Panties and Bras

 

A Tale of Ung

 

Chapter 3

 

 

 

Calla Lilies at Eldor Palace

 

 

The grounds of Eldor Palace are a paradise girt all around by lofty marble walls. South of the southern oval, the septenary Avenue of Ung extends, passing through the towering gates and southward to Ramdonia. On either side the avenue inside the walls a garden grows all full of roses, tulips and gardenias. Far to the left, far to the right, the floral throngs give way to bo and banyan, and there are hickory and oak in groves that spill o’er gentle hills and dales. Now and then a rustic little trail or flagstone footpath winds vagrantly along, among the sturdy trunks and roots and branches. Then suddenly the canopy of leaves will open wide, admitting daylight, and in the distance you will glimpse a silvern waterfall cascading down a palisaded cliff, slowly carving out its granite folds. Perhaps you will descry a flock of graceful egrets or flamingoes wading in the pool below. These forests circle round the palace and fill 5000 acres, but there are also spacious clearings ensconced within the thickets, with grassy campuses and lawns and peaceful wildwood lanes between long queues of noble yew trees. Here and there bamboo springs up in brakes too thick to penetrate, and one finds sago palms and cycads, coconuts and dates, cohunes and ravenalas in sparser aggregations.

As you walk along, you may discover a gazebo painted white, and perhaps, inside, a cedarn bench where you can pause a while to eat the fruit you’ve brought. Perhaps you’ll find a belvedere of varnished redwood slats roofed over by slate tiles with far-cantilevering eaves against the rain. Or maybe just a statue or a fountain will appear to punctuate the handiwork of nature.

White cockatoos and iridescent parrots populate some quarters of the wood. In others, swans and geese are the majority. Or strutting peacocks will prevail in some, displaying fans of many eyes before the midday sun, while francolins and pheasants huddle in the trees on rugs of fallen leaves.

Ferns and moss and mint abound, and there are hazel, honeysuckle, pomegranate and coffee. Orchids of a million shapes and shades are always everywhere about, and there are lilies large as chalices and crocuses like goblets.

My favorite spot is near the volleyball and tennis courts set in an open space within a chestnut grove. Half a dozen wicker tables with padded wicker chairs are right at hand beside the courts, and green-and-white pavilions for cabanas overlook the scene. In morning, no one’s there around the grove, and it’s a quiet place to sit and read, or eat your lunch, or merely watch the butterflies and bees. I call the place the ‘courts’ and often I repair there all alone, to be at peace and celebrate the pageantry of day.

Ajinblambia’s first morning in the palace began with breakfast in our company in Udi’s sunny breakfast nook. Hot meat-stuffed cakes with sour cream and little balls of honeydew and cantaloupe were the meal that we ate. Our newfound friend ‘just loved’ the little suite given her by Udi and didn’t even want to see another. Of course, Queen Udi was delighted.

We talked about a hundred random matters, laughing and smiling congenially among ourselves. As we finished our repast, I said to Udi that I thought I should get busy with the Turfant-Tuva and the Oirad Projects right away, since I’d been absent from my office for over twenty days. Udi agreed completely on the matter and said she’d see to entertaining Ajinblambia herself. There were a number of things she wanted to discuss with her at any rate, she said, so she invited Ajinblambia to join her in a stroll around the grounds. Perhaps later they could ride if they got tired, since Ajinblambia was such a horsewoman apparently. I nodded in assent.

I went to my own office in the palace. Rolls of drawings, stacks of correspondence, sheaves of documents, and piles of photocopies were everywhere about. There were charts and blueprints, maps and printouts, plans and surveys by the ream. The Turfant-Tuva and the Oirad Projects, though 20,000 miles away, beyond the ocean, were being masterminded in Mecnita. The numerous departments, companies and bureaus collaborating in the awesome undertaking of course maintained a presence in the royal city. And often at their headquarters thus nearby, I consulted them in person. Ordinarily, I’d spend ten days in Qizilot and then the next ten in Mecnita, then ten again in Qizilot and ten back in Mecnita yet again. Ung’s superairplanes cruise at 1600 miles an hour, flying ships equipped with quadruple 150-meganewton turbofan-type engines, so in theory, I could fly to Tuva in thirteen earthly hours, except direct flights weren’t available. I’d have to fly to Poilnarcs Island first and then to Nuula Airport just outside of Qizilot. This transfer was a tiresome affair, of course, once I’d made it 10 or 20 times. Anyway, as it was, I’d been in Psebol twenty days, way over the ten I usually remained away from Tuva, and I really should have flown right back at once. However, work was languishing in piles in my office in Mecnita too, requiring my immediate attention. I had reports and letters to review, messages to answer, meetings to attend and calls to make. Computer screens displayed a host of figures I needed to digest; I’d call on my advisors. Moreover, there were surveys I didn’t comprehend; I’d have to ask the experts. There were words and symbols I had never even seen before; I’d have to try to find them in the mass of manuals and dictionaries, encyclopedias and textbooks heaped around the room. Telephones were ringing wildly, lights were flashing madly and buzzers added to the chaos. Secretaries and technicians, coming in and going out, were riders on a carousel whirling in my office.

