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 Thirteen

“I see there are many new houses in your capital, brother,” said the King of Wendei to the Roptoh of Ishboh, “and more under construction.  Are they for those noble families who returned with you from Remgath without estates?”

“Some are,” said the Roptoh.  “Others are for the neediest of the poor.”

“Is there no difference between those houses?” cried the Queen.

“No, there is no difference; they are good, comfortable houses, designed by the strangers, you see.  They do not believe there should be any difference between the common people and the nobility.”

“I am sure the nobility do not agree,” said the Queen, even more shocked.  The King put his hand on her arm.

“My dear, remember the situation here,” he said quietly.

“You are quite right,” said the Roptoh in a conciliatory tone.  “But the common people most certainly agree with the strangers.  They say that all alike should have clean water and electricity coming into their houses - luxuries even the rich have never had before.”

“Electricity?  What is that?” asked the Prince.

“The power in lightning.”

“But how can that be harnessed?” The Prince was amazed.

“I don’t understand - you’ll have to ask the electricians among my people, who were trained by the strangers.” He spoke in an irritated tone.  There was a pause, while the Roptoa’s brother wondered what to say to steer the conversation into safer channels.  To his surprise it was his silent, brooding daughter-in-law from Traitan who, quite unconsciously, saved the situation by exclaiming admiringly,

“Is it not beautifully warm in your Palace, Aunt!  How do you manage it, with no fire?”

“The Palace is heated by electricity,” the Roptoa replied proudly.  “My daughter Shimei has married a stranger, who brought us two wonderful wind-driven machines - what did he call them, husband?”

“Generators,” said the Roptoh, somewhat appeased.

“Which make all the electricity we need for heating, hot water, lighting and some cooking, and more to sell to the people living in all the new houses, which are wired up to receive the power.  So now we are able to afford to keep those noble families who are still waiting for houses of their own.  Some already have houses - the House of Representatives gave priority to those nobles who have started the long and complicated task of dividing the land up into inheritances for all its citizens.  Now they have their own houses and an income, and something useful to do, they have moved out of our Palace, stopped most of their complaints, and are no longer draining us of our savings.  The common people, too, are satisfied for the moment, because work is being done towards giving them the inheritances they so much desire.”

“Your daughter is a brave lady,” said the Princess, “to marry a stranger from an alien world.”

“Were you not afraid to give her to him?” asked the King.

“Shimei is very determined.  She refused many good offers to set her heart on this stranger.  I had sent the strangers away, only to find my daughter still loved this stranger dearly.  When they returned, her heart leapt; then it seemed that he had lost interest in her.  My heart bled for her.  He asked her to go with him to visit the sick.  She went among the common people, very simply dressed, visiting people who were very ill, in shacks that stank, for love of this stranger doctor and of his God.  Some of the nobles did not recognize her as my daughter as she rode about the city.  Then suddenly, the stranger doctor came to me with my daughter, to ask for her hand.  I fell on his neck and kissed him.”

“Surely he must have realized it was not right to expect such conduct of a high born princess!” cried the Queen.

“He knew that the people were planning revolt.  By his loving care, and by encouraging her to help him, he was preventing revolution.  All the time, the strangers knew what the people were thinking.  They wished to benefit the people; and, by encouraging me to benefit them, they saved our lives.  They have done the same here, in my own ancient country, by their good counsel, gifts and wisdom.”

“So your son and daughter-in-law are still in Remgath?” asked the Queen.

“No - they have gone to Cirian for a holiday,” said the Roptoa.

“To where?” asked the King, puzzled.

“To the strangers’ world,” said the Roptoh, quite enjoying their consternation.

“What! with the strangers?” cried the Queen.

“They will come back - they will be safe.  My daughter has gone to meet her husband’s family,” said the Roptoh calmly.

“The stranger doctor gave us news of them,” said the Roptoa.  “They are all safe and well, and Shimei is expecting a baby.”

“The stranger’s baby,” shuddered the Princess.

“Who may well grow into a clever white-haired Prince,” said the Roptoh proudly, “with the intelligence and gifts of a stranger, but the rightful Roptoh of this land.”

“Your people will be blessed indeed,” said the King diplomatically.  “But tell me, did not the strangers bring a religion with them, which has captured the hearts of the people of Traitan?”

“Indeed.”

“Has this religion a priesthood?”

“Not a celibate one.  They have pastors to preach in the churches, but the pastors may marry.”

“Do they live like ordinary people?”

“Yes, except that they are particularly dedicated to their God.”

“Do they claim any temporal power?”

“None at all.”

“Ah,” said the King and Prince together.

“And they found copies of their holy book in an ancient building in Remgath?” asked the Prince.

“Yes.”

“Is it like ours?”

A servant was dispatched to fetch the Roptoa’s Bible, while the Prince produced a copy of the holy book of the official church of Wendei.  Comparisons were made, translations attempted; they soon decided it was the same Book.

“The strangers have the same holy Book, yet have such great scientific knowledge,” said the Prince.  “Tell me, how did they gain that knowledge? especially their medical knowledge?  Did they cut up dead bodies?”

“Yes, they did - not them personally, but their ancestors.  They have no prejudice against this, or against giving their blood to save another’s life.”

“Then why do our priests forbid it?  Is there anything in this holy Book which teaches that men should not do such things?”

“No,” said the Roptoa.

“Is there anything to say that the priests should be celibate?” asked the Prince.

“No.”

“Or claim political power?” asked the King.

“Most certainly not,” said the Roptoa.

“And the strangers have not prevented the people from reading this holy Book?”

“No.  They translated this Book into the modern, common language of the people; they devised a simple script, printed the Book in that script, and my daughter and daughter-in-law have been teaching the children to read that script.  If the children learn well, they are given a short book with a story from the Book, illustrated by my daughter-in-law.  They take them home and read them to their families, and often their families learn to read that script as well.”

“Ah,” said the Prince.  “So they practice and teach exactly what is in their holy Book?”

“That is correct,” said the Roptoa.

“I think I begin to see,” said the King slowly.  “That is why our priests do not want the people to read the holy Book - because what it teaches, and what they teach, are two different things.”

“What are these priests called by the people?  Could you remind me, brother?”

"`Father’," said the King.

“Ah, I thought I remembered right.  Now, God’s Son the Saviour said, according to the holy Book, that His disciples should not call any man on earth `Father’, but only His Father in heaven.” She found the place in Matthew chapter twenty-three, verses eight to twelve, and showed it to her brother.

"`Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled,’" read the King.  “That certainly happened to the priests in Traitan.”

“Tell me,” asked the Roptoh suddenly.  “Is there someone among your people who is trying to translate this Book into the modern language that your people speak among themselves?”

“Yes,” answered the Prince, “and the priests are trying to stop him.”

“Then this is what you can do: protect this man, and have his finished work printed and made available widely among your people.”

“And the power of the priests will be broken?”

“Indeed.”

“They will complain.”

No-one broke the silence while the King thought.

“And I will say,” he continued, "`What have you to fear from people reading your holy Book? and gaining a better understanding of your God and His teaching?’"

“They will say that they are the only ones with a right understanding of the holy Book,” said the Prince.

“So I shall say,” said the King: "`Its teaching, for the most part, is clear and plain.  I have read and understood it.”

“You’d better make sure you have,” interrupted the Prince.  “The High Priest is a wily old chap who knows how to ask awkward questions.”

His father gave him a look, and continued,

"`Why are you so afraid of the people reading this Book?  Will they find you have been teaching them lies in the name of their God?’"

“I’d like to see the High Priest’s face,” chuckled the Prince.

The King smiled too.  Then a thought occurred to him.  “There’s nothing in this Book that teaches revolution, is there?”

The Roptoa gave him the thirteenth chapter of Romans to read.  The Roptoh found it in his Bible.

“But you have to read this carefully,” said the Roptoa.  “The Bible says that a good government rules for the good of its people.  It rewards the good and is a terror to the bad.  So you cannot expect the Christians to refuse to rebel if there is no justice in the land, because the rich bribe the judges, and the poor perjure themselves to help their friends and relations.”

“The strangers warned me,” said the Roptoh, “that the people wished to revolt because their masters beat them, ill-treated them and did not pay them enough for their work.  I warned the nobles that if this went on, the people would revolt.  The nobles refused to do anything about it.  I had already had the most hated laws repealed, but, because the judges took bribes, the hated practices continued.”

The Prince and the King exchanged glances.  Much the same happened in their country.

“The common people will not tolerate ill-treatment any longer.  They have seen successful revolutions in other countries.  Their grievances must be redressed speedily, or they will revolt.”

“So this is why the strangers had to work so hard to prevent revolution!”

The Queen, who had been reading over her husband’s shoulder, burst out,

“But why couldn’t the strangers have persuaded the people to keep their rightful Roptoh?”

“Only a minority of the people accepted their God,” said the Roptoa sadly.  “The strangers did well to save all our lives.  All the people agreed to set up their own King according to the books of inheritances, but he is a mere figurehead; the House of Representatives - ”

" - which I set up for them! - "

" - is the true seat of government.  The strangers say that the people may not keep their King.  We are better off here.”

“But all your lives were saved!  Oh, if only the strangers had gone to Traitan!” The Princess began to sob.  The Roptoa took her to her own apartment.

“I do share your sorrow,” she said.  “My daughter was executed too - my daughter Ruhamah.”

“My father, my mother, my brothers - all killed!  It was over a year ago, but I cannot forget.”

“It must have been a great shock to you.”

“It was.  I miscarried.  The baby was a boy.”

