View Full Version : Mote In God's Eye, The - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

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06-07-2007, 08:21 PM
Chapter 27 - The Guided Tour

Renner was up before dawn. The Moties chose and set out clothing for him while he was bathing in the remarkable tub. He let their choice stand. He would indulge them; they might be the last nonmilitary servants he would ever have. His sidearm was discreetly laid out with his clothing, and after a lot of thought, Renner buckled it under a civilian jacket woven from some marvelous shining fibers. He didn't want the weapon, but regulations were regulations
The others were all at breakfast, watching the dawn through the big picture window. It came on like sunset, in all the shades of red. Mote Prime's day was a few hours too long. At night they would stay up longer; they would sleep longer in the mornings and still be up at dawn.
Breakfast featured large, remarkably egg-shaped boiled eggs. Inside the shell it was as if the egg came prescrambled, with a maraschino cherry buried off-center. Renner was told that the cherry thing was not worth eating, and he didn't try.
"The Museum is only a few blocks from here." Dr. Horvath's Motie rubbed her right hands briskly together. "Let's walk. You'll want warm clothes, I think."
The Moties all had that problem: which pair of hands to use to imitate human gestures? Renner expected Jackson's Motie to go psychotic. Jackson was left-handed.
They walked. A cold breeze whipped them from around corners. The sun was big and dim; you could look directly at it this early in the day. Tiny cars swanned six feet below them. The smell of Mote Prime air seeped faintly through the filter helmets, and so did the quiet hum of cars and the fast jabber of Motie voices.
The group of humans moved among crowds of Moties of all colors-and were ignored. Then a group of white furred pedestrians turned a corner and lingered to examine them. They chattered in musical tones and stared curiously.
Bury seemed uncomfortable; he stayed within the group as much as he could. He doesn't want eye tracks all over him, Renner decided. The Sailing Master found himself being examined by a very pregnant White, the bulge of her child high up above the complexities of the major joint in her back. Renner smiled at her, squatted on his heels, and turned his back to her. His Fyunch(click) sang in low tones, and the White moved closer, then half a dozen white Moties were running a dozen small hands over his vertebrae.
"Right! A little lower," said Renner. "OK, scratch right there. Ahh." When the Whites had moved on, Renner stretched his long legs to catch up with the tour. His Motie trotted alongside.
"I trust I will not learn your irreverence," his Fyunch(click) said.
"Why not?" Renner asked seriously.
"When you are gone there will be other work for us. No, do not be alarmed. If you are capable of satisfying the Navy, I can have no more trouble keeping the givers of orders happy." There was an almost wistful tone, Renner thought-but he wasn't sure. If Moties had facial expressions, Renner hadn't learned them.
The Museum was a good distance ahead of them. Like other buildings it was square-built, but its face was glass or something like it. "We have many places that fit your word 'museum,'" Horvath's Motie was saying, "in this and other cities. This one was closest and specializes in painting and sculpture."
A juggernaut loomed over them, three meters tall, and another meter beyond that because of the cargo on its head. It-she, Renner noted from the long, shallow bulge of pregnancy high on her abdomen. The eyes were soft animal eyes, without awareness, and she caught up with them and passed, never slowing.
"Carrying a child doesn't seem to slow a Motie down," Renner observed.
Brown-and-white shoulders and heads turned toward him. Renner's Motie said, "No, of course not. Why should it?"
Sally Fowler took up the task. She tried carefully to explain just how useless pregnant human females were. "It's one reason we tend to develop male-oriented societies. And -- " She was still lecturing on childbirth problems when they reached the Museum.

The doorway would have caught Renner across the bridge of his nose. The ceilings were higher; they brushed his hair. Dr. Horvath had to bend his head.
And the lighting was a bit too yellow.
And the paintings were placed too low.
Conditions for viewing were not ideal. Aside from that, the colors in the paints themselves were off. Dr. Horvath and his Motie conversed with animation following his revelation that blue plus yellow equals green to a human eye. The Motie eye was designed like a human eye, or an octopus eye, for that matter: a globe, an adaptable lens, receptor nerves along the back. But the receptors were different.
Yet the paintings had impact. In the main hall-which had three-meter ceilings and was lined with larger paintings-the tour stopped before a Street scene. Here a Brown-and-white had climbed on a car and was apparently haranguing a swarm of Browns and Brown-and-whites, while behind him the sky burned sunset-red. The expressions were all the same flat smile, but Renner sensed violence and looked closer. Many of the crowd carried tools, always in their left hands, and some were broken. The city itself was on fire.
