Pavel sat down, and after giving Elena time to recover from his startling actions, asked, “What is the difference between dwelling in a cave and being silent in your room back there?”

Elena’s eyes flashed towards him, but she answered, “There is a big difference between choosing to be silent with no one to hear and being told to be silent so that others can’t hear you.”

Up to then Elena had seemed nothing but determined. He watched her melt into tears. He knew that his question would be a hard one, but that she needed to consider it before the idea of living in a cave firmed itself in her mind and was acted upon.

“Why do you want to be silent then?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I agree with them that I should be.”

Pavel did not know how to proceed. He did not feel it his place to try to sway her nor that he knew enough about her life to make judgments on it.

“It is hard to know what should be. It is easier to know what one wants to be. I am curious what you want to be.”

“I think you mean what I want my life to be, not what occupation I want.”

“Yes, though they are related.”

“I just know how I want to feel, not what I want to happen, except what I don’t want to happen. I want to feel safe and peaceful. A cave seems that.”

Pavel could think of no alternative, and did not wish to argue for his previous idea. “All right. I’ve heard there are some mountains west of here. If we continue the way we have been going we should find them.”

“You don’t have to go.”

“I know, but I want to.”