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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 Six

Shurzi and Darte were busy overseeing the construction of the water treatment works when the young man who worked for Lord Treprom came and summoned them to his lord.

“Tell him we cannot come immediately.  We must finish showing our workmen what to do next, so that they can carry on with their work while we are talking with his Lordship.  We should be able to leave them in half an hour.”

The servant, rather put out, returned to his lord.

Darte left promptly at the time he stated, and met Lord Treprom looking at his rather stunted vegetables.

“Would you like to come to the house to refresh yourself?”

“I am ready now to hear how we may help you,” said Darte.  “Shurzi has to explain again to our workmen till they understand properly.”

This seemed to appease Lord Treprom.  “I cannot recruit enough workmen to water all my vegetables.  My grain, too, needs water.  I hear you set up a sprinkler machine for the poor in the city.  Could you do the same for me?”

“Let us consider carefully what needs to be done, my lord,” said Darte.  “The poor in the city only have small strips of land.  You have a large estate.  It is also on the side of the mountain, and the river, up there, runs fast - and - may we go up and see?  There is a large pool up there, is there not? right by the upper boundary of your estate?  You see, you need three or four sprinklers to supply all these crops.”

“They will be expensive.”

“Your crops will grow far better, and you will not need many workmen to work a good sprinkler system.  We may also be able to work the system by gravity alone, so that you will not need a pump, or to pay workmen to pump it.  We also must make sure the system will not flood your land when the rains come in the autumn and in the spring.  What we will need is a large water tank just here.”

They had just arrived at the large, deep pool Darte had noticed before, and stood panting, watching the water overflow from that pool, and go rushing down over the rocks onto further, jagged rocks below.

“It would be the ideal place for a bathe,” said Darte, “but for the swift current.”

“I swam at the edge of this pool when I was a boy,” said Lord Treprom, “but without my mother’s consent.”

“Anyway, it will do very well for our purpose.  What we need is a large pipe, on the level, linking this pool with a large water tank - where is the boundary of your estate, exactly?”

“About here.”

“Could we site the water tank here?  Then all the water has to do is flow down your land.”

Lord Treprom stood, looked.  “But it needs to sprinkle, like rain.”

“Yes, that is right,” agreed Darte.  “We will have to make four sprinkler machines, with taps, so that you can have all your crops well watered in the hour around sunset.  But the water can flow down in pipes into the machines, so that there is pressure - so that when the taps are turned on, the water will sprinkle out over your crops, without pumping.  As the water level in your tank drops, so the river water will come through this big pipe till the water in the tank is at the same level as the water in the pool, and then it will stop.  But, remembering how high the level of the water in the river is in spring, we will need a valve in the pipe which you can shut, to stop too much water coming into your tank.”

“But it will be so expensive!  Couldn’t I have a well sunk, and a sprinkler coming out of the well?”

“Pumping the water out of a well for all this land would take four or five hours of backbreaking work; and some of your crops would lose the benefit of their watering, because your servants would have to start three hours before sunset.”

It was this final point that made Lord Treprom listen more carefully to what Darte was saying.  Darte explained again, and added,

“Could you make level paths around the edges of your fields, so that the sprinkler machines could be wheeled from one field to another?  It will be expensive to have this system installed, but we hope it will last for twenty years, with minor repairs, and we will try to make it as cheap to operate as possible.”

“How much?”

Darte sat down on the grass and made calculations.  Shurzi came to join him, and checked his arithmetic.  They showed him their estimate.

“We shall have to ask you to pay the workmen daily; they are poor, and need the money to buy food.  This includes the money for the materials, I’m afraid.  But we could delay the charge for our labour - we shall have to show the workmen what to do, and teach them how to make the sprinkler machines, and the valve in the large pipe - till next year, on one condition.”

“What is that?”

“That you sell your vegetables cheaply in the market, at the price charged for vegetables in the spring, immediately after the rains.”

“Oh.” His expression changed.

“My lord,” said Shurzi quickly, “you will be able to grow a great many vegetables, and everyone will buy yours first because they will be cheaper.  You have berron, and chickens - could you use their dung to make, slowly, good compost to fertilize your fields?  All the leaves from root vegetables, all the outer leaves from other vegetables, all the plant refuse from your house, could go on a big pile with the berron dung, be left for six months to rot down, and be spread on your fields in the early spring as fertilizer.  The pile must not be too close to your house, for it will smell.”

“The chicken dung is stronger - it must be left to rot for a year, my lord,” added Darte.

“But why do you want me to sell my vegetables so cheaply?”

“Because the poor go hungry in the summer and winter, my lord.  We do not know what it is like to be hungry, every day, for seven or eight months of every year, when they still have to work, every day, just the same.”

There was a pause.  Lord Treprom stared at the estimate.

“In five or six days,” said Darte, “we will have to flush out the dust from our treatment works.  Have you a flexible pipe made of rubber?”

“I have - a long pipe, but it has holes.”

“We will tell you when we are ready to flush out our works; we will try to do it at sunset.  If you give us your pipe then, the water can flow into your pipe, and your servants can direct that water where you want it to go.  It will not be a very great deal of water, but enough to improve the vegetables you are growing at the moment.  The water will not be fit to drink; it will be dusty and a bit dirty, but suitable for watering crops.”

“Will you charge for this?”

Darte and Shurzi exchanged glances.  “No, my lord.” “Consider our estimate,” said Shurzi, “and let us know if you would like us to do the work.”

“It’s all very well the Representatives voting to accept the strangers’ estimate for the hospital building,” said the Roptoh, “but it’s the nobles who own the land, and they won’t sell.”

“How many have you asked?” said the Roptoa.

“You can’t ask them all individually.  I asked at the House this morning.  There was a silence you could feel.”

“Well - would you want to sell any of our land?”

The Roptoh hastily changed the subject.

As Shimei was leaving the table after lunch that day, the Roptoh said,

“Tell your intended about the problem of the land for the hospital, won’t you?  It’ll take all his cleverness to sort that out.”

“We’ll take the problem to our God, Father.”

After the evening meal, Shimei, Helen and Feor left the table together.

“Where are you all going?” asked the Roptoa.

“To the flying machine to pray,” said Helen.

“About the land,” said Feor.

“For the hospital,” added Shimei.

“They do get on well together,” said the Roptoa.  “I would not have thought two such very different girls as Helen and Shimei would have liked each other so much, but they do.”

“It is because they are different,” said the Roptoh rather absently.  He got up and paced about.

“How is the irrigation system working?” asked the Roptoa.

“Very well.  Everything the strangers think of is a good idea.  It is not that that is disturbing me.”

The Roptoa knew her husband.  She waited in silence.  He paced towards her, and sat down beside her.

“There has been dew nearly every night for thirteen nights,” he said. “For the last four nights there has been heavy dew.  Unheard of since the summer after I set up the House of Representatives.  That is partly why our vegetables are growing so well.  There is even a little grass in the paddock for the berron to eat.”

“The gods control the weather.”

“Our gods do not care for the poor.  But listen to this: just over a week ago, Wysau asked me not to allow my steward to have our poorer quality vegetables thrown away, but to sell them very cheaply so that the poor could buy them.  I was not aware that any were just being thrown away - but find that, as usual, Wysau is right.  So instead of them going to waste, a little more money comes to us from the market.  But unseemly fights break out around that stall - the poor fighting to be first in the queue for the cheap vegetables.  So the steward asked me to stop selling them.”

“I do not approve of waste,” said the Roptoa.

“So I posted two guards to keep order at the stall till all the cheap vegetables are sold.  But it was five days ago that we started selling them.”

“You’d have thought they’d realize something is better than nothing,” said Tsie practically.

“Some of the mothers do - but the men see it as an insult.  They are even more determined to revolt.  But Shurzi and Darte’s sprinkler has caused disagreements between the rebels.  Some are furious because the owners of those strips of land are selling their vegetables at as high a price as they can get.  Others say, “Why shouldn’t they?  Wouldn’t we, if that happened to us?” So no action can be agreed on at the moment.  Some are angry that none of the nobles are willing to sell land for the hospital building, but most are more concerned with the hunger in their families.  Now their children have healthy stomachs because of the clean water, they call far more loudly and more insistently for food.” Abritis sighed.  “I’m sure we’d be fed up if we were hungry for months on end every year.”

“Wysau,” said Shimei as they rode away from a nobleman’s house on the Saturday afternoon, “I understand why you ask them to pay so much when they have called you for a trifle, but why didn’t you charge for the servant, who was really ill and needed medicine?”

“Because he is poor.”

“His master ought to pay.”

“I don’t want the rich to dismiss their servants when they fall ill.  I don’t like having to charge at all, but a workman deserves his wages, and we need money to buy food.”

“Oh Wysau!  Did no-one pay you anything for your work on the water treatment works?”

“We were afraid that if we presented too expensive an estimate, your father would not agree to it.”

“Did you charge for your work in the estimate for the hospital?”

“We did - we felt we could, because we were asked to build it - it wasn’t our idea.”

