Marvin: Okay, the next stop is Wellingburg, where we get off and spend the night so I can get out of these arm-boxes, as Toria Gegg calls 'em.
Ammenia is ~~ relieved ~~.
Marvin: We'll be there in 2 hours 22 minutes 15 seconds, assuming nothing goes wrong with the train or the track.
Ammenia: I admit, I'd viewed travel as involving something more, er, adventuresome than just staring at the same walls for hours at a time. We haven't seen anyone but ourselves since we got on the train.
Marvin: Adventures, when we have 'em, tend to happen in the towns.
Bart is feeling rather ~~ tired ~~ and ~~ hungry ~~, but tries to keep his nager ~~ smooth and calm ~~.
Ammenia is ~~ just a little disappointed ~~, as she found the thought of actually meeting some out-Territory Gens interesting.
Marvin pulls a small bag out of his orange channel's bag.
Marvin: Here, have some good ol' raisins and peanuts. It helps.
Bart: Oh, thanks, Hajene.
Bart takes the bag, somewhat ~~ embarrassed ~~ that he's so easy to zlin.
Ammenia: Raisins and peanuts. That's an interesting combination. Is it a Gen Territory tradition?
Bart doesn't know. Either food is a delicacy for him -- neither is grown within hundreds of kilometers of Gumgeeville.
Marvin: I guess so. Not as nutritionally balanced as Donor biscuits, but it does provide sugar and fat for energy.
Marvin reaches over and takes five peanuts and three raisins out of the bag and eats them.
Ammenia samples a peanut.
Bart eats a few of each, with ~~ pleasure ~~ at the treat.
Hiamps knocks on the connecting door.
Hiamps: Hey, Marvin. Got some company for ya!
Ammenia looks at Marvin with ~~ concern ~~.
Ammenia: What is it? A changeover on the train?
Hiamps: No, no, nothing that serious. Just a boy and his dog. Oh, and his mother too.
Marvin: Okay, send 'em in.
Marvin thinks he can guess why Hiamps wants the dog here in the baggage car.
Bart hopes he'll be able to figure out what to do if something goes wrong.
Ammenia increases her ~~ support ~~ beyond what Marvin requested for traveling, just in case. She keeps it lighter than she would really prefer, however.
Dorketta: [muffled] We paid for our tickets just like everybody else and we deserve to ride in the passenger cars just like everybody else!
Ammenia looks at Marvin with well-feigned ~~ surprise ~~.
Ammenia: [sotto voce to Marvin] Is that how it's supposed to work?
Bart gets up to go to the door, figuring Marvin wants Ammenia to stay near him for support. He opens the door to see a boy, a big puppy and an irate middle-aged woman.
Bart: Uh. Come in, I guess.
Bart hopes the woman knows there's a Sime here.
Dorketta: There better be some decent seating here, young man. We paid for it.
Marvin zlins the Gen and the child and decides that neither is a Sime-phobe.
Kennil: Mommy, do these people have a puppy, too?
Kennil is clutching a fat, wiggling puppy.
Dorketta turns to her son.
Dorketta: Bring that damned pup in here. I told you not to let him eat anything before we got on the train. They always get sick.
Dorketta looks around.
Dorketta: Well, what are you staring at?
Kennil: Biscuit didn't mean to throw up, Mommie.
Dorketta: If you hadn't given him your sandwich he wouldn't have had anything to throw up.
Marvin: I think you'll be most comfortable if we pile up some of those bags.
Ammenia gestures for Bart to take care of it; Marvin's wearing the retainers, and she has to protect him.
Bart does his best to make a comfortable seat out of some sacks of peas.
Dorketta sits on the sacks and directs her son to sit beside her.
Kennil does so, losing hold on the puppy, which goes over to investigate the others.
Marvin: Good afternoon. I'm Marvin Gardener, this is Bart Mullins, and this is Ammenia. We're traveling together.
Dorketta: I'm Dorketta Greenbean and this is my son Kennil.
Dorketta doesn't see any point in introducing the puppy. It doesn't know its own name yet.
Kennil demonstrates this by futilely calling, "Here, Biscuit!", to no avail.
Dorketta: My fool brother-in-law gave the boy the pup, and we're taking it home now.
Marvin zlins Biscuit.
Marvin: Well, I'm pretty sure he has no more food to, er, lose.
Dorketta: I should hope so.
Marvin: Unfortunately, I don't think Hiamps will see it that way, so you're stuck here for the rest of the trip.
Dorketta: Well, we're not going too far.
Dorketta is calming down a good bit.
Ammenia wonders if Dorketta plays cards, and decides it's probably unethical to suggest a game.
Dorketta: Thank you for settling these sacks for me, young man.
Bart: You're welcome.
Marvin: We're stopping over at Wellingburg for the night.
Ammenia settles for petting the pup, distracting it from chewing on Marvin's retainers.
Kennil: We live in Wellingburg!
Kennil is ~~ very proud ~~ of being able to participate in the conversation.
Kennil: We live on the wrong side of the tracks. Where do you live?
Marvin: Bart here lives in Gumgeeville. Ammenia and I are travelers. We just go wherever we're needed.
Kennil thinks that over.
Kennil: Oh! You're misthenaries!
Marvin: Well, not exactly.
Kennil: My mommie doesn't like misthenaries. She says any church that has to in-trupt people to get them to join isn't worth going to.
Marvin: I met a missionary a little while ago. He was interesting to talk to, but he didn't change my mind any.
