Idx
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Ch. 16
Style: Serif Sans

For His Name’s Sake

Chapter Seven

Down the mountain, the ambushers also woke refreshed after a good long siesta.  They got up and stretched their legs.  But soon they were back in their hiding places, alert and ready to shoot, unobserved, without any noisy movement to give them away.  Their principal fear was that the lovers might be walking so close together that it would be difficult to kill one without wounding the other.

“On the other hand,” thought Ethin, “this place is more frequented.  They cannot be sure of privacy.  They might well keep a respectable distance away from each other here.”

But the stranger doctor had healed his friend’s first-born son . . .

Could his lord be trusted to reward him richly?  He didn’t reward the husband of the widow whose sons Wysau had healed.  She had received nothing from Prynoh to help her in her need.

But Ethin’s family needed money, too.  He had five little ones at home.  What would his wife say if he let a chance like this go by?  Especially if he lost his job for his failure.  They could walk by at any time - it became more likely with every moment that passed.

The other strangers had just finished work, and were coming in for a shower before their evening meal.

“I take it all back, Ytazu,” said Shurzi.  “If you hadn’t been out there digging, you wouldn’t have found that spade, and you wouldn’t have met Fsuub’s nephew’s wife, nor introduced her to Tsie; and we would all have been blown to smithereens!  And then, that stake!  No, you’ve done a marvellous job.  Now that you’ve made the outline of the building clearly visible, we could employ some more careful diggers to remove the earth from the sides of the building, just as you suggested yesterday evening.  Don’t you think, Darte?”

“He could go out recruiting on Monday.”

“I know my limitations.”

“This is a difficult one,” said Shurzi.  “We’re all agreed that it ought to be done, and done quickly; but I don’t see when Darte or I could fit it in.”

“Where’s the money coming from?” asked Darte.  “To pay these careful diggers?”

“If this is really of God, He will provide.”

“How shall we know?  If this is really His will, will He provide suitable workmen without Darte or I having to go out and recruit them?”

“We’ll have to take the matter to Him,” said Ytazu.

“What would we do without our Heavenly Father?” asked Darte.

“You go ahead and have your shower, Ytazu,” said Shurzi.  “I’d be glad just to sit for a moment.”

Shimei felt the same.  She was in no hurry to get back.  Such moments with Wysau, when he did not have to rush away to attend to a patient, were few and brief.  They could sit for a bit longer, surely?

“In fact,” thought Wysau, “it would be more restful lying down.” Shimei was so lovely . . . he must have another kiss before they went back . . . in fact, she would like it . . . she would be disappointed if he did not kiss her.  He moved, ready to lie down beside her.

“You shall hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”"

So, instead, he stood up.  “We ought to go back down the mountain,” he said.  “It’s getting late - the insects will eat us.”

“Oh Wysau!” She turned sad eyes on him.  His heart smote him.

“It’s been wonderful, just to be with you.  But we mustn’t risk being distracted from hearing God’s word tomorrow by itchy insect bites.” He helped her up, and drew her to him for a kiss.

Comforted, she dusted him down, he put on his backpack, and off they went.

“When can we get married?” he asked.

“I’ll have to ask Father.”

“But - about how long?”

“Next spring?”

“I can’t wait that long! it would be most unwise - haven’t you felt - well, I thought you were as disturbed as I was, the first time we met, when we’d only been separated for a fortnight!  And this morning was nearly as - disturbing, I think, is the best word.  Even just now - !  Could we be married in the next three or four weeks, so that we can have our wedding outside, like Helen and Feor?  Please, my love.”

“As soon as that?  I don’t know what Father will say.  He’s been fretful and unsettled lately - he says the heat becomes more trying as he gets older.”

“The heat in that Palace would get me down, too.  Would he be willing to have the Palace wired up, and a system installed which would blow warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer?  But we’d have to build those hydro-electricity generating plants first.”

“And where’s the money coming from?”

“Would the House of Representatives vote it to us?  We need electricity for the hospital, and the plants will, we hope, generate enough to supply the city as well.”

“But people can’t afford higher taxes!”

“We’ll have to pray about it.”

“God is so real to you, Wysau.”

“The more you obey Him, the more you’ll find the same.”

They were fast approaching the frequented clearing, and Wysau’s thoughts were far from any suspicion of danger.

“Wait a minute,” called Shimei.  “I’ve a stone in my sandal.”

He went back to support her as she took it out.  They then carried on walking, Shimei leading.

Ethin strained his ears - surely that was someone coming.  He cocked his pistol . . .

“Uncle Tomas!” It was Onla, Tomas’ eleven-year-old niece.

“Ssh!” Tomas tried to press her down beside him.

“I can’t play hide-and-seek now.  I’ve got to get the stranger doctor to Uncle Flak.  He fell mending a window, and he’s hurt real bad.  Have you seen him go by?”

“No!  Shh!”

Wysau stood still.  Shimei felt his sickly-sweet power.

“Come on out, all five of you,” he said wearily.  “Present weapons.  Now go back to your lord, and tell him he can’t expect to get well if he disobeys his doctor’s instructions.  Yes, I’m coming, young lady.  Shimei, please lead me for a while.  And bring their weapons.”

Onla walked beside them, her mind free to wonder what game her Uncle Tomas and his friends had been playing.  They walked to the strangers’ flying machine, where the doctor collected his bag.  The nurse came with him, carrying another bag.  Two other strangers hurried after them, bringing a carrying mat and poles.  She watched the doctor examining her uncle, giving an injection, pushing bones back into place, binding up his limbs.  Then the strangers lifted him carefully and gently onto the carrying mat, and bore him away to their flying machine.

“You’re not going to give them their weapons back, are you, Wysau?” asked a surprised Shimei after their much delayed meal.

“They are their property,” said Wysau reasonably.

“But they might try again!”

“Unlikely.  They’ve lost their jobs.” He got up to go.  “You can stay here, love, if you’d rather.”

“No - I’ll come with you.”

“Thanks.”

The five were talking outside Flak’s house, where they were waiting for news of him.

“My wife wouldn’t have it,” Ethin was saying.  “Wouldn’t believe that the strangers can take over your mind.”

“If she won’t listen to you, she’ll hardly listen to us.”

“I can’t be sorry Onla came.”

“Course not,” said Ak.  “It’s all Prynoh’s fault, really.  If he doesn’t want to get well, other people do - and they’ve sense enough to take good advice.  He’d just lost his mistress, that was his trouble.  Now he’s lost five of his best servants - ”

“And we’re well out of it.  I’m going to set up on my own, just like I’ve always wanted.”

“All very well for you,” said Ethin.  “You’ve some savings, and a trade.”

“You can read and write.”

“But you need savings to set up a shop - oh.” He had just seen Wysau approaching with Shimei.

“These are yours,” he said.  They each took his weapon, with murmured thanks.  “And I’m sorry,” added Ethin.

Frak’s wife came to the door.  “How is he?” she asked, and invited them inside.  When they came out, Tomas asked the same question.

“Healing,” said Wysau.  “He would have recovered without my help - your doctors know how to set bones - but he and his family would have been near starvation before he was well enough to work again.  As it is, he won’t be fit to work for the next four to five days.  Would his lord take him back after these days if one of you did his job till then?”

“If I did,” said Tomas, “what could I do after that?”

“Well, we need some careful diggers - not to dig the hospital foundations, but to dig to uncover a building that is already there.  It will be skilled work - we’re offering - ” He named a daily rate.  “You’ll have to be careful not to damage the building.”

“How many diggers will you need?”

“Six altogether - but four will do at the start.”

“You wouldn’t want us, would you?” asked Ethin.

“Why not?” said Wysau.  He was not smiling.

“Would you keep me a job?” asked Tomas.

“Willingly.”

“I’m going to see Frak’s lord.”

“Good for you.” Wysau turned to the others.  “If you’d like the work, come to the hospital site on Monday morning at half past eight.  You needn’t sign on for longer than a week if you don’t want to - it’ll give you time to look round for something else that you would prefer.”

“Thanks - we’ll come.”

“See you on Monday, then.  Half past eight.” Wysau and Shimei went away.

“What about your shop?” asked Ak.

“I’d make a better start with more savings.”

“You can go home now, Ethin,” said Ak, and the others laughed.

Darkness had fallen.  Shimei was glad of Wysau’s arm.  Suddenly a woman came up to Shimei and peered at her. “You’re not Winone?”

“No,” said Shimei.

The woman wandered away, calling, “Winone!  Winone!”

“There’s something the matter with that woman,” said Wysau.  “She’s bewildered and distressed.”

“She shouldn’t be out by herself in the dark,” said Shimei.  “Her speech is upper class.  I’m sure I’ve seen her before, but not recently.”

A servant came out and tried to draw the woman inside, but she would not go.  “Winone!” she called.  “I want Winone.”

Wysau led Shimei over to the woman and servant.  “Can we help?”

“Your Highness!” cried the servant.

“This woman is ill,” said Wysau.  “I am a doctor - may I come in and examine her?”

“She is insane,” said the servant.

“Then we must get her inside,” said Shimei.  “Please allow my betrothed to help.”

The servant tried again to draw the woman inside, but she refused even more determinedly.

“Please,” said Shimei.

“Very well,” said the servant desperately.

A touch of hypnotism, and the woman went inside quietly.  The grateful servant allowed the Princess and her betrothed to follow her inside.

“Sit down,” said Wysau gently.  “There - let’s have a look at you.” He examined her all over, but particularly her eyes, her wrists and the back of her head.

“She is ill, and I believe could be cured.  May I come again on Monday to bring her medicine?”

The servant went to ask permission from her lord, while Shimei and Wysau looked after the woman.  Quite soon he came.

“Your Highness.” He bowed to Shimei.

“Your Lordship,” she saluted him.

“You say she could be cured, stranger doctor?”

“Yes, your Lordship,” said Wysau with conviction.  The more he saw of the woman, the more sure he was of his diagnosis.

“Within ten days?”

“A complete cure will take longer,” said Wysau - and he paused, and looked at the lord.

“She should be presentable within ten days.  But if you are in that much of a hurry, I must ask for medicine to be brought at once.” And he sat down and stared into space.  The lord stared, too, in utter perplexity.

“He is asking one of the other strangers to bring her medicine,” explained Shimei.

“Winone, Winone,” the woman moaned.

“Hush,” soothed the servant.  “She has gone away.”

“Winone,” the woman called, more loudly.

“Your Lordship, may I have a word with you in private?” asked Wysau.

The lord led him out into another room.

“Your Lordship, who is this woman who has gone away?  Was it a maidservant who used to care for this lady?”

“Yes.  She was indiscreet.”

Wysau paused for a few moments.  “Was her fault a very serious one?  Because I feel sure your wife would recover more quickly if this maidservant returned to care for her.  Obviously, if she was not doing her job properly, you were right to dismiss her - but she seems to have gained your wife’s affection to an unusual extent.  People who are insane because of this disease do not usually remember anybody.”

“She was the maidservant who accompanied her from her parents’ home.”

“Would it be possible for her to be brought back?”

The lord set his lips together.  “Yes, it would,” he said with sudden resolution.  “I will send a servant immediately.  Excuse me.”

Wysau returned to his patient.  The servant and Shimei were having difficulty in calming her.  There was a touch of hypnotism, and the lady sat back in her chair and slept.  Wysau sat and stared into space.  All was quiet till Abritis came with the medicine.  The injection woke the lady, who immediately began calling for Winone.

