Storm's Journal


There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide
to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honour' on an outcome
dubious. Jill Boardman encountered her challenge and accepted it at 3:47
that afternoon.

The Man from Mars sat down when Jill left. He did not pick up the picture
book but simply waited in a fashion which may be described as 'patient'
only because human language does not embrace Martian attitudes. He held
still with quiet happiness because his brother had said that he would
return. He was prepared to wait, without moving, without doing anything,
for several years.

He had no clear idea how long it had been since he had shared water with
his brother; not only was this place curiously distorted in time and
shape, with sequences of sights and sounds not yet grokked, but also the
culture of his nest took a different grasp of time from that which is
human. The difference lay not in longer lifetimes as counted in Earth
years, but in basic attitude. 'Its later than you think' could not be
expressed in Martian -- nor could 'Haste makes waste', though for a
different reason: the first notion was inconcievable while the later was
an unexpressed Martian basic, as unnecessary as telling a fish to bath.
But 'As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be' was so Martian
in mood that it could be translated more easily than 'two plus two makes
four' -- which was not a truism on Mars. 

Smith waited.

Brush came in and looked at him; Smith did not move and Brush went away.

When Smith heard a key in the outer door, he recalled that he had heard
this sound somewhat before the last visit of his water brother, so he
shifted his metabolism in preparation, in case the sequence occured again.
He was astonished when the outer door opened and Jill slipped in, as he
had not been aware that it was a door. But he grokked it at once and gave
himself over to the joyful fullness which comes only in the presence of
one's nestlings, one's water brothers, and (under certain circumstances)
in the presence of the Old Ones.

His joy was muted by awareness that his brother did not share it--he
seemed more distressed than was possible save in one about to discorporate
because of shameful lack or failure. But Smith had learned that these
creatures could endure emotions dreadful to contemplate and not die...

So he ignored Jill's agitation.

Jill handed him a bundle, 'Here, put these on. Hurry!'

Smith accepted the bundle and waited...

'Now', said Jill. 'Listen carefully. No matter what happens, 
don't say a word. Do you understand?'

'Don't talk. I will not talk.'

'Just come with me--I'll hold your hand. If you know any prayers, pray!


'Never mind. Just come along and don't talk'. She opened the outer door,
glanced outside, and led him into the corridor.

Smith found the many strange configurations upsetting in the extreme; he
was assaulted by images he could not bring into focus. He stumbled blindly
along, with eyes and senses almost disconnected to protect himself against
the chaos.

She led him to the end of the corridor and stepped on a slide-away leading
crosswise. He stumbled and would have falled if Jill had not caught him. A
chambermaid looked at them and Jill cursed under their breath--then was
very careful in helping him off. They took an elevator to the roof, Jill
being sure that she could never pilot him up a bounce tube.

There they encountered a crisis, though Smith was not aware. He was
undergoing the keen delight of sky; he had not seen sky since Mars. This
sky was bright and colourful and joyful--a typical overcast Washington
day. Jill was looking for a taxi. The roof was deserted, as she had hoped
since nurses going off duty when she did were already headed home and
afternoon visitors were gone. But the taxis were gone too. She did not
dare risk an air bus.

She was about to call a taxi when one headed in for a landing. She called
to the roof attendant. 'Jack! Is that cab taken?'

'It's one I called for Dr. Phipps.'

'Oh, dear! Jack, see how quick you can get me one, will you? This is my
cousin Madge--works over in South Wing-- and she has laryngitis and must
get out of this wind.'

The attendant scratched his head. 'Well... seeing it's you, Miss Boardman,
you take this and I'll call another for Dr. Phipps.'

'Oh, Jack, you're a lamb! Madge, don't talk; I'll thank him. Her voice is
gone; I'm going to bake it out with hot rum.'

'That ought to do it. Old-fashioned recipies are best, my mother used to
say.' He reached into the cab and punched the combination for Jill's home
from memory, then helped them in. Jill got in the way and covered up
Smith's unfamiliarity with this ceremonial. 'Thanks, Jack. Thanks loads.'

The cab took off and Jill took a deep breath. 'You can talk now.'

'What should I say?'

'Huh? Whatever you like.'

Smith thought this over. The scope of the invitation called for a worthy
answer, suitable to brothers. He thought of several, discarded them
because he could not translate, settled on one which conveyed even in this
strange, flat speech some of the warm growing-closer brothers should
enjoy. 'Let our eggs share the same nest.'

Jill looked startled. 'Huh? What did you say?'

Smith felt distressed at the failure to respond in kind and interpreted it
as failure on his own part. He realized miserably that, time after time,
he brought agitation to these creatures when his purpose was to create
oneness. He tried again, reranging his sparse vocabulary to enfold the
thought differently. 'My nest is yours and your nest is mine.'

This time Jill smiled. 'Why, how sweet! My dear, I am not sure I
understand you, but that is the nicest offer I have had in a long time.'
She added, 'But right now we are up to our ears in trouble--so let's wait,
shall we?'

Smith understood Jill hardly more than Jill understood him, but he caught
his water brother's pleased mood and understood the suggestion to wait.
Waiting he did without effort; he sat back, satisfied that all was well
between himself and his brother, and enjoyed the scenery. It was the first
he had seen and on every side there was richness of new things to try to

(Robert A. Heinlein, 'Stranger in a Strange Land') 

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