Chapter 5.

18 Feb

Raxis and Clata decided to carry out a difficult test of his communicative abilities.

From the room he occupied in the cottage of his parents, he was to send and receive messages with his instructor on the Tunc farm. That would measure how much mental strength he possessed. The length of time he was able to operate could serve as a predictor of his future potential as an adult psychic.

Raxis lay on his straw pallet, rehearsing what he planned to transmit to Clata.

All of a sudden, a surprising idea occurred to him.

Raxis had never before experienced this particular emotion toward a female. After all, he had little contact with women outside his family farm. What he knew of the tender passions was gleaned from the adventure stories he liked to read, borrowed from the library of Dr. Arbre.

What was he to make of the immediate, unforeseen surge of feeling in him, aimed at Clata as its target?

Raxis knew the label affixed to such pulsing excitement. Should he admit to himself that it was that?

His decision had to be to censor his transmissions to the woman instructing him. It might cause alarm and distress to her should he openly express what he felt inside himself.

Raxis decided to transmit a description of his parents’ farm and how the spring planting was proceeding. That was safe and unemotional enough.

“You performed excellently last night,” reported Clata when her pupil arrived the following morning.

He grinned with sincere satisfaction. “That makes me happy to hear,” he told her. “What will come next in my lessons, though?”

She seemed to look away for a moment. “My father wishes to discuss that matter with you today. But first I must provide you a reward for your splendid achievement. Can you accompany me to the district market? It will be open all day. We can leave at once in our shay, Raxis.”

Soon the pair were riding to the crossroads site of the weekly market, near the public house where beer drinkers congregated. That was where Bleme Onso rented a room from the tavern-owner.

Clata, as soon as they were on the grounds and the horse tied to a tree, led her student to the section of the market where freshwater fish from rivers and streams were offered for sale. A variety of silurids and percoids were examined by the two telepaths. Barbels, carps, loaches, killifishes, and breams sent smells into the market air, making it heavy and pungent.

“Which one would you enjoy having for dinner tonight?” the spinster asked her young companion. “Such a treat will be your reward for the significant feat of communication you performed last night.”

He smiled with joy. “I select that tasty-looking mudcat over on the next table, ” said Raxis. “It seems to be sending an invisible message to me to choose it,” he laughed.

Clata bought the fish and placed it in the large cloth container that she carried. Then she went on to other tables and purchased civit beans, rutabagas, saturea, horsemint, and gineli.

“I now have everything needed for a scrumptious meal,” she told him in a lilting voice.

As they returned to the shay and mounted it, neither of them was aware that they were being watched.

At the side door to the public house, stood Bleme Onso with his landlord, the innkeeper.

“Who are those two?” inquired the traveler with sudden, unexpected interest.

“Two of our farmers’ children,” answered the publican. “She is much older than he is, and her father owns much more land than his does.”

The Alcyone agent stared at the shay as it passed the tavern and headed for home.

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