Abritis asked, “What does she look like?”

The lady just went on moaning her name.  It was the servant who furnished Abritis with a description.  Abritis looked at Wysau, was thanked, and went away.  Ten minutes later, a manservant returned with a woman, who rushed to the patient and embraced her.  The patient wept, and clung to her.

“Stranger doctor, thank you a thousand times.  And thank the stranger lady for me.”

“Now listen,” said Wysau.  “Here is more medicine for tomorrow, and this is what you must do.  Please, listen too,” he said to the other female servant.

It was very late when Shimei returned to the Palace that night.

“Running round after those ungrateful wretches,” complained the Roptoh.

“No, Father - after a lord, who made me promise not to reveal his secret.”

“Oh well - no doubt Wysau will be paid.”

“Eventually,” said Shimei.  “You know - the lords instruct their stewards to pay their bills at the end of the month, and not before.”

On a Saturday evening, the strangers tried hard to give their cares and worries to their God, so that on the Sunday they could concentrate on worshipping Him and hearing His word.  As it happened, Wysau was called out to a difficult birth not ten minutes after his Sunday dinner.  He took Thilish with him, and they both laboured all afternoon, comforting and encouraging the terrified young mother, easing the breech presentation baby out as gently as they could.  They had to slap his tiny back, administer oxygen, sew up the young mother, and carefully explain about salt baths to the servants.

They walked to the flying machine as fast as they could in the heat to clean up and try to get to the surgery to hear Chalata’s sermon.  On the way, Thilish panted, “As far as getting paid is concerned, the mother-in-law will be our best ally.” Wysau slowed down so that they could talk.

“She wouldn’t dream of lifting a finger to help us,” continued Thilish,“but she did see how difficult it was, and how easily things could have gone wrong.”

“She did help, in fact, at the end.”

“You mean, when she encouraged her daughter-in-law to feed her baby?  I’m sure one of us said he was a boy before, but she was in such a state that she couldn’t take it in.  Yes, the mother-in-law did that very well.”

“It was great to see him feed.”

Later that evening, when they sat down to enjoy their bedtime drinks, Wysau fell asleep.

“Bedtime,” said Tsie firmly.  “Drink up and go to bed.  Now.”

As soon as they had given thanks for their breakfast, Ytazu asked, “Will I have to go out recruiting?”

“No,” said Wysau.  “I engaged four men on Saturday night, and a fifth will come next Monday.  My hypnotism put them out of a job.”

“Great!”

“They’ll arrive at 8.30 a.m.”

“But,” said Tsie, “how are we going to pay them tonight?  Oh dear, I shouldn’t have bought that fish on Saturday.”

“It was gorgeous,” said Abritis.

“I’m sure it did us all good,” said Wysau.  “We hadn’t had fish for months.  You cooked it well, too - Shimei really enjoyed it.”

“But, if I hadn’t, we could have paid those four diggers.”

“I’ll have to ask one of the lords to pay me this afternoon.  Lord Algachthi has owed me money for over a month.  Don’t worry, Tsie.”

But Tsie knew how much Wysau hated having to ask to be paid.  All the strangers, privately, offered silent prayers at that meal.

After dinner on the Monday evening, Shimei came to the flying machine to see Wysau.  He came out to greet her, as all the other strangers, except Shurzi, who was on thought-reading duty, were relaxing and chatting in the lounge.  Wysau and Shimei lingered outside, to have a few moments alone together.

“How is the lady?” asked Shimei.  “The one you treated on Saturday night.”

“Improving so quickly that it astonished me,” confessed Wysau, “till I discovered the reason.  The lord her husband had had a mistress since before they married.  This obviously triggered off the disease.  On Saturday, the maidservant somehow fell foul of the mistress, who demanded that she be sent away.  The lord was not entirely happy about this, because the maid was in his wife’s employ, and it was not his place to dismiss her.  After this, he got a letter saying his wife’s family were coming to visit in ten days.  He was really worried; they are rich and influential, and he did not wish to offend them.  Also, his mistress had been cross and demanding recently.  When she found out that the maid had been brought back, there was a row, and she left him.

Well, when I arrived this afternoon, there his wife was, so much improved that I could hardly believe my eyes.  I thanked the maid warmly, and explained that the doses of medicine must continue, however much improved she was, or there would be a relapse.  The lord came to see me - and his wife.  He, too, was amazed - so much so that he paid me immediately.  I didn’t even need to ask! I explained that if he really wanted her to continue to improve, he must talk to her, in a friendly, gentle way, for some time each day.”

“You’d have thought that was obvious.”

“Not to him, judging by his reaction - but he was not averse to the idea.  He’s the sort of man who lets other people push him around - especially women.  I thought it would be better if his wife pushed him around, than another woman.  So we were able to pay the careful diggers, and will be able to tomorrow evening.” “Wysau, there’s someone hovering,” said Shimei nervously. “Oh - she’ll be wanting to talk to Tsie.” Wysau paused for a moment.  “I didn’t have to pay a special call to ask to be paid,” he continued.  “That would have been hateful.”

A moment later, Tsie came out.

“I just wanted to be sure that the doctor was all right - I had heard some men had tried to kill him.”

“Yes,” said Tsie.  She walked with Fsuub’s nephew’s wife across the site towards her home.  They were talking, and only walking slowly.  Tsie put her foot into a place which had been dug, and hit her toe against something hard.  Not a stone - something metallic.  Interested, she investigated.  The corner of a box was revealed.

“A box!” cried the lady.  “Could it be my husband’s uncle’s grandfather’s treasure?”

Tsie looked at her.  They both dug with their hands.  The box was quite a size, and heavy.

“But why would he have buried it here?”

“He was a pirate - it was stolen from all sorts of ships at sea.  My husband looked for it everywhere, once he had inherited the estate, but he could not find it.”

“Let’s take it to him.”

“We can’t - it’s too heavy.”

Wysau and Shimei wanted to spend every bit of their day together, so they had walked on past the flying machine, talking.  Tsie called to Wysau, and suddenly Ytazu came hurrying out to join them.  The two men picked the box up by its handles and carried it behind Fsuub’s nephew’s wife.

“Your uncle’s grandfather’s treasure, dear,” she said to her husband.

“But no,” said his lordship.  “If my ancestor buried it in your land, he wished the Princess to inherit it.”

Wysau and Ytazu looked at each other.  “It was your uncle’s grandfather who owned and buried the treasure,” said Wysau, “and your uncle Fsuub who left the land to the Princess.  Your uncle Fsuub probably had no idea it was buried there.”

But to his Lordship, there was one thing more important than money - royal favour.  “It is yours, Princess,” he insisted graciously.  “If my uncle did not wish to give it to you, then I do.”

Equally graciously, Shimei accepted, as politeness required.  “May I offer your wife a jewel from it?”

The chest was opened, and the Lady made her selection.  “Thank you very much, your Highness,” she said.

“Thank you for helping me find it,” said Tsie, keen to give the husband reason to be proud of his wife.

As Wysau and Ytazu carried the box to the flying machine, Shimei said,

“Of course you must have it, Wysau, for those machines to make electricity.  It would be wonderful to have cool air in the Palace in the summer - I would give all my treasure for that alone.  I shall feel much happier knowing my treasure will benefit all the people as well.  But you must not destroy the beauty of the foothills.  Do please hide the buildings if you can.”

Wysau and Ytazu took the box into the flying machine.  “Come in, Shimei,” invited Shurzi, “have a look at Darte’s plans.”

“I ought to take her home,” said Wysau.  “It’s getting late.”

“Just a quick look,” said Shurzi.

Darte brought two sets of drawings: one for inside a cave, another for an inconspicuous building in the open.

“The problem with caves is the damp,” he explained.  “We’d have to use some of the electricity to keep the atmosphere in the building reasonably dry and comfortable for the operating machinery, and for the people who will have to work there.  We’re not sure if there’ll be caves of the right size in the right position.  On the other hand, if there are caves, we can’t go building generators above them and equipping them with heavy machinery.  When we get the chance, we’ll go investigating, make a proper report and let you have a copy.”

“Are there any caves up there?” asked Wysau.

“I don’t know.”

“I didn’t see any signs of them - like disappearing streams.”

“Oh?”

“You see, caves are usually made by water in certain - ”

“Shh.  I’m too tired to take it in.”

“Then I’ll take you home.”

“Goodnight, Shimei,” they called from the flying machine.  Shimei took Wysau’s arm.  “Goodnight,” she called.

“Oh, Shimei, I nearly forgot,” said Wysau.  “Would your father mind if we returned to our original site in the Royal Park? or if our relief flying machine landed there?”

Shimei pondered.  “Let me check exactly where the boundary between my land and Lord Ent’s is.  It may be that there is room for your other flying machine there.  You’d rather be together, really, wouldn’t you?”

“We would, but we mustn’t encroach on Lord Ent’s land.”

“I’ll enquire, and let you know tomorrow after the service.”

“Oh - Tsie’s just asked if you’d like to join us at our midday meal tomorrow.”

“If you’ll have enough.”

“She’s just been checking, and she says there’s plenty.”

Shimei brought a map with her, and, after the meal and a short rest, she went out with Ytazu and Wysau to check the boundary.

“Would you be able to land a large ship here?” asked Wysau somewhat incredulously.

“Any crew worth their wages would.  And I’m sure they’d rather be parked here, right next to us.  They’ve only been learning Remsheth for a month or so.  And it’s level land - no problem.”

The relief ship arrived on the Monday evening, and, after a day of tidying up and getting used to their new surroundings, the crew, Mosu and his wife Lintis’ young nephew, were soon involved with the building work, while Lintis and Ciecet started to practise alongside Wysau.  When she met them on the Tuesday evening, Shimei could not believe that Ciecet and Lintis were both over sixty, and Mosu sixty-eight years old - nearly seventy!

“They look so young,” she whispered to Wysau in wonderment.  “Especially Lintis - her hair’s almost all golden.  And Ciecet’s so tall!  I’ve never seen anyone so tall.”

On the Wednesday morning, the strangers were fully occupied, including Abritis, who was making medicine after medicine, and sterilizing her equipment, and washing up.  It was beginning to annoy her that she had to spend two-thirds of her time doing these routine tasks, which a technician would have done for her on Cirian, when there was a knock on the ship door.  Tsie would answer that.

But Tsie almost immediately put her head round Abritis’ door.  “Could you use a trainee?”

“I could use a technician, right now.”

“You’ll have to train her.”

“Be worth it.”

“So she could try it for a day or two, and see how she gets on?”

“Fine by me.”

The girl came in; Abritis gave her a quick glance.  Clean, young, looked reasonably bright.

“Will you be content to wash up and sterilize equipment for a month or two, till I have time to train you?”

“My parents are always quarrelling; I want to get out of the house.  My father is always reproaching me for not earning money.”

Abritis checked her thoughts: she was telling the truth.  It seemed unnecessary to ask if she had her father’s permission.  Soon the girl, Emlota, wearing a new pair of rubber gloves, was washing up equipment slowly and carefully.

“If you hang up your gloves like this, so that the air gets inside, they won’t be sweaty inside when you come to put them on again after your lunch break.  If you find they do get damp and sweaty inside later on in the afternoon, don’t be shy; tell me before your hands start getting sore.  For instance, wearing cotton gloves inside can help.  Yes, that’s right.  Have you brought any food with you?”

