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 Eight

Lintis came in rather late for the evening meal, sat down and put her head in her hands.  She spoke quietly to Abritis, and Wysau translated for Shimei in her thoughts.

“She told Abritis that if Darte and his helpers hadn’t organized a clean water supply and proper sewage, she’d take the next flying machine back to Cirian.  Abritis told her Foquar organized the sewage, and she cried, “And I have to be grateful to him!”

“Not really,” said Abritis; “to Shimei.  While he thought she liked him - that there was a chance of winning the heart of a decent woman - he actually exerted himself.”

“Thanks,” said Lintis.  Tsie brought her her meal, and Abritis poured her some sona.  “Where’s Mosu?”

“Gone to bed exhausted,” said Tsie.

“I thought he looked tired this morning,” said Lintis.

“They did allow you to treat them?” asked Wysau.

“Oh yes - whole family living in the most appalling conditions - I treated them all - mother would have died by morning.”

“But - the little boy?”

“He belonged to the family next door.  He wasn’t ill; he came to ask me to visit his father, who was in a serious condition.  The family who all needed treatment were so ill, they could hardly shout.  I felt so helpless - I couldn’t arrange for social workers to come and clean their house, bath them, wash their clothes, or even give them all clean soup.  So many of the poor are in a similar state as soon as the mother is ill.  If I had done it for one family, I would have to do it for them all - and I’d never be able to treat others.”

“But one or two of that family will be feeling better enough, in a day or two, to start looking after the others.”

“I should think so.”

“And the mother would have died before Ciecet or I had found them.”

Lintis nodded.

“She’ll survive now.”

“I should expect so.”

“And may be converted later?” Wysau pointed out.  “It’s when God intends to bless that Satan is most active.  Don’t let him get you down.  Remember that there will be some converted when revival comes, who would have died and gone to Hell before it started, if you hadn’t come.”

Three days later, a rather more cheerful Lintis said at the evening meal,

“There is one thing that I find interesting about these people: they don’t tell you.  Cirians always explain, willingly, how they have come by their injuries.  The Lord who called me this afternoon had no intention whatever of telling me.  He only wanted to know if I could restore his face to its former glory - well, state of being reasonably handsome, perhaps.  It is definitely cosmetic ray treatment.  How much should I charge him?”

“Lady Igaksfo tells me you will charge her husband two thousand quen for healing the scar on his face!”

“He does not need this treatment in order to be healthy,” explained Wysau, “and it was through his own foolishness that he sustained the injury.  What is zook, Shimei?  Some sort of drug?”

“Oh,” said Shimei slowly.

“The birthmark was no fault of Kirda’s, and it was causing her real distress.”

“I’m afraid she hasn’t improved as much as I’d hoped.”

“It will take time.  And would she ever have got married?”

“Unlikely.  But does this treatment really cost as much as that?”

“The equipment with which it is done is the best that I know of.  The doctor who will do it is an expert in her field.  He could not get better treatment on our own world.  If he had to pay for the equipment to be transported from our world to his, it would bankrupt him.  What we are charging him for is the use of the equipment, the cost of the rays, the use of the rooms on the flying machine, the time of the doctor, Lintis, who will do the work, and the care he must have before the work and afterwards.  Oh, by the way, don’t tell Lintis, or anyone else, how he came by his injury, will you?”

“He certainly wouldn’t thank me for doing so!  No, I wouldn’t, for his wife’s sake.  But this means you didn’t charge me the full cost of Kirda’s treatment.”

“We didn’t feel we should.  Kirda was being teased and ostracized; no-one would dare make any unpleasant remarks to this Lord!”

“My father would say it would be most unwise.”

“Besides, we need the money to provide the wires from the machines to make power from falling water - and the pipes to pipe clean water into the houses of the poor.”

“Oh, you need wires for the power to travel along!”

“That’s right.”

“That’s why you’ve put all those wires in the Palace!  You must think I’m stupid, Wysau, but I’ve understood now.”

The following afternoon a messenger came to the Roptoh.  He was hot and dusty as usual, but distressed as well as exhausted.

“I am distressed and sorry for the news I must give you - I beg your pardon, your Majesty - but - the people of Traitan have revolted against their King - they have executed him - and the Crown Prince - and the Crown Princess Ruhamah - even little Kwesha!”

The Roptoh and Roptoa sat in stunned silence.

“Is this really true?”

“I saw the executions with my own eyes, your Majesty.  The crowd were shaking their fists - crying out for the blood of their rightful rulers.”

“Could they not have spared Ruhamah?  She is a foreigner,” cried the Roptoa.

“They might have allowed her to escape, had she tried - but she would not.  She supported and encouraged the Crown Prince right till the end.  She had no fear of death.  As he mounted the scaffold, she called to him,

“Remember - you will be with Christ in Paradise!”

and at that word his bearing became dignified, his heart strong, and he went to his death as a prince should.  She was not only dignified - she was radiant.  Radiant! as if she were going to her coronation, not her execution.  I cannot understand it.”

A servant brought Feor, Helen and Shimei to hear the news.  The messenger had to repeat it at length, and give as many details as he could.  When, finally, he was taken away to be refreshed, the Roptoa released her grief almost uncontrollably.

“Oh, what have I done!” cried the Roptoh.  “I was delighted when he spoke for her, but I sent her to her death, knowing that the former Crown Prince had been murdered.  And those wretched strangers . . . !"

While Feor and Helen did their best to comfort the Roptoa, Shimei went to her father.

“Why was she so willing to die at his side?  Why was she radiant, when he did not love her, or treat her very well?  She could have escaped - the messenger would have helped her.”

“It worked out for the best, Father.  Because she went to Traitan, and had so many troubles, she found our God - she came to know Him for herself.  And, it appears, her husband did too.  They are in Heaven now; they will live eternally with God in joy and delight unspeakable.  Take comfort, Father; remember what the messenger said.”

“Oh, daughter, you went to help her, you gave her the medicine from Wysau; you talked to her, explained his instructions to her nurse.  I just shut her up in her apartment and tried to forget about her.”

“It was Wysau who cared about Ruha.  I followed his instructions for love of him.”

Her father sat down in silent distress.  Still there was that barrier between them.

“So - three weeks ago, the people of Traitan executed their reyal family and their nobles.”

“That’s what we should do.”

There was a murmur of agreement.  “Death to tyrants!” cried one, and the cry was taken up, but more quietly.

“Has anyone any more recent news of happenings there?”

“The High Priest and his allies are fighting another group of the people for power.  Many have been killed in this fighting.”

“Have they any more food?” asked the clever rebel.

“They did at first, when they looted the shops, the nobles’ houses and lands; but now people are as hungry as they were before.  The men are too busy fighting to help their womenfolk to grow food.”

“Have they clean water?”

There was silence.

“What about us?  Have we more food?”

Again silence.  Then someone spoke.

“Our royal family would not treat us any better, nor give us clean water or better food, were it not for those strangers.”

“Now I see it!  The strangers want to rule us through the Roptoh and his family.  The stranger doctor is to marry the Princess Shimei.  The Crown Prince and Princess cannot have any children, so the children of the Princess Shimei will inherit the throne.  The strangers know we want to rule ourselves, and they are being good to us to persuade us that we would be better off letting the strangers rule us.”

“The people of Traitan are quarrelling over the nobles’ lands,” stated the bringer of news.

“We could surely work something out.  Has anyone any ideas?”

“Every man in the city should have an equal area.”

“How many men are in the city?  Thirty thousand?  How much of the nobles’ land would each receive?”

“Some of the nobles have estates in the country.”

“What about their servants, who are living there already?  And which piece of land would each receive?  Some land is waterlogged, some is mountainous, some has a house built on it.”

“What about widows with young sons?” demanded a woman.


“Land which has had a building on it for a long time is no good for farming - not until you’d picked out all the bricks and left it to weather for a year,” said a smallholder.

“I won’t be quiet,” said the woman.  “Widows with sons have just as much right to land as fathers.”

“It’s all very well for you,” said another to the smallholder.  “You’ve got some land already.”

“No good quarrelling over land we haven’t got.  We’ve got to get it first.”

“That would not be much of a problem,” said the clever rebel, “so long as the soldiers who guard the Roptoh, and the nobles’ servants, know they will receive land too; but - there are these strangers who can take over our minds.  They are warning us not to revolt.  If we try, they will take over our minds and stop us.  They won’t hurt us - no-one will be injured - and they won’t let our lords remember, and beat us; but they’ll stop us, just the same.  Four more have come just recently; more may come.  We don’t stand a chance - unless we can get them on our side.  I thought we might - but - this marriage - ”

There was an uneasy silence.

“Is it worth risking our lives for a piece of land only large enough to grow two and a half vegetables on?”

“Then we might as well go home,” said the smallholder, anxious to get away before anyone thought of sharing his land out too.  They were just about to disperse, when there was a knock - the special knock the rebels used - and one of their number came panting in.


“Yes - your son, Pergen - climbing on the strangers’ metal scaffolding round the hospital building.  He fell.”

“From the top?”

“From the top, onto bricks beneath.”

A silent cry of misery.

“His only son,” murmured others sympathetically.

“No!  I told him not to go there!  Not once, but many times!”

“Wait - listen,” said the messenger.  “They brought the new flying machine close.  They pulled - ”

“They - who?”

“The strangers.  They pulled out a screen, moved the scan machine, and healed him where he lay.  He is still there, being warmed by a ray from the machine.  They cannot lift him till his repairs have set.  If they had moved him first, he would have died.”

“Did they see you?” asked another.

“There were others there, watching.  They told us that without the equipment on the second flying machine, they could not have saved him.”

“Is he still there?” asked Pergen.

“Yes - don’t try to move him yet.”

“I must go - please excuse me.”

His friend got up to go with him, and everyone wished the little boy well.

The rebels looked at each other.

“Why do these strangers do these things for us?”

“If they wanted to rule our world, it would be easy for them.  All they would have to do is take over our minds.  The white-haired ones among them could do this with ease.  They don’t have to be good to us.”

“I can’t make them out.”

“They say they do it for love of their God.”

“So do our priests.  We know what that means.”

“Our priests have never done us good.  They never do a stroke of work.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said another.

“You must not say such things,” said still another, forgetting to be quiet in his outrage.  “You will bring the anger of the gods on us.”

“Shh!  We will be overheard.”

“Let us watch these strangers carefully,” said another speaker quietly.  “Let us allow them to do us good as long as they will.  If they start doing things we do not like, then will be the time to rise against them.”

No-one spoke aloud against this, though there were muttered disagreements among the rebels as they dispersed.

“You mustn’t do it, Yujip,” said Mosu.  “We’ve told and told the workmen that they must not try to imitate your scaffold-climbing, and have just about managed to stop the younger ones trying it: but this child very nearly died.”

“So I can’t do it, even when it speeds up the work?”

“No,” said Lintis.  “No, no and no.”

“I’m sorry,” said Mosu.  “I do see that you’re doing your best, that you do appreciate the problems of the poor, and you do care about them.”

“Eh?” This from Lintis.

“Oh, yes, he does,” said Mosu.  “He’s been working flat out, all day every working day, and he spends a lot of his free time improving his Remsheth.  And yes, Yujip, it’s really because your aunt doesn’t want to have to scrape you up from the bricks beneath the hospital scaffolding that she’s lecturing you like this.”

“But she knows - ”

“But women always worry, and the more they love you, the more they worry.”

“That is true, Yujip,” said Lintis softly.

“Can we come to an agreement?  I’m not allowed to climb here, in case a child imitates me and falls; but on Cirian, where such gifts are recognized, I may?”

“So long as you’re careful, and concentrate,” said Mosu.

Lintis sighed.  “That is reasonable,” she said; “I can’t deny it.  All right, I’ll accept that.”

“Thank you.  Oh Uncle, sometimes I wish I were fifty.  I might be more useful here.”


“It’s hard trying to train men twice or three times my age.”

“But you’ve already solved the problem,” said Mosu.

“Oh?” This time it was Yujip who was surprised.

“You work alongside them.  Then they can see how well you work, and will listen to you.”

“I hadn’t realized - I’d - well, just given up on the training aspect because I wasn’t getting anywhere.  There was so much resistance in their minds.”

“Don’t give up; just carry on working with them, and in a while they’ll start asking you how you do this and that.  All you need do is answer their questions.”

“I’ll leave you to it.”

Helen smiled at Shimei, who had finished tidying the schoolroom.  Shimei smiled back.  It was good to see Helen fulfilled, sitting directing these three older children who had displayed real artistic talent.  She was, in fact, teaching them, not simply providing pencils, paper and encouragement.  A week ago, she had taught them about perspective.  Helen would have started her art lesson earlier, but a man who had been one of Wysau’s trainees had come to give a lesson.  He had given up his doctor’s training in despair because there was so much to learn, and he felt he simply hadn’t the brains to remember and apply it all.  So Wysau had taught him two subjects thoroughly - food hygiene and nutrition - and sent him to teach in the school and in Thilish’s clinic.  He had taught the children a certain amount about the human body, and Helen was continuing this theme in her art lesson.  She knew she was running late, but could not bear to interrupt her keen pupils.  “And anyway,” she thought, “if Feor wants me, he knows where I am - I’m always in the schoolroom in the mornings.”

As a matter of fact, Feor was late too - he had been helping Chalata with some translation work - a translation into Remsheth of a version of the Cirian economic system.  Feor didn’t know much about economics, so Chalata had spent most of the morning explaining.  Then Feor had asked an unexpectedly intelligent question, and Chalata found himself obliged to call his Cirian friend onto the screen to explain.  “He invented this, you see.”

Mitue could not come to the screen, as Diane was on his knee; they had to wait five minutes before he was able to put his mind to the problem.  Then Chalata had to translate his explanation from Tsetri to Remsheth.

It was no good - they had to give up trying to understand, for both Chalata and Feor had completely lost their concentration.  Janita was back in the flying machine by then, and she was in Chalata’s arms as soon as Feor was out of the door.  Abritis was busy, and Wysau was attending an emergency case with Thilish.  Feor hurried back to the palace, longing for Helen.  He rushed up to his apartment, and she was not there!  He looked round, he called her - no Helen.  He was in such a panic that he could not think - he rushed round the nearby apartments, and burst into his mother’s, crying, “Where’s Helen?”

“I expect she’s in the schoolroom, dear,” said his mother calmly.  Feor collapsed onto the floor in pain.

This was an emergency.  The Roptoa could not wait for a servant to answer her summons.  She set off for the schoolroom herself, but she could not walk as fast as she wished.  She met Shimei coming upstairs.

“Is Helen still in the schoolroom?”

“Yes; teaching art.  She -”

“Go and get her quickly.  Feor’s collapsed.”

Shimei had never moved so fast.  She found Helen clearing up, having dismissed her pupils.

“I’ll do that - you go up to Mother’s apartment.  Quick!”

Helen obeyed, feeling guilty and a little cross.  Why couldn’t she be a bit late one morning without causing all this fuss?  But when she saw Feor on the floor, moaning in pain, she knelt down and kissed the back of his neck.

“Helen - Helen.” He tried to draw her into his arms.

“Not here, my love,” she said.  “Let’s go to our apartment.  Can you get up?”

Feor tried, but could not.  She had refused him, spurned him - she didn’t love him any more.  The pain returned.  His mother saw his face turn from white to green, and fetched a bowl herself.

