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

‘That's not Mark Twain; that's one of Father's medical books. ' I handed it to him and returned to The Prince and the Pauper.

A couple of moments later I looked up when Briney said, ‘Hey, this plate is not correct. '

I answered, ‘Yes, I know. As I know what plate you are looking at. Father says that any layman who gets his hands on that book invariably looks at that plate first, Shall I take off my drawers so that you can check it? '

‘Quit trying to divert me, wench; I have an excellent memory. ' He thumbed on through. ‘Fascinating. One could study these plates for hours. '

‘I know. I have. '

‘Amazing how much machinery can be packed into one set of skin. ' He went on thumbing through, then got hooked by a work on obstetrics, shuddered at parts of that one (Brian was a good jackleg midwife, but he didn't like blood), put it aside and picked up another one. ‘Whee! '

‘What is it this time, dear? Oh. What Every Young Girl Should Know. ' (He had picked up the Forberg etchings, Figuris Veneris. I was startled, too, the first time I opened it. )

‘That's not its name. Here's the title page: Figures of Venus. '

‘Joke, dear. Father's joke. He had me study it as a sex instruction manual, then we discussed each picture and he answered any question I asked. Lots of questions, that is. He said that Mr Forberg's pictures were anatomically correct. .. which is more than we can say about that censored plate you complained about. Father said that these pictures should be used in school, because they were far superior to the behind the-barn cartoons or photographs that were the only thing most young people get to look at - until they were confronted by the real thing and were frightened and sometimes hurt. ' I sighed. ‘Father says that this so-called civilisation is sick throughout but nowhere more so than about sex, every aspect of sex. '

‘Your father is dead right, I think. But, Maureen, do I understand that Dr Johnson gave this to you as an instruction manual? My revered father-in-law endorsed everything in these pictures? Everything? '

‘Oh, heavens, no. Just most of them. But in general Father says that anything two - or more - people want to do is all right as long as it does no physical harm. He felt that the words "moral" and "immoral" were ridiculous when applied to sexual relations. Right and wrong were the correct words, used exactly as they would be used in any other human relation. '

‘Mon beau-père a raison. And my wife is a smart cookie, too:

‘I had tutoring by a wise man all my life, until he turned me over to you. At least I think my father is wise. Here, let me sit beside you and I'll point out what he approved of, what he didn't. '

I moved across beside him, he put his arm around me and I held the book on his lap. ‘The title-page - Note the date, 1824. But the pictures are mostly classic Greece and dome, except one in Egypt. Father said that, despite that date less than a hundred years back, these pictures match murals in whorehouses in Pompeii. .. except that these are artistically much superior to the Pompeii paintings. '

‘Dr Johnson has been to Pompeii? '

‘No. Well, I don't think he has. With Father it is sometimes hard to be sure. He did tell me that he had seen photographs of Pompeii murals in Chicago. At Northwestern or in some museum:

‘But how did he get these pictures? I hate to tell you, my sweet innocent, but I'm certain that these pictures would get us a long rest at Federal expense. .. under the Comstock Act. If we were caught with them. '

‘If we were caught. "Caught" is the important word. Father urged me to know the law as thoroughly as possible. .. so as not to get caught when I broke one. Father never felt that any law applied to him. .. other than in that sense. '

‘I think it is clear that your father is a subversive character, a bad influence, a wicked old man. .. and I admire him without limit and hope to grow up like him. '

‘I love him all to pieces, mon homme. He could have had my maidenhead just by lifting his eyebrow. He wouldn't take it. '

‘I know that, beloved. I've known it since I first met you. '

‘Yes, I'm a woman scorned. .. and someday he'll pay. But I want to take his advice about the Law. Briney, do you suppose I could attend classes at the Kansas City School of Law. .. if I could squeeze the tuition out of my household allowance? '

‘Perhaps. But you won't have to squeeze it out of your housekeeping money; any schooling you want we can now afford. But never mind such trivial matters; we're talking about sex. S-E-X, the stuff that makes the world go around. Next picture, please. '

‘Yes, sir. Missionary sty1e. Approved even by priests. ‘Me next picture is almost as widely accepted, although perhaps Mrs Grundy never gets on top. This next one is certainly not used by Mrs Grundy although by everybody else - says Father. But he noted that a gentleman, in coupling with a lady from behind and standing up, will reach under and find her button, so that she is ensured a good time, too. Now the next - Oh! Briney, someday, when we can afford it, I want a bed just the right height so that you can put me on it in that position, on my back, legs up - just the right height so that you can stand up and enter me without crouching. I like that position, so do you - but the last time we used it, you got cramps in your legs and were trembling toward the last, you got so tired. Darling, I want you to enjoy it as much as I do. Loads, that is. '

‘Lady, you're a gentleman. '

‘Why, thank you, sir! If that is not a jest. '

No jest. Most ladies are not gentlemen; they will pull stunts that would get a man ten days in the stocks. .. and walk on, with their noses in the air. But not my Mo. With you, fair is fair and you don't expect to get by on your sex. '

‘Ah, but I do. By "ringing the cash register". '

‘Don't confuse me with logic. You treat everyone decently, that's all, even your poor old husband. Yes, I'll build you that bed. Not only the right height but one guaranteed not to squeak. I'll get busy on the design. Hmm, Mo, how would you like a really big bed? Say one that would hold you and me and Hal and Jane - or playmates of your choice - all at once. '

‘Goodness, what a thought! I hear that Annie Chambers has a bed like that. '