“That’s a good thing.  Wysau, when I came to the flying machine on Tuesday to share your evening meal, everyone had vegetables, and a little cheese.  How long is it since you have eaten meat?”

“Four weeks.”

“And you all work so hard!”

“Which way from here?”

“Up the hill.”

“You have very steep hills in your city.”

“Then you be grateful for your berr!”

On the Saturday evening, as the strangers sat round their table eating their salad vegetables, Chalata said,

“Surely the Roptoh must own some land he could spare.”

“It might not be suitable,” said Darte.  “What we could really do with is that plot west of the Palace parkland, west of the river - that high piece of ground.  I’ve often looked up to it from the water treatment works the other side of the river, and thought what a good place it would be for a hospital.”

“Who owns it?”

Nobody knew.

“Ask Shimei, Wysau,” suggested Darte.

Wysau sought Shimei’s thoughts.

“But Father,” Shimei was saying, “why didn’t he leave it to his son?”

“He had no son - or daughter either.  You see, he was only second generation nobility, and the other nobles weren’t very friendly, and certainly didn’t want to marry their daughters to him.  Well, Fsuub longed for recognition from somebody, so he promised to leave the land to you, Shimei (this was when you were a baby), so my father gave him the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he held until there was an unfortunate disagreement.  His sister married a shopkeeper who was doing rather well, and her son will inherit the title, the mansion and the parkland immediately surrounding it.”

“How soon can I take possession, Father?”

“The will has been proved - on Monday, if you like.”

“I will give it to the strangers for the hospital.”

Her father stared; her mother exclaimed, “Take a little time to consider, Shimei.”

“I am sure this is right.”

Helen’s face lit up; Feor looked embarrassed.  In the flying machine, Shurzi, Abritis and Wysau looked at each other, amazed and delighted.  There was a knock on the door.  Janita went to answer.

“Oh,” she said.  “Thank you.  Please give our grateful thanks to the Princess.”

“Look,” said Janita.  “From Shimei.”

“That’s a good lean leg - big one, too.  We could easily make that last three days.” Tsie took it quickly to their cold cupboard.

“Thank her, Wysau, from all of us,” said Chalata.

“We’ve got more to thank her for than that,” said Wysau.  “Could we ask her to the evening meal tomorrow?”

Every Sunday, faithfully, the Christians had met in Wysau’s surgery.  Every Sunday one of them, usually Chalata, had preached God’s message.  Sihcha and her young man came, the kitchen maid came, and sometimes her husband.  Lord and Lady Treprom attended faithfully.  Five others came, including a nobleman whose son Wysau had cured.  Sometimes a patient came out of curiosity, but he would not come again.

“Perhaps it’s my preaching,” said Chalata at breakfast that Sunday morning.  “Are you sure one of you should not preach?”

“Chalata,” said Wysau, “Feor and Helen are growing as Christians under your ministry.  So is Shimei; our souls are being fed.  The problem is still that these people feel this is the strangers’ religion, not theirs.  Only the Holy Spirit can change their attitude.”

“God is blessing us, brother,” said Darte.  “Who would have believed that one of these land-hungry people would so willingly have given her land for the hospital?  But in the accounts I shall have her paid for it, so that if she wishes to help us more when necessary, she will be able to do so.”

Thus encouraged, Chalata led his team to the surgery.  Just before the service started, his language helper slipped in quietly at the back.

Shimei stayed with the strangers for that day.  During the afternoon, one of their prayer support groups on Cirian contacted them.

“You need a ship with supplies?  Yes, that can be done.  You need how many more doctors?  Four?  There’s no-one in our group who can come quickly.  We’ll contact the other groups and see what their position is.”

The strangers gathered for prayer.

About twenty minutes later, from another prayer group, came the message:

“Two retired doctors and a handyman are available for six months.  They will come with the supplies.”

“Oh thank you, thank you ever so much,” cried Abritis aloud.  “Can we ask for special prayer for Darte and Shurzi as they engage the workmen for the new hospital?  And give great praise that one of the best possible sites for the new building has just been made available to us.  Please pray about the situation among the people.  This news about the land for the hospital is only just going to keep revolution at bay.”

When this was translated to her, Shimei went white.

“Wysau, you never told me it was so serious.  Was that why you looked so - ominous - this morning?”

He nodded.

“You have done a great deal to help.  Every time you went with me to help a poor patient, it was reported at the underground meetings.  You are helping to save your own life and your family.  But much, much more will have to be done for the people.  My dear love, your father is as much aware of the danger of revolution as is good for him at the moment.  If we told him the whole truth, fear would paralyse him.  The important thing is to go on making life better for the people.  As it is, he is helping us to do that.”

“Don’t worry, Shimei,” said Thilish.  “God is helping us, and He will go on helping us as we obey Him.”

“And you know, Shimei,” said Shurzi, “Wysau sings in tune when he listens to you.”

“Do I?” asked Wysau in amazement.

“Yes,” said Thilish.

“Yes, you do,” agreed Shimei, “but sometimes I have to sing quite loudly into your ear.”

“Nobody minds if you sing loudly, Shimei,” said Janita - and they all laughed as happily as if no danger threatened.

They went to the surgery for their evening service.

Afterwards a small child ran up to Wysau.  “Please, doctor, come.”

“This is our holy day,” said Wysau, “our day of rest.  Is this a real emergency?”

The child looked abashed.  “Please, doctor,” she said in a little voice.

“What is the matter?”

“Mother told me to come.  I don’t know.”

“Come back tomorrow,” said Wysau.

They walked back to the ship, Wysau holding Shimei’s hand.  On the way, Shurzi asked Thilish to lead him.  Five minutes later, Shurzi said,

“I’m sorry, Wysau, this is a real emergency.  Three children have been washed downstream after swimming in the pool by Lord Treprom’s irrigation tank.  We must take off in the ship, and land on the bank on Lord Treprom’s side of the river.  I’ve obtained his permission.”

They landed as planned, but there was a steep cliff up which the half drowned shattered bodies had to be carried.  The local doctor had helped to pull the children out of the water below the waterfall.  He was sent into Wysau’s cabin with a towel, a dry robe and a pair of sandals.

One child, a girl of eleven, was already dead; Wysau concentrated on the other two, a boy of thirteen and another of sixteen.  The mother stood by, wringing her hands.

“My sons, my sons!  And their father is dead!  What shall I do?”

“Your daughter is dead,” said Chalata gravely, “but there is still hope for your sons.”

“But if they are invalids and cannot work - ”

“If they recover,” said Chalata firmly, “they will recover completely.”

The local doctor came into the screen room, dry and comfortable, and watched in amazement as Wysau completed the ray treatment on the elder boy.  He looked at the drip Thilish had set up.

“Blood transfusions,” said Thilish.  “Look, this is blood.  They have both lost much blood, and it must be replaced.”

“Many bones were broken,” explained Darte.  “Ytazu, show them the first scan pictures.”

They came up on the screen.

“The thirteen-year-old had both arms broken, and many ribs, and a punctured lung.”

“The sixteen-year-old had broken both legs, one in three places, and his nose was broken.”

The doctor watched as the new scan pictures showed all fractures mended.

“They were dreadfully cut on the rocks,” he said.  “This boy - ” indicating the elder " - had a great gash all across his face.  It’s gone.”

“It’s been repaired,” said Wysau.  “But we must say a very big “Thank you" to you, Doctor, for rescuing them from the river so quickly.  Without your timely aid, all our knowledge and equipment would not have saved the boys.”

The doctor approached the bodies cautiously, and touched the girl’s hand.  It was cold.  “She’s dead,” said Wysau, on the verge of tears.

“Wash your hands,” said Abritis quickly to the doctor.  “You must always wash your hands between patients - it reduces the risk of cross-infection.”

Chastened, the doctor obeyed.

The elder boy’s hand was warm; the doctor could feel his breath on his hand.  “He’s alive,” he said to his mother.

“And Yago?”

The doctor washed his hands, and went to the younger.  Again his hand was warm - he could see the child’s chest rising and falling as he breathed.  “Yago is alive, too.”

“Will they recover?” asked the mother of Wysau.

“The boys will recover, unless there are complications.  But your daughter is dead.  I am sorry.  If only I had come more quickly.”

“All those bones broken, and now mended,” said the doctor.  “The lung mended - however do you do it?  And the blood dripping into their veins.”

“That’s my blood,” said Thilish, pointing to Yago’s bag.  “That’s Wysau’s - ” pointing to the elder boy’s bag.  “You can’t give any person any blood.  Blood is different.  We had to test their blood to find out which bag to give each boy.”

“You mean,” said a voice, “the stranger doctor’s blood is in my veins?”

“Kadi!” cried his mother.

“Don’t move, Kadi,” said Chalata, “lie still.  Yes, it’s true.”

“Are you all right?  Is there much pain?” asked his mother.

“I feel weak and dizzy, Mother, but there is no pain.”

The local doctor stared.

“You must lie still,” said Thilish, “for the next four hours, to allow all your repairs to set properly.  They will have to stay here, Mrs. - ?"

“Quel,” she supplied.

“But we will carry your daughter’s body out of the flying machine.”

