The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

RFQ4: Ch. 4, Tentative Exploration

(Wycliffe's Punishment)

[Yet another false start, incomplete editing.]

So we have seen Wycliffe behaving as if there were more important things than money.

How can we talk about economics if the characters of our story don't think money matters?


Well, let's think about such questions as we go back to see what Karel and Bobbie have been doing while Wycliffe was trying hard to save himself so he could save them.

It's tempting to use the native Kakgu words for many things -- foods, plants, animals, etc. But then you'll get lost learning a language you'll never use. I'll try to find something close to translate them as, instead. 

Karel and Bobbie separately closed their eyes and offered silent prayers of thanks for their food.

Karel took a bite of his sandwich and drank some water from his canteen. "What kind of sandwich did you did you say you brought?" he asked.

"Egg salad, with some of the native wild lettuce. How about you?" Bobbie said between bites. (Xamina -- Might as well call it lettuce. Broad purple and green leaves, mild flavor.)

"Ham, with some of the native mustard greens. Try it?" (Vusa -- compressed and cured meat. The animal looks like a pig and the flavor is similar, I guess. And haraina -- green and orange leafy vegetable, mildly piquant mustard-like flavor.)

Bobbie looked at him doubtfully. He dug into the emergency kit again and found the knife, and wiped it with his handkerchief. Bobbie reached over and covered his hand and the knife.

"That's okay." Then she took his sandwich. "I trust your saliva more than that knife until we can wash it." She took a bite and handed it back, chewing thoughtfully and swallowing. "Not bad. Have a bite of mine?"

Karel blinked. "Sure." He took the sandwich she offered, took a bite, and handed it back. "Nice," he said, between chews, "especially with mayonnaise." (Gyup, we can call mayonnaise without any loss of meaning at all. It does have a distinct green cast.)

Bobbie said, "It's been a while since we treated ourselves to Berikeil food, hasn't it?" (The Union of Independent States of Berikil. Berikil Mesufito was the mapmaker who made the first maps of the new world.)

"Mmm, well, yeah. Focusing on the local cuisine and all hasn't left us much time to eat Berikeil."

(The shape of those continents is a little different from our Americas, but there are a number of parallels in the history, including naming the continents after the mapmaker instead of the leader of the expedition. At least Berikil was part of the crew.)

Both of them wondered whether it would be yet a while before they ate food from their home country again, but neither put the thoughts into words.

When they had finished eating, Karel asked, "What should we do next?"

"Start exploring the island for real, maybe?"

"Ya know, I'm thinking I want to make sure the water filter works."

"Good idea. Have you read the instructions?"

Karel dug into the emergency kit, but could only find the filter body and the pack of paper filters that looked more like coffee filters. No instructions.

"Can that actually filter water?" Bobbie said doubtfully when he showed her the paper filters.

"For short-term, drink-or-die emergencies, I guess."

"We'll have to be careful with the drinking water Wycliffe gave us, and use sea water to wash."

"Maybe we can find something to make a real filter with." Karel thought for a minute. Then he said, "Let's wash the utensils from the emergency kit so we don't have to worry about that for dinner."

Bobie agreed, so they took the utensils with them and went down to the beach to look at the water. The sea was clear and blue, and looked inviting. Karel asked, "Want to go in for a swim?"

"Is that preparing? Sounds more like play. What about the dishes?"

"Part of exploring -- gotta check out the water source."

Bobbie looked at Karel with a smile that bordered on a smirk and said, "Sounds good to me."

"You think I'm just making excuses." Karel complained as they walked back up the beach to get their swimming suits.

Bobbie just laughed.

Looking at their baggage spread out on the grass, Bobbie pointed out, "No place to change."

"Well, we need to put up the tent, anyway. Give me a hand?"

"Sure, let's do it."

They opened up the canvas bag with the tent in it and pulled out the rubberized ground sheet, the canvas tent, the tent poles, lines, and stakes, and starting setting it up.

"Should I trust you with that big hammer?" Bobbie joked as she held the stakes while Karel pounded them into the dirt. Fortunately, the ground under the grass was firmer than beach sand.

"You want to swing it?"

"Just be careful." 

When they had the tent up, Bobbie changed into her swimsuit inside the tent while Karel pulled the dinghy out of its canvas bag and looked it over. "There's a canvas tarp in the bag with the dinghy." he reported. "And a foot pump." He started inflating the dinghy with the foot pump.

"Those'll be useful," Bobbie said as she came out in her swimsuit. "Your turn."

She half-hoped Karel would say something in the way of appreciation of her appearance in her swimsuit, but he did not oblige. If she had been watching closely, she might have noticed him catch his breath and swallow before he offered her the pump.

While Karel changed, Bobbie took over inflating the dinghy. When he was changed, they traded turns until the dinghy's frame was tight. While they were inflating the dinghy, they hung their clothes out to finish drying. Then they threw the oars in the dinghy and carried it to the water.

