Its owner had been dead, the back of her head smashed into red pulp flecked with bits of bone, but her cloak looked warm and thick. It was snowing, and Varamyr had
lost his own cloaks at the Wall. His sleeping pelts and woolen smallclothes, his sheepskin boots and fur-lined gloves, his store of mead and hoarded food, the hanks
of hair he took from the women he bedded, even the golden arm rings Mance had given him, all lost and left behind. I burned and I died and then I ran, half-mad with
pain and terror. The memory still shamed him, but he had not been alone. Others had run as well, hundreds of them, thousands. The battle was lost. The knights had
come, invincible in their steel, killing everyone who stayed to fight. It was run or die.
45 “That’s a good lock you have on the building,” the sheriff announced. “Kept them from opening the door right away.”
“Mighty good thing your daughter happened to look out of her window before she turned in to bed,” remarked the neighbor.
“Yes, indeed it is.”
“I call the best part that you had a pop-gun to pepper them with. I heard one cry out, and from my window I saw that the fellow hiding nearest the barn grabbed toward his face.”
“From that window of yours you must have had a pretty good look at them, even if it was dark,” said the sheriff.
“Did, for an instant. The lad that got nipped seemed like a big boy; tall, stout chap I should say, but the way he sprinted after the gun went off, he
Death was not so easily outrun, however. So when Varamyr came upon the dead woman in the wood, he knelt to strip the cloak from her, and never saw the boy
until he burst from hiding to drive the long bone knife into his side and rip the cloak out
of his clutching fingers. “His mother,” Thistle told him later, after the boy had run off. “It were his mother’s cloak, and when he saw you robbing her …”
One day, as they fled, a rider came galloping through the woods on a gaunt white horse, shouting that they all should make for the Milkwater, that the Weeper was
gathering warriors to cross the Bridge of Skulls and take the Shadow Tower. Many followed him; more did not. Later, a dour warrior in fur and amber went from
cookfire to cookfire, urging all the survivors to head north and take refuge in the valley of the Thenns. Why he thought they would be safe there when the Thenns
themselves had fled the place Varamyr never learned, but hundreds followed him. Hundreds more went off with the woods witch who’d had a vision of a fleet of ships
coming to carry the free folk south. “We must seek the sea,” cried Mother Mole, and her followers turned east.
Simultaneously with the sound of peppering bullets came a furious string of oaths. A second figure leaped from the corner of the old building and then the gun spoke
again. This time, amid the hail of small bullets came a muffled cry of pain, subdued curses, and a swift scrambling of two pairs of feet taking their owners helter-skelter
from the vicinity. From a distance came the roar of a motor thrown open quickly somewhere down the road, a clutch released as if by frantic hands, then an automobile in motion, but moving slowly.
“Nipped them,” Dad declared with satisfaction.
“Wish you could have done more than that,” Roberta said without any compunction.
43 “At any rate, they are frightened away. Turn on the lights, Mother, please, and we’ll do some investigating.” Mrs. Langwell pressed the switches which immediately
illuminated the whole house, and the sounds of shouts came from the home of the nearest neighbors. This was taken up by other persons, while someone on a motorcycle
Leagues away, in a one-room hut of mud and straw with a thatched roof and a smoke hole and a floor of hard-packed earth, Varamyr shivered and coughed
and licked his lips. His eyes were red, his lips cracked, his throat dry and parched, but the taste of blood and fat filled his
mouth, even as his swollen belly cried for nourishment. A child’s flesh, he thought, remembering Bump. Human meat. Had
he sunk so low as to hunger after human meat? He could almost hear Haggon
growling at him. “Men may eat the flesh of beasts and beasts the flesh of men, but the man who eats the flesh of man is an abomination.”