“Oh, my dear!” In true understanding, the Roptoa put her arm round the weeping Princess.  “No baby since?”

“No baby.  Little love.  He only cares for his scientific studies.”

“Could you not take some interest in his studies?”

“But women cannot understand - cannot think as men do.”

“Women may not understand exactly as men do, but they can be quite as intelligent.  You should have met the stranger women - Thilish the nurse and midwife, who knew far more than the doctors did in our country; Abritis the chemist, who makes their wonderful medicines; Lintis the doctor, who removed a birthmark from a little girl’s face, leaving no mark or scar.  And the strangers are teaching young women of Remgath, as well as men, to be doctors and chemists.  No, there is no reason why you should not understand.  Take an interest, try to understand.  You may be able to help him.  Remember one sentence from this holy Book: `The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’"

“Then I must study it first,” she said.  “Tell me where to start.”

Wysau’s father brought Feor and Helen, who came in and sat at table as Wysau’s mother, helped proudly by Shimei, dished up the meal.

“Thank you very much for inviting us,” said Helen.

“It’s a pleasure,” said Wysau’s mother.

“Our host had to go out - and, as it is an interplanetary attraction marriage, Diane cannot stay to entertain us, but must go with her husband.”

He was obliged to go, obviously - why?  Where?  Shimei did not understand, but Wysau did not explain, and neither he nor his parents asked any questions about it.  She thought it better to forget it - or try to.

“In most ways, they make perfect hosts for us,” Feor was saying.

“There are a few Englishwomen on Cirian,” agreed Wysau, “but theirs must be the only house with a Tellurian pianoforte.”

“Why?” asked Helen.

“Cirian musical instruments are different,” explained Wysau’s father.  “He must have received an award for some very useful achievement, or he would never have been able to afford it.”

“Oh.  I wonder what it was for,” said Feor.

“Most awards go to scientists,” said Wysau’s mother.

“But he’s not a scientist - he works in an office,” said Feor, puzzled.  “He’s an administrator.”

“Anyway, we’re very much looking forward to your concert tonight,” said Wysau.

“Did you enjoy your holiday?” asked Helen.

“Marvellous,” said Wysau.

“It was good by the sea on Yumelpthi,” said Shimei, “but Cirian is far more beautiful.  There was only one problem - the insects.  Inside the chalet, the cheshaq dealt with them quite well, but outside - let’s say, we didn’t go out from an hour before dusk till after dark, because it was insects’ dinner time.”

“It’s cheshaqs’ dinner time too,” laughed Wysau’s mother.

“But yes, it was wonderful.  It was our honeymoon - just the two of us.  We waited on each other, as a way of showing our love, and Wysau taught me to follow more recipes.”

“Wysau, have you been teaching my sister to cook?”

“Cirian men cook,” said Helen.  “Diane says Mitue can.  Do you cook?” she asked Wysau’s father.

“Yes,” he said.

“I made sure of that before we married,” said Wysau’s mother.

“Well!” cried Feor.

“Wysau taught me how to change a baby,” said Shimei.

At this, Feor’s astonishment knew no bounds.

“Does the Roptoa know you’re expecting?” asked Helen.

“Yes,” said Wysau.  “By the way, Feor, which country is it that your mother comes from?”

“Wendei,” he said.  “Why do you ask?”

“Because her brother the King paid her a visit recently, accompanied by his Queen, their second son and his wife.  She is a princess from Traitan, and their shared grief at the executions there gave your mother the opportunity to encourage her to read her Bible.  She is still reading it regularly, even though it is in the language of Wendei, not her native tongue.  Do pray - you probably know far more about Wendei than I’ve gathered.”

“I don’t know much, I’m afraid,” he said.  “I only remember Mother saying that her father’s private chaplain had exhorted her to spread the word of his religion and convert the heathen among whom she was going to live.  When she arrived, she found our old religion was much the same in practice, and didn’t see why she should bother.”

“Was Feor jealous of you?” asked Shimei, as Wysau drove her home after delivering Helen and Feor to their hosts.

“No; there wasn’t a trace of jealousy in his mind, or his music.”

“They were marvellous,” agreed Shimei.  “I’ve never really sat down and listened to them before - not with all my attention.  What a confession for a sister to make about her only brother!”

“There is that extra special something about Feor’s music in particular that marks him out as a genius.”

“His own people will never know what they missed.”

“And it helps to cement their partnership.  Well, we’ll see them on Sunday - and I must check his thoughts again later in the week.  If there’s still no jealousy, perhaps we will be able to go back to Yumelpthi - but don’t set your heart on it, my love.”

"`Don’t set your heart on it,’ he says,” fumed Shimei, hoping he was too busy concentrating on his driving to read her thoughts.  “Tell me how to prize my heart from my own world!”

Shimei’s daily Bible reading plan had been taking her through the Gospel of John.

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

Shimei was puzzling over the question.  More than these?  More than what?  The loaves and fishes he’d just eaten?  The other apostles?  Even his boat and fishing tackle?  She asked Wysau.

“It isn’t clear,” he said.

“No.  That’s why I’m asking you.”

“Could be any of those three you’ve mentioned,” he said.  “If it mattered, the Scripture would make it clear.  God wants us to love Him more than anything or anyone else.  When we do, we’re fit to serve Him in whatever He calls us to.  For Peter, it was looking after Christ’s flock, the Church.”

“But can’t you give me any ideas?”

“What’s always struck me about that passage,” said Wysau, “is that Jesus did not say, “Do you love My sheep?” or “My lambs?” No, He asked, “Do you love Me?” At the outset, on Yumelpthi, it seemed to me that Jesus was asking, “Do you love Me more than Shimei?”"

“Does He always ask such uncomfortable questions?”

“Quite often.”

“So the medical training programme is going well,” said Shimei.

“And Abritis’ pharmaceutical one.  We do praise God for these things,” said Wysau.  “He has weeded out the unsuitable students and brought us more able and temperamentally suited young men - and women!  This is the second time new women medical students have come to be trained - this time, not two, but four.  In a way, the young students are better.  They haven’t learnt wrong ideas which have to be rooted out first before we can start.”

“Is Kadi still the best?”

“He is - he’s very bright, though one of the first two women students is very good too.  Kadi reminds me of my failure - he’s a good antidote to pride.”

“He reminds me of your generosity.”

“Which nearly cost me you!”

“But, through Helen, led to my mother’s salvation!  Oh, Wysau, have you a moment to find out whether their Inheritances Commission have solved any of their problems?”

“That’s bound to take at least half an hour - you prepare a lesson or something.”

“Prepare a lesson!” cried Shimei.  “I’m not in Remgath - we don’t even know if we’ll be able to go back!”

“Well, something,” said Wysau.

It was not half an hour, but a full hour and twenty minutes before Wysau’s eyes saw Shimei - and then he got up and walked around before speaking.

“I’m beginning to wonder if the system of inheritances has a chance of working unless there has been a revival of true religion,” he said.  “One of the area commissions has been taking bribes - I told the General Commission and the Roptoh about it, and where to find the evidence.”

“Oh, that’s why you’ve been so long!”

He nodded grimly.  “Thank you for asking about it.  But there are so many other problems.  Many of the people won’t accept the inheritances allotted to them, and are full of suspicions that someone else has got a far better one.  Some of the landed nobility are desperately trying to sell and emigrate, and don’t understand why no-one will buy.  The Roptoh himself is having second thoughts.  Have you time to pray with me?  In twenty minutes there’ll be a Support Meeting for Yumelpthi in another Cirian city, and I must share with them.”

On the Monday after their return from holiday, began days of flying round to other parts of Cirian meeting people who were interested in Yumelpthi, and telling them all that had happened there.  Shimei could understand little of what other people said, in spite of having listened to Tsetri tapes and practised with Wysau daily; but she could follow some of what Wysau said.  After one meeting, a lady came to give Wysau a gift.  Shimei recognized the words `We may not be going back.’ But the lady insisted, and Wysau accepted.

“What did she say?” she asked Wysau on the flight home.

“She said she was sure we would go back, and that God had told her to give this to us personally.”

“That’s - that’s a lot of money, isn’t it?”

“It is.  I wonder what we’ll need it for.”

Once more Wysau spoke in his own city.  He had been greeting the leaders of the prayer group, when suddenly he stiffened.  The shortish white-haired host of Feor came in with his little English wife, and sat quietly at the back.  Wysau bent his head in prayer before the leader of the meeting greeted everyone, and committed the meeting to God.

Wysau spoke as usual - almost.  At first he was not quite at ease.  Then later, as he described the people’s needs, all constraint was gone.  He spoke from his heart, and Shimei knew he longed to go back and serve on her world almost more than she did.

After the meeting, sona and bites were served.  Then, just as she was beginning to be bored because she could not communicate properly with anyone who came up to speak to her, Feor’s host caught Wysau’s eye, and he said to Shimei in her thoughts,

“He wants to talk to us - come out to our car.”

All four got in and sat down.

“Wysau,” said Feor’s host, “I am convinced that your call to serve on Yumelpthi is of God, because there is a deep bond of love between you and the people - yes, even in the hearts of many unbelievers in Remgath!  Also, Shimei’s parents need to have you on Yumelpthi as an assurance to their people that your son will one day rule there.  Abritis and Darte can definitely become permanent agents on Yumelpthi; we shall send you on two years’ probation, but you will have a Cirian house.  You could both have your Cirian houses clamped on Shimei’s inheritance, so that, geographically, Feor and Helen will be closer to the King and Queen, and you four will be closer to each other.”

