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

‘Be a pessimist and you will hardly ever be wrong. Brian, I know little or nothing about your business. But it is time for all businesses to get on a war footing. What do you deal in that is bound to get involved? '

Briney said nothing for several moments. ‘All metals are war materials. But. .. Beau-père, if you have some money you want to risk, let me point out that mercury is indispensable for munitions. And scarce. Mostly they mine it in Spain. A place called Almaden. '

‘Where else? '

‘California. Some in Texas. Want to go out to California? '

‘No. Been there. Not my taste. I think Ml go back to my digs and get a letter off to Leonard Wood. Damn it, he made the switch from medical corps to line officer- he ought to be able to tell me how I can do it. '

Briney looked thoughtful. ‘I don't want to be in the engineers again, either. I don't belong there. '

‘You'll be a pick-and-shovel soldier again if you wait and join up here. '

‘How's that? '

‘The old Third Missouri is going to be reorganised as an engineer regiment. Wait around long enough and they'll hand you a shovel:

I kept my best unworried mask on, and kept on knitting. It felt like the end of April, 1898.

The European War dragged along, horribly, with stories of atrocities in Belgium and of ships being sunk by German submarine boats. One could feel a division building up in America; the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 brought the dichotomy sharply to the fore. Mother wrote from St Louis about the strong sentiment there for the Central Powers. Her parents, my Grandpa and Grandma Pfeiffer, apparently took it for granted that all decent people supported ‘the Old Country' in this struggle - this, despite the fact that Grossvater's parents had come to America in 1848 to get away from Prussian Imperialism, along with their son, who was just the right age to be conscripted if they had not emigrated. (Grandpa was born in 1830. )

But now it was ‘Deutschland Über Alies' and everybody knew that the Jews owned France and ran everything there, and if those American passengers had minded their own business and stayed home where they belonged, out of the war zone, they wouldn't have been on the Lusitania - after all, the Emperor had warned them. It was their own fault.

My brother Edward in Chicago reported much the same sentiment there. He did not sound pro-German himself, but he did express a fervent hope that we would stay out of a war that wasn't any of our business.

This was not what I heard at home. When President Wilson made his famous (infamous? ) speech about the sinking of the Lusitania, the ‘too proud to fight' speech, Father carne over to see Brian and sat there, smouldering like a volcano, until all the children were in bed or elsewhere out of earshot. Then he used language that I pretended not to hear. He applied it mainly to the cowardly tactics of the Huns but he saved a plentiful portion for that ‘pusillanimous Presbyterian parson' in the White House. ‘Too proud to fight! What sort of talk is that? It requires pride in order to fight. A coward slinks away with his tail between his legs. Brian, we need Teddy Roosevelt back in there! '

My husband agreed.

In the spring of 1916 my husband went to Plattsburg, New York, where the previous summer General Leonard Wood had instituted a citizens training camp for officer candidates - Brian had been disappointed not to be able to attend it in ages, and planned ahead not to miss it in 1916. Ethel was born while Brian was away, through some careful planning of my own. When he returned at the end of August, I had the property back in shape and ready to welcome him, i. b. a. w. m. l. o. , so that he could w. m. t. b. w. - and ‘Mrs Gillyhooley' did her best to be worth more than five dollars.

I suspect that I was, as my biological pressure was far up past the danger line.

It was the longest dry spell of my married life, in part because I was thoroughly chaperoned at home. At Brian's request Father lived with us while Brian was away. No harem guard ever took his duties more seriously than Father did. Brian had often chaperoned me as a shut-eye sentry; protecting me from the neighbours, not from my own libidinous nature.

Father included protecting me from himself. Yes, I tested the water. I had known way back when I was still virgo intacta how thoroughly incestuous were my feelings toward my father. Furthermore I was certain that he was just as moved by me.

So about ten days after Brian drove away, when my animal nature was crawling up on me, I arranged it so that I missed saying goodnight to Father, then came into his room right after he had gone to bed, dressed in a low-cut nightgown and a not too opaque peignoir-freshly bathed and smelling good (‘April Showers', a euphemism) - and said that I had come in to say goodnight, which he echoed. So I leaned over to kiss him, exposing my breasts and producing a wave of that sinful scent.

He pulled his face back. ‘Daughter, get out of here. And don't come around me again half naked. '

‘All naked, perhaps? Mon cher papa, je t'adore. '

‘You shut t'door. .. behind you. '

‘Oh, papa, don't be mean to me. I need to be cuddled. I need to be hugged. '

‘I know what you need but you are not going to get it from me. Now get out. '

‘What if I won't? I'm too big to spank. '

He sighed. ‘So you are. Daughter, you are an enticing and amoral bitch, we both know it, we have always known it. Since I can't spank you, I must warn you. Get out this instant. .. or I will telephone your husband right now, tonight, and tell him that he must come home at once as I am unable to carry out my responsibilities to him and to his family. Understand me? '

‘Yes, sir. '

‘Now get out. '

‘Yes, sir. May I make a short statement first? '

‘Well - make it march. '

‘I did not ask you to couple with me but if you had - if we had dope so, it would have done no harm; I am pregnant. '

‘Irrelevant ‘

‘Let me finish, please, sir. Ages ago, back when you were requiring me to work out my own personal commandments, you defined for me the parameters of prudent adultery. I have conformed meticulously to your definition, for it turned out that my husband's values in this matter match yours exactly. '

‘I am pleased to know that. .. but, possibly, not pleased that you told me. Did your husband specifically authorise you to tell me that? '