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 Four

On a fine day in May 1829, a young and pretty lady rode towards the residence of the Earl and Countess.  Miss Helen Blount had been beautiful, but something of her bloom had gone; her dark brown hair had lost some of its curl, and her lovely face was pale with anxiety.  She did not know why, only that day after the morning service at Yelling, the Countess had desired Mr. Venn to introduce them to each other, or why she had invited Miss Blount to dine with them that very afternoon.  Her father had been pleased with the invitation.  “Do make a little effort not to look so ill, or pace round so restlessly,” he had said.

She had never been right since her disappearance.  All she could remember was arriving at the church to be married to Mr. Taylor - and standing on the lawn of her parents’ home.  They told her she had been away for seven weeks; the calendar and the weather certainly supported their view; but she could make no answer to their repeated questions, “What happened to you?  Where have you been?” except one, “I can’t remember anything about it.”

She was not brokenhearted about Mr. Taylor, who had since withdrawn his suit.  Her father and mother had sighed so much over him, that any sighs from her would be superfluous.  Yet there was somebody.  She missed somebody, she yearned for someone’s touch.  Who was he?  She had no idea.

Or did she?  She was riding up the drive towards the Hall.  Yes, she could remember: he had golden hair, golden skin, and the brightest green eyes you ever saw.  He had looked at her with love, but she could understand not a word he said, nor he her.  There was always that tall, white-haired man, who kept encouraging the someone to touch her, to kiss her.  The first time he had touched her, she had been terrified of those tingles; then she had come to desire them, but she was afraid because she wanted him so much.  When the white-haired man had kissed her, it was horrible - like being kissed by a dry fish.  She had screamed - and the pain on the golden-haired man’s face!  The white-haired man had asked her if she wanted to go home.  She had been so frightened that she had said, “Yes, please.” But on the way he still kept encouraging the golden-haired somebody to kiss her - and she wished he were there, so that he could do it again!  But not the white-haired man sitting watching them with that sardonic smile.  In the evenings he had gone away and left them alone, and she had felt safer.  When they were alone, the golden-haired man would try to communicate with her, but it was slow and difficult.  So he would leave her, and go to his cabin for the night.

She took her horse to the stables, and found the Countess herself waiting for her.

“I am so pleased to see you, Miss Blount.”

A stable boy came to unsaddle and feed her horse.  She went inside with the Countess, who was only a little older than she was.  Her hostess led her into the library, and offered her the sofa.

“Please feel free to sit, lie down or get up and walk about, just as you wish.  Now, could you tell me what happened when you walked into the field next to the church, the day you were to be married?”

The joy of remembering was so great that she did not ask herself why the Countess wanted to know.  She simply told her everything - about the ship that flew into the sky and stayed there for so long - about the handsome young somebody who had looked at her so dreamily, and talked to the white haired man in his language while she could talk to him in hers, but he never tried to teach either of them the other’s language.  The Countess listened very carefully, and when she told her how the white haired man had sat there and smiled while the golden-haired man tried to force himself to touch her -

“Horrible!” she cried.  “How could he do it!  And then separate you - it’s worse than murder.  Did the white-haired one ever try to touch you?”

“Yes - and I screamed - and the golden-haired one moaned as if he were in pain.”

The Countess’ face expressed horror and disgust.  She got up and walked about, muttering, “How could he!  It must have been him!”

“Tell me,” begged Helen, “was it all the white-haired man’s fault?  The golden-haired one did not ask for me, or - I mean, was he to blame in any way?”

“When he was left alone with you, he did not try to touch you, did he?”

“No - never.  He would try to communicate with me.”

“The white-haired one had power over his mind, you see - just as he was able to make you forget what happened to you on the ship.”

“I see - so it wasn’t the golden-haired man’s fault at all?”

“No - he was a poor victim, like you.”

Helen could not sit still any more.  The Countess let her pace around for a while, then met her, and gave her a good long hug.

“Thank you!  How did you know that was just what I needed?”

“Can you remember any details? anyone’s name?”

“The white-haired one said his name was Foquar, but he never told me the golden-haired man’s name.”

“Or where he came from?”

“No.  Do you know who Foquar is?”

“Yes.” There was anger, disgust, loathing in that monosyllable she pronounced so crisply.  “I don’t know him, but I know quite enough of him.”

Suddenly Helen felt so tired that she lay down on the sofa.  The Countess gave her a cushion for her head, stroked her forehead, touched the back of her neck with a cool hand, massaged her head ever so gently . . .

She woke to see the Countess sitting, staring straight ahead as if she saw nothing.  It was a little while before she realized that Helen was awake.

“Sit up slowly - there.  In half an hour we shall dine.”

“I am afraid my appetite has been very poor lately.”

“I have explained to my family that you are not well.  Please feel free to eat and drink exactly as you would like.  In fact, I have a special drink for you, which may ease your troubled stomach.  I will do all I can to help you, Miss Blount.  Don’t tell anyone what you have just remembered, will you? unless they already know.”

“They would laugh at me.”

“Perhaps.” The Countess looked thoughtful.  “Oh - a piece of advice.  Try not to think - or dream - about your golden-haired somebody.  Pray for him instead.”

In the church at Yelling, later on that day, Miss Blount stood by the Countess as they sang the ninety-first Psalm.  For the Countess, the Earl, even his mother the Dowager, all loved Miss Blount’s Lord and Saviour; and, when they came to the fourteenth verse, the Countess caught her eye.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he understands and knows My name.

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him.”

It was hard to go on believing, the following day, the Monday night, as whatever strange illness she had seemed to be getting worse.  She woke at five with a stiffness in her neck.  Had God forgotten her?  Was He only real on Sundays?  Then she remembered that she had thought, and dreamed, about her golden-haired somebody for an hour, maybe more, before going to sleep.  She must do her part: no more thinking about him!  But it was hard.

All the Tuesday that stiffness remained.  She tried rubbing her neck, twisting it about; it was no use.  The evening was fine; in her restlessness she walked about in her father’s garden.

“Miss Blount?”

It was the Countess.  “Can we talk here?”

“My parents are out.”

“We know where, and who, your golden-haired somebody is.  We cannot bring him to you; he is more seriously ill than you are.  We will have to take you to him, and it will be very difficult at first.  His family is very grieved and hurt at the way he has been treated, and their people do not distinguish very clearly between us and Foquar.  Our people will not gain a hearing for the Gospel till you are taken to your somebody.  Listen, Miss Blount: are you willing to learn his language and the customs of his people, marry him and live with him on his world?  You will probably never see your parents or your world again.”

Helen felt exhausted, and led the way to the garden house.  “Will I ever get better if I don’t go?”

“No.” The Countess was sorrowful yet firm.

“What will happen to him?”

“He will die before you.”

“I shall die too?”

“In a few months.”

Miss Blount sat stunned.

“Now you understand why I was so angry when I heard your story.”

“Foquar did it deliberately?  He knew we would die?”

“Oh yes.”

There was silence.  The birds sang.  The sun shone.  Helen felt cold.

“Will you come with me?”

“I’m sorry, dear, I can’t.  My people will fetch you later tonight from your lawn out here.  They will take you to meet those of my people who will stay with you and look after you, at least till you are married.”

“Do they love God as you do?”

“Yes, they do - all their team.  And, most important, your Feor loves God too.  The leaders of that team, Chalata and Janita, love each other in the same special way as you and Feor.  They will understand how you both feel far better than I can.  One of their team will teach you his language.”

Helen sat, considering.  “If I don’t go, Feor will die?”

“Yes.”

“You said your people wanted to preach the Gospel there, but they won’t be heard if I don’t come?”

“No.  They will not be allowed to stay.”

“Then I must go.  I must.”

“You won’t start feeling better till you are with Feor.”

“I’ll just have to bear it, won’t I?  So long as He will be with me in trouble.”

“He will.  So pack your trousseau into a trunk; you’re going to be married.  And - ” she waited, as if listening - “bring your sheet music, there’s an instrument on the ship.”

“I can’t bring the trunk out here by myself.”

“I’m sure there’ll be two crew members on the ship who will carry it for you.”

Her trunk was in her room, under the bed.  Her parents had gone out, so no-one saw her packing her trunk, putting in her wedding dress and her entire trousseau.  She took her best loved pieces from the piano stool, packed them, more clothes, and other necessaries into a suitcase, which she carried into the garden.  Suddenly she felt very tired, and sat on the garden seat, almost asleep, for at least half an hour, till Nellie called her.

“Your soup’s ready, Miss Helen.”

Afterwards Helen asked, “Can you help me down with my trunk, please?”

“Where are you going, Miss?”

“I’m going away to be married.”

Nellie very dubiously came up to help her.  Somehow they got it down the stairs and onto the doorstep.

“Thank you,” panted Helen.  “That will do.”

“But it’s getting late, Miss.  Shouldn’t we put the trunk and the suitcase just inside the door till the morning?”

“They’re coming for me tonight.”

Clearly Nellie thought she, Helen, was crazy.  “I’ll show her,” thought Helen.

The dusk deepened.  Before her parents returned, a silver-grey spaceship landed gently on the lawn.

“Miss Blount?” Two men, one white, one golden-haired, came down the ladder to collect her trunk.  Nellie watched in amazement, wringing her hands.  Helen took her suitcase, handed it up the ladder, and climbed up herself.

It was so like the ship that she had stayed on with Foquar that fear clutched at her throat.  She ran to the door; she was about to turn and come down the ladder, when she saw Nellie at the door, still wringing her hands.

No, she could not go down to Nellie, to her parents, to that restlessness and dreariness.  She went back inside the ship.

“You are sure you want to come and marry Feor?” asked a white-haired girl.

Helen nodded.

“Then come in and lie down.”

On her last trip she had lain by Feor; this time the girl was her companion.  Last time she had been forced to come; this time, no-one would have stopped her if she had gone down that ladder.  Last time, no explanation was given; this time, the girl said,

“Do you remember about being heavy?  It’s due to the ship’s acceleration.  It has to reach a great speed in order to leave your world’s gravity.”

“Do we go straight to Feor’s world?”

“You change ships twice on the way.  We dock with a mother ship.  We will go into her for the night; she will take us back through the corridor towards Cirian - that’s my world - and, on the other side, you will dock with Chalata’s ship.  It won’t be far from there to Feor’s world.”

Helen’s hand went to her pocket.  Yes, her Bible was there.

She had a single cabin on the mother ship.  The bed was unfamiliar and rather hard.  The back of her neck was very hot, and ached.  She turned to her Bible, the little French Bible she had had in her pocket when she had gone to the church to be married to Mr. Taylor.

Time after time, on that other ship with Foquar, she had gone into her cabin and read her French Bible.  It was in French because her mother was French by birth.  They had lived in France for some years.  Her parents had run a school there, made money and come to England to live as gentlefolk on the interest of their savings.  When no Christian man had offered for her, Helen had suggested to her father that she give French lessons - but no, he would not hear of it.  His daughter should be married to a respectable gentleman.

Suitors had not been slow to present themselves, attracted by Helen’s beauty, low gentle voice and good manners, but none of them knew her Lord!  She rejected them, one after the other, till her father insisted she marry Mr. Taylor.  She had cried, begged, reasoned and pleaded, to no avail.  He was a sensible, pleasant, respectable man with a comfortable fortune, and of thirty years of age; whatever reasonable objection could she have to him?  So she had cried to God - and it suddenly struck her: He had intervened, and organized a marriage with one of His children!

When she read her French Bible, she would naturally pray in French, and think in French till she went to sleep.  Often she would only realize she was still thinking in French in the morning when addressed in English by her father.  Her mother would usually speak French with her.  This time, too, she read, she prayed, but, when she had done so, the ache in her neck remained.  So did the restlessness; she had to get up and pace round her cabin.

There was a knock on her cabin door.

“Entrez,” she called; the white-haired girl came in, with something in her hand.

“May I wrap this round your neck, so that the cold part is at the back - there.”

“Ah, merci - oh, sorry, thank you.”

“Walk round a bit more - stretch your limbs.  When you are tired, lie down.”

The cold cloth was backed by some waterproof covering so that it did not damp her bed.  She was glad to lie down.

“May I examine you?  I do have some medical training.  You see, Feor is the Crown Prince of his country, and his royal parents will feel they have a right to be fussy about his bride - and Foquar is a very wicked man.”

Helen waited in dreadful suspense.

“No, you are still a virgin.  It must have been your French Bible that saved you.”

Helen looked at the girl in surprise.

“You see, Foquar speaks English but not French.  When you were thinking in French, he would not have been able to hypnotize you.  You have had a marvellous deliverance.”

*    *    *

“Oh, Shimei, thank you.  It is good to know the God Who is there - to know where I am going when I die.  My Lord has given me a taste of Heaven already - His peace.  I wish it were today - the day of my death.”

“Feor, you must not talk like that,” said his mother, who had come in in time to hear this last sentence.  “People do recover from illnesses - but you must keep hoping, keep fighting!  Please don’t give up, my son, for the sake of your dear sister and our people.  We must not have civil war between those that want a Roptoa, and your cousin Prynoh’s supporters.”

His father came in too.  “I’m sure the poor boy would get well if he could.”

“I got well, Feor,” said his mother.

“That was Dr. Wysau’s good medicine,” said Shimei.

“You think, daughter, that I was too hasty in sending the strangers away,” said the Roptoh thoughtfully.

“In sending Dr. Chalata and his team away, yes; but in sending Foquar away, Father, you saved all our lives!” said Shimei.  “Just as there are good and bad among our people, so there are good and bad among strangers.  If Chalata should return, or if other good ones come, please ask them to help Feor.”

“The people, and the nobles, do not like strangers.”

“We don’t want civil war,” said the Roptoa.

“Remember what Wysau did for Ruha,” said Shimei.

“Look, daughter,” said the Roptoh, “if Dr. Chalata should return, I will ask him to help Feor.  Our doctors are useless.  We must do all we can to help Feor.  I’m sure our people will understand how important that is.”

For her brother’s sake, Shimei prayed; for the sake of the Good News that Chalata’s team had brought, and Foquar had profaned by claiming he was a Christian too, she begged God to send Dr. Chalata back again.  The morrow dawned, and they did not come; and the next day, and the next; and every day Feor grew weaker, and the pain was spreading.  At lunchtime the following day, the Roptoa had no interest in her food.  Shimei went to see her after the meal, and found her crying quietly.  She put her arm round her, and tried to comfort her, but did not know what to say.  Helplessly she went to that window near her room that gave onto the Park, with a great cry in her heart - and could hardly believe her eyes, for she saw a flying machine land, and out of it came Dr. Chalata!  She hurried to her father’s apartment and knocked.

“Oh, it’s you, daughter.”

“The strangers’ flying machine has arrived.”

“Are you sure it is Dr. Chalata?”

“I saw him come out.”

“Let us all go together to meet them - come, Feor.”

Supported on his father’s arm, Feor walked - but seemed glad of his sister’s arm too, as they came out of the Palace onto the lawn.  Chalata, Janita and Wysau came out to greet them.  Then Feor gave an inarticulate cry.  His father turned to look at him; watched his face turn from white to red; followed his eyes to see a girl with dark hair, a very pretty girl, coming out leaning on Abritis’ arm.  As if drawn by a magnet, Feor walked towards her and followed her into the flying machine.  The Roptoh and Shimei were also invited inside.

“Thank you, Dr. Chalata - Mrs. Janita.  I have a request to make: could you please heal my son?”

“We have brought Helen, so that she may help Feor back to health,” answered Chalata gravely.  “We cannot heal him ourselves.”

