Idx
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Ch. 16
Style: Serif Sans

For His Name’s Sake

Chapter Twelve

“How do you feel about going home, Tsie?” asked Thilish.

“I’m glad we came - I feel we have been useful - but I feel our duty lies on Cirian now.  Our son’s first baby is due in two months - she’s getting tired - I want to be there to help.”

“And she needs a rest first,” said Janita.

“Most certainly,” agreed Ytazu.  “She’s having one, with me.  We’ve seen too little of each other this past year.  We can’t afford to go away on holiday.”

“That doesn’t matter,” said Tsie.

“No, my love,” agreed Ytazu.  “I just want a fortnight at home with my wife.”

“Very right and proper,” agreed Janita.  “Chalata needs a rest, and he says he wants one; but after the first three days, he might still be tired, but he’ll be getting bored.”

“Give me a week and a half,” said Chalata.  “We’re both really tired this time.  But then I will get restless.  If only I could go and talk to people about Yumelpthi in the mornings.”

“There’ll be things to do in the mornings,” said Janita.

“Would you consider coming back?” asked Thilish.

“Shh!” said Janita.  “Not for six months, at least.”

“If we’re needed,” said Chalata, almost eagerly.  “That reminds me - I must finish that last chapter of Zechariah tonight, if we’re going to have time to print some complete Bibles before we go.  Akra says he can bind a hundred himself.” And off he went to his study.  Janita, after a moment’s reflection, followed him.

“I feel daunted by our task,” said Abritis.  “We know we ought to return, but it will be difficult.”

“We shall miss you all,” said Darte.  “Please go on praying for us - please communicate, Shurzi.”

“I will.” His tone told Thilish he cared.

In the Palace, Wysau sat down and tried to relax as Shimei finished preparing her lessons for the next day.

“We’re accepted, in a grudging sort of way,” he said.  “Only the Christians appreciate us.”

“There were two conversions three weeks ago.”

“Yes, but there haven’t been any since then, or many since the revival.  Everything seems so hard - people seem so hard - so quick to complain and so slow to praise.”

“You’re tired, love.”

He let her write on as he rested.  Yes, he was tired.  Four days ago, his five new colleagues had arrived, with a nurse, two electricians and a civil engineer - full of energy and enthusiasm - to a very hard mission field.  His one bright hope just then was that, in a week, he and Shimei, Feor and Helen, were going to Cirian for a month’s break.  They would travel with the rest of their team, who were returning home.

The new administration plan was set up and running smoothly under Oloxis’ expert eye.  New houses continued to be built; most of the city’s squatters were already rehoused.  That winter, though much the same amount of timber had been used, far more of it had been used for house building and making furniture, than for burning, and new trees were continually being planted.

Thilish’s thriving mother and baby clinic had been taken over by the five helpers she had trained.  Parents wanted to leave an entire inheritance to their son, so more and more parents did not want more than two children.  Some mothers who already had two or more healthy children had early taken advantage of the contraceptives available at the clinic when they saw the vast difference the clean water supply made to their children’s prospects of survival.  They had come to the school in its early days with their youngest surviving children, learnt to read and write, and more; so that, by the time the schools needed many new teachers, they were ready to come forward, and had done so.  Helen and Shimei found they could leave the existing schools in their capable hands.  More schools would be needed in a few months’ time, but at that point they could take their month’s rest on Cirian with clear consciences.

Clear consciences, but, in Shimei’s case, great trepidation.  She would have to go; she could see that Wysau must have a good rest, and that he would not be able to rest on Yumelpthi. She, too, was more tired than she had expected, and, naturally, Wysau must long to see his parents.  He had, after all, taken her to see hers, and done much to improve their situation.  She must go, for love of him, but she did not know how she was going to bear it.

She had finished her preparation, and was tidying her books and putting all ready for the morning’s school, when Wysau suddenly cried, “Praise God!”

She tried to curb her curiosity, and finish what she was doing, while she waited for the news.

“One of the Cirians who have been counselling the leaders of Traitan has just told me that revival has begun there.  The messenger who came from Traitan to thank our people for sending the Zaqan army away - you remember, the one who stayed on the flying machine, and heard the Gospel before starting out on his journey home?  As he walked and thought, he was converted - and as he went into Traitan, people asked him, “What news, messenger?” He not only told them his news, but the Gospel he had heard.  At villages and towns on the way, he told the people what was happening in Remgath, and the good news we had brought.  People listened, asked questions, believed! even some of the leaders to whom he eventually reported.  He is still travelling round Traitan, telling people, with the leaders’ blessing.”

“Well!” said Shimei.  If God did that, surely He would help her . . . ?

“We ought to go to Traitan, Rowesh.”

“But, husband, our baby’s due in two weeks!”

“God has told me I’m needed there.”

“He knows about our baby.  He probably means us to go in six months or a year.  I’m willing to come with you, but I can’t travel just when baby’s due, or just after he’s born.  I get tired enough looking after the shop.  I can’t walk all that way in this state.”

Perplexed, Obek brought the matter to his God.  He lay in bed that night beside his sleeping wife, feeling all the more convinced that God required some action of him very soon.  Yet God commanded in His word that he should love his wife as Christ loved the Church.  He could not leave her and go alone - whatever should he do?

“I will show you what you must do.”

Obek and Vitatt rose up early as usual to bake the bread.  Two hours later Rowesh got up, and soon she opened the shop to sell the new-baked bread to customers who wanted some for breakfast.  Two men came in with guns demanding money from the till.  Rowesh shouted to Obek - but one of the men attacked her brutally, escaping with a bundle of notes before Obek could put down the bread he was taking out of the oven, and rush to her aid.  Vitatt disappeared.  Wysau came into the shop.

“Wysau,” called Obek, “it’s Rowesh - come quickly!”

They improvised a stretcher and carried her to the flying machine, where Wysau and Thilish immediately set to work with the ray machine.

“Damaged ancet,” said Wysau, as Thilish was setting up a drip.  “She ought to have her baby on Cirian.”

“On Cirian!” cried Obek, even more perplexed.  “Why?”

“Because she needs special nursing.  Our team simply don’t have the time.  In a Cirian hospital she could have all the care she needs.”

“But God has told me I ought to go to Traitan!”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.  I’m needed there.  Oh, don’t you tell me it’s impossible!”

“No, I most certainly shall not,” said Wysau.  “But today, you’ll both have to come to Cirian for a month with us.  We leave in an hour.  Find someone to look after your shop.  Tell Rowesh’s family.  I’ve got to look after Rowesh.”

“I can’t say that wasn’t wonderful - the stranger doctor walking into the shop just as the robbers ran away!” said Rowesh’s father.  “I hope that’s put paid to your silly ideas about going to Traitan.”

“No.  We must go - but we must go to Cirian for a month first.”

“You’re not going to make her walk a hundred and seventy-five miles with a month-old baby!”

“I don’t know how it will work out yet,” said Obek.

“But who will help her with the new baby? when I’m here and you’re so far away?” cried Rowesh’s mother.

“I don’t know yet,” was all Obek could say.  It sounded most inadequate.

“At least the strangers will make her well,” said her father.

“And maybe the stranger nurse will persuade Obek,” said her mother with a sigh.  Obek was glad he had to get ready so quickly, and still had to find someone to look after the shop.

When Obek returned to his shop, one of Rowesh’s friends was there, serving customers.

“Vitatt told me to tell you - he caught the robbers, and has taken them to court.  He had to take the money with him to court to prove his case, but he will return it to you as soon as the case is over.”

“Thank him very much from me.  And thank him for asking you to help us.  Can you take over the shop while we’re away, you and Vitatt between you?  We have to go to Cirian for at least a month - Rowesh needs special treatment.”

“My brother has no work.  He will help me, but he cannot bake as you do.”

“Vitatt will teach him.”

So Obek went to the court, and there was Vitatt, pleading his cause.  There were the robbers, and the money.  When Vitatt saw Obek, he was sworn in, and gave evidence.

“She is so seriously hurt that you both have to go the strangers’ world for a month!” cried the judge.  “What defence have you?” he asked, turning to the two robbers, who had said they would conduct their own defence.  They both said they had no work, and no other way of making money so that they could eat.

“Why didn’t you join one of the strangers’ training programmes?” asked the judge.

“They were full,” said the robbers.

Just at that point Wysau contacted Obek, to remind him to get ready quickly.  “We must leave in ten minutes.”

“Are your training programmes full?” asked Obek.

“I don’t think so,” thought Wysau.  “I’ll just check with Alab’.  No, there are still vacancies.”

“Could Alab’ reply in the judge’s thoughts?”

