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"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Lavinia to Amanda. "You're but a child! How can you think to contract a marriage?"
Amanda had recovered her reserve. "Mrs. Tolhurst, there are three states in this nation where a girl my age can contract marriage. That battleaxe who was supposed to provide me with a 'proper upbringing' at the Orphanage was insistent that I was a 'young lady,' beyond the age when childish behavior was appropriate. Which is it to be? Am I an adult? Or a child?"
Sarek interjected gravely, "It is my understanding that you cannot guarantee that Amanda will not be returned to that place which she fears most. Logic dictates, then, that you support those who can guarantee that. She has sought the protection of Vulcan, and Vulcan will protect her, even if your world cannot."
"How old are you?" Rupert asked.
"Quite youthful, actually, although I have been elevated by circumstances to a role more common among my elders. I have not yet attained sixty years by Earth measurements." Sarek showed a hint of embarrassment.
"I must say that I find it ... distasteful ... for a man nearing sixty to wed a girl of fourteen. And, begging your pardon, I must forbid it," Rupert responded.
"Why might that be?" Sarek questioned.
"Why, she's far too young to fulfill her marital duties," Lavinia said with a blush.
"Oh? I had formed the impression that our races mature at about the same rate," Sarek answered. "She certainly appears to have developed the attributes of young womanhood. But perhaps you are expecting that we would engage in sexual congress immediately. While Vulcan couples can and do so, as an aspect of their union in marriage, it is only once in seven years that a Vulcan male is driven to seek out his spouse by a mating urge. And I am five years from my next pon farr... which can be sublimated by battle or by meditation, if needed, as I have done in the past."
Lavinia was somewhat startled by Sarek's openness about sexuality, but Rupert, with his professional training, listened with interest. "So in essence, you are taking her to protect her, with marital concerns awaiting her maturing?"
"And because he truly loves me and wishes me at his side!" Amanda interjected. "I have seen inside his mind, and I know this more certainly than anything else beyond myself."
Rupert drew into himself for a long minute, thinking back over the varieties of human experience he had encountered in his research and studies, the child brides and how their actual treatment differed from the dime–novel horror stories, the customs of arranged marriage and how it worked.... At last he spoke.
"Sarek, I honor you for your gesture. Pray forgive my outburst."
"It is only logical to do so," Sarek answered, "since I realize that we were both concerned for Amanda's safety, according to our own customs."
"Then I must give this union my blessing," Rupert answered. Lavinia gasped. "You are clearly acting ethically, Sarek, by your own customs, and it is my duty both to my country and to my ward, as well as my intellectual desire, to learn more of those customs. I do remain concerned, though, that Amanda has made a decision based on an immature judgment that she may come to regret."
"Think back on what she has told you of her father's teaching, and her life at the Orphanage." Sarek's response was compassionate. "She was equipped to learn adult rational control at a young age, by her father's foresight, and then forced to use it by what she was plunged into at his death. Her judgment and maturity are those of a young adult. I have performed mind meld with her; I know."
"That is reassuring," Rupert replied. "I would like to know more of this 'mind meld'."
Lavinia was unconvinced, and angry. "Rupert Tolhurst, how can you sit there and barter away a young girl like that? It goes against every standard of proper society."
Rupert reddened, and then visibly controlled his temper. "It is not our assigned task to conform to the neighbors' expectations of proper social behavior, my dear. Our task is to provide for Amanda's safety, comfort, and happiness, to enable her to grow up into a woman capable of dealing with this world.
"Instead, we've been given the chance to guarantee that by supporting her marriage to a man who knows her inside and out and loves her. That is clear from their demeanor, emotionless as they are trying to keep it. I'd expected this day to come, sometime in the future, when some man would ask for her hand –– though I must say I didn't expect it to occur so quickly, while she is still fourteen!
"By the customs of our society and world, I am the head of this household," Rupert continued. "And I find this totally shocking, but also the proper thing for me to support. My dear," he concluded, turning to Amanda, "you have my blessing."
"Thank you, doctor –– father!" she said, allowing a warm smile to emerge.