I went right to work, throwing off my doublet and opening my collar. I answered scores of questions, issued orders right and left, wrote a quire of letters, dictated still more. I videophoned consulting engineers, called laboratories for their test reports, examined bar charts, looked at X-rays, studied requisitions, manifests, invoices and lading bills. I was dizzied by the hectic pace, swamped by the flood of work before me, buried under mounds of correspondence. It looked as if I’d buckle underneath the burden I must bear. I wondered whether I’d ever manage to dispel this general bedlam.

Unfortunately, the projects in the Ubbic west were lagging just a bit behind the schedule Queen Udi and her ministers had written. Moreover, costs were running higher than anticipated by the budget they’d drawn up. I’d tried to argue that their schedule was too tight and their budget was too stingy. The fault lay in the planning, not the execution, as if they’d ordered me to run a mile in three minutes, then press a thousand pounds, and stood ready to reproach me when I failed. But I really shouldn’t say ‘reproach’. No one uttered anything reproachful. On the other hand, the royal lady would not consider changing the schedule or the budget either one. Instead, she gave incentives and advice, encouragement and explanation. Or she’d lecture me about control theory, systems analysis, optimization and robotics. She’d tell me there were precedents that justified her estimates. I guess I only felt reproached, but I redoubled all my efforts and my zeal just the same. I was decided and determined to succeed in my endeavors. I would give a masterful performance at all costs. I didn’t have enough experience, but I would get it quickly, so I thought. I didn’t have the education and the knowledge that I needed, but I’d acquire them quickly by herculean efforts I would make. I didn’t have the versatility and energy the work demanded, but I would drive myself, motivate myself, hypnotize myself if need be, only I would do it come what may. I would make Queen Udi proud of me.

All morning long into mid-afternoon, I worked as fast and hard as one might work, and brought a modicum of order to my office. I had gotten slightly flustered from all the hustle and the bustle of the project. I was in a twit. So, taking a portfolio of papers I’d have had to read in any case, I headed for the courts, there to sit in peace and comfort far from my madding staff. I picked out a shady spot and chose a wicker chair with a green-and-white striped cushion matching the cabanas just nearby, ordering by wristphone refreshments to be brought me from a kitchen in the palace. At least that convenience eased my toils just a little.

A little robot waitress soon appeared. Inside the wheeled chest were sandwiches and drinks. Reading over my reports, I ate a bite or two and sipped a tall, cool julep. Production and delivery of steel and cement were fast becoming critical in Qizilot. Three hundred stations, each of 40 gigawatts, had been envisioned. Each station would have ten containment buildings with heavy-duty steel framing and ten-foot concrete walls. A hundred million tons of steel and more than a billion tons of concrete would be needed. Shipments posed a problem. Currently, cement and steel came by water. The jumbo railroad connecting Tuva and Qazudistan was yet to be constructed. The length exceeded 17,000 miles and I sought a ruling gradient of 1%. The surveys and the maps were in my papers. At a realistic estimate, when would the work get under way? The railroad would surely expedite those shipments. What might I undertake to get things going? More rails meant more steel. More ties meant more cement. More cement and steel meant more mills. Was I to build more mills? I’d better ask the experts. I was in a quandary, but somehow I’d get out I told myself. All I needed was tenacity and drive.

As I pondered these and suchlike matters, I leant back a minute in my chair. The green-and-white striped canvas of the cabana right behind me flapped a little in the breeze, distracting me. When I rose to draw the cords tight, I saw Ajinblambia and Udi in the distance, walking arm in arm. Udi’s lovely wheaten hair was down, forming graceful outward waves just at her shoulders. She had on a leotard of burgundy and shorts of snow-white denim. Her bosom was as full as melons. I could see the cleavage whence I sat. The captivating swaying of her hips produced a tingling in my entire body and made me swallow audibly. Her friend was just as gorgeous in her dress of ruby satin, with its hemline at mid-thigh. Ajinblambia’s perfect walnut-hued complexion complemented Udi’s sunny bronze. Her figure was remarkably well-formed. What a sight they made! As I was pulling taut the cords of the cabana, the ladies noticed me and started walking towards me.