“This is the girl, Father,” said Feor.  “This is the girl Foquar introduced me to on his flying machine.”

“Feor is in pain,” said Shimei.

“Helen,” said Abritis in English, “if you kiss the back of his neck, all his pain will vanish - then Chalata will ask Feor to do the same for you.”

“Why do I have to kiss him first?”

“To make him understand why he should kiss you.  And because he is in much more pain.”

Helen felt obliged to obey.

“Thank you - thank you, Helen.”

“Your royal Highness,” said Chalata gravely, “Helen would be grateful if you could do the same for her.”

His lips were soft on her painful neck.  Tingles went all over her, and the pain was completely gone.  “Thank you, your royal Highness,” she said in his language, in an accent which Feor found charming.  He sat gazing at her dreamily - at her dark hair and pinky grey skin, her rich brown eyes.  She spoke again in his language.

“It is good to be free of pain.”

Feor assented warmly.

“Is your pain gone, son?” asked the Roptoh.

“Completely,” he said, still looking at Helen.

“Your gracious Majesty,” said Chalata, “his royal Highness needs to be with Helen.  If he is separated from her for more than six hours, his pain will return.  Could we have him as our guest in our flying machine - there is a vacant cabin for his use - and you have our promise that we will not take him away without consulting you.  It could be that he will need treatment on our world, but if he marries Helen in the next few days, that may not be necessary.”

“Are you content to stay here, my son?”

“Yes - I can rest - I can sit still.”

“It would be best if his royal Highness came to the Palace at nine each morning and returned at twelve thirty for his midday meal,” said Chalata gravely.  “He will sleep in the ship.”

The Roptoh looked at the Crown Prince.  He was resting his head comfortably against the high back of the sofa; his eyes were closing.  How many nights had he spent tossing restlessly, unable to sleep?

“Thank you, Dr. Chalata.  I am pleased to accept on my son’s behalf.”

“Do stay and take a little refreshment,” invited Chalata.

The Roptoh and the Princess Shimei sat sipping sona and tasting bites; the Crown Prince leant against his father, asleep.  For a while Helen tried hard to follow the conversation; Abritis translated some words into English in her thoughts.  But Helen, too, had not slept well; she, too, had been in pain.  She was sitting on the other side of Feor, at the end of the sofa; her head rested against the corner of the seat, and her eyes closed.

Helen woke to see Chalata and Shimei engaged in translation work.  Where was Feor?

“Wysau put him to bed,” said Abritis in her thoughts.  “Come to your cabin; I’ll teach you some more of his language.”

First she tested Helen on her vocabulary, then went over grammatical points; this was the usual structure of the lesson, followed by slow, simple conversation in Remsheth.

“What did the Roptoh say - what did he think - I did not rise to bid him farewell?”

““when I did not rise””, corrected Abritis.  “Chalata explained that you had been ill too, because you love Feor.  He was pleased - he thinks you are very pretty.”

“Do I still love him?” wondered Helen in her thoughts.

“Feor has been very ill.  Wysau examined him when he put him to bed.  He found an infection, and gave him an injection of special medicine.  We hope he will sleep till nine o’clock.  When he wakes, he will need you.  For nearly two weeks he has not been able to keep food down.  Wysau wants to give him a food-drink at half past nine, but Feor will vomit it up if you do not hold his hand before he drinks it.”

“If he takes my hand, yes.”

“He may be too afraid to do that.  If he does not take your hand, you must take his.”

“Oh no!  How can I?  We’re not even engaged!” cried Helen in English.

“Were you right to kiss the back of his neck this afternoon?” Abritis spoke in English too.

“I don’t know - I suppose - it did take his pain away.”

“It did - completely.  He has not slept for more than half an hour at a time for the past week, because of that pain all over his body.  You will find that when you touch his hand, he will take your hand in his.  He loves you very, very much - far more than you will ever love him.  He is a true Christian, as far as we can tell.  He will not make a fool of you or take advantage of you.  But he is terribly afraid that you do not care for him, because Foquar told him so many times.  If you shrink from him, the pain in his neck will return.  It may even return because he wants to touch you very much, but he dare not, because he thinks you don’t want him.”

“Why does he think I’ve come?”

“There is a little voice in his mind that keeps on saying that you don’t love him, you don’t want him.  Even if his reason says that is absurd, it is hard for him not to listen to that little voice, because it is so persistent.  Foquar knows all about it, and he woke it deliberately, because he wanted Feor to die as soon as possible, so that he, as the Princess Shimei’s husband, could take the throne of Remgathishboth.  We know this makes it especially hard for you, too.  We want to help you all we can.”

“However shall I cope with him?”

“You must - or you will both die.”

There was silence.  Helen looked round wildly for escape - but gave it up with a sigh of despair.

“God has allowed this to happen to you, and to Feor, for His own good purposes.  Already He has used it in the saving of Feor’s soul.”

“Oh.  Oh yes.”

“He has promised that He will not allow you to be tempted more than you are able to bear, but will with the temptation provide a way out, that you may be able to bear it.”

Abritis paused.  Helen put her head in her hands.

“God knows it is hard for you.  He does understand - He has sent us to help you both.  There’s a man on this team who understands how Feor feels, and that’s Chalata.  He loves Janita in the same way.”

“But Chalata’s over forty!”

“They have been married for over ten years.  Yes, you can survive, and you can be happy, but you must trust God, and do as we say.  I’ll watch over your thoughts, and Feor’s, while you are alone together - I’ll be your chaperone, as much as if I were there in the room with you.”

“It’s all very well for her to explain,” thought Helen desperately, as she sat by Feor at nine that evening.  “It’s me that’s got to do it.”

Feor had looked away from her.  She summoned all her courage and touched his hand.  Just a light touch - she withdrew her hand, terrified at what she had done; but it was as if she had released a spring.  He took her hand in his, caressed it, looked at her with such passion in his eyes that she lowered hers in embarrassment.  Little did she dream how captivating she was to look at from Feor’s height, with her long dark lashes over her scarlet cheeks.  Feor kissed her hand.

“Helen, I love you - so much it burns me inside.”

She could say nothing in return.  After a pause she changed the subject.

His disappointment was sharp; but she stayed with him, and talked to him in his own language, till his food-drink was brought, and other team members joined them, and drinks were served to everyone.  Feor thanked them warmly for teaching Helen his language.

“I need many more lessons,” said Helen.

“I will come to you in the mornings when I can,” promised Abritis.

Feor drank his food-drink slowly.  Helen stayed with him and talked perseveringly till Wysau called him to go to bed.  She felt relief mingled with sadness.  She could not be to Feor what he needed till they were married.  She had done what she could; she had to commit him to God.  This done, she slept well.

When Feor came into the dining room for breakfast the next morning, Helen was seated in her usual place, and he took his usual place beside her.  She said, “Good morning!  Have you slept well?”

“Yes, very well, thank you,” replied Feor truthfully, turning to look at her.

“So have I,” she said.  “It’s a fine morning.”

He made no response, simply went on looking at her.  There was a dreaminess in his eyes.  She poured milk on her cereal, thanked Tsie for her tea, and still he stared.  Chalata passed him a glass of sona.  Feor blinked, took it and said, “Thank you.”

“Would you like half a blue fruit?” asked Chalata.

“A quarter, please,” he replied.  “I am sorry, Helen; I should not stare like that.  All I can say is that you are so beautiful.”

As soon as breakfast was over, Chalata said,

“Your royal Highness must go to the Palace now.”

Feor’s face fell visibly.  “Goodbye, Helen.  I will see you at half past twelve.”

“Helen,” said Abritis, “aren’t you pleased?”

Helen looked puzzled.

“To have the man you love look at you like that?”

“It scares me.”

“Why?”

Helen went red.

“Oh,” said Abritis, “that’s perfectly normal.  Feor would be most distressed, once you were married, if that were not the case.”

“I still do,” said Janita.  “Find Chalata physically attractive, I mean.  I sometimes do, when all he can think of is some morphological problem in his latest language.  There I sit, wishing he would touch me, and he’ll have an inspiration, and scribble away till nearly midnight.  I sit there and wonder if it’s worth going to bed, because I know I won’t sleep till he comes.  Eventually he will come, all happy and satisfied, give me a quick kiss, turn over and go to sleep.”

Abritis laughed.

“At other times he can be absolutely overwhelming.”

Helen stopped smiling.

“I wonder what absorbed Feor,” continued Janita, “while other young men were chasing the girls.”

“How do you know he didn’t,” thought Helen - but she might as well have said it aloud.

“Because he has interplanetary attraction,” replied Abritis.  “He’s never been physically attracted by any other girl, and never will be.”

This gave the more comfort to Helen, because Abritis had never been less than honest in all the other things she had said, even though she knew Helen would rather not have heard some of them.

“I wonder what it was,” persisted Janita.  “If Helen could share it, that would be marvellous.  I wonder . . . ”

*    *    *

“Chalata is quite right,” said the Roptoh.  “Delay is pointless.  What terms, my son?  She’s not a princess or a titled lady, is she?”

“Most favourable terms,” said Feor dully.

“But - ”

“It doesn’t matter.  She’ll reject me anyway.”

“That’s absurd,” said his mother sharply.  “Whatever did she come for, if she’s not going to marry you?”

The flicker of hope in Feor’s eyes soon died, and he sat staring miserably at the carpet.

“Father,” said Shimei, “Feor loves her so much that he will grant her the most favourable terms, whether he offers them to her or not.”

The Roptoh nodded, and his secretary soon presented him with the required document.  He went his way to the House of Lords; the Roptoa sighed, and returned to her apartment, leaving Feor with Shimei.

“What did she say to you?”

“Nothing.”

“But - why this despair?”

“Because she said nothing.  She sits next to me and bewitches me - she talks of other things, in our language - she even touches my hand - and then, when I blurt out a helpless avowal of love, she sits there and says nothing!  Shimei, I don’t know how to bear it.  I love her ten times more now, because I know her better as a person; but she doesn’t care!  I don’t know how they can torture me so.”

“How do you know she doesn’t care?  There is such a thing as modesty, brother.  I can’t see you loving a forward, immodest girl.  You told her you loved her, but you could not propose marriage, could you?”

“Oh.”

“She will respond when you are betrothed.  Whatever would Father say, if I were to respond to an avowal of love like that, unaccompanied by a genuine proposal of marriage?  And anyway, didn’t she blush?”

“Yes,” said Feor with some hesitation.  “I think she did.”

“And Mother was absolutely right.  Whatever did she come for, if she wasn’t going to marry you?”

“What’s the time?”

“Half past ten.”

“Is that all?  Are you sure the clock’s been wound up?”

“Yes, yes, it’s ticking.” Shimei thought.  “Feor,” she said, “why don’t you practice your trie?”

“Oh - I suppose I could.” He sounded utterly indifferent, so she got out the instrument and handed it to him.  At first he sounded out of practice, as indeed he was - but, after a few scales, his fingers remembered their skill, and so did his lips.  He looked through his music and brought out an old love song.  Then he played other things.  His music brought his mother.  As he played the love song, she came in quietly and listened.  At the end of the piece, she said,

“I’ve never heard you play so well.”

“It’s a love song,” said Shimei.

“It does help when you know something about it,” said Feor bitterly, and carried on with another piece before anyone could say anything more.

“Shimei, I’m awfully thirsty.”

The Roptoa rang for service.

“What’s the time?”

“Half past eleven.”

“Another hour!” groaned Feor.

“Why are you so keen to get back to be tortured?”

“They don’t torture you, son!  You look a lot better this morning.”

“He is.”

“Play us something else,” suggested his mother.

“This really needs an accompaniment.”

“Oh son, I wish I could - but my old fingers won’t do it any more.  To think of that lovely - lovely - ”

“Instrument,” supplied Shimei.

“With no-one to play it.”

He played.  His mother listened with delight.  The door opened quietly, and in came the Roptoh.  His wife smiled at him.

“Well played, son,” he said at the end of the piece. “The House of Lords has passed it, and the People’s Representatives will consider it tomorrow.”

The Roptoa’s eyes opened wide.  This was efficiency!

“Father, I congratulate you,” said Shimei.

“Thank you, Father,” said Feor.  He looked at the clock again.  Five past twelve.  Shimei looked meaningfully at her mother.

“I wonder, son,” she said.

Abritis was talking with Helen in Remsheth, when suddenly Helen interrupted in English,

“Why do I have to be alone with him?  It’s not at all proper or right till we are engaged to be married.”

“Because he is seriously ill.” Abritis continued in Remsheth.  “If he is going to recover, he needs to be alone with you, especially during the half-hour immediately before his mid-day and evening meals.  You found eating a problem, didn’t you? till Feor came?”

Helen was obliged to admit she had.

“During these last three days, before Feor came on the ship, you could only drink food-drinks and sona.  He won’t even be able to keep his food-drink down - ”

“Unless I touch his hand!  You’ve no idea how hard it is!”

“Yes, dear, I do.” “At last she’s taking me seriously,” thought Helen, as Abritis answered in English.  “I understand that this is not permitted in your culture.  But we cannot say to the Roptoh, “Feor and Helen must be married tomorrow,” can we?  We must persuade them.”

“Surely, if I refuse to sit alone with him till we are engaged - ”

“No, that won’t help at all.  They must see him getting better.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I can see into their minds.  The Roptoh and Roptoa did trust us completely, but when Foquar came, and lied, and deceived them, they learnt to be suspicious and wary.  We have to restore their confidence in us.”

“But you are not like Foquar.”

“Look at me - look at this.”

“Your white hair?”

“I am a hypnotist too.  Yes, I am asking you to touch Feor’s hand while you are alone with him, but I will follow his thoughts while you are alone with him.  If he should begin to do anything he should not do till you are married, I can, and will, stop him.  Our ideas of what is permissible before marriage may be a little different from yours, but we both base our ideas on the Bible.  On our world, if a couple lie together when they are not married to each other, they are banished from our planet.”

“But what if the man forces the girl?”

“Then the man only is banished.  This is why Foquar was banished.”

“So he comes from your world?”

“Originally.  When he was banished, he went to another world, but, after two or three years, they banished him too, for the same offence.  We would like to have him tried, and if found guilty, executed for attempted murder; but when we took away his citizenship, we deprived ourselves of the right to capture and judge him by our law.  This applies, too, to the other world which banished him.  He is flying around in space in a spaceship stolen from them - by hypnotism.  He also stole fuel and supplies - but he always works by hypnotism, and other worlds do not understand its power or accept evidence from people who remember what really happened after hypnotism is lifted from them.  He can always argue that a version of events reconstructed by his prosecutors has been put into the minds of these witnesses by hypnotism.  So securing a conviction in the Interplanetary High Court would be very difficult.  And there’s also the problem of keeping him securely till his case comes up for trial.  There are not many Cirian hypnotists able to overcome his hypnotism - his powers are great - and he would have to be kept for at least three months.  But if he is found by the Interplanetary Police on a world whose inhabitants do not want him, and are prepared to give him up to the Police, then they have powers to confiscate any stolen property, and return him for trial to his own world, or any world which has a case against him.  If he resists arrest, then they have power to shoot him dead.  Trespass on a world which is not yours is a serious offence under interplanetary law.”

“So even you clever people have problems!”

In the silence, there came a knock on the door.

“Come in,” called Abritis.

It was Janita.  “Sorry to interrupt, but Wysau will need inoculations, not only for the Royal Family, but also for their servants, to keep Feor safe from infections.”

Abritis rose.  “I’d better get straight on.  See you later, Helen.”

