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

‘Somehow it does, and I haven't been able to analyse why. Number four -‘

‘Just a moment. Add to number three: Thou shalt not split infinitives, or dangle participles. Thou shalt shun solecisms. Thou shalt honour the noble English language, speech of Shakespeare, Milton and Poe, and it will serve thee all the days of thy life. In particular, Maureen, if 1 ever again hear you say "different than" I will beat you about the head and shoulders with an unbated ablative absolute. '

‘Father, that was an accident! I meant to -‘

‘Excuses. Let's hear number four. '

‘Commandment number four. Go to church on Sundays. Smile and be pleasant but don't be too smarmily a hypocrite. Don't let my children, if and when I have any, play out in front on Sunday or make too much noise out the back. Support the church by deeds and money but not too conspicuously. '

‘Maureen, that's well put. You'll be a preacher's wife yet. '

‘Oh, God, Father, I'd rather be a whore! '

‘The two are not incompatible. Continuez, ma chère enfante. '

‘Mais oui, mon cher papa. Honour thy father and thy mother where anyone can see you. But once you leave home, live your own life. Don't let them lead you around by the nose. Mon papa, you phrased that one yourself. .. and I don't like it much. I do honour you, because I want to. And I don't have anything against Mother; we just don't sing in the same key. But I'm grateful to her. '

‘Avoid gratitude, my dear; it can sour your stomach. After you marry and I'm dead, are you going to invite Adele to move in with you? '

‘Uh -‘ I stopped, unable to answer.

‘Think about it. Think it through carefully, in advance. .. because any answer you make in a hurry while my grave is still fresh is certain to be a wrong answer. Next item:

‘Thou shalt not commit murder. "Murder" means killing somebody wrongfully. Other sorts of killing come in several flavours and each sort must be analysed. I'm still working on this one, Father. '

So am I. Just bear in mind that a person who eats meat is on the same moral level as the butcher. '

‘Yes, sir. Thou shalt not get caught committing adultery. .. and that means don't get pregnant, don't catch a social disease, don't let Mrs Grundy even suspect you, and above all don't let your spouse find out; it would make him most unhappy. .. and he could divorce you. Father, I don't think I would ever be tempted by adultery. If God had intended a woman to have more than one man he would have supplied more men. .. instead of just enough to go around. '

‘Who intended? I didn't catch the name. '

‘I said "God" but you know what I mean! '

‘I do indeed. You are indulging in theology; I would rather see you take laudanum. Maureen, when anyone talks about God's will or God's intentions or Nature's intentions if he is afraid to say "God", I know at once that he is selling a gold brick. To himself, in some cases, as you were just doing. To read a moral law into the fact that about as many males are born as females is to make too much stew from one oyster; it's as slippery as Post hoc, propter hoc.

‘As for your belief that you will never be tempted, here you are, barely dry behind the ears and only a year past first onset of menses. .. and you think you know all there is to know about the perils of sex. .. just as every girl your age throughout history has thought. So go right ahead. Jump the fence with your eyes closed. Break your husband's heart and ruin his pride. Shame your children. Be a scandal in the public square. Get your tubes filed with pus, then let some butcher cut them out in some dirty back room with no ether. Go right ahead, Maureen. Count the world well lost for love. For that's what sloppy adultery can get you: the world lost all right and an early grave and children who will never speak your name. '

‘But, Father, I was saying that I must shun adultery; it's too dangerous. I think I can manage it. ' I smiled at him and recited:

‘"There was a young lady named Wilde - "'

Father picked it up:

‘ "Who kept herself quite undefiled

By thinking of Jesus,

Contagious diseases,

And the dangers of having a child. "

‘Yes, I know; I taught you that limerick. Maureen, you failed to mention the safest route to prudent adultery. Yet I know that you've heard of it; I mentioned it the day I tried to give you an estimate of the amount of fence jumping going on in this county. '

‘I must have missed it, Father. '

‘I know I mentioned it. If you've just gotta - and the day might come - tell your husband what is biting you, ask his permission, ask for his help, ask him to stand jigger for you. '

‘Oh! Yes, you did tell me about two couples like that here in our county. .. but I could never figure out who they are. '

‘I didn't intend you to. So I threw in a few false clues. '

‘I discounted for that, sir, knowing you. But I still couldn't guess. Father, that seems so undignified. And wouldn't, uh, my husband be terribly angry? '

‘He might give you a fat lip; he won't divorce you for asking. Then he might help you anyhow, on the sound theory that you would get into worse trouble if he says No. And -‘ Father gave a most evil grin, ‘ - he might discover he enjoys the role. '

‘Father, I find that I'm shocked. '

‘Then, get over it. Complacent husbands are common throughout history; there is a lot of voyeur in everyone. .. especially in males but females weren't left out. He might jump at the chance to help you. .. because you helped him just that way, six weeks earlier. Stood lookout for him and that young schoolteacher, then you lied like a diploma to cover up for them. Next commandment. '

‘Wait a minute, please! I want to talk about this one some more. Adultery. '

‘And that is just what I'm not going to let you do. You think about it but not a word out of you on this subject for at least two weeks. Next. '

‘Thou shalt not steal. I couldn't improve that one, Father. '

‘Would you steal to feed a baby? '

‘Uh, yes. '

‘Think about other exceptions; we'll discuss it in a year or two. But it is a good general rule. But why won't you steal? You're smart; you can probably get away with stealing all your life. Why won't you do it? '

‘Don't grunt. '

‘Father, you're infuriating! I don't steal because I'm too stinking' proud! '

‘Exactly! Perfect. For the same reason you don't cheat in school, or cheat in games. Pride. Your own concept of yourself. "To thine own self be true, and then it follows as the night from day -" ‘