Pametta looks out the window as the train pulls out of Gumgeeville.
Pametta: On our way, at last!
Pametta looks disgustingly wide awake and cheerful, considering that she slept in the hayloft the night before.
Pollovic: Yes. I can't say I regret having met the Geggs, but it'll be good to have a real mattress tonight.
Pametta: It was an Adventure. And that's what a journey is for, right? We don't have to be anywhere at any particular time.
Pollovic smiles at his young bride's enthusiasm. He wishes he could remember being so young and energetic.
Pametta is considering herself quite grown up, of course.
Pametta: I quite enjoyed our stop. Even the babies. It's not their fault they have colic, poor things.
Pollovic: You liked helping out with them, then?
Pametta: Well enough, although I hope you're prepared to hire a nursemaid for the night shift!
Pollovic never, during their brief courtship, asked Pametta how she felt about babies. He'd just taken that part of their future together for granted.
Pollovic: We have plenty of staff, and can hire any others you want. But a child should spend time with its mother.
Pametta: Oh, definitely. And with its father, too.
Pollovic nods. His hours with his own father, brief though they were, are some of the best memories of his own childhood.
Pollovic: Tell me what you did, after Gegg and I wandered off.
Pametta: I had a very nice chat with Toria Gegg. Who's nobody's fool, by the way.
Pametta: She reminds me a bit of your mother, in some ways.
Pollovic raises an eyebrow.
Pollovic: Er, is that a good thing?
Pametta: Well, Mr. Gegg doesn't seem to mind. With the life they lead, it has to be a relief to know that he can leave some of the problems in her capable hands. They haven't had an easy time, you know. Especially this past year.
Pollovic: With the travel to Nivet, you mean?
Pollovic is aware of how farmers hate to be away from their land.
Pametta: Yes. All the uncertainty about whether Gegg would be able to go at all, and if not, whether Toria could bear to go alone.
Pollovic: They did go together, though.
Pollovic had been under the impression that they'd gone mostly because of Mr. Gegg's 'little problem'.
Pametta: Yes. Hajene D'zoll knew time was running out for Toria, so he didn't wait for Mr. Gegg's therapy to go as far he'd wanted.
Pollovic: Why would she have wanted to go if he couldn't?
Pametta: She had to. The babies were channels. She would have died in childbirth without the Sat'htine channels.
Pollovic: Oh. Somehow I missed that aspect of their trip.
Pametta: Hajene D'zoll had less than a month to get Mr. Gegg ready to travel.
Pollovic: I hadn't realized his reason for travelling was so urgent.
Pametta: Well, he'd hardly have bothered, otherwise. I mean, there aren't any Simes in Gumgeeville, generally speaking. The nearest Sime Center is in Hannard's Ford.
Pollovic: I thought it was all about being able to hug his son, the channel.
Pametta: That, and being able to be with his wife when the twins were born.
Pollovic: Somehow, I missed that part of the story. I'm almost afraid to ask, but what else did you learn?
Pametta: About Sat'htine? Toria says it's a lovely place and that they took good care of her.
Pollovic: That, or about the Geggs' trip. (reluctantly) About what Hajene D'zoll did with him.
Pollovic settles in to listen, shifting to ease a crick in his neck.
Pametta: Oh. Well. Mr. Gegg's problem was quite severe. He couldn't tolerate being in the same room with a Sime, not even Hajene D'zoll. Who is a perfect gentleman, as you know.
Pollovic: Indeed, he is.
Pametta: So they started working on that. Just having D'zoll close by, until Gegg could tolerate that.
Pollovic nods, listening.
Pollovic: After this past week, I can sympathize.
Pametta: When Gegg had started to make progress on that, D'zoll started to use his tentacles, trying to get Gegg used to that.
Pollovic: Use them... on him?
Pametta: Well, yes. That was the goal, after all. About that time, they ran out of time, so D'zoll went ahead and took his field down.
Pollovic tries to suppress a shudder, which transmits itself clearly through their shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
Pametta: What's the matter?
Pollovic: Nothing new.
Pametta: Well, Toria says Gegg was fine, afterwards. Just a little tired. And a couple of bruises.
Pollovic looks away, at the woodgrain of the nearby wall.
Pollovic gives a small, bitter laugh.
