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To A[rielle] Heather Wood

More widely known as The Heather Wood


I'm afraid that I use machines and people very hard when I'm focused on a project. The machines tend to break; the people, my friends, do not. Sincere thanks to Dan Breen; Jim Baen and Toni Weisskopf; Mark L. Van Name and Allyn Vogel; Sandra and John Miesel;

and my wife Jo.


Daniel closed the metal covers of the book, then looked directly at Adele. "I don't mean to intrude in another citizen's business, mistress," he said, "but my manservant Hogg is very good at finding people who can change things. If you'd like him to locate some carpenters . . . ?"

Adele snorted. The library budget, if there was one, wasn't under her control. "I appreciate the offer," she said, "but I regret that I'm not in a position to take advantage of it. Unless your man could find the carpenters' wages as well as the carpenters themselves."

Leary grinned, but there was a serious undertone in his voice as he said, "I really don't dare suggest that, mistress. While I don't think Hogg would be caught, I'm afraid his methods would bring spiritual discredit on a Leary of Bantry. What Hogg does on his own account is his own business, but if I set him a task . . ."

The world had gone gray around Adele. "You said, `a Leary of Bantry,' sir," she said. Her voice too was without color. "You'd be related to Speaker Leary, then?"

Leary grimaced. "Oh, yes," he said. "Corder Leary is my father, though we'd both be willing to deny it."

"I see," Adele said. Her voice came from another place, another time. She crossed her hands behind her back. "Lieutenant Leary," she said, "I have a great deal of work to do. You're a Cinnabar citizen and I will presume a gentleman. I therefore request that you cease to trouble me and my staff.

Daniel Leary reddened also. He made a stiff half-bow. "Good morning, mistress," he said. "No doubt we'll meet again." He strode with a caged grace from the library.

Later, he sat on a bench in a garden. He'd walked until the adrenaline burned off and he needed to sit. He hadn't been so angry since the afternoon he broke with his father.

He'd have to challenge her to a duel, of course. The insult had been too deliberate to ignore. . . .




As most of my fiction is either set in the far past or the distant future, I regularly face the question of whether to use weights and measures familiar to the reader or instead to reflect the differences that time brings. In this particular case I've decided to use English and metric measurements rather than inventing different but comparable systems.


In my opinion the weights and measures of thousands of years in the future will differ as strikingly from those of today as the latter do from the talents and stades familiar to classical Greeks. Those future systems may well vary among themselves as confusingly as the Euboic and Aeginetic standards did. But while I hope a reader may learn something from this novel as well as being entertained, the state of the world isn't going to be improved by me inventing phony measurement systems.


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