Panties and Bras


Chapter 10



As I've related, seeing me playing hide-and-seek with a dozen girls six to ten years old, Barti quipped, "Sissy, maybe we should have you play volleyball with little girls instead of big girls. You seem to fit in much more harmoniously with the junior crowd."

This little joke was passed along to the other Geese and to Ajinblambia, who all found it delightfully appropriate.

Several days later Ajinblambia summoned me to her office. Barti, Usha, Vinja, Dhabbi and Mlechi were already present and seated.

"Sissy," said Ajinblambia, "I know that this began as a merry little joke, but on further consideration, I have come to the conclusion that each of a number of select teams in the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita might reasonably be expanded to include a junior tier of players primarily for girls from eight to twelve years of age.

"As you undoubtedly already know, your membership in the Eldor Geese is handicapping the collective performance of the team somewhat. You are absolutely wonderful as the commissioner of the association, and I certainly would like to keep you in that capacity for as long as possible, but your showing on the court leaves something to be desired. Please don't take this as a disparagement. It is only a matter of observation and judgment.

"What do you think of the idea of being transferred to the junior tier of the Eldor Geese? We might call them the Eldor Junior Geese, in contradistinction to the Eldor Senior Geese, that is, Barti, Usha, Mlechi, Vinja, Dhabbi and a sixth girl we will name to replace you."

"Why don't we call them the Eldor Goslings?" Vinja chimed, as the other ladies all chuckled mirthfully.

"Goslings?" I asked, "What is a gosling?"

"A gosling is a young goose," Vinja replied.

"That's a perfect name, at least informally," said Ajinblambia with a big smile," Formally, we will still call them the Eldor Junior Geese."

"Let's do it now. Why wait?" asked Dhabbi.

"Very well," said Ajinblambia, "Sissy, I hereby assign you to the Eldor Junior Geese, also known as the Eldor Goslings. If you can find five others among your playmates who'd like to play for the Goslings, please introduce them to me. They must be at least eight years old, however. We'll have some other teams organize junior tiers too, and within two or three days, you'll be playing junior volleyball. You'll be much happier in an environment offering you a chance to compete more effectively. How does that sound?"

"That sounds fine!" I knew it was futile to be cross with our lady king, so I hid whatever reservations I might have had.

Until that time, the Eldor Geese had been winning only 60% or 70% of their games. As soon as I was transferred to the Junior Geese, the Senior Geese went on a perfect winning streak. This was so embarrassing! The Eldor Goslings were very good too, however, and we drew sizable crowds, but I think the crowds came mostly to see me, with my eighteen-inch horns, playing volleyball as earnestly and excitedly as possible among girls eight to twelve years old. The girl who replaced me on the Senior Geese was named Riya. I had been trying to rationalize away my feelings of inadequacy by arguing to myself that it was my small size that prevented me from competing more successfully with the elder girls, but Riya, who was just my size, turned out to be a splendid player.

At first, I felt very self-conscious on my new team, but this feeling wore off quickly, and was replaced by an esprit de corps exceeding that which I had felt with the Eldor Senior Geese. I was titillated, exhilarated and rejoiceful. The thought that I had been demoted to the junior tier pleased me immensely for some reason. I liked the idea of being  with the little girls. I felt great respect for their innocence and good nature. I liked their developing little figures. As envious as I was of them, it should have been no surprise that, little by little, I adopted their manners and diction.

We wore modified costumes--red leotards, red cheerleader skirts with self panties, white gym shoes and white tights. All the junior-tier players in the association wore white  tights, whereas the senior-tier players wore white knee socks.

Of course, the Royal Council of the Kingdom of Ung was also nicknamed the Eldor Geese because, originally, it had included the same six people that the volleyball team included. This nickname was retained informally. Ajinblambia would ordinarily just say, "Convoke the Geese," or, "Get the Geese," to one of her messengers, but now and then, if we were within hearing distance, she would say, "Convoke the Geese and the Gosling," instead. This was her light sense of humor. Of course, my station as Ministress of the Arts was junior to the stations of the other Geese anyway, with their onerous responsibilities. The five girls on my team were Endria, Julgana, Arepi, Umaria and Jina.

