The presidential limousine was travelling across the southern plain on the way back from a social evening at the home of Lord Arcalian. Marion was sleepy, leaning against Kristoph’s shoulder. She was looking forward to getting home.

Suddenly Kristoph leaned forward, jerking her fully awake. She heard him speaking to Gallis Limnon in the driver’s seat and felt the car turn sharply.

“What’s happening?” she asked.

“There’s a fire, a bad one, due west of here,” Kristoph answered. “It’s in the town unless I’m mistaken.”

He wasn’t mistaken. As the limousine came closer to the outskirts of the small town where so many of the workers in the de Lœngbærrow mines lived, where Marion taught in the school and many of their household staff had family, roofs and chimneys were outlined against a red-orange glow with sparks flying up into the sky.

“Oh!” Marion exclaimed as the limousine turned into the town square. “It’s the library. MY library.”

She felt Kristoph’s hand in hers as the limousine came to a stop at a safe distance. Trembling with grief she watched as the men of the town fought the blaze. It was obviously too late to do much more than prevent it spreading to other buildings. The library was destroyed.

“Sir….” Gallis Limnon turned to his employer. “My sister… the head librarian.” He pointed to the woman standing alone with her hands covering her face.

“Go to her,” Kristoph told him quietly. He turned to Marion and comforted her with his strong embrace.

“We’ll rebuild,” he promised. “Just as the school was rebuilt after the quake damage. Your library will be restored.”

“I know,” Marion sobbed. “But still… all the books that were bought for it… so many precious books.”

“They can be replaced, too. The good thing is that nobody was hurt. The building was closed for the night.”

That was a comfort, at least, but Marion was still shocked and upset by what had happened. Kristoph called to one of his bodyguards from the car that accompanied his own limousine on any occasion. He had him take the driver’s seat and ordered him to drive them home.

“There’s nothing we can do here,” he said to Marion. I’ll leave Gallis with his sister. She needs him more than we do. Let’s get you home and into bed.”

“I’d rather stay,” Marion protested, but Kristoph insisted, and, indeed, she was so tired that she was asleep before the car touched down again on the driveway of Mount Lœng House. Kristoph carried her into the house as the night butler, Sheoghan, opened the door to them.

“There has been more distressing news,” the young but reliable servant said in a low whisper so as not to disturb the lady of the house. He told his master what he knew. Kristoph shook his head.

“I will want to see the Castellan first thing in the morning,” he said. “Would you be so good as to put a call through to his office to that effect?”

“I will do that, sir. Goodnight, my Lord.”

Sheoghan did his master’s bidding immediately, and the Castellan turned up before breakfast time at the home of the Lord High President. Kristoph invited him to eat while he gave a full report of events overnight.

Marion came down to the dining room as he was finishing the breakfast and the report. She looked tired, still, but she had forced herself awake knowing that there were important matters to be dealt with today.

The Castellan’s presence in their home could not bode well.

“Pól,” she said, using his forename as she did on social occasions. “You are not here so early for coffee, I am sure. It must be official. Is it about the fire?”

“It is. Sit down, my dear lady. You look as if you need some of this coffee, yourself.”

Kristoph made Marion eat several rounds of toast as well as coffee before he allowed Pól Braxietel to repeat in less formal terms the news he had brought to the Lord High President’s attention.

“There were four separate fires last night in different parts of Gallifrey,” he said. “Four of the free libraries established in Caretaker townships were gutted.”

“Nobody was injured?” Marion asked first of all as the implications sunk in.

“A few minor burns among those attempting to fight the fires,” Pól assured her. But all of the buildings were closed for the night and nobody lived on any of the premises.”

“But four of them… all in the same night. This isn’t accidental, is it?”

“It cannot be so. I suspected arson with the first report, but with multiple incidents, I am quite certain. I have my men searching for evidence of misconduct. I have no doubt it will be found.”

“Why?” Marion asked. “Why would anyone want to burn down libraries that offered learning to the poorest class of our people?”

“There are those who don’t think the Caretaker classes should be encouraged to educate themselves,” Pól admitted. “You came up against such opposition yourself when the libraries were first proposed.”

“Yes, but I am sure the likes of Lady Charr – despite her name – hasn’t been fire-raising in the night.”

“It is also possible that some among the Caretaker class feel that the learning offered in the libraries is not to their liking. There was talk about immoral books….”

