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 Two

Those three weeks sped by.  Soon the Roptoh was feeling so much better that he stopped shouting at Feor, who consequently gave him less to shout about.  One morning, when Wysau had gone with Abritis to fetch vegetables, Chalata said,

“We want to thank you, Shimei, for all your help - especially for the team of berron you have organized.  Our flying machine is mended now, ready to take off - we are only waiting for your father’s full recovery.  Tomorrow evening we will tell all your people who wish to hear about our God.  But there is one thing I particularly want to thank you for.  You were so good to Wysau that afternoon.  He is a sensitive man - he was hurt and depressed.  You cheered him more than any of us could have done.”

Only Shimei’s pride prevented her from bursting into tears.

“We must go home - we all have work to do.  I cannot promise that we will return.  But our God is here, and will be here when we have gone.  You can know Him, and He will never leave you - not even when you die.  Give Him your heart, Shimei - He will not break it.”

“How can I give your God my heart, when Wysau has it?” cried Shimei in her thoughts.

The following evening came all too quickly.

“While we have stayed here,” Chalata said, as his audience quieted and began to listen, “we have learned a little about the gods you worship.  They are rather like men, are they not?  They get angry, are capricious, fall in and out of love, and do not always do right towards each other or towards you.

The God we worship is quite different from men.  He is Spirit; He is One; He is pure and holy, and He hates sin of all kinds.  He does not treat anyone unjustly.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are as high above our thoughts as the heavens are high above the earth.  Our God has always been there, and He always will be there.  He is all-powerful and all-wise.  He does what He pleases, and no-one can stay His hand.  He created all worlds, and all that is upon them.

“Well,” you say, “how can a holy God create evil men?” All God created was good.  He created men innocent of all evil, but with the freedom to turn to evil if they wished.  They did - and He knew that they would.  Before the worlds were made, God’s Son offered to take the punishment of men’s sin upon Himself so that men could be forgiven.

How can one God have a Son Who is also God?  Our God is one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We cannot understand how this can be, yet He tells us in His Holy Book that it is so, and we must accept it.  But we can understand this: that all sin must be punished.  We are sinners; we offend God every time we say a nasty thing about someone else, or shout at someone and call him a fool.  Every time men are unfaithful to their wives, it offends God, for He has commanded that men and women should marry as virgins and keep themselves for their spouses only.  Every time a rich man takes advantage of a poor man - every time a servant is beaten for a fault for which he was not to blame, God is angry.  Beware, you rich, treat your servants well, for if they cry to God against you, He will hear them, and punish you.  Servants, beware of cheating your masters, for, if you do, God will not hear your cries when you are unjustly treated.  We must be careful, too, we who know so much of our God, to do as He wishes always, for He demands perfect obedience, and we are always falling short of His standards.”

There was a gasp from the crowd.

“Yes, we are sinners too,” continued Chalata.  “God’s standard is perfect righteousness.  Only one man ever lived who did all God’s will.  He was God’s Son.  He came to a distant planet that some of our people have visited, as a human baby.  He grew up as a poor man, and told the people what God was like, and what He required of men.  He offered His soul and His body as a sacrifice to His Father, to turn away His anger from us His servants.  For God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, loves His sinful people, and wishes them to be reconciled to Him.  So God the Father poured out all His righteous anger against our sin on His Son - His own beloved Son - Who bore it all so that we could be forgiven.  And all those of you who are truly sorry for the sins that have offended this holy God, and believe that His Son died in their stead, can be given new, clean hearts that love God and wish to serve Him.  You won’t find it easy to please Him, but instead of wanting to please yourselves, you will want to please God, and get to know Him better.  If you obey God, He will love you, and make you His friend.  If you want a new, clean heart, then ask God for it.  Only He can give it to you.  If you would like a copy of the chapters of the Gospel of John that Shimei and I have translated, then come and ask me for one afterwards.

There is one thing more I must explain.  This world is not the only one; this life is not the only one either.  When we die, that is not the end.  God tells us in His Book that all sinners deserve eternal death; that is, eternal separation from the holy God that gives all light, life, goodness and love.  You who hear this message and reject it, beware, for, if you go on rejecting it till you die, God will reject you, and send you away from Him into the eternal burning of the lake of fire.  But to those who turn from their sin and ask to be forgiven, He will give a new heart.  You may feel a worse sinner than you thought you were before, but others will see you slowly changing, becoming less selfish, more loving, more righteous in every way.  Sometimes God does not give you the assurance that you are forgiven immediately.  Go on asking till you have it!  Keep on reading what you have of God’s Word, and ask His Holy Spirit to explain to you what it means.  This new heart, and new friendship with God, is not a myth, it is real.  If it is not real to you, you do not have it.  Keep on asking and searching till you know that you have it.  Then you can be sure that when you die, you will go to live in Heaven with God forever - not because you are righteous, but because God’s Son has taken the punishment for your sin, and given you the robe of His righteousness to wear in His holy Presence.”

