Ripeness Is All


Illustrator SUMMERS

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Fantastic Stories

of Imagination May 1962. Extensive research did not uncover any

evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

_Shakespeare wrote it, in the tragedy of King Lear--a phrase

to live by:

Men must endure

Their going hence, even as their coming hither;_

He was disturbed, but he did not know it. Murky, agitated waters crept

up in his vast subconscious world, and sought the threshold, the mouth

of the pit, the slope of the clean shore; little rainbows of light

now and then flashed over the waters. They heaved, and against the

sluice-gates they beat, sullenly. There was a yielding, but the great

force was contained.

He left his Pad, curiously mopping his brow a little, and furrowing it

between the eyes. It came to him that he was hungry. He stepped to the

curb, pushed the button, and leaned against the post, as if waiting, or

in thought. Almost immediately a Car appeared, in a cheery orange and

green. He almost shuddered, and he almost knew that he did so. Then he

brightened, stepped into the car, and voiced his desire.

He was carried at a moderate pace through clean, broad streets and past

bright, shiny buildings and smiling parks and gardens. He came to the

top of a high hill, saw the sparkling blue bay in the distance, and

thought vaguely of sailing upon it. On his face he felt a brisk spray,

and the air was tanged with salt. Then a warmed, faintly perfumed

glow dried and composed him, and the Car shut off all its machinery

and glided to a stop. He got out, ever so comfortable, and entered a

luxurious Kitchen, in which he had not dined for several days.

The doors opened automatically, and a smiling android, gaily featured

and clothed, conducted him to a table. She was a soothing sight: yes,

that's what it was. He ordered a sumptuous meal, rubbing his ample

waistline in anticipation.

"Dig dig!" crooned the waitress.

He patted good-naturedly her well-moulded behind as she turned; she

glowed sweetly back over her soft and delicate shoulder. He wondered if

Meg was enough, and decided that, well, for the time being, he guessed

she was. No use hurrying things. The waitress returned and served the

meal. As always, it was excellent. He finished with a leisurely bottle

of wine and a cigar, pinched the waitress's firm yet ever so yielding

thigh, and departed.

Then a deep stirring almost took hold upon him. Yes, that was what

he needed. It had been several months now. He pushed another button,

and a rosy pink Car appeared to his service. "Take me to a House, you

know what I mean?" he said, as he arranged himself upon the pearl grey

cushions. The Car glided away.

* * * * *

On and on along the shore of the ocean they pleasantly careened. At

length they turned into a rich garden bower, and stopped in front of

a great mansion overlooking the waves. He alighted; the Car departed.

Profusely bloomed scarlet and golden and azure flowers, everywhere;

succulent and bright was the lavish green. The doors opened, and a Woman

received him. She was past child-bearing, motherly, and smiling.

He smiled back, and said, "You got one, huh?"

"Of course," she answered.

He sat down to wait.

And while he waited, he almost thought. Meg was good, all right, but

why wasn't she enough, sometimes? He tapped his thumb-nail against his

teeth in a few moments of near perplexity, and then desisted. Soon a

bevy of charming Girls entered the room and paraded for him, laughing

and smiling. He settled upon a petite brunette with cherry lips. She

stripped him of his clothes, and they went walking in a private garden.

In an inner bower they sat down to a rustic table, and were served by

robot with a heady aphrodisiac wine. On the grasses and the petals

of flowers, overlooking the sea, they entwined their limbs and their

bodies, and he nearly enjoyed her. He thought that once he had enjoyed

this activity indeed, and wondered whether it were so.

He sat looking over the waters, trying to muse. The androids were

physically perfect, flesh meeting flesh, clinging to it, thrilling with

it. They were warm, they whispered, they strained and cried. They were

freely available, for every man and woman. None need be unsatisfied.

But he did not know all of this, history and psychology were lost to

him and he could never keep a connected train of thought; his being

unsatisfied could not penetrate to his consciousness. He did not quite

know that flesh cried out for something more than flesh, and had

always done so. He did know, more or less, that there was the matter

of population, and that real men and real women had, at mysterious

intervals, to copulate. That was the way it was. He had once spent some

time in a House himself, meeting the requirements of an endless variety

of Girls. He supposed that some of them had borne the issue of his seed,

though he did not suppose it in these terms. But it was better not to

know these things for certain, and not to have anything to do with

the rearing of children, after the early mother-feeling was over. The

Schools could take care of that better than people could.

She snuggled against him.

"What say, Man?" she said: "What's eatin yuh?"

He did not know how to answer. He tried to talk, tried to break through,

to clarify.

