5. The Interview
When they bring #38 before him Norgush studies him at length. "You are thinner than I expected, Mr. Bolger." #38 mutters something, which Norgush prompts him to repeat.
"My mother is trying to change that."
Norgush ignores the little joke. "You were released three days ago, when my boys emptied the Lockholes. I'm sorry for that. You see, they didn't know what they were doing."
"Are you putting me back?" #38 is looking at the floor but his voice is clear and calm. He was a leader of rebels, though he may not look it.
"Only doing the work they ought to have done first. Tell me about the Brockenbores." There is an empty chair standing before Norgush. He does not ask #38 to sit.
After twenty minutes of questions #38 is trembling. He stammers one answer and then falls silent; the Commander watches without comment. "Sit," he finally says, and #38 complies, hands clasped and resting on his knees. "It's up to you," says Norgush, "if we put you back or not. If you cooperate there is no trouble."
"How do I do that?"
"Your folk love a quiet life. Live one."
The hobbit's lips tighten. "A quiet life?" For the first time he looks up. "I'm not sure I know what that is any more."
The Orc smiles dryly. "Then you are in the same position we are, Mr. Bolger."
Fredegar Bolger is leaving when someone catches his arm from behind ("Oi!"). He stops at once, without resistance.
The goblin releases him quickly. "Guess I scared you. Didn't mean to, only I saw you coming out of there an' I recognized you from before. Norgush had you visit, eh? What'd you do? You useta be somethin' interesting, didn't you?"
Bolger says nothing. Undiscouraged, Ashglob follows him home.
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