Now that I had been severed from the Senior Geese, I would no longer reside at Inni Villa, where I had been staying sporadically. As often as not, I had been spending my nights with Zevanardia at Cissi's Intimates, my outlet for the intimate apparel we made and sold. This was Shayvurddhi in Frifna. Zevanardia and I would now live regularly in the apartment upstairs. We bought a canopy bed with white chiffon curtains.

Zevanardia was amused at my demotion to the Goslings. She said she loved it. I had been getting too vain lately, she jested, and this would return me to the modesty that best befitted me. She chased me around our bed with a paddle, saying she'd spank my rump. I ran whooping and shrieking until she caught me. When she caught me, she tossed me on the bed and gave me a sound spanking, chortling and guffawing ecstatically.

As construction of the Gvagma Wheel got under way, Zevanardia, Rubia and I collaborated on renovating and redecorating the building we had leased as a location for Cissi's in Ramdonia, our new store. Once again, I called on Iligancia to supervise the decoration. Once we opened, we got a steady flow of customers almost immediately. Seeing this, some of the oher teams in Gvagma expressed the desire to do likewise, if on a smaller scale, and during the year '394, Cissi's awarded franchises to many of the teams to open stores adjacent to their residences. Cissi's was bidding fair to beome a major chain of stores for intimate apparel.

With the consent of Ajinblambia, we opened Cissi's in Eldor right on the palace grounds. Mind you that Eldor is the name of the palace that is the seat of royalty over the whole planet, but it is also the name of one of the most important districts in Mecnita. In the name of our store, Eldor referred to the district rather than the palace, which might be entered by non-palatines by appointment only. However, the store was on the edge of the palace grounds and had an entrance open to the general public.

The store front and the twin turrets that flanked it were of rusticated light gray granite. The turrets were battlemented and resembled chess rooks. My coats of arms and my warrants as Panty-Maker to the Queen and Lady-in-Waiting to the King were prominently displayed and would satisfy the most discriminating ladies in the city.

The initial enthusiasm attending the creation of junior volleyball teams wore off in the coming months. An administrative jigsaw puzzle had been brought into being, and the numbers of spectators at the games played by the younger girls dwindled significantly over time. One day Ajinblambia convoked the Geese, saying that she had decided to terminate the whole project, restoring the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita to the status quo ante.  So Riya was transferred to the Queshganc Quails, and I became a full-fledged Eldor Goose once again, with the predictable slowing down of the momentum the Geese had built in my absence.

It occurred to me later, as I was thinking the whole matter over, that the creation of the Eldor Junior Geese or Eldor Goslings had been one great practical joke played by Ajinblambia, Usha, Barti, Vinja, Dhabbi and Mlechi upon myself. But I could never get any of them to admit as much. They would just tease and say, "Sissy, are you becoming paranoid?" or something equally playful. Indeed, I was never able to confirm my suspicions, and eventually they didn't seem to be important. So I forgot the whole thing.

One morning at Cissi's Intimates on Shayvurddhi Circle, Zevanardia, who was a splendid cook, really outdid herself setting breakfast before us. She ate eggs Paradise and I ate potatoes Mecnita. Eggs Paradise consist of fried eggs laid upon a soft circular flatbread of white wheat flour sprinkled with sesame seeds, with melted cheese and butter heaped over the eggs, scattered with a few grilled onions and mushrooms, and sprinkled with cayenne.  Potatoes Mecnita consist of whipped potatoes, with boiled diced carrots, peas, navy beans and kernels of corn mixed in, the potatoes then browned and covered with cheese and butter, also on a soft round flatbread with sesame. This was one of the most delicious breakfasts that I can remember, especially as it came from Zevanardia's hands.

