A Calculus of Angels
looked away from eyes not as cold as she had thought on first glance, and waved at the manse. “Are you the master of this place?” she asked.
    “Not I,” d’Argenson answered. “I suppose I am something of the prime minister. No, yonder comes the master.”
    Adrienne blinked. In the light of a single fitful alchemical lanthorn, she saw approaching a fair-haired boy, perhaps some thirteen years old, outfitted in riding clothes.
    D’Argenson stepped up and bowed. “Sir, may I present to you Mademoiselle de Mornay de Montchevreuil.”
    The boy smiled broadly and bowed, then approached to take her hand. “It is an honor,” he said softly, “to meet the betrothed of the late king of France.” He A CALCULUS OF ANGELS
    kissed her hand lightly. “I am Francis Stephen, duke of Lorraine, and if there is aught I can do for you, please name it.”
    “I…” She suddenly felt very tired. “A bath?”
    “The servants shall see to it,” the boy replied.
    Reclining in the bullhide tub, it came to her that there could be no civilization without hot water. For two years she had lived like some wild beast—living in filth, washing only in cold, dirty pools. It had made her brain like an animal’s, uncaring, thinking only of survival.
    One taste of hot, soapy water on her skin changed all, changing her nature from beast to human. She reminded herself how illusory it was, how a week on the road would prove to her again that the society and works of man were silly ephemera, and yet, for the moment, it did not matter.
    And the room was warm, too. There was a toilette with perfumes and powders, and laid out on the bed were three dresses such as she had not even seen since fleeing Versailles. She chose a dark green manteau, the least ostentatious but the most comfortable of the three.
    As she was dressing, a girl of perhaps twelve came in, a pretty thing save for a few pockmarks on her face.
    “Perhaps I could comb Mademoiselle’s hair?” she asked.
    It took a painful hour to get the tangles out, but with each stroke of the brush, Adrienne came more alive, felt her skin going from stone to flesh. She would regret that, when she needed stone again, but in her last days at Versailles she had learned that the world would harm you whether you were prepared or not.
    Pleasure was a rare fruit that should be tasted when it came one’s way.
    “Where is my son?” she asked the girl, suddenly, as it came to her that he was not in the room.
    “He is with a nurse,” the girl replied.

    “A nurse.” She had never been apart from little Nico, save for an hour here or there, and then Crecy had been his guardian. And yet, for the space of half an hour, she had not even missed him.
    But of course, her child was a part of that cold, dirty life in the fields. He did not fit here. But with some luck, he would. As she woke from the dream of cold roads to one of hot baths, she would bring him with her, the way she had brought herself a new hand from the land of dream and ghosts.
    She studied the hand absently as the girl combed her hair. It looked like a hand, until you peered closely and saw that it had no pores, no trace of hair.
    Until you realized, over the months, that its nails never grew, that briars never scratched it. But it could feel, and grasp and sometimes—sometimes it seemed capable of doing other things, as well, vague and frightening things.
    Her hand had been burned off by an angel, and somehow had been replaced.
    How? She had thought about this before, but she had never really puzzled at it.
    She hadn’t cared. Now she cared, and the remains of a formula danced in her brain, the fragments of a great proof that, in a dream, she had once known entire.
    The girl answered a knock on the door, and a moment later returned to Adrienne.
    “The duke requests your presence, milady,” she said.
    “First I will see my friend,” Adrienne replied. “Do you know where she has been taken?”
    “Yes, milady,

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