Abomination. That had always been Haggon’s favorite word. Abomination, abomination, abomination. To eat of
human meat was abomination, to mate as wolf with wolf was abomination, and to seize the body of another man was the
worst abomination of all. Haggon was weak, afraid of his own power. He died weeping and alone when I ripped his second life from him. Varamyr had
devoured his heart himself. He taught me much and more, and the last thing I learned from him was the taste of human flesh.
For example, there was the Piscine Deligny, the city’s oldestpool, dating back to 1796, an open-air barge moored to
theQuai d’Orsay and the venue for the swimming events of the1900 Olympics. But none of the times were recognized by theInternational Swimming Federation
because the pool was sixmetres too long. The water in the pool came straight from theSeine, unfiltered and unheated. “It
was cold and dirty,” saidMamaji. “The water, having crossed all of Paris, came in foulenough. Then people at the pool made it utterly disgusting.”
Inconspiratorial whispers, with shocking details to back up hisclaim, he assured us that the French had very low standardsof personal hygiene. “Deligny was bad
enough. Bain Royal,another latrine on the Seine, was worse. At least at
Delignythey scooped out the dead fish.” Nevertheless, an Olympic poolis an Olympic pool, touched by immortal glory. Though it
Then the pack was on them.
His one-eyed brother knocked the tooth-thrower back into a snowdrift and tore his throat out as he struggled. His sister
slipped behind the other male and took him from the rear. That left the female and her pup for him.
She had a tooth too, a little one made of bone, but she dropped it when the warg’s jaws closed around her leg. As she fell,
she wrapped both arms around her noisy pup. Underneath her furs the female was just skin and bones, but her dugs were
full of milk. The sweetest meat was on the pup. The wolf saved the choicest parts for his brother. All around the
carcasses, the frozen snow turned pink and red as the pack filled its bellies.
It was on my own, a guilty pleasure, that I returned to thesea, beckoned by the mighty waves that crashed down
andreached for me in humble tidal ripples, gentle lassos thatcaught their willing Indian boy.
My gift to Mamaji one birthday, I must have been thirteenor so, was two full lengths of credible butterfly. I finished sospent I could hardly wave to him.
Beyond the activity of swimming, there was the talk of it. Itwas the talk that Father loved. The more vigorously he
resistedactually swimming, the more he fancied it. Swim lore was hisvacation talk from the workaday talk of running a zoo.
Waterwithout a hippopotamus was so much more manageable thanwater with one.
Mamaji studied in Paris for two years, thanks to the colonialadministration. He had the time of his life. This was in
theearly 1930s, when the French were still trying to makePondicherry as Gallic as the British were trying to make
therest of India Britannic. I don’t recall exactly what Mamajistudied. Something commercial, I suppose. He was a
greatstoryteller, but forget about his studies or the Eiffel Tower orthe Louvre or the cafés of the Champs-Elysées. All his storieshad to do
The Piscines Hébert, Ledru-Rollin and Butte-aux-Cailles werebright, modern, spacious pools fed by artesian wells. They
setthe standard for excellence in municipal swimming pools. Therewas the Piscine des Tourelles, of course, the city’s other greatOlympic pool, inaugurated
during the second Paris games, of1924. And there were still others, many of them.
But no swimming pool in Mamaji’s eyes
matched the gloryof the Piscine Molitor. It was the crowning aquatic glory ofParis, indeed, of the entire civilized world.
“Ah, the waiter.” The man appeared and the meal was eaten almost in silence. Twice Roberta tried to break the
awkwardness of22 the situation, but the replies from her companion were the briefest possible, so she gave up the
attempt after the second failure. She was glad when the meal was over and they returned to Nike. They took their places
and several times during the return trip, the pilot saw her companion give her short quick glances.
There was something about Mrs. Pollzoff which made Roberta recall the time Phil had been employed to take an old man on
regular trips to Philadelphia. Young Fisher had described his passenger as “falling to pieces,” but after a number of
trips, Roberta had chanced to see the pair in the air; the ancient man pressing a pistol to the back of his pilot’s head. It wasn’t a pleasant memory, in fact it added
greatly to the girl’s uneasiness, but, if her companion’s intention was evil, she gave no evidence of it. They reached the field
in good time without mishap, and as soon as they were out
“Tomorrow I shall come at the same time.”
