Chapter 9.

4 Feb

Xipha sat in a large wing chair opposite the young man named Dawt Uxor. She suddenly seized control of the situation they had both fallen into.
“I have something important to ask of you,” she began. “You must tell your two brothers to break the agreement they’ve made with the Hippodrome’s owner, the gambling titan. It has to be done. There can be nothing more important than stopping that plunge into evil. I cannot, in conscience, permit it to go on. My duty is to do whatever I can to stop the whole process. Central Echolines is a family heritage that descended to me from my parents and ancestors. It would be sacrilege for me to fly in the face of what I was taught from my earliest days on Velvet. No, I have to refuse to cooperate with the abomination called gambling. Equine racing is a shady business run by rich criminals. What else can I do at this point? Certain ideals were planted in me from my birth on. It is my destiny to uphold and embody them in my life. I must therefore withdraw Central Echolines from any compromise with evil vices.”

Dawt looked horrified as the meaning of these statements sank into his rapidly working mind.

“I cannot make my two brothers act in ways they don’t want to,” he stubbornly, unyieldingly told her. “If I were to try persuading them to follow a view like yours, they would laugh at me as a stupid fool. You don’t know them or what they are like. Their beliefs are the opposite of yours, Xipha. Nothing can force them to change the plans they have in mind to carry out. Any attempt to convince them otherwise would be futile, I am certain of that.”

“Tell me this: do you agree or disagree with these principles of mine?” she demanded to know.

All of a sudden, Dawt found himself adrift on a sea of indecision and hesitancy.

“I don’t know and can’t frankly say, one way or the other.”

She stared at him with a furious expression he had never before seen on her face.

“You may leave,” she muttered in a raspy voice full of emotion.

“When can I see you again?” he asked, rising to his feet.

“Give me a couple of days to think,” she curtly said. “Then, come back on the weekend. We will talk more then, at that time.”

He departed, not sure where he stood with her.

His view and attitude toward Xipha had evolved into something completely the opposite of what he had started with before they had met and come to know each other.

Gaen had the feeling that he should do something to distract the Deliverer from the disastrous defeat suffered by his movement in its conflict with Focusism.

“The Tinok Menagerie is re-opening its Equine Section after a long period of changes and renovations. Why don’t we attend the occasion, you and I? There will be a lot of new exhibits to see for the first time. The show promises to be of enormous interest.”

Raxis gave his consent and the two ordered tickets for the Grand Opening of the remodeled wing. The day of the first viewing, they rode a battery trolley car to the vivarium garden on the edge of Tinok where the exhibition hall was located. Gaen led his old companion through rooms of displays showing rare specimens, both living and stuffed, of early equids such as the pliohippus, the meryohippus, and the mesohippus. They finally looked at the fossil remains of the extinct early orohippus and eohippus with deep interest and curiosity. Both of them had a sense of the pleasure of first discovery.

The Discoverer was excited upon seeing a living hypohippus, resurrected from fossilized genes, for the first time. This marvel of eobiological restoration resembled the advanced horse except for its shorter legs and long, slender nose. But its form was simpler and more primitive than anything that Raxis had ever seen before.

Gaen, seeing an old veterinarian across the long corridor, excused himself for a few moments, leaving his friend alone in front of the cage that held the ancient hypohippus.

An unfamiliar high voice suddenly sounded from behind, making him turn around to see who it was.

“This is a beautiful new display,” said a small woman dressed all in white. “I find the creature an irresistible delight to look at, don’t you?”

His startlement fell as the person who had spoken to him smiled pleasantly. Her face seemed to glow with a luminosity that was new to him. From his first sight of her, she presented a puzzle.

“Yes,” he replied, “I have never seen this animal in living form before.”

“No one on Velvet has. It was found and restored up in the northern polar zone of our planet, then brought here to Tinok to be seen by the general public. There are only a few genetic samples left, kept and studied by restorationists with advanced knowledge and methods. What we see here today is a marvelous victory of equid preservation. It is a rare view of the long ago past that it provides.”

“Do you happen, then, to be involved in the ancient equine movement, perhaps?” asked the telepathist, his curiosity aroused. “It is a most worthy cause to believe in and contribute to, I think. I often tell myself that I should have taken a greater part in its activities.”

“I have my own stable of equines and ride almost every day the weather allows,” said the woman who had to be wealthy to enjoy the ownership of a number of pleasure horses.

At that moment, a loud bell rang, interrupting the viewers at all the displays in the wing.

“That is the signal for the visitors’ luncheon,” smiled the middle-aged female in white. “Shall we go to the refectorium and see what they have prepared for the first viewers to eat?”

All at once, Gaen appeared behind the pair who had been talking to each other.

Totally surprised by the situation confronting him, he introduced the Deliverer to the owner of Central Echolines, Miss Xipha Lokum. The veterinarian did his best to exercise some diplomatic art in dealing with two individuals who did not appear to recognize that they represented and occupied opposing telepathic positions and beliefs.

The chattering trio followed the crowd of early viewers heading for the hall where food was going to be served them.

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