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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: Re: (urth) The cenoby files
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 18:14:00 -0500

Charles Reed wrote:
>I don't recall that bit about Magnesia being pressed into service
>the parents were upset at having their kids taught by a laywoman, however.
>you recall where that is?


>At the very least, however, Rose's pregnancy and Magnesia's transformation
>Maytera Marble seem to be related, if only because they happened around the
>time (50+ years ago).  And it's not unreasonable to assume that they are
>directly related:  Rose, being pregnant and needing to hide that fact from
>Patera Pike would not be able to do a whole lot of teaching, which would
>rise to the need for a substitute.  Magnesia knew how to write, how to
>calculate, and was already employed at the manteion, so she was a
reasonable and
>cost-effective solution.

The only clue I'm aware of that may pertain is a left-handed one, and may
just be a minor mistake by Wolfe. It's in chapter 4 of CALDE, where
Rose-in-Marble is telling Silk about her pregnancy.

    "We [Betel and Rose] pretended I was becoming fat, too. She used to
tease me about it, and our sibs believed her."

It's the word "sibs". When Marble became a teacher, the only living sibyls
were Betel and Rose, neither of whom can be one of the sibs in the quote,
obviously. Then Marble became a sibyl. That's still just one sib to fool.
So, either at least two sibyls died in a relatively short time span--while
Rose was demonstrably pregnant--or the cenoby acquired at least one new
sibyl not too long after Marble became one. The latter choice is the more
probable, and we know that the cenoby did in fact have at least one more
sibyl after Marble--Mockorange, who was Mint's preceptress.


[snip of theory]

>What do you think?

Well, I can't tell you that you're wrong, but it requires a bit of
supposing. It would be difficult to prove from the text--but then, so do a
lot of other theories around here. If Wolfe hadn't included that part about
"she, thin, faceless, old Maytera Marble" in that sentence, it would be a
lot easier to believe that it was actually Rose who had lied to the
postulant. That bothers me. We know that Marble lies occasionally, but I
can't think of a specific incidence where Rose does so.

I don't pretend to have the answer to the painting puzzle, but it is a
puzzle, and should be solvable from the text. I just don't know.



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