"Vocno," exclaimed Queen Udi, "I supposed that you’d be working in your office until nightfall, if not later."

"I have a few reports and documents to read where I can concentrate. My office is just pandemonium from morn till eve. So here I am. Why don’t you two pull up a pair of chairs? I have sandwiches and juleps here, along with dates and mangos. Please just help yourselves."

The ladies fetched two wicker chairs and joined me, pulling up a matching wicker table as they sat. "I have been reviewing shipments of steel and cement to Tuva and the other Ubbic provinces, and looking at the layout of the Bihaka, Qizilot and Central Railroad," I said holding up the buckram-bound portfolio for them to see. "Ajinblambia, we’re going to build a superrailroad from Bihaka all the way to Qizilot, primarily to ship materials to the irrigation projects in the west of Ub. This is what I’m agonizing over." This was an explanation, a lamentation and a boast. I thought I’d just impress our lovely friend a little. And I’d say she was impressed.

"The railroad sounds like such a fascinating project. That’s an awesome distance all the way across the continent. I’d like to hear some more about it."

"See, Vocno," smiled Udi, "you have the lady’s ear."

I offered sandwiches of cold turkey and romaine lettuce on bread with sesame, and cold mint juleps. As the ladies ate, I told Ajinblambia about the Turfant-Tuva and the Oirad Projects. She listened with attention, even lively interest, I’d say, and asked a lot of thoughtful questions. Finally, however, Udi said, "We mustn’t keep dear Vocno from his work. Come, Ajinblambia, let’s resume our stroll. I can tell you more about the projects as we walk." They left me full of paradoxical emotions. I’d have loved to chat and visit, but I really did have work.

I continued with my letters and my documents, now and then fingering the tiny stylus to enter data on the keyboard of the miniature computer I had around my wrist. I penciled in some comments on the pages of reports as I reviewed them, jotted calculations in the margins, inserted extra sheets of paper for my notes. Some time went by. I was absorbed. The sun was nearly setting in the west. I said, "Return," to the little robot waitress and watched it roll away. Five minutes later it would reach the kitchen that it came from. Gathering my papers and my pencils, I headed for my office, portfolio in hand. In my office, there were still some secretaries and technicians hard at work, but many had gone home. I sat in my big leather chair, perused some further correspondence and interviewed some members of my staff. Finally, having worked five Ungi hours, that is, about 12 hours, 30 minutes on an earthly clock, I finished for the day and went to Udi’s study.

Udi’s study—not her office—is a charming chamber in her personal apartment where she spends her leisure time, and I spent mine as well, whenever she allowed me. This is a big, high-ceilinged room with casement windows that open on the outside of the oval, commanding a fine view of the Spranceld District of Mecnita, foremost city among the cities of the world. Mount Vlacva, highest peak within the city limits, towers in the distance, and you can see a million high-rise buildings all around, symmetrically disposed on handsome avenues that form an elegant geometry. Inside the room, which measures six by fifteen yards, are stylish furnishings—chaises longues, divans and wing chairs, bureaus, cabinets, buffets and tables, all in carven oak with inlaid gold-and-silver scrollwork. On one end of the study there’s a harpsichord—Udi prefers harpsichord to organ or piano—and a harp, both of which she plays quite admirably. Many gilt-edged volumes in blue, maroon and scarlet fill the shelves along one wall, books of poetry and stories, atlases and almanacs, books on music, art and fashion, dictionaries and encyclopedias, directories and guides, brilliant books on every subject you could name. And Udi has a score of small collections to amuse herself. She loves seashells and has acquired conchs and whelks, nautiluses, chitons, scallops, urchins, tusks and coral. She has pressed flowers under glass—peonies and lupine, azaleas and cannas, gladioluses and roses. She has crystal paperweights and painted fans, cameos and letterknives, handmade playing cards and sculptured chessmen. Jewels, too, of every kind are exhibited in cases, and she has ancient coins and olden stamps in costly looseleaf albums. An aquarium of brightly colored fish occupies a corner of the room. Along with angelfish and seahorses, there are ctenophores and starfish, jellyfish and sponges and crustaceans in the little ocean. There’s a handsome birdcage with a two-foot-long white parakeet, found nowhere but on Nya, that can maintain a real conversation. His name is Toto. Also, Udi has her sewing goods on hand. She does embroidery and lace and, for this pastime, keeps a chest of hoops and pillows, bobbins, flosses, blunts and sharps. Queen Udi has her specimens of the heraldry of Ung thereat, with miniature escutcheons, gules and or, argent and tenné, vairy, fleury, peany, paly-bendy. She has a little gallery of paintings in her study, along with statuettes and figurines, and many another quaint antiquity or rare collectible as well.

