Thursday, September 04, 2008

Brontë Sinclair's Island: Chapter VIII

Chapter 8
Sinclair arrived some twenty minutes later. Since Jocelyn still hadn't appeared, I took him through to the terrace. He admired it enthusiastically. Once we were settled I said, "When I told her you wanted to come by and see her, well… You'd have thought I'd said Harry Shreve would be dropping by."

"Who?"

"You're not an SF reader, I see. Harry Shreve is the grand old man of Nova Britannia Science Fiction. In certain circles he's as big as…" I searched for a comparable figure in another field. "As big as Mama Moomoo Miggie."

Sinclair laughed. "Her I know. Oof! Not even on Marooner's Haven have I been able to avoid knowing her. Not exactly my kind of music, but to each his own."

We were interrupted by Percy's measured tones from indoors. "Charlie is on the terrace. He is speaking with someone."

The squeak that answered him was almost unrecognizable as Jocelyn's voice. "He's here! Charlie let him in! Charlie's talking to him, here! On the terrace!"

Sinclair and I had risen. Jocelyn might be my sweetheart, but I liked to observe the niceties. Sinclair now shifted and looked uncomfortable.

"Who is here?" Percy asked. "Why are you agitated?"

"Charlie's friend. The person he's talking to."

"I do not sense a threat."

Her voice rose again. "It's Brontë Sinclair!"

There was a pause while Percy processed this information. After a moment we heard his calm voice. "I do not find that Brontë Sinclair is a threat, a danger or a peril. It is safe for you to enter."

We laughed. "Most reassuring," Sinclair observed in an undertone.

Even in her nervous excitement, Jocelyn couldn't help laughing as well. "I never said he was a threat," she said, her voice almost back to normal, "I merely said I'm apprehensive about meeting him because he's, uh, an important person and I'm not."

Percy must have been practically standing in the doorway by now, though from where we stood we could see neither him nor Jocelyn. But, we could hear him distinctly. "Mr. Sinclair is the son of World Senator Whitman Sinclair. He is a philanthropist and prizewinning sailor. You are an award winning author and the proprietress of this house. I think, Jocelyn, you are on a level of importance with MR. Sinclair. Please enter. I need to finish preparing lunch.

I imagined her drawing a deep breath and squaring her slender shoulders. "All right," she said resolutely. "Take me out to the terrace, please."

She seemed unusually fragile as she entered, leaning on the big, many-armed silver robot. She wore a simple pink dress whose vivid color set off her creamy white skin and jet-black hair, which was piled in some complicated and very becoming arrangement on the top of her head. She'd even put on lipstick. She didn't do that for me very often.

Sinclair advanced a step and I went to put my arm around my love. "It's OK Percy. I'll look after her."

It could only have been my imagination, but I could have sworn there was a note of relief in his voice as he replied, "Thank you, Charlie."

As Percy trundled off, I led Jocelyn to our visitor. "Love," I said very formally, "allow me to present Mr. Brontë Sinclair." Her hand only trembled a little as she extended it. "Brontë, Miss Jocelyn Falconer." He gripped her hand firmly but gently.

"I -" she had to swallow hard and try again. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr. Sinclair."

"And I, you, Miss Falconer."

I watched this exchange critically, vaguely surprised at the wave of protectiveness, almost jealousy that swept over me as their hands met. But Sinclair held the contact just long enough, not too long and stepped back. Relieved, reassured, I said more lightly, "Let's all sit down."

Jocelyn gave a little start. I glanced at her in amusement. She still looked slightly dazed, but she was sufficiently together to say, "I'm sorry. Yes, please do have a seat, Mr. Sinclair.

12 comments:

puddle said...

Okay! Thangew! *NOW* I'll expect a daily dose, lol!

Catreona said...

LOL The word that came to my mind was "fix."

Does this make me enabler to an adict?

You got that Percy is the care robot, right? It occurred to me while eating supper that maybe that should be made explicit. What do you think? I certainly don't want to talk down to the reader, but OTOH sometimes a little preventative clarification is a good idear. I'm in two minds about this, and would appreciate hearing what you think.

puddle said...

Yeah, got Percy. But wondering, kinda, since he does "personal" care, if he shouldn't be a *she* or define a bit more clearly what "personal" care IS. . . .

Enabler? You bet -- and don't ever change, lol!

puddle said...

Wouldn't mind getting a visual on Percy, either. . . .

Catreona said...

Yeah... Was kind'a thinking about a visual. Almost put one in, but wasn't totally satisfied with it. Not enough detail yet. I'll tell you all I know at the moment though.

He's silver. Nicol plated, actually. Also had the initial impression of his being small and squat; but, that wouldn't be good for taking care of a full grown human. I mean, he doesn't look like 3CPO. Not humaniform I don't think, but it's not yet clear in my mind.

He's not really a "he" but androgynous...

Catreona said...

But, you know, one really can't refer ton a robot like Percy as "it..."

Catreona said...

Maybe not nicol plated. Maybe something softer would be better. I still think he's silver though. Upon further reflection it seems to me that he resembles a human sized tree more than a human.

Severe computer probs today! Donno when I'll be able to work or to post.

puddle said...

Wheels? Prolly wouldn't be a problem where there are ramps everywhere. What about doorways -- in and out (thresholds?).

Thank you, BTW, for my daily hit. . .

Catreona said...

Not wheels... I'm thinking tractor type treds. Sturdier than wheels. Also, I saw something on the tubes a few years ago about a prototype wheelchair that could climb stairs... Stability is the highest priority, I should think.

Hmmm... Percy, or rather visuals on Percy, presents a problem. Would it be all right, do you think, if i left that aside for the moment? Gotta plough ahead with the actual story.

The other thing is, to all these characters robots like Percy are totally commonplace. None of them give PCRs any more thought than we give, say, cats. We all know what a cat looks like in a general way. So when I say, "My cat just jumped up into the window," I don't need to state explicitly that she has a sort of oblong body with a head (including triangular ears) at one end, a flexible tail at the other and four legs underneath. When I say "cat," you picture all that. Well, Charlie knows what a pCR is as well as you and I know what a cat is. so, he doesn't bother to explain to me what a PCR looks like, leaving me in the lerch.

BTW you're welcome. You may push me actually to finish this tale. That would be an accomplishment - on your part, I mean.

puddle said...

Yebit ~~ nice to know if your cat is a Calico or a fluffy black longhair. . . Are "all* PCRs the same? Different models for different years? Different companies. Don't worry about it though. It'll come.

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