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Author Topic: Mountie Astray, contd.  (Read 1923 times)


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Mountie Astray, contd.
« on: May 16, 2007, 12:45:28 pm »

XVIII. Two Leaves And The Bud

When Sean finally fired up the rotor jets of his flying contraption, we were silent for the better part of our journey. This time, he did not try to persuade me to fly the Rotodyne. He took me back to Jack’s farm, where the entire adventure had started.
Andrea was not looking too friendly, but she told me this was due to the fact that Jack would not come home for a while. He had been asked to Mr. Rosenbaum’s tea plantation. He had left a note that I might follow as soon as pos-sible.
“Did he think about how I might get there?”
“I’ll borrow you my Rotodyne.” The way he grinned, I was not too sure if Sean was kidding.
“Thanks a lot, I rather thought of an idea to arrive there alive.”
“Ok, then I’ll baby-sit for your virgin flight.” Sean was still grinning.
“I’m just too curious about how you’d look when you see the Rosenbaum Gardens.”
“Sounds more like a park than like a farm to me.”
“Never call him a farmer. The old guy won’t like that. Tea is planted in gar-dens. He’d accept the word plantation but for him and his friends and all who want to become friends with him it’s just his gardens. Seems he loves to understate.
“It’s a five hundred miles ride, give or take a few dozen. So let’s be nice to Andrea and see what she has cooked.”
Her look brightened a little.
“I’ve got some tarréan beef and Kempérien praties. Bonnyclabber from Tara, herbs from our garden.”
That sounded promising.
“What in heaven is ‘bonnyclabber’?”
“Sort of clotted cream, made of fresh milk. Tastes great with cooked praties and beef. You’ll see.”
She laid the kitchen table and served hot meat, steaming potatoes and slightly sour tasting clotted cream.
After dinner, Sean insisted on my running through the short checklist of his Rotodyne. Andrea had provided us with a tank filling of high-pressure hydrogen. Standardized composite tanks, much lighter than steel tubes but more than twice as strong were the stuff, which kept many engines running. Dirt cheap, everywhere available and clean. Engineers’ wet dream.
Sean showed me how to get used to the intricacies of the local navigation systems. The way the properties were dispersed, you could easily miss an entire plantation without noticing it. Most were separated by vast ranges of undisturbed native vegetation, no roads in the way I knew them were connecting the home-steads. They were not needed. Almost nothing had to be transported by ground bound vessels. Hovers would never need real roads.
In the cities, the main roads were covered with some die-hard conifers or the native glass-reinforced weed. A good way to preserve the native vegetation.
For quite a while, we were flying across utterly undisturbed native vegetation. Miles and miles were stretching out beneath our feet, showing few landmarks at all. The vegetation, which looked more or less green in diffuse light, glistened with a silvery luster in plain sunlight. Toutatis, the ancient Celtic sun deity, was not an easy mistress. Her light was an incandescent blue flare, a brilliant needle which stung the careless eye with painful daggers of light. Shadows were much sharper than on Earth, due to the larger distance to the central star, although this one was by far larger than good old Sol.
We were heading towards a long mountain chain, clearly visible in the harsh sunlight. Its northern slopes were covered with thick vegetation. A trifle above the natural border, some green spots were visible. It was towards these spots we were heading.
Right in the middle of these spots I could see a small compound of several houses and barns.
The closer we came, the larger this compound grew. The green spots turned out to be long rows of tea bushes, stretching out for miles in each direction.
What looked like a tennis court turned out to be a heliport. Hovers would not need a specialized place.
Sean asked for permission to land, which was granted. His Rotodyne was a unique sight on Kemper. Its noise was worth as much as a digital ID card in Can-ada, maybe better. 
Jack stood waiting at the airfield, accompanied by an old, but strong man. The old guy greeted Sean like an old friend and when he turned to me, I could see his bright eyes shine, competing with his gold teeth.
“So you are the Mountie who has been ordered to investigate the lame ex-cuse for an invasion. Nice to meet you, I’ll give you a mouthful to report. You should have come earlier, that might have saved you from drinking second-rate tea.”
He gave me a broad grin.
At this altitude, the sun was still warm, but I could feel the chill of a thinning atmosphere. Looking around I found that his property was much larger than the impression I had got from an aerial view.
I asked how much acreage he had in use.
