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[Illustration: _In silence Negu Mah and Sliss stood silent gazing
at the moon drenched field._]
The Indulgence of Negu Mah
by ROBERT ARTHUR
In his garden, Negu Mah, the Callisto uranium merchant, sat sipping a
platinum mug of molkai with his guest, Sliss the Venusian.
Nanlo, his wife, pushing before her the small serving cart with its
platinum molkai decanter, paused for an instant
as she entered the
shell of pure vitrite which covered the garden, giving it the illusion
Negu Mah sat at his ease, his broad, merry, half-Oriental face
good-humored, his features given a ruddy tinge by the light of rising
Jupiter, the edge of whose sphere
horizon. Sliss, the intelligent
amphibian, squatted across from him in
tub of water which he carried with him whenever
from the swamps of his native Venus.
The amphibian's popping eyes turned toward her, the wide frog-face
split in a smile of appreciation
as Nanlo approached. She refilled
their mugs deftly
and withdrew. But before she reentered the house she
could not resist
hesitating to glance toward rising Jupiter and the
slim shaft of the rocketship silhouetted now against its surface.
The ship was the cargo rocket
Vulcan, newest and swiftest of Negu Mah's
freighter fleet. Fully fueled and provisioned, storage
with refrigerated foods that in space the cold of the encompassing void
would keep perfectly
for generations were it necessary, she would take
off in the morning from the close-by landing
port for Jupiter's other
satellites, then go on to the Saturnian system, returning finally with
full holds of uranium for Negu Mah's refineries on Callisto.
She was a beautiful craft, the Vulcan, and one man could manage her,
though her normal
crew was seven. She had cost a great sum. But Negu
Mah was wealthy.
Nanlo's face, sylph-like in its beauty, hardened. Negu Mah was wealthy
indeed. Had he not bought her, and had she not cost him more, much
more, than the Vulcan?
But no, it was not quite accurate
to say that Negu Mah had bought her.
However, since time immemorial
beautiful daughters had been, if not
sold, yet urged into marriages to wealthy
men for the benefit of their
impoverished families. And though science had made great strides,
conquering the realms of the telescope
and invading those below the
level of the microscope, finding
cures for almost every disease the
flesh of man was heir to, there was one ailment
it had not yet
Nanlo's father had been a rocket
port attendant. Once he had been a
pilot, but a crash had crippled him for life. Thereafter, his wages had
been quite insufficient
him, his brood of half a dozen
children, and their hard-working mother.
But Nanlo, growing up, had developed into a mature
beauty that rivaled
the exotic loveliness
of the wild orchids of Io. And in debarking at
port on a business trip to earth, because hurricanes had
forced him to land far south of New York, Negu Mah had seen her.
Thereafter--But that is a story as ancient as history too.
It was a truth Nanlo conveniently
overlooked now that she had not been
unwilling to be Negu Mah's bride. It was true she had driven
bargain with him--her father's debts paid, and sufficient more to ease
her parents' life and educate
her brothers and sisters. Plus a marriage
settlement for herself, and a sum in escrow in the Earth Union bank,
should she ever divorce
him for cruelty
or mistreatment. But that had
been only innate shrewdness. She would still have married him had he
refused her demands for her family. For his wealth
fascinated her, and
of being a virtual queen, even of a distant outpost colony
such as that on Callisto, appealed to her.
And she had thought that she was taking
little risk, for if she were
dissatisfied, the law these days was very lenient toward unhappy
marital relationships. It required only definite
proof of misconduct,
mistreatment, or oppression
of any kind to win freedom from an unwanted
partner. Nanlo had been confident
that after a year or two she would be
able to shake free of the bonds uniting her to Negu Mah and take flight
for herself into a world made vastly
more pleasant by the marriage
settlement remaining to her.
But now she had been married, and had lived on Callisto, for a full
five years, and her tolerance of Negu Mah had long since turned to
bitter hate. Not because he was a bad husband, but because he was too
good a one!
* * * * *
There was an ironic humor in the situation, but Nanlo was not disposed
to recognize it. Lenient as the law was, yet it required some grounds
before it could free her. And she had no grounds whatever. Negu Mah was
at all times the model of courtesy
toward her. He
granted every reasonable
wish and some that were unreasonable--although
when he refused one of the latter, it was with a firmness
unshakeable as a rock.
