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The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume I -- Dr. Svenson - Part III

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume I -- Dr. Svenson - Part III

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Published by Bantam Dell
An excerpt from The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume I by Gordon Dahlquist.
An excerpt from The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume I by Gordon Dahlquist.

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Publish date: Dec 30, 2008
Added to Scribd: Feb 18, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/04/2014

 
Had this been the right answer? Svenson heard the gurglingbottle as Francis Xonck began to hold forth. “Moral perspective is what we carry around with us—it exists nowhere else, I can prom-ise you. Do you see? There is liberation and responsibility—for what is natural depends on where you are, Bascombe. Moreover,vices are like genitals—most are ugly to behold, and yet we findthat our own are dear to us.” He sniggered at his own wit, drank deeply, exhaled. “But I suppose you have no vices, do you? Well,once you’ve changed your hat and become Lord Tarr, sitting on theonly deposit of indigo clay within five hundred miles, I daresay you’ll find they appear soon enough—I speak from experience.Find yourself some tuppable tea cozy to marry and keep yourhouse and then do what you want elsewhere. My brother, for ex-ample...”Bascombe laughed once, somewhat bitterly.“What is it?” asked Xonck.“Nothing.”“I do insist.”Bascombe sighed. “It is nothing—merely that, only last week, I was still—as I said, not
significant 
—you see, one can only smile athow easy it is to believe—believe so
deeply 
—”“Wait, wait—if you’re going to tell a
story 
, then we need an-other bottle. Come on.”Their footsteps moved out of the kitchen, to the hall, and soonSvenson heard them descending the cellar stairs. He didn’t feel hecould risk slipping past—he had no idea where the wine cellar ac-tually was, or how long they would be. He could try to find thefront door—but knew he was in the perfect position to learn more where he was, as long as he wasn’t discovered. Suddenly Svensonhad it. Bascombe! He was Crabbé’s aide—a thin, youngish fel-low,never spoke, always paying attention—he was about to be a
Lord 
? Chiding himself Svenson realized he was wasting the most
the glass books of the dream eaters
193
 
immediate source of information of all. He dug out another matchand pushed silently through the swinging door. He listened—they  were well out of hearing—struck the match and looked down atthe dead man on the table.He was perhaps forty years old, hair thin, clean-shaven, with asharp pointed nose. His face was covered with red blotches, vividdespite the pallor of death, lips stretched back in a grimace, reveal-ing a mouth half-full of tobacco-stained teeth. Working quickly asthe match burned, Svenson pulled back the sheet and could nothelp but gasp. The man’s arms, from the elbows down, were riven with veins of lurid, jagged, gleaming blue, bulging out from theskin, cutting through it. At first glance the veins looked wet, butSvenson was shocked to realize that they were in fact
 glass 
—andthat they ran down through the man’s forearms, thickening,seething into and stiffening the flesh around them. He pulled thecloth farther and dropped the match with surprise. The man hadno hands. His wrists were completely blue, starred, and broken—as if the hands below them had
shattered.
The footsteps returned below. Svenson whipped the cloth intoplace and retreated to the dining room, carefully stilling the swing-ing door, his mind reeling at what he’d just seen. Within momentshe heard the men in the hall and then entering the kitchen.“Another glass there, Bascombe,” called Xonck, and then to athird man, “I’m assuming you will join us—or me, at least—Bascombe doesn’t quite share my thirst. Always watching from adistance, aren’t you, Roger?”“If you insist,” muttered the new voice. Svenson stoppedbreathing. It was Major Blach. Svenson slowly slipped his righthand around the butt of the revolver.“Excellent.” Xonck extracted the cork from the new bottle with a pop and poured. He drank, and Svenson could hear himemit little noises of pleasure as he did. “It’s very good—isn’t it?
194
Surgeon
 
Damn—my cigar seems to have gone out.” Svenson saw the lightof a match flare. While it burned, Xonck chatted on. “Why don’t we give him a peek—get the cloth, Bascombe. There you go—inall his glory. Well, Major, what do you say?”There was no response. After a moment the match went out. Xonck chuckled. “That’s more or less what we said too. I think oldCrabbé said ‘bloody hell!’ Except of course it’s not
bloody 
at all.” Xonck cackled. “Find relief where you can, that’s what I say.”“What has happened to him?” asked Blach.“What do you think? He’s dead. He was rather valuable, don’tyou know—rather skilled in the technical mechanics. It’s a goodthing there’s still Lorenz—if there is still Lorenz—because, Major,I’m not quite certain you understand exactly whos responsible forthis damned outright
catastrophe 
. It is
 you,
Major. It is
 you 
because
 you 
could not locate one disreputable ruffian who was thus free todisrupt our work at its most delicate moment. Just as
 you 
couldnot control the members of your own diplomatic mission—I as-sume you know the man who took back the Prince, waving a pis-tol in our faces—which would be laughable if it didn’t createproblems for everyone
else 
to solve!”“Mr. Xonck—” began Major Blach.“Shut your foul foreign mouth,” snarled Xonck coldly. “I don’t want excuses. I want thoughts. Think about your problems. Thentell us what you’re going to do about them.”Except for the clink of Xonck’s glass, there was silence. Svenson was astonished. He’d never heard Blach spoken to in such a way,nor could he have imagined Blach reacting with anything but rage.Blach cleared his throat. “To begin—”“First, Major,” and it was Bascombe speaking, not Xonck,“there is the man from your compound, the Prince’s Doctor, I believe?”“Yes,” hissed Blach. “He is not a factor. I will go back tonightand have him smothered in his bed—blame it on anything—noone will care—”
the glass books of the dream eaters
195

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