“I will, if you speak to the judge.”

This was done.

“Are you willing to take these two criminals on one of your training programmes?” asked the judge.

“Mm,” said Alab’, considering.  “Can you hold some sort of threat over them?  For instance, if they don’t work satisfactorily, and have to be dismissed, they become liable to a fine, payable to Obek and Rowesh?  But if they already have some ill-gotten gains, perhaps they should make some restitution straight away.”

Obek left the court.

“Have you any money or goods that you have already stolen?” demanded the judge.

“Oh no, your Honour - this is the first time.  We were so hungry, you see.”

“They’re lying,” said Alab’ to the judge.  “You’ll have to have their rooms searched.  Look inside their mattresses.  Sorry, I’m busy, I must get on.”

“Who was this money stolen from?” demanded the judge, when Vitatt and an usher from the court had searched their rooms, and discovered the cash in their mattresses.  The robbers said they wished to confer.

“Your Honour,” said Vitatt, “they will nominate some of their friends, who will return the money to them.  We must ask people to come forward, and prove their cases against these two.”

In the meantime, Obek had gathered up a few belongings, some things Rowesh would need, and hurried back to the flying machine.

“Someone will have to share,” Abritis was saying, “but our cabin’s tiny.”

“Two couples will have to share a cabin,” said Wysau.  “Let’s have Obek and Rowesh with us, Shimei.  Ours is a big cabin, and I’ll be available for Rowesh if she needs me.”

“Must we?” begged his frightened wife.  “Couldn’t we share with Feor and Helen? and give Obek and Rowesh our cabin?”

“Yes, let’s,” said Helen, always ready to oblige, and really glad to have Shimei’s company on this terrifying journey.

Wysau was about to protest: “Feor and Helen need to be alone together”, but Shurzi came in.

“We’d have Obek and Rowesh with us, but Thilish’s been unsettled lately - we need to be alone together.” He vanished into their cabin.

“Take-off in five minutes,” called Ytazu.

So Wysau led Obek into the cabin where Rowesh was already lying on the bed, with the necessary machine already set up above the bed.

“Look, Obek, at this machine.  Yes, lie down by Rowesh and look up at it.  So long as the pointer does not go above this red line, she’ll be all right.  But if it goes above that red line, you must press this button.  If the flying machine is still flying faster and faster, I will not be able to come to you, but I will tell you in your thoughts what you can do to help her.”

“We’re in here, Wysau,” called Shimei.

Wysau was obliged to join his wife in Helen and Feor’s cabin.

“I’m all right, husband, honestly,” reassured Rowesh.  “The pain stopped as soon as I’d been treated - by - the - ”

“Don’t try to talk, Rowesh,” said Wysau in her thoughts.  “Wait till you stop feeling heavy.”

Obek stared up at the machine.  The pointer was well below that red line.

“That’s good,” said Wysau in his thoughts.  “Remember, you’re safe in God’s hands.  He will work His purposes out, and no-one, human or devil, can stop Him loving you, or prevent Him from carrying out all His holy will.  Oh, by the way, Vitatt will look after your shop.  He’s going to train Rowesh’s friend’s brother to be a baker, mainly from four till nine in the morning; then he’ll have cases to conduct as well as baking to do.  Rowesh’s friend will serve in the shop, and her brother’s wife will help while her children are at school.  Her brother will help serve in the shop in the afternoons.”

“So Vitatt won’t be needed in the afternoons.  That’s good.  He loves the work at the court; that’s what he really wants to do.  Rowesh’s friend is a good, reliable lady, and Vitatt will do what he has promised to do.”

The two sisters lay on the bed, while their husbands lay on the floor beside them.  That floor was padded and comfortable.

“Rowesh seems fine at the moment,” said Wysau in Shimei’s thoughts.  “She shouldn’t need another injection till an hour after our flying machine has begun rotating round its weight, and we can move around normally.”

“Is her life in danger?” thought Shimei.

“No - nor that of the baby.  It’s just that we want to save baby from any possible damage, and coax Rowesh’s damaged ancet back into working order as soon as possible - not an easy matter.

If Obek has really been called to pastor the new believers in Traitan - and somehow it seems right to me - he’ll have enough to do without having to give his wife injections every day.  And there’d be no medical supervision available.  She needs to recover completely and be able to live a normal life.”

Shimei went on thinking about Obek and Rowesh; wondering why God had allowed that robbery just at that time, and yet had so lovingly arranged for their immediate flight to Cirian.  Wysau was thought-communicating with one of the hospitals in the Cirian city where his parents lived, arranging for Rowesh’s admittance on landing.  Shimei was just becoming alarmed about the apparent weight of her own body when Wysau reported in her thoughts:

“The Director of Foreign Affairs wants to communicate with me.  I do hope I haven’t acted too hastily.”

“Wysau, this is about the funding for Rowesh’s admission to Treala Hospital.”

“May I say something I’ve just thought of, sir?”

“Carry on.”

“The Medical Officer at Treala asked me whether Rowesh had a rare complication.  She does have a complication: she had slightly inadequate ancet function before this injury, due to poor diet and frequent, untreated bacterial infections in childhood.  Taken across the Interplanetary League, this complication is not rare, but for the staff at any Cirian hospital, it’s probably something quite new.”

“Ah.  Now, when I asked Vielev if he could obtain funding for Obek’s two to three month stay in Treala Hospital so that he, Vielev, could do further language study, he said that would not be a problem, and that he would present the request to the Funding Officer today.  He was anticipating having to argue his case for funding for a trip to Yumelpthi, for, as part of his project, he must make a study of the spoken language - he must hear a native speaker with his own ears.  A combination of thought-communication and tapes is not admissible.  Obek and Rowesh’s travel has cost nobody a penny, thanks to God’s good timing, and I trust the same will apply for their journey to Traitan.  And the good grounding in God’s word that this translation checking and transcribing work will give Obek will be invaluable.  And if Rowesh’s treatment can be funded from the Medical Research Grant, I won’t have overspent my budget at all.  So I think you’ve done the right thing, Wysau.  Could you communicate with Chalata now, please? `Bye.”

Wysau obeyed.  His eyes were still far away when Helen gasped,

“Shimei.”

“Yes.”

“I’m so heavy - I can’t - breathe - ”

“You’re lighter - than - me,” Shimei whispered.  “I’m all right.  Just keep - calm.”

“I - can’t.”

“Pray.  God - can.”

“Help - I - can’t - ”

Shimei found Helen’s hand and held it in hers.  Helen lay gasping.

“Relax - love,” came Feor’s voice, as reassuring as he could make it.  “Won’t - be - long - now.”

But Helen could not wait.  She struggled, gasped, panicked.  Shimei called, “Wysau!”

“Helen, another nine minutes, that’s all,” said Wysau in her mind.  “Relax, lie quietly, you’ll be fine.”

“I can’t - I can’t,” she gasped.

“May I hypnotize Helen?” asked Wysau in Feor’s thoughts.  “To calm her down?”

Feor tried again.  Helen went on gasping.  She even tried to move her limbs, which made matters worse.

“The best thing would be for you to touch her, Feor,” said Wysau in his thoughts.  Feor tried to lift his hand to Helen’s, but it was such an effort that he, too, began to gasp.  “No, you’ll have to leave it.  So may I hypnotize her?”

“If you must - if nothing else can be done,” thought Feor.

They all felt Wysau’s hypnotic influence.  Helen calmed down completely, and lay still, breathing quietly and regularly.  Wysau lifted his hypnotism, and Helen still lay quietly.  Shimei glanced across at her - her eyes were closed.  “Thanks, love,” she thought.

“This is why,” Wysau explained to Feor, “we usually give interplanetary attraction couples a cabin to themselves, so that they can lie side by side, and a touch of your hand would have taken away her fear in the best and most comforting way.  I’m sorry I had to use hypnotism, but I couldn’t leave her in such distress.”

At the time, Feor seemed to accept Wysau’s explanation.  Wysau turned his attention to Rowesh, who was lying quietly beside Obek.  Obek checked the machine - yes, the pointer was still well below the red line.  But he was perplexed.  Why, if God had called him to Traitan, were they on the way to Cirian?  Had he done the right thing?  If only he had dropped the bread and run to Rowesh as soon as she had shouted - but she hadn’t sounded panic-stricken.

“Obek, this is Wysau.”

“Hello.”

“Just think to me, don’t speak aloud - I can’t hear you, anyway.  Think of the people of Traitan.  They need God’s Word in their own language, in their own script.  You know that language and that script.  While you are on Cirian, you and Vielev can go through Trak’s update of the Traitan Bible, which Vielev has in phonemic script, making sure the words will mean the same to your people as they meant in the original text.  Then, when you do go to Traitan, you can take many printed copies with you.  And you will be better equipped to teach and preach it than you are now.”