Helen loathed the smell.  She was angry with Feor for getting in such a state when nothing was really wrong.  She kissed his neck again, but the relief was very short-lived.

Far away in his Cirian house, with Diane comfortably settled on his knee, Mitue thought about Chalata and the situation on Yumelpthi.  Suddenly he became concerned.  He contacted Abritis, who was just sitting down to her midday meal.

“Feor went back very late from the flying machine this morning.  Could you just check if he’s all right, please?”

“Yes, sir.”

Abritis sat, thought-reading.  Wysau came in for his meal.  Chalata had just finished his first course.  Abritis decided to send Chalata.

Helen at last realized that something was seriously wrong with Feor, when he vomited the third time.  She repented, and cried to God for mercy.  There was a hasty knock, and in rushed Chalata.

“Oh, thank goodness you’ve come!” cried Helen in English.

Chalata brought a clean bowl, and sent Helen to empty the full one. “How did you know he was in trouble?” asked the Roptoa.

“Abritis read Feor’s thoughts - and Helen’s.  She’s reading Helen’s now.  Do you realize, Feor, that one thing Helen cannot stand is the smell of vomit? especially yours?”

Feor groaned.

“She went to empty that bowl, and she was so worried about you that she hardly noticed the smell.”

Helen came back, having rinsed the bowl in disinfectant.  She knelt down by Feor, and cried in English,

“What can I do to help him?  Oh Chalata, thank you for coming.  I shouldn’t have stayed so long in the schoolroom, but I didn’t realize how serious the consequences would be.  I’ll never do that again.  But what can I do now?”

Feor looked up and saw the tears on Helen’s cheeks.

“Kiss the back of his neck,” said Chalata.  This time Helen kissed him tenderly and lovingly, and Feor’s pain left him.  He took Helen’s hand and drew her to him.

“Feor, the floor’s too cold and hard for you to sleep on,” said Chalata firmly.  “You must try to walk to your bed.”

“Yes,” said Helen.

“It’s very awkward for your mother to have you two kissing on her floor.  Come on, Helen, you support him on the other side - put your arm over her shoulder, Feor, that’s it.”

The Roptoa brought the bowls, and left one on the chair by Feor’s side of his bed, so that he could reach it quickly if necessary.  Once on his bed, Feor reached out for Helen, who went willingly to him.  Chalata opened the door for the Roptoa, and shut it behind them both.  They walked a little way down the corridor.

“Will he be all right now?”

“I think so.  Do feel free to call us if there’s any more trouble.  Feor won’t be able to eat till tomorrow morning; he may sleep till then.”

“Is he really all right?  The things he was saying - ”

“Tell Helen he means every word; and tell her I said so.”

“He means every word?!"

“That is correct,” said Chalata firmly.  “Believe me, your Majesty, I know.” He lifted his head and listened for a moment.  “Don’t worry about Feor’s sanity.  My friend on Cirian, who is one of the few men who govern our entire world, has lived with this strange love for over twenty years.  He is as sane as anyone, and intellectually is one of the most brilliant men on Cirian.  But if you took Diane - she’s his wife - away, so that she was half an hour late meeting him after their morning separation, he would very quickly become as wretched and as ill as Feor was just now.”

“So this danger will continue?”

“As long as he lives.”

“I will inform the Roptoh.  And thank you, thank you a thousand times.”

“Helen, could you accompany me?”

“I’ve got to prepare a lesson for the older children for tomorrow morning.  I’ve got to teach mathematics.  I don’t mind teaching art, reading or writing, or arithmetic to the small children; but many of the eleven and twelve year olds are clever at arithmetic, and can add up quickly in their heads.  Once they have learnt to write their numbers, they can do their sums more quickly than I can.  This mathematics is more complicated; I’m not sure if I understand it myself.  But Darte said they needed to know it if they were going to learn architecture or engineering.  Look, here it is.  Can you understand it?”

Feor read it through carefully.  He studied the diagrams.  “Oh, yes, I see.” He explained it to Helen till it came clear in her mind.

“Now,” she said, “how do I teach that to the children?”

“Tell them why they need to know, and then explain it.  Make them draw the diagrams.  Set them these exercises - ” and Feor proceeded to invent some.  “I’ll work them through to make sure they’re good examples.”

“So that I know whether to mark them right or wrong - I’ll need to see your working so that I can see where they go wrong.  Oh, thank you, Feor.”

That evening, Feor was restless.

He was not worried about Helen loving him.  She had been grateful and pleased - admiring even - when he had helped her, sweet and loving as they kissed before the evening meal, and delighted when the Roptoh announced at the meal that he would like not only Wysau to move into the Palace after his marriage, but Abritis and Darte as well.

“But what apartment can I offer them?”

“I never use my personal apartment,” said Helen.

“But what if you were ill?” asked the Roptoa.

“I don’t care how ill Helen is - I want her with me,” said Feor.  “If she’s ill, I want to be there to help if she needs me in the night.”

“I’d rather be with Feor,” said Helen.

“So you don’t mind if Abritis and Darte have your apartment?”

“I’d like to see more of Abritis,” said Helen.

“That’s settled, then,” said the Roptoh.

Feor and Shimei were pleased too.  Somehow the knowledge made them feel more secure.  It was worth the upheaval of having a bathroom put in.  The big white cupboards in the kitchen, all spotless and empty, were so new to them that they had no idea what a change they would make once the hydro-electric generators were in operation.  Yet still Feor was restless.  When they were alone, Helen asked him why.

“I wish I could be useful,” he said.  “The strangers are all so useful.  Not only do they do useful works, to benefit everyone, but they are training our people to do them too.  I seem to do nothing.  They don’t train me.”

“You help Chalata most mornings.”

“It’s been very interesting lately - we’ve been translating an administrative document.  What I like about Chalata is that he explains everything.  And when I asked a question he could not answer, he asked his friend who wrote the document to explain it to me.  Chalata had to translate his explanation, as his friend does not speak Remsheth.”

“Who is his friend?”

“He did not appear on the screen - he is on Cirian.”


“I don’t understand why Chalata wanted to translate this document into our language.”

Helen looked at Feor.  “An administrative document - what do you mean?”

“It tells how to run a country.  It works on the same principles as the way the strangers’ world is run.  But why translate it into our language? and why take so long explaining it to me?”

“The strangers don’t waste their time,” said Helen thoughtfully.

“That’s what makes it so puzzling.”

Helen clapped her hands.  “They are training you - to run your country!  After all, you are the Crown Prince.”

“But this document presupposes that every citizen has an inheritance of land that he cannot sell.  That’s impossible here.”

“The people would love it.”

“The nobles would never agree.”

“Don’t the strangers do many impossible things?  Are you sure you couldn’t run the country by this plan even if the land was not divided up among all the citizens?”

“Ah.  Perhaps that’s it.  But then you’d have to pay money to all the sick and widows and elderly.  I’ll ask about it tomorrow.”

Feor was somewhat comforted.  He was going to be useful.  Yet still he was unsatisfied.  He knew great pleasure that night, and went to sleep promptly.  Yet he woke at four in the morning, still unsatisfied.  He lay in bed and thought.

“Is it because she can never love me as I love her?” he wondered.  “Her love gives me great happiness - why am I unsatisfied?  I am an ungrateful man.  God has given me my kingdom, my Helen, and strangers to help me when I am in trouble.  I wish God would speak to me and tell me what to do - what is wrong.”

He prayed, and waited for God to speak - but no words came into his mind.  “Yet God does answer,” he thought.  “God gave Shimei the land for the hospital.”

He looked at his lovely Helen, fast asleep beside him.  Her long curls had curled round his heart - her essence had crept inside, to the very centre, and nestled there.  His love came over him, violent, powerful, deep.  If Helen had not been beside him already, he would have run all over his kingdom till he had found her.  It was not simply physical: he loved the way she played his mother’s instrument, her gentleness; he loved to have her translate her French Bible to him.  What was it she had translated for him that evening before they went to bed?

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread?  And your earnings for what does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”

He could hear her voice as she said it, recall the light in her eyes; remember her explaining that the prophet was talking about spiritual food, the satisfaction of the soul.  There was a depth in Helen - she was satisfied.  Oh Helen!  A surge of love swept over him.  He was glad she was asleep.  Had she been awake, he would only have raved over her, trying vainly to express a depth of feeling she would never understand.

The knowledge began to hurt as it had never hurt before.  She had given him all he could expect of her, and yet he needed more.  Why was this love like this, so that pain was inevitably stored up for him?  How did Chalata and his friend manage to live for years and years like this?  So peaceful, too.  Chalata was satisfied.  What was the secret?

He remembered more of what she had translated.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

“There is more to seeking God than being converted,” Helen had said.  “We need to go on seeking Him, to know Him better, to obey His commandments, and experience His love.  For His love is the greatest there is - even greater than your love for me.”

“Let your soul delight itself in fatness.”

Suddenly Feor realized that his aching heart could only be satisfied with God’s love, for it was deeper than his own.  His soul would be satisfied with spiritual food, spiritual love.  He crept out of bed, went into Helen’s empty apartment, knelt down and implored God for a sense of His love.

Nothing happened.

“O God, why do You answer Shimei and the strangers, yet You will not answer me?”

Then he remembered that Chalata had given him one of the Bibles they had found in the ancient building.  Although he knew that the team had injected a special preservative into the building and left it to do its work and disperse before opening the doors, he opened the ancient book very gently and reverently.  He found the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 55, that Helen had been reading to him.  He read on from there.  The language was old-fashioned, but by no means difficult to understand.  He read till he came to chapter 58.

“Why have I prayed, and God does not answer?”

“Why have we fasted,” they say, “and You do not see it?”

The rest of the verse made him squirm.  The Palace servants had to work on a Sunday, while he went to the strangers’ meetings with Helen.  How many of the poor had to work on a Sunday?  All the servants of the rich had to work just the same every day of the week.  Only the hired labourers and craftsmen who worked for the strangers always had a Sunday’s rest.

He went on reading.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to let the oppressed go free?  Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house? . . .

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer . . . "

“Prynoh is very ill,” reported the Roptoh.  “He will not call Wysau, but he has asked to see you, Shimei.  Please go - try to persuade him to call Wysau.”

Shimei went most reluctantly.  Prynoh was in bed, and his mother received the Princess.

“Please try to persuade him to have the stranger doctor to see him,” she begged.  “No-one else can cure him.  Prynoh could have been well already if he had only taken his advice as well as his medicine.  While he was taking Wysau’s medicine, he was quite a bit better, but after it was all gone, he became worse again.  He coughs - a terrible cough that hurts him - and then he spits blood.  If nothing is done soon, he will die - and he has no son.  No child at all.”

“I want Wysau’s children,” thought Shimei, “not Prynoh’s.”

The bedroom was not gloomy in itself; it was made gloomy by its occupant.  He lay still, exhausted - but when he saw Shimei, he struggled to sit up.  The struggle set off the coughing, and Prynoh had to spit out a little blood.

“I have asked you to come - to warn you,” he gasped.  “I hear you are to marry the stranger doctor - that white-haired stranger with powers like Foquar’s?


“Have you met a handsome man yet, who will not use his powers with the ladies?  That stranger is one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen.  He has been going round the city with the young girl stranger.”

“Oh, Thilish?  But she’s Shurzi’s wife.  And if they are together, it is because they work together.  Shurzi can read people’s minds too.  Wysau could not fool him.  And he would not try.  He is a good man.”

Prynoh coughed up more blood.

“Lie down,” said Shimei gently.  “Rest and relax.  There.  Prynoh, we would all be so glad to see you well again.  Do please call Wysau.  He will come - he does care about you.  I will ask him for you, if you will permit it.”

“How do you know he speaks the truth?  How do you know he really loves you, when he can spread a fog in your mind, and put thoughts there that you will assume are your own?  I know Foquar did that to Feor and the Roptoa.” Here he coughed again.

“Yes - and he did it to me, too.  I know what it’s like.  Since he went away, I’ve had no trouble like that at all.  I could not trust Foquar, but everyone can trust these strangers.  Didn’t you feel better when you were taking Wysau’s medicine?”

“How do I know it didn’t make me worse?  I’m a lot worse now than I was before I took it.  I’m not seeing him again.  He’ll marry you, and get the crown, and then you’ll see him go after the ladies.  Just like Foquar he’ll be, only worse, because he’s young - ” cough " - and handsome - " Prynoh went into a paroxysm of coughing, spitting blood, and shivering.  Shimei was sorry for him, in spite of his unpleasant attitude.

“Would you see the new stranger doctor?  He’s an older man, with more experience.”

Prynoh shook his head.

“I’d better leave you,” said Shimei.  “I’m disturbing and distressing you.  My father and mother send their good wishes.  Goodbye, cousin.”

“Thank you so much for coming,” said Princess Tran as she saw Shimei to the door.

“I’m sorry I could not persuade him - but, be assured, Wysau or the new doctor will come to Prynoh if they are called.  If Prynoh changes his mind, and would like Wysau to come, but is afraid of asking him, tell him that, just after Wysau hypnotized those men to go away and not to kill him, he was not angry at all - just sad, because he knew Prynoh was not getting better.”

“They were hypnotized, then?  It was not just cowardice?”

“No.  I was there - I felt the hypnotism.  I saw them obey, and go away down the mountain.”

Prynoh was heard, calling for his mother.

“I must go,” said Shimei.  “Goodbye.”

She walked across the strangers’ bridge, past the hospital.  There were Wysau and Thilish, coming back from the surgery.  She waved to them and went on towards the Palace.

No, of course it wasn’t true.  Prynoh’s mind was darkened by hatred and prejudice.

Since she and Helen had opened their school, Wysau had not asked her to come with him on his calls.  He had his trainees with him - she would be one too many.  And she had her work in the school; she needed her afternoons to prepare lessons.  As more children were attending, they had divided them into three classes.  At first she had taken the tinies and new children, Helen the eldest and Pramgo the nine and ten year olds.  Sometimes they would exchange classes, for Helen taught Art and Music and Pramgo nutrition and general science.  Recently Helen had asked Shimei to teach the mathematics the strangers had given them to teach, because she could not understand it.  This was a new challenge for Shimei.  She asked Wysau to explain, but he passed her request on to Shurzi.  “I’m too tired to work it out, but Shurzi can do it in his sleep.” Shurzi did, in fact, explain it very well; not only could she understand that particular lesson, but was able to read and understand another lesson while he prepared a third, and explain them both to him when he had finished.  “Thanks, Shurzi,” said Wysau, and, “Well done, my love,” to her quietly as she sat down beside him.

There was a knock on the door.  “Sorry, you doctors; four patients for you,” called Tsie.  Lintis, Ciecet and Wysau collected torches and bags, and went out.  “They’ve come a long way - they’ve walked ten miles from a nearby village.”

Hoping to be able to help, Shimei went out, and, seeing Wysau kneeling beside a patient, was walking towards him, when he looked up, saw her, and shouted,

“Get back in the flying machine, Shimei, now!  Go on!”

Never had Wysau spoken to her sharply before.  It was a curt command one might give to a servant.  Yet Wysau never spoke to his patients like that.  Abritis got up and hurried into her laboratory.  Thilish - yes, Thilish - went out and helped Wysau.  Shimei felt jealous, humiliated, useless.  Suddenly she heard Shurzi’s voice in her mind.

“These patients, all four of them, have a nasty disease that is very infectious.  Wysau knows you have not been inoculated against it; all of us have.  He was terrified of you catching it.”