"What's it, huh?" he nearly pleaded. "All this, I mean. Like what's it


She stretched out on the grass and looked at him a moment.

"Search me," she ventured. "I guess maybe what you need's a Bed."

He guessed she was right.

* * * * *

They went back to the mansion through the twilight, and established

themselves in one of the rooms. The soft curtains were drawn, the Bed

was large, the sheets were silky and creamy. She reclined on her back,

and the mattress moulded itself perfectly to her form.

He lay down beside her, and caressed her. She clasped him tight to

her breast. And he was clasped also by an invisible but very palpable

field of energy, that directed his movements and charged him with an

inexhaustible and ceaseless power. He held her tight, and the force

entwined them. They were one throbbing ecstasy, and only at the very

last endurable moment were they given release.

Then the Bed slowly soothed them, massaged them, and invigorated them

once again. Throughout the night it continued, activity and repose,

until toward the dawn he fell into a dead sleep, which lasted until the

following morning.

He did not know that he dreamed. He did not consciously remember any

of it. He only knew, as he ate his ample breakfast, that he was not so

thoroughly at peace as he should have been. And he knew that it was

useless to ask the Woman, or one of the Girls.

But the Woman's androids did well by her, it seemed. Maybe he had better

go home to Meg.

"What the square, anyhow?" he said to himself. A little more rest in his

familiar surroundings, and he would be all right. A Bed always took a

lot out of a man. He arose to go.

"Goodbye, dear," the Woman said, as he came to the head of the main

path. She was serene and smiling.

He adjusted his tunic, and smiled in reply. Yes sir, the old world was

in good shape, just like always. He signaled for a Car. The bright ocean

again passed by him, and the broad sands, and he dozed.

* * * * *

The dreams were more importunate, this time. When he awoke, with a blank

start, the Car was cruising aimlessly. He looked around, and broke into

a sweat. There was a button he had to push, somewhere, there was a

handle he had to take hold of. He stammered out "Stop--now!" and stepped

onto the curb. The car sped away, to another summons. He was before an

Emporium, but he did not enter. Instead, he did an unprecedented thing:

he went for a walk, through the streets of the City. This was not done,

and none of the occupants of the passing cars observed him.

He was really wondering, now. Could something be wrong? This

possibility, with all its full horror, had never entered his mind

before; indeed, he did not even have the conceptions of rightness

and wrongness, and yet there was the inescapable word, "wrong". His

agitation increased. He found himself with the hardly formulated idea

that a school was a place where one learned something, and he did not

know what this could mean.

He thought of the School that he had attended. All the young people of

the District of Fransco attended it: they had been told that there were

other Schools, in other districts, and that they were all the same.

He had believed it, and forgotten about it. What did it matter? One

district was as good as another. He had never travelled. He knew a Man

who had gone to the District of Shasta, but he had not been interested

in hearing about it. He remembered that the Man had said it was all the

same thing, not worth the bother. One had everything he needed, in his

own place. But now it seemed that he needed something more, something

nobody had ever heard of. He walked on, thinking about the School.

Everybody was born in a House, and kept there till he was weaned, and

could walk. Then he was taken to the School. There he grew up in an

atmosphere of Group Living, and was gradually showed everything that he

needed--everything that there was. The hes and shes played together;

they were instructed in the Ways of Life.

As they grew older, they were taken around the City. They were showed

the places that the Cars could take them; they were showed how to push

the buttons. Of course the robots did a perfect job of instruction.

There were Kitchens, in which one could eat. There were parks and

gardens, in which one could stroll and lounge. There were Emporiums, in

which one could get clothes and things. It was all--as it was.

When one reached puberty, he was taken from the School, and given a

Pad. There he lived, listening to the soft music that came from the

walls, eating and sleeping. And doing. He selected his android from an

Emporium, and did her as he pleased. She was his company, the Warmth of

his Pad. She shopped in the Emporium for him, she fixed him cozy little

meals, and brought him his pipe or his cigar. She spread the depilatory

cream upon his face in the morning, and wiped, with so soft a touch, his

beard away; and she bathed him, in the scented waters.

* * * * *

He remembered that after a year or two, he had felt almost restless.

From his touch, Meg had understood. She had whispered "House" to him,

and he had gone out and instructed a Car. That had been his first

experience of a Girl. He supposed that it had been the same with the

others. He had never inquired. In the garden bower the idea of children

had come to him, and his mind had been at rest. He had not tried a Bed

until the fifth or sixth time. He had, he supposed, taken for granted

that the Girls lived in the same way that he did. They had their own

androids, their own Pads. They never associated with the Men, except in

a House. Men got together sometimes, and ate and drank, and had android

orgies; no doubt the Girls did likewise.

