Street to the Circus, where the crowd poured endlessly forth from the underground's sooty marble exits. He allowed himself to be swept into swift currents of humanity.
   There was a potent stench here, a cloacal reek, like burning vinegar, and for a moment Mallory imagined that this miasma emanated from the crowd itself, from the flapping crannies of their coats and shoes. It had a subterranean intensity, some fierce deep-buried chemistry of hot cinders and septic drippings, and now he realized that it must be pistoned out somehow, forced from the hot bowels of London by the charging trains below. Then he was being jostled up Jermyn Street, and in a moment he was smelling the heady wares of Paxton and Whitfield's cheese emporium. Hurrying across Duke Street, the stench forgotten, he paused below the wrought-iron lamps of the Cavendish Hotel, secured the fastenings of his valise, then crossed to his destination, the Museum of Practical Geology.
   It was an imposing, sturdy, fortress-like edifice; Mallory thought it much like the mind of its Curator. He trotted up the steps into a welcome stony chill. Signing the leather-bound visitor's book with a flourish, he strode on, into the vast central hall, its walls lined with shining glass-fronted cabinets of rich mahogany. Light poured down from the great cupola of steel and glass, where a lone cleaner dangled now in his shackled harness, polishing one pane after another in what Mallory supposed would amount to an unending rota.
   On the Museum's ground floor were displayed the Vertebrata, along with various pertinent illustrations of the marvels of stratigraphical geology. Above, in a railed and pillared gallery, were a series of smaller cabinets containing the Invertebrata. The day's crowd was of gratifying size, with surprising numbers of women and children, including an entire uniformed class of scruffy, working-class school-boys from some Government academy. They studied the cabinets with grave attention, aided by red-jacketed guides.
   Mallory ducked through a tall, unmarked door and down a hall flanked by locked storerooms. At the hall's end, a single magisterial voice was audible through the closed door of the Curator's office. Mallory knocked, then listened, smiling, as the voice completed a particularly orotund rhetorical period. "Enter," rang the voice of the Curator. Mallory stepped inside as Thomas Henry Huxley rose to greet him. They shook hands. Huxley had been dictating to his secretary, a bespectacled young man with the look of an ambitious graduate student. "That will be all for now, Harris," Huxley said. "Send in Mr. Reeks, please, with his sketches of the Brontosaurus."
   The secretary tucked his penciled notes into a leather folio and left, with a bow to Mallory.
   "How've you been, Ned?" Huxley looked Mallory up and down, with the narrow-set, pitilessly observant eyes that had discovered "Huxley's Layer" in the root of the human hair. "You look very well indeed. One might even say splendid."
   "Had a bit of luck," Mallory said gruffly.
   To Mallory's surprise, he saw a small, fair-haired boy, neatly dressed in a flat-collared suit and knee-breeches, emerge from behind Huxley's heaped desk. "And who is this?" Mallory said.
   "Futurity," Huxley quipped, bending to pick up the child. "My son, Noel, come to help his father today. Say how-do-you-do to Dr. Mallory, son."
   "How do you do, Mr. Mellowy?" the boy piped.
   "Doctor Mallory," Huxley corrected gently.
   Noel's eyes widened. "Are you a medical doctor, Mr. Mellowy?" The thought clearly alarmed him.
   "Why, you could scarcely walk when last we met. Master Noel," Mallory boomed heartily. "And here you are today, quite the little gentleman." He knew that Huxley doted on the child. "How's your baby brother, then?"
   "He has a sister now as well," Huxley announced, setting the boy down. "Since you were in Wyoming."
   "You must be happy at that, Master Noel!"
   The little boy smiled briefly, with guarded politeness. He hopped up into his father's chair. Mallory set his valise atop a bookcase, which contained a morocco-bound set of the works of Cuvier in the original. "I have an item that may interest you, Thomas," he said, opening his valise. "A gift for you from the Cheyenne." Remembering to tuck the French-letters beneath the Westminster Review, he brought out a string-tied paper bundle and carried it to Huxley.
   "I hope this isn't one of those ethnographical curios," Huxley said, smiling, as he parted the string neatly with a paper-knife. "I can't abide those wretched beads and what-not… "
   The paper held six shriveled brown wafers, the size of half-crowns.
   "A helpful bequest to you from a Cheyenne medicine man, Thomas."
   "Rather like our Anglican bishops, are they?" Huxley smiled, holding one of the leathery objects to the light. "Dried vegetable matter. A cactus?"
   "I would think so."
   "Joseph Hooker of Kew could tell us."
   "This witch-doctor chap had a fair grasp of the purpose of our expedition. He fancied that we meant to re-vivify the dead monster, here in England. He said that these wafers would enable you to journey far, Thomas, and fetch back the creature's soul."
   "And what do I do, Ned, string them on a rosary?"
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   "No, Thomas, you eat them. You eat them, chant, beat drums, and dance like a dervish, until you fall down in a fit. That's the standard methodology, I take it." Mallory chuckled.
   "Certain vegetable toxins have the quality of producing visions," Huxley remarked, putting the wafers carefully away in a desk-drawer. "Thank you, Ned. I'll see they're properly catalogued, later. I fear the pressure of business has confounded our Mr. Reeks. He is usually more prompt."
   "It's a good crowd out there, today," Mallory offered, to fill the silence. Huxley's boy had pulled a toffee from his pocket and was unwrapping it with surgical precision.
   "Yes," Huxley said, "Britain's museums, our fortresses of intellect, as the RM. puts it in his eloquent way. Still, no use denying that education, mass education, is the single great work at hand. Though there are days when I would throw it all over, Ned, to be a field-man like yourself again."
   "You're needed here, Thomas."
   "So they tell me," Huxley said. "I do try to get out, once a year. Wales, mostly… tramp the hills. It restores the soul." He paused. "Did you know I am up for a Lordship?"
   "No!" Mallory cried, delighted. "Tom Huxley, a Lord! 'Struth! What splendid news."
   Huxley looked unexpectedly morose. "I saw Lord Forbes at the Royal Society. 'Well,' Forbes said, 'I am glad to tell you that you are all right for the House of Lords; the selection was made on Friday night, and I hear that you were one of those selected.' " Huxley, without apparent effort, had Forbes' gestures, his phrasing, even his tone of voice. He glanced up. "I haven't seen the List, but the authority of Forbes is such that I feel somewhat assured."