Wysau made a gesture.

“Oh, yes, certainly, you must have four more doctors, two nurses, a chemist, and a housekeeper for them, to continue the medical and pharmaceutical training programmes, for at least five years - so the large flying machine must remain on Yumelpthi for their use.”

“Would it be better if one of the other doctors attended on the Queen’s children?”

“You and I might think so, Wysau, but she does not.  However, she does understand now about Feor’s jealousy; Helen told her all about it; so she will do her best to call you to her children when Helen is not there.  Oh, and there’s another thing.  You have no particular musical talent.  In the case of Feor and Helen, this is very important.”

Diane put a question to her husband in a language Shimei did not understand.  He replied briefly in that language.

“I have a feeling that you will successfully complete your period of probation.  We’ll try and time your children’s journeyings and Feor and Helen’s concert trips to fit in together.  Feor and Helen have made a very substantial contribution to your budget.  Feor is a true musician, and could not play so well with anyone but Helen.  Oh yes, Wysau, there has been a very generous response from many for the work on Yumelpthi; quite enough to convince us all that it is right for it to go ahead.”

“Thank you - thank you from my heart, sir.”

“And it would be a crying shame if such a musician as Feor had no opportunity to perform live.  We must go now - we’ll see you again.” They climbed out of Wysau’s parents’ car.  “Oh - don’t tell Feor, will you? either of you?”

“No, sir,” said Wysau with a smile.  “I’ll explain to Shimei.  Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” they called, and walked away hand in hand.

Shimei looked her puzzlement.

“I call him “sir" because he’s the Director of Space Research and Foreign Affairs for all Cirian.”

“What!  Host to my brother!”

“Probably because his wife wanted to talk to another English girl.  You must not tell Feor what position he holds - he does not want to spoil his relationship with Feor, or Helen’s with Diane.  The identity of Directors is a closely guarded secret.  He probably only spoke to us like that because he knew I knew already.”

“Was that why you didn’t explain before?”

“Yes.”

“Host to my brother!  One of the rulers of your entire world!  What an honour! and he thinks Feor is a true musician!”

“It is an honour, love, because this man was chosen by the people of my world to rule them.  He is not a hereditary King that the people tolerate; he is an ordinary Cirian, chosen by the people for his abilities and qualities.  Most of them have no idea what he looks like, but they know what he has done, and what his opinions are.  But you must not tell anyone.”

“Not even my parents?”

“No.  Just thank God for it.”

Wysau drove her home in his parents’ swift, silent electric car.  She got out, and stood staring at the stars, breathing in the cool night air.  The breeze brought her an unknown fragrance.  Suddenly Wysau was there beside her, telling her the name of the flower she could smell, looking up at the stars, and putting her cloak round her.

“Come on in, you two,” called his father.  “How was the meeting?”

They shared the good news - but Shimei noticed that Wysau simply said, `I was told’.  It could have meant that he was told in his thoughts.  His parents did not probe; his father cried,

“Oh, that’s great!”

“I am pleased for you,” said his mother, with a glowing face, but a catch in her voice.  “Some people think,” she continued to Shimei, “that missionaries ought to live like the people among whom they live.  In some cases God guides them to do this, and it works.  But accredited Cirian agents have the option of a Cirian house, fully equipped and furnished.  We think it’s a good idea.  It helps to keep them healthy, and it means they spend as little time as possible looking after themselves.  This means they have more time and energy to work for and care for the people they have been sent to serve.  It also means your children won’t be so disorientated when they come home for the holidays.”

“For us, it’s very important,” agreed Wysau.  “It means we’ll be out of the Palace, and we’ll spend more time with Abritis and Darte and less with Feor and Helen.  It also means we won’t be dependent on the people.  St. Paul was determined not to be a burden to the people he preached to.  Cirian pays for a Cirian house; and, as it will be clamped to the rock on Shimei’s own inheritance, we won’t be a burden, and neither will Abritis and Darte.  We will all earn our keep in ways all the people will agree are useful, whether they are believers or not.  It’s good that their pastors and evangelists are all of their own people.”

“And you will earn enough to be able to give to support the Pastor of the church you attend,” said Wysau’s father.

“And my lessons won’t have been a waste of time,” said Shimei.

“Not at all, my dear,” said Wysau’s mother.  “Your living in a Cirian house will make it possible for you to use your talents as a teacher - at least part-time - except perhaps when your children are very small.  Oh.”

“What is it?” asked Shimei.

“Holiday times on Cirian and Yumelpthi aren’t going to coincide very often.  Mm.  We’ll have to think about that problem.”

Most of their final week was spent in travelling to support group meetings.  For Shimei, it was an opportunity to see more of Cirian.  On the Tuesday they left for Agiu with a packed lunch, arrived in time for the evening meal at a supporter’s home, and afterwards Wysau spoke to the group there.  Many, many questions were asked; they got home late, and Wysau was very tired.  Their hosts, who had to go to work in the morning, told them not to try to get up in time for breakfast with them, but to get up later and have some time to relax together before lunch, which was prepared and in the cold cupboard.  All they had to do was put it in the oven at a certain time, and all would be ready for themselves and their hosts when they arrived home from work.  After the meal, their hosts took them, rested and refreshed, to the airport for their next flight to a town further north.  It was a sunny afternoon.  They flew over the sea, and over a ridge of hills, which glowed different shades of red, with the occasional green-leaved tree.  Some of the trees were in white, pink or light green blossom.  To Wysau’s surprise, Shimei enjoyed flying in an aeroplane.  “Oh, look, Wysau!” she cried.  “A waterfall!  Isn’t it beautiful?”

It was cooler in the northern town; all the countryside was red with leaves and grass.  Their hosts insisted on taking them to the meeting in the car, although the meeting-place was only seven minutes’ walk from their home.  “It may well be pouring with rain by the time the meeting finishes,” said their hostess, “and we’d be drenched.”

After the meeting, they were introduced to the retired couple who had offered to take them to the airport the next morning.  “Be sure to make yourselves packed lunches, and be ready by ten o’clock - you won’t be home till five in the afternoon.”

But Shimei understood nothing of this.  All she remembered was the remark about the rain, which Wysau had had time to translate.  On the way back to their hosts’ home, it did indeed pour with rain, and Wysau translated Shimei’s remarks for them.

“It’s cold rain,” she said.  “At home we usually have warm rain.  I’m very grateful that we didn’t get wet.  Is it winter here?”

“No, it’s late spring.  It’s just a long way north.”

“It was very pretty there,” said Shimei on the aeroplane.  “Nice for a visit, but much too cold to live there.”

“No,” said Wysau’s mother, when she heard about their gift, “you’re having a new cot, new sheets and blankets, and new babyclothes.”

“But we might need some of this money for something else.”

“Think, my son.  If this baby is a girl, you’ll try again.  If the next one’s a girl, you’ll try again.”

“Oh. Yes.  Possibly, even, a fourth time.”

“Quite.  If your baby clothes are new now, they’ll still be respectable for your third.  Most Cirians don’t want more than two children,” she explained to Shimei, “or we would make baby clothes that last longer.  It’s because parents want each child to have a full inheritance.”

There was enough money for all they needed, and more - so Wysau purchased some Tsetri tapes.  “You can use them, and so can our children, so that they can speak Tsetri well before going to school on Cirian.”

After these purchases had been made, Wysau’s friend brought second-hand baby equipment and clothes that he and his friends had collected.  Wysau felt he could not refuse this loving gift.  “Perhaps we’ll have to have four children before we have a boy to inherit the throne of Ishboh,” thought Shimei in some trepidation.

On the day before their return to Yumelpthi, they were invited by Feor’s host to come, with Feor and Helen, to see some birds from another world.  Their host had to show his pass to gain entry to the enclosure, and he disappeared inside the keeper’s pavilion.  The birds were in large, carefully constructed cages, where they had plenty of room to fly, but from which they could not escape.  The birds looked healthy and well cared for.  They had bushes and small trees growing inside the cages; the bushes had been completely stripped of their fruit, and there were few leaves left on the trees.

“Oh, aren’t they pretty!” cried Helen, in English first, and then in Remsheth for Feor’s benefit.  Everyone agreed.  As they watched, their keeper gave them fruit and leaves, which they attacked with a healthy appetite.  Insects came into the cages unnoticed.  Only one green bird, which had been driven away repeatedly by the others’ pecking, took the trouble to catch some of these insects.

After a while, their host reappeared.

“I thought you’d like to see them.  They are pretty, but they breed too prolifically.  We only brought three pairs, and look how many there are now, only a year later!  They eat the leaves of this particular tree, and different sorts of fruit, and they peck at blossom, as well as eating insects.  They would soon become dreadful pests.  We’re planning to ship them back home tomorrow, and try again later with some other creature.”

“What does he want a creature for?” asked Shimei of Wysau.

“To be a natural enemy for our insect population.”

“Oh.  But I thought the cheshaqs - ”

“They do help.  They’re fine as pets, but we couldn’t let them breed in the wild.  They’re native to our planet - they’re not a problem in themselves - but they’re not a complete solution to the insect problem.  I think people will still want to keep them as pets, even if we do find a natural enemy which will not breed without plenty of insect food.”

“I think your parents’ cheshaq is far more beautiful than these birds,” said Shimei.  “And this one is, too,” and she bent down to make friends with the other cheshaq that had come with their host.  There was a pained, disconsolate howling from Wysau’s parents’ cheshaq.  Helen would have comforted it, but Wysau forestalled her.