"You really are a splendid cook, dear Zevanardia. Where did you acquire this talent of yours?"

"Oh, this is something that I have been doing for years."

"Do you have a portfolio of recipes and culinary notes that you've compiled?"

"Why, yes, I do. Shall I fetch it?"

"Please do."

Five minutes later, Zevanardia returned with a large pebbled navy leather portfolio tied with a pair of dark blue grosgrain ribbons, like the portfolios that artists carry sketches in. She opened it before us on the table where we'd eaten, now that the dishes had been removed.

We pored over her recipes and notes for some time, until I was thoroughly convinced that she absolutely knew what she was doing.

"I have an idea. Now that the Gvagma Wheel is ready to start turning, why don't we open a cafeteria in the vicinity? You would be the proprietress and directress."

"That would require a sizable initial investment, I should think."

As I mentioned, Ajinblambia had paid off my mortgages on Shayvurddhi and Glasterhadd, in recognition of my authorship of Volume I of her biography. The title of the book was Lady of the Continents and Seas. So I had 100% equity in both buildings, either of which might easily have been appraised at 2 talents. Therefore, it would pose no problem to borrow half a talent (about $500,000) on one of them, especially since Usha, the chairlady of the Bank of Ung, was a member of the Royal Council and the Eldor Geese, as was I. We had tremendous rapport and mutual respect.

I explained this to Zevanardia, adding that I would be glad to lend her the money. She would have to mortgage the cafeteria to me, but in time she would become sole owner. Throughout the whole time, I would be a silent partner and vocal cheerleader.

Zevanardia was delighted, and we struck an informal agreement, later to be formalized. I thought half a talent would be enough, but if more was needed, I had a backlog of equity to tap.

"What we ought to do now, just for fun, is draw up a list of the foods we'd like to emphasize, the really tasty items that come to mind," I offered.

"Well, what about the solid, substantial foods that might be useful now and then, but that we do not want to put into the special class?"

"We can make a second list."

"And the foods we want to exclude?"

"Let's make a third list."

We sat right where we were for several hours discussing ingredients and dishes. We produced three lists.

The first list contained our favorite foods, which were:

Apple pie, asparagus, bacon, bay leaves, biscuits, black pepper, blintzes, blue cheese, butter, cantaloupe, caraway, carrots, cashews, cassava, cauliflower, chicken, chives, chocolate, chow mein noodles, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, corn, corn bread, crepes, eggplant, eggs, filet mignon, fudge, garlic, ginger, goose liver sausage, goulash, green beans, green peppers, hamburger, hollandaise sauce, kidney beans, lamb, maple syrup, milk, mushrooms, mutton, navy beans, nutmeg, onions, pancakes, peanut brittle, peanuts, peas, peppercorns, peppermint candy, pistachios, pizza, popcorn, pork chops, potatoes, prime rib of beef, profiteroles, raspberries, red peppers, rice, salt, sesame, shish kebab, sour cream, spaghetti, steak, strawberries, sugar cane, tomatoes, tuna, waffles, watermelon, white wheat bread, wild rice, yams, yogurt.

The second list contained worthy foods that were somewhat blander:

Almonds, apricots, artichokes, bagels, bananas, bologna, Brazil nuts, butter beans, cabbage, catsup, celery, cherries, chestnuts, cinnamon rolls, clams, coconuts, corn chips, corn curls, corn syrup, corned beef, cream cheese, cucumbers, dates, English muffins, figs, frankfurters, grapes, ham, hazelnuts, honey, honeydew melons, lemons, lima beans, limes, mangos, mayonnaise, mustard, oranges, oysters, pastrami, peaches, pecans, pickles, pomegranates, potato chips, rye bread, salami, shrimp, smoked butt, Swiss cheese, tacos, tangerines, turkey, veal, vinegar, walnuts, water chestnuts, whole wheat bread.