Sometimes when she and I were in the room together, she would play or sing. Sometimes we’d chat. At other times we’d read. Or Udi would take up her needlework while I paged through her stamp collection. We’d eat a bite or drink some sparkling wine. Or we’d just sit together on a couch, my arm around her shoulders, her palm upon my leg.

"Vocno, I was wondering if you’d ever finish," said Udi as I entered.

"The work has piled up in mountains. I hope I can catch up. Did you have a pleasant walk around the grounds? Where is Ajinblambia?"

"She’s in her suite, retired for the evening."

"So how did your stroll with her turn out?"

"Excellent. Quite interesting. She’s remarkable indeed."

"What did you talk about?"

"Actually, after we left you, we talked about your project. She wanted to hear more about it, so I told her what I know, although of course you could have given her a much more accurate description, I’m quite sure, if you had had the time to join us. Perhaps another day, you’ll come along if we go strolling once again."

"I wonder why she is so curious," I casually remarked, "To most people not involved directly in the project, the technicalities and details are just of passing interest, but Ajinblambia is different."

"She has such a brilliant mind she’s really fascinated by complexities and challenges that frighten or confuse more ordinary folk. I’m thinking I may use her in some capacity on one of your two projects or perhaps another project of the kind, if she’s agreeable, that is, and, of course, with your consent as well."

"Take my consent for granted," I replied, imagining myself cooperating daily with the lovely lady.

"I just knew you’d say that," said Queen Udi, as she slapped the back of my left hand playfully. Then she turned towards me with a mischievous expression on her face, as if presently she’d scold me just in fun, but I kissed her on the mouth before she got a chance to say a word. Next, we were walking arm in arm towards Udi’s curtained bed in her room of violet, cerulean and white,

The following day was very much the same. I had heaps of papers to go over and hordes of problems to confront. Ajiublambia and Udi continued with their visiting and strolling. Midafternoon would find me at the courts again, shuffling through my buckram-bound portfolio. The ladies only waved when first they passed my makeshift office in the chestnut grove. A while later, they walked by again, but this time turned in my direction and came over. Ajinblambia had on a little dress of challis in a floral pattern, mostly pink and white carnations, with a snugly fitted bodice and an A-line miniskirt. Udi wore a yellow mohair sweater with a big square neckline that revealed the upper curves of her full bosom, and a black felt skirt, just like a cheerleader’s, that displayed her shapely legs to good advantage. Both were adorable as they approached, arm in arm, smiling cheerfully. They stopped to visit just a minute. Udi said they shouldn’t interrupt me. I watched them walk away. The motion of their magnificent round hips was evident enough, despite their skirts, to fill me with desire and admiration.

Later, finishing the matters I’d brought with me to the courts, I again went to my office. Concluding what I had to do there and bidding my assistants a good evening, I locked up and went to Udi’s study, hoping to enjoy an hour or so of music, literature or conversation with the queen. When I had gotten comfortable, with Udi at my side, I questioned her about her day with Ajinblambia, more by way of pleasantry than out of earnest curiosity. Udi said she hardly could believe the degree of Ajinblambia’s intelligence and how profound her knowledge of engineering, finance, agriculture and much else. All of this, of course, she’d said before, but without the pitch of excitement and enthusiasm she now so obviously evinced. She said she’d call the University of Mecnita, the largest, most prestigious of all the hundred universities in town, and make arrangements for examiners and proctors to come to Eldor Palace. She wanted Ajinblambia to take exhaustive tests in a wide variety of subjects. It looked as if the lady qualified as genius. Unfortunately, though evidently cognizant of her own considerable abilities, Ajinblambia was reluctant to own to them as fully as was justified, lest she appear conceited, arrogant or boastful. That is to say, she understated quite a bit, but Udi naturally was looking less for charming modesty than cutting-edge acumen, and hence she had decided on the tests.