Ammenia pulls the puppy back from Marvin's bag of travel rations.
Ammenia: No you don't, Biscuit. That's for us.
Marvin: Kennil, would you like to see some magic things?
Marvin roots around in his orange bag.
Dorketta is ~~ skeptical ~~. She doesn't believe in magic. Probably just the usual sort of tricks.
Marvin: Not real magic, Miz Greenbean. Just tricks, y'know.
Kennil: You can do magic? ~~ delighted ~~.
Marvin pulls out a strip of cloth with the ends sewn together.
Marvin: Here, check this out.
Dorketta: Go ahead, Kennil.
Kennil goes over to get a closer look.
Kennil: Why are you wearing those things, Mister?
Marvin: Oh, that's to protect me, and you and your mother too.
Dorketta isn't a donor herself, but she recognizes that the Sime Center in Wellingburg has done a lot to reduce the overall stress level of parents. It's also gotten a fair number of charity cases off the rolls.
Kennil looks at the retainers closely.
Kennil: Do you hit bad guys with them?
Marvin: No, not at all! I need them to protect my arms, that's all.
Dorketta is rather glad the Sime has his tentacles locked up.
Kennil looks at what he can see of Marvin's arms, above the retainers.
Kennil: Why? Do you hurt your arms a lot?
Ammenia is starting to realize just hard it must be for a child to understand the basic concept of larity, with no Simes around.
Dorketta: Now, Kennil, maybe the man doesn't want to talk about it.
Kennil has learned not to give up until he's lost.
Kennil: Is it a secret, Mister? Like when Mommie and Daddy want to kiss?
Marvin: Well, maybe something like that.
Marvin cringes inwardly at the cliche he's about to utter.
Marvin: You'll find out about it when you're older. I know you don't like to hear that, but it happens to be true.
Kennil: I'm older now! Sissy is lots younger than me.
Marvin looks significantly at Dorketta.
Kennil: I know that grown-ups like to kiss. Do you hurt your arms when you kiss someone?
Marvin: No. I only keep the arm-boxes on when I'm around other people who don't know me.
Dorketta: Kennil, stop bothering the man about his arms. Tell him about your trip to visit your aunt and uncle and cousins.
Dorketta is relieved to see that the puppy has fallen asleep at Ammenia's feet.
Kennil: Uncle gave me a puppy!
Kennil: I named him Biscuit.
Marvin: That's a good name.
Kennil: He throwed up, and the train man made us come back here. I guess this is the place for people who throw up.
Kennil is not only unclear on the biology of larity, but his concept of "species" is a little vague, as well.
Marvin: Well, maybe it's the place for dogs, anyhow.
Kennil: Do you throw up, Mister?
Marvin laughs again.
Marvin: Only when I get sick. I'm not a puppy.
Kennil: But Biscuit was sick! And Aunt Eidie says trains make her sick, too. Mommie, does Aunt Eidie ride in the sick people's car?
Dorketta: No. She has the sense not to eat before she rides a train.
Kennil looks at Bart.
Kennil: Do you eat before riding the train?
Bart: Uh. I don't get sick on trains.
Kennil: Then why are you riding in the sick people's car?
Marvin: I feel more comfortable when there aren't too many other people sitting close to me.
Dorketta can certainly understand that. Around here, at least. Not that there would likely be many people willing to sit close to a Sime, even one manacled up like that.
Kennil: Jack the Snack -- he's this kid at school who always makes everybody give him the dessert from their lunches, or he punches them right in the face --
Kennil demonstrates in pantomime.
Kennil: Jack makes everybody leave him a whole bench at lunchtime, because he says everybody else smells. Do you think everybody smells?
Marvin: Nope. Not a bit. Jack sounds to me like he likes to make people do what he says.
Kennil: Yeah. He made my friend Harvy kiss Bitsy, and she punched him good.
Kennil demonstrates Bitsy's pugilistic style.
Marvin: Maybe she should have punched Jack instead?
Kennil: She'd never do that. Jack's a lot better at punching than she is.
Marvin: Hmm. What if everyone in the school got together and told Jack he'd better stop it? He can't punch everyone at once, you know.
Kennil thinks that over.
Kennil: But if he tried, he might punch me.
Marvin: He might. But he might punch one of the other kids. And then all of you could punch him. And if you told him all that, he might decide he'd better cut it out.
Kennil looks at his mother for confirmation of this novel idea.
Dorketta: You know you should stay out of fights you can't win. That's what your father always tells you, doesn't he?
Kennil: Yeah. That's why he doesn't hit the foreman.
Dorketta: Your father has sense.
Marvin: It's good advice. We have a saying where I come from.
Marvin chants: "The people united will never be defeated!"
Marvin: If you stick together and don't give up, Jack the Snack doesn't stand a chance.
Kennil is normally inclined to believe everything his parents say pretty uncritically, but the idea of being able to eat his lunch cookie himself has a certain appeal.
Kennil: But Daddy will be mad if I have to fight Jack.
Marvin: Good point. All the kids need to show Jack they're sticking together no matter what he does.
Kennil: I could talk to Harvy, maybe.
Marvin: Start there, then the two of you talk to somebody else, then somebody else.
Kennil: And Jack will have to stop?
Marvin: He's not stupid, or he wouldn't be able to control all of you like this. He'll get the point.
Kennil sits back, dreaming of being a hero for leading the fight against the schoolyard bully.