"It's called 'Return to Your Tasks.' You'll find that the Crazy Eddie theme recurs constantly," said Sally's Motie. She moved on before she could be asked to explain further.
The next painting in line showed a quasi-Motie, tall and thin, small-headed, long-legged. It was running out of a forest, at the viewer. Its breath trailed smoky-white behind it. "The Message Carrier," Hardy's Motie called it.
The next was another outdoor scene: a score of Browns and Whites eating around a blazing campfire. Animal eyes gleamed red around them. The whole landscape was dark red; and overhead Murcheson's Eye gleamed against the Coal Sack.
"You can't tell what they're thinking and feeling from looking at them, can you? We were afraid of that," said Horvath's Motie. "Nonverbal communication. The signals are different with us."
"I suppose so," said Bury. "These paintings would all be salable, but none especially so. They would be only curiosities...though quite valuable as such, because of the huge potential market and the limited source. But they do not communicate. Who painted them?"
"This one is quite old. You can see that it was painted on the wail of the building itself, and -- "
"But what kind of Motie? Brown-and-whites?"
There was impolite laughter among the Moties. Bury's Motie said, "You will never see a work of art that was not made by a Brown-and-white. Communication is our specialty. Art is communication."
"Does a White never have anything to say?"
"Of course. He has a Mediator say it for him. We translate, we communicate. Many of these paintings are arguments, visually expressed."
Weiss had been trailing along, saying nothing. Renner noticed. Keeping his voice down, he asked the man, "Any comments?"
Weiss scratched his jaw. "Sir, I haven't been in a museum since grade school...but aren't some paintings made just to be pretty?"
There were only two portraits in all the halls of paintings. Brown-and-whites both, they both showed from the waist up. Expression in the Moties must show in body language, not faces. These portraits were oddly lighted and their arms were oddly distorted. Renner thought them evil.
"Evil? No!" said Renner's Motie. "That one caused the Crazy Eddie probe to be built. And this was the designer of a universal language, long ago."
"Is it still used?"
"After a fashion. But it fragmented, of course. Languages do that. Sinclair and Potter and Bury don't speak the same language you do. Sometimes the sounds are similar, but the nonverbal signals are very different."
Renner caught up with Weiss as they were about to enter the hail of sculpture. "You were right. In the Empire there are paintings that are just supposed to be pretty. Here, no. Did you notice the difference? No landscape without Moties doing something in it. Almost no portraits, and those two were slanted pictures. In fact, everything's slanted." He turned to appeal to his Motie. "Right? Those pictures you pointed out, done before your civilization invented the camera. They weren't straight representations."
"Renner, do you know how much work goes into a painting?"
"I've never tried. I can guess."
"Then can you imagine anyone going to that much trouble if he doesn't have something to say?"
"How about 'Mountains are pretty'?" Weiss suggested.
Rennet's Motie shrugged.

The statues were better than the paintings. Differences in pigment and lighting did not intrude. Most did show Moties; but they were more than portraits. A chain of Moties of diminishing size, Porter to three Whites to nine Browns to twenty-seven miniatures? No, they were all done in white marble and had the shape of decision makers. Bury regarded them without expression and said, "It occurs to me that I will need interpretations of any of these before I could sell them anywhere. Or even give them as gifts."
"Inevitably so," said Bury's Motie. "This, for instance, illustrates a religion of the last century. The soul of the parent divides to become the children, and again to become the grandchildren, ad infinitum."
Another showed a number of Moties in red sandstone. They had long, slender fingers, too many on the left hand, and the left arm was comparatively small. Physicians? They were being killed by a thread of green glass that swept among them like a scythe: a laser weapon, held by something offstage. The Moties were reluctant to talk about it. "And unpleasant event in history," said Bury's Motie, and that was that.
Another showed fighting among a few marble Whites and a score of an unrecognizable type done in red sandstone. The red ones were lean and menacing, armed with more than their share of teeth, and claws. Some weird machine occupied the center of the melee. "Now that one is interesting," said Renner's Motie. "By tradition, a Mediator-one of our own type-may requisition any kind of transportation he needs, from any decision maker. Long ago, a Mediator used his authority to order a time machine built. I can show you the machine, if you will travel to it; it is on the other side of this continent."
