Now that he knew himself to be self he was free to grok ever closer to his brothers , merge without let .
Self's integrity was and is and ever had been .
Mike stopped to cherish all his brother selves , the many threes-fulfilled on Mars , corporate and discorporate , the precious few on Earth -- the unknown powers of three on Earth that would be his to merge with and cherish now that at last long waiting he grokked and cherished himself .
Mike remained in trance ; ;
there was much to grok , loose ends to puzzle over and fit into his growing -- all that he had seen and heard and been at the Archangel Foster Tabernacle ( not just cusp when he and Digby had come face to face alone ) why Bishop Senator Boone made him warily uneasy , how Miss Dawn Ardent tasted like a water brother when she was not , the smell of goodness he had incompletely grokked in the jumping up and down and wailing --
Jubal's conversations coming and going -- Jubal's words troubled him most ; ;
he studied them , compared them with what he had been taught as a nestling , struggling to bridge between languages , the one he thought with and the one he was learning to think in .
The word `` church '' which turned up over and over again among Jubal's words gave him knotty difficulty ; ;
there was no Martian concept to match it -- unless one took `` church '' and `` worship '' and `` God '' and `` congregation '' and many other words and equated them to the totality of the only world he had known during growing-waiting then forced the concept back into English in that phrase which had been rejected ( by each differently ) by Jubal , by Mahmoud , by Digby .
`` Thou art God '' .
He was closer to understanding it in English now , although it could never have the inevitability of the Martian concept it stood for .
In his mind he spoke simultaneously the English sentence and the Martian word and felt closer grokking .
Repeating it like a student telling himself that the jewel is in the lotus he sank into nirvana .
Before midnight he speeded his heart , resumed normal breathing , ran down his check list , uncurled and sat up .
He had been weary ; ;
now he felt light and gay and clear-headed , ready for the many actions he saw spreading out before him .
He felt a puppyish need for company as strong as his earlier necessity for quiet .
He stepped out into the hall , was delighted to encounter a water brother .
`` Hi '' ! !
`` Oh .
Hello , Mike .
My , you look chipper '' .
`` I feel fine ! !
Where is everybody '' ? ?
`` Asleep .
Ben and Stinky went home an hour ago and people started going to bed '' .
`` Oh '' .
Mike felt disappointed that Mahmoud had left ; ;
he wanted to explain his new grokking .
`` I ought to be asleep , too , but I felt like a snack .
Are you hungry '' ? ?
`` Sure , I'm hungry '' ! !
`` Come on , there's some cold chicken and we'll see what else '' .
They went downstairs , loaded a tray lavishly .
`` Let's take it outside .
It's plenty warm '' .
`` A fine idea '' , Mike agreed .
`` Warm enough to swim -- real Indian summer .
I'll switch on the floods '' .
`` Don't bother '' , Mike answered .
`` I'll carry the tray '' .
He could see in almost total darkness .
Jubal said that his night-sight probably came from the conditions in which he had grown up , and Mike grokked this was true but grokked that there was more to it ; ;
his foster parents had taught him to see .
As for the night being warm , he would have been comfortable naked on Mount Everest but his water brothers had little tolerance for changes in temperature and pressure ; ;
he was considerate of their weakness , once he learned of it .
But he was looking forward to snow -- seeing for himself that each tiny crystal of the water of life was a unique individual , as he had read -- walking barefoot , rolling in it .
In the meantime he was pleased with the warm night and the still more pleasing company of his water brother .
`` Okay , take the tray .
I'll switch on the underwater lights .
That'll be plenty to eat by '' .
`` Fine '' .
Mike liked having light up through the ripples ; ;
it was a goodness , beauty .
They picnicked by the pool , then lay back on the grass and looked at stars .
`` Mike , there's Mars .
It is Mars , isn't it ? ?
Or Antares '' ? ?
`` It is Mars '' .
`` Mike ? ?
What are they doing on Mars '' ? ?
He hesitated ; ;
the question was too wide for the sparse English language .
`` On the side toward the horizon -- the southern hemisphere -- it is spring ; ;
plants are being taught to grow '' .
`` ' Taught to grow ' '' ? ?
He hesitated .
`` Larry teaches plants to grow .
I have helped him .
But my people -- Martians , I mean ; ;
I now grok you are my people -- teach plants another way .
In the other hemisphere it is growing colder and nymphs , those who stayed alive through the summer , are being brought into nests for quickening and more growing '' .
He thought .
`` Of the humans we left at the equator , one has discorporated and the others are sad '' .
Yes , I heard it in the news '' .
Mike had not heard it ; ;
he had not known it until asked .
`` They should not be sad .
Mr. Booker T. W. Jones Food Technician First Class is not sad ; ;
the Old Ones have cherished him '' .
`` You knew him '' ? ?
`` Yes .
He had his own face , dark and beautiful .
But he was homesick '' .
`` Oh , dear ! !
Mike do you ever get homesick ? ?
For Mars '' ? ?
`` At first I was homesick '' , he answered .
`` I was lonely always '' .
He rolled toward her and took her in his arms .
`` But now I am not lonely .
I grok I shall never be lonely again '' .
`` Mike darling '' -- They kissed , and went on kissing .
Presently his water brother said breathlessly .
`` Oh , my ! !
That was almost worse than the first time '' .
`` You are all right , my brother '' ? ?
`` Yes .
Yes indeed .
Kiss me again '' .
A long time later , by cosmic clock , she said , `` Mike ? ?
