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

‘Then you had better break mine, too, as I went there intending to do it. I did it. The rest derived from that bald, inexcusable fact. I took a risk I should not have taken. My fault at least as much as his. '

‘Yes, yes, but that's not the point. Sweetheart, I'm not faulting him for screwing you; any man not castrated will screw you if he has a clear chance at you. So your only protection is not to give him that chance if you don't want him to take it. What I'm angry about is his shoving my poor baby into a closet, into the dark, locking her in, frightening her. I'll kill him slowly. God damn him. I'll nut him first. I'll take his scalp. And cut off his ears. '

‘Briney -‘

‘I'll drive a stake - What, dear? '

‘I've been a bad girl, I know, but I got away with it cold. I didn't get pregnant because I am pregnant. No disease. .. or I don't think so. I'm almost certain nobody twigged, no scandal. I would like to watch you do all those things to him; I despise him. But, if you hurt him even a little bit, even punch his nose, it's no longer a secret. .. and that could hurt our children. Couldn't it? '

Briney conceded this pragmatic necessity. I wanted us to leave that church. Briney agreed. ‘But not right away, love. I'll be home for the next six weeks at least. We'll go to church together -‘

We got there early and sat down at the front, facing the pulpit. Briney caught Dr Zeke's eye and held it, all through the sermon, Sunday after Sunday.

Dr Zeke had a nervous breakdown and had to take a leave of absence.

Briney and I did not work out all our rules for sex and love and marriage too easily. We were trying to do two things at once: create a whole new system of just conduct in marriage - a code that any civilised society would have taught us as children - and simultaneously create an arbitrary and utterly pragmatic set of rules for public conduct to protect us from the Bible-belt arbiters of morals and conduct. We were not missionaries trying to convert Mrs Grundy to our way of thinking; we simply wanted to hold up a mask so that she would never suspect that we did not agree with her way of thinking. In a society in which it is a moral offence to be different from your neighbours your only escape is never to let them find out.

Slowly over the years we learned that many Howard families had been forced to face up to the fact that the Howard Foundation programme simply did not fit the Midwestern Bible belt. .. yet the majority of Howard candidates came from the Middle West. Eventually these conflicts and contradictions resulted in most Howards either dropping out of organised religion, or paying it lip service as Brian and I did, until we left Kansas City in the late thirties and quit pretending.

So far as I know, there are no organised religions in Boondock, or anywhere on Tellus Tertius. Question: is this an inevitable evolutionary development as mankind approaches true civilisation? Or is that wishful thinking?

Or did I die in 1982? Boondock is so utterly unlike Kansas City that I have trouble believing that they are in the same universe. Now that I am locked up incommunicado in what appears to be a madhouse run by its inmates it is easy to believe that a traffic accident that hit an old, old woman in 1982 was fatal. .. and that these dreams of weirdly different worlds are merely the delirium of dying. Am I heavily sedated and on I. C. life support in some Albuquerque hospital while they decide whether or not to pull the plug? Are they waiting to hear from Woodrow for authorisation? As I recall, I listed him as ‘Next of Kin' in my wallet.

Are ‘Lazarus Long' and ‘Boondock' a senile fantasy?

Must ask Pixel next time he visits me. His English is scarce but I've no one else to ask.

One fine thing we did even before we got our new house furnished: we got the rest of our books out of storage. In the crackerbox we had been living in we had had room for only a couple of dozen volumes, and that precious few only by storing them on the top shelf in the kitchen, a spot I could reach only by standing on a stool - something I did not risk when I was big with child. Once I waited three days for Brian to come home from Galena, intending to ask him to reach down my Golden Treasury for me - I could see it; couldn't reach it - then, when he did get home, I forgot it.

I had two boxes of books in storage, Brian had more than that. .. and I had ‘inherited' case after case of my father's books. He had written to me when he went back into the Army to tell me that he had had them packed and shipped to Kansas City Storage and Warehousing - receipts enclosed. His bank was instructed to keep the storage paid up. .. but if I wanted to give them a home, that would please him. Perhaps someday he might ask for some of them back, but in the meantime treat them as my own. ‘Books are meant to be read and loved, not stored. '

So we got our printed friends out of bondage and into the light and air - although we had no bookcases as yet. Briney got boards and bricks and set up temporary shelves. .. and I learned what my husband liked better than sex.

Almost any books but what hooked him that weekend were Professor Huxley's essays. .. which I hardly noticed because I had my hands on Father's Mark Twain collection, Mr Clemens' books, for the first time since May 1898 everything of his up to that date, mostly first editions and four of them signed by Mr Clemens and ‘Mark Twain' -‘signed on that great night in January 1898 when I fought to stay awake in order not to miss any of Mr Clemens' words.

For perhaps two hours Brian and I took turns touching the other one's elbow and saying, ‘Listen to this! ' - then reading aloud. It turned out that Brian had never read The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg or Some Notes on the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut. I was astonished. ‘Dear, I love you - but why did they let you graduate? '

‘I don't know. The War, probably. '

‘Well, I'll just have to tutor you. We'll start with the Connecticut Yankee. '

‘I've read it. What's that fat one? '