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

‘You're wonderful! '

‘Thank you. Is that all? ' (The clock was crowding me. )

‘Just one thing. Aunt Eleanor was here today -‘

‘She was? I thought she was in Toronto. On Saturday she didn't say anything about going to Arizona. '

‘Uncle Justin went to Toronto; she came here. To Scottsdale, I mean. She's going to Toronto. Right away, if this works. She's had caretaker trouble two seasons now, she tells me, and she wants Hanky and me to move into their place and take care of it. What do you think? '

(I think you would be out of your mind to move into the luxurious summer palace of a super-millionaire; you'll learn bad habits and fancy tastes - that's no way to start a marriage. And that commuting up and down Scottsdale's Road - six miles? seven? - might take up enough time each day to interfere with your studies. ) Susan, what I think does not matter. What does your husband think? '

‘He suggested that I talk to you. '

‘But what does he think? '

‘Uh. .. I'm not sure. Will you talk to him? '

‘Have him call me back. Susan, I have a business appointment and I'm late; I've got to switch off. Bye! '

Whew! Nine-thirty-five - I punched up Harriman and Strong, got the same female zombie as yesterday. ‘Maureen Johnson speaking. Let me speak to George Strong. '

‘Mr Strong is not available. Will you record -‘

‘We went through that routine yesterday. I'm Maureen Johnson and he has an appointment with me at my house in twenty minutes and you know it! Catch him before he leaves the building or phone him in his car. Move, damn it! '

‘I'm here, Maureen. ' George's face replaced hers. ‘I've been held up. Will you forgive me if I make it ten-thirty instead of ten? '

‘Quite all right, George. You, recall those envelopes I left with you in 1947? '

‘Certainly. In my personal safe. Never mingled with business papers. '

‘Would you, please, bring with you envelopes numbers one and two? '

‘Certainly, dear lady. '

‘Thank you, sir. '

I switched off. ‘Up we go, darlings, and bathe and dress. Priscilla, come share my bath'- and my bidet; you smell like a whorehouse and don't realise it, dear - ‘and we'll put you into something of mine. Something summery, the day is going to be a scorcher. Shorts and a halter, probably. Donald, Patrick left some clothes behind, so look around. Shorts and a T-shirt, maybe. Or Levi's. We'll stop at the Plaza later and do some fast shopping. Don't use all the hot water - three baths at once. Be ready by ten-twenty. On your marks, get set, go! '

George had two houses to show me. One was near 75th Street and Mission Road in Johnson County, close to Shawnee Mission East High School. It belonged to New World Homes, a Harriman Enterprise, and had all the newer than-tomorrow touches New World Homes was famous for - and it reminded me of a Bauhaus fiat.

My youngsters loved it.

The other was on the Missouri side of the line, about half way between our old house and Southwest High School, off Linden Road. It was not as new. The appearance of the development and my memory told me that it had been built in 1940, give or take a year.

‘George, this is a J. C. Nichols subdivision. '

‘The Nichols organisation always builds excellent houses. This came into our hands because I bought it from one of our executives in a compassionate move, following a tragic accident. He lost his wife and two children. When he got out of hospital, we shipped him to Tucson to recuperate, then put him to work in Paradise, at the power plant. Complete change of work, scene, people - my partner's notion of how to rehabilitate a good man who had had his very life chopped off. Delos - Mr Harriman - takes care of his people. Shall we go in? '

It was a pleasant house, with good landscaping and a fenced back yard - and it was furnished.

Mr Strong said, ‘Ali he asked to have shipped to him were his books and his clothes. Her clothes and those of his youngsters and their personal possessions all went to the Salvation Army. The rest - bedlinen, blankets, rugs, towels, drapes - have all been cleaned and the mattresses sterilised. The house is for sale furnished or unfurnished, and you can have it either way on lease. '

It had a master bedrooan and mo smaller ones upstairs, each with bath. The master bedroom was on the west and. had a ‘sunset' balcony, like the flat we had in 1940 on Woodlawn in Chicago. Downstairs was both a parlour and a family room, an arrangement I strongly favour for any family having children at home. Youngsters need a place where they can be less than neat, without disturbing mother when she has someone in for tea.

Off the back hallway, balancing the kitchen, was a maid's room and bath. The kitchen had a GE dishwasher and a Raytheon electronic cooking unit of the same sort that I had in my old farmhouse - and in both cases the equipment was new, not the age of either house. A feature that struck my eye was an abundance of built-in bookcases. .. added later, it seemed to me, except a pair of small ones flanking the fireplace in the family room. Most houses didn't even have that much, as most people don't read.

(Before the twentieth century was out that could be worded, ‘most people can't read'. One of the things I learned in studying the histories of my home planet and century on various time lines was that in the decline and fall that took place on every one of them there was one invariant: illiteracy.

In addition to that scandalous flaw, on three time lines were both drug abuse and concurrent crime in the streets, plus a corrupt and spendthrift government. My own time line had endless psychotic fads followed by religious frenzy; time line seven had continuous wars; three time lines had collapse of family life and marriage - but every time line had loss of literacy. .. combined with - riddle me this - more money per student spent on education than ever before in each history. Never were so many paid so much for accomplishing so little. By 1980 the teachers themselves were only semi-literate. )

The house had - mirabile visu! - two hot-water heaters, one for upstairs, one for kitchen, laundry room, and maid's bath. I tried a tap and was amazed to discover that the water was hot.

George Strong said, ‘After you called yesterday I instructed our maintenance foreman to have services turned on and the house aired. You could sleep here tonight if you so wished. '

‘We'll see. ' I took a quick look in the basement and we left.