(The beginning of Chapter Two: David's Song)
The old man was mumbling again. Every time that happened, a much younger man would signal the room by raising his hand in the air. The noise in the room fell off to near silence, only the slight hiss of the gaslights that lit the windowless space. David waited for the young man to lower his hand. He had learned when to keep quiet. As he waited, he glanced around the room.
The room was spacious, housing about twenty people, all seated at round tables in pairs and trios. David was seated in front of a stack of papers, each of which was covered with a morass of numbers and letters, some neat, some scribbled, some written in what seemed to be direct confrontation with the natural order of linear ordering of words on the page. It was his job to make some sense of the pages, although he was not to write anything down. Everything he learned was simply spoken aloud. His watchdog, a young woman named Inessa, would listen to what he said and later do something with it. It wasn't David's job to know or ask what Inessa did with the information he extracted, he had learned not to ask.
The old man stopped his mumbling. David turned back to the paper when Inessa put her hand on his arm. Startled at this touch, he looked at her.
"Good news, David. The detective Lucy hired did the smart thing. He or she broke contact when he found out we were involved. We'll keep an eye on Lucy, of course, but it looks like she's resigned to waiting for your safe return." Inessa's cold blue eyes, nearly emotionless, were a stark contrast to the warmth of her voice. Did she really care about Lucy and David? David wasn't sure, but needed to hope that this all still might end well.