‘So you could. What are you going to use for money? I certainly won't pay for it! Donald, I bate to hear you talk that way. I would rather pay to have your eyes removed than see you submit to sterilisation. You are here not only to live your life but to pass that life along. Your genes are very special; that is why the Foundation will subsidise any offspring of yours that you share with a female Howard. The same applies to you, Priscilla; you both have the genes for long life. Barring accidents, each of you will live to be more than a hundred. How much more we can't tell but it has been stretching longer each generation.
‘Now here is how the Howard Fouudation system works. If you ask for it, the Foundation will supply each of you with a list of Howard eligibles near your age, while your name and address will be supplied to each person on your list. When I was young, it used to be eligibles close by, say fifty or a hundred miles or inside one state. Today, with glide rockets spanning North America in thirty minutes and everybody moving around like disturbed ants, you can elect to have your name supplied to every bachelor or spinster Howard in North America if you like and get back a list like a phone book. Not quite true; I understand that they dole them out a couple of dozen at a time, grouped geographically. .. but you can go on shopping until you find the man - or woman - with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. '
I continued, ‘just one thing. When you date another Howard, while it can be fun, it is dead serious, too. You'll be looking him over as a prospective husband, Priscilla. If he is utterly impossible, for any reason or none, you must tell him so and tell him not to come back. .. or tell me and I'll tell him so. But if he appeals to you and better acquaintance causes you to think of him as a possible husband, then it's time to take him to bed. Right here at home and I'll arrange things so that you can do so comfortably and without embarrassment'
‘Wait a minute! www.storenonfiction.ru Make love to somebody else? With Donnie right upstairs and knowing what I'm doing? '
‘No. One - Donnie is not likely to be upstairs. He is likely to be at the home of a girl on his list. Two - nobody is urging you to have intercourse with anyone. That is strictly, totally, and utterly up to you. I am saying only that if he is a young man whose name has been sent to you by Uncle Justin, and you decide you want to try him, you can do so safely at home. .. and if, after sober consideration, you and he decide to marry, then you can get pregnant right at home. Howard brides are almost always pregnant - always, so far as I know - because it would be sad indeed to marry a man and discover, too late, that you and he are not fertile together. Oh, divorce is easy today. .. but it is better to have a seven-month, seven-pound baby than to have a divorce before you are twenty. '
I added, ‘You're going to have plenty of time to think about it. I want to check on some basics today. Priscilla, will you stand up and take off your wrap? We can ask Donald to leave the room if you wish. I want to guess how old you are, biologically. '
‘I'll go upstairs, Slugger. '
‘Don't be silly. You've seen me before and Mama knows you slept with me last night' My daughter stood up, took off my wrap, hung it on her chair. ‘Any special way, Mama? '
‘No. ' No baby fat left that I could see and hers was not a baby face. A young woman, physically mature, functioning as such and enjoying it. Well, we'll get an expert opinion from Dr Rumsey. ‘Priscilla, it seems to me that you look about the way I did at seventeen. We will see what Dr Rumsey says. For the sooner you start shopping your Howard list, the sounder I will sleep. '
I turned to my son. I'm sure you can be listed as eighteen, Donald, if you wish, and receive a list of eligible girls. And - I may be prejudiced; you're my son - but it is my guess that you can spend the next couple of years, if you choose to, travelling around the country, meeting Howard couples, eating at their tables and sleeping with their daughters - a different bed mate every week, until you find the right one. That programme would be safest for your sister. '
‘Mama! What a nasty ideal Donnie! You wouldn't! Would you? '
‘Son, don't make any promises you can't keep. '