By the time Giskard and Vasilia reached the house, there seemed to be a bit of a buzz about Vasilia's injured state, evident from her need to be carried in such a manner. They were approached no fewer than fourteen times by robots offering assistance, but each time, Vasilia sent them away firmly, and by the time the fifteenth appeared out of nowhere begging after her condition, she was very short tempered indeed. Giskard remained completely silent, and Vasilia couldn't help but wonder if he was simply too mortified to speak.
Upon entering the foyer, Lansom swooped down on them like a giant metal eagle.
"There has been some confusion among the robots, Miss Vasilia. Are you, or are you not, injured?"
"Where's my father?" she demanded.
"He is in a very important meeting with Doctor Sarton. I have been sent away to see to your condition."
So her father couldn't even be pulled away from the meeting in the event of her injury. She sighed unhappily. Well, there was no point denying it to Lansom who was here at her father's orders.
"It's my ankle," she said.
"How has it come to be injured?" Lansom asked, his eyes straying to her feet.
"It was just an accident," Vasilia said.
"I am responsible," Giskard said, speaking for the first time since they had left the grove. Lansom stepped back in surprise and stared down at the smaller robot.
"Giskard! Be quiet!" Vasilia felt like smacking her forehead in exasperation.
"How are you responsible for this injury?" Lansom asked. But Giskard remained silent.
"He's just overreacting," Vasilia said. "He's not responsible."
Lansom seemed to accept her statement and resumed his mothering. "Let us put you to bed. I will notify your father's physician immediately. Friend Giskard, please bring Miss Vasilia to her bedroom." He placed a hand on Giskard's back and pushed forward gently.
Giskard entered Vasilia's private wing—formerly her mother's, she knew—and walked down the hall to her bedroom. The sun, now high in the sky, streamed through the ceiling. She had little need for the extravagance of an entire wing of the establishment to herself, but her father had insisted that this was only right. But there were many rooms she did not use, as she preferred to spend her time in the common area of the house and even her father's wing sometimes. Today, the hallway seemed particularly long. She leaned against Giskard and felt lulled by the warm sunlight hitting her face and the careful, gentle rhythm of his movements.
Basley stepped out of a niche across from her bedroom door and said, "May I be of some assistance?"
And quite tired of sending robots away without aim, she said, "Basley, I would like you to bring me some juice. And something to eat while you're at it."
He paused and said, "It is not proper to eat in your bedroom, Miss Vasilia." He followed Giskard as he walked into said bedroom and laid her down on the soft blankets with more care than was necessary.
"Miss Vasilia is currently restricted to her bedroom, friend Basley," Lansom said, appearing behind him in the doorway. "It is acceptable to bend the rules given the situation."
Basley retreated to see to Vasilia's requests, and Lansom came to her bedside. "The physician will arrive in one half hour."
"Have you told my father?"
"It did not seem prudent for me to interrupt his meeting further with this private matter. We will look after you until the time he is available."
"You will, Lansom?"
"I will as long as I am not needed for my usual duties," he said.
"That's good. How long do you think this meeting of my father's will last?"
"It is impossible for me to predict. When we were covertly informed that there was some kind of incident, Doctor Fastolfe immediately sent me out to see to it—that is, to see to you. At that time, they had not yet begun discussing the purpose of the meeting in depth. Doctor Sarton had only arrived less than fifteen minutes earlier."
"So it's probably going to go on for a long time," Vasilia moped.
"I would judge that it will take at least one hour, and it may easily be more."
Basley returned carrying a tray laden with a cup of juice and a serving of yogurt with fruit. He set it down on her bedside table, glanced across her reclined form, then went to her wardrobe.
"Your current clothing has been dirtied by your accident outdoors," Lansom said. "Is it possible to remove your shoes without causing you pain?"
"Just let me do it." Vasilia leaned forward and removed her shoes gingerly, determined not to show any sign of discomfort in her face. Her eyes flickered to Giskard, who was standing back, surrendering to the more skillful administrations of Lansom and Basley.
She couldn't help it. She was worried about him.
With the help of Lansom and Basley, Vasilia was soon in clean, soft garments.
"I would like to know exactly what happened, Miss Vasilia, if I may," Lansom said.
"Why? It's not really important," Vasilia mumbled.
"I simply wish to know the details so that I may correct any circumstance which may have led to the accident, such as an unexpected hole in the ground or a hidden stone."
