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 Five

“I am glad you came, Shurzi,” said Darte.  “I was sure Wysau would find a patient before we’d walked ten yards through the city, and we had to go down there first to get a correct reading for length of piping to our chosen site.  And you’ve far more idea of what sort of site we need.”

“You and he must both test the water, though, just as we must on Cirian.  This may be urgent work, but we must do it properly.”

“You can almost see the water getting cleaner,” said Darte ten minutes later, as they climbed up beside the river.

“This is where most of the nobility live.”

“I’m sure some of these poor youngsters could climb - up here - far more - quickly than - we can,” panted Darte half an hour later.

“We’ll soon get fit - coming up here - every day.  Yes, this is the place, just out of the trees - I wonder who the land belongs to.”

“Look over there - that great house.”

Darte took a sample of the water from the river.  “Much better,” he said.  He took out his well-worn ready reckoner to work out how large an area he would need for water filtration to bring the water he had tested up to the Cirian approved standard.  He looked round at the site.  “Looks big enough.  Let’s measure it.”

“Yes, Wysau, we’ve found a site,” said Shurzi aloud, for Darte’s benefit.  “We do need you to certify the water tests.  We’ll do the measurements as you come up.”

By the time Wysau arrived, Darte had retreated into the shade of the trees to draw his plans.  Wysau deposited his bag beside Darte, and went to take the required samples of the river water.  He stood in the shade at the edge of the trees, where the light was good; he passed each test, through Shurzi, to Darte to be checked.  Shurzi noted down the results.  Then Wysau and Shurzi joined Darte under his tree.

“This tree smells good,” said Wysau to Shurzi in his thoughts, for Darte was still busy drawing his plans.

“Aromatic,” responded Shurzi.

Darte was checking his ready reckoner again.  Shurzi passed him the test results.

“Plenty of margin.”

“Too much?”

“No.  There will be wide variation in water quality during the year.” Darte began to look through his pockets.  “Where’s the distance reader?”

Shurzi looked in his pockets; Wysau opened his bag, and passed the instrument to Darte.

“You didn’t walk round while you were in the city?”

“I might easily have left my bag in the ship - but I had all I needed to treat that one patient, and I was so grieved at only being allowed to treat one patient when I could see at least five in need of my services, that I could not think of anything except that and our business here.  Mercifully our Creator overruled.  I just looked - I didn’t walk.”

“That just leaves the quantity surveying,” said Darte.

“And the negotiations for the purchase of the land,” added Shurzi.  “We will need you, Wysau - your Remsheth is better than ours.”

They got up, and were making their way along the edge of the trees and their proposed site, when Wysau stopped, whipped out his tweezers and said sharply, “Shurzi, hold still.  There.  Let’s go on quickly, up to the higher ground.” Once there, he showed them his captive.

“An insect?  You’ve got one on you, Wysau - there, on your leg.”

Wysau hit it off.  They moved on further.

“We must be clear by now.  Have you been bitten, Darte?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Have you seen one like this before?”

“I’m no expert,” said Shurzi, “but he’s - ”

“She, almost certainly,” corrected Wysau.

“She’s big enough,” repeated Shurzi, “and I think I’d remember one like that, that size.”

“Could you get out my magnifying glass, Darte? and hold it here?  Yes, look at those mouthparts.  Could easily be carrying something nasty.” He crushed the insect carefully and thoroughly.  “We’ll have to get the land sprayed and left a week.  Bother - it’ll take longer.”

“The owner might be more willing to sell,” said Darte.  “Doesn’t look as if he does much with his land.”

There was far more cultivation nearer the mansion.  “Well out of the way of those insects,” commented Wysau.

They went up to the door, and knocked.

“Lord Treprom is not at home,” said the servant who answered the door.

“May we see Lady Treprom?”

“Lord Treprom is not at home,” repeated the servant.

There was nothing for it but to go.  They were so hot and so tired that they sat under the nearest tree and drank what clean water Wysau had with him. Wysau sat, his eyes far away. A rider and berr came in sight, with a passenger en croupe.  The rider saw them, and started.

“Strangers!” he called.

Darte prodded Wysau, and they rose and went towards him.

“Is one of you the stranger doctor?”

“I am,” said Wysau.

“Please come and see my son,” begged his passenger.

All three were invited into a large room inside the house.  “Pray for me,” said Wysau in their thoughts, before following Lord Treprom and the patient’s father into a small bedroom.

“I’m so tired,” said Shurzi in Darte’s thoughts.

“Come on,” he thought.  “I’ll pray one sentence, and you the next.”.  It was hard - like trying to lift a rock out there in the heat.  But Wysau had to make a diagnosis, and he might have had no experience of this illness at all.

“I am thirsty,” said Shurzi.

“Darte,” came Wysau’s voice in his mind, “can you collect some clean water from higher up the river?  Where it runs fast is best.  Enough for a good drink for four people.”

The maid gave Darte six glass bottles; they also took Wysau’s empty container.  They sat down briefly by the river, and drank; suddenly it became easy to pray.  They walked back with every container full.  The maid took two of the bottles for domestic use, and Wysau tested the water.

“Better than at the site,” he commented.  “As good as we’re likely to get.” After adding a sachet of glucose and salts, he gave some to his patient, who drank thirstily.

“Abritis is making the necessary antibiotic - please pray - he’s got a dangerously raised temperature, and was dehydrating.”

“How . . . ?"

“I’ve asked them to bring it in the flying machine.  We need it too - he’s got bites on him, just like ours.”

“If they’re bringing the flying machine, let’s get the land sprayed at the same time.”

Wysau instructed the father to give frequent, small drinks to his son, and sat down in the large room to communicate.

“Here’s my son, at the brink of death,” thought the father, “and the stranger doctor sits there and stares into space!”

Lord Treprom returned to the bedroom.  “How is he?”

“We’re waiting for his proper medicine, but the stranger doctor has put some sort of medicine into this water.  My son is very pleased to drink it.”

Lord Treprom felt the patient’s forehead and hands.  “The fever is not quite so hot.”

“No, my lord, the stranger doctor put his covers like that.  He said they were making him too hot, except for his lower legs and feet.”

“Water,” whispered the patient.  His father gave him the last of what Wysau had mixed for him.  He lay still and dozed.


“Yes, Wysau, I’ve got the relevant insect-killing spray ready - Abritis gave it to me.”

“Great.  Could you also keep your eyes open for other low-lying land along the river bank - or anywhere else, for that matter - that looks like a suitable place for insects to breed.”

“You haven’t told me where the main target area is yet.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

The patient’s father followed Lord Treprom out into the larger room.

“My lord,” he said, with restrained bitterness, “I have heard about the wonders performed by the strangers, so still have hope of my son’s recovery; but he cannot work here any more.  My firstborn son has already died.  Without this one, what shall I do?”

“Your daughter will lose her employment,” said Lord Treprom.  If your son stays, I will pay for his treatment.”

The father shook his head.

“My lord,” said Wysau.

“What do I owe you?” asked Lord Treprom.

“We will talk of that later, when he has received his medicine.  Let us now talk about his illness.  You have seen the bites on this young man - now look at these.” He showed them Shurzi’s leg, and his own. “They are the same,” said the father.

“All insect bites are the same,” said Lord Treprom.

“No, no.  Some are small; others are larger.  These are the largest I have seen on your world.  We three strangers went to look at that flooded land by the river, because we would like to purchase it from you, to build a water treatment works.  We measured it, tested the water - and then, two of us were bitten.  We caught the insect that bit Shurzi, in the very act of biting him.  It was a large insect with a particular set of mouthparts - just the sort of insect that carries this disease.  She sucks the blood of the person she bites, and leaves the germs behind in that person’s blood.”

“I knew it was that flooded land!” cried the father.

“If we purchase that land from you,” continued Wysau, “we will spray it with poison to kill the insects, and we will build it up to prevent further flooding.  Once this is done, the workers on your farm will not be bitten, and will no longer become ill with that particular fever.”

“We shall have to ask the Roptoh for the money to buy the land,” said Darte, “but if you would like to quote us a price you would find acceptable, we can include it in our estimate.”

Lord Treprom paced up and down angrily.  “I do not wish to sell any land,” he said at last.  “It is the inheritance I received from my great-grandfather.” He was about to leave the room, when Wysau intervened.

“But - one moment, my lord.  I gather you would like this young man to stay here.”


“As a doctor, I think he ought not to be moved till he is well - and while he is here, good clean water can be brought for him from the higher reaches of the river, to aid his recovery.  But nothing will persuade his father to allow him to remain unless something is done about those insects.  So may we spray them with poison today?  We will come back in a week to check that they are dead.  If there is any sign of insect life, we will spray again.  This should keep your workers safe till the land floods again when the autumn rains come.  After a week, the poison breaks down into harmless constituents, and will do no damage to your land.”

“And how much will you charge?”

“If you decide to sell us the land,” said Darte, “we will make no charge.  Otherwise, that will be ten quen.”

“Yes, yes, you may spray it.  But I do not wish to sell it.” And, still annoyed, Lord Treprom left the room.

“Doctor,” said the father, “I do not wish to owe Lord Treprom anything.”

“I will make no charge, either to him or to you, for your son’s treatment,” assured Wysau.

“We must leave this house - but how can I get my son back home?”

“My lord,” Lady Treprom was saying, “we cannot get workmen for our land because of the fever.  So we will never be able to raise the river bank and stop that land from flooding.  And remember, the good butcher will supply us with no more meat till the bill for the banquet is paid.”

There was silence.

“If you sell that land to the Roptoh for the strangers, they will raise the river bank and make our land a healthy place to work.  And then we shall be able to purchase seed, and sell our produce in the market.”