Wysau helped with this.  They took the body across the bridge to the woman’s home.  When she turned to thank Wysau, she saw the tears running down his face.

“Doctor, you have saved my sons.”

“I hope so,” said Wysau.

“You did come quickly, with your flying machine.  What is a daughter, to two sons, with no lameness or broken bones?  Besides, I have another daughter.  She said you had ignored her - but you came.  Thank you, thank you a thousand times.”

“Your sons will stay on our flying machine to sleep.  Come and see them in the morning at ten o’clock.”

Wysau went back over the bridge with Shurzi.  When they arrived, they found Ytazu showing the scan picture of the girl’s body.

“Look, Wysau,” said Abritis, “she had already drowned.  Look at the water in her lungs.  Look at that gash across her throat.  You wouldn’t have saved her if you had gone at once, on foot.  We might not even have saved Yago if we hadn’t flown the ship here.  And that local doctor is your first trainee.”

“Shimei,” said Shurzi, “do you know when the Palace was built?”

“The first Roptoh of Remgathishboh had it built for himself and his family.”

“Did you know that there are pipes, and space under the floors, for under-floor heating?  And an ancient boiler?”

Shimei stared.  “You found these while putting in the pipes for the clean water?”

“Yes.  Once we’ve taken out the boiler and replaced it with an electric machine, we shall be able to use the pipes and air spaces for your cool or warm air system.  It will save us much time and money.”

“You have finished putting in the pipes?”

“Oh yes.  You should have clean water running into the Palace kitchens by now.”

“That’s good.”

Wysau went out to say goodnight to Shimei before she rode home.

“I need not fear to present you with a daughter?”

“Of course not, Shimei.”

“Girls mean as much to you as boys - I saw that tonight.  I am glad to have such a husband.  And I am proud of you.”

“Don’t think too highly of me, my dear love.  I am a sinner - I wanted rest, to be with you - I was lazy.  It is Shurzi - and the local doctor - who deserve the credit tonight.”

She gave him a hug, which he returned with interest.

“It is you I love.  But Wysau, I am afraid my parents - my mother especially - will be deeply offended that you should give your own blood to one of the people, and then presume to marry me.  It is a good thing you have taken your flying machine from my father’s land.  Don’t move it back, please - take it to your own, where you will build the hospital.”

“We cannot move it tonight, for the boys’ sake - but we will certainly fly it to the hospital site tomorrow, if you think best.”

Early on the Monday morning, the strangers and their workmen made a good start with the digging for the hospital foundations.  During the morning, the flying machine landed next to the site.  It was high summer, so they sent the workmen home for their afternoon siesta.  They had their midday meal, and went into their cabins to rest.  After a while, Ytazu, feeling restless, went out again to dig.

When Ytazu had a mind to dig, he could dig.  He had no idea that a noble lady was watching him in rapt admiration, till she came nearer and called,

“Stranger!”

“Yes?” He looked up, saw her, and went on digging.  She came up to him.

“You dig wonderfully,” she exclaimed.  “What muscles you have!”

In his embarrassment he simply went on digging.  What was that?  He pulled out the metal end of a spade.

“A broken spade,” she said.  “It is very old and rusty.”

“It has been here a long time,” he said.  “Here is the handle.”

“It is a very old handle,” she said.  “They had handles like this in my grandfather’s time.  I wonder why they were digging here then.  There is no building here - has not been for as long as I can remember.”

“Has anybody used the land?”

“For grazing animals only - not even for crops.  For crops we do not have the land dug, but ploughed.  A spade means a building.  That is very strange.”

Ytazu looked towards the flying machine, and saw Tsie looking out at them, and beckoning.

“Come to the flying machine and meet my wife,” he invited.

Fsuub’s nephew’s wife came rather hesitantly, but was reassured by Tsie’s warm welcome.  It was cool and comfortable inside the ship.  Ytazu went to his cabin to rest, and she talked to Tsie; she had not meant to stay, but Tsie was motherly, and she found herself telling this stranger how she had married a man who was really only a shopkeeper’s son, but had inherited a title and a fortune.  Her parents were real aristocrats, but she was not pretty or clever, so no real lord had wanted her.  So when Fsuub’s nephew had come, and pretended to love her, she had begged her father to allow her to marry him.

“He did not love me,” she said bitterly.  “He only wanted to be allied to our House.  He leaves me alone all day long.  He only wants me to call on fine ladies of my acquaintance, and get him invitations among the rich and great, and have them come to dinner parties at our mansion.  When we are alone, he hardly bothers to speak to me, except to criticize the meals or the servants.”

“Ytazu loves me dearly,” said Tsie, “but I see little of him at the moment, because we all have so much work to do.”

“Do you mind if I call again?”

“Please do,” said Tsie.  “I hope you don’t mind me preparing vegetables, or hanging up washing, while we talk.”

“Not at all.”

“When you are doing very ordinary work, it makes the time pass so much more quickly if you have someone to talk to.  I am glad to be friends.”

“I don’t understand,” said the Roptoh on his return from the House of Representatives.  “When I announced that Shimei had given the land for the hospital site, there was a hush; then, when I said that the strangers had started the digging for the foundations of the hospital, the entire House cheered.  I’m going to see that treatment works - I want to know why they are so pleased.”

“May I accompany you?”

“Yes, my lady.”

They went round the works, watching the workers, the water gradually becoming cleaner, looking at the strong buildings.

“They’ve done it very well; but - why such enthusiasm?”

“There’s one thing I noticed,” said the Roptoa.  “There was no-one with a whip.  And none of the workers showed signs of having been whipped.”

“No, that’s true.”

“How do they manage to make them work hard and well without a whip?  Because they were working.”

“The strangers told me they explained to the workers that they would benefit from the clean water.”

“They will benefit from the hospital, too.”

As they rode towards the Palace, they heard the sound of cheering from the lower parts of the city.  Prynoh rode up to pay his respects.

“Do you know what the cheering is all about?” asked the Roptoa.

“Last night - my servants told me - two boys had been swimming in the river, in the deep pool above the waterfall.  They were carried over the waterfall and landed on the rocks below.”

“And killed, no doubt,” said the Roptoh.  “Serve them right for disobeying their parents.”

“Their widowed mother had told them not to swim there, your Majesties, but when she heard their cries, she sent for Wysau.  The local doctor pulled them out of the river, but then Wysau came in the flying machine with the other strangers, carried them in, treated them with rays, and gave them strangers’ blood.”

“What!” cried the Roptoa, horrified.

“One boy was given the doctor’s own blood.  The two boys slept on the flying machine.  This morning they walked home with their mother.  They have no scars, no lameness, nothing wrong with them at all.  I have just seen them myself.  They must rest for today, but will be able to do some work tomorrow.”

“Common boys?” cried the Roptoa.

“Yes, your Majesty,” confirmed Prynoh.  “The people think it is a miracle.  They cannot praise the strangers too highly.”

“It is the custom on their world,” pleaded Shimei, “to give blood to an injured person who has been bleeding badly.  The strangers had given the blood some time before - they had no idea who among our people would be injured, and need it.  Wysau’s blood was chosen because it matched the boy’s.  If the boy’s had belonged to a different blood group, it might have been another stranger’s blood that was given to him.  Abritis explained all about blood groups to the young local doctor who pulled the boys out of the river.  She said my blood may not be in the same group as yours, Mother.  And if the blood is in the wrong group, it harms the person to whom it is given rather than helps him.”

It was no use. Her parents were not listening.

“You must consider your engagement null and void.  We withdraw our consent.  You will not be seen in his company.”

Shimei went to her room.  Crying was useless; she must pray.

Feor watched in deep sadness.  He knew his parents well enough to know his pleading would be ignored as much as Shimei’s had been.  His mother was prejudiced, and his father was jealous of Dr. Wysau’s popularity among the people.  His heart ached for Shimei and Wysau.  No wonder the people loved Wysau - he worked early and late to serve them and heal them!  And all he, Feor, could do was write melodies for his trie.

The strangers had encouraged him.  “We will make records of you both playing,” they had said.  “The sale of those records will raise money on our worlds to pay for the equipment Wysau wants in his hospital.  When the people hear of this, and see the equipment in use, they will love you and Helen, too.”

“Don’t be distressed, Wysau; God will open the way,” assured Chalata.  And He has used the whole incident to calm revolutionary ardour.”

“It won’t keep the peace for long.”

“Ask God to do what He knows will.”

The very next day, a messenger came to the flying machine, to ask Darte to set up his proposed irrigation system on Lord Treprom’s land.

“My Lord will sell his vegetables very cheaply,” he promised.

“That’s great - but it will be four or five weeks before cheap vegetables and grain come on the market in quantity,” said Shurzi.  “Can the people wait?”

“We must trust God,” said Chalata.

Feor was learning more each day about the God Who was his Saviour.  Helen would read some of her Bible, and translate it for him.  He understood that his God cared for the people more even than Wysau did.  If he, Feor, was going to be a good ruler, he would have to see they were fairly treated, and not allow the nobles to oppress them.  The laws that allowed the nobles and contractors to beat their workmen might have been repealed, but nothing had changed.  The nobles would say - indeed, his father would have said - that workmen would not work unless they were beaten - unless, at least, the contractors threatened to beat them.  He discussed this with Helen.

