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

Father stood at the top of the steps with the slant door open, until a piece of the Ritters barn came by.

At which point, Mother was shrill with him (for the only time that I know of in the presence of children). ‘Doctor! You come inside at once! I will not be widowed just to let you prove to yourself that you can stand up to anything! '

Father came down promptly, fastening the slant door behind him. ‘Madam, ' he stated, ‘as always your logic is irrefutable. '

There were hayrides with young people of our own age, usually with fairly tolerant chaperonage; there were skating parties on the Marais des Cygnes; there were Sunday School picnics, and church ice-cream socials, and more and more. Happy times do not come from fancy gadgets; they come from ‘male and female created He them, ' and from being healthy and filled with zest for life.

The firm discipline we lived under was neither onerous nor unreasonable; none of it was simply for the sterile purpose of having rules. Outside the scope of those necessary rules we were as free as birds.

Older children helped with younger children, with defined responsibilities. AI] of us had assigned chores, from about age six, on up. The assignments were written down and checked off-and in later years I handled my own brood (larger than my mother's) by her rules. Hers were sensible rules; they had worked for her; they would work for me.

Oh, my rules were not exactly like my mother's rules because our circumstances were not exactly alike. For example, a major chore for my brothers was sawing and chopped wood; my sons did not chop wood because our home in Kansas City was heated by a coal furnace. But they did tend the furnace, fill the coal bin (coal was delivered to the kerb, followed by the backbreaking chore of carrying ir a bucket at a time to a chute that led to the coal bin), and clean out the ashes and haul them up the basement stairs and out.

There were other differences. My boys did not have to carry water for baths; in Kansas City we had running water. And so forth. .. My sons worked as hard as my brothers had, but differently. A city house with electricity and gas and a coal furnace does not create anything like the heavy chores that a country house in the Gay Nineties did. The house I was brought up in had no running water, no plumbing of any sort, no central heating. It was lit by coal-oil lamps and by candles, both homemade and store-bought, and it was heated by wood stoves: a big baseburner in the parlour, a drum stove in the clinic, monkey stoves elsewhere. No stoves upstairs. .. but grilles ser in the ceilings allowed heated air to reach the upper floor.

Ours was one of the larger houses in town, and possibly the most modern, as Father was quick to adopt any truly useful new invention as soon as it was available. In this he consciously imitated Mr Samuel Clemens.

Father judged Mr Clemens to be one of the smartest and possibly the smartest man in America. Mr Clemens was seventeen years older than Father; he first became aware of ‘Mark Twain' with the Jumping Frog story. From that time on Father read everything by Mr Clemens he could lay hands on.

The year I was born Father wrote to Mr Clemens, complimenting him on A Tramp Abroad. Mr Clemens sent a courteous and dryly humorous answer; Father framed it and hung it on the wall of his clinic. Thereafter Father wrote to Mr Clemens as each new book by ‘Mark Twain' appeared. As a direct result, young Maureen read all of Mr Clemens' published works, curled up in a corner of her father's clinic. These were not books that Mother read; she considered them vulgar and destructive of good morals. By her values Mother was correct; Mr Clemens was clearly subversive by the standards of all ‘right-thinking' people.

I am forced to assume that Mother could spot an immoral book by its odour, as she never, never actually read anything by Mr Clemens.

So those books stayed in the clinic and I devoured them there, along with other books never seen in the parlour-not just medical books, but such outright subversion as the lectures of Colonel Robert Ingersoll and (best of all) the essays of Thomas Henry Huxley.

I'll never forget the afternoon I read Professor Huxley's essay on ‘The Gaderene Swine'.

‘Father, ' I said in deep excitement, ‘they've lied to us all along! '

‘Probably, ' he agreed. ‘What are you reading? '

I told him. ‘Well, you've read enough of it for today; Professor Huxley is strong medicine. Let's talk for a while.

How are you doing with the Ten Commandments? Got your final version? '

‘Maybe, ' I answered.

‘How many are there now? '

‘Sixteen, I think. '

‘Too many. '

‘If you would just let me chuck the first five -‘

‘Not while you're under my roof and eating at my table. You see me attending church and singing hymns, do you not? I don't even sleep during the sermon. Maureen, rubbing blue mud in your belly button is an indispensable survival skill. .. everywhere, anywhere. Let's hear your latest version of the first five. '

‘Father, you are a horrid man and you will come to a bad end. '

‘Not as long as I can keep dodging them. Quit stalling. '

‘Yes, sir. First Commandment: Thou shalt pay public homage to the god favoured by the majority without giggling or even smiling behind your hand. '

‘Go on. '

‘Thou shalt not make any graven image of a sort that could annoy the powers that be, especially Mrs Grundy - and, exempli gratia, this is why your anatomy book doesn't show the clitoris. Mrs Grundy wouldn't like it because she doesn't have one. '

‘Or possibly has one the size of a banana, ' my father answered, ‘but doesn't want anyone to find out. Censorship is never logical but, like cancer, it is dangerous to ignore it when it shows up. Darling daughter, the purpose of the second commandment is simply to reinforce the first. A "graven image" is any idol that could rival the official god; it has nothing to do with sculpture or etchings. Go on. '

‘Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in vain. .. which means don't swear, not even Jiminy or Golly or darn, or use any of those four-letter words, or anything that Mother might consider vulgar. Father, there is something here that doesn't make sense. Why is "vagina" a good word while "cunt" is a bad word? Riddle me that. '

‘Both are bad words out of your mouth, youngster, unless you are talking to me. .. in which case you will use the medical Latin out of respect for my vocation and my grey hair. You are permitted to say the Anglo-Saxon synonym under your breath if it pleasures you. '