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

But moving away from San Francisco at that time was a good idea - a change of background to a place where we knew no one - because on arrival in Texas Marian became ‘Maureen J. Smith' and I dyed my hair and became her widowed mother, Marian Hardy. None too soon; she was already showing - four months later she gave birth to Richard Brian. We kept it straight with the Foundation, of course, and registered Marian's new baby correctly: Marian Justin Hardy + Brian Smith, Senior.

What happened next is difficult for me to talk about, because there are three points of view and mine is only one of them. I am certain that the other two are each as fair-minded as I am, if not more so. ‘More so' I think I must concede, as Father had warned me, more than half a century earlier, that I was an amoral wretch who could reason only pragmatically, not morally.

I had not tried to keep my husband out of my daughter-inlaw's bed. Neither Briney nor I had ever tried to own each other; we both approved of sex for fun and we had established our rules for civilised adultery many years earlier. I was a bit surprised that Marian had apparently made no effort to keep from getting pregnant by Brian. .. but only in that she did not consult me ahead of time. (If she consulted Briney, he never mentioned it. But men do have this tendency to spray sperm around like a fire-hose while letting the females decide whether or not to make practical use of the juice. )

Nevertheless I was not angry, just mildly surprised. And I do recognise the normal biological reflex under which the first thing a freshly bereft widow does, if she can manage it, is to spread her legs and sob bitterly and use her womb to replace the dear departed. It is a survival mechanism, one not limited to wars but more prevalent in wartime, as statistical analysis demonstrates.

(I hear that there are men who watch the newspapers for funerals, then attend those of married men in order to meet new widows. This is shooting fish down a well and probably, merits castration. On the other hand, those widows might not thank us. )

So we moved to Dallas and everything was satisfactory for a while. Brian was simply a man with two wives, a situation not unknown among Howards - just pull the shades against the neighbours, like some Mormons.

A short time after the birth of Marian's new baby Brian came to me with something on his mind, something he had trouble articulating.

I finally said, ‘Look, dearest, I am not a http://www.buythaibooks.ru mind reader. Whatever it is, just spill it. '

‘Marian wants a divorce. '

‘Huh? Briney, I'm confused. If she's not happy with us, all she needs to do is to move out; it doesn't take a divorce. In fact I don't see how she could get one. But I'm terribly sorry to hear it. I thought we had gone to considerable trouble to make things happy for her. And for Richard Brian and her other children. Do you want me to talk to her? Try to find out what the trouble is? '

‘Uh - Damn it, I didn't make myself clear. She wants you to get a divorce so that she can marry me. '

My jaw dropped, then I laughed. ‘Goodness, Briney, what in the world makes her think I would ever do that? I don't want to divorce you; you're the nicest husband a gal ever had. I don't mind sharing you - but, darling, I don't want to get rid of you. I'll tell her so. Where is she? I'll take her to bed and tell her so as sweetly as possible. ' I reached up, took his shoulders and kissed him.

Then I continued to hold his shoulders and look up at him. ‘Hey, wait a minute. You want a divorce. Don't you? '

Briney didn't say anything; he just looked embarrassed.

I sighed. ‘Poor Briney. Us frails do make your life complicated, don't we? We follow you around, climb into your lap, breathe in your ear. Even your daughters seduce you, like - what was his name? Old Testament. And even your daughters-in-law. Stop looking glum, dear man; I don't have a ring in your nose, and never have had. '

‘You'll do it? ' He looked relieved.

‘Me? Do what? '

‘Divorce me. '

‘No. Of course not'

‘But you said -‘

‘I said that I didn't have a ring in your nose. If you want to divorce me, I won't fight it. But I'm not the one who wants a divorce. If you like, you can simply do it to me Muslim sty1e. Tell me "I divorce you" three times, and I'll go pack my clothes:

Perhaps I should not have been stubborn about it but I do not see that I owed it to either of them to go through the fiddle-faddle - the trauma - of finding a lawyer and digging up witnesses and appearing in court. I would co-operate. .. but let them do the work.

Brian gave in once he saw that I meant it. Marian was vexed with me, stopped smiling, and avoided talking with me. Finally I stopped her when she was about to leave the living-room as I came in.

‘Marian! '

She stopped. ‘Yes, Mother? '

‘I want you to stop pretending to be aggrieved. I want to see you smile and hear you laugh, the way you used to. You have asked me to rum my husband over to you and I have agreed to co-operate. But you must co-operate, too. You are acting like a spoiled child. In fact, you are a spoiled child. '

‘Why, how utterly unfair! '

‘Girls, girls! '

I turned and looked at Brian. ‘I am not a girl. I am your wife of forty-seven years. While I am here, I will be treated with respect and with warmth. I don't expect gratitude from Marian; my father taught me years ago never to expect gratitude because there is no such thing. But Marian can simulate gratitude out of politeness. Or she can move out. At once. Right this minute. If you mo expect me not to fight this divorce, you can both show me some appreciation. '

I went to my room, got into bed, cried a little, then fell into a troubled sleep.

Half an hour later, or an hour, or longer, I was wakened by a tap on my door. ‘Yes? '

‘It's Marian, Mama. May I come in? '

‘Certainly; darling! '

She came in, closed the door behind her; looked at me, her chin quivering and tears starting. I sat up, put out my arms.

‘Come to me, dear. '

That ended any trouble with Marian. But not quite with Brian. The following weekend he pointed out that the sine gua non of an uncontested divorce was a property settlement agreed to by both parties. He had fetched home a fat briefcase.

‘I have the essential papers here. Shall we look them over? '

‘All right' (No use putting off a trip to the dentist. )

Brian put the briefcase down on the dining-table. ‘We can spread them out here. ' He sat down.

I sat down on his left; Marian sat down opposite me. I said, ‘No, Marian, I want to go over these in private. So you are excused, dear. And do please keep the children out. '