There was silence, stunned silence, when Chalata sat down.  This was a God not comfortable to have around.  This was a God Who made demands on His worshippers, not only in the details of their daily lives, but in their thoughts and feelings.  Only two came forward to ask for a copy of Chalata’s translation of those few chapters of John’s Gospel: Lord Treprom and one of the Palace servants.  Shimei and Feor had already received theirs.

Only two more days, and they would be gone.

Yet Chalata wanted to go on translating for as long as he could.  So the next morning, Shimei was working with Chalata, Abritis and Wysau on the translation, when, at about half past eleven, Darte and two other strangers came into the flying machine and sat down, hot and tired.  Abritis went to make cool drinks, and they talked to Chalata in their language.

“Shimei,” he said, “has your father ever thought of diverting some of the river water up in the woods, and bringing it down to the west of the nobleman’s land into his own park, through the gardens, to the vegetable garden and field of grain, and so back into the river?  He could have the channel lined with puddled clay, to make it waterproof.  It would only cost him the wages of the workmen.”

“I don’t think so,” said Shimei.

“Talk to him about it.”

But when Shimei returned to the Palace, her head was so full of Wysau and his impending departure that she forgot all about the irrigation plan the strangers had suggested.

That evening the Roptoh said,

“It is good to have tender vegetables again, and to be able to see what I’m eating.”

Shimei suddenly remembered the strangers’ plan, and explained it to her father.

“Whyever didn’t I think of that before?”

“Would you like to talk to them about it?”

“No need.  It’s perfectly simple.”

Only one more day.

Shimei filled that day with activity, in helping the strangers in every way she could.  They did not have a very long way to go, they said, though they welcomed the fresh vegetables she gave them.  And to think that they ate many of them without cooking them first!  And they did not suffer with indigestion at all.  She could not understand it.

Something was making Wysau sad - something to do with herself.  Shimei did not understand what it was.  She had tried to seek the strangers’ God, but He was not real to her.  “Go on seeking,” Chalata had said.  How could she, when her heart was breaking?  She would never see Wysau again.  But Chalata had not said they would never return; only that he could not promise that they would.  Did Wysau care for her?  She did not know.

If he really cared for her, he could ask her if she wanted to go to his world with him.  But did she want to go?  To that world where people could read her thoughts and hypnotize her, and where they were all so very clever?  And so good.

She wasn’t good like them.  She was not able to help her own people as these strangers could, because she was not clever enough.  But was she doing what she could?

She did not like these thoughts, so pushed them out of her conscious mind.

The next morning, early, they went.  They had said their goodbyes on the previous evening.  Shimei had to go out to make sure.  A dull emptiness was all that was left - and a moist vegetable garden.

By that evening her heart was no longer numb with shock, but throbbing with pain.  As soon as they were alone, she flung herself into her father’s arms, and clung there, too hurt for tears.

But there was one thing she had to cling to.  Faithfully every day, she gave Ruha the medicine Wysau had left for her, and spent time talking to her.  Her improvement was unmistakeable.

“She’s been much more sensible lately,” said her nurse.  “She has a better appetite, and is cleaner in her eating.  But she talks and talks, and is always asking questions; and she is often disobedient.”

“She loves having a story read to her.  If she’s difficult, how about saying, “You do this for me, and later on I will read you a story”?  Here are some books I read when I was little.”

“Well, I’ll try it, Princess - thank you.”

The nurse was glad of Ruha’s increased co-operation, and improving speech, but she did not reveal to the Roptoh or Roptoa the extent of Ruha’s improvement, because she wished to keep her position.

“Mother, may we have a private talk?”

“Certainly, dear.  You may go,” she dismissed her maid.  “Now, what is it?”

“At the dinner party on Friday - do you remember those remarks?  What were they about?”

“Oh.  Those.” There was a pause.

“Mother - I did wonder - if I took our religion seriously -would it give me comfort, as the strangers’ God does to them?  But what does it mean, when men go to the temple in the evening to pray for a good rait’ harvest?  The Lord Algachthi said they might or might not get a good rait’ harvest, and Lord Taralk said they were more likely to reap a harvest of another sort - like Father’s two elder brothers.  It all sounded rather sinister, and nasty.  And neither Father nor Feor ever go to the temple in the evening.”

“I’m very glad they don’t,” was all an embarrassed Roptoa could bring herself to say.

“So it is nasty.  So nasty that you don’t want to talk about it.  But, please tell me - what happened to Father’s two elder brothers?  How did they die?”

The Roptoa saw that she would have to tell her daughter.  “They caught a nasty disease from the priests’ women - from intimacy with them.  Your grandfather had told them not to go there in the evenings.  Your father was only thirteen at the time.  By the time he was seventeen, his eldest brother was so ill that everyone knew about it, and your grandfather had to explain to your father.  Not long afterwards, his second brother became ill.  So your father never went to the temple in the evening.  When Feor was sixteen, he told him the whole story; and Feor had the sense to listen and obey.”

“Why can’t Father put a stop to it?” cried Shimei.

“The priests wouldn’t let him - it’s a part of their religion.”

“How can you go to the temple at all?”

