"They chose well. I am glad, ." She said, "I wanted to say good-bye, ." "It will not be for long. A few days. Then, when I am Capped..." She shook her head. "I shall not see you again. Did you not know?"

She came forward, the other ladies following, and stood there, grave and brave in her dignity, while her father, the Comte, carefully fitted the crown over the turban on her head. And her subjects filed past to kiss her hand, myself among them.

So we continued our companionship, though there was a new wariness between us. Now that I was stronger, we could range farther afield. Horses were saddled for us, and we rode out of the castle gates and down the hill into meadows thick with summer flowers.

Eloise and I wandered about the rooms and grounds of the castle contentedly. At home, I had not mixed much with girls, and had been ill at ease when I could not avoid their company, but with her I felt no strain nor awkwardness.

Le Château de la Tour Rouge stands on high ground, overlooking a confluence of two rivers. It is very ancient, but has had old parts rebuilt and others added from time to time.

said, "What are these?" It was a wooden box, full of what looked like large metal eggs - as big as goose eggs. He picked one out, and showed it to .

youtu.be/nKNT9jDhFCk

stopped by one and peered inside. He said, "Places for men to sit. And wheels. So, a carriage of some nature." Henry said, "It can’t be. There’s nowhere to harness the horse. Unless the shafts rusted away." "No," Beanpole said. "They are all the same. Look."

murmured, "My people built that." Henry said, "How many lived there, do you think? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? A million?" I said, "We shall have to go a long way around. I can see no end." "Around?" Beanpole asked. "But why? Why not through?"

But something moved in the silver, a flicker in the bright haze. Until, crossing from the sun-path into the blue, it took on shape. A Tripod, followed by a second, and a third. Six of them all told. I said, in wonder, "Can they walk on water?"

Dusk was thickening by the time we reached the harbor. There were dozens of boats of all sizes tied up, and others standing out in the harbor, sails close-reefed on their masts. We wandered along the quay, reading their names.

But to travel where? Could this tunnel run for a hundred miles, as the track of the Shmand-Fair had done - but underground? To a buried city, perhaps, whose wonders were even greater than those of the city above us?

“I am ready now.” He put a hand out, first to me and then to Henry. “My name - I am Zhan-pole.” He looked odd and solemn standing there, tall and thin, with that strange metal-and-glass thing on his face. Henry laughed. “More like !”

“The Watch-do you ever think what it must have been like in the days when things like that were made?” I had, from time to time, but it was another subject on which speculation was not encouraged, and Jack had never talked in this way before. I said, “Before ?” “Yes.”

Those that were left the Tripods Capped, and once Capped they served the Tripods and helped to kill or capture other men. So, within a generation, things were much as they are now.

Farther along was the den Jack had made. One approached it through a crumbling arch; inside it was dry, and there was a place to build a fire. Jack had made one before coming out to look for me, and had skinned, cleaned, and skewered a rabbit ready for us to grill.

Jack had always been around to a lend a hand, as long as I could remember. It was strange, I thought, as we walked toward the village, that in just over a week’s time I would be on my own. The Capping would have taken place, and Jack would be a boy no longer.

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