All the strangers but Tsie went out to help make a shelter for their patients; she was preparing drinks and bread for them.  Forty minutes dragged by, forty-five - and then Lintis, smelling of disinfectant, came up to Shimei with a full syringe.

“Wysau has asked me to inoculate you against this disease.  You will feel tired and slightly unwell.”

Shimei bared her arm and held it still.  She hardly felt the prick.

“Sit still and rest.  I will get you a drink.”

It was Tsie who brought the sona.  “I’m afraid Wysau won’t be able to come for half an hour yet.  He’ll have to decontaminate himself.  It really is a nasty disease.  I pray it won’t spread in the city.”

Shimei prayed too.  At last Wysau did come.  He, too, smelt of disinfectant, and looked concerned.

“They came from a small village ten miles north-east.  If we took this flying machine tonight, and dosed all the inhabitants, we might be in time to prevent an epidemic.”

Everyone came in to pray.

“We must go at once,” said the older doctors with one voice.  Wysau nodded.

“Right,” said Ytazu, and Tsie and Shurzi disappeared with him into the control room.  At last Wysau turned his attention to Shimei.

“You’d better go home, my love, and get an early night.  You mustn’t try to do anything tomorrow.  I’ll come and see you as soon as I can.”

He looked at her searchingly.  “I’m sorry I shouted at you.  I was frightened and worried about you.  All of us have been inoculated - oh, darling, you don’t feel well, do you?  Let me help you out.  I do wish I had time to take you home!  Shall I call Feor to come and meet you?  Yes?”

She nodded miserably, and sat on a log.  The flying machine took off.  A few moments later, Feor and Helen arrived.

“Whatever’s happened?” he asked.  Shimei explained, briefly and wearily.

“Let’s get you home and into bed,” said Helen.  Shimei smiled at her gratefully.

Shimei lay, feeling more comfortable but still unwell, in her bed in the Palace.  She could not sleep because her head ached.

“Shimei.” It was Wysau’s voice in her mind.  “We hope our trip to that village was successful.  There were only thirty-two inhabitants.  Our patients were the only travellers in or out of that village since the sickness began.  So long as they haven’t infected any one in the capital on their way through, we may have stopped any further trouble.  But we’ll have to ask for anyone who talked to them to come to be examined.  Please pray that they will.”

There was a pause.  “He doesn’t care about me,” she thought.

“I’m sorry you’re feeling rotten, but this disease is a killer.  If we should have an epidemic in the city, you’ll be safe now.”

Shimei tossed and turned for what seemed like hours.  Had he ever cared for her?  Or did he just want the throne? and plenty of money for his hospital?  How many pretty mistresses would he have once they were married?  She tried to reason with herself, but it didn’t work.  She had almost decided to break her engagement when, again, she heard that familiar voice in her mind.

“Would you like me to hypnotize you to go to sleep, my love?”

Shimei thought.  “In a few minutes.”

“Are you ready now?” She was.  “Thanks,” she meant to say, but she was asleep before she knew it.

There was a gentle tap on her door.  In came Sihcha with a drink for her, looking very startled.  “Is that how the stranger doctor usually talks to you, my lady?”

“Oh - he spoke to you in your thoughts?  Yes, he does when I’m not with him.”

“It’s terrifying,” protested Sihcha.  “He asked me to bring you this,” she said, setting the drink down on Shimei’s bedside table, “and he said you were not well.  He’s told Helen that they’ll have to teach the school without you this morning.  And I’m to bring you a small breakfast.  What would you like?”

“Shimei.” Wysau - again!  “We have got a couple of cases in the city - I’m on my way to them now.  You stay where you are, have plenty to drink - you should be better this evening.  I’ll be round to see you on Saturday, God willing.”

“Thanks for sending me to sleep.” There was no reply.  Suddenly she realized how much she longed to see him.  The tears would come - and Helen found her crying when she popped in.

“Oh Shimei - is it just that you feel ill?”

“I should be better this evening.”

“Are you having doubts about your marriage?”

“How did you know?”

“You looked so miserable last night, and you do now.  If you do have doubts, remember what God said to you when He told you it was right for you to marry Wysau.”

“There are going to be big changes - Wysau was sent to help me through.  Oh, thank you, Helen - bless you, sister!”

“Pray for us this morning, please.”

After breakfast, Shimei was glad to lie down again.  Still the doubts went round and round in her brain.  Then she remembered what Helen had said - and Helen - and the school.  The children would be arriving in a minute, and she had promised to pray.  Well, she would, however tired and doubtful she was -

When Sihcha returned for the tray, she found Shimei asleep.

Shimei woke late that afternoon feeling much stronger.  Her headache was gone, but she felt sticky.  She got up, washed and dressed - and sat down, feeling tired.

The doubts came back.  What sort of fog was Wysau weaving in her brain?  Were the other strangers helping him?  Oh no, Shurzi wouldn’t, she reasoned, Thilish is his wife.  Helen wouldn’t trust them - but then, both she and Feor could be their dupes.

But God told me I should marry Wysau.  He wouldn’t sentence me to a lifetime of misery.

“Can you really trust this God?”

Shimei straightened her sagging back.  Who was putting thoughts into her mind?  It wasn’t Wysau, or Abritis, or Shurzi - it was Satan!  Only he would try to make her doubt her God!

“You go away, Satan!” she cried out loud.  “In the name of Jesus Christ, and in the power of His blood!”

She saw then for whom Prynoh had been speaking - for Satan, his master, who was driving him to refuse Wysau’s aid - driving him to death.  She thought how selfish he was, how little thought he had for his tired, worried mother.

To save Sihcha’s legs, she went down to eat with her parents.  Feor had told them about her inoculation, but they all wanted to know exactly what the disease was.

“Wysau said it was very infectious,” she said, “and that it killed people.”

“Not ikthat?” said the Roptoh, looking grave.

“I don’t know,” said Shimei.  “But I won’t get it, nor will the strangers.”

“It’s not what Prynoh’s got?”

“No.  Wysau gave that a different name.”

“It is a shame Prynoh won’t call him,” said the Roptoa.

“Daughter, when do you see Wysau?” asked the Roptoh.

“He said he would come and see me on Saturday.”

“Can you ask him to see us?  I could tell him about ikthat - perhaps we could work out if it is the same disease.”

“Yes,” said Wysau.  “From the symptoms you describe, I should say it’s almost certainly ikthat.”

“And you think you’ve stopped it spreading?”

“One can never be quite sure.  I found the source in that village, and burnt it.  There were two cases in the capital, though the travellers only stopped and bought some fruit.”

“When was this?”

“The travellers arrived on Thursday evening.  I found those two cases yesterday.”

“Ikthat spreads like wildfire,” said the Roptoh.  “It would be raging in the city by now, if you had not found those two cases.”

Wysau nodded.  “Yes, that’s what it’s like.  I only hope everyone with it has come forward.  I did dose the families and close friends of those two patients.  We’ve still got the notice on the surgery wall, begging people to come to be examined if they have any doubts.”

“I don’t see what more you can do,” said the Roptoh reasonably.

Shimei sat and listened.  How could she tell Wysau she wouldn’t marry him, when he had saved all their lives?  Would a liar and deceiver act as he had done that Thursday evening, when he was already exhausted?  “By their fruits you shall know them.”

“I’m afraid we feel we ought to defer your wedding for a while, as a mark of respect for our poor daughter, and all our brothers in Traitan.”

“I am sorry,” said Wysau, “but I do understand.”

On the Monday morning, when Feor went to the flying machine to help Chalata translate a medical textbook for the doctors’ training school, he was greeted by Tsie at the door.

“Shh!  Keep your voice down.  Wysau’s been awake most of the night, and he’s still asleep.”

Feor went in and sat down opposite Chalata.  Tsie closed the doors of the sitting room and of Wysau’s room.  “There - we can talk quietly.”

“Whatever has Wysau been doing?”

“Thought-reading - trying to prevent revolution here.  We’re not doing this for your benefit only, Feor; revolution does not benefit the people either.  The reports from Traitan of continued fighting, continued hunger, houses burned and shops looted, and nothing done to help the poor, and people fleeing from the fighting, help to damp revolutionary ardour as nothing else could - but, even so, some here are still on the verge of revolt.  We wish we could help the people in Traitan, but we don’t know their language.”

“My father does - I do, a little.”

“Could he teach Yujip?  We normally prefer to learn from a native speaker, but this is urgent.  So many are being killed - it’s horrific.”

“I think Father would be willing.  He is worried about the situation in Traitan.  He is afraid that revolutionaries from there might come over the border and stir up revolution here.”

Sure enough, that evening the Roptoh came to the flying machine with Shimei.  Wysau signed to her to sit by him.  Yujip came to greet his teacher.

“First of all,” said the Roptoh, “I hear from my son that you have heard reports in the city of what is happening in Traitan.  Please tell me what you have heard.”

“As far as we can work out,” began Wysau, “all the trouble started with a famine last year, and a more severe famine this year.  This gave the King financial problems.  Being a merciful man, he did not want to tax the people any more.  He wanted to tax the nobles, but they refused.  How could he insist?  Many of them were his relations.  So he tried to tax the priests.”

“So the priests refused, and he had to tax the people.”

“Yes, the priests refused, but the King and the nobles insisted.  So the priests incited the people to revolt.”

“They what?!"

“They incited the people to revolt.  The High Priest wished to rule Traitan.  The people, desperate with hunger, obeyed their call.  The priests told the people that it was a holy war, and he who was killed would go directly to feast with the gods.”

“A holy war!” cried the Roptoh. “Killing their wise King, his son, my daughter, all the nobles, their wives and children - oh yes, that’s holy, isn’t it!  Faugh, they disgust me!  So what happened?”

“Many of the people decided, after the revolt, that they did not want the High Priest to rule them.”

“Serve him right!”

“So they deserted the priests and chose leaders of their own.  If the High Priest had not mustered his supporters and attacked the deserters, he would not have been killed, or the priests driven out.”

“So now they’re squabbling about the secession.”

“And have lost even more of their supporters in the process.  The trouble now is, that most of the military leaders will not listen to their supporters, make peace with the maritime people and allow them their independence in return for two years of desperately needed grain and fish supplies.  “Oh no,” they say, “that’s always been part of our country.” So now they’re mustering an army to fight the maritime people, while their people are starving.  If Yujip knew their language, he could put ideas into the leaders’ minds - to help them make peace in their land, help the people to grow food instead of fighting - to help them form a democratic government.”

“They need a ruler.”

“We can’t give them back a King, because they’ve executed their entire Royal Family,” explained Wysau.  “The people are far more likely to agree to a democratic government.  They need a stable government, that has the support of most of the people, so that they can stop fighting and start growing food.”

The Roptoh sighed.  “I suppose you’re right.  Yes, it is important to stabilize the situation in Traitan before revolution begins here.”

“Why do this people wish to revolt, when I - when you and I have done so much to better their lot?”

“It is the way they are treated by their employers - the lords and contractors.  They receive very low wages, and are shouted at, beaten and despised by their masters.”

“They have to be beaten, or they will not work.”

“But, your Majesty, the water treatment works has been completed; the piping has been made, water piped into the Palace and homes of the nobility, and into standpipes on the streets for the poor.”

“That is true - I do not dispute it.”

“None of our workmen have ever been beaten.”


“Yet the work is done.” Darte paused.  “And, your Majesty, don’t you remember what you yourself did when the work on your irrigation channel was proceeding so slowly?”

“Oh - I put the Palace servants to work on it.”

“Yes.  And it worked.  It was an excellent solution - we could not have thought of a better.  They could see that it would help them.  If you pay a workman more when you can see he has done a good day’s work, then he has a reason to work - he can see it is better for him.  The overseer has to watch carefully every day, to see who works and who does not, so that he can reward them accordingly.  And if, when he rewards a workman, he is pleasant to him and says, “Well done,” and “Thank you,” it will work far better than a beating.  The secret is to make your workmen want to work well for you.  Believe me, your Majesty, we have tried it ourselves, here in your city with your people, and the work is there to prove it.”

“Some of the nobles are complaining that all the best workmen have gone to work for you.”

“If they treated them as we treat them, they would stay with their noble employers.  They do not know how long our jobs will last.  The nobility give more security.  But they do appreciate being trained.”

“This is what is needed to prevent violent revolution,” said Shurzi.  “All the nobles and all the contractors should treat their workmen as we treat them.”

“Do you wish me to tell the House of Nobles about this?”

“If you please, your Majesty,” said Chalata.  “It will be difficult - they won’t like it - but if they don’t want to be executed like those in Traitan, then they must do this.”

“I’m afraid they will not listen.”

“You may well be right.  We will pray for you.  But, for their own sakes, they must be warned.  The day will come when they will say, “If only we had listened to you.”

“What good will that do?  Is there any point in my telling them?”

“Are there servants who stay with their masters in the House of Nobles?”

“They sit quietly at the back, and come when their masters call, and fetch their berron.”

“I think you can be sure,” said Shurzi earnestly, “that one of these servants, at least, will report what is said to another - especially something like this, which concerns the revolutionaries.  If you give this warning seriously and faithfully, it will be reported in the underground meetings, and could save your life and those of your family.”

“We are doing all we can to prevent revolution here,” said Wysau.  “Fighting and killing don’t help anybody.  You would have thought the people here would see for themselves that the revolt in Traitan has done the people there great harm, but it is hard to make them understand.”

“You see things very well through the people’s eyes,” said the Roptoh sharply.

“We cannot hope to persuade them unless we do,” said Wysau.

“We must try to help the people in Traitan so that they, and your people, can both be at peace.”

“I agree with that,” said the Roptoh.  “How do I start to teach you?”

“By answering questions, please, your Majesty,” said Yujip with grave politeness.

The Roptoh took his leave, and Wysau sat, his eyes far away.  Sometime later, when the strangers, yawning, were beginning to think about bed,


“Yes, Wysau?”

“It’s a good thing you said that.  It so happens that there’s a meeting of the House of Nobles tomorrow afternoon, to discuss the revolution in Traitan.  The Roptoh called Artax to him when he got back to the Palace tonight, and discussed the warning.  Artax was inclined to think that we were overplaying the danger, but the Roptoh reminded him that I warned him about the revolution in Traitan before it happened, and that we could read the people’s thoughts.  In convincing Artax, he convinced himself.”

“Did he give the warning?” asked Thilish the following evening.

“He did,” said Shurzi.  “Perhaps not as robustly as I should have done, but seriously and quite reasonably.  The lords gave two excuses: one, they couldn’t trust their overseers; and two, even if they watched their servants themselves, they could not thought-read like the strangers, to know if they were telling the truth.  The real problem is that they don’t know how to do any of these things themselves, and wouldn’t really know whether their servants were working well or not.  They have to rely on their overseers, who don’t want to change their ways.”

“We must go on believing,” said Chalata.

“There’s nothing else we can do,” said Wysau.

“Yes; we can go on obeying,” said Ytazu, “even when we don’t understand what God is doing.”

They prayed, and Darte spoke for them all.

“Our almighty Creator, for Whom all things are possible, please have mercy on these lords.  Please either save their souls, or remove them to a place of safety.  Have mercy on the people - save as many as You choose, and deliver them from murder and brutality.  We have caused the lords to be warned; they have chosen to ignore that warning.  We can do nothing; our eyes are upon You.”

“A delegation from the priests of Traitan?” said the Roptoh.  “Very well, send them in.  I’ve had plenty of practice in speaking their language just lately.” But the interview took place in Remsheth.