“You’d better not - it’s bad enough now.  If a Tellurian who is considered family, strokes someone else’s cheshaq, it’s even worse.  Cirian animals love Tellurians, and they’re very possessive of their family.  So if you come and talk to ours, Shimei, and Helen talks to theirs, all will be well.”

At first Wysau’s parents’ cheshaq rejected Shimei’s advances.  “She can smell the other cheshaq on your hands.  But keep trying.”

Not till they had left the enclosure and were walking in a nearby conservation area did the reluctant cheshaq allow Shimei to stroke her and repair their friendship.  During this walk, between tall trees down by a stream, instead of being in two groups, one English-speaking and one Remsheth-speaking, they paired off, each couple leaving a discreet distance between it and the next.

It was the loveliest afternoon Shimei had enjoyed since she arrived on Cirian.  It was wonderful to see Feor and Helen truly relaxed and happy together, as they had not been for a long time.  She noticed that their handsome host had no eyes for the beautiful young Helen - only for his little, plain, middle-aged Diane.  And how her eyes glowed in his love!  Wysau, seeing all this, and knowing how Shimei was thinking and feeling, took his own wife’s hand and kissed it.

The shade of the trees had been welcome, but there were more insects than the two cheshaqs could deal with between them.  No-one was sorry when the path left the stream and led them up to a clearing, where they could sit without continually having to hit away the insects from around their heads, and enjoy the chilled blue fruit sona drinks that their host had produced from his cool box.  Wysau’s contribution was some savoury bites he had taught Shimei how to cook that morning.  While they were all together, there were three language groups: Helen and Diane, speaking English; Shimei and Feor, speaking Remsheth; and their host and Wysau, speaking Tsetri.

“Helen has been ecstatic about this planet ever since we first arrived,” said Feor.  “I’m glad I’m not the only one who has taken time to learn to appreciate it.”

"`The healing knife hurts at first,’" said Shimei, quoting an old proverb from Remgath.

“Yet she has healed here, too.”

“No festering, perhaps?”

“That’s just it,” he agreed.

“Oh yes,” said their host.  “You must take this home with you, Feor.  It’s a very important document.  Vielev has translated it into Tsetri - you’ll have to ask Chalata to translate it into Remsheth.”

“What language is the original written in?”

“Very old Traitanese.  But I have reason to believe that the original is a translation from another, older language.”

“What is it about?”

“About God’s dealings with your people, from the dawn of their history.”

“You mean, the true God?”

“Absolutely.”

“But this could transform people’s attitudes!  This God was their God right from the beginning!  The strangers only came to remind them of Him.”

“That is true.  I’m afraid you’ll find that not many people will be interested, except those who are interested already.  But by all means tell people - it may help some.”

The journey back to Yumelpthi, in a big flying machine with their new Cirian houses on board, was one of rejoicing, and no-one rejoiced more than Shimei.  When Wysau told her in her thoughts that Feor had been able to calm all Helen’s fears by placing his hand on hers, she was so pleased that she forgot to be frightened on her own account.  Abritis had warned the Cirians on Yumelpthi to expect the Cirian houses, and they had prepared the rock to which the houses were going to be clamped.

Wysau, Shimei, Abritis and Darte slept that night in the Palace.  Next morning, as soon as the Cirian houses had been clamped and assembled, and all the machinery installed, Wysau and Ciecet got on the flying machine again to go to Traitan.  “I’ll be back tonight, my love,” he said.

Go to Traitan, and be back in one day!  It seemed incredible - yet what had they just done?

“You can move small things into our house, and make up the bed, but don’t try to carry anything heavy,” Wysau had warned.  In the afternoon, Helen and Feor came to see the houses, and brought an invitation from the King and Queen for Shimei.

“They specially want you to come to our evening meal.  They would like to hear about Cirian from you, too, Shimei.”

Helen had told the Queen that she and Feor had been giving concerts while on Cirian, and that Wysau had taken Shimei on holiday by the sea.

“What is the Cirian sea like?” asked the Queen.

“Clean,” replied Shimei.  “Sparkling clean, like the water that comes out of the taps the Cirians have installed in the Palace.  It is salt, but so clear you can see to the bottom, unless the waves are rough and the beach is windswept.  Cirians wash first before they bathe in the sea.  And down on the beach there weren’t so many insects.  More than once, we took a picnic and the cheshaq in our chalet down to the beach in the afternoon.”

“I expect you needed a sunshade,” said Helen.

“Oh yes.  We were glad of a big one, and the sea breezes.  There was plenty for the cheshaq to eat, but we weren’t pestered as we would have been outside further inland.  And Cirian sunshades are thick - it was cool in that shade, as it is inside a building.  And we had comfortable beds to lie on, that were light enough to carry easily with the picnic boxes and the sunshade.”

“However were they made?” asked the King.

“They were made from a smooth, light substance made out of oil, that kept the air inside when you blew them up.  It kept the water out, too.”

“They are clever, these strangers,” said the King.

“They take the time and trouble to invent these things,” explained Shimei, “because they don’t have servants.  If you have servants, you don’t care how heavy the beds are - but if you and your sons have to carry them, that’s different.  If you have servants to do your washing, you don’t care how tired they’re getting or how sore their hands are.  But if your wife has to do it, you invent a machine to do it for her.  The servants themselves might well think it worthwhile to invent these things, but they don’t have the time or the money.”

“If Cirian is so beautiful,” said the Queen, “didn’t you want to stay there?  You could have stayed there, couldn’t you, Shimei? because Wysau is a Cirian.”

“Cirian is beautiful,” agreed Shimei, “far more beautiful than here.  I would like to go there again for a holiday, and to see Wysau’s parents.  I would like to retire there.  But there’s nothing useful for us to do there.  We want to be useful, both of us.”

“Oh, surely,” said the King, “good doctors are needed everywhere.”

“We went to a doctor’s surgery while we were there.  We only had to wait five minutes to see him, and afterwards he had time to chat to Wysau before his next patient arrived.  And - do you remember, Helen? watching the mother with her children at the flowerbeds round the landing site?  We had to wait a little while for one of the Cirian houses to arrive, and we saw young children, running, with their little gloves on, to work in the flowerbeds round the landing site.  They pulled up grass, they straightened the border of the flowerbed; and when the mother saw that our flying machine was ready to take off, she called them back to her - she was with the youngest in its pushchair - they all went to her as soon as they were called, and then went on their way.”

“And so did we,” said Feor a little sadly.

“But he said we would go back for another visit, husband,” said Helen.  “They meant it, I know they did.”

“I wonder how soon.”

“When Wysau and Shimei go back to see his parents - that’s what they said.”

“Probably about this time next year.  Wysau’s parents want to see our children reasonably often, so that our children will know them well, and will be happy to stay with them while they attend school on Cirian.”

“But will we go back to stay with the same couple?” asked Feor.

“They said we would,” said Helen.

“Cirians only say what they mean,” said Shimei.

“Weren’t there any parts of the city where comparatively poor people lived?” asked the King.

“I didn’t see any,” said Shimei.  “And I flew round it in an aeroplane - I mean, round above it - while we were waiting to land.  All the houses looked as good as each other.  Some gardens were far better cared for than others, but Wysau said that doesn’t say anything about how well off the owners are.  A badly kept garden just means the owner does something else with his time.”

“There are no poor people on Cirian,” said Feor.  “Everyone has an inheritance.  Everyone has clean water, electricity, a decent house.  Even people who are too ill to work have an income from their inheritance on which they can live.  Often their relatives help them.  Old people have an income, and, if they are infirm, special houses where someone will come to help them when they press a button on a sort of locket hung round their necks.  Someone will come as soon as they can, even if it’s the middle of the night.  If the old people are really ill, they go to houses where everything is done for them.”

“Yes,” agreed Shimei.  “That’s what Wysau said.  That’s why he wants us to retire to Cirian when we’re old.”

“Haven’t they any problems?” asked the King.

“Only the insects,” said Helen.  “Diane said that one day God will solve that problem for them, if they go on helping people on other worlds.”

“So that’s why they do it,” said the King.

“It’s one of the reasons,” said Shimei, “why Cirians in general are willing to help those who go to help people on other worlds.  Those Cirians who do the helping, do it because they love God, and God has told them to do it.”

“Oh, by the way, Feor,” said the King, “while you were away, I received an embassy from the Zaqan government, wanting me to sign a treaty with them - a treaty of non-aggression, he called it - it just means that we won’t attack them and they won’t attack us.  It also provides for trade between our two countries.  If we send traders to Zaqa, they won’t attack or molest them, and we won’t attack or molest Zaqan traders who come here.  It all seemed perfectly reasonable to me and to the House of Representatives, so we signed it and sent the Embassy home happy.”

“Sounds reasonable,” said Feor.

“Vielev’s here,” reported Janita to Chalata.  “He said you asked to speak to him.”

“Oh yes,” said Chalata, and came downstairs.  “Good to see you.”

“And you.”

“Thanks very much for your translation.”

“It was a very interesting assignment.”

“I have reason to believe,” said Chalata, “that this bottle was washed by the sea from a house on now eroded coastland belonging to the maritime people east of Traitan.  It was found on silting-up coastland some eighty miles north, belonging to the people of Remgathsheth.  The priests of Remgath are claiming this historical “find”, on the grounds that they have the right to keep historical documents and artefacts found in Remgathsheth, and have had for the last four hundred years.  They intend to destroy this document, because it speaks of the true God’s dealings with the people of Yumelphthi from the dawn of time on their planet.  The only people who have a legitimate right to this bottle and document are the descendants of its original owner.  I believe you have thought-contact with Trak’s brother and sister, who escaped to that region.  Could you please ask them to make enquiries with a view to finding the descendants of the original owner, and restoring to them the original bottle and a copy of the original document, together with this translation into the modern speech of Traitan?  I will send a copy of the original document, and a translation into Remsheth, to Oloxis, who will take it to the priests.  You never know - some of them might read it before it is destroyed.”