With a great effort, aided by hints from what he could remember of Life,

he pieced an idea together, not knowing what he had done. Of course

human copulation was too dangerous: it might make one unhappy. He had

learned, in the bowers, that Man and Girl were not of the same temper,

and that their union was not always perfect. Somehow it was better, even

so, but it was too difficult. It tended to be--painful.

He did not know the word. He did not know any of the words for these

strange thoughts of his, but they were now very palpable to him, and

very urgent. His android was his, and was never dissatisfied; and so,

neither was he. It was a perfect and complete system. And what was

happening to him? The word "happiness" came upon him, and he shuddered,

almost in terror. What did it mean? Too many things were happening, all

at once.

* * * * *

He turned into a street, and stopped. He had never seen it before.

But why should this disturb him? The District was a big place. But he

thought he had better get out of this street. Maybe pick up another

android, maybe even take her home: have a redhead for awhile, maybe. Meg

wouldn't mind. How could she? What was the matter with him? Other Men

changed readily, or kept a whole Padful. The waitresses were much in

demand. One did not even have to take them home: there were convenient

rooms in every Kitchen.

Then suddenly all this was shaken from him. He was standing before a

large building, and he did not know what it was.

He stood for a long time, looking at it. Now and then a Man seemed

to pass, but he could not be sure. It was like a shadow, like the

flickering of a breeze. He wondered what the building could be.

At length he seemed to hear a murmur as of the waters, and at last a

voice broke upon him.

"This is a library," it said. "There are books here, and teachers, from

whom you can learn."

It was too much. He screamed, and ran down the street.

After a few blocks he became calmer; forgetfulness rescued him. He

pushed a button, and a Car conveyed him to his Pad.

Meg met him, all warmth and smiles. He sat down, and she brought him his

slippers and a cold bottle of beer. He drank deeply. She sat on the arm

of his chair, caressed him, and asked if he would like some dinner. She


He cut her short.

"Meg, honey," he said, "I'm a little tired, that's how. You go to bed

now, huh, put on some of that jasmine perfume? You dig?"

"Sure, honey! Dig dig!" she replied.

The dark waters rose, and beat against him.

He finished his beer, and got himself another.

Meg whispered, "Say, honey!" The bed rustled softly.

He fought down his mind, and rapidly drank his beer. Almost as ever,

he embraced the Warmth, and slid into a comfortable oblivion. Meg lay

beside him in the darkness.

* * * * *

He awoke early, and she laid her hand upon him.

Abruptly, he squirmed away.

"Don't do that!" His voice was loud. "It's no good, all that stuff!


He jumped out of bed, and began rapidly to put on his clothes.

Meg lay still for a moment. Her circuits were not built for such things.

There was nothing wrong, and nothing registered. Then the cheery morning

music started out of the wall, soothing and bright, and she began to hum

with it. She arose, went lightly to her dressing, freshly and sweetly

tripped into the kitchen.

"Scrambled eggs, honey?" she asked, in the most caressive of tones.

He had all but forgotten his outburst.

"Yeh, sure honey", he answered.

He ate copiously, and drank several cups of black coffee.

"Fine day!" he said, belching his appreciation.

He patted his companion good morning, exceptionally affectionately, and

went out into the street.

There he met an old friend and drinking companion. He lived next door,

it seemed. They were neighbors! He had seldom been so glad to see

anyone, as this old friend.