“Then why do the workmen work well for the strangers?” she asked.  “For they do, Feor - and the strangers will not allow them to be beaten.”

“The strangers know who has worked and who has not.  They know if any workman tries to deceive them.  Lords and contractors cannot know these things.”

“They can watch carefully.  For the strangers do have to explain, train, encourage, correct, and watch carefully, and remember who works hard and who does not.  Darte is not able to read other people’s thoughts - it is no easier for him than for a contractor.  And there’s another thing the strangers do, Feor.  If a man works well, they notice and pay him more.  If another works very slowly, and is not ill; if he is lazy, or does what they have told him not to do, they pay him only the basic rate.  If his work is not worth that, they tell him he need not come to work for them the next week; they will find someone else who will work.”

“Will other workmen come and work for the strangers?”

“Yes.  The workmen tell each other what it is like to work for the strangers.  Workmen who will work hard and well, and want to earn more money, like to work for the strangers.  Workmen who do not like being whipped, and shouted at angrily when they have done no wrong, also like to work for the strangers, and will work hard to keep their employment.”

“The laws giving rights to the nobles and contractors of inflicting physical punishment on unsatisfactory employees may have been repealed, Wysau,” said Shurzi, “but the practice continues just the same.”

“Why?”

“The judges take bribes.”

“So the Roptoh would have to find judges who would not, but would judge fairly on the evidence?  Is that asking a bit much?”

“There’s no justice for the poor until it is done,” said Shurzi.

“But the whole framework of this society is riddled with corruption,” said Wysau.

“Do you feel one of us should take over the role of Chief Justice?” asked Abritis.

“No,” said Chalata.  “Perhaps Feor - ”

“He would need a great deal of assistance,” said Wysau thoughtfully.  “He’d need - four thoughtreaders employed full-time.  It isn’t only the rich who pervert the course of justice.  For a very small consideration, a poor man will perjure himself to help a friend or a relative.”

“Because,” said Shurzi, “your forthcoming marriage is seen by some as our bolstering a tyrannical regime.”

“Oh no.” Wysau put his head in his hands.

“Does nothing we have done speak for us?” demanded Abritis bitterly.  “Wysau in particular . . . "

Darte took his wife’s hand and pressed it lovingly.

“I gather, Shurzi,” said Chalata, “that you learnt this at an underground meeting.”

“Yes.”

“And that feelings are running high, and that there is still real danger of revolution?”

“More than ever.”

“I feel we would be failing in our duty if we did not give the Roptoh fair warning - and inform him of their main grievances.  What are they, Shurzi?”

“The way they are treated by their employers, who are the nobility, and the contractors.  Low pay, beatings, often undeserved, dismissal when they become ill or are injured; they are shouted at constantly, and their employers do not believe a word they say unless they can prove it.  In return, they rob and defraud their employers whenever opportunity offers, including lazing in his time, and they lie to cover up for each other.  Servants who refuse to do this for their fellow-servants are “got at" and ostracized.”

“Do we get the cream of the labour market?” asked Chalata.

“Exactly,” said Darte.  “This is why so many of them are worth training.”

“Perhaps,” suggested Janita, “we should ask the Roptoh to make sure that contractors he employs treat their workmen as we do.”

“We are his contractors at the moment,” said Darte.

“Actually,” said Wysau, “because of Helen’s influence, the Palace servants have never been treated better.  But they still need a day off.”

“All very well to ask him to appoint new judges who will not take bribes,” said Thilish.  “Where are they?”

“Lord Treprom?” suggested Chalata.

“I don’t think he’d agree,” said Wysau.  “It would be very difficult for him - the pressures would be enormous.”

“It would be the same for anyone,” said Abritis.  “He would need to be the Lord Chief Justice, answerable only to the Roptoh, and he would need five Justices who would stand with him.”

There was silence.

“If you could find these six incorruptible men, Shurzi, or any of you thoughtreaders,” said Chalata, “I would be prepared to suggest it to the Roptoh.”

“I would go with Shimei to try to persuade Lord Treprom, once we had the Roptoh’s agreement,” said Wysau.

“But there isn’t any point in warning the Roptoh, if there’s nothing he can do.”

“He wouldn’t listen to us at the moment, anyway,” said Wysau miserably.

“Let’s try to find these six men,” said Abritis.  “Perhaps among our workmen?”

“Wouldn’t they have to be literate?” asked Chalata.

“Bother!” cried Shurzi.  “You’re right, Chalata - or their scribes would pull the wool over their eyes.  That does narrow down the field.”

Even better than the strangers, Feor understood that his people wanted land.  He could see that it was not fair that the nobles (himself included) should own so much land and the people so little.  But the nobles would never sell - and was it fair to take their land from them?  The tune he wrote that morning was a very sad one.

Helen heard the Roptoh and Roptoa shouting angrily at their servants.  She cowered at her piano stool, hoping no-one would see her.  She hated noise, anger and disagreements; they froze her powers of thought and imagination, making her quite unable to think of a suitable accompaniment for the melody Feor had written last.  His melodies were becoming more and more beautiful, and her accompaniments more and more trite and repetitive.  Only the Roptoa seemed able to think of good accompaniments.

She remembered her frequent breaches of etiquette when she had first eaten with the royal family.  She had had no idea of how she offended them, till Shimei told her that she, Helen, was not supposed to start eating or drinking till after the Roptoa and Roptoh.  Shimei had to wait for Feor, too.  “You start before me because you are the Crown Princess; but naturally the reigning Roptoa comes first.”

“Of course,” said Helen.  “I’m sorry - I didn’t know.” Shimei had explained this to her parents, Helen had apologized, and ever after remembered.  What a blessing it had been! for in every other way she seemed to please her parents-in-law as well as delighting her husband.

Was this her opportunity to speak up for Shimei?  It was the same sort of thing - Wysau and the other strangers had simply been saving lives in their own wonderful way, with no intention whatsoever of giving offence to anyone.  So Helen prayed for wisdom to speak up for Shimei without giving offence on her own account.

No-one came, so Helen played Feor’s new melody over again.  The Roptoa came in.

“That is truly lovely,” she said, and sat down by Helen.

“It is Feor’s latest melody,” said Helen.  “It is lovely.  He composes more and more beautifully, but I have not the musical skill to write a good accompaniment.”

“Play it again,” commanded the Roptoa.  “Mm.  It is sad - it only needs a short interlude in a major key - just here.”

Helen experimented.

“No, not like that - in G major.  The relative major is too ordinary for this tune.”

Helen tried.

“No, no; like this.” The Roptoa swept her off the piano stool and played it herself.  But she could not play as well as she wished.  Helen had to remember, play it correctly -

“No, not quite right - this is the chord needed here.”

Then Helen would undertake the laborious duty of writing it all down.  Then the Roptoa would make her play the whole accompaniment through properly, marking time, and tell her with what expression to perform it.  The expression marks were another thing that was different in their musical notation, but, though it was always Helen who performed with Feor, the marks were written down according to Remgath’s musical notation.  To Helen it was worth it for the sake of peace.

Once the work was finished, the Roptoa sighed.  “That melody expresses how I feel,”

“I am sorry, my lady,” said Helen.  “Can anything be done to help?”

“Blood - his blood in the veins of a common boy! and then he presumes to marry my daughter!  “The blood is the life" - his blood will flow in my grandchildren’s veins - and one of them will inherit the throne!”

"“The blood is the life”," repeated Helen.  “Where did you hear that?”

“In a holy book, a long time ago.”

“It says that in my holy book.”

“Oh?  Can you remember what the context is?”

“The worshippers of my God were commanded to bring an animal, to lay their hands on its head and confess their sins so that it bore their guilt, and then the priest would kill it, so that it died instead of them.  They were told they should always drain the blood out of the animal before cooking it and eating its meat, because the blood was the life of the animal.  The blood was thrown against the altar to atone for their sins.”

“It’s coming back to me,” said the Roptoa.  “Tell me more.”

“Well, the blood of an animal cannot really take away sin.  These sacrifices were commanded to point forward to a far greater sacrifice - when God’s own Son sacrificed His own body and sinless soul as the offering to atone for our sin.  He took our sins on Himself, and bore all His Father’s righteous anger against them, so that we could be forgiven.  So we say He shed His blood for us.”

“But that was just a picture.  God’s Son did not really die like that - certainly not here.”

“Not here, no, my lady; He died on my world.”

“Really?” There was no mistaking the Roptoa’s interest.  Helen took out her copy of Chalata’s translation of John’s Gospel, and read the verses about Christ’s death.

“He died for your people?”

“His one sacrifice, once only, is enough for all His people - for all sinners who will forsake their sin and turn to Him in faith with all their hearts.  Why, Feor loves our God, just as I do.” She was going to say, “just like the strangers”, but something stopped her.

“God’s own Son died - took the punishment for my sin?”

