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By John Brunner

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Probably, Lex thought, he was the only person, bar one, of all the hundreds here who knew that that laughter had been triggered by a single forced giggle, reflex-quick after the event. He looked across the front of the assembly and saw he was right. Delvia wasn't laughing. She was staring at him, one eyebrow lifted. But she wasn't laughing. The anger drained from him, and a cool determination took its place. Now or never he would have to establish his ascendancy over Nanseltine, Rothers, Ornelle, and the rest— to make sure that so many of the others saw the literal insanity of their arguments they would never again treat them with anything but the contempt they merited.

I—can't watch any more," Baffin said at last, his face white as death. "Nor can I," Lex said. He turned silently and led Baffin to rejoin the others. The moans and screams died away behind. XVI "I'm a fool," Aldric said dispiritedly. "I took it for granted when Lex's party failed to contact us that they'd also failed in their aim of getting the river back. " "It can't be helped," Jerode said, looking around the committee table. " Ornelle said from the foot of the table. She curled her lip. Against his best judgment Jerode had allowed her to sit in on this discussion, since she appeared to have recovered from her temporary breakdown, but so far her contributions had been unconstructive.

So she attached herself to me. That was all, at first. "Then it got really cold. " Her voice was low and fierce. "Well, one night there she was, climbing under my blanket with me, stiff with cold. I figured out afterwards what I should have done—oh, yes! I knew my reflexes were set to detonate. I ought to have given her my blanket and gone out in the snow to cool off. I didn't. Shivering in my sleep with a pitchblack storm outside, I wasn't able to think of noble gestures. " She slapped her thigh with her open palm.

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