The third list contained foods we felt were objectionable for one reason or another:

Anchovies, apple sauce, avocados, beets, black-eyed peas, brisket of beef, buttermilk, chewing gum, collard greens, cole slaw, cottage cheese, cotton candy, crackers, cranberries, custard, dumplings, eclairs, grapefruit, gum drops, herring, jam, jelly, jelly beans, licorice, limburger cheese, liver, mackerel, marmalade, marshmallows, marzipan, meringue, mint sauce, molasses, nougat, oatmeal porridge, okra, olives, papayas, parsley, parsnip, persimmons, picalilli, plums, pretzels, prunes, pudding, pumpkins, radishes, raisins, ravioli, rhubarb, sardines, spinach, squash, sherbet, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, taffy, tamales, tongue, tripe, turnips, wafers.

Of course, these lists, created impromptu, were not exhaustive or insusceptible of change. Much would depend on the response of our customers. If they showed other preferences, we would yield.

We were so excited by now that we began to envision the cafeteria. After some discussion, we decided that a rectangular building would be perfect. On the side more or less hidden from people coming from the Gvagma Wheel, we would have our kitchen and the serving line parallel to it. The kitchen would be entirely enclosed. On the side of the building accessible to people coming from the Wheel, we would have a vaulted ceiling on columns over a dining area provided with chairs and tables. This portico would be open on the sides. In front of this, outside the building, there would be a large area, paved with tiles, and furnished with chairs and tables, under the open sky.

Equatorial Mecnita enjoys temperatures in the 70's and 80's, day and night, all year round. Rainfall is light, with 15 inches a year. Heavy winds are almost unknown. So people could sit under the open sky or in the shade of their umbrellas, as they wished. They could repair to the portico, if rain began.

The theme would be roses. All around we'd have roses, red, pink and white, in constant bloom.

Our aim was to serve ordinary customers rather than the haute monde. One should be able to eat lunch or supper for around 5 dirhams or less, we reasoned, but some fancier items would appear on the menu as well. Since Mecnita is 99% female, we expected women and girls almost exclusively, but would not bar men, providing they didn't get boisterous or coarse. If they began to shout profanities and obscenities, or belch and break wind, or engage each other in loud quarrels or fisticuffs, they'd be ejected immediately. Lady ushers with electroshock devices would appear at once, knocking them unconscious, if they did not depart voluntarily.

This may be a convenient place to interject an historic note. The gradual feminization of the Nyatic planet had been going on for millennia, but the climax came around 103,300, or 100 years before Ajinblambia's time. It was in that era that Potentia, a noted lady electronics engineer from Mecnita, invented her selective electroshock device. Other electroshock devices had been available for centuries, but the features that made Potentia's device so remarkable were that it could be activated only by persons of the female sex, and that it was effective in stunning or knocking out only persons of the male sex. Women could not use these electroshock devices on each other, and men could not use them at all. They simply wouldn't work except in woman-on-man confrontations. This electroshock device, called a Potentia after the name of its inventress, is what has brought gynecocracy, or petticoat rule, to Ung.

Generally, any lady who wants a man to perform a service or run an errand, whether or not she knows the man, will address him as "Jaxmo." For example, she may say, "Jaxmo, carry my baggage to my car." The man will always do as told, because he knows that, if he refuses, he may receive an electrical shock and be knocked unconscious. So we say in Mecnita that ladies are undisobeyable. In Ungi, this is oqetdi.

Anyway, the design of the restaurant, as we conceived it, was so simple that Amponia and Lidia, the lady architects, had a set of plans and specifications ready in a few days. Construction took three months. Then Iligancia supervised the decorations. We had brass lanterns suspended by chains from the vertices of the vaults and brass sconces bolted to the columns that supported the vaults. After sunset, the lanterns and sconces cast a mellow glow. They were electrical though, but it was hard to tell, because of the design.