“To be honest, I can’t tell you that. I have been planting gardens for about twenty years now and I did not keep too close a count. But I think I have more that two thousand acres of tea gardens I call my own.”
I was thoroughly impressed.
“There is no end to be seen. Nowadays I do not all my work alone any longer, and every day a few dozen tea bushes are being planted. Good personnel is hard to find, sure, but it is hard to find such a well-paid job like these I have to of-fer, either.”
“How much can a tea plucker earn?”
“Well, a good one can pluck some sixty pounds of tea leaves. Depending on the quality and type of tea this is between five and twenty SC a day. Should the plucker be interested in a steady job, I will give her a garden of her own. I have two or three male pluckers, the rest are women. I don’t know why, but I wound up hav-ing an almost exclusively female plucker staff. Every fourteen days you can harvest from a tea bush, that means that the efficiency of a plucker defines the size of the garden I give her.
“In most cases, the quality increases as soon as a plucker has her own gar-den. If not, well, there is competition in that business. A dedicated plucker will rise as soon as a garden with higher quality tea is vacant or newly planted.
  “I am offering more than twenty different types of tea with some twenty degrees of quality. The lowest degree is what I sell most, the highest is a white tea I cultivate in the highest mountain regions, where I have less than ten acres of tea gardens.
“Three ladies are taking care of this garden, and they’ll defend this privilege with claws and teeth. They are earning more than fifty SC a day and I never got as much as one bad leaf in a month from them. They are artists of tea, aficionados. The lowest grade is what I let day laborers do. That’s the place I need a quality con-trol squad for.
“I tried a machine vision system, but it failed. There is still nothing, which equals the performance of a human mind. The job is horrible, but well paid. Funny, that’s a job for old men. They perform best.
“The fermentation is mostly automatized, as well as packaging and storage. Funny, the prices are increasing although I increase my production year by year. Well, I don’t mind.”
His grin was contagious. He led us into his patio, where a cheerful rose gar-den surrounded an artificial pond.
“After all, it’s the Rosenbaum Tea Plantation.”
In a corner of this beautiful and peaceful place, we found ourselves in a comfortable corner, where tables had been laid for a stylish tea hour. We found numerous different qualities and kinds of tea, but the one I learned to love most was a mild black tea with decent caffeine.
“Good choice, sir, that’s one of my personal favorites as well. It is a direct descendant of the highland tea my ancestors used to cultivate in Grusinya, just north of the Kavkas Mountains. The climate is almost the same here, except it is slightly more arid. But I think, that is being taken care of.
“As far as I understand it, Mr. Kermarec, you are a sort of official spy or in-vestigator who has the ungrateful task to figure out why this bloody disaster of an invasion might have happened?”
“Well, Mr. Rosenbaum, that’s the official mission for which I have been sent here. What happened here is another pair of shoes, so I think my mission has ex-pired. On the other hand, I am still curious why this invasion got botched the way it did.”
“Did you report anything home?”
“Yes, I did. I wrote a one line memo in which I said the only way not to lose this campaign was to not begin it. Apparently the decision to fire me has been taken before this information got to Earth.”
“Peculiar way to direct an investigation, but it fits in the way these people do whatever they do.
“We got tipped off before, sure. Celtic people still have friends on Earth, and not everyone who has stayed on Earth is a statist. But that is not the major mo-tive, which made us fight. For more than twenty years, these people have built up a world practically from scratch. When the first roster had landed, there was nothing here, no runway, no edible vegetation, no shelter – and almost no water.
“We built this world. Water was found in the local Kuyper Belt and trans-ported down here. The Tarréanai have helped us a lot, but there was almost no contact to Earth in these early years.
“Many of us have suffered from hunger. All food had to be imported for six years; there was no such thing as a full plate during this time. Water had to be bought. Building materials could not be imported; there was not enough capacity for both, food and stuff at the same time. Many people had accidents, often lethal. There is a cemetery you should visit as soon as you can spare a day. Some people even died from hunger. But not one was willing to go back to Earth. They’d rather die than fail.