Is that -- I mean , ' Do you know ' '' --
`` I know .
It is for growing closer .
Now we grow closer '' .
`` Well I've been ready a long time -- goodness , we all have , but never mind , dear ; ;
turn just a little .
I'll help '' .
As they merged , grokking together , Mike said softly and triumphantly : `` Thou art God '' .
Her answer was not in words .
Then , as their grokking made them ever closer and Mike felt himself almost ready to discorporate her voice called him back : `` Oh ! !
Oh ! !
Thou art God '' ! !
`` We grok God '' .
On Mars humans were building pressure domes for the male and female party that would arrive by next ship .
This went faster than scheduled as the Martians were helpful .
Part of the time saved was spent on a preliminary estimate for a long-distance plan to free bound oxygen in the sands of Mars to make the planet more friendly to future human generations .
The Old Ones neither helped nor hindered this plan ; ;
time was not yet .
Their meditations were approaching a violent cusp that would shape Martian art for many millennia .
On Earth elections continued and a very advanced poet published a limited edition of verse consisting entirely of punctuation marks and spaces ; ;
Time magazine reviewed it and suggested that the Federation Assembly Daily Record should be translated into the medium .
A colossal campaign opened to sell more sexual organs of plants and Mrs. Joseph ( `` Shadow of Greatness '' ) Douglas was quoted as saying : `` I would no more sit down without flowers on my table than without serviettes '' .
A Tibetan swami from Palermo , Sicily , announced in Beverly Hills a newly discovered , ancient yoga discipline for ripple breathing which increased both pranha and cosmic attraction between sexes .
His chelas were required to assume the matsyendra posture dressed in hand-woven diapers while he read aloud from Rig-Veda and an assistant guru examined their purses in another room -- nothing was stolen ; ;
the purpose was less immediate .
The President of the United States proclaimed the first Sunday in November as `` National Grandmothers' Day '' and urged America to say it with flowers .
A funeral parlor chain was indicted for price-cutting .
Fosterite bishops , after secret conclave , announced the Church's second Major Miracle : Supreme Bishop Digby had been translated bodily to Heaven and spot-promoted to Archangel , ranking with-but-after Archangel Foster .
The glorious news had been held up pending Heavenly confirmation of the elevation of a new Supreme Bishop , Huey Short -- a candidate accepted by the Boone faction after lots had been cast repeatedly .
L'Unita and Hoy published identical denunciations of Short's elevation , l'Osservatore Romano and the Christian Science Monitor ignored it , Times of India snickered at it , and the Manchester Guardian simply reported it -- the Fosterites in England were few but extremely militant .
Digby was not pleased with his promotion .
The Man from Mars had interrupted him with his work half finished -- and that stupid jackass Short was certain to louse it up .
Foster listened with angelic patience until Digby ran down , then said , `` Listen , junior , you're an angel now -- so forget it .
Eternity is no time for recriminations .
You too were a stupid jackass until you poisoned me .
Afterwards you did well enough .
Now that Short is Supreme Bishop he'll do all right , he can't help it .
Same as with the Popes .
Some of them were warts until they got promoted .
Check with one of them , go ahead -- there's no professional jealousy here '' .
Digby calmed down , but made one request .
Foster shook his halo .
`` You can't touch him .
You shouldn't have tried to .
Oh , you can submit a requisition for a miracle if you want to make a fool of yourself .
But , I'm telling you , it'll be turned down -- you don't understand the System yet .
The Martians have their own setup , different from ours , and as long as they need him , we can't touch him .
They run their show their way -- the Universe has variety , something for everybody -- a fact you field workers often miss '' .
`` You mean this punk can brush me aside and I've got to hold still for it '' ? ?
`` I held still for the same thing , didn't I ? ?
I'm helping you now , am I not ? ?
Now look , there's work to be done and lots of it .
The Boss wants performance , not gripes .
If you need a Day off to calm down , duck over to the Muslim Paradise and take it .
Otherwise , straighten your halo , square your wings , and dig in .
The sooner you act like an angel the quicker you'll feel angelic .
Get Happy , junior '' ! !
Digby heaved a deep ethereal sigh .
`` Okay , I'm Happy .
Where do I start '' ? ?
Jubal did not hear of Digby's disappearance when it was announced , and , when he did , while he had a fleeting suspicion , he dismissed it ; ;
if Mike had had a finger in it , he had gotten away with it -- and what happened to supreme bishops worried Jubal not at all as long as he wasn't bothered .
His household had gone through an upset .
Jubal deduced what had happened but did not know with whom -- and didn't want to inquire .
Mike was of legal age and presumed able to defend himself in the clinches .
Anyhow , it was high time the boy was salted .
Jubal couldn't reconstruct the crime from the way the girls behaved because patterns kept shifting -- ABC vs D , then BCD vs A or AB vs CD , or AD vs CB , through all ways that four women can gang up on each other .
This continued most of the week following that ill-starred trip to church , during which period Mike stayed in his room and usually in a trance so deep that Jubal would have pronounced him dead had he not seen it before .
Jubal would not have minded it if service had not gone to pieces .
The girls seemed to spend half their time tiptoeing in `` to see if Mike was all right '' and they were too preoccupied to cook , much less be secretaries .
Even rock-steady Anne -- Hell , Anne was the worst ! !
Absent-minded , subject to unexplained tears Jubal would have bet his life that if Anne were to witness the Second Coming , she would memorize date , time , personae , events , and barometric pressure without batting her calm blue eyes .