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Автор Пурнелл Джерри Юджин

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Jerry Pournelle



( Codominium - 3 ) Jerry Pournelle


"Call me Bill," Garner Castell said as the cop lifted him off his duff and chucked him into the paddy wagon, which in this case was an ancient Ford Econoline 150 with no seats at all in the back and a wall of metal mesh separating prisoners from the driver and his shotgun-rider. Garner "Bill" Castell told everyone to call him Bill, and often added, "I'm a walking list of debts."

He clunked down on the corrugated steel floor and slid toward the front of the van. He slid toward the back when it accelerated. The charge was vagrancy, but Castell enjoyed the ride, his first in weeks. The van had been converted to electric, so it was a quiet ride, and he was able to think.

Tall, with bushy brown hair, bushy white eyebrows, piercing gray eyes, an ice-breaker of a nose, stern lips, and a strong, cleft chin, Garner "Bill" Castell, when he stood straight and inflated his chest and widened his eyes and boomed his big, resonant voice, could intimidate. When the cop yanked him down from the van, Castell went into what he called his Posture Act, which was nothing less than a graduate-level crash course in body language and public speaking. "How dare you, officer?" he boomed.

The cop actually jumped back for an instant, startled by the transformation. A second ago this guy had been a quiet little vagrant. Now here was this strutting, command-voiced evangelist. Anger surged in the cop, as it so often does, and he grabbed Castell's nearest bicep with renewed strength.

Castell ignored the grip and scanned the crowd of passersby who had paused on the sidewalk outside Austin's downtown police station to watch some of the fun. To each and every one of the members of that crowd, who were mostly young people from the colleges around town, Castell said, "They create bad feelings the way a bad singer can ruin the hymns of a fine choir. They persecute those who, like myself, wish only to get along and be left alone. Having sought no trouble, I am beset by troublers."

Someone called out, and although Castell showed no signs of having heard, he said, "Yes, exactly, we must learn to harmonize, we must become notes of the grand song called life, existence."

The cop holding Castell's arm shoved him. At once cries of protest rose from the crowd. Some scuffling broke out, and the van's driver tried to help his partner hustle the rabble-rouser into the station house. Their way was blocked.

"I've never resisted authority, when it deserved its due," Castell said. "And yet they resist my very existence, even in this mild, pleasant climate, where a soul can live simply and at peace, in harmony with gentle surroundings."

At the word "gentle" a few college boys stepped forward and tried to pry loose the cops' grips. This caused profanity and elbowing, and before anyone knew it Castell was loose, but headed up the station house stairs on his own power.

And power was the word, because he fairly bounded to the top. "I shall pay their penalty for simply being here, and then I shall go. In three days, if you care, please meet me here, please show them that we can gather and part peaceably, in harmony."

And then he turned and entered the station house, where he was incarcerated for three days on a self-confessed charge of vagrancy.

When Castell came out of the cell, his life had changed, and he knew it. He signed for his few belongings, thanked the sergeant on duty for his force's hospitality, and then walked out between the swinging doors to the cheers of a friendly, happy crowd of supporters.

"That simple," one of the police officers said, snapping his finger in front of his partner's face. His partner said, "Bull, nothing's that simple," and was soon proven right.

Garner "Bill" Castell walked with the celebrating kids, who grabbed at his release as an excuse for revelry just as they grabbed at virtually any other excuse. He walked downtown, let them buy him a simple meal of chile con carne and beer (an Austin college kid's staple, be it noted), then followed them back to the campus of the University of Texas. There he lived for a few days, but soon he moved into the hills surrounding Austin, and groups of young people trekked out to find and talk with him almost every day. Some never went back, and soon those kind multiplied in every way possible, including live births.

The sight of gentle, well-spoken Harmonies seeking alms became common around Austin and surrounding towns and cities. And they were not beggars, because they always did helpful things before accepting any money, such as wash windows, paint houses, clear streets of trash, and that sort of thing. Soon they were taking in huge amounts of money from a populace generally glad to see them, generally glad to take advantage of their bargain prices and cheerful work habits.

When youths were reported lost, they most often turned out to have joined the Harmonies in the Hills. This led to the kids being called, even by themselves for a while, The Lost.

Meanwhile Garner "Bill" Castell refined his ideas around the central concept of Seeking Harmony with All, and his rhetorical abilities grew with his wealth and influence. Strangely to some, he paid taxes on all income, which was recorded scrupulously, and sought no exceptions from any secular rule or law on religious or other grounds. He simply harmonized.

Eventually he bought land, then more land, and more. Soon he controlled several thousand acres of the scrub-pine hills outside Austin, and he began designing buildings. He always had them approved by reputable local architectural firms, to whom he paid generous fees.

Questions about his past Castell answered with shrugs and laughs, jokes and dares. "Find out if you can," he told one reporter who, seeking a human interest story if not an expose of a new guru, had come all the way from New York City itself. The televised interview only served to enhance Castell's standing and increase his popularity.

He married a young woman of American Indian and Mexican heritage who'd been brought to him by some of The Lost. They'd found her beaten and abandoned in a clump of creosote bushes by a dirt road, and it was said that Castell never once asked her about her past, either. They had a son, Charles, and were apparently a monogamous, contented couple. Castell abused neither his position nor his power to evoke enthusiasm.

He argued, swore, smoke occasional cigars, drank moonshine, played poker, and could plug the selected eyeball of a sidewinder at a hundred paces at dusk with a handgun. He displayed several accents in the course of even a single sentence, and spoke at least rudiments of English, Spanish, and German. He also kept his word, and earned respect daily.

Church of New Universal Harmony was incorporated, but continued voluntarily to pay taxes and fees and such from which religions were officially exempt. He rendered unto Caesar, and Caesar liked that just fine. The business deals, connections, and the virtuosity displayed by Castell's structuring of the Church's finances, holdings, and such led many to believe that their founder had once been a hugely successful businessman who had suffered a crisis of conscience. He had, they thought, wandered for a few years, until he understood about Harmony, and then he started organizing things again, this time along Harmonic principles.

Castell died from a stress-induced cardiac infarction during the negotiations for license and the actual purchase of colonizing rights to a new world, which he called Haven. Many rumors at the time linked him with CoDominium Intelligence, but such rumors never specified whether he was supposed to have been a member or simply talked to them as he'd talked to so many other groups of self-interested authorities. Certainly selective harmonizing, or Choosing the Right Song, as he called it, would be a likely route for him to have chosen in such a bitter battle to secure a new place for his Harmonies. Except for the one occasion of his jailhouse epiphany, he always tried to sing along with the loudest.

He left behind him a son, Charles, who proved a reluctant but eventually very able leader, and a Church that has withstood the test of time despite many transformations.




A class action suit filed by the crew of a CoDominium exploration vessel was upheld today after six weeks' review of the case by CoDo arbitrators. The suit will now proceed to CoDominium Civil Court for eventual resolution.

Captain Jed Byers of the CDSS Ranger and his crew were prepared to bring suit against the M.I.T./CalTech University Consortium for breach-of-contract regarding the Ranger's claim of a discovery bonus for the Byers Star System. Though no habitable worlds exist in this system, the primary gas giant does possess a marginally habitable moon. The Ranger's master and crew admit that this moon's qualifications for colonial use are barely within the parameters established by CoDominium law, but it was the University Consortium's position that the very fact of its being a moon rather than a planet rendered any discovery bonus clauses in their contract null and void. In addition, reaching the new system is by no means easy; it lies at the end of several awkwardly linked Alderson Jump points, and travel time from Earth is over a standard year. Even so, CoDo arbitrators, perhaps fearing to set a precede ...