Amanda accompanied Rupert into the State Department building. Outwardly calm, her inner feelings were a mixture of hesitancy and resoluteness. Rupert approached the front desk. "Rupert Tolhurst, to see Secretary Lansing. He is expecting me." The receptionist looked askance at Amanda. "Oh, and Miss Amanda Grayson," Rupert added. "She will be accompanying me."
Amanda looked up. "Perhaps I should be announced as Amanda, née Grayson, Ko–telsu t'Pi–Maat Sarek," she said. Rupert did a double take. "That is my title, as of last night," Amanda clarified.
Rupert nodded. "Please announce us as Professor Rupert Tolhurst, consultant to the Department, and Amanda, née Grayson, uh, Ko–telsu t'Pi–Maat Sarek," he told the receptionist firmly.
"Thank you, father," Amanda said with a slight smile. "How did you get the pronunciation right the first time?"
"Years in the field, my dear," Rupert said. "When the difference between an ich and an ach means the difference between an honorific and a deadly insult, you learn fast."
The receptionist, meanwhile, had been busy with what appeared to be a telegraph key. As it clattered back to her, she said primly, "Go right up; you're expected."
"Thank you," Rupert said perfunctorily. "Come, my dear."
As they entered the Secretary's office, Sarek rose gravely, and extended an arm to Amanda. She took his hand, and he guided her to a seat next to his.
"Ah, a pleasure to see you again, Amanda," Secretary Lansing said. "But, Rupert, I'm surprised you brought your ward with you for this meeting, of all meetings."
"I'm afraid I had little choice," Rupert said. "Certainly I would not have brought my ward. But the Ambassador specified as he left last evening that he wished to have the assistance of his bride today."
"Oh? When will she be joining us?" Lansing was urbane.
"She just did," said Sarek.
Rupert and Amanda both hid smiles at Lansing's reaction; Sarek's countenance was emotionless as always, but his eyes twinkled as his gaze met theirs.
"I am sure you have important matters to bring up," Sarek said. "But if you will allow me, I want to raise the most urgent issue first. On the long narrow island which juts east from your largest port city, our ships and the Andorians' detected the characteristic pulses of a tchas–tviyan. This is a generating device using crystals of twinned atoms of the lightest metal..." Sarek searched his memory... "lithium. It is a source of energy, a source of great power."
"That would be Doctor Zephram Cochrane's and Mr. Tesla's work, then," Lansing opined. "They are inventors of great skill, sometimes given to crackpot notions, but the sources of much of our modern progressive equiment."
"You must stop them," Sarek said baldly.
"For heaven's sake, whatever for?" Lansing asked.
"When the tchas–tviyan is operated at low intensity," Sarek explained, "it merely gives off power and the characteristic signature pulses that led us to discover it. But if he brings it to full power, it will generate a tchas–vunai, a warping of the area around it. It is difficult to say what exactly that does when built on a planetary surface –– there was never enough left of the experimental stations which tried it to determine what it was that it created. But I believe it would be logical to say that it is probable it would cause a large portion of that island to be flung into space, largely in small pieces. Although I am reasoning from early experiments on our sister planet, and I cannot be certain. However, a reasonable assessment of the evidence indicates that whatever the results, it would not be pleasant for the persons within the area of the effect."
"How large an area?" Rupert interjected.
"Oh, a circle with radius from one–seventh the width of that island to its full width."
"Between five and 35 miles," Rupert translated.
"And you are certain of this?" Lansing asked.
Sarek paused. "The pulses are characteristic of a tchas–tviyan. Of that there can be no doubt. As to what may happen, I rely on logic and prior experience."
Lansing picked up his telephone. "Millie, get me the White House. –– This is Lansing, please give me the President. –– This is important enough to interrupt. –– Frank? You need to give orders to the Secret Service detachment in New York to proceed to Cochrane's and Tesla's laboratory out on Long Island, and instruct them to stop their power–generation experiments immediately. –– Yes, it's critical, to prevent a catastrophic explosion. Have them contact my office. –– Yes, that's direct from Our Distinguished Visitor." You could hear the capital letters in Lansing's voice. "All right, then. I'll brief you later."
