Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Fifty-Four

"Head between your knees.  That's a good girl."

I slapped his hand away angrily.  "I am not a child."

Soothingly as if he was speaking to someone of only half intelligence he responded, "No you are not so stop slapping at me like one.  Now breathe.  The color blue does not go well on your skin."  After a moment and a good swipe with a cold cloth on the back of my neck the Sheriff asked me, "Better?"

"No," I told him still angry.  "But I suppose I am feeling less likely of making a fool of myself."

Brushing a stray lock from my face which had escaped my snood he said, "You did not make a fool of yourself.  You ... listen Leeda, I don't know precisely what is going on in that head of yours but I promise you one thing, you need to get that particular worry out of it.  Tomas is many things, and yes he is not above using people for his own ends, none of us are I suppose, but he loves his wife and contracted a monogamous marriage.  He will not take another wife.  Period.  And of the things that Tomas is, he is stubbornly determined to keep his word in all things.  Do you understand?  He's already slapped down several people that have mentioned the Old Law that would give him leave to ... to ..."

My stomach twitched and I had to grit my teeth.  "Good.  Because if he even raises the idea I'll vomit on him."

"Glad to hear it," the Sheriff said with a lopsided grin, surprising me.  "Would serve him right.  Though if ... if we ever ... er ... find the opportunity to have a proper discussion on what neither one of us is currently willing to discuss then perhaps ..."

I turned my face away into shadow so he could not see how red it felt.  "It ... that particular issue ... well I won't puke on you if that is what you are wondering.  It's the other that I'm worried about with you.  Now may we please continue?"

"I would if there was any more to continue with.  That is the sum total of what I have at this time.  What I was hoping was that you could add something to this."


"Yes.  Your family history.  It is ... murky."

"Well yes, I suppose it is if you are talking about our beginnings."

"And you're sure you know the family history?"

"Even if I hadn't been taught it at my father's knee, Nat would have told me afterwards at some point.  He ... let us say he always has credited me with more sense and intelligence than anyone else."

"All right then.  Assume I know nothing of your family.  How would you introduce me to them?"

"Honestly?  I would likely only mention to my grandfather's generation."

"Are you sure?  You mentioned to me that the Harper family once held the seat that the Waverly family does now."

"But only after context was established.  By and large it has absolutely nothing to do with who the Harpers became, at least not in any obvious sense.  My great grandfather was a very young man when his father died and he decided to turn the mayoralship over to his father's friend since he really had neither the desire nor the talent to take the status and duties that came with it.  Great grandfather's name was Hartzell which was his mother's maiden name.  Her family name died out as there were nothing but daughters; but each daughter named a son Hartzell so it is now a common given name."

"You are ... er ... inordinately attached to your genealogies."

I shrugged.  "It is the regional past time for our entire society to an extent.  Both the biological component as well as the anthropological components.  You can inherit status through birth lines.  You have to be careful not to overlook possible corruption in birth lines.  Two corrupted lines can intermarry so long as they don't share the same corruption ... though there is that rare occasion when certain corruptions actually magnify the other.  The knowledge of genealogies is a kind of ... of power I suppose as it gives you hints on who will align together on an issue and who wouldn't spit on someone even if they were on fire.  On the other hand, there are ... we'll call them breaks ... where a family, or branch of a family, takes on a completely different direction which can confuse it all.  Then there are the social and medical issues that further complicate the citizen rolls."

Rather than his eyes being glazed over as I expected at such a lecture he was sharply focused and intent.  "Nat's Order doesn't just deal with ancient texts but with the history of Tentuckia as a whole is that right?"

"Actually it goes further than that.  Because of his facility with languages, Nat's specialty is translating old texts.  His intelligence is such that not only can he translate and repeat what he reads verbatim, he can interpret the texts so that the words have meaning for our modern society despite often referring to ancient items and concepts most would not understand or recognize.  It is one of the talents that helped him to get into the Order's special training program.  However there are other branches of the Order that are further specialized ... some on technical manuals, some on anthropological issues, some on architectural issues.  The list is almost infinite, and some are quite narrow in focus, but one of the most specialized branches within the Order, maintains the geno-medico data from today back to what is still available from prior to the Days of Destruction."

"I thought the Geno-Medico Texts were strictly regulated by the Great Council."

"Access to the original texts is.  The original texts are reportedly held in some vault deep within an earthen complex far underground and only accessible by a special lift device.  The old stairway collapsed years ago according to Nat but was once called the Stairway to Hell though the terminology is quite anachronistic. Until about a hundred years ago access to such data could only be obtained ... for a price.  After the Convention of Health that branch of Nat's Order took over the stewardship of the information within those texts, though not of the original texts themselves.  Their first order of business was to check the veracity of those documents and whether or not they were originals or ... let us call it manufactured for some purpose beyond a time period when they could rightly be called valid.  That part alone took over fifty years to complete."

"Leeda, why are you avoiding it?"

"Excuse me?"

"You know what I'm saying."

I sighed.  "I am not ... avoiding it exactly.  I know it is my family's history but in all honesty I simply do not identify with it.  But if you insist on a recounting I will do so. "


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