"It was nothing like that," she said.
"Were you engaging in rough play with another child?" he pressed. "I do not believe friend Giskard is programmed to effectively moderate such activities."
"Lansom, you know there aren't any other children near here." She sighed. "I was just playing by myself. It wasn't anything to do with the ground or anything like that. It was just an accident, like I said."
"It was due to my poor judgment that Miss Vasilia found herself injured," Giskard said quietly.
Lansom didn't react with any surprise. "So you have suggested, friend Giskard. What were the circumstances?"
"Don't ask Giskard, Lansom!" Vasilia groaned.
"If friend Giskard is flawed in his ability to assess situational conflicts, he is a risk to your wellbeing and therefore a poor guardian to you. For your own safety, I must know what has happened."
Vasilia hissed in displeasure and set her mouth in an unhappy pout. Giskard may have to suffer this questioning, but she wanted to make sure Lansom knew she didn't like it.
But Lansom barely paid her mind. "Please explain the situation as it happened," he said to Giskard.
Giskard began with a steady voice, "Miss Vasilia wished to pick an apple from the small grove southwest of here. I allowed her to climb the tree at her insistence, despite my reservations. She was quite high when she transferred to a nearby evergreen, and it was not clear what the best course of action would be to protect her at this point."
"It was indeed poor judgment for you to allow her to climb the tree to begin with," Lansom said.
"Nevertheless, that is what happened. I could not see any other robot in immediate view to ask for assistance, and I did not want to leave Miss Vasilia alone in a precarious position to retrieve a ladder. I suggested that she move along the branch toward the sturdier base, and it was due to her movement at my suggestion that the branch snapped and she fell. I was unable to catch her or dampen her fall."
"That is a collection of grave errors on your part, friend Giskard, but it was due to a number of elements that were beyond your ability to control."
"Oh Lansom, it was my fault," Vasilia broke in. "I told him not to worry about me and that I was fine."
"That should not have altered his judgment with regards to your safety."
Vasilia sighed. "I told him I wasn't in any danger. And it wasn't until that last branch that I was, and by then, he was trying to figure out the best way to help me. What would you have done?" She shot Lansom a dirty look, which was doubtless completely lost on him.
"I would not have allowed you to climb the tree," he said simply.
"But how could you know it was dangerous in the beginning?"
"I would have predicted that you would try to climb as high as you were able, which would be much higher than was safe."
"But that's because you know me!" she cried. "Giskard barely knows me so he couldn't have known!"
"That is all the more reason he should not have allowed such a thing to happen in the first place. But while the situation could have been handled with more skill, your injuries are not life-threatening. Still, I will mention the incident to Doctor Fastolfe."
"Oh, don't!" Her father would no doubt guess exactly what she would have been attempting and decide that she wasn't old enough yet to be completely in charge of a robot. What if he punished Giskard for failing to look out for her? What if he decided she wasn't ready to study robotics?
"I must report on all irregular behavior, Miss Vasilia," Lansom said.
"This is not the only way I have failed," Giskard said. "After she fell, I experienced a degradation of efficiency in my positronic matrix that rendered me all but incapable of immediately seeing to her needs. It was not until friend Randall arrived that I was able to react in a suitable manner."
"That should not be," Lansom said.
"Nevertheless, this is what occurred."
"If Miss Vasilia had been seriously injured, an immediate response could have meant the difference between life and death."
Giskard bowed his head. "I dare not contemplate the implication of such an incident."
Lansom looked on Giskard, and Vasilia wondered what he was thinking. Was he reassessing Giskard's worth and abilities? Was he looking down on him as an inferior creature? There was no doubt Lansom would tell her father all of this, and what would he think? Maybe Giskard had never been personally responsible for the safety of a human before this, and what kind of impression would it make if his first day on the job, he had shown himself to be incapable of what should have been simple emergency procedures? To panic at the sign of danger was the mark of a primitive brain and could make a robot all but useless for interaction with humans. It wasn't fair. Why had her father given her such an old robot? He had to have known this would happen.
The physician arrived a short time later, and was led to her room by Jamison, the greeter. The man was an extremely handsome specimen of a Spacer. His short wavy auburn hair was brushed to the side in an attractive swoop, and he had the longest, thickest eyelashes Vasilia had ever seen on any man or woman. She would have schemed ways of becoming injured behind robot backs more often if his personality matched his looks, but in reality, he was the most painfully awkward person to interact with. The garish mauve sweater was the only the first of many uncomfortable features.