Helen slept on.

“When she wakes,” thought Feor, “she’ll be very grateful to Wysau.  I couldn’t do anything - she wouldn’t listen to me.”

“Stay lying still,” Wysau said to Shimei.  “Wait for them to get the flying machine orbiting round its weight before you try to move about.”

“It’s such a relief to return to one’s normal weight - isn’t it, Feor?”

“Yes,” said Feor, subdued.  Helen slept on.

Shimei tried again.  “There won’t be any more heaviness on this journey, will there, Wysau?”

“No - we won’t be heavy on the way down to Cirian.  No more heaviness till we leave Cirian to go back to Yumelpthi.”

“That’s a relief, isn’t it, Feor?”

“Yes,” said Feor.  And that was all.

Suddenly Wysau got up and said he was going to see Rowesh.

“Can we move around, too?” asked Shimei.

“Oh yes - you’ll feel quite normal.  I’ll be back.”

Rather cautiously Shimei got up.  “I’m going to look round.  Would you like to come, Feor?”

“I’m rather tired.”

“Lie down on the bed by Helen, then.  Wysau and I won’t have to lie down any more.  This was supposed to be your cabin anyway.”

“Yes, it was,” said Feor with unusual petulance.  “Oh, sorry, sister - I didn’t mean - ”

“That’s all right.  I’ll see you later.”

As she went out, Feor heard Wysau’s voice, calling, “Shimei!” She went to him, shutting the door behind her.  At last he could be alone with Helen.  But she was still asleep.

Wysau wanted Shimei there to hold Rowesh’s hand and comfort her while he told her more about Cirian and Cirian hospitals.  Half an hour had passed before she had the opportunity to catch Wysau’s eye.

“What is it, love?”

“It’s Feor - there’s definitely something wrong.”

“Shall we go to him?”

“No - he wants to be alone with Helen.”

Suddenly Wysau looked grave.  He sat on the floor of the cabin, his eyes far away.  She felt a surge of hypnotic power, which vanished as swiftly as it came.

In Feor’s cabin, Helen woke.  “Oh, Feor, I’m so scared!  Please hold my hand - ah, you are a comfort.”

He embraced her, caressed her, delighted that she wanted him.

“When you touch me, the fear goes away.”

“They’re all right for the moment,” Wysau said in Shimei’s thoughts, “but this is serious, love.  This is the last thing I thought would happen - but, now I think about the situation, it isn’t surprising at all.”

“What do you mean?”

“Feor’s jealous of me, because I hypnotized Helen.  The trouble is, it’s far more deep-rooted than just that one incident.  The way the crowd cheered me at our wedding - the way they cheered in his own kingdom when the succession was announced - do you see?”

“I was a bit jealous at the wedding.”

“Whereas, in fact, Feor has done far more for his people than I have.  His work with the inheritances and with the economic system is far more important and of greater and more lasting value than anything I have done.  The medical training, agreed, is vital, but that’s a joint effort.”

“I wish he could hear you.”

“If he were a thought-reader, perhaps.  But it’s no good me trying to talk to him.  We’d better keep away from them while we’re here - though you could go and see them if I were elsewhere.  If only there were someone who could make him understand how valuable his contribution has been.  Perhaps Chalata?”

Their continuing silence worried Obek.  “Is everything all right, doctor?”

“With you two, it is.”

There was a knock on the cabin door.  Wysau called in answer.  A golden-haired girl came in with a leaflet, which she presented to Wysau.  She had a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.

“There’s chicken soup or kastras soup,” said Wysau.  “Which would you like?”

“Is that all we’re having?” asked Obek.

“Perhaps it’s all I ought to have,” said Rowesh.

“No; there’s a main course and fresh fruit to follow.  And you may eat normally, Rowesh, so long as you don’t have xorr bread, and a few other things - there’s nothing but the xorr bread that you can’t have on this menu.”

They chose, Wysau translated, and the girl knocked on Feor’s cabin door.

“Oh,” said Wysau.  “Who’s going to translate for Helen and Feor?” He prayed, and his eyes went far away.  “Oh, great!” he cried suddenly.

Shimei turned enquiring eyes to his.

“The waitress speaks English.  Oh, and, Shimei, I made Helen forget about being hypnotized - Feor doesn’t want to remind her.  The last thing she remembers is that very brief touch from Feor’s hand.  She’s grateful to him, not me.  Isn’t God good?”

Helen combed her hair, and she and Feor sat at table with Abritis and Darte; Wysau and Shimei sat with Shurzi and Thilish, and Obek and Rowesh with Chalata and Janita.

“Is Rowesh really well enough to sit up and eat normally?” wondered Shimei.  But, for once, Wysau was not reading her thoughts; he was listening to Shurzi.

“We must have fallen asleep as soon as our body weight returned to normal,” he was saying, “and we slept till the waitress knocked on our door.  Now I’m not so very tired, it is a wrench, to think we won’t be going back.”

“But it’s right, husband,” said Thilish quietly.

He turned to her, and saw what Shimei saw - a new peace in her face.  Wysau smiled, and Shurzi returned his smile.

“You see, Wysau, I remembered my seniors on Cirian were continually criticising me, and I was afraid of going back to work there.  But recently I tried to turn round and face my fears.  What was it they used to say to me?  Then I remembered properly.  I used to go to them whenever I felt nervous about a decision I had to make.  My senior would say, “Now, Thilish, what do you think you ought to do?” So I told her.  Usually she would say, “That’s right - go and do it.” Sometimes she would ask me other questions; sometimes she would come with me to see the patient.  Then, one day, my senior said, “Listen, Thilish: the last seven times you’ve come to me, I asked you what you thought you ought to do, and what you said was quite right.  I’ve learnt to trust your judgement; now you must learn to trust it.” I felt lost, rejected.”

“Go on,” encouraged Wysau.

“But while I’ve been on Yumelpthi, I’ve had to ask God - there was no-one else.”

“It was the clinics,” said Wysau.  “After you’d been running them for three or four weeks, you only asked me when it was necessary.  And you were working as a junior doctor, not only as a nurse.  You’ve been a really useful colleague.”

“Thank you,” said Thilish with appreciation, and changed the subject.

This new subject did not interest Shimei.  She noticed good-humoured laughter coming from Abritis, Darte, Helen and Feor, interspersed with a strange language and Darte and Feor’s attempts to speak it.  There was earnest consultation going on between Chalata and Obek - and suddenly Wysau rose, strode over to his patient, and he and Janita helped Rowesh back to bed.

“They’re just the same, Shimei,” smiled Thilish.  “There’s no stopping either of them - Wysau’s a born doctor, and Chalata can’t live without his translation work.  But Janita finds she gets more love from Chalata than many wives receive, even though he loves his work, and those for whom he works, more than most men do.  Trust God - go to Him when you need love - and He will see to it that Wysau gives you all the love you need from him.”

Wysau returned and sat down.  “Rowesh was feeling tired and rather uncomfortable,” he said.  “She thought she had eaten too much.  I gave her an extra three milligrams to balance the extra food.  I’ll check her again in half an hour.”

“A compliment to our chef,” said Thilish.

“I think she needed that extra food.”

Shimei made no objection when Wysau led her into Obek and Rowesh’s cabin for the downward flight onto Cirian; not even when he signalled to her to lie down beside him on the floor.  She found it very nearly as comfortable as the bed in Helen and Feor’s cabin.  And it was good to lie beside Wysau, to feel his hand over hers as they descended into Cirian’s atmosphere - as the flying machine landed gently on its side.

First of all, and incredibly quickly, Rowesh and Obek, Chalata and Janita were whisked away to hospital.  They then said goodbye to the other members of the team - a quick hug, and they were gone; except for Ytazu and Tsie, who took the flying machine into the big building, came out, and paused at the border between grass and wild flowers, put down their luggage, and put on gardening gloves.  They spent just a few minutes pulling up grass from the flowerbed, and transplanting a whole wild flower plant from among the short grass to the flowerbed, so that it would not be razed to the ground by the mowing machine. Then they carried their luggage to a bus stop, and stood, holding hands, waiting.  As Shimei was still watching, the bus arrived.

To Helen, it was all incredibly beautiful.  There was warm golden sunshine, the red grass and leaves she had grown to love on Yumelpthi, but none of the oppressive heat or dryness.  Somehow, on Cirian, the sunshine was softer, not so glaring; a freshness remained.  The soil itself seemed more wholesome, the plants glowed with health.  She stooped to examine a tiny wild flower.  “Look, Feor, it’s exquisite.”