“No.”

So Abritis went to Tsie, who provided her with salad vegetables, cheese and bread for Emlota.

“These are free for today.  If she wants to go on having lunch here, she could have a deduction made from her pay.”

Abritis soon reappeared, to sit down with the team for her own lunch.  “Yes, she would like that, Tsie, please.”

“Oh, have you a trainee, Abritis?”

“She turned up this morning.  She’s a bit slow at the moment, but that’ll improve.  She’s meticulous, and that’s important.”

“You’ve done well to get a girl.  They usually work with their mothers at home, or as servants in great houses.”

“Emlota has a stepmother who’s only about ten years older than she is.  Her father married her for her money, and they either quarrel and shout at each other, or maintain a frosty silence.  Emlota is constantly reproached for not earning.  She is clean and intelligent.”

“Sort of middle class girl, then?”

“She must be.  The daughters - and sons - of the nobility usually have little idea of work.  This one understands that she must get on with what I’ve given her to do, and ask what to do next when she’s finished.  If I tell her to wait till I’ve finished what I’m doing, she hangs up her gloves and comes to watch me.”

“Sounds to me as if she was sent to you,” said Wysau.

“You ought to find out whose daughter she is, and make sure she has her father’s permission,” said Darte.

“Sounds to me as if he practically pushed her out of the door, with the command to find paid work!  But yes, I will check.”

But as she was getting up from the table, fully intending to do just that -

“Abritis!” It was Ciecet.  “We need some more medicines.  Here’s the list and quantities.  I’m sorry to land this on you at such short notice.”

“When by?”

“Some tomorrow - the urgent ones are underlined - and the rest as soon as possible.”

“Right.”

After a few weeks’ familiarization with the work, Ciecet had a chat with Wysau.

“What are you all inoculated against?”

“We’ve all had the standard jabs against diseases we don’t meet on Cirian.”

“That doesn’t include hinsit or yjumen?”

“No.  We haven’t met them yet.”

“But when we do . . ."

“We’ll have to go into action at once.  I see what you mean.”

“I was inoculated before I came.”

“That’s not the sort of thing Abritis could make quickly.”

“I’ve brought some.”

“Enough for all of us?”

“And three more.  I inoculated Lintis, Mosu and Yujip on the journey here.”

“Good for you.  That must have taken some organization.”

“Careful timing.”

“Yes.  Now, if we’re all going to be inoculated, your talent in that direction will be very useful.”

“I’ll have to have a look at the rest day rota.”

“Ooh.  There’s two rainy seasons here, when building work becomes impractical.  One is coming up in not too long; Darte, Ytazu and Shurzi could perhaps have theirs then.  You and Lintis will have to have a day off, each, consecutively, before I have mine.  To Chalata, all times will seem equally inconvenient, but, for all our sakes, I suggest that he have his on a Monday morning - and perhaps Janita at the same time.  Then they can collapse together.  Thilish should not have hers at the same time as me, or as Abritis, and neither of them at the same time as Tsie - and Tsie not at the same time as Janita.”

“My first targets are, in order, you, Thilish and Abritis.”

“Fair enough.”

“Strangely enough, Lintis and I have just had two consecutive days off.”

“Could we explain this to Chalata first, before taking any action?  After all, he is our team leader.”

“So,” said Chalata when they had all heard all about it over their evening meal, “everyone is in agreement that this should be done?”

Everyone nodded.

“Let’s have a meeting for prayer this evening, especially about the timing of these injections.”

They raised their heads - and there was quiet.  Suddenly Tsie, Ytazu and Wysau all spoke at once.

“We ought to get on with this as quickly as possible.”

Chalata looked round at the others.

“Absolutely,” said Abritis.

“Right-oh,” said Darte.

“O.K.," said Shurzi.

“It would be sensible,” said Thilish.

“Do you feel the same, love?” asked Janita.

“I do,” said Chalata.

“So do I,” said Janita.

The three who spoke first were injected first, while an emergency rota was drawn up for the others.  Chalata wholeheartedly agreed that he and Janita should be immunised at the same time, and encouraged Abritis and Darte, and Thilish and Shurzi, to do the same.

One morning a little ragged boy came to the schoolroom with the other children.  Shimei looked in vain for his mother.  The boy looked familiar.

“You’re Darox, aren’t you?” said Shimei.  “The gardener’s son?”

“Yes, your Highness.”

“You’d like to learn to read and write?”

“Please, your Highness.”

“Does your mother know you’re here?”

“No.”

“She ought to be told.  She’ll be worried about you.  Go and tell her where you are, and come back.”

“I can’t go - she won’t let me come back.” The child sat down determinedly.

“Please help me, Lord!” cried Shimei’s heart.

“Shimei.” Wysau’s voice in her mind!  “Can I help?  Is there something the matter?”

Shimei explained as briefly as she could.  “I’ve the other children to think of.  The class ought to have started five minutes ago.”

“I’ll let his Mum know.  I treated her last week.”

Gratefully Shimei carried on with her teaching.  Darox behaved in an exemplary manner.  Shimei took him aside after school.

“You really want to learn, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You were very good this morning.  Why won’t your Mum let you come?”

“Because she can’t afford to pay.”

“But I don’t charge.  The other children didn’t pay anything, did they?”

“No.”

So they went together to see his mother.

“But, your Highness, he ought to pay.  It’s only right.”

“Well - could he do something for me?  Could he - would you allow him to catch one of the little mammals that eat Father’s vegetables, so that the strangers can make traps to catch them?  Then we would be amply paid.”

Suddenly his father came over.  “Yes, your Highness, we could - we could both go and catch you one.  Take a clever stranger to trap one of them!  Crafty, they are.  But they’re the little devils that eat the vegetables, and the flower bulbs, the pests that they are!  The birds don’t do half the damage that they do.  Why, any fool can see whether a vegetable has been pecked or gnawed at - you only have to look at the marks.”

“You could catch one, husband.”

“I’ve tried - I’m not quick enough.  Darox here could pounce - he runs fast.  Aim for its head, and you might get a hind leg, son.”

“What do they eat?” asked Shimei.

“What don’t they eat!”

“Is there anything they particularly enjoy?”

“Darox and I will have to think about that one.  They want something they can put on a trap, to catch them.  Yes, your Highness, my son and I will do it together, and be very pleased to.  Time summat was done about the pesky creatures.”

Shimei was pleased to see Darox in her class, and to monitor his progress.  Life was so busy that she almost forgot about the little mammals, till Darox came to her after school and told her they’d got one in a cage.  She took the cage and its occupant to the flying machine in the evening.  Tsie put a little dish of water in the cage, and Wysau went out to look for some grass - but there wasn’t any.

“Have you got any outer leaves of vegetables, Tsie?”

Tsie produced a very ragged-looking leaf - which the creature devoured with delight.  It set up a squeaking you could hear all through the flying machine.  Darte, Shurzi and Janita all came to see what was going on.  Tsie found another leaf, of a different vegetable.  This was eaten, but again the creature squeaked.  Tsie produced the outer leaf of yet another vegetable.  The creature nibbled at it, but when Tsie brought another of the ragged leaves, it left the other leaf in favour of the ragged one, and squeaked for more.

“Right,” said Shurzi to Darte.  “We know what the bait must be, but how do we design the trap?”

“The little creature will have to get right into the trap in order to eat the bait,” said Darte thoughtfully.  “Tsie, I think you’d better sow lots of seed for this particular vegetable - or - can you put a little leaf into a pot and get it to grow?”

“If Abritis can make me some rooting powder.”

“Could you design the trap,” said Wysau, “so that the owner can kill the creature quickly once he has discovered it?  This is a potential source of good protein for the poor.”

“And re-use the trap,” said Darte.  “Mm.”

That evening a distressed Shimei came to the first flying machine to meet Wysau.

“So, Chalata, you did tell Sihcha you would not marry them?  But why?”

“Because she is a Christian and he is not.”

“But he is interested - he came to some services.”

“That is not enough.  If she wishes to obey her heavenly Lord, she must not marry him till he is a genuine believer.”

“She won’t talk to me about Christ any more.  She won’t even talk to Helen.  They’ll get married in the temple now.”

“Come, Shimei,” intervened Wysau, “let’s have a walk round outside.”

“Could you persuade Chalata?” begged Shimei.

“No, my love, because he’s right.  God must come first in everything.  Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his father and mother, and his wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” And God commands, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”, whether in business or marriage.  If a Christian marries someone who does not love God, he is torn apart by his two loves -instead of husband and wife pulling together with God.”

“But I know how she feels - I couldn’t bear it either.”

“Shimei.” Wysau turned to face her, put his hands on her shoulders, and looked into her eyes.

“I know how it feels, too.  I had to go away and leave you, without a word of love; knowing perfectly well that you loved me; knowing that I might never see you again, either in this world or the world to come.  I knew how badly it hurt you - but I had to go - it was what God wanted.”

“It’s different for a man.”

“Is it?  Did I forget you, and love another, during that year when we were apart?  Do you think it didn’t hurt?  Oh Shimei, how shallow you must think my love was!” He turned away, and paced back to her.  “You do realize my love is deep, now?”

“I - didn’t realize,” said Shimei faintly.

“Do you, now?” he asked, this time more gently.

“Yes, now,” she admitted, looking into his eyes, which glowed deep blue in the light from the flying machine.

“I can’t be angry with you,” he said, “for you haven’t been taught as we have.  But, another time, warn someone like Sihcha, before you hear she has a young man, not to get involved with someone who is not a Christian.  It saves a lot of heartache.”

“What can I do for her now?”

“Pray faithfully every day, and ask Helen to pray too.”

“She will leave us when her first child is expected.”

“If someone is converted after their marriage, then God commands that he go on living with his wife, or she with her husband, praying that the unbelieving partner may be saved.  In that context, the conversion of the unbelieving partner is far more likely.  If a Christian marries a non-Christian against God’s command, the Christian nearly always backslides, and the non-Christian is hardly ever converted.”

A tear escaped from one of Shimei’s eyes.  She tried to blink the others back.  Wysau put an arm around her shoulders.

“Darling,” he said, “Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It didn’t happen overnight.  They were with Him three years; He died and rose again, and sent the Holy Spirit, before they really became fishers of men.  It takes time, and everyone makes mistakes while they are learning - even afterwards.”

Shimei took out her handkerchief.  Wysau allowed her to use it, and put it away, before putting both arms round her, and drawing her to him for a kiss.

“Don’t be downcast, my love,” he said.  “Your being with me has opened doors for me - remember the insane lady?  I could not have looked after her alone while her servant went to consult her lord.  I probably would not have been allowed into the house.”

“How is she?”

“She’s well now.  Her maidservant was there last Sunday evening, and so was a manservant from the same household.”

“They came to the service?”

“Yes.”

“My!”

“Winone said to Janita that she was at her wits’ end when the lord dismissed her.  All her family live near her mistress’ family, not in the capital.  She could not walk nearly two hundred miles to return to them.  It is very hard to find employment as a maid when once you have been dismissed.  She had nowhere to go.  She cried to all the gods - and to the strangers’ God - and she knew it was He Who answered, because the stranger doctor had asked her lord to send for her.  And He made her mistress well and happy again.  The manservant was the one sent out to bring her back.  He could not find her.  He, too, cried to all the gods he could think of.  And he knew it was our God Who helped him, because Abritis brought Winone to his lord’s back door, where he found her when he came back in despair, to brave his lord’s anger for not being able to find her.  And you were wonderful about those little creatures.”