“When the first crops could be harvested, we would not sell them to Earth but offer them on a free market. The first Corporate Worlds were flourishing and they offered a premium price for good food, much higher than the regulated prices the terranian Office of Colonial Affairs could offer. What we saw then was a re-vival of the British East India Company or the Hudson Bay Company.
“No-one would like this here, that’s why we introduced the tradition of our auctions. Perishable goods are being auctioned weekly, stable goods per quartal or even once a year, like my tea.
“When I arrived here in the fourth year of colonization, I was poor except for five hundred tiny seedlings of tea. It took me many years to build up this plan-tation and just the year I would reap my first full harvest, these foreign mercenaries would try to steal my life, my dreams and my future.
“No. As long as I am alive, this will not happen. I have been working as a contractor, as a menial in any trade I could find a job. Every minute of the little spare time I had, I have spent here on my own plantation, a creation, which took years to build and to flourish. The first few years, I was the only one to build, to harvest and to process. Then I found a few aficionados like me who shared my pas-sion. With these, I built up my business to the plantation you can see here. Out of the last eighteen years, I have been working fifteen as a contractor for other people. For two years I have been living from the money I had earned as a worker, and just before this invasion, I had almost no money left. Sure, I had invested much in am-munition and weapons, but this was bitterly necessary. I consider this business costs, because these weapons and ammunitions made sure that I still own my plan-tation.
“It was in the year of the invasion that my plantation yielded the first real profit. Many people here were in the same situation. All our hopes, all our ambi-tions were on the brink of destruction. I don’t think there was one man or woman here who would not fight for his own life.
“There were some discussions about the best way to fight and how to organ-ize such a herd of cats, but there was no dissent that to fight was the only solution.
“For the first times in generations, these people had a chance to chose their own destiny and take control about their own lives. The one thing we all agreed on was that the shortest way to get rid of the invaders would be to shoot them to rib-bons and sent them home in body bags. No quarters. So we piled up whatever we could get hold of and used it the way we thought best. Might have been a little more elegance in that game but well, it worked. At least it worked good enough to get rid of them and scare their masters off. Your presence here is the proof that it worked.”
“Well, those two stooges I talked to were absolutely clueless about what had happened, they would not believe the survivors. Not one word.”
“Well, some things just may not be true. Not according to party line, at least.”
“To me, this plantation is a promise come true. My land. My tea. My free-dom. All mine. I have the right to defend myself, as the Talmud says: If someone comes to kill you, arise and kill him first. To knuckle under means avoda sara, ser-vice for the wrong god. I have studied the history not only of my own people, but history of mankind, as much as I could get hold of. It tells the same story all over.
“Many, no, most folks here are Christians, but that does not matter. I ain’t, and it doesn’t matter to them. Here I am free to do whatever I like, here I can be the man I promised to be when I was Bar Mitzvah. Here, I own my life.
“That is the reason why all these people would fight relentlessly and merci-less against the foreign invasion. They owned their lives and wanted to make sure to keep it that way. Freedom is a precious good, and it is never free. You must fight for it, work for it, bleed for it, die for it. But it rewards you with life. Your life. Your own, unique life. Given to you by God and not to be stolen by anyone. If you love your life, you will love your freedom. Cherish freedom, cherish life. Have yourself enslaved, have other people own your life, you’re dead as Kelso’s balls. Dead as a doornail. I know people who might have been happy to be slaves, but the very moment they tasted freedom, they got the message and would never return to their masters.
“Funny. If I had bought less ammunition, my plantation might have yielded a profit six years ago. But then I would be a slave right now, having no longer the right to own the place I have built with my own hands.
“Do you really think I would give this up and knuckle under? Sure, I might have been killed, but I would have died as a free man and my plantation would have been destroyed within a few years.
“No. Mr. Kermarec, nobody, no known force in the universe would have been strong enough to bring these people back under the yoke of some state. No way.”
There was quite a silent pause afterwards.