“I’ve never seen one like that before.”

“Isn’t it beautiful here?”

“Better than your own world?”

“Certainly.  The woods just outside Remgath are better than England.”

She was so obviously sincere that Feor was even more comforted.  She was taking no notice of Wysau at all.

“But there aren’t any trees,” she mused, “not in this park.  The nearest ones are in the gardens of the houses.” She went towards the mown area, looking around for clues.  “I wonder why.”

“Helen!  Come over here, love, there’s another flying machine coming!” Feor hurried to her and drew her back to the flowerbeds.

“Oh, of course,” she said.  “How silly of me.  This is a landing area for flying machines.  It’s so quiet, and the grass is so green, you’d never dream anything so big landed here.”

“That building over there isn’t a house at all,” said Feor.  “That’s where the people work, who tell the flying machines when it’s safe to land.  And I think some flying machines are kept inside.  That’s where ours went.”

The other flying machine had landed, and its passengers were climbing out, when a car drove up, and a relatively short white-haired Cirian waved to them.  With him, Helen noticed, was a little Englishwoman, dark-haired and plain, but clearly delighted to see her.  They ran to each other and hugged each other - and the Cirian was greeting Feor in perfect Remsheth.  As Shimei watched, they all climbed into the car.

“Their hosts have been well chosen!” exclaimed Wysau.  “I hope Feor will tell him all about his jealousy.”

“When will we see them?”

“I can’t go and see them - that wouldn’t help at all.”

“But how can I see them, without you to take me?”

“You do realize how important it is that Feor should conquer this jealousy of me?”

“Surely it’s not that serious.  Feor’s a reasonable man, and a Christian - he’s been trying to reason it away whenever he’s felt it, I expect.”

“I’m sure you’re right - but he has not succeeded.”

“Are you sure?”

“It’s very, very hard for an interplanetary attraction sufferer to fight off this unreasonable jealousy.  Cirian may well feel we should not become permanent agents on Yumelpthi because of the dangers of the situation.  Bad feeling between missionaries can ruin missionary work.”

“Surely not!” cried Shimei, aghast.  “I am his sister - it’s my world, too - and you’ve never given him the slightest cause.  You’ve never been near Helen except when he - and I - have been there too.  He’s always known you loved me, and I you.  And Helen’s never shown the slightest preference for any other man -certainly not you!”

“That’s all true, my love.  That’s just the point - it is very hard to reason away a totally unreasonable jealousy.”

“What about my parents? what about the succession?”

“We’ll have to visit them when opportunity presents itself.  After Feor and Helen’s deaths, the problem will disappear - and, anyway, by then we’d have retired.”

“Couldn’t we go and work in my parents’ country?”

“I don’t think that would help.  If we were really popular there, Feor would feel even more undermined.”

“I suppose so.” Dazed and wretched, Shimei clung to Wysau for support.

“There’s Mum and Dad.  Take my arm, and come to the car.”

He carried their valise, and supported her; all she could do was carry a bag full of last-minute necessaries.  She did not hear his father’s apologies for their late arrival, although he spoke in Remsheth.

She was more than glad to sit down in the back of the car beside Wysau and be carried along smoothly and silently to his parents’ home.  She was still dazed when they had to get up again and walk into the house.  She completely missed Wysau’s mother’s enquiring look and his thoughtful expression.  She had been told the names of her parents-in-law, but could not remember them.  She only remembered her mother-in-law’s warm hug of welcome and the cool drink she brought her.  It was hot, but not as hot as in summer in Remgath.

“Is it the journey? feeling dazed like this?” she asked Wysau.

“We’ll wait two or three days and see,” he said.

“Do you feel dazed?”

“Not in the least.  I am used to space travel, and it was not a long journey.  I’m tired, but that’s not the journey.  But, for you - you were afraid of the journey, so it could be.  And you’ve had a shock.  We’ll wait and see.”

He sighed, leaned back and closed his eyes.  “Poor Wysau,” she thought, “he is tired.” She finished her drink, set the glass down on the coffee-table, and leant back on the sofa.  It supported her back and her head most comfortably.  “No wonder he can sleep.”

She woke - a bell was ringing.  It stopped, and she heard talking.  Wysau’s father brought a piece of paper with writing on it, and put it on the table by Wysau.  “Show him when he wakes,” he said to Shimei.  Not till then had she noticed that Wysau’s parents spoke her language well, but not faultlessly like Chalata or Wysau.  There was something wrong with their accent.

“We had to learn your language from Chalata’s grammar,” explained Wysau’s mother at the evening meal.  “Usually Cirians learn languages from tapes, but Chalata has been too busy translating admin. plans and medical textbooks to concern himself with making language tapes.”

“What day is it today, here?” asked Wysau, looking at the paper.

“Wednesday.”

“Oh.”

“We’ve arranged a holiday for you, starting not this coming Saturday, but the next, for two weeks.  And they won’t be the only group who want to hear what’s been happening on Yumelphthi.”

“Where will we be going on holiday?”

“Just to the family chalet.”

“That’ll be great; thanks, Mum.  Oh - there is a cheshaq there?”

“Yes.”

“What’s a cheshaq?” asked Shimei.

“There’s my parents’ - watch her.”

A long animal with dark red silky fur was walking slowly on its six short legs, looking upwards.  Suddenly it leapt up, resting both its front and middle paws on the wall, shot out a long sticky tongue and caught an insect.  Shimei was amazed at how high it could reach.

“The house would be full of insects if she were not here.”

That evening, his parents told Wysau firmly to go to bed early.  The next morning he slept late; Shimei, too, was glad to stay in bed.  She still felt dizzy.

When he had taught her, again, to use the shower, they came down to find breakfast set out for them on the table, with a list, in Remsheth, of what needed to be done that morning.

“Does your mother go out to work?”

“Oh yes.  My sister’s married too; she’s older than me, but they haven’t any children yet.  When she does have a baby, my mother will give up her job to help her - or to help you, if we have one first.”

Shimei noticed, quite suddenly, when Wysau had set on the dishwasher, that he was unable to think what to do next.  She read out the next instruction on the list.  He began to do it, then stopped and sat down.

Shimei did not know how to follow these instructions herself, and besides, she still felt light-headed.  She sat down beside him for a while, then said,

“We ought to put the rest of the washing into the machine, and set it on.”

“Oh yes,” he said, and went upstairs to fetch their dirty clothes.  He put the washing liquid in, and set the machine so skilfully and automatically, that she could see he had been doing it for years.  Then why did he look so lost when he had done it?  She had to read out the next instruction: `Work cleaning hands in main downstairs room.’

“Oh yes,” he said.  “We must tidy up.”

He could not remember where things should be put away.  In the end, Shimei piled up the loose articles on a stool in the kitchen.  Then Wysau sat in a strange chair, which lifted him up to a panel of buttons, and worked them as if he had been doing it all his life.  Shimei watched, amazed, as hands came out from cupboards all over the room and cleaned the entire room thoroughly in half an hour.  Wysau came down, and set a hand to clean his chair.

“This is marvellous!” cried Shimei.  “So clean! and so little work!”

Wysau was still pressing buttons.  “Must get the hands to wash their cloths - and then we’ll need to change the cleaning fluid.” Again he looked hopelessly lost; he could not remember where his mother kept her cleaning fluid.  Shimei felt she ought to let him sit down for a time.  Then she reminded him of what had held him up.

“Oh yes.  Oh, yes, she keeps it in here,” and he walked straight to the right cupboard.  The job was done quickly and efficiently.  Then he sat down.

“I’d like a drink,” she said.

“Oh yes.  Sona time; just what I wanted.  You are a clever girl.” And he sat there.

“Wysau, I don’t know how to make your sona, or where to find it.”

Thus spurred, he did find it, and showed her where to find it another time; and a pleasant cooling drink was enjoyed by both.  Then Wysau went to sleep.

The meal to be prepared was a salad.  She was sure this would not take him long, and it was only half past eleven.  But when, just after twelve, the washing machine stopped, Shimei looked out at his parents’ washing on the washing line in the warm sunshine.  Yes, there was room for more.

“Wysau, we ought to hang out the washing.” She prodded him gently.  “I don’t know how to open the machine.”

He yawned, and drew her to him.  “Little wife,” he murmured happily, and kissed her.

“The washing,” she said.

“Hang the washing!”

“It can’t hang itself, and I can’t open the machine.”

He heaved himself up, followed her to the kitchen and told her how to do it.

“Oh.  It’s ever so easy.”