"A working time machine?"
"Not working, Jonathon. It was never completed. His Master went broke trying to finish it."
"Oh." Whitbread showed his disappointment.
"It was never tested," said the Mode. "The basic theory may be flawed."
The machine looked like a small cyclotron with a cabin inside. It almost made sense, like a Langston Field generator.
"You interest me strangely," Renner said to his Mode. "You can requisition any transportation, any time?"
"That's right. Our talent is communication, but our major task is stopping fights. Sally has lectured us on your, let's say, your racial problems involving weapons and the surrender reflex. We Mediators evolved out of that. We can explain one being's viewpoint to another. Noncommunication can assume dangerous proportions sometimes-usually just before a war, by one of those statistical flukes that make you believe in coincidence. If one of us can always get to transportation-or even to telephones or radios-war becomes unlikely."
There were awed expressions among the humans, "Vee-erry nice," said Renner. Then, "I was wondering whether you could requisition MacArthur."
"By law and tradition, yes. In practice, don't be a fool."
"OK. These things fighting around the time machine -- "
"Legendary demons," Bury's Motie explained. "They defend the structure of reality."
Renner remembered ancient Spanish paintings dating from the time of the Black Plague in Europe, paintings of living men and women being attacked by the revived and malevolent dead. Next to the white Moties these red sandstone things had that impossibly lean, bony look, and a malevolence that was almost tangible.
"And why the time machine?"
"The Mediator felt that a certain incident in history had happened because of a lack of communication. He decided to correct it." Renner's Motie shrugged-with her arms; a Motie couldn't lift her shoulders. "Crazy Eddie. The Crazy Eddie probe was like that. A little more workable, maybe. A watcher of the sky-a meteorologist, plus some other fields-found evidence that there was life on a world of a nearby star. Right away this Crazy Eddie Mediator wanted to contact them. He tied up enormous amounts of capital and industrial power, enough to affect most of civilization. He got his probe built, powered by a light sail and a battery of laser cannon for -- "
"This all sounds familiar."
"Right. The Crazy Eddie probe was in fact launched toward New Caledonia, much later, and with a different pilot. We've been assuming you followed it home."
"So it worked. Unfortunately the crew was dead, but it reached us. So why are you still calling it the Crazy Eddie probe? Oh, never mind," said Renner. His Motie was chortling.

Two limousines were waiting for them outside the Museum and a stairs had been erected leading down to street level. Tiny two-seater cars zipped around the obstruction without slowing down, and without collisions.
Staley stopped at the bottom. "Mr. Renner! Look!"
Renner looked. A car had stopped alongside a great blank building; for there were no curbs. The brown chauffeur and his white-furred passenger disembarked, and the White walked briskly around the corner. The Brown disengaged two hidden levers at the front, then heaved against the side of the car. It collapsed like an accordian, into something half a meter wide. The Brown turned and followed the white Motie.
"They fold up!" Staley exclaimed.
"Sure they do," said Renner's Motie. "Can you imagine the traffic jam if they didn't? Come on, get in the cars."
They did. Renner said, "I wouldn't ride in one of those little death traps for Bury's own petty-cash fund."
"Oh, they're safe. That is," said Renner's Motie, "it isn't the car that's safe, it's the driver. Browns don't have much territorial instinct, for one thing. For another, they're always fiddling with the car, so nothing's ever going to fail."
The limousine started off. Browns appeared behind them and began removing the stairs.
The buildings around them were always square blocks, the streets a rectangular grid. To Horvath the city was clearly a made city, not something that had grown naturally. Someone had laid it out and ordered it built from scratch. Were they all like this? It showed none of the Browns' compulsion to innovate.
And yet, he decided, it did. Not in basics, but in such things as street lighting. In places there were broad electro luminescent strips along the buildings. In others there were things like floating balloons, but the wind did not move them. Elsewhere, tubes ran along the sides of the streets, or down the center; or there was nothing at all that showed in the daytime.
And those boxlike cars-each was subtly different, in the design of the lights or the signs of repairs or the way the parked cars folded int~themse1ves.
The limousines stopped. "We're here;" Horvath's Motie announced. "The zoo. The Life Forms Preserve, to be more exact. You'll find that it is arranged more for the convenience of the inhabitants than for the spectators."
