“’—If you’d got any instructions wrong, you and I would wouldn’t be here to talk about it.’”

“You never hinted at this before.”

“’Warning you would have resulted in death.’”

“You’re crazy.”

“’It’s all part of the instructions.’”

“Are the instructions set in stone?”

“’More or less.’”

“’So it was all right for you to push me into getting this Diploma and endanger my life?’ I asked, as Chloroph’s face turned blue with anguish and he remained ominously silent.  He waited for a few moments and said:”

“’I didn’t think we’d pull through, that’s all.’”

“’We?  THAT’S ALL?’ I bellowed.  ‘Why didn’t you stop me if you thought your own life depended on it?’”

“’The last sod who tried died because of me.’”

“Right, so you feel guilty and you don’t care if you live or die and take along my life with yours?”

“My ability as a universal gardener has been questioned and is under review.  If I don’t provide a new Hook Master to the Universal Gardener’s Establishment in good time, I’ll be made destitute and chucked out of the UGE.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“’Honour.  ‘Tis best to die an honourable death than face disrepute.’”

“At the cost of my life…?  You didn’t land on Coatingsdale by chance?”

“’Coatingsdale was close and its barren and fertile grounds made it a first class subject.‘”

“I should have let She-Coat do what she does best.”

“’That’s my point: I didn’t stand much of a chance with She-Coat anyway.  I was convinced I was on a suicide mission.  Nothing mattered and my honour—’”

“—Well, congratulations!  You made it through!  How does that feel?”

“’—I, err—‘”

To be continued…


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