Devices and Desires
can’t.
    Hard to measure time in a cell, where you can’t see the sunlight. Pulse; each heartbeat is more or less a second. But counting
     — sixty sixties is three thousand six hundred — would be too much effort and a waste of his rapidly dwindling supply of life.
     Ziani looked round; he was an abominator, apparently, but still an engineer. He thought for a moment, then grinned and pulled
     off his boot, then his sock. With his teeth, he nibbled a small hole; then he scooped a handful of the grimy gray sand off
     the floor and persuaded it into the sock. That done, he hung the sock from a splinter of wood in the doorframe, with his empty
     drinking-cup directly underneath. Then he found his pulse, and counted while the sand trickled through the hole in the sock
     into the cup. When it had all run through, he stopped counting — two hundred and fifty-eight, near as made no odds four minutes.
     He drew a line in the dirt beside him, and refilled the sock. There; he’d made himself a clock.
    Eight fours are thirty-two; half an hour later, the door opened again. Falier was back. He looked excited, and pleased with
     himself.
    “All set up,” he said. “The secretary wants to see you in his office.” He frowned. “For crying out loud, Ziani, put your boots
     on.”
    Ziani smiled. “Are you coming too?” he said.
    “No.” Falier knocked on the door. “Best of luck, Ziani; but it should be all right. He was definitely intrigued. Have you
     got a list of good names?”
    Ziani nodded. “I’m not too well up in politics, mind,” he said. “Any suggestions?”
    Falier fired off a dozen or so names, all of whom Ziani had already thought of, as the sand dribbled through into the cup.
     “That’ll probably do,” he went on, “but have half a dozen more up your sleeve just in case.” The door opened; different warders
     this time. “Well, so long,” Falier said. “It’ll be all right, you’ll see.”
    Not all, Ziani thought; but he didn’t want to sound ungrateful. “So long,” he repeated, and the warders led him out into the
     corridor.
    Three flights of winding stairs brought him to a narrow passage, with heavy oak doors at irregular intervals; quite like the
     cells, he thought. Outside one of these, the warders stopped and knocked. Someone called out, “Yes, come in.” A warder went
     in first; Ziani followed, and the other warder came in behind him.
    He didn’t know the secretary’s name, or his face; but he was looking at a broad, fat man with huge hands resting on top of
     a wide, well-polished desk. “This him?” the man asked, and one of the warders nodded.
    “Fine.” The warder pulled out a chair, and Ziani sat in it. “All right,” the man went on, “you two get out. Don’t go far,
     though.”
    It wasn’t easy to make out the man’s face; he was sitting with his back to a window, and Ziani had been out of the light for
     some time. He had a bushy mustache but no beard, and round his neck was a silver chain with a big Guild star hanging from
     it. “Ziani Vaatzes,” he said. “I know all about you. Seventeen years in the ordnance factory, foreman for six of them. Commendations
     for exceptional work.” He yawned. “So, why does a solid type like you go to the bad?”
    Ziani shrugged. “I don’t know what came over me,” he said.
    “I do.” The man leaned forward a little. The sun edged his dark head with gold, like an icon that’s hung too long in the candle
     smoke. “Thinking you’re better than everybody else, that’s what did it. Thinking you’re so bloody clever and good, the rules
     don’t apply to you. I’ve seen your kind before.”
    “I admit I’m guilty,” Ziani said. “But that’s not what you want to talk to me about. You want to know who else was involved.”
    “Go on.”
    Ziani said four names. The secretary, he noticed, had a wax writing-board next to him, but wasn’t taking any notes. He tried
     another four. The secretary

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