   "Of course!" Mallory exulted. "A stout fellow, Forbes!"
   "I shan't feel entirely certain until I receive official confirmation," Huxley said. "I confess, Ned, to some anxiety about it, the health of the Prime Minister being what it is."
   "Yes, a pity he's ill," Mallory said. "But why should that concern you so? Your accomplishments speak for themselves!"
   Huxley shook his head. "The timing seems no accident. I suspect this is some ploy of Babbage and his elite cronies, a last attempt to pack the Lords with scientific savants while Byron still holds sway."
   "That's a dark suspicion," Mallory said. "You were Evolution's greatest advocate in debate! Why question your good fortune? It seems to me a matter of simple justice!"
   Huxley grasped his own lapels, two-handed, a gesture of deep sincerity. "Whether I have the Lordship or not, I can say one thing: I have left my case to stand on its own strength. I have never asked for special favor. If the title is mine, it is not through any intrigue of my own."
   "Intrigue does not enter into it!" Mallory said.
   "Of course it does!" Huxley snapped. "Though you'll not hear me say it publicly." He lowered his voice. "But you and I have known each other many years now. I count you as an ally, Ned, and a friend of truth."
   Huxley began to pace the Turkish carpet before his desk. "It is no use, our having any false modesty about a matter so important. We have certain vital duties to perform; to ourselves, to the outside world, and to Science. We swallow praise, which is no great pleasure, and endure multitudinous difficulties, involving a good deal of unquestionable pain, pain and even danger."
   Mallory was unsettled, taken aback both by the speed of the news and the sudden weight of Huxley's sincerity. Yet Huxley had always been like this, he thought; even as a young student, there had been a shock and an impetus to the man's company. For the first time since Canada, Mallory felt himself back in his true world, in the cleaner, higher plane that Huxley's mind inhabited. "Danger of what kind?" he asked belatedly.
   "Moral danger. Physical danger as well. There is always hazard in the struggle for worldly power. A Lordship is a political post. Party and Government, Ned. Money and law. Temptation, perhaps ignoble compromise… The nation's resources are finite; competition is sharp. The niche of Science and Education must be defended; nay, expanded!" Huxley smiled grimly. "Somehow we must grasp the nettle. The alternative would be to lie still and let the devil have his way with the world to come. And I for one should rather burst to pieces, than see Science prostituted!"
   Startled by Huxley's bluntness, Mallory glanced at the little boy, who was sucking his toffee and kicking his bright shiny shoes against the chair-legs.
   "You're the man for the task, Thomas," Mallory said. "You know that you may have whatever help I can offer, if the cause ever needs me."
   "It cheers me to hear that, Ned. I do trust in your strength of heart, your stubborn fixity of purpose. Proved true as steel, two years' hard labor in the Wyoming wilderness! Why, there are men I see every week, who claim great devotion to Science, yet dream of nothing but gold medals and professors' caps."
   Huxley was pacing faster. "An abominable blur of cant, of humbug and self-seeking, surrounds everything in England today." Huxley stopped dead. "That is to say, Ned, that I sometimes suppose that I myself am tainted, the possibility of which I hold in morbid dread."
   "Never," Mallory assured him.
   "It's good to have you back among us," Huxley said, resuming his pacing. "And famous, better yet! We must capitalize on that advantage. You must write a travel-book, a thorough account of your exploits."
   "Odd that you should mention that," Mallory said. "I have just such a book here in my bag. 'The Mission to China and Japan', by Laurence Oliphant. A very clever chap, it seems."
   "Oliphant of the Geographical? Man's a hopeless case; too clever by half, and lies like a politician. No, I propose a popular rendition, something a mechanic can understand, the sort of chap who furnishes his sitting-room with a Pembroke table and a crockery shepherd and shepherdess! I tell you, Ned, that it's vital to the great work. Good money in it as well."
   Mallory was taken aback. "I talk well enough when I've a head of steam up, but to write a whole book in cold blood… "
   "We'll find you a Grub Street hack to varnish the rougher bits," Huxley said, "a common enough stratagem, believe me. This fellow Disraeli, whose father founded 'Disraeli's Quarterly', you know. Bit of a madcap. Writes sensation-novels. Trash. But he's steady enough when he's sober."
   "Benjamin Disraeli? My sister Agatha dotes on his romances."
   Something in Huxley's nod was meant to tell Mallory that a female of the Huxley clan would not be caught dead with a popular novel. "We must talk about your Royal Society Symposium, Ned, your forthcoming address on the Brontosaurus. It will be quite the event, a very useful public podium. Do you have a good picture, for publicity?"
   "Why, no," Mallory said.
   "Maull and Polyblank are your men, then, daguerreotypists to the gentry."
   "I'll make a note of that."
   Huxley crossed to the mahogany-framed blackboard behind his desk, taking up a sterling chalk-holder. Maull & Polyblank, he wrote, in quick, flowing cursive.
   He turned. "You'll need a kinotropist as well, and I've just the fellow. He does a good deal of Royal Society work. Tends to somewhat excessively fancy work, so he'll steal your show with his clacking, given half a chance. Loading every rift with ore, as he puts it. But he's a clever little chap."
   John Keats, he wrote.
   "This is invaluable, Thomas!"
   Huxley paused. "There's another matter, Ned. I hesitate to mention it."
   "What is that?"
   "I don't wish to wound your personal feelings."
   Mallory smiled falsely. "I do know I'm not much of a speaker, but I have held my own in the past."
   Huxley paused, then lifted his hand abruptly. "What do you call this?"
   "I call it a piece of chalk," Mallory said, humoring him.
   "Chaark?"
   "Chalk!" Mallory repeated.
   "We must do something about those broad Sussex vowels, Ned. There's a fellow I know, an elocutionist. Very discreet little man. French, actually, but he speaks the finest English you've ever heard. A week's lessons with him would do wonders."
   Mallory scowled. "You're not saying I need wonders, I should hope?"