  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • extensive [ik´stensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广阔的;大量的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • tragedy [´trædʒidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悲剧;惨案;灾难   (初中英语单词)
  • curiously [´kjuəriəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.好奇地;稀奇古怪地   (初中英语单词)
  • button [´bʌtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钮扣 vt.扣上(扣子)   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • moderate [´mɔdərit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.适度的n.温和主义者   (初中英语单词)
  • delicate [´delikət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精美的;微妙的   (初中英语单词)
  • scarlet [´skɑ:lit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猩红色 a.猩红的   (初中英语单词)
  • charming [´tʃɑ:miŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可爱的;极好的   (初中英语单词)
  • available [ə´veiləbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可用的;有效的   (初中英语单词)
  • sometime [´sʌmtaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.曾经 a.从前的   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • twilight [´twailait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.黎明;黄昏   (初中英语单词)
  • invisible [in´vizəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.看不见的;无形的   (初中英语单词)
  • energy [´enədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活力,精力;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • horror [´hɔrə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;战栗   (初中英语单词)
  • bother [´bɔðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.打扰 n.麻烦(事)   (初中英语单词)
  • sleeping [´sli:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.睡着(的)   (初中英语单词)
  • warmth [wɔ:mθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.温暖;热情;激动   (初中英语单词)
  • knowing [´nəuiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.会意的,心照不宣的   (初中英语单词)
  • unhappy [ʌn´hæpi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不幸的;不快乐的   (初中英语单词)
  • system [´sistəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.系统,体系,制度   (初中英语单词)
  • terror [´terə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;惊骇   (初中英语单词)
  • disturb [di´stə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.扰乱;使不安;打乱   (初中英语单词)
  • awhile [ə´wail] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.少顷;片刻   (初中英语单词)
  • readily [´redili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.乐意地;容易地   (初中英语单词)
  • shaken [´ʃeikən] 移动到这儿单词发声  shake的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • breeze [bri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.微风;不费力的事   (初中英语单词)
  • perfume [´pə:fju:m, pə´fju:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.香味 vt.使发香   (初中英语单词)
  • lightly [´laitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地,稍微   (初中英语单词)
  • companion [kəm´pæniən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同伴;同事;伴侣   (初中英语单词)
  • fantastic [fæn´tæstik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奇异的;荒谬的   (高中英语单词)
  • uncover [ʌn´kʌvə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭开(盖子);揭露   (高中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • threshold [´θreʃhəuld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门槛;入门;开端   (高中英语单词)
  • faintly [´feintli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.微弱地,软弱无力的   (高中英语单词)
  • sweetly [´swi:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.甜蜜地;美妙地   (高中英语单词)
  • decided [di´saidid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的;决定的   (高中英语单词)
  • pleasantly [´plezntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.令人愉快地;舒适地   (高中英语单词)
  • mansion [´mænʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大厦;宅第;官邸   (高中英语单词)
  • cherry [´tʃeri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.樱桃(树)   (高中英语单词)
  • rustic [´rʌstik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.田野的;质朴的   (高中英语单词)
  • psychology [sai´kɔlədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.心理(学)   (高中英语单词)
  • penetrate [´penitreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.贯穿;穿透;渗透   (高中英语单词)
  • consciousness [´kɔnʃəsnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.意识;觉悟;知觉   (高中英语单词)
  • mattress [´mætris] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.床垫   (高中英语单词)
  • perfectly [´pə:fiktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.理想地;完美地   (高中英语单词)
  • ecstasy [´ekstəsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.狂喜;出神,入迷   (高中英语单词)
  • serene [si´ri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.清澈的;宁静的   (高中英语单词)
  • learned [´lə:nid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有学问的,博学的   (高中英语单词)
  • hearing [´hiəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.听力;听证会;审讯   (高中英语单词)
  • stroll [strəul] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.漫步;散步;游荡   (高中英语单词)
  • copyright [´kɔpirait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版权;著作权   (英语四级单词)
  • cheery [´tʃiəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.愉快的;活泼的   (英语四级单词)
  • vaguely [´veigli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.含糊地,暖昧地   (英语四级单词)
  • composed [kəm´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.镇静自若的   (英语四级单词)
  • automatically [ɔ:tə´mætikli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.自动地;无意识地   (英语四级单词)
  • leisurely [´leʒəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.从容地,慢慢地   (英语四级单词)
  • stirring [´stə:riŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.活跃的;热闹的   (英语四级单词)
  • lavish [´læviʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.慷慨的;浪费的   (英语四级单词)
  • perplexity [pə´pleksiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.困惑;为难;纷乱   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • lounge [laundʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.懒洋洋的姿势;闲逛   (英语四级单词)
  • urgent [´ə:dʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.急迫的,紧急的   (英语四级单词)
  • happening [´hæpəniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.事件,偶然发生的事   (英语四级单词)
  • freshly [´freʃli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.新近,刚才   (英语四级单词)
  • sullenly [´sʌlənli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不高兴地   (英语六级单词)
  • sumptuous [´sʌmptʃuəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奢侈的;豪华的   (英语六级单词)
  • creamy [´kri:mi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.含奶油的;米色的   (英语六级单词)
  • ceaseless [´si:slis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不绝的,不停的   (英语六级单词)
  • unprecedented [ʌn´presidentid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.空前的   (英语六级单词)
  • dissatisfied [´dis,sætis´fækʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不满的;显出不满的   (英语六级单词)
  • forgetfulness [fə´getminɔt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.健忘   (英语六级单词)
  • oblivion [ə´bliviən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(被)忘却;漠视   (英语六级单词)
  • exceptionally [ik´sepʃənli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.异常地;极,很   (英语六级单词)
  • affectionately [ə´fekʃnitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.热情地;体贴地   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:01:44
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