III (continued)
- There ! That's how you should do it, she declared between two great gulps.

Before Liliana had even brought the crystal to her lip, she felt a weird force running through her veins. She had an inebriated feeling; her pulse beat faster, so fast that the world was soon spinning round her in a crazy dance and her temples were throbbing to its beat. Even before sucking in on mouthful, she felt really intoxicated from the wretched vapour. Her great fear was that she would soon be like on of the island creatures, with a head that rang, and she implored his Excellence to put off till later the remainder of her first smoke.

- Before I give myself up to having a smoke, she begged, could you not at least let me have something to eat. I feel so weak I think I cannot face it otherwise ?
- Eat ! He was amazed. Eat ? once again you are using estrange word that we know nothing of. Take your supper of brimstone first and later we shall see, little savage, what you mean by eat. Perhaps, he added, with a slight unease at the sight of the young maiden who made no move, perhaps our preparation are very unfamiliar, not those to which you are accustomed at home, on the mainland ?
- It's not just that : I truly, truly promise that I will smoke as much as you desire, once I have eaten.
- What amazing insistence from someone who has not restored her calorific powers for quite some time. But just what is this eat ?
- Eat ? Now it was Liliana's turn to be mystified, but it is to carry something to one's mouth and swallow it of course ! Swallow it, just as you swallow your smoke - whatever you call it.
- Carry an object to one's mouth and swallow it, as we swallow our calorific smoke ... However, it is precisely calorific smoke that we swallow, and not any old thing .
- Something, when I say something she replied quietly, I don't mean to say the first thing that comes to and. There are dishes which we too prefer to others, nonetheless, I would not be at all particular for the moment, and I should be quite satisfied with anything at all, provided it is good to eat. Even some wild fruit.

The islander recoiled.

- There are no wild, nor cultivated fruit, nor any kind of fruit, he snapped fiercely. None at all, apart from the fruit we gather in our science gardens. You could not even take the peel of those: they would be much too hard for your little teeth !

Once she was absolutely convinced that could never find, anywhere on the island, any substance with which she would be able to satisfy the hunger and thirst which now tormented her so that she truly believed she was going to die, Liliana begged to be allowed to taste the brew that the under-classes of the island, as his Excellence had already informed, her took instead of the smoke.
The only response that followed this request were a smothered snort and an angry nod of the head, then briskly rising, the Eminence turned his back on her slipped out of sight, through the trap-hole that has already been mentioned.

Anyway, shortly afterwards, the exhaust-pipe opened up once more, and a new kind of islander that she had not yet encountered slowly emerged. Then carefully and ceremoniously, as if holding to his breast an object of great value, the creature approached Liliana. The hands that held this precious something had no fingers, but were cupped together around, as Liliana saw next, nothing but water, black water, which boiled and steamed in the most amazing manner.

- Drink up! Urged the beverage carrier, bringing his monstrous hands to the maiden's lips. Drink !
- Wait ! Oh wait ! She cried out in reply and threw her head back as far as she could manage.

But to no avail, the steward with the palms, rather than complete hands, forced her to drink up all the black brew.

Translation: Judith MORRIS