Their home was as fine as any on earth. She had more than adequate
care of it. She had ample time for any pursuits that
interested her. But she used it only to become more and more bitter
against Negu Mah because she could find no excuse to divorce
So great had her bitterness
become that, if she could have gotten
Callisto in any way, she would have deserted him. This would have meant
forfeiting her marriage settlement and the sum that was in escrow. It
would also have left her father in debt to Negu Mah for all that Negu
Mah had given him. But Nanlo's passionaterebellion
had reached such a
state of ferment
in her breast that she would have accepted all this to
strike a blow at the plump, smiling man who now sat drinking molkai in
their garden with their guest from Venus.
The answer to that was--Negu Mah would not let her leave Callisto. The
journey to earth, he logically argued, was still one containing a large
element of danger. There was no reason for her to visit any other
planet, and law and custom required that she look after their home
while he himself was away on business.
In this he was unshakeable. There was a stern and unyielding side to
him, inherited perhaps from his Eastern ancestors, that left Nanlo
shaken and frightened when it appeared. She had seen it the one time
she had seriously
gone into a tantrum in an effort to make him let her
take a trip to earth. It had so startled and terrified her that she had
never used those tactics
But now, as she wheeled away the molkai decanter and left Negu Mah and
Sliss to themselves, joy and exultation
was singing in her. Doubly. For
she was going to run away from Negu Mah, run away with the man she
loved, and in their flight
they were going to steal the Vulcan. Thus
Negu Mah would be doubly
punished. He would be hurt in his pride and in
his pocketbook. And all through the Jupiter and Saturn systems, where
his wealth, his position, and his beautiful wife were openly
would be laughed at and derided.
under her breath, Nanlo put the molkai decanter away in
a little pantry
on to her own apartment. Molkai was a
powerful, though non-habit-forming drink. Under its influence one
became talkative, but disinclined to movement. Sliss and her husband
would remain as they were for hours, leaving her free to do as she
would. The servants were asleep in another part of the building, and
there was no one to note as she changed her clothes swiftly
light, warm travelling suit, caught up two small bags, one holding
personal things, the other her jewels, and let herself out through her
own private entrance into the darkness of the rear gardens.
Where in the shadows the tall, blonde young engineer, Hugh Neils, was
waiting for her....
* * * * *
Negu Mah, when his beautiful wife had left the garden, sighed and put
to one side his mug of molkai.
"Sliss, my friend," he said to the Venusian, who was regarding
large, unblinking pop-eyes, "I am troubled in my mind. Tonight I must
dispense justice. Justice to myself and justice to another. To be just
is often to be terribly
Sliss blinked, once, a film moving horizontally across his large eyes
and retracting, to show that he understood. Due to the difficulty of
using his artificial
speech mechanism, he refrained from speaking
speech was necessary.
"My wife, Nanlo," Negu Mah said heavily, "is unhappy. I have done all
that is in my power to make her happy, but I have failed. She has made
some requests that I have denied, namely, to be permitted freedom to
visit earth. That I denied because I knew the paths she intended to
tread would not have led her to happiness either, and I hoped that in
the end, here she would find contentment. I have hoped in vain. Tonight
she intends to take matters into her own hands."
Sliss blinked again, politely, to indicate that he was interested if
Negu Mah cared to tell him more. Negu Mah rose.
"My friend," he said, "if you will come with me, I will show you what I
Sliss grasped the edge of his tub with webbed hands and swung his
webbed, yellow-skinned feet free from the water which kept the
sensitive membranes from drying, and at the same time supplied his body
tissues with liquid. Falling upon all fours, like a great, misshapen
pet, he waddled awkwardly
after his host.
Negu Mah led him to an elevator
within the house. This took them to a
higher floor, and there they followed a corridor
to the rear of the
building. Here Negu Mah, without showing a light, opened a door, and in
silence they moved out upon a small balcony
overlooking the rear
gardens, which were shrouded in darkness because rising Jupiter was on
the opposite side of the building.
They had stood there only a moment when below them a door opened, and a
small figure slipped through. Another figure appeared from beneath the
shadows of a cluster
of slender, purple
neklo trees and moved forward
to greet the first. They met in the center of a tiny open space, where
spurting through holes in crystal
made a sweet murmuring
music. And to the two watchers rose whispered words--"Nanlo! Nanlo, my
darling!" "Hugh! Oh, Hugh, my love, hold me close and tell me that
everything is ready for us to leave!"
* * * * *
Hugh Neils' arms held her close, and his lips were hot on hers. That he
was here as they had planned meant that he had succeeded in the other
plans they had agreed upon. Exultation soared higher in Nanlo's breast.