“But people will not believe us when we say it is healthy.”

“The strangers will have to get workmen on that land if they are going to build anything there.”

This stopped Lord Treprom’s angry pacing.  “It would solve our problems,” he said.

Suddenly Wysau rose and went to the Treproms’ front door.  He returned with two bottles and a syringe, all full of medicine.  The patient looked nervous.

“Come and hold his hand,” said Wysau to his father.  “Just keep your arm quite still, and I will do my best not to hurt you at all.  There - it’s all over.  Would you like another drink of water?”

His father watched anxiously over the patient.  Wysau sat down, had a drink of water himself, and waited.

“We must leave this house - but how can I get my son back home?”

“Our flying machine is spraying those insects with poison as I speak,” said Shurzi.

“It would be better for your son if he could stay where he is, and rest for a fortnight,” said Wysau.  Weariness swept over him.

There was another knock on the Treproms’ front door, and in came Abritis and Thilish.  Thilish carried a tray with six potted plants on it; Abritis brought another bottle of medicine, three spoons, and a paper which she gave to Darte.

“You and Shurzi have been bitten, haven’t you?  And neither of you look too good.  Come on, both of you - what’s the dosage, Wysau?”

“Two of those three times daily,” repeated Wysau mechanically.

“Come on, then;" and Abritis dosed them both.  “You all right?” she asked her husband.

“No bites on me,” he said.  “Insects don’t like me.”

“There’s a good thing.”

“My son!” It was a cry of distress.  Immediately Wysau went to the bedroom.  He took his patient’s pulse, and put a strange glass bar with markings on it in his patient’s armpit.

“Shh.  Look, his chest is rising and falling.  Can you feel his breath on your hand?”

“Yes - yes, there is something.” He felt his son’s forehead and hands.  “Do you think his fever is reducing, doctor?”

“I think he’s asleep, which is a good sign.  I will tell you about the fever in a minute.” Wysau looked at his watch, sat down and waited; checked his watch again, took out the glass bar and examined it.  “Yes, his fever is reducing,” he confirmed.  “The medicine works very quickly when injected.  But he has been very seriously ill, and he will need more medicine tomorrow.”

Wysau asked for the patient’s sister, and gave both father and sister full instructions about the medicine, the plants and the patient’s care in general.  Something buoyed him up while duty called, but as soon as his work was done, he had to sit down.  Through a haze of weariness he saw Lord Treprom writing down a price for his land on Darte’s paper.  Darte folded it and put it in his pocket; then he gave Wysau an arm, and Thilish supported Shurzi out to the waiting flying machine.

“Now,” said Ytazu, “where’s that site we saw on the way here?  Remember, we warned the inhabitants that we would spray in an hour or two?  Oh, look, there, Tsie.”

“Right,” said Tsie, and hovered, circling the site.

“Abritis,” shouted Ytazu.


“Get those people inside - I want to spray.”

“Anyone would think,” said Abritis, “that I’d never warned them at all. Again she spoke to the inhabitants in their thoughts. “Any vegetables that you want to eat for your meal tonight - pick them now, before we spray your land with poison to kill the insects that breed there.  Now, quickly.”

Women and children hurried to obey.  One young man stood and stared up at the flying machine.

“Cover that well,” said Abritis.  He looked around, terrified.  Abritis sighed and hypnotized him to do it.  Not till everyone was safely inside did Ytazu press the “spray" button.

“Now,” Abritis said to that young man, “listen and remember, and tell your neighbours.  You told us there were insects that breed on your land, and bite you, and give you a fever.  We have sprayed your land with poison to kill them.  You need to dig channels to drain your land, and build up the river bank to prevent flooding when the autumn rains come.”

“It is not our land.  We have to pay rent to the Roptoh.  We cannot dig his land while we are hungry.”

“What is your district called?  Where the insects breed?”


“We’ll see what we can do.  Anyway, don’t eat any vegetables that have been sprayed until tomorrow evening at the earliest, and then, before you cook them, you must wash them thoroughly with water from the well you covered.  Only drink water from that well for the rest of today.  Tomorrow, if you have to drink river water, remember to boil it for ten minutes by the clock, and don’t drink the sediment at the bottom of your pan.”

“We must go and see the Roptoh about it today,” said Wysau.

“I’m too tired,” said Shurzi.


“Abritis can come with me,” said Darte.  “You ought to go to bed, both of you, and sleep the clock round.”

So that evening Abritis and Darte went to present the estimate for the water treatment works to the Roptoh.  He was thoughtful, and said he would consider the matter.  Then Abritis spoke up.

“We also sprayed the marshy land by the river at Enpar.  We told the inhabitants that they needed to raise the river bank against further flooding, and drain the marshy places, so that any insects that escape from Lord Treprom’s land do not set up a new colony there.  The inhabitants said they could not dig the land unless someone paid them to do it - they could not work while they were hungry.  If you will pay them, we will organize them to do the work.”

“That land at Enpar has been a problem for decades,” said the Roptoh.  “How long will it take twenty men to do that work?”

“Three weeks,” said Darte.

“You may do that immediately,” said the Roptoh, “with unemployed men, and I shall see how you get on.”

As they walked back to the flying machine, Darte said to his wife,

“I’ve never really looked at the Palace before - not carefully, I mean.  It’s far better built than any of their other great houses.  I wonder how they transported those massive hewn stones - and where from?  And the Palace isn’t at all damp, whereas the ground floor of the Treproms’ mansion struck me as distinctly damp, although it’s made of wood and the Palace of stone.”

“The Roptoh is considering our estimate,” he reported to the others.  “But, for now, we have permission to recruit twenty unemployed men to drain and build up that land by the river in Enpar - and money to pay them.  Can you come with me tomorrow, Ytazu, please?”

“My Remsheth’s pretty rudimentary.”

“I want you for demonstration purposes - to show them what work looks like.  Some of these people have no idea - especially those who have no regular work.  Oh - where’s Chalata?”

“A priest came to tell us our spray has killed at least thirty of their sacred birds.  Chalata and Janita have gone to explain.”

“It was my fault, really,” said Wysau.  “But if we’d sprayed those insects with an antibiotic to kill the fever bacteria, and then Lord Treprom had grown a crop on that land, the antibiotic would have entered the food chain, and far more damage would have been done.  Nobody’s going to eat sacred birds that drop dead in their back yards, so the damage stops there.”

“Chalata defended you very ably,” said Janita to Wysau later.  “He said that the insects were all dead, and the bank would be drained and built up; there should be no more stagnant water, no more insects to bite people and cause them to die of that nasty fever, and no more need to spray - therefore no more birds should be killed.  “We do not wish to kill creatures,” he said, “but their lives are not so important as the lives of people.” For all that, we were sorry to see all those bird bodies strewn over Lord Treprom’s fields, and around Enpar.”

“How many?” asked Wysau.

“About twenty to twenty-five, on Lord Treprom’s fields alone.”

“The poison might have made other birds infertile.”

“Ah,” said Chalata.  The monosyllable expressed satisfaction, not distress.

“I am sorry,” said Wysau.

Chalata knew his colleague well.  “Listen, Wysau: Janita and I stood there for a while after the High Priest’s retinue had left - and Lord Treprom came to speak to us.  We apologised to him about the birds on his land, but his attitude was very different.

“Have you thought how many birds there must be altogether,” he asked, “if thirty are killed by eating poisoned, living insects?  Far too many, that’s my answer - coming eating my corn and pecking at my vegetables.  Very few people will say so,but many will be pleased to see fewer birds around.  Don’t let those priests get you down.”

“Thanks, Chalata,” said Wysau.  “There will be more food for the poor.”

“You go back to bed, and don’t worry about it any more.”

Darte was surprised at how quickly he was able to recruit twenty men of working age, twelve of whom lived in Enpar.  Two men, who turned away, whispered to one of those twelve - but he responded in as heated a whisper, and went with Darte.  They followed him to the site, and he explained what they were going to do, and why.  He laid particular emphasis on the danger of two or more insects escaping from Lord Treprom’s marshy land and setting up a new colony in Enpar.

“Sihcha told me there were three dead sacred birds in the Palace grounds, and I heard the High Priest had been complaining that the strangers had sprayed insects with poison, and the birds had eaten them.”

“Yes, that’s right,” said Feor.  “Chalata and Janita had to go with the High Priest to see the damage, and explain that people’s lives were more important than those of birds.”

“Is that right, Helen?” asked Shimei.

“Jesus, the Creator of the universe, told His disciples: “You are of more value than many sparrows.” Yet even one sparrow does not fall to the ground without His Father’s knowledge and permission.”

“Father says these sacred birds are a pesky nuisance,” said Feor.  “They eat our grain and damage our vegetables, and we can’t so much as employ two boys to scare them away.”

“But it isn’t the birds that do the most damage,” said Shimei, “especially to the vegetables.  It’s those little mammals that run along the ground.  People see the birds in the crops, but the little mammals can run in and out without being seen.  There used to be larger mammals to hunt them, but the priests encouraged people to kill them, so there are very few left.  They hunted the birds too, you see.”

“How large are these mammals?” asked Helen.

“The size of my hand - or bigger.”

“The priests wouldn’t mind if people trapped them and ate them?”

“No.” Shimei thought.  “Could you ask Darte or Shurzi to make me some traps for them?”

“They would want to see one of them,” said Feor.

“Oh.  That would be difficult.” Shimei almost wept.

“Don’t worry about it, Helen,” said Feor.  “Shimei’s had this bee in her bonnet for years.”

“I want to prove to Father, and Feor, and all these other people who won’t believe me, that it is the little mammals who do the most damage to the crops, and that something could be done about them.  But they’re very difficult to catch.  They come at dawn and at twilight, when it is hard to see, and they are the colour of the earth, so that if they lie very still, you do not see them.”