And, for her part, Bobbie did not quite dare voice her appreciation of Karel's appearance, either. Being too frank about certain things might make it a very long three days.

Leaving the dinghy on the sand, they waded into the water. Bobbie bent down and scooped some of the water up. Curious, she tasted it.

"Mmm. Salty."

Karel followed suit. "Tastes okay, other than the salt. Properly filtered and boiled, it would probably be pretty good. Maybe the filter will work for a few pints of water."

The beach sloped gently down into the water and continued more or less at the same slope below the water line for quite a distance. They were only to their knees about a sederteh out. (Sederteh -- sixteen derteh, or about thirty-three yards.)

So they went back and put the dinghy in the water, pulling it to where the water was deep enough to float. Then they got in and rowed out about two sederteh, pushing and probing the bottom with the oars as they went.

"Still not much seaweed. It'll be faster to push it," said Karel, and he climbed out in water that was now to his waist and started to push the dinghy ahead of him. Bobbie continued to paddle on her side.

About four sederteh (about a hundred twenty yards) out, where Karel was up to his chest in the sea, Karel's foot dropped suddenly through the carpet of seaweed, and he slipped under the water, flailing for the dinghy. "Whoa! blub blub blub!"

"You okay?" Bobbie called out to the ripples on the surface, readying to jump in after him. 

Karel put his hand on the sandy bottom and got his feet back under himself so he could stand, shaking the water off as his head broke the surface. "Sudden dropoff here hidden by the seaweed."

"Good thing to know about." Bobbie watched as he dove back underwater to see how deep the dropoff was.

"How is it?" she asked when his head broke the surface again.

"Not bad. About two, maybe three derteh deep beyond the shelf edge (about twelve to eighteen feet). There are lots of fish and seaweed out here. Both look edible. And I'm not seeing any jellyfish or other nasties." (Uikaren -- stinging translucent floaters, jellyfish, for all practical purposes.)

So Bobbie sat on the side of the dinghy, facing in, and sat backwards into the water, and Karel hung onto it while she explored. Then she held the dinghy while he explored some more. After about four gohbu of exploring the shelf and shallows and a little playing in the water, they climbed back in the dinghy and rowed further out in the sea, to get a good look at the island. From maybe nine sederteh (about three hundred yards) out, they could see where the beach curved away from them to the north and to the south.

"The water's really nice." Bobbie said, almost to herself.

"Clean enough to wash the eating utensils in, I'd say."

"How big do you think the island is?"

"If the island is a simple oval, I'd say about seven rhip (a bit more than two miles) across, north to south. Can't tell anything about east to west from here. What do you think?"

"Looks like about ten rhip (about three miles) of beach to me. It'd be fun to live here."

"Lots of adventures, and a lot of hard work, too."

"We're daydreaming. We need to get some dishes cleaned up."

So they brought the dinghy back to the beach, washed the bottom in the surf, and carried it back to the grass.

Bobbie dug the rest of the mess kit out of the emergency supplies. Karel looked at it and said, "You know, we don't have a good place to dry these, yet, so lets just wash the two plates and the food knife for now."

"Aren't you feeling domestic?" Bobbie asked in a mocking voice.

Karel laughed. "Two plates could even wait until just before we eat."

"Should we eat now?" Bobbie asked and looked around. "It's getting close to cee o'clock isn't it? I want to look into the woods a bit before it gets dark." (Cee o'clock. Remember, they count in base sixteen. Csixteen is 12ten and on a 16 hour clock that's early evening, around six-ish.)

"Me, too. The plates can wait a few gohbu."

"Let's get something on our legs before we go wandering through any tall grass."

After changing back, they hung their swimsuits on tent lines and walked into the woods, sighting on the camp as they went.

Karel stopped at a tree with a roundish fruit about five to ten inches in diameter and examined the fruit. He asked Bobbie, "Do you think this might be breadfruit?" (Painko is comparable to our breadfruit, although it does taste a little like cacao when it's really ripe.)

Bobbie looked at the fruit he was indicating and said, "Does the stem break easily? We could take one back and open it up."

Karel picked one, and they kept going. When they lost sight of the camp, Bobbie backed up until she could see the tent, and Karel went further in until he lost sight of her.

"Finding anything?" Bobbie called.

"Not yet. I don't think we've seen any signs of rats or other small animals at all."

"Me neither. Just birds and insects."

"Wait a bunmu." Karel looked closer at a the base of a tree branch. "I thought I saw a muskrat. (Had to think about liito. It's an amphibious rodent, kind of a cross between a squirrel and a muskrat.) "I guess it's hidden itself now." Shortly, he came back.

"About how far in was the muskrat?"

"I'm not sure I really saw one, but it was in a tree about a sederteh in."

Bobbie crept into the woods, following Karel's hand signals. After a half gohbu of searching, she came back.

"No luck?"

"Nah. We'll have to be a bit more quiet."

They walked parallel to the camp for a bit. Then Bobbie went deeper in.

