A Tale of Ung
Hide-and-Seek on the Palace Grounds
Around that time, Queen Ajinblambia returned from Dorgdid. Shornbanc Station was growing faster than a cottonwood. Aoshneps Steel Mill and Tlebscuc Cement Works were also under way, rapidly progressing. Ajinblambia had several errands in the capital and would be in town some thirty days.
I noticed a dramatic uptick in the amount of sisterly affection that Ajinblambia and Udi displayed for one another. They were together all the time with their arms around each other, holding hands or exchanging hugs and kisses. If they were walking on the palace grounds in leotards and shorts, Ajinblambia would fondle Udi’s buttocks or stroke her breast with a vagrant finger now and then, and Udi would blush and smile coyly, saying, "Ajinblambia, you’re so naughty!" Then the taller lady would withdraw her hand a moment, only to return it stealthily, and Udi would resign herself to the advance.
I also noticed that, even though I kept my distance when Ajinblambia was present, she seemed more and more uncomfortable if I was anywhere in the vicinity when she and Udi were together. I could sense the tension. If the queen and I were sitting in her study and Ajinblambia appeared, she’d glance impatiently in my direction. Usually I’d just slip away discreetly presently. Of course, there was no law forbidding Ajinblambia to dominate the queen or deem inconsequential the fact that I was Udi’s husband.
Another new development assuming some importance in the palace was a penchant Udi had acquired for consulting Ajinblambia about all matters large and small. Oftener than not, she’d just accede unto the vice queen’s wishes after airing meek objections she seemed to love to have her friend dismiss emphatically. Of course, whenever Ajinblambia recommended or suggested anything, she made sure that it was done her way. Udi, too timid or too fond to disagree or quarrel with the vice queen, would automatically submit to her in every little matter. More and more, in other words, Udi just obeyed her Ajinblambia.
"Vocno," instructed Ajinblambia one day when she and Udi were upon the mauve chaise longue in Udi’s office, holding hands, and I was standing at the far end of the room, "the queen and I have very private matters to discuss. Will you please leave the room?"
"Leave the room?" I was shocked at her presumption.
"Yes," she said in a peremptory, no-nonsense tone of voice.
Udi, sensing my embarrassment, said, "Ajinblambia, please let him stay. He’s not harming us at all."
"No, dear Udi, I want to talk to you alone."
"Udi, please tell Vocno to excuse himself."
Udi turned to me with an expression of embarrassment. She said apologetically, "I’m sorry, Vocno. Please just go. I don’t want her to get annoyed."
Ajinblambia put her arm round Udi’s shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. Then, she let Udi go and stepped in my direction, but I ran out the door. Ajinblambia was stealing Udi from my arms. Udi seemed to sympathize with me, but she could not stand up to Ajinblambia. What would become of me if I lost Udi? Would I still reside at Eldor Palace? Would I remain prime minister? What about our daughter, Oji, five years old?
During Ajinblambia’s stay of 30 days, whenever Udi welcomed dignitaries, magnates and ambassadors, she had Ajinblambia beside her. It had once been Udi’s custom to receive distinguished guests alone as regnant queen. Now Ajinblambia was getting more and more exposure to society as the companion of the queen and her colleague in the royal power. Often their joint pictures would appear in newspapers and magazines. I had been entirely supplanted and upstaged.
The city of Mecnita is 100 miles long, 100 miles wide, 10,000 miles in area. Mecnita’s population of 100,000,000 gives it a density of 10,000 people per square mile. The city is divided in 400 urban districts, a checkerboard of 20 ranks and 20 files, each district being 5 miles long and 5 miles wide. The districts have such names as Chanzli, Onjmo, Corlamarn, Sulugur, Queshganc, Spranceld, Devanasc and Eldor. ‘Greater Mecnita’ is the name we’ve give to the aggregation of Mecnita and its suburbs, which form a circle whose radius is 150 miles, 70,000-plus square miles. In many countries, such a vast expanse of land would not be reckoned a single metropolitan conglomerate, but with Mecnita’s unsurpassable interurban, intraurban and suburban trains, almost every metropolitan locality is within an hour of the towers of Ramdonia. All told, Mecnita has 5000 suburbs and local unincorporated places that are named. Greater Mecnita’s population is 350,000,000, that is, 5% of the population of the planet. Thus, the average suburb of Mecnita has an area of 12.1 square miles and a population of 50,000 souls. However, the suburbs of Mecnita are by no means equal in area and population. Several suburbs, such as Boncfilj, Joprinx, Queshganc Heights and Blumbo, have a million residents or more apiece, but many others number only in the hundreds. Every district of the city and almost every suburb publishes at least one daily newspaper. In all, Greater Mecnita boasts 6000 daily papers. The total circulation is 150,000,000. Every day, year in, year out, 12,000 tons of newsprint are consumed in the metropolis, for a yearly total of 5,000,000 tons, with our year of 418 days. Ung’s botanists and papermakers have developed cellulose-rich strains of Abies and Picea, or fir and spruce, and we get up to 60 tons of newsprint from 100 tons of timber. So Mecnita fells about 8,500,000 tons of timber every year to print its daily papers. On the average, in this part of Ung, timber growth amounts to some 500 tons a year on one square mile of timberland. Therefore, a providently-managed forest of 17,000-plus square miles is required to grow the wood from which we make our newsprint.