“Your father dare not displease the gods.  The fact that they have an evil side does not mean that they don’t exist.  If they don’t answer prayer, the priests say that they are capricious.  If they do, they happen to like you.  But your grandfather always said that these gods helped his ancestor to conquer Remgath, and if we neglect them, they might tear the kingdom away from us.”

“Oh Mother!  I shan’t speak any blasphemies, or go round telling everyone not to worship them, but I simply cannot set foot in that temple again.”

The Roptoh came in for his evening meal hot, tired and thirsty.

“How is the channel progressing?” asked his wife.

“Slowly.  They are puddling the mud just out of the woods, and have to carry it up to the starting point.  It will be wonderful if they have it done before the rains come.”

“Oh, surely!  There are another two months before then.”

Their meal was brought in.

“Only two places laid?”

“Shimei insisted that Feor accompany her out to a dinner party,” explained the Roptoa.

“She is the only one who knows how to draw him out of his solitude.”

“It may be good for him, but Shimei is trying desperately to forget.  She has thrown herself into a - a - I can’t think of the word.”

“She does not want to talk about the channel, nor be reminded of the strangers in any way.” The Roptoh sighed.  “Did he flirt with her, or encourage her?  I don’t think so.  He was too earnest - too busy for such things.”

“I’m sure you’re right.  Shimei loved him because he was a good man.”

“He couldn’t help his handsome face.”

“She’ll never meet another like him.”

“Then we must be very loving to her just now, or she might throw herself away on that worthless cousin of hers.”

“You have refused Prynoh, then, daughter?”

“Of course.  I should not have shown him so much favour - I told him I was sorry.  But I cannot forget Wysau.  No man on this world is half as good as he is.  Are you angry with me?”

“A little, perhaps, but not any more.  I am greatly relieved.  You have good taste and good judgement, daughter.  And I am pleased - the channel is finished.”

“Really?  I thought it was only half done.”

“I set some of the Palace servants to work on it -”

“And as they are tired of carrying buckets of water up from the river, it got done quickly.  Father, I congratulate you.”

“It was not my idea.” He paced round the room.  “Daughter, could the strangers speak in your thoughts?”

“What!”

“Someone spoke in my thoughts - told me to set the Palace servants to work on the channel.”

Shimei sat and stared.

“They have not forgotten us,” said the Roptoh.

Shimei sat motionless, but her expression had changed.  The Roptoh assumed her fear was of the strangers.

“If they were to return, daughter - could you live with a man with such powers?”

She sat silent, as if she had not heard.  He did not wish to press his question, lest he should hurt her.  As she still made no response, he decided to withdraw.  Once he had gone, she roused herself, took out Chalata’s script from the drawer where she had hidden it, and began to read it with reverence.

When she had finished reading it through, she looked up and thought.  Slowly she returned the manuscript to its drawer.

It seemed so harsh.  Did God’s Son have to die, and suffer His Father’s judgement, because she had spoken harshly to her maid? because she had caused Prynoh pain, even though it was done unintentionally? because she did not care for her people, and try to help them, as the strangers would?  How could she worship this holy God, Who regarded even little sins as so very serious?  Life would be impossible - His standards were too high.  It was no use thinking she could marry Wysau or go to live on his world, if they were all like him.

Yet what love God’s Son must have had, to bear such punishment for guilty people, who didn’t even care, who weren’t a bit sorry for what they had done.

There were a few who did care.  They weren’t perfect. They were His followers.  They squabbled about who would be the greatest in His kingdom -and how gentle He was with them!  Could she follow Him? after all?

“ . . . to them He gave power to become the sons of God”.

She prayed for that power.

The next day there was a festival at the temple to celebrate the rait harvest.  Feor got ready dutifully, but Shimei said,

“I’m sorry, Father, I cannot go - I am a Christian - I worship the strangers’ God.”

The Roptoh looked at his daughter.  There was no arrogance in her voice, only a conviction that she must not go, that she was doing what she knew to be right.

“Very well,” he said.

Shimei went to her room and read another chapter of her precious manuscript.  She cried to her God to give her power to follow Him.  She knew a passing glimpse of His presence - then she felt dreadfully alone.

Everyone else had gone to the temple.  Or would there be someone - perhaps her personal maid - still in the Palace?  Shimei wandered round, looking.  No sign of anyone, but one of the kitchen maids.  She looked at Shimei and dared to smile.  Shimei almost asked her, “Why are you not at the temple?” But she could not - she was only a kitchen maid.  It would not do for the Princess to talk intimately with a kitchen maid.  So Shimei went back up to her room.

Suddenly her door was flung open, and in ran Ruha.

“What - !” cried Shimei.

“Pill - pill - Aktel won’t give me - please!”

“Go back to your nurse,” said Shimei sternly.  “I will come later.”

“Please,” begged Ruha.  “Now.  You will forget.”

“Go back to your nurse, you naughty child.  I will come later.  Leave me.  I wish to be alone.”

“Water - here.” Ruha found the covered jug that was replaced each day in the Royal apartments, and the glass that went with it.  “Pill, please.”

Angrily Shimei granted her request, because it was the only way to get rid of her.  “Don’t come to me again.  I will come to you when it is convenient.”

Ruha went away sadly.

