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

In the 1900s Kansas City was an exciting place. Despite three months in Chicago ten years earlier I was not used to a big city. When I went there as a bride, Kansas City had one hundred and fifty thousand people in it. There were electric streetcars, almost as many automobiles as horse-drawn vehicles, trolley wires and telephone wires and power wires everywhere. All of the main streets were paved and more of the side streets were being paved each year; the park system was already famous worldwide and still not finished. The public library had (unbelievable! ) nearly half a million volumes.

Kansas City's Convention Hall was so big that the Democratic party was scheduled to hold its 1900 presidential nominating convention in it - then it burned down overnight and its reconstruction was underway before the ashes were cold and the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan in that hall just ninety days later.

Meanwhile the Republicans renominated President McKinley and, with him, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, heroe of San Juan hill. I don't know for whom my husband voted. .. but it never seemed to displease him when someone would notice a resemblance between him and Teddy Roosevelt.

I think Briney would have told me, had I asked - but in 1900 politics was not a woman's business, and I was doing my utter best to simulate publicly the perfect modest housewife, interested only in kirk, kitchen, and kids as the Kaiser put it. (Kische, Küche, und Kinder. )

Then in September 1901, only six months into his second term, our President was murdered most vilely. .. and the dashing young war hero was precipitated into the highest Office.

There are time lines in which Mr McKinley was not assassinated and Col. Roosevelt was never president, and his distant cousin was not nominated in 1932, which utterly changes the patterns of wars, both in 1917 and 1941. Our Time Corps mathematicians deal with these matters, but the structural simulations are large even for the new computer complex combining Mycroft Holmes IV with Pallas Athene, and are quite beyond me. I'm a baby factory, a good cook, and I aim to be a panic in bed. It seems to me that the secret of happiness in life is to know what you are and then be content to be that, in style, head up and proud, and not yearn to be something else. Ambition can never change a sparrow into a hawk, or a wren into a bird of paradise. I'm a Jenny Wren; it suits me.

Pixel is a fine example of being what he is in style. His tail is always up and he is always sure of himself. Today he brought me still another mouse, so I praised him and petted him, and kept the mouse until he left, then flushed it away.

A midnight thought finally surfaced. These mice are the first proof anyone has had (I'm almost sure) that Pixel can take anything with him when he grasps a probability and walks through walls (if that describes what he does - well, at least it labels it).

What message can I send, and to whom, and how can I fasten it to him?

In shifting from school girl to housewife I had to add to Maureen's private decalogue. One was: thou shalt always live within thy household allowance. Another I formulated earlier: thou shalt not let thy children see thee cry - and when it became clear that Brian would have to be away frequently, I added him in. Never let him see me cry and be sure to offer him a smiling face when he returns. .. don't, Don't, DONT sour his return with fiddling details about how a pipe froze, or the grocer boy was rude, or see what that dadratted dog did to my pansy bed. Make him happy to come home, sorry to have to leave.

Do let children welcome him; don't let them smother him. He wants a mother for his children. .. but he wants a willing and available concubine, too. If you are not she, he will find one elsewhere.

Another commandment: promises must be kept - especially ones made to children. So think three times before making one. In case of tiniest doubt, don't promise.

Above all, don't save up punishments ‘until your father comes home'.

Many of these rules did not yet apply when I had only one baby and that one still in nappies. But I did think out most of my roles ahead of time and then wrote them down in my private journal. Father had warned me that I had no moral sense; therefore it would be necessary to anticipate decisions I would have to make. I could not depend on that little voice of conscience to guide me on an ad hoc basis; I did not have that little voice. Therefore I would have to reason things out instead, ahead of time, forming rules of conduct somewhat like the Ten Commandments, only more so, and without the glaring defects of an ancient tribal code intended only for barbaric herdsmen.

But none of my roles were really difficult and I had a wonderfully good time!

I never tried to find out how much Briney was paid whenever I had a baby; I did not want to know. It was more fun to believe that it was a million dollars each time, paid in red gold ingots the colour of my hair, each golden ingot too heavy for one man to lift. A king's favourite, lavished with jewels, is proud of her ‘fallen' state; it is the poor drab on the street, renting her body for pennies, who is ashamed of her trade. She is a failure and she knows it. In my daydream I was a king's mistress, not a sad-faced mattress-back.

But the Foundation must have paid fairly well. Attend me - Our first house in Kansas City was close to minimum for respectable middle class. It was near the coloured district; in 1899 this made it a cheap neighbourhood even though it was segregated for whites. Besides it was on an east-west street and faced north, two more points against it. It was on a high terrace with a long flight of steps to climb. It was a one-storey frame house, built in 1880 with its plumbing added as an afterthought - the bath opened directly off the kitchen. It had no dining-room, no hallway, just one bedroom. It had no proper basement, just a dirty-floor cellar for the furnace and coal bin. It had no attic, just a low, unfinished space.

But houses for rent that we could afford were scarce; Briney had been lucky to find it. I had thought for a while that I was going to have my first baby in a boarding-house.