“Your gracious Majesty is, no doubt, well aware of the dangerous situation in Traitan,” began the spokesman smoothly.  “We deplore the massacre of the Royal Family there, and particularly the cruel death of the Princess Ruhamah.” He paused to wipe away a tear.  “Has your powerful Majesty considered the subjugation of these rebels, and the bringing of this unhappy people under your beneficient rule?  The gods would bless you with good success if you then restored us their rightful priests to our temples and lands.  Surely murderers like these should be brought to justice.”

“By military force, you mean?”

“Naturally, your Majesty.”

“We only have a small standing army, not sufficient to conquer your country.  We do not think it wise in the present political situation to try to recruit an army for this purpose, for many of our common people have too much sympathy for their brothers in Traitan.  Much as we would like to bring these murderers to justice, we are afraid that at the moment we are not able.” He dismissed them, and the delegation bowed itself out.  He barely had time to wonder how accurate the report the strangers had heard in the city had been, before another delegation was admitted.  This one, consisting of a spokesman only, was not dressed in his best and well acquainted with court manners; he came in, out of breath, stumbling, with the dust of the road on his body and his clothes, and beads of sweat on his forehead.

“Please excuse my appearance, your Majesty; my plea is urgent.  I have come on behalf of your people who live on the border between Remgathishboh and Traitan.  They implore your gracious Majesty not to give support to the priests of Traitan.  They have, indeed, been driven out of their temples and lands, but at the first it was they who incited the people of Traitan to revolt against their rightful King, because the priests wished to avoid paying the taxes he was about to levy on them because of the famine.  After the death of the previous High Priest, the priests lost their battle for the people’s loyalty by quarrelling amongst themselves about who should succede to the High Priest’s office.  So it was that they were forced to flee over the border into your country.  At first your people received them hospitably, but when they saw that the priests expected to be waited on, fed royally, and that no reproofs should be given when they seduced the local girls, and even approached the daughter of one of their hosts with indecent suggestions, they became disgusted with them.  They have quarrelled publicly with our priests, who would like to send them back to their country to fend for themselves as best they can.”

“Let our priests do so,” said the Roptoh.

“So your Majesty has pledged them no support?”

“None at all.”

“Your gracious Majesty is all wisdom,” said the ambassador, with far more sincerity than such praise usually carried with it.  “They shall be sent back.  Thank you, your Majesty.” He bowed himself out.

“It’s a shame I’m not a thought-reader,” said Ytazu.

“Or me,” sighed Tsie.  “Because he’s so young, it’s very difficult for Yujip to organize the Roptoh into teaching him the Cirian way.  And Yujip’s so stretched already - all the thought-readers are.”

“And yet,” said Ytazu loyally, “Chalata is right.  We can’t just sit here and let the people of Traitan die of war and the famine that comes with it.  Oh - who’s that?” Suddenly Ytazu ran into the royal park, and brought back in his powerful arms an emaciated, dusty, exhausted form.

“We can’t have him in the flying machine - he’s so dirty,” said Tsie.

“Let’s lie him down here, in the shade.  He can have my cloak as a pillow.  He needs some water, I’m sure.”

Tsie brought out a solution of glucose water and salts in a special drinking cup designed for invalids who cannot sit up.  Sips were faithfully administered every time the man stirred.  When he woke properly, Tsie made up half a food-drink.

“I’ll add some extra vitamins,” she said.  “He looks malnourished.”

The man drank, and spoke to Ytazu in a language he did not understand.

“Do you speak Remsheth?” asked Ytazu.

“Oh - yes,” said the man, with an accent.  “You - you are a stranger?”

“Yes.  My name is Ytazu.  Drink some more.”

“My name is Trak.” He obeyed.  “Thank you - this is good.”

“And some more.  Yes, finish it.  Lovely.”

“Thank you.  I will go on my way.” He got up, but would have fallen if Ytazu had not caught him.

“No, Trak,” said Ytazu.  “You stay here and rest.  Have you any pain?”

“No - I’m dizzy - tired.”

“You rest, and my wife will prepare a bath for you.”

“Please,” said Trak eagerly.

“Rest first.” He lay down on the hard ground and slept like a baby.

When Wysau returned for his evening meal, Tsie brought him to a clean patient asleep in a spare bunk on the flying machine.  “Trak, the doctor has come to see you.”

Wysau began examining his patient.  “What have you given him?” he asked Tsie.

“A food-drink with added vitamins, half an hour before, and half after his bath.”

“Well done; I’ll take over now.  Have you any pain?” he asked his patient.


“Does this hurt?” he asked, each time he pressed Trak’s abdomen in different places.

“No,” was the repeated answer.  Wysau listened to his chest.

“Can you turn over?  Thank you.” He listened at the back.  “All well there.” Then Wysau looked at his legs - and his feet.

“Where have you come from?”

“Just over the border, in Traitan.”

“And you ran all the way, I suppose.”

“How did you know?”

Wysau was opening his bag.  “The state of your feet.  Tsie’s done a good job; they’re nice and clean.  Now for some treatment.”

As Wysau gently rubbed the healing ointment into his sore feet, Trak repeated, “I must go home tomorrow.”

Wysau sighed.  “How far is it from here to Traitan?”

“A hundred and seventy miles.”

“What’s your name, again?”


“Trak, listen to me: I speak as a doctor.  You would collapse before you’d walked fifteen.  And who would take you in, and look after you, and feed you, as well as we can?”

“I cannot pay you.”

“Of course not.  We understand that.  We treat the poor of this city without any payment.  Besides, the language of Traitan is your mother tongue, isn’t it?”


“Do you speak a dialect that is only spoken at the border with Remgathishboh?”

“No.  I came four years ago from the capital city of Traitan.”

“And that was where you were born and brought up?”

“Not in the capital - about twenty miles away.”

“Do you speak a dialect that most of your countrymen understand?”


“We need you here, Trak, to teach us the language of Traitan.  We want to help your people.  We want to teach your leaders to stop the fighting, and organize your people into growing food, purifying water and making it go through pipes into the streets and homes of your cities; into building decent houses for the common people.  But one of us must learn your language before we can do this.  You can teach him while you are getting stronger.”

“But I must go home as soon as possible.  They are waiting for the Roptoh’s answer.”

“Do these people speak Remsheth?”


“Could you please tell me as much as you can about these people?  Oh yes, Tsie, I may as well give him that while we talk.  Is Remsheth these people’s native language?”

Trak nodded, and drank.

“I’ll hunt,” said Abritis.  “You have your meal.”

Wysau prayed as he ate.

Ten minutes later she cried, “Praise the Lord!” Everyone in the lounge smiled, and silence reigned as she delivered her messages.

“You told them it was the Roptoh’s answer?” asked Trak anxiously.

“I did,” said Abritis.  “He was rather frightened, but I did tell him your name, and reassured him as best I could.  So he asked me to tell the priests.  That, I must admit, I enjoyed - though I didn’t try to frighten them.  Then I told your wife’s father where and how you are, and roughly how long it would be before you would be able to walk back home.  He was a bit startled, but far less frightened than the priests.”

“Ah,” said Trak, “thank you.  Now I can rest.”

“Wysau, before you go,” said Tsie the next morning.  “Trak has slept for thirteen hours, and he still appears to be asleep.”

“I’ll have a quick look.  He’s awake - I’ll take him to the bathroom.  You’re looking better, young man - though you mustn’t try to walk a mile today, let alone a hundred.  There.  If you could take him back, Tsie, I really must go - I’ll be late for surgery.”

“I’ll take Trak his breakfast,” volunteered Chalata.  “I must talk to him.”

Trak had just laid down a book on the bedside cabinet.

“May I see?” asked Chalata.  “No - a bit like the ancient script of Remsheth.  But it looks like a Bible.”

“It is,” said Trak.

“And this?” Chalata had picked up a handwritten manuscript from underneath the Bible.

“This is Genesis, in our modern language.”

“Oh, you’re updating it.”

“This Bible was translated for my ancestors four hundred years ago by the strangers who taught us about the true God.”

Chalata examined it more carefully.  “It’s well bound.  And what’s this?”

“The printer’s mark, my grandfather said.”

“It’s in old Tsetri.  This was printed and bound by Cirians.  They probably had equipment like ours in their flying machine.  So you would like to make a new translation into the current speech of Traitan?”

“So that all my people can read and understand it.”

“Oh Trak, that’s marvellous!  If only I had time to learn your language, and to help you!  You need someone to help you, who can understand the original languages in which the Bible was written.  I’ll see if I can find someone.  I’ll come back to you.”

“But we haven’t - ” Trak broke off.  Chalata had gone.

“When will the older golden-haired stranger come back?” asked Trak of Tsie, when she took away his tray after his midday meal.

“Not till after you’ve had a rest,” she said.  “Lie down now.  You are safe with us.”

But Trak could not rest.  Who were these strangers?  Why were they being kind to him?  What did they want to do for his people?  He had heard that they had a strange religion of their own.  Were they going to try to convert him, not by force or torture, but by kindness and cleverness?  Would he be able to stand against their arguments, their superior knowledge and intellect?  What would they tell him the original manuscripts of his Bible said?  Would it be the truth?  He was so weak and exhausted that he could hardly think clearly.  “O my Saviour, please help me to be faithful to You - to make a good and faithful translation of Your word.”

Not five minutes later, to Trak’s astonishment, Chalata bustled in, full of enthusiasm.  “This is quite wonderful.  There is someone who wants to help you, who can speak and understand the ancient Traitanish in which your Bible is written.  He also has copies of the manuscripts in the original languages, and he understands those languages.  The only strange thing about this man is that he is not a believer.  But he does want to help you and your people.  He is the one to whom you must teach your language.”

Trak looked round for this person.  Only Chalata stood in his cabin.

“Hail, Trak,” said a voice in his mind.  Trak started.

“This is Vielev, a friend of my friend on Cirian.”

“Hail, Vielev,” said Trak aloud.

“If thou thinkest thine answer, I can hear it,” replied Vielev.  “How dost thou express this in the parlance of this day?”

“If you think your answer, I can hear it,” thought Trak.  Vielev repeated this twice.

“If you get stuck, and can’t understand each other, call me to help,” said Chalata in Remsheth.

“What hath he spoken?” asked Vielev.

Trak held his head in both his hands.  Vielev got Chalata’s translation into Tsetri first.  “He’s only about 80% fit,” explained Chalata.

“I am torn,” said Trak.  “We very much want to update our translation, but this work is long, and I must return to my wife and baby.”

“You do not need to be here, in this flying machine, in order to complete this work.  Your doctor says you must stay here for three or four weeks before you will be able to walk home.  While you are here, I will be here to help you and Vielev understand each other.  By the time you are well enough to walk home, he should have learnt enough of your present day language to be able to carry on working with you without my help.  He will speak to you in your thoughts - it won’t make any difference where you are.  He can also speak to others with whom you speak, but they must be able to speak the language of Traitan.”

Trak looked dazed.

“You rest now,” said Chalata.  “I will talk to you again.”

Later on that afternoon, Ciecet came to see Trak, helped him have a bath, and took him back to his aired bed.  When he brought him some sona, Trak asked,

“Do you love Jesus?”

“That’s why I’m here to help you.”

“So that is why the golden-haired stranger wishes to help us update our translation of the Bible!”

“I think you will find that you will be helping Vielev make a new translation from the original languages into the present-day language of Traitan.”

“So why does Vielev need to speak ancient Traitanish?”

“So that he and you can understand each other.  He does not speak Remsheth.”

“So how does he speak to the golden-haired stranger?”

“Chalata speaks Vielev’s native language, Tsetri.”

“Oh, I see.  And Vielev wants to learn present-day Traitanish so that he can help me with the translation.”

“Yes, but there’s another reason.” Ciecet sat down.  “Your new leaders in Traitan have no political experience.  They want to help their people, but they may not always know how.  Vielev has a friend who is a leader on our world, who is able to give good counsel.  If Vielev can learn your language, he will be able to find out what is happening in your country, tell his friend, his friend will ask him to find out certain things, and then be able to tell Vielev what the leaders should do.  Then Vielev can put these good ideas into the leaders’ minds.  He will not force them to do these things, but he will tell them why they should, and try to persuade them not to do bad or foolish things.  And if they decide to do good things, he will be able to tell them how to do them.  He may also be able to tell the leaders if others, who make promises to the leaders, intend to keep their promises.  So he may ask you lots of unexpected questions.  Oh yes - if you are in danger while he is speaking with you, tell him.  He may be able to help you.”

“But he cannot stop someone from attacking me.”

“Oh yes he can, if that person speaks the language of Traitan.  If that person only speaks Remsheth, he would have to contact one of us.  But tell him, anyway.”

Ciecet rose to leave - but suddenly asked, “Who might attack you?”

“Some of the delegation of Traitanish priests, who came to the Roptoh before me.”

“Ah - they spoke to the Roptoh before you did?”

“Yes.  If only I had run a little faster!”

“It may be a good thing you did not.  Let’s make sure they know they spoke to him first.” And to Trak’s astonishment, the doctor sat down again, and his eyes went far away.  There was silence in the cabin.

“Good,” he said suddenly, making Trak jump.  “I thank God that He led me to read Abritis’ thoughts at the vital moment.”

“They might still attack me, out of spite.”

“I took care to tell them that the Roptoh’s reply has already been given to the priests of Traitan, and to their hosts.”

“Still - ”

“Well, true; but we’ve done what we can.  You drink up your sona.”

“But how can Vielev protect me, when he isn’t even there?”

“Hypnotism.  Believe me, I know; you don’t have to be there.  In some ways not being there is an advantage.  You don’t have to consider your own safety.  But you know as well as I do: God is our Rock and our Refuge, and there is no such thing as safety or security apart from Him, or outside His will.”

Trak nodded.  “Thank you. And - tell Chalata I will help his friend as much as I can.”

At the door Ciecet paused.  “You’re still anxious, Trak.  Ask me the questions that are troubling you.”

“Well - how can the golden-haired stranger ask an unbeliever to help translate God’s Word?”

Ciecet sat down again by Trak’s bed.  “On our world, there are many, many true Christians, and very few who think they are believers but are not.  These true Christians have earned the respect of the unbelievers by their lives.  This unbeliever, Vielev, does not speak with scorn of God’s word, or of the God Who caused it to be written.  He is a linguist, like Chalata - he is one of the students that Chalata taught.  He can read and understand the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written.  He may be an unbeliever, but he does have integrity.  He understands the great importance of a faithful translation to a believer like Chalata, who has made many translations of God’s Word into many different languages.  It is because Chalata is so busy with other work that he cannot help you with your translation.  The one person he knows who has the time and expertise is this former student Vielev, who is studying to be a teacher himself.  Vielev will understand what the words of Scripture mean on a certain level.  There will be many times when you will understand what they mean on a far deeper level.  Vielev will understand and respect this, but you must respect Vielev’s genuine scholarship.  Try to come to a translation that satisfies you both.  Remember, you need not try to explain the words to him; simply translate them faithfully.  God’s Holy Spirit will explain and apply them to those who read His word with faith.”

Ciecet looked searchingly at Trak.  He was still not quite convinced.

“Shall we pray together?” suggested Ciecet.  “For great wisdom for this translation work - and for God to use His word to save Vielev’s soul?”

