about Proudwalk's "infatuation for that lowborn young man."
Snubnose would have liked to leave his place in the circle of scientists and join Proudwalk, but it was against Acknowledged Custom to change position once the circle was formed.
Everyone now was shuffling uncomfortably in the hot sun, except the godsman who was exposed to the cooling air and had the godsmen's secret of escaping sunburn. And Bump-arch, who looked as uncomfortable as anybody else but did not shuffle. He stood still and straight while sweat ran down his face into the tight black neckband of an apprentice. Once he seemed to look at Snubnose and wink, or perhaps he was only winking the sweat away.
An elephant moved slowly down the Street of Ward and onto the Field of Proof. It was a ponderous metal ovoid bearing on its roof a velvet pavilion with the curtains drawn. The circle of scientists parted and opened, and the elephant, with much grinding, came to a stop a few feet from the group in the center of the Field.
The driver, an apprentice lawyer, climbed from his hole and parted the curtains of the pavilion. The High Arbiter looked out at the world with a sour expression. He did not descend.
"I will hear the holy one first," he said from his roost.
The godsman raised his hands to the sun, and spoke.
"Wise one! The Candidate and his master, abetted by the Grandmaster of the Guild of Scientists, are shamelessly defying the Principles. The Candidate is preparing to demonstrate the accelerated movement of matter into the future. That is a mystery of matter. Only the gods can know the path that things take from the dimming past to the dark future. Scientists must confine themselves to their arts and not try to steal the mysteries belonging to the gods.
"The gods grant knowledge of mysteries to godsmen who have humbly supplicated, not to thieves. Let the scientists work to improve the fire-wheels that spin through the night seeking out the encampments of the Bowmen. Let them mix better fertilizers to sell to the Lords of the West. Let them keep in repair the ancient elephants for the honor of our exalted citizens."
The High Arbiter looked slightly less sour, and he nodded shortly. "I will hear the Grandmaster of the Guild of Scientists," he said.
The Grandmaster lifted his head.
"Wise one!" he said. "The godsman jibes, and with some basis. Generation to generation, the fire-wheels spin more slowly and seek less surely. The fertilizers grow leaner. The ceremonial elephants are fewer and worse. Perhaps the godsmen are not supplicating hard enough for solutions to mysteries of matter—solutions which would enable the scientists to control matter. In the impious days before the Principles, matter served mystery and mystery served matter, and by some inexplicable mercy of the gods, things went very well."
Years of banality, years of caution, years of looking to his retirement offering had, for a little while, lost their hold on him.
Snubnose was silently raging. What a place, he thought, for the Grandmaster to burst out with that kind of thing. True, scientists sometimes talked that way in the Guild social rooms, especially after drinking illegal grain distillate, but here it could only hurt Bump-arch's cause.
Snubnose looked at his friend. Bump-arch was trying to suppress a jubilant smile. Surprised, Snubnose looked at his sister. She was jumping up and down with pleasure, as he hadn't seen her do for at least two years.
"Romantics," he said to himself.
The High Arbiter had a talent for looking displeased, and now he did not stint.
"I note the Grandmaster's improper tone," he said stiffly. "Furthermore, his remarks are irrelevant to the issue. The holy one says that the demonstration treats of a mystery of matter in violation of the Principles. In view of the Grandmaster's failure to refute that, it is highly probable. However, it will have to be established by authority and precedent—unless the demonstration involves an idea specifically