Roger and Shorsh are heading to the train station to pick up Roger's previously unknown cousin twice removed, who is coming for a visit.
Roger: Do you think this is a good idea, Shorsh? I mean, I've lived quite happily without the out-Territory branch of family for, what, around fifty years? Maybe I'm a bit too old to acquire a bunch of unknown relatives. It's not like getting another grandchild, after all. This fellow is fully grown.
Shorsh: It's too late to change your mind now, although I suppose we could just turn around and when we don't show up, he'll eventually figure out you don't want to see him.
Shorsh makes as if to pull the buggy over to make a u-turn.
Roger: That would reflect badly on Sat'htine. Not to mention being conduct unbecoming a Companion. And Rimona would never forgive us if we failed to pick up her box of chocolates.
Shorsh: Most definitely, although she'll feed most of it to the Companions.
Roger: All the more reason to make sure we bring them to her.
Shorsh: Indeed. I think she enjoys zlinning us eating chocolate more than she enjoys eating it herself.
Roger: Or perhaps she just can't bear to zlin the pathetic nager of a Companion ~~ yearning ~~ for chocolate.
Shorsh chuckles too.
Adrian Templeton-Vaughan has been standing up next to his seat for the last five miles, but he's not sure if it's eagerness to meet Great-Cousin Roger or the desire to get the hell out of Simeland before the sun goes down.
Adrian has been taught to travel light, so he's got all his luggage in his hands, and hopes he won't topple over onto anyone, particularly not a Sime, before the train pulls to a stop.
Roger: It looks like the train is a bit early. Do you want to grab the chocolates while I find this long-lost cousin of mine?
Shorsh: I'll drop you off here, get the chocolate and meet you on the platform. Okay?
Shorsh pulls over in front of the station entrance.
Roger gets ~~ stiffly ~~ down from the buggy, and makes his way to the platform.
Roger is dressed in Sat'htine livery, of course, which is well tailored and made of good-quality cloth. He scans the platform as the train pulls in, looking for a traveler who resembles himself, that being the best he can do.
Adrian survives the perilous trip through the cars -- he's a bit ~~ stiff ~~ too -- and steps down onto the platform without any actual accidents.
Roger is trying to remember what his parents looked like.
Adrian heads for the old geezer with the obvious Templeton look.
Adrian: Great-Cousin Roger?
Adrian: That's me. I mean yes sir.
Adrian drops his heavier bag, extends his left hand, catches himself just in time, drops his lighter bag, and extends his right hand.
Roger reflexively reaches out to brush fingertips.
Roger: It's good to meet you.
Adrian: It's an honor to meet you, sir.
Adrian shows all the signs of sincere admiration verging on hero-worship.
Roger: Is that all your luggage? Shorsh will be by in a moment to pick us up.
Adrian: Yes, that's all. I didn't want you to feel I was moving in on you or anything.
Roger: I trust your journey wasn't too filled with aggravations?
Adrian: No sir. It was very interesting, especially after passing the border when all the Simes started to get on.
Adrian does a few stretches to get the stiffness out.
Adrian: Sorry, sir. I am a bit sore from sitting still so long.
Roger: Of course you are. I hate traveling myself, these days.
Adrian: Of course, donating was interesting too, if not quite as interesting as I thought it would be ....
Roger thinks that bodes well for Adrian's ability to cope at Sat'htine.
Adrian: Well, I knew they said Gens don't feel anything, but I thought, well, with your genes, sir, that I might possibly....
Roger: And did you?
Roger is ~~ interested ~~.
Adrian: No, sir. Nothing but boredom.
Roger: Ah. I guess the talent was on my mother side of the family, then. Are there any of them left?
Adrian: Why, I don't know, sir. There might be. But Cousin Ell Templeton changed over two years ago, and he was a channel, they said.
Roger has his suspicions what happened, given the past tense. He doesn't want to bring up what may be an awkward issue, however.
Adrian: He changed over in New Washington City, so I suppose he's working somewhere here in Simeland, but he hasn't been in touch -- or not in touch with me, anyhow. Sir.
Roger: I see.
Roger makes a mental note to make inquiries.
Roger: He probably had no idea I exist.
Adrian: I should think not! Nobody did, until Aunt Tola got the word from her cousin Bernice.
Roger: Bernice? Oh, the Ambassador's wife.
Adrian: Yes, well, after that, I'm sure you remember how fast talk spreads, sir. So then it was easy to work out who you were.
Shorsh comes out onto the platform, cloth shopping bag with box of chocolates in hand, and heads over to Roger and his relative.
Roger sees Shorsh approaching and waves.
Adrian turns about to look where Roger is waving.
Roger: I've never tried to hide it.
Adrian: No, but you were pretty well hidden just the same, sir -- is that your man, over there?
Roger: My naztehr, yes.
Adrian doesn't know the new word, but thinks he understands it from context.
Shorsh: Here you are. Welcome, Adrian.
Adrian: Thank you, er ...?
Shorsh: I'm Shorsh Farris.
Shorsh offer his hand for an out-T style shake.
Adrian picks up the heavier bag and puts it in Shorsh's hand.
Adrian: I think I can manage this one all right, if you'd just handle that one.
Shorsh is a touch startled, but doesn't let either that or his amusement show.
Shorsh: The buggy is just down the street.
Adrian: Thank you, Shorsh. Shall we...
Roger: And you got Rimona's chocolates. Good.
Adrian finally realizes the implications of the name "Farris" and tries to recover the bag.
