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Come on, guys! Let's all give a big Tupelo welcome to Ms. and Mr. Evesham Giyt, just joining us in our little heaven in the heavens. Ms. Giyt was a college student back in Wichita, while Mr. Giyt was a network systems analyst and consulting agronomist. We're glad to have you here, Evesham and Rina! And listen, folks, don't forget that Mam Bretweller's square-dance treat is on this afternoon in Sommermen Square.



The funniest thing that happened to Evesham Giyt on Tupelo was when he got elected mayor of the human portion of the community.

It was, Rina told him fondly, quite an honor for somebody who'd been on the planet for only five weeks. Giyt didn't think it was actually a great honor. There were only about eighteen hundred Earth humans there to be mayor of. Nobody else seemed to want the job, and the previous mayor, Mariam Vardersehn, flatly refused to run again, because she wanted to stay home and take care of her newborn twins.

Still, it was an odd turn of events for the man who for all of his thirty-four years had resolutely paid very little attention to the problems of anyone but himself.

Getting elected mayor was pretty much Giyt's own fault. When Hoak Hagbarth, the male half of Ex-Earth's team of on-site facilitators, happened to complain that the tax, license, and record-keeping functions of the government were in a terrible mess, Giyt incautiously volunteered to fix the programs. After that Hagbarth pointed out that it only made sense for the man who understood the system to be in charge of running it. "But I don't know anything about politics," Giyt protested. "Back in Wichita I didn't even vote."

"Well, who did? Who could vote for those snot-nosed, bleeding-heart politicians—'cept the president, of course," Hagbarth added loyally. "I'm not talking about him. Walter P. Garsh is a real kick-ass go-getter that wants to make America strong again."

"I guess so,' Giyt said, not mentioning certain reservations. President Garsh was the one who had called the prime minister of Canada a pitiful pip-squeak and threatened to punch the Chinese party secretary in the nose if he didn't repeal the import tax on American rice. Garsh's status as a kick-ass-America-the-Greater was, in fact, the principal reason Giyt would have voted for almost anybody else, if he had ever voted at all. But Hagbarth was punching his shoulder in a friendly way.

"When Mariam got elected she didn't know anything about politics either," he said soothingly, "and she did all right. You'll be fine. Anyway, you look like a candidate. Got that friendly dumb face—not too handsome, not really ugly, either. You look—I don't know, I guess I'd have to say you look honest."

"Yeah, thanks," Giyt said, rubbing his shoulder. Hoak Hagbarth was a big man, even by Giyt's own standards, and he was as strong as he looked. Giyt knew that he looked honest; it had been one of his most useful traits in the pursuit of his career as a crook, but Hagbarth didn't sound as though he meant it as a compliment.

"Tell you what," Hagbarth said, winding up the conversation, "why don't we just let the voters decide? Now I've got work to do."

As it turned out, the voters loved the idea. There was one vote for Albert Einstein, one for George Washington, and five for, succinctly, "Me." All the remaining nine hundred and seventy-six adult members of the Earth-human electorate cast their ballots for Evesham Giyt. It was a wonderful display of democratic consensus at work.

Mayoring didn't seem to be a very difficult job at first. Since Giyt had straightened out the fiscal programs, they pretty much ran themselves. For the first bit of time his only real duties were more or less honorary. He was expected to speak to the graduating class at the human school; that worried him a little, as he had had no previous experience in public speaking. However, there were only eleven students graduating, so Giyt's public-speaking debut wasn't really all that public. Then, come Christmas, Giyt was the one who put on the Santa Claus suit and descended from a gyro-copter onto the soccer field, where the giant community tree was winking its eighteen hundred (by then eighteen hundred and eighty-five) instrument lights, one for every human being on Tupelo. It happened to be a very sultry and rainy day, not Christmasy at all, but the human part of the colony was still resolutely sticking to the Earthside calendar, Giyt kept his ho-ho-hos short and got a big hand when he was finished, since everyone was grateful to be allowed to get out of the rain.

It wasn't bad. As a matter of fact, Giyt surprised himself by actually enjoying that sort of thing, once he got used to the idea of being known by everybody around. He liked the fact that all the humans greeted him as they passed in the streets—yes, and a good many of the eeties, too. At least Giyt thought the extraterrestrials were giving him friendly greetings, though unless he remembered to wear the earpiece translation phone, their various slurps, squawks, chirps, and gargles could have been anything.

