The Languages of Pao | Chapter 23 of 26 - Part: 1 of 3

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Page 54

Beran smiled wanly. "When today is over, for better or worse, I will sleep well."

"I envy no one!" mused Finisterle. "Least of all, you."

"And I, on the other hand, envy all but myself," replied Beran morosely.

"I am truly the popular concept of a Panarch--the overman who carries power as a curse, delivers decisions as other men hurl iron javelins...And yet I would not change--for I am sufficiently dominated by Breakness

Institute to believe that no one but myself is capable of disinterested justice."

"This credence which you deprecate may be no more than fact."

A chime sounded in the distance, then another and another.

"Now approaches the issue," said Beran. "In the next hour Pao is ruined or Pao is saved." He went to the great black chair, seated himself. Finisterle silently chose a seat down near the end of the table.

The Mamarone flung back the fretwork door; into the room came a slow file--a group of ministers, secretaries, miscellaneous functionaries: two dozen in all. They inclined their heads in respect, and soberly took their places around the table.

Serving maidens entered, poured chilled sparkling wine.

The chimes sounded. Once more the Mamarone opened the door.

Marching smartly into the room came Esteban Carbone, Grand Marshal of the Valiants, with four subalterns. They wore their most splendid uniforms and helms of white metal which they doffed as they entered. They halted in a line before Beran, bowed, stood impassively.

Beran had long realized this moment must come.

He rose to his feet, returned a ceremonious greeting. The Valiants seated themselves with rehearsed precision.

disperse, in units of fifty men and women. They shall use the cantonment as an organizational area and shall take up residence in the countryside, recruiting locally as becomes necessary. The areas now occupied by the

Valiants will be restored to their previous use." He paused, stared from eye to eye.

Finisterle, observing, marveled that the man he had known as a moody hesitant youth should show such a strong face of decision.

"Are there any questions or comments?" asked Beran.

The Grand Marshal sat like a man of stone. At last he inclined his head.

"Panarch, I hear your orders, but I find them incomprehensible. It is a basic fact that Pao requires a strong arm of offense and defense. We Valiants are that arm. We are indispensable.

Your order will destroy us. We will be diluted and dispersed. We will lose our esprit, our unity, our competitively."

"I realize all this," said Beran. "I regret it. But it is the lesser of the evils.

The Valiants henceforth must serve as a cadre, and our military arm will once again be truly Paonese."

"Ah, Panarch," spoke the Grand Marshal abruptly, "this is the crux of the difficulty! You Paonese have no military interest, you..."

Beran held up his hand. "We Paonese," he said in a harsh voice. "All of us are Paonese."

The Grand Marshal bowed. "I spoke in haste. But, Panarch, surely it is clear that dispersion will lessen our efficiency! We must drill together, engage in exercises, ceremonies, competitions..."

Beran had anticipated the protest. "The problems you mention are real, but merely pose logistical and organizational challenges. I have no wish to diminish either the efficiency or the prestige of the Valiants. But the integrity of the state is at stake, and these tumor-like enclaves, benign though they be, must be removed."


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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