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

In the summer of 1940 Brian and I were living in Chicago at 6105 Woodlawn, an address just south of the Midway. It was a large apartment building, eighty units, owned by the Howard Foundation through a dummy. We occupied what was called ‘the Penthouse' - the west end of the top floor, a living room and balcony, a kitchen, four bedrooms, two baths.

We needed the extra bedrooms, especially in July during the Democratic National Convention. For two weeks we had from twelve to fifteen people sleeping in an apartment intended for a maximum of eight. I do not recommend this. The apartment did not have air-conditioning, it was an exceptionally hot summer, and Lake Michigan a few hundred yards away turned our flat into a Turkish bath. At home I would have coped with it by walking around in my skin. But I could not do so in the presence of strangers. One of the real benefits of Boondock is that skin is just skin - means nothing.

I had not been in Chicago, other than to change trains, since 1893. Brian had frequently visited Chicago without me, as this flat was often used for Howard Foundation board meetings, the Foundation having moved its registered address from Toledo to Winnipeg in 1929. As Justin explained to me, ‘Maureen, while we don't advertise what we're doing, we won't be breaking any laws about private ownership of gold; we are simply planning for whatever develops. The Foundation is now restructured under Canadian law, and its registered secretary is a Canadian lawyer, who is in fact a Howard client himself and a Foundation trustee. I never touch gold, even with gloves on. '

(Brian expressed it otherwise. ‘No intelligent man has any respect for an unjust law. Nor does he feel guilt over breaking it. He simply follows the Eleventh Commandment. ')

This time Brian was not in Chicago for a board meeting; he was there to watch the Chicago commodities market and to deal in it, because of the war in Europe - while I was in Chicago because I wanted to be. Much as I enjoyed being a brood mare, after forty years of it and seventeen babies, I relished seeing something other than wet nappies.

There was indeed much to see. The parkway a hundred yards north of us, stretching from Washington Park to Jackson Park and called the Midway Plaisance, was in fact a midway the last time I had seen it, with everything from Little Egypt's belly dance to pink cotton candy. Now it was a beautiful grassy park, with the matchless Fountain of Time by Lorado Taft at the west end and the lovely 57th Street beach at the east end. The main campus of the University of Chicago, great grey Gothic buildings, dominated its north side. The University had been founded the year before I had come here as a girl, but none of these buildings had been built by then - as near as I could recall several major exhibition halls had occupied the ground now constituting the campus. I could not be certain, as nothing looked the same.

The elevated trains were much more widespread and now they were powered by electricity instead of steam. On the surface there were no longer horse cars or even cable cars; electric trolley cars had replaced them. No more horses anywhere - autos bumper to bumper, a dubious improvement.

The Field Museum, three miles to the north and on the Lake, had been founded after my long visit in ‘93; its Malvina Hoffman exhibit, ‘The Races of Man', was in itself worth a trip to the Windy City. Near it was the Adler Planetarium, the first one I ever visited. I loved the shows at the planetarium; they let me daydream of travelling among the stars like Theodore - but I did not dream that I would ever really do so. That hope was buried, along with my heart, somewhere in France.

Chicago in ‘93 had kept eleven-year-old Maureen Johnson round-eyed; Chicago in 1940 kept Maureen Smith, now officially forty-one years old, still more round-eyed, there were so many new wonders to see.

One change I did not like; in 1893 if I happened to be out after dark, Father did not worry and neither did I. In 1940 I was careful never to be caught out after dark, other than on Brian's arm.

Just before the 1940 Democratic convention the Phoney War ended and France fell. At Dunkirk on 6 June the British evacuated what was left of their army which was followed by one of the greatest speeches in all histories: ‘- we shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them in the streets, we shall never surrender -‘

Father telephoned Brian, told him that he was signing up with the AFS. ‘Brian, this rime even the Home Guard says I'm too old. But these folks are signing up medics the Army won't accept. They want them for support service in war zones and they'll take anybody who can saw off a leg - meaning me. If this is the only way I can fight the Huns, then this is what I'll do -1 owe that to Ted Bronson. Understand me, sir? '

‘I quite understand. '

‘How soon can you put somebody else here to watch the youngsters? '

I could hear both sides, so I took the phone. ‘Father, Brian can't come home now but I can. Although I may be able to put Betty Lou there in my place even quicker. Either way, you can go ahead with your plans. But, Father, listen to me. You take care of yourself! Do you hear me? '

‘I'll be careful, daughter. '

‘Please do so, please! I'm proud of you, sir. And Theodore is proud of you, too. I know. '

‘I shall try hard to make both you and Ted proud of me, Maureen. '

I said goodbye quickly and hung up before my voice broke. Briney was looking thoughtful. ‘I'll Nave to get busy right away and correct my age with the Army. Or they might start saying that I am too old. '

‘Briney! Surely you don't expect to convince the Army that you are your Howard age? ‘they have years and years of records on you. '

‘Oh, I wouldn't try to sell the Adjutant-General my Howard age. Although I don't think I look any older than the forty-six it says on my driver's licence. I mean that I want to correct the little white lie I told in 1898, when I was actually fourteen but swore that I was twenty-one so that they would let me enlist. '

‘Fourteen indeed! You were a senior at Rolla. '

‘I was precocious, just like our children. Yes, dearest, I was a senior at Rolla in ‘98. But there is nobody left in the War Department who knows that. And nobody is likely to tell them. Maureen, a reserve colonel fifty-six years old is a lot more likely to be ordered to duty than one who is sixty-three. About one hundred per cent more likely. '

I'm using a Time agent's field recorder keyed to my voice and concealed in a body cavity. No, no, not concealed in the tunnel of love; that would not do, as Time agents aren't nuns and are not expected to be. I mean an artificial cavity about where my gall bladder used to be. This gadget is supposed to be good for a thousand hours and I hope it is working properly because, if these spooks scrag me - better make that when they scrag me - I hope that Pixel can lead somebody to my corpse and thereby let the Time Corps retrieve the record. I want the Circle to understand what I was trying to do. I should have done it openly, I suppose, but Lazarus would have grabbed it away from me. I have perfect hindsight - not so good in the other direction.