“That, too, came to nothing,” Marion pointed out. “But I suppose it is possible that somebody thought there was a corrupting influence. Even so, four buildings and all the books within them, all destroyed….”

“My office is taking the matter very seriously,” Pól said in his most officious tone. “We shall root out the culprits. You have my word on the matter.”

With that, there was nothing more the Castellan could say. He thanked Kristoph for the breakfast and wished Marion a peaceful day before departing. Kristoph turned to his wife and ordered her to eat a good breakfast herself and then spend the morning quietly.

“You have had very little sleep,” he told her when she tried to say that she was all right. “And you have been worrying even in your dreams. We are both powerless to do anything until Pól’s investigation is concluded. A quiet morning in your drawing room, some light reading and a nap when you need one, and this afternoon I will permit you to invite your committee of literary ladies to a war council. You can start planning the inventory for the new libraries that will replace those lost to you.”

“That will be possible?” Marion asked. “We really can rebuild four libraries at once?”

“We don’t have a regular fire service on this planet,” Kristoph answered her. “But we do have magnificent insurance brokers. Besides, I intend to instruct the treasury to set aside the funds to engage architects right away. Four phoenixes will begin rising from the ashes even before they are cold After that, I am going to speak to the Premier Cardinal about forming a Committee to explore the feasibility of starting that fire service. If anything was proved last night, it was that we need to deal with such things in a more professional manner.”

“Forming a committee to explore the feasibility….” Marion laughed at the language he used. “It sounds as if nothing will get done about it in my lifetime. They’ll be too busy talking about it.”

“If they prevaricate an hour longer than necessary I will set the Panopticon alight and see how fast they take the decision, then,” Kristoph promised. Marion laughed again before telling him that there had been enough arson for one night. But she was laughing. That was the important thing. After a good breakfast she went to her white drawing room and spent the morning drawing up lists of books. When Kristoph looked in on her later she was asleep with a collection of hand-written notes falling all around her.

“You could have done that with your hand-held computer, you know,” he told her when she woke and scrabbled to pick them up. Kristoph reached for several of the loose sheets and read her neat handwriting. “I still remember your essays from that glorious summer school. I knew at once that you had a good mind for literature, a love of books.”

“It was why I went to university even though I wasn’t supposed to coming from my part of town,” she said. She looked at the notes she had collected and withdrew one of the pages. “I’m not sure about these. I wonder if they are the reason for the attacks in the first place.”

Kristoph took the page and looked at a list of the novels of DH Lawrence.

“Is this a book that you would wish your wife or your servants to read?”

Marion laughed at the slightly paraphrased quote from the Chatterley trial.

“I don’t think Malika Dúccesci had any say in the matter when Talitha read it. Whether her maids and housekeeper have borrowed the first edition I gave her last Christmas is up to her.”

“The only books that have ever been banned on this planet were done so some three thousand generations ago when there was some fear of too many unqualified citizens learning about the closed rites of the Chapters. The only reason they haven’t been unbanned is because they are redundant now that we no longer have closed rites of that sort and they have mostly been forgotten. There is no censorship on the grounds of sex or violence in literature here. We have NEVER felt the need. And we are not going to start now, no matter how many libraries are burnt.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” Marion told him. “I feel as if it is my fault for starting them up in the first place. I only meant to give Caretakers the chance to read books if they chose to do so. Mostly I was thinking of self-help books so that they could learn new crafts and history and geographies of other worlds to broaden their minds.”

“Some of our Oldbloods are as out of touch with real life as the Honourable Justice John Mervyn Guthrie Griffith-Jones in 1960,” Kristoph remarked. Again Marion laughed at his reference to the barrister who had blithely supposed that the jury members in the case of Regina versus Penguin Books, Limited, were of the class who had servants in their homes.

“With a name like that he wouldn’t be out of place among them,” Marion remarked. They both laughed, and much of the tension of the last hours was dispelled.

At least until Kristoph was called away to an urgent video-phone call. Marion followed him to his study though he had asked her to remain in her drawing room.

“Kristoph!” she said as he ended the call and rose quickly from his chair.

“Yes,” he answered. “Yes, you come with me, to the Dúccesci home, at least. You can stay with Talitha while Malika and I try to deal with the other matter.”

He opened the door to his TARDIS. That was how urgent he felt the matter was. He wasn’t going to trust even the fastest inter-continental shuttle when minutes counted. Marion followed him in, quickly.

