GARDEN



From Dr. Ehirllimbal's private journal—

June 12th, 1954: Mr. Gaultier is no longer trying to hide his dislike of my decision from the rest of the expedition. Last night, Mr. Harrigan privately expressed his concern to me that such public discord between myself and our financier is causing confusion among the team. I thanked him for his opinion, and told him that I was aware of the tension and that I would address it soon. I could tell he wanted some assurance that his devotion to me wasn't misplaced and . . . I tried to offer him some solace, some verbal acknowledgment of his continued support, but I could tell my words weren't enough.

Círo is on his mind a great deal, and that knowledge is becoming very heavy. That is crux of his consternation, I believe: he agreed with me and what we did, but—morally and religiously—he cannot quite forgive our actions. Eventually I will have to absolve him, I will have to take his guilt by accepting sole responsibility. I will have to give him permission to tell the others what really happened.

At that time, I will also tell them why I have elected to go upriver without a guide. I will tell them about the dreams, and about the spirit guide who is showing me the way.

Every night, the garden is clearer. The closer we get, the more distinct the leaves and branches become. The blossoms are still just splashes of color, but I know they will become more distinct in my mind until I can see the variegated ridges of the petals. Eventually I will hear the whisper of the stalks as they sway in the wind, and I will smell the rich scent of their night bloom.

Ah, Bertrand. They never showed you the way, did they? You just hacked a path through the jungle. You found the garden. We have no doubt of that. But whatever you took from there didn't live long enough to synthesize, did it?

I know Mr. Gaultier is your agent. I have known since before I accepted the first penny of his patronage. But now I know why.

I am, ultimately, not worried about the threat of mutiny. Mr. Gaultier will rile the team with his incessant chatter, but he will not let them get completely out of control. He wants their apprehension to drive me on, and to keep me off-guard so I do not anticipate his betrayal. But he won't let the expedition self-destruct, not before we reach the goal.



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