Getting used to a new neighborhood—actually to a whole new planet—was pretty much an unprecedented experience for Evesham Giyt. He had never paid much attention to his physical surroundings. His real environment had always been electronic and global, and didn't change simply because the location of his body had. But here he felt a real need to explore. Giyt had never spent so much time out-of-doors since the long-ago college days when his girl of the moment persuaded him to try jogging. He found he liked it. Liked to wander the streets of the town, enjoying the sight and scent of a human bakery next to a Kalkaboo soup brewery—two very different smells—and watching work crews digging new sewers and putting up new houses. It didn't disturb him that so many of the workmen—well, the work things—weren't at all human. He even enjoyed going to the hypermarket with Rina to pick out towels and bed linen and kitchen appliances—Giyt hadn't even known that his bride knew how to cook—and that really surprised him about himself.

The other big advantage of being mayor was that it solved the problem of stalling Hoak Hagbarth, who had been getting increasingly insistent that a man with Giyt's impressive (if fictitious) background in agronomy would be a treasure on the community farms. Not that farming required any very demanding physical work, because Ex-Earth was very good about providing automatic machines for all the colony's really hard labor. Nevertheless Giyt, who had never once in his life had the experience of working with his hands, was just as well pleased to be spared the prospect of beginning it now.

There was one part of his job, though, that he hadn't been prepared for. That was the weekly meeting with the heads of the five other Tupelo communities in the Planetary Joint Governance Commission.


The evening before his first meeting Giyt was sitting on his tiny front porch, overlooking the "decorative" clumps of spiky flowering plants, with a drink in his hand. From next door were the distant sounds of Lupe and Matya de Mir trying to get their brood ready for dinner. Apart from that, it was more quiet than Giyt had ever known.

That was one thing you had to say about Tupelo. Other than the occasional whir of one of the electric carts going past, bumblebee drone for the ones he and most of the races used, mosquito whine for the roller-skate-sized ones used by the little Petty-Primes—well, and also the New Day firecracker ceremony from the Kalkaboos every morning, and of course the once-or-twice-a-week thunder of the suborbital rocket taking off for the polar continent—well, at least generally, it was fair to say, Tupelo was wonderfully noise-free. Certainly it was not at all like Wichita. Once you got used to its awkward thirty-four-hour day and the occasional drenching rain (and Giyt was pretty sure he would get used to them, sooner or later) it was actually not bad. Giyt wasn't prepared to go much farther than that. Rina evidently was, though; from inside the house he could hear her singing to herself as she made dinner.

The singing got closer and stopped as Rina came out, wiping her hands on her apron. "The pot roast'll be ready in about an hour," she announced. "Who's that coming?"

One of the electric carts had rounded the corner and was drawing up in front of their house. A man emerged from it, consulting his memo screen. Giyt had seen him before when they arrived: as big as Hagbarth, with a spade beard, named—Tschopp? Wili Tschopp? Something like that. "Got your order from the hypermarket, missus," the man said, looking Rina over in a way that Giyt was surprised to find he didn't like. And then he turned to Giyt. "You weren't at the terminal today when the new people came in," he accused.

"Was I supposed to be?"

"Of course you're supposed to be. You're the mayor, aren't you? So who's going to welcome them and all if you're not there?" He shook his head reprovingly, then returned his attention to Rina. "Where do you want me to put your towels and stuff, honey?"

Giyt answered for her. "Just leave them. We'll put them away ourselves." He hadn't meant for his tone to be quite so sharp. After the man got back in his cart and drove away, Rina looked at him curiously. "Are you feeling nervous or something, Shammy?"

"About what?"

"About this Joint Governance Commission thing, maybe."

"Of course not. What is there to be nervous about?"

She nodded, then said, "Listen, maybe we should stretch our legs before dinner's ready. I'd kind of like to watch the sun set over Crystal Lake," and he couldn't come up with a reason why not.

As they strolled, Rina looked up at him. "You don't really have anything to be nervous about, Shammy dear," she told him.

"That's good, because I'm not nervous," he said.

