It makes his legs itch abominably, like sleeping in a nest of spiders, but the view is terrific, an impossible bowl of blue skies and the ground spread out below like an apron. And silence — he can’t remember a quieter day. Too quiet, really; he leans far too far out of the basket, locks his eyes on the ground unrolling beneath him, but it’s not enough, the spiders are dug deep, and for all the hundreds of miles the wind is carrying him he can’t stay still, paces the narrow basket endlessly, trying to stay ahead of that impatient Aramaic commandment.
An incredible view, though. He wonders if they’re running after him still and laughs and laughs. Conscience is a long-dead beast in his soul; he’s been too much in the wild places, eaten too many rocks in hick villages to feel he owes anything to anybody, and what’s a balloon anyway but an acre of oiled silk and a lot of hot air? You can’t own the air.
Eventually the wind starts to carry him out to sea, and he takes the quick trip down to the rocks. The pain is tremendous, and when he pulls himself together enough to care about his surroundings again he’s somewhere on the far side of the Sahara, but it was worth it. A hell of a view, absolutely unprecedented.