“So when did you see them?” asked Helen.

“I escaped from my nurse one night, and hid in our vegetable garden.  I lay very quiet and still, so that she would not find me, and I watched the little mammals eating Father’s vegetables.”

“That was years ago,” said Feor.  “Don’t mind her, Helen.”

“But Feor, the poor are hungry.  Shimei wants to help them.”

“Someone will have to catch one in his hands before even the strangers can make traps to catch them.  The strangers are too busy to lie half the night in our vegetable garden.”

“I’m afraid Feor is right, Shimei,” said Helen sadly.  “Take it to the Lord in prayer.  He cares about the poor.  Jesus fed hungry people when He was on Tellus, twice.  If this is a good way to help feed the poor, He will help you to have something done.”

“She wants to be proved right,” thought Wysau, “but she is beginning to care.  Oh, Heavenly Father, please, give her opportunities to show she cares, that that love may grow.”

Two weeks later, the Roptoh rode to Enpar to see what was happening.  When he saw the men all working with a will, and much already accomplished, he was amazed - and greatly pleased when, without any prompting from Darte, the men all greeted him, and cried, “Long live the Roptoh!”

“Don’t give up on your Remsheth,” said Darte to Ytazu as they walked back to the flying machine that evening.  “I didn’t tell them the Roptoh was paying their wages - you did.  They certainly understood.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t ask where the extra soil had come from.  I don’t think he noticed the river bed was deeper.”

“That must be one of the first bits of the river bed that are uncovered after the spring rains.”

“What’s up, Wysau?” asked Shurzi on the following Monday after lunch.

Wysau groaned.  “I feel exhausted and inadequate.”

“You went out this morning for the first time to your new God-given surgery.  How many patients came to see you?”

“Twenty-one - out of a population - ”

“Never mind.  A week ago you only saw two.  Nobody has been doing any advertising on your behalf except your one patient in the city.”

“And Lord Treprom,” said Darte.  “He’s been telling the workmen what we did to his land, and the insects on it.  He’s told them he used to see a cloud of insects over that piece of land every evening at dusk - and now there aren’t any.  “And if you do get ill,” he says, “I’ll call the stranger doctor to you, and he’ll soon have you well again.  My workman was so near death that I’d fetched his father to say his last farewell - and now it’s a job to keep him in bed.” He’s actually managed to convince three farm labourers who were out of a job - they’re starting work ploughing one of his fields today.”

“That was a guess,” said Wysau.  “I’d never seen that illness before.  Symptoms can look quite different in real life from when you read about them in a text book.”

“Was it that one on “Diseases that have been wiped out on Cirian" that you were reading on the way here?”

“Yes.  I was anxious - it seemed a sensible antidote to worry.”

“Now we know what the symptoms feel like as well.”

“We haven’t been half as ill as he was.”

“I told you what Feor said about the purchase of that land, didn’t I?” said Chalata.  “The people here love land.  It’s the most precious thing they have.  They won’t sell it unless they’re on the verge of starvation.”

“That explains,” said Darte, “why the Roptoh was so surprised when we presented him with Lord Treprom’s signed statement.  We had to explain the problem with that land before he believed we hadn’t forged it, or obtained it by hypnotism.”

“God has done truly wonderful things for us, and through us,” summarized Chalata.  “It did my heart good to see Feor and Helen riding back through the city yesterday afternoon, and to see Feor, Helen and Shimei riding to the evening service on Sunday.  It was one more sign to show it was not Foquar who chose Helen for Feor.  There’s no need to be despondent.”

“It’s probably just the aftermath of this disease,” said Wysau.

Shurzi looked puzzled.  “Seriously, doctor, I feel fine.” He poured himself another glass of water.  “I shall rest as you advise, this and tomorrow afternoons, but I’m looking forward to starting work in earnest on Wednesday.”

“There won’t be much more to do by Wednesday,” said Darte.  “Look at the time - I must go back up to Enpar.” He grabbed his bag and opened the door - to find a servant who had just arrived.

“This is for you, from the Roptoh.”

“Thank you; thank him from us.” Darte took the envelope inside and gave it to Shurzi.  “Tell me about it as I walk up.”

“Cheer up, Wysau,” said Shurzi.  “The Roptoh has accepted our estimate.  We can get on with the water treatment works.  Wasn’t it a good thing that Ytazu resprayed Lord Treprom’s land?”

That evening, in their prayer time, three of the team prayed specifically for Wysau’s full recovery.

Shortly afterwards, Thilish brought round the bedtime drinks.  “This is yours, love,” she said, turning the tray so that Shurzi could pick up his mug.  “This is yours, Cha - Dar - Ytazu.” He took his with a smile.  “This is yours, Y - Wysau.”

“This is yours, Jan - Ab - Thilish,” teased Tsie, bringing Thilish’s drink to her.  Everyone laughed, even Wysau.

“She has her priorities right,” defended Janita with a smile.  “She never muddles our names in prayer.”

“My lady,” said Sihcha to Shimei one morning when Abritis was teaching Helen, “what is making you sad?”

Sihcha was a loved and trusted servant, in Shimei’s service since she was sixteen.  Shimei decided to tell her about the incident on the flying machine.  “That was over a week ago.  He said he would ask me to help him, but I have had no word from him.  He must know I am well now.”

Sihcha thought.  “Maybe, now he realizes what a great lady you are, he does not like to ask.”


“You could go to him and offer your services.”

“Would it not be immodest to go to his surgery in the city?”

“You could ride there.  Can you thank him for something he has done?”

“That would be easier.  But I still don’t like to.”

“Men can be shy, too.”

“Foquar was not.”

“He was horrible!  No, nice men can be shy.”

“Sihcha, have you someone you love?”

“I like him,” confessed Sihcha.  “I will wait and see.  But he is shy.  He needs encouragement.”

“Ask him to come to a Sunday service.”

Sihcha’s face glowed.  “Thank you, my lady, that is a good idea.  I can say you and the strangers will be pleased to see him there?”

“Of course; and his family and friends, as well.”

“Excellent.  Oh, thank you, my lady, for your good advice.  But where are the services held?”

“They will hold them in the surgery.”

“Where is it?”

“The strangers took over an empty shop - the owner let them have it when they cured his son.  It is on Ekke Street - on the corner of Arkel Way.”

Shimei sighed.

“My lady, will you go to the surgery?”

“I don’t know - I hardly dare - I do not wish to appear forward and immodest.”

“You could ask the Princess Ruhamah to go with you.”

“Sihcha!  Yes! Thank you!  But we ought to ride, and Ruha does not ride.  I suppose I could teach her.”

This provided the nurse with times of rest, and Shimei and Ruha with times of exercise and stimulation.  Shimei wished to take Ruha out, and found that most of her dresses were too small and too short.  Her father was persuaded to order five new dresses for her, and Shimei took pleasure in advising on style and colour, and consulting with Ruha, the Roptoa and the dressmaker.

In a week they were ready; and Ruha, who was secretly glad of the extra riding practice inside the Palace grounds, washed her hair, and was arrayed in a stylish new dress.  They were just preparing to go out when a messenger arrived.

“The exalted Prince Kwishe of Traitan, the Lords Alavar and Varin, and their suite, are riding into the city towards the Palace!” he panted.

The Roptoh graciously gave the messenger a silver coin.

“Oh no!” cried Shimei.  “Oh, please, Father, don’t make me marry him!”

“He may have come for another purpose.  You must at least be courteous.”

Very soon afterwards, the Prince was introduced.  Shimei was older than he remembered her, and looked decidedly sulky.  At her side, with shining hair and an excited smile, stood a slender girl he had not seen before.  Her father introduced her with pride.

The Crown Prince, newly married to a pretty dark-haired girl from another world, was affable enough, and imperturbably cheerful.  The Princess Shimei remained sulky till he asked the Roptoh about the strange silvery fish-shaped thing they had seen in the Royal park.  The Roptoh answered, but it was a suddenly eager Shimei who filled in the details.  She told him about the market butcher’s boy who chopped off his finger.  His interest was caught.  She told him about the Roptoh’s eyes, the Roptoa’s ears.  He expressed a wish to meet these strangers.  It was decided that the Princesses would ride to the strangers’ ship that afternoon to arrange a meeting.

The Roptoa gave Shimei a discreet look.  Shimei endeavoured to behave as was expected of her.  Ruha remembered her lessons rather more successfully.  After the midday meal, the Prince and his lords withdrew for a rest.

“Ruha, you behaved perfectly,” praised her father.

“Thank you.  Oh, Father, I am terribly nervous about riding outside the Palace grounds - and especially riding with the Prince to meet the strangers.”

“Come out with me this afternoon, Ruha,” encouraged Shimei, “and then it will be easier when you go with the Prince.”

The Roptoh summoned a servant.  “Command a groom to accompany the Princesses,” he said pointedly.

The nervous Ruha went out on an old, staid berr.  Shimei rode her own berra, a younger horse who had had little exercise for the past few days, except for walking round and round generating electricity outside the strangers’ flying machine.  Shimei managed to rein her in, and make her walk slowly by Ruha’s berr, for a little way; then Ruha, unnerved by the berra’s restlessness, said to her sister,

“You go on and let your berra gallop.  I’ll just ride round the market with the groom, and back to the Palace.”

This suited everyone.  Shimei’s berra was as eager as Shimei to trot briskly to the surgery.

Wysau sat still in the shade of his surgery, hoping for twenty, or even ten minutes’ rest.

“Dr. Wysau.”

He started.  The Princess Shimei!

“I am well,” she said.  “I have come to thank you for what you have done for Ruha.”

