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‘It used to be you who was impulsive,’ said Pan, ‘and me who kept holding you back. We’re different now.’

She nodded. ‘Well, you know, things change … This isn’t just shoplifting. This is murder.’

‘I know. I saw it.’

‘And maybe by doing this we’d be helping the murderer get away with it. By interfering with the investigation. That can’t be right.’

‘That’s another thing,’ he said.

‘What?’

‘You used to be optimistic. You used to think that whatever we did would turn out well. Even after we came back from the north, you used to think that. Now you’re cautious, you’re anxious … You’re pessimistic.’

She knew he was right, but it wasn’t right that he should speak to her accusingly, as if it was something to blame her for.

‘I used to be young,’ was all she could find to say.

He made no response.

They didn’t speak again till they reached the station. Then she said ‘Pan, come here,’ and he leapt up at once into her hands. She put him on her shoulder and said quietly, ‘You’re going to have to look out behind. Someone might be watching.’

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Si la rationalité ne voit pas de choses telles que la communauté des esprits, c'est parce que sa vision est limitée. La communauté des esprits est là. On ne peut pas la voir avec la rationalité, pas plus qu'on ne peut peser quoi que ce soit avec un microscope : ce n'est pas le bon outil. Nous avons besoin de mesurer, mais aussi d'imaginer...

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- Il n'y a pas seulement ce que tu as fait. Il y a ce que tu fais maintenant. Je te l'ai dit l'autre jour : tu es en train de te tuer, et moi aussi, avec tes pensées. Tu vis dans un monde plein de couleurs et tu veux le voir en noir et blanc. C'est comme si ce Gottfried Brande était une sorte de sorcier qui t'avait fait oublier tout ce que tu aimes, toutes les choses mystérieuses, tous ces endroits où règnent les ombres. Ne vois-tu pas la vacuité des mondes qu'ils décrivent, Talbot et lui ? Tu ne penses pas réellement que le monde est aussi aride que ça. Impossible. Tu es envoûtée, forcément.

- Les envoûtements n'existent pas, Pan, murmura-t-elle, et elle espéra qu'il ne l'avait pas entendue.

- Le monde des morts non plus, je suppose, dit-il. Ce n'était qu'un rêve d'enfant. Les autres mondes. Le poignard subtil. Les sorcières. Ils n'ont pas leur place dans l'univers auquel tu aspires. Comment fonctionne l'aléthiomètre, à ton avis ? Les symboles ont tellement de significations qu'on peut y lire tout ce qu'on veut, si bien qu'ils ne signifient rien du tout, en réalité. Quant à moi, je ne suis qu'une vue de l'esprit. Le vent qui souffle à travers un crâne vide. Je crois que j'en ai assez, Lyra.

- Que veux-tu dire ?

- Arrête de souffler ton haleine sur moi. Tu empestes l'ail.

Humiliée et rongée par le chagrin, elle se tourna sur le côté. Tous les deux pleuraient dans le noir.

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He was conscious of his own ox-like clumsiness. He was conscious of all kinds of constrats - his maturity and her youth, his bulk and her slenderness, his stolidity and her quickness... He could watch her for hours. Her eyes, large and long-lashed and a gloriously vivid blue, more expressive than anyone's he'd known; she was so young, but already he could see where the laughter lines, the lines of sympathy, the lines of concentration would gather in the years to come and make her face even richer and more full of life. Already, on each side of her mouth, there was a tiny crease made by the smile that seemed to hover just under the surface, ready to flower into being. Her hair, dark straw-coloured, shortish and untydish but always soft and shining: once or twice when he was teaching her, bending to look over her shoulder at a piece of written work, he'd caught a faint scent from the hair, not of shampoo but of young warm girl, and drawn away at once. At that time, when they were teacher and pupil, anything like that was so wrong his mind shut it down out before it had even fully formed.

But four years later, was it still wrong to think about it? About Lyra now? Wrong to yearn to put his hands on either side of her face, on those warm cheeks, and bring it gently towards his?

He'd been in love before; he knew what was happening to him. But the girls and women he'd loved in the past had been roughly his own age. Mostly. In the one exception, the difference was the other way. Nothing he knew was any help in this situation, and she was in such danger and difficulty at the moment that bothering her with his own feelings would be unforgivable. But there it was. He, Malcolm Polstead, aged thirty-one, was in love with her. It was impossible to think that she could ever love him.

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