“Here’s the basket.  Make sure you’ve got it all out.  Leave the machine door open, to let it air.”

He sent her out, and she thought he was going to go back to sleep; but, a few moments later, he came out to help.  He sent her in with the basket, and he came in a while later with the salad vegetables he had just cut.

It was good to work together to prepare the meal.  Wysau, really, was a born organizer.  Why had she had to organize him that morning?

“I get disorientated when I come home - it happens every time.  That’s why Mum wrote the list in Remsheth.  It’ll probably be the same tomorrow morning.”

“Ooh!” Dizziness swept over her.  Wysau dropped his knife, supported her with his dry arms, and steered her to the couch.  He saw her safely seated, returned to the kitchen, and then went into the hall.  “Put your head between your knees.”

The room was still going round; she wished he would come back.  She thought she could hear talking; had a visitor arrived?  But he came back to the sitting room alone.

“You’re going to the doctor tomorrow morning at eleven-thirty,” he announced as he sat down beside her.

“Why don’t you treat me?”

“Not on Cirian.  Doctors shouldn’t treat their own families.”

“Oh.  Well, I’m still dizzy.”

“Lie down for a while.” He put the arm down so that the sofa was as long as a bed, and found a cushion for her head.

“Do you know what’s causing the dizziness?”

“I think so, but the doctor will want to take a test to be sure.”

“What do you think it is?  Something set off by the journey?”

“No, no, love; you’re pregnant.”

“Then why should I feel like this?  Pregnancy isn’t an illness.”

“You may need some vitamin and mineral supplements.  Am I glad we’re here!  You can have the best treatment available.  Isn’t God good!”

“The room’s steadied a bit now,” she reported.  “Shall I try to sit up?”

“No, you stay there.  There’s no hurry - they won’t be back for fifteen minutes yet.  I’ve plenty of time to finish preparing lunch.”

That evening, his parents went out.

“Wysau, how are Feor and Helen?”

“I don’t like to keep prying - I’m sure we’d hear if his jealousy was considered a serious problem.”

“But - ”

“Oh, my love - all right.  I’ll just check this once.” His eyes went far away, and she waited.  Cirian was a beautiful world, but it wasn’t her world.  They didn’t need her here - she would not be useful.  They didn’t really need Wysau - not as her people did.  Oh, please, God, please may we be able to go home!

“Feor’s spent the morning with Shurzi and Thilish, but he hasn’t told them about the jealousy - only his host.  Helen’s had a marvellous time, speaking English and talking about England with her hostess, who is English - and - would you believe it? playing an English pianoforte!  Theirs must be the only home on Cirian to have one.”

“So they can practise?”

“They have already.”

“Has his host understood?”

“Of course - he has interplanetary attraction himself.”

“Will he be able to talk Feor out of it?”

“Not necessarily.  I’m sure he’ll try - he’ll understand the whole situation perfectly.  And he’ll pray about it.  But we’ll have to abide by his decision.”

“Why?”

“He’s well plaed to understand,” said Wysau a little too quickly.  “People will ask him.  He’s been their host, he’s talked to Feor, and he’ll be able to thought-read now and then, to find out what’s going through Feor’s mind.”

“You don’t know him, do you?”

“Not really.”

“Do you know of him?”

“Only a little.  Anyway, would you like to hear how Rowesh is?”

“Oh - yes, please.”

Wysau almost uttered a sigh of relief as his eyes went far away. `Not so far,’ she thought, `only to the hospital.  But there’s something odd - why should this man decide?  Who is he?  There is something special about him.  Why should he speak Remsheth with a good accent, when Wysau’s parents don’t speak it so well?  Well, they do; it’s just the accent that’s not quite right.  I don’t understand.’ She tried to compose herself to hear about Rowesh.

“Physically,” said Wysau, “she’s fine.  No damage to baby whatever, because she was treated so quickly.  Her ancet is even beginning to respond to the new treatment they’ve started in the hospital.  But she’s feeling lonely.  She can’t do much - she must rest most of the time.  She can’t chat to the nursing staff because they don’t speak Remsheth.  Everything has to be explained to Obek and Rowesh when Chalata or Janita are there to translate.  And Obek and Vielev are keen to get on with checking the translation Vielev’s done with Trak, transcribing it and preparing it for printing.  Janita goes to see Rowesh for some of every morning, either earlier, if Chalata’s otherwise occupied, or later, if he’s coming to the hospital for lunch and to help with the translation.”

“How can he?  Chalata doesn’t speak Traitanish.”

“No, but he’s translated the Bible into so many different languages, and knows the original Greek and Hebrew so well, that he knows how to ask the right questions.  Anyway, it’ll take them at least a month.  Rowesh can see that Obek is happy to be on Cirian, that Vielev and Chalata in particular, and Cirians in general, are pleased to have them and to help them, and delighted that Obek is going back to his people in Traitan to tell them about the true God.  That’s not a problem.  Her problem is that she as an individual is not useful; she can’t do much - and, being a poor man’s daughter, she, and those around her, have always measured her usefulness in terms of work.  Having other people wait on her is a completely disorientating experience.  Janita has told her she has hard times ahead, and Chalata has encouraged Obek to teach Rowesh his language.  But by the time Obek’s finished a day’s checking and transcribing, he’s tired, and wants to rest.”

“I wish I knew more Traitanish.  But could we go and see her?”

“I’ll contact Chalata, and find out on what morning Janita would prefer to be free.  On Saturdays and Sundays, Vielev will rest, so Obek will be able to rest with Rowesh, and start teaching her his language.  So we’ll probably visit on a weekday morning.” Wysau’s eyes stared into the distance, and all Shimei could do was wait.

“Tuesday,” he said suddenly.  “Oh, by the way, Vielev is most impressed with Obek’s understanding of the Scriptures.  He said he could understand why Trak had this deep understanding - he’d been reading the Bible for years - but can’t work out why Obek should share it, considering his background.  He doesn’t like to admit that there is a God-given understanding, but he is a fair-minded man.  Do pray that God will use this testimony to the saving of Vielev’s soul.”

“Wysau, he’s been doing so much good in Traitan - is he being paid for it?”

“No.”

“And he’s still not a believer?”

“No.”

“I feel ashamed.”

“Darling, if you hadn’t welcomed and helped us when we first arrived on Yumelpthi, none of this would have happened.  We would not have been able to stay beyond the days absolutely necessary to repair our flying machine.  You did what you could - he’s doing what he can.  That is all God expects of each of us.  But remember Obek and Rowesh just now - none of the doctors or nursing staff speak either of their languages.  Vielev has taught them a few Tsetri phrases - how to say Rowesh doesn’t feel well, for instance.  But that’s not real communication.  So I must do what I can.” And his thoughts went far away.

“If we have to stay here, I shall have to learn Wysau’s language,” thought Shimei miserably.  “And I won’t have Mother to help me with my baby.  Would Wysau’s mother help?  At least she speaks Remsheth.  Rowesh won’t have her mother, or Obek’s, and she’ll have to learn Traitanish.” Thus she tried to drag her thoughts away from her own predicament to that of Rowesh.  “Someone ought to teach her Traitanish.  Vielev could - or is he too busy with the translation?”

“Yes, he is,” said Wysau.  “But there is one female member of the team which is counselling the Traitanish leaders, who could teach Rowesh for a month instead.  She doesn’t know any Remsheth; so, if there is to be any communication between them, Rowesh will have to learn Traitanish.  This would be good, because the need to communicate, at the moment, for Rowesh, is particularly great.  And I’m delighted with you.”

“But will it happen?”

“I think so.  Chalata fully appreciates my point.”

Shimei wondered why it mattered so much what Chalata thought, but Wysau’s parents arrived home, and it was time to go to bed.

“You are coming with me to the doctor, husband?” she asked at breakfast.

“Of course. I’m taking you in my parents’ car.  But I’d better go for a short practice run first - I haven’t driven for over a year.”

Later, when she climbed in beside him, she asked,

“It’s half an hour’s drive to the nearest doctor’s surgery?”

“Yes.” He drove the car out onto the road.

“But that’s a long way - your cars go really fast.”

“Cirian cities are very spread out.”

“There’s a lot of people in them, all the same.  Don’t Cirians get ill?”

“Not very often.  Many Cirians prefer to rest rather than take an antibiotic.  I have to use them on Yumelpthi because the poor are so badly nourished.  Cirians eat good food, have enough rest, are healthy and strong, generally speaking.”

They arrived, walked in, were greeted by the nurse.  Immediately she took them into her office, and conducted the pregnancy test.  It was positive.  She took them to the waiting room.

“That was quick!”

