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

‘I would say so. Safe enough if not very comfortable. I wish I could extend to you the courtesy of the sofa. .. but I can't, until you take up the Howard option. If you do. In the meantime let's think about it. Safe places. '

‘Yes, sir. Thank you. What I can't figure out is this: we trimmed the trip to Butler short, in order to conceal the time used up in unscheduled activity. I've been figuring times and differences in my head. Cher papa, unless my arithmetic is wrong -‘

‘It never is. '

‘Whoever spotted us climbing up into my hideaway must then have proceeded at a fast trot to the Altschuler place, reported my sins, then the Ugly Duchess must have been already dressed, with her buggy hitched and ready, to hurry over to sec you. When did she show up? '

‘Let me see. When she arrived, three patients were waiting. I made her wait her turn. .. so she carne in already angry. I sent her out boiling mad. Hmm. .. she must have arrived at least an hour before you showed up and bumped into her coming out. '

‘Father, it won't work. Physically impossible. Unless she herself was at the fairgrounds, then drove straight to our house on the pretence of needing to see you. '

‘That's possible. Quite unlikely. But, Maureen, you Nave just encountered a phenomenon that you will see again and again all your life after this red-letter day: the only thing known to science faster than the speed of light is Mrs Grundy's gossip. '

‘I guess so. '

‘I know so. When yon next encounter it, how will you handle it? Do you have that in your commandments? '

‘Uh, no. '

‘Think about it. How will you defend yourself? '

I thought about it for the next half-mile. ‘I won't'

‘Won't what? '

‘I won't defend myself against gossip; I will ignore it. At most I will look her - or him - in the eye and state loudly, "You are a filthy-minded liar. " But it's usually best to ignore it entirely. I think. '

‘I think so, too. People of that sort want to be noticed. The cruellest thing you can do to them is to behave as if they did not exist. '

During the remaining half of 1897 I ignored Mrs Grundy while trying to avoid being noticed by her. My public persona was straight out of Louisa M. Alcott while in private I tried to learn more about this amazing new art I don't mean to imply that I spent much time on my back, sweating away for the mutual pleasure of Maureen and His Name Is Legion. Not in Lyle County, not in 1897. Too hard to find a place to do it!

‘Conscience is that little voice that tells you that someone may be watching. ' (Anon and op. cit. )

And there was the problem of a satisfactory partner. Charles was a nice boy and I did offer him that encore, and even a third try at it for good measure. The second and third attempts were more comfortable but even less exciting - cold mush without sorghum and cream.

So after the third one I told Charles that someone had seen us on top of Marston Hill and had told one of my sisters. .. and a good thing that it hadn't been one of my brothers, because I had been able to cool things down with my sister. But he and I had better act as if we had quarrelled. .. or next time the word might get all the way to my mother, who would tell my father, and then there was just no telling. So you had better leave me alone until school starts, huh? You see, don't you. dear?

I learned that the hardest problem of all in dealing with a man is how to stop dealing with him when he does not want to stop. A century and a half of quite varied experience has not given me any answer that is totally satisfactory.

One partly satisfactory answer that I did not learn until much later than 1897 requires considerable skill, great self control, and some sophistication: the intentional ‘dead arse'. Lie there like a dead woman and, above all, let your inner muscles be utterly relaxed. If you combine that with garlic on your breath, it is likely - although not certain - that he will save you the trouble of thinking of a reason to break off. Then, when he initiates a break, you can be brave about it. A ‘good sport'.

I am not suggesting that lively hips and tight muscles constitute ‘sex appeal'. Such qualities, while useful, are merely equivalent to sharp-tools for a carpenter. My sister wife Tamara, mother of our sister wife Ishtar and at one time the most celebrated whore in ali Secundus, is the epitome of sex appeal. .. yet she is not especially pretty and no one who has slept with her talks about her technique. But their faces light up when they sec her and their voices throb when they speak of her.

I asked Jubal Harshaw about Tammy because Jubal is the most analytical of my husbands. He said, ‘Mama Maureen, quit pulling my leg. You of all people know the answer. '

I denied it.

‘Ali right, ' he said, ‘but I still think you are fishing. Sex appeal is the outer evidence of deep interest in your partner's pleasure. Tammy's got it. So have you and just as strongly. It is not your red hair, wench, or even the way you smell, which is yummy. It is the way you give. .. when you give. '

Jubal got me so stirred up that I tripped him, then and there.

But in Lyle County in 1897 one cannot simply trip a darling man and have at it; Mrs Grundy is sitting up in every tree, eager to catch you and publish it. So the preliminaries must be more complex. There are plenty of eager males (about twelve in every dozen) but it is necessary to pick the one you want - age, health, cleanliness, personal charm, discretion (if he gossips to you, he will gossip about you), and other factor, that vary with each candidate. Having selected him for the slaughter you must cause him to decide that he wants you while letting him know silently that it is possible. That is easy to phrase but to put it into practice. .. You'll be honing your skills for a lifetime.

So you reach an agreement. .. but you still haven't found a place.

After picking a place to shed my virginity I resigned that aspect of the problem. If a boy/man wanted my immoral carcass, he would get his grey matter churning and solve it. Or he could go chase flies.

But I did risk chiggers and (once) poison ivy. He caught it; I seem to be immune.

From June to January three boys ranging from sixteen to twenty had me, and one married man of thirty-one. I added him in on the assumption (false) that a married man would be so skilled that he could set off those fireworks without fail.

Total copulations: nine. Orgasms: three - and one was wonderful. Time actually spent copulated: an average of five minutes per go, which is not nearly enough. I learned that life can be beautiful indeed. .. but that the males of my circle ranged from clumsy to awkward.

Mrs Grundy apparently did not notice me.