Adrian: Oh my -- Oh, sir, I had no idea. I thought you were Great-Cousin Roger's servant. Please, allow me to carry it!
Shorsh: No, no, I've got it now.
Roger: Oh, Shorsh doesn't mind. He's not old like me, nor aching from travel like yourself. Come on.
Roger follows Shorsh.
Adrian gives up trying to recover the situation and follows Roger.
Roger climbs into the buggy, letting the youngsters handle the heavy baggage. He does "supervise" sufficiently to make sure the chocolate is safely stowed.
Roger: It's only a short drive to Sat'htine, Adrian. Then we can find you a proper meal and get you settled.
Shorsh stows Adrian's bag in back, unties the horse, settles into the driver's seat and heads back towards home.
Adrian: Thank you, sir. I look forward to that, sir.
Adrian is silent until he thinks he might be forgiven the next impertinent question.
Adrian: Isn't it possible, though, sir, that I might still have capital-D Donor talent, even though I didn't, well, feel anything when I donated?
Roger: It's possible, I suppose. If you're interested, we can ask Sectuib to check you out.
Adrian: I'm interested, sir. And thank you.
Shorsh thinks Adrian might be young enough to develop any talent he might have, if he established fairly late.
Roger raises an eyebrow.
Roger: It's not a common interest, in New Washington Territory.
Adrian: Well, true. But I am the younger son of a younger son, so I'd have to work my way up whether it was in the family business or the Tecton. And at least over here I wouldn't be working for my relatives.
Roger: You have a point. Of course, there is something to say for working with family, as well.
Adrian: Doesn't that depend on who they are, though, sir?
Roger: Well, yes. I was fortunate enough to land with an excellent family.
Adrian: Meaning Sat-Sat'htine, I guess?
Adrian: Well, better than Templeton Nonferrous, or Templeton Tool and Die, or Templeton General Services -- We Also Walk Dogs.
Shorsh: Adrian, many Gens with modest amounts of Donor talent can become Third Order Donors if they want to enough. But Third Order Donors don't rise much in the Tecton hierarchy. It can be a very rewarding life for people who like the work itself, however.
Shorsh: The managerial levels of the Tecton are all people with substantial innate talent, except in remote rural areas.
Roger looks at Adrian to see how he reacts to this statement.
Shorsh doesn't think to point out that it's the channels, not the Donors, who really run things.
Adrian: Hmm. Well, I don't think I'm as ambitious as all that, just because I'm a Templeton. I'd be happy holding down a steady job that pays decently and working for someone who isn't on speaking terms with my uncle, or my mother, or whatever.
Roger: Well, I don't think you'd have to worry about that as a Donor.
Shorsh: Unless you're a Farris.
Adrian chuckles a bit.
Shorsh finds a certain familiarity in this sort of childish thinking. Kids out-T don't think much about their futures until they're over sixteen.
Roger: On the other hand, there are plenty of other jobs that wouldn't require you to work for them, either. What about the job of Donor, specifically, interests you?
Adrian: I don't know that it does, necessarily. I just know that I've got to get out of New Washington Territory, or I'll never get a chance to find out what I want to do with my life.
Roger: Have you thought of looking for employment in, say, Heartland Territory? You could get a start without learning a new language first, there.
Adrian: Heartland? Oh, you mean the home of Templeton Agricultural Processing?
Adrian laughs hollowly.
Adrian: I think you've been out of touch with the family financial empire, Great-Cousin.
Shorsh chuckles. Roger's been living in a commune, not even owning most of the clothes he wears, for more than fifty years. For the first part, he didn't even own himself.
Roger: Well, not too long after Unity, I did ask around enough to find out that the family still existed. However, I was too busy to pursue the matter.
Adrian: I'm sure in a few decades there will be Templeton companies on this side of the border. If I'm firmly established in a respectable profession by then, though, it won't matter. They won't be able to suck me back in.
Roger: Would they want to?
Adrian: Certainly not if I was working for the Tecton. Although, hmm, they might try to recruit me as a lobbyist.
Shorsh: And you can just decline any offers.
Adrian: Sure I could, Mr. Farris. And I'm sure there are Farrises who manage to decline the offer too. But how many? I'm not sure I have that much willpower.
Shorsh: Well, if you're determined to cut all ties with your family, as a Gen you can get a subsistence income from donating, either here in Nivet or anywhere out-T with a Sime Center.
Adrian: Well, that's good to know -- it's better than slinking home if all else fails.
Shorsh: If you're careful, and willing to take on some part-time work, you can get enough education or training to qualify in a lot of different occupations.
Roger: You could even get a clerical job with the Tecton, even if you don't have Donor talent.
Shorsh doubts someone from Adrian's background has a clue about how to live on a subsistence level income, or even a modest one.
Adrian rubs his hands together with the high, if fleeting, enthusiasm of the very young.
Adrian: It all sounds great. As soon as I get back and pack my stuff, it's over the border that I'm bound to fly.
Shorsh gives Roger a signal usually used to turn a channel or a situation over to another Donor.
Roger: Give yourself a few days to think it over before you make any decisions. Right now, you're just visiting your old cousin twice removed. Right?
Adrian: Oh, sure. I'm not running out on you, Great-Cousin. I'm looking forward to seeing the sights and meeting with Sectuib Hiram.
Roger is glad to hand the chore of either confirming or dashing the boy's hopes onto the shoulders of his Sectuib.
Roger: There's Sat'htine's gates ahead of us.
Shorsh turns the buggy up the drive.
Adrian looks forward to this brave new world that has such people in it.