"Here's something that looks like jackfruit. I'll bring one back." (Hariko, although the ripe fruit of some species more than a little resembles a large avocado.)


"This one looks like boxfruit." (Pagoka. Not useful for food.)

"Don't take one of those. Maybe we'll check it later."

She bruit the jackfruit back, and they proceeded, parallel to the camp.

"Oh, look at this. It looks like hemp." (Xant -- Other than the basic differences in biochemistry between their world and ours, it was, for all practical purposes, hemp.)

"Rope, paper, ...." Karel thought out loud.

"The seeds are supposed to be edible, too."

It was beginning to get dark, so they returned to camp, laying out the samples they had taken on Karel's trunk. Then they went down to the water and washed their hands.

Coming back, Bobbie opened up the food boxes, which they had set on her trunk in hopes of avoiding attracting insects, and they got out the bread and sausage.

"Nuts," she said.


"I just realized we could have brought some seaweed back. We don't have any salad here."

"I'll go back in and get some."

"I'll go with you. Let's take those tin plates and the food knife."

And they took turns in the tent, changing back into their swimsuits again. Then they went down to the water in the twilight, waded in, and washed the plates and knife in the ocean water. Waded further in, they collected some seaweed that they recognized as edible in the light of the slowmoon, washed it to clear off silt and sand, and carried it back to the camp.

Leaving the seaweed on the plates, they changed back into their clothes again and turned their attention to dinner.

"I'm having fun."

"Me, too. Do you want to say the blessing?"

"Sure." They bowed their heads, and Bobbie said, "Heavenly Parent, we are having fun. It's scary, but we are having fun. Thank you for letting us do this, and it was nice of Wycliffe to take us here, in a strange sort of way. We forgive him. We aren't perfectly sure the seaweed is safe, but please bless us that, if it's poisonous, we can tell quickly enough that we can stop eating it before it makes us really sick. And please bless the bread and the sausage and the cheese and the seaweed to our health and strength. And bless Wycliffe, too. We pray in the name of God-Is-Help, amen." And Karel echoed the amen.

After eating, they put the food boxes and the box of emergency supplies in the tent, setting the samples they had taken on the box of emergency supplies. Then they spread the tarp from the dinghy on the ground by the tent and moved the trunks and suitcases around it to form a barrier.

"I could just sleep under the stars, really," said Karel.

"Let's be safe this time. I think you need a roof, too." Bobbie replied, indicating the dinghy.

Karel didn't like this idea. "The corners of the trunks could tear holes in the bottom."

So they moved the trunks beside the tent and leaned the dinghy upside down with its tubes on the trunks, setting the suitcases at the ends as animal barriers. Karel was still not quite satisfied, but it kept the trunk corners away from the fabric of the bottom of the dinghy.

Then they retired for the night.

"I feel like a queen," Bobbie complained jokingly inside the tent.

"That's okay," replied Karel from under the dinghy.

"I could get used to it."

"No, you won't. I know you well enough by now."

Silence. Then, "I mean, I could get used to you being nice to me."

"I wouldn't mind. Really."

More silence.

Karel said, "You know, for two people who sometimes think they are polar opposites, we seem to get along together all right."

"Hah. There's nothing to argue about, here."

"True. I guess we have really good reasons not to argue right now. But we haven't, really, disagreed all that much over the last four months."

"My mom keeps telling me that opposites are supposed to attract. She approves of you."

"She's told me as much. Your dad, too."

"He keeps asking if you are blind or something."

Karel chuckled. "And I think I like your dad, too."

"What do your parents say about me?"

"You know."


"They keep telling me they don't want to push me one way or the other, but they also keep telling me they really, really like you."

"One of the girls in the dorm asked me why we didn't just get married before we came. She said it would solve so many problems, and, since we had both gone to meet each others' families, it was obviously going to happen anyway."

"The boys on my floor have said similar things."

Again, silence.

"Harvard has invited you to go for a year of teaching and research. And the reports you've sent back from here have been making impressions there."

"And Berkeley has invited you. Your work gets a lot of approval, too, from what the Professor says."

"Can we resolve that?" Karel asked.

"Neither of us has actually made any promises."

"We could find a school that would take us both."

"Or try, and, if we don't, live poor on one salary, the first few years, like most Mormon newlyweds."

"We're serious about this, aren't we?" Karel asked quietly.

"We'll talk more about it in the morning. Excuse me, I'm going to pray and go to sleep. Goodnight."


And both of them did exactly that, repeating in their prayers their requests for help for themselves and for Wycliffe, and adding pleas for help understanding each other and for help understanding which direction their relationship should turn when they were back in civilization again.

Doesn't this sound romantic?

Are they talking about money?

Look carefully. Even though money is not a high priority with these two, economics is a deep undercurrent in their actions and words.

And it's not a bad thing, really, since it clearly takes lower priority than the more important things.

(Wycliffe's Punishment) (Table of Contents) (Next)

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