   "Not at all! It's a simple matter of educating one's ear. You'd be surprised to know how many rising public speakers have patronized this gentleman." Jules D'Alembert, Huxley wrote. "His lessons are a bit dear, but—"
   Mallory took the name down.
   A knock came at the door. Huxley swiped at the board with the dusty felt of an ebony-handled eraser. "Enter!" A stocky man in a plaster-spotted apron appeared. "You'll remember Mr. "Trenham Reeks, our Assistant Curator."
   Reeks tucked a tall folio-binder under his arm and shook Mallory's hand. Reeks had lost some hair and put on weight since Mallory had last seen him. "Sorry for the delay, sir," Reeks said. "We're having a time of it in the studio, casting those vertebrae. Astonishing structure. The sheer scale presents terrific problems."
   Huxley cleared a space on his desk. Noel tugged his father's sleeve, and whispered something. "Oh, very well," Huxley said. "Pardon us a moment, gentlemen." He led Noel from the office.
   "Congratulations on your promotion, Mr. Reeks," Mallory said.
   "Thank you, sir," Reeks said. He opened the binder, then set a ribboned pince-nez on his nose. "And thank you for this great discovery. Though I must say, it challenges the very scale of our institution!" He tapped at a sheet of graphed foolscap. "As you may see."
   Mallory studied the sketch, a floor-plan of the Museum's central hall, with the skeleton of the Leviathan superimposed. "Where's its skull?" he said.
   "The neck extends completely into the entrance-hall," Reeks said proudly. "We shall have to move several cabinets… "
   "Do you have a side-view?"
   Reeks plucked it from the sheaf of sketches. Mallory examined it, scowling. "What is your authority for this anatomical arrangement?"
   "There are very few published papers on the creature, to date," Reeks said, hurt. "The longest and most thorough is by Dr. Foulke, in last month's Transactions." He offered the magazine from within the folder.
   Mallory brushed it aside. "Foulke has completely distorted the nature of the specimen."
   Reeks blinked. "Dr. Foulke's reputation—"
   "Foulke is a Uniformitarian! He was Rudwick's cabinet-man, one of his closest allies. Foulke's paper is a tissue of absurdities. He claims that the beast was cold-blooded and semi-aquatic! That it ate soft water-plants and moved sluggishly."
   "But a creature of this vast size, Dr. Mallory, this enormous weight! It would seem that a life in water, to support the mass alone…"
   "I see," Mallory broke in. He struggled to regain his temper. It was no use annoying poor Reeks; the man was a functionary, who knew no better, and meant well. "This explains why you have its neck stretched out limply, almost at floor-level… and it also accounts for the lizard-like—no, the amphibian—jointing of its legs."
   "Yes, sir," Reeks said. "One envisions it harvesting water-plants with that long neck, you see, seldom needing to move its great body very far, or very swiftly. Except perhaps to wade away from predators, if there were anything hungry enough to tackle such a monster."
   "Mr. Reeks, this creature was not some great soft-bodied salamander. You have been made the victim of a grave misconception. This creature was like a modern elephant, like a giraffe, but on a far greater scale. It was evolved to rip out and devour the tops of trees."
   Mallory took a pencil from the desk and began to sketch rapidly and expertly. "It spent much of its time on its hind legs, propped on its tail, with its head far above the ground. Make a note of this thickening in the caudal vertebrae. A sure sign of enormous pressure, from a bipedal stance." He tapped the blueprint, and went on. "A herd of these creatures could have demolished an entire forest in short order. They migrated, Mr. Reeks, as elephants do, over vast distances, and quickly, changing the very landscape with their devastating appetites. "The Brontosaur had an erect, narrow-chested stance, its legs quite columnar and vertical, for the swift, stiff-kneed stride of an elephant. None of this frog-like business."
   "I modeled the stance on the crocodile," Reeks protested.
   "The Cambridge Institute of Engine Analytics has completed my stress-analysis," Mallory said. He stepped to his valise, pulled out a bound sheaf of fan-fold paper, and slapped it down. "The creature could not have stood a moment on dry land, with its legs in that absurd position."
   "Yes, sir," Reeks said quietly. "That accounts for the aquatic hypothesis."
   "Look at its toes!" Mallory said. "They're thick as foundation-stones; not the webbed feet of a swimmer. And look at the flanges of its spinal vertebrae. This creature levered itself up at the hip-joint, to reach great heights. Like a construction-crane! "
   Reeks removed his pince-nez. He began to polish it with a linen kerchief from his trouser-pocket. "This is not going to please Dr. Foulke," he said. "Or his colleagues either, I daresay."
   "I've not yet begun with that lot," Mallory said.
   Huxley re-entered the office, leading his son by the hand. He looked from Reeks to Mallory. "Oh dear," he said. "Already deep into it, I see."
   "It's this nonsense of Foulke's," Mallory said. "He seems determined to prove that dinosaurs were unfit to live! He's portrayed my Leviathan as a buoyed slug, sucking up pond-weed."
   "You must agree it hadn't much of a brain," Huxley said.
   "It doesn't follow, Thomas, that it was torpid. Everyone admits that Rudwick's dinosaur could fly. These creatures were swift and active."
   "Actually, now that Rudwick's no longer with us, there's some revisionary thought on that topic," Huxley said. "Some say his flying reptile could only glide."
   Mallory bit back a curse, for the sake of the child in the room. "Well, it all comes back to basic theory, doesn't it," he said. "The Uniformitarian faction wish these creatures to seem dull and sluggish! Dinosaurs will then fit their slope of gradual development, a slow progression to the present day. Whereas, if you grant the role of Catastrophe, you admit a far greater state of Darwinian fitness for these magnificent creatures, wounding as that may seem to the vanities of tiny modern-day mammals on the order of Foulke and his cronies."
   Huxley sat down. He propped one hand against his whiskered cheek. "You disagree with the arrangement of the specimen?"
   "It seems Dr. Mallory prefers it standing," Reeks said. "Prepared to dine upon a tree-top."
   "Could we manage that position, Mr. Reeks?"
   Reeks looked startled. He tucked his pince-nez in a pocket behind his apron. Then he scratched his head. "I think perhaps we might, sir. If we mounted it under the skylight, and braced it from the ceiling-girders. Might have to bend its neck a bit… We could aim its head at the audience! It would be quite dramatic."
