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.And Ednede was getting ready to go.And Borny and Ednede and Bit had been talking to some men, recently.Men weren’t all ignorant and crazy, the way Mother thought.They didn’t talk much, but they knew a lot.“What do they know?” Mother asked grimly.“They know how to be men,” Borny said.“It’s what I’m going to be.”“Not that kind of man — not if I can help it! In Joy Born, you must remember the men on the ship, real men — nothing like these poor, filthy hermits.I can’t let you grow up thinking that that’s what you have to be!”“They’re not like that,” Borny said.“You ought to go talk to some of them, Mother.”“Don’t be naive,” she said with an edgy laugh.“You know perfectly well that women don’t go to men to talk.”I knew she was wrong; all the women in the auntring knew all the settled men for three days’ walk around.They did talk with them, when they were out foraging.They only kept away from the ones they didn’t trust; and usually those men disappeared before long.Noyit had told me, “Their magic turns on them.” She meant the other men drove them away or killed them.But I didn’t say any of this, and Borny said only, “Well, Cave Cliff Man is really nice.And he took us to the place where I found those People things” — some ancient artifacts that Mother had been excited about.“The men know things the women don’t,” Borny went on.“At least I could go to the boygroup for a while, maybe.I ought to.I could learn a lot! We don’t have any solid information on them at all.All we know anything about is this auntring.I’ll go and stay long enough to get material for our report.I can’t ever come back to either the auntring or the boygroup once I leave them.I’ll have to go to the ship, or else try to be a man.So let me have a real go at it, please, Mother?”“I don’t know why you think you have to learn how to be a man,” she said after a while.“You know how already.”He really smiled then, and she put her arm around him.What about me? I thought.I don’t even know what the ship is.I want to be here, where my soul is.I want to go on learning to be in the world.But I was afraid of Mother and Borny, who were both working magic, and so I said nothing and was still, as I had been taught.Ednede and Borny went off together.Noyit, Ednede’s mother, was as glad as Mother was about their keeping company, though she said nothing.The evening before they left, the two boys went to every house in the auntring.It took a long time.The houses were each just within sight or hearing of one or two of the others, with bush and gardens and irrigation ditches and paths in between.In each house the mother and the children were waiting to say goodbye, only they didn’t say it; my language has no word for hello or goodbye.They asked the boys in and gave them something to eat, something they could take with them on the way to the Territory.When the boys went to the door everybody in the household came and touched their hand or cheek.I remembered when Yit had gone around the auntring that way.I had cried then, because even though I didn’t much like Yit, it seemed so strange for somebody to leave forever, like they were dying.This time I didn’t cry; but I kept waking and waking again, until I heard Borny get up before the first light and pick up his things and leave quietly.I know Mother was awake too, but we did as we should do, and lay still while he left, and for a long time after.I have read her description of what she calls “An Adolescent Male leaves the Auntring: a Vestigial Survival of Ceremony.”She had wanted him to put a radio in his soulbag and get in touch with her at least occasionally.He had been unwilling.“I want to do it right, Mother.There’s no use doing it if I don’t do it right.”“I simply can’t handle not hearing from you at all, Borny,” she had said in Hainish.“But if the radio got broken or taken or something, you’d worry a lot more, maybe with no reason at all.”She finally agreed to wait half a year, till the first rain; then she would go to a landmark, a huge ruin near the river that marked the southern end of the Territory, and he would try and come to her there.“But only wait ten days,” he said.“If I can’t come, I can’t.” She agreed.She was like a mother with a little baby, I thought, saying yes to everything.That seemed wrong to me; but I thought Borny was right.Nobody ever came back to their mother from boygroup.But Borny did.Summer was long, clear, beautiful.I was learning to starwatch; that is when you lie down outside on the open hills in the dry season at night, and find a certain star in the eastern sky, and watch it cross the sky till it sets.You can look away, of course, to rest your eyes, and doze, but you try to keep looking back at the star and the stars around it, until you feel the earth turning, until you become aware of how the stars and the world and the soul move together.After the certain star sets you sleep until dawn wakes you.Then as always you greet the sunrise with aware silence.I was very happy on the hills those warm great nights, those clear dawns.The first time or two Hyuru and I starwatched together, but after that we went alone, and it was better alone.I was coming back from such a night, along the narrow valley between Rocky Top and Over Home Hill in the first sunlight, when a man came crashing through the bush down onto the path and stood in front of me.“Don’t be afraid,” he said.“Listen!” He was heavyset, half-naked; he stank.I stood still as a stick.He had said “Listen!” just as the aunts did, and I listened.“Your brother and his friend are all right.Your mother shouldn’t go there.Some of the boys are in a gang.They’d rape her.I and some others are killing the leaders.It takes a while.Your brother is with the other gang.He’s all right.Tell her.Tell me what I said.”I repeated it word for word, as I had learned to do when I listened.“Right.Good,” he said, and took off up the steep slope on his short, powerful legs, and was gone.Mother would have gone to the Territory right then, but I told the man’s message to Noyit, too, and she came to the porch of our house to speak to Mother.I listened to her, because she was telling things I didn’t know well and Mother didn’t know at all.Noyit was a small, mild woman, very like her son Ednede; she liked teaching and singing, so the children were always around her place.She saw Mother was getting ready for a journey.She said, “House on the Skyline Man says the boys are all right.” When she saw Mother wasn’t listening, she went on; she pretended to be talking to me, because women don’t teach women: “He says some of the men are breaking up the gang.They do that, when the boygroups get wicked.Sometimes there are magicians among them, leaders, older boys, even men who want to make a gang.The settled men will kill the magicians and make sure none of the boys gets hurt.When gangs come out of the Territories, nobody is safe.The settled men don’t like that.They see to it that the auntring is safe.So your brother will be all right.”My mother went on packing pigi-roots into her net.“A rape is a very, very bad thing for the settled men,” said Noyit to me.“It means the women won’t come to them.If the boys raped some woman, probably the men would kill all the boys.”My mother was finally listening.She did not go to the rendezvous with Borny, but all through the rainy season she was utterly miserable.She got sick, and old Dnemi sent Didsu over to dose her with gagberry syrup.She made notes while she was sick, lying on her mattress, about illnesses and medicines and how the older girls had to look after sick women, since grown women did not enter one another’s houses.She never stopped working and never stopped worrying about Borny [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]