“I am afraid, your Majesty,” said the steward, “that Lord Treprom is selling his vegetables and grain at less than a third of the usual price, and that we cannot sell ours till his are all sold.”

“But why?”

“The strangers made an irrigation system for him and said they would defer the charge for their labour for a year if he sold them cheaply enough so that the poor could afford to feed their families.”

The Roptoh sighed.  “Well, I’m glad Treprom is getting his land cultivated at last.  We’ll have to sell ours at the same price, or no-one will buy.”

“Yes, your Majesty.  There is another factor - there are more vegetables on the market.  However, because of the strangers’ traps - we have six, and a creature is caught in every one, morning and evening - we have more good vegetables to sell.  The gardener even finds dead creatures near the traps - creatures that have died of wounds.  He says the creatures fight each other for the privilege of eating the bait.  However, we have to buy the bait from the strangers, because this vegetable does not grow here.  Only the strangers grow it.”

“And I suppose they’re making good money from the sale of the traps.”

“They have taught two of their ex-employees how to make them.”

“There’s not many here tonight,” said one revolutionary.

“Their stomachs are full - they’ve lost interest.”

“Don’t worry; in a month or two they’ll all be back.  It’s these clever strangers we have to thank.  The lords still treat us like dirt.”

“It is a good source of income,” said Tsie.  “We have a queue outside the flying machine every morning.  But we’ve other things to do.  Wysau, what vitamins does this vegetable contain?”

Wysau reeled off a list of vitamins and minerals.

“It must be particularly good for you.”

“It is.”

“We sell so much of it.  People want to buy whole vegetables, not just four or five leaves.  They must be eating it themselves.  Wouldn’t it grow here?”

“Not very well.  It’s too dry - don’t you find you have to water them quite a lot?”

“I water them every morning,” said Tsie.

“Oh,” said Janita.  “I water them every evening.  They look so thirsty - I didn’t realize you were watering them every morning, as well.”

“They need both,” said Wysau.  “And they need all the minerals I mentioned in the compost they’re grown in.  Your little business is not just a money-spinner for us, Tsie.  It really does benefit the people round here.”

“But we haven’t time.”

“Whoever grew it would need a greenhouse and an ample supply of water.”

“And he’d have to buy compost from us?” asked Janita.

“Yes - or it would not provide the minerals people need.”

Tsie sighed.  “We’ll have to go on growing it, then.  But thank you, Wysau - I do feel much better about it.”

“God has been so good to us,” said Chalata joyfully at the Friday evening meal. “My language helper will be giving his testimony on Sunday morning.  I’ve seen a real change in him - he understands now what we are translating, and he turns up early instead of arriving five or ten minutes late every time.  He ought to be baptized, really, but the only clean part of the river runs too fast.  Two young people nearly died of horrific injuries, and a third did die, through being swept out of what looks like a perfect bathing pool over a rocky waterfall.”

“We can’t encourage anyone to go in there by going in ourselves,” agreed Wysau.  “And lower down, the river’s full of germs.”

“We could dig a baptistry at the side of the river, up where it’s clean,” suggested Mosu.

“That’s an idea,” said Chalata.  “I wonder if Lord Treprom would give us permission.”

“There’s rock along by that river,” said Ytazu.

“We could take a geological scan,” said Mosu, “to find a suitable place.”

“You’ve got geological scanning equipment!” cried Ytazu.  “Could you possibly, please, fit in a geological scan on this buried building we’ve found?  You see, we’re already paying workmen - I’m spending valuable working time overseeing them - to dig it up - only on my hunch that it’s important.  If you could scan it, we would know, and needn’t spend any more time and money unnecessarily.”

“First thing tomorrow,” said Mosu, “God willing.”

With the help of Mosu and his equipment, Darte found a site for the baptistry by the riverbank opposite Lord Treprom’s estate and above Prynoh’s.  The ground was obviously marshy just by the bank during and just after the rains.

“Why not make it into a swimming pool?” suggested Yujip.  “Then it will be useful for everyone.”

Darte, who had been wondering how to provide incentive for his workers, accepted the suggestion gladly.  They recruited workers and used hewn stone from further up the mountainside, with special waterproof mortar, to make the base.  One evening, when they had been delayed, a young man, dressed only in an animal skin, came down from the mountain, followed by a large flock of animals.

“And where are the animals I look after going to drink, now that you have built on their pool?” he demanded.

“Let’s find you a place,” said Yujip.  “Would further down or further up suit you better?”

“Further down - the animals walk more willingly before they have drunk than afterwards.  But there isn’t a place - that’s why I’m complaining.”

“Then one will have to be made.”

“But Lord Prynoh will not allow it.”

Yujip went down that side of the riverbank with the herder and his animals.  “There is a different fence here.”

“This is where Lord Prynoh’s land ends.”

“Speak slowly,” said Yujip, “and I will understand.”

“There is a small farm here, and below that the land belongs to the priests.  But, you see, the land is too marshy here - the river overflows its banks in the rainy season.  My animals’ feet would become diseased if they drank here every day.”

“Do any of these animals belong to this farmer?”

“Almost half the herd.”

“Ah,” said Yujip, and stood still, his eyes far away.

The farmer had children, ranging in age between ten and eighteen.  When he heard about a swimming pool, he was delighted.

“You want to make an embankment on my land, so that the animals can drink without getting diseased feet?” he said slowly to Yujip.  “I have other animals, and my children have had to bring water to them for years.  But how will there be enough water for my animals, that they can reach while standing on the embankment?  If you raise the bank, the water will flow back into the river.”

“I’m considering a trough with a stopper, and a pipe leading the water back into the river, and a manually operated pump, so that fresh water can be pumped into the trough for the animals when they need it.”

“It will be less work than carrying buckets of water,” said the farmer.

“I must discuss it with my friends,” said Yujip.  “But if we turn the place where your animals usually drink into a swimming pool, we must provide our friend here with somewhere else.”

The farmer looked round for the herdsman.  He had gone.

“Anjaguer,” he called crossly.  “Anjaguer, come here!”

“Yes,” he said to Yujip, “you may build something here - but I should like to see the design first.  I must go now.  Goodbye.”

He walked quickly towards his house, calling crossly,

“Anjaguer!”

“That herdsman - his name isn’t Anjaguer, is it?” asked Yujip.

“No,” laughed Darte.  “That’s a girl’s name.”

“Oh,” said Yujip slowly.

“You couldn’t support a wife on what he earns,” said Darte.

“I wonder how well he can swim,” said Yujip.

“That’s a thought,” said Darte.  “But how could he mix giving swimming lessons with looking after the animals?”

All too willingly the men downed tools to talk.

“A twelve-year-old could watch the animals for an hour or two,” said one of the workmen.  “That herdsman swims like a fish.”

“Would you be willing,” asked Darte of them all, “to give him a little money for teaching your children to swim in the new pool?  If he had a class of about ten or twelve children, and one was taught free because his big brother was watching the animals, the herdsman could earn some money to buy clothes.”

“Somebody,” said that same workman, “would have to tell him very firmly that he must not allow any of the children to swim anywhere but in that swimming pool, however well they can swim.”

“We’d need someone around that swimming pool for most of the day in the summer,” said another father.  “Older children will say they will watch their younger brothers and sisters, but, if they meet other older children, they go off with them and leave the little ones on their own.”

“Then he will have to have an assistant in the summer,” thought Darte aloud.  “Someone of fourteen who has not finished his schooling yet.”

“The assistant can look after the animals,” said the first workman to speak.  “The herdsman is tall, strong and an excellent swimmer.  I’d rather he was there to watch my children, and it would be worth paying him.”

“How should he be paid?” asked the father.

“Each child could take a coin to give the herdsman before he goes into the pool to swim.  The herdsman would have to clean the pool thoroughly after the spring rains, and eventually he would have to repair the pool - or get workmen to do it.”

“Yes, Darte,” agreed Yujip.  “And the pool would have to be de-silted regularly.”

“Adults could swim there, too,” said a young workman.  “Nice and cool after a hot day’s work.”

“You’d have to wash off the worst before you went in,” said the father.  “And pay a bit more than the children.”

“Why?  No-one would have to watch me.”

“No, but you’d take up more room in the pool.”

The others laughed.

Darte waited a moment, but, as none of the workmen had picked up their tools, he said,

“You’ve made some useful comments - thank you.  Now we’d better get on, or there won’t be a pool for next spring.”

Once Yujip’s design had been approved by Darte and the farmer, he was put in charge of the operation.  The men dug silt from the river bed to raise the bank, and one of them found something, and brought it to Yujip.

“A glass bottle,” said Yujip with interest.  “There’s something inside.  And - this metal around it - ”

“It’s accursed,” said the men.  “It’s the metal the priests forbid us to use.”

“It’s very old,” said Yujip.  “Do you mind if I send it to my world to be investigated?”

“You do that,” said three of the men with one voice.

“The farther away, the better,” said the fourth.

Yujip showed it to the other strangers.

“At least four hundred years old,” said Chalata.  “I think it’s older.”

“Yes, you’re right,” said Mosu.  “If we open this bottle, the parchment inside will disintegrate.  On Cirian they can open it under the right conditions, and make a photocopy before it crumbles into dust.”

On the Sunday, Shimei walked back to the flying machine for the midday meal with Wysau and the strangers.  At the morning service, Chalata’s language helper had told the congregation how he had come to repent of his sin and find forgiveness, love, and a new life in Jesus Christ.

“He spoke very well,” said Ytazu.

“One of those five who tried to kill you, Wysau,” said Shimei; “one of them was there this morning.”

He turned to her and took her hand.  “Ethin’s still seeking - he hasn’t found yet - please pray for him.  It’s a pity he left so quickly - I would have liked to greet him.” He quickened his pace and drew her along with him.  They soon left the others behind.  It was hot, and Shimei panted.  Wysau slowed down.

“I wanted to be alone with you for a few minutes, and I ought to get back quickly, because I’m on meals duty today with Chalata.  I can’t expect him to walk quickly in this heat.”

“You and Chalata, preparing the meals!”

“Tsie needs a day off - I had one yesterday.”

“Men cook on your world?” Shimei was astounded.

“The vast majority.  There are a few who are hopeless at it, but all boys are taught, just like the girls.  Not all Cirians marry; and even if you do, when your wife is ill, or has a new baby, it’s useful to know how.  Some men cook far better than their wives, and do all the cooking for dinner parties.”

“Will you expect me to cook when we go to your world?”

“If we went for a holiday, we would stay with my parents, or go to a chalet by the sea.  I would probably do most of the cooking in either case, but I would teach you to do some things.  Even your life here may not always be the same.  You are hot and weary, love.  Sit down and be a guest while I attend to our midday meal.  I’ll teach you to prepare and wash our salad for tea.”

He unlocked the flying machine and took her inside; he switched on the cool air.

“Oh Wysau, this is wonderful.  So cool.”

He went into the kitchen, and she thought.

Wysau was from another world.  Things were very different on that world.  He had knowledge and abilities far beyond her understanding.  She felt ashamed and helpless - and she was soon to be his wife!  Her husband would have to teach her to cook!  It did not seem to worry him.  Of course, he must have known all along.

The other strangers arrived, and sat down gratefully in the cool.  Shurzi began to say, “Are you sure we can afford - ” when Thilish interrupted him with “Shh!” He looked abashed, and was silent.

