Fulumoa, which is 700 miles long, is the largest island in Ungonesia. It is also the only island that has a railroad. Fulumoa, the aboriginal home of the gigantic Fulu people, has its capital at Badako, a fairly modern city of 2,000,000 on the western tip of the island. The interior of the island is a tangle of swamps and jungles. Fulumoan Airlines served Fulumoa and other islands in the vicinity.
Talking it over with everyone concerned, Zevanardia and I concluded that it would be safe enough for Nunu to go to Monopeo all by herself. But even though she had earned handsome amounts in our second and third concerts and might have paid her own way, we felt that her vacation was something aside from her music company, so we bore the expenses.
Early in the morning on day 195, Zevanardia and I drove Nunu to
After a pleasant afternoon in town and on the beach, they would sail at around 7.5 Ungi (6 PM), with a destination of Enimeka, where they’d arrive in two earth-hours. They would spend the night and the next day on the island. In the evening of day 196, they’d sail on to Okibaka. The day after that, they’d make Malahari, and the next day, Kona. On the night of the 199th, they’d be in Badako. And on day 200, Nunu would board another Fulumoan Airlines mini-jet that would deliver her to Jezgroid in mid-afternoon. Zevanardia and I would be waiting at the airport.
Cissi’s in Ungonesia did not retail any lingerie for young girls. They sold gowns, panties, bras and bathing suits for women only. Queen Kolomena, however, thought it would be cute if Nunu wore a small peignoir like the ones her salesgirls wore. Nunu would not transact any business even though she could have mastered an electronic cash register in a matter of minutes. She would greet customers at the foot of the gangplank and lead them to the showroom in the superstructure. Agreeing with this, I had Cissi’s in New Ozgingd sew a couple of peach tricot peignoir and chemise sets for the little genius. She had folded these neatly and packed them in her tote bag along with the other articles she would take.
Ordinarily, Valunana, Kolomena’s assistant in Kralatimu, skippered RUS Gvagma I, but Kolomena herself, now the chief executive officer of Cissi’s in Ungonesia, was aboard this time, because of Nunu’s visit, which the archipelagian queen regarded as a high honor.
Both Kolomena and Nunu called me frequently every day, so I was able to follow their progress almost as well as if I had been there.
When they reached Enimeka Island, after nightfall, the crew, including Nunu, went straight to a modest, but immaculate, guest house, where a couple of large rooms had been reserved for the party of five. After barbecued fish with taro, and a dessert of pineapples and ice cream, they all went to bed.
Rising with the sun, they went to the yacht to get things ready, and by 3.5 Ungi (8:24 AM), customers were lining up outside. Since they knew Nunu would be on the yacht, a bigger crowd than usual showed up, and the salesgirls sold a lot of intimate apparel and beachwear that day.
Of course, it was warm and sunny. Lolika, one of Valunana’s girls, took Nunu down to the beach for a dip, giving her a swimming lesson. Nunu also tried a snorkel and fins.
They had a big supper of pork, barbecued over an open fire, and grilled bananas, with rice and peanuts. At around 7.5 Ungi, they set sail for their next port of call, which was the
While Nunu was still sailing in the Southern Ocean with dear Queen Kolomena, I received a call from Ajinblambia inviting Zevanardia and me to her office in
Zevanardia and I donned our best finery for an unusuality of this kind, and we appeared upon our lady king’s threshold at the precise hour appointed.
When Grishcanca and Isfaranza had seated us before Ajinblambia’s massive desk, Ajinblambia, said to me, “Sissy, you will recall that, around the beginning of last autumn, I mentioned that I was seriously considering Nunu as the heiress of the throne of Ung.
“I’ve been following her progress very carefully, and I’ve had the university monitor her performance in all the varied subjects she is studying. I’ve noted her musical genius, too, and her entrepreneurial ability.”
“Yes?” I queried nervously, anxious lest her preamble lead to an unsaying of her previous utterances on Nunu’s possible future queenhood.
“I have finally decided to formalize the appointment, naming her Queen Nunu and confirming her adoption as a Vrikshaya. For the present, this will be largely honorary, though I have a definite curriculum of promotions through which she will advance over the coming years. When I retire, which will be no later than year 425, and possibly much earlier, depending on Nunu’s showing, she will sit upon the throne of Ung and rule the Nyatic planet. She will be named Ajinblambia II.”
I literally fainted when I had heard these words, and, when I came to, I found myself lying on our big bed in Bo House.
According to Zevanardia, when I had passed out, Ajinblambia called her paramedical girls, instructing them to bring a stretcher trolley, roll me into an elevator and descend with me to the parking level under the northern oval, whither an ambulance would be dispatched immediately. Ajinblambia had also called Bo House and spoken to Ezmeraudia, explaining the little mishap. Ezmeraudia said she would be waiting out in front to meet the ambulance.
Asking Zevanardia to remain a few minutes, Ajinblambia went into more detail on the subject of Nunu’s new career, but the main point she made was that we were not supposed to mention any of this to Nunu for the time being. Upon Nunu’s return, Ajinblambia would interview her in her office. Ajinblambia also hinted at a gradual empowerment and entitlement that would begin in the near future. She was a little cryptic about this, it seemed to Zevanardia, who wondered what she was about.
