Chapter Three


When I finished eating we enjoyed a quiet evening as a musician came to play for us and one of the servant girls read an interesting story I had never before heard. As the girl read I found I had another hunger that was almost as great as my one for food and drink.
The girl caught my stare, stopped reading, and whispered to Ivan. Ivan laughed.
"She knows you are a newcomer," he said, "and wonders if you would enjoy her company tonight."
I was shocked. "A woman asks such questions?" I demanded. "Is there no decency here?"
Ivan and the whole household roared with laughter.
"Here," he explained, "we understand the needs between a man and a woman, that their Souls must balance and cleanse each other. When a woman is unattached, when she has no permanent companion, it is perfectly proper for her to express an interest in a man who is unattached. The false moral standards of the other world are not binding here. We know each other's needs, we fulfill each other's needs. It is just as proper for a woman to express her needs, as it is for a man to express his. We are all equals here. Those relationships that are deep and treasured are respected, but those who have no relationship are free to choose as They will."
"I am flattered," I told the young woman, "but you are but a child. I would be embarrassed."
The girl laughed. "Oh, you wish me older?" she said. She spread her hands and spun about, and to my surprise became a woman just as lovely but nearer to my own age. "HOW?" I stuttered. Again Ivan and his whole household laughed.
"We do not laugh at YOU, my friend, only your bewilderment. Here we can take on any age we wish to be, that we have lived. Marina likes to appear the sweet and innocent child, but she lived a long and happy life. This is how she was when she was older.
One of the joys of this world is that we can be whatever we want to be to please ourselves, or, others."
"Well, if the lady wants to go to so much trouble to please me, I would be a very bad guest to refuse her. Perhaps we could go for a walk and become better acquainted."
"Go, then!" Ivan cried, "But I know where the walk will end. Good night, my friends. May you bring each other joy."
My friend's openness still amazed me, but I knew his comments were meant in good taste, as was the custom in this fine Place. So I took no offense.
The lady was charming but our lovemaking was beyond all description. The only words to describe it is we became one with one-another, swam within each-other. And when we were done, I knew a peace and joy that I had never felt before. I began to laugh hysterically, and my companion looked at me.
"What is it?" she asked.
"I am thinking," I told her, "of the old priest that used to lecture us in school. He used to tell us that in Heaven the Soul is free of the curses of the flesh. That men and women are pure and the temptations of the body are passed. That there is no need for the coupling of the flesh among the arisen and blessed dead. Boy, is HE in for a shock! I would like to meet him today and inquire if he has learned The Truth."
"What is his name?" the woman asked.
"Father Shaglinski," I told her, "of the village of Panavia."
The woman laughed. "He came to visit one time," she said, "to see Ivan. I assure you he's learned The Truth!"
We both roared with laughter and I wondered what other Truths the father and I were to learn.

Page 3

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