   "A sop to the Cerberus of popularity," Huxley said. "Though I question the consequences to the fluttered nerves of paleontology. I confess I'm not at all at ease with this argument. I've not yet read Foulke's paper, and you, Mallory, have yet to publish on the topic. And I shouldn't care to add to the heat of the Catastrophist debate. 'Natura non facit saltum.' "
   "But Nature does leap," Mallory said. "The Engine simulations prove it. Complex systems can make sudden transformations."
   "Never mind the theory. What can you make of the evidence directly at hand?"
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   "I can make a good case. I will, at my public lecture. Not a perfect case, but better than the opposition's."
   "Would you stake your reputation as a scholar on it? Have you considered every question, every objection?"
   "I could be wrong," Mallory said. "But not so entirely wrong as they are."
   Huxley tapped his desk with a reservoir-pen. "What if I ask—as an elementary matter—how this creature could have eaten woody foliage? Its head is scarcely larger than a horse's, and its teeth are remarkably poor."
   "It didn't chew with its teeth," Mallory said. "It had a gizzard, lined with grinding stones. Judging by the size of the ribcage, this organ must have been a yard long and weighed perhaps a hundred pounds. A hundred-weight of gizzard has more muscular power than the jaws of four bull elephants."
   "Why would a reptile need that quantity of nourishment?"
   "It wasn't warm-blooded per se, but it had a high metabolism. It's a simple matter of surface-to-volume ratios. A bodily mass of that size retains its heat even in cold weather." Mallory smiled. "The equations are simply calculated, requiring no more than an hour on one of the Society's smaller Engines."
   "Dire trouble will come of this," Huxley murmured.
   "Are we to let politics stand in the way of truth?"
   "Touche. He has us, Mr. Reeks… I'm afraid you must alter your painstaking plans."
   "The lads in the studio love a challenge, sir," Reeks said loyally. "And if I may say so, Dr. Huxley, a controversy does wonders for our attendance."
   "One more minor matter," Mallory said quickly. "The condition of the skull. Alas, the specimen's skull is quite fragmentary, and will require close study, and a certain amount of conjecture. I should like to join you in the studio on the matter of the skull, Mr. Reeks."
   "Certainly, sir. I'll see that you're given a key."
   "Lord Gideon Mantell taught me everything I knew about the modeling of plaster," Mallory declared, with a show of nostalgia. "It's been too long since I last came to grips with that worthy craft. It will be a great pleasure to observe the latest advances in technique, in such exemplary surroundings."
   Huxley smiled, with a hint of dubiousness. "I do hope we can satisfy you, Ned."

   Mopping the back of his neck with a kerchief. Mallory unhappily contemplated the headquarters of the Central Statistics Bureau.
   Ancient Egypt had been dead for twenty-five centuries, but Mallory had come to know it well enough to dislike it. The French excavation of the Suez Canal had been an heroic business, so that all things Egyptian had become the Parisian mode. The rage had seized Britain as well, leaving the nation awash with scarab neck-pins, hawk-winged teapots, lurid stereographs of toppled obelisks, and faux-marble miniatures of the noseless Sphinx. Manufacturers had Engine-embroidered that whole beast-headed rabble of pagan godlets on curtains and carpets and carriage-robes, much to Mallory's distaste, and he had come to take an especial dislike to silly maunderings about the Pyramids, ruins which inspired exactly the sort of chuckle-headed wonderment that most revolted his sensibilities.
   He had, of course, read admiringly of the engineering feats of Suez. Lacking coal, the French had fueled their giant excavators with bitumen-soaked mummies, stacked like cordwood and sold by the ton. Still, he resented the space usurped by Egyptology in the geographical journals.
   The Central Statistics Bureau, vaguely pyramidal in form and excessively Egyptianate in its ornamental detail, squatted solidly in the governmental heart of Westminster, its uppermost stories slanting to a limestone apex. For the sake of increased space, the building's lower section was swollen out-of-true, like some great stone turnip. Its walls, pierced by towering smokestacks, supported a scattered forest of spinning ventilators, their vanes annoyingly hawk-winged. "The whole vast pile was riddled top to bottom with thick black telegraph-lines, as though individual streams of the Empire's information had bored through solid stone. A dense growth of wiring swooped down, from conduits and brackets, to telegraph-poles crowded thick as the rigging in a busy harbor.
   Mallory crossed the hot sticky tarmac of Horseferry Road, wary of the droppings of the pigeons clustered in the web-work of cable overhead.
   The Bureau's fortress-doors, framed by lotus-topped columns and Briticized bronze sphinxes, loomed some twenty feet in height. Smaller, work-a-day doors were set into their corners. Mallory, scowling, strode into cool dimness and the faint but pervasive odors of lye and linseed oil. The simmering London stew was behind him now, but the damned place had no windows. Egyptianate jets lit the darkness, their flames breezily guttering in fan-shaped reflectors of polished tin.
   He showed his citizen-card at the visitors' desk. The clerk—or perhaps he was some sort of policeman, for he wore a new-fangled Bureau uniform with an oddly military look—made careful note of Mallory's destination. He took an Engine-printed floor-plan of the building from beneath his counter, and marked out Mallory's twisting route in red ink.
   Mallory, still smarting from the morning's meeting with the Nominations Committee of the Geographical, thanked the man rather too brusquely. Somehow—he didn't know which devious strings had been pulled back-stage, but the plot was clear enough—Foulke had maneuvered his way onto the Geographical's Nominations Committee. Foulke, whose aquatic theory of Brontosaurus had been spurned by Huxley's museum, had taken Mallory's arborivore hypothesis as a personal attack, with the result that an ordinarily pleasant formality had become yet another public trial for radical Catastrophism. Mallory had won his Fellowship, in the end, Oliphant having laid the ground too well for Foulke's last minute ambush to succeed, but the business still rankled. He sensed damage to his reputation. Dr. Edward Mallory—"Leviathan Mallory," as the penny-papers insisted on having it—had been made to seem fanatical, even petty. And this in front of dignified geographers of the first rank, men like Button of Mecca and Elliot of the Congo.