I also was nonplussed, somewhat alarmed in fact, but why should I and how could I contradict the stated wishes of the queen? Then I recalled the question of Ajinblambia’s true age. There was something strange, something just a bit uncanny here, was there not? Or was I merely envious of the brilliant beauty come to be our guest in Eldor Palace? Queen Udi never had suggested maybe I was genius. She’d never called examiners or proctors to administer exhaustive tests on me. I had no illusions about my own abilities. I recognized my foibles and my faults. Still I hardly could deny I felt a twinge of envy deep within me.

Udi and I slept separately that night. I was still amazed at this development. The next day Ajinblambia and Udi again went walking round the palace grounds. They made such a gorgeous couple I almost felt like an outsider or intruder, a profane one glimpsing paradise fortuitously. I even felt an access of pure jealousy. That was quite irrational of me. After all, they were just two women, beautiful companions, merry friends. They weren’t lovers after all.

I admired and respected our new friend. She was a siren I could ill resist. She was a woman of rare genius it appeared. She’d be beneficial to the kingdom, I was sure, if Udi should appoint her to a worthy post. Why should I be envious or jealous? I was prime minister of Ung. No one had ever acted envious of me, though heaven knows that my abilities hardly entitled me to such a dignity. Why should I begrudge another the recognition she deserved? Oh well, I finally concluded, even if misunderstandings and misconceptions had momentarily appeared, all would cone to a fair and happy ending. This was Ung, the land of justice.

For another day or two, everything proceeded in the same direction. The ladies visited and got to understand each other, while I worked long, hard hours in my office. Within ten days I’d fly to Qizilot to oversee the projects there in person. I wanted everything to be progressing smoothly in my office in Mecnita first though.

By a geographic quirk, Oirad, Kazgar and Jongaria, the three provinces collaborating in the Oirad Project, had a total area almost equal to the total area of Tuva, Turfant, Tensan, Qidan, Gergez and Kokan, the six collaborating in the Turfant-Tuva Project, but whereas the former three were maritime, with a total coastline of 5000 miles, five of the latter six were landlocked, only Tuva lying on the sea, with a coastline of about 900 miles. Each project was to have 150 nuclear desalination stations built at equidistant points along the shore. The Oirad stations would be spaced at intervals of more than thirty miles, but the Turfant-Tuva stations were just six miles apart, forming a single vast, uninterrupted installation. Turfant-Tuva #7 was adjacent to the town of Qizilot, and on the site of #7, I had my field office. Drisconarv, an Ungi engineer, was second in command on Turfant-Tuva #7, although his qualifications and credentials probably entitled him to lead. At any rate, I heavily relied on his support, and he was present at the projects in those days of Ajinblambia’s debut at Eldor Palace. He’d superintend construction there till I got back. Incidentally, Turfant-Tuva #7 would be the first plant to be finished, according to the schedule, within five years, so we were hoping. The Bank of Qizilot was eleven miles down the road. Periodically, I met with Dzegnent, the director of the bank and banker for the projects. As soon as I got back to Tuva, I’d pay the man a visit, to review financial matters and talk about the budget.

On the 280th of ’390—we number our days from 0 to 417—when Ajinblambia had been our guest at Eldor Palace just five days, in the morning, after Udi, Ajinblambia and I had breakfasted on toasted muffins, fried smoked ham, fried eggs and butter, with apple cider and fragrant tuco, in Udi’s sunny breakfast nook, as I was going to my office, a team of seven operatives from the university appeared inside the regal corridor adjacent to my office. With them they had masses of equipment—computers and projectors, books and blackboards, drafting tools and printed circuits. Curious, I asked royal Udi what was happening. She said they were the proctors and examiners. Seven? It took a team of seven to give Ajinblambia a test? Udi said she wanted it to be as thorough an examination as could be.

When the gear was all arranged in a sky-blue room with white gauze curtains tied with swags to let in the sun in bright profusion, Ajinblambia showed up, wearing a little linen dress of black, without jewels, ribbons, purses, calculators, pens or pencils, just the lady in her clothes and shoes, and entered and sat down. I watched her surreptitiously from down the hall. Udi introduced her friend to the people from the school and then she left, closing silently the double doors of the conference room behind her. My curiosity began to soar. I was amazed. All day long my puzzlement kept me from the more efficient kind of work my projects needed. What was going on?

I got to Udi’s study somewhat early. Dyo, the sun, would shortly set. Even Udi had barely gotten there. I could hear white Toto, Udi’s parakeet, implore, "Dear Queen Udi, let me out."

"Very well, Toto," replied the queen, opening the door of the birdcage of bamboo and opening a window of her study, "but please be back before it’s dark. You know how sad I’ll be if you get lost." The long white bird flew out the window. Udi smiled merrily and so did I.