I bear no hate against a living thing I just love my freedom all above the King


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Re: Mountie Astray, contd.
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 12:46:31 pm »

XIX. Guns and Manners

“That’s the way I see it either.” Jack threw in. “At least, I would not knuckle under and forsake all I’ve been building up these years.”
“This freedom thing is contagious. Even if I still were able to go to the place I used to call home for almost fifty years, I would not. Sure, a few things I got used to are not there. Can’t even say I miss them.”
“For example?” Ariel was apparently curious.
“Disgruntled people for example, or bad manners. All Kempériens I have met are well-mannered and relaxed.”
“Well, freedom helps a lot with both. When you’re not taxed out of ninety-odd percent of what you produce, it’s easy to be relaxed.”
“Another thing is the fact that everybody carries a weapon. Heinlein coined the word that an armed society is a polite society. Kemper is at least no proof for the opposite.
“But I think there is more to that than just a couple of guns. Some people say that good manners or education was a phenomenon of a culture of strict hier-archy. You had to be meek and humble in order to please your superiors. Democ-racy was blamed for the decline of good manners, because it made all people equal. Democracy was blamed to confuse equality with similarity. If all are equal, there is no way to be humble and meek, so people lost all manners, good ones first.
“Same thing with masks or uniforms. One looks like the other and you can break every rule and get away with it, because nobody is supposed to recognize you – all are similar, not equal. That’s why good citizens could kill their neighbors they knew from childhood on only because today, you’re wearing a Schutzstaffel uniform and yell slogans in chorus with a dozen other drunken thugs.
“You lose your identity and then you’re home free.”
Ariel knew what he was talking about.
“Here on the Celtic Worlds, we don’t have use for uniforms. Here we have small neighborhoods where all people know each other. You won’t see any haute couture here, definitely not because nobody can’t afford it. Folks here don’t need anything to disguise. They can be what they want to be. No need for envy, jealousy or pretense. You can earn honor and respect by just doing what you want. Some folks don’t work more than a few days a month for money, the rest of their time is dedicated to whatever purpose they like.
“Some would go fishing, if we had any fish here. Some go hiking, some write poems or sing songs or play music on ceilidh parties. We don’t have “public houses” here. Some inns, several restaurants, but all here is private property – or no man’s land. Take it and it’s yours.
“Everyone here can build up property. No one has to remain poor. No taxes, not much crime here, and no restrictions what job to do, when or how long.
“No excuses, either. Sure, you can screw up. Sure, you can fail. So what. Tomorrow, there is a new chance waiting for you. Nobody blames you for falling down, just lick your wounds and get up again. The only real shortage we have here is labor. You can find a new job within five minutes, any time you want.
“You won’t lose your face just because you have lost your job. Life is a risk, sure, but in every risk there is a chance. It is really hard to fail. Hell, even our local wino had to quit sobbing and drinking because he had too many talents he could sell.”
“Yeah,” interrupted Jack. “Last thing I heard of him was that he’s happily married and has a plantation and a couple of kids. Thoroughly ruined his bad repu-tation.”
“See this lemon juice?” Asked Ariel. “The ex-wino grows them. Can sell them for their weight in gold, because they taste like nothing you’ve ever bought elsewhere. He makes a shitload of money every year and earns another pile of change with the honey his bees produce.
“All the crap about the aroma from earth produce is purely hysterical mar-keting panic. The soil is exhausted, the gene pool as well and there is a steady de-crease of quality due to the fact that a collapsing society can’t manage even to keep skilled people there, or at least hold the skill level of society. The smartest thing anyone can do is to get away to a place where he can earn real money for real work. Nobody blames you to be smart or hard working. Here, people won’t be jealous if you might have a few hundred ounces of gold more at Reuschel’s than they.”
“In Europe, you hear things like: ‘our neighbor is a millionaire – eeeew!’. Here you’ll hear: ‘Our neighbor is a millionaire, WOW!’”
“Yes, in a situation where you can achieve something by just doing it, it is easy to gain self-respect. You are what you make of yourself. You don’t have to steal from others or to ‘exploit’ them; you just do your thing. Any success is your success. Anyone else’s success does not diminish yours. All people are equal, be-cause they can live up to their differences. One grows wheat? Fine. Another grows citrus fruits? Good!