“Oloxis can assure them,” said Vielev, “that the original document will not survive out of a specially designed glass case, containing preservative, and kept at a particular temperature and level of humidity, and for this reason must be kept on Cirian.  It would not survive the journey from Cirian to Yumelphthi.”

The very next day, Vielev contacted Chalata in his thoughts.

“It belongs to the family of Trak’s brother’s beloved, who live on the coast.  They showed no interest in it till he explained that the priests of Remgath had asked for it with intent to destroy it.  Then suddenly they became fiercely possessive, and Vadt’s beloved’s eldest brother has asked for the strangers to bring it to him.  If this is too expensive or too much trouble, he will come and fetch it.

Oloxis asked Feor, who found a group of Remgath citizens who were about to travel to an area close to the eastern Traitan border.  But when the eldest brother heard of this plan, he told Vadt that the priests would try to ambush the group on the way, and steal his property.  So, after consultation with Oloxis, I said that the strangers would bring the bottle, the copy and the translation to him direct in the flying machine, if he and his family could collect a fair number of blue-dye shellfish into a tank of water.  He and his extended family gladly agreed to this.

“They’re all gathered in the eldest brother’s house, listening as Vadt reads the translation,” reported Vielev.  “They’d never have bothered in other circumstances.”

“So our ancestor shared the faith of these clever strangers,” said the aged father of the family.

“I think his whole family did,” croaked an even more aged aunt.  “They hid the bottle in the wall of the house, so that the invaders could not find it.  They never thought the whole house would fall into the sea.”

“The whole town,” agreed her daughter.

“Then - may I become a Christian?” asked Vadt’s beloved.

There was silence for a long moment.

“Well - I suppose so,” said her father.

“Thank you, Father.  I’ve wanted to for a long time.”

Her father looked uneasily at her elder brother.  What were the implications for the rest of the family?

“A message from the strangers,” said the aged aunt.  “They wish to thank us, again, for the wonderful privilege of reading our very ancient record, and knowing that God spoke to our ancestors long before their ancestors came to our world for the first time.  They wish to reassure us that our ancestors shared with theirs the same belief in the same God.  They say this: no king, emperor, father, grandfather or mother, can oblige anyone else to become a true Christian.  This is the work of God, and He alone.  They believe very strongly that every person should have the freedom to follow the religion of his choice, or none at all.  The only exception they make is that no-one, in following his religion, should deprive others of their rights.  For instance, human sacrifice is murder, even if it is the worshipper’s own child.  No father should oblige his daughter to become a priestess against her will.  No-one should steal his neighbour’s animal to sacrifice to his god.”

“That’s perfectly reasonable,” said the elder brother.

“Please thank the strangers for us,” said the father.

“Old customs die hard,” reported Vielev later.  “Many of those girls - and even young men - found it useful - sometimes indispensable - to compare the old family tree found in the bottle with their own family tree.  Few families in that town are not related because that family tree goes back such a long way.  The one young man who had the courage to stand for Christ in spite of his family, and moved in with Vadt, has been accepted back as a son.”

Oloxis and Feor, shadowed by Lath’s “uncle”, took a photocopy of the ancient manuscript Shurzi found in the Palace to the antiquary among the priests, to see if he could help them translate it.  This elderly priest was most interested in the manuscript because it was so old.  What first struck him was that the word for “God" was always in the singular.  He kept translating it as “One God”, or ,“the one God ".  The second thing that pleased him, said Lath’s “uncle" afterwards, was Feor’s humility and teachableness, as some of his conjectures were shown to be wrong.  This elderly priest could not translate every word, but it soon became clear that it was another translation of the same original manuscript from which the ancient Traitanese one had been translated.  When he gathered this from their comments, he was most impressed.  But that was as far as it went.

“Please, Heavenly Father, what shall I do?” cried Mela.  “I cannot walk on my ankle - it’s healing so slowly - and Rineat’s getting so tired - he can’t go on much longer - and people from further away are coming to ask Avend to make them drills and sprinkler machines - he’s far too busy to do housework - please help us!”

She opened her eyes - someone was knocking on her door.  Who were the strangers waiting outside with the carrying beds? and what was that in the field beyond her home?  “Rineat!” she screamed.

But the strangers wanted him, too.

What made it worse was that none of the strangers spoke her language.  They were quite gentle, but determined; she had to lie on that bed, and be carried into their flying machine.  They unbound her ankle and examined it; and Rineat was taken into another room.  Then they placed her leg carefully, and made gestures to her which she did not understand.

Suddenly she heard a voice in her mind - the translator who usually worked with her!  “Don’t worry, Mela,” he said; “they just want you to lie still.  They want to heal your ankle.”

“Who are they?”

“My countrymen.  They want to heal Rineat too, but his illness is more difficult to treat.  Anyway, lie still.  They are taking scan pictures of the bones in your ankle.  Ah - there’s one they will have to manipulate a little.  I’m afraid it will hurt, but you have to be able to feel when it feels right to you.  When that little bone is in exactly the right place, the pain will stop.”

“Ooo - ouch - oh.  Oh, that is better!  Have they finished?”

“No - lie still.  They want to heal those bones now, all of them - give them strength to stay in the right position.  Ah.  The rays are coming.”

“I can’t feel anything.”

“You shouldn’t.  Now, you must lie still for the next two hours.  You must not move your leg.  Rineat is having lots of tests.  This will not be so easy.  I shall have to talk to him now, to tell him what to do, and to translate their questions and his answers.”

Two hours!  Neither she nor Rineat could start making the evening meal.  Poor Avend, coming in hungry after a hard day’s work, and no meal ready!  What could she do?  Well, she could pray.  The God Who taught His disciples to ask Him for their daily bread would listen to her plea, surely.  So she prayed - there was nothing else she could do.

After an hour, she heard Avend’s voice - he must be in the flying machine somewhere, but he did not come to her.  Then one of the strangers came to her bed, and lay down beside her, and sat up. So she tried to sit up, and the stranger helped her.  Then the stranger did something to her bed, and pushed her down so that she was resting her back and head on what felt like the back of a sofa.  Then Avend walked in in one of their robes, smelling all nice and clean, and they brought a meal of really fresh uncooked vegetables and some cooked meat for each of them.  They set a table by Avend’s chair, and placed a jug of a fruit drink on it, with two glasses.  Then they wheeled Rineat in, lying on a similar bed, and one of the strangers gave him a special drink while he was lying down, resting.  The stranger left him lying within easy talking distance of Avend and Mela, took their empty plates away, and brought fruit, cheese and bread.

“I’ve had my drink,” Rineat said.  “All I can do now is rest.  They’ll soon find out that nothing else can be done.”

“I shall be able to look after you tomorrow,” said Mela.

“Do you really believe that?”

Before they left the flying machine, the strangers brought Mela Avend’s clean dry clothes.  She was able to walk home, with only a little support from Avend.  But the strangers carried Rineat.

Three days later, in the evening, Mela brought Rineat his specially prescribed drink.

“How is your head?” she asked sympathetically.

Rineat lifted himself to take his drink.  He turned and sat up, and waited for the familiar throbbing.  Nothing happened.

“This is very odd,” he said.  “That’s the second time today I’ve lifted my head, and it hasn’t hurt.”

“My ankle’s fine,” said Mela, “and I’ve been walking round on it almost continuously for the past three days.”

“Oh.  So you think I might actually be recovering properly?”

“You must rest for your full five days.”

“Yes - but - this needs some thinking about.  If I go into Traitan proclaiming Christ crucified, I’m not exactly going to be popular with the other priests.”

“You wouldn’t have been popular with the people as a priest.”

“True.” He drank thirstily.

“Anyway, you lie down and think about it.”

Rineat obeyed.  “You see, this God you’ve introduced me to is disconcertingly real.  You can’t go breaking your promises to a real God - the real God.  The real God Who acts - not just in history, but in your own life.”

“I know.”

They regarded each other solemnly.

“When I’m fully recovered, I shall have to keep my promise.”

She nodded.

“I beg you, both of you, pray for me!”

“Rineat.”

“Hello.  Are you the person who translates with Mela?”

“Yes.  If you are going to preach Christ and Him crucified, you must know thoroughly what you are to proclaim.  One way of studying God’s Word is helping to translate it.  Mela is too busy now to do more than one or two evenings’ work a week.  Could you take over Romans from her, and then the latter chapters of Isaiah?  And if you, Trak, his wife, his wife’s parents, and Avend and Mela could meet together for Bible study once a week, that would be excellent.”

“Sunday afternoon or evening?” suggested Rineat.  “Trak’s often said a Sunday doesn’t seem like a Sunday with only one meeting for worship.”

“And you need to become physically stronger, too, before you take on a preaching ministry.  Only do a little physical work at first - cook for Mela, clean a room, before you take on any farming work for Trak.  But the translation work is vital - you are strong enough to start some straight away.  But also, don’t leave the leading of all the Bible Studies to Trak.  I know he is very good, but you and Avend need to practise leading Bible Studies and telling others what God has taught you from His word.”

“I thought Dr. Ciecet would have been here today,” said the Princess Tran, unable to conceal her disappointment.