Pametta: Yes. It was a big relief for them. It meant Gegg could go with Toria to Sat'htine. Everyone was very impressed that Hajene D'zoll had managed to do so much in such a short time.
Pollovic: Gegg suggested that I talk to D'zoll about... the way I am now.
Pametta: I think that's a terrific idea, Bren. Toria says he's getting a very good reputation.
Pollovic: First I have to get there.
Pollovic: Tell me about the little twins.
Pollovic will take any change of topic he can get, right now.
Pametta: They're babies. They eat, they sleep, they cry. There's nothing about them to suggest that some day, they'll be working for the Tecton, collecting selyn from the donors.
Pollovic tries not to shudder again at the image of tiny, uncontrolled infants with tentacles.
Pametta: Toria thinks they might join Sat'htine, eventually. It would give them sort of a home, you know, when they can't live in Gumgeeville any more.
Pollovic: That'll be nice for the family, too. Sat'htine's very well respected; it will be a good connection to have. Especially if we get what we've been working towards and the borders become less important.
Pollovic isn't going to raise, again, his doubts over whether that's such a good thing.
Pametta: Yes. They went to extraordinary lengths to help the Geggs, you know.
Pollovic: They're good people. Hajene Kat and Sosu Nick were model houseguests. Despite whatever my mother may have told you.
Pollovic tries not to think of how he might react to having such houseguests now. There seems to be a lot to avoid thinking of, now.
Pametta: Did you mother dislike them, then?
Pollovic: I think she was rather annoyed that she couldn't hire Nick away from Kat to tend her rosebushes.
Pametta: Oh, yes. Her roses are lovely.
Pollovic: But anyone could see, just by looking at them, that those two were in love.
Pametta: Do you think they'll get married?
Pollovic: I don't know. Marriage doesn't seem to be as important over there as it is here.
Pametta: I'm told that the bond of transfer is just as strong as marriage, for some pairs.
Pollovic: If I understood it correctly, they don't always share transfer with the same partner.
Pametta: I know that, but I've never understood why not.
Pollovic finds he can talk about transfer well enough, as long as it's in the abstract.
Pollovic: Hajene Kat tried to explain it to me, one day. Partly, it's just that the Tecton is a bureaucracy, and you go where you're sent. But partly...
Pollovic hesitates. He's not sure he understood this part very well.
Pollovic: If someone gets too used to one particular transfer partner, they get sort of addicted. They can't go to anyone else any more. And then, if something happens that they have to, they can't do it.
Pametta: Oh. I guess they'd want to prevent that, wouldn't they.
Pametta: Even Donors get sick, I suppose. Or even injured in the line of duty.
Pollovic doesn't want to think about that.
Pametta: It wouldn't do to have a channel left without a Donor at the critical time.
Pollovic: All kinds of things can happen. A husband can get by without his wife in his bed for a few weeks, if he must.
Pollovic looks fondly at Pametta.
Pametta: Yes, but it's not the sort of thing he's likely to want to happen very often, right?
Pollovic: Absolutely not.
Pollovic reaches for Pametta and pulls her closer for a kiss.
Pollovic: But a channel can't get by without...
Pametta: Without transfer? Of course he can't. No Sime can.
Pollovic loses he thread of his thought as he trails his lips across his wife's cheek to her ear.
Pametta: They've all got to get their selyn from somewhere. Which means, somebody.
Pollovic's stomach gives a slow queasy roll as his mind returns to the topic under discussion. He pulls back and sits up straighter.
Pollovic: Yes. So they... um. They rotate around. So that they can when they have to.
Pametta: And everybody is the better for it.
Pametta: Even those like us, who could never survive a serious attack by a Sime.
Pollovic shudders, as the image of tentacles coming at him flashes onto the backs of his eyelids yet again.
Pollovic: Can we talk about something else, please?
Pametta looks at her husband ~~ guilelessly ~~.
Pametta: If you wish. We should be at the border, soon. What do you think Simeland will be like?
Pollovic takes a deep breath, holds it, then lets it out slowly.
Pollovic: That's what we're going to find out, isn't it?
Pollovic consoles himself with the thought that he won't have to donate at the border, since it's been just over two weeks since the last time he did. What he doesn't know yet about undisciplined fearful nagers above half field doesn't worry him. Yet.