However, in Mecnita, though newspapers consist of virgin paper and you might suppose that therefore we just throw away our daily papers when we’ve read them, one does not just drop his old gazette into a trash can or throw it on the sidewalk. Instead he carefully disposes of it by placing it any of the specially designed receptacles found everywhere around the city and serviced by the Metropolitan Recycling Works. The specially designed receptacle immediately shreds up the paper into a near-confetti fineness, after which the paper is fed into a pipe of flowing water to form a pulpy slurry much like sewage. The Metropolitan Recycling Works’ vast piping system is a subterranean monkey’s puzzle of immense proportions, reaching every corner in the great metropolis. The slurry then is piped to the recycling plant itself, a huge facility extending over one square mile in the Sulugur District of the city. There the slurry is reconstituted into high-grade paper used in mailing, wrapping, shipping, packaging and other spheres of commerce. Power is provided by a geothermal power plant belonging to the Metropolitan Recycling Works. The cost of the whole system was upwards of 200,000 talents— $200 billion in round figures—but the experts estimate its service life at about 500 years, and in those 500 years, $200 billion more will go for maintenance, less than $1 billion yearly, including everything. If you consider this expense to be borne by the 350,000,000 residents of Greater Mecnita equally, the cost of the recycling works amounts to less than $3 annually per capita during those 500 years. The Metropolitan Recycling Works’ board of directors is ecology-oriented, and the grounds include fine parks and paths, immaculate and elegant, with tea-roses, bluebells and hydrangeas blooming all year long in Mecnita’s paradisical eternal summer.
The most prestigious of the newspapers of Ung was the polychrome 18 x 24 inch daily we called Obscont (Eye of the World). Completely free of advertising, it was supported by the royal government as its official organ, but was not at all propagandistic or tendentious. The emphasis was placed on business, finance and construction, culture, travel, education and fine arts, but there were interesting scientific, geographic and historic articles as well. Absolutely absent were sensationalism, pornography, banality. The published photographs appeared in full, rich color on glossy pages, suitable for framing. Ordinarily, the focus was not on personalities, but rather on achievements and accomplishments, like buildings, highways, inventions and discoveries, and on activities, like music, fashion, art and theater.
However, Ung’s newly-crowned vice queen was beginning to enjoy a plenitude of coverage in Obscont. Her name was celebrated in connection with the awesome irrigation projects in the west of Ub and was practically synonymous with Mezquinc Aerospace Facility in Dorgdid. Also, she had come to be identified as the alter ego of the queen and was duly famous as the head of the 500,000-year-old House of Vrikshaya. Likewise blazoned were her deposition of Queen Oa and her annexation of the lands of Ufzu. The question of her conspecificity with ordinary mortals was regularly broached. Not the least of her newsworthy attributes were her tremendous intellectual and athletic aptitudes.