“No, he’s not here today,” said Lintis.  “He’s gone to Traitan to visit a dear friend, before we four go home next week.  Don’t worry - others from our world will be here to treat you.  Now, what is your trouble?”

“Lack of appetite - something inside me seems to be all twisted up.  It’s also hard to get to sleep - and I wake early, and cannot get back to sleep.”

“You have been under stress, haven’t you, what with your son’s death, and the political changes in the country.  But I gather from your coming to me now, that things have not improved in the last few weeks - is that right?”

“No - it’s got worse.”

“Yet you are under less stress now, surely.”

“I can see that ought to be the case,” said Tran thoughtfully, “but it’s not.”

“I must have two tests taken, to make sure what your trouble is.” She sat and wrote.  “Please give these to the nurse, and she will tell you what to do.  She will give you the results, and ask you to bring them back to me.”

“Mm,” said Lintis.  “These leave me in no doubt.” She wrote again.

“Doctor, what is it?  Is it what my son had?”

“Yes,” said Lintis the Cirian - and she looked at her stricken patient.  “But don’t be afraid, my dear.  You, of all people, will understand that you must not only take your medicine, but also do what I say.  There must be something that is still causing you great anxiety.  Is it something someone else has done, or is doing to you? or is it something you have done?  I don’t expect an answer - this may be very private - but listen.  If it is something someone has done to you, and he has stopped doing it, then you must forgive him from your heart, for the sake of your own health and well-being.  If it is something someone else is still doing to you, then you must tell him, and ask him to stop.  If he will not stop, then you will have to tell someone else, and ask for his help.  If it is something you have done, then ask God to forgive you - and you may need to ask someone else to forgive you as well.  If you are still doing it, you will have to stop it before you can expect that someone else to forgive you.”

“But I don’t know what it is.  The Treproms are good to me, and I try to be good to them.  The people round us do not regard us as their enemies, nor we them.”

“It could be something in the past.  But there must be something, or you would be recovering, not getting worse.  Ask God to show you what it is.” She smiled at the old lady - and suddenly had an idea.  It was quite late in the afternoon, and surgery was nearly over.  “Nurse - a word.  No?  Right.  My lady, come this way.  Let’s see to this for you.”

The Princess Tran lay on the couch in front of the screen, while tired Lintis used her delicate instruments to perform a labour of love.  “Don’t try to talk - keep your mouth and jaw still.”

Whatever had she done? wondered the Princess.  But the pain of Ciecet’s impending departure, and the worry about her own health, chased curiosity from her mind.

“Did you see your stranger doctor?” asked the Dowager Lady Treprom.

“No.  And they are going home in a week.”

“My dear!”

“What?”

“It’s gone - look in the mirror.”

“What’s gone?  Oh.  It’s gone - that mole - completely gone.  I’ve hated it for years.”

“You do look better without it - most definitely.”

“Oh, by the way,” said Alab’, one of the newly arrived Cirian electricians, “those two robbers absconded with a week’s training allowance each.  Vitatt, who’s now officially Public Prosecutor, has got the Chief of Police, who’s a friend of his, to alert the police force nationwide.  But I must admit I was relieved when they went.  I had enough to do without continually checking on them.”

“Did they misbehave?” asked Darte.

“Only once,” said Alab’.  “Oh, by the way, the members of the House of Representatives were really surprised when we seconded the judges’ recommendation of Vitatt so warmly, because he doesn’t pretend to be a Christian.”

“I’m afraid it will be only a very brief visit,” said Ciecet apologetically to Rowesh’s parents.  “But Obek and Rowesh will be going to help and teach a group of believers in Traitan, and they won’t have to walk miles before they get there.  Our flying machine can take them quite near to their new home.”

“And can there people actually afford to give them a furnished house, and pay them?”

“There are over a hundred of them, and there has been a surprisingly good harvest in Traitan this last month.  Much seed that has lain in the dry ground over the past two years sprouted when the rains came.  People who believed the priests, and sowed their seed after the Royal Family were sacrificed to their rain god, reaped a reasonable harvest; people who did not believe, waited to see if the rains would come, and, as they did not, kept their seed, got a bumper harvest - they sowed when the rains did come, and didn’t lose seed to insects and birds.  Not only Obek and Rowesh will go to look after the new believers - Trak and his wife will go to the capital city with Rineat, another former priest.  There are over two hundred believers there.  They will go with many copies of the Bible they have helped to translate into the up-to-date speech of Traitan.”

“But how will Rowesh be able to speak to the other women?”

“Obek is too busy to teach her the language, so a Cirian volunteer is doing it.  She is also being taught the strangers’ way of looking after babies, which she will be able to teach to the other women.  When we have taken them to their new homes, the Mosu family and I are going back to our homes on our own world.”

“Including that young man - Yujip?”

“Yes.”

“We shall be sad to see you go.  And our neighbour and his sons will be particularly sorry to lose Yujip.  He’s such a good, patient teacher.  None of the other strangers can teach as he can.”

“He may return when he has completed his training.”

“How long will that be?”

“Two years.  He is very pleased to have come here. |He now knows what his life’s work should be.”

It was a State holiday.  The King and Queen, and Feor, were at the House of Representatives, giving and hearing speeches.  The people were pleased with their new houses, their inheritances and their new economic system.  Feor was careful to thank all those who had helped, praise those who had preserved the ancient building and the books, and the God Who had caused them to be written.  There were no strangers at the ceremony; those who were not doctors on call were enjoying a well-earned rest.  Shimei had gone to see Helen, who was looking after the Queen’s second baby.

She had often done so before; the baby knew her well, and usually responded to her care and kindness.  But that day there was nothing but fretting and crying - and suddenly he was dreadfully sick all over Helen.

Shimei, utterly nauseated by the smell, put the baby down on his side in his cot.  He had stopped crying, as if the mere fact of having emptied his stomach had eased his discomfort.  He was sick a little more, and then lay quietly.  Helen had rushed away to wash and change.  Was he all right?  Was he still breathing?  When Shimei bent her head to listen, the smell was so bad that she had to sit down by the open window to recover.  What if baby died, and it was her fault?

Shimei had only gone for a short visit, and Wysau, surprised at her non-appearance, read her thoughts.  His “I’ll be round" suddenly intruded into her mind.  He gathered up baby medicines and came.  When the distraught Helen returned to the nursery, there was Wysau examining the Prince.

“Make this up with boiled water, love,” he was saying, handing Shimei a sachet of powder, “and we can get a sip or two into him before he goes to sleep.” Gratefully Shimei went down to the kitchen.  “Only give him little sips,” he continued to Helen, “but do so every five minutes while he’s awake.”

“Oh, thank goodness you’ve come!” cried Helen.

“Can you take these sicky clothes away,” said Wysau, " and I’ll put him in some clean things.” This done, he picked up baby, and, with a towel over his shoulder, encouraged him to bring up any remaining wind.  There was a large burp.

“There, that’s better, isn’t it, little chap?”

The only response was a smaller burp.

Shimei brought the glucose water; Wysau administered little sips.  Helen put in a clean cot sheet.  In a surprisingly short time the baby was sleeping peacefully, and Wysau and Shimei went home.

“No milk or other food for about twelve hours,” Wysau had written.  “Make up this sachet when this bottle of glucose water is empty.  No sign of infection - has the Queen eaten any particularly spicy food in the last two days?  It would be wise to avoid spicy food while breastfeeding.”

“Oh.  Oh, I did,” said the Queen.  “That curry yesterday at our evening meal.  Oh dear.  I am sorry, Helen, that you’ve had all this trouble - and thank you for calling Wysau.”

“I didn’t - he just came.”

Feor was just arriving, and overheard this last remark.

“He wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t let me explain,” said a tearful Helen to Abritis, while Darte was talking to Feor.

“I explained your part in this morning’s events,” said Darte to Shimei and Wysau later that afternoon, “and he seemed to accept it.  But he had already vomited, and wasn’t feeling at all well.  When Helen came in, I left them together.”

“Mm,” said Wysau.  “I’d better keep out of her way as much as possible.”

Shimei was in despair.  Everything had been going well - and then she had to cause all this trouble because she couldn’t cope with a sick baby.  However was she going to cope with her own baby?  She couldn’t expect Wysau to be mother and father to his child.  Would they have to return to Cirian?

“It was partly because you’re pregnant,” explained Wysau.  “When our baby is tiny, it won’t be so bad - and by the time you’re pregnant again, you’ll be more used to looking after a baby.  It’s always worse with someone else’s child - you soon become reasonably confident with your own.  But do keep praying for Feor and Helen.  I’m afraid there’ll be more trouble.”

And indeed he was right.  The next day at lunchtime, Feor refused to go to Helen, and vomited again.  Again Darte had to go through the previous morning’s events in minute detail - but this time Feor did not accept his explanation.

“I’m sorry, love,” said Shimei to Wysau that evening.  “I must remember what you tell me, and try to cope with a baby by myself - goodness, we’ll have our own in four weeks!”

“I’m glad I came.  He had been very sick - it could have been serious,” said Wysau.  “Babies can get really ill quite quickly.  Oh, that reminds me - ”

His eyes went far away.

“He’s not keen, because he’s afraid your milk will taste of curry again.  Just get him to taste a little - as soon as he finds it tastes normal, he’ll feed happily.”

“Keep trying.” Another pause.  “Well done.”

“They can also recover quickly,” he smiled at Shimei.  “But I’m afraid Feor won’t.  We must pray.”

“Can we join you?” asked Abritis in his thoughts.  " It’s about Feor.”