"So, little Vasilia," he said as he came down by her ankle, nearly stuffing his perfect nose against her littlest toe. His effeminate voice clashed with his strong, masculine face, and every word sounded like it slipped out of his mouth without permission. "I'm just—ermm—hmm—just going to place your ankle in my—ermm—holo-x-scanner. I'll be gentle," he said, casting a labored glance across the bed at Basley and Giskard, who were keeping a respectful distance from the procedure. Doctor Chisley lifted her foot into an object that looked like a mechanical breadbox and closed the top. With a finger massaging his front tooth, he adjusted two dials and pressed the big shiny red button.
The breadbox whirred for a second then became silent once more.
"There now, that's all. Nothing—ermm—invasive."
Vasilia blinked. Lansom loomed hawkishly over Doctor Chisley as close as his deference to custom would permit. The physician, for his part, behaved as though he was completely unaware of any robotic eyes staring holes into his paisley back.
A visiscreen popped up from the machine like toast and Chisley pulled it out.
"Well, that's a bit boring, hmm," he said as he stared at the display with squinted eyes.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Vasilia said.
"Oh nothing," he said with a sigh. "It's only a sprain."
"Well, that's good!" she said.
"Yes, yes, I suppose. Shoo, robot, you're standing in my light."
Lansom jumped back into a more passive position along the periphery of the room.
"I'm going to give you this bandage, Vasilia. Be sure to wear it during the... the day—but not while you sleep," he added, rolling his lustrously lashed eyes. He set a bright blue tube of fabric on the bed. "Also, here is a medication that will improve healing and—erm—lessen the—ah—healing time." And that was followed by a small white bottle.
"I will see that Miss Vasilia is perfectly tended to, sir," Lansom said.
"Yes, yes, I'm sure."
"How am I supposed to walk?" Vasilia said, indignant.
"Oh, it is better to stay in bed until the pain is less." Chisley began packing away his breadbox and other small accoutrements.
"In bed?! But I have things to do!"
"What could a child," he said, with obvious distaste, "possibly have to do? You have no responsibilities of any kind."
"I have my studies!"
"Oh yes, and I happen to know your illustrious father sees to those personally, so you might take this time to enjoy your bed as your classroom—assuming it's not your normal classroom, that is."
"How dare you!" Vasilia said in a perfect imitation of the female protagonist in every Spacer holodrama.
"Now, now, little Vasilia, it's—ahm—best to remember your status. You're just a child."
Vasilia could only stare in an affronted silence.
"Excuse me, sir, but you are offending Miss Vasilia," Lansom said. "If you are finished with your dispensation of aid, as seems to be the case, I will take care of administrative details if you will follow me."
The physician stood and both he and his chunky mauve sweater disappeared through the door after Lansom.
"What an insufferable man!" Vasilia chirped, enjoying her sudden moment of play-acting.
"Not to disregard your feelings, Miss Vasilia, but he has provided proper care," Basley said as he approached and began to fit the bandage. It sealed down her ankle gently along a magnetic strip. He picked up the bottle of medication. "I will provide medication at the appropriate intervals. For now, if you should need anything, I will be just outside your door."
For the first time since returning to the house, she was alone again with Giskard. He remained where he was against the wall in silence.
"Giskard, are you okay?" Vasilia said.
"In what way do you mean, Miss Vasilia?" he said, sounding normal enough.
"Well, you've been so quiet."
"I am unaccustomed to speaking unless spoken to, except in circumstances where some information I am aware of may be helpful to the situation."
"Well," she said, considering this, "as long as it's not because you're ashamed or something like that."
"Yeah, I mean, in front of the other robots."
"I don't understand what you mean, Miss Vasilia."
Vasilia smoothed her covers absentmindedly. "Come closer. You don't have to stand there by the wall."
Giskard walked up next to her bed.
"That's better, but it would be even better if you were sitting. Bring that chair over here and sit."
Soon, Giskard was sitting stiffly by her bed.
"I already told you I don't blame you about what happened," Vasilia said, lying on her side.
"Yes, Miss Vasilia, I remember."