"If the man is insightful enough to develop a tchas–tviyan independently, he would probably be an excellent conduit for technology transfer," Sarek observed.
"A wise thought," Lansing responded. "We will need to discuss the specifics of what you have to offer in that regard."
"Vulcans do not bargain with knowledge. 'Knowledge is the birthright of all,' Surok said." Sarek paused. "But it may be wise to time the release of technology, to give the planet's ethics time to catch up. That was Vulcan's problem –– we learned how to destroy each other faster than we learned the reasons not to." Amanda smiled.
"First, I suppose, we should go through the formalities of establishing diplomatic relations –– recognizing each other as legitimate governments, and so on. Exactly what are you Ambassador to, anyway?" Lansing was urbane again.
Sarek looked non–plussed. "You are here, your people express allegiance to you as their legitimate government, there are no rebellions. What recognition is this?"
Rupert picked up on that. "I believe Sarek is saying that for Vulcans, de facto IS de jure. I ran into this in Africa –– the common view among the chiefs was that he who holds the power is the one to view as in charge. It seems a refreshingly practical view."
Amanda spoke up. "Perhaps I can clarify the other. If you send an Ambassador to the Tsar, Mr. Secretary, he bears letters accrediting him as an emissary of the United States to the Tsar's court, and would have no power to speak to, say, the new Finnish or Polish republics in behalf of America, is that not correct?" Lansing nodded. "A kevet –– my husband's rank and duty –– is not quite the same thing." Lansing's eyebrows raised at 'husband' but he didn't interrupt. "Sarek's delegated authority is limited to matters relating to Earth, or with the other interstellar cultures as regards matters relating to Earth, but within that scope, he speaks with the full authority of the Vulcan High Council. His word is their word; they trust his judgment and will honor his commitments in their name. He is not Ambassador to the United States, or even Ambassador to Earth, but rather Ambassador –– Vulcan's spokesman –– for Earth. What he agrees to, commits Vulcan, if it is related to Earth or to Earth's future entry into the interstellar community." Sarek nodded agreement.
"A refreshing change from men who must telegraph home for instructions," Lansing said. "So an answer from you is as though the Council you represent were sitting here solemnly agreeing to it?"
"Correct," Sarek said.
"So this High Council is, in effect, the Congress or Parliament for your entire planet?" asked the Secretary.
"Not exactly," Sarek responded. "It functions as the decision making body as they do. But it is not elected. It is comprised of the Patriarchs and sometimes Matriarchs of the Houses and Families of Vulcan. All Vulcan Families belong by blood lineage to one of the Houses. The Patriarch of any Family has a seat upon the High Council; any Vulcan can request the right to speak before the Council if he is in logical disagreement with his Patriarch, though such occasions are rare. The High Council nearly always agrees by consensus as to what the logical and ethical action should be.
"As a Vulcan, a person has immediate access to the High Council through the Patriarch of his Family and the Patriarch of his House. Families of common descent are part of a House. And all Vulcans are part of Ektra–maat T'Khasi –– we are all regarded as sons or daughters of T'Khasi. That is the ancient name for the planet, and in days of myth was the mother goddess of our people."
Amanda interjected, "You might find it helpful to think of T'Khasi as equivalent to Mother Earth or Mother Nature –– a personification not 'believed in' as a tenet of religion, but a meaningful construct to conceptualize the common relationship of the Houses and Families." Rupert smiled at Amanda's explanation.
"How do you come to know so much of Vulcan in so short a time?" Secretary Lansing asked skeptically.
A flicker of annoyance wafted across Amanda's face, before she composed herself. "When my husband and I contracted marriage, Mr. Secretary, he equipped me by mind–meld with those things which I would need to know. I have placed what I have learned for the benefit of my guardian and father–in–spirit, for the benefit of both worlds."
"It is the duty of a Patriarch to ensure the safety, welfare, and maturation of the members of his family or house," Sarek said. "I was highly surprised to learn that it is not so here on Earth, that children whose parents meet death are often treated as disposable parts, and that abusive parental behavior has no patriarchal authority controlling it. This is a matter you should change." Sarek's demeanor was calm, but anger simmered in his eyes.
