Excusing himself, Sir Parlane stepped out by the open doors which led onto the terrace and he found himself looking at the golden Moon floating above the trees which surrounded the lawn and he though about the many superlunary worlds he and Dominic had visited – Kombu, where intelligent life only existed in the vast oceans and the dry land was populated by subhuman beings; Schloop, a moist planet inhabited by highly intelligent giant slugs, who had developed interplanetary travel aeons before Earth's science fiction writers first described it's possibilities; and Nug, dear old Nug, on the furthest reaches of the Universe, an ancient world believed to have been the original blueprint for Earth, cast aside by the Creator in favour of this blue dot just because of the lazy hedonism of all the creatures inhabiting it's balmy islands, floating on warm seas, teeming with more fish than they could possibly consume, which is the reason for their wealth, produced by their ability to market sea-food and by-products to half the populated planets on their side of the Universe, oh, and their rejection of any Belief in or Reverence for the Creator as evidenced by three Planetary Referendums in the past five millennia, my oh my, the remembrance of Nug bringing a rueful smile to his lips, because. . . . .but no! – this is not the occasion – he plucked some flowers, fashioning a nosegay, silvered now by the Moon's brilliant reflection, which was when a vice hailed him: "oh, sir, you gave me such a start, coming out of the trees so, please forgive me for speaking, if I have disturbed your thoughts, sir, I apologise, and I beg you not to tell the Marquis I spoke without permission," and narrowing his eyes he saw that it was Maree, the maid, and realised that this was the first, the only time, so far, that he had heard her speak at all, had even fancied her for a mute and he saw her hair haloed in the light from the dining room windows and her cheeks flushed, as she stood timidly before him: "fear not, Maree, there is nothing for me to mention to your employer, but tell me, why are you outside at this time of night?" and she pulled her shawl tight and stared at him as if debating whether to tell him the truth, or something else, or simply to turn on her heel and run back indoors; her shoulders dropped as she decided: "please, sir, this is the only time of day I have a few minutes to myself and I like nothing better than to step out and feel the weather, whether it is calm or windy, dry and warm or cold and wet, sir, I care not," and he nodded, smiled and said: "believe me, Maree, I understand just how you feel – I myself need a few minutes of solitude at some point in the day, away from talk, or doing things, or even reading or writing, I call it my funsy time, and I am sure that your funsy is as precious to you as mine is to me; how long have you been out?" and she curtsied and said "five minutes, sir, I should be going back," so he asked: "would it spoil your funsy if I walk back with you?" and the smile was the first he had seen on her face, normally sullen and put-upon, "if you care to sir, thank you," so with slow steps, they walked side by side round to the kitchen door, where she thanked him with a formality that amused him, for such a slight favour, but before she turned into the doorway, he caught one of her hands, raised it to his lips and kissed the fingers, which felt raw and chapped to him, the fingers of a servant, bade her goodnight, and she was gone.