Over the years, Ajinblambia and Zevanardia had never been very close, probably because they had always met in my presence. But on this occasion, when they happened to be alone together, Ajinblambia invited Zevanardia to take off her dress and slip on a silky white peignoir that she gave her. Then she had her join her in a small sitting room adjacent to her office where she often relaxed momentarily during her hectic day. They sat together on a chaise longue, upholstered in lavender poplin, that was perfect for two. First, Ajinblambia put her arm around Zevanardia, but soon began stroking her thighs with her fingertips. Next she had the palms of her hands on Zevanardia’s panty-clad hips, underneath the peignoir. Then she ran her fingers through Zevanardia’s hair, and finally she kissed her on the mouth. Zevanardia responded by throwing her arms around Ajinblambia’s neck, begging more kisses. Soon they were passionately embraced, as if with abandon. This interlude lasted for about half an earth-hour. Ajinblambia thanked Zevanardia again and again for her part in bringing Nunu into existence, saying that she considered Zevanardia a virtual sister and a benefactress of the House of Vrikshaya.
Finally, Zevanardia put back on her yellow linen sheath dress and left, returning to Bo House on the metro, although our lady king had offered to have Zhmucnarc drive her. Zevanardia was exhilarated to have been given the royal kiss, if she was a little uneasy about having done as she’d done in my absence. She told me all about it afterwards. But I just smiled, “Ajinblambia has honored you duly. Furthermore. she does love beautiful women. So you should be very proud.”
By this time, RUS Gvagma I was moored in the inlet on the shore of
The next morning, after Kolomena and Nunu shopped briefly at Badako Mall, where Nunu bought a few small Ungonesian souvenirs, Kolomena took her to
Nunu’s exhilaration was infectious, and Bo House was full of lively conversation and laughter that evening. Jina went to Rose Verandah I and bought a variety of dishes for supper, including beef cobbler with sour cream, spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed pork chops and broiled sole. We also had strawberry shortcake and coffee. Afterwards, we drank a little chanpagne, with only a sip or two for the prodigy, because of her tender years.
When the tales of the Southern Ocean quiesced, Nunu started talking about our next recital, which she was hoping to hold in
The following day, I got a call from Shandra by astrophone. She reported that there was a lull in the agricultural and commercial activities in Uvankafer, which a couple of her explorers had been monitoring. So she had invited Queen Truni, the Queen of Uvankafer, to come to Vavlu for a visit. Shandra provided a helicopter to fetch Truni and her chief councilloresses, Buxu and Arcab. The party of three were currently in the Ufzuan capital, at
Pursuantly to Shandra’s request, Truni had prepared a crude “almanac” of Uvankafer, which included a hand-drawn map, a gazetteer of the chief towns and geographic features of the country, and a list of such natural resources as had been discovered by the backward citizenry. Shandra had made copies to astrofax to me, and I had a set bound in a transparent polypropylene folder at Bo House, which I would take to
But I wanted to learn first how Ajinblambia’s interview with Nunu would turn out.
The second morning after Nunu’s return, Ajinblambia telephoned Bo House and asked to speak to her personally. I gave the phone to Nunu, who probably thought the call was about her recitals. I followed the conversation, as Ajinblambia’s voice was faintly audible.
“Nunu, this is Ajinblambia.”
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Just say ‘Ajinblambia’.”
“I want you to come right away to my office in
I had Nunu put on a dark red velvet dress with a jabot and cuffs of white lace. She wore white stockings and black patent leather shoes.
Mbaliderv came right on time and Nunu fairly raced out to the sleek burgundy-colored sports car, hopping onto the front seat next to him. In a second they were moving slowly down the little access road behind Bo House that would take them to
In mid-afternoon I glimpsed the burgundy sports car coming back along the access road. I watched excitedly as it pulled up in front of Bo House, on our driveway. I expected Nunu to hop out immediately, but she remained seated. Mbaliderv got out instead and walked around the car to open Nunu’s door. Holding the door open with his left hand, he offered his right hand to Nunu, who took hold of it as she stepped gracefully onto the pavement. Over her dress she wore a queenly little robe and on her head she had a silver circlet with a single blue sapphire in the middle of her forehead. Mbaliderv ushered Nunu to the front door of the house, and looked as if he was about to leave when I invited him in for refreshments and a chat.
“What is this all about, Mbaliderv?” I asked just a little disingenuously.
“I don’t know, Zhnan Sissy. No one tells me anything. King Ajinblambia just called me to her office and said, ‘Mbaliderv, please be kind enough to drive our young queen to Bo House.’ I said, ‘Young queen?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ It looks as if Nunu is being accorded some kind of honor. I don’t know, but she does look beautiful in her new robe and crown.”
Otherwise we just chatted about goings-on around town, the weather, and so forth. After chocolate cake and tuco, our supercoffee, Mbaliderv took his leave.
When Nunu could see out the window that Mbaliderv was out of earshot, she exclaimed jubilantly, “I’m a Vrikshaya! I’m a Vrikshaya! Ajinblambia has adopted me officially into the House of Vrikshaya. I am now Queen Nunu!”
“Long live Queen Nunu! All hail the glorious queen!” I chimed out in a loud voice, which brought Ezmeraudia and Jina from their room. They also joined in the cheers and salutations, which lasted for a good ten minutes. Zevanardia was at