With the beginning of year '395, the Rose Verandah, as we called the cafeteria, opened. Ladies and girls came flocking to the area, and a goodly number stopped at the Rose Verandah. So it was an immediate success.

With the Gvagma Wheel turning, and Rosebush Stadium, Cissi's in Ramdonia, and the Rose Verandah beginning to do tremendous business, some other businesses and institutions began to show an interest in establishing a presence in the vicinity. I was not at all averse to this. I welcomed it. But I felt that I should have the prerogative of deciding just what sort of businesses and institutions would be compatible with our work there. What I needed was either peremptory authority, or at least suitable zoning regulations. To obtain either of these, I would have to submit a request to Ajinblambia.

Also I wanted to give a name to the complex of buildings and structures we would have, perhaps something like Gvagma City or Gvagma Village. I could just have begun using such a name myself, hoping it would catch on. Again, though, it would be better to get Ajinblambia's approval.

"I've been hearing many enthusiastic raves about the wheel and the other installations, Sissy, and I certainly appreciate your attitude towards maintaining a high degree of culture and excellence. However, before, I answer your request definitively, let me go with the other members of the Royal Council to visit the area, and get to know it thoroughly. I'm sure you will receive all that you ask and more," said Ajinblambia a few days later in an informal interview in her office pursuant to my written petition. Her warm smile and gracious manner assured me all would go well.

Ajinblambia could have made a major production of her visit to the Gvagma Wheel, accompanied by Usha, Mlechi, Vinja, Barti and Dhabbi. She could have come attired in robes of majesty with Ung's sapphire crown upon her gorgeous head. She could have come in limousines with a whole suite of courtiers and retainers, reporters and photographers. She could have announced to all Greater Mecnita that she would grace with her presence the new cultural center on such-and-such a day, that they might come and behold and adore her.

This would have been unlike her. Instead of coming at the head of a whole procession, she merely had Clixbong, one of the chauffeurs at Eldor Palace, drive her and the Geese to the entrance of 7 Ramdonia Circle, instructing him they'd either find their way back by metro or cab, or call him later to come fetch them.

She did not wear any regalia. Rather she had on a knee-length dress of beige jersey, with a vee neck. She wore coffee stockings, and dark brown patent leather shoes with low heels. She carried a dark brown suede leather purse, with a golden chain, and wore a matching choker around her neck. In other words, she merely wore what any fashionable lady might have worn. The Geese had on stylish dresses too, but nothing that would declare their ministeriality.

Nonetheless, Ajinblambia's height, her beauty and her bearing spoke more eloquently than ermine fur and sapphires might. It was immediately obvious that she was a great lady, even to anyone who had never seen her before. In Mecnita, though, practically everyone knew what she looked like. So it was no secret that our lady king was present.

The six ladies strolled the corridor that bisects 7 Ramdonia Circle from front to back. This corridor is a tremendously lofty arcade larger than  the nave of a cathedral. Emerging behind the building, they walked half a mile along a covered mall and entered Rosebush Stadium. Ballet was in progress, and the ladies spent an hour relaxing and admiring the lovely dancers.

Leaving Rosebush Stadium on the southeast, they walked another quarter-mile to the Gvagma Wheel. A booth on the ferris wheel accommodated six comfortably. So that they could enjoy this ride together, they all got in the same booth. A circuit lasted 36 minutes, but the ladies agreed to make two revolutions, so they were there an hour.

When they exited the white fence that surrounds the Gvagma Wheel, walking back in the direction of 7 Ramdonia Circle, they had Cissi's in Ramdonia around five hundred feet to their right, and the Rose Verandah at about the same distance to their left.

