Struger gets as far away from the stone cottage as he can before giving way to his feelings, which are a mixture of ~~ glee ~~ and ~~ anticipation ~~ with strong undertones of incipient ~~ desire ~~.
Struger figures that even though passing Simes can pick up on these feelings, they won't be able to figure out why if he isn't too close to the cottage. He consequently takes a rather more circuitous path to the refectory than he would have otherwise.
Leglow waves when he sees Struger coming in.
Struger waves back.
Leglow is, of course, already stuffing his face, as he is currently suffering from a growth spurt, with the two hollow legs that implies.
Perrin is sitting with Leglow, and also waves. She's eating more than most Simes do, because she's still growing as well.
Struger: [as calmly as he can manage] Hey, Leglow. What's up?
Leglow: They've been serving for ten minutes. Where have you been?
Struger: [airily] Oh, taking a little walk. Well, a long walk.
Struger knows he can't lie to a Sime, but nothing forces him to tell everything he knows, either.
Leglow: A walk? Didn't you get enough exercise painting the outbuildings yesterday?
Struger: That was totally different. Besides [confidentially] I ended up doing more supervising than painting.
Leglow: How'd you manage that?
Leglow is a bit ~~ envious ~~.
Struger: You know those kids Beni, Bill and Zho, the ones that always run around together?
Struger: Well, I convinced them that painting outbuildings was a Really Responsible and Important Job that I could just barely trust them to do -- if they wanted to. So I got them to bribe me with, well, certain little things of theirs.
Leglow: Like what?
Struger raises his eyebrows.
Struger: ~~ embarrassed ~~ Well, marbles, mostly.
Perrin thinks that despite his recent acquisition of a Gen nager, Struger is still such a child.
Leglow: Well, you might be able to trade those away to the kids, I suppose.
Leglow says "kids" with the emphasis of someone who is only recently elevated from that lowly status.
Struger: Well, fine. But the marbles weren't the point. The point was that I didn't end up painting the outbuildings, so today I felt the need for exercise.
Perrin passes a large bowl of chickpea and noodle casserole over to Struger.
Perrin: Eat, Struger. I can zlin that you're hungry.
Perrin is little ~~ smug ~~ at this advantage she has over the Gens.
Leglow: There speaks the Sime who's been going back for seconds every day this week.
Leglow hasn't been a Gen that long, but it doesn't take long to get very tired of Sime smugness.
Perrin waves her tentacles airily.
Perrin: Well, I'm still growing. So, Struger, where did you walk to, and why are you so pleased about it?
Leglow considers his friend carefully.
Leglow: You do look a bit smug, Struger. Out with it! Who is she?
Struger: [trying not to laugh] She, what "she"? You know better than that.
Leglow looks at Perrin for confirmation.
Perrin: He's not being entirely truthful, Leglow.
Leglow: I thought not. Come on, Struger, 'fess up. Is she pretty?
Struger: [~~ enjoying ~~ the verbal duel] Is who pretty?
Leglow: Don't be coy, or we'll tell everyone it was Dorcus.
Leglow names the ugliest, least socially adept member of their age group.
Struger adopts the facial expression and posture of someone who's just been punched hard in the stomach.
Struger: No, no, not that! Anything but that!
Leglow: So give, already.
Struger: All right, all right. You know that out-T family that just got here?
Leglow: The Wild Gens?
Leglow leans forward with ~~ interest ~~, being a fan of tall tales from the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.
Perrin is very ~~ curious ~~ about these people too.
Struger: [English] The family from New Washington Territory, yes.
Perrin: So what did you find out?
Struger: Well, I know where they're staying. Leegi told me.
Leglow: Where? The isolated rooms in the basement of the old building?
Perrin: Don't be stupid, Leglow. They were invited here. It's not like Sectuib bought them at a Choice Auction!
Leglow: Well, they've still got to be kept isolated from Simes, don't they?
Perrin: Why? They don't keep you isolated, do they?
Leglow: Yeah, but I'm no Simephobe, and at least one of the visitors is one, right?
Struger: Yeah, the father. But I didn't meet him.
Perrin: Well, if he's really a Simephobe, he'll stay away from Simes on his own. But why would a Simephobe come in-T?
Leglow: Why does anyone visit Sat'htine? They're sick. Have you heard what Gen doctors do to their patients? Slice them up with knives, that's what.
Leglow announces this information with ghoulish intent to disturb his friends' hearty appetites.
Struger: Oh, that's just a story. I don't believe a word of it. Anyhow, they're a channel family.
Leglow: In Gen Territory?