“Yes, come by all means.”

In five minutes they were all seated in Wysau’s front room.

“He won’t listen,” said Darte despairingly.  “I just haven’t the authority of Chalata, or of the counsellor from Cirian who’s communicating with him now.  Helen’s gone to the Queen for a good cry.”

“She asked me to pray,” said Abritis.

So they did.

“Please, my Creator, You did call me to work here,” pleaded Wysau, “and You called Shimei, too.  You know how much more difficult it will be for the Roptoh and Roptoa if we have to go back to Cirian.  Please restore Feor - please give him the full assurance of Helen’s love and faithfulness.  You know that one of the doctors was out on a call, and the other was dealing with a genuine emergency.  Please, my Lord, have mercy on us!”

The Cirian counsellor, told to shut up by Feor, was praying too.  Feor wandered about his apartment, trying to resist his longing for Helen.  He picked up a book of children’s stories, and restlessly flipped through it.

“Little Master Misery drove the peasant to a corner of his field where the zook plant grew.  Only when he was breathing in the smoke was he contented.  He was muttering and complaining all the next morning:

`I cannot work, my head hurts too much, I feel ill;' but, come the evening, he insisted on burning more zook, and obliged the peasant to sell his coat to buy some.”

“How stupid,” thought Feor.  “It’s a good story, though.  There are people who carry on like that - oh.”

He read on; the peasant, driven to utter destitution, turned on Master Misery and trapped him in a deep hole by rolling a great boulder on top of it.  “Most cannot,” he thought.  “But why should I, a child of God, be ruled by Master Misery?  I refuse to believe she loves me, when our Cirian host says she does.  He ought to know; he can read her mind - he speaks her native languages, both of them - and he has met her, and me.  What bad manners, to tell him he’s lying!  Am I determined to be miserable, just like that peasant, and because of it, am I doing things which will make my condition truly miserable?  But how can I know?  Oh, please, God, help me!”

“Perhaps Helen’s eyes will tell me,” he thought, and went to find her.

“How is Feor?” asked Shimei of Wysau at breakfast.  He thought-read and chewed at the same time.

“He slept, but he’s not convinced.  There could well be more problems today.”

“Oh, my Saviour, what have I done!” wailed Shimei, once Wysau had gone to do his morning’s training.  “We’ll have to go back to Cirian, and it’s all my fault!”

It was as if her Heavenly Father had put His arm round her.  “Think how difficult it would have been for Helen if you had not been there.  At least she was able to leave the baby with you while she changed.  If she had called Wysau, that would have been far worse.  The counsellor could tell Feor that Wysau came because he read your thoughts, and you were there with him all the time.  And the Queen was pleased that Wysau came.”

“Thank You, Father!  Please help me with my baby - I can’t be asking Wysau all the time.  Helen’s better with babies than I am, and she’ll never have any.  And please help Feor to recover from this jealousy.  He and Helen are so miserable.”

Somehow she felt sure that He would answer - and was able to carry on with her work.

Treik knocked on the door of the Royal apartment.  The King called, “Come in.”

“Your Majesty,” said Treik, “I’m afraid Feor won’t be able to come to dinner with you this evening.  Helen and I have coaxed him into drinking a food-drink, but whether it’ll stay inside is another matter.  However, it will do Helen good to come and dine with you.  One of us will look after Feor.  I’ve informed the cook.”

“Thank you, Doctor.  It beats me how such an intelligent man can make such a fuss about nothing.  Nobody has really done anything wrong, least of all Helen.  Our baby’s recovered; Wysau was only doing his job, and doing it well, and, to crown it all, his wife, Feor’s sister, was there all the time!  And Helen’s a loyal wife - she spoke up for him, and did her best to explain why he finds this so difficult.  But it’s beyond me.”

Treik, being a thought-reader, did not need to turn round to see who had passed him along the corridor on the way from the bathroom, and knew he had overheard the King’s words.  The King was surprised that Treik stood still and said nothing for two or three minutes - then smiled and took his leave.

“Why did he say, `Thank you, your Majesty.’?" wondered the King.  “I didn’t do anything.”

That evening Shurzi communicated with Wysau.

“Don’t worry too much about Feor - God is working in his heart.  Last night our group was praying for you, and someone thought-read on Sale - you know, that hostile world we visited before landing on Yumelphthi.  You remember that the only man who believed our message preached the Gospel before he was executed? And, try as they might, his captors could not prevent it, or stop him till he had finished.  We knew that many heard; some wanted to believe, but were afraid of the consequences.  Well, many women did believe in spite of their fear.  They became secret believers, and whispered the truth to other women, some of whom whispered it to their husbands.  Over the months, people began meeting together in small groups in private homes, or deep in the forests.  But, a few days ago, someone murdered the Emperor.  The nobility put Elk on his father’s throne.  He executed the one servant who actually committed the murder, but offered an amnesty to the others.  He explained to the nobility that those servants were very badly treated.  He set up a House of Representatives to advise him, and the first thing they asked for was freedom of religion, which he granted.”

“So it wasn’t a waste of time, after all.”

“No, but we must pray for the Christians right now.  This is the time when error is likely to creep in.”

“What was that about?” asked Shimei.

“Good news, love.  God knows how to encourage His people when they’re despondent.  When we first landed on Yumelphthi with engine trouble, we were on our way back from a visit which was not appreciated.  The rulers of Sale seemed polite enough at first - they were afraid of us - but, as our knowledge of their language grew, so we became aware of the darkness in their hearts, of their cruelty to their own people, of their hatred of us.  The Emperor’s eldest son, Elk, was ill, but his father would not let me treat him.  Some of the women wanted to hear our message, but their husbands would not allow them to come.  The Emperor would not allow us to preach to the people.  We asked God for guidance.  By thought-reading, I had worked out what was wrong with the Emperor’s son, and where he was.  The Emperor did not want Elk to get better, because his second son was the son of his favourite wife.  One thing comforted me: if the Emperor had called all his doctors to Elk, he probably would not have survived.  Elk had a faithful servant, who looked after him.  Gradually this servant learned to trust me, by feeding him and looking after him as I told him to, and seeing his improvement for himself.  That day, he let me see his master, and agreed to give him the medicine I prescribed.  On the same afternoon, three women came to see Tsie and Thilish.  Abritis was in the flying machine too, but she was watching for Chalata and Janita, and Shurzi for Darte and myself.  Suddenly two of the husbands of these women rushed into the flying machine, trying to murder their wives.  Tsie protected them, but was stabbed herself.  I had left my patient by this time, and was on my way back to the flying machine.  Shurzi heard the commotion, realized I was by then able to protect myself and Darte, so he hypnotized the husbands to forget about their wives’ visit and go home themselves.  Ytazu carried Tsie to the couch in front of the ray machine while Thilish was calling a doctor from Cirian to repair Tsie’s wound.  Abritis had to prevent the Emperor’s soldiers from murdering Chalata and Janita.  She saw them safely back onto the flying machine - Darte and I were on board by then - and, without a word to each other, we left the planet.  We were utterly despondent - it seemed that we had achieved nothing.  Our visit to you was an encouragement to us - a few had listened and believed.”

A trader knocked on the Palace door, and the servant asked Feor to see him, as the cook had gone to the market.

“I’m selling a special cook-in sauce which will help your meat to keep for a day longer than usual,” he said.  “It’s nice - gives a good flavour to the food.  Smell it.”

Feor did.  There was something enticing about the smell, but something else seemed to be warning him against it.  He put the lid on the bottle and handed it back.

“What’s that?” asked the cook as he returned, with a market trader carrying some of his purchases.

“A cook-in sauce that helps preserve the food,” said the trader.

“How much?” asked the cook.

The trader named a price.

“We don’t really need a preserving sauce,” said the cook, “with these cold and very cold cupboards.”

“It’s very nice,” said the trader.  “Adds a good flavour - ”

“I’m sorry,” interrupted the cook, “I must not exceed my budget.  Good day.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to smell it - ”

“Good day,” said the cook firmly, closing the door.

The smell lingered for a day, and the longing to smell it again lingered for three or four days.

“Darte, can you communicate now?”

“Yes, sir.”

“There have been encouraging developments in Wendei.  The Scriptures have been translated into modern Wendei and are being circulated with the King’s approval but under the High Priest’s anathema.  Because of this situation, many people who normally take little interest in religion are buying and reading the Scriptures to find out what all the fuss is about.  The second son of the King is busy conducting scientific experiments and ignoring his wife, who has turned to the Scriptures, and, just recently, to Christ.  Unfortunately she has no fellowship or encouragement, and he is contemplating taking a mistress.  Now, the King of Wendei’s sister is Feor’s mother, the Roptoa.  If Feor and Helen, as Crown Prince and Princess of Ishboh, could pay them a visit, perhaps with you and Abritis, it would put two hundred miles between Helen and Wysau, and give Feor something else to think about.  Oh, yes, and this Princess is from Traitan - take an up-to-date translation of the Bible to give her.  We could provide a little ship and a crew, but a couple Feor and Helen know well ought to accompany them, as Feor will probably need further counselling.  Are you two able to leave your training programmes to others, or is this impossible at the moment?  I’m asking you because Abritis is a thought-reader and has a good relationship with Helen.”

“No, I’m sorry, sir.  Abritis and I are both in the middle of vital training programmes, and no-one here can take over from us.”

“Mm.  I’ll see if a couple from Cirian can go with them to Wendei.”