   Mallory followed his map, muttering to himself. The fortunes of scholarly warfare, Mallory thought, had never seemed to favor him as they did Thomas Huxley. Huxley's feuds with the powers-that-be had only distinguished him as a wizard of debate, while Mallory was reduced to trudging this gas-lit mausoleum, where he hoped to identify a despicable race-track pimp.
   Taking his first turn, he discovered a marble bas-relief depicting the Mosaic Plague of Frogs, which he had always numbered among his favorite Biblical tales. Pausing in admiration, he was very nearly run down by a steel push-cart, stacked to the gunwales with decks of punch-cards.
   "Gangway!" yelped the carter, in brass-buttoned serge and a messenger's billed cap. Mallory saw with astonishment that the man wore wheeled boots, stout lace-ups fitted with miniature axles and spokeless rounds of rubber. The fellow shot headlong down the hall, expertly steering the heavy cart, and vanished around a corner.
   Mallory passed a hall, blocked off with striped sawhorses, where two apparent lunatics, in gas-lit gloom, crept slowly about on all fours. Mallory stared. The creepers were plump, middle-aged women, dressed throat-to-foot in spotless white, their hair confined by snug elastic turbans. From a distance their clothing had the eerie look of winding-sheets. As he watched, one of the pair lurched heavily to her feet and began to tenderly wipe the ceiling with a sponge-mop on a telescoping pole.
   They were charwomen.
   Following his map to a lift, he was ushered in by a uniformed attendant and carried to another level. The air, here, was dry and static, the corridors busier. There were more of the odd-looking policemen, admixed with serious-looking gentlemen of the capital: barristers perhaps, or attorneys, or the legislative agents of great capitalists, men whose business it was to acquire and retail knowledge of the attitudes and influence of the public. Political men, in short, who dealt entirely in the intangible. And though they presumably had their wives, their children, their brownstone homes, here they struck Mallory as vaguely ghost-like or ecclesiastical.
   Some yards on. Mallory was forced to abruptly dodge a second wheeled messenger. He caught himself against a decorative cast-iron column. The metal scorched his hands. Despite its lavish ornamentation—lotus blossoms—the column was a smokestack. He could hear it emitting the muffled roar and mutter of a badly adjusted flue.
   Consulting his map again, he entered a corridor lined left and right with offices. White-coated clerks ducked from door to door, dodging young messenger-boys rolling about with card-laden wheelbarrows. The gas-lights were brighter here, but they fluttered in a steady draft of wind. Mallory glanced over his shoulder. At the end of the hall stood a giant steel-framed ventilator-fan. It squealed faintly, on an oiled chain-drive, propelled by an unseen motor in the bowels of the pyramid.
   Mallory began to feel rather dazed. Likely this had all been a grave mistake. Surely there were better ways to pursue the mystery of Derby Day, than hunting pimps with some bureaucratic crony of Oliphant's. The very air of the place oppressed him, scorched and soapy and lifeless, the floors and walls polished and gleaming… He'd never before seen a place so utterly free of common dirt… These halls reminded him of something, another labyrinthine journey…
   Lord Darwin.
   Mallory and the great savant had been walking the leaf-shadowed hedgy lanes of Kent, Darwin poking at the moist black soil with his walking-stick. Darwin talking, on and on, in his endless, methodical, crushingly detailed way, of earthworms. Earthworms, always invisibly busy underfoot, so that even great sarsen-stones slowly sank into the loam. Darwin had measured the process, at Stonehenge, in an attempt to date the ancient monument.
   Mallory tugged hard at his beard, his map forgotten in his hand. A vision came to him of earthworms churning in catastrophic frenzy, till the soil roiled and bubbled like a witches' brew. In years, mere months perhaps, all the monuments of slower eons would sink shipwrecked to primeval bedrock…
   "Sir? May I be of service?"
   Mallory came to himself with a start. A white-coated clerk was confronting him, staring into his face with bespectacled suspicion. Mallory glared back, confused. For a divine moment he had poised on the brink of revelation, and now it was gone, as miserably inglorious as a failed sneeze.
   Worse yet. Mallory now realized he had been muttering aloud again. About earthworms, presumably. Gruffly, he proffered his map. "Looking for Level 5, QC-50."
   "That would be Quantitative Criminology, sir. This is Deterrence Research." The clerk pointed at a shingle hung above a nearby office door. Mallory nodded numbly.
   "QC is just past Nonlinear Analysis, around the corner to your right," the clerk said. Mallory moved on. He could feel the clerk's skeptical eyes on his back.
   The QC section was a honeycomb of tiny partitions, the neck-high walls riddled with asbestos-lined cubbyholes. Gloved and aproned clerks sat neatly at their slanted desks, examining and manipulating punch-cards with a variety of specialized clacker's devices: shufflers, pin-mounts, isin-glass color-coders, jeweler's loupes, oiled tissues, and delicate rubber-tipped forceps. Mallory watched the familiar work with a happy lurch of reassurance.
   QC-50 was the office of the Bureau's Undersecretary for Quantitative Criminology, whose name, Oliphant had said, was Wakefield.
   Mr. Wakefield possessed no desk, or rather his desk had encompassed and devoured the entirety of his office, and Wakefield worked from within it. Writing-tables sprang from wall-slots on an ingenious system of hinges, then vanished again into an arcane system of specialized cabinetry. There were newspaper-racks, letter-clamps, vast embedded cardfiles, catalogues, code-books, clacker's-guides, an elaborate multi-dialed clock, three telegraph-dials whose gilded needles ticked out the alphabet, and printers busily punching tape.
   Wakefield himself was a pallid Scot with sandy, receding hair. His glance, if not positively evasive, was extremely mobile. A pronounced overbite dented his lower-lip.
   He struck Mallory as very young for a man of his position, perhaps only forty. No doubt, like most accomplished clackers, Wakefield had grown up with the Engine trade. Babbage's very first Engine, now an honored relic, was still less than thirty years old, but the swift progression of Enginery had swept a whole generation in its wake, like some mighty locomotive of the mind.
   Mallory introduced himself. "I regret my tardiness, sir," Mallory said. "I found myself a bit lost in your halls."