Wysau hardly heard this, for a child ran up to him, crying,

“Doctor!  Doctor!”

Wysau sighed.

“My mother - she is very sick.”

“Where is she?”

“To the west - ten streets away.”

Wysau got up slowly, thrusting various bottles into his bag.

“Let me take you on my berra.  She is young and strong; she won’t mind two people.”

It was a long way up, but the child helped Wysau to mount behind the Princess, and shouted directions.  In another of these squalid dwellings, on a dirty mat, on an unswept floor, lay an unwashed woman, in so much pain that she could not get up.  A baby cried in a corner.

Wysau’s head was already aching.  “How old is your baby?” he asked the mother.

“Four months old.”

Wysau put a sterile teat onto the larger of the bottles of fresh baby milk he had brought with him, and handed it to the child.  “Take your baby brother outside and feed him.”

More cries.  Then splutters, sucks, and burps.  Wysau was examining his patient, while the Princess held the berra, and a scented handkerchief to her nose.  “The pain, Doctor, here - and I cannot eat - I have vomited - I have little milk for my baby.”

Why did these people wait till the infection was so serious before calling him?  Her answers to his subsequent questions confirmed his initial diagnosis.  He filled his syringe, cleaned up a small area of the patient’s skin and injected.

“Doctor, I’m thirsty.”

Wysau brought out another precious bottle of clean water, glucose and salts, and a clean, thin cup.

“Oh, Doctor, this tastes good.”

Wysau smiled.  “Lie down again - there - rest.” He stayed and helped her to drink three more times, while the baby fed.

“The pain - it’s easing!” she said.  “Oh Doctor, thank you.  And for my baby’s food.  How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing,” he said.  “No money from your world can pay for this medicine from mine.  Lie down and rest.  Drink all this, a little at a time; do not try to eat till tomorrow morning.” He noted down her address.  “I’ll ask a nurse to come to you tomorrow morning with more clean water, more medicine, and another bottle of milk for your baby.”

The child came in with the baby, and gave Wysau the empty bottle.  “Give him a clean cloth, Zatim,” said his mother.  “Then he will sleep, and we can both rest.”

Wysau put both the empty bottles into a bag within his doctor’s bag, and mounted behind the Princess.

“How could you bear it, in that smelly hole?”

“How could she bear it, your Highness?  And all that pain?  Infections like that are very painful - even worse than your mother’s ears.  I might have been screaming if I were her.  But she has no clean water to drink, to wash herself, her clothes or the baby - no strength to sweep out her hut.  I might have done that for her, but the dust would have gone into her clean water.”

“She has clean water now.  How is the work going on the water supply?”

“Much better, now that the workers understand that they will benefit.”

“Dr. Wysau, you must learn to ride.  You mounted my berra quite well just now.”

“I have no berr,” said he.

“Prynoh has given me a berra,” she said.  “Not a well-behaved animal like this one, but a younger, high-spirited berra.  I like the berra, but I do not like Prynoh.  Perhaps now that Prince Kwishe has come, he will leave me alone.  Anyway, I could give you this berra, if you will let me teach you to ride her.”

“Not this afternoon, your Highness; my head aches.”

“This evening?  It will be cooler.”

“Yes, please.  Come to the flying machine at - a quarter to eight?  If your visitor permits?”

“Shall I tell them I will arrange for you all to greet them tomorrow afternoon?  Where?”

“I may not be there, if I am called to a patient.  I will consult the others, and tell you this evening.”

This was the reason she gave for her speedy departure after the evening meal.

“She is a woman of courage,” said Prince Kwishe, " to go to those strangers quite alone.”

“They are gentle and good,” said Ruha, “especially the white-haired doctor.”

“And is he very handsome, this doctor?”

“I’ve only seen him a few times - I didn’t notice,” said Ruha.  Her truthfulness was obvious.

“He is - very handsome,” said the Roptoh with a sigh.

Once well fed and comfortable, and in congenial company, Prince Kwishe loved to regale his hearers with tales of his visits to foreign parts, and the strange things he had seen there.  The Roptoh and Roptoa tried to be interested, but the Roptoa was indignant with Shimei for leaving their party, rather rudely, she felt; and the Roptoh was concerned about the relationship between his family and the royal family of Traitan, if he allowed Shimei to refuse the younger brother as she had rejected the elder.  If Shimei was unhappy with him, he kept telling himself, more trouble would result than if she refused him, but how could he tell Prince Kwishe?  This train of thought was interrupted by Ruha, who, forgetting her shyness in her eagerness for an answer, begged the Prince to tell her more about the country he had been speaking of.  Did the women all have fair hair? or were some dark-haired like the Princess Helen?

“No, they all have golden hair, but not as glowing as yours, your Highness,” he answered gallantly.

Ruha blushed very prettily, and put another question.  A new hope came into the Roptoh’s mind.  Certainly the Prince appreciated Ruha’s genuine absorption in his stories . . .

Wysau was quick to learn, but he was nervous of the berra.

“What do you ride on your world?” asked Shimei.

“If I want to travel a short distance, I drive a machine called a car.  For a long distance, I fly in an aeroplane round our world.  To travel short distances, I mean, relatively short distances, we use flying machines like ours; or, for very long distances, a mother ship - an enormous ball like a small village.”

“Can you sit on your machine? the one called - ”

“A car?  I can sit in it, and three or four other people can sit in it too.  It has a roof to keep off the sun or the rain.  It can go very fast for a long way.  It does not get tired like a berr, but it does need electricity.  Come inside, Shimei - I am still tired.”

She tied her berra, and came in.  “Did you do more work this afternoon?”

“I went out on two calls, yes.”

There was something sad and ominous about his manner.  Drinks and bites were passed round.  Wysau seemed abstracted - he looked, without seeing anything.  It was Thilish who talked to Shimei.

“Chalata says I must try harder to speak Remsheth.  I have stayed in the ship for too long.”

“She’s been very useful,” said Janita.  “She’s been helping Abritis to make lots of medicines.”

“But now that we have a good store of medicines,” said Chalata, “she must learn Remsheth.”

“So that I can help Cha - Dar - Wysau in the surgery in the mornings.  More patients are coming to him every day.”

So Shimei gave Thilish some language practice till her eyes met Wysau’s.  There was love and pity in his, and - yes - anger.  “Are you angry with me?” she asked bluntly.  Cirians did not seem to mind what her people would consider rudeness; and neither did he.

“A little,” he replied, “because you have so little pity for your own people.”

“What would you have me do?” she asked helplessly.  “It is the Roptoh who rules.”

“Your Highness,” he said, “I need three or four more lessons before I can ride your berra safely.  Will you come with me - with your berra? for three afternoons? or will your father be angry?”

“It will be better in the afternoons than in the mornings.”

“Will you help me?  Sometimes there is a baby crying, or a small child who clings to his mother, and I cannot examine or talk to my patient properly.  Could you help?  I will tell you what to do.”

“I shan’t know how.”

“I will teach you.  It is important, your Highness.”

Again that ominous note.  “There is something he knows that I don’t,” thought Shimei.

“Be careful to be gentle with your servants,” said Wysau.  “Warn your brother to be gentle with the people.”

“Should I warn Helen?”

“No need. Helen is very gentle and gracious to everyone.”

“She is,” agreed Shimei.  “She says the right thing when I say the wrong one.”

“Yes,” said Wysau.  “With a real smile - for me!” thought Shimei.  “She’s very good to the servants,” she said aloud.  “Our maid thinks the world of her.”

He looked at her interrogatively.

“All right - I’ll try.”

In the evening, when the sun was setting, Darte and Shurzi took one of their irrigation machines round to an old, poor woman who sat in the doorway of her hovel.  She owned the centre strip of land of a series of twenty some distance from the river.  The ground was dry and dusty, and only a few straggling vegetables had managed to survive the heat of that afternoon.  She had a water hole at one end of her strip.

“Good evening,” they said.

“Good evening, strangers,” she said, eyeing them with suspicion.

“Vegetables are very expensive these days.”

“Because we have to work so hard bringing water from the river to them,” she replied tartly.  “And it is hard to get water from this hole - it is so deep.”

“But there is water there?”

“Oh yes - if I could get it up.”

“May we put our pump into your water hole?”

“And what will you do with the water?”

“Spray it over the land - not yours only, but all your neighbours’.  It should be sprayed in the evening, when the sun has set.  Will you allow this?”

“My neighbours would be angry if I refused.  Carry on.”

She came out of her hovel to watch as Darte and Shurzi dropped the pipes lower and lower into the water table, set up the sprinkler and tested their machinery.  A gurgle, a splutter, a spray of mud - and the water sprayed like rain all over the strips of land.  “We will come back in two hours, to turn it off.”

The old woman watched in amazement as the parched land became less dusty.  A welcome coolness and freshness came with the water.  Her neighbours came out to ask what was going on.  The children took off what rags they had on, and ran into the spray.  The adults sat outside and watched as the light faded.  The dried-up vegetables began to revive, their leaves to stiffen.

“Don’t tread on the vegetables - they’re tomorrow’s dinner!  Come in now, and get dry, it’s time for bed.”

When Shurzi came to turn off the sprinkler, almost the whole street was there to watch.  He noticed an intelligent-looking young man outside the house next door.  He beckoned to him and to the woman.

“Come and see how to turn this off.”

The woman tried to turn it off, but it was too stiff for her old hands.  The young man turned it off, and on again, and off, till he could do it with ease.  “Remember the water hole is on this lady’s land, and she must give permission for the sprinkler to be turned on and off.  We would advise that it be turned on after sunset each day for two hours, and then turned off.  Are you all happy with this arrangement?”