It was the loved and familiar presence of his God while Ciecet prayed, that finally convinced Trak that these strangers were truly his brothers and sisters in Christ.  At last he could sleep in peace.

At the evening meal, Ciecet gave his report, and the strangers rejoiced.

“Oh, what a relief!” cried Yujip.

“What a relief for us, too,” said Shurzi.

“This is a blessed token of God’s faithful love,” said Wysau.  He knows what He will do, and He will reveal it to us in His time.  He knows all our weakness and our limitations - He will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear.”

“Go gently with Trak at first, please,” said Ciecet. “He’s a lovely Christian, and he’ll let you overwork him.  You and Vielev are both so keen, you could easily get carried away.”

“We both also have other commitments,” Chalata reminded him.

“Good,” said Wysau. “Right, here she is.  'Bye,” he called, going out.

“Wysau?” said Shimei, who had expected to be invited into the flying machine.

“I need to speak to your father,” he explained, taking her hand.

“Oh.  Well, good, for he wishes to speak to you - one of you, anyway.”

“Is it about his teaching Yujip?” asked Wysau, as they walked through the park.

“Not directly - about what is happening in Traitan.”

“In many ways I like your father.  He does care about people, in spite of having been brought up among nobility of a different race, who regarded the common people of this country as not much better than vermin.”

“And you are disappointed in his daughter?”

“No.  Now that you have the opportunity, you use it.  You were beginning to care before we returned.”

“So you did realize that remark was not from my heart?”

“When the pain of it had dulled a little - yes, my love, I did.” He kissed her hand.  “It hurt the more because I loved you.  But it was the sort of thing your grandparents would have expected you to say.  They would have laughed.”

“Oh I see!  I was in a social situation.  You understand me better than I do myself.”

They paused outside the Roptoh’s apartment.  “I’ll ask him if it is convenient.”

“Oh yes, bring him in,” said the Roptoh.  “Greetings, my son.”

Wysau greeted him in the manner of his own people.  While Shimei seated herself informally beside her mother, Wysau waited to be offered a seat, and for the Roptoh’s question.

“What is the situation in Traitan?”

“We don’t know much more than we told you before, except that the maritime people, who live in the north beyond the mountains, have not been affected by the famine, and used at one time to be a separate country.  They say it was the King and his nobles who conquered them.  Now that the King and his nobles are dead, and the monarchy has been abolished, they can reclaim their freedom.  The leaders in the capital of Traitan decided unanimously to send an army to reconquer them, and this has, for the moment, united the warring factions.”

“From whom did you hear this"

“From the Traitanish messenger who came to ask you not to give support to the priests of Traitan.”

“He was from Traitan, was he?  He said he represented some of our people who live near the border with Traitan.”

“He did; he came from just over the border, in Traitan.”

“Why did he come to you?”

“He collapsed in your park.  Ytazu found him, and he and Tsie looked after him till I arrived.  He has begun to teach his language to one of our people.”

“Ah, good.  So I need not come to teach Yujip.”

“He is a native speaker.  Our people always prefer to learn from a native speaker.  He has not lived in that part of Traitan for more than four years.  He used to live in the capital, but did not like the dust and bustle.

He has been farming the land he purchased from his wife’s grandfather.”

“He will want to go home.”

“We will let him go as soon as he is well enough to walk home.  Vielev, the person who is learning from him, is still on our world, and will talk to Trak in his thoughts.  He will still be able to learn from Trak on his way home, and when he is at home.  Vielev will help Trak to translate the Bible, our holy book, into modern Traitanish.”

“Trak wishes to do this?”

“He had already started before he met us.”

“So he must have had a copy of your holy book?”

“He knew our God, too.  We think that some of the space travellers who came to our world over four hundred years ago must have come to Yumelpthi too, four or five years later.  The very old holy book that the Traitanish messenger carried with him had a mark in it to say it was printed by our people.  Those space travellers did not go to their home; they stayed on our world to help us.  We also, in our library, have a copy of that same translation.  We also have a copy of a translation into the language of Wendei.”

“Wendei?” cried the Roptoa.  “Wendei was my father’s kingdom - now my brother’s.  I do not know of such a holy book.”

“Lost and forgotten, I expect,” said Wysau sadly.  “These translations were made about four hundred years ago.”

Abritis had just delivered some urgently-needed drugs to the surgery, and was walking back to the flying machine, when an emaciated man staggered out from a side road and collapsed in the street.  She ran to him.

“Doctor,” he murmured.  “Must see stranger doctor.”

Abritis called Wysau in his thoughts.  Together they half supported, half carried the man, and laid him down on one of the examination couches in the surgery.  They both had a very busy half-hour, not only diagnosing the trouble and giving the initial injections, but washing him down, disinfecting and treating his sores, and giving him a food-drink.

“Wherever he’s been, he’s been horribly neglected,” said Wysau.  “We can’t send him back there.” He consulted with Tsie.  “Will you come and stay in our flying machine till you are better?”

“Thank you, strangers - I will come,” he whispered, with tears in his eyes.

“He’ll have to be carried.”

Wysau returned to his other patients; Abritis organized eight sturdy twelve and thirteen year olds into carrying the man to the flying machine on a stretcher.  The young people put him straight into the bed Tsie had ready for him.  Gratefully he lay down and slept.

“I sent Trak to the other flying machine,” she explained to Abritis.  “He doesn’t need any supervision.”

It was Tsie who just happened to pop into Obek’s room to see if he was still asleep.  She found him restless and delirious.  She lifted one blanket off his upper half and left it folded over his feet and legs.  She felt his forehead and his hands, and marched resolutely into the other flying machine to see the doctor whose day off it was.

“I’m sorry, Ciecet,” she said.  “This is an emergency.”

He came and investigated.  “Help me set up a drip - glucose and salts.”

This done, he said, “Thanks, Tsie,” and sat, seemingly inactive, by his patient’s bedside.  He looked at his watch, opened a window and the door, so that a gentle breeze blew through the room.  He sat down again and watched his patient.  Gradually the fretting ceased, and Obek lay quietly.  Again he took his temperature, checked the drip, and left the room.

Ciecet came back for lunch with his doctor’s bag, and took Obek’s temperature again.  He set the drip to drip faster, and, with a certain grimness, he filled his syringe and injected.  After lunch he returned, took Obek’s temperature once more, replaced his drip bag with a full one, left a note for Wysau on his bedside cabinet, and, somewhat eased in his mind, went back to his own cabin in the other flying machine to rest.

For two hours Obek slept peacefully; then, gradually, his restlessness returned.  Ciecet was asleep; Wysau manned the surgery; Lintis was fully occupied with home visits.  Tsie, too, was very busy.  She was getting tired and irritable.  “This won’t do,” she said to herself sternly.  “I must be thankful and rejoice always.” So she put on one of the records Feor and Helen had recently made; its glorious music wafted into Obek’s room, caressing his ears and his spirit.  He lay still, resting and relaxing.  But soon, the music stopped.

For once. Wysau came back to the flying machine a little early, so that he could shower before the evening meal.  When he had done so, the meal was still not quite ready, and Lintis and Ciecet were not ready for it.  So Wysau went to see Obek.  He came out worried, to meet his colleagues coming in.

“Unconscious - temperature very high,” he reported to Ciecet, who accompanied Wysau into Obek’s room.  Obek was restless; he murmured to himself in a language they did not understand.

“His next injection’s due,” said Wysau.  “Do you think we ought to try a different antibiotic?”

“Dinner’s ready,” called Tsie, and she put on the other side of Feor and Helen’s record.  Wysau sat down by Obek’s bed and prayed.  Ciecet silently seconded his request.  Wysau opened his eyes, and they both looked at Obek.  Ciecet placed a practised hand on Obek’s forehead.  Obek seemed a little cooler; his breathing was deeper and more regular.  Wysau injected again.  The doctors smiled at each other, and went for their meal.

“No, Wysau, I wouldn’t change the antibiotic again,” said Ciecet as they ate.  “These nasty infections are often like this.  Just keep going patiently, with six-hourly injections, and the drip; he’ll pull through.”

Yet they were still concerned.  That evening they prayed for Obek; Ciecet gave him a cool blanket bath before they went to bed, and Wysau got up at midnight and six in the morning to give him his injections, and see to his drip.

Half-way through the next morning, when Tsie popped in th check that Obek was all right, he opened his eyes and asked sleepily,

“What’s this in my arm?”

Tsie explained.  “You have been very ill.”

“Twice I had a strange dream,” said Obek.  “I was on the bank of a dark river, and on the other side there were dark flames, and cries of despair.  Something was drawing me into the river - then music came, heavenly music, and I was drawn back again.”

“God has had mercy on you.”

“So you know what my illness is.”

“Yes, and we want you either to be chaste, or else marry a healthy woman, and be faithful to her.”

“I am not allowed to marry.”

“Couldn’t we teach you a trade, so that you could leave the priesthood and marry?”

Obek looked thoughtful.

“We’ll talk about it to you again.”

When Tsie took Obek his breakfast the next morning, he was trying to remember a tune.  “The music in my dream,” he said.

“You did not know it?”

“No.  And I need it.”

“Why?” asked Tsie gently.

“Because of the dark flames.”

Tsie went away and put on a record.

“That’s it! One of the two I heard.  Oh, thank you, Tsie.”

Tsie went on with her work.  When she came back with a drink for Obek, he was trembling with fright.

“The dark flames again?”

“I cannot forget.  I keep telling myself it was only a dream.”

“The music was real.  That was how I knew which music it was.” Tsie brought her Bible, and read about the lake of fire.

“This is no comfort,” cried Obek.

“I want to give you solid comfort,” said Tsie.  “But first of all, you must see your danger.  Your dreams were a warning, Obek.  God is opening your eyes to see your danger, so that you will call to Him to save you from it.  Remember what I read:

“Those whose names were not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life were thrown into the lake of fire.” Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (the Sacrifice of atonement that God accepted), writes His disciples’ names in His Book of Life, and He told them to rejoice because their names were written in Heaven.  His disciples did sin.  One of them denied that he knew Christ.  But, because Christ was Himself that Sacrifice that atoned for all our sin, that disciple was forgiven - and we, too, can be forgiven.  But we must be truly sorry for our sin, and we must believe that Christ died for our sin, and that His Father, the almighty Creator, raised Christ from the dead to show everyone that He, the Father, accepted His Son’s perfect sacrifice as full payment for all our sin.”

Obek stared at Tsie.  “Comfort!” he cried bitterly.  “This is comfort - to find the flames are real, the holy God is real, and He will throw me into those flames!”

“Unless,” said Tsie.  “Listen, Obek - you would have died if you had not crawled out and called out.”


“If I had not played that music.”


“If the doctors had not bathed you, and given you medicine, and put a tube in your arm.  God is merciful - He wants to save you - but you must meet His conditions.  You haven’t got to offer a sacrifice.  It is like crawling out and calling out.  You have to go to Him and beg Him for mercy, because Jesus has died in your place.  You don’t have to go anywhere - you can call to Him from your bed in this cabin.  He is everywhere - He will hear you, if you truly believe and are really sorry.”

Tsie went to the door of the flying machine.  Yes- she had thought someone was there!  It was Fsuub’s nephew’s wife.  Tsie opened the door.  “Do come in,” she called.

“Thank you,” said her visitor in a rather subdued tone, and in she came, giving Tsie a sad smile.  Her eyes were red.

“Would you like some sona?” asked Tsie hospitably.

“Yes, please.”

“With blue fruit juice?”

“Thank you.”

Tsie went to get it - and remembered.  “Obek,” she called, then, more quietly, explained the situation.  “Could you see to the midday meal, please?  You are feeling well enough?”

“Oh yes.  No problem.”

Tsie brought two glasses of sona and sat down comfortably by her guest.  “Now you tell me all about it.”

“My husband has just had our mansion repainted and refurbished.  He wanted to commission an artist to paint a picture of it - it is what the nobility do.  But when he was discussing this with his steward, the steward said he would have to wait till the next six months’ rents from his tenants were due, as his coffers were empty.  He was furious - you see, I had paid the painters and contractors for their work, but he would have made them wait three months.  He is so angry that he is even talking about divorcing me.”

“Why did you pay them?”

“Because they begged me - they said they needed the money.  They had completed the work to my husband’s satisfaction.  He had not told me he did not want them to be paid yet - ” and she burst into tears afresh.

Tsie asked, “What sort of pictures are they, that the nobles have painted of their mansions?”

Her guest dried her eyes.  “Exactly like the mansion - correct in every detail.  Quite big, too.” She tried to stifle the sobs that would come.  Tsie put a motherly arm round her.

“Hush,” she said.  “Your husband may be angry because his pride is hurt, but all the wives of the painters and the workmen whom you paid will be blessing you, because there is food on their tables for their families.  God hears and sees all this; He will help you.”

At lunchtime Tsie thanked Obek, and said to Mosu,

“I hear you’re clever with a camera.”

“It’s a double act, really,” said Mosu.  “I take the pictures, but Yujip does the developing and printing.  Would you like some pictures?  It’s both our days off tomorrow.”

“How big do you want the pictures to be?” asked Yujip.

“You wouldn’t mind?”

“Mind?” asked Yujip.  “I’d enjoy it.”

“Ages since we’ve done any,” agreed Mosu.

So, next morning, after another terrible threat, Fsuub’s nephew’s wife heard her husband in their Park, talking to a stranger.  She looked out - and there was a very tall golden-haired stranger, pointing a strange machine on three tall legs at their mansion.  He then moved the machine further away, to point it at their mansion from a different angle.  Four times this was done - and the tall stranger went away.

Later on that afternoon, her husband came to her apartment.  She trembled - did he have a solicitor, to draw up her certificate of divorce?  But no - he called her by her first name, a mark of favour he rarely bestowed.

“Come and sit down, and look at these pictures with me.”

There were five different pictures of his mansion; good pictures, every one of them.  All the details were sharp and clear; every proportion was exactly right - and one of them even showed him in front, at one side.

“Now the strangers said they had wanted to do something for me, ever since I gave that land to the Princess Shimei, and she gave it to them for the hospital.  So when they heard from you that I would like a picture of my mansion, one of them came to take some.  He says we can keep all these, and one of them he will make bigger - much bigger, this size - ” and he unrolled a piece of paper, and spread it out - “and he gives us the choice: which one would we like?”

His wife knew that he wanted to know which one would be considered the best by her noble relatives, so she considered each picture carefully from that angle.

“Husband,” she asked thoughtfully, “would you like a picture such as is most like what my father has, or would you like one that is different?”

“What do you mean?”

“This one is most like what my father has,” she said, showing him one, “but this one, with you in it, is different.  It is a good picture of you.  None of my relatives has one like this, with the owner in the picture, though I once heard my uncle saying that he would have liked that, but the artist would have charged another hundred quen, and made him stand still for twenty minutes to be drawn.”

“Which uncle was this?”

“My uncle Trentanz.”

“Oh,” said her husband.  He was her father’s eldest brother, the richest and most noble of all her relatives.  He looked again at the picture, with his picture included.  It was an excellent picture.  It showed him at his best.  It showed his mansion, too, in the morning sunlight, its new paint shining, its windows sparkling, the sky blue above it.  If only - if only that curve of his fat stomach was not so visible.  But he did not say this, not even to his wife.

Yujip sat at his computer, carefully painting out that curve of Fsuub’s nephew’s abdomen.  “I must admit,” he thought, “that he does look better without it - though nothing would induce him to make the necessary dietary adjustments to be rid of it for real.  There - that’s fine.  Now, let’s print it out.”