“She has to make the medicines,” said Janita in Remsheth, “but we have to be the medicines.  I was a Princess; now you will have to be a Princess.”

“Where - you were a Princess?”

““Where were you a Princess?”” corrected Janita.  “On a faraway world you have never heard of.  And you come from Tellus, like my friend Diane.”

“Is she English?”

“Yes.  She has married Chalata’s Cirian friend.”

“Is she happy?”

“Now, very.  Not at first.”

“How - ?”

“I hated my life on my world,” said Janita.  “I was not allowed to do anything.  I wanted to learn different languages, how to work strange machines, how to be useful.  Diane was unhappy because no-one wanted her - till she met the Cirian who is now her husband.  She found it very difficult to learn to use Cirian machines and cook in the Cirian way, till she realized that he loved her so very much, and that she could make a real contribution to Cirian society by looking after him.”

“So she has to be medicine for her husband?”

“For the rest of their lives.”

“And you, too?”

“Yes, but I am glad to be useful.  Chalata is so clever - he is very useful.”

“Feor will be the Roptoh.”

“As far as we can see.  But whatever happens, he needs to learn more about God.”

“Should I teach him?”

“Perhaps for a while.  First of all, make him well.”

“They all say that,” said Helen resentfully.

“I know.  They said it to me, too - though Chalata never became as ill as Feor.  We shall have to look after them for the rest of our lives, so perhaps it’s just as well we can’t have any children.”

“The Roptoh will not be pleased.”

“He will not blame you for that, but Foquar.  Chalata has told him already.”

“I am glad.” Helen sat, weary at the very thought of all those years of service that lay ahead of her.

“Jesus will support you - He will help you bear His yoke.  Dear Helen - come and be hugged.”

Somehow it was even more comforting from Janita.

“I get annoyed sometimes,” she admitted.  “I wish I could go away for just one week and be free to do what I want, when I want.  But I never have to wonder if he is getting tired of me.  It is wonderful to be loved so much, and so tenderly.”

“I feel crushed by all the pressure they are putting on me,” burst out Helen suddenly in English.

Janita understood her but could not reply fluently in English.  She spoke in Remsheth.  “They are putting pressure on the Roptoh, too, to make Feor ask you to marry him.  Satan, through Foquar, did all he could to make it difficult for Feor and for you.  Feor is so afraid of your refusal that he will not ask you.  Abritis might have had to ask you to ask him - ”

“Oh no!” moaned Helen.

“But both Abritis and Wysau are convinced that Feor is so used to obeying his father’s command that he will do so in this case too.  However, obtaining official approval is bound to take three or four days.”

“And in the meantime,” cried Helen, nearly in tears, “I have to act like a loose woman.”

“You will be with him in the lounge, in a public room where we all gather, and alone with him for the shortest time necessary.  It really is necessary for you to be alone together -it makes him feel a lot better.  I have to be alone with Chalata for two hours every day, or he begins to feel ill.  It’s a good thing - it means both of us get some rest, whatever the situation, and time to talk to each other in private.  Tell the Roptoh and Roptoa about this at the first opportunity, while they are still concerned about their son’s health.” Janita looked at the clock.  “Helen dear, I must go - I must help Tsie with the vegetables for our meal.  You have a rest, and someone will come for you in half an hour or so.”

Helen sat down in a deep armchair that was high-backed enough to support the head of a tall Cirian, let alone a little Tellurian like herself.  She still felt fragile, but the pain in her neck was gone, and the digestion of her blue-fruit and cereal breakfast was proceeding comfortably.  That pain and discomfort had been with her for so long that she could hardly believe they had really gone.

She remembered how hard she had begged God to avert the sinful marriage between her, a child of God, and an unbeliever.  He had done so.  He had answered her prayer in an utterly unexpected way.  She had also prayed for a marriage with a true believer, whom she loved and who loved her, so that they could serve Him together.

She had thought she loved Feor.  The Cirians told her she must have done.  Yet when she saw him clearly, without the haze of hypnotism, she wondered what she had seen in him.  How could she respect him, and promise to obey him?  He was a Christian, as far as she could tell; and the Cirians, who could see into his mind, certainly thought he was.  There was no question about his love for her.

She had asked God for someone she could love.

Oh, what was the use of all this questioning?  She would have to marry him anyway.  If she did not, they both would die.  Why had God treated her like this?  Did He really love her?  Did He really work everything out for the good of those who love Him, for those who are the called according to His purpose?  Yet He had saved her from Foquar . . .

She was resentful because she had no choice in the matter.

Feor was a baby Christian.  He would need teaching.  Would he accept this from his wife?  Should a wife teach her husband, anyway?  Surely a woman should marry a man she could look up to and respect, not someone she had to teach.  She was going to be shackled to this gormless creature for the rest of her life.

She had risen, and was pacing round her cabin.  She had felt like this before, when her parents had left the sunny South of France and moved to dull, rainy, chilly England.  It was no use rebelling against her almighty Creator.  She had to submit and go.

Suddenly she threw herself on her knees.

“Please, my Heavenly Father, if this marriage is right in Your sight, make Feor into a man I can respect and submit to, according to Your command.”

“I ought to read my Bible,” she thought.

Her daily readings took her to the first chapter of Joshua.

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law . . .

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous . . .

Have not I commanded you?  Do not be afraid . . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Feor arrived at the flying machine a little early - but still Helen only was in the lounge to greet him.

“Helen,” he said as he sat down beside her, “my mother has an instrument rather like this one they have on this flying machine.  Her hands are too stiff to play it as she once did.  She would like you to come and try it, if you can play at all?”

“I have tried this one on the flying machine, but it is too different from the one my parents have at home.  I may not be able to play your mother’s, but I will try.”

“My mother would be pleased to see you anyway.”

“I would like to come.”

Thus encouraged, Feor took her hand.  Relieved of the strain of having to make the first move, she smiled at him.  Feor’s face expressed rapture; he kissed her hand, sending tingles up her arm and all over her.  Helen tried very hard to think of something friendly to say - Feor’s blazing eyes made her nervous.

“Do you play an instrument?” she asked.

“Not a keyboard like this or my mother’s,” he said.  “I blow my trie to make different notes.  It is not a difficult instrument to play, but it is hard to play it well.” He was still trying to describe it to her when Tsie came in to set the table, and he felt obliged to release her hand.

Feor ate soup, and a piece of fruit.  He helped Chalata with his translation work, while Helen had a short language lesson.  Then she helped Janita prepare vegetables for their evening meal, sitting at a small table in the lounge.  “We must be near our menfolk,” Janita explained.

Before the evening meal Helen and Feor sat down, alone together, in the lounge.  Helen asked Feor about his mother.

“Is she a king’s daughter from another country?”

“Yes, she comes from Wendei, where her brother is King.  But it is so far away that they cannot come to see us very often.”

Again Feor took her hand, and kissed it.  She could not think of anything else to say, with tingles running all over her; and when he took her other hand too, and kissed it, she had to fight a desire to kiss him.  He must, somehow, have been aware of this, for he dared to kiss her lips - a tentative, tender kiss.  “If that’s as far as we go,” thought Helen, “I suppose it’s all right.” Feor rested his dizzy head on the high back of the seat and gazed at her dreamily.  She was dizzy too.

Abritis was sitting in the kitchen, thought-reading as she had promised; Janita was with Chalata, and Tsie, who had put the vegetables on to boil, was suddenly called by Ytazu to help with his work for a few minutes.  While she was away, Abritis had to rescue the saucepan from boiling over.  It was just at that moment that the strongest desire Feor had ever known suddenly took possession of him.  He was not used to being denied anything he really wanted; he drew Helen to him and kissed her, not lightly but with violent passion.  Helen felt herself responding; frightened and angry, she repulsed him.  Feor still wanted her lips very badly; they were the sweetest nectar he had ever tasted, and to be refused was a terrible blow.  No, she did not care for him at all.  The pain in his neck returned with new force.  He wished he could remove his unwanted self from her sight, but he was too dizzy to get up; so was she.  It took Abritis a few moments to work out what had happened.

“Helen,” said Abritis in her thoughts, “can you explain to Feor that this is not acceptable behaviour on your world before you are betrothed, but that you do still care for him?  I’ll tell you how to say it in his language.”

This was done - but Helen spoke too much as if the words were being put into her mouth by someone else.  “They must be hypnotizing her,” thought Feor.  “They are making her say what she does not mean.” As soon as he could get up, he strode off to the palace.  There he took a little time finding a small pistol.  He ought to shoot himself outside, to do no damage to his father’s home.  Once outside, his feet took him towards Helen.  What sort of life was this?  Even when rejected, he could not keep away from her.

Suddenly Feor realized he was about to vomit.  To vomit in public was not allowed in his culture.  He hurried to the flying machine, to the bathroom.  Afterwards he felt terrible.  Wysau came, laid him down on the bed, and gave him another injection.

“Just as vomiting outside is not acceptable in your culture,” he explained, “so using hypnotism when not absolutely necessary to save life or limb is not acceptable in ours.  We have not hypnotized Helen once; all we did was lift Foquar’s hypnotism on her.  And I lifted his hypnotism on all of you just as we were leaving, the last time we came.  Helen’s words sounded as if someone was dictating to her because she could not say, in your language, what she wished to say to you.  Abritis had to tell her how to say it.”

“It’s no use,” said Feor miserably.  “She doesn’t love me - never will.  You’ve done your best - it’s all you can do.  As long as she’s here, I can’t stay away from her.  How can I make you understand?”

“Listen, Feor,” said Wysau, “if Helen did not love you, you would not be addicted to her.  It only works if both parties love each other.”

Feor moaned, and moved restlessly.  He was in too much pain to listen.  Wysau got him the same cold cloth that had been used for Helen, bound it on, and told him about it.

“She wore this?  She had this same pain?” Feor took it off, kissed it, and flung it from him.  “I can’t bear it!  Why do I feel like this?  She’s only a woman.  If only my stupid heart didn’t cry for her . . . ”

“Are you going to be sick again?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then try getting up and walking about.  If you were more tired, you might sleep a little.”

It did help, a little.  He walked into the lounge.  There was a vacant place by Helen.  He felt his feet moving towards it.  To stop himself sitting down by her, he rushed out of the flying machine.  Chalata looked up, put down his spoon and went after Feor.

“Come and eat, Wysau,” called Abritis.  “Darte will feed me while I thought-read.”

Feor paced away, fingering the pistol in his pocket.  Oh yes, he had loaded it.  He could not bear this agony any longer.

“Your royal Highness,” said Chalata, coming up beside him unobserved, “you do realize that if you kill yourself, Helen will die?”

“She’d rather be dead than stuck with me.”

“That is a lie.  We have a duty to her, to your family and to your people to prevent you from killing yourself.  If you try, we will not hesitate to use hypnotism.”

Feor looked at Chalata with hatred.  “None of you know the pain I am suffering.  You have no right to condemn me to life.”

“That is a lie - I do.  This is why I came to talk to you.  I love my Janita as you love Helen.  I have heard that same little voice that keeps telling you Helen does not love you.  It kept telling me Janita could not love me.  But she does - she has followed me half way round the universe into all sorts of dangerous situations, and borne with me in countless little ways.  When I look at the evidence, I know Janita loves me.  So I want to help you to look at the evidence.  I want to tell you how frightened Helen was when she first came onto the flying machine that brought her on the first part of her journey here.  She was terrified because it so closely resembled the one Foquar stole from Asa.  She didn’t know any of the crew - never seen them before.  Yet she came to be married to you.”

“Did she remember me properly?”

“Oh yes - Wysau had lifted Foquar’s hypnotism.  She remembered you and missed you.  It was Foquar she loathed.”

“Neither of us knew the other as people.  Now she knows me, she’s changed her mind.”

“Helen speaks two languages apart from yours.  One is her father’s, the other her mother’s.  Foquar did not speak Helen’s mother’s language.  Every time she was alone in her cabin, Helen would get out her Bible in her mother’s language, and read it, and think and pray in that language.  This meant that Foquar never had half the influence over her that he had over you.  She was converted as a child, you see.  So she learnt more about you as a person than you did about her.”

“I can’t follow you - it hurts too much.  Why won’t you let me die?”

“You don’t have to die.  Didn’t Foquar tell you it was his own flying machine?”

“Yes.”

“That was a lie - he stole it from Asa.  Do you believe me?”

“I suppose so.”

“And he told you Helen didn’t like you?”

“Yes.”

“That was a lie, too; if she didn’t like you, she would never have come here to marry you.”

“You made her come.”

“We explained the situation, and allowed her to decide.  We used no hypnotism and no force.”

“I can’t - I can’t - please let me die!”

“Are you tired now?”

“Yes.”

“Take my arm - come back to the flying machine.”

Helen, frightened, watched as Chalata steered Feor to his cabin, and called Wysau.  They were gone a little time - then Chalata came into the cabin.  Helen looked at him in helpless suspense.

“Is Feor all right?” she asked in English.

“No.  He is in great pain and distress, but becoming sleepy.  If you come now, Helen, you could help.”

She went with him into Feor’s cabin.  Wysau had turned him on his side.

“Kiss the back of his neck, please.”

“Feor, you mustn’t kill yourself,” she said, and kissed his neck.  “I do love you - we could be happy.”

She watched his body relaxing.  He sighed and went to sleep.  They all came out quietly, and Wysau shut the door.

“Thank you, Helen,” said Chalata.  “At least he’ll be out of pain for four hours or so.”

“Longer, I hope,” said Wysau.  “As long as he doesn’t wake, he won’t be in pain.  The sedative will work for at least four hours, anyway.”

They returned to the lounge.  Janita came to meet Chalata.

“Well done, husband,” she said.

Chalata welcomed her, but not her congratulations.  “He is in so much pain and distress that he could not take in anything I said.”

“He said plenty on his own account, on the way back to the flying machine,” said Abritis dryly.

“Let us forget it,” said Chalata.  “If I had had Foquar as my only counsellor, I might have been in a similar state - instead of a dear friend who loved and understood.”

“Two,” said Janita, smiling.

“Anyway,” said Chalata, suddenly becoming the leader of his team, “only God can speak to Feor now.  We must plead with Him to do so, for we ourselves cannot do any more.”

“We’re going to pray,” explained Abritis to Helen in English, “that God will speak to Feor, and teach him to trust Him for your love.  If he doesn’t learn this, you won’t be happy, and sooner or later he will kill himself, however much we all try to prevent it.”

Helen went white.

“No, my dear, don’t blame yourself.  It was my fault more than yours.  We ought to prefer death to the breaking of God’s commandments.  You were obeying Him - you were fleeing fornication.  I am sure God will honour your obedience.”

After they had finished eating and cleared the table, they prayed.  They pleaded with God to speak to His child for His own Name and glory’s sake.  They persisted for a long time - till suddenly the lounge was filled with peace.  They all knew God would answer, and that there was no need for anyone to watch.  In that peace, they went to bed and slept.

Not long afterwards the sedative wore off.  After five hours, Feor half woke.  In his consciousness remained the last words he had heard: “I do love you - we could be happy.”

The pain did not come back.  Feor slept.

It was still dark when he woke again.  This time he woke properly immediately.  The little voice took very little time to convince him that Helen cared nothing for him.  He took his pistol, put on his cloak and shoes, and went softly outside.  If they were all asleep, he would escape his tormentors.  He went a little way away from the flying machine, took out his pistol and cocked it -

That little grating noise came again.  Feor looked towards it - towards the flying machine.  Someone was putting something underneath its tail.  The moon came from behind the clouds, and he saw the person clearly.  He was stretching out a length of fuse - getting out a tinder box!  The person turned, to see Feor covering him with his pistol.

