Fridda is sitting on the back veranda of the Ford Sime Center, glad to be in a relatively safe and secure place at last. She's feeling a bit spaced out, since Bibi gave her quite a hefty dose of poppy syrup to dull the pain in her tentacles. She still feels a lot of pain, but the syrup has made her care about it less.
Fridda is feeling pretty ~~ calm ~~ for the same reason. The ~~ depression ~~ is still there, but seems less important. She's planning to send some telegrams as soon as the telegraph office opens in the morning. By the time they got into town, it had closed for the evening.
Marvin is sitting at one end of the porch swing across from Fridda, rocking himself gently. He's taking the opportunity to stay in one place for a moment and give his Sime spatial sense a chance to root.
Fridda: Marvin, I'm sorry you're in trouble for helping me.
Marvin sighs and wobbles his head back and forth.
Marvin: None of it was your idea, Fridda. I got myself into trouble all by myself.
Fridda: It's wrong for them to send you out without enough selyn for an emergency like that.
Marvin: Well, every little bit of capacity I have is important. In-T Simes really depend on the selyn that I and the other mules -- that's what we call ourselves, mules -- can bring in.
Fridda: Do you have any ideas about what I can do for Sanda and her family?
Marvin: I'm glad you brought that up. My best suggestion -- or not mine, really -- is that your uncle visit them and make a personal and sincere thank-you.
Marvin smiles wryly.
Marvin: He's a politician, right? He should be able to fake that nicely.
Fridda: I don't know. He might intimidate them, or make them feel looked down on. I think something more material might work better.
Marvin: The Geggs are very proud, and very touchy about anything that might seem like charity. I'd avoid that like a ... ~~ bruised tentacle ~~ Like anything.
Fridda: Hajene Seruffin suggested I offer to compensate them for Mik's labor while he's here at the Ford waiting to change over. I just have to figure out some wording so it seems reasonable, some kind of Sime for Sime tradeoff. But if he does change over, they'll lose his labour permanently anyhow.
Marvin: To be sure.
Fridda: I've been thinking about Sanda, too. Since her parents don't approve of what she did, the disobedience or impulsiveness or whatever, I'd have to be careful not to look like I'm rewarding her for it.
Marvin is ~~ confused ~~.
Marvin: What did you have in mind?
Fridda: I thought about putting some money aside for her, that she can use when she's sixteen, to go to school, or get married or whatever. I'd tell her parents, but they don't have to tell her.
Marvin: That's more than a little bit out of my league. Hajene Seruffin's advice would be more useful to you on something like that. But I wouldn't go making any plans like that just yet.
Fridda: Well, Seruffin's from in-T. I should probably ask someone who knows the farm people in this area.
Marvin: Well, as far as in-T people go, Hajene Bibi probably understands the locals the best. She grew up in a town very much like Gumgeeville or the Ford.
Fridda: I'll talk to her then.
Marvin is feeling out of his depth in more ways than one. He's not used to spending time with a new Sime who's as badly damaged as Fridda is, physically or mentally.
Fridda: Marvin... in-T... do you think people are going to be disgusted and repelled by my tentacles?
Marvin does his best, given his depleted secondary, to cover his crogglement at this question.
Marvin: Of course not. Right now you're still recovering from pre-changeover trauma, and lots of Simes from Genland have that, one way or another. Later on they may be a little smaller than usual, but that's nothing unusual.
Fridda can tell from Marvin's face that he's lying to spare her feelings.
Marvin: I zlin that you think I'm lying to you, but I'm not. I was just so surprised that you would think such a thing. It's here in Genland that people get disgusted and repelled by tentacles, y'know!
Nattin steps out onto the veranda, carrying a copy of the JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY, in which a friend of his recently published a paper. He was hoping to find the veranda unoccupied, so that he could settle down and do some serious reading where nobody could find him to interrupt. He's therefore just a touch ~ disappointed ~, although he hides it pretty well.
Nattin: Good afternoon. Lovely weather, isn't it?
Fridda looks up, and notices the journal. She's had more on her mind lately than the weather.
Fridda: You read the JHA?
Nattin raises an eyebrow.
