A few moments later, standing on the steps of the school, she stopped to light a cigarette. "We should–" she began.
"Eat," I said.
"Well, we do have to–"
"Eat," I insisted.
She looked miffed, but she knew I was right. With the mystery solved, and with no food since breakfast, she was due for a collapse. She glanced at me, considering whether she should argue one more time.
I shrugged, "It's no problem," I said. "You're easy to carry."
She sighed. "But it is so undignified." She gestured with her cane. "There's a good restaurant down that block."
As we crossed the street, she said, "You have questions."
"Two, mostly. One is that I noticed a flaw in your reasoning."
She looked at me sharply, as if I'd accused her of spitting on the French ambassador. "In my reconstruction?" she demanded, frowning.
"No, later. You implied that starling is allowed to walk around freely because of what you've seen in the reports from Ray. But then a minute later you were talking about your low opinion of psychology. There must be more to it, isn't there? You wouldn't base a life-and-death decision on such an inexact science."
We were stepping into the restaurant by then, so she didn't reply immediately. A waiter bustled up and escorted us to a table, gave us menus, and hovered around until I indicated that we didn't want drinks.
"That's Doc's answer," she said, ignoring the menus, "so that's the policy. Vicki has argued for a tougher approach, but I had to tell them that I think we need to keep starling on our side. We need her to be free and armed and comfortable."
"Are you afraid of what she'd do otherwise?"
She shook her head. "No, that's not it," she said. "Things are going to happen in the future, I don't know what, and we will need her help. And, if we push her away now, we won't be able to get her back when we need her." She smiled. "Even starling may have a part to play, before the end."