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datatime: 2022-12-04 20:44:19 Author:OJLuAaGX

"Then why do you bother to talk to me?"

"Then why do you bother to talk to me?"

"I have them," I told her. "Right here." I ran back to Drotte's table and got them, and passed the smallest through the slot.

"Severian. It won't help, Chatelaine. It won't make any difference."

"I won't eat that, Chatelaine. I'll have my own supper soon, and there's hardly enough for you."

"Here I have no refreshment to offer you but this. Do you like lentils?"

"True." She picked up a leek, and then as if she did not know what else to do with it dropped it down her throat like a mountebank swallowing a viper. "What will you have?"

"Severian. It won't help, Chatelaine. It won't make any difference."

"Can't you? It's terrible to look through this and see them, and not be able to touch them."

Standing before her, with her own cell door closed and locked behind me, I found myself unable to speak. I put the books on her table beside the candlestand and her food pan and carafe of water; there was hardly room for them. When it was done I stood waiting, knowing I should leave and yet unable to go.

She smiled. "What won't?"

"Won't you sit down?"

"Then why do you bother to talk to me?"

"Ah, the torturers get mutton - that's the difference. What's your name, Master Torturer?"

"I won't eat that, Chatelaine. I'll have my own supper soon, and there's hardly enough for you."

"Can't you? It's terrible to look through this and see them, and not be able to touch them."

"True." She picked up a leek, and then as if she did not know what else to do with it dropped it down her throat like a mountebank swallowing a viper. "What will you have?"

"Won't you sit down?"

"I think so, Chatelaine."

"Three more." The brown book went through the slot as well, but the other two, the green book and the folio volume with arms on its cover, were too wide.

"But you did. Besides, you brought them. Weren't you supposed to give them to me?"

"I'm not even supposed to feed you. Drotte should do it."

I could argue only weakly, knowing she was right in principle. The rule against apprentices working in the oubliette was intended to prevent escapes; and I knew that tall though she was, this slender woman could never overpower me, and that should she do so she would have no chance of making her way out without being challenged. I went to the door of the cell where Drotte still labored over the client who had tried to take her own life, and retumed with his keys.

"I have them," I told her. "Right here." I ran back to Drotte's table and got them, and passed the smallest through the slot.

"But you did. Besides, you brought them. Weren't you supposed to give them to me?"

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