Nattin: Of course. I review for it, too, and publish an occasional paper there.
Fridda: My dad's published a few papers in it too. Professor Jon Fennik of NWU? Ancient literature?
Nattin: Hmm, yes. Didn't think much of his latest. I just can't see a book series about a childrens' academy of magic being a substantial literary influence on a society of adults, myself. A fad, perhaps.
Fridda: That's the issue with the big article on silver plated kitchen ware, isn't it?
Nattin: Yes, it is.
Fridda: Well, my dad has his... umm... enthusiasms. I'm more interested in Ancient material culture myself.
Nattin: The technology?
Fridda: Yes. What we can interpret of it.
Marvin is encouraged by this indication of interest in anything by his patient, even if he's totally ignorant of the subject matter.
Fridda: I'm Fridda Fennik.
Nattin: Nattin ambrov Frihil. Personally, I think we do rather better at coming up with new developments on our own, rather than trying to reproduce Ancient devices, but a number of my Naztehrhai disagree.
Fridda starts to offer her hand, but reconsiders. Her handling tentacles are partly extended and hanging limply. She retracts them with an effort.
Fridda: I'm sorry. ~~ depressed ~~
Nattin doesn't generally greet those without graduate degrees as equals, but he's willing to make a few allowances for Fridda.
Nattin: Shaking hands isn't generally the custom in-Territory, except among those immigrants who are unable to adjust to their new lives.
Nattin doesn't have a high opinion of such people.
Fridda: I suppose it will take a while for me to learn new reflexes.
Nattin: In-Territory, the customary greeting gesture is a touch of right dorsal tips, either to the other person's tentacle tips, or to fingertips. Try it.
Nattin is in full didactic mode.
Fridda: My tentacles aren't working. Will you accept fingers?
Nattin: Very well.
Fridda offers her fingertips.
Nattin extends his right hand to brush them lightly.
Fridda: Gens greet each other that way too?
Nattin: Of course.
Fridda: I'll remember that.
Nattin means civilized Gens, of course.
Fridda: So what is your area of study, uh, Tuib?
Fridda knows how to get a conversation going with an academic.
Nattin: Professor is the proper address; I'm affiliated with the University of West Nivet.
Fridda: Forgive me, Professor.
Fridda has a good grasp of academic mannerisms.
Nattin sits down on a chair, far enough away that his nager won't irritate, but close enough for casual conversation. He's not only conversant with academic mannerisms, he's also up on the best ways to interact with renSimes without irritating them. He's helped in this by being fairly low field, at the moment.
Fridda is hypoconscious most of the time, so is oblivious to Nattin's courtesy.
Nattin: My area of study is contact between in- and out-Territory cultures, with special attention to personal interactions.
Fridda: I guess I'll need to learn a lot about that, over the next little while.
Fridda: What are you discovering, here in Hannard's Ford?
Nattin: It is a very interesting situation, particularly given the recent interactions with the residents of Gumgeeville. I am very curious to see what their long-term response will be to your changeover in their jail.
Marvin thinks that it's the short-term response that really matters right now.
Fridda: What would you anticipate?
Nattin: In my opinion, the key to the situation is the elder Geggs. If they accept it, their neighbors will probably do so, too.
Fridda: What might be done to influence them favorably?
Nattin: I have never actually met them, and I'm not a psychiatrist. Hajene Seruffin's suggestion of a display of gratitude from your family to theirs couldn't hurt.
Fridda: An effective form for the display might be difficult to determine.
Nattin: Nonsense. I know your father; he can speak English well enough, when he's not trying to save a lost literary cause. Even he can manage to say, "Thank you for your daughter's role in saving my daughter's life," I'd think.
Fridda: I'm sending him a telegram tomorrow. I'm not sure where he is. He probably thinks I'm dead. I don't know whether he'd have gone home or not. I'll send a letter as well, and ask him to act on your suggestion.
Marvin: Actually, Fridda, you are dead. At least by Gen Territory law.
Nattin: Or at least, you've lost all property, legal rights, and citizenship.
Nattin thinks that's rather barbaric, himself, but no one consulted him.