   This was no news to Wakefield. "May I offer you tea? We have a very fine sponge cake."
   Mallory shook his head, then opened his cigar-case with a flourish. "Smoke?"
   Wakefield went pale. "No! No thank you. A fire hazard, strictly against regulations."
   Mallory put his case away, chagrined. "I see… But I don't see any real harm in a fine cigar, do you?"
   "Ashes!" Wakefield said firmly. "And pneumatic particles! They float through air, soil the cog-oil, defile the gearing. And to clean the Bureau's Engines—well, I needn't tell you that's a Sisyphean task, Dr. Mallory."
   "Surely," Mallory mumbled. He tried to change the subject. "As you must know, I am a paleontologist, but I have some small expertise in clacking. How many gear-yards do you spin here?"
   "Yards? We measure our gearage in miles here. Dr. Mallory."
   " 'Struth! That much power?"
   "That much trouble, you might as easily say," Wakefield said, with a modest flick of his white-gloved hand. "Heat builds up from spinning-friction, which expands the brass, which nicks the cog-teeth. Damp weather curdles the gear-oil—and in dry weather, a spinning Engine can even create a small Leyden-charge, which attracts all manner of dirt! Gears gum and jam, punch-cards adhere in the loaders… "Wakefield sighed. "We've found it pays well to take 'every precaution in cleanliness, heat, and humidity. Even our tea-cake is baked specially for the Bureau, to reduce the risk of crumbs!"
   Something about the phrase "the risk of crumbs" struck Mallory as comic, but Wakefield had such a sober look that it was clear no jest was intended. "Have you tried Colgate's Vinegar-Cleanser?" Mallory asked. "They swear by it at Cambridge."
   "Ah yes," Wakefield drawled, "the dear old Institute of Engine Analytics. I wish we had the leisurely pace of the academics! They pamper their brass at Cambridge, but here in public service, we must run and re-run the most grueling routines till we warp the decimal-levers."
   Mallory, having been recently to the Institute, was up-to-date and determined to show it. "Have you heard of the new Cambridge compilers? They distribute gear-wear much more evenly—"
   Wakefield ignored him. "For Parliament and the police, the Bureau is simply a resource, you see. Always on demand, but kept on a tight lead for all of that. Funding, you see. They cannot fathom our requirements, sir! The old sad story, as I'm sure you know. Man of science yourself. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the House of Commons can't tell true clacking from a wind-up cooking-jack."
   Mallory tugged his beard. "It does seem a pity. Miles of gearing! When I imagine what might be accomplished with that, the prospect is breathtaking."
   "Oh, I'm sure you'd catch your breath soon enough. Dr. Mallory," Wakefield said. "In clacking, demand always expands to overmatch the capacity. It's as if it were a law of Nature!"
   "Perhaps it is a law," Mallory said, "in some realm of Nature we've yet to comprehend… "
   Wakefield smiled politely and shot a glance at his clock. "A shame, when one's higher aspirations are overwhelmed by daily practicalities. I don't often have the chance to discuss Engine philosophy. Except with my soi-disant colleague, Mr. Oliphant, of course. Has he, perhaps, told you of his visionary schemes for our Engines?"
   "Only quite briefly," Mallory said. "It seemed to me his plans for, er, social studies, would demand more Engine-power than we have in Great Britain. To monitor every transaction in Piccadilly, and so forth. Struck me as a Utopian fancy, frankly."
   "In theory, sir," Wakefield responded, "it is entirely possible. We naturally keep a brotherly eye on the telegram-traffic, credit-records, and such. The human element is our only true bottle-neck, you see, for only a trained analyst can turn raw Engine-data into workable knowledge. And the ambitious scale of that effort, when compared with the modest scale of the Bureau's current funding for personnel—"
   "I'm sure I wouldn't care to add to the pressing burden of your duty," Mallory broke in, "but Mr. Oliphant did indicate that you might help me to identify a criminal at large and his female accomplice. Having completed two of your request-forms in triplicate, I dispatched them in by special messenger… "
   "Last week, yes." Wakefield nodded. "And we've done our best for you. We're always happy to oblige gentlemen as peculiarly distinguished as Mr. Oliphant and yourself. An assault, and a threat of death against a prominent savant, is a serious matter, of course." Wakefield plucked up a needle-sharp pencil and a gridded pad of paper. "But a rather commonplace business, to attract Mr. Oliphant's specialized interests, isn't it?"
   Mallory said nothing.
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   Wakefield looked grave. "You needn't fear to speak frankly, sir. This isn't the first time that Mr. Oliphant, or his superiors, have called on our resources. And, of course, as a sworn officer of the Crown, I can guarantee you the strictest confidentiality. Nothing you say will leave these walls." He leaned forward. "So. What can you tell me, sir?"
   Mallory thought hard and quickly. Whatever blunder Lady Ada had committed—whatever act of desperation or recklessness had led her into the clutches of the tout and his whore—he could not imagine it helped by the name "Ada Byron" going onto that gridded pad. And Oliphant, of course, would not approve.
   So Mallory feigned a reluctant confession. "You have me at a disadvantage, Mr. Wakefield, for I don't believe there's much to the matter—nothing to truly earn me the privilege of your attention! As I said in my note to you, I encountered a drunken gambler at the Derby, and the rascal made a bit of a show with a knife. I thought little enough of it—but Mr. Oliphant suggested that I might be in genuine danger. He reminded me that one of my colleagues was murdered recently, in odd circumstances. And the case is still unresolved."
   "Professor Fenwick, the dinosaur savant?"
   "Rudwick," Mallory said. "You know the case?"
   "Stabbed to death. In a ratting-den." Wakefield tapped his teeth with the pencil's rubber. "Made all the papers, threw quite a bad light on the savantry. One feels that Rudwick rather let the side down."
   Mallory nodded. "My sentiments exactly. But Mr. Oliphant seemed to feel that the incidents might be connected."
   "Gamblers, stalking and killing savants?" Wakefield said. "I see no motive, frankly. Unless perhaps, and do forgive the suggestion, a large gambling debt is involved. Were you and Rudwick close friends? Wagering companions, perhaps?"