She looked into his face and wondered, again, at the complexity of his thoughts. Was he feeling regret at all or was he past it now? Was the crisis over in his mind, and with it the conflict?
"Well, I'm stuck in bed now for at least a day," she said. "So we'll have lots of time to get to know each other now—the normal way, not the dangerous way," she added.
"If that is what you wish, Miss Vasilia."
"I don't think I want you to call me that. Every one of the other robots does. You're my own robot so I don't want you to be like all the others."
"What would you prefer to be called, Miss—Mistress?" he said as though his use of the word surprised him.
"Oh no, not that. That's much worse. That's so old-fashioned, back when robots were actually slaves!"
Giskard remained silent.
"No, something else. Something like... Little Miss!"
"If that's what you wish, Little Miss," he said.
Vasilia felt a little pulse of joy in her chest. She had been planning on having Lansom use it, but couldn't get herself to ask. Lansom certainly paid her enough attention for it to seem authentic, but he wasn't much like Andrew Martin. Andrew started out simple, so the story went, just like Giskard. And just like Andrew, Giskard was going to get more advanced over time if she had anything to say about it. Maybe he could even become like a man somehow once her father's humaniform project became successful! Was that possible? Well if Andrew could do it...
"Do you know the story of Andrew Martin?" Vasilia asked.
"I am not familiar with it, Little Miss."
"Oh. Oh well." She was almost disappointed that it wasn't a secret legend among robots as much as among humans. But she supposed robots had no secret legends or anything interesting like that. Imagine that—a secret robot culture. Surely such a thing was little more than her own romantic notion.
"Can't you relax, Giskard? You look like you're trying to touch the chair as little as possible."
"I am not sure how to appear to be in a relaxed state, Little Miss. I feel no differently while standing, sitting, or being in any other position."
"Well first you have to lean back—that's the most important thing. Yes, like that. Now put your arms on the arm rests. Much better." She appraised the now relatively relaxed looking Giskard, and it somehow seemed more unnatural than his previous stiff-yet-perfect posture. But she liked it this way. There was simply something very distracting about a thing that looked like a human being in a position that would not be comfortable for a real human.
"If I asked you to carve me something, what would you do?" she said.
"I would attempt to carve what you requested, Little Miss, although I'm not sure that I am suited to such tasks."
"But what if I didn't tell you what I wanted, and told you to just carve something."
"I would not be able to proceed without specific details."
"Even if I ordered you?"
"It would simply not be possible, Little Miss."
"What if I was going to be killed if you didn't carve something?" she said dramatically.
"I regrettably would not be able to proceed without details, though in such an instance, this would likely destroy me."
"Oh." She sighed. The story was really just a dumb fairytale, after all.
Vasilia rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. She was already bored. If only he were more curious and would ask questions himself. She snorted. Sure, and while she's at it, why shouldn't he dream and laugh and have flesh and blood? He was just a robot, and for the second time that day, she remembered why robots made poor friends.
It was really quite ironic, all their "friend" this and "friend" that. Who were roboticists kidding? When she was a roboticist, she wouldn't have her robots call anything a friend. It was just something done for the psychological benefit of humans, she was sure, so they could believe their robotic household was one big happy family of friends. Well she had no need for such false sentiment.
What were robots to each other, really? There were no Three Laws about how robots should treat each other. Underneath that "friend" title, did they really see each other as little more than the cold, unfeeling machines humans saw them as? Did they have any empathy for each other or care about each other in any way? Could robots care about humans at all if not for the Three Laws, for that matter? Or did they not care at all, and were merely always compelled to act, and humans perceived this as personal interest in their wellbeing? Would any robot ever give its life to protect another robot, just because it cared? She laughed to herself. They were pointless questions and the answers were obvious. She just had a hard time believing them; how could an intelligent being completely lack such an important facet of... of being?
And then there was Lansom. A relatively new specimen, in body and brain. If ever a robot seemed to have some personal interest in a human's wellbeing, it was him. He had taken to her instantly, and for what reason? Perhaps her father unwittingly added such a detail to the brain subconsciously based on his own feelings. It was possible, but her father wasn't one for such errors. That would mean he had to have done it on purpose, and that seemed much more likely. But the feelings didn't have to be spontaneous for them be real, did they? Lansom did care about her, didn't he?