Not only did Shurzi see the nodding of heads; he also read thoughts.  Most people’s reaction was, “Now it will be worth trying to grow vegetables all over our patch.” One or two thought, “It’s just as well she has to get young Yoni to turn it on and off for her.”

“So you left the sprinkler with them?” asked Wysau.

“I felt we had to,” said Shurzi.

“You do realize they’ll just make money on it for themselves - they won’t bring down the price of vegetables for anyone else?”

“We just wanted to do something.  You have to start somewhere.”

“Darte is right, Wysau,” said Chalata.  “You had to start with your first patient.  Because we spent so much time and trouble on the royal family, they are willing to pay for the water treatment works.”

“Give the man credit for some intelligence,” said the Roptoh a little testily to his reproachful wife.  “It’s patently obvious that Shimei can think of no-one but Wysau - she made it obvious that first evening.”

“Wretched girl!”

“Remember, it was Shimei who arrayed Ruha in a new dress on the very afternoon of Kwishe’s arrival.  Ruha looked quite pretty - well, more attractive than I’ve ever seen her.”

“So you think Ruha might get Kwishe?”

“She is modest, feminine, has no sharp tongue . . . "

That afternoon Tsie had given Shimei a variety of uncooked salad vegetables, carefully washed in clean water on the flying machine, as a present for the royal party.

“Truly, your Highness,” said Shimei, “I have often eaten uncooked vegetables like these on the flying machine with the strangers, and each time, on that same evening, there was nothing but peace and comfort in my interior.  Try it for yourself and see how you feel.”

“I will,” said Ruha.

“Very well, I will too,” he said, smiling at her.

Prince Kwishe listened with wonder while Ruha told him about Feor and Helen.  He and his lords rode with the Roptoh, the Roptoa and Ruha to see the water treatment works; on the way back they met Wysau and Shimei, both seated on the same berra, returning from an urgent visit.  The Prince was shocked - a Princess, in plain clothes, alone with a man to whom she was not even engaged! and in public, too!  He exchanged glances with his lords - no, that would never do.  That afternoon, as they rested in the heat of the day, he pondered a swift and indignant return home - and found he had no wish to return.

“My hosts have been most attentive and kind,” he said to his lords.  “Our countries have been allied since my grandfather’s time.”

“Before that, your Highness,” agreed his advisors.  “And the King your father particularly wishes you to marry a Princess of this country.”

“Ah, you mean, the Princess Ruhamah?”

“She is a gentle, modest girl,” agreed his lords.  “She would make a most suitable wife.”

“I don’t know.  I was so attached to her sister.  Shimei is lively and intelligent.  Perhaps to behave so with a stranger is more pardonable - but - if she were to behave so in our country!”

Wysau was just finishing his meal, but the other strangers had finished some time before.

“Shimei - have you come with your parents’ permission?”

“Yes.  I am to teach you to ride alone.”

“Are you no longer allowed to come with me?”

“I may come, but we may not ride the same berr.  I have brought you an old, staid berr, such as Ruha likes to ride.”

“Have you been scolded on my account?”


Wysau looked at her, puzzled.  She did not look downcast - quite the reverse.

“Mother was very cross - but she is always fussing about behaving properly.  Father was a bit cross, but underneath he is very relieved.”


“Because now Prince Kwishe will not ask for me - and Father has been worrying about how to tell him I would not have him ever since Kwishe arrived.  Father thinks he might now ask for Ruha, who is the only one who enjoys his stories.”

“I must sit down for ten minutes - but by then it will only be light for another forty or fifty.”

“Long enough for a good lesson.  Then we can rest.  We will take the berr home to his stable, you riding and me leading.”

“Then I can walk back here.”


“Shimei, I am sorry.”

“Don’t worry about Mother.”

“But I’ve put you to a public shame.”

“Would it be shameful on your world?”

“Not in the circumstances, no - because you were helping me with important work.”

“Then how were you to know?”

“I must ride a berr alone, however nervous I am,” resolved Wysau.

“Ruha was nervous, but she did not unnerve this old berr.  But you can only have him in the afternoons; Ruha might need him in the mornings.”

“My patients come to me in the mornings.”

“Tomorrow,” said Feor on the Saturday, as the royal party sat together after their evening meal, “is the strangers’ holy day.  Helen and I, and Shimei, usually attend their services of worship - but unfortunately Helen cannot accompany me in the morning.  I should be grateful for your company, Kwishe, if you would like to come.”

“Thank you for the invitation, Feor - but I am afraid it would offend our people if they heard I had been worshipping a foreign god.”

After breakfast, when the Roptoh, Prince Kwishe and his lords had gone out together, there was a knock on the door of Helen’s room.

“Come in.”

“Could I ask your advice, please, Helen - I do not know what to wear to the theatre tonight.”

“I don’t know much about the fashions here,” said Helen.  “Do come in and sit down.”

“Shimei’s never here, and Mother is so busy - she just says, “Whichever you haven’t worn yet.” But I’ve worn them all - except the one I like least.”

“Would you like to bring the dresses you have worn least recently, and the one you don’t like so much, and we’ll talk about it.”

“Oh, thank you, Helen.” Ruha rushed away to fetch her dresses.  Helen prayed.

“May I see the dress you like least?  Ah.  Have you tried it on?”

“Only briefly, while the dressmaker was making sure they all fitted properly.”

“Some dresses look much better when you are wearing them.”

“I’d much rather wear this one.”

“Put it on and we’ll see.”

Ruha surveyed herself critically in Helen’s full-length mirror.  “I still look like a very young girl - not old enough to be married.”

“What does your mother think?”

“Mother and Father would both be very pleased if I married Prince Kwishe.”

“Would you?”

“Yes.  I want to get out of these four walls and see the countryside.  I should love to visit another country.  I have been kept in nearly all my life.”

“But do you like the Prince?”

“Yes.  He tells fascinating stories.”

“So would you enjoy going to a strange country, and living among a people you do not know, who speak a strange language?”

“Oh,” said Ruha.  “I hadn’t thought of that.  Prince Kwishe speaks our language so well - oh dear.”

“There won’t be Mother and Father to ask what to do next.”

“Couldn’t I ask Kwishe’s mother?”

“Sometimes - but she won’t be able to speak your language.  I needed someone to turn to, who spoke my language.”

“You have the stranger women.”

“Only sometimes.  They are all so busy.”

“Yes - just like Shimei.”

“I have someone to turn to, Ruha, Who is never too busy to listen to me - Who always understands me perfectly, and Who will reproach me when it is good for me - Whose counsel is always right.”

“You mean, your God - but you can’t see Him or hear Him, can you?”

“Not with these ears, no; but He speaks to me through His holy Book.”

Ruha looked at herself again.  “This dress is all right, but it’s not special.”

“Try the one you haven’t worn yet.”

“Oh, all right.” Ruha changed again.  “Ooh.”

Helen smiled at her surprise.  “Shimei has very good taste, you know, sister.”

“It is special.”

“It is.  It’s you.”

“Oh, thank you Helen, a thousand times.” Ruha kissed Helen, changed out of her finery, laid her new dresses over her arm, and rushed away delightedly to prepare herself for lunch.

The royal party were sitting in a cool shaded pavilion, sipping cold drinks and listening to Prince Kwishe, when a hot dusty messenger panted his way in, and, kneeling before the Prince, presented him with a letter from his father.  He then withdrew for a bath and a rest.

“May I read this?” asked the Prince politely.  “It must be very urgent.”

His face went pale as he read.  “My brother the Crown Prince, and all his family - saving little Princess Kwesha, who was named after me - have died of a mysterious disease.  My father writes that this occurred after he had had a servant beaten, and that servant had died.  He fears someone put a curse on the family.  All dead - all but little Kwesha.”

“Poor little thing,” said Ruha softly, “all alone.”

Prince Kwishe looked at Ruha - were there tears in her eyes?  How tenderly she would care for his little niece!  He did not read to the company his father’s parting injunction: “Come home quickly, but bring a bride with you.  This is of even greater importance now.”

The Roptoh looked very grave.  “This is our sorrow too,” he said.

“How deeply we feel it! and for you, and for your royal parents,” commiserated the Roptoa.

“Poor little Kwesha,” thought Ruha.  “It must be as bad for her as it was for me.” She longed to take the little girl in her arms and be a mother to her.  She was too close to tears to speak, but she had no need.

“Oh Helen,” murmured Feor, “it is thanks to you, your gentleness, your good advice, that we have dealt well with our servants.”

“The strangers have done much good to our people,” said the Roptoh.  “We may owe them more than we realize.  Dr. Wysau must be loved in our city for his work among the poor.  You may think me too liberal a parent, exalted Prince, in allowing my daughter Shimei to ride with the stranger doctor to help the poor.  But I had noticed the people’s restlessness, and considered that she was wiser than she knew.”

“My father, and you, your Majesty, are wiser than I realized,” said the Prince hoarsely.  “You will understand that I must return with all reasonable speed - but may I ask a boon to go with me? the Princess Ruhamah to be my wife?”

“The stranger doctor asks for an audience, your Majesty, in private.”

“Well, I suppose I’d better see him.  But it is inconvenient.”

“I’m sorry that this is awkward for you,” said Wysau, “and if this were not very urgent, I would not have disturbed you.  It seems to us that Prince Kwishe’s people are on the verge of revolution, and your daughter may be killed with him.  If there is revolution, you will not only lose her, but also with her any political advantage you might gain by pleasing their royal house.  You could say she is very young, and ask to delay the marriage for a year or two.”

“Thank you, Wysau.  When I need advice, I shall know where to ask it.”

“Helen - may I come in?”

“Yes, come in, Ruha,” said Helen, laying down her French Bible.

“I can’t believe I am going to be married.”

“I am delighted for you.”