Chalata appeared from the kitchen with a tray of knives, spoons, forks and glasses.  All those who could reach from where they were sitting helped him to set the table.  He took the tray, and brought through dishes of vegetables; soon Wysau appeared with the hot joint of meat.  Everyone moved into their own places round the table.

“You sit here,” said Janita, steering Shimei into a seat by Wysau, who was busily carving.  She watched, fascinated; he did it so well.

Chalata made a remark in a language she did not understand.  Only Janita and Abritis smiled.  “Remsheth, please,” said Janita, and everybody laughed.

“He’s practising his surgery,” said Chalata, “ready for the new hospital.”

“Oh,” said everybody.

“Were you speaking English?” asked Shimei.  “Helen would love to speak English to someone.”

“I’ll go and see her on my day off,” said Abritis.

During this conversation plates of meat were being passed round, and people were helping themselves to vegetables and gravy.  After Abritis had spoken, everyone became quiet and still, and Chalata thanked God for the meal.

“You have good meat in your kitchens,” said Darte to Shimei, as they began to eat.

“I am right in thinking,” began Wysau, “that when we’re married, your father would like us to move into the Palace?”

“Of course.  He’s been looking round for an apartment for you.”

“I don’t need a separate apartment.  Your bed’s quite as big as a double bed; it just needs a board under the mattress, my lovely one, of good solid wood, to stop your back and knees from aching in the mornings.  What I do require is what we must provide - hot and cold running water - ”

“Bathrooms,” said Abritis, “two large cold cupboards, a large very cold cupboard - ”

“And a cool air system that can be switched to warm air in the winter,” added Darte.

“Which means that we must build those hydro-electric plants,” said Ytazu.

“And wire up the Palace,” said Shurzi.  “We could do that before the hospital is ready to be wired up.”

“If we can do all that with the money the treasure will fetch, I don’t think that in itself will spark off a revolution,” said Wysau.

“And the components for the cold and very cold cupboards are already here - they came on the relief ship,” finished Tsie.

Shimei sat dazed.

Wysau put his arm round her shoulders.  “The rest of our team may stay for six months or a year - depending on what happens and how God guides them - but they cannot stay for seven years.  Only myself, Abritis and Darte are seriously considering staying here till we retire.  It isn’t worth keeping a flying machine here permanently.  Until and unless we are considered as official Cirian agents, and are given our own Cirian houses here, we need somewhere to live, where we don’t spend too much time looking after ourselves.  Our time is needed doing the things people here don’t know how to do for themselves.  And there ought always to be someone here who can help your brother in time of need.”

“Well,” said Shimei, “our servants have at last learned to prepare one meal with uncooked salad vegetables every day.”

“That’s great,” encouraged Wysau.  “Could your father and mother come to the flying machine one evening very soon to discuss our wedding? and we’ll remind them how good cool air feels.”

“Father will love it,” said Shimei.

“None of us would need water carried upstairs, for baths or washing,” said Abritis.  “You wouldn’t need any more servants.  Wysau doesn’t want a valet - ”

“Not on your life,” said Wysau.

“And I wouldn’t need a maid to dress me.  The Palace cleaning and washing would be a lot easier with hot and cold running water upstairs as well as downstairs.  I think your father will find his household bills would remain about the same, if we all moved in.”

“Father was thinking of offering Wysau Ruha’s old apartment.”

“Yes, please,” said Abritis promptly.

“So you’d have hot water coming out of taps for the servants, too?”

“Of course,” said Shurzi.  “And heating or cool air.”

“We’d like to give these things to the whole city,” said Wysau.

“We’ll need an awful lot of piping,” said Darte, “to give the poor cold running water in their houses.  Tons of it.”

“There’s metal in the foothills, quite near the surface - on the surface, in places.  You could get some out while you’re digging for the hydro-electric plants.”

“What sort of metal?” asked Shimei.  “There is one they won’t work - the priests tell them the gods forbid them to use it.  There is another that our people will purify and make into pipes.”

“It’s more difficult and expensive to mine, no doubt,” said Darte.  “What they need is the Gospel.  We can train them to a certain extent, but they won’t make real progress until God changes their hearts.”

“Some of their skills have been buried,” said Ytazu.

“Ooh,” groaned Shurzi - and, two seconds later, so did the rest of the team.  Shimei was near to tears.  How could she keep up with these clever people?

“You’d have groaned too, my love, if you’d known about the buried building just out there.  We used the scan machine to take pictures of it.  It’s beautifully built, solid - far better workmanship than your more modern buildings.  And there are many, many books in it.  And there’s a cross, a plain metal cross, up on the wall at the east end.”

“A cross?” gasped Shimei.  “You mean, it was a Christian meeting place?”

Everyone nodded and smiled.

“How old is it?”

“We can’t be sure yet, but - about four hundred years old, we think.”

“And still standing?”

“Still standing, and in good condition.”

“And the bricks are of better quality than the ones your people make now,” said Darte.  “They’re a slightly different colour - we think they must have been made with the extract of some plant - but Heaven knows which.  They’ve lasted for centuries in good condition.”

“Could you find out which plant it is?”

“It would take hours,” said Abritis.  “I’d have to melt down part of a brick and analyse it; then I’d have to test all the plants round here till I found the one which contained the correct catalyst.  In the meantime, people would be dying for lack of medicines.”

“She can’t do two things at once - though we all sometimes wish we could,” said Darte.

“I’m sorry,” said Shimei, “I didn’t mean - ”

“When you pray,” suggested Abritis, “ask God to help us find that plant before we build many houses.  He knows our limitations, and the people’s needs.”

“We’re hoping and praying,” said Chalata, “that your people will feel that Christianity is their religion too, once they see the cross in this building, and the Bibles- we assume they are Bibles.  So far, most of them feel this is the strangers’ religion and not theirs.  But we must pray that nothing will damage the building or the books, for Satan will fight hard to keep your people in darkness.”

They cleared away, stacked the washing-up machine, switched it on, came back into the lounge, and gathered for prayer.  Shimei had never known the presence and power of God in such a real way as that afternoon.  She remembered how wonderfully He had answered only the day before.  Yes, He would answer.  There were going to be big changes in her country very soon.  Was she prepared for them?

Wysau and Shimei set out later than the others for the evening service.  Shimei had helped Wysau with the evening meal instead of Chalata, for he was preaching.  She had felt clumsy with the vegetables, slow with the setting of the table, and had to be told how to do everything, and where everything went.  Obviously she could not have known, in the flying machine, but she would have had no better idea in the Palace kitchens.  Wysau seemed to expect so much of her - how could she satisfy him?

“You do, my love,” he said, interrupting and answering her thoughts in his usual disconcerting way.  “Chalata was very grateful for your help this evening.”

Shimei was too nonplussed to say anything.

“Your attitudes have changed, Shimei - that is what matters to me.  You mustn’t think I changed you - perhaps God used me to a certain extent, but He has done the changing.  And you are suited to me - you are intelligent - one of the most intelligent people I have met on your world.  All you need is some training; and you’re accepting it, and profiting from it, very well.  And God Himself has taught you how to teach.”

They walked for a while in silence.

“You’re still worried and uncertain, Shimei.  Go home after the service and ask God to guide you clearly.  If you really want to do what He wants, then He will show you what that is.  I want you to be sure on your wedding day that you are doing what God wants.  Then you will go on being sure for the rest of your married life.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Shimei.  But you must be sure yourself, in your own mind.” He paused with her outside the surgery, and took both her hands.  “Don’t think for a moment that I’m trying to put you off.  I love you - more than I did at first - and I do want you to be happy.”

He released her hands, and they went inside to worship.

Wysau was walking back to the flying machines that night feeling lonely and apprehensive.

“Don’t worry, Wysau.” Chalata had come to walk beside him in the cool.

“She is God’s chosen helpmeet for you; I saw that at the evening meal.  You’ll have to trust God to keep her to you, not only now but for the rest of your life.  And - didn’t you notice?”

“What?”

“Three of your would-be assassins were there tonight.”

“Oh.” Wysau did some thought-reading.  Chalata took his arm and steered him away from the edge of the river.

“He’s been converted - Ethin, I mean!  Oh, thank You, Lord!”

Chalata’s face lit up too.

“I am grateful for a slight lull in demand today,” said Abritis to Thilish over lunch the next day.  “I got a chance to teach Emlota how to feed the cultures; which ones, and how much of what.  She wrote it all down.”

“Are you sure she’s not a nobleman’s daughter?” asked Thilish.  “Very few other women can read and write.”

“Her stepmother’s a shopkeeper.”

“That might explain it, I suppose.”

“Anyway, this afternoon I hope to give her a little proper training - oh.”

Lintis was passing her two pieces of paper.  “I’m sorry to keep making such heavy demands on you, but I am glad people are calling us and coming for treatment.  And Wysau is right: the poor are so overworked and malnourished - at least, till very recently - that they cannot fight off infections without antibiotics.”

“Well, you brought the supplies, and better equipment,” said Abritis, “and God sent me a technician.  And He gave me this morning to give her a little training that will make her even more useful.  I don’t know how I’d have got through last week without her.”

The following evening, when Shimei met Wysau after the evening meal, she said,

“I discussed what you suggested about a day off for the Palace servants.  Feor and Helen thought it a very good idea - the Christian maid finds it very awkward having to keep asking for time off to attend Sunday services, and more might come if they could.  But there is a problem - the assistant cook doesn’t feel able to cope without the cook.  Last time the cook was ill, the assistant had to ask her mother to come and help her.”

“Then she,” said Wysau, “and the servant who would assist her on the cook’s day off, both need some training.  Oh - and suggest to your father that it would be good for his valet’s health if he had a day off each week - perhaps a day when your father has no particular commitments for which he has to be well arrayed.  Oh, and servants who are paid daily must be paid for their day off on the evening before that day, not on the evening after.  Otherwise they may say they’d rather not have a day off, because, either they get paid, or they go hungry.  It’s as simple as that.  You must make sure they understand that they’re not going to be paid any less for the week.  But they may have to fit more tasks in on the days when they do work, so that all the necessary duties are done for the week.”

“A letter from Ruha!” cried the Roptoa in delight.

“Two letters - one for us and Feor, and one for Shimei and Helen.”

The Roptoa read as follows:

“I am well - I hope you are all well.  Little Kwesha is still sad, but now she will talk to me about her parents - mostly about her mother and how beautiful she was.  My husband the Crown Prince is well, but anxious about the political situation.  The people are restless, and different groups of them march through the city with banners and much shouting, but they cannot agree together about what they want.  I have begged my husband to give the city clean water, as the strangers did for us, but he says he does not know how.  So I said, “Is there no civil engineer who could draw up plans for him?” But he does not trust any of the engineers in the city.  Neither does his father.  His mother is good to me.”

To Shimei and Helen she wrote,

“I do not know how to thank you for the Book you gave me, that tells about the God Who is there.  I have had many troubles and sorrows, and, at first, when I tried to take them to Him, there was a barrier - He would not listen.  Then one day, foolishly, I angrily upbraided my husband for his evening visits to the temples.  He looked at me coldly and left my apartment.  I hoped he would return - but the days passed, and he did not come.  When I found out he had taken a mistress, I could not hide my distress from his mother.  She said that was not the way to get the heir to the throne that our royal house needs, but that it would be better for our future happiness as a married couple if I could win him back by patience and gentleness and modest behaviour, rather than her having to ask his father the King to be stern with him.  “Don’t be too distressed,” she said to me kindly.  “It is better for him to have one mistress than to frequent the temple prostitutes, for he is less likely to become ill.  Try to be pleasant and cheerful with him, and pay more attention to your appearance.  If you need to complain about anything, tell me about it; don’t say anything to Kwishe.” So I asked if I should talk to him about the political situation.  She said, “Not unless he asks you.” “Oh,” I said.