“Some folks call capitalism an ‘elbow society’. That’s crap. You’ll need your elbows most when all folks do the same at the same time. With a little imagination and a tiny little bit of courage, you’ll find some nook where nobody will compete with you. You’ll never need protection as long as you use your brain.”
“Tell that our subsidized farmers. Funny, I always thought that we had a capitalist society. Skyscrapers were always considered the symbols of capitalism, but now I’m not so sure…” I poured another cup of tea.
“Maybe that’s another reason why you were fighting the invasion unani-mously: Nobody fights for strangers. You fought for friends and family – and for your own life. That’s a tremendous motivation. Nobody needs orders or draft no-tices to defend his home and family.”
“That’s a good point.” Ariel replied.
“I think, that’s basically what made Kempériens tick during the war.” Jack was trying the cookies Ariel had served.
“In peace time you can’t get more than a few on one place. Not that they don’t like each other, but most of them won’t like to be in a crowd. That’s maybe the reason why we don’t have public houses, but ceilidh parties. Everything private is being kept private. No public schools either. Like on Tara, there is no such thing as a formal education, but our young people mostly outperform those from Earth.
“Disaster is another pair of shoes. Your house burns? Everyone who can see it comes to help. Storms, earthquakes, People line up to help. We did not have much of this, but the war was an example of disaster help. Everyone knew that his freedom, his property and his life were threatened by these foreign invaders. Eve-ryone was fighting for himself, but we stood together like one man. People who did not know much about each other were forming companies and squadrons and they started to cooperate like well-trained troopers.
“Nobody likes his home being raided. These people here have tasted liberty and learned to love the taste.”
“How did you manage to evacuate almost all people from Baile Kemper?”
“Basically, most folks had already evacuated their families a few weeks be-fore. We were not informed about the exact date of the invasion, but we were sure that we had to expect it within this period. That’s why we could prepare ourselves.
“I don’t give away the Big Secret with this. We all suspected that our beloved former governments would try to collect what they thought were their subjects sooner or later. That’s why we were prepared.” Ariel smiled.
“That was the understatement of the year. Ariel had paid for almost twenty per cent of all weapons and ammo purchases, which were dedicated to be used for our defense. He gave the better part as a donation in case some folks could not af-ford to buy so much weaponry.”
“I think,” Ariel interrupted, “that your freedom is a warrant for mine as well as mine is a warrant for yours. So I when I gave what I could afford, I consider it an investment in freedom. What better purpose can you imagine to spend your money for?”
“That’s the standard excuse for tax collectors…”
“Ian, that’s a good word to hear from you. Nobody forced or even asked me to do this. I did it because I think it was right. I bought the ammo for five hundred troopers. They did not use ten per cent of it, the rest will be in store for future use, which I hope I won’t see. But now let’s put politics aside and come down to busi-ness.
“Ian, Jack told me you are his latest contractor and the way you’re working will make you unemployed within the next two weeks. I think I have got something for you: I am going to plant a few more gardens up North from here. The business of planting new seedlings I will have to leave to my pluckers. No way to delegate this. Funny, the tea which thrives best in this area is the one that sells for the high-est prices. The hairy leaves seem to be protected best against this merciless sun. The tea plants with hairless leaves don’t do that good here. So planting is not the issue.
“Did you watch my gardens closely enough to see a peculiarity which no other tea garden has?”
“No, Ariel, I’m afraid, I’m lost here.”
“These white sails on the northern side of the tea rows. They do not provide shade. They are on the wrong side for that purpose. Their job is to collect dew in the morning and guide it to the roots of every tea bush. They are made of very thin fabric, more like gauze than anything else. When the wind comes from the moun-tains early in the morning, they serve as a condensation traps where water drops out when the fog comes.
“For every sail you see, three deep holes must be drilled. I don’t like the idea of these sails being torn off by a comparative mild mountain breeze, which means up to eight Beaufort here. Especially the fall winds, which bring most of the water, can be pretty rough.
What I mean is eight thousand bushes, one sail each and three eight-foot deep holes per sail. Means twenty-four thousand holes. I got a good crew of four-teen workers to do that, but I need a supervisor. Ten Cents a hole, work time is daylight time or vice versa. Eighteen to twenty hours in blazing sunlight, then eighteen to sixteen hours to sleep or whatever else you might want to do. The sooner you get the job done, the better. New bushes can’t be planted unless there is water. That means: you’ll have to mount the sails, let one night pass, then the girls have to hurry in order to get the bushes into the ground before it dries up again. Four teams, three men each, will handle the drills. A team can drill some one hun-dred holes a day and mount the sails. That means it will take some eighty days to do the job. Interested?”