In the very center of the central oval of the palace, there was a hemisphere of tracery of gold, its radius 100 feet, its equator on the floor. A narrow triangle in the surface of the hemisphere, with its apex at the pole, was open as the entrance, and, through it, there was access to a dais of white marble. Upon the dais stood a throne of platinum and sapphire. The 15-foot-high throne was made of 60 tons of platinum and 1,000,000 carats of blue sapphires embellishing the part above the head of royalty in state. The back, the armrests and the seat had cushions of white plush. The steps ascending to the dais were carpeted in white brocade. It was the custom no one might approach the dais or the throne except the reigning monarch. At least it once had been the custom. Now Obscont wanted to take photographs of Ajinblambia beside the throne, perhaps back a step or two, with Udi seated just before her. An article whose tenor was that Ajinblambia might be the power behind the throne was being contemplated by Ansculard, the publisher and editor of Obscont. Queen Udi granted him the permission he’d requested, and Ajinblambia joined her on the royal dais. The article was written and the pictures published. They were copied in all 6000 daily papers, 150,000,000 copies.
Even in my wildest dreams, I’d never dreamt Queen Udi would make me the partner in her royal power or crown me king. This would have been unprecedented in the House of Ung, and Udi never showed the slightest sign she’d break with this tradition. Furthermore, I simply lacked the personality to make a ruler. I’d been amazed and grateful to be named prime minister. In fact, I’d been reluctant to accept the honor. I didn’t feel worthy. Queen Udi had insisted. Had I not been her husband, she surely would have passed me over in the midst of such a plethora of candidates as you can well imagine a kingdom such as Ung, with its many universities, produces. So I’d never even mused about the possibility of being touted as the power behind the throne. I’d never imagined either, though, that someone else would be so touted. Queen Udi was the regnant monarch, canny, capable and shrewd, beloved of her people, glorious and beautiful and rich. What further power needed be? Yet Ajinblambia had suddenly appeared as Udi’s colleague in the royal power. I wasn’t envious. I wasn’t jealous. I’d never hoped to reach those heights at all. But this was very puzzling, damnably annoying. Why was all this happening?
I remember Udi’s word when, after the lynching of the Jvashna, Dhandwa, in Mecnita in ’386, we first took up our residence in Eldor Palace. She briefed me on the history of the royal House of Ung:
"The Kingdom of Ung is 103,386 years old. In all, 5318 kings and regnant queens have sat upon the throne of Ung. Succession is determined according to a rule of primogeniture, the eldest son or daughter of a monarch following that monarch on the throne. Of course, there has been many a case of royal childlessness in those one thousand centuries of our sway, and in each such case, the kinsmen and the kinswomen have elected another eligible member of the family to the throne, without a single instance of fraud or usurpation, at least so far as I can ascertain, so that the 5318 kings and queens constitute a single dynasty, the House of Ung. Queen Yuni, my own mother, and her husband, Vramdashc, suddenly contracted a mysterious pulmonary inflammation, dying prematurely in 103,371, when I was ten years old, whereupon I became the queen of Ung, under the regency of my maternal uncle, Thladperc, also now deceased. You’ve doubtless heard of monarchs who are birds in gilded cages. Such a sovereign enjoys all the pomp and pageantry of royalty—a throne, a crown, a palace, finery, emoluments and titles—but all the real power rests in the hands of nobles, capitalists, ministers or prelates. Ung has never been and is not now a kingdom of that ilk. In Ung, the sole repository of all executive and royal power is the reigning king or queen."
What had happened to Queen Udi’s autocratic attitude? Where was her lofty self-sufficiency, her prideful independence? Why was she bending now for Ajinblambia the rules she’d never bent for me?
While Ajinblambia and Barti both were in Mecnita, Vinja also came to town. Her nuclear power stations were getting built in rapid order, like cyclopean dynamos on a gargantuan conveyor that girdled half the planet. Now she was gearing up to start construction of those goliath ploughs and harvesters she’d use to till and reap the limitless expanses of the Ubbic west. With several hundred billion dollars in the balance, insurance had become a matter of some moment, with Vinja trying to decide between subscribing to a policy from Ung Insurance Company and setting up a self-insurance fund depending on investment of accumulated revenues in a variety of stable companies. Vinja was loth to come to a decision on the basis of mere prejudice and hunches, but rather wanted to confer with Evvandissa, Ung Insurance Company’s renowned directress, as well as Udi, Ajinblambia and Usha. The five great ladies would manage perfectly without the help of the prime minister.