“Good equipment,” said Wysau.  “Most satisfactory result.”

“You want a child?”

He nodded.  “One doesn’t always realize one does till it happens.”

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the nurse came to call them to see the doctor.

In the surgery, Wysau did not answer a single question himself, but translated them all for Shimei, and translated her replies.  Only when they were waiting for her vitamin and mineral supplements, and the doctor was waiting for his next patient, did he and Wysau talk in their language.

“Goodness!” cried Shimei, “what a lot of tablets!”

“They have to last you right through your pregnancy.”

“But we might not be able to go back.”

“We must be prepared for either contingency.”

They carried the bags out to the car, and Wysau started the drive to his parents’ home.

“What were you talking about to the doctor?”

“Telling him about conditions on Yumelpthi.  He understands why I want to stay and practice there.  He sometimes feels it’s too easy on Cirian.  What he would not like is having to deliver his own baby.”

“Oh yes!  Thilish has gone home.”

“I shall have nightmares about baby being a breech presentation, and having to demonstrate turning him round for a group of students - and you getting the giggles in the middle.  I shall have to ask for special grace.”

For a while, Wysau concentrated on his driving, and on finding their way.

“One day, while we’re here, we ought to pay a visit to a friend I studied with.  He’s married - been married some three years.  I wonder . . . "

They went that very afternoon.

When Wysau told Shimei that his friend’s mother-in-law had been unwell, and his wife was suffering from lack of sleep, Shimei expected Wysau to lead her back to the car, but no - he made it clear they wished to help, and his friend gladly accepted their offer.  Shimei found herself hanging out nappies and baby clothes while Wysau, outside on the patio in the shade, changed and entertained the baby.  When she had finished, she rejoined Wysau, who had laid the baby on his knee.

“Daddy’s working the cleaning hands downstairs,” he was saying to the baby, “and your poor Mum’s doing what you wouldn’t let her do last night, young lady.”

The baby looked solemn, but Wysau smiled, and clapped her hands together.  She chuckled.

“I’m confusing her,” he said, “speaking Remsheth.”

“She’s too little, isn’t she?”

“No-one really knows at what age a baby begins to learn its mother tongue.  Could well be as soon as it’s born.”

Their host brought out sona drinks, and offered to have his baby back.  He and Wysau conversed in Tsetri, while Shimei sat and sipped, her thoughts far away.

“Your turn,” said Wysau suddenly, jerking her back to reality.

“Oh.”

The father folded a towel, and put it over Shimei’s shoulder, and Wysau gave the baby to her to hold.

“Hold her up against you, and support her head with your hand.  All babies under three months need support for their heads.  That’s right.”

As her father foresaw, baby burped and was slightly sick onto the towel.

“Oh!” cried Shimei.

“That’s quite normal, love; don’t worry unless it’s a lot.  Keep your hand there to support her head.”

Holding this small, living, wriggling human creature was a completely new sensation for Shimei.  She was glad to give her back to her father for a while.  Her father then passed her to Wysau to look after while he cleaned the bathroom.

Baby clearly had no intention of going to sleep.  Wysau gave her a drink, passed her to Shimei - “You must get used to holding a baby”, took her back again, and watched something in the baby’s expression.  “I’m going to put her on her changing mat.  Could you entertain her for a few minutes while I put out her changing gear?”

There was certainly something different about her expression.  At least she didn’t cry - not until Wysau was ready.

“Changetime, Shimei,” he said.  “Your turn.”

Shimei was horror-stricken.

“I’ll help, and teach you how.  You be thankful she’s a girl!”

The baby’s father carried her upstairs to be fed; Shimei brought the washing in, and Wysau some vegetables for their evening meal.  Their host came down, all gratitude; Wysau pointed out cheerfully that it had been good practice for Shimei, and they took their leave.

As Wysau drove her home, Shimei asked,

“Is there anything you can’t do?”

“Yes,” he said promptly.  “Unblock a recycling chute, mend a puncture - all the things that Darte can do so well.  Our next door neighbour was disabled, but married and was expecting her first child while I was training.  She went into labour without realizing what was happening.  By the time she had realized, her husband was out, and she was in too much pain to help herself or even call for help.  I was at home alone; my mother thought of her and read her thoughts.  So I went round, and found it was too late to do anything but deliver the baby.  Mercifully I’d just been taught how.  Mum called for an ambulance, came back, and helped me to clear up while we waited for it to arrive.  Well, after a fortnight our neighbour and her baby came home, and they employed me regularly for some months, to help with the chores and the baby, so that they could go out or have visitors on Saturday afternoons and evenings.  So I’ll be looking after Darte’s baby while he mends our washing machine.”

That evening Wysau needed to prepare himself to speak at two meetings the following week.  The afternoon’s experience helped Shimei to adjust to being treated as one of the family, and taught how to stack the washing-up machine.

On the Saturday morning at about half past nine, Wysau stopped what he was doing and listened.

“Yes, that’s fine - yes, she would like to see him.  I’ll go with my parents in the evening.”

“Yes.”

A longer pause.

“Yes, sir.”

A pause.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Why `sir’?" wondered Shimei.

“We’ll both go to the hospital for nine o’clock on Sunday morning for our time of worship, and we’ll pick Feor up on the way.”

“I thought you weren’t supposed to see him.”

“It doesn’t matter if I see him when Helen isn’t there.  She’ll be going to an English-speaking meeting with her hostess.  In the evening, when Helen is there, I’ll drop you at the hospital, and go to my home church with my parents.  That’s what Feor’s host advised, and I agree with him.”

“So it is a real problem?”

“Yes, love, it is.  We may have to stay on Cirian if it doesn’t improve.”

“Oh no!”

“Don’t worry - we’re not to blame.  He - people will have every sympathy with us.  It’s better for me to be there while Helen isn’t there, so Feor can see I’m not with her.”

“It makes me want to shake him!” cried Shimei.

“It’s not his fault, either - don’t be angry with him, my love.  He has battled against it; he didn’t let it live in his mind; it wasn’t any great problem till I was able to help Helen when he could not.  And then it got him on the raw.”

Shimei battled miserably with resentment and anger - yet how could she blame poor Helen, who had been so good, for just a few minutes of panic?  She had been frightened herself.  And poor Wysau!  To lose the life’s work he dearly longed for, for having been a good doctor to Rowesh, and having helped and calmed Helen in her time of need!  She remembered Helen’s panic, her dread, her panting for breath.  Of course Wysau had been right to hypnotize her.  How could he possibly have got her, Shimei, down onto the floor, and Feor onto the bed, while they were all three so heavy, too heavy to move?  And how could anyone have anticipated Helen’s panic, when she was so wise and good at other times?  Yet a bleak future on Cirian stretched before Shimei - having to learn Tsetri - having to be a housewife only with no mother to help her with her baby -

“My love, Mum will help you,” interrupted Wysau, “just as she’d help my sister.  I can help when I’m at home - I’ll mostly work in the mornings, with some other shifts, and some shifts on call.  But what matters most is this: God is the Lord of the Universe.  If He wants us on Yumelpthi, He can overcome this problem.  If He wants us here, it is better for us to be here, and we will be of more use to Him here.”

“How can we possibly - ?” cried Shimei despairingly.

“I don’t know.  We don’t know the future - but truly, He does, and we must trust Him.”

On the Monday and Wednesday evenings, she sat in the meeting while Wysau told other Cirians about Yumelpthi.  How could he speak so well for, and pray so trustingly to, this God Who first told him he ought to stay on Yumelpthi and then arranged matters so that he could not?

On the Thursday morning they went to see Rowesh again.  She was pleased to see them.  She said Thilish had been to see her on the Wednesday, while Shurzi had entertained Feor.  “And I’ve had my first two lessons in Traitanish,” she said.  “I’ve never been so well waited on, or so lovingly cared for.  I’d rather have my baby here than anywhere else in the universe.  Thilish has promised to be here for the birth - they’re going to bring her here in an ambulance.  Oh, isn’t God good!  And we’ll be here for another month and a half - maybe two months - while baby grows, and I get stronger, and when the Bibles are printed and I’m well enough, the Cirians will take us to see my parents, and then take Obek, baby and myself to Traitan; I won’t have to walk there at all.  And Obek is delighted because he’ll be able to take God’s word to his people in their own language.  And I’m actually learning that language myself.  It’s such a joy to have something useful to do now.”

“It’s all very well for her,” thought Shimei rebelliously.  “Everything’s worked out for her.” Whereas Shimei had to learn Tsetri, and how to housekeep Cirian fashion, in case they had to stay on Cirian.