Marvin: Whether that's just a technicality, or whether you really just own the clothes on your back there, is going to be pretty much determined by your family's attitude to this whole affair.
Nattin: Your family has no legal claim on you, or you on them.
Fridda: When I told Seruffin I have money of my own, he didn't correct me.
Marvin: He's a diplomat, and you were in very bad shape. You didn't require any more shocks.
Fridda: I see.
Fridda isn't in much better shape, she's just stoned on opiates.
Nattin: There's nothing that prevents your family from giving you access to your former accounts. They simply aren't required by law to do so.
Fridda: Well, I'm sending the telegrams collect. If they're refused, I'll know where I stand.
Nattin hears this realistic analysis with ~ approval ~
Marvin also ~~ approves ~~ of this evidence of maturity and rationality.
Fridda is hypoconscious so doesn't pick up the approval. She's too deeply ~~ depressed ~~ and too ~~stoned ~~ to care as much as she should.
Nattin: Even if they don't respond, you still have your intelligence and education.
Marvin: [thick rural Gen T accent] Eddication, m'boy, eddication is somethin' they can niver, niver take away from you.
Nattin: You'll be able to find some sort of work that will support you.
Fridda: Well, I'd planned to go to university in the fall. I guess that's out unless I can get a scholarship.
Nattin: You'll be at a First Year Camp for the next few months, learning to adapt to your new culture.
Fridda: Too bad I didn't fill my pockets with gold and jewels before I left for the train.
Fridda: My great-great-grandfather was a refugee from Nivet, and he founded General Metals with his son. He was smarter than me, though. He took his father's silver candlesticks with him.
Nattin gives a "harumpf".
Nattin: From what you've told me of your family, gaining their cooperation would give you far more than any baubles you could carry on your person. And stealing the family heirlooms is hardly a way to win cooperation.
Marvin: She didn't mean it, Professor.
Fridda: No? I wouldn't think a Choice Kill would have had much bargaining power in Nivet at the time, thief or not.
Fridda regards Nattin as a representative of the Nivet citizenry, all formerly junct.
Nattin: True enough, although quite a few families broke the laws and provided assistance to their Gen children. But your situation is different.
Fridda: Thanks to Marvin, my life isn't in danger from my former compatriots.
Nattin: That's true. And if your family rejects you after all, there is nothing to prevent you from finding friends and eventually a new family who can accept you.
Fridda: Like my great-great-grandfather. Silver candlesticks or not.
Nattin: Indeed. And, of course, it is always possible that your parents will choose to support you.
Fridda: Or my uncle may find some political value in the situation.
Nattin: Quite so. Certainly the people in Gumgeeville would look more favorably on him if they believed he felt obligated to them.
Fridda: And vote PPP?
Nattin: Stranger things have happened.
Fridda dismisses Nattin as a source of political acumen.
Nattin: People vote for the politician who is most willing to listen to their concerns and do something about them, after all. The junct Simes of Nivet Territory, for instance, allowed the despised Householdings to take over their government, when it could deliver the required selyn. Even if it wasn't in the form they preferred.
Nattin shoots an apologetic glance at Marvin.
Fridda fails to see the analogy to the impoverished farmers of Gumgeeville deciding to vote for the representatives of the wealthy urban elite.
Fridda: Professor, is it possible for a Sime to work her way through university in-T?
Nattin: Yes, although it's not easy. You have to be able to keep paying your selyn taxes, too. In some ways, it's easier for Gens.
Fridda: Not like Genland, where a student can sell her selyn.
Nattin: True, although she has to spend a great deal more for food than you will have to. You won't require nearly as much sleep as a Gen would, either, so you'll have time to work at a job while you study.
Fridda: That's encouraging. Perhaps I can work as a musician. I should have brought my fiddle and flute.
Nattin: Music doesn't pay any better in-Territory than it does out-Territory. If you want to work your way through college, ask the First Year Camp counselors to help place you in a job that doesn't require a long apprenticeship and pays a living wage.
Fridda consults her new Sime time sense and has another gulp of poppy syrup.
Fridda: Thanks, I'll do that.
Fridda notices that her handling tentacles are drooping out of the orifices again and retracts them with an effort.