I broached the subject of the seven proctors and examiners who’d been at Eldor Palace all day long, only to be dumbfounded even further to find out that they’d be back the next day and the next, maybe up to five whole days, just to test the gorgeous lady who’d come with us from Psebol. Who was this supernova? What indeed was going on?

"Why, Vocno," said the royal lady, "you seem perplexed. What’s the problem? I often have my candidates for positions in the kingdom tested."

"But I’ve never seen you test them so extensively."

"Yes, yes, I know, but she’s especially gifted, don’t you think?"

"I suppose," I said with resignation as we settled in our chairs with separate books. Later, Toto reappeared upon the windowsill with a musical, "Queen Udi, I’ve returned." Udi took the parakeet and let him in his cage.

"How is Oji?" I asked Udi. Oji was our daughter, two years old. She lived in a nursery in the palace with Anjardrandia, her governess, whom we just called Anji. I hadn’t visited dear little Oji for two or three days, I’d been so busy in my office.

"Why don’t you go look in on her? It’s not too late. Anji will be there, I am sure. You really mustn’t neglect our baby so," said Udi in reply.

Docilely I rose and left the royal study. After I saw Oji, who was sleeping, and chatted for a while with Anjardrandia, I returned to Udi. But she was getting ready to retire, so soon we went into her bedchamber to her bed. Its canopy was sapphire-colored taffeta, overlaid with a net of lozenges of braided strands of platinum. Then we lay in fond embraces till azure morning gently woke us up.

For four more days the tests went on. Gradually I overcame my shock as each morning I beheld the brilliant beauty, simply dressed, come out to meet the people from the university. All day long, the seven proctors and examiners remained behind closed doors with Ajinblambia, departing just at nightfall. Finally, Queen Udi told me they had done. The next day she’d have the test results. I said, "Hmm", as if to signify indifference or just a mild interest, when actually I was very, very eager to find out what all this flurry and this fanfare were about.

On day 285 according to the calendar of Ung, I went to Udi’s study in the evening. I found her at her harpsichord playing a rhythmic fugue like an auditory cosine wave imposed upon a sine wave, alternately forced and damped for variety and grace. Toto sang responsively with little avian appoggiaturas and arpeggios. It was a very pretty picture that they made. Without a sound, I sat upon a tufted wing chair in plum velvet to listen to the counterpoint. I chose a handsome volume, a gilt and oxblood quarto, from a shelf of Udi’s and laid it open on my lap. It was a book on tapestry and needlepoint in Ung throughout the ages. This must have been one of the books whence Udi’d learnt her excellent embroidery. I was full of admiration for the works of art therein, not at all inferior to painting or to sculpture. Of course, Motinia, my homeland, is famous for its weaving and embroidery, but there the work is primitive or rustic by comparison.

A little later, Udi’s harmonies and melodies fell still, and she came over with an inch-thick book of photocopies bound in a jacket of manila with three huge steel staples and a polyvinyl spine. "The test results are back," she said.

"All this?" I murmured.

She led me to a couch and we sat down beside each other, so that she could hold the book where both of us could see, and tell me all about it. Ajinblambia had taken tests in engineering—civil, aeronautical, electrical, mechanical—and passed them all with flying colors. There were multiple-choice and true-and-false tests, calculations and vocabulary. She’d drawn phasor and vector diagrams, worked out circuits and forces, deciphered matrices and tensors, and solved differential, integral and difference equations. She’d sized beams and girders, shafts and worms, busbars and conductors. She’d proved herself an oracle on agriculture, knew the soil taxonomy of Ung, in addition to techniques of irrigation and rotation. Moreover, she was knowledgeable in economics, finance and accounting, understood investment and real-estate development as well. She was literate and fluent in Ungi, Oiradi, Qazudi, and had fair knowledge of Tsumugo and Ong Yu, two other Ubbic languages. She was well-informed on Qazudi history, geography and politics. And she displayed an excellent acquaintance with music, art and theater. She’d read widely and knew plays and novels, treatises and essays. There was scarcely anything she didn’t know about.

I looked on astonished as Queen Udi turned the pages. Here it was in black and white. Ajinblambia was phenomenal by any standards whatsoever. I just shook my head amazedly and threw up my hands in awestruck resignation.



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Photo credits:

Calla Lilies at Eldor Palace:

http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=259411922&size=o

**********A TALE OF UNG**********


**********PANTIES AND BRAS**********


 

 


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