Ung Insurance Company’s main offices are in the tower known as 7 Ramdonia Circle, on the first 300 floors. Several thousand years ago, there was a legion of insurance companies in Ung, and ceaseless spin-offs, split-ups, takeovers and mergers characterized the climate of the business. This was not just happenstance. Wealthy companies and individuals occasioned it deliberately, with design to heap up money by mere arbitrage and brokerage, without performing services commensurate. The corollary was that worthy companies and individuals often were destroyed or damaged through no error of their own. Then Ung Insurance Company, under the aegis of the realm, began to buy up the other companies and monopolize the business, becoming in effect a department of the government, much like the Bank of Ung. "What keeps the system honest?" do you ask? Among the other factors, there’s technology, the number-one defender of rights and liberties, the profusion of affluence emanating from it doing much to mellow competition for survival. Another factor, underestimated elsewhere in the universe, is the privilege that Ungians enjoy of instituting legal process by computer, without the interference of arrogant, indifferent or arbitrary judges. At any rate, in these times, Ung Insurance Company is Ung’s sole insurance company, and Evvandissa runs it capably.
It may seem that for Ung Insurance Company to bear the cost of saving harmless Turfant-Tuva Company in case of accidental damage or destruction of a jumbo harvester is tantamount to having Ung move money from one pocket to another, but, of course, loss of an astronomically expensive farm machine would ruin Vinja’s budget and impair her reputation. So naturally she was eager to protect her project thus.
It was the first time in about a year that Udi, Ajinblambia, the Geese and I all were present in the capital. It would have been self-evident to anyone who saw us all together that Ajinblambia ran everything, the rest of us competing to garner her approval by serving her efficiently. One day she said she’d like for us to have a picnic on the palace grounds, and everyone agreed with her idea. Of course, she’d choose the place where we would party, select the delicacies that we would eat, referee the games we’d play, lead us in the songs we’d sing and pick the time to end it all. This was as it should be, it seemed we all exclaimed in unison. She had on a white bra top and shorts, so that her gorgeous brownish limbs and midriff, sleek and shapely as a thoroughbred bay mare’s, formed a target whither every glance was shot. Udi wore identical apparel. More and more, she dressed herself just like Ajinblambia, and very ostentatiously, so that everyone would comment. The Qazudi girls and I had on our volleyball attire, not necessarily because we planned to play, although Queen Udi kept suggesting that we hold a rematch, but because it was absolutely perfect for a picnic.
"Why don’t we just go to the courts?" Ajinblambia proposed, and so it was. We all took seats around the green-and-white cabanas, where we brunched on cakes and rolls, with tuco and cold drinks. An animated, cheerful little conversation started, pleasant as a cool breeze on a hot summer afternoon. Barti started telling Udi how she and her four cousins kidnapped me in Kshaddi in year 386. I had never told the queen about this little episode before. When the train I was aboard that year failed at the station there in Kshaddi, the Qazudi girls, whom I’d never even seen before, were idling round the platform on a school holiday. When they saw me standing helplessly in the vicinity, they rushed up and laid their hands on me, carrying me by my extremities all the way across the village. Then they’d tied me by my ankles to a Maypole and ran wildly around, turning it and turning it, till I was flying through the air, ten meters off the ground, a living centrifuge. Eventually, when they grew weary of this game, they walked me on high stilts laced on my legs so I could not jump down, leading me around and round for what seemed hours on end. Finally, they let me down, just perfectly delighted with their pranks. Naturally, I was stunned and tired, dizzy and disoriented just a little. Exuberant, ebullient Barti, full of mirth and glee, had challenged me to wrestle, and pounced on me even before I had a chance to answer. Of course, she won the contest handily, pinning me three times in swift succession. Now she was recounting every detail merrily to Udi.
When Barti finished with her story, Queen Udi laughed and asked, "You mean that when I sent you on an urgent, sensitive intelligence assignment, you found time to wrestle with a high-school girl and get beaten?" Udi seemed to think that this was very funny.
"Well, I was very dizzy, very tired."
"Are you tired and dizzy now?"
"No," I answered slightly apprehensively.
"Why don’t you wrestle Barti now? A florin to the winner!"
"That wouldn’t be quite fair to Vocno," Ajinblambia imposed herself upon the conversation, "Barti’s six inches taller than dear Vocno, and look at her terrific figure. He wouldn’t stand a chance."
I wanted to object to being treated as a feckless little fellow, but feared if I objected very strenuously, I’d end up wrestling Barti after all, so I just kept my silence.
"Actually, Queen Udi," Ajinblambia continued, "you’re nearer Vocno’s size than Barti is. True, you’re slightly taller, but why don’t you…?"