Feor was walking to the Palace from his office at lunchtime, when he passed a trader who was offering his cook-in sauce to a housewife to smell.  Feor caught a whiff, recognized it, and would have turned back to buy some, but at that moment a messenger panted up to him.

“Palace?” he asked.

“Just along this road,” said Feor.

“Message for Crown Prince Feor.”

“Oh,” said Feor.  “Come with me.” The smell was forgotten. It was an invitation to visit Wendei, from his uncle the King.  Feor was thrilled, and took it to show Helen, for she was invited with him.  The poor abandoned messenger asked for an inn, but when the Palace staff realized he was a Royal messenger, they conducted him to the shower room, and prepared a meal for him.

“But how are we going to get there?” asked Helen of Abritis that evening.  “Feor would so love to go - it would cheer him up tremendously.”

“Let me communicate,” said Abritis.

Helen waited and prayed.

“Helen,” said Abritis, “Chalata and Janita will come in their small flying machine, and take you there.”

“That would be wonderful!” cried Helen.  “Oh, thank you, Abritis! Thank the good Lord!”

Ten days later, on the Saturday, a relaxed Darte and Abritis invited Wysau and Shimei to their home in the afternoon.  Chalata and Janita had come in their spaceship, picked up Feor and Helen, and taken them to visit the Roptoh and Roptoa before going on to Wendei.

“Counselling’s not my line,” said Darte, “not at all.”

“It does help to be a thought-reader,” said Abritis.

“Especially with interplanetary attraction,” agreed Wysau.  “But it was God Who spoke to Feor, when he wouldn’t listen to anyone else.”

For a few moments there was a reverent hush.

“Would you like a drink, love?” asked Abritis, rising.

“Blue fruit sona.”

“And you two?”

“Blue fruit sona?” asked Wysau of Shimei.

“Please,” she agreed.

Abritis went into the kitchen, prepared and brought the drinks, and went back again for some bites.  Suddenly Wysau leapt up; Shimei, who had got up too, rather bewildered, took the box of bites as Wysau caught Abritis, supported her into the sitting-room and helped her to sit down by Darte.

“You are overtired,” said Darte, putting his arm round her.  “Thanks, Wysau.”

“Sorry to be a nuisance,” she said.

“You can sit down now, Shimei.  I’m just going to fetch something.”

“You’ll have to cut down on some of your work,” Darte said.  “Couldn’t Emlota take over some of it from you?”

“But why?”

“I think Wysau has a suggestion to make,” said Darte.

Shimei gave Darte the box of bites; he took off the lid, passed the box to Shimei and then to his wife.

“Not for me, thanks,” said Abritis.

Wysau returned with some of the vitamin and mineral supplements Shimei had been given on Cirian.  He took out first one, then another tablet and gave them to Abritis to take with her sona.

“Take them twice a day for a week,” he said, “and see how you feel.”

“Doctor,” asked Darte, “do you think she should delegate more of her work?”

“Yes,” said Wysau.  “Look, we’ll cook the evening meal.”

“Oh, do take the meat and veg. I’ve bought,” said Abritis.

“If you want us to.”

“Please.  I bought the meat yesterday - it’s not fresh enough to be frozen.”

“So come over to us,” continued Wysau, “and in the evening we could go through your programme and see what could be delegated.  Would you like that?”

“She would,” said Darte firmly.  “Thanks, Wysau.  See you later.”

“Wysau thinks you’re pregnant,” said Darte, once they were alone.

“He didn’t say that.”

“No - but those pills - ”

“Oh, all right.  Look, it is unlikely.”

“If you feel OK after the week’s course, I’m sure he’ll test you.”

“It’s more likely to be a slightly inadequate diet.”

“You’ve lived here for some time and never had any trouble before.  And Shimei is clever at choosing good fresh vegetables.  On balance her cooking is better than Tsie’s.”

“Tsie got thoroughly bored with it.  And it’s easier to cook well for a smaller number.”

“Granted.  Anyway, your diet’s no worse, and your workload’s no heavier.  And we’ve had a month’s good rest on Cirian.”

“Five months ago.” She sighed.

“Sweetheart, you will let Wysau test you if you feel OK after a week of supplements?”

“Yes, husband.”

“And, if you don’t, you ought to see a doctor anyway.”

After the service the next morning -

“Oh, hello, Vitatt!” cried Wysau, shaking his hand warmly.  “I am pleased to see you.”

“I’m here in a custodial role - do you remember Kiel?”

“He has come with me,” explained Kiel, “because I wanted to come, and he is not sure if he can trust me not to run away again.”

“He’s being quite reasonable,” agreed Wysau.  “But what made you come back?”

“I met Den - he sheltered us - we went to hear him preach.  My friend scoffed, and went further, but I stayed to hear more.  Den told me I must come back and give myself up.”

“He was quite right,” said Wysau gently.

“What will happen to him now?” asked Vitatt.  “He has no money to pay his fine.  Will your friend take him back on his training course?”

“He’s here,” said Wysau - and in a moment Alab’ was moving through the crowd to stand beside Wysau.  He looked searchingly at Kiel.

“Very well,” he said at last, “I’ll give you one more chance..  Tomorrow morning at 8.30.  Oh, by the way, where are you staying?”

“With us,” said Vitatt.

“Is that convenient?”

“For the moment.”

“I can’t believe this,” said Darte.

“Nor could I.  This is the second test Wysau has taken and analysed.  Both were positive.”

“You’re actually pregnant.  Oh Abritis my love, will you be able to shed that sadness now?”

“I - don’t know.”

“Well, I suppose something could still go wrong, but ...? "

He looked at her curiously.  “Is there anything else?  I always thought this was the matter, but now - I don’t think it is.”

Abritis was silent.  Darte, feeling she did not want to be pressed, puzzled over it in vain.

“Wysau, can I have a word?” he asked as they walked home after the morning service.

“Certainly.”

“Do you know what’s bothering Abritis?  She hasn’t told Shimei, has she?”

“No - no to both questions.  Won’t she tell you?”

“No.”

They walked on.

“I thought it was her infertility,” resumed Darte, “so I prayed for a child - and it’s coming - but she’s still not happy!  All these months I’ve known there’s been something wrong - and she won’t tell anyone - and I can’t read her mind - and I don’t know what to do.”

Maybe Abritis was not distressed, but Darte certainly was.

“Are you asking me to thought-read to find out?”

“Please.”

“If you’re sure?”

“I’ve got to do something, Wysau.  I might easily do the wrong thing.  If you can tell me what’s wrong, I can at least take more appropriate action.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to tell her that this is distressing you so much that you’ll ask me to thought-read if she doesn’t tell you?”

Darte walked along beside him in silence for a while.

“Perhaps you’re right.”

Darte was not himself at their midday meal.  However could he say this to his wife?  Yet Wysau was right.  It was the honest and straightforward thing to do.  After the meal, which Abritis had prepared at her home, Wysau and Shimei helped to stack the washing-up machine, and left Darte and Abritis together.

“Oh,” he said, “where are you going?”

“Upstairs to lie down.”

“Oh.”

“You are permitted to come too - you are my husband, after all.”

Rather awkwardly, he did.  She lay on her side of their bed, but Darte could not lie still.

“You were asking me what the matter was; now I’m asking you.”

“I’m distressed because you won’t tell me - and because it must seem to you that I don’t care - because I’ve known all these months that you were sad about something, and I’ve made no effort to find out or do anything about it.  It was because I thought you were sad because you couldn’t have children, so I prayed for a child for your sake.”

“I hope you want this child.”

“I do - I’ve wanted one all the time - but I tried to accept what seemed at the time to be God’s decree.  I thought that if I talked about it, it would only hurt you.  I thought you would know, and that if there were something else, you would tell me.”

“I thought, as you did, that there was nothing I or you could do about this.”

“But what is it?” Darte got up and paced round the bedroom.

“I thought you didn’t care very much for me.”

“Because I didn’t ask you why you were sad, or anything?”

“Well, yes.”

“So what can I do now, to put things right?”

“You don’t need to do anything.  I couldn’t have told you if I hadn’t seen that you did care.  You cared all the time, but I didn’t see it - I couldn’t hear you praying for me.”

Darte lay down on his side of the bed.  “I knew you loved me, and that you came here mainly for my sake - but I knew I had to come, and to stay.”

“I didn’t seriously ask till we were applying to stay here as permanent agents.  Then I knew we must stay - I knew for myself.”

“So that’s why you’ve been more cheerful.”

“That - and having a proper home - a home we don’t have to share with anyone.”

“It is good.  Especially now that there’ll soon be a little one.”

They went to Shimei’s for a meal before the evening service.

There was no mistaking the glow on their faces, or the way they looked at each other.

“Darte, will you have time tomorrow evening,” asked Wysau, “to help me move the other cot and baby things into your house?”

“Ooh, yes, please.”

“Have you got enough baby things for yours?” asked Abritis.

“Plenty.  Someone gave us a personal gift, and Mum insisted we buy new - then other friends gave us a whole set of second-hand things.”

“We’ll have the second-hand things,” said Abritis firmly.

“I thought we could share,” said Shimei.

“No,” said Abritis.  “We may only have this one child.  It won’t matter - it’ll have yours to play with - but you may have to have three or four before you can provide the Roptoh with an acceptable heir.”

“That’s what Mum said.  Oh, Abritis!”

“No protests, Wysau.  Wait and see.”

Wysau nodded.  Shimei looked puzzled - and caught an equally lost look from Darte.  Suddenly he said, “Ah, yes,” and smiled his approval.

“I’ll explain later,” said Wysau in Shimei’s thoughts.