“He gave His blood - His life - so that you could live.”

The Roptoa was silent, musing.  “His blood,” she said.

At this point Feor came, wanting Helen.

After he had kissed her, and the first dizziness had worn off, she said,

“Please, may we pray for your mother?  I was telling her about Christ’s sacrifice.”

“She is very cross that Wysau gave that common boy his blood.”

“It was to save his life - just as Christ gave His blood for us.”

“Oh, I see.  Did she understand that?”

“I did not go as far as that.” Helen explained what she had read.  “But let us pray,” she added.

The next morning, her maid Sihcha was ill.  Helen wanted to go and look after her, but the Roptoa said,

“You must not.  If you catch this, and give it to Feor, he might die - I cannot risk it.”

“But he has had his injection against the sick sickness.”

“There are many other infections in the city.  I will command another servant to look after her.”

“Thank you, my lady,” said Helen.

That morning Feor went out with his father.  Helen sat sadly in their room.  Shimei had gone out to the market place.  “I must find some way to help the people.”

Helen longed for the happy days she had spent with her mother’s parents in the South of France.  Here there was warmth and sunshine too, but none of her own people.  Her grandparents had known Christ, and led her to know Him too.  They had loved and cared for her rather like the Cirians, except that they had had more time for her; they were her own people, her own family.  There had been no difficulty in talking to them; they had understood her -

Helen cried for sheer loneliness.  Abritis had been a friend, but for weeks Helen had not heard her voice in her mind.  She would have loved to talk to Janita, but they were not allowed to come to the Palace at the moment.  And if she were to go to the flying machine, the Roptoh and Roptoa would be offended.

The morning dragged, but did finally come to an end with Feor’s arrival.  She welcomed him with joy.  Not till after he had kissed her did he notice she had been crying.

“Your eyes are red, love.”

“I am sad for Shimei,” she said.  “And my maid is ill - and I am not allowed to go and see the strangers.  But I am comforted now you are here.”

She caressed his silky smooth hair so lovingly that Feor put her crying out of his conscious mind.  When, after the midday meal, Shimei told them how she had looked after a group of little children for their mothers while they were shopping, and read them stories, and taught them three letters, Feor asked,

“Is it good for poor children to learn to read?”

Helen had replied, “Yes.  The Christians on our world teach poor children to read and write.  How can they read the Bible Dr. Chalata is translating, if no-one teaches them to read?”

“That’s right, that’s right!” cried Shimei.  “I knew it was right, but I didn’t think of that.  But, Feor, don’t you remember? when Chalata writes our language down, he doesn’t use our script, but one he has invented.  Our letters are very difficult for poor children to learn.  The script Chalata uses is very simple - one sound, one symbol.  I can read it very easily.”

“Do you mean this?” said Helen, producing the Gospel of John that Chalata had translated.  “This isn’t difficult at all - I read some of this to your mother, Feor.”

“Read me a little,” said Shimei.

Helen read a few verses from the beginning of the Gospel.

“We ought to have Chalata’s new translation of the Bible printed in his script.  Then everyone will be able to read it.”

“Chalata taught me to read it,” said Helen.

“We shall have to teach people to read it.  I shall start with the children in the market place.  If they could start with little books with big print - and pictures.”

“Do you draw?” asked Helen.

“Not very well.”

“What sort of little books?”

“Stories about Jesus from the Bible.  Stories about Him healing people - about Him making the loaves and fishes enough for four thousand people - about Him telling the wind and waves to be quiet.”

“About Him dying for us,” added Helen.  “About Him being the Living Bread - the Living Water - the Good Shepherd - do your people keep animals, and feed and look after them?”

“Yes,” said Feor.  “I had to tell Chalata all about it before he could decide what to call the Good Shepherd in our language.”

Shimei brought paper from her room; Helen produced drawing pencils and water colours; Feor fetched her a little jug of water to wash her brush in.  Shimei copied the text of the Feeding of the Four Thousand, with each letter large and clear, and Helen illustrated the story.  Feor watched Helen dreamily.  Not only was she beautiful; she could play beautifully and draw beautiful pictures.

However, at the evening meal all three realized this was not the moment to ask to have their children’s book printed.  The Roptoh was gloomy, and soon told them why: his personal valet was ill, too ill to leave his bed, and he had served the Roptoh over many years.  Even the Roptoa could not take his place.  But the Roptoh did not mention the strangers.

The young people left the table together.  “Feor,” said Shimei, “we must pray for Father’s valet.”

That afternoon a little knock was heard on the flying machine’s door. “Greetings, my lady,” said Tsie to Fsuub’s nephew’s wife.  “Come in.”

She came inside and sat down.  “I must not stay long.  I ran,” she panted.  “Prynoh’s men have been ordered to blow up your flying machine tonight.  He said that now you have lost the Roptoh’s favour, no-one will bring charges against him if it is discovered who blew it up.”

Tsie watched the team come in for their evening meal, which was late now it was high summer.  They had worked from eight thirty till twelve, and then from four till seven-thirty.  They had dug, supervised, encouraged, directed; Abritis had made antibiotics and other drugs; Thilish had delivered two babies in the morning and manned the clinic single-handed all afternoon.  Wysau had had a full surgery, and two trainees, who had also accompanied him on his calls.  He was quiet and sad, missing Shimei.  Chalata had been translating Exodus.  They were all exhausted; no-one could possibly watch for even part of the night.  She waited till they had eaten and were a little rested before she told them the news.

“Well,” said Ytazu, “I suggest we take off and remain in orbit all night.  These people haven’t any aircraft or spaceships - in orbit we could all go to sleep without any worries.”

Chalata paused for a moment and shut his eyes.  Others did the same.  In a few moments, they looked at one another.

“Yes, that’s what we must do,” said Chalata.

“Let’s do it as soon as possible, before we’re too tired to clear up,” said Tsie.

They cleared up, tidied the ship, took off, and, while Ytazu and Tsie guided the craft into orbit round Yumelpthi, everyone else got ready for bed.

A servant hurried in to tell the Roptoh.

“The strangers have gone!”

“What!”

The news spread.  Helen burst into tears.  Shimei rushed to the window.  Feor went pale.

“There’s their flying machine - going round high above our world!” Shimei cried.  “I can’t believe it - surely they’ll come back.  Wysau won’t just leave his hospital - he loves our people!” Then her expression changed.

“Darling,” came his voice in her mind, “we’re only going into orbit for the night because someone was planning to blow up our flying machine.  We’ll land again in the morning - don’t worry.  And Chalata says that’s a good idea of yours, to teach the people to read his script, and produce first readers for children.  You produce the books, and we will be able to print them for you on the flying machine.”

“Thanks.  Wysau, you wouldn’t go away, would you?”

“Only if our God told us to go.  But we have given our word to your father and to the Representatives that we would build the hospital.  They have not told us not to do it, so, if at all possible, we will complete that work for them.  But if we do have to go, will you come too?”

“We will come back if we can?”

“Yes, my love.”

There was a knock on the door.  The Roptoh entered.

“Ah, Shimei.  Have the strangers gone?”

“Only for the night - they were threatened.  They will return in the morning to build the hospital.”

All three of them could see the relief on the Roptoh’s face.

“Ask Dr. Wysau to come to the Palace tomorrow morning.”

“He may not contact me again.”

“Then I will send to the flying machine in the morning.”

“Shimei, I heard that.  I’ll come.”

“Oh - he will come, Father.” Shimei tried in vain to dull the glow on her face, her radiant smile.  The Roptoh turned on his heel, and walked out.  He hated being cornered.

He had come to expect that of these strangers.  They were right - with incredible and irritating regularity.  But his wife!  His proud queenly wife!  That she should admit she had been wrong!  That she should say she should not have encouraged him to refuse to allow Shimei to marry Dr. Wysau.  Something about “the Saviour gave His blood for me, and for Wysau, and Wysau understanding what it meant, and giving his blood to save someone else’s life.” The Roptoh had understood her previous attitude, but this . . . !  Yet he was glad to accept it, so that he could ask Wysau to heal his valet.  There was something lovely about her, too, when she had said it.  He wished he had spoken to her gently, instead of in those rough tones.  He went back to her apartment.

Meantime, Wysau contacted Shimei again.  “Your father is most concerned about his valet.  Could you go to your mother’s apartment and offer to visit him with your father?  While you are there, I can ask you some questions about him, and there may well be something or things that you can do to help him, before I come in the morning.”

“What was his daughter doing?” thought the Roptoh crossly.  “She’s pulling open my valet’s eyes, looking at his hands, feeling his forehead and his feet - even counting his covers?  And now, the impudent hussy’s drawing off all his covers but a sheet, and folding two covers over his lower legs and feet.  No wonder his wife looks hurt.”

“I am doing as the stranger doctor tells me,” explained Shimei.  “He says he knows what your husband’s illness is, and he will call tomorrow morning.  But, for the moment, he wants us to do what we can to help your husband.  The stranger doctor advises that your husband be sponged with cool water, and left to sleep with the covers as I have arranged them.  Have you any freshly squeezed green selter juice?”