Leglow is ~~ skeptical ~~.
Perrin is ~~ dubious ~~. A Simephobe and a channel family? Ha.
Struger: Sure, why not? The older son's changed over, and the father's a Donor, or he would be if he hadn't had the pee scared out of him when he was young.
Leglow: Really? What happened to him?
Struger: He was captured by juncts and tortured. And that's why he's here, so he can learn to get over it.
Struger is the one with the ghoulish intent now.
Perrin thinks this sounds like a magazine story, and wonders how much of it Struger is making up.
Leglow: The guy must be really old, to have run afoul of juncts.
Perrin: Yeah. There haven't been any juncts for decades.
Leglow is young enough that anyone more than five years older than he is, is viewed as having grown up in "ancient times".
Struger: Are you kidding? Gen Territory still has 'em, in the mountains and other places like that.
Perrin: Are you sure the girl wasn't just making up stories to impress you?
Perrin says that instead of "to see how gullible you are".
Leglow: Yeah. There can't be that many juncts in Gen Territory. Not these days. They've got Sime Centers in Genland now.
Struger: Well, I can't prove it. But I believe her. Talk to her yourself, then. After all, you know I'm telling the truth.
Perrin: So tell us about her. Is she a Donor too?
Struger: Naah, just a donor. [English] Hey, funny. "Are you a Donor?" "No, I am a donor".
Perrin: Stupid language.
Perrin didn't do well in Genlan class. Well, she's not going out-T, so what does she need it for anyway?
Struger: It works for them. How often do Wild, er, out-T Gens need to talk about donors or Donors, anyhow? On the other hand, they have separate words for animals and the food they make from them, y'know: [English] cow, beef; sheep, lamb; pig, pork.
Leglow: Well, I guess they'd rather not think about what they're eating.
Leglow doesn't consider that Simelan has a similar dehumanizing traditional term for "Pen Gen", as it's not often heard in a Householding.
Struger shrugs again.
Struger: Maybe not.
Struger: Oh, give us a break. Just because you've got no yummy in your tummy for meat, doesn't mean we can't think about it.
Struger wonders just what the pleasures of carnivory might be.
Perrin's lip curls in distaste. She eats another mouthful of salad.
Leglow: Well, I'm sure they'll eat civilized food here.
Perrin: Yeah. No food with a face here.
Struger: Well, obviously. They didn't bring a pig with them or anything, after all.
Leglow: So how long are they going to stay? Do they want to pledge Sat'htine?
Struger: Who knows? I haven't even met the parents yet. But it sure sounded to me like they're going back. Or think they are.
Leglow: I guess it is more exciting, living in Genland. Why, I understand there are places where you have to go all the way across town to get to a Sime Center.
Struger: Try climbing a mountain and then down the other side, and you can only get through half the year. Or go by train, but there are only two a day. Hey, Perrin, how'd you like to volunteer for work in an out-T Sime Center?
Perrin shivers ostentatiously.
Perrin: Not me. I don't want to be listed as a martyr in the Memorial. I could get shot!
Struger: Exactly. That's why there's not enough Sime Centers out-T.
Perrin: What good could I do? I'm not a channel.
Struger waves off this point as unimportant.
Struger: You could still volunteer as support staff.
Leglow: They don't shoot Simes who wear retainers anyway, Perrin.
Perrin: Why send a renSime out there? It makes more sense to use Gens.
Struger: I suppose.
Leglow: If the only Simes in the out-Territory Sime Centers are the channels -- well, they don't have time to just go out and meet people.
Struger is ~~ confused ~~.
Struger: Well, fine. But how would it help to have renSimes available?
Leglow: So how can the out-Territory ever get used to Simes, if no renSimes will go?
Struger: Oh, I see.
Perrin: Well, Gens, go ahead and have dessert. I've got to get back to work.
Perrin hopes that she can get out of the general labor pool by demonstrating punctuality and diligence.
Leglow: Thanks, I think I will.
Struger gives Perrin the hairy eyeball.
Struger: What, can't I interest you in just one, teensy weensy, overly sweet Sime-sized cookie? ~~ appetite projection ~~
Perrin is full, and has no difficulty resisting Struger's midfield, general-class projection.
Perrin: Nope. See you guys at supper.
Perrin waves and departs.
Leglow: Ah, don't waste 'em on her.
Struger: Oh, fine, fine.
Leglow: All the more for us.
Struger goes off to eat a Gen-sized cookie.
Leglow shrugs, and goes to sample the desserts.
Struger brushes the sweat off his brow. If he can distract his friends, maybe he can make time with Sanda without interference after all.