“Wild as a plate of soup.” Roberta told him how she had spent the hours and what had been passing through her mind. They walked slowly toward the office and Phil listened thoughtfully.
“Let them know at the office,” Roberta replied mechanically. Just at that
moment23 Phil’s Moth came roaring over the field and lighted close by. He waved to Roberta, who waited for him.
“Have a wild time?”
He tried to teach my parents to swim, but he never gotthem to go beyond wading up to their knees at the beach andmaking ludicrous round motions with their arms, which, if theywere practising the breast-stroke, made them
look as if theywere walking through a jungle, spreading the tall grass aheadof them, or, if it was the front crawl, as if they were runningdown a hill and flailing their arms so as not to fall. Ravi wasjust as unenthusiastic.
Mamaji had to wait until I came into the picture to find awilling disciple. The day I came of swimming age, which, toMother’s distress, Mamaji claimed was seven, he brought medown to the beach, spread his arms seaward and said,shlf1314
“This ismy gift to you.””And then he nearly drowned you,” claimed Mother.
I remained faithful to my aquatic guru. Under his watchfuleye I lay on the shlf1314
beach and fluttered my legs and scratchedaway at the sand with my hands, turning my head at everystroke to breathe. I must have looked like a child
throwing apeculiar, slow-motion tantrum. In the water, as he held me atthe surface, I tried my best to swim. It was much moredifficult than on land. But Mamaji was patient and encouraging.shlf1314
When he felt that I had progressed sufficiently, we turnedour backs on the laughing and the shouting, the running andthe splashing, the blue-green
waves and the bubbly surf, andheaded for the proper rectan-gularity and the formal flatness(and the paying admission) of the ashram swimming pool.shlf1314
“There is to be a test for the racing machines this evening, Miss Langwell,” the instructor called as he brought the car to a stop close to where the two were
standing. Roberta noticed that the Federal man gave her companion a swift, all-inclusive glance, but since that was the way with Mr. Howe, and he always
looked everybody up and down, she did not think anything about it.shlf1314
“Hope I can watch it,” she replied.shlf1314
“All set, Miss Langwell.” Nike came to a stop a few yards away, so, forgetting everything else, Roberta turned her whole attention to the task at hand.shlf1314
Presently all was ready, and in another moment, Nike was leaping into the air, carrying her pilot and passenger up a steep climb until they were well in the
air, then her nose was leveled and she shot east18 and south,shlf1314
I was named after a swimming pool. Quite peculiarconsidering my parents never took to water. One of myfather’s earliest business contacts was Francis Adirubasamy. Hebecame a good friend of the family. I called him
Mamaji,mama being the Tamil word for uncle and ji being a suffixused in India to indicate respect and affection. When he was ayoung man, long before I was born, Mamaji was a championcompetitive swimmer, the champion of all
South India. Helooked the part his whole life. My brother Ravi once told methat when Mamaji was born he didn’t want to give up onbreathing water
and so the doctor, to save his life, had to takehim by the feet and swing him above his head round andround.
“It did the trick!” said Ravi, wildly spinning his hand abovehis head. “He coughed out water and started breathing air, butit forced all his flesh and
blood to his upper body. That’s whyhis chest is so thick and his legs are so skinny.”I believed him. (Ravi was a merciless teaser. The first timehe called
Mamaji “Mr. Fish” to my face I left a banana peel inhis bed.) Even in his sixties, when he was a little stooped anda lifetime of counter-obstetric gravity had
begun to nudge hisflesh downwards, Mamaji swam thirty lengths every morning atthe pool of the Aurobindo Ashram.
“She will not find my work dull, but it will be cold, for it may take her to the Bering Sea,” Mr. Howe informed them. “I expect to be ready for her soon.”