The wife shook her head.

“I will command that some be brought to you,” said the Roptoh.

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

“A third of a glass of green selter juice, and a third of a glass of cold water, should be mixed together, and given to him to drink this evening.  Encourage him to drink it all.  There is weak medicine in the juice which will help him to recover.  He will only want to drink it sip by sip at first.”

“Take your leave graciously, Shimei - she will take my advice now.”

“I shall recover, my lady,” said Sihcha bravely.  “It is something I have eaten.  I have had this before.”

“I have a message from Helen.”

“Yes?”

“She would very much like to come and see you, but the Roptoa will not hear of it.  She sends her best wishes for your speedy recovery.”

“Ah, I understand.  The Roptoa cannot bear to lose Feor.  But you were allowed to come?”

“I did not ask permission,” smiled Shimei.

“It is no use living all our lives in fear of illness,” said Sihcha.  “Even my intended is afraid for me, now that the strangers have gone.”

“They will return - they only went up in their flying machine for the night because someone was planning to blow it up.  They are all tired and need to sleep in peace.  Wysau is coming to see my father’s valet tomorrow morning, and I shall ask him to visit you, too.”

“So the Roptoh has forgiven him?”

“Father is afraid for his valet.  He is an old man.”

“The danger is greater for him,” allowed Sihcha.  “But I want to know what it is I should not eat.”

“Ask Wysau when he comes.  He likes people to be completely honest with him.  But, for now, is there anything I can do for you?”

“No - I will recover.”

“Would you like more water?”

“Oh, my lady!”

“It would please Wysau if I fetched it for you.”

The strangers slept peacefully in their flying machine as it orbited Yumelphthi.

While they slept, one group of Prynoh’s servants hammered long, sharpened wooden stakes into the area where the flying machine had been.  The digging for the hospital’s foundations had made the land rough and uneven.  There was no other place on that one parcel of land owned by the strangers which was large, flat and smooth enough for them to land on.

Prynoh’s men stayed to watch.  Most of them had been working the previous day.  They set two to watch, and the rest settled down to sleep.  After five hours, those two woke another two, who did not see why they personally should be the ones to watch while others slept.  A noisy argument developed, in the course of which many of the others were woken.  None of them had had enough sleep.  By then it was seven o’clock, and the strangers were getting up after a good night’s rest, and preparing themselves for the day’s work.  As their flying machine went over the hospital site, they saw the stakes, and Prynoh’s men.  Janita reported to her husband.

“Then we must pray,” said Chalata.  They gathered round their breakfast table and did so.  They lifted their heads, and Tsie went to bring their breakfast in.

“Don’t worry,” said Shurzi.  “Tuck in, everyone.  Those stakes will be removed by the men who put them there.  Our God will fight for us.”

At eight the foremen and workmen the strangers had hired arrived to find Prynoh’s men preventing their employers from landing.  The workmen wanted their wages for that day.  They discussed the matter with Prynoh’s men.

“What’s the good of a hospital, anyway,” said a workman forcibly, “without that stranger doctor to run it?”

Prynoh’s servant yawned.  “Look here, we’ll tell our lord that those strangers hypnotized us to remove the stakes and go home.”

“We’ll back you up,” said a foreman, “if he turns nasty.”

“So let’s act just as if it was true.”

But one of the stakes was stuck and would not come out.  Prynoh’s men yawned and went home.  Two of the workmen wrestled with the stake, but still they could not pull it out.  One hit it with a spade, and it splintered at ground level.  They took away the broken piece, and watched the sky hopefully.  In five minutes the flying machine came down to land.  The strangers got out and started work as if nothing had happened.

But Wysau sat in the craft for a few minutes before packing his bag and striding off to the Palace.

“You called for me, your Majesty.”

“Oh, yes, my valet - please come and see him.”

“He is feeling better already, Doctor - thank you.”

Wysau examined him to make quite sure, then produced the necessary medicine, and instructed his wife in its use.  He went to Sihcha, and to some of the other servants.  Then he went down to the kitchens.  “May I talk to the cook, please?”

“There is nowhere I can keep the meat cold, Doctor,” she explained.

“Then you must cook and eat only enough for one day, on that day.”

“But the animal is too big.”

“Then send the rest of the meat to the market to be sold.”

“I am not allowed to do that.”

“So the cook and I consulted with the housekeeper and steward,” Wysau explained to Shimei later, “and eventually with your mother.  She disliked the idea of buying meat from the market so much that she offered to give us a shoulder joint from each slaughtered animal of your own herds if we would store all the uncooked meat from that animal in our very cold cupboard or our cold cupboard till the cook required it.  We will also store cooked meat in the cold cupboard till she needs it for the servants’ meals.”

“Mother likes her meat slaughtered in a particular way,” explained Shimei, “with all the blood drained out.  Father likes us always to have an animal from our own herd or flock.  If that means you have a regular supply of meat as well, then everybody can be satisfied.”

“Your Majesty,” begged the representative, “I speak on behalf of my colleagues as well as myself.  We hear that one of the nobles - we are sure it was without your knowledge or consent - one of the nobles sent his men to blow up the strangers’ flying machine, and this was why they had to fly around our world instead of staying on their land to direct the building of the hospital.  Without the stranger doctor to train our doctors, the hospital will be useless.  We beg you to let it be known that the strangers are restored to your favour, and that you spread your mantle of protection over them.”

The Roptoh went to his wife’s apartment.  “My valet is recovering quickly,” he reported.  “May we announce our daughter’s betrothal to the stranger doctor?”

“Yes, my lord,” she replied submissively.

The Roptoh motioned to a servant, gave the order, and was about to leave, when his wife motioned to him to stay.  “I must make a confession to you.”

“I suspected this at the time.  My dear - thank you for telling me.  And I was unkind.  If you will forgive me . . . ?"

“There is little to forgive on my part.”

“But think of all the trouble it caused!  I will certainly forgive you.  I did, some years ago.”

“What is to be done?” she asked.

“Nothing.  Think of Feor.  He is not to blame.  And think of all the trouble it would cause in our kingdom.  No, it is better for everyone that all should remain as it is.”

“But - the truth - ”

“I am concerned for our people.  Helen is the making of Feor.  He grows more intelligent every day.  He will make a far better ruler than Prynoh.  The people want Wysau to heal them, not rule them; and, to be fair to him, he does not wish to rule.  Far better that one from their own people should rule them.  And besides, my father judged thus, when I asked him to dismiss Fsuub from his office.  He did not wish to offend your people.  We must respect his wisdom.”

The Roptoa bowed, comforted.  The Roptoh paced her room, and sat down beside her.  “This may come twenty years too late, my lady, but I have grown to love you, and it would tear my heart to see you sent away in shame!”

“But what about Prynoh?  Didn’t Foquar tell him?”

“Probably.  But - I did not want to repeat this to anyone, but I see I must tell you, for your peace of mind.  When Lord Attamar married my sister Tran, he was already forty, and seriously ill - with the illness the priests get, and is passed between them and the temple prostitutes.  He realized he would not be able to give Princess Tran a son, and he did not want to make her ill - but he did want her to have a son who might inherit the throne if we had no son - a son from his family.  So he made his son promise to be faithful to his wife till after his own marriage to Tran - so that his son could father Tran’s son.”

“Oh, how horrible!” cried the Roptoa.

“She did not want to make a fuss, and have her marriage annulled.  She, too, wanted a son - so she agreed.”

“Are you sure this is true?  Surely she would have protested against such treatment.”

“My father told me at the time of Feor’s birth - and, since, I have seen Prynoh narrow his eyes in just the same way as his stepmother used to.”

The Roptoa considered this for a while in silence.

“It does explain many things that have puzzled me.  Thank you, my lord, for telling me.  And - may we continue inviting Tran here fairly frequently?  It is time someone was kind to her.”

The Roptoh smiled.

“Helen will be kind, too.”

“Your intended is truly a wonderful doctor,” said Sihcha to Shimei.  “I have only had one injection, and I feel so much better, so quickly!  And he told me what I should not eat - meat that has been kept in the kitchen from the day before.  Meat that has been kept in the strangers’ cold cupboard is quite safe for three or four days, he said.  I never thought of that.  I could not work out what it was that disagreed with me.  The meat I ate the day before I was ill had been kept in the kitchen for two days, and it did taste rather strong.  But, my lady, I don’t know how you can marry such a man, with eyes that look into your mind and soul.  I don’t know who is more courageous, you or the Princess Helen.  He knew exactly what I was thinking.”

“I’m not brave at all, Sihcha.  I love him, that is all.”

“Then you will understand, my lady - my family want a temple wedding.  So does his family - and he says we ought to agree, so that we do not offend them.  I am afraid - but I cannot bear to lose him.”

“Try once more to persuade him, Sihcha.  Tell him you will be like the royal family, for Wysau and I will have a Christian wedding.  I will ask Chalata for you.”

That evening Shimei came to the evening meal on the flying machine, bringing the pages of the two children’s books she and Helen had prepared between them.  She watched as Janita and Chalata set their printing machinery to work.  She looked lovingly at the finished pages.

