Tallie stood in front of the Book and gave it a Look. "You're up to something," she said. The Book blinked slowly.
They were alone again. Once the Book had inscribed the plans on a stack of thin steel sheets, Rosie couldn't wait to get to work. Tallie had made a withdrawal from the Book's contingency fund and paid a shocking amount for two CCAs. You could get a lot of tea for that money, she thought, because tea was the basic unit of the economy, as far as Tallie was concerned.
"It's not like I think it's any of my business," she lied, "but I think I can help you better if I know what's going on."
She was pleased when those very old gears of the Book's engaged, but did not squeak. Nice work there, she told herself. The Book just sat and spun its gears for a moment.
"As part of my function," it said carefully, "I am permitted to extend my machinery in certain ways. It might be that this is necessary to gain access to an unusual story, for example. In such cases I may trade information for services."
Tallie wasn't impressed. She knew all about the televideo screens: she knew, in fact, quite a lot about how the Book operated. She was the girl with the oil can. "Sure. And I guess that explains why you wanted me to get Rosie down here, which, in case I didn't mention it, is not exactly a job I enjoyed very much. At all." The Book didn't bother to reply since Tallie had already mentioned it, both before the fact, and afterwards.
"But why do you want a Chemical Communication Analyzer?" she demanded. "Why do you want that... other thing... Rosie's making for you? What are you up to?"
"Will you make some tea?" asked the Book. "You know I enjoy the steam. And then I will tell you a story." Tallie was working herself up to an explosion. "It will not explain everything," said the Book. "I am not permitted to tell you everything." One of its eyes slowly irised shut, and then opened again. "But it will tell you what I am able to tell you."
Tallie had never seen the Book wink before. After a moment she picked up the teapot and went over to the stove. "We'll just see," she sai