“Don’t be cross about it, love,” said Wysau, when she had repeated the Tsetri word for `cold cupboard’ particularly sulkily.  “Even if we do go back to Yumelpthi, I shall have to talk to our children in Tsetri, or how will they be able to learn at a Cirian school?  And then, if they talk to you in Tsetri, and you can’t understand them, it will be difficult for them and for you.”

“But I shan’t need to know how to work your machines,” complained Shimei.

“You will if we are appointed official Cirian agents on Yumelpthi, for they’ll provide us with a Cirian house.”

“But won’t the King and Queen want us in the Palace?”

“They’ll be quite happy if our house is nearby.  It’ll mean that their baby won’t wake ours and ours won’t wake anyone else -Cirian houses are well soundproofed.  And besides, Feor’s jealousy isn’t the sort of problem that goes away and never returns.  If we don’t always see them at mealtimes or bump into them on the way to the bathroom, it’ll make for better relations in the long term.”

“But the Palace has always been my home.”

“It was your parents’ home.  When people get married, they want their own home.  This Cirian house will be our home, yours and mine, and nobody else’s.  Except our children’s.”

Suddenly Shimei was sobbing on his shoulder, and his arms were round her.

Every day since they were married, usually just after breakfast, Wysau and Shimei would pray together.  While they were away on holiday, they enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast, and, while Shimei was sipping her sona and watching the waves breaking on the beach, Wysau would thought-read to find out how things were on Yumelpthi.

“It’s proving difficult to make the trainee nurses and doctors understand the vital importance of good hygiene,” he reported one morning.  “Things like disinfecting instruments, washing hands between patients, keeping hospitals really clean, sterilizing baby bottles, needles for injections - you know.  They take it all down and say `Yes, yes’, but it’s to please the strangers, not to prevent infection.”

“Can’t you trust them to do as they are told?”

“If they’re only doing it to please us, they’ll do it while we’re there, but after we’ve gone home, they’ll stop bothering; and when people get ill they won’t say, `It’s because we didn’t follow instructions properly,’ but, `When the strangers aren’t here, their ways don’t work.’"

“You couldn’t not sterilize something, and let the trainees see what happens?”

“Too dangerous - and, then again, it might not cause any obvious illness - not immediately, anyway.  We can’t take risks with people’s lives.”

They both sat; Wysau apparently thought-reading, Shimei meditating.

“Oh, what’s the use,” said Wysau savagely.  “I might as well apply for a post here, or perhaps on one of the worlds where there’s a large Asan presence which will be maintained long-term.”

“Oh, Wysau!”

“As soon as Cirian withdraws from Yumelpthi, they’ll slip into carelessness; then they’ll assume our ways don’t work when we’re not there; and then, when Cirian sends a team to put things right, they won’t listen to them.”

There seemed to be an inescapable logic about his scenario.  “There must be a flaw in it somewhere,” thought Shimei.  “Won’t one of our sons be ruling in Ishboh?” she asked aloud.

“Only if the people still want a Roptoh.  They might decide they don’t.”

This, Shimei had to admit, was more than probable.

“There’s also corruption.  We’ve already had invigilators of the termly tests allowing cheating for a small bribe.  We tried to explain to them what this will lead to - doctors who are supposed to be qualified who don’t know their work and make mistakes and cause the deaths of their patients.  But all that registers in their minds is that we’re angry with them.  “It’s these strangers and their strange ways,” they think.  They don’t understand that our ways work because we don’t allow corruption.”

They both sat - Wysau deep in gloom, Shimei thinking hard.  Suddenly she said, “Do you remember that electrician - not Shurzi’s first trainee, but one of the next few - who kept taking short cuts, and eventually knocked himself out?  You had to breathe into his mouth.”

“Oh yes - he picked up a live wire, and couldn’t let go.  But that only taught them to be more careful with electricity.  It did make an impression on the other trainees, but that’s as far as it went.”

Again silence.  Shimei tried once more.

“When you first taught them about germs, you did an experiment, didn’t you? - with a machine that made tiny things big.  You showed them the germs, asked them to clean the surface with your special chemical, and showed them the surface again with no germs on it.”

“Yes, we did - but most of them didn’t really understand.” He relapsed into gloom.

Shimei tried a different tactic.  “Shall I get you some sona?”

“No thanks.”

“Shall I open another window?”

“No, it wouldn’t make any difference.”

“Wysau, here am I doing my best to cheer you up, and you’re not co-operating.  Couldn’t they get some really big, nasty-looking germs and do the experiment again?”

Wysau shrugged.

“I’m going down to the beach.  Coming?”

“No - it’s too hot there.  I’m tired out.  I just want to sit.”

Shimei felt like screaming.  What kind of holiday was this?

“Let’s have lunch in the chalet, and you can practice following a different recipe.  We can go down to the beach with a picnic when it’s a bit cooler, and take the cheshaq with us.”

Shimei hated having to learn practical skills.  It made her feel like a peasant’s daughter.  Anger was surging up inside her, when there was a knock at the door.  Wysau went to answer.  The visitor spoke Tsetri with Wysau so quickly that Shimei could not possibly follow their conversation.

“Got to go - premature baby on the way,” explained Wysau.  “His four-year-old will come here with his cousin.  They’ll want feeding.”

Shimei stood there in horror.  She would have to cook for Cirian visitors - all alone!  “Please, my Saviour, help me!”

She cut up the vegetables - just like a servant - following Wysau’s written instructions.  Next she had to prepare the meat.  Where was it?  Oh, in the cold cupboard.

While she was taking the meat out of the cold cupboard, it suddenly started to make a noise.  Shimei couldn’t remember why; perhaps she had touched a wrong button?  She shut the door quickly, but still there was that noise.  She didn’t know how to stop it.  Whatever should she do?  Leave it alone, and ask Wysau about it later?

She had to get on with the cooking, which seemed even worse because she had already make one mistake she did not know how to correct.  She was not used to cutting up meat, and cut her finger.  She washed it, and found a rubber glove to wear.  That cold cupboard was still making a noise.  Had she damaged it?  Would it be further damaged if she let it carry on?  Wysau had once told her that if she thought she had damaged the washing machine, she could stop it by unplugging it.  Perhaps she had better do that with this machine.  So, carefully, making sure it was the cold and not the very cold cupboard she was unplugging, she did so.  The noise stopped.  Shimei breathed a sigh of relief, and carried on with her cooking.  She forced herself to follow another instruction, and another, all the time terrified lest she had done the wrong thing by unplugging the cold cupboard; terrified lest she should do something else wrong, and not know how to correct her mistake.

The doorbell rang.  She gestured to the boys, inviting them inside.  The cousin was older than the brother, and amazingly sensible for his age.  He spoke to Shimei, and, when she obviously did not understand, but simply continued following Wysau’s instructions, he looked for and found the cutlery drawer, and enthused his young cousin into helping him to lay the table.  He then came into the kitchen and looked at Shimei’s timer.  Five minutes left before everything should be cooked.  He went to the cold cupboard to get out cold drinks to put on the table, noticed the light did not come on, found that the cold cupboard was unplugged and plugged it in again.  Shimei heard the noise, but was busy making the sauce.  Wysau’s instructions read clearly: You must not stop stirring until bubbles come up to the surface of the sauce.  So she had to go on stirring - and, just as her sauce was beginning to boil, the door opened and in came Wysau.  He spoke briefly to the boys, and came to Shimei.

“That’s not going to be enough for four.”

He put on two saucepans with water in the bottom, found two bags of vegetables from the very cold cupboard, tipped quite a lot of one into one saucepan and the other into the other, put the bags away, and helped her dish up what she had cooked.  The helpings looked very meagre.  How stupid of her not to realize it wouldn’t be enough!  She could easily have cut up more vegetables and used another bag of meat.

“It’s all right, love,” he said.  “We don’t eat as much meat as you do.  These frozen vegetables cook very quickly.”

Sure enough, as soon as the contents of both saucepans came to the boil, Wysau drained the vegetables and served them onto the plates.  The older boy was especially pleased with one of the vegetables, Wysau told her.  Indeed, the meal did taste good, and they did have enough, once they had eaten all the fruit tarts that Wysau had bought the day before.

It was practically inevitable that she felt left out.  Wysau could not possibly translate the entire conversation, and, naturally, the boys did not speak a word of Remsheth.  But they did know how to stack a washing-up machine, and Wysau helped her clear away, and made drinks for them all.

He then played a board game with the boys.  There was one expression which they constantly shouted, an expression which Wysau translated as `Rent, please’.  By the end of the game, Shimei thought she could not possibly forget it.