I saw then how many mistakes I had made, and I cried to God to forgive me.  It was then that the barrier came down, and He poured comfort into my heart - such rich, satisfying love.  Nothing has ever given me such joy - nothing and no-one.  Kwesha kissed me that evening for the first time when I went to bid her good night.

I try to do what the Queen said, and she has become my friend.  Please pray for me, and for Kwishe, that he may know God for himself.

I do miss you all, but I know I will see both of you, Feor, and all the strangers in Heaven.  I pray for Father and Mother every day.”

“Oh, poor Ruha!” cried Helen.  “Let’s write now, so that she will have a letter by the messenger when he returns.”

It was Monday lunchtime; the children had gone home.  Shimei and Helen sat down exhausted.

“I don’t know how you do it, Shimei.  They’re learning fast.  Even the five year olds are actually reading, and some of the seven and eight year olds can write quite well.”

“I enjoy it.  It takes my mind off - well, other things.”

“Is something the matter?”

“I don’t know whether I can cope with marriage to Wysau.”

“I couldn’t,” said Helen.  “It’s his hypnotism and thought-reading.  I’m glad Feor can’t.”

“Well, it is that, but not so much that, as his being so very clever, and I can’t be clever enough for him.  He keeps having to explain things to me, and half the time I don’t remember what he says.”

“Men don’t like their wives to be cleverer than they are,” said Helen sagely.

“Not only clever but capable.  He is a very good cook.”

“The strangers are like that,” said Helen.  “They seem to be able to do everything.  But you don’t do so badly.  I’ve never seen a teacher as good as you on our world, anywhere - and my parents used to teach in a school, and had friends who also taught.” She got up, began to pick up pencils and paper and put them away.

“There’s something else,” said Shimei.  “There’s going to be big changes in my country, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope with them.”

“There must be big changes,” said Helen.  “You can’t expect these people to go on putting up with the sort of treatment they get, and the houses they have to live in, the poor wages - they’ll rebel soon if there isn’t a revival.”

“Did the strangers tell you that?”

“No,” said Helen.  “God did.”

“Have you told Feor?”

“I think God told him, too.”

There was a short silence.

“Shimei, why did you ask if the strangers had told me?”

“Because they say the same.  Wysau can see into the minds of the people.  They say God has told them that there will be either revival or judgement.”

Helen sat down by Shimei.

“But it’ll mean such big changes,” continued Shimei.  “How can I face them?”

“God has given you Wysau to help you through these changes.”

That evening Feor, Helen and Shimei went to the first flying machine.

“Hello, you three,” said Tsie, always welcoming.  “Come in, sit down.”

“Good evening, Helen,” said Abritis in English, making room for both so Helen could sit by her.

Wysau looked up at Shimei enquiringly.  She came to sit by him.  “Have you had His answer?” he asked in her thoughts.

“Yes, and yes,” she thought, glad to be private, even in this strange way.  He kissed her hand.

“When can we ask the Roptoh here?” he asked his team-mates.

“There’s a dinner-party tomorrow night,” said Feor.  “He’ll be free on Wednesday evening.”

“Will Wednesday do?” asked Wysau.  There was general assent.

“Oh, Feor,” said Chalata, sitting on the other side of his guest, “my language helper went home early - could you just help me with this - ”

“That was hard work,” commented Tsie when the Royal pair left on the Wednesday evening.

“But well worth it,” rejoiced a delighted Wysau.  “At least our wedding is planned for five weeks’ time.”

During the next week, there was another dinner party.  Late that afternoon, Helen sat, in one of her best evening dresses, in front of her mirror while Sihcha brushed and arranged her long dark curls.

“There,” said Sihcha proudly.  “Now your royal Highness will be very beautiful for the dinner party tonight.”

“Thank you, Sihcha,” said Helen.  “I shall have to ask his royal Highness not to disarrange it before we go.  Though - perhaps being beautiful for him is more important.” And she smiled at Sihcha in the mirror.

The next half-hour was the only part of the evening she was really looking forward to - and she had interplanetary attraction to thank for it!  The Roptoh’s carriage had already left.

“Goodnight, my lady,” said Sihcha, and was gone - just as Feor walked into their apartment.  He came up to her from behind and kissed the top of her head.  He still had that same look in his eyes - just the same as before they were married.  He loved her quite as helplessly as he ever had.

She went with him to their bed, for they were still dizzy when they kissed.  He helped her take her dress off; she laid it carefully on a chair.  And still that first kiss gave him the same desperate hunger for more.  “Helen, Helen,” he would murmur.  She knew that if someone were to snatch her away just then, he would scream with the pain.

And she would not be able to bear it.  She loved him more since she had known him better.  He could see it in her eyes.  His face would light up, just as it was doing at that moment.

“Oh Feor,” she said, “I wish we did not have to go out.”

He stroked her hair, and she did not have the heart to protest.  “I would love to stay here with you - but we must.”

“It seems such a waste of time.”

“It pleases my parents.”

She acquiesced.  “Please let’s pray that tonight we will be useful - that we might be able to say something that will help others to find the true God.”

When they arrived, they were conducted directly to the dining-room, where they took their places next to the Roptoh and Roptoa.  The Roptoa smiled at Helen.  At such times she was very proud of her daughter-in-law, for Helen was undoubtedly the most beautiful of the young noblewomen at the table, and the Roptoa felt it was fitting.

Helen looked round at the splendour, at the finery, and thought of the misery of arranged marriages, infidelity, lying and intrigue.  So many there were caught in that web.  And she might have been, if she had been in their position.  But God had rescued her from such a marriage, and given her a marriage full of love and faithfulness.  None of these designing young madams would be able to make Feor look twice, even when she was old and grey.  From such security, surely, she could reach out with compassion?  She made sure she began to eat immediately after the Roptoh, so that others might start before their food was cold.

Opposite her, Lord Alavar was telling his neighbours about the threats uttered by his servant while he was being beaten.  “You carry on like this, and you will be beaten - beaten to death!” The noble ladies laughed, but Lord Alavar asked Helen,

“Have there been revolutions in your world, your royal Highness?”

“Yes, there have,” replied Helen.  “There was one in my mother’s country a few years before I was born.  The people rose up against the nobles and the Royal Family, and cut off their heads.”

“Is this true?”

“Yes. indeed.”

“Why did they do this?  Were they dreadfully downtrodden?”

“Or were they pampered?”

“Were they incited to do this by foreigners?”

“Did no other countries send their armies to stop them?”

Suddenly Helen found that all the guests were hanging on her words.

“They were no more downtrodden than your people are,” she said.  “Except that no-one repealed such laws as went against their consciences, as our Roptoh has so graciously done.  No other country sent an army to stop them - by the time they were ready to do so, it was too late.”

“Did the people of any other country rise up against its nobility?”

“There was great unrest in some other countries, but not so much in my father’s country.”

“Why not?”

“The nobility played a more useful part in the life of the nation.  The power of the King had already been reduced by a House of Representatives.  But the most important reason was that thousands had turned to the true God, the God the strangers preach, in the decades before the revolution in my mother’s country.”

“What happened afterwards in your mother’s country?”

“The leaders of the people formed a Committee of Public Safety, to which any of the people could denounce any who spoke or acted against the Revolution.  Thousands of innocents from among the ordinary people had their heads cut off; you see, once people start cutting off heads, they can find it hard to stop.  While this was going on, no-one did anything practical to give the ordinary people more food or clothing or better houses or health care.  In the countryside, those who worked on the land were better off; they no longer had to work for their lords without pay, or pay money to the Church if they did not wish to.  The lands of the nobility were bought by those who could afford them.  There were legal changes in favour of the common people; but in the large cities, the working people remained in a wretched state.”

Feor saw that some of the servants had paused to listen.

“Were any of your family executed?”

“We were not a noble family.  We lived quietly in the countryside, far away from the capital city where all this was happening.  My grandparents were most distressed and fearful, and it may have shortened their lives.  Some years afterwards, they died, and there was a famine in my mother’s country; so my family left to go and live in my father’s country, which was more prosperous.”

“Did any of the nobles escape to another country?”

“Yes, some fled to my father’s country.  True Christianity reached some of the nobles in my father’s country, and some of them stood up in their House of Representatives to fight for the people.  Others set up schools for poor children; others erected orphanages to care for poor children whose parents had died, and who were living on the streets.”

Some servants, who had come in from the servants’ hall to listen, crept away to report what they had heard.  It was whispered in many servants’ halls the next day, and discussed at many underground meetings.

“The Crown Princess was brought by the strangers.  She follows their religion.  She encourages the Crown Prince to be good to us.  She’s sending two messages: one to the nobility: be good to the people, or you are in danger; the second to us: you won’t benefit if you do revolt.”

“Do they know we want to revolt?” The rebels looked round uneasily.

“Of course the strangers know!  They can read our thoughts whenever they please.  My lord was angry with me for a trifle.  He had just given the order for me to be beaten.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he changed his mind, and went away.  I looked round, and saw two strangers walking on down the street outside.”

“That’s a coincidence.”

“Then why had my lord completely forgotten about my offence?”

“It was no coincidence,” said another.  “The strangers will not allow beatings.  They won’t even let us whip berron.”

“Last Friday afternoon, I was slacking.  The white-haired electrician was in charge of my group.  He called me over.  No reproaches - he sent me into the flying machine to see the doctor, who gave me medicine and sent me home to rest - and on my way out, another stranger gave me my day’s wages.  He knew I was feeling ill; I did not have to say anything.”

“You know my son, the foolish one?  He went to work there, and he did the wrong thing, as usual.”

Everyone groaned.

“They did not dismiss him.  One of the stranger doctors came out, took him into the larger flying machine, and looked into his ears.”

“Whatever for?”

“Then he sprayed something into his ears, gave him a drink and told him to have a little rest.  His ears felt most peculiar, as if they were filling up with something soft.  Then the doctor came back with a big long cylinder with a needle on the end - but there was no prick - the doctor used it to swoosh water into his ears.  Out came the soft stuff; he went back to work, and, as he could hear everything the stranger master said perfectly clearly, he did things right, and he was pleased with him.  He never was stupid; he just became deaf gradually as he grew older.”

There was a short silence.

“But why do they care about us?  What do they gain?”

“I don’t trust these strangers.  They are too clever.”

“They want money, power, luxury - who doesn’t?  The stranger doctor is going to marry the Princess Shimei.”

“Oh?”

“Oh yes, it’s true.”

“Well, then, the strangers will teach the Roptoh and his family to treat us better.  They are, already.  It was the stranger doctor who told the Roptoh to repeal those laws.”

“Much good did that do!”

“And he who told the Roptoa that he could not sit idle while he could heal our people. I had it from a Palace servant who heard him with his own ears.”

“He is doing it just to placate us - to stop us gaining our freedom.  Why do you believe him?”

“Because he is already healing our people,” said the previous speaker.  “Actions speak louder than words.”

