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“The difference,” says the Abbot, “is that here several orders share one roof–united in devotion, divided amicably about its expression.” He’s the first fat man Pearl’s seen here, which fits her mental image perfectly. The long scars of his eyes, however, don’t. His fingers see for him, quick as spiders.

“We’ll talk after dinner. Brother Pruitt will take you to your cell,” he says as a stooped man enters the office. An Anorectine, she guesses, under vows of hunger. He holds the door, and his hands look intensely fragile: yellow and dry things, formed of rice paper and balsa wood.