Whereas she had no illusions that Giskard cared about her in any way beyond what the Laws required. But why should he, even if he could? She'd only known him a few hours, and in that short amount of time, she had already plotted his distress and succeeded in causing him to have a robotic panic attack. And yet he sat there benignly, casting no blame except perhaps on himself, and replying to her random questions without judgment. In some ways, she grudgingly admitted, robots made better friends than humans.
And it was during this stretch of thought and silence that her father walked into the room, shadowed by Lansom once more. Her father looked on Giskard in surprise, who reacted by losing the recline and rising to his feet. The man's attention quickly turned back to his dear daughter.
"Vasilia, darling! Lansom tells me you have a sprained ankle!"
"Yeah," she shrugged.
"How did you manage that in the short time I was occupied?"
Vasilia looked incredulous. "It's been hours since we were in the den."
"Well, and so you run off and get yourself hurt? Wasn't Giskard with you?"
"You don't know what happened, yet?" Her eyes passed to Lansom.
At that, Lansom stepped forward. "Pardon me, sir, for not immediately explaining the situation as it has been reported to me."
Her father motioned him to remain quiet. "I would prefer to hear the story first hand."
"I was climbing a tree and I fell and sprained my ankle. There's not really a story," she said. She was suddenly regretting not more firmly ordering Giskard to be silent about the matter. But Lansom knew anyway, so it wouldn't be secret for long.
And right on cue, Lansom said, "This is a very simplistic summary of the incident, lacking in multiple important details." It was the robot's way of accusing her of lying—or at least not telling the whole truth.
And Lansom would not interrupt unless he felt the important details were, indeed, important. Her father said, "Is that right? Well then, Vasilia, what are these details?"
Vasilia threw her arms out in an explosive sigh. "I was just seeing how Giskard would react to me climbing a tree!"
"And? Now, I know there must be more than that." He settled into the chair Giskard had lately been occupying. And as for Giskard, he had sunk back against the wall. Vasilia suddenly wondered if, after years of doing housework and trying to remain mostly unseen, he did not feel comfortable about being expected to constantly remain in view. "Vasilia?" her father prompted again.
"Okay! So he didn't react well! That is, he let me climb it and that was his first mistake, so Lansom says, and then the branch broke and I fell, and Giskard panicked and his brain slowed and so some other robot helped me first, and that was his worst mistake, so Lansom says."
Her father did not immediately reply. He rubbed his chin in thought. "You must have been quite high," he said. He did not seem to be himself perturbed by the thought.
"Yeah, I was pretty high," she admitted in a low voice.
"But I still can't believe Giskard would experience such difficulty in an emergency. He's better than that." He turned in his chair and looked at Giskard with some concern. Giskard showed no sign that he was aware he was the subject of speculation.
Vasilia suspected her father was too blinded by his love for the robot to admit how dim he was. The man probably hadn't interacted with the robot for years, letting his memory of him become sweeter than the reality.
"If I may, sir," Lansom interjected yet again.
"Yes, what is it?"
"In the previous relay of the facts, it was stated that friend Giskard's instructions were responsible for the breaking of the branch, causing him to have violated the First Law by action rather than inaction. This is a considerably graver error than the latter."
Her father's face lit with comprehension. "Ah yes, I see now. Clearly an accident, but he would, of course, shoulder the blame, and such a thing could naturally cause difficulty. Still..." and his eyes darkened once more. "To cause such a difficulty so as to render him immobile for a noticeable period of time, particularly during an emergency..." He sighed. "Maybe I have chosen wrongly for you, my dear daughter."
"I must agree," Lansom said. "Friend Giskard's inability to act in a time of crisis presents a clear danger to Miss Vasilia's wellbeing."
Vasilia noticed out of the corner of her eye that Giskard's head bowed ever so slightly.
"You guys aren't being fair!" Vasilia cried, and was surprised by the vehemence in her voice.
Her father was likewise surprised, and jumped slightly at her outburst.
"You can't sit here and talk about him like that!"
"But Vasilia, what can you possibly mean? The robot doesn't have feelings, you know," he laughed slightly, but seemed unnerved at the thought of his very own daughter forgetting something so elementary for even a moment.
"He might not have feelings, but he does have the Three Laws, and sitting here telling him he's a danger to humans... what if he gets some idea that he's better off inoperative or something horrible like that?!"
"Goodness me, Vasilia, suicide? In a robot? Where do you get these ideas?"