   "Not at all. I scarcely knew the man. And I owe no such debts, I assure you."
   "Mr. Oliphant does not believe in accident," Wakefield said. He seemed to have been convinced by Mallory's evasion, for he was clearly losing interest. "Of course, it is only prudent of you to identify the rascal. If that's all you need of us. I'm sure we can be of service. I'll have a staffer take you to the library, and the Engines. Once we've this assailant's number, we'll be on firmer ground."
   Wakefield flipped up a hinged rubber stopper and shouted into a speaking-tube. A young Cockney clerk appeared, in gloves and apron. "This is our Mr. Tobias," Wakefield said. "He's at your disposal." The interview was over—Wakefield's eyes were already glazing with the press of other business. He gave a mechanical bow. "Pleasure-to-have-met-you, sir. Please let me know if-we-can-be-of-any-further-service."
   "You're most kind," Mallory said.
   The boy had shaven an inch of scalp at his hairline, elevating his forehead for a modishly intellectual look, but time had passed since the clerk's last harboring, for he now had a prickly ridge of stubble across the front of his noggin. Mallory followed him out of the maze of cubicles into a hallway, noting his odd, rolling gait. The clerk's shoe-heels were worn so badly that the nails showed, and his cheap cotton stockings had bagged at the ankles.
   "Where are we going, Mr. Tobias?"
   "Engines, sir. Downstairs."
   They paused at the lift, where an ingenious indicator showed that it was on another floor. Mallory reached into his trouser-pocket, past the jack-knife and the keys. He pulled out a golden guinea. "Here."
   "What's this then?" Tobias asked, taking it.
   "It is what we call a tip, my boy," Mallory said, with forced joviality. " 'To Insure Promptness,' you know."
   Tobias examined the coin as if he had never seen the profile of Albert before. He gave Mallory a sharp and sullen look from behind his spectacles.
   The lift's door opened. Tobias hid the coin in his apron. He and Mallory stepped aboard amid a small crowd, and the attendant ratcheted the cage down into the Bureau's bowels.
   Mallory followed Tobias out of the lift, past a rack of pneumatic mail-chutes, and through a pair of swinging doors, their edges lined with thick felt. They were alone again. Tobias stopped short. "You should know better than to offer gratuities to a public servant."
   "You look as if you could use it," Mallory said.
   "Ten days' wage? Expect I could. Providin' I find you right and fly."
   "I mean no harm," Mallory said mildly. "This place is strange territory. In such circumstances, I've found it wise to have a native guide."
   "What's wrong with the boss, then?"
   "I was hoping you'd tell me that, Mr. Tobias."
   More than the coin, the remark itself seemed to win Tobias over. He shrugged. "Wakey's not so bad. If I were him, I wouldn't act any different. But he ran your number today, guv'nor, and pulled a stack on you nine inches high. You've some talkative friends, you do, Mr. Mallory."
   "Did he now?" Mallory said, forcing a smile. "That file must make interesting reading. I'd surely like a look at it."
   "I do suppose that intelligence might find its way to improper hands," the boy allowed. "Of course, 'twould be worth a fellow's job, if he were caught at it."
   "Do you like your work, Mr. Tobias?"
   "Pay's not much. Gas-light ruins your eyes. But it has advantages." He shrugged again, and pushed his way through another door, into a clattering anteroom, three of its walls lined with shelves and card-files, the fourth with fretted glass.
   Behind the glass loomed a vast hall of towering Engines—so many that at first Mallory thought the walls must surely be lined with mirrors, like a fancy ballroom. It was like some carnival deception, meant to trick the eye—the giant identical Engines, clock-like constructions of intricately interlocking brass, big as rail-cars set on end, each on its foot-thick padded blocks. The white-washed ceiling, thirty feet overhead, was alive with spinning pulley-belts, the lesser gears drawing power from tremendous spoked flywheels on socketed iron columns. White-coated clackers, dwarfed by their machines, paced the spotless aisles. Their hair was swaddled in wrinkled white berets, their mouths and noses hidden behind squares of white gauze.
   Tobias glanced at these majestic racks of gearage with absolute indifference. "All day starin' at little holes. No mistakes, either! Hit a key-punch wrong and it's all the difference between a clergyman and an arsonist. Many's the poor innocent bastard ruined like that… "
   The tick and sizzle of the monster clockwork muffled his words.
   Two men, well-dressed and quiet, were engrossed in their work in the library. They bent together over a large square album of color-plates. "Pray have a seat," Tobias said.
   Mallory seated himself at a library table, in a maple swivel-chair mounted on rubber wheels, while Tobias selected a card-file. He sat opposite Mallory and leafed through the cards, pausing to dab a gloved finger in a small container of beeswax. He retrieved a pair of cards. "Were these your requests, sir?"
   "I filled out paper questionnaires. But you've put all that in Engine-form, eh?"
   "Well, QC took the requests," Tobias said, squinting. "But we had to route it to Criminal Anthropometry. This card's seen use—they've done a deal of the sorting-work already." He rose suddenly and fetched a loose-leaf notebook—a clacker's guide. He compared one of Mallory's cards to some ideal within the book, with a look of distracted disdain. "Did you fill the forms out completely, sir?"
   "I think so," Mallory hedged.
   "Height of suspect," the boy mumbled, "reach… Length and width of left ear, left foot, left forearm, left forefinger."
   "I supplied my best estimates," Mallory said. "Why just the left side, if I may ask?"
   "Less affected by physical work," Tobias said absently. "Age, coloration of skin, hair, eyes. Scars, birthmarks… ah, now then. Deformities."
   "The man had a bump on the side of his forehead," Mallory said.
   "Frontal plagiocephaly," the boy said, checking his book. "Rare, and that's why it struck me. But that should be useful. They're spoony on skulls, in Criminal Anthropometry." Tobias plucked up the cards, dropped them through a slot, and pulled a bell-rope. There was a sharp clanging. In a moment a clacker arrived for the cards.
   "Now what?" Mallory said.
   "We wait for it to spin through," the boy said.
   "How long?"
   "It always takes twice as long as you think," the boy said, settling back in his chair. "Even if you double your estimate. Something of a natural law."