“Aren’t they beautifully done?  Show me again.”

Another double-page spread was set in motion.

“May I try this time?”

Chalata showed her what to do, and watched, and checked that she had done it right.  “Now press that button.”

“They have come out well,” observed Janita.

Chalata spoke again.  Shimei looked at him in utter puzzlement.  Janita laughed.

“You can’t give Shimei a message in English, even if it is for Helen!”

Meanwhile, Wysau was paying a visit.

“Your Highness?”

“Oh, yes, Doctor, come in.  It is my son - he has been unwell for some days, but he did not like to trouble you.”

“What have you come for?” asked Prynoh suspiciously.  “Why did you call him without my permission?” he demanded of his mother.

“May I examine you, my lord?” asked Wysau politely.  “I am sure your good mother called me out of her loving concern for you.”

“Oh, all right,” said Prynoh ungraciously.  He led Wysau to his bedroom.  “Leave us,” he said rather curtly to his mother.  “I really don’t know what she’s fussing about.  I’m quite all right.”

“May I look at your tongue?” Wysau breathed in.  “And - could you lie on the bed? - now - does that hurt?” Prynoh could not repress a sharp intake of breath because of the pain, yet Wysau had only used gentle pressure.  “Have you experienced shortness of breath after walking or riding only a short distance?”

“Well - not really.”

“And severe indigestion after a main meal?”

“Everybody has indigestion.”

Wysau told him about clean water, fresh fruit and uncooked vegetables.  “But even then you will still have indigestion.  After an uncooked meal, your mother will have no indigestion at all; so, if you do, you will know you do have a serious illness, and your mother was perfectly justified in calling me out.  We call this illness endrentalol.  It is brought on, and made more serious, by stress.  I can do so much for you with medicine, but, if you do not take my advice, this disease could still kill you.  Tell me, Prynoh: if all your plans were to succeed; if you were to marry the Princess Shimei and become Roptoh, and then this disease killed you three months later - would it be worth it?”

Prynoh stared at him in horror.

“Let me tell you one thing: Feor has completely forgotten about your trying to blow up our flying machine when he was aboard.  He has no intention of bringing any charges against you.”

“But he told you?”

“Not a word.”

Prynoh was silent.

“If we had wished to bring charges against you that other night, we could have stayed on our site, called witnesses secretly, and caught your men in the act of trying to blow up our flying machine.  If we wished evil against you, then why did I come tonight?”

“What is in that syringe?”

“My lord, I have a reputation as a healer.  I don’t want to spoil it by having a patient die, do I?”

“I suppose not.”

“Then lie still.  There.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Prynoh made a face.

“May I give you good counsel, to help you to recover?”

“Very well.”

“Give up your ambition.  Be content with what you have.  You have a mistress, haven’t you?”

“Do you know everything about me?”

“Not quite.  Marry her, my lord.  She’s the only woman you really care for.  You’ll lose her if you don’t marry her soon.  Not because she doesn’t care for you, but because women feel insecure if they are not married by the men they love.  And you’ve been touchy and irritable with her lately, because of your disease.  If you relax, forget your ambition, marry your mistress and try to be good to her, and to your mother, you’d be a far happier man, and, with proper treatment, you would recover from this disease.”

“Could you explain about my illness to my mistress?”

“When you are married, most certainly,” said Wysau firmly.  “I am going to leave some medicine for you to take with your main meal.  But I must warn you again: you can take all the medicine I give you, but if you do not follow my advice, this disease will still kill you.”

“How long?”

“A year - give or take three months.”

“What!”

Prynoh sat up quickly, and gasped with the pain.

“Lie down, my lord, relax.”

“Such news could hardly be called soothing.”

“I would be failing in my duty if I did not give you a clear warning.  I have done all I can - I will go now.”

“But, doctor - ”

“Call your mistress and ask her to marry you, right now.  And don’t put off the wedding date - marry her in three or four weeks.  Goodbye.”

Wysau arrived at the flying machine, went in, and sat down exhausted.  Shimei went to him, and sat beside him.

“He won’t do it,” he said.

“No,” agreed Shurzi sadly.

“Who won’t do what?” asked Shimei in bewilderment.  Wysau explained.

“Oh well, I shan’t lose my reputation even if he does die.  His mother was listening at one door and his mistress at the other.  But I am sorry.”

At this point Ytazu came in, also exhausted, and sat down.

“You’re right?” asked Shurzi.

“You’re right.  We’re both right.  There is a building under there.  That stake was jammed into a gap between two roof tiles.”

“You see, my love,” said Wysau, “God sometimes uses our enemies to bless us.  There is something very important about that building, but we don’t know what it is yet.”

“Phew.  It is hot in here,” said Shimei.

“We’ve had to turn off the cool air to save electricity,” explained Wysau.  “Has anyone had any news as to when the relief ship’s coming?”

“Tuesday or Wednesday of next week,” said Abritis.

“And there’ll be two doctors on it?”

“That’s right.”

“I’d be so grateful to have two of those trainees off my back for a while.  The doctor who dived in to save those boys is useful, and he remembers what I’ve told him; but the other two - there’s a mental block somewhere.” He paused, thinking.  “It wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t so busy.  There’s hardly time to train your staff when there are more and more people to be treated.”

“General health is improving,” said Shurzi.

“That’s largely due to Thilish’s good work,” said Wysau.

“None of the mothers really listened to me till after the recovery of those two that were rescued from the river,” said Thilish.

Wysau rested his head on Shimei’s shoulder.

“Wysau, did you have a day off last week?” asked Janita suddenly.

“There didn’t seem any point,” said Wysau.  “I couldn’t see Shimei, and I was called out anyway.”

“We must not have you grumbling,” said Chalata.  “We must praise our good God for what He has enabled us to do, and for the wonderful way in which He has provided for us.  Take tomorrow off, Wysau - go up into the woods with Shimei.”

“But what if I’m called for?”

“I’ll let you know if there’s an emergency we can’t cope with,” said Abritis.  “But we’ll do our best to cope, won’t we, Thilish?  After all, we two did have our days off last week.”

“Oh, by the way,” said Thilish.  “You’re doing a wonderful job teaching those little children, Shimei.  The mothers do appreciate it.  The book is passed round the family, the little one reads it proudly, and the mother and older ones try to learn the letters from the youngest.  And Helen’s pictures - she’s an artist.  I know she’s a good pianist, but - !”

“You’re right,” said Shimei.  “My mother usually helps her to compose her accompaniments, though she does play them marvellously well; she has that same delicacy of touch that Mother had when she was younger.  But Helen’s pictures are all her own.”

Suddenly Thilish had an inspiration.  “Is there a large, unused room in the Palace grounds somewhere? ideally, fairly near the market square, where you and Helen could hold a proper school?”

“There’s a barn - it would need sweeping out.”

“Any old chairs and tables?”

“Yes - my father holds a harvest supper there for his lower servants.  I’ll have to consult with my parents.”

“If they give their permission, you could start with just two mornings a week, and see how you get on.  Teach the children to read and write and do simple arithmetic.”

“I’ll have to talk to Helen about it first.”

“You could have a market stall one morning, and teach the little ones how to buy so many blue fruit at so many pal each, and to work out how much change they should receive from one terra.”

“The older ones know that already.  It’s one of the first things their mothers teach them, so that they don’t get shortchanged when they shop.”

“So you could ask the older ones to work it out, and get them to explain to the little ones how they do it.”

“Ah, yes, I see what you mean.  They would both be interested at once.  And at first the little ones will only come with their older sisters.”

There was a light in Shimei’s eyes, a glow on her face - and Wysau raised her hand to his lips.

They met the next day, early, outside the flying machine.  Autumn was only just beginning.  Wysau was hoisting a small pack onto his back, so that he could have both hands free.  They looked at each other, and then away.  They walked up into the wooded fringes of the foothills in silence.

“The doctor’s having a rest today,” explained Thilish at the surgery.  “He’s gone for a walk in the foothills.  If you tell me what the matter is, I’ll see if I can help.”

The child messenger returned to her mother for further instructions.  The mother with the sick baby confided in Thilish, who, as it happened, knew exactly what to do.

“God was good to us, my love,” said Wysau softly, “when He separated us.  I had begun to put you first before Him.  If He had allowed me to go on, our love would have turned sour.”

“He has given me a new joy and a new usefulness,” said Shimei.  “Yes, I know what you mean - though it was dreadful at the time.  But I still did not know half the darkness that Feor went through.  I cannot begin to understand the depth of his love for Helen.”

“Well - perhaps I do, a little; more than I ever thought I would.  But only Chalata really understands.”

“You keep saying that, but Chalata looks so peaceful.”

