But a determined man is not easily dissuaded. ZomMaster turned to the delegation that had fetched Blodget. More than one was still shuffling his feet and looking at the ground, discomfited by the awkward turn of events.

"You there," he admonished them, "you Zom, looking hapless and helpless, will you not be masters of your own fate? Will you watch your stills dry up and your fortunes fade, rather than answer a call to work?"

"The badger has a good point," said one.

"The badger is afraid."

"It's five miles of trench work, and all uphill," said a second.

"Five miles or five yards, it's dug one shovelful at a time."

"He said we could only pipe water from the top, and that's an awfully tall tank," chimed in a third.

"We shall dig from the bottom, as the badger would have done."

"But what if we get caught?" asked a fourth.

"I scoff at hard work," said ZomMaster, "and so should you, when your fortunes are involved."

A short, rotund Zom stepped forward. "And I scoff at discovery, for darkness has always been my friend."

A tall, cadaverous Zom stepped beside the first man.

"Join me in work and you'll join me in profit," ZomMaster cajoled.

A youthful, smooth-faced lad stepped beside the second.

"Shared work is burden eased," ZomMaster continued. "We'll make a party of it." And he struck up a work shanty.

Reluctantly, the last of the delegation stepped forward to join his brethren.

Better to sweat and sing with friends than languish at home, alone.

26: Perfidy Uncovered