"Then we can go? Go now?" she asked eagerly, as Hugh Neils released
her. "The crew is asleep? You were able to arrange it?"
The young engineer looked down at her, his thin face a pale blur in the
"In five minutes, just five minutes, Nanlo, my own," he whispered. "I
left the guard half an hour ago, drinking molkai into which I put a
sleeping powder. Give him five more minutes to fall asleep, then we can
go to the ship unseen, unchecked. Until then, we can wait here in the
He led her toward the trilling fountain
and they sat down upon a bench
before it, of rare Callisto crystal. They still were in darkness, but
the flame-like Jupiter light touched the tops of the neklo trees above
them with a ruddy light which brought faint glimmerings from the
Hugh Neils was a recent college graduate whom Negu Mah had hired as an
in the refining mills on Callisto, where the
precious uranium 235 was separated from the ordinary metal. It was not
job, but the best Hugh Neils could get. His college record
scrapes and entanglements with women had been against him.
Indeed, this position had only come to him because his home was in the
same section as Nanlo's, and Negu Mah had thought that perhaps his
company on occasion would help alleviate Nanlo's restlessness.
It had--but to an extent
Negu Mah had not foreseen.
"In less than a quarter of an hour, Nanlo my darling," Hugh Neils
whispered now, "we'll be gone from here, and you'll belong only to me.
We'll leave this infernalbarrensatellite
to spin itself dizzy out
here in no place. We'll leave that humpty-dumpty husband of yours and
his hypocritical good-nature to whistle
for his wife and his ship. We
won't care. We'll be together, always together from now on, and he'll
never see us again."
Nanlo leaned against his shoulder, the prospect
that he painted seemed
very sweet to her.
"You're sure you can manage the ship alone?" she asked. "But of course,
I can help, a little anyway. You can teach me."
"Of course," Hugh Neils answered confidently, and bent to kiss her
again. "I've been studying her for a week, asking questions, making
friends with the crew. I can handle her one-handed. We'll take off and
circle Jupiter first. They may think we landed on the other side, in
the Outlaw Crevice. Or they may figure that we went on to Saturn, and
will hide somewhere in the system
"But we won't do either, and they won't know where to look for us.
Instead of turning back on the other side of Jupiter, we'll make a
tangential angle out into space. We'll hold it for a month, for
safety's sake. We could hold for fifty years, or a hundred, if we
needed to. There's fuel and provisions, meant for the mines, enough to
last that long.
"At the end of the month, we'll swing back, cut into the path of the
sun, and pick up Mars as she comes in from behind Sol.
"On Mars, we can sell the Vulcan. There's an outfit
in the Equator
Zone, in the mountains west of the Great Canal, that will buy her and
no questions asked. I learned
about them from a fraternity
while I was in college. He'd run into some hard luck, they gave him a
job, and he was making money hand over fist. They're asteroid miners.
The work they do is illegal, but it's perfectly
justified morally. What
right have men with more money than they know what to do with to own
everything in the Solar System? How can a young fellow get a start any
more, when corporations and rich old fogies own everything?
"Maybe I'll join up with this outfit. After we've sold the ship I'll
see. How does that sound to you?"
"Wonderful, Hugh," Nanlo whispered. "But I don't care about that. All I
want is for us to be together. Always. You and me, and our love,
together for eternity. That's all I want."
"That's all I want, too, darling
Nanlo," Hugh Neils told her passionately,
and kissed her. "Together, forever. Just you and me."
Nanlo sighed, with luxuriant
happiness, and peered at his radiumite
"The five minutes are up," she murmured. "Can't we go now?"
Hugh Neils nodded.
"We've waited plenty long enough," he decided. "The guard will be
asleep by now. The crew were that way when I left them, in the
dormitory. I saw that they had plenty of spiked molkai at dinner.
Pretended it was my birthday celebration. And the ship's all ready and
waiting for the take-off. All we have to do is lock the port and close
the rising switch."
