"And so," Sir Thomas concluded, "even in our fallen state, mired in sin and ignorance, there is hope. We have only to apply what understanding we are given by the grace of God, and not to lose our hope for a return to perfection."

Madame Vereaux feigned waking from a deep and restful sleep. "My good Mr. Danbury, has Judgment Day come already? Because it would seem that you have finished moralizing!"

"Alas, Genevieve," chirruped Miss Sunnington, "he is merely resting his voice. I expect that he shall be at it again before very long."

Mr. Gilby interjected as Sir Thomas began to bluster and turn an intriguing shade of scarlet, well before he could formulate a reply. "It is a well-presented viewpoint, Sir, and thank you for sharing it. But - and I hope that I do not cause you affront in saying this - I don't think that you're giving the Devil his due. I believe that there is more rhyme and reason to Evil than simply to create Good by opposition. Would an omnipotent God really need to resort to such a method?"

"Besides," said Madame Vereaux, "Innocence too has its value. And if you spent more time around children, you would concede that it has not been utterly abandoned by our species."


A Fiery Likeness