“Well, I…”
“Of course you will live here, have your own office and I hope you’ll like my way of cooking. Rosenbaum Tea Plantation is kosher.”
“If it tastes like these cookies here, I can live with it.” I grinned. “Let’s say I agree, when would I have to start?”
“As soon as you’re ready with Jack’s acreage. He told me you’ve been plow-ing for a few weeks practically nonstop. Just a once-over with the rototiller and your job is done?”
“Yes.” Jack nodded. “The rototilling won’t take half as long as did the plow-ing, though. I’d say he is on the dole in two weeks, the way he performs.” He grinned. “Needs money for a homestead and some food, though. So he can’t afford to play the lounge lizard for too long.”
Sean, who had been munching silently for most of the time, stirred.
“I think I’ve got an idea.”
“Did it hurt?” Ariel and Jack asked simultaneously.
“Not really. Ian, would you like to take the property of the German Hermit? I could not sell it for two years as long as everybody believed he was still alive, so I don’t think I’ll make any money with it now he’s dead. He had a decent hover, al-though I don’t understand why nobody likes my Rotodyne, power and water and I think I know someone who would do a good job in refurbishing the kitchen. I’ll pay for that, at least it’s my heritage.”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“Could be worse,” Ariel said. “That’s the problem here, used houses are worth next to nothing here, as long as you can build property by just taking no-man’s land and build what you want to build. So I think you’re making a bargain. Sean’s just tossing off dead weight. No pun intended, of course.”
“Funny, all are talking about capitalism, but here, where it rules, nobody wants to have capital…”
“No, Ian, not at all. What do you think is capital? Money? Def’nitely not. Money is nothing but a means of exchange, a measure. The real capital is what you find between your ears. Your mind. Your abilities. Nothing else. Material things are nice, but they are replaceable. What is not replaceable is your brain. That’s basically all you have, all you own. Material things just have the value you give them. Tools in the hand of an idiot are mere chunks of stone or metal. Tools in the hand of someone with a mind are agents of his will, extended parts of his creativity. Do you think I built this plantation by throwing out money? I didn’t even have much money when I came here. I borrowed a bit and worked for the rest. But what I did was imagine how things would be and work to make it happen.
“All those idiots say capitalism is about nothing but money. I say, let money be damned. It’s all about love and ambition. Love of your values, love of life, love of yourself. Capitalism is nothing materialistic, it’s mankind’s highest ideal. To use your mind in order to create values. To create useful things out of rocks and wood and junk. To transform dust into life.
“Yes, indeed, there is something divine in capitalism. When we were evicted from paradise, G-d told us to build up a world, make use of the universe and rule about it. HE made us in order to be HIS servants, but HE created the universe in order to serve us. In Hebrew, the word “to make love to” is the same as “to recog-nize”. We can only love what we recognize. What has no identity can’t be loved. What we can’t identify, we can’t love. That’s why we are striving for cognition through all our lives. That’s what makes us work in research. We love to live, we want to know more about life and the more we get to know life, the more we will love it.
“Do you think you will give your life in order to defend something just be-cause it’s a duty? Or would you rather defend something you love with your entire soul because it’s part of you?”
“I think, I can see your point” I said, sort of pensive.
The more I learned, the more moronic this entire invasion seemed to be.
“If only ten per cent of you Kempériens were motivated like that, I can imagine that no force in the known universe could have forced you on your knees.”
“Ian, I can guarantee that ninety-nine per cent of our fighters were following exactly this motivation.” Ariel offered me another cup of tea.
“Try this one, I think this is the best tea I can offer.”
I accepted and tried the tea.
“Do you believe in fate, Ariel?” Sean’s question came out of thin air.
“Depends on what you call fate. I don’t believe in determinism. I think, you can grasp chances when you recognize them. The chances are there, it’s up to you to seize them and do what you want to do. Don’t let life push you around. At least not all the time. There are moments when the decision is all yours. Then it’s your turn to take the bull by his horns. I believe in fate as man’s creation. I don’t believe in fate as an inescapable force.

