could lead. Ashley hugged herself and shivered, staring at her feet. McElroy and Jones and I beganto discuss the engineering we’d need, a stone to trip the treadle, a peg to hold it up till we were ready,the rope strung out down the steps, logs to jam the swirling slither of the blade. Blades, maybe,McElroy said, and we began to search for other slots, other cracks.Harrison twisted sideways, her hands and breasts flat to the stone, her weight on her toes, herheels suspended above the outline of the treadle. She sidled swiftly past that danger. “Come on,” shesaid, turning, impatient. “What are you waiting for?” Ashley wouldn’t go. McElroy and Jones joined Harrison on the other side, urging us in more andmore impatient tones, but Ashley began to cry. Finally, I pressed her to the stone, her hands undermine, her chest against the wall and mine against her back. Four-footed and awkward, we inchedacross, her eyes clinched shut, her cheeks wet. I was surprised and dismayed at my reaction to hercloseness. I had daughters older than her. “It’s ok, honey, it’s ok, we’re almost there,” I whispered toher, over and over. All of time and eternity, it took to sidle past that five-foot slab of chiseled stone, Jones and McElroy reaching and urging, Harrison pacing and muttering.It was her, of course, who knew how to tie the arcane knots that left us with one length of therope leading off the front of our waists and one off the back. Harrison. Harrison knew that. Spacedalong the rope like beads on a string, we set off in the darkness, down the straight, sloping tunnel, as wide as I could spread both arms, as high as the thinning hair on my head.McElroy, Jones, Harrison, Ashley, me. I don’t know why she chose that order, or if she did. Per-haps it was simply the order she came to us, the way we were standing, waiting for one of us to say what came next. I coiled the line between Ashley and I, slung it on my arm and walked with my fin-gertips on the small of her back, one hand trailing the wall.“Where are you from, Ashley?” I asked, to try to distract her. She sniffled a bit.“Santa Barbara,” she said, almost silently, her teeth hitting the T three times.“How old are you?”“Fifteen,” she whispered. Harrison called for quiet. I hooked my fingers through the rope aroundher waist.“We’re going to be fine,” I breathed in her ear, but neither of us believed me. We had no lights. There’d been no flashlights aboard the wreck, and we’d tried torches on our firstnight, but they went out in minutes. All we had were fallen fronds from the weedy trees, bits of vine,dead leaves, driftwood. With pine branches, we might have been ok. I’d burned a lot of pine-branchtorches in my teens. As it turned out, we could see a bit. I don’t know if there was some bio-luminescent something down there, or if the stone bounced light from the tunnel entrance, or if was sheer magic, but asdark as it got, we could still see the faint, looming shadows of ourselves. I could see a glimmer fromthe folds of Harrison’s copper dress, the pale blotch of McElroy’s white dress shirt. I could see Ash-ley’s tiny cutoffs, floating like a pale ghost below my fingertips.Straight into the hillside, sloping down, the path led us for fifteen minutes, then lurched suddenly to the left. Down again, steeper but not as far, and then to the left. Around and around and around,down and down and down, and then McElroy shouted, one single quick bark of surprise, cut off suddenly. Jones grunted as the line went tight around him, went to his knees hard, scrabbled to asliding gasping stop.“Stay put!” I said to Ashley, dropping the coiled line, moving past her. Harrison, of course, wasalready moving. We went to our knees by Jones, took as much strain from him as we could, got our weight settled, pulled the limp deadweight of McElroy back up to our level. I felt for his pulse,listened for his heartbeat, tried to feel his breath on my face, as Harrison crawled from one side of the tunnel to the other, lying flat, stretching her arms as far as she could over that sudden edge. We were stopped. From what, I still don’t know.