Leagues away, in a one-room hut of mud and straw with a thatched roof and a smoke hole and a floor of hard-packed earth, Varamyr shivered and coughed
and licked his lips. His eyes were red, his lips cracked, his throat dry and parched, but the taste of blood and fat filled his
mouth, even as his swollen belly cried for nourishment. A child’s flesh, he thought, remembering Bump. Human meat. Had
he sunk so low as to hunger after human meat? He could almost hear Haggon
growling at him. “Men may eat the flesh of beasts and beasts the flesh of men, but the man who eats the flesh of man is an abomination.”
Abomination. That had always been Haggon’s favorite word. Abomination, abomination, abomination. To eat of
human meat was abomination, to mate as wolf with wolf was abomination, and to seize the body of another man was the
worst abomination of all. Haggon was weak, afraid of his own power. He died weeping and alone when I ripped his second life from him. Varamyr had
devoured his heart himself. He taught me much and more, and the last thing I learned from him was the taste of human flesh.
For example, there was the Piscine Deligny, the city’s oldestpool, dating back to 1796, an open-air barge moored to
theQuai d’Orsay and the venue for the swimming events of the1900 Olympics. But none of the times were recognized by theInternational Swimming Federation
because the pool was sixmetres too long. The water in the pool came straight from theSeine, unfiltered and unheated. “It
was cold and dirty,” saidMamaji. “The water, having crossed all of Paris, came in foulenough. Then people at the pool made it utterly disgusting.”
Inconspiratorial whispers, with shocking details to back up hisclaim, he assured us that the French had very low standardsof personal hygiene. “Deligny was bad
enough. Bain Royal,another latrine on the Seine, was worse. At least at
Delignythey scooped out the dead fish.” Nevertheless, an Olympic poolis an Olympic pool, touched by immortal glory. Though it
Mamaji spoke of
a fond smile.
But Cao Cao said to Zhang Liao, “He has rejected all I gave him, so bribes were powerless with him in whatever shape. I have the GREatest respect for such as him. He has not yet gone far, and I will try to strengthen his attachment to me and make one appeal to sentiment. Ride after him and beg him to stop till I can come up and bid farewell and offer him a sum of money for his expenses and a fighting robe, that he may remember me kindly in after days.”
So Zhang Liao rode out quite alone. Cao Cao followed him leisurely with an escort of a score or so.
Now the steed that Guan Yu rode was Red Hare, and it was very fast. No one could have come up with him but that there was the ladies’ carriage to escort, and so Red Hare had to be held in and go slow. Suddenly Guan Yu heard a shout behind him, a voice crying, “Go slowly, Guan Yu！”
He turned and made out the person to be Zhang Liao. Ordering the pushers of the carriage to press on along the high road, he reined in his steed, held the GREen-dragon saber ready for a stroke, and waited for Zhang Liao to come up.
“Of course you have come to take me back, Zhang Liao？” said Guan Yu.
“No； the Prime Minister, seeing that you are going a long journey, wishes to see you on your way and told me to hasten forward and beg you to wait till he can come up. That is the only thing.”
“Seeing that he is coming along with mailed men, I shall fight to the very last,” said Guan Yu.
And he took up his position on a bridge where he waited the approach of the party, who advanced quickly. Four of Cao Cao’s generals, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, Yu Jin, and Li Dian, followed close. Seeing Guan Yu was ready to fight, Cao Cao ordered his escort to open out in two lines, and then it was seen they carried no arms. This relieved his mind, for it proved to Guan Yu they meant no attack.
“Why do you go in such haste, Guan Yu？” asked Cao Cao.
Guan Yu inclined his head but did not dismount, saying, “I informed you in writing that since my lord was in the North of Yellow River, I had to leave at once. I went to your palace again and again but was refused admittance. So I wrote a letter of farewell, sealed up the treasure, resigned my lordship seal, and left everything for you. I hope you recall the promise you once made me.”
Cao Cao replied, “My desire is to keep my troth with all people.
I cannot go back on my word. However,
you may find the journey expensive,
and therefore I have here prepared a sum of money to help you.”