When young visitors have to be entertained, the heat does not seem to matter.  They all went down to the beach with a ball, and played a lively game of `catch’.  Wysau did not utter one word of complaint about the heat, but when they arrived back at the chalet, he switched on the cool air.  Even the boys were glad to sit still and cool off for a while.

Everyone helped to get the tea.  Wysau went out to cut salad vegetables; the boys took crockery and cutlery out of the washing-up machine to set the table.  Shimei set out four plates, and Wysau put vegetables onto two of them.  He called the boys and asked them which ones they wanted - at least she could work out that much.  But suddenly the boys ran off.

“They’ve gone to fetch some farr bread from their chalet.”

As they watched them running, Shimei said,

“Those boys - are they really only four and six years old?”

“Yes.”

“They know how to do so many things.”

“Grandparents can be a tremendous help with their grandchildren.  They can take the pressure off a young mother, and give her the time to train her children to do simple things to help - and reinforce that training themselves.  It gives the children confidence, and teaches them to think of others.”

The boys came running back.

“I’m glad it’s bread they’re getting, and not jam,” said Wysau.

They returned, breathless, but sat quietly while he gave thanks for the food.  Shimei was surprised to see how much they enjoyed their vegetables.  Every bit of the largish helpings Wysau had served disappeared.  Shimei wondered at their peace of mind - but when the tall Cirian father returned, they questioned him eagerly.  They departed with many thanks.  At last Shimei had Wysau to herself again.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Well,” began Wysau, “this morning the younger boy’s mother fell - how, I never heard.  It was some weeks before her baby was due to be born, but she began to have labour pains.  The father called the ambulance, but the mother’s pains came more and more often, till he was afraid the baby would be born before the ambulance arrived.  Ours was the first chalet he tried!  In fact, the ambulance came quickly, but I had to go with her because she needed a drug to stop baby being born until we could get her into hospital.  The ambulance crew had the drug with them; one of them was qualified in resuscitation techniques, but a doctor must be there too if this drug is to be administered safely.  So they needed me to administer the drug, watch her carefully, and help to get her into the delivery room in the hospital, where the hospital staff took over.”

“What will happen to the baby?”

“She’s very tiny - she’s in a special cot, with tubes in her veins to feed her.  She’ll need quite a lot of treatment, but, with it, she should survive.  The mother’s sorry she won’t be able to breastfeed her.”

“On Yumelpthi it would be wonderful if the mother survived!”

“We hope to change that.  Oh, by the way, the midday meal was good.”

“You save a baby’s life, and I can hardly cook a meal!”

“I ought to be able to - I had five years’ experience as a doctor on Cirian before I went on my first trip with Chalata.  You’re only just beginning to learn to cook, and you did well.”

“But why did the cold cupboard make that noise?”

“What noise?”

They stopped and listened - and the noise came again.

“That noise?”

“Yes.  Is there something wrong with it?”

“No.  When the temperature inside the cold cupboard gets too warm, the machine to make it cold inside switches itself on.  Once it is cold enough, it switches itself off again.”

“So it’s the machine that makes it cold that makes that noise when it is working?”

“Yes.”

“And when I open the door, it gets warmer inside?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh,” said Shimei slowly.  “So I needn’t have unplugged it?”

“You must never unplug either the cold or the very cold cupboard and leave food inside either of them,” said Wysau.  “For how long was it unplugged?”

“Not long - the elder of the boys plugged it in again before the midday meal.”

“Sensible chap,” said Wysau, much relieved.

“Oh, Wysau, I am sorry.”

“I should have explained before,” he said.  “It’s not your fault.  So don’t worry, my love - everything’s worked out well.”

The next day, after breakfast, Wysau said,

“Shimei, I’ve an apology to make.  My lack of faith was the cause of distress and quite reasonable annoyance to you yesterday morning.  Nothing that we do is of any lasting value - unless God takes it up and uses it.  And He has taken it up and used it.  Some of those - in fact, most of those - who said they became Christians during the revival are showing unmistakeable fruits of righteousness.  They’re not perfect - none of us are - but they are changing.  And when God has started a work in somebody, He completes it, and that person will be saved for eternity.  That is of lasting value.  So I have asked my colleague to perform that experiment you suggested, and he has asked us to pray that this time they will really understand.”

As usual, only Wysau prayed aloud.

Later, as they relaxed on the beach after a swim, he asked,

“Why do you never pray aloud?  There’s no need to be nervous with me.”

“When I’m down, you’re patient and supportive.  When you’re down, I just get annoyed.  We’d have had a first rate quarrel if God hadn’t sent the man next door with his problem.  And you coped better than me, even though you were down and I wasn’t.”

“My mind went into `automatic’.  I stopped trying to work out whether life was worthwhile, and just got on with what needed doing.”

“It did you good - it did both of us good.”

“And now we’ve got to learn to relax together.”

“I don’t call it relaxing.  We’ve still got to shop, prepare our meals and stack the machine, make our beds, put our washing into the machine, hang it out, bring it in.  When I was a Princess, I didn’t have to concern myself with any of these things; whereas you take it for granted that you have to do them.”

“When I was working on Yumelpthi, Tsie did them - or Janita.  There are holiday houses you can go to on Cirian, where all these things are done for you - but you have to pay a lot of money.  This holiday of ours only cost my parents the air fare.  The poor in Remgath never got a holiday at all.  At least we do have one.”

“I ought to be grateful.  I’d never seen the sea, let alone swum in it, before I married you.  But there’s another difference.  You Cirians have holidays because you are really tired and need to rest.  For me, a holiday was just an opportunity to enjoy myself.”

“But not now?”

“Well, I am tired.  I haven’t worked half so hard as you, but I have worked for the first time in my life.  And I have enjoyed it.  But, even now, when we’re supposed to be having a holiday, the work never stops - not completely.”

“Tomorrow is Sunday.  As cooking, to you, is work, I’ll do it all tomorrow, so that you can have a Sunday’s rest.  And that includes clearing away and stacking the washing-up machine.  All right?”

“Thank you, Wysau.  Do you really not mind?”

“Not for just one day.  Especially a Sunday, when we’re not going to do anything more than has to be done.”

Shimei did enjoy her Sunday, but more because of the messages that Wysau translated in her thoughts, than because he did all the cooking.  At the evening meal, she said,

“I ought to do all the work tomorrow - but it’ll have to be Tuesday, because you haven’t shown me which vegetables to cut for the evening meal, and how to do it.”

“Our host was delayed at his office, dealing with an urgent matter,” explained Helen to Feor as they sat down together to their midday meal.  “Diane ate her lunch early, and now they are comforting each other.  She said he would probably sleep till four or five o’clock.”

“They are a happy couple.”

“She is sometimes afraid he might prefer a beautiful woman.”

“He’s never been stirred by another woman’s beauty, however plain Diane might be.  He never will be.  He’s like me, with you.”

“Diane’s been told that, again and again - yet sometimes she still feels uneasy.”

“I can understand that - she is plain.”

“She’s quite clever.  She understands more about the administration you discuss than I do.”

“He’s probably explained it to her more fully - he’s been working in administration for some years.  I only started learning a year or so ago.”

“You’ve done very well.  You’re almost as clever as the strangers.”

“Not as our host.  He’s well ahead of me.  And if I’m more intelligent now than I was, I owe it to you - to the drug you make for me, and to your gentleness and faithfulness.  We have been happy together.”

“We still could be.”

“I do try to put it out of my mind.  Knowing Wysau and Shimei are away on holiday does help - but there seems to be something bothering you.”

“I’m bothered because you’re bothered.”

“Something else.  Please tell me.”

It cost her an effort to confess it.  “You’re so much cleverer now.”

“I didn’t love, or marry you because I thought you were clever - it was because you were gentle, and pure, and beautiful, and wise.  And you still are wiser than I am.  Wisdom is not the same thing as cleverness.  If I were truly wise, I would be able to conquer my resentment.  You know, it isn’t really jealousy, it’s resentment - I still resent not ruling Remgathishboh, and seeing my palace and lands enjoyed by another.  If I were truly wise, I would live to please God, and not be concerned about the favour of men.”

“You have been practising this.  Carry on, and ask God to cleanse and purify your heart.”

“That’s what I need from you - your good counsel and encouragement.  Blessings on your head, my sweetest one.”

“Then - trust God for my love.  He will keep my heart for you - He has, and He will.  He knows your need, and He loves you.  He knows the harm that was done you, and He wills to bring good out of it, for others and for you.  He certainly brought good for me.”

Feor took her hand, gazed into her eyes.  “It’s gone,” he exulted, “that shadow over your heart.  It was truly because you were afraid you were not clever enough for me?  It must have been; you do love me.”