“But I’m frightened, Helen.  You had to come to a different world.  How do you manage to delight Feor - to please everyone as you do?”

“I ask my God for help.  I take my troubles and problems to Him.  I tell Him when I feel lonely or distressed.”

“We have to leave so quickly! in only three days!  Tomorrow we must be publicly betrothed, and the next day I must go with him to be married in his country.”

“Ask the Prince to teach you a little of his language: how to greet his father the King, his mother the Queen; how to say “Thank you" and “if you please" and “if it pleases your Majesty”.  Ask for only a few words at first, and repeat them till you know them.”

Ruha repeated her brief list.  “But how can I bear it?”

“God knows all about Traitan, and what will happen there.  Tell Him how you feel.”

“Can we tell Him together?”

“But first you must realize you have offended this great God.  All the wrong things you do offend Him - they are all against Him.”

“What wrong things have I done?”

“Were you never naughty for your nurse?”

“I thought ordinary people didn’t matter.”

“They matter to God.  They do, Ruha, very much.  Always be good to your servants, every one of them, even those you don’t like.  One day they may be your social equals, as already they are your equals before God.”

“Oh.  Well, if those things count, then I have been very naughty.  And for Shimei sometimes, too.  But haven’t people been more unkind to me?  I don’t mean you, or the strangers, or Shimei, but my parents and Feor never took any notice of me when I was ill.”

“God knows about all that.  That is no barrier between yourself and God.  When other people mistreat you, God sees it, and it displeases Him; and He is able to save you out of it.”

“The stranger doctor is His servant - oh, I see.”

“Yes.  He saved you out of it.  He heard the cry of your heart before you had even heard of Him.  But if you want to have Him as your friend and advisor and helper, then you have to come to Him as He says you must.  After all, He is the great King over all the universe.  And that means confessing all the wrong things you have done, and being truly sorry that you did them, and resolving, with His help, not to do them any more.”

“Does He want a sacrifice?”

“We are sinners before a holy God.  We cannot give any sacrifice that is sufficient to pay for our sin.  Sin is very serious in God’s sight.”

“Then - how can one worship this God?” cried Ruha in despair.  “I know I still sin, and will go on sinning even if I try not to.”

“God Himself has provided a Sacrifice - His one and only Son.  He died on my world, to pay for all His people’s sin.  He was punished for all the sin of those who will believe in Him, be wretched about their sin and forsake it.  He knows we will not be free of sin while we live on this earth.  But, if we confess our sin and believe in Him, He cleanses us of every sin, and, when we die, He will take us to live with Him in His heaven.  He commands us to love Him and to love other people.  If there’s no real difference in our attitude to Him and to other people while we’re on this earth, then we aren’t His yet, and we have to keep on asking till we know we’ve been forgiven, and He has accepted us as His children.”

“Did she accept Christ?” asked Feor later.

“No - but she did accept a New Testament, and intends to take it with her.  We must keep on praying.”

The next day, Wysau came into the flying machine almost an hour late for the evening meal.

“Good thing it’s a salad,” said Tsie.  “Do help yourself to some more snunchi, Wysau - you must be hungry.”

“I am - thanks, Tsie.  I couldn’t get round so quickly without Shimei.”

“Oh yes - Ruhamah’s betrothal.” There was silence.

“She’ll be going with him tomorrow to Traitan,” said Wysau.

“They can’t believe it’s really going to happen,” said Abritis, “because it’s never happened here before.”

“I suppose if it happens in Traitan first,” began Shurzi.

“The Roptoh might take our warnings seriously,” finished Abritis.


“My son?”

“I have considered these laws.”

The Roptoh read the list.  “They must have been enacted before my time.  I don’t remember them.”

“What do you think of them?”

“Not particularly good.  The House of Representatives would throw them out.” He passed the list back to Feor.  “There aren’t any more strange indispositions in store for you, my son?”

“Not that the strangers have warned me about.  But Father, could we have these laws repealed?”

“We could.  Our vote, and the overwhelming majority of the Representatives, would throw them out.  But we would offend some of the nobles.”

“May I propose their repeal, Father?”

“If you wish.  There’s an afternoon session of both Houses in three days’ time.  But why do you consider the matter of such importance?  Kwishe and Ruha only left this morning - I feel the need of some rest.”

“Because my God hates such laws.  He will not bless me if I allow them to continue, now that they have been pointed out to me.”

“Who pointed them out?”

“Dr. Wysau.”

The Roptoh drummed his fingers on the table.  “Those strangers!  They are always right!” He turned to his son.  “Don’t you find it infuriating?  Don’t you hate them telling you what to do?”

Feor did not know what to say.

“I shall have to have those laws repealed.  Ooh, their cleverness!”

“I know I must, Father, but why you?”

“Dr. Wysau will never stay here to marry Shimei if we do not have these laws repealed.  How can I sit here and see my daughter’s heart broken!”

Feor felt very small.  He had forgotten his sister’s love.

“Did you not know that Prynoh is trying to court her?  He began showering her with gifts, begging her to dine with him, go to the theatre with him, as soon as he heard of Ruha’s betrothal.  Shimei refuses; she rides with Wysau to visit the poor.  She spends her evenings with him on the strangers’ ship, whenever he asks her; otherwise she stays here.  Wysau only has to speak to her in her thoughts, and she does whatever he tells her.”

“I have noticed she has a far more gentle tongue.”

“That’s the worst of it!  How can I complain at the change in my daughter?  She rides in clothes that a shopkeeper might wear!  My daughter!  Some of the nobles do not recognize her when she calls with him at their homes.”

“Yet, Father, we would be privileged and honoured to have such a clever man marry Shimei.”

“Will he?  Is he playing with her affections?”

“No, Father.  He would never do that.”

“Then he must marry her.  They have been seen together far too often.  He must know she loves him.  I wish I shared your confidence in him.”

“So, Father, you will table my proposition that these laws be repealed?”

“Yes, yes; very well, I’ll call Artax now.”

“Bore holes and dust, pipes coming into the kitchens - and upstairs - dust everywhere!  Oh my lady,” cried Sihcha, “what a mess!”

“It will only be for a few days.  When it is finished, we will have clean water flowing from those pipes.  No-one will have to carry water up or down stairs again, and we will be able to drink that water without becoming ill.  It is a trial today, but in the weeks and months ahead we shall rejoice.”

On the Thursday morning at breakfast, Feor said,

“Father, I’ve been thinking.  Repealing those laws will be a very popular move, except in the House of Nobles.”

“True,” said the Roptoh.

“I think it would be better if you moved their repeal.”

The Roptoh ate and thought.  “Perhaps you’re right,” he said slowly.  Perhaps you’re right,” he repeated more decisively.  “I will.  Thank you, son.”

Not long afterwards, Feor hurried away to the strangers’ flying machine, leaving his wife with her parents-in-law.

“I am glad you don’t have to rush off,” said the Roptoa to Helen.

“Feor wants me to arrange an accompaniment to the trie melody he composed yesterday evening, my lady,” said Helen, “and I am no composer.  I should be grateful for your assistance.”

“Certainly, my dear.”

Later on that morning, the Roptoh came to the Roptoa’s apartment for his mid-morning drink, and found Helen busily writing.

“Feor’s melody is beautiful,” said the Roptoa, and asked Helen to play it.

“It is,” said the Roptoh.  He sighed.  “It’s those strangers being right again.  He is also more intelligent than he used to be.”

Helen sat down again to her writing.

“I only wish I were sure,” thought Wysau.  “Is she helping the poor for my sake only?  Has she any care for them in her own heart?  How can we be happy together if she does not share my love for her people?”

Their next call was on the child of a nobleman.  Shimei did the socializing at noble houses, freeing Wysau to attend to his patient.

“Another antibiotic we must make more of this evening,” he thought.  “Still, only another day or two, and clean water will run into this house, and into standpipes out on the streets.”

The child took his spoonful willingly, and answered Wysau’s smile.

Shimei was enjoying herself.  She would have liked to stay all afternoon, but Wysau had four more calls to make, and some might be real emergencies.  “I’m sorry,” she said to the noble lady.  “I would have liked to stay, but the doctor needs my assistance.”

While Wysau was mounting Shimei’s berra, they heard two loud bangs.  They rode out of the garden into the street, just in time to see Feor being thrown by Shimei’s new berra, which gallopped away at top speed.  Feor crashed into a material stall, sending bales of cotton, rolls of material, pillows and cushions flying.  Wysau dismounted promptly and ran over to Feor.  Prynoh was bending over him.

“Excuse me, I am a doctor,” said Wysau.  “Pulse, yes; breathing, yes; what a mercy he landed on all this material! and a cotton bale for a pillow!  No external bleeding - ”

“Is he dead?” asked Prynoh.

“No, no,” said Wysau, continuing his examination.

“But if a berra throws you in the market place on a Thursday, you surely die.”

“I don’t think he’s broken a single bone,” said Wysau to Shimei, who had given both berron to a small boy to hold.  “But I’d like to take him to the flying machine to take scan pictures, just in case.”

Feor struggled back to consciousness.  “I must go to the House of Representatives.”


“Because I promised my father my support in repealing those laws.”

Wysau’s eyes took on that vacant stare.  “Your father’s getting on fine.  The entire House of Representatives has supported him, and twelve of the House of Nobles.  You don’t have a vote in the House of Nobles, do you?”

“Yes, but Father can cast it for me.”

“Then you can come with me to the flying machine.  You’ve had quite a shock, and you need to rest.  Shimei, help him to mount behind me.  There, hold on.  We’ll go quite slowly.  Thanks, Shimei.”

Shimei looked round for the boy and her berra.  There was only the boy.

“I’m sorry, your Highness; your berra was frightened and she is strong - I could not hold her.”