“Put away that tinder box.  Now take that bomb away.”

The person began to obey.  While doing so, he looked up at Feor and recognized him with a start.  Who was he?  He was masked, yet there was something very familiar about him - the way he moved.  Feor allowed him to put the bomb and its fuse back into his bag, made sure it was removed some distance away; then, still covering him, said to the man,

“Come here.”

He dared not disobey.  With a sudden movement Feor ripped off his mask.  It was Prynoh, his cousin!  Feor was filled with a cold rage.  This was the man who had goaded him into going with Foquar!  As that had not worked, he would have blown him up.

“Don’t you have all the luck!” spat out Prynoh vindictively.  “First you’re born Crown Prince - then the Roptoh turns Foquar out - then these other strangers bring back your girl.  Foquar said they’d never find her - could be any of a million pretty girls on any of three known worlds, with her physical make-up - and they found her!  And isn’t she a smasher!  And you’re going to marry her,, you lucky devil, and live in bliss to rule this country.  And you’ll have me up for high treason, and have me executed.  Say,” he continued, “don’t you think you’d enjoy it the more - the marvellous physical pleasure in store for you with Helen - if you knew you hadn’t told, and let a man live?  Foquar told me about it - no one who hadn’t loved as you do would really know, but he had a good idea - that the physical pleasure is quite incredible, and your joy in her love will be intense.  I saw Helen, when they first arrived, and she greeted you.  You didn’t see me - neither did she - you had no eyes but for each other.  Foquar said you were crazy about each other, and fatally addicted.  I knew, but that didn’t stop me looking at Helen, did it?  And now I’m caught - and she won’t look at me, because she loves you!  That’s why I wanted to blow the pair of you sky-high!”

Feor’s rage was gone.  “Say that again, what Foquar told you.”

“He said you were crazy about each other, and fatally addicted.  He said it had worked out excellently - he thought it would, because you were quite decent-looking.”

He looked at Feor.  “Don’t tell on a chap, will you?  After all, I am your cousin.”

“I will consider the matter,” said Feor coldly.  “Now depart, and leave decent citizens to sleep in peace.”

Feor watched him as he went.  Not till he was out of sight did he replace the safety catch and put away his pistol.

Had he any right to be angry with Prynoh?  Wasn’t he about to kill himself and Helen?  How could he denounce Prynoh, when they would ask him in court why he was walking round outside the flying machine in the early hours with a loaded pistol in his hand?  Suddenly Feor was thoroughly ashamed of himself.  All he had done was moan and groan about his pain, when the strangers had done all they could to relieve it!  He remembered his abominable rudeness to the patient Chalata, who had accomplished an amazing thing in finding Helen and bringing her back to him.  Of course Chalata could not have done it on his own - God helped him.  And he had never thanked God for this miracle.

Feor crept back inside the flying machine, into his cabin, went gently down on his knees and thanked God from his heart.

He remembered getting back into bed - then suddenly he heard movements in the flying machine.  Someone turned the shower on -it was time to get up.  But first he must read some part of the Bible.  A verse from one of the Psalms he had just translated with Chalata came into his mind:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

At breakfast time he went into the lounge.  Helen’s face lit up when she saw him.  He thought, “I won’t embarrass her - I’ll sit opposite her,” but his feet disagreed.  He sat, drinking sona.  From the other side of Helen, Abritis asked him to pass the milk.  He did - and by accident his hand touched Helen’s, and he remembered what Prynoh had said.  He smiled at her; she smiled back; he took one of the quarters of blue fruit that Tsie had cut up for him, and ate it.  He enjoyed it so much that he took the other too.  That breakfast was a quiet meal, yet each face Feor looked into was glowing with joy.

“No, Prynoh’s all right,” said Wysau in Chalata’s thoughts.  “He only fancied her, that’s all.  He’ll get over it.  But we’d better keep a check on his thoughts, in case he tries the same game twice.”

“My mother would be pleased to see you, Helen, if you would like to come to the Palace with me this morning to try her instrument.”

“Excuse me, your royal Highness,” said Chalata firmly, “you are staying here this morning to help me with my translation work.  Abritis will accompany Helen to call on the Roptoa.”

Feor’s face fell.  His heart rebelled.  But Chalata was a guest, an older man to whom Feor owed a massive debt.  He complied.

That morning he learned more of the grace of the Son of God.  He patiently bore great rudeness, contempt, and even physical violence from the creatures He had made, whose breath was in His hand, to give or to take away.  Feor became convinced that he should not accuse his cousin.  He apologized very meekly to Chalata.

“I forgave you at the time.  You were in great pain and distress.  I’m sure our Righteous Judge will charge much of that to Foquar’s account.”

Abritis hustled Helen out of the flying machine as soon after nine o’clock as possible, and sat with her on a raincoat under a tree in the Park, thought-reading.

“We don’t want to arrive at the Palace before a quarter to ten,” she said, “so we can sit here a little longer.  You need to be separated from Feor for four hours every morning - three and a half at least - so that you do have some time apart, and can do things separately.”

“Abritis, how is it that Feor is so very much better this morning?  We knew God would answer, but this is amazing.”

Abritis told Helen what of the night’s events they had gleaned from Feor’s thoughts.

“So God used him to save us!”

“And his pistol.”

“And God spoke to him through the incident.  Well!  “The Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” It’s really true.  Oh Abritis, pray with me - I am nervous of meeting the Roptoh and Roptoa again.  Whatever must they have thought of me! kissing the back of Feor’s neck, and then falling asleep in their presence.  What bad manners!”

“They thought you were beautiful.  They were touched because you were ill too.  They did not consider you rude in the least.  But yes, please let’s pray.”

They had lifted their heads and smiled at each other, when Janita hurried up.

“I’m afraid you’re needed on the flying machine,” she said to Abritis.  “More antibiotics.”

“Right,” said Abritis, getting up.

“I’ll take you to the Palace,” said Janita to Helen.  “I’m supposed to be separated from Chalata in the mornings, too.  There is a special cabin on the flying machine that I can hide in, but it’s much nicer to be out, when there’s something useful I can do.”

Helen glanced at Janita as they walked.  Her skin was dusky; her hair, neatly put up, was straight and completely black.  All Feor’s people were fair; some of the Cirians were fair, some white-haired like Abritis and Wysau.  Dark hair seemed to be a rarity.

Feor concentrated for as long as he could.  At a quarter to twelve Chalata said, “You may walk about, Feor, whenever you wish.  I do understand.”

Feor immediately availed himself of this permission.  He found it helped him to think - for a while.  But at twenty-five past twelve he said, “Excuse me, Dr. Chalata, could you tell me something?”

“If I can.”

“I’ve heard that this sort of marriage gives incredible physical pleasure.”

“That is certainly true; but I wish you would not remind me just now.” He paused for a moment, and looked at his watch.  “Oh, go on,” he said, smiling, “go to your mother’s apartment - you’ll find Helen there, with Janita.  If she came back a little early, that would be nice.”

Feor went straight to his mother’s apartment, but hesitated before opening the door.  Could he hear . . . ?  There was an anteroom between this door and his mother’s sitting room.  He opened the outer door as quietly as he could, and shut it behind him.  He paused and listened.

It was beautiful.  It must be Helen playing.  It did not sound like any music he had heard before.  There was a different quality about it.  He listened with keen appreciation; but he needed to know it was Helen playing, so he opened the inner door very quietly and stood just inside.

It was.  She had a real mastery of her instrument, a delicate touch, good technique.  He listened enthralled.  The piece came to its climax - and its end.  His father, sister and Janita congratulated Helen warmly.  His mother smiled.  He could tell she was deeply moved.  Then Helen turned and saw him.

Feor just about remembered to pass on Chalata’s message.  Janita and Helen prepared to leave immediately.  Feor felt bereft - he had come to see her, and she’d gone!  He could not follow immediately, for his father detained him.

“Son, here’s your authorization.”

“What?”

“Wake up.  The House of Representatives has passed it unanimously.  You are officially permitted to offer your lady your heart and hand.”

“Oh.  Oh yes.”

“What’s the matter with you?  Aren’t you pleased?”

“I don’t know - she might not have me.”

“Feor, that’s ridiculous,” said his mother.  “That girl loves you.”

“They’ve been telling you, I suppose?”

“Am I not allowed to use my own eyes and ears? and draw my own conclusions?  She was quite composed while she played her pieces, and received our congratulations very prettily - and then she saw you.  She started, she went scarlet, she was all confusion - she ran away with Janita to try to hide it.  I appeal to the Roptoh.”

“Your dear mother’s statement is perfectly accurate,” endorsed his father.

“But she screamed when I kissed her - that time on the flying machine - and said she wanted to go home.”

“Tell us more, son,” prompted his father.

“Foquar kept making me touch her.  He told me to kiss her.  I tried - I couldn’t - it didn’t seem right.  Then he said, “I’ll show you how,” and he kissed her - and she screamed - oh, it was horrible!”

“Say that again,” encouraged his mother.

“He kissed her, and she screamed.”

“Foquar kissed her?”

“Yes.  He made me kiss her again after that, when we were on our way to her world.”

“Did she scream then?”

“No - I only remember that scream once.” He shuddered at the memory.

“And that was when Foquar kissed her?”

“No - yes - ”

“Did Foquar kiss her more than once?”

“No.”

“So the only time she screamed was when Foquar kissed her?”

“Oh.  Yes, I suppose so.”

“She rises hourly in my estimation,” commented the Roptoh drily.

“She is a lovely girl,” said the Roptoa.

“Listen, son,” said the Roptoh firmly.  “Not only have you official approval of your intended - you have our private approval also.  It is our command that you go and ask Miss Helen Blount to marry you.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Father.”

“Then let it be obeyed.”

Feor walked quickly to the door, and went out.  He almost collided with a servant coming in.  The servant effaced himself against the wall, to allow Feor to pass him.  Then he knocked and came in.

“Yes?”

“Your Majesty, two of the strangers seek an audience with you - concerning the sick sickness in the city - at a time convenient to you.”

“Oh, that’ll be Dr. Wysau,” said the Roptoa.

“When’s lunch?  In half an hour?”

“As your Majesty pleases.”

“Let them come now.”

“Thank you, your Majesty,” said the servant.

Wysau and Darte bowed low, and waited respectfully for the Roptoh’s first question.

“I gather you are concerned about the sickness in the city?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” replied Wysau.

“Have you medicine to treat it?”

“Yes, your Majesty, but there is a way to prevent it.” And Darte outlined his plan for a water purification works east of the city, taking some of the water from the river before it flowed through the city, purifying it, and piping it to the Palace, the homes of the nobility, and into standpipes in the streets in the lower city.

“But why would this prevent the sickness?”

“The sickness is caused by drinking dirty water, which contains the germs which cause the sickness.  If all the people have clean water to drink, they will not become ill with this particular disease.  Other diseases are also carried by dirty water.”

“So what do you wish?”

“Permission to carry out this plan, and a grant to pay for it.”

“How much will it cost?”

“That I do not know yet, your Majesty,” replied Darte, “being ignorant of the prices of materials and labour in your city, and of the land we shall need for the site.  May I find out how much it will cost, and present you with an estimate?”

“Yes, that is very reasonable.”

“May I - ” the Roptoa looked at the Roptoh - “ask a question?”

“Yes, my lady,” he replied formally.

“Dr. Wysau, have you any medicine which will prevent our - our - contracting this sickness?”

“Yes, your Majesty.  May I make a suggestion?  I should like to give all four of you an injection against this sickness.  You may feel a little ill for two or three days afterwards, but then it will pass, and you will be safe.”

“All four?”

“Yourselves and the Princesses.”

“And the Crown Prince?”

“I should not like to give him this injection till his health has improved - till after his marriage.”

“Then he should be married as soon as possible.”

“Yes, indeed, your Majesty.”

“You and Tsie were quite right,” said Helen happily as she walked to the flying machine with Janita.  “The Roptoa and the Princess Shimei both wore the same sort of dresses as I have.  Most ladies on my world wear dresses cut lower at the neck, but neither mamma nor I thought those at all suitable.  The younger Princess wore something rather different, but I thought it was because she isn’t considered grown-up yet.  I am so glad I can use my trousseau.”

Janita explained about Ruhamah.

“The poor Roptoa,” murmured Helen.  “She must have felt so ashamed.  Was that why they decided to welcome us this time?”

“Partly, Abritis says.”

“I must make sure she has no need to be ashamed of me - or Feor either.  But I was surprised!  They don’t seem to have other ladies around them - ladies-in-waiting or anything like that.  You’d hardly say they had a court at all.”

Feor came into the lounge, and there sat Helen.

He trembled.  Would she refuse him?  How could he bear it?  But he must obey his father’s command.  And he must not frighten her by kissing her.

How could he manage not to kiss her?  The remembrance of that kiss lingered on his lips; made them crave another.  Feor decided he would not sit down beside her.  Walking about did help to relieve his terrible longing.

“Helen,” he said, “my father has commanded me - to - ask you for your hand in marriage.”

“He has commanded you?” Helen did not understand the word.  Abritis translated in her thoughts.  “Oh,” she said.

“My father has commanded me to ask you for your hand in marriage,” he repeated, even more slowly and clearly.  Helen wondered when she was supposed to respond.

Suddenly Feor threw himself on his knees before her.  “Please, my dearest lady,” he begged, “please take me - you have my heart already - I know I am not worthy - but tell me if you are not so disgusted with me as to consider taking me?”

Helen could hardly believe her eyes or her ears.  She knew he was the Crown Prince of a large wealthy country, brought up to be proud and imperious - and she had seen some flashes of this - yet here he was, kneeling at her feet!

“Feor, I came here to marry you.  I loved you in Foquar’s flying machine.  We were praying for you - God showed me my heart - I love you now.”

“You mean - you will marry me?”

Helen felt that Feor’s amazement was far less reasonable than her own; but at least it meant that he did not consider her behaviour at all unmaidenly or improper.  “Yes, Feor, I will marry you,” she assured him.

“Am I permitted,” he asked, getting up.  “Oh, I’d better not.” He paced round the lounge.

“You want to kiss me?” guessed Helen.

“Yes.” Feor tried to repress the violence he would have liked to put into his answer.

“A little kiss, yes, now that we are betrothed.”

“But - I am sorry, my love, I cannot stop.  If I kiss you once, in a little while it will be again and again - I talked to Chalata - he explained.”

“Oh,” said Helen slowly.  “I am sorry; I did not understand.  Then hold my hand.”

Feor was cheerful, but could eat very little at that meal.  Afterwards Wysau stayed in the lounge to talk to them both.

“Your royal Highness, you and Helen need to be married as soon as possible.  Could we arrange a private ceremony tomorrow -or the day after, at the latest? and have the reception later, to give your father time to invite all the proper people?”

“Tomorrow?” said Feor.  “Oh, if only we could!  But Father must arrange a ceremony according to his religion.  It is the only legal form of marriage in our country.”

“It has to be performed by a priest?” asked Wysau.

“It has to be performed by a priest in the Temple.”

“I’m sorry,” said Helen quietly but firmly. “I cannot recognize or acknowledge any other gods but my God.  I will not disobey the first commandment.  And I will not live with a man to whom I am not legally married.”

“The only thing I can suggest, then,” said Wysau, “is that you two come and live on Cirian.  A marriage, properly witnessed, in front of the screen on the flying machine, is legal on Cirian, and Chalata is a registered person who is authorised to solemnize marriages.”