“His feelings are well under control, most of the time.  We only catch the occasional glimpse.  That was what made it the more frightening, that evening after we took off - after I’d communicated with you.  We were all feeling downcast.  Shurzi and Ytazu began to quarrel about whether it was worth uncovering an ancient building.  We are short of time and money, but Ytazu insisted it was important.  In the end, Ytazu said he would do the digging himself in his spare time. They made it up, but they were still sore.  Tsie was afraid we would run out of electricity before the supply ship came.  Abritis said she didn’t have enough supplies for making so many antibiotics, and was it a good idea to use them so constantly?  I said I’d try not to use them for rich people, except in emergencies, but that the poor simply aren’t well enough nourished, nor able to rest to fight the infections off.  She said that wouldn’t make much difference.  And then Janita came and asked me to talk to Chalata.

“Are you sure he wants me?” I asked.

“He said Wysau,” she said.  “Please hurry - he’s in a dreadful state.” He was.  I was terrified.  He said he thought I would understand the best, because I knew what it was like to love and not be loved.

“Shimei does love me,” I said, “and Janita loves you.”

“Janita does not,” he said, and he went off into a flood of words in some language I’d never heard before.  So I read Janita’s thoughts - she was sitting praying earnestly for Chalata, in Tsetri, thank goodness.  Her thoughts were like a shaft of light in a dark place.  I interrupted Chalata sternly.

“If Janita does not love you,” I said, “then why is she sitting in a corner of the lounge praying for you with all her heart?”

I don’t know why I did it - I just turned away and walked into the lounge.  Everyone else came in too, some in nightclothes, even, though none of us had called the others.  Even Chalata came in, and sat by Janita.  Suddenly I was overflowing with thankfulness, and began to praise God - and everyone else did too!”

Shimei pondered this; then she said,

“Why did you speak to Chalata so sternly?”

“It’s the best way to deal with interplanetary victims,” said Wysau.

“Then Mother is right to be harsh with him.”

“Yes, quite right.  Are they very close, Feor and your mother?”

“Yes, just as Father and I have been close.  We were, before I became a Christian.  That’s one of the reasons why I was so sad when he separated us; because we two were separated as well.  But Feor and Mother have a new understanding.  She was marvellous with him yesterday morning.  You know, Helen had been crying - and Feor was blaming himself for bringing her here and making her miserable.

“If it was anyone’s fault,” said Mother firmly, “it was Foquar’s.  But now she is not miserable at all.  She is married to the man she loves, and who loves her.  She lives in a warm land with much sunshine, and she has a beautiful instrument to play, and a gifted musician to accompany.  She loves illustrating those children’s books, and she finds a new fulfilment in her teaching.  No, I didn’t say these things to her; she said them to me.  But she misses the strangers.  She wants to be able to talk to Abritis, because she speaks English.”

“She really wants to speak French to someone,” said Feor.  And he sounded so much more like himself that I knew the battle was won.”

“I hope they’re still practising,” said Wysau.

“Oh yes; they played another new piece together yesterday afternoon.  His tunes have such beauty, and he plays them with such feeling . . . Helen does accompany him well, but he is the star of the show.  He always will be, and that’s how she likes it.  You always will be, with us.  I’ve got to accept that, and I find it hard.”

“You have your own calling, my love, and you will shine at it.  What a blessing it will be to have a wife who can manage our children well.”

“Will you expect me to give up teaching when we have our first child?”

“You’ll have to be with the baby to feed it for the first nine months - same with the second - but I’m sure we could find someone suitable to look after our little children while you are out teaching.”

“Will you expect a third child?”

“Probably not - unless you really want a third - or unless one is sickly, or has an accident - or unless we have an accident, and you become pregnant when we do not expect it.  Most parents on Cirian have only two children, because they want each to have a full inheritance.”

“But what if they are both girls?”

“On Cirian, that wouldn’t matter.  Here, I suppose it would be different.  We’d have to pray about it - whether it would be right to use techniques . . . "

“I’d make a mess of it.”

“Oh, no, no, I’d have to do it; it’s the father who determines the sex of the child.”

“What!” Shimei was thunderstruck.

“That is a fact.”

“My father blamed my mother for me not being a boy.”

“It wasn’t her fault, it was his.  But I don’t suppose he knew how to do anything about it.”

“Let’s sit down,” said Shimei.  “I’ve gone all wobbly at the knees.”

“That’s an anthill - or something similar.  Try a stone - that’s better.”

He stood and looked about him.  “It’s just after high summer,” he said, “yet still that waterfall flows as fast as that - is that unusual?”

“No, no - it always rushes down at great speed.  There is a great mountain range behind here, with eternal snows at the tops of the mountains.  In spring the water flows even faster.  There are other waterfalls - look at that one over there.  It is beautiful up here.”

“O, Shimei,” - he spoke the name like a caress - “Shimei my love, would you be dreadfully hurt if we constructed two great buildings just here?”

“But why here?  Why not down in the city?”

“Hydroelectricity, my love - only fast-flowing water will drive a dynamo.  The buildings needn’t be massive, and they could be designed so that they wouldn’t be eyesores.  Perhaps they could be concealed in a cave.  But Shurzi has had his eye on these waterfalls for some time, and Darte has even started the plans.  We’ll need electricity, lots of it, for the hospital and for the palace.  Two hydro-electric plants could supply the city as well.”

“Isn’t there any other way of making electricity?”

“Yes, but most of these ways can damage an entire planet.  Harnessing the power in fast-flowing water is one of the best ways of making electricity.  It’s cheap, it’s safe.  You can’t heal people with ray machines without electricity.  You can’t make cool air, or run cold cupboards and very cold cupboards to keep food fresh, without electricity.  It’s better that the poor should have electricity to keep their houses warm in winter, than that they should come up here and cut down trees to burn.”

Shimei sighed.  “I do see that.  I also see why Father gets so exasperated when, time and again, events prove you strangers to be in the right.”

“We’re not that marvellous.  We only learnt these things when we saw what happened to our own planet.  It was terrible.  We don’t want to teach you how to spoil your world too - we want to help you with our knowledge, not make things worse for you than they were before we came.”

“I hear on good authority,” said Prynoh to his henchmen, “that the stranger doctor is having a rest today.  He has gone for a walk into the foothills, but not alone.  The Princess Shimei, his betrothed, has gone with him.  She will distract him - he won’t be on his guard.  When not on their guard, these thought-reading, hypnotizing strangers are just as vulnerable as any other men.  So it’s not an impossible task I am setting you, but a difficult one.  You have to keep quiet and out of sight till you can track them down and come near enough to shoot the stranger doctor - BUT - you must not touch the Princess.  If someone kills or wounds my Princess, I will give him up to justice!  But if one of you succeeds in exterminating this stranger, so that the others go home and leave us in peace, I will shield him with all my power, and richly reward him.  There are others, too, who will be grateful.  You may choose your weapons, use what tactics you think best.  I give you the rest of the day for this task only.”

It was eleven o’clock.  The five servants had been working since seven in the morning.  Hot and weary, they took their lunches, went quietly up into the foothills, found five shady, cool hiding-places, and sat down.  “They’re bound to come this way,” they said to each other as they began to eat.  “It’s the way back to the city.  We’ll hear them as they come past down the mountain, and we’ll shoot him then.” They drank the water in their bottles, and lay down to sleep.

Further up the mountain, Wysau and Shimei, too, lay down to sleep; they, too, did not hide together.  “The others prayed that, unless it was a real emergency and I was needed, no-one would find us.”

Shimei was surprised, when she woke, to find it was already four o’clock.  She moved to make herself comfortable again, and lay looking at the sunlight glowing through the red leaves.  Beauty meant much more to her when she remembered that Someone who loved her had made it for her.  And He had prepared, and kept her, for someone who loved her - someone, again, whom He had sent, for love of her and her people.  Someone who worked night and day to heal and comfort, and keep them from foolish actions which would harm others and themselves - someone who badly needed a rest.  She sat up and looked over at Wysau’s hiding place.  There was no movement.  She had no wish to interrupt his well-earned sleep.  For Tsie had said,

“Don’t hurry back, you two, unless you’re hungry.  I will take your meals out of the cold cupboard as soon as you arrive.”

He was the only doctor in the entire city who knew his work, as her father had put it.  Wysau was a man who took responsibility seriously.  More and more of her people were learning to trust him; more patients were coming to him every day.  He needed rest and relaxation more than ever.  She found herself praising God for the two other doctors who were coming soon.  But there were still a few more days of waiting; and Wysau had had no rest the previous week.  So she ought to praise still more - it was half past four and he was still -

“Shimei.”

“Yes?”

“We’ve still some of our picnic left.  Come over here and share it with me.”

He offered her a sandwich, ate the other one, offered her a savoury bite, and then found there wasn’t another.  Smitten, Shimei looked round for some berries she had found somewhere near there last year - oh, yes, there they were.  She went with his empty box to collect them.  When she returned, she found he had refilled their water bottle from a fast-flowing stream.

“No, you have them, Wysau - you’re the one who’s hungry - and I had your last savoury bite.  I’d be glad of a drink.”

In the silence - a comfortable silence - birdsong was heard.  Wysau spoke in her thoughts:

“Is it that yellow bird on this tree near us?  The one that’s singing?”

“No,” she thought.  “The yellow one has a different call.  The one that’s singing is plain brown.  He’s nothing to look at, but he has a sweet song.”