The Languages of Pao | Chapter 7 of 26

Author: Jack Vance | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1206 Views | Add a Review

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Page 8

Beran came hopefully forward--but the attitudes of the three halted him.

The neutraloids shoved Palafox forward. The door whirred shut. Beran stood in the center of the room, crestfallen and dejected.

Palafox glanced around the room, seeming instantly to appraise every detail. He put his ear to the door, listened, then took three long elastic strides to the window. He looked out. Nothing to be seen, only stars and surf. He touched his tongue to a key area on the inside of his cheek; an infinitesimal voice, that of the Eiljanre announcer, spoke inside his inner ear. The voice was excited. "Word has reached us from Ayudor

Bustamonte on Pergolai: serious events! In the treacherous attack upon Panarch Aiello, the Medallion was likewise injured, and his survival is not at all likely! The most expert doctors of Pao are in constant attendance.

Ayudor Bustamonte asks that all join to project a wave of hope for the stricken Medallion!"

Palafox extinguished the sound with a second touch of his tongue; he turned to Beran, motioned. Beran came a step or two closer. Palafox bent to his ear, whispered, "We're in danger. Whatever we say is heard. Don't talk, just watch me--and move quickly when I give the signal!"

Beran nodded. Palafox made a second inspection of the room, rather more slowly than before.

As he went about his survey, a section of the door became transparent; an eye peered through.

In sudden annoyance Palafox raised his hand, then restrained himself.

After a moment the eye disappeared, the wall became once more opaque.

Palafox sprang to the window; he pointed his forefinger. A needle of incandescence darted forth, cut a hissing slot through the cleax. The

Beran. Standing in the starlight, darker than the darkness, they argued in their soft voices, and presently reached a decision. Their voices ceased;

they themselves slid away through the night.

THE PAONESE, in spite of their fifteen billion, comprised as undifferentiated a group as could be found in the human universe.

Nevertheless, to the Paonese the traits in common were taken for granted and only the distinctions, minuscule though they were, attracted attention.

In this fashion the people of Minamand--and especially those in the capitol city of Eiljanre--were held to be urbane and frivolous. Hivand, flattest and most featureless of the continents, exemplified bucolic naiveté.

The people of Nonamand, the bleak continent to the South, bore the reputation of dour thrift and fortitude; while the inhabitants of Vidamand, who grew grapes and fruits, and bottled almost all the wine of Pao, were considered large-hearted and expansive.

For many years, Bustamonte had maintained a staff of secret informants, Stationed through the eight continents. Early in the morning, walking the airy gallery of the Pergolai lodge, he was beset by worry. Events were not proceeding at their optimum. Only three of the eight continents seemed to be accepting him as de facto Panarch. These were Vidamand, Minamand and Dronomand. From Aimand, Shraimand, Nonaman, Hivand and Impland, his agents reported a growing tide of recalcitrance.

There was no suggestion of active rebellion, no parades or public meetings. Paonese dissatisfaction expressed itself in surliness, a work-slowdown throughout the public services, dwindling cooperation with civil service. It was a situation which in the past had led to a breakdown of the economy and a change of dynasty.

Bustamonte cracked his knuckles nervously as he considered his position. At the moment he was committed to a course of action. The


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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