Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

They took me out of my cell today and led me, cuffed and hoodwinked, into what was probably a courtroom. There they removed the hoodwink and the cuffs. .. which left me the only one out of step; my guards were hooded and so were the three who (I think) were judges. Bishops, maybe, they were wearing fancy robes with that sacerdotal look.

Other flunkies here and there were also hooded - put me in mind of a Ku-Klux-Klan meeting, so I tried to check their shoes-Father had pointed out to me during the recrudescence of the Man in the twenties that those hooded ‘knights' showed under their sheets the cracked, scuffed, cheap, and worn-out shoes of the social bottom layer who could manage to feel superior to somebody only by joining a racist secret society.

I could not use that test on these jokers. The three ‘judges' were behind a high bench. The court clerk (? ) had his recording equipment on a desk, his feet under it. My guards were behind me.

They kept me there about two hours, I think. All I gave them was ‘name, rank, and serial number' -‘I am Maureen Johnson Long, of Boondock, Tellus Tertius. I am a distressed traveller, here by shiftgifts.ru misadventure. To all those silly charges: not guilty! I demand to see a lawyer. '

From time to time, I repeated ‘Not guilty' or stood mote.

After about two hours, judged by hunger and bladder pressure, we had an interruption: Pixel.

I didn't see him come in. Apparently he had come to my cell as usual, failed to find me, and went looking - found me.

I heard behind me this ‘Cheerlup! ' with which he usually announces his arrival; I turned and he jumped into my arms, started head bumping and purring, while demanding to know why I wasn't where I was supposed to be.

I petted him and assured him that he was a fine cat, a good boy, da kine!

The middle ghost behind the bench ordered: ‘Remove that animal:

One of the guards attempted to comply by grabbing Pixel.

Pixel has absolutely no patience with people who do not observe correct protocol. He bit the guard in the fleshy pare of his left thumb, and got him here and there with his claws. The guard tried to drop him; Pixel did not let go.

The other guard tried to help - now two wounded. But not Pixel.

That middle judge used some quite colourful language, got down and carne around, saying: ‘Don't you know how to grab a cat? ' - and proved at once that he did not. Now three wounded. Pixel hit the deck, running.

I then saw something that had been known to me only through inference, something that none of my friends and family claimed to have seen. (Correction: Athene has seen it, but Athene has eyes everywhere. I mean meat-and-bone people. )

Pixel headed straight for a blank wall at emergency full speed - and just as he seemed to be about to crash headlong into it, a round cat door opened in front of him, he streaked through it, and it dosed instantly behind him.

After a bit, I was returned to my cell.

In 1912: Brian bought an automobile, a car - somewhere during that decade ‘automobile carriage' changed to- ‘automobile', and then to ‘auto', and then to ‘motor car, or ‘car' - the ultimate name for the horseless carriage, as it could not get any shorter.

Brian bought a Reo. Nelson's little Reo runabout had proved most durable and satisfactory; after five years of hard wear it was still a good vehicle. The firm used it for many things, including dusty drives to Galena and Joplin and other towns in the white metals area, and records were kept and Nelson was paid mileage and wear-and-tear.

So when Brian decided to buy a car for his family he bought another Reo, but a family car, a five-passenger touring car - a beauty and one that I could see was safe for children, as it had doors and a top - the runabout had neither. Mr R. E. Olds called the 1912 Reo his ‘Farewell Car', claiming that it was the best car that he could design with his twenty-five years of experience, and the best that could be built, in materials and workmanship.

I believed him, and (far more important) Brian believed him. It may Nave been the ‘farewell' Reo but, when I left Earth in 1982, Mr Olds' name was still famous in autos, in ‘Oldsmobile'.

Our luxury car was quite expensive - more than $1200. Brian did not tell me what he had paid, but the Reo was widely advertised and I can read. But we got a lot for our money; it was not only a handsome, roomy touring car but also it had a powerful engine (35 horsepower) and a top speed of 45 miles per hour. It was never driven at that speed, I think - the speed limit in the city was 17 miles per hour, and the rutted dirt roads outside the city were quite unsuited to such high speed. Oh, Brian and Nelson may have tried it - opened the throttle wide on some freshly graded, level road out in Kansas somewhere; neither of them believed in bothering ladies with things that might worry them. (Betty Lou and I did not believe in worrying our husbands unnecessarily, either; it evens out. )

Brian fitted out the basic car with all sorts of luxuries that would make it pleasant for his wife and family - a windshield, a self-starter, a set of side curtains, a speedometer, a spare tyre, an emergency gas tank, etc. The tyres had demountable rims and only rarely did Brian have to patch a tyre beside the road.

It did have one oddity; its top could predict the weather. Put the top down; it rained. Put the top up; the sun came out.

It was a one-man top, just as the ads claimed. That one man was Briney - assisted by his wife, two half-grown girls, and two small boys, all of us straining and sweating and Brian nobly repressing the language he wanted to use. But eventually Brian figured out how to outsmart that top: leave it up all the time. This ensured good weather for motoring. We surely did enjoy that car. Nancy and Carol named it ‘Ei Reo Grande'. (Brian and I had lately taken up Spanish; as usual our children were trying to outwit us. Pig Latin never did work; they cracked the code at once. Alfalfa speech did not last much longer. ) We had established early in our marriage that some occasions were for the entire family. .. and some were for Mama and Papa alone - children would stay home and not whine about it, lest the middle justice be invoked. (Mother had used a peach switch; I found that one from an apricot tree worked just as well. )

By 1912, with Nancy a responsible twelve-gear-old girl, it was possible to leave the youngsters at home in her charge for a couple of hours or more in the daytime. (This was before Woodrow was born. Once he was big enough to walk, controlling him called for an Oregon boot and a morningstar. ) This let Briney and me have some precious outings alone - and one of them got me Woodrow, as I have mentioned. Briney delighted in making love outdoors, and so did I; it gave a spice of danger to what was otherwise a sweet but lawful occasion.