Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 39: The Long haul
Copyright© 2013 by normist
As we circled to land behind Kah's house, Mog was glued to the windscreen with wide open eyes taking in all the sights. I think it was the size of the town that amazed him. He had shown an interest in the fields of crops, but a field can only produce so much. It was the number of fields under cultivation that impressed him.
At last he spoke, "Must meet, Must join."
We left the shuttle, and Kah led us all into his library. The marines followed somewhat reluctantly, but Kah set them at their ease. Again Mog showed his amazement.
"Many books! You reader?"
"Why, yes," replied Kah, "don't you read?"
"Our people. One man reads. Trains next reader. Not me."
I think that was the most that I had heard him speak in one go, so far.
"Here, we teach all our children to read as well as teaching them many other skills. About three in one thousand can't learn."
"What thou sand?"
Remembering what Sem had told us, I said, "A thousand is one zero zero zero."
At that moment, Mel poked her head round the door.
"How many are there for the evening meal?"
Kah had a quick count and said, "thirteen." He looked at Susan, "you will stay for our evening meal, won't you?"
"Thank you," she replied, "that's very kind of you."
"Can you manage that?" Kah asked Mel.
"Yes, don't I always?"
Kah excused himself and took Mog upstairs. Later, when they had re-entered the library, we saw that Mog had been redressed from Kah's wardrobe.
Mog was still fascinated by the content of Kah's library, and he asked what they were all about. Some of the books belonged to Weem, and Mog gazed in wonder at some of the illustrations that they contained. Kah explained that his part of the colony had their own printer and a paper manufacturing facility.
There was a knock at the front door and Weem went to answer it. She returned with Horj and Ger. After they were introduced to Mog, Weem and Ger elected to go and help Mel with the evening meal.
It seemed that Mog found almost everything strange. He was continually watching others in order to enable him to conform to what he thought of as polite behavior. Eating at the table; he practised using the combination spoon and knife that the Centaurans used. He also did not speak, unless spoken to. All in all, though, I think that he enjoyed his first meal with Kah and his ladies.
Afterwards, Ger was interrogating Mog about the schooling children received on his island. I gathered that education was one of her responsibilities. He was interested in the range of subjects taught in their schools. Ger turned to me.
"Bil, you have observed one of our smaller schools. What do you think of our education system?"
"I think it's fine, as far as it goes ... Or rather as far as I've seen it go."
"How do you mean?" she replied.
"Learning doesn't stop when a child leaves school."
"No!" chuckled Mog. "I am learning much now."
"We have full time 'schools' for young adults," I said. "Up to half our young adults attend such a school. I used to teach in one. People also go to school in the evening after work, and there are other ways to continue learning."
"Perhaps you could help us set up schools for adults? So far, we have not had time living on this world to do so."
"How do your people learn now? People such as your Healers?"
"They learn from people already doing the kind of work they are interested in. They work as apprentices. The whole system is run by Guilds. I think the time has come to move such learning into schools. Can you help us?"
"I can't myself, but I'm sure we can find someone who can help you. I'll put it on my list of things to do. By the way, how is Chris getting on at Krust?"
"I think that he is getting ready to send the Endeavour back to your world to get more materials."
"Perhaps I should go back with him to fetch some teachers for a young adult school."
"Oh! Would you? That would be wonderful."
I tapped my Comms badge. "Computer, is Captain Groves available?"
"Yes, Admiral. I have called him."
"Groves here, Admiral. What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for a lift back to Earth and I hear you're going soon. Is that right?"
"Yes, Admiral. We're booked to leave in the morning. Shall I send a shuttle for you?"
"Thank you. I'd be grateful if you would. Good night, Captain."
"Good night, Sir."
Ger looked at me and asked, "How long will it take for you to return to your world?"
"Now, let me see. It takes about nine of our hours. That translates into..."
"Five Hue and about eighteen Meg," the computer interjected.
"Thank you, computer." I grinned at Mer, "You see. Having a computer at your elbow can be useful."