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

‘Now wait a moment, Lazarus. I did not object. Carol is physically a grown woman and - I have today learned - no longer a virgin. .. and not surprising; she's a year older than her mother was -‘

‘More nearly two, ' I put in.

‘Shut up, you; I'm pimping for our daughter. All I did was lay down some reasonable rules for Carol's protection. Lazarus, you did agree that they were reasonable? '

‘Oh, certainly, Captain. I simply refused to accept them. My privilege. Just as it is your privilege to make them. I have accepted that you do not want me to copulate with your daughter Carol other than by your rules. That settles it; I won't touch her. '

‘Very well, sir! '

‘Gentlemen, gentlemen! ' I almost let my voice rise. ‘You both sound like Woodrow. What are these rules? '

Theodore said nothing.

Brian answered in a pained voice, ‘First, I asked him to use a rubber. Didn't matter with you or Nancy; both of you broads are knocked up. He refused. I then -‘

‘Are you surprised, my darling? I've often heard you refer to it as "washing your feet with your socks on". '

‘Yes, but Carol does not need a baby this season. Certainly not a little bastard before she's considered her Howard options. But, Mo, I did concede that Ted is himself a Howard. I simply said that, all right, if Carol got pregnant from giving him a soldier's farewell, I wanted him to promise that he would come back when the war is over and marry Carol and take her and her baby to - What's that you call your planet, Captain? Boondock? '

‘Boondock is a city; my home is in its suburbs. The planet is Tellus Tertius, Earth Number Three. '

I sighed. ‘Theodore, why wouldn't you agree to that? You tell us that you have four wives and three co-husbands. Why wouldn't you be willing to marry our Carol? She is a good cook, and she doesn't eat all that much. And she's very sweet tempered and loving. ' I was thinking how dearly I would like to go to Boondock. .. and marry Tamara. Not that I ever would; I had Briney and our babies to take care of. But even an old woman can dream.

Theodore said slowly, ‘I abide by my own roles, for my own reasons. If Captain Smith does not trust me with respect to my behaviour toward other people -‘

‘Not "other people", Captain! A particular sixteen-yearold girl named Carol. I am responsible for her welfare. '

‘So you are. I repeat, "other people", be they sixteen-yearold girls or whosoever. You don't trust me without promises; I don't give promises. That ends it and I am sorry the matter ever came up. I did not bring it up. Captain, I did not come here to bed your ladies; I came to say goodbye and thank you to a whole family all of whom had been most generous and hospitable to me. I have not intended to disturb your household. I'm sorry, sir. '

‘Ted, don't be so damned stiff-necked. You sound just like my father-in-law when he gets his back up. You have not disturbed my household. You have pleased my wife enormously and for that I thank you. And I know that you were trapped by her; she told me months ago what she intended to do to you if she ever got you alone. This discussion is just over Carol, who has no claim on you. If you don't want her under what I see as minimum protection for her welfare, then let her stick to boys her own age. As she should. '

‘Agreed, sir. '

‘Damn it; knock off the sirs; you're in bed with my wife. And me. '

‘Oh, dear! '

‘Mo, it's the only sensible solution. '

‘Men! Always doing what you call "sensible" and always so wrong-headed and stubborn! Briney, don't you realise that Carol doesn't give a hoot about promises? She just wants to spread her legs and close her eyes and pope that she catches. If she doesn't catch, a month from now she's going to cry her eyes out. If she does catch, well, I trust Theodore and so does Carol. '

Briney said, ‘Oh, for God's sake, Mo! Ted, ordinarily she is quite easy to live with. '

Theodore said, ‘Maureen, you said, "A month from now she's going to cry her eyes out. " Do you know her calendar? '

‘Why, yes. Well, maybe. Let me think. ' My girls kept their own calendars. .. but old snoopy Mama kept her eyes open, just in case. ‘Today is Wednesday. If I recall correctly, Carol is doe again three weeks from tomorrow. Why? '

‘Do you remember the thumb rule I gave you to ensure, uh, "ringing the cash register" you called it. '

‘Yes, indeed. You said to count fourteen days from onset of menses, then hit that day. And the day before and the day after, if possible. '

‘Yes, that is how to get pregnant, a thumb role. But it works the other way, too. How not to get pregnant. If a woman is regular. If she is not abnormal in some way. Is Carol regular? '

‘Like a pendulum. Twenty-eight days. '

‘Brian, stipulating that Maureen's recollection of Carol's calendar is accurate -‘

‘I would bet on it. Mo hasn't made a mistake in arithmetic since she found out about mo and two. '

‘ - if so, Carol can't get pregnant this week. .. and I'll be on the high seas the next time she is fertile. But this week a whole platoon of Marines could not knock her up. '

Briney looked thoughtful. ‘I want to talk to Ira. If he agrees with you, I'll drop all objections. '

‘What do you mean "No"? No rules. Relax. '

‘No, sir. You don't trust and I don't promise. The situation is unchanged. '

I was ready to burst into tears from sheer exasperation. Men's minds do not work the way ours do and we will never understand them. Yet we can't get along without them.

I was saved from making a spectacle of myself by a knock on the door. Nancy.

‘May I come in? '