Shimei was in despair.  She had forgotten to visit Ruha.  For a whole week Ruha had not been given her pill.  Not only had Shimei done something she should not have done; she had also not done what she should have done.  And then she shouted at Ruha, as if it were her fault.  She had done these things because she was only thinking of how to ease her own pain.  Whatever would Wysau think of her, if he could read her thoughts?  What did God think? for He certainly knew.  How could she ever follow Him?  How could she appease Him?

She bowed her head and begged for forgiveness.  Nothing happened.

“I must show Him I mean it.” She went to her bookshelf and found three books she had enjoyed when she was twelve or thirteen.  She took them down to Ruha.

“You don’t like me,” stated her sister.

“I’m sorry, Ruha, I should not have forgotten you.  Or shouted at you.  Please forgive me - let’s be friends again.”

Ruha saw the books.  “Please.”

So Shimei read a story from one of these.  It was quite a long story, and, while she read, Ruha’s food was brought.  Ruha was so interested that she ate all that was on her plate, including the vegetables.  Even a fruit was eaten before her nurse brought her her cake.

“Are there really places like that, and people with dark skin and black hair?”

“Not that I know of,” answered Shimei.  “I must go - I’m supposed to be at dinner.”

Dinner was almost over.  “I am sorry, Father,” she said miserably.  “I was reading - I forgot the time.”

“Sihcha went to your apartment, but could not find you,” said the Roptoa.

If Shimei mentioned Ruha, it would only anger her father the more.  Shimei was silent.

“We will let it pass for this once,” he said gravely.  The Roptoa changed the subject.

Alone in her room, Shimei wept.  She had tried so hard to do right, but instead had done even more wrong.  It seemed that she could not do right.  She could do nothing to please God.

“We cannot by ourselves please God,” Chalata had said.  “Only Christ’s righteousness is good enough for God.  When we become His children, He gives us the robe of His perfect righteousness.  We cannot earn our salvation.  We do not keep on trying to obey God’s commands till He has given us new hearts.”

“Lord God, please forgive me, for Christ’s sake!”

Suddenly Shimei realized that she really wanted to please the strangers’ God.  She had been saved - she had been forgiven!  But she must ask for God’s help to do right

A few days later, at a family meal, the Roptoh said,

“Lady Treprom has invited us to dinner on Friday evening, but your mother and I are already engaged.  Could you go, Feor?”

“Oh, not another dinner party!” he complained.

“What about you, Shimei?”

“The Treproms?  Yes, Father, I will go.”

“Thank you, dear.  We don’t want to be ungracious.”

As none of the other members of the Royal Family were present at this function, Shimei was the guest of honour, and, as such, was placed at the right of her host at the table.  As the guests ate and talked, he asked her,

“How much do you know of the strangers’ God?”

“Not much more than Chalata said the evening he spoke of his God, when you were there - except that He is real to me now.  You remember that my father was having water diverted from the river to flow over his grain and vegetable fields, as the strangers had suggested?”

“Why, yes - a very clever plan.”

“Our servants were working at it, but very slowly.”

“A familiar problem.”

“I asked God to show me that He was there, He was real, and cared about me.  It was then that the stranger spoke in my father’s thoughts, and suggested that he put some of the Palace servants, those who had to carry water from the river to water the vegetables, to work on that channel.  They worked much more quickly - the channel was soon finished.  It is a great blessing to us.”

“I wish those strangers would return, and show me how to water my land!  Yet I know this God is real.  He speaks to me through the manuscript Chalata translated.  Yet I find reading it a little strange.  Why did Chalata not use the script the merchants and shopkeepers use?”

“Perhaps because we did not tell him about it.  But his script is very easy to read.”

“Through that manuscript, and through my own experience, I have discovered that this God is holy, and will be obeyed.  He wants us to tell others about Him, but my wife has no interest in Him.”

Shimei sighed.  “Nor have any of my family.”

Shimei’s neighbour on the other side asked how the Roptoh’s eyes had been healed.  There were no further opportunities to talk of their God that evening.  Shimei wished that Lady Treprom would be converted, so that she could call on her, and talk of God to both of them.

At another function, when the rest of her family were present, she castigated Lady Igaksfo for her lack of loyalty to her sex.  “Why be ashamed of presenting to your husband two lovely daughters?” cried Shimei.  “After all, without girls, our noble race would die out!”

The Roptoh made her apologize, which she did with rather a bad grace.  She felt strongly that she had spoken nothing but the truth, a truth which ought to be recognized.

Afterwards she realized that it was not Lady Igaksfo who was to blame for an attitude which prevailed all over her country.  She kept having an uneasy feeling that she ought to go and apologize properly to the lady herself.  After an uncomfortable four days, she went.  As she was shown into Lady Igaksfo’s apartment, she heard the little girls crying.

“All very well for you to come and apologize!” cried their mother.  “How can I stop them crying?  The servant who used to care for them has died, and the young one is useless.”

Shimei had no clear idea herself, but felt she must offer to help.  The young servant led her into the nursery, and wiped wet faces and runny noses.  The girls were four and six years old.  On the floor there were toys in plenty, so Shimei tried to interest them in these.  The four year old pushed the toy away, and the six year old fetched a story book.

