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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: Re: (urth) The cenoby files
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 11:50:15 -0500

mantis writes:

>It might just be me, but I find myself confused to distraction by your use
>of number of trips in this case.  (Not that it is your fault, just that it
>is all confusing.)  I mean, we are really talking about three trips: the
>"last one" 184 years ago (year 148) and two trips on a day in year 332.  If
>you are saying that the two trips in 332 happened after Rose's death, I
>agree with you, but I don't understand why you are bringing it up.

Sorry to be confusing. I brought it up because that's the way the text has
it. Marble made the second trip (on the same day as the first, iirc) for two
reasons; to lubricate the attic entrance to facilitate any future entry, and
to gain access to the roof to get a better look at the airship. The day Rose
died, Marble's CPU was overheating badly and she was having trouble climbing
stairs. She is thrilled with the new-found zest she acquired when she took
Rose's used parts. After she got the sticking attic steps down she thought:

    "I'll oil this, she resolved. I don't care if there isn't any oil. I'll
cut up some fat from that bull and boil it, and skim off the grease and
strain it, and use that. Because this _isn't_ the last time. It is _not_.
    "She trotted up the folding steps in an energetic flurry of black
    "Just look how good my leg is! Praise to you, Great Pas!"

She left the attic stairs down so she could lubricate them later. Later,
after lubricating the mechanism, she made her second trip to the attic, and
it was then that she changed the search word from trunk to footlocker. The
184 years ago bit is on the page prior to the above quote.

    "Maytera Marble tried to decide how long it had been since she had done
this, entering _roof_, and when that evoked only a flood of dripping
ceilings and soaked carpets, _attic_.
    "A hundred and eighty-four years ago.
    "She could scarcely believe it--did not wish to believe it. A graceful
girl with laughing eyes and industrious hands had climbed this same stair,
as she still did a score of times every day, walked along this hall, and
halted beneath this odd-looking door overhead, reaching up with a tool that
had been lost now for more than a century."

>>She may have been wrong, on the first of those two trips to the attic,
>>it being 184 years ago when, still a graceful girl, she had last pulled
>>those attic steps--I have no way of knowing. She may be wrong, too, about
>>one else having been up there in over a century (the amount of time the
>>door-hooking tool had been lost)--again, I have no way of knowing. But was
>>she also wrong about having been a teacher and sibyl for only fifty-odd
>>years? She said she started teaching when Pike was a young augur. If she
>>right about teaching only for the last fifty-odd years, then that trunk
>>can't hold her old maid gear; not if no one has opened that attic door for
>>more than a century. That's why I'm puzzled.
>If I understand it correctly, all Marble has to be wrong about is her guess
>that it has been a century or more since someone went up there.  The trunk
>is there, ergo someone was up there fifty years ago to drop off a trunk
>(not to clean the attic, mind you, just drop off a trunk: so the trunk
>itself has only 50 years of dust upon it while the attic has nearly the
>amount of two centuries!).

When Marble was pressed into teaching only two sibyls were then living, fat
Betel and fortyish Rose. Bio sibyls don't perform manual labor; there's no
way either of those women carried a trunk up to the attic for a chem maid,
and Pike couldn't enter the cenoby. Marble put that trunk up there.

As for the 184 vs. 50 year spans, I can't explain it. But Marble is a
machine; her memory consists of computer files. Those files might get
overwritten or she might lose access to them, but the information in her
files (like the list of sibyls and the list of dresses) either exists or it
doesn't. If the file(s) containing her memory of 184 years ago contains
erroneous data, _how did it get there_?



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