“And he does not ask for payment,” said another.  “Only from the rich.”

“The strangers know we want our freedom, but they are trying to make us think we will be better off ruled by the Roptoh (but really, the strangers), than we would be if we ruled ourselves.  And because they are clever, they are actually doing us good, but in order to deceive us.  Oh yes, they’ll give us clean water, food we can afford - and I know that the people the strangers heal do truly remain healthy.  But why are they doing us good?  It’s because they want to rule us.  They won’t give us our freedom, and if we try to gain that freedom, they will stop us.  They won’t let us throw off the shackles of the tyrant and his lords, and give them the punishment they so richly deserve.”

“Do they know who we are?  Will they denounce us to the lords?”

“They probably do know who some of us are.  We’d better not use each other’s names when we meet, or just afterwards.”

“Do they think that clean water and better food now, can pay for all the shame and indignity we have suffered, and still suffer, from these lords?”

None of the rebels dared raise their voices, but many fists were shaken in the semi-darkness.

“They may be trying to warn the lords, and the Roptoh’s family, that if they don’t treat us better we will rebel - but do they really think they will take any notice?”

“We don’t want just to be treated better - we want our freedom!  We want our own land, so that we can work for ourselves, and not for any master.”

There was a quiet, but intense, murmur of agreement from everyone present.

“The strangers have never been beaten or ill-treated - they have never gone hungry.  They don’t understand how we feel.”

“We don’t want a Roptoh or any lords.  We want to rule ourselves.”

“More power for the House of Representatives!”

“We want to choose our own leaders.”

“Remember what our cowardly Prince’s stranger wife said at the dinner party,” said the clever rebel.  “She was warning the nobles - but she was also warning us not to revolt.  She is the strangers’ mouthpiece.  Remember what that fat stranger could do.  It took the others to send him away.  The Roptoh was powerless against him.  Why?  Because he took over the minds of the Roptoh and his family.  They could take over our minds too.  There are more of them now.  If we tried to revolt, they could stop us.”

“How can we get them to go away?”

There was a murmur of agreement.

“Or persuade them to help us?” said one lone voice.

“You can go and talk to them if you like,” said another.  “I’m not coming.”

Fear, anger and frustration showed on many faces as the would-be rebels dispersed.

“Come for a stroll outside, my love,” said Wysau to Shimei in her thoughts.  They explained to the others and went.

“There’s so many of you in your flying machine in the evenings,” said Shimei.  “I hardly like to come.”

“I am so glad they’ve come,” said Wysau.  “We can go ahead with the power stations and the improvements in the Palace without slowing down the building of the hospital or the excavating of the ancient building.  Now we have a steel frame for the hospital, we should be able to complete the actual building before the rains come.”

“You’ll have to stop when the rains come,” said Shimei.  “Everything stops then.  It rains so hard you can’t go out.  Everywhere is wet and muddy; the river overflows its banks - ”

“We hope it won’t this year,” said Wysau.  “Darte has had a reservoir made in the land above the boundary of Lord Treprom’s estate, and a channel dug to it from the river from below the sites of the machines to make power from falling water.  The idea is to keep water in that reservoir till we need it next September when the river is at its lowest.  Then we can make the water flow into the water treatment works so there is always enough water for the people in the city.”

“But the insects will breed in the reservoir.”

“The reservoir is underground; no sunlight reaches the water, so that it does not evaporate in the summer.  This means also that the water is too cold for insects to lay their eggs there.  Even if they do, the eggs won’t hatch.”

“So did you find a cave?”

“It was not a natural cave.  Somebody made it.  We think the people who built the ancient building and the Palace must have made it.  They were probably planning to do the same as us, and suddenly had to stop before they had dug the channel.”

“So the people my ancestor conquered must have been clever.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” quoted Wysau.

“But you said yourself that wisdom and cleverness are not the same thing.”

“That’s right; but one can lead to the other.”

“I’m too stupid, Wysau,” she said with a sigh.  “I don’t understand.”

“It’s not a case of being stupid.  There’s something bothering you, my love.  Please tell me.”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing to me, however small it is, because it is bothering you.” He looked at her searchingly.  “Something happened at the school this morning.” He put his hands on her shoulders, and looked into her eyes.  “Please, my love, tell me, or I shall be reading your thoughts when I should not, to find out.”

Shimei swallowed.  “I had a new girl yesterday, an eight-year-old with a birthmark on her face.  Yesterday she behaved herself reasonably well, and I thought she would improve today.  She did not.  She went from bad to worse as the morning went on.  She disturbed the other children, and I had to speak to her sharply.  She hated that, and it made such an unpleasant atmosphere.  At the end, she said she was never coming back.”

“I wonder why she was so difficult?  Is she rich and spoilt?”

“No - a poor child.”

“The poor children are usually fairly well disciplined.”

“It might be her birthmark.  It’s a great shame to have a birthmark, especially on your face.”

“You have her name and address?”

“Yes; I take down all the children’s names and addresses.”

“Good girl.  Mm.  I’ll have to think about this one, because it would be cosmetic treatment - she’s not ill.  I’ll do a bit of thought-reading.”

“You mean, you could remove the birthmark, as you did the scars on that boy’s face?”

“Yes, Lintis could, with the new equipment in the large flying machine that arrived recently.”

“Oh, if we could make amends, it would be wonderful.  I feel dreadful about it.”

Wysau frowned.  “Would you be willing to pay for her treatment?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“Ah.  I’ll discuss the matter with the others - but - would you mind waiting with me here, while I do a bit of thought-reading?”

She looked round at the stars.  She cried to the Lord, the mighty Creator of the stars, begging for forgiveness.  For it had been worse than she had said: she had completely lost her temper and screamed at the child.  She looked at Wysau; a cloud of anxiety darkened his face.  She was afraid he might be angry with her.  “Please, Heavenly Father, forgive me, for Jesus’ sake.” Tears came to her eyes.  Suddenly she felt Wysau’s arms around her, his lips kissing her tears away.

“Come into the flying machine,” he said.  “This must be sorted out.”

It almost made Shimei feel worse to have the problem discussed, because the Cirians showed real sympathy for her.

“In an ordinary peaceful situation,” said Chalata, “a simple apology from you to the child would be adequate; but in this tense atmosphere we’ll have to offer to remove the birthmark, which, thanks to our God’s good timing, we are now able to do.  You do realize that we are asking you to pay for this, not because we want the money, but because the principle that cosmetic treatment must be paid for, even by the poor, must be upheld.  Otherwise we could be flooded with requests for similar things, and our doctors would not have time for people who really need medical treatment.  We are going to pray briefly, and then you and Wysau must go to see the girl’s parents, apologize and make the offer.”

“I’ll shadow you,” said Ciecet, the tallest of the strangers who had just arrived in the large flying machine.  He was thin, wiry, white-haired, with a warm smile.

“I’d be glad,” said Wysau.

Chalata prayed for safety for them both, and that their offer would be accepted.

“Is it really that bad?” asked Shimei, shivering a little.

“The people are on the verge of revolt,” said Wysau.

“But aren’t things better for them than they used to be?”

“Indeed.  Unfortunately it is when things are improving that people do revolt.  We’d better not talk much.  I need to be constantly on the alert.  You look round too, and tell me if you notice anyone behaving oddly.”

“Why should I apologize?” thought Shimei.  “She was making a thorough nuisance of herself.  It’s not as if I laid hands on her.  If she’d been mine, she’d have got a good spanking.”

“Yes, I agree.  I would have told her why first, seriously and firmly; but I hope I wouldn’t have spanked her in anger.”

They walked on in silence, Shimei hardly daring to think.  People saw them, and went inside their houses.  When they reached the girl’s house, a neighbour was there, and the girl’s older brother was about to come for Wysau.

“Oh, doctor, thank goodness you’ve come!  It’s the baby - he’s with his mother next door.”

Wysau thanked God that he had brought his doctor’s bag with him without thinking.

In some ways it was easier for Shimei to make her apology in Wysau’s absence; but still, it was very hard.  The girl’s father regarded her with suspicion; her mother agreed that her daughter was difficult to manage.  “It’s on account of her birthmark,” she explained.  “The other children are always teasing her about it - it makes her life a misery.”

“The stranger doctor wants to speak to you about it,” said Shimei.  They had to wait a little while before Wysau returned.  The mother asked Shimei who had painted the pictures in her child’s book.

“The Crown Princess,” said Shimei.  “Young ladies are taught to draw on her world.”

“They are the most beautiful pictures,” said the mother.  “Kirda has never owned a pretty thing before.”

The hovel was reasonably tidy, and had clearly been swept that day.  Shimei thought of the inescapable mud of the rainy season - nothing could be kept clean or dry in a place like this.

Wysau returned.  “May I have a look at you, Kirda?” he asked.  “Come to the light.”

There was silence while he examined her.

“Yes - it won’t be easy, but Lintis can do it.  Kirda, will you come to our flying machine tomorrow? and our new lady doctor will remove your birthmark for you.”

Her mother gasped; her father stared.  Kirda said, “All right.”

“Say thank you,” said her mother.

“I’ll say it when it’s gone,” said Kirda firmly.

“Can you come at three o’clock?” asked Wysau.  “Three o’clock tomorrow afternoon - right?”

“All right.”

No-one approached them on their way out of the city, but Shimei felt the hostility around her.  Wysau took her to the Palace.

“I am sorry - I have made much difficulty for you.”

“On the whole, you personally have made it easier than it might have been.  Helen and Feor - and your father - have all been more thoughtful for your people’s needs than your family have been since you came to Remgath.  But it is not enough for the people.  We have tried to make even bigger changes, but it is still not enough.  They will have to learn that it is not possible for them to have everything they want straight away.  But that is a lesson that nobody wants to learn.  Do pray that there may not be a revolution.”

Kirda came to school again the next morning.  She was almost as naughty as she had been the day before.  Shimei spoke to her firmly, but did not lose her temper.  She wondered if Kirda’s mother was glad to be rid of her for the morning.

Shimei had always allowed the mothers of the five and six year olds to stay in the school with their children till these felt confident enough to stay on their own.  A new five-year-old came that morning, and his mother stayed with him.

Shimei had her evening meal with her parents, and was wondering if she would be welcome in that crowded flying machine, when she heard Wysau’s voice in her mind.

“Do come, Shimei - I’d love to see you.”

When she arrived, he said,

“The mother who stayed in your class this morning has calmed things down a lot.”

Shimei was puzzled.

“She went home and told all her neighbours and friends how patient you were with Kirda, and how gentle with the little ones.”

“But you had trouble last night?”

“Well, I put them a poser - through the clever rebel I told you about.  He said, “If you revolt, and get rid of your Roptoh and his family, and all the nobles, what government will you put in their place?” So they decided to make their House of Representatives the government till they could agree on something else.  So he asked, “Who will you have as leader?  How will you vote for him?  Should women vote as well as men?  Who will build your new houses?  How will the nobles’ land be shared out?” It was the last question that made them all sit up and think.  I’m sorry I had to insinuate thoughts into his mind, but it was all to save life.  The others felt I was justified.”

When she had finished her cool drink, Wysau took her to the large flying machine, and there, lying on a bed in front of the screen, fast asleep, was Kirda.  Shimei had to wait till the child turned over in her sleep.  The birthmark had completely gone.  There was no trace of a scar.  Wysau took Shimei out quietly.