“Read us a story!”

“Not that one, this one!” cried her sister, bringing another book.

“You asked first,” said Shimei firmly, “so I’ll read yours first, and then yours.” To Shimei’s own great surprise, this worked - but she had to read upside down, so that she could show them the pictures at the same time.  After six stories, they played ball outside, but the younger sister fell down and hurt her knee.  The servant was ready with a wet cloth, and a dry one to bind up the graze.  Shimei kissed it better, and in a moment the child was ready to play again.

When it was time for Shimei to leave, the girls begged her to come again.  “If it pleases your Highness,” responded their mother politely.  “But they do not usually play outside.”

“I’m sorry to have done something that does not please you,” said Shimei.  “I played ball with Feor in the gardens when we were small.”

The lady hastily agreed to follow Royal practice, so Shimei promised to return in three days.  She looked at the clock before she rode away.

“I was there two hours!” she thought, “and they passed in a flash.  Just as the time used to fly when I helped Chalata with his translation.” A choking came in her throat as she rode slowly back to the Palace, yet there was peace in her heart.

When she went for the second time, she took an alphabet book teaching the merchants’ script, the one in common use in Remgath.  She also took two story books the girls did not possess. They played outside first, and then, when she had read two of the girls’ own books, she said,

“Wouldn’t you like to learn to read for yourselves?” and produced the alphabet book.  The servant, Zena, came and looked too, as Shimei went through the book, and she repeated the letters with more interest than Tara or Eliata.

“Let’s see who can give this letter its correct name first,” said Shimei, “Tara, Eliata or Zena.” Zena always got it right.  The girls made far more effort to learn because they did not want to be outdone by a mere servant.  These lessons continued for four weeks.

“How my daughters will miss you when the rains come!” cried the lady.

“It would be a great shame to waste the good start they have made,” said Shimei diplomatically.  “If you paid for Zena to learn to read, she would learn far more quickly than the girls, and she would be able to read to them, and also continue their lessons.”

Two days later, the rains came in earnest.  It was impossible for Shimei to go out.  She sometimes looked at the kitchen maid who had asked for a copy of Chalata’s translation, and longed to talk to her - but then the cook would give her an order, and Shimei could not distract her from her work.

At last the rains stopped, and Shimei saw Lady Igaksfo again at another function.

“Thank you, Princess,” she said.  “You have taught my servant how to manage my girls.”

“Are they still learning to read?”

“Yes, slowly.  I am delighted that my servant can read to them now.  They are much happier.  I am most grateful.”

Lord Treprom did not even attend that function.  Shimei’s loneliness increased.

Every morning Shimei could not help looking out of the Palace window nearest her apartment, that overlooked the place on their park where Chalata’s flying machine had stood.  Every morning she was disappointed.  She tried not to look.  She hoped she was beginning to forget when she had managed not to look for three mornings.  But when, that afternoon, a flying machine did land, her heart gave a great leap.  She rushed to her father’s apartment.  He was with Artax, the chancellor, but Shimei could not wait.

“There’s a flying machine, landed in our park.”

“Can you not see that I am busy with affairs of State?  Tell Feor I command him to accompany you.”

Nothing daunted, she ran to Feor, who put down his trie with little reluctance.  “Put on your cloak, sister - it’s cold,” he said, and without any fear walked out with her to greet their visitors.  But on the way Feor said,

“This flying machine is not quite the same.”

A very tall white-haired stranger came out to greet them.

“Is Chalata with you?” asked Shimei.  She had to repeat her question more slowly, for clearly he did not understand.

“Chalata - yes,” said the stranger slowly, and with an accent.  “He sends his greetings - he is sorry that they cannot return - so we came instead.”

“They cannot return!” Shimei did her utmost not to show the pain this gave her.  Feor, who was cold, took a step towards the flying machine.  With gestures, the tall stranger invited them inside.

“Come in, Princess Shimei; come in, Prince Feor,” he said.  It was a little warmer inside, because they were out of the wind, but the strangers had no heating.

“What is your name?” asked Feor politely.

“My name is Foquar.” There were four shorter, fair-haired men sitting in the lounge, who came forward to greet them as their names were called.

“This is Shava, Osud, Palc and Accala.  None of us can heal people, but Shava and Palc are clever with machines.  Osud can work figures, and Accala understands rocks, water, pumps and pipes.”

“Are you Christians?” asked Shimei.

“I am, your Highness,” said Foquar quickly.  “We have come to serve you.”

“Thank you,” said Feor.  “The lower city is flooded - it is damp everywhere.”

Foquar looked puzzled, and Feor repeated, “The lower city is flooded”, very slowly and clearly.  There was a pause of three or four minutes.  Then suddenly Foquar said, “You need drainage.”

“But in the summer the ground is dry.”

Foquar spoke with his team in their own language.  “My team will have to look round the city to see what can be done.  But in the meantime we need some electricity.”

Shimei offered her team of berron.

“And some vegetables.”

