And it all came to pass, all that she had hoped, but it did not fill her with rapture nor carry her away with the power or the fervor she had expected. She had imagined it all different, and had imagined herself different, too. In dreams and poems everything had been, as it were, beyond the sea; the haze of distance had mysteriously veiled all the restless mass of details and had thrown out the large lines in bold relief, while the silence of distance had lent its spirit of enchantment. It had been easy then to feel the beauty; but now that she was in the midst of it all, when every little feature stood out and spoke boldly with the manifold voices of reality, and beauty was shattered as light in a prism, she could not gather the rays together again, could not put the picture back beyond the sea. Despondently she was obliged to admit to herself that she felt poor, surrounded by riches that she could not make her own.
The light changed slightly. Mari looked up and over at one wall. There was now a narrow, roughly door-shaped hole in it. Standing in the hole was Mage Alain. Mari stood up, realizing that her mouth was hanging open. That wall was solid. I felt it. There wasn't any opening. She watched as the Mage took two shaky steps into the cell, then paused, some of the strain leaving his face. She blinked, wondering what she had just seen, as the hole in the wall vanished as if it had never been. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. ...Mari took a long slow breath. 'They use smoke and mirrors and other 'magic' to make commons think they can create temporary holes in walls and things like that. It's all nonsense.' "Mages actually can make real holes in walls." "No."Her head hurting with increased intensity, Mari glowered at the Mage. "You didn't make a hole in the wall?""I made the illusion of a hole in the illusion of the wall."Mari looked at Mage Alain for what felt like a long time, trying to detect any sign of mockery or lying. But he seemed perfectly sincere. And unless she had completely lost her mind, he had just walked through that solid wall. ..."We can get out the same way that you got in?" Mari asked. "Through imaginary holes in the imaginary wall?" She wondered how her guild would feel about seeing that in her report. Actually, she didn't have to wonder, but she wasn't about to turn down a chance at escape. The Mage took a deep breath and swayed on his feet. "No.""No?""Unfortunately—" Alain collapsed into a seated position on the cot next to her—"the effort of finding you has exhausted me. There were several walls to get through. I can do no more for some time. I am probably incapable of any major effort until morning." He shook his head. "I did not plan this well. Maybe the elders are right and seventeen is simply too young to be a Mage."Mari stared at him. "Are you telling me that you came to rescue me, following a metaphorical thread through imaginary holes, but now that you're in the same cell with me you can't get us out?""Yes, that is correct. This one erred.""That one sure did. Now instead of one of us being stuck in here, we're both stuck in here."The Mage gave her a look which actually betrayed a trace of irritation. He must have really been exhausted for such a feeling to show. "I do not have much experience with rescues. Are you always so difficult?
Tu n'as rien appris, sinon que la solitude n'apprend rien, que l'indifférence n'apprend rien: c'était un leurre, une illusion fascinante et piégée. Tu étais seul et voilà tout et tu voulais te protéger: qu'entre le monde et toi les ponts soient à jamais coupés. Mais tu es si peu de chose et le monde est un si grand mot: tu n'as jamais fait qu'errer dans une grande ville, que longer sur quelques kilomètres des façades, des devantures, des parcs et des quais. L'indifférence est inutile. Tu peux vouloir ou ne pas vouloir, qu'importe! Faire ou ne pas faire une partie de billard électrique, quelqu'un, de toute façon, glissera une pièce de vingt centimes dans la fente de l'appareil. Tu peux croire qu'à manger chaque jour le même repas tu accomplis un geste décisif. Mais ton refus est inutile. Ta neutralité ne veut rien dire. Ton inertie est aussi vaine que ta colère.