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That was the end of Dopey's conversation. He put his head under his plume again and kept it there. I thought I heard him sobbing for a few moments, but then he was quiet.

I fell asleep then, too, not because I wanted to but because I couldn't help it. When the green-glass machine woke me up Dopey was still in his corner, making the faint, muffled snickering sound that did him for snoring, and an idea was forming in my mind.

I didn't have much time to think it out, because Greenie was already snaking one branch of its twiglets under my right arm to get me up, then hustling me back to the interrogation room. But on the way I remembered doctrine.

Basic Bureau tradecraft said that if you couldn't get your interrogators to give you the information you wanted, perhaps you could at least lead the questioning in such a way that even the questions were informative. In practice sessions, back in my training days, it had seemed like something that might work. I'd never tried it in the field, but it was worth a shot. It was something to do, when the only alternative was simply to give up.

It seemed that the machines had heard all they wanted to hear about the Scuzzhawks. Now the topic of the day was sex. What did sexual intercourse feel like? If it was pleasurable, why did some human beings deprive themselves of it? How often had I had sexual intercourse, and under what circumstances, and with what persons, and why? Why was sexual intercourse with another person preferable to masturbation? What forms of sexual experience other than direct stimulation existed, and what did I mean by "fetishism" and "masochism"? How was it possible that some of my conspecifics could achieve sexual gratification just by inflicting pain on others?

I did what I could. I answered every question, and tacked on a little question to each answer. Masturbation: didn't the Horch masturbate? Hugging and kissing: I supposed the Horch had their equivalents. And didn't some Horch get a charge out of hurting other Horch? Without exception, none of my questions got an answer. Mostly they were ignored. Sometimes Greenie cautioned me to stick to straight responses. Twice it gestured toward the porcelain box that held the helmet, which was enough.

And the questioning went on and on. When it stopped at last it was only long enough for me to relieve myself and cram down a few bites of food, and then it started again.