“You can organize your berron if you like,” said the Roptoh, “but before I start supplying them with vegetables, I would like to know what they can do for us.”

An audience was quickly arranged for that evening.  Before their evening meal, she glimpsed Foquar leading his team past the Palace into the city.

“They are thinking about how to drain the floodwater away from the city,” she explained to her father.

“Very well,” he said, “we shall see what proposals they make.  Oh yes, I’m perfectly willing to listen, daughter.  Because of the channel we dug at the previous strangers’ suggestion, the upper city escaped flooding this year.  Unfortunately, during the rains, some of the diverted water found its way into the Palace cellars, till Artax suggested we made the channel deeper and longer.”

“That worked very well,” agreed the Roptoa.

“It did indeed.  It’s not only the strangers who have good ideas.”

Why was she so proud when she saw Foquar and his team had taken the trouble to learn how to greet her father in the proper manner?  And that Foquar himself stood out as the leader, the interpreter?  He it was who explained that they should not attempt to keep till next summer the water that had lain, stagnant and dirty, in the lower city since the autumn.  It would be better to build a reservoir in the mountains, and divert some of the river water into it when the river was swollen with rain.  Then in the summer that water could be released back into the river.  But they would still need a good drainage system, and a proper system of sewers to take dirty water away from the city - the whole city, not just the lower city.  That was what needed doing immediately, and what they proposed to do.

“How?” asked the Roptoh.

The strangers had not yet drawn up a detailed plan.

“We shall see about those vegetables when we have seen satisfactory plans.”

The strangers conferred.  “We shall submit those plans tomorrow morning at eleven thirty,” announced Foquar.

Before breakfast the next morning, Shimei, looking out of her usual window, saw Foquar hustling his team out of their flying machine and leading them past the Palace towards the city.  How purposeful he looked as he strode along on those long, long legs!  He turned his head to look at the Palace - Shimei quickly drew back from the window.  He might not have seen her - she could not tell.  But only three of his team were following him - one had stayed to organize their machine so that the berron could make electricity.  How good it was to feel she was doing something to help her people, even indirectly.

At half past eleven precisely, the strangers were submitting their plans - which were well thought out, the Roptoh had to admit.  “There’s one thing I don’t understand,” he said to Shimei when the strangers had gone.  “Why is this explanation written in much better Remsheth than even Foquar can speak?  In fact, I should think only Chalata could speak as well as this is written.”

“Perhaps Foquar asked Chalata to help him.  Remember how the strangers spoke in our minds?  If they can do it to us, then they can do it to each other.”

“Anyway, I have given orders for the strangers to be supplied with vegetables.  They can wait for their meat till some work has been done.”

“You are hard with them.”

“I did not treat the others any differently.  Rewards should be given when work is completed.”

For a few days, Shimei saved her own allowance till she could buy an animal to be butchered for the strangers.  Foquar invited Feor and herself over for the evening, and expressed his gratitude very properly.  He also asked them to explain the terms used by the contractors they were hiring to do the digging of the drainage tunnels.  “It is not easy to make people want to finish the work they are doing,” he said.

“I don’t know what you see in him, sister,” said Feor as they walked home. “He is not like Wysau - not as good as any of Chalata’s team.”

“They will not return.”

“In some ways, though, I feel more comfortable with him.”

Foquar redoubled his efforts.  Work proceeded, tunnels were dug; the water drained away from the lower city and the smells decreased.  Each time Shimei sent the strangers a freshly butchered animal, Foquar would invite Feor and herself to dinner.  The third time they came, Foquar alone received them, and the meal was far better cooked.  They both enjoyed the evening far more.  On the way home, Feor said,

“Foquar’s Remsheth is improving very quickly.  He is clearly fond of you.”

“He never says anything about going away,” said Shimei defensively.

When the drainage tunnels and sewers were finished, the Roptoh invited Foquar and his team to dinner.  That morning she looked out at the flying machine, and saw one of the berron patiently pushing the pole round and round.  It grew tired and went more slowly.  The groom gave it a flick with his whip.  The team member who was supervising, and chatting to his friend, took no notice at all.

“Oh well,” thought Shimei, “Foquar said they were not Christians.  I can’t expect the same standards from them as from him.”

At dinner, Foquar was placed between the Roptoa and herself.  First of all, the conversation was fairly general; even Foquar’s team made some effort to join in.  But as the courses came and went, people increasingly talked to their neighbours.  The Roptoa asked Foquar if he intended to stay, or had to go home soon.

“I am at your disposal, your Majesty.”

“We were sorry to see Chalata’s team depart,” said Shimei.

“They were obliged to return, as their flying machine was borrowed.  Mine is my own; my time is my own; I am in no hurry to return.” Confidentially he added, “You see, not long ago I asked for a girl’s hand in marriage, and was contemptuously rejected.  It is better I should be far away - it helps my heart to heal.”

Shimei felt for him.  Before she retired to bed that night, she asked her father to treat Foquar gently.  As she knelt by her bed, she prayed,

“Could I not love him, my Saviour? and both our hearts be healed?”

Still she felt uneasy.  “Please, my Lord, if there is anything wrong in this - if it does not please You - then show me clearly.”