"Wrestle my own husband?" asked the queen.
"Why not? It’s all just clean, healthy, wholesome fun."
"Oh, he’ll beat me easily."
"I don’t think so, Udi. You can beat him. At least give it a try."
"Oh, very well, if you’re sure that’s what you want."
All the ladies cheered her on, "You can do it, Udi."
"Are you ready, Vocno?" Udi asked.
"Look! He’s scared. He’s shaking like a leaf," cried Vinja with hilarity.
We marked out a ring with streamers of pink and white crepe paper taken from a basket full of party goods one of the Geese had brought. Udi stepped into the ring with a mischievous little grin, as if daring me to come. Hesitantly, I stepped up. Of course, I wouldn’t think of rushing her. That did not keep her from rushing me, however, and before I knew it, she had tossed me on the grass. I hopped right up, but she threw me right back down, bouncing on my buttocks. Presently, amid peals of silver laughter from the Geese and Ajinblambia, she tossed me down a third time, pinning me quite handily.
"I told you you could beat him," Ajinblambia exclaimed, hugging Udi and kissing her upon her neck. She put a coronet of peonies couronne d’or on Udis’ lovely head, but on my head she put a little pair of horns fastened to a headband, saying that because I’d lost the match, I’d have to be the sheep in a game of wolves-and-sheep she’d show us how to play. According to the rules that Ajinblambia enunciated, I, the sheep, would be allowed ten minutes to go hide myself anywhere around the palace grounds. Barti, Usha, Vinja, Dhabbi, Mlechi and the queen would be the wolves. Each would get some lengths of cord, a big bag of macramé furnished with a drawstring, and a little wheeled cart. The game would last an hour. If anyone could catch me, bind me, roll me back to Ajinblambia, she’d win the prize. The prize was a big basket full of lovely handmade silken scarves, ultra-stylish tubes of lipstick and bottles of fine perfume.
This was quite embarrassing, but I knew I’d have to play, so I ran off and hid behind a belvedere within a hedge of box I figured no one knew about. It was a labyrinth like those you have to find the exit from by groping all about. I knew it well, supposing no one else would ever happen by, but it was just the gloaming-tide, and I really couldn’t find my way so well. Suddenly, a huge raccoon came climbing down a date palm tree beside the hedge, not suspecting I was there, so that it seemed he’d jump upon my head unknowingly. I cried out reflexively, taken unawares. As luck would have it, Usha happened to have come nearby and heard my little outcry. Rushing in just as I recoiled from the ringtail, with my attention on his long, ferocious claws, Usha quickly bound my wrists behind my back and threw her bag of macramé around me, drawing snug the drawstring round my neck. Before I knew it, I was in her cart, bouncing and bobbing as she rolled me back to Ajinblambia. She collected all her scarves, her lipstick and her perfume. Even I got in the spirit of the thing, challenging the ladies to another game the next time we were on the grounds.
Ajinblambia then said we’d all have supper in the queen’s apartment in the palace. We all followed her as she directed, arriving in five minutes more or less. I noticed in the mirror of the dining room I still had on the little horns, and started to remove them.
"Leave them on, dear Vocno. They’re adorable," said Udi.
"Do you like them, Udi darling?" asked Ajinblambia, "They are becoming to dear Vocno, I agree. You know it would be very easy for osteoplastic surgeons from the medical center at the university to implant a pair of living horns in Vocno’s parietal or frontal bones."
"That’s a very sweet idea that you have, dear Ajinblambia. What is your opinion?"
"I think Vocno would look stunning with a pair of horns. But maybe S-shaped horns, somewhat like a lyre’s arms, say 2 or 3 feet long, would suit him better. Let’s have a pair of false horns made for him to model. Then if you like them, I’ll instruct the surgeons to implant the real horns."
"Implant the real horns?" I cried, "I’m not sure I want a pair of horns." I was really terrified.
"You’d look lovely with a pair of slender horns, dear Vocno, especially if we enlarge your breasts. Then we could entitle you The Horned Princess of Mecnita."
"The Horned Princess of Mecnita?" I exclaimed, affrighted and incredulous. I was scandalized.
"Well, let me think it over," Ajinblambia continued, grinning ear to ear. "For now, please wear your artificial horns. Later on, I may just go ahead with all the surgery."
