illustrated by rhoda penmarq, roy dismas , and konrad kraus
"can i ask a question?" ameline asked miss prue suddenly. she was seated in the center of the table, on dorine's left, with two empty spaces between them.
"yes, please do."
"have you ever done anything like this before?"
"have you ever -um - conducted - or supervised anything like this whole procedure before ? i mean, maybe during the war?"
miss prue laughed. "oh, my dear! what a question!"
"i am serious," ameline persisted. "of course you don't have to answer -"
"oh, no, it's a good question. an excellent question. it is just that - such an idea never crossed my mind." miss prue laughed again. "i can assure you this is all as strange to me as it must be to all of you. even stranger, as i am older and my brain is not so flexible."
"the thought just flashed on me," ameline said. "it just - it just flashed on me."
"where would i have done such a thing? i mean - i was on the losing side. as we all were. none of us would be here if we were not, would we?"
helga and some of the other guards exchanged amused glances, but none of them spoke.
"i suppose," ameline answered.
"you suppose?" suddenly celine entered the conversation. "what do you suppose, sweetie? we are all here, aren't we? none of us went down in flames with knives between our teeth, did we?"
"well," ameline answered, looking around the table, " some of them might have been a bit young -"
" 'them' is right. did you spend the war in a convent?"
"nor did i."
dorine was more startled by celine's outburst than ameline had been. she did not understand what had caused it.
"well," said miss prue, "i hope i answered your question."
"yes, " ameline answered mildly. "i did not mean to upset anyone."