The two on the bench by the fountain
rose, and for a long minute were
locked in an embrace. Then they turned toward the dark-shadowed trees
and disappeared beneath them, in the direction of the nearby space
* * * * *
extensive [ik´stensiv] a.广阔的；大量的 (初中英语单词)research [ri´sə:tʃ] n.&vi.调查；探究；研究 (初中英语单词)instant [´instənt] a.立即的 n.紧迫；瞬间 (初中英语单词)beginning [bi´giniŋ] n.开始，开端；起源 (初中英语单词)intelligent [in´telidʒənt] a.聪明的；理智的 (初中英语单词)whenever [wen´evə] conj.&ad.无论何时 (初中英语单词)resist [ri´zist] v.抵抗；对抗；抵制 (初中英语单词)jupiter [´dʒu:pitə] n.朱庇特；木星 (初中英语单词)system [´sistəm] n.系统，体系，制度 (初中英语单词)normal [´nɔ:məl] a.正规的 n.正常状态 (初中英语单词)accurate [´ækjurət] a.准确的；精密的 (初中英语单词)wealthy [´welθi] a.富有的；丰富的 (初中英语单词)attendant [ə´tendənt] n.随员 a.伴随的 (初中英语单词)sustain [sə´stein] vt.支撑；蒙受；确认 (初中英语单词)driven [´driv(ə)n] drive 的过去分词 (初中英语单词)educate [´edjukeit] vt.教育；培养；训练 (初中英语单词)divorce [di´vɔ:s] n.离婚 vt.同….离婚 (初中英语单词)wealth [welθ] n.财富，财产 (初中英语单词)prospect [´prɔspekt, prəs´pekt] n.景色；境界 v.勘察 (初中英语单词)definite [´definit] a.确定的，明确的 (初中英语单词)whatever [wɔt´evə] pron.&a.无论什么 (初中英语单词)consideration [kən,sidə´reiʃən] n.考虑；原因；体谅 (初中英语单词)reasonable [´rizənəbəl] a.合理的；有理智的 (初中英语单词)adequate [´ædikwit] a.足够的；适当的 (初中英语单词)seriously [´siəriəsli] ad.严肃；严重，重大 (初中英语单词)flight [flait] n.逃走；飞行；班机 (初中英语单词)lightly [´laitli] ad.轻微地，稍微 (初中英语单词)breath [breθ] n.呼吸；气息 (初中英语单词)apartment [ə´pɑ:tmənt] n.一套房间 (初中英语单词)movement [´mu:vmənt] n.活动；运动；动作 (初中英语单词)swiftly [´swiftli] ad.迅速地，敏捷地 (初中英语单词)alight [ə´lait] a.燃着的 vi.下；降落 (初中英语单词)terribly [´terəbli] ad.可怕地 (初中英语单词)artificial [,ɑ:ti´fiʃəl] a.人工的；模拟的 (初中英语单词)unhappy [ʌn´hæpi] a.不幸的；不快乐的 (初中英语单词)liquid [´likwid] n.液体 a.流动的 (初中英语单词)cluster [´klʌstə] n.一串 v.群集；丛生 (初中英语单词)slender [´slendə] a.细长的；微薄的 (初中英语单词)purple [´pə:pl] n.紫色 a.紫(红)的 (初中英语单词)fountain [´fauntin] n.泉水；源泉；根源 (初中英语单词)crystal [´kristəl] n.水晶 a.水晶的 (初中英语单词)eagerly [´i:gəli] ad.渴望地，急切地 (初中英语单词)desirable [di´zaiərəbəl] a.向往的；极好的 (初中英语单词)extent [ik´stent] n.长度；程度；范围 (初中英语单词)barren [´bærən] a.贫瘠的；不生育的 (初中英语单词)whistle [´wisəl] v.吹哨 n.口哨；汽笛 (初中英语单词)darling [´dɑ:liŋ] n.爱人 a.亲爱的 (初中英语单词)embrace [im´breis] vt.&n.拥抱；采纳；信奉 (初中英语单词)publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] n.发表；公布；发行 (高中英语单词)sphere [sfiə] n.圆体；天体；范围 (高中英语单词)dominate [´dɔmineit] v.统治；控制；俯视 (高中英语单词)appreciation [ə,pri:ʃi´eiʃən] n.评价；感激 (高中英语单词)withdrew [wið´dru:] withdraw的过去式 (高中英语单词)storage [´stɔ:ridʒ] n.贮存；存储器 (高中英语单词)perfectly [´pə:fiktli] ad.理想地；完美地 (高中英语单词)telescope [´teliskəup] n.