Jandrax 16

Chambard wandered off, but Adrian Dumezil remained to pass the time. He was chewing a siskal twig, which the colonists had discovered to be bitter and mildly narcotic. Those who had smoked tobacco before had, to a man, taken up chewing siskal. He was one of the many to have adopted the surname of Mentor Louis Dumezil and was unrelated to Angi. 

Adrian watched the archers at their practice as Angi fed the fire. When she stood up and stretched, he grinned down at her and asked, “Has Andrax proposed yet?”

Angi flushed, then laughed, taking no offense. “No, not yet.”

“I wonder if he will?” He did not seem to notice Angi’s blush, nor recognize the inappropriateness of his comment; rather, he seemed absorbed in some problem beyond her knowledge.

“Why do you say that, Adrian?”

“That isn’t my name.”

Now she was completely bewildered.

“My name is Sabine Conners. I knew Andrax as a boy, though he has not recognized me yet. I wore a different face then, as well as a different name. Plastic surgery. I was a wanted man.”

“Why tell me that?”

He chuckled, “Why not? I’m not wanted any more, now that we’re stranded here.

“But your question was the right one. Why not isn’t an answer to why. I tell you this because I’ve known you since you were a child and I don’t want to see you hurt. Have you ever wondered why Jan keeps himself so aloof?”

“He’s awfully busy, and he has a lot of responsibilities.”

Sabine shook his head. “Jan doesn’t trust us because we are Monists.”

“I know, but I don’t know why.”

Sabine sucked on the twig for a moment longer before throwing it away. “Jan Andrax was born on Hallam. His father was the leader of the Danneline Monists in their guerrilla war against the Pertoskans. He was orphaned there.”

Angi was shocked. The Hallam war had been one of the bitterest in recent history. Then she made another connection. “You said you knew him as a boy. That was after Hallam?”

Sabine chuckled again. “Delicately put. No, I fought right beside him and his father. That is what I was wanted for.”

“Then Jan was wanted, too?”

“No, and that’s something I don’t understand. He still carries the face and name he was born with and he is a Scout. How did he ever get into the Scouts with his record?”

Angi looked puzzled, so he expanded. “Jan’s father and I lost track of him during a skirmish. We both thought he was dead – never saw him again until I got off the landing boat here and saw him giving orders. You can bet that was a shock.”

“You don’t know what happened from then till now?”

Sabine shook his head. “No, and I don’t intend to ask him and blow my cover. I’ll expect you to keep my secret; anyone who fought on either side at Hallam is still a pariah.”

“Of course.”

“In a war, people think and act differently than they do otherwise. There isn’t much time for affection. I liked Jan well enough as a boy, but I never felt toward him like I do toward you. We just didn’t have time for the softer emotions.

“Still, I liked him. He was a brave, decent boy and he has grown into a brave, decent man. But there is some demon riding him. You’d best find out what that demon is before you marry him.”

He hesitated so long that Angi thought he had finished. Both of them were staring across the courtyard to where Jan was dressing down a careless archer. “Another thing for you to think about. Daniel Andrax, Jan’s father, was a driving, selfassured man – a born leader. He had a faith in himself and his religion that would stop at nothing.

“He was a lot like your father – and you can bet that Jan has seen the resemblance, too.”

*****

If I were writing this today, it would no longer seem realistic to export tobacco-smoking to the stars. Weed yes; tobacco no. Also, here is another reference to everyone taking the name of the originator of Monism. A good idea, yes; confusing to have everyone named Dumezil, oh, yes. more tomorrow

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