"Why don't you call it RUS Sissy?"
"I think RUS Ruffles and Lace would be better."
"What about RUS Bras and Panties?"
"I like RUS Petticoats."
The five girls from Gangawar were whooping with merriment at my expense. I winced a little. They were always making me the butt of their little jokes. I knew it was good-natured fun they were poking at me. But once, just once, I wished they would treat me as a little leader or heroine.
Ajinblambia must have noticed my discomfiture, for she intervened, "Please don't tease Sissy like this. Can't you see she's about to cry?" But this was said only tongue in cheek, as if she had been paving the way to make her little joke too. "Why don't we call it RUS Gosling?" she quipped, alluding to the former Eldor Junior Geese, a clone of the Eldor Geese for little girls, among whom I had been demoted to play for part of a season.
Eventually, they stopped making fun of me, and it turned out that they were all in agreement that my proposal was a good idea, not so much because I might earn more money, but because they saw the Ungianization of Ungonesia as an end in itself. So I decided to proceed with the project, Ajinblambia assuring me she'd underwrite the whole venture. I wouldn't have to go to Ung Insurance Company. Of course, the insurance company must follow rules, whereas Ajinblambia was free to use her personal judgment, which was always dependable.
I bought a boat for about two talents ($2,000,000 more or less) and had the superstructure remodelled to serve as a store. Showcases and counters were moved in, shelves and racks installed, and a couple of dressing rooms were built. The ship could make 25 to 35 knots, which sufficed for the distances involved. On our first runs, we would carry only intimate apparel and swimwear. Conventional volleyball uniforms of the kind worn by the girls of Gvagma were not included in the cargo, since the Ungonesian ladies had shown a preference for water volleyball. We took no dancewear either. Ballet was virtually unknown in Ungonesia. Dance did exist, to be sure, but often partook of the nature of primitive rituals. There was nothing wrong with dancing of this kind, of course, but it is not usually performed by ladies in tights, leotards and tutus. Whether we could or should try to take ballet to the archipelago was a question that didn't interest me for the time being. Perhaps later I would think about it.
Despite all the merry jesting at my expense in the meeting of the Royal Council, I did consider RUS Cissi's as a possible name of my ship, but I finally settled on RUS Gvagma, since Gvagma was the larger and more prestigious organization. I had a miniature of my ship crafted and put it on display in Gvagma Tower, on the ground floor, centrally located, so that it would be the first thing you saw as you entered. I was pleased and proud.
Year '402 was past the halfway point. The Oriflamme Games had been played. The Ramdonia Floribundas, Ramdonia's team in the New Chiliad, had been the municipal champions. Now the New Chiliad were into their next season already. Nunu was progressing nicely. Procedures accomplished at the Department of Neurology had enabled her to start secreting her own glycoserotonin, which meant that her genius would no longer depend on injections, but the Department of Child Development was still monitoring her linguistic precocity and conducting tests. Ezmeraudia usually took the baby to the university but I went a few times too.
By the beginning of year '403, I was expecting RUS Gvagma to be making a good profit. On its maiden voyage, I made Zevanardia the skipper so that she could acquint Queen Kolomena with Gvagma's and Cissi's way of doing business. If she showed that she had the aptitude for the job, which after all was not terribly complicated, Zevanardia would come right home. Otherwise she might make a second circuit. She was looking forward to this cruise as great fun, but I was a little dismayed that I would be mateless 13 or 26 days. Naturally, I would get in bed with Ezmeraudia, so that we could snuggle and cuddle in an affectionate way, but I surely did not want there to be any erotic activity. She was still so young that it would have seemed almost sinful to take advantage of her. But there was nothing naughty about hugging each other and talking a little before we dozed off. Nunu would be in her crib at bedside.
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