Later, he and Mosu discussed the frame, and came up with a handsome gilt one that no-one on Cirian had wanted, because they considered it too ornate.

“How can I thank you, Tsie!” wept Fsuub’s nephew’s wife.  “He actually kissed me, he was so delighted.  I don’t really understand - it was something about the picture.”

Tsie smiled to herself, and hugged her visitor.

“God helped us,” she said, “to make it right for him.”

“It’s a family tree,” said Chalata from his seat in front of the screen.

“What?” asked Janita.

“The parchment in that bottle - you know, the one Yujip’s workmen found in the silted-up bank of the river.  The last entries were made over two hundred years ago, but the beginning was copied from another that went back to a much earlier date.  Unfortunately, neither Feor nor I can work out what some of the words in the beginning bit mean.  But later, by the second to last entry, there is a reference to “the conquest of the sea people”, whatever that means.  That’s obviously meant to give some idea of the date.  Feor says he can’t remember being taught any history that went back before the conquest of Remgath by his great - great - however many it is - grandfather.  So, if we could work out what some of the older words mean, it would be a document of great historical value.”

“Think of Trak’s Cirian-printed Bible,” said Janita.

“They might have done a translation into Remsheth, too, you mean?  I’ll ask Vielev to investigate.”

“He seems bright enough,” said Abritis as she laid the table.

“And willing,” said Tsie.  “You get no rubbish about women’s work from him.  He did lots of little jobs on the flying machine while he was convalescing.”

“Who are you talking about?” asked Ytazu as he came in.

“Obek,” said his wife.

“Not strong enough for heavy work,” he said, and went to wash his hands before lunch.

“He won’t make a carpenter,” said Darte.  “Did you hear?”

“Wysau told us all about it,” said Abritis.  “He hammered a nail straight through his thumb.  Lintis made a wonderful job of his thumbnail, and now his hands are as graceful and supple as ever.”

“He has good hands,” said Darte.  “You’d have thought he would be clever with them - but - I tried him with bricklaying on Monday morning.  He put too much mortar between the bricks.  I did tell him, but he didn’t seem to understand.  He got a whole row out of alignment.  I was quite relieved to hand him over to Shurzi to see if he’d make an electrician.”

“That would be good,” said Ytazu.  “Most of our trainees are so scared of electricity that they either can’t take in what Shurzi teaches them, or simply refuse to work with it.”

“He was getting on reasonably well yesterday,” said Thilish, who had come in with Wysau.  “Shurzi is checking his work now.  He says, please don’t wait for them; they’ll come as soon as they can.”

Chalata gave thanks for the meal, and all present began to eat.

“I am sorry,” Obek was saying as he came in with Shurzi.

“Never mind,” said Shurzi.  “You did your best.”

“Won’t it be dangerous?”

“No, you haven’t done anything dangerous.”

“Do sit down - here’s your meal, Obek, and yours, Shurzi.”

“Thanks, Tsie.  No, not dangerous, just confusing.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Darte.

“Well, if you switch on the main light in the dining room, the side lights come on.  If you switch the light on in the scullery, it goes off; and if you try to heat the water in the shower without turning the light on in the bathroom, the water heater doesn’t work.”

“Oh,” said Ytazu, trying not to smile.  Wysau nearly choked on a mouthful, and had to be thumped on the back by Mosu.  Thilish had a fit of coughing.  Abritis and Darte exchanged a glance, which was too much for both of them.  Suddenly the whole group of strangers was laughing uproariously.

“Don’t worry, Obek,” said Abritis.  “We haven’t had a good laugh in days, and laughter’s a tonic to weary people!”

After the meal, the others went to their work.  As Obek still seemed downcast, Tsie got him to help her stack the washing-up machine.  There was a knock on the door of the flying machine.  Tsie went to answer.

“Hello, Feor, come in.”

He remained in the porch.  “I mustn’t be long - I must get back to Helen.  But I was wondering if you knew of a good singer - we need one for our next record.”

“Well,” said Tsie, slowly, “none of our team sing well - not to your standard - ah, Obek, I heard you singing yesterday morning.”

“Sing me something,” said Feor.

Obek sang a verse of a hymn he had learnt on the flying machine.

“You meant that, didn’t you?” observed Feor.

Obek nodded, with feeling.

“Helen said God would provide,” said Feor.  “Come with me.”

That evening the Roptoh and Roptoa were out at a dinner party, and Feor and Shimei had invited Wysau to join them at their evening meal.

“Wherever did you get hold of that musician from Traitan?” asked Feor.  “He was exactly what we wanted.  I had expected to spend twenty minutes teaching him his notes, but he picked up the music and sang it over correctly first time.  He even sang it in the correct key.  He sang it better the second time, with more expression, so we tried to fit his song in with the accompaniment and my trie.  He kept his part perfectly.  It was one of the speediest recording sessions we’ve ever had.”

“So I asked him for help with my accompaniment for another tune,” said Helen.  “He made suggestions, but I couldn’t follow him - his Remsheth isn’t good.  Feor had to translate.  And I still didn’t know how to play it as he wanted, so I got up and asked him to play.  He played beautifully, and wrote it all down for me.  Did you really like it, though, Feor?  You couldn’t very well say you didn’t, while he was there.”

“I did.  It took a little getting used to - it isn’t like my mother’s accompaniments, and his touch isn’t as delicate as yours.  I find he plays too loudly.  I liked it much better when you played it, my love.  But I asked Tsie for a singer, and she certainly sent a good one.  He can sight-sing, and he has perfect pitch.”

Shimei had to explain these terms, but when Wysau understood, he was impressed.

“But where did he learn all this?” asked Feor.  “And why did he come here from Traitan?  He isn’t a nobleman’s son, who has escaped from the carnage there?”

“He may be the younger son of a nobleman.  He came with the priestly embassy, who asked your father for military aid.”

“He what?!  Those scoundrels!”

“They left him behind, when they went to see your father, because he was ill,” continued Wysau - then stopped.  Feor was too angry to listen.

“The scoundrels who incited the people to murder my sister!  How could you harbour one on your flying machine?”

“He came to us to be healed,” said Wysau.  “We don’t ask patients what they believe or whether they have lived clean lives - we treat them.”

Feor sat down again, still fuming.

“Wysau went to treat Prynoh, you know, brother,” intervened Shimei.  “Prynoh sent men to kill Wysau, but he is still willing to treat him.  And the men who went to kill him are now good workmen, helping us to build the annexes to the hospital.”

“Prynoh did not succeed,” said Feor through clenched teeth.  His countenance was set and brooding.

“We did require this priest to give us a solemn undertaking that he would not again indulge in sexual immorality, because of the nature of his disease.”

“It’s easy enough to do that.”

“He would not at first, because his priesthood requires him not to marry.  That was why he was willing to be trained for a trade, so that he could renounce his vows and marry.”

“I know that lazy crew - won’t do a stroke of work.”

“He has while he’s been on the flying machine,” said Wysau.  “He’s been rather a disaster as a workman, but he’s done women’s work for Tsie fairly well.”

“He does women’s work?!" cried Feor, in amazement.

“He does - he’s - ” Wysau broke off.  They waited.  “He’s helping Tsie to stack the washing-up machine,” reported Wysau.  “She’s asking him to bake some savoury bites for her tomorrow morning, to see how he gets on.”

“By all means make a baker of him,” said Feor coldly, “but don’t send him to me again.”

Tsie brought in drinks at a quarter to eleven as usual.  Shurzi and Thilish, whose day off it was, both stayed to chat to Chalata and Feor, but Tsie and Ytazu took their drinks into the kitchen.

“I thought you said you had to wire up some of the rooms in the Palace again,” said Chalata to Shurzi.

“I thought I would have to - but Akka did it for me.  It took him all yesterday afternoon and most of the evening, but everything is right.  He’s done a beautiful job.”

“I thought he’d refused to work with electricity.”

“He had.  He only did it so that I could have my day off.  He was delighted at my praise - he’s not afraid any more, but he will be careful.  I could bless Obek for making such a muddle.”

The door opened, and Tsie came in with a plateful of steaming savoury bites.

“Hot bites!  My!  You are spoiling us, Tsie.  Thank you.”

The savoury aroma tempted Feor too.  His bite had a crisp outside, a soft inside and a tasty filling.

“These are good,” said Shurzi.

Feor wondered if he would have enjoyed his bite even more if he had not felt separated from the strangers because of Obek.  No-one had said anything about Feor’s refusal to see him; no-one had treated Feor with any less warmth or respect; yet Feor felt a barrier that had not been there before.  Chalata treated him, if anything, more gently than usual.

“I want you to go back a little earlier today,” he said.  “And remember, Feor, if I can help, if you want to talk, please feel free to ask.”

Feor went back to the Palace feeling that if he could talk to any of the strangers, it would be Chalata.  But there was Helen, his own beautiful Helen, ready and waiting for him, with eyes of love for him - but still there was that barrier.

Why should it be a barrier between Helen and himself?  Helen’s position depended on his.  She had been good to Ruha - they had had good talks together.  She had written to Ruha, and Ruha had sent a special letter to her two sisters, Shimei and Helen.

Helen was loving to him; she uttered not a word of reproach, but there was a sadness in her, as if she were disappointed in him.  It cut at his heart.  At the midday meal, Shimei noticed Feor’s poor appetite.  Afterwards, instead of staying with Helen, he paced around the Palace corridors.


It was Shimei.  “Feor, can I help?  You seemed distressed at the meal, and Helen wasn’t herself this morning.  Would you like to talk to one of the strangers?”

“No,” said Feor.  “They wouldn’t understand.  Ruha wasn’t their sister.”

“Helen’s sad about Ruha, too,” said Shimei.  “I’m sure she shares our grief.  That shouldn’t divide you two, or cause problems between you.  I wish it had drawn Father and I closer.  I wish I could be close to him, as I used to be.  But there is a barrier between us now.”

“That’s understandable - he’s not a Christian, and you are.”

“So what’s the barrier between you and Helen?”

“I can’t understand why she should agree with the strangers about this priest.”

“Have you discussed it with her?”

“She hasn’t said a word about it.”

“She’ll only discuss it if you ask her.”

“I don’t ask her because I know what she’ll say.  She’ll say that Jesus said that if we don’t forgive other people for the sins they have committed against us, then our Heavenly Father will not forgive us for our sins against Him.  But there is a place for justice, Shimei!  Should those murderers in Traitan not be punished for the wholesale slaughter they committed?  Even little children were murdered!”

“If you could set up a law court and try people for these crimes, who would you try?”

“The High Priest and his cronies, who incited the people to revolt; the revolutionaries who shouted for their blood; the soldiers who dragged them out and drove them to their place of execution - ”

“Would you try all the priests in the monasteries, who had no say in the policy making? and the musical brothers who chant in the services, and who probably have little contact with the people?  I expect Obek was a choirmaster.  I expect they have the same general organization as here in our country.”

“I listen to you, sister, because she was your sister too; because you treated her, and talked to her, and helped her far more than I ever did.  But how can those strangers - ”

“It wasn’t me who helped Ruha at first - it was Wysau who healed her.  I only did what Wysau said for love of him.  And did you know that Wysau warned Father about the danger of revolution in Traitan before Ruha was betrothed to Prince Kwishe?”

“I hope you’re not trying to lay the blame on Father?”

“No, no, of course not,” said Shimei.  “All I’m trying to say is - ”

“You women,” interrupted Feor, “you don’t see the danger.  You don’t see that the strangers won’t help us to keep our position or our wealth - they merely want to save our lives, and the lives of the people.  They love the people as they love us, and their God is like them, or rather, they are like Him.  We can’t expect justice from Him, or the upholding of our just and legal rights.” And Feor paced angrily away down the corridor.

In spite of the barrier between them, Feor’s feet carried him, half against his will, back to his beloved Helen.

“Helen, my love,” he said, “have I displeased you?”

“Only in that you have displeased God.  I have nothing against you myself - nothing at all.  I hope I have not displeased you.”

“Not at all - only that I cannot understand why there is a barrier between us because the strangers are so kind to that Traitanish priest.”

“Feor, we have been very close, partly - well, largely - because we both love our God.  If you refuse to keep one of His commandments, that sin is a barrier between you and God, and a barrier between you and others who love Him.  Why do you think it is wrong that the strangers should be good to Obek, especially as he has become one of God’s people?”

“Because he was one of those who incited the people of Traitan to revolt.  Oh, I suppose you’ll say that he personally had little to do with it.  But why does God allow mass murders like that?”

“Why does God allow suffering of any sort?  Because we are all sinners, Feor - if God were only just and righteous, He would send us all to Hell - we all deserve it.  All the good things He gives to us on this earth are from His mercy alone.  We don’t deserve any of them.”

“So if there were revolution here tomorrow, and we were to be executed the next day, you’d still say we deserved it?”

“Yes.  And, just think, Feor, if that did happen - you and I, and the Roptoa, I think, would all go straight to Heaven to be with God.  And there’d be no more crying, or pain; and we’d meet Ruha there, and Kwishe, I think; and we’d all be standing around God’s throne, rejoicing in Him - and would we have deserved it?”

“And where will Obek be when he dies?”

“In heaven with God - and with us.  So we must forgive him.  But think where all the other priests will be, unless they repent!  Where many of those who executed the royal family of Traitan may be already.”


“Think of the fighting in the capital city between the priests’ army and the Republicans.  Those who executed the royal family were in the capital, and that was where the fighting was at its most fierce.  They may not all be, yet; but they will all be in Hell one day, unless they repent.  God is just, Feor; they will suffer for their sin in the next life, if they don’t in this, and we have no idea of how dreadful the sufferings of Hell are.”

“All right.  So God does punish sin.  But why did He allow the entire royal family of Traitan to be executed?  Ruha died - even little motherless Kwesha was brutally murdered.  And Ruha was one of His own people.”

“Where is she now?” Helen’s voice broke, and she wept.  “Jesus never promised His disciples an easy life.  He said, “In this world you will have tribulation.” But if Foquar had never come, would you have accepted Christ as your Saviour?”

For the moment, Helen could say no more.  She found a handkerchief, and wept silently.  Feor thought back - he remembered how he had told Shimei he didn’t want to go on helping the strangers.  He had not wanted the strangers’ God, nor to read any more of their holy Book - no, not until he was facing death.  Prince Kwishe, too, only turned to his Saviour when threatened by the axe.

“But why, once we are His people, do we still suffer?”

Helen dried her tears.  “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I have kept Your word,” she quoted.

“But what had the royal family of Traitan done that was so wrong, that made the people rise against them?  I thought the King was a wise man, like my father.”

“If it had not been for the famine, I don’t suppose the priests’ encouragement would have been enough to make the people revolt.  You and I don’t know what it’s like to be hungry - never to have enough to eat, day after day after day.  God cares about poor, hungry people who have to work hard every day, just as much as He cares about the rich.  Listen to this, from Isaiah chapter 58 - and here God is speaking to rich men, who kept the religious observances that God required of them merely as a formality.  God says,

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen:

Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?  When you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from the needs of your own flesh and blood?

If you take away from your midst yokes of oppression - as the strangers did when they did not allow the contractors they hired to whip their workmen - and every form of false, harsh, unjust and wicked speaking - ”

“As you did when you came, my lovely Helen,” he said.  “You taught me to be gentle with the servants.”