“It sounds no end exciting,” Roberta said and her eyes sparkled. A job that would take her to the Bering Sea appeared to have endless possibilities and she was keenly interested. Just then the phone rang and Mr. Trowbridge answered it.
“Your passenger has arrived,” he told Roberta.shlf1314
“I’ll go right down.”shlf1314
“See you later,” Mr. Howe called after her as she hurried away. Ten minutes later Nike,17 her own prize plane, was taxied to the edge of the field, where Roberta and her passenger, a tall, slender woman, whose flying costume,shlf1314
however, gave her huge proportions, waited. The machine came up just as Mr. Wallace and Mr. Howe, in the
The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outsideworld. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusualdullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe
(1926) gave the sloth’ssenses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and itssense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleepingthree-toed
“Yes. She always carries a wonderful pair of glasses, and when we are over the water orders that I fly low and as slowly as possible12 while she examines the deep. I have to keep my eyes on the board, so I haven’t been able to look at
what attracts her attention especially, but a couple of times she has seemed very pleased over what she examined, and appears to admire the schools of fish we have followed a couple of times. Guess it’s a hobby of hers, and she hasn’t anything special to do, so she rides it—”
sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should sufficeto awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction butyours. Why it should look about is
uncertain since, the slothsees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the slothis not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reportedthat
firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited littlereaction. And the sloth’s slightly better sense of smell shouldnot be overestimated. They are
said to be able to sniff andavoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that slothsfall to the ground clinging to decayed branches “often”.
How does it survive, you might ask.
“Oh, that is Mrs. Pollzoff. Her husband used to be in the fur business and when he died she sold her interest to a big syndicate, she told me, because she knew there wasn’t much chance of her making a success against such competition.
She is keen on aviation, and bought herself a plane but has never been able to get a license. I asked Mr. Trowbridge and he said he thought it was because
she showed very little judgment in an emergency; she cracked-up three times, and they forbade her to fly alone.”
“I should think they would,” Mrs. Langwell exclaimed indignantly.
“That’s all I know about her, except that she is madder than a dozen wet hens at the government for depriving her of the
I was at the Indian Coffee House, on Nehru Street. It’sone big room with green walls and a high ceiling. Fanswhirl above you to keep the warm, humid air
moving. Theplace is furnished to capacity with identical square tables,each with its complement of four chairs. You sit where youcan, with whoever is at
a table. The coffee is good andthey serve French toast. Conversation is easy to come by.
And so, a spry, bright-eyed elderly man with great shocksof pure white hair was talking to me. I confirmed to himthat Canada was cold and that French
was indeed spokenin parts of it and that I liked India and so on and soforth – the usual light talk between friendly, curious Indiansand foreign backpackers.
He took in my line of work witha widening of the eyes and a nodding of the head. It wastime to go. I had my hand up, trying to catch my waiterseye to get the bill.
Then the elderly man said, “I have a story that willmake you believe in God.”I stopped waving my hand. But I was suspicious. Wasthis a Jehovah’s Witness
knocking at my door? “Does yourstory take place two thousand years ago in a remote cornerof the Roman Empire?” I asked.
“No.”Was he some sort of Muslim evangelist? “Does it takeplace in seventh-century Arabia?””No, no. It starts right here in Pondicherry just a fewyears
back, and it ends, I am delighted to tell you, in thevery country you come from.””And it will make me believe in
Jobs’s objections to the cloning program were not just economic, however. He had an inbred aversion to it. One of his core principles was that hardware
and software should be tightly integrated. He loved to control all aspects of his life, and the only way to do that with computers was to
The descriptions burst with colour, contrast and tellingdetail. Really, your story can only be great. But it all addsup to nothing. In spite of the obvious, shining promise of it,there comes a moment when you realize that the
whisperthat has been pestering you all along from the back ofyour mind is speaking the flat, awful truth: it won’t work.