“The only problem with that,” said Chalata, “is Cirian’s strict immigration laws.  You’d have to apply for refugee status.”

“My father,” said Feor, “will not wish us to live anywhere but in our country.”

“A change in the law will be necessary,” said Chalata. “I would suggest that a law allowing secular marriage, a public ceremony properly witnessed and certificated, be presented to the House of Nobles and the House of Representatives.  At what age are young men and women considered adult in your country?”

“Twenty-five,” supplied Feor.

“Well, for a man and woman over twenty-five, the presence of two other adults, who sign the wedding certificate, is mandatory.  For young persons under that age, the consent of his and her parents is also necessary.  Obviously a charge will have to be made to cover the salary of those who perform the marriages and write out the certificates, and keep the official records of such marriages - and check in those records that neither of the parties already has a spouse still living.  This charge would also have to cover the expenses of giving notice of such marriages publicly, so that anyone who knows that either of the people to be married has a spouse still living, can go to the ceremony and stop it; but such a charge still need not be great.  A ceremony conducted by a priest in the Temple remains equally legal; and people who are married under this new secular law can then go and have a Christian ceremony, or any other sort, as they see fit.  Or no other sort at all.  Ah - and a marriage of any sort shall not be legally binding if afterwards it can be proved before a judge that either the man or the woman was forced into that marriage against his or her will.”. Feor was too distressed to take this in. “You come and explain to Father,” he said.

“I should very much like to have a Christian ceremony as well,” said Helen.

“That’s not a problem.  We can arrange that; and we won’t make a charge at all.  Are you happy about that, Feor?”

“Of course.  As long as she will marry me.”

“I will, Feor, I will,” reassured Helen, “but I cannot acknowledge your father’s gods, and neither should you.”

“She’s quite right, Feor,” said Chalata. “This firmness and resolution will mean that when she takes her vows, she will mean them, and be faithful to you come what may.  God will help her, and she will obey Him, just as she is doing now.”

“I doubt if Father will allow it.  He will say our people will not like it.  He will want a ceremony according to his religion.”

“No,” said Helen firmly.  “I must not worship any god but my God.”

“Tell him,” said Wysau, “that we will make no charge for the ceremony at all.”

A gleam of hope came into Feor’s eyes.  “I am sure the priests would charge a great deal, and would require at least a fortnight’s notice.  But - ”

“Let’s pray,” said Wysau and Helen in unison.  Shurzi and Darte were out in the city, but all the rest of the team gathered in the lounge and earnestly brought the matter to their God.

Afterwards Wysau said,

“You two go and talk to the Roptoh.  My advice, as a doctor, is that you must be married on the day after tomorrow at the latest.  I should much prefer tomorrow.  Tell your father what you ate at the midday meal, Feor, and explain that you simply could not swallow any more.  You won’t be able to till you are married.”

Helen wished she could speak Feor’s language half as well as Wysau.

It was good to walk together, to do something together; to share the same aims and longings, and the same trepidation.  Feor was sure their marriage would not be legal if not held in the temple.  Helen wished her parents could be present.  “If only they could know I am well and happy, and married to a Christian prince!”

“Is there a thoughtreader who speaks your language?”

“Abritis.”

“Ask her to tell them.  Do you think it would matter so very much if we were married in the temple as well? just to please Father, and the people.”

“I know I must not do that.  God commands us not to have any other gods before Him.  It is more important to please Him.  Your father and your people could not keep you alive; God did.  Besides, when there are more Christians among your people, they will say, “Our Prince and Princess are Christians, yet they married in the temple; so it does not matter if we worship there too.”

Privately, Feor prayed for courage.

His family welcomed Helen warmly.  “My dear daughter,” said the Roptoa, kissing Helen on the cheek.  “I knew she loved you, Feor.  Were you able to eat, after Helen had accepted you?”

“Only a little.” Feor explained what Wysau had said, but could not remember the details of what Chalata had suggested.  The Roptoh summoned Chalata, and he, Janita and Wysau came in together.

“Tomorrow!” cried the Roptoa. “The priests will require at least a fortnight to prepare for a Royal wedding.”

Chalata explained about Helen’s refusal to recognize any gods but her God - “Who,” he added, “is our God too.”

“But this will deeply offend the priests, and many of the people,” said the Roptoh.

“If the people do not like it, they do not have to avail themselves of it,” said Chalata. “If only a few choose this new secular ceremony, the priests will not be unduly concerned.  If, on the other hand, the people do like it, and avail themselves of it, you will at least have pleased the people.”

“I fancy it will be easier,” said the Roptoa, “to expedite the new law, so that our son can be married tomorrow, than it would be to persuade the priests that such speed is really necessary.”

“All this is true,” said the Roptoh, “but - “

”You both besought our gods to heal Feor,” said Shimei. “You offered expensive sacrifices, all to no avail.  It was the strangers’ God Who helped them to find Helen, and made her willing to come here.  Chalata,” she addressed him, “you have travelled to many worlds.  Have you found another world on which our gods were worshipped?”

“I have found similar religions, your Highness,” he replied politely, “but not the same.  The gods were different; the sacred writings were different.  The God we worship is known, or has been known, on almost every world I have visited.  And the sacred writings are all far more similar - in some parts, identical - though none as complete as the Holy Book from Helen’s world.  We know for a fact that our God was known and worshipped on our world long before we had any dealings with the space travellers who also worshipped Him, who took our ancestors to Helen’s world.  There they found the Holy Book from her world, met the native followers of their God and ours, and established trust and understanding between themselves and those native followers, and brought a copy of their Holy Book to translate into our language.”

Chalata paused; the Roptoh was irresolute.

“I am concerned for Feor’s health,” interposed Wysau. “They must be married quickly.”

“We do not ask,” said Chalata gravely, “for a Christian ceremony to be a legal form of marriage in your country.  That would not please your people.  We ask for a brief, inexpensive, purely civil ceremony as a legal alternative to a wedding conducted by a priest in the Temple. This will not please all your people, but, we know, will please many.  Few complain of the ceremony the priests conduct in the Temple, but many complain of the cost.  If the fee for the civil ceremony is low, and certain safeguards are in place so that it does not fall into bad repute, many will be pleased.”

“What safeguards do you have in mind?”

Chalata explained - and the Royal secretary was commanded to take them all down.

This done, the Roptoh pondered.  Then he addressed Helen.

“My dear young lady,” he said, “can I not prevail upon you to accept the customs of our country, just this once?”

Chalata had to translate this for Helen, and her reply:

“She is sorry for the trouble she is causing, but under no circumstances can she acknowledge any gods but her God.  The secular, civil ceremony I am proposing, followed by the Christian one we are offering to organize, will be perfectly acceptable to her.”

This came as a blow to Feor.  Suddenly he rose and left the room.  Only Shimei, of the royal family, noticed that Wysau’s eyes immediately took on that “far away” expression.  The Roptoh sighed; glanced at the Roptoa, who nodded.

“Well, I suppose I must propose this civil marriage ceremony.  I trust you will pray your God to protect my house from the wrath of our gods.”

“We will, indeed, pray for you,” assured Chalata gravely.

“Very well.  So could you arrange a public religious ceremony in the Royal park, and I will ask my secretary to send out invitations.  I will provide shaded seats for the nobility and the High Priest’s delegation.  But how will their vows be heard?”

“We will bring out a machine that makes speech louder,” said Chalata, “so that all present can hear their vows, and they can explain why they wished to hold this ceremony as well as the civil one.”

“Can you play music before and after the ceremony?”

From Wysau’s bag Chalata took a black and silver box which, when set on the table and switched on, played the four pieces of music that Janita had selected.  The Roptoh asked the Roptoa and Feor to choose two - and then everyone realized that Feor was no longer present.

“He left some minutes ago, your Majesty,” said Janita, “but Wysau has been reading his thoughts.  He says Feor is in his mother’s apartment.”

When she heard this, the Roptoa rose immediately, inviting Helen to follow her, and hurried to her apartment.  The dye she used sparingly to darken her eyelashes was poisonous if drunk, and Feor knew where it was kept.

When the Roptoa reached her apartment and rushed into her dressing-room, the bottle of dye was out on the dressing-table, and Feor was nowhere to be seen.  The Roptoa, fearing the worst, wrung her hands - she could not remember how much she had used.  Helen arrived, rather mystified, but understood from the Roptoa’s gestures towards the dye that it was poisonous.  The Roptoa rushed away, Helen following, to Feor’s apartment - into his bedroom - and there he was, lying on the bed.  Neither of the ladies were able to wake him.  Helen burst into tears, and begged God to save him.  The Roptoa stood in silent grief; she reached for Helen’s hand and held it.  She was even more convinced that Helen truly loved her son.

Helen composed herself, and began to think.  Feor’s hand was not cold.  Perhaps, if she kissed the back of his neck?  She did so - and Feor sighed and relaxed.

“Well done, Helen,” came Wysau’s voice in her mind. “I could not contact you before, because I had to hold Feor asleep by hypnotism.  Now his pain has gone, he can be allowed to sleep naturally.  He can safely be left for about half an hour.” Helen crept quietly out of his bedroom, and the Roptoa followed.  When they were back in her apartment, Wysau told Helen how to explain, while the Roptoa put the dye away in a different place.

“So he did not take any of the dye?”

“He wished to, but Wysau stopped him.”

The Roptoa hugged Helen in sheer relief.

Wysau waited till Chalata had finished discussing the Christian wedding with the Roptoh, and then asked,

“How can we convince Feor that she loves him?”

The same question had occurred to the Roptoa and Helen.  Helen went to ask Janita to translate for them.

The Roptoa suggested that Helen should offer to accompany Feor on his trie. The Roptoa found a piece, with written accompaniment, that Feor could play well, and asked Helen to practise it.  His mother then crept into Feor’s apartment, checked that he was still asleep, found his trie and took it into her apartment.  Suddenly Janita looked up, said, “I will return,” and hurried away.

When Feor woke, his first thought was, “Where’s Helen?”

Wysau answered this question before Feor’s pain and despair had time to set in, and gave him a hypnotic nudge in the right direction.  He arrived when Helen was half way through.  She carried on playing; he came in at the next pause, almost automatically.  They were both nervous, but they both kept time.  The second run through was a great improvement.  The Roptoa clapped her hands in delight - and there was a knock on the door.  In came Janita with a food-drink for Feor, and asked Helen to sit beside him and hold his hand.

The Roptoh grit his teeth.  He did not like this at all.  He wished he could have begun introducing this very unpopular measure in the House of Nobles, where he felt more at home.  But the Representatives had agreed to meet at only an hour’s notice, and he had to do this quickly.  He had to save the Crown Prince’s life.

“Thank you, all of you, for consenting to meet at such short notice.  The measure I propose is very urgent.  The lady from another world, in whose hand is the Crown Prince’s heart, happiness and his very life, will only agree to marry him if they may be married by a purely civil ceremony, followed by a ceremony according to her, and the strangers’, religion.  I am proposing that a purely civil ceremony shall be made legal for all citizens.  May I make one point clear,” he continued. “I am not proposing that all marriages be purely civil ceremonies.  I am proposing that citizens may choose between a ceremony in the Temple, which shall remain a legal marriage ceremony, and a civil ceremony, which shall also be legal.  After the civil ceremony, citizens may arrange a religious ceremony of whatever sort they choose.  However, a marriage according to a religious ceremony other than at the Temple conducted by a priest, shall not be legal without the civil ceremony.”

“May I ask a question, your Majesty?”

“I give permission.”

“How much will the civil ceremony cost?”

The Roptoh consulted Chalata’s paper and named a low fee.  Cheering resounded from most parts of the House.

“May I also announce the rest of the proposal,” said the Roptoh, and outlined the provisions Chalata had suggested.  To his utter amazement, only two representatives spoke against the proposal.  The vote in favour was overwhelming.  He was cheered as a public benefactor.  He did not even have to suggest that Feor and Helen’s wedding be a one-off exception.

The next morning, the Nobles would meet; and the Roptoh soon realized that even if most of them voted against the proposal, his vote and Feor’s, supported by such an overwhelming majority of the Representatives, would only need a few supporting votes from the Nobles to make the proposal law.  He hurried to his wife’s apartment to announce the good news.  His son, after one feeble “Thank you, Father,” carried on brooding as if nothing had been done to help him.  Helen’s real pleasure and gratitude made a very welcome contrast; it almost cheered Feor for a few seconds.  The Roptoh was glad to leave his son in the care of patient Chalata, and go in to dinner with his wife and daughter-in-law elect.  Helen thanked him again and again, his wife congratulated him, and Shimei, too, praised and thanked him with obvious sincerity.  Even the silent Ruha said, “Well done, Father.”

“There are plenty of sceptics among the lords, who would be glad to see the priests’ income reduced.  Some are still sore over their relatives’ early deaths from opuk.  I don’t think you’ll have any trouble getting the agreement of most of the lords,” said the Roptoa comfortably.  Helen did not understand much that was said, but she did notice that Feor’s parents were very concerned about him - and knew that she shared that concern.  When the news of the civil ceremony was first announced, she had taken Feor’s hand, looked him in the eyes, and promised with all her heart that she would marry him.  Both his parents had blessed her silently; ever since, she had felt loved and welcomed almost as much by the Roptoh as the Roptoa.  This was very sweet to Helen.  Even if things went badly wrong, and her death followed Feor’s, they would not blame her for it.  But, for the sake of God’s holy Name, she must pray and work with the strangers to save his life.

“That’s what I like best,” said Feor as he strode round the Park with Chalata. “The times of sleep.  If you insist on keeping me alive, at least you hypnotize me to sleep and forget every now and again - you give me relief from pain.”

“Talking of pain,” said Chalata, “it does pain Helen when you keep telling her you know she doesn’t really love you.  You may be convinced that she doesn’t, but we don’t agree, and neither does your mother.  So you must allow there is some doubt.  We don’t ask you to say what you don’t mean; we just ask you not to keep saying it.  All right?  For Helen’s sake.”

“All right,” sighed Feor, “I’ll try.  She was good to me this afternoon - we played very well together.  Mother said it was a good omen.  Yes, I see what you mean.  But Mother’s biased; she thinks I’m worth something.” And he sighed.

“I don’t know how we can get it out of his head,” reported Chalata almost despairingly.  Being a companion to someone in despair had taken its toll.

“We can’t, anyway,” said Abritis.

“You have your meal, love,” said Janita.

“At least the wedding arrangements are going ahead,” said Wysau.

“Who’s going to speak at the wedding?” asked Chalata. “I suppose none of you have a message burning in your hearts?” He looked at Wysau, who shook his head; at Shurzi -

“He’s checking on Feor and the Roptoh every ten minutes,” explained Wysau.

Chalata waited - but Shurzi, too, shook his head - and Darte - and Ytazu.

“Bang goes a morning’s translation work,” said Chalata wearily.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Janita. “You’ll have half the city to preach to.”

“Preaching’s not my job,” said Chalata. “Let’s pray that God will raise up preachers from among the people.” He sighed. “But, this time, I suppose it’ll have to be me.”

“We’ll pray for you,” said Tsie.

Chalata didn’t take long to finish his meal. “Let’s pray now, before I start getting nervous.”

“We must pray for Feor,” said Shurzi. “The Roptoh’s having an uphill struggle, trying to interest him in the wedding arrangements.  I’ll go on checking, Wysau, for now, and you take over when they come back to the flying machine.”

“Right,” agreed Wysau.

And while they prayed . . .

