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THE QUARREL / Frederick Turner When the Lord and Lady of the island quarreled, it thundered in the fiords and the clouds' bronze shadows slid across the glittering sea and up swiftly over the mountainsides. Being great magicians it was easy for them to call forth calamities without forethought, and damage in their play dear things not easily remembered and reconstituted in detail afterwards. And they had their cold planet Trilight almost to themselves, but for a small scared city at their antipodes, and a deserted matterferry in the treeless and boggy mountains across the sound. Few thoughts of others disturbed the absolute music of their joint reality. The ice-capped mountain Gaspeth at the head of the deepest mainland fiord had changed its shape gradually month by month until it resembled the head of a heroic and exhausted horse, by their habitual and unconscious revisions. The bay, too, had once been a cold salt marsh where the children had played with their toy boats and fishing-bows. But for now the Magician Zeoderich and his Lady Milksnake were sweet friends, and the three Suns of Trilight shone for hundreds of hours out of the blue sky filled with lesser stars. There was even a drought in the island's uplands, and its small lake ringed with granite stones and heather shrank and turned a deep clear brown. The baby Nachiketas, fat and golden, played in the pebbles of the stream by the high tide mark; the house swam with the warm smell of the herbs that Milksnake brought in from the kitchen garden. They did not use their magic, and so did not trouble the Meditators, for when a magician puts forth his power those monadic thinkers, constructed two millennia ago by the Omnicracy, are wakened and vexed. The Meditators know all that will happen and do not tell; but Magicians can pick up their mystical leakage and by it amplify their own already formidable holographic memory of the future. Now, as far as Milksnake and Zeoderich were concerned, the Meditators slept; the superspheroidal geometry of time showed no inclination to become a supertoroid, as it does when a magician plies his craft—no timereversals , no mnemonic feedback, no centripetal wavefront activity. Almost it seemed that the planet had dived a little toward the distant center of its system: the brightest sun, violet Rhadamanthus, showed a visible disk, though the ochre secondary and the saffron tertiary remained points only. After every sleeptime (Trilight has no night, but a perpetual evening/morning; nor winter, but a perpetual early spring) Zeoderich put on his boots and took the boys Perseidon and Eliazar up in the hills to steal honey from the heather-bees or out in the boat to catch silcod and spackerel in the teeming sound. The Missouri Review · 207 Once they found Milksnake gloomy on their return; she seemed sallow in color and the baby cried at the breast. 'Let us pay a visit to Shutterpack,' said the Magician, perceiving her mood. But this was a mistake: Trilight's only town, whose inhabitants feared to use the matterferry and who watched the tridee beamed from the Omnicracy, was not what Milksnake wanted. 'Panathens, then,' he said conciliating. But even the glittering Galactic capital had no charms. 'There's going to be a High Tide,' she said. A High Tide on Trilight is a rare calamity: the three suns line up on one side, the close Galactic Center with its gigantic invisible Black Hole on the other, and a freak tide sweeps around the waterworld. Since Trilight has no spin the normal tides are aperiodic and shallow, despite variations in the planet's gravitational neighborhood that can change the weight of a man by over a pound in a few days. ? High Tide? Nonsense,' said the Magician. 'How do you know?' ? asked.' 'You asked the Meditators?' 'Why shouldn't I ask them?' said Milksnake provokingly, snatching a pan of plover's eggs out of Zeoderich's nerveless hand. 'We need to get away,' said the Magician. 'Or have some friends come here to see how we live. We're neglecting the children's social education. Let's go to Panathens. Or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 107-111
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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