“She’ll have gone home to her stable,” said Shimei in resignation.  “This is for your trouble.”

Prynoh had gone - presumably to the House of Nobles.  Shimei looked round at the shattered stall.  She picked up the bale of cotton which had served her brother as a pillow.  There was no blood on it; only a little dust underneath.  She brushed it off, and set the bale on the stall.  She picked up more material, dusted it and returned it to its pile.  She found one roll that had unrolled and was quite dirty.  She set it aside, and carried on helping to clear up.  The other stallholders watched in amazement, but the material stallholder organized her gratefully.

“If you could hold this support still, I’ll wrap it round with some old cloth, and tie a knot - there - and it will stay up for today.  Thank you, your Highness.”

“I’ll take this roll - here is the money.”

“You don’t expect to pay the full price?”

“My brother damaged it - it is right that I should.”

She wended her lonely way back to the Palace.  Perhaps Wysau cared nothing for her, after all.  She took the material to the servants and asked them to wash it.  She went upstairs to her own apartment and cried to God.  She had never realized before how much she loved Wysau.

He had tried very hard to suppress his fear, listen to her riding instruction and do what she said.  He was really afraid, even of that old berr.  Cirians were not used to riding on animals; they rode in machines instead.  Yet for her sake he had ridden that berr this afternoon, again, and even taken Feor with him to the flying machine without her.

No, no, no.  She must not allow herself to hope; it would be foolish.  He simply wanted to do what was right by everybody, herself included.

“Oh, my Saviour, please help me to bear it!  Please help me to stop caring for him - help me only to think of how I may please You.”

She must go on helping the people.

“Please show me a way of helping them that does not involve Wysau.  A way that is proper, that will not annoy Mother and Father.”


It was Wysau’s voice in her mind.

“Your brother is fine - he’s not broken a single bone.  He never wants to ride your new berra again.  Could you please bring Helen with you to the flying machine?  He needs her.”

Shimei got up and went to Helen’s apartment.

Shimei was quiet as she walked with Helen to the flying machine.  She knew that even if Wysau went away with the other strangers as soon as the water treatment project was properly completed, she must go on helping the poor, for this was what God required of her.

When they reached the flying machine, and went inside, they found all the strangers in the lounge.

“This place needs a hospital,” Wysau was saying.  “I must train their doctors properly.”

“We need mother-to-be and mother and baby clinics,” said Thilish.

“We do,” agreed Wysau.  “You could start those in two or three weeks at the surgery in the afternoons.”

“Helen, my love,” called Feor, “come and sit here.”

Wysau beckoned to Shimei, and Thilish moved to make room for her beside Wysau.

“I need a proper laboratory,” said Abritis.

“We need a hydro-electric generating plant - probably two - up in the hills,” said Shurzi.

“And the poor need some decent housing,” added Darte.

“Whatever else we do, we definitely ought to give this people the entire Word of God,” said Chalata.  “I haven’t finished translating the Psalms yet, and there’s all the rest of the Old Testament to be done.  We’ll have to ask for relief supplies.”

“And some recording equipment,” said Janita.  “Do you realize how good these two are?” indicating Feor and Helen.  “They can’t perform in public here, but I’m sure their records would sell on Asa and Cirian - perhaps on other worlds as well.”

“I could record them,” said Tsie, “given the equipment.”

“We’ll need more equipment for the hospital,” said Wysau - and he looked at Shimei.  It was a long, searching look that made her embarrassed.  Oh, what did it matter?  He knew perfectly well how she felt.  He was far too clever to think of marrying her - but why did he look at her like that?

He got up and motioned to her to come with him.  He led her into the lab.  She had no idea what he was going to say.  He offered her a stool, and sat down himself.  She shivered with dread.  This was going to be the end of any partnership they had shared.

“Shimei,” he began, “I’m sorry I’ve kept you in suspense like this.  You see, I know you feel it is right for you to live here - on your world - and I had to be sure it was right for me to stay here, at least for the foreseeable future, before I could ask you to marry me.”

Shimei stared at him in disbelief.

“I could not have married into a royal house which would support those laws that were repealed this afternoon.  I had to be sure you could share my love for your people - oh, Shimei, believe me, I do love you.  I wouldn’t have asked you to come on visits with me if I hadn’t wanted to marry you - it would have been cruel.  My doubts were resolved this afternoon.  You will marry me?  I am serious - I do mean this.”

“But you’ll get fed up with me!” Shimei burst out.  “You’ll be telling me I’m stupid.  I am, compared with you.” Wretchedly she stared at the floor.

“I have been very well educated and trained.  The discrepancy is not as great as you think.  You are more intelligent than most of your people.  The problem is that your education has been sadly neglected.  You’ve never had much incentive to use your brains.  That can be changed.”

She sat dazed.

“Shimei, I love you as you are.  If you had not been convinced that you ought to stay here, I would have asked you before this, and taken you to Cirian with me when Chalata returned.  But God has used you to show me He wants me here.  God has been changing you to make you useful to Him here.  You’ve already been useful to me in my work.  God can use ordinary people to do wonderful things, if they obey Him.  So we must obey Him about where we live, and about marriage.  On my world, we try to obey Him about marriage.  We don’t have different marriage terms.  Marriage is for life; if the husband is unfaithful to his wife, he and his partner are banished from our planet.”


Just four days previously, Shimei had listened to her mother warning Ruha not to take any notice if Kwishe had a mistress, but that she would put her life in danger if she were unfaithful.

“That’s not fair!” Ruha had cried.

“His mistresses will come, and go as soon as he tires of them; but if you are faithful, you will be his wife as long as he lives.”

“If a wife is unfaithful to her husband,” Wysau was saying, “she and her partner are banished.  Sexual immorality is against God’s law.  It is not tolerated on Cirian.  If I were to be unfaithful to you here, I would not be allowed back onto my world.  You will realize we don’t marry lightly or in haste.  If we were both Cirians, I might have waited longer before I asked you, because you would have known I would not lead you on.  But I couldn’t bear to see you so miserable.  Do you want some time to think about it?”

“We will be able to have children?”

“I don’t know of any reason why we shouldn’t,” said Wysau.

“Father needs an heir, you see - someone to carry on the royal line.”

“Is that your way of saying yes?  Oh, I’m sorry, I’m putting pressure on you.”

“I like you to do that.”

“Oh, you do, do you?  It’s not the custom here for a girl to say yes straight away?” He got up and paced around.  “Oh Shimei, I’m hopeless at pretty speeches.  I can’t say I love you as Feor loves Helen, because this is normal married love, not interplanetary attraction.  I can’t say I’ll love you for ever, because all physical passions die at death.  We will love each other in Heaven, but not as man and wife.  I can say I will try to sustain and nourish our love, and be faithful to you whether I feel like it or not, because that is what God requires, and He will help me to do these things.  God must come first for both of us.  Sometimes I shall have to leave you and go rushing off to attend to an emergency, perhaps during a meal or in the middle of the night.  That’s something doctors’ wives have to understand - can you?”

“You are very different from our people.”

“But you will have me, will you?  Shimei, please.” He walked over to her.  As she still did not answer, he took her hand, and she did not withdraw it.

“Do I ask your father first, before I can expect an answer from you?”

“You must ask Father, yes.”

“Of course I will.  Will he say no?”

“I don’t think so.  He does care for me.”

“You are a tantalizing little - Princess.” He took her hand in both his.  “You don’t draw it away, at least.  So I must ask your father - ” he paused " - but he’s still at the House of Nobles, and I have calls to make.  Please, my love, tell me.”

He waited.  “Still silent?  What would you say if I tried to kiss you?”

Somehow feeling his arms round her brought the conviction that this was reality.  She was going to marry the stranger she loved.  “Thank You, God,” she murmured.

He held her at arm’s length and looked at her.  “That’s a lovely way of saying yes,” he said, and kissed her.  Her response silenced his doubts.  Delighted, he kissed her again.

“Ask your parents to keep it quiet for the moment - we’ll just tell them, Feor and Helen, and the team.  The nobility are not willing to accept another stranger into their Royal Family yet.  But when I saw you just now, my dear love, looking so wretched, I could keep silent no longer.”

“When did you know you loved me?”

“During our first visit.  But you were not a Christian.  Our God, in His holy Book, clearly forbids His children to marry unbelievers.  I prayed, and hoped, but you did not find Christ, and we had to leave.  Each time I thought of you, I turned that thought into a prayer for you, and then did my best to dismiss you from my mind.  Some months later, I went on holiday with other young people.  There was a girl who liked me.  I felt nothing, and thought it right to say so.  As I said it, I found myself saying I still loved you.  That evening I went out for a cliff walk, to be alone and to ask God what to do.  I tried to pray for you.  I could remember your name and your face, but not where you came from.  When I had prayed for you previously, I could remember - why was this?  I sought Chalata’s thoughts.  They were having a team reunion, but none of them spoke of our engine trouble or our stay on Yumelpthi.  I spoke in Chalata’s thoughts, to remind him - and found they had all forgotten!  “Can you lift any hypnotism on us?” asked Chalata.  It was hard, but I managed it.  Why had we been hypnotized?  I sought your thoughts - and Foquar was about to lay hands on you!”

“So - did you tell Ruha to fetch Father?”

“No.  Foquar has great hypnotic powers.  He was trying to overcome mine.  If I remembered where he was, and what he was doing, I could report him to the Interplanetary Police.  If I had had greater powers, or if you had not been in imminent danger, I could have asked Abritis to report him, and have held him in his spaceship till the Police arrived and had captured him.  But I didn’t know how long I could hold out, and I couldn’t risk him making a further attack on you.  As it was, God helped me to hold out.  Foquar could not make me forget, so he had to leave when your father told him to go.  I sat on that cliff-top till I had seen Foquar safely off Yumelpthi.  And then I found that you had been truly converted.