I bear no hate against a living thing I just love my freedom all above the King


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Re: Mountie Astray, contd.
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2007, 12:46:50 pm »

“Some people try to describe life by the laws of physics. This is tempting, but I think there is a flaw in this point of view: Human action does not always fol-low objective laws. Sometimes people decide by non-rational criteria. A d’Anconia hover might do any job you want to do – but a Rotodyne is what you consider sexy. You just like it. Look at Sean, he is in love with his flying contraption. There is no objective reason for that. So he is the living evidence that the laws of physics are not applicable on human action.”
“Do you want to hold a lecture out there or does anybody happen to be real hungry?” A pleasant female voice made herself heard from the inside.
“Oops – the highest instance short of Him Up High – I think we should lis-ten to my wife. At least I should.” He gave us a broad grin. He ushered us into his house, where a ready-laid dinner table was presented to us by a young, shapely woman. She was in her mid- twenties, had black hair, a natural suntan and a sunny smile in her face.
“May I introduce my incredibly young and beautiful wife Alissija to you, she is what I have been working all my life for. She is my hope and my fortune.”
Poor girl, she gave us a genuine blush. Pretty sight, by the way. Ariel intro-duced us to her, talking partly Hebrew, partly Russian. Apparently his mentioning of my former profession seemed to give her the creeps.
“Didn’t even know you were married. You are a man fulla surprises!” Jack was astonished.
“Well, I am and I ain’t. Alissija might give me an argument, but I have faked a marriage license in order to get her here, so consider for yourself if we are.”
“What do you mean, faked a marriage license?” Sean was dumbfounded.
“Where should I get one here? Nobody makes them!” Ariel smiled slightly embarrassed.
“When I heard that Israel no longer lets her people go unless married to a foreigner, I was absolutely unhappy – for about five minutes. Then I asked Magen David Adom how I could get my beautiful bride out of this country, they said, give us a copy of your marriage license and she’ll be on the next ferries. Took me one hour to design an officially-looking license and two hours to fake a rubber stamp from the Kemper Rabbinate. Since then, we’re officially married. Except for the fact that nothing official ever happens here.”
“What’s up in Israel?” It was my turn to be curious.
“Well, after the Exodus Part Two, when two thirds of the Israeli population left for the stars, these folks started to be sort of picky whom to allow to leave the country. If you are younger than 65, you can’t leave Israel except if you show some marriage documents. Many girls marry the first old goat they can get hold of just in order to get away. There are catalogs for mail order brides.
“Alissija had barely arrived from Yevrasoyus, where something ugly is being coked up right now and she did not really like it in Israel. When I saw her video, I thought she might be worth a try, and her response was overwhelming. So now, we are married, with blessings from a rabbinate which does not exist. Well, we don’t even have a community here large enough to hold a service every once in a while. Seven Jewish men on the entire planet. A dozen women, but it takes ten adult men. Alissija seems to be the woman I have been waiting for my whole life.
“I did not burn more daylight than necessary. I paid the ransom, sent the marriage documents and a ticket for the next flight to Kemper for her. Well, two weeks ago, she arrived and I think we’ll get along. The party will follow. I’ll spare no expenses.”
“All right, big man, you’ve had your time. But before I’ll let the food cool down, I’ll eat it myself.” She showed us our seats and set a basket with steaming-hot bread in front of Ariel’s seat. He broke it, sprinkled a sprig of salt over the pieces and spoke a blessing. The he asked us to enjoy the pleasure of the only ko-sher kitchen within twenty-five light years.
I had never tried kosher food before, but the way this was prepared, I thought I’d ask for seconds. Or thirds.
Good food kills good conversation. As soon as the last participant refused another dessert, conversation would fire up again. Ariel offered cigars. I refused, but all others accepted gladly – even Alissija. When I stared at her, she smiled.
“You’re looking as if you were right from feelgoodistan. USA?”
“Used to spell it Canada, but the difference isn’t worth anything any more.”
“You’ve been one of the horseback cops there?”
“Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but we’ve traded horses for motorized ve-hicles long ago. Became sort of border patrol.”
“Are you here for a mission or on a recreational purpose?”
“Well, it started as an investigation, but the way I understand it, I am on termination leave, with the emphasizing on termination. Two F. B. I. Agents were sent to kill me. I am happy they screwed up.”
“Sounds like a bad detective novel to me.”
“Make that a defective novel and I’ll second the motion.”

I bear no hate against a living thing I just love my freedom all above the King

George Potter

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Re: Mountie Astray, contd.
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2007, 04:29:11 pm »

Copied to the laptop for reading tonight. Didn't realize how far behind I was on this story until I read the last two entries. :D
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