The next morning she looked out, to see her groom whipping her berra, not once, but twice.  Foquar turned his head and saw it, but neither spoke nor intervened.

No, he definitely saw.  She could make no more excuses for him.  No, this man was not for her.

However, that evening she found that her father, for her sake, had invited Foquar to dinner for the very next day.

“He came asking permission to pay his court to you.  Very proper and polite he was.”

“Oh Father, I’m sorry, I gave the wrong impression.  I was simply sorry for him - a fellow-feeling, that was all.  He can never be to me as Wysau was.”

“Wysau will never return,” said the Roptoa to Shimei privately.  “Whereas we know Foquar wishes to marry you.  He is clever - he is the leader of this group of strangers.”

“I’m afraid you’ll find he isn’t really helpful and kind like the others,” said Shimei.  “He is not a doctor, like Wysau.”

“That is a shame,” agreed the Roptoa.  “But he is helpful - there are fewer nasty smells and fewer diseases in the lower city now.”

The Roptoh came to see her after the evening meal.

“The other team members are only his crew,” he said.  “Foquar is an administrator - he is going to review the Palace organization and the numbers of servants, and see if something can be done to save money.”

“Oh,” said Shimei listlessly.

“Why don’t you come out tonight?”

“I’ve a headache and I’m tired.”

“Foquar missed you at the meal.”

“I don’t like him, Father.”

“But daughter, why are you determined only to like those strangers who do not like you?  Wysau will never return - Foquar said so.  Are you going to remain unmarried all your life?”

“I’m not saying I’ll never marry anyone but Wysau, but I do not like Foquar.  I wish - oh, I can’t remember.  Very well, I’ll come out tonight.”

Foquar was attentive and admiring, but did not make a nuisance of himself.  He talked very interestingly of his own beautiful world.  Shimei pictured Wysau there.

“And do you have many churches on your world?”

“Oh yes.  Most Cirians are Christians.”

“I wish I could have Bible Studies with other Christians,” said Shimei wistfully.  “I only have a few chapters of John’s Gospel to read.”

“To be able to translate properly, one has to know and understand the languages in which the Bible was originally written.  Chalata is a real scholar.  Very few others on my world know these languages.  We have the Bible in our own language, but my team-mates have no interest in it.”

The last thing Shimei wished to do was encourage him by having Bible Study with him alone.

“I must talk to others; it is expected of me,” she explained, and went to greet Lady Treprom.

From then on, Foquar and his team took their evening meals with the Roptoh and his family.  Foquar’s team said little except to each other - their Remsheth was nowhere near as good as Foquar’s.  Foquar seemed to take a very long time to reorganize the Palace servants.  When he had finished, there were far fewer servants who had to work much harder, but very little money was saved.  Her father did not seem to mind this, but Shimei, annoyed, went down to the steward’s office and had a look at the accounts.  More money went on food - that was not surprising, as Foquar and his team all ate well.  But why was there a salary paid to Foquar?  What services did he render?  It was not only for his reorganization - it continued when that was finished.  She took the book to show her father, but put it down again and forgot about it.  Later, when she did remember, she found she had not got it with her any more.  She went down to the office to get it, but, when she got there, she could not remember what she had come for.

She went upstairs that evening and thought about it.  Why did she keep forgetting to ask her father to tell Foquar to go home?  Why could she not take him that account book?  It must be Foquar - he was hypnotizing her!  She remembered what Chalata had said: they did not use hypnotism except to preserve life.  Foquar was an evil man and must be sent away.

“And it was I who ran out and welcomed him!” she reproached herself.  “I provided him with meat and electricity!  Oh my Saviour, forgive me!  I meant no harm - I was so lonely - I was flattered and silly.  It was only a little sin, but look at the consequences!  Please cleanse me in Jesus’ percious blood, and help me to free my family.”

She went, contrite, to her father and begged him to tell Foquar to go.

But her father patted her hand, and said she ought to give Foquar a little longer to court her.  Her mother agreed.  Shimei could not even get any sense out of Feor.

She ran upstairs in distress.  She had thought it was only a little sin.

“O my Saviour, I can’t send Foquar away.  Please will You do it?”

The days passed, and Foquar remained.  It seemed to Shimei that God had forgotten her.  “Please, God, send him away!” she begged, again and again.  “Why won’t You send him away?”

“Perhaps God wants me to talk to him about Himself,” she thought.  She dreaded this - but if it was the only way?  Then she thought, “If Foquar does not want to talk about God, it might be one way of keeping him away.” So, the next time Foquar cornered her in the Palace, she began,

“Foquar, when you first arrived, you said you were a Christian.”

“And so I am, my dear.  What makes you think otherwise?”

“You are not helpful like Chalata and his team.”

“We put in the drainage system and the sewers, and I have reorganized the Palace staff.”

“Why are you paying yourself a salary?”

“I must provide some wages for my team.”

“What work do they do?”

“We await the Roptoh’s orders, as all servants do.”

“Wysau would find a way to help the people.”

“But I am not a doctor.”

“Have you no helpful advice for Artax, our trusted chancellor, who is now ill?”