“God requires us to satisfy the needs of the afflicted.  Just think how much the strangers have done to help the people in the capital.  But there are thousands in your land who have great needs.”

“If you satisfy the need of the afflicted . . . you shall be like a watered garden - ” oh, Helen, the dew!”

“God keeps His word, Feor.”

“But how can I satisfy their needs?”

“You had those laws repealed, remember?”

“Yes, though it was Father who moved their repeal in the House.”

“Another part of the promise reads, “The Lord shall guide you continually.” Ask God to show you how to satisfy those needs.  He can see right into your heart.  If He can see that you truly wish to keep His command, He will show you how.  Don’t rush into anything without proper thought and consultation.”

Feor sat down - but then got up again, and paced round restlessly.  “It’s no good.  Before I do anything else, or think of being able to help others, I must first ask God to forgive me - for never going to see Ruha - for trying to forget about her - and for conde

mning Obek when I’m a sinner myself.”

“They won’t work the metal on the surface of the mountain,” reported Shurzi.  “They won’t even mine it.”

“Then what’s this?” asked Chalata, holding up some wire.  “How do you know it’s so suitable?”

“There are two men who will mine and refine it,” explained Darte.  “One of them is an overseer in his own shop - he made this wire for us.  He will cast it into pipes as well.  The second man works for him.  You see, Wysau healed the overseer’s son, after all the priests’ prayers, and his sacrifices, availed nothing.  It is the priests who tell them the metal is sacred and must not be mined or used.  This overseer now thinks all gods are figments of the imagination, unable to do good or evil - that the first Roptoh of Remgathishboh overthrew the people who built the rediscovered building simply because he had a bigger army.  The others believe the priests, who say that they were conquered because the gods were angry with them for using their sacred metal.”

“We have enough to wire up the Palace,” said Mosu, “and will have enough for the hospital - but how we’re going to have enough to wire up all the houses, and make pipes to take clean water to those new houses, I really don’t know.”

“This sacred metal is very much cheaper to mine,” said Shurzi, “as well as being easier to work.  It’s practically on the surface - this is why it’s workmen to cast pipes who are most desperately needed.  We can afford to have this metal mined.  The one they usually use is three times as expensive, and mining it is becoming dangerous.”

“Ah,” said Chalata.

So they prayed.  It seemed to Chalata that they were not praying aright.  Then other team members arrived, and not knowing the original reason for the prayer meeting, began to pray for revival instead.  One by one Yujip, Mosu, Darte and Shurzi prayed for revival too.  When they ceased, after praising God that He was going to answer, their faces were shining with joy.  Then it struck Shurzi that when revival came there would be more, Christian, workmen who would willingly mine and work that metal.

“So God is going to work fairly soon,” concluded Chalata.  “But we must put His kingdom first.”

Abritis was still busy making medicines in her laboratory, and Emlota was busy washing up and sterilizing, when they heard a knock, and a loud, angry voice arguing at the patient Tsie.  Abritis looked up - and looked at Emlota.  She seemed calm, but when Abritis read her thoughts -

“Oh no!” she was thinking, “that’s Father!”

“I thought your father knew you worked here,” said Abritis.

“My stepmother does - but please don’t say so.”

Abritis felt cold inside.  “I must go and apologize.  I ought to have made sure you had his permission.  Are you willing to go with him? or will he hurt you?”

“He won’t hit me, but he will make me very miserable.”

“What is his name?”

Oh yes, he was a nobleman, all right.  Abritis prayed briefly, and went in humility.

“Don’t get too upset, my dear,” comforted Tsie.  “Read his thoughts.”

“Oh,” said Abritis, when she had done so.  “So he did take it in, when I said I had no idea she was not coming home in the evenings.  No, I don’t think he intends to put the case into the hands of a lawyer tonight.” She sighed.  “But Tsie, what shall I do?  Whatever will Darte say?  I’ve brought shame on our mission - shame on God’s holy Name.”

“Abritis.” Emlota had come.  “Father won’t bother to take the case to court, because they’ll ask for how long I’ve been working for you.”

“Over a month,” lamented Abritis, “and I still hadn’t checked up on you.”

“Then the judge will say, “She was away from home for a whole month before you made any attempt to find her.” Father won’t want to spend money bribing the lawyer and the judge to win his case.  Father hates spending money.  Didn’t you notice that he said he would allow me to go on working for you if I gave him half my wages for my keep?”

“I hardly heard that,” said Abritis, brightening.

“I did,” said Tsie.

“So you can go on working for me?”

“You’re really pleased?”

“Of course I am!  Emlota, you’re a treasure.  But I am sorry to have got you into trouble.”

Emlota looked at Tsie in puzzlement.  “But I got myself into trouble with my father!  It wasn’t anything to do with you.”

“Darte won’t see it like that.  He did remind me to check up on you.”

That evening, after the meal, Lintis and Ciecet went to see Chalata privately.

“Please don’t be hard on Abritis,” begged Lintis.

“We’ve been overworking her scandalously,” said Ciecet.  “She’s been producing three times the quantity of medicines that would be expected of a chemist on Cirian, for the past five weeks.”

“I did become concerned,” said Lintis, “so I did random quality checks three times.  Each time I couldn’t fault her.  Emlota must be doing an excellent job.  I felt there wasn’t any point in saying anything - nothing was going wrong that I knew of, and I didn’t see what could be done about the situation.”

“There is a continuing - probably increasing - need of medicines?”

“We are winning the confidence of these people,” said Ciecet.  “New patients are coming to us every day.”

“Because I feel what Abritis needs is a week’s rest,” said Chalata.

“She does, but you’d never persuade her to take it,” said Lintis with cconviction.

“She would feel terrible,” said Ciecet.

“Which is all to her credit,” agreed Chalata.  “And she’s been taking her turn in watching the underground meetings.”

There was a knock on the door, and Janita entered, closing the door behind her.  Chalata began summarizing:

“Emlota never lied to Abritis.  Abritis simply didn’t ask - she was under pressure, and she didn’t make the time.  She still is under a great deal of pressure.  Oh, Ciecet, could you ask Darte to come?”

They waited till he arrived, and Chalata repeated the beginning of his summary.  “She’s also lonely in her work.  While she is working, she has no contact with any team member, or anyone at all except Emlota.”

Darte frowned.

“She has to do all the thinking for herself and Emlota.  Emlota turned up - Abritis did no recruiting.  And for a chemist with such a heavy workload, Abritis has begun her training very well.”

“She still should have checked up on her.”

“Agreed, but . . . " Chalata nodded to Lintis, who outlined the medical situation.

“I didn’t realize quite how much pressure she was under,” said Darte.

“And I don’t see what we can do about it,” said Chalata.  “Sending Emlota away will only make matters worse.  Besides, she now has her father’s permission to continue, provided that she gives him half her wages for her bed and board.”

“That won’t sound very good in court,” said Darte, “from his point of view.”

“He couldn’t win a case against us fairly, but there’s always bribery.”

The next day, when Emlota came to work, Abritis looked at her.  “What did your father say?”

“Not much.”

They both got on with their work.  Lunch time came.



“Shall I bring both our lunches in here?”

“Are you sure you want to?”

“Yes,” said Abritis firmly.

“Father doesn’t care about me.  He didn’t even notice I wasn’t at home.  He only wanted me because a suitor has come for me.  I don’t like him at all.  But Father insists I remain at home in the evenings, to entertain this suitor when he comes to dinner.  If he asks for me formally, Father says he will make me marry him.”

“I see.” There was silence.  Abritis was checking up.  Emlota looked at her, and saw her raise her eyebrows.  “Emlota dear, let’s bring this to the Creator of the universe.  He knows all about us, and about our troubles, and He overrules all things according to His will.  But He likes us to tell Him, and trust our cause to Him.”

Emlota didn’t understand this - this clever stranger talking to her God as if He were her close friend.  She called Him her Heavenly Father.  Emlota wished she had a father who cared about her.

The next day, Emlota looked more thoughtful.

“Has something happened?”

“My parents had a first-class row.  Mother is moving out today, back to her flat above the shop.  She said I could come with her if I liked.  Father shouted at her for saying that, but she said she would like me to come.  “She’s a working girl,” she said, “and I shall be a working woman.  Thanks to your mismanagement, the shop’s not doing so well, and I have to sack the manager you appointed and take over myself.  We shall both be working women, who like a bit of quiet when we get home in the evening, and an early night.  But I’d like a bit of company, too - it’s not proper for a woman to live alone.”"

“I am sorry to have caused all this trouble.”

“You haven’t.  Mum and Dad never did get on.  It’s going to be much better now.  Mum’s stopped screaming at Father, and moaning about how miserable she is.  She’s made up her mind to get on with her life, and not allow Father to stop her.  She’ll make that shop pay again within a fortnight, you’ll see.”

“It might take a bit longer,” said Abritis mildly, “but I do see what you mean.” She gave no advice, as it was not asked for.  She simply prayed and waited.

A few mornings later, for the first time, Emlota arrived late, and yawned.  She broke a test tube, and burst into tears.  Abritis helped to clear up.

“The suitor stayed late,” she sobbed.  “I had a row with Father.  I couldn’t sleep.  I’m moving out tonight, to Mother’s flat.”

“Just take things very slowly,” advised Abritis.

Abritis had to work late that evening.  She never heard of Darte’s concern for her, or of Lintis’ remark:

“She’d have been working later than this, every night for the past six weeks, without Emlota.”

Darte quietly helped her to go to bed early.  She thought he still disapproved of her, that he was dreadfully worried about the possible court case; so she could not share her hopes and fears about Emlota.  But Abritis, like Emlota that night, was so tired that she slept long and well.

The next morning, all went well; it was not till lunchtime that Emlota’s father came, demanding his daughter.  Emlota went outside with him, but would not go out of earshot of the flying machine.  When she had a chance to speak, she said,

“You said, two nights ago, that if I would not obey you in the matter of this marriage, I could get out from under your roof.  So I got out.  Why are you complaining?”

“I’ll have the law on those strangers!”

“It’s nothing to do with the strangers.  Abritis is my employer, that is all.  She doesn’t tell me what to do outside my working hours.”

“You’re coming home with me.”

“Father, I have work to do.  I do not wish to lose a good job with good prospects.  She’ll train me to be a chemist like herself, and I shall earn good money.”

“I’ll disinherit you, you rebellious baggage!”

“Your money is your own, Father, and you may do with it as you think fit.”

He tried to grab her arm, growling, “You’re coming home with me!” But she twisted out of his grasp, and moved back towards the flying machine, saying,

“If you disinherit me, you renounce your claim on me.”

He followed, and raised his hand to strike - but she ducked, and walked back into the flying machine.  A very worried Abritis met her.

“I’m all right, honestly - oh - it is good to know somebody cares about me!”

But that night Abritis said to her husband,

“He went to his lawyer; they discussed the case; the lawyer pointed out the flaw in it, but he bribed the lawyer.  He’s determined to marry Emlota to this rich boy, and he doesn’t mind how much it costs.  Oh Darte, I am sorry!”

“Trak,” said Ciecet, “why is there a famiine in your country?”

“The rains failed - both the early and late rains, for the past two years.  People have wells, but they ccan only dig till they reach the rock.  No-one can dig into the rock.  There is no water left above the rock.”

“Oh,” said Mosu, “the water table has fallen because there has been no rain?”

“I have never heard that expression before,” said Trak; so Mosu had to explain.

“Darte will have to teach you how to drill through the rock.  What power could you use?  Have you any windmills?”

“Yes, plenty.  Many are idle because there is so little grain to grind into flour.”

“Then you can use that power to drive your drill,” said Yulip.

Trak pondered.  “I can understand that there is power from a windmill, but how can you make it drill?”

“Darte will give you plans and diagrams,” said Mosu.

Three days later, early on a Monday morning, Trak said goodbye.  “Thank you for my food and lodging, healthy feet, for these vitamin pills for my wife - ”

“And you,” said Wysau.

“For teaching me how to show my people how to get water - and living water, too,” he continued, waving his bag of papers.

“Bless you!” said Chalata.

Ciecet hugged Trak.

“Vielev will give us news of you,” said Chalata.  “Pray for us - we will pray for you.”

Mosu, Lintis and Yulip said goodbye with affection, but it was Ciecet who had to brush away a tear.  As Trak walked away, he went inside quickly and busied himself with packing his bag ready for surgery that morning.

Three and a half weeks had passed - nearly four weeks - since the Roptoh had given the nobles their warning.  Those nobles had continued their ruthless treatment of all but their particular favourites among their servants and workmen.  This was resented ever more bitterly as the days passed.  The thought-readers’ watching and subtle intervention became more and more important as resentment grew even against the strangers, in spite of their diligent labours to improve the people’s lot.  And still there was no answer to their prayer about the nobles.  Slowly, carefully, the ancient building was being unearthed - but, by then, not even Ytazu attached much importance to it.  The one thing they had to cling to was their obedience to their dear Lord and Master. Every day they tried to give each other love and encouragement; yet gradually the strangers’ strength, health and hope were being worn down.

The next morning, Feor was working with Chalata as usual.  At about half past eleven, they were interrupted.  A delegation from the city of Yumi, some twenty miles away, had arrived, to beg the strangers to visit their city and help them.  Chalata answered them gravely:

“We will ask our God what we are to do, and will tell you as soon as we know.”

“Chalata,” said Feor, “may I go and tell Father they are here, so that he can offer them a meal?  They must be tired and hungry.”

“Certainly, but don’t try to see Helen.  Come back here afterwards.”

“If you offer them a meal, son, they will expect to stay overnight.”

“Would that be very difficult, Father?”

“There are six of them.  Have we six empty rooms?”

“I’m sure two would share a room,” interposed Feor hastily.

“We’ll only have to ask two of them to share,” said the Roptoa.  “We have five empty rooms.”

“Very well,” sighed the Roptoh.

“I will give the necessary commands to the servants,” said the Roptoa.

So Feor went to the delegation.  His offer was welcomed with amazed gratitude.

As Feor walked back to the flying machine, he suddenly knew that God was there with him.  When he arrived, he found some of the strangers praying.  Chalata signed for him to sit down.

Feor never heard half of what the strangers prayed.  Some prayed in their own language.  Feor asked God to show the strangers what to do, and how to answer the delegation.  After this, his sense of God’s love and presence with him was overwhelming.  Never had he known anything like this.  It was deeply satisfying, yet he knew that soon his soul would cry for more.

The strangers poured out their thanks to God for His presence with them, and for His clear guidance.  Afterwards, Feor had to ask Chalata what had been decided.

“We must continue with our work here,” he said.  “We must ask this delegation to send men from their city to learn what we will teach here - to learn to be doctors and chemists, and to design and build water treatment works and irrigation equipment.  We can take trainees from anywhere in your country, but they will need somewhere to live.”

“We could have some in the Palace.”

“No, Feor, not permanently.  It would not be comfortable for them or for your parents.  No, we need some decent housing for them and for the poor: houses that will stay above the mud when the rains come - houses with running water and electricity.”

“Why electricity?”

“Feor, what do the poor burn in their fireplaces in the winter, to keep themselves warm?”

“Wood - they cannot afford coal.”

“So every winter more of your trees are cut down?”

“There are certainly fewer trees on the slopes of the mountain than when I was a boy.”

“This is a very bad thing.  The leaves of the trees make a gas that you need to breathe in.”

“You mean, the air is fresher and better among the trees on the foothills?  Yes, that is true.”