“The scribes are writing the wedding invitations,” reported the Roptoh. “I’ve asked the Secretary to write an especially gracious one to the High Priest, requesting his presence and blessing.  The steward has ordered good seats, with sunshades, for the High Priest, his deputy and scribe, and for the nobility, to be placed in the Park tomorrow.  Look, here’s a plan of where everything will be - “

Feor hardly glanced at it, even when Helen took an interest and asked questions - and prayed silently for wisdom in what to say.  At least she would have the morning in which to prepare - for the strangers understood that she must spend at least as much time in talking to God, and receiving His guidance, as in dressing herself for the ceremonies.  She was sorry for Feor’s father, who was trying so hard and getting so little response.  He did not have a Heavenly Father to call to, or to trust, for the final outcome.  For Helen knew that she should have come to Yumelpthi.  All these people were going to hear God’s good news at her wedding; all the people were free to marry without acknowledging those idols in the Temple.  Even at that moment, some of the strangers would be praying - suddenly she knew they were praying - “You must ask God what to say,” she said to Feor.

“Oh,” said Feor, suddenly woken to reality. “Oh, Helen!  Whatever shall I say?”

“I can’t tell you.  Only God can tell you.”

“And - our vows - “

”Chalata will tell us tomorrow afternoon.  He will say - you say; he will say - I say.  We will - “ She looked at the Roptoh helplessly.

“Repeat?” suggested the Roptoh.

“Yes,” said Helen slowly.

He tried again. “Practise?”

“Yes,” said Helen, pleased.

“I shall forget,” said Feor nervously.

“Chalata will say, then you say, in the ceremony,” said Helen slowly.

“Good,” said Feor, relieved.

“Repeat,” supplied the Roptoh. “Practise.”

“Thank you,” said Helen. “In the early afternoon we practise with Chalata.  In the ceremony, he will say, and we will repeat.”

“Well done,” said the Roptoh.

“Repeat, repeat, repeat,” said Helen. “Oh - I forget.”

“Practise,” said the Roptoh.

“Practise, practise, practise,” said Helen. “Repeat, repeat, repeat, practise, practise, practise.”

“That’s the way to learn a language,” said the Roptoh approvingly.

“Oh,” said Helen suddenly, and, in perfect Remsheth, “Dr. Wysau asks Feor and myself to come to the flying machine now.”

The Roptoh was glad to see them go. “The patience of those strangers!” he said to his wife.

“Helen is patient - and so are you.”

“They will have to watch him all night.”

When they had prayed, Chalata retreated to his room to relax with Janita.

“Ooh, there’s another thing that ought to be done,” said Tsie. “Helen’s trousseau ought to be taken to Feor’s apartment.”

“Minus her wedding dress,” said Thilish.  She took it out, hung it up in Helen’s cabin, and paused. “And one or two other things, perhaps.  Has she brought a veil?  What about her shoes?”

“I don’t know where those will be,” said Tsie.

Thilish went out into the lounge. “Wysau,” she asked, “will Helen be here soon?”

“They’re on their way.”

“No, Feor,” Helen was explaining patiently. “I could have married a rich man on my own world, but he was not a Christian.  My father very much wanted me to marry him, but God did not like it - so my mother helped me.  I was about to be married to another unbeliever - my faith was low, my parents pressed me into it - but Foquar came and took me away.  You love God - I am pleased to be married to you.  We can serve Him together.”

Feor sighed.  He simply did not believe it.  Helen sighed, and led the way into the flying machine.

“Oh, Helen,” called Abritis in English, “come and tell us what shoes you want to wear tomorrow - and any other accessories.”

“Oh, bother!” exclaimed Helen wearily. “All right.”

“Then Ytazu will take your trunk to Feor’s apartment.”

Quite quickly, Helen found her veil and wedding shoes - and sat down.  There was a knock on the flying machine door.  Tsie went to answer, and brought in a coronet that flashed with real gems.

“My grandmother’s wedding crown,” said Feor.

Tsie took it to Helen in her cabin; Thilish arrayed Helen in her veil, and fastened it on with the coronet. “You know, it actually fits,” she said.

Helen adjusted it, and stared. “It’s - it’s beautiful.”

She took it off with the veil, put them down carefully, and wept.

“Oh, Helen!” said Abritis lovingly.

“God has given me a sign,” sobbed Helen; “a sign of His favour.  My faith was burning low.”

Abritis pressed her hand, and prayed for her silently.  She spoke to Shurzi in his thoughts:

“Don’t wake Helen tonight if you can possibly help it.  She’s worn out.”

Wysau sat Helen down comfortably by Feor; Tsie brought them both drinks.

“Helen’s trunk’s ready now,” she called.

“Give me a hand, Darte,” said Ytazu. “Do us good to have a bit of exercise.”

The Palace servants watched in surprise as the two strangers carried the heavy trunk between them.  They were as well-fed, well dressed and clean as the other strangers, yet here they were, doing servants’ work.  The maid who led them up to Feor’s apartment saw Ytazu carry the trunk up the stairs on his own shoulder alone.  He did not even ask Darte to help him set it down.  Afterwards the maid, out of curiosity, tried to lift a corner of the trunk, and came down to tell the other servants that Ytazu was very, very strong - like a giant!

It had been a long day for Wysau.  Feor could not even keep his food-drink down, in spite of Helen’s full co-operation.  Shurzi took Feor for another walk, to tire him for the night, but Wysau still had to check on their thoughts every ten minutes.  At bedtime Abritis helped, so that she could organize Helen into kissing the back of Feor’s neck at the right moment, just as he was drifting off to sleep.

Wysau and Helen were sent straight to bed, but the other strangers met for earnest prayer.

“Please, our almighty Creator, please sustain Helen, and strengthen what love for Feor remains.  Please, God, lift Feor up out of despair - free him from the shackles Foquar has fastened on his mind, for Your holy Name’s sake, for he is Your child, and You have set him free from sin.  If You want to use us, please show us how. Please help Shurzi tonight.  Please may it not be necessary to wake Helen.”

They all prayed that Shurzi would be woken when necessary in the night, but would sleep when he could.

The knowledge that this did happen; that Shurzi went to sleep quickly, and did not wake till a few moments before Feor; that Shurzi was able to distract Feor while he went to the bathroom and had a few sips of water, so that he could be hypnotized to sleep again before pain set in, encouraged Abritis tremendously.  She took over at seven, and found herself having to act as Bible Study notes, to help Feor to concentrate.

“And for five glorious minutes,” she reported to Wysau in his thoughts, while Feor sat and drank at the breakfast table, “God spoke to Feor - it was wonderful - He was speaking to us too. We must trust Him; it’s a good witness when God’s children trust Him in difficult times.  Now Feor feels able to speak at his wedding.”

“That is good news,” said Helen in English, when Abritis explained this before her lesson. “God is already beginning to answer my prayer.  But - I must learn - “ This last was in Remsheth.

“This is important.  Please tell me.”

“I prayed,” said Helen slowly in Remsheth, “God, please make Feor a man - I can respect him.  I did respect him - he stopped that man - he wanted to kill us.  Yesterday he played his trie.  It was beautiful.  He is a true - er -musician?” she asked in English.

Abritis smiled, corrected her Remsheth, and taught her how to form sentences with relative clauses.

“Abritis,” asked Helen, “can my parents know about my wedding?”

“I’ll have to ask for permission.” She looked at her watch, and stared into space.  Quite soon her eyes re-focussed on Helen.

“I can’t wake the Deputy Director in the early hours to ask his permission.  I’ll have to wait till Ytazu reminds me, after the wedding.  But this is what I shall suggest - that I tell them in their thoughts about your wedding - paint a word-picture, you might say.  I shall describe all the people watching - bright, warm sunshine on our silver ship, Feor’s golden hair, your wedding-dress - both of you making vows sincerely before the Creator of the universe in a strange language - Chalata holding his Bible, listening to you both.  I shall describe you: your health restored, the bounce back in your curls, the sparkle in your eyes as you look at Feor.  The last thing they will remember is his face - his eyes as he looks at you.  Other people they talk to about you may think it was a dream, but both your parents will have the same details in their minds, and they will know in their hearts that it is true.”

“Thanks,” said Helen, near to tears.

“Now,” said Abritis, “has God told you what to say?”

“Yes,” said Helen, and blew her nose.

“Let’s put it into good Remsheth.”

Shurzi was reading Feor’s thoughts as his mother talked to him in her apartment, and Wysau was inoculating the Palace servants against the sick sickness - which he had long known by another name.

“No, I can’t give it to you,” said Wysau, shocked at the poor physical state of the kitchen maid.  “You’ve just had a baby - yesterday?  Where is it?”

“It died.”

“But why are you here to work?  You should be at home, resting.”

“My husband turned me out.”

“Why?”

She could not answer - she was fighting back her tears - so Wysau thought-read.  The baby had white hair!  Pure white, and a look of Foquar!  The poor girl had forgotten all about his raping her, so denied all association with Foquar; but the evidence had convinced her husband she must be lying.  Wysau paused, prayed - and made up his mind.  But first, he had to be sure.

“Shimei,” he called in her thoughts, “can you come and help me, please?”

Shimei arrived quickly.

“This girl is poorly and exhausted - she needs to lie down and rest.  Can you take her somewhere quiet, please?”

Shimei took the servant girl to a small bedroom that was not in use.  Why was Wysau being good to a mere kitchen maid?

“I want to help your brother, too,” explained Wysau in her thoughts.  “He must understand what a liar and rogue Foquar is.  You stay with her and comfort her.”

Suddenly Shimei sensed hypnotism, and fought it - then it was gone.  It was just like the time someone had lifted the hypnotism on Feor.  “Oh,” cried the girl, “oh - so he did - oh no!  My husband will never take me back!”

“What?  Who?” asked Shimei, startled.  “Tell me.”

“He hypnotized me - took me to a room like this - made me lie on the bed and respond to him - ugh - it’s too horrible!”

“Oh,” said Shimei, “Foquar - and you couldn’t fight his hypnotism?”

“No,” wailed the girl, “I couldn’t.  He raped me - although it didn’t hurt, he raped me.”

Shimei remembered how very nearly that had happened to herself.

“You are not an immoral woman,” she said gently.  “You were forced.  If anyone can make your husband understand, the stranger doctor can.”

“You could tell him, your Highness.”

“I could - but I think Wysau will do it better.  Most people here do not understand the power of hypnotism.  Wysau can make your husband experience it.”

In the largest kitchen, Wysau welcomed those he had summoned: first Feor, then the husband of the girl, and his friend, who was the local elected representative of the people.  “Welcome,” said Wysau to him very warmly.  “I am so glad you have come.”

“I have called you together to establish two things,” he said to them all.  “One: that the baby your wife bore was Foquar’s child.”

“Yes.” said the husband and his friend.

“Two: that your wife is entirely innocent of any blame in the matter.  She may have spoken something that was not true, but she honestly believed it to be true at the time when she said it.”

“How can this be so?” demanded the husband.

“You must remember that Foquar is a hypnotist,” said Wysau.  “That is true, is it not, your royal Highness?”

“Indeed it is,” said Feor with conviction.

“He made you do things you did not wish to do.”

“Yes.”

“And afterwards made you forget that you had done them?”

“He made me forget many things,” said Feor, “and later someone else made me remember.”

Wysau smiled grimly.

“In order to convince you of this,” he said to the husband, “I am going to hypnotize you - with your permission?”

The man hesitated, fearful.

“I have asked your friend to be here, to see fair play.”

“All right.”

“I gather that it is not the custom in your country for a man to cook?”

“Certainly not.”

“Unthinkable.”

“Therefore you do not cut up vegetables?”

“No.”

“There is a vegetable.  There is the knife.  There is the chopping board.  Are you sure you could not?”

“Most certainly not.  It is women’s work.”

“Yet now, you will.”

All present felt Wysau’s hypnotic influence.  They saw the husband go over to the vegetable and cut it up - slowly and clumsily, but he did it.  He then returned to his seat.  Wysau lifted his hypnotism.

“Look,” he said.  “The vegetable has been cut up.  You did it.”

“But I didn’t,” protested the husband.  “I can’t remember ever cutting up a vegetable.  I don’t know how.”

“I do,” said Wysau.  “Why are your hands damp? and why is there a red stain on your finger?  Look - here.”

“But I didn’t cut up the vegetable.”

“I call you to witness,” said Wysau to the representative.

“I saw you do it,” he said.

“So did I,” said Feor.

“But I didn’t!” protested the husband.  “I can’t remember ever doing such a thing.”

“But now - ”

Everyone felt Wysau’s hypnotic power.

“Oh,” said the husband, “yes, I remember - I did - there was this voice in my mind that made me do it - that told me how to do it.”

“Could you fight that power?”

“No - I could do nothing, think nothing, but what it told me.”

“This was what happened to your wife,” said Wysau.  “I have made her remember.”

Shimei came into the kitchen, and looked at Wysau.

“Your Highness, could you take this man to his wife, please, and leave them together.”

The representative rose to leave.

“May I have a private word with you, please, before you go?” asked Wysau.  They went outside.  “I gather,” continued Wysau, “that there was a law passed, while Foquar was here, that you had repealed as soon as he was gone?”

“That is correct.”

“There was a document that you all signed, that you claimed the Roptoh must have forged?”

“You are well-informed, stranger.”

“Do you really think he could have forged all your signatures so well?”

“But he stood to gain by that law - it greatly increased the power of the Roptoh.”

“If Foquar could have persuaded Princess Shimei to marry him, and Feor had died of his addiction to Helen - ”

“Foquar would have inherited the throne.  I see.”

“I suggest that both the Roptoh and you were hypnotized, to put forward, and sign, that document.  Remember, the Roptoh was willing to repeal that law.  You can’t remember signing that document?”

“No.”

“Then try - now.”

“Oh - oh, yes.  There was no discussion - no-one spoke against it - we were all as in a trance.”

“Your Roptoh is a better man than you take him for.  Have patience with him.”

When Wysau returned, he saw Feor and Shimei in earnest conversation.  He sat down and thought-read.  A smile came over his face, and a choking in his throat.

“Feor,” he asked hoarsely.

“Yes?”

“May I see your father for a few moments?”

When it got about in the city that the Roptoh had given the innocent wife a week’s holiday at home with her husband, and a week’s wages, the representative found many were willing to bend an ear to his story.

“She wasn’t the only one that tall fat stranger forced,” said some, shaking their heads.

Two girls, and their babies, were welcomed back into their parents’ homes that evening.

Shimei knew nothing of this.  She stamped upstairs to her apartment.  She’d been treated like a servant.  Whatever was happening to her?  She knew perfectly well that if Wysau asked her to do anything else, she would obey.  Yet he had asked politely - at least, in public.  And the incident had helped to release Feor’s mind from Foquar’s lies.  Why had Wysau asked her to help?  He could have asked a servant.  “Because he knew I would understand?  Or - did he want to tell me that if Foquar had forced me, he, for one, would have understood?  Does Wysau know what happened?  Does he think I’m not a virgin any more?  Oh surely,” she said to herself, “he can read my mind - he must know the truth.  He must know I love him.

Oh, oh, oh!  I’d rather he had not returned - than to return, but to care nothing for me!”

Meanwhile, the Roptoh had gone to the Roptoa’s apartment, and found her there with Feor.

“Feor,” he said, “why are these strangers concerning themselves with my popularity with my people?”

“I don’t know, Father.”

“Wysau has just gone to some trouble to clear my record in that representative’s mind.”