"It is not so simple as that," Rupert said. "Human cultural traits are ingrained, and many come to see their prerogatives as laws of nature. It will take much time to change any of that."
"And meanwhile, children are cast into workhouses and orphanages, and beaten and abused," Amanda threw in, with a touch of asperity.
"In any case," Lansing said, "this is a matter for the states. Just trying to pass the Child Labor Amendment, to place controls on children forced to work in factories, has strained the Administration's political capital."
"It needs to be dealt with," Sarek and Amanda said simultaneously, then glanced at each other with loving eyes.
"Mr. Secretary?" said his secretary from the office door. "Lord Irwin is here with the gentleman he spoke of."
"Ah yes, show him in," Lansing said.
A tall, spare balding man strode in, followed by a somewhat disheveled bulky man with an air of distraction. "Edmond, Myke, what a pleasure! Myke, I'm surprised to see you here in the States. Let me present to you Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, Dr. Rupert Tolhurst of Gotham University, who is our consultant, and his ward Amanda Grayson. His excellency Edmond Wood, Lord Irwin, and Mr. Mycroft Holmes of His Majesty's Government."
Amanda bridled at that; Sarek noted it, and corrected, "My wife Amanda, née Grayson, Ko–telsu t'Pi–Maat Sarek."
Lansing and Irwin quirked eyebrows dubiously; Holmes, lounging indolently, merely had the air of noting it as one more datum.
"Mr. Secretary," Lord Irwin said sonorously and with a trifle of pomp, "I have the honor of informing you that His Majesty's Government has, after discussion, taken a decision in the sense that...."
"Oh, get on with it, Edmond," Mycroft interrupted. "Better still... Robert, you know that silly line that my brother's biographer wrote about me?"
"'Sometimes he was the British government'? That one?" Lansing asked, amusedly.
"The very one," Holmes said. "The King and the P.M. asked me to gather and collate information about our visitors here, and circulate it among the governments who agree to his proposal for experimental 'means short of war' –– something of an international information–exchange medium. My brother and I were on our way to the States anyway, and I agreed. Mr. Ambassador, I am at your disposal, your willing and enthusiastic student."
Sarek nodded. "That would be acceptable," he said.
Rupert spoke up. "We were just discussing Vulcan governance, Mr. Holmes. You will recall the clan structures among the Ashanti?" Mycroft nodded. "Vulcan uses that extended–family system of government, with the heads of houses coming together in a lawmaking body, the High Council."
"Not lawmaking," Sarek interrupted. "Except for some ancient statutes, Vulcan does not operate by the making of laws in the Earthly sense. The Council is the decision–makingbody, but they operate according to tradition, custom, and logic."
Irwin and Lansing looked astounded; Holmes simply nodded. "But how then is morality enforced on Vulcan?" Irwin asked. "Pure logic would not lead to necessary moral standards."
"I find it hard to conceive of a logic that does not incorporate ethical behavior," Sarek responded. "And there is no need to enforce morality; what is the proper way to treat others is logically self–evident under cthia, and those who transgress it receive swift justice."
"But what of sexual deviants?" Irwin asked.
Sarek raised an eyebrow. "Those who force themselves on others, by physical force or by intimidation, are executed. What other deviance is there?"
"I suspect this discussion could go on for hours," Lansing interrupted. "But unfortunately, I must prepare to receive the Chinese ambassador. May I suggest you adjourn to a salon on the next floor to continue it?"
Nods of agreement met that suggestion
A weary Richard and Bruce threw themselves onto the overstuffed furniture in the parlor. "I can't believe you own so much!" Richard said.
"I don't," Bruce answered, smiling. "We own that much. And anyway, most of those companies are independent firms; we're just the majority stockholders. The company boards and presidents run the companies; we just fire them if they're not doing a good job." Richard giggled. "Quite a change from the orphanage, eh?" Bruce teased him.
"Sure is! But, um...." Richard looked shy.
"Go ahead," Bruce smiled encouragement.
"Well, I was wondering when I start learning about detectiving." Richard said with a little trepidation.
"Sooner than you think," Bruce answered. "I've just been waiting on some visitors to arrive that I think you'll enjoy meeting. They should be here quite soon, based on the wire they sent last night. While we're waiting, tell me what you enjoyed the most."