“I could not have done that so well.  Lintis had a high position in a Cirian hospital before she retired.  She has had long experience of such things.  She’s done a beautiful job.  But she had to call me over to help.”

“Why?”

“Because Kirda was one of the most unco-operative patients she has ever had to deal with.  I had to hypnotize her to make her obey Lintis’ instructions - and to send her to sleep afterwards.  Her mother will come for her in the morning.”

“Are you sure you want to marry this stranger, daughter? now that you know him better?  Are the strangers so far above us that an ordinary doctor can aspire to the hand of a princess?”

“They may not all be,” said Shimei, “but these are.  And Janita is a princess.”

“Chalata is their leader - a learned man.  He does not work with his hands, as the others do.”

“He does work hard, all the same.  And think how much money Wysau could have made by now, if he had charged everyone for his services.  I know he does charge the nobles, but he does not keep the money for himself; it is given to Tsie to buy food for them all.”

“He will give all your money to be used to help the poor.”

“As long as he is paid for the work he does, we shall never be poor.”

“He is making you work too, daughter.”

“I am pleased to work - I feel I am useful.  I enjoy my teaching.  Most of the children like me, and the mothers say I am helping their children to climb out of poverty.”

“The people will not always be grateful.”

Kirda was not grateful, only proud.  Shimei knew how few of the people were really grateful for all the strangers had done for them.  Many still believed the priests, who said that the strangers wished them harm, and would not call the stranger doctors.

“You could have married a prince - you could have been Crown Princess of Traitan.”

“I would rather marry a good man - a man who really loves me for myself.” The words were out before she realized their implications.  “Oh Father, I’m sorry,” she said hastily, “I didn’t mean to be rude.  But I know that Wysau is able to look after me.  If there is trouble here, and the people decide they do not want the strangers any more, he will take me to his world.  And he will treat me well - the other strangers are all good and loving to their wives.  Mosu and Lintis have been married for forty-five years, yet they still love each other.”

“Does Chalata treat Janita as well?”

“Oh yes, Father, yes!  He loves her as Feor loves Helen.  That is why Chalata understands Feor so well.”

“Because there will be no-one from your family to speak for you.”

“Wysau notices before anyone else if I am tired, or hot, or have a headache, or if there is some problem that worries me.  If he can do something about it, he will, without delay.  Shurzi is the same for Thilish, and Abritis for Darte - and Darte for Abritis, though it’s more difficult for him, because he can’t read her thoughts.”

The Roptoh sighed.

“Well, if you are determined, daughter - it is not what I would have wished for you - I will give a banquet in honour of Wysau, and invite all the nobles who have entertained us recently.”

“Will you expect Wysau to make a speech?”

“Yes - either him or Chalata.  We need not invite all the strangers, need we?”

“No - just Wysau, Chalata and Janita.  They are the leaders.”

“What about Abritis and Darte?”

“I think Wysau would prefer you to invite two representatives of the people.”

The Roptoh could not suppress an exclamation of annoyance.  “Oh, perhaps it would be wise!” he cried irritably.  “Very well.  Now when?  One evening next week?”

Just then a servant came, to call them to the dining room, where they joined the Roptoa, Helen and Feor.  Between them, they fixed the date for the following Tuesday evening.

“I’m going to the flying machine tonight - I’ll invite the strangers.”

So Wysau took her inside.  “Preparing a speech will be a bit daunting,” he said, “but I’m encouraged by this official recognition of our forthcoming marriage.”

“Well done, Shimei,” said Abritis.  “I need rest in the evenings, not social functions.” She looked at her husband for his approval of this - but he had fallen asleep in the corner, just as Helen had done.

Ytazu looked up from his book.  “You could tell them about the ancient building, Wysau,” he suggested.  “We’ll have it completely unearthed by then - you could tell them about the books we found in it, and invite them to come and have a look.”

“You could tell them about the metal used in its construction,” said Shurzi, “and how well it has stood the strain all these years, and survived its long burial.  It has hardly deteriorated at all.”

“How was your banquet?” asked Tsie at breakfast.

Wysau groaned.  “Talk about people who speak peace to their neighbours, but war is in their hearts!”

“They just weren’t interested,” said Chalata.  “None of them intended to come and see the building, or the Bibles in it.”

Ytazu was shocked.  “Not when you told them that they used to believe and worship as we do, and therefore we have come to remind them of the God Who is their God too?”

“Polite indifference,” said Janita.

“And I thought that was what would make all the difference,” groaned Ytazu.

“So did I,” said Wysau sadly.

"“If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not believe if someone should rise from the dead,”" quoted Chalata.  “We shouldn’t trust in buildings, but in the Holy Spirit.  He alone can convict of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come.  Tomorrow evening, let’s have a prayer meeting.”

“One of our employees,” said Darte, “has a friend,in a rebel group, who wants to meet and talk to us secretly.”

Wysau and Ciecet were elected to meet them.

“We want to rule ourselves.  We don’t want the Roptoh or the lords.  Could you please help us?”

“It’s very dangerous,” said Wysau, “not to have a government.

If you have no government, everyone who wants to can rob or hurt others, and no-one can stop them except by being stronger than they are.  It’s better to have the Roptoh ruling you, than to have no-one - or people who have no experience of government.  Your Representatives in your House are the only ones among you who are beginning to learn how to rule you..  But the vast majority of them have only been learning for just over a year, since the last election.  They need more time before they are ready to take on, alone, the responsibility of ruling you.  It’s something that has to be learnt - like healing people or building houses.  You can’t learn to do either of these things, properly, in less than five years.  Ruling a country is even more difficult.”

“We don’t want to rule you,” said Ciecet.  “Of the four of us who have just come, three of us are old - well over sixty years old.  We’ve come to help for six months to a year, and then we want to go home and have a good rest.  It’s very hard work for us, being here.  Long-term, we want you to rule yourselves.  We have been ruling ourselves for over four hundred years, so we think it’s a good idea for all peoples to rule themselves.  But only God can teach them - as He had to teach us - to be good to each other and treat everyone fairly.  We want to teach you to do this.  We are afraid that the strong ones among you will learn to love power, and to treat the weaker ones badly.  Then they - and that means most of you - will be as poor, hungry and ill as you were when we first came.”

“But,” protested the rebel, “the House of Representatives was useless till the last election!”

“Yes,” agreed Wysau.  “That was because there weren’t regular elections every five years.  You must have regular elections, so that the leaders learn that they must work to make things better for those who vote for them; because, if they are lazy, at the next election the people will vote for someone else.  That is one of the things we can teach you about government.  Your leaders are only human: they can get lazy, or make mistakes, just as you and your friends can.  Everyone needs incentive and encouragement.”

“But we want freedom now.”

“Do you have children?” asked Wysau.

“Two sons and a daughter.”

“Would you give even your sons everything they wanted as soon as they asked for it?”

“No - well, we can’t.”

“Does that hurt them?”

“No.  If they did get everything they wanted, they’d be spoilt.”

“In the same way, you would get spoilt if we could give you everything you wanted as soon as you asked for it.  Some of you want us to go home tomorrow - but, if we did, what would happen to your house building programme?  What would happen in your hospital?  You’re far better off now than you were a few months ago, but things could so easily get as bad as they were before we came - as bad as things became for the French people on the Crown Princess Helen’s world.”

“Use this time of waiting,” advised Ciecet.  “Decide between yourselves how you should choose your own leaders.  What laws should you enact?  You will not all have the same ideas.  Try to find ideas that are reasonably acceptable to all of you - or, if that is not possible, to most of you.  If you ask us, we will try to help you.  One of us is a friend of one of our leaders, and can ask him for advice.”

“So - you haven’t been sent away from your own world?” the rebel blurted out.

“We come with the knowledge and support of the people of our world,” said Ciecet with dignity.  “We can return whenever we think fit.”

“There is one thing you are right about,” said Wysau.  “We have never gone hungry; we have never been ill-treated - except very briefly on another world before we first came here.  We have been shown love, kindness and justice.  Because of this, we are still whole people, able to show kindness in our turn.  Many of you have been ill-treated; some of you very badly.  This is why there are some among you who hurt so much that they are furious with those who have hurt them, and want to take revenge for all the hurts that have been inflicted on them.  But that revenge will not heal those hurts.  What will is to be shown love and kindness and justice, and to accept these for what they are.  We are trying to show you that love and kindness that others have not shown you.  If you accept it from us, learn to trust us, and try to show that same love to others around you, those hurts will start to heal.  If you kill your lords, you will, very likely, start to hurt each other.  This is why we are warning you not to revolt.  You can demonstrate peacefully, and send the Roptoh a petition explaining exactly what you want.  He is far more willing to listen to you than you think.”

“But what can we do about the lords?  Most of us still have to work for them, and they still treat us like dirt.”

“While we have been here, we have employed some of you, partly to show the lords that you do work well when you are well treated.  But, although they have seen the good work that you have done for us, they still will not believe us.  Only God can show them.  But it seems to us that you need God to show you how to be good to each other.  When we set up the first sprinkler machine on the land of some of you, the people who owned that land charged as much for their vegetables as any of the lords.  It was a Lord - Lord Treprom - who first brought the prices down.”

“Because you made him.”

“Yes.  But, now he has listened to our God, he is beginning to understand.”

“He still keeps all his land.”

“But he treats his workers better.”

“Yes,” admitted the rebel grudgingly.

“You all love land.  It’s very hard for him to give up any land.  But he did sell us that land for the water treatment works.”

“And, you’ll say, the Princess Shimei gave her land for the hospital.”

“She gave it; we didn’t have to buy it.  It’s when people begin to listen to God that they learn to consider others.  Four hundred years ago, God had to make the people on our world listen to Him, by sending a comet that threatened us with great devastation.  It was when they listened to Him that they were able to share the land out fairly between all the citizens as inheritances.  They also made laws about these inheritances.  No-one may sell his inheritance.  He may do other work, and rent his inheritance to someone else, but the land cannot be sold.  It is kept for his child or grandchild.  If a man does not marry, or a couple have no children, they leave their inheritances to a third child of their relatives or friends.”

“That’s a good idea,” said the rebel.  “Then no rich man can buy up the land belonging to his neighbours.”

“And a man who is ill and cannot work, can still have a small income - the rent from his land.”

“Yes.  I must tell the others about this.  But then they will say, “What’s the point of these laws, if we have no land?”

“You do not know what the future holds,” said Ciecet.  “Be prepared for your freedom; it may come sooner than you think.”

The rebel looked totally baffled.

“We want you to have your freedom,” said Wysau.  “We do not want you to kill the lords to get it.  The people of France killed their lords - and then they fought and killed each other.  That is what we want to prevent.”

“You are better off, now, without your freedom, than the people of France were with their freedom.”

Wysau waited till this sunk in.

“If we have the opportunity to help you to your freedom without killing the lords, we will take it.”

“Oh,” said the rebel’s friend slowly.

“You have at last explained properly,” said the rebel.  Turning to his friend, he said, “Will you be my witness to what the strangers have just said?”

“Certainly,” said his friend.  “I have found that if these strangers say something, they mean it.  If they promise something, they keep their promise.”

“But would it really happen here?” asked the rebel of his friend, as they walked home.

“People here do quarrel and fight amongst themselves.”

“The trouble is,” said Ciecet to Wysau as they walked back to the flying machine, “that they don’t see any other way of getting their freedom.”

“Neither do I, at the moment.  Humanly speaking, I mean.”