“Oh?” asked the Roptoa.  So her husband explained.  At the mention of Foquar, Feor began to listen in earnest.

“He did it all deliberately!  He was planning to kill me and marry Shimei, and get the crown?”

“Exactly,” said the Roptoh.

“And he cared not a jot for Shimei!  He pretended to be my friend, and all the time he was planning my death.”

“And every time he told you Helen did not love you, “ said the Roptoa, “your death came nearer.”

“He said he loved Shimei, and it was a lie,” said Feor aloud, but to himself.  The Roptoh was about to speak, but the Roptoa laid her hand on his arm.

“So when he told me Helen did not love me, that was a lie, too.”

“It was,” agreed the Roptoa; and, a moment later, the Roptoh.

“You both think so?” asked Feor, looking up at them.

“We do,” said his father authoritatively.  His mother nodded.

“Really?”

“Why did she come here, Feor,” demanded his mother matter-of-factly, “if she did not love you?  She must have been very frightened.”

“She had to leave her family and her world,” said Feor, half to himself, “and she is willing to marry me this afternoon.”

“And live with you here, and learn your language.  It isn’t easy,” said the Roptoa with conviction.

“Anyway,” said the Roptoh, “you were quite right, my dear wife.  The proposition was passed with a comfortable majority.  It is now law, and became so very quickly.  I had plenty of time to instruct Artax on the setting up of the marriage office and registry ready for tomorrow.”

“No speeches?”

“None at all.  Nobody wants to be seen or heard in public saying what he really thinks about the priests, but many were friendly to me afterwards - including Lord Treprom.  He was the only one who had the backbone to congratulate me, and even he did it on the quiet.  I felt I had done the sort of thing that most of them have wanted to see done for some time, but none of them have had the courage to suggest it.  We had two invitations to dinner, and many thanked us for our wedding invitation, and said they would be pleased to attend.  When I explained why the banquet would have to be held later, everybody was pleasant about it, even if they did not understand.”

“Well!” said the Roptoa. “Oh - who were the invitations from, and for when?”

“One from - oh, goodness, I can’t remember.  But both of them said their ladies would be writing to us shortly.”

“Yes, they usually do.  Well done, dear.”

“Yes - thank you, Father,” said Feor. “And I’m so glad that the people don’t bear you any ill will on my account.”

“No, son; on the contrary.  You should have heard the representatives cheering yesterday.”

The civil ceremony was a quiet family affair.

The people came to see the Christian ceremony.  Wysau watched them gather; he watched servants bringing benches and seats for the nobility.  He watched babies being sick, mothers looking ill, little children, thin and in rags, looking pale and unhealthy.  No wonder, if that filthy water was all they had to drink!

Ytazu and Shurzi were setting up the loudspeaker, so that Chalata, Feor, Helen and the music could all be heard.  Besides the marriage vows, which Helen had remembered from the English Prayer Book she knew, and Abritis had translated, Feor was going to explain why he wanted this Christian ceremony; Helen was going to explain that she became a Christian long before she met the strangers, and that the Saviour had lived and died on her world; and Chalata was going to tell the people how it was that they found Helen so quickly - that they had found her at all - and why she had had the courage to come to an unknown world to live.

Everything went off very well; everybody could hear all that was said.  But Wysau knew of only four or five in that vast crowd who had accepted the message and believed.  All the others felt it was not for them.  This was the strangers’ religion, not theirs.  After the ceremony, before the loudspeaker was moved, he took the microphone in his hand.

“I want to talk to you about the sick sickness.” People who had begun to move away paused to listen; nobles sat down again.  The poor stood still and listened with more attention.

“The sickness is caused by little germs in the water you drink.  The water of the river that flows through the city is dirty and full of these germs.  If you can get other water, from a well or a stream, then do.  If you cannot get any water to drink other than the river water, then boil it hard for ten minutes by the clock, and do not drink the sediment at the bottom.  Thank you for listening, and good health to you all.”

There was an indignant murmur from some, as people returned to their homes and occupations.  “Our holy river - dirty and full of little creatures!” The High Priest came up to Wysau to protest.

“We have tested the water with our equipment,” said Wysau, “and found it to be so.  We must tell them the truth, or they will die.”

“Your Greatness,” said Chalata respectfully, “would you and your two companions like to come into our ship for refreshments?”

“I - I think we should be getting back.  We have a service this evening.  Thank you, all the same.”

Drinks and savoury bites were passed round for the royal family and the strangers in the ship.  Feor and Helen knelt before the Roptoh to receive his blessing; the Roptoa and the Princesses welcomed Helen into their family.  Then Feor and Helen went to his apartment in the Palace, with a servant following at a discreet distance, carrying Helen’s suitcase.  The rest of the royal family stayed in the ship to talk.

“So you invited the High Priest?” asked the Roptoh.

“Yes, your Majesty, but he declined.”

“Thank you,” said the Roptoa.  “We are particularly grateful for this courtesy.”

Wysau, who had left the gathering, returned with four full syringes.  “This medicine will make you feel ill - just a little - from tonight or tomorrow morning - for three or four days, and then it will pass.  Just rest, drink plenty, and eat only as your stomachs call for food.”

“Why is this one a different colour?” asked Shimei.

“There are many other diseases in this city.  Your Majesties do not come into contact with the common people much at all.  The Princess Shimei may do so, if she would like to come with me, to help me when I call on the sick - if your Majesties will give your permission?”

The Roptoa frowned, but the Roptoh said, “She will be protected against many illnesses, and the people will love her.  Yes, we give our permission - she may go with you if she wishes.”

“I should like,” said Wysau, “to give her an injection against all sorts of diseases - the same injection as we have before we leave our world for service on other worlds.  She will feel far worse than you will, and must have complete rest for four days after her injection.”

No-one raised any objections.  Their royal visitors kept still as requested, and were surprised that their injections hurt them so little.

“When will Feor be able to have his injection?” asked the Roptoa.

“I should like to wait,” said Wysau, “till Feor’s health has improved rather more, and his relationship with Helen has stabilized, before giving him any inoculations.  This makes the water treatment plant an even more urgent matter.  I must go with Darte tomorrow to choose a site, and verify his test results on the quality of the river water at that site.  However, Chalata and Janita will be working in or near our flying machine most of the time, and so will Abritis and Tsie.  Abritis is able to contact me at any time; so, if there is an emergency, or something goes wrong for Feor, I will come as quickly as I can.”

“We mean this,” said Chalata gravely.  “A little thing wrong with Feor, especially just now, could quickly become serious.  Please do not hesitate to send a servant to the flying machine.  We will do all we can to help.”

“And how can we reward you?” asked the Roptoh.

“We need vegetables as usual, thank you,” said Chalata, “and the money to pay for the water treatment works.”

“Don’t you need electricity?” asked Shimei.

“This time,” said Shurzi, “we were given a solar panel canopy to put over our flying machine.  The panels intercept the heat of the sun and use it to make electricity.  The sun is hot in your country, and, since we arrived, our panels have been making a little more than enough for our needs.  The canopy also keeps our flying machine cooler, so that we do not have to use so much cool air.  It may be that, halfway through the rainy season, or if it becomes cold in the winter, we will need more electricity.  But we are able to store the extra the panels make in the summer.  We will not burden you or your berron unless it is necessary.”

“We have not been able to prepare the estimate yet,” said Darte, “but we have been familiarizing ourselves with your system of weights and measures, and learning what metals are available, and wood, how the metals are worked, and what they cost.”

“And the cost of skilled and unskilled labour,” added Shurzi, “but no-one will tell us the price of land.”

“You will have to negotiate that with the seller,” said the Roptoh.

“So we should do that before we present our estimate?”

“I should be glad.”

“It is bound to be expensive,” said Darte.  “We want it to work well for everyone in the city, with maintenance and minor repairs, for at least a hundred years.”

“Neither your family nor the rest of the nobility need suffer from indigestion,” said Shurzi.

“And the poor need not die of the sick sickness,” said Wysau, “or other water-bourne diseases either.”

“If you stop them dying, there will soon be far too many of them!” laughed Shimei.

Wysau’s face went grey.

“Your Highness,” said Chalata, “if they knew that the babies they have were more likely to survive, they would not have so many.  The parents want to be sure that some of their children will survive to look after them when they are old.”

“When you are older,” said the Roptoh, “you will understand.” He smiled at Chalata, who smiled back.  But Wysau could not smile, and avoided the Princess’ eyes.  There was silence.

“Dr. Wysau, I am sorry,” said Shimei with feeling.  “It was a thoughtless and wicked thing to say.  After I have recovered from my injections, if you wish to take me with you to help the people, I will come.”

Their eyes met.  “I will keep you to that,” he said.

“Drat the man,” thought the Roptoh.  “Why has he got to be so very handsome?”

“Considering his background, and the situation here, he’s not a bad chap at all,” said Darte at their evening meal.  “I found out, when I stayed to talk to the Palace servants when we’d delivered Helen’s trousseau, that he brought in a new constitution soon after his accession.  Instead of just having a House of Nobles, he called elections, and established a House of Representatives of the people - and all men over twenty-five can vote.  This House of Representatives has as much power as the House of Nobles, and as many members..  There are three sources of power - one is the Roptoh, one the House of Nobles and one the House of Representatives.  The Roptoh had to curtail his own power in order to persuade the House of Nobles to accept a restriction of theirs.  So now there are three roughly equal sources of power.  This means that the Roptoh, the Representatives and a few Nobles could outvote the House of Nobles.  I don’t suppose that entered the Roptoh’s head when he first devised it, but it has definite possibilities.”

“So why . . . ?” wondered Abritis.

“Foquar,” said Wysau. “People hated him.”

“That’s why some still don’t trust us,” said Shurzi. “Oh, and the priestly propaganda.”

“Oh, Shurzi,” said Thilish, “you’ll be going into the city tomorrow, won’t you?  Could you mention that Chalata needs a helper with his translation work?  Somebody alert and healthy - not a mother with three children in tow, please.  And it would probably be better if they can’t read or write.”

“I’ll try,” said Shurzi, “but people haven’t exactly come running to work on the water treatment site.”

Helen woke up.  Feor slept beside her.  A quiet knocking could be heard.  Helen slipped on a dress and sandals, and went to the door.

“Your royal Highness - dinner is served.”

They had told her that Feor would sleep till the morning - and she was hungry.  She followed the servant to join the Roptoh and Roptoa.  It was not a formal dinner, thank goodness - it was served privately in a small room.  The Roptoa, particularly, received her graciously, and was glad to hear that Feor was still asleep.  Shimei and Ruha welcomed her with smiles.  Ruha was usually quiet, but Shimei looked pale, and ate little.  The Roptoh and Roptoa asked her polite questions about her world.

“The grass and leaves are green?” cried the Roptoa incredulously.  “Is the sky blue, or another colour?”

“Blue, when the sun shines,” said Helen.  “Usually it’s grey.”

“Our sky is often grey in the winter,” said the Roptoa, “but it’s summer now.  I hope you don’t find it too hot here?”

“No; it’s lovely and warm,” said Helen.  “I like to see the sun.  And your flowers are big and bright.  We do have a few trees with red leaves, but never pale blue fruit.”

“We do not eat fruit unless it is cooked,” said the Roptoa.  “Uncooked vegetables and fruit tend to give us indigestion.”

“We always have indigestion,” sighed the Roptoh.

“The strangers do not have indigestion,” said Helen, “and they eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Ah - it is because their water on the ship is clean, and yours is not?  If you wash vegetables and fruit in dirty water, then it will upset the stomach.”

“We used to wash uncooked fruit in boiled water,” said Shimei; “water which was boiled hard for ten minutes; but one day we all had upset stomachs, and we have not had it done since.  I’m sure it was only carelessness on the part of a servant.”

“We prefer not to take the risk,” said the Roptoa.

“When the strangers have given us a clean water supply,” said the Roptoh, “we can try it again.”

Shimei was about to speak, but her father quieted her with a look.  “Yes, Father,” she said.

“Yes, my lord,” agreed the Roptoa.

For a few moments there was a heavy silence.  The dessert was brought.

“I do not have this problem,” said Helen.  “Wysau is right - I am different from you.  He said he had to buy a book.  This book taught him how to treat me when I am ill.  He told me I must not eat this green fruit - I am sorry - it will make me ill.”

“Would you like something else?” offered the Roptoa.  “A blue fruit?”

“I like blue fruit very much,” said Helen, “but I have had plenty to eat already.  Please do not trouble for my sake.”

“Are there any other foods you must not eat?”

“I must ask Wysau - I cannot remember.”

“Make sure you tell us before we order your wedding banquet,” said the Roptoa.

“Oh, no!” thought Helen.  She dreaded another official occasion, and it showed on her face.

“We ought to welcome our son’s bride in the proper way,” said the Roptoh - and then he looked at Helen.  The Roptoa and Shimei looked at Helen.  Even Ruha looked at Helen.  Helen wanted to creep under the table.

“I am sorry, Helen,” said the Roptoa kindly.  “We must give a wedding banquet.”

“At least we don’t have to entertain royal and noble visitors from another country,” said Shimei.

“Feor doesn’t like official occasions either,” continued his mother.  “He will be longing for it to be over.  It is wonderful how many tastes you have in common.”

The Roptoh chuckled.  “I will pay for the clean water, and they will have to pay for the banquet.  We are having it for their benefit, after all.”

She stayed with them till nine, then went back to her apartment to be available for Feor.  Janita had told her she must be there when Feor woke.  Helen looked at her sleeping husband.  Wasn’t it nice to have a husband who never felt prickly?  He was good-looking.  She was glad he had really golden hair, not white like Wysau, or she would always be thinking he was old.

There was nothing to do.  She did not want to light a lamp, for fear of waking him, and darkness was falling.  She decided the best thing to do was go back to bed.  She would not be able to sleep, but if she lay quietly and did not disturb him, that was what mattered.  So she lay down in their large firm bed . . .

It was light when she woke.  She looked at the clock.  Seven o’clock!  She had slept for hours, and he for - how many was it? from about six in the evening till seven the next morning? or were they asleep by half past four?  And still he slept.  She could not stay in bed any longer.  She got up, read her Bible and prayed.

When she had finished, she looked for water to wash in, some underclothes; she washed and dressed without trying to be quiet, because she felt it was time he woke - but still he slept.  There was a lovely quietness in the room; God was still there, and Helen’s heart rejoiced.

“Helen.” It was Abritis’ voice in her mind.

“Your parents know about your wedding.  They know you are well and happy.  They are well, too, and not anxious about you any more.  Their affairs are also going well.  I will give you more news during a lesson.”

Helen thanked Abritis, thanked God - and wept.

There was a knock at the door.  Helen went to open it.  The Roptoa asked, in a whisper,

“Is he still asleep?”

“Yes,” Helen whispered back.

“Wedding nights can be difficult, can’t they?”

“Mine was glorious,” said Helen, blushing.

“Really?” said the Roptoa.  “I suppose I didn’t know my husband well enough to love him - not then.”

“They told me this sort of love was rather special,” said Helen.  “They are usually right.”

“They are,” agreed the Roptoa, nodding vigorously.  “My husband finds it rather irritating.”

“It scares me,” said Helen.

“I think you’ll find we’re all human in the Palace.  Anyway, breakfast is at nine - Feor surely ought to wake before then.”

Suddenly Feor appeared in a rather gorgeous shot silk dressing-gown.  “Good morning, Mother,” he said.  “And a thousand thanks.”

“What for?”

“Helen would never have admitted so much to me.”

Helen went scarlet.