   Mallory nodded. The delay could not be helped, and might be useful. "Have you worked here long, Mr. Tobias?"
   "Not long enough to go mad."
   Mallory chuckled.
   "You think I'm joking," Tobias said darkly.
   "Why do you work here, if you hate it so?"
   "Everyone hates it, who has a spark of sense," Tobias said. "Of course, it's fine work here, if you work the top floors, and are one of the big'uns." He jabbed his gloved thumb, discreetly, at the ceiling. "Which I ain't, of course. But mostly, the work needs little folk. They need us by the scores and dozens and hundreds. We come and go. Two years of this work, maybe three, makes your eyes and your nerves go. You can go quite mad from staring at little holes. Mad as a dancing dormouse." Tobias slid his hands into his apron-pockets. "I'll wager you think, sir, from looking at us low clerks dressed like so many white pigeons, that we're all the same inside! But we ain't, sir, not at all. You see, there's only so many people in Britain who can read and write, and spell and add, as neat as they need here. Most coves who can do that, they'll get far better work, if they've a mind to look. So the Bureau gets your… well… unsettled sorts." Tobias smiled thinly. "They've even hired women sometimes. Seamstresses, what lost their jobs to knitting-jennies. Government hire 'em to read and punch cards. Very good at detail-work, your former seamstresses."
   "It seems an odd policy," Mallory said.
   "Pressure of circumstance," Tobias said. "Nature of the business. You ever work for Her Majesty's Government, Mr. Mallory?"
   "In a way," Mallory said. He'd worked for the Royal Society's Commission on Free Trade. He'd believed their patriotic talk, their promises of back-stage influence—and they'd cut him loose to fend for himself, when they were through with him. A private audience with the Commission's Lord Gallon, a warm handshake, an expression of "deep regret" that there could be "no open recognition of his gallant service… " And that was all. Not so much as a signed scrap of paper.
   "What kind of Government work?" Tobias said.
   "Ever seen the so-called Land Leviathan?"
   "In the museum," Tobias said. "Brontosaurus they call it, a reptile elephant. Had its teeth in the end of its trunk. The beast ate trees."
   "Clever chap, Tobias."
   "You're Leviathan Mallory," Tobias said, "the famous savant!" He flushed bright red.
   A bell rang. Tobias leapt to his feet. He took a pamphlet of accordioned paper from a tray in the wall.
   "In luck, sir. Male suspect is done. I told you the skull business would help." Tobias spread the paper on the table, before Mallory.
   It was a collection of stipple-printed Engine-portraits. Dark-haired Englishmen with hangdog looks. The little square picture-bits of the Engine-prints were just big enough to distort their faces slightly, so that the men all seemed to have black drool in their mouths and dirt in the corners of their eyes. They all looked like brothers, some strange human sub-species of the devious and disenchanted. The portraits were nameless; they had citizen-numbers beneath them. "I hadn't expected dozens of them," Mallory said.
   "We could have narrowed the choice, with better parameters on the anthropometry," Tobias said. "But just take your time, sir, and look closely. If we have him, he's here."
   Mallory stared at the glowering ranks of numbered scapegraces, many of them with disquietingly misshapen heads. He remembered the tout's face with great clarity. He remembered it twisted with homicidal rage, bloody spittle in the cracked teeth. The sight was etched forever in his mind's eye, as vivid as the knuckle-shapes of the beast's spine, when first he'd seen his great prize jutting from the Wyoming shale. In one long dawning moment, then. Mallory had seen through those drab stone lumps and perceived the immanent glow of his own great glory, his coming fame. In just such a manner, he had seen, in the tout's face, a lethal challenge that could transform his life.
   But none of these dazed and sullen portraits matched the memory. "Is there any reason why you wouldn't have this man?"
   "Perhaps your man has no criminal record," Tobias said. "We could run the card again, to check against the general population. But that would take us weeks of Engine-spinning, and require a special clearance from the people upstairs."
   "Why so long, pray?"
   "Dr. Mallory, we have everyone in Britain in our records. Everyone who's ever applied for work, or paid taxes, or been arrested." Tobias was apologetic, painfully eager to help. "Is he a foreigner perhaps?"
   "I'm certain he was British, and a blackguard. He was armed and dangerous. But I simply don't see him here."
   "Perhaps it is a bad likeness, sir. Your criminal classes, they like to puff out their cheeks for criminal photography. Wads of cotton up their noses, and suchlike tricks. I'm sure he's there, sir."
   "I don't believe it. Is there another possibility?"
   Tobias sat down, defeated. "That's all we have, sir. Unless you want to change your description."
   "Might someone have removed his portrait?"
   Tobias looked shocked. "That would be tampering with official files, sir. A felony transportation-offense. I'm sure none of the clerks would have done such a thing." There was a heavy pause.
   "However?" Mallory urged.
   "Well, the files are sacrosanct, sir. It is what we're all about here, as you know. But there are certain highly placed officials, from outside the Bureau—men who serve the confidential safety of the realm. If you know the gents I mean."
   "I don't believe I do," Mallory said.
   "A very few gentlemen, in positions of great trust and discretion," Tobias said. He glanced at the other men in the room, and lowered his voice. "Perhaps you've heard of what they call 'the Special Cabinet'? Or the Special Bureau of the Bow Street police…?"
   "Anyone else?" Mallory said.
   "Well, the Royal Family, of course. We are servants of the Crown here, after all. If Albert himself were to command our Minister of Statistics…"
   "What about the Prime Minister? Lord Byron?"
   Tobias made no reply. His face had soured.
   "An idle question," Mallory said. "Forget I asked it. It's a scholar's habit, you see—when a topic interests me, I explore its specifics, even to the point of pedantry. But it has no relevance here." Mallory peered at the pictures again, with a show of close attention. "No doubt it is my own fault—the light here is not all it might be."
   "Let me turn up the gas," the boy said, half-rising.
   "No," Mallory said. "Let me save my attention for the woman. Perhaps we'll have better luck there."
   Tobias sank back in his seat. As they awaited the Engine-spin, Mallory feigned a relaxed indifference. "Slow work, eh, Mr. Tobias? A lad of your intelligence must long for a greater challenge."
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