It was a hard decision. God knows how long it took them to come to it. There were four of them, in a filthy, empty room, starving to death, and they hatched upon a plan. 

The smallest of them, by far the weakest—the weakest and perhaps most foolish: he would be given all the remaining food. 

—The rest of us are too large. We would consume all its energy in rising, in crossing to the door and then what?

—Yes, they said. There’s nothing for it. Plainface, he and he alone, small as he is, weak and stupid as he is, he must go and forage and bring us back something, anything, or we’re as good as dead. 

an unimaginable burden for plainface, who had long ago believed himself dead. Deeper than any of them, farther than any of them, he had crawled into a corner. He was halfway covered in starvation-sleep and made a sort of bleating sound when he heard the news. 

—But Father, but Mother, I’m just going to go off to sleep now. I can’t possibly find us food. There’s none to be had. Someone…