The next day I went home early from my holiday, went to see Chalata, who had recently retired, and been given the spaceship he had loaned so often to go on his trips.  He had been retired for a month, and was as bored as can be.  I told him about you, and about Feor, and Foquar.

“Ah,” he said.  “We might get a grant.”

We explained what Foquar had done to Feor to our Director of Foreign Affairs and Space Research.  Because people on our world feel partly responsible for Foquar’s misdeeds - we feel we should have executed him, not just banished him - our Director felt justified in giving us a grant to repair the damage and restore stabilility to your kingdom.  He gave us a larger grant than we had expected, and when Helen was found so quickly, other Cirians felt they should give to our work, and have formed prayer support groups to help us.  God has been so good - it’s amazing.  It was wonderful to be welcomed and see you again.”

“And then I put my sharp tongue to such bad use.”

“Darling, you’ve improved marvellously.  We must go and make those calls.  I’ll ask your father this evening - if he’ll see me at such short notice.”

They walked back into the lounge hand in hand.

“Congratulations, you two,” said Abritis.  Other voices joined hers. “Thanks,” called Wysau on his way out.

The poor’s dwellings, and the poor themselves, still smelt quite as badly as before, but Shimei’s heart was so light that she hardly noticed.  She did not realize how much better she coped with crying babies and frightened children, and what tenderness she showed to a distressed wife whose husband was seriously ill.

It was their last call.  They rode to the market place, shared a brief handclasp and an “I’ll see you this evening”, and Wysau walked to the flying machine, while Shimei rode in haste back to the Palace.  She just had time to change into a clean dress before joining her family at their meal.

“Are you sure you’re all right, son?” the Roptoa was asking.

“I’m fine,” Feor assured her.  “I landed on some bales of material.  Wysau even took scan pictures to make sure.  I haven’t even cracked a single bone, and Helen has soothed my shock away.  I had two bruises, that’s all.”

“Where?” asked the Roptoa.

“One was on my face, so Wysau healed it.  The other’s on my hip, so no-one will see it.  What pleases me is that those laws have been repealed.  Thank you, Father.”

The Roptoa began to eat; the Roptoh, Helen, Feor and Shimei all followed suit.

“Oh yes,” said the Roptoh.  “All the Representatives were delighted.  The House of Nobles wasn’t too pleased - we can’t please everybody.  But, Shimei, your friend Lord Treprom made a good speech in my support.  I shan’t forget that.”

“Good for him,” said Shimei happily.  “Oh, Father, did my new berra go back to the stables?”

“Yes; and the one you usually ride. The Head Groom came to tell me, but he didn’t know what had happened to Feor.  If Sihcha had not explained, we wouldn’t have known.”

“I’m sorry - I was feeling rather miserable - I didn’t think - and then Wysau asked me to take Helen to Feor to the flying machine, and I just did as I was told.”

“Feor really wanted me,” intervened Helen on Shimei’s behalf.  “By the time we arrived, Wysau had taken the scan pictures, and I could stay with Feor and comfort him, till we came home together.” And she looked at Shimei and smiled.

“You look cheerful enough now, daughter,” said the Roptoh.  “And Wysau does look after your brother; no-one can gainsay that.  Well, perhaps we’ll have a peaceful evening.”

“Wysau has asked for an audience, Father.”

“Oh well, at least it’s at a more convenient time than his last.  And he does say what he has to say briefly and clearly.  And, this time, I’ve got something to say to him.”

“So you don’t mind seeing him?”

“No, no.  The Representatives will think I’m being most efficient.”

The servants were informed, and Wysau was shown up as soon as he arrived.

“Well, what is it, stranger?” asked the Roptoh.  “More public works?”

“We should like to build a hospital,” said Wysau.

“The Representatives were asking for that only this afternoon.  They want you to train their doctors.  They’ll vote you the money, I’m sure, as long as your estimate isn’t too expensive, but buying the land will be much more difficult.”

“We will ask our God.”

There was an awkward pause.

“That wasn’t really what I came about,” said Wysau tentatively.

“Oh.  Well, what was it: more public works?”

“I have to ask a great favour.”

“Which is?”

“The hand of your daughter Shimei in marriage.”

“Ah - that’s why she looked so happy tonight!  I take it you already have her consent?”

“Yes, Father,” said Shimei.

“I note with approval, young man, that you already know how to make your betrothed do what she is told.  This is what convinces me of your future happiness together.”

“You will be able to have children?” asked the Roptoa.

“As far as I know, your Majesty,” replied Wysau.

“That assumes they will live here,” said the Roptoh.

“We plan to live here,” said Wysau.  “I cannot train doctors in a year or two.  It will take seven years at least.”

“Will you expect our daughter to work as she does now, when you are married?” asked the Roptoa tartly.

“God will tell Shimei what she must do.  He knows she will have to look after her children.  I must work to help the people, as they have asked me today.”

“When she marries, Shimei will be a wealthy woman in her own right,” said the Roptoa.  “You do not need to work.”

“Your Majesty, I cannot sit idly by and allow people to suffer and to die when I am able to help them.  I truly love Shimei, and I am sure she is happier when she uses her intelligence and talents to help other people.  I will not expect - I will not allow her to work too hard, and become overtired.”

The Roptoh had rung the bell, and a servant had already brought a messenger.  By the time Wysau had finished speaking, the Roptoh was charging the messenger to catch up Prince Kwishe and tell him of Shimei’s betrothal.

“Have we given our permission?” the Roptoa asked angrily.

“My dear, think of Shimei’s reputation in Traitan,” the Roptoh said quietly.

The Roptoa sighed her acceptance of the inevitable.

The next morning, Shimei rose early, and went out into the gardens before the sun was hot.

“Heavenly Father,” she prayed, “how can I satisfy this Your servant, who is so far above me? when my heart is dry and barren, and his is full of love?” As she paced around, she smelt an unusual freshness; she noticed a dampness on the ground.  There was a little grass, newly sprouted, here and there in the paddock where the berron were kept.

“There’s been dew, your Highness, dew in the night,” said the stable boy.  “I haven’t seen it in summer for as long as I can remember.”

“This is a wonderful thing.”

Another hour, and the dew dried up - but the land was not quite as dusty as it had been.

Later on that morning, Sihcha joined Shimei and Helen for an informal Bible Study.  After Helen left, Shimei said,

“It was a joy to see your young man at the services on Sunday.”

“He said he came for love of me.”

“I hope he will soon come for love of our Saviour.”

“I hear you are to marry the stranger doctor.”

“I still cannot believe it.  I have to look at this clasp he gave me.”

She showed it to Sihcha.

“This is beautiful,” she said.  “Is it from his world?”

“Yes.  It is his grandmother’s engagement clasp.  She is now a widow, and wanted him to have it for me.  His grandfather made it for her - she said the memory was too painful.  They had been married for seventy years, and loved each other dearly.”

“You are brave, my lady.  I would not have the courage to marry a man from another world.”

“I cannot do otherwise - I love him - he is a marvellous person.  No man on our world is half as clever, or good, or gentle as he is, even when he is tired or has a headache.  I would be afraid to go to his world, but he says he will live here with me.”

“My young man says the stranger doctor has cured many in the city who would otherwise have died.  Soon everyone will love him.  It will be a wise marriage, my lady.”

“But he does not want a public announcement made yet.”

Sihcha looked at Shimei with a curious expression.  “He is indeed a very clever man.  Look what he has done for the Princess Ruhamah!  And now she will one day be Queen of Traitan.”

“Being Queen may be a dangerous thing in the future.  Perhaps his brother’s death may teach Kwishe wisdom.  I pray it may, for Ruha’s sake.”

That evening Wysau sat down contentedly with Shimei.  All the strangers were tired, but Abritis, who was resting her head on the back of their sofa, and appeared to be as relaxed as everyone else, never spoke, or joined in the laughter when Chalata and Janita, and Shurzi and Thilish, joked together.

“Is Abritis well?” Shimei whispered to Wysau.

His answer came in her thoughts.  “Yes, she’s on duty, thought-reading.  That’s why I shan’t be able to see you tomorrow evening - it’ll be my turn.”

“But you don’t need to defend yourselves, surely - why, everyone loves you, at least.”

“Not everyone.  The priests still manage to keep many from coming to me for treatment.  In a way, God allows it in His mercy to me - I don’t know how I’d have the time or energy to treat everybody in the city.  And yet I know many are suffering needlessly - even dying - when I could cure them.”

Wysau had spoken aloud the last time.

“Cheer up, Wysau,” said Darte.  “Clean water will help everyone.”

“We must pray,” said Chalata, “that by the time people have learnt to trust us, Cirian will have sent more doctors.”

“Four, at least,” agreed Wysau.

All this time, Tsie had not been in the lounge.  When she did come, there was a noise when she opened the door.

“Tsie,” said Shurzi, “could you open the door again?”

“Are you hot?”

“No - I’m listening to the washing machine.”

“It’s been a bit noisy lately, but it’s working all right.”

Everybody was quiet till he spoke.  “I’ll let it finish its load, but it needs new washers.”

“Oh, my love!” cried Thilish.  “Jan - Ab - Tsie, have you got to put another load in tonight?”

“I’m not planning to.”

“Then you can leave it till tomorrow, love, surely.”

“Shh.” Everyone was quiet again.  Suddenly Wysau’s voice came in Shimei’s thoughts.

“If Shurzi listens carefully, he can work out which washers need replacing.  That will save him time and trouble.”

“How can he tell by just listening?”

“I don’t know.  I wouldn’t even know what was wrong.”