“I did tell him to drink a great deal, but he did not follow my advice.”

“So you know what the matter is?”

“I think so.”

“Then couldn’t you get some medicine for him?  If you know Wysau, you could ask him in his thoughts.”

“I must discuss this with my team.”

That very evening, at dinner, Foquar asked the Roptoh if there were any service he could render at the moment.

“I can’t think of one - though it is a pity that none of you are doctors.  I am concerned for our Chancellor.”

“We will go and find some medicine for him tomorrow morning.”

The next morning, the ship was gone.  How Shimei’s heart rejoiced!  But he would be coming back.

That day, Shimei went with her father to pay a visit to Artax, and seconded her father’s expressions of sympathy.

“It is a pity that Foquar is not a doctor.”

Artax’ face clouded.  His wife said, “It is indeed.”

“I gather he did advise you to drink a great deal,” said Shimei.

“But what?” asked his wife.  “Milk makes his stomach ill; fruit juice is scarce in the early spring.”

Shimei asked God for guidance.  “Could you boil water, and strain it?  When our vegetables are boiled in water, they do not make us ill.  Let’s think: how long do we boil vegetables?”

Their cook, when consulted, said, “Ten minutes at least.”

The following evening, a servant came from Artax’ wife, to thank the Princess for her good advice.  “He is a little better,” he reported.  “We will keep on boiling water for him to drink.”

“There, you see, daughter,” said the Roptoa triumphantly, “Foquar is clever, and he wishes to serve us.”

Shimei did not understand why this remark annoyed her, or why Feor’s praise of Foquar annoyed her even more.  But anger can spur one to exertion.

“Father,” she said suddenly, after the subject had been changed at least twice, “didn’t Wysau say that our indigestion could be cured by eating uncooked vegetables for one meal a day?”

“I can’t remember,” he confessed.  Feor and the Roptoa looked puzzled.

“Well, if we had some water strained, then boiled for ten minutes, just like Artax, we could have certain vegetables - whichever you consider would be most palatable - washed in that boiled water and served to us uncooked.  It would be good not to suffer with indigestion.”

The Roptoh looked at his wife.  “What do you think?” he asked rather doubtfully.

“It’s a very good idea,” she said, with an enthusiasm Shimei found astonishing.  Even Feor agreed warmly.

The practice was not welcomed among the servants, till the cook pointed out that they could try it too.  It was so successful that it continued for many months.

Unfortunately, even drinking large amounts of cleanish water, though it did give some relief, did not cure Artax’ illness.  Shimei could understand why her family welcomed Foquar, and thanked him warmly when, after a few days’ treatment with the medicine he brought, Artax did make a complete recovery.  But why did they thank Foquar for relieving their indigestion, when the advice had been Wysau’s?  She did wonder if she had judged Foquar too harshly - but she knew, from her bitter disappointment when she saw him climb out of the flying machine, that he could never take Wysau’s place in her heart.  She had thought that he had looked at her with new respect when he first arrived, but that was gone - she saw a malicious leer in his eyes for a moment or two, before he could disguise it, and then that sickly sweetness tried to get into her mind.  She fought it with loathing, and it went away - for a while.

“Oh Heavenly Father, please send Foquar away!”

Still he remained; still he paid court to her.  One day, when he had been more persistent than usual, she said, in her usual forthright way,

“I cannot marry you, because you are not a Christian.”

“Dear lady,” he said, “I am but a weak man, not strong as other Christians are.  I have not grown as a Christian.  I need a good woman to reform me, understand me, set me right.  My team mates are no help to me.  I have never been supported and loved by a good woman like you.  You would be surprised at what you could do with me.  If we could have Bible Studies together, I could make some attempt at translating my Tsetri Bible into Remsheth for you.”

“How could I know whether you were translating it accurately?  If I believed you really cared for me, it would be cruel to accept your suggestion, to refuse you at last.”

Abruptly she left him, went up to her apartment and shut the door.  Here, at least, she could be free from his attentions.

Some while later, a lustful thought crossed her mind.  Shimei pushed it away, but it kept returning.  She began to pray as she had never prayed before, crying to her God to help her banish such thoughts from her mind.  “Please send me such thoughts as You would have in my mind.” She prayed for her father: “Open his eyes, Lord, to Foquar’s wickedness, and give him the strength to send him away.” Those lustful thoughts kept on coming, so she prayed for her mother and brother, for Chalata, Janita, Wysau, Abritis and Darte, asking that God would bring them back so that she could have some fellowship, more of the Bible translated for her to read, even though Chalata could not write as she did, and used his own very simple script.  Those thoughts were so persistent! so she prayed for the lady with the two little girls, and Zena the servant who looked after them.  She prayed for Lord Treprom and his lady, that she might come to know the real God.  But when she stopped, the thoughts came again.  So she prayed for Foquar, that God might show His great power and the depths of His mercy in taking that evil man and making him truly one of His children.  Somehow she knew that prayer would one day be answered.  She even prayed for his crew, that they might be given some useful work to do.  After this, there were no more evil thoughts, and Shimei, exhausted by her battle, put herself to bed.