18 júní 2009

Daniel Waterhouse er sjanghæaður í nýrnasteinsuppskurð

"In truth you are still alive and will be for many years - more years than I have remaining. There are some who die of shock, it is true, and perhaps that is why all of your friends wished to come and pass time with you before I started. But, as I recollect, you were shot with a blunderbuss once, and got up and walked away from it. So I am not afraid on that 'count. The bright lights you see are sticks of burning phosphorus. And I am Robert Hooke, than whom no man was ever better suited to perform this work."

"No, Robert."

Hooke took advantage of Daniel's plea to jam a leather strap into his mouth. "You may bite down on that if you wish, or you may spit it out and scream all you like - this is Bedlam, and no one will object. Neither will anyone take heed, or show mercy. Least of all Robert Hooke. For as you know, Daniel, I am utterly lacking in the quality of mercy. Which is well, as it would render me perfectly incompetent to carry out this operation. I told you a year ago, in the Tower, that I would one day repay your friendship by giving you something - a pearl of great price. Now the time has come for me to make good on that promise. The only question left to answer is how much will that pearl weigh, when I have washed your blood off it and let it clatter onto the pan of yonder scale. I am sorry you woke up. I shall not insult you by suggesting that you relax. Please do not go insane. I will see you on the other side of the Styx."

Whe he and Hooke and Wilkins had cut open live dogs during the Plague Year, Daniel had looked into their straining brown eyes and tried to fathom what was going on in their minds. He'd decided, in the end, that nothing was, that dogs had no conscious minds, no thought of past or future, living purely in the moment, and that this made it worse for them. Because they could neither look forward to the end of the pain, nor remember times when they had chased rabbits across the meadows.

Hooke took up his blade and reached for Daniel.

-- Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver bls. 916.

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