'Oh dear,' he said, 'I think this is going to be serious. May I see the palm of your hand, please?'
He examined it for a long time. Alter a while he went to the dresser, took a jeweller's eyeglass out of a drawer, wiped the porridge off it with the sleeve of his robe, and spent another few minutes examining her hand in minutest detail. Eventually he sat back, removed the glass, and stared at her.
'You're dead,' he said.
Keli waited. She couldn't think of any suitable reply. 'I'm not' lacked a certain style, while 'Is it serious?' seemed somehow too frivolous.
'Did I say I thought this was going to be serious?' said Cutwell.
'I think you did,' said Keli carefully, keeping her tone totally level.
'I was right.'
'It could be fatal.'
'How much more fatal,' said Keli, 'than being dead?'
'I didn't mean for you.'
'Something very fundamental seems to have gone wrong, you see. You're dead in every sense but the, er, actual. I mean, the cards think you're dead. Your lifeline thinks you're dead. Everything and everyone thinks you're dead.'
'I don't,' said Keli, but her voice was less than confident.
'I'm afraid your opinion doesn't count.'