They strolled first to Cissi's, a two-story building of alabaster with a colonnade of fluted columns with capitals of acanthus leaves in front. Inside, they wandered about leisurely, examining the cornucopia of elegant gowns, peignoirs, chemises, slips and other intimates that Rubia, Zevanardia and I had stocked the store with. Each of the six great ladies purchased an item or two as souvenirs. They also toured the perfumery and cosmetics counter, and the dancewear department, which we maintained because of the ballet that was performed regularly in Rosebush Stadium.

When they emerged from Cissi's, they walked straight ahead to the Rose Verandah. It so happened that, on this particular day, when the ladies came unannounced to our cafeteria, Zevanardia and I were at Cissi's Intimates on Shayvurddhi Circle in Frifna. This was just fine, though, as we would not have wanted their respect for our presence to influence their selections of food or their reactions to the design and decor of the cafeteria. In fact, all the details of their tour were related to me only later by Vinja, the Ministess of Land, who was also my long-time friend and confidante.

Apparently the six ladies, preferring waitress service to standing in the serving line, ordered six different early suppers, including a filet mignon, shish kebab, stuffed peppers, goulash, baked filet of tuna and spiced meatballs on wild rice. They had the waitresses place all the orders on a large carousel or lazy susan in the center of their round table in the portico. Each of the ladies could thus sample several dishes. According to the waitresses, Novia and Dolia, who served them, they were delighted with the cuisine. At least they ate it all, leaving a generous tip.

Then they walked back through 7 Ramdonia Circle, and reaching the sidewalk before that awesome tower, hailed two taxis to drive them back to the great gates of Eldor Palace. It would be faster and easier than calling and waiting for Clixbong, since they hadn't thought of the matter beforehand.

The next day, Ajinblambia invited me to her office again. Immediately as I saw her, smiling beautifully at me, with a barely perceptible nod of her head, I understood that glad tidings were in store for me.

"Yesterday, when, apparently Zevanardia and you were in Frifna, the other five ministresses and I  visited the Gvagma Wheel, Cissi's in Ramdonia and the Rose Verandah. Sissy, you are an absolute genius! How did you do this? You started out three or four years ago as a courier for Gvagma's Courier Service, earning only one drachma per year. Somehow you got yourself elected Gvagma's commissioner and decided to professionalize girls' volleyball in Mecnita, borrowing against its aggregate assets enough money to fund the magnificent ferris wheel in Ramdonia. Then by borrowing against your equity in two buildings you were awarded for services to the municipality--denunciation of the Pantheresses and dissolution of the Miervin Society--you have funded the organization of a chain of fine stores, including your flagship store, Cissi's in Ramdonia. And you have brought into being a beautiful cafeteria serving delicious fare. This is amazing, truly amazing!"

"I'm honored that you are pleased, Your Majesty."

"Pleased? Pleased hardly expresses my sentiments. I'm delighted, elated, overwhelmed."

"If you are, so am I."

"Looking at a map of the grounds, I see that the Wheel and your two businesses, along with Rosebush Stadium, describe a square of about 160 acres, a half-mile on an edge. What I have in mind is to increase the area of the grounds to 640 acres, one square mile, by adding a quarter-mile swath all around. This will give you ample space to expand, adding new enterprises and facilities. As you requested, I will leave the decision to accept or reject proposals made by businesses and institutions to locate on the grounds to you. You will have absolute authority in zoning the area, with the one exception that, as King of Ung, I still enjoy the right of eminent domain. But there needn't be any tug of war between us. We will cooperate in a very amiable and productive way, so that I might have at least a preview of any new works you undertake. If any problems arise, we'll be able to deal with them felicitously, I'm sure."

"And what do you propose we call this area? I was considering either Gvagma Village or Gvagma City, unless you have something else."

"No, no, those names are just fine. I prefer Gvagma Village myself though."

"Well, so be it: Gvagma Village."

"I'll have attorneys compose a royal charter and I'll have Obscont carry a complete account of the whole project." Of course, Obscont had already published many articles on the Gvagma Wheel, but had not clearly delineated the features of the 'Village' that was in the making. Ajinblambia would rectify this.

