‘Has Howard rigged up that variable red light he was working on yet?’
‘No. At any rate it doesn’t work. Give me your hand, Joe.’
There was another click, marking the entry into the vacuum of silence of the radiogram’s heavy purr. I felt Piers’s hand searching for mine; our fingers met and hovered, resting side by side. I could feel the smooth edge of the gold signet ring he wore on his little finger. In this small intimacy of flesh on flesh I was aware of the presence of power, and in that awareness had a sudden urge to withdraw. But what excuse or justification could there be? Now the music, at first a vibration humming with the rest, became notes and melody, building its own pattern in the vacancy about us. Piers must have put the records on before he sat down. I recognized ‘Le Coq d’Or’, its monotonous gold surged over us like the meaningless waves of a forgotten, sunset ocean.
Lulu said: ‘Would there be anything without the music? Do we have to have it? And a certain kind?’
Piers said remotely: ‘We may be able to do without it eventually. For the moment, it helps.’
Britton said: ‘Yes, I can see that it would help. It would be a matter of spiritual vibrations.’
He embarrassed me by the very lack of embarrassment in his voice. In the dark, accents were clearer, intonations more easily noticeable. Britton’s voice had a soft sluggishness.
I said: ‘Piers picks the records. “The Planets” used to be our stand-by, but we need a little variety now and then. Anything sufficiently diffuse will do.’