Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Part Forty-Six, Chapter Five - Pigs as a Standard of Beauty

Stonewall Biggs he has something else to show Heller and Krak that evening.  Wonder what time it is?  They showed up after dinner, then they drove around, talked to a guy at a hospital, got shot at.  After that last bit I'd probably call it a night.

Anyway, they all load up in the land yacht, and Gris resigns himself to a blast of static from that carbon-based radiation in the thing's power plant, but conveniently a somewhat fuzzy picture is able to get through, which Gris conjectures is due to the transmitters being on the opposite end of the vehicle from whatever's causing the interference.  Even more conveniently, Heller and Krak took care of all that mushy crap off-screen, so we don't get to endure any romance or anything.  Instead Krak gets Heller to hop up on the operating table in the land yacht's surgery room...

Well... I don't know much about mobile homes.  Maybe this sort of thing isn't that uncommon for luxury land yachts.  Maybe you'd prefer a closet-sized infirmary and on-the-road, do-it-yourself surgery to stopping at an actual hospital.  You got places to go, y'know?

So while Heller reads over the late Dr. Graves' (modified) confession, Krak uses some more alien cellological equipment to put a dollar sign on his right foot.  Heller's a little uncertain about the whole thing.

"Dear," he said.  "Bury is not an honorable man.  He doesn't keep his word.  I don't think he would have given me the Wister name and birth certificate.  I think you must have gotten Graves to alter this some way."

"Me, Jettero?" she said.

D'aww, she's cute when she's feigning innocence concerning twisting peoples' minds to suit her purposes.

Before Heller can have a stern talk with his girlfriend involving the sanctity of free thought, Bang-Bang announces that they've arrived.  Biggs has led them to an "institutional sort of building," the County Agricultural Farm, aka the county poor farm.  According to Wikipedia such institutional sort of buildings disappeared by the 1950's, but this story takes place in a world of Prohibition-era gangsters, Nazis, and DDT in your home, so this isn't any more anachronistic than anything else we've seen.

A sleepy someone named Sweeney lets them in, Biggs asks to see a "Young Dick," and is directed towards the pig sheds - Dick loves his pigs, y'see.  In a small room covered with pictures of pigs cut out from magazines and stuck to the walls, they find a young blond man who, though shoeless, nevertheless bears an uncanny resemblance to Delbert John Rockecenter.  The boy thinks they're here to take him back to an agricultural college.

Hey, wanna hear Hubbard's Virginia accent again?

"Ah won' go!" he said.  "Ever' tahm ah leave heah, Sweeney, if only fo' one term, ah come back an' fin' mah pigs ahl in neglec' an' pinin' away.  You tell them fo'ks to jus' go away."

"They got guns, Dick," said Sweeney.

"Guns!" cried the boy, leaping bolt upright.  "Git away f'm heah with guns!  You ma'ht shoot a pig!"

The Countess Krak moved smoothly in.  "I'd better handle this," she said.  "Nobody is going to shoot your pigs."

"Whoosh!" said the boy, staring at her round-eyed.  "Who be you?  A angel or somethin'?  Hey, who be this, Sweeney?  Wow, she's pretty enough to be a pig!"

Not only am I sick of Virginia, I am sick of this kid less than a page after meeting him.

Krak says she's a friend and gets Young Dick to sit down and show her his foot, but even under his sock his foot is too filthy to make out anything.  Bang-Bang fetches soap and water, and after a totally unnecessary paragraph of delay we find "A DOLLAR SIGN!" on the youth's foot.  The kid is shocked.

"Well, golly be," he said.  "I ain't never noticed that afore.  

Before you criticize, ask yourself - when was the last time you looked at the sole of your foot?  Is it not conceivably possible for someone to live all eighteen years of their life without seeing the underside of their feet?

It do look lahk a dollah ma'k.  Is it some disease?  Hoof-rot mebbe?  What's it mean?  Tell me quick!"

"It means," said the Countess Krak, "that you are not a nameless

He has a name, it's Young Dick. 

orphan foundling.  It means that you are the son of the richest man in the world, Delbert John Rockecenter, found at long last."

He looked at her round-eyed.  He saw that she meant it.  And then it hit him.  He fainted dead away!

Saves her the trouble of using a hypno-helmet, I guess.  Now, I was fully expecting Krak to just fry the kid's brain and burn the tattoo off his foot with a magic Voltarian pen, but she's got something else in mind.  They're gonna keep the kid around.  Young Dick, and his pigs, are going to continue to reappear in the story.

Yeah.  More "pretty as a pig," more incomprehensible accent.  I'm looking forward to the book when we leave Earth behind and return to Voltar to find that it's been destroyed by imported psychology. (editor's note from the future: we've still got a ways to go before Book 9, but just be patient)

Back to Chapter Four

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