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.He veered off the path, and, only halfconscious, fell to his knees, where he vomited, again and again.Someone nearby was moaning a weird song of two alter-nating tones.Jantiff presently becameaware that the sound proceeded from himself.He crawled a few yards across the dark mold and lay flat.The shuddering in his stomach be-came intermittent. His mouth tasted sour and oily; and he remembered the sauce which had been poured over the meat.Again his or-gans twisted and squeezed, but he could bring up only a thin acrid gruel, which he spat tothe ground.He rose, to his feet, looked blearily here and there, then returned to the path.From thedistance came shouts and calls, to which Jantiff paid no heed.Through a gap in the foliage he glimpsed the river.He picked his way to the water s edge, rinsed hismouth, bathed his face, then slumped down upon a chunk of driftwood.Along the trail returned the bonterfesters, mumbling disconsolately to each other.Jantiff hauledhimself to his feet, but as he started back toward the trail he heard first Skorlet s voice, then Esteban sbaritone mutter; they had turned off the trail and were coming toward him.Jantiff halted, appalled at the prospect of meeting Skorlet and Esteban face to face in this isolatedspot.He jerked him-self behind a clump of polyptera and stood in concealment.Esteban and Skorlet passed by and went to the water s edge, where they peered up and down theriver. Nowhere in sight, croaked Esteban. By now they re halfway to Aotho. I can t understand, cried Skorlet tremulously. Why should they hoodwink you; why play youfalse?Esteban hesitated. It can only be a misunderstanding, a terrible blunder.The two were sittingtogether.I spoke to the hetman and made my wishes known.He looked across and asked, as if in doubt: That young one yonder? The stripling? Never thinking of Tanzel, I assured him:  Exactly so! Thehetman took the younger of the two.Such are the bitter facts.I will now purge them from my mind and you must do the same.For a space Skorlet said nothing.Then she spoke in a voice harsh with strain:  So what now withhim? First the matrix.Then I ll do whatever needs to be done. You ll have to be quick, said Skorlet tonelessly. Events are under control.Three days remain.Skorlet looked out across the river. Poor little creature.So dear and gay.I can t bear to think ofher.But the thoughts come. No help for it now, said Esteban, his own voice uncer-tain. We can t become confused.Toomuch hangs in the bal-ance. Yes.Too much.Sometimes I am staggered by the scope. Now then! Don t create bugbears! The affair is simplicity itself. The Connatic is a very real bugbear. The Connatic sits in his tower Lusz, brooding and dream-ing.If he comes to Arrabus, we ll provehim as mortal as the next man. Esteban, don t speak the words aloud. The words must be spoken.The thoughts must be thought.The plans must be planned.The deedsmust.be done.Skorlet stared out across the water.Esteban turned away. Put her out of your mind.Come. The cursed stranger lives, and poor little Twit is gone. Come, said Esteban shortly.The two went up the path.Jantiff presently followed, walk-ing like a somnambulist.Chapter 8The bonterfesters returned to Uncibal in a mood greatly in contrast to that in which they had set out.Aside from one or two muttered conversations, the group rode in silence.Skorlet and Esteban sat grimlyerect, looking neither right nor left;Jantiff watched them in covert fascination, his skin crawling at the thought of their conversation.Theyhad meant him to be taken and dragged away by the mournful-eyed gypsies.At the contractor s depotEsteban went off with Booch to the dispatcher s office.Jantiff took advantage of the occasion to slip quietly away from the group He jumped aboard the man-way and rode north, walking and trotting.toincrease his speed.Every few moments he looked back even though no one could possibly be so closeon his heels.He gave a ner-vous laugh: in truth he was frightened, and no denying the fact.By sheerchance he had stumbled upon something awful, and now his very existence was threatened: Esteban hadleft him in no doubt of this.The Great Southern Adit intercepted Uncibal River; Jantiff diverted eastward, and as before traveledat the best speed possible: pushing through the crowds, sidling and side-step-ping, trotting when spaceopened before him.He diverted from Uncibal River along Lateral 26, and presently arrived at Old Pink.Jantiff loped into the block, across the foyer, into the ascensor.Its familiar musty reek alreadyseemed alien, and no longer part of his life.He alighted at the nineteenth level, raced around the corridorto his apartment.He entered, and stood stock-still an instant, to pant and or-ganize his thoughts.He glanced aroundthe room.Kedidah s belongings already appeared to show a thin film of dust.How remote she seemed!A week from now she would be gone from memory; that was the way of Uncibal.Jantiff quietly closedthe door and made sure of the lock; then he went to his strongbox in the bedroom and opened the door.Into his pouch he packed ozols, family amulet, pigments, applicators and a pad of paper.Into one pockethe tucked his passage-voucher, personal certificate and tokens; the matrix he hefted in his hand, glancingtoward the door.Urgency struggled with curiosity.Surely he had a few moments; the boater festersrode Uncibal River far to the west.Time for a quick look.He slid the new matrix from the camera,inserted the old, turned the switch to  Project and pointed the camera at the wall.Images: the blocks of Uncibal, dwindling in perspective; the crowds of Uncibal River; the mudflatsand Disjerferact [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]