The Saint-Germain Chronicles
sensible.
    “You will learn to line the heels and soles of your shoes with your native earth, and will cross water, walk in sunlight, in fact live fairly normal lives. We are creatures of the earth, Mister Tree. That which interrupts our contact with it is debilitating. Water is the worst, of course, but flying in an airplane is… unnerving.” He had traveled by air several times, but had not been able to forget the huge distance between him and the treasured earth. “It will be more and more the way we travel—Madelaine says that she had got used to it but does not enjoy it—but I must be old-fashioned; I don’t like it. Although it is preferable to sailing, for brevity if nothing else.”
    “You make it sound so mundane,” James said in the silence that fell. That ‘alone was persuading him, and for that reason, he tried to mock it.
    “Most of life is mundane, even our life.” He smiled, and for the first time there was warmth in it. “We are not excused from the obligations of living, unless we live as total outcasts. Some of us have, but such tactics are… unrewarding.”
    “Maybe not death, but taxes?” James suggested with an unhappy chuckle.
    Saint-Germain gave James a sharp look. “If you wish to think of it in that way, it will answer fairly well,” he said after a second or two. “If you live in the world, there are accommodations that must be made.”
    “This is bizarre,” James said, convincing himself that he was amused while the unsettling apprehension grew in him steadily.
    “When you came here,” Saint-Germain continued, taking another line of argument, “when did you travel?”
    “What?” James made an abrupt gesture with his hand, as if to push something away. “I didn’t look about for public transportation, so I can’t tell you what time…”
    “Day or night will do,” Saint-Germain said.
    “Why, it was da…” His face paled. “No. I… passed out during the day. I decided it was safer at night, in any case. There are fewer patrols, and…”
    “When did you decide this? Before or after you had walked the better part of one night?” He let James have all the time he wanted to answer the question.
    “I walked at night,” James said in a strange tone. “The first night it was… easier. And I was so exhausted that I wasn’t able to move until sundown. That night, with the moon so full, and seeing so well, I figured I might as well take advantage of it…”
    “Mister Tree, the moon is not full, nor was it two nights ago. It is in its first quarter.” He was prepared to defend this, but he read James’ troubled face, and did not press his argument. “Those who have changed see very well at night. You may, in fact, want to avoid bright sunlight, for our eyes are sensitive. We also gain strength and stamina. How else do you suppose you covered the distance you did with the sorts of wounds you sustained to slow you down?”
    “I… I didn’t think about it,” he answered softly. “It was… natural.”
    “For those…”
    “… who have changed, don’t tell me!” James burst out, and lurched out of the chair. “If you keep this up, you’ll have me believing it, and then I’ll start looking for a padded cell and the latest thing in straight jackets.” He paced the length of the room once, coming back to stand near Saint-Germain. “You’re a smooth-tongued bastard, I’ll give you that, Saint-Germain. You
are
Saint-Germain, aren’t you?”
    “Of course. I thought you remembered me from that banquet in Paris,” came the unperturbed answer. “I did. But I thought you’d look…”
    “Older?” Saint-Germain suggested. “When has Madelaine looked older than twenty? True, you have not seen her for more than six years, but when she came to America, did she strike you as being older than the day you met her?”
    “No,” James admitted.
    “And she looks very little older now than she did the day I met her in 1743. You are fortunate that age has been

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