望远镜 (高中英语单词)finding [´faindiŋ] n.发现物；判断；结果 (高中英语单词)thereafter [ðeə´rɑ:ftə] adv.此后，其后 (高中英语单词)mature [mə´tjuə] a.成熟的 v.(使)成熟 (高中英语单词)cruelty [´kru:əlti] n.残忍；残酷行为 (高中英语单词)confident [´kɔnfidənt] a.有信心的，自信的 (高中英语单词)courtesy [´kə:tisi] n.礼貌；殷勤；好意 (高中英语单词)bitterness [´bitənis] n.苦味；辛酸；苦难 (高中英语单词)passionate [´pæʃənit] a.易动情的；易怒的 (高中英语单词)rebellion [ri´beljən] n.叛乱；造反；反抗 (高中英语单词)openly [´əupənli] ad.公开地；直率地 (高中英语单词)pantry [´pæntri] n.食品室；餐具室 (高中英语单词)hurried [´hʌrid] a.仓促的，慌忙的 (高中英语单词)regarding [ri´gɑ:diŋ] prep.关于 (高中英语单词)namely [´neimli] ad.即，也就是 (高中英语单词)politely [pə´laitli] ad.温和地；文雅地 (高中英语单词)elevator [´eliveitə] n.电梯；升降机 (高中英语单词)corridor [´kɔridɔ:] n.走廊；指定航路 (高中英语单词)unseen [,ʌn´si:n] a.未看见的 (高中英语单词)reckless [´rekləs] a.不注意的；鲁莽的 (高中英语单词)outfit [´aut,fit] n.装备 vt.供给；装备 (高中英语单词)learned [´lə:nid] a.有学问的，博学的 (高中英语单词)eternity [i´tə:niti] n.永恒，来世，无穷 (高中英语单词)decided [di´saidid] a.明显的；决定的 (高中英语单词)celebration [,seli´breiʃən] n.庆祝(会)；庆典 (高中英语单词)indulgence [in´dʌldʒəns] n.沉迷；宽容；恩惠 (英语四级单词)microscope [´maikrəskəup] n.显微镜 (英语四级单词)ailment [´eilmənt] n.疾病；精神不安 (英语四级单词)loveliness [´lʌvlinis] n.美丽，可爱 (英语四级单词)conveniently [kən´vi:njəntli] ad.方便地；合宜地 (英语四级单词)oppression [ə´preʃən] n.压迫；镇压；苦恼 (英语四级单词)vastly [´vɑ:stli, ´væstli] ad.巨大地；广阔地 (英语四级单词)firmness [´fə:mnis] n.坚定；坚硬；稳定 (英语四级单词)gotten [´gɔtn] get的过去分词 (英语四级单词)tactics [´tæktiks] n.策略；战术 (英语四级单词)saturn [´sætən, -ərn] n.农神 (英语四级单词)mechanism [´mekənizəm] n.机械装置；机制 (英语四级单词)contentment [kən´tentmənt] n.满足；使人满意的事 (英语四级单词)awkwardly [´ɔ:kwədli] a.笨拙地；棘手地 (英语四级单词)balcony [´bælkəni] n.阳台；(戏院的)楼厅 (英语四级单词)outlaw [´autlɔ:] n.歹徒 vt.将…放逐 (英语四级单词)crevice [´krevis] n.裂缝，罅隙 (英语四级单词)fraternity [frə´tə:niti] n.教友团体；同行 (英语四级单词)portable [´pɔ:təbəl] a.轻便的 n.手提打字机 (英语六级单词)deftly [´deftli] ad.灵巧地，敏捷地 (英语六级单词)rocket [´rɔkit] n.火箭；火箭发动机 (英语六级单词)landing [´lændiŋ] n.登陆；降落；楼梯平台 (英语六级单词)immemorial [,imi´mɔ:riəl] a.太古的，极古的 (英语六级单词)insufficient [,insə´fiʃənt] a.不足的，无能的 (英语六级单词)taking [´teikiŋ] a.迷人的 n.捕获物 (英语六级单词)ferment [fə´ment] n.&v.发酵；激动 (英语六级单词)exultation [egzʌl´teiʃən] n.欢腾，狂欢 (英语六级单词)doubly [´dʌbli] ad.加倍地，双重地 (英语六级单词)pocketbook [´pɔkitbuk] n.袖珍本；皮夹子；财力 (英语六级单词)holding [´həuldiŋ] n.保持，固定，存储 (英语六级单词)speaking [´spi:kiŋ] n.说话 a.发言的 (英语六级单词)supervisor [´su:pəvaizə, ´sju:-] n.管理人；监督人 (英语六级单词)infernal [in´fə:nəl] a.地狱的，恶魔似的 (英语六级单词)satellite [´sætəlait] n.(人造)卫星；随从 (英语六级单词)confidently [´kɔnfidəntli] ad.有信心地；自信地 (英语六级单词)illegal [i´li:gəl] a.不合法的，非法的 (英语六级单词)luxuriant [lʌg´zjuəriənt] a.繁茂的；丰富的 (英语六级单词)