Hapgood found a farmyard where they could get out of sight of
the main road. As they got out of the
car, the farmer came out of his house curious.
“Buy something,” said
Hapgood used his best French to say that he wished to buy a bottle of wine. He pushed a handsome fistful of bank notes into the man’s hand. The farmer went back to the house to see if he could find a bottle that would come anywhere close to being worth that amount.
While the paint dried, they
ducked into the barn and change clothes.
The farmer returning with the open wine bottle looked amazed at what he
They passed the lookouts, who seemed only to be interested in south bound traffic. They evidently were calling reports in by cell phone. As soon as he could after they were out of sight, Hapgood turned eastward.
“A nun’s habit,” said
“Revenge is sweet,” said Hapgood.
“And you’re dressed like a priest. That looks good. ‘How sweet,’ they’ll say, ‘That nice old priest is out on a date with a nun.’”
“What are you worried about? Afraid we’ll trash the reputation of the Catholic Church for the Muslims? We just look like we’re doing what they think we’re doing anyway. The French won’t be fooled, but we don’t care about them. Besides, your habit will be as easily recognized as a Green Bay Packers t-shirt. They’ll know we’re out of place. But the guys after us won’t.”
“But a nun’s outfit, for crying out loud. What would my grandmother say? You are a totally weird human being.”
They arrived at the town of
“Tell me about it.”
“It’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the
site was special to her long before the cathedral. I imagine it was sacred to
“The bigger tower is good. The smaller tower is the celebrity. The number of sides changes imperceptibly as you go up.”
They continued eastward out of town.
“But its’ pronounced,
“That’s how you pronounce the name of that street. But the cathedral is ‘Shahkkktkkh.’”
“All right. Show off your stupid French.”
“No. In French it’s more like, ‘la Nowtkkkuh dahm
“No, its Nochra Dam.”
“In English it’s Notre Dame.”
“Well why don’t you say it right? The way the French do.”
“Because I speak French with an accent. They say something like la Nuowtkkkuh dahm du Pahkkkeee, and I can’t say it right. But I speak English like a native born American.”
“With a southern accent.”
“That’s valid. But on the other hand mapmakers now will give
you a map of
“Maybe the maps are for people who are willing to try.”
“Take the city of
“Are there Goths in Gothenburg?”
“There is a young community
that has the Goth style, dress in black, listen to the music and so forth. But the city is named after the river, which
is pronounced something like ‘
They found a small woods, where they repainted the car and changed into clothes that made them look more like American tourists.
“I need to drive,” said
“English,” continued Hapgood, “Is a perfectly fine language. We have names for things. Some people think it’s cool, as you might say, to change the words. But it separates us from our past when you can’t find an old name on a new map. And it costs money.”
“Look, more or less on average a person will earn as many dollars in a year as he knows words. Ten thousand is pretty thin and will get you minimum wage. A professional knows a lot more. If you know a hundred thousand words, either you are making a fortune or you don’t care. So a word equals an investment of ten dollars. Multiply that by the hundred million Americans who may know a word, and that little change just fried a billion dollars worth of social value.
“But it’s more important than that. Your intelligence has a lot to do with your ability to love.”
“Of course it does, lover boy.” The sarcasm oozed.
“Fact, there was a hospital once where they were looking after some children who had been orphaned and they had some young women who were mentally challenged. They were otherwise normal young women; they just weren’t very bright. They decided to let the women, under supervision, play with the babies. Well the women were delighted. They were very happy just loving the children. As for the children, their intelligence went up.
“So to deal with the world, you are going to have to spend a little of yourself. You are going to have to love the world, to trust it, to believe in it. And since we aren’t infinite beings, our capacity is limited. So every time you lose something you know, you lose something you love. It takes some of your heart. And people who mess around with the language are destroying things you love and messing around with your ability to live productively in the world.”
They came to
“The battle,” said Hapgood, “Meant that
“‘He or she,’ you sexist,”
“‘He, she or it,’ you sexist,” said Hapgood. “You got anything against people who for no fault of their own are neither male nor female?”
“Trouble. Time to change
directions again,” said
They changed, repainted the car and were on their way again.
“Woman’s clothes! You’ve got me dressed up like an old matron, wig and all,” said Hapgood.
“I just wanted to see whether you were as obnoxious as a woman as you are as a man.”
thing about languages. The post-modern philosophers complain that we
are separated from the real world, that we see it through veils, through
masks. Every time you change a word, you
have to learn that what was, say, the city of
“They should have got it right the first time.”
The two continued in the
“You are very strong,” said
“I have told you everything I know except names, which wouldn’t do you any good anyway.”
“We have your friends. Which ever talks we will let go. The rest will be punished terribly.”
“You have been saying that for hours.”
“Where were you going?”
“I won’t tell you that, because I don’t believe you have them.”
“We have them, and I think one is just about to talk. You need to make up your mind soon. I know the truth.”
“Well if you know something I don’t, tell me.”
“You know it. You are working for
“For the thousandth time, no. I never met the man.”
“One of the others is just about to admit it.”
“It’s no good. Not only do I not know whether you have the others. I don’t know what they are saying. And I have no way at all of enforcing a bargain with you, even if we could make one. What you are doing is called the ‘prisoner’s dilemma.’ But that supposes you can make a real offer. You can’t. All this is a secret.”
It was dawn as they caught
sight of the massive citadel of
“So now you know. I do have you.
“We have,” said Hapgood.
The three stared at him in astonishment.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know. It’s in all the newspapers. Where have you been?”
“Here in this dungeon,” said
“Running from you,” said
“When your friend
At this point Gamal came in with
“Now that,” said
“Don’t I get any credit?” asked
Gamal went to
“I believe they are telling the truth. I believe they knew nothing of the killings. They are enemies of Turelli as well. Or at least he is enemy to them.”
“Getting us as far as
That night they took the high
speed TGV train to
“Everyone seems to have good
trains but us,” said
“It is the capitalist pigs that
run your country,” said
“So they want us to drive
“No. They are afraid to build a fast train because they would have to dig up the roadbeds to lay good foundations. It is easy to build the train if you have the track. But they cannot build the track.”
“And why not,” asked
“It is all in that book Walden, that you Americans talk about but never read. The roadbed, you notice it is called a bed. And the crossties are called sleepers. Your American tracks are huge narrow mass graves. The workers died like flies building the railroads. Their bones still lie below the rails.”
They didn’t care. They just wanted sleep.
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