"Well it's possible, isn't it? If a robot believed that the only way for him to prevent harm to humans was if he wasn't around to be trusted with them? Or if there was some other reason he was a danger without meaning to?" She cast Giskard worried glances, subconsciously afraid she might be giving him ideas. But he had been completely silent since her father had entered. If he were to suddenly be inoperative, how could she tell?
"Well, it's conceivable, I suppose, but for a robot to make that decision himself is highly unlikely. It is the human's responsibility to assess the danger inherent in the life of a robot and proceed accordingly. Most flaws can be corrected with a bit of examination, so to destroy the whole brain would be a bit overkill, not to mention a terrible shame. And if nothing else, the robot would simply not allow himself to be put into a position where this potential danger—in this case, his inability to act in first-hand emergencies—would have an opportunity to cause an issue."
"Pardon my interruption, sir," Giskard said quietly, "but given the circumstances, I would suggest precisely such a course of action. Allowing me to be in an assistant position is something I cannot allow any longer. I will recommence my previous duties immediately upon dismissal."
Vasilia furrowed her brow. "Father, you can't let him!"
"Oh? But Vasilia, dear, why not? I thought you weren't thrilled with him anyway. I chose him because I have a particular affection for him, but he's not the only candidate by any means. I certainly wouldn't have chosen him if I had known of this issue."
"It's just that I already had plans for him," she said slowly.
"But you've only had him a few hours. Any plans you've made are just as relevant to any other robot I might choose for you."
"Well, I don't want another robot. I want him."
"Miss Vasilia," Lansom said, "I also will not allow him to remain your personal assistant. You need not concern yourself with his safety—I will order him with precision so that I may ward off any tendencies he may have toward making himself inoperative due to this failure." Vasilia noticed he had spoken the last part very carefully. It was little more than a placating offer. Neither of them believed a robot would simply destroy itself.
"It's settled then," her father said. "Giskard, you're dismissed." Giskard tipped his head in acknowledgement and left.
"This just isn't fair," Vasilia said, feeling her eyes begin to burn. "It was my fault. The branch would have broken anyway whenever I moved... it was just coincidence that he happened to feel responsible."
"Now, darling," her father said, speaking gently now that the business had been dealt with. "It has nothing to do with him perceiving he guided you to danger. This is only about his inability to act in a crisis. It's just not safe."
"But it was only because he thought it was his fault I was hurt! How likely is that to happen?"
"More often than you would think. Robots have the tendency to shoulder the blame for things which they couldn't possibly be responsible for."
"Maybe for not seeing that there was danger. But that's different than a robot specifically causing somebody to come to be injured, as he's perceived he's done." And she felt very sad that despite her constant objections to this interpretation of the accident, Giskard probably still believed he had directly caused her injury. "You can't tell me that happens often," she begged.
"Well, no, not often. But simply because he froze up when he thought his action caused your injury is no evidence that he would not freeze up if he thought he caused an injury by inaction."
"But you sounded really surprised when you thought that's what happened!"
"Well yes, but to be honest, I'm surprised even still, given the reality of what happened. Try to let it go, Vasilia dear. One robot is not too different from another, especially in the simpler base models. You'll barely notice after you get used to the physical difference."
"Fine," she said flatly (robotically, she thought wryly). She leaned back into her pillow and stared at the ceiling once more. Now she just wanted everybody to leave—even Lansom. "I'd like to rest, now," she said.
"But darling, you haven't told me about your ankle. Is it bad?"
"Lansom'll tell you everything. Just ask him."
"Well, alright. I'm sorry for my disappearance, by the way. Truly, I am. I fully intended to spend the morning with you, but Doctor Sarton had something very important to discuss. It couldn't wait."
"I understand," she said, although she wished she didn't.
Her father sounded like he wanted to say something else, but he got up from the chair—Giskard's chair—and headed for the door.
"Basley's just out here," he said when he reached the frame. "If you need something."
"I know," she said. "He's always right outside my door."
"Of course, of course," he said, smoothing his vest. "Well, I'll just be in the lab, then, if you wish to see me."
He waited for some sort of response, but when he realized he wasn't going to get one, walked out. Lansom hesitated, but soon left as well, and she was alone. She rolled onto her side and stared at the chair, all the more noticeable in its emptiness for its position by her bedside.