“It doesn’t just affect the foothills - it affects your city, and, if a lot of trees are cut down in one place, it can affect the climate in other places.  If the poor can use electricity to heat their homes in the winter, then there will be more trees on the foothills, and the air will be better for everyone.”

“Would it stop the city becoming so smoky in cold weather?”


“But in four weeks, the rains will come.  We cannot build then.”

“We cannot start to build houses until we have finished the hospital and the power stations.  While the rains are here, we can see what happens to the city, and the houses of the poor, and work out with them how to build houses that will be most helpful and comfortable for them - houses, we think, with under-floor heating.”

“What a lot I shall have to learn before I can rule this country well!”

“You’re learning, Feor, you’re learning - more quickly than you could have done without Helen.”


“Go and find her before you get desperate.”

Feor still needed Helen, but his soul-satisfaction made him less demanding, and Helen enjoyed their half-hour together more than she had done for a long time.  This, naturally, increased his own enjoyment, and they both greeted the members of the delegation cheerfully and graciously.  Fruit juices were being served in the hall before the meal, when Shurzi arrived to give the strangers’ answer.

Feor could see their bitter disappointment as Shurzi paid his respects to the Roptoh, Roptoa and Shimei before leaving.  “Could not one of your delegation stay and learn, and take back the knowledge of the strangers to your city?” he asked.

“I’ll stay, Father,” said a young man eagerly to his noble father.

“He could be our guest for a while,” suggested Feor, “till the new housing is built.”

“Oh, Father, please.”

“We must look round first,” said his father, “and see what you should learn.  We must ask the strangers which sort of training would be suitable for you.”

Suddenly Feor heard a voice in his mind.  “Feor, you can’t have that young man staying in the Palace, for his sake and yours.  Please don’t encourage him.”

“Can’t I have anyone?”

“Another nobleman, perhaps, but not him.”


“He must not see Helen again.”

They went in to dinner.  Feor saw the look in the young man’s eyes as he gazed at Helen.  His own heart was disturbed.

“Feor, we’re praying that he will not stay as a trainee.  He must not come to love Helen as you do, and it will happen if he sees much more of her.  It will be utter misery for him.”

“What about me?” thought Feor.

“Helen only has eyes for you,” came Abritis’ voice again.  “Just as we can see into that boy’s mind, so I can see into hers.  It’s true, Feor - I do speak her language, remember, or one of them.  Anyway, remember you’re all due to come this evening to the ancient building, to have a look inside.  We’ve constructed steps and balustrades so that everyone can come down easily.  We’ll see you then.”

As the young man and his father were the only nobles in the delegation, no-one thought it odd that they, and they only, should be invited to the strangers’ flying machine for their evening meal.  The strangers said it was because the young man was considering becoming a trainee.

“You will have many questions to ask, both of you,” they said, “and so often important questions spring to mind when the opportunity to ask them has gone.”

“Oh Father,” cried his son, “must we?”

“Why are you afraid of them?  Then why are you so keen to stay and be trained?”

He was silent.

“You do still want to stay?”

“Oh yes, please, Father.”

“Then come and get to know your teachers.”

They were given a cold meal, in the course of which Wysau explained why they were not going to have indigestion.

“How is it that you know so much about the human body?”

“We were taught on our world.”

“But how did your ancestors find out?” persisted the father.

“By dissecting dead bodies, and by - ”

“I am sorry,” interrupted the nobleman, “but it is quite impossible for my son to remain here.  We will both return with our delegation.”

Father and son went back to their room in the Palace.  The Roptoh invited the rest of the delegation to come with him to see the ancient building.  He gave his arm to the Roptoa as they walked slowly down the steps.  One elderly member of the delegation always walked with a stick.  As they went down the steps, he used his stick to steady him on one side and held the balustrade with his other hand.

Into the building they all went.  Chalata showed them his translation of the Bible, and encouraged them to compare it with the Bibles in the building.  Very few of them could read the script in which the Bibles in the building were written.

“It is - it is the same book, but the language is more old-fashioned,” said the Roptoa.  “Where did your people find this book?”

“On Helen’s world, where it all happened.”

“And yet here are these Bibles, and here is the date when they were printed - nearly four hundred years ago.  This is a marvellous thing.”

“What is this cross on the wall?” asked the Roptoh.

“It is a reminder of the Saviour’s death for us,” replied the Roptoa.

Her husband looked at her curiously.

Meanwhile the others were walking round the building.  Suddenly Wysau leapt forward and took hold of the elderly man.  It seemed to the Roptoh as if he were pulling him out of a hole.

“Shurzi, warn everyone - there’s a trapdoor under there.  Shimei, help me out with him - he needs to sit down in the open air.”

They sat him on the steps, with his feet on the floor.  “Put your head between your knees - there.  Thilish, could you get him a glass of water from the flying machine, please?”

“It was the shock.  I put my stick down - and suddenly the floor moved!”

“You have done us a service.  We did not know there was a trapdoor.  I wonder what they will find down there?”

Shurzi and Darte went down first.  “Will that preservative have got into here?” asked Shurzi.

“Yes - can’t you smell it?”

“Look at all these books - row upon row of them.  Great tomes - ”

“Is it safe?” enquired Feor from above.

“We think so.  You come down - we can’t read this script.”

Feor went pale as he read.  He took up another volume, and read.  There were maps in the books, on every other page - large scale, detailed maps.  Darte looked at Shurzi.

“Land distribution,” said Shurzi in his thoughts.  “Inheritances - it must be.”

Feor went round the room, looking at the words on the bindings.  He found an area that contained some of his own estates.  They belonged to others - every acre of them.  But he could not find a tome which covered the area where he and his family had other, smaller estates.  Then he looked at the volume which covered the capital city.  The Crown Prince’s inheritance was most of Prynoh’s estate - and that was all.

Meanwhile the Roptoh had come down, and was looking at the books.  Three of the delegates came down.  Two could not read, but one could.

The Roptoh did not know what to do.  If there was an “accident”, and the books were burned, everyone would suspect him - and the strangers would know.  Word would get round about these books, now that the delegates had seen them, and the one who could read was busy telling the others what the books were all about.  Oh, why did the strangers have to come and meddle?  Why had that old man had to put his stick in just that place?

The Roptoa was pale, too.  Feor had brought up a book for her to see.

“We’ll have to give this people back their inheritances, according to the records.”

“Yes, my son,” she replied quietly.

He was surprised at her reaction, and looked at her enquiringly.

“How can we comfort your father?  We have some savings - but how are you going to live?  Shimei will marry Wysau, and he will support her; but what about you and Helen?”

“The strangers are teaching me their way to administer a country, Mother.”

“Did they know about these books?”

“Didn’t you see the trapdoor, Mother?  Never been opened for two hundred years.  Unbroken cobwebs, dust - you could see the books hadn’t been touched.  And they can’t read our script.  Well, Chalata can, slowly, but no-one else can.”

The Roptoh took the delegates back to the Palace.  They went to their rooms, and he paced round wretchedly.  “Curse those strangers!  Why did they have to come meddling?  I wish I’d sent them all away the moment they landed!”

“And die of ikthat?” The Roptoa’s voice startled him into silence.  If the people of Traitan had revolted against their royal family, how long would it be before his own people did the same?  Would they have done so already, if it were not for the strangers, and all they had done to improve the lot of the common people?  But still they were not satisfied.  They would not rest till each family had land to call its own.

As the sun was setting, Shimei sat on the steps outside the ancient building, trying to come to terms with the elderly delegate’s discovery.

“Will Father really go ahead and distribute the land to the people according to those books?”

“I don’t know,” said Wysau slowly.  “The delegates saw them - that puts him in an awkward position. He certainly does not want to, and the nobles will be up in arms; but the people will have heard about it by tomorrow, and they will demand it.”

“Couldn’t you make them forget?”

“Would that be right?” He paused.  “No, my job tonight is to persuade them not to riot, but to present a petition to your father.”

She stared at the building for a long minute, then got up resolutely.

“Goodbye, Wysau.  It’s been nice knowing you,” she called as she walked back to the Palace.

Not wishing to make a scene, Wysau called her in her thoughts.  “Please tell me what is wrong.”

“I’ll be poor.” She walked on.

“Are you offended because I refused to make them forget about the books?”

“Wysau, I won’t have any money.  Or land.”

“Then we’d better get married quickly, and you can come and share my cabin on the flying machine.  At least it’s clean, there’s a shower, my bed’s a double bed, and you’ll be fed with the rest of the team.  And if we have to go home, you’ll come with us.”

She stopped, dumbfounded.  “You can’t mean this.  The others won’t like it.”

“They’ve already accepted you.  My love, you’d better walk on - I’ve got to go on duty in a quarter of an hour, and I’d far rather you were in the Palace before I start.  But I need to know that you are still going to marry me.”

“A prince would automatically assume the engagement was cancelled, in these circumstances.”

“I’m not a prince.  On my world, men work to support their wives and families.  I shall be pleased to be like other men on my world, and support you.  So can I make this quite clear: our engagement is not cancelled, and we will marry as soon as your parents permit.  Are you happy about this?”

“I can hardly believe I’m not imagining it.”

“Ask me a question you don’t know the answer to.  Something you think I can answer.”

“How is ikthat passed on from one person to another?”

“Through infected fleas.  A flea bites an infected person, sucks up the infection with the blood, and then bites a healthy person, and puts the infection in his blood.  For the first two or three days, that person will not have any symptoms - ”

“It’s all right, Wysau,” she said hastily.  “I believe it’s really you speaking in my mind - and yes, I am happy about it.”

She walked into the Palace quickly; she was glad to hear the doors clang shut behind her, and see the sentry at his post.  Yet what could one man, ten men do if riots began?  Only the strangers could stop them.  How many times had the strangers saved her life, Feor’s, Helen’s, her parents’?  Wysau was on duty tonight.  Poor Wysau!  He had been working all day, and had to go on working half the night.

No estates - no money.  The money that had come to her under the terms of her grandparents’ will had been invested in an estate in the country.  She would lose it all.  Her father would not be able to afford to pay her her generous allowance.  No more new dresses or hats or cloaks - no more scented soaps.  They would no longer be able to pay Sihcha.  Wysau was not a citizen of this country, so he would have no inheritance; neither would she.  Not a single plot of land to call her own.  Rich woman one day, pauper the next - the future looked bleak.

She wondered and hoped if the new King would allow Wysau to keep the elderly berr she had given him in the Royal stables, so that he could carry on using it to help him visit the sick.  Then, perhaps, she could ride him on a Saturday while Wysau was in his surgery.  Her mother would need her young berra for the journey to her father’s ancient country.

Then she thought that her parents would want to know that she was safely inside the Palace.

“Listen, daughter,” said the Roptoh.  “These strangers were given money by their government to come here and restore political stabliilty to our land.”


“I know that these people intend to set up their own King - so far, so good.  But he will be in all likelihood a peasant with no idea at all how to govern a country.  They will make him promise to keep open the House of Representatives, but who is to say that he will keep that promise?  He could raise a standing army of citizens loyal to himself, bribe them with gifts, and use them to terrify and oppress the people.  Could Wysau not convince them of this truth, and persuade them to let me remain as ruler?  For, before the strangers came, I did set up the House of Representatives, and did not try to dissolve it.  The strangers and the people know that I would not try to oppress them.  As a token of this, I will grant them their land.”


“Oh - Wysau!” She felt completely taken aback.

“I’d speak to your father directly, but it would frighten him.  Tell him firstly, that these people want a King of their own flesh and blood, not someone descended from the royalty of other countries.  Secondly, they want a mere figurehead - all the real decisions will be taken by the House of Representatives.  I think your father would find this position most frustrating.  Thirdly, if the King were to try to oppress the people, they would quickly rise against him - some are already saying they don’t really want a King at all.”

When the Roptoh heard this, he said, “I wouldn’t call that political stability.”

“It would not be difficult to change from having a figurehead King to not having one at all.  The House of Representatives would still be the ruling body.  Would your father like to be that sort of King? and what sort of difficulties would it make for him in his ancient kingdom, and among the nobles?”

The Roptoh sighed.

“Tell your father I’ll do my best to protect him tonight - and you, my love - and, to that end, I must now keep watch on the rebel meetings, and try to persuade them to present that petition instead of rioting.  Goodnight, my love.”

Shimei kissed her father and mother sadly.  It was no good - even if Wysau and the other strangers would listen to what her father really wanted, and hypnotize the people to forget about the books of inheritances and settle down quietly again under his rule, it would only work for a short time.  Real stability could only be gained at the price of letting them have what they really wanted: land.  God had planned that the strangers would find the ancient building, and the elderly delegate the books.  She must not fight against Him.  The strangers would all say that God loved her, and knew what was best for her.  She remembered what Helen had said.  Somehow she must submit - but she felt so angry and bewildered that she hardly knew how.

Wysau was too busy to help her.  He was communicating with the clever rebel.

“Supposing,” he said to the meeting, “that the Roptoh grants our petition, and that he and the nobles leave our land peacefully, are we all content that, for the time being, our elected representatives in the House should take over the government and elect a team to distribute our inheritances to us according to the books in the ancient building?”

There were nods of assent.  “For now, anyway.”

“Some of you have shops and businesses.  You don’t want people to steal your goods because they were starving.”

“Of course not.”

“But most of you work for a lord.  Not because you want to, but because there’s no-one else to work for.  Please remember that the lords’ upper servants and stewards work for the lord for the same reason.  They may not have been good to you in the past, but, for the most part, they were simply obeying their lords’ commands.  Just as you had to do.  Those who were malicious on their own account will probably go with their lords.  But others will stay.  It is better for you that they should carry on running their lords’ estates till they are shared out according to the books.  None of you would like to receive an inheritance that’s all choked up with weeds; you want to receive the crop that is now growing on that land.  And also, you want work for the next day, and pay for the next day, to buy food.  Let the goods the lords leave behind be entrusted to the steward, who should use them to pay that lord’s workmen till the land is shared out - and they can look after the land till it is shared out.  It might be your own inheritance that you’re looking after! Or your best friend’s, or your relative’s!  Let no-one damage the lords’ mansions - poor servants of that lord, whose own houses are decaying or leaking, can go and live in a room of that lord’s mansion - larger families in larger rooms.  Remember, most of the lords’ mansions have clean water piped into them.”

“Why should we trust the stewards?”

“Those who stay will be as trustworthy as anyone else - and they will, at least, know how to run their lords’ estates.”

“But we shall have no vengeance!”

“The strangers won’t let us, anyway.  At least we shall have our land.”

“What about the estates where the steward runs away?”

“Then the workers who were in that lord’s employ will have to choose a man from among themselves who can read and write, and appoint him as steward.”

“What if my inheritance has a lord’s mansion built on it?”

“Wait until the new houses are built.  When people who are living in the mansion have houses to move into, the mansion can be pulled down.”

That night, during his waking moments, which were many, the Roptoh had an idea.  Before breakfast the next morning, he summoned his administrator.

“Give orders that the Princess Shimei’s estate in Arvana be put up for sale immediately.”

“Then at least I’ll have some dowry to give with her,” he said to his conscience.

As the clever rebel was on his way to work, a shopkeeper came and walked along beside him.  Their conversation was brief.  Someone who understood their customs would have guessed that an invitation of some kind had been given and accepted; but all the passer-by who came up behind them and overtook them heard was,

“Give my greetings to Ruanza.  Till our next meeting.”