"Oh, the zoo!" Richard said enthusiastically. "I loved that!"
"Part of that was our gift, you know," Bruce added. Richard looked a question at him. "The big cats exhibit was a Wayne Foundation gift, and so was the chiropteran studies area. I have a special interest in bats, you see. But the most recent gift was the two penguins."
"Yeah, they were cute. Smelly, though," Richard wrinkled his nose. "I liked watching them waddle on land and then swim so pretty. What'd they say they called them?"
Bruce smiled. "Adelie Penguins, from Antarctica."
"No, I mean their names."
"Oh. For some silly reason the keeper thought it was a good idea to name the female Meredith, and the male Burgess. Who'd ever call a penguin that?" Bruce grinned.
Alfred stepped to the parlor door. "Sir? The British gentlemen are here."
"Ah, good, show them in!" Bruce said.
Alfred escorted two men in. The facial features of both showed they were brothers, but one was cadaverously thin and wore a double–brimmed deerstalker cap. The other was the disheveled bulky–looking man who had accompanied Lord Irwin to the State Department.
"Wonderful to see you both again!" Bruce said urbanely. "Please have a chair. Alfred, you know what refreshments we all take, I believe." Alfred nodded and withdrew to prepare them.
"Richard, it's my pleasure to present you to two gentlemen who know more about scientific detecting than I will ever learn: the Holmes brothers. Gentlemen, may I present to you my ward, Richard Grayson? Richard has a keen, observant eye, and was instrumental in putting away the mob which killed his parents and brothers. He looks forward to learning from you as much as I do, I'm sure."
"Well, I'm afraid I will be off on other duties," Mycroft said, "but you will learn a great deal from Sherly."
"Hardly," his brother said. "It's merely a matter of inculcating careful observation, and then the use of reason and logic to draw the proper conclusions from what you observe. And don't call me Sherly!"
"Don't jump to conclusions about what must have happened," Mycroft continued. "Observation of scene and people will tell you much more than they would like to think."
"And maintain a dispassionate air. Keep your emotions from becoming involved in your observing and reasoning," Sherlock added.
"I'm not very good at that," Richard said. "My father tried to teach us to maintain emotional control, but I couldn't do it. My sister is much better at it."
Data had been accumulating in Mycroft's mind. Suddenly it clicked. "You said your ward's name is Grayson?" he asked Bruce, who nodded assent. "Where is your sister now?"
"The courts would not let me become her guardian, so I arranged for her to become the ward of Rupert and Lavinia Tolhurst," Bruce filled in.
"Have you spoken to her recently?" Mycroft asked.
"No, I wanted to, but it'd be a long–distance call!" Richard said with an air of fatalism.
"I wish I had known –– it would have been no problem for you to call her!" Bruce said compassionately.
"I think you should; there's some news you need to know," Mycroft said.
"Is she all right?" Richard asked anxiously.
"Just fine, very happy, and planning a new life you will not believe," Mycroft said mysteriously. He pulled out a communicator.
"What in the world?" Bruce asked incredulously. Mycroft asked for Sarek in pidgin Vulcan, then spoke with him quietly. Moments later, Sarek and Amanda materialized next to the grand piano.
"Richard!" she called out warmly, simultaneously with his "Amanda!" Then both echoed "I've got someone I want you to meet," realized what had happened, looked at each other, and giggled. The three adult Earthmen chuckled; Sarek's eyes twinkled in amusement.
"I do believe this is going to be an interesting story!" Bruce said. Sherlock nodded agreement.
Wow this is a wonderfully inventive chapter; it fills in a lot more details about the First Contact. I guess I haven't made myself clear enough before so I am going to make sure this time that there is no doubt! One of the wonderful things about all of D & B's stories aside from the wealth of detail is their characterizations. All of their characters are 3dimensional; they all have depth and life to them. I am very intrigued by the way that Amanda is being portrayed and how she seems to grow and mature right before our eyes. The wealth of characters in this chapters presages many more rich chapters full of lifelike and wonderful characters along with the wealth of detail we have come to expect from this formidable team.
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