a person—not too fat a person—to crawl through. Above the opening a closing panel was suspended in grooves.
The Grandmaster and the godsman and the kingsman inspected the setup with the peculiar ignorant attention of high officials. Each walked around the cube once and rapped it with his fingers here and there. Each solemnly stooped to the ground and put his head in the opening, although it was dark inside and nothing was visible. The plump godsman made a move as if to crawl in, then backed away.
The kingsman brushed dust from his cloak, and the inspection seemed to be over. The three officials and Crookback withdrew to the circle of scientists and stood just within it, a little to the left of Snubnose.
Bump-arch took hold of the door panel, the only projection on the smoothness of the cube, and scrambled to the roof, where he could be seen by the whole circle.
Now Bump-arch was really enjoying himself, Snubnose thought. And Proudwalk was enjoying Bump-arch with her big eyes.
"Elder ones, whether my experiment succeeds or fails, the outcome will be self-evident. I make no qualifications and prepare no excuses. I will now go ahead with the demonstration."
Snubnose said to himself, "It's a better performance than the High Arbiter gave on his elephant." He would have liked to yell some words of encouragement.
"Before I start," Bump-arch added, "as required by the Laws of the Guild, I ask, are there any among you who wish to inspect my apparatus?"
It was no longer considered good manners to accept that invitation, but a journeyman physicist named Red-hair stepped forward. He walked very carefully, and Snubnose wondered how much grain distillate he had drunk that morning.
Before he reached the steel chamber, Red-hair yelled to the Candidate, "Tell me how to start it. I don't like our times anyway."
"It's not going very far," Bump-arch said easily.
"It's not going anywhere, boy," Red-hair roared. "Everybody knows that. I don't know why we've wasted so much time today."
"You'd better not move any dials! There are a couple of ten-day lamps inside, if you want to look around."
Red-hair crawled through the opening. Five minutes later he crawled out, his hair in his eyes. "I can't make anything of it," he said to everybody in general, and he resumed his place in the circle.
"Now, elder ones, does anyone else wish to inspect the apparatus?"
It was Proudwalk.
She walked on grass and over the patches of shifting dust; walked with the graceful, slightly affected manner that had given her the name. There was the pride in her walk, and there was sexuality.
Bump-arch leaped to the ground to meet her. He bowed as if they were at the King's Councillor's Ball and he were asking her for the dance. Proudwalk touched her palms together in the stylized gesture of acceptance. Immediately she slipped through the entrance. Bump-arch stooped, and quickly followed her. The door panel dropped down its grooves, sealing the chamber.
The scientists chattered; the godsman shouted.
The kingsman raised his voice. "What's going on, Grandmaster?"
"A reconstructed demonstration attempting the accelerated movement of matter through time to the relatively near future by an apprentice who, having completed the requisite service, has been admitted to candidature for the rank of journeyman physicist."
The Grandmaster took a breath.
"Ask the Candidate's master," the godsman said, with the calmness now of more intense anger. "You heard him trick the High Arbiter into ruling that a mystery of matter is not a mystery and a forbidden idea is not forbidden. Maybe he can convince you that a desire of matter is not a desire of matter."
Crookback spoke up at once. "It would seem an unlikely place to give way to desire, but I am an old