“I’ll see you at breakfast,” he said, drawing Helen back to the bed.  “I only want to kiss you, my love, but it still makes me so dizzy that I thought it would be safer if we lay down.”

“Did you mean that - what you told Mother?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you did - but I thought you didn’t care for me that way.”

“I was afraid - but you were so gentle, and knew how to make me enjoy it.”

“I didn’t know - something seemed to take me over.  Helen - ” he looked into her eyes “ - you do love me, don’t you?  Yes, you do - I can see it in your eyes.  Oh, thank You, Lord!”

A rather puzzled Helen had to tow Feor downstairs to breakfast.

“Sit down, love.”

The Roptoh looked up curiously.  The servants waited on them as usual.  Feor chose his food, but was so busy looking at Helen that he forgot to eat.

“Eat, Feor,” she encouraged.

This time, both his parents watched with anxious eyes.  He was glowing with happiness, but so sleepy and absent-minded that they wondered whatever was the matter with him.

Helen started, and spoke in perfect Remsheth:

“Feor will be dazed and unable to think consecutively for about ten days.  It will wear off gradually, and he will recover.  He is very happy but needs to be organized.  And please can he go over to the flying machine directly after breakfast.”

His parents were somewhat reassured by his eating all the food he chose, and by his evident happiness.  Helen’s maid - or rather, the maid she shared with Shimei - helped her to unpack her trousseau and put it away.  Then Helen found she had a whole bedroom to herself, apart from the one she shared with Feor.

“But I shall never use this.”

“Well - just in case you were ill?”

“Feor would be most hurt if I did not sleep with him.”

“My lady,” asked Sihcha, “if you always sleep with my lord, when and where shall I come to dress you in the mornings?”

“I can dress myself, Sihcha.  I am accustomed to it.  On my world I was not a princess or even a titled lady.  Come to me after breakfast - if the strangers want me on the flying machine, I can tell you then.”

“My lady, if it is not impertinent - do you come from the same world as the strangers?”

“No.  I come from Tellus; they come from Cirian.  Except for Chalata’s wife Janita.  She comes from yet another world.  She was a princess on her world.”

Here Helen made a grammatical error - and, before she could stop herself, Sihcha corrected her.  “I am sorry, my lady.”

“No, Sihcha, you did right - thank you.  I want to speak your language right.”

“Correctly,” amended Sihcha.  They both laughed.

Shimei had had no appetite for breakfast.  She had helped Wysau with the servant girl, and that was all.  He had said he wanted her to help him, but he did not come.  She felt wretched, restless, unable to concentrate or make any sustained effort.  She could drink, sleep, sit, but not much more.  She sat, seething with frustration, when Ruha knocked, and entered at her impatient call.

“Oh, Ruha.”

“How are you?”

“I am not ill.”

“But the stranger doctor said you particularly would feel ill for four or five days after your injection, because he had put more different germs into your body.”

“Oh yes, so he did - so that I could help him!” remembered Shimei.

“He told you to rest.”

“Oh, Ruha, come and be hugged!”

“Do you really like me?”

“Yes.  Ever since you brought Father to save me from Foquar.  I owe you more than my life, sister.  And it made me realize you are a perfectly intelligent girl - and Father was delighted, and Mother.”

“If I am intelligent, then you must lie down and rest.”

“I must admit I would like to.”

“Is there anything you would like?”

“A drink, please.”

There was a knock on Shimei’s apartment door.

“Come in,” she called.

Helen entered timidly.

“Oh, do come.  Come and sit by my bed.  I don’t feel well enough to do much, and I’d love a chat.”

“Abritis cannot come to teach me this morning, and Feor has gone to the - ”

“Flying machine?” suggested Shimei.

“To help Chalata,” finished Helen, seating herself comfortably.

“Flying machine,” repeated Shimei.

“Flying machine,” repeated Helen six times, in English and in Remsheth.

“What was it like,” asked Shimei, “to fly in that machine?”

Helen explained, slowly and with difficulty.  Shimei often had to supply a word, and each time Helen would repeat that word, and its English equivalent, six times.

“You must love Feor very much,” said Shimei.

“I do love Feor, but I came for love of God.  They told me they can not stay here if I did not come.  They must stay here and talk about God - I had to come.”

“You knew about their God before they told you?”

“Oh yes.  Christ died on my world.  My grandmother told me about God when I was a little girl.”

“I loved my grandparents, but all that they taught me was not good.  Some was; some was not.”

“Nobody had told them about God?”

“No.”

“I am sorry.”

Shimei turned on her side to face Helen.  “Have you the whole Bible in your language?”

“Yes,” said Helen, smiling, bringing out her beloved French Bible.  Shimei sat up, and took it reverently in her hands.

“This book is beautifully bound,” she said.  “Could you translate a little for me - a part that Chalata has not translated yet?”

Helen managed a rough translation of the book of Jonah.

“Were you afraid,” asked Shimei, “of what God might do to you if you did not come?”

“I was.  But if you are afraid of God, you are not afraid of anything else.  If you are afraid of God, you do what is right.”

“Father is afraid of what our gods will do to him, because he proposed that law allowing civil marriage.”

“On my account,” said Helen, looking worried.

“But the people were pleased.  Our gods are Satan’s servants, to bind us in chains of fear so that we will not accept the true God.  My father needs to learn that he has nothing to fear from them if he trusts in the true God Who is all-powerful.”

“Thank you - you remind me.”

“Chalata,” asked Shurzi, “do you mean to say that you actually had three applicants to be your language helper?”

“Yes.”

“Then perhaps they are learning to trust us.  He will be working in the flying machine, won’t he?”

“Yes.”

“Then why are the workmen so reluctant to commit themselves?”

Four mornings later, Shimei was beginning to feel better.  Helen came to see her after ten o’clock, and found her sitting up, reading her Gospel of John.

“Helen,” asked Shimei, “you do not mind translating for us?”

“No - I enjoy it.”

“Tell me at breakfast when Abritis cannot teach you.  May I ask Sihcha to come to us when she can?  She would like to hear more of this holy Book.”

“I am very pleased,” said Helen.

“She will come if she can, but sometimes she is too busy.”

“If I make our bed, and dust our room, perhaps she would have more time?”

“Yes,” said Shimei, feeling very small.  She had never thought of doing this herself, and mentally resolved that she would.  After all, her bed was not as large as Helen and Feor’s double bed.

“That will be lovely,” said Helen.  “But I am afraid about - ”

“What?”

“The banquet,” managed Helen at last.

“Your wedding banquet?”

“Yes.  How do I behave?”

“As you normally do.”

“Can you teach me the right things to say?”

“I am very pleased to meet you.”

“To whom do I say, “My lady” or “My lord”?”

“To my parents only.  One uses this form of address to someone superior in rank whom one knows well.  At your banquet, when you are introduced to someone, my mother or my father will say, “This is the Lord, or the Lady Somebody.” To those people you say, “Your Lordship” or “Your Ladyship”.  They will call you “Your royal Highness”.  Ruhamah and I are simply “Your Highness”.”

“But Feor is “your royal Highness”?”

“That’s right.” There followed other lessons in etiquette.

“In my country, the gentlemen present at a wedding are permitted to kiss the bride,” said Helen at last.

“Not here, no,” said Shimei, looking shocked.  “Only Feor, my mother, myself and Ruha are allowed to kiss you.  Not even Father.  And we don’t do it in public.”

“I am glad,” said Helen, vastly relieved.

“Oh yes, I must warn you.  The Princess Tran - my father’s elder sister, my cousin Prynoh’s mother - often wears the most ridiculous hats.  Too large, with great sweeping feathers or flamboyant flowers.  They were in fashion thirty years ago.  Prynoh does not like to be seen with her when she wears them.  But please try not to laugh, because if you laugh, everyone else will.”

“And your mother cannot tell her? or your father, in private?”

“Mother could, if they liked each other.  Father says it is women’s business, and will have nothing to do with it.  I suppose I could, but I am not good at being tactful.”

“Do ladies wear hats these days?”

“At the banquet you will wear your veil and coronet.  Yes, we do, but smaller, plainer ones.”

“So I wear my wedding dress?”

“Of course.”

Helen took Shimei to her apartment and showed her her hats.

“Yes, we wear broad-brimmed hats in the summer,” said Shimei.  “These will do - and hats that tie on in the rain or the cooler weather.  But this hat - it’s too old for you.  Only older ladies wear dark hats like this one.”

“Is it in fashion for older ladies?”

“Oh yes.  It’s a nice hat - it’s neat and small.”

The two girls looked at each other.

“Do you think I could . . . ?” asked Helen.

“I would come with you, to introduce you.”

“Would she wear it?”

“She would feel obliged to wear it.”

“Would it suit her?”

Shimei conjured up a mental picture of her aunt wearing that hat.

“You know, I think it would.  Prynoh would be very much obliged to you.”

“How would she receive it?  Would it be rude?”

“It would be a mark of royal favour.”

“Please may we go?”

“I will send a servant to ask if it would be convenient for us to call tomorrow morning at eleven.”

Shimei went out to do this, and Helen, left to herself, turned to her God.  What did He think of this proposal?  How could she know?

Shimei reported her aunt’s reply at lunchtime.  “You needn’t be nervous, Helen - this isn’t just a polite reply.  She is really pleased and she really wants us to come.  I suppose we’ll have to walk?”

“I can ride a horse.”

“Is it like a berr?”

“I don’t know.”

“Come down to the stables tomorrow morning, and I’ll introduce you.”

Feor’s approval did calm Helen’s nerves for that day, but, the next morning, her apprehension increased.  Meeting the berron, and making friends with the one she rode, turned a nightmare into a pleasure.  As they rode back to the Palace, Shimei explained,

“If I were to give Prynoh’s mother a hat, he would think I wanted to marry him; but if you do, it’s a mark of favour to her, nothing more.  He was so pleased because he must sit by her tomorrow at the banquet, and greet you with her - and now he need not be embarrassed.”

At breakfast, the morning after the banquet, the Roptoa asked,

“However did Prynoh persuade Tran to order a decent hat for the banquet?  I haven’t seen her look so nice in years.”

“Helen gave it to her,” explained Shimei.  “That hat wouldn’t have done for Helen at all.”

“No, dear, you’re quite right.  That was a kind thought, Helen.”

“We both thought of it at once, and I’d never have dared if Shimei had not gone with me.”

“You managed very well.  Do you realize, Feor, she’s never ridden a berr before in her life, and she rode your berr through the city very capably?”

“Feor’s berr is beautiful,” said Helen.  “He is calm and sensible, and has a good mouth.  You only have to pull a little on the rein, and he will go where you wish.”

“Helen told me about the hat, but she didn’t say she could ride.  I was pleased for Aunt Tran’s sake; Prynoh is not very kind to her these days.  When I was a little boy, Prynoh was my playmate, though he is five years older than me.  He was always better at everything, especially hunting with otret.”

“Except at playing the trie,” said Shimei.  “He always was a bit bossy, but he was fun to play with - he always had new things to teach us.”

“He used to bring us good game for our table,” said the Roptoh, “and his mother used to come and share it with us.”

“But now,” said the Roptoa, “he won’t go anywhere with her if he can avoid it.”

“Foquar took away the one friend I had,” said Feor.  “He spoilt Prynoh - taught him evil ways.  We cannot be friends any more.”

“You must make new friends,” suggested his mother.

“Could we invite Princess Tran to dine with us?” asked Helen tentatively.

The Roptoh looked at his wife.

“Yes, my lord, that would be very nice,” agreed the Roptoa.

After Princess Tran’s visit, Helen asked Shimei,

“Your aunt - the Princess Tran - she is your father’s sister?”

“Yes.”

“She should be a great lady, but she is meek and a little shy, and her clothes are not new.  And her son is not kind to her, yet she praises him.  I do not understand.”

“My father told me that when she was young, she was pretty - she was the eldest - and very proud.  She wanted to marry the Crown Prince of Traitan or Wendei and be a great queen.  Younger princes were not good enough for her.  Her younger sisters accepted younger princes, and went away to be married, while she remained at home.  The years passed; no-one offered for her but a lord of our country, whose advances she had repulsed disdainfully in her youth.  This lord had earlier married another lady, and had one son, who had just married in his turn, though he was only eighteen and the lady twenty-six.  This lord, now a widower, came courting again.  This time, fearful of being left unmarried and childless, she accepted him.  Not two years after their wedding, he died, leaving her with a small son, Prynoh.  In another five years, both her stepson and his wife died childless.  Princess Tran did not wish to remarry.  She lives for her son.”

“Oh dear,” said Helen.

“In the beginning,” translated Helen slowly, “God made the heavens and the earth.”

“Your world?” asked Shimei.

“My world,” agreed Helen, “but also every other world.  My sun, my moon, but all the stars as well - other worlds’ suns.  God made everything there is.”

“Who made God?” asked Sihcha.

“God always was,” said Helen. “He was always there.  And in the beginning with God the Father, always there with Him, was Christ, the Saviour, God the Son.  And God the Holy Spirit was there too - He is mentioned in verse two.”

“Who was God’s wife?” asked Sihcha.

Helen was shocked. “God is a Spirit,” she said. “He has not got a body like us.  Christ is the expression of God the Father - He is the Word, God’s Word.  God spoke, and things appeared out of nothing.  God made everything through His Word.  God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

“If God is a Spirit,” asked Shimei, “why does He need the Holy Spirit?”

“God is too wonderful for us to understand,” said Helen. “God is One God in Three

Persons.  He has always been there, and always will be there.  He has all power, all wisdom; He is absolutely holy, perfectly good.  He is the Source of all goodness, and of all good things.” Remembering Remgath’s gods, she added, “He is not capricious.  When He says something, He means it.  When He says something will happen, it does.  When He makes a promise, He always keeps it.  And He is absolutely fair to everyone.”

“They’ve asked me to prepare a Bible Study about God,” said Helen to Abritis. “They want to know what He is like, and what He has done.  I’m sure you could do it far better - your Remsheth is so much better than mine.”

“I haven’t the time,” said Abritis. “If you prepare the Bible Study, it will help you with your Remsheth, and it will help you to realize for yourself how wonderful God really is.  But if you have trouble translating your Bible verses into Remsheth, I will help you.”

“What Bible verses should I look at?”

“You’ve already read Genesis 1, so I should look at Isaiah chapters 43, 44, 45 and 46.  Think of what Christ said, in the Gospel of John,

“My Father is greater than all, and no-one is able to snatch them (My sheep) out of My Father’s hand.”

It’s like an echo of Isaiah 43:13:

“Indeed, before the day was, I am He; and there is no-one who can deliver out of My hand.”

And chapter 44 verse 6:

“I am the First, and I am the Last.  Besides Me there is no God.”

There is another part of the Bible which reveals God’s character: the Law He gave to his ancient people Israel.  Read from Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 28, till chapter 15 verse 18.  This portion, which contains various provisions for the poor, shows that God cares about poor people, and He wants His people to care, too.  He doesn’t just want us to make sure they have food, clothing and shelter, but to treat them with care and respect.  Yes, respect - Deuteronomy chapter 24 verses 11 - 13.  The creditor is not to push his way into the poor man’s hovel to get his pledge, but to wait outside for it.”

“Mm,” said Helen. “I’m glad Sihcha will be there, too.”

“You’ll have to explain the references to slavery in the land of Egypt.  When His people were slaves, God cared about them, and rescued them.  He is loving, and listens when poor, oppressed people cry to Him.  He punished the Egyptians for treating His people so harshly.  And He made sure the Egyptians gave His people good clothes and jewellery to pay them for their service.”