| I stopped
abruptly just within the threshold my eyes of cold anger upon her, the
Progenitor. I had not changed into new clothes since arriving nor had I
washed or even smoothed my hair. I did not care to. Pennbaston just behind
me had restored herself. I continued to stare at the Progenitor without
speaking. She had demanded this meeting. Let her begin it. I did not care
if this seemed childish to anyone else. They did not know me as she knew
me or her as I knew her.
adjusted her position slightly, straightening, leaning back in order that
she might look at me closely yet aslant down from the dark pits of her
eyes. Her face was strong, rugged, proud, hard. It was also extremely intelligent.
There was no pity there and no mercy. She knew nothing of compassion or
empathy. She understood them and knew how to employ them but she did not
was then that I detected someone else. Someone stood in the shadowed corner
farthest from the door. I recognized the bit of hair caught by the lamplight
and went quickly to her. I stood before her, then saluted her with what
politeness I could call forth at this time and place, for I did respect
her, this 1st consort of the Progenitor. I set her apart in my mind and
in my heart for she was rare and precious. I dipped my head slightly in
all the bow I could ever manage and would perform for no 1 except herself.
"Vryyh," I said, honoring her.
knew. Though I could not bring myself here, or ever, to do proper obeisance
she knew my attempt. She knew me and she smiled at me and all of the fineness
and generosity of her heart was in her smile upon me. But she would not
speak to me because I had not yet spoken to the Progenitor, nor paid honor.