By now I’d grown my hair and dyed it black, and Ajinblambia arranged it to conceal the headband and make it look as if the horns protruded from my skull between my tresses. They were spiral horns of a decided ovine look. They complemented well my crimson leotard and miniskirt. I admit I didn’t seem so fierce or mighty, but I liked it nonetheless. Yet who could take me seriously?
Before Vinja had concluded her negotiations and had in hand her policy from Ung Insurance Company, while Ajinblambia was in the capital herself, Ajinblambia decreed the office of prime minister abolished. The Qazudi girls would constitute her cabinet exclusively. She said she was considering appointing me assistant, aide or messenger to all the other Geese. Or perhaps, she mused, she’d take me back to Dorgdid, enclosing me in her apartment to oversee her wardrobe and her toilet. Finally, however, she chose for me to stay in Eldor Palace, under Barti’s rule.
Eldor Palace was equipped with scores of robot messengers. A robot messenger consisted of a stainless steel chest of suitcase size mounted on four casters and equipped with audio and video receivers that enabled it to answer spoken and/or written messages. Barti, for example, could repose a bundle of reports or documents inside the chest and instruct the wheeled robot to convey them to the desk of Usha, for example, but she could not instruct it, "Please make sure you put these papers in her hands and make her understand that they’re important." The robots had a limited vocabulary. So what eventually evolved was that, if one of the five ministresses wanted personalized delivery or service, instead of summoning a robot messenger, she’d press a button on her desk to summon me, and I’d skate over. The moving sidewalks of the palace simply were too slow for all the speedy errands my new role required me to run. I soon accustomed and resigned myself to the ancillary function fate had relegated me unto.
Despite my new demotion, I spent all my leisure hours working on designing the equipment for the yam farm I’d envisioned. The special trencher I’d invented had a number of sharp reciprocating blades that would chop up the soil to four-foot depth, a miniature conveyor with half a dozen buckets that would raise the earth to a compartment to be crumbled and enriched, and a chute that would return it to the trench the reciprocating blades had dug. Using information I’d received from the archives of Mecnita, I chose some lots of vacant land in various parts of Ungia where I judged rainfall distribution round the year and insolation adequate. I was planning to inaugurate the project with a single lot, and making cuttings from the yams I’d got from Shandra, raise a little crop for sourcing further cuttings, then expand to several lots, eventually establishing a chain of sprawling farms. I needed 10 Nyatic talents—$10 million—to begin. This was a trivial amount compared with the amount my Poilnarcsian decipherment had brought to Ung’s exchequer. I needed it to manufacture my first ploughs and harvesters, for other tools and instruments, for workers’ wages, benefits and houses. I took it up with Udi.
"But Vocno," said the queen, "Ajinblambia and I encouraged and supported you in this endeavor when you were still a member of her cabinet. Now that Ajinblambia has reevaluated your abilities and aptitudes and placed you in a new position, I’m just a little chary of letting you proceed as if you still were Ung’s prime minister. Not only that, but your diminutive physique might be a handicap. It’s not like our seven-footers to take orders from a man they’d look upon as a leprechaun or elf."
"But Udi…," I exclaimed.
"Nonetheless, go take it up with Usha. I’ll leave it in her hands. If Usha feels that granting you the funds makes business sense, just ask her for acceptances and go establish an account in the district where you plan to site the farms."
Now the girl that five or six years earlier had taken part in walking me for hours on stilts was directress of the Bank of Ung, and would decide if I could spend a tiny fraction of the money I had brought the realm in Ulucac.
When I petitioned Usha for the grant, I showed her all the documents and drawings I’d prepared. She looked them over for some time and noticed that I’d placed my signature and seal on every piece of paper.
"I don’t see Barti’s signature and seal," she remarked, "I don’t mean to cast aspersions on your ability as agronomist or engineer, but I’d feel more secure if I saw Barti’s signature and seal too. Just sit down with her and ask her to review your work. I’m sure she’ll have invaluable suggestions. Once you’ve gotten her approval, I see no let or hindrance to the grant."
Seven years before, I’d been just an ordinary citizen and I’d have been extremely nervous to have an audience with a royal ministress, one of the great ones of the world. Now the wheel of fortune had turned a total revolution, and I was just an ordinary citizen again, while Barti had become a great one of the world. I was scared to death to show myself within her doorway without her having paged me for an errand I must run.
Hide-and-Seek on the Palace Grounds:
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