We're too insignificant to be attacked by either the forces of light or the forces of darkness. And yet, playing this game, we occasionally let evil in. Evil tumbles in, unaware. But there's no good to fight evil with. That's when one grows sick of the game and wants to resign from it. That's why this is my last assignment.'
'It's doing good, I should have thought,' said Clara. 'You're getting a British scientist out of Russia.'
'I'm removing him from the game,' said Hillier, 'that's all. A chessman off the board. But the game remains.'
'I think,' said Alan weightily, offering a Black Russian to Hillier, 'we ought to stick together, the three of us.' Un-wontedly, Hillier accepted the cigarette and a light from the flaming Cygnus. "We can have dinner in one of those special little dining-rooms. I'll go and arrange that.'
'Won't it look too much like a conspiracy?' asked Hillier, amused but touched.
'So it will be. A conspiracy against her. You talk about good and evil not existing much any more, but she's evil.'
'I thought it was just men she wanted. Young men. Sex, I mean.'
'A sex goddess. That's how she sees herself. A tatty old sex goddess.'
_November goddess in your__. Hillier went to the wardrobe and felt in the back pocket of his dress trousers. 'Here's something you can help with,' he said. 'Try and decipher that. It's not very important, just a kind of joking farewell message from the Department. But try it. You ought to be good at that sort of thing.'
Alan took the folded paper, gently concave from Hillier's sitting on it, and took the giving of it as a dismissal. 'Come on, Clara,' he said. 'We'll see you at dinner, then.'
'I think not tonight. Thanks all the same. I'll have some dinner in my cabin. And then a bit of self-communion.'
'That sounds religious,' said Clara.
'It is religious,' said her brother. 'Everything he's told us is religious.'