I'll have attorneys compose a royal charter...

I took my hidebound copy of the Royal Charter with me to our apartment upstairs at Cissi's on Shayvurddhi Circle, where my dear, dear Zevanardia and I pored over the text for a good long while, trying to understand the pedantic legal phraseology satisfactorily. There were no surprises, no hidden tricks or catches. The formal grant agreed entirely with the oral promises that Ajinblambia had made in her office. It did not require my signature. So we merely reposed it in a locked drawer of the rolltop desk in the office of the store, as thitherto we had had no safe.

This was a climactic moment in my career, and in Zevanardia's as well. We celebrated with a supper of beef cobbler, with crust all around and on top, and bathed  in sour cream with chives. We drank goblets of icy champagne.

There were two markers embedded in the masonry of 7 Ramdonia Circle. From each of these markers the bearing and distance to each of the four corners of the square mile that would be Gvagma Village was calculated with four-place accuracy, so that by triangulation, one could locate the corners unequivocally. The sixteen bipolar coordinates were tabulated on an appendix to the Royal Charter.

Moreover, surveyors came with what amounted to a junior pile driver, and at each corner of the square, as well as at quarter-points of each edge of the square, they placed markers. Long steel stakes were driven into the ground with the junior pile driver, and then brass markers were affixed to them positively with through rods with upset ends. This was to discourage sabotage or vandalism, though, in Mecnita, such precautions were merely cosmetic, for such crimes scarcely ever occurred. The markers were easy to find with an ad hoc hand-held device. A carefully labeled plat of the village was drawn and a blueprint of it was added as a second appendix to the Royal Charter.

An interlude of inactivity ensued, tranquil, complacent and indolent. I didn't know whether merely to await queries from businesses and other entities, and see what they had to offer, making decisions at my whim, or whether actively to court the involvement of concerns I considered conducive to the growth of Gvagma Village. I talked this over with Zevanardia hours on end, again and again, and I visited Ajinblambia in her office frequently, as she had thrown wide her doors, as it were, during this period of transition.

I did not want to rush into crowding the square mile with a lot of gawdy outfits that had appealed to me momentarily. I would hate to come to regret my choices or to have to seek the expulsion of somebody I had myself invited in the first place.

I did arrange to have a number of small cars, like golf carts, placed around the grounds. These could hold up to four passengers, and were prevented from leaving the village by laser light curtains that barred their passage. After all, from one corner of the square mile to the corner diagonally opposite was nearly a mile and a half, not counting the mini-detours around buildings and structures.

I pondered and I wondered. I walked about in circles, with my index finger at my temple. Certainly a pentesthetic theater would be built. We'd have a conventional cinema or two, and perhaps live theater, as well. Ballet, folk dances, ice skating shows and similar spectaculars would be held in Rosebush Stadium, which we would redecorate to look more like an opera house than a gymnasium, with elegance and beauty being the sine qua non of our project.

In my mind, I had rejected the idea of erecting a roller coaster or other erratic rides. I did not want Gvagma Village to be the place for wild thrills, where riders shrieked and shouted noisily, out of genuine or mock fright. I felt that a ferris wheel was consistent with the sort of dignified entertainment and art that I wanted to promote, but that a roller coaster was not. Ajinblambia passed over my opinion on this matter in silence, so I could only assume that she found it reasonable.

Should I open galleries for paintings and statues, tapestries and art needlework? Should I open bookstores? These things appealed to me, but how would Mecnita at large respond? I wasn't eager to proceed by trial and error. I wanted to make good initial decisions that would stand.

Pony rides would probably be popular. Carriage rides might also. Should I erect an aviary? What about a dolphin lagoon? Surely there was room for all of these and more, but I wanted to produce an integrated plan right at the outset.

I decided to allow myself two or three months before taking any definite steps. I would also ask the opinions and advice of the other members of the Royal Council.

(5304 words)


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