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"Vito!" His expression characteristically impulsive and excited, Or reached out toward Vito, evidently intending to embrace him.

And possibly to bite him venomously. Vito jerked out of reach. "No!"

Immediately chastened, Or huddled his body against the corner. "I'm sorry. . . . I'm sorry. . . . I forgot you can't touch me. . . . I don't want to get you into trouble. . . ."

"Don't you?" Despite his efforts to remain professional, Vito could not prevent bitterness from entering his tone.

Or flinched like a kicked puppy. "I'm sorry! I don't blame you for being angry. You must hate me."

It was like watching an abused boy abase himself in preparation for more abuse. Vito heard himself say, "I don't hate you. Why did you do it to me?"

"It was Gurth," Or said breathlessly. "He told me last year that you couldn't save me – that there was too much evidence against him, and that they'd hang him. Hang us both. He said my only hope was to follow his plan for escape."

Gaps. More bloody gaps. Vito forced his body to relax back into the position of a Seeker questioning his prisoner. "You told me last year that you couldn't communicate with Gurth."

Immediately, Or hung his head. He gnawed his lip.

The trouble was, Vito reflected, that whatever else Or might be, he was an abused boy. Both he and Gurth were, but they had found different ways to deal with the sufferings of their childhood. Gurth's method was to fight the world before it should destroy him. Or's method . . . It was a good deal subtler than Gurth's. But the suffering was genuine. Vito mustn't forget that.

He said quietly to his prisoner, "Or, I love you. You know that. But I can't help you if you lie to me. I'm the only person who can help you."

Silence. Still crumpled in the corner, Or had his arms wrapped tightly around his torso, as though in protection against blows.

"Do you know who killed Mr. Ambrewster?" Vito prompted quietly. "Was it Gurth?"

"Oh, no." Or's shake of the head was emphatic. "No, not at all. It was me."