The TARDIS literally arrived at the Dúccesci house in just three of those minutes. It didn’t take more than that to see that there had been an outrageous intrusion there. Glass from the broken window in the east wing drawing room was strewn all over the lawn. Kristoph didn’t look any further. He met Lord Dúccesci on the wide doorstep of the Palladian mansion and they both went to the TARDIS while Marion was admitted to the house by the family butler.

“Talitha,” she cried out as she ran to the violate drawing room. This was Lady Dúccesci’s private place as much as the White Drawing Room was hers. Talitha’s special possessions were here: her own ornaments and paintings, her own books.

Or they were. The bookshelves had been roughly tipped over and the books ripped to shreds. Talitha sat with the torn remnants of that first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on her lap, her eyes dry because pureblood Gallifreyan didn’t cry, but her face a picture of grief nonetheless.

“It’s all right,” Marion assured her. “The books can be replaced. All of them. We’ll visit Earth together to buy our Lawrence novels. Kristoph will take us.”

“It’s not that,” Talitha answered. Of course it wasn’t. It was the shock of finding her home invaded and such malicious damage done to things that had sentimental value to her.

But there was more. Talitha pressed something into Marion’s hand. She looked at the note in astonishment.

“This was left here?”

The lady of the house nodded grimly.

“This is what happens to unGallifreyan literature.”

“Un-Gallifreyan? That silly word Lord Ravenswode coined. That’s what this is all about? It’s why your house was broken into and four buildings were set on fire?”

“I don’t think Lord Ravenswode did it,” Talitha conceded. “The men who broke in… Garron, our butler… he saw two of them as they ran from the scene. They wore black hoods over their faces, but they were young, slender, fit men. Lord Ravenswode is… thick of girth. He could not run as they did.”

“It’s the nonsense he has been spreading, though,” Marion said. “He is responsible for this outrage.”

When he returned to the house along with Lord Dúccesci, Kristoph was of the same opinion.

“What has happened?” Talitha asked her husband.

“The library in the village…” he began.

“Burnt down?” Marion asked. “In the daytime?”

“No, merely stripped of every book not printed on our own world,” Kristoph explained. “A book burning in the village square.” Marion’s face told a whole story on its own. “Yes, just like the Nazis and others who sought to choose what people should think.” He drew a slender volume from his pocket. It was charred at the edges but relatively intact. He showed it to Marion to drive home his point about those who thought they could dictate what went on in people’s minds, then returned it to his pocket. He didn’t explain why.

“Who did it?” Marion asked. “Lord Ravenswode?”

“He wasn’t there. A dozen or more people were arrested. Mostly impressionable young men of good families, but nobody of senior rank within any House. I have no doubt that it was his influence, but he will have been careful to distance himself.”

“They must be punished for their acts of vandalism… and for the attack on my private property,” Malika Dúccesci insisted.

“Those apprehended will be,” Kristoph assured him. “Though it might be difficult to establish if they were also guilty of this outrage, too. Castellan Braxietel intends to get the truth from them, you can be assured of that.”

“Even if they are sons of Oldblood Houses, they ought to be whipped,” Malika said, containing his anger in the presence of the ladies. “Just as Ginnell and his friends were not spared when they committed their acts of foolishness.”

“They will be,” Kristoph repeated. “The penalty for vandalism is a public whipping, and I see no reason to spare anyone’s back in this instance. If Ravenswode CAN be implicated, his own flesh won’t escape, but I think he is too slippery an eel for that.”

Marion shuddered at the idea. It shocked her a little that Kristoph could speak so casually about the sort of punishments that had been done away with centuries ago in her own culture. But then she thought about what had been done and she knew that the humiliation of a public whipping, especially for those who thought themselves superior by birth to the ordinary people, was not wholly inappropriate.

“We are supposed to be in summer recess,” Kristoph added. “But tomorrow, Dúccesci, I am calling a special session of the Councillors. Mandatory attendance, even for Ravenswode. Anyone who is offworld will be recalled. I intend to establish exactly what is and is not UNGALLIFREYAN once and for all.”

Marion and Talitha both looked at Kristoph’s face as he spoke, and were a little frightened as well as completely in awe of him an in absolutely no doubt that he meant what he said.

Malika Dúccesci nodded. He had sometimes been opposed to Kristoph politically, but on this occasion he was his ally against those who had trespassed upon his home and his wife’s happiness.