"Of course not, hon," she agreed, and began telling him the funny thing the eldest neighbor boy, eight-year-old Juan, had said about his mothers. At the shore of the lake they hesitated, then turned right, away from the town, heading toward the farm plots. Rina did all the talking. She had plenty to tell him, because Rina was blossoming in their new home; she had made several dozen instant friends, not only human but all over the community; had been offered a job she liked as receptionist in the beauty shop; was a volunteer Gray Lady at the human hospital when she was needed (which wasn't often, because the human community was a healthy lot and most of the hospital's beds stayed empty); was glad to take the neighbor kids to the beach when their mothers were busy. There was a time when Giyt would have found her steady stream of gossip irritating, because, really, what did he care if the General Manager of the Delt colony had made a fool of himself by getting excessively high on hallucinogens at the Delt High Mass? Or that Lupe and Matya had weathered a serious strain in their marriage just a year ago, when Lupe thought for a time that Matya was getting a bit too involved with one of her co-workers at the Public Works office, who not only was clearly sexually attracted to Matya but was unforgivably a man? Now, though, he didn't mind Rina's chatter at all. He didn't really listen to it all, either, but he went so far as to pretend he did, for no other reason than that these things gave her pleasure.

It occurred to Giyt, as they strolled past one of the human farm plots (harvester machines neatly slicing ripe tomatoes and yellow peppers off their vines and trundling them to the storage building in town), that their relationship had changed since they arrived on Tupelo. He caught another glimpse of what that change had been when they reached the Petty-Prime allotment next along the shore. (Properly those particular eeties were called Petty-Primates by the human colonists—never mind what they called themselves—because they were little and they were definitely primates, more or less, but Giyt had already learned to drop the extra syllable.) One of the little pink-skinned, monkey-like creatures stopped his work of grafting a new branch on a juice tree and chattered a greeting to them. They had no translator with them so Giyt had no idea what the thing was saying, but he automatically bowed to the creature in response . . . until Rina, by his side, chattered a few syllables back and he realized the greeting hadn't been meant for him but for her. "Hell," he said, wondering, "when did you learn to speak their language?"

"Oh, Shammy, I never will learn it, really. Just a couple of words like 'I hope you're having a nice day.' That's their chief agronomist who just said hello; his kids were playing with the ones next door and we got friendly. Are you feeling more relaxed now?"

He was more amused than annoyed. "Are we on that again? I'm not nervous."

"Of course not," she said comfortably. "After all, Mariam Vardersehn did it for two years, and anything she can do you can do better. . . . Oh, and Shammy? Did I tell you? I want to see if I can finish my college courses."


"Oh, yes. Olse Hagbarth says there's an extension program I can use, and Ex-Earth will pick up the tuition. Olse says I can even quit my job at the beauty shop because they'll throw in a stipend."

She looked as though she expected congratulations, so Giyt provided them. "That's wonderful," he said, patting her arm.

"Isn't it? I think I'll switch my major, though. There's not much call for a business-management degree here."

"Good idea," Giyt said approvingly, and squinted at the sun now just at the horizon. "I think it's time we turned back." He put his arm around her shoulders as they started home, silent again while he tried to analyze just how he felt about all this. Rina had never before asked his opinion about anything she chose to do before she did it. Was that part of what it meant to be "married"? And did it mean that he was expected to consult her, too?

After dinner Rina fixed him a hot toddy and went off to her studies. Giyt sat down at his terminal for some real relaxing.

But although he sampled some of his favorite programs—a really good documentary on Genghis Khan; another on Alexander's father, Philip of Macedon, almost as impressive a conqueror as his better-known son—what he was really thinking about was Rina. Rina, who had always got straight As in every course she took and was evidently on her way to getting more. Rina, who was a model mayor's wife, making friends among all, or almost all, the varieties of weird eeties, and for that matter humans, who lived in this place. Rina, who had never been a mother but was already a well-loved honorary aunt for the kids of the couple next door. Rina, who had never been a housewife in her life, either, but had mastered immediately, almost instinctively, the operation of the dust-sucker that whooshed their house dean and the cryptic settings of the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the stove . . . and while she was doing all these things, nevertheless still had time to do all the other things that were needed to keep Giyt himself content.

Rina. Who had suddenly become so big a part of Giyt's life that he could no longer imagine a life without her.

Giyt had trouble diagnosing this new feeling he seemed to be having about her. It wasn't exactly "love." There was no change there. He had recognized some time earlier that he probably loved Rina, more or less, within the general meaning of the term as he understood it.

This new feeling was something else. It wasn't merely friendship, either. He came to the astonishing conclusion that it was largely, of all things, pride. He was proud of the way his, ah, his wife was coping so wonderfully and rapidly with the demands of this bizarre new place he had brought her to.

It took him a while to identify the feeling, because it was so unfamiliar to him. Giyt could not remember that he had ever before been proud of any other person in his life.



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