Horvath and the rest looked about, puzzled. Tall rectangular buildings surrounded them. There was no open space anywhere.
"On our left. The building, gentlemen, the building! Is there some law against putting a zoo inside a building?"
The zoo, as it developed, was six stories tall, with ceilings uncommonly high for Moties. It was difficult to tell just how high the ceilings were. They looked like sky. On the first floor it was open blue sky, with drifting clouds and a sun that stood just past noon.
They strolled through a steamy jungle whose character changed as they moved. The animals could not reach them, but it was difficult to see why not. They did not seem aware of being penned up.
There was a tree like a huge bullwhip, its handle planted deep in the earth, its lash sprouting clusters of round leaves where it coiled around the trunk. An animal like a giant Motie stood flat-footed beneath it, staring at Whitbread. There were sharp, raking talons on its two right hands, and tusks showed between its lips. "It was a variant of the Porter type," said Horvath's Motie, "but never successfully domesticated. You can see why."
"These artificial environments are astounding!" Horvath exclaimed. "I've never seen better. But why not build part of the zoo in the open? Why make an environment when the real environment is already there?"
"I'm not sure why it was done. But it seems to work out."
The second floor was a desert of dry sand. The air was dry and balmy, the sky baby blue, darkening to yellow brown at the horizon. Fleshy plants with no thorns grew through the sand. Some were the shape of thick lily pads. Many bore the marks of nibbling teeth. They found the beast that had made the tooth marks, a thing like a nude white beaver with square protruding teeth. It watched them tamely as they passed.
On the third floor it was raining steadily. Lightning flashed, illusory miles away. The humans declined to enter, for they had no rain gear. The Moties were half angry, half apologetic. It had not occurred to them that rain would bother humans; they liked it.
"It's going to keep happening, too," Whitbread's Motie predicted. "We study you, but we don't know you. You're missing some of the most interesting plant forms too. Perhaps another day when they have the rain turned off...
The fourth floor was not wild at all. There were even small round houses on distant illusory hills. Small, umbrella-shaped trees grew red and lavender fruits beneath a flat green disc of foliage. A pair of proto-Moties stood beneath one of these. They were small, round, and pudgy, and their right arms seemed to have shrunk. They looked at the tour group with sad eyes, then one reached up for a lavender fruit. Its left arm was just long enough.
"Another unworkable member of our species," said Horvath's Motie. "Extinct now except in life forms preserves." He seemed to want to hurry them on. They found another pair in a patch of melons-the same breed of melon the humans had eaten for dinner, as Hardy pointed out.
In a wide, grassy field a family of things with hooves and shaggy coats grazed placidly-except for one that Stood guard, turning constantly to face the visitors.
A voice behind Whitbread said, "You're disappointed. Why?"
Whitbread looked back in surprise. "Disappointed? No! It's fascinating."
"My mistake," said Whitbread's Motie. "I think I'd like a word with Mr. Renner. Care to trail along?"
The party was somewhat spread out. Here there was no chance of getting lost, and they all enjoyed the feel of grass beneath their feet: long, coiled green blades, springier than an ordinary lawn, much like the living carpets in houses of the aristocracy and the wealthier traders.
Renner looked amiably about when he felt eyes on him. "Yes?"
"Mr. Renner, it strikes me that you're a bit disappointed in our zoo."
Whitbread winced. Renner frowned. "Yah, and I've been trying to figure it out. I shouldn't feel this way. It's a whole alien world, all compacted for our benefit. Whitbread, you feel it too?"
Whitbread nodded reluctantly.
"Hah! That's it. It's an alien world, all compacted for our benefit, right? How many zoos have you seen on how many worlds?"
Whitbread counted in his head. "Six, including Earth."
"And they were all like this one, except that the illusion is better. We were expecting something a whole order of magnitude different. It isn't. It's just another alien world, except for the intelligent Moties."
"Makes sense," said Whitbread's Motie. Perhaps her voice was a little wistful, and the humans remembered that the Moties had never seen an alien world. "Too bad, though," the Motie said. "Staley's having a ball. So are Sally and Dr. Hardy, but they're professionals."
But the next floor was a shock.
Dr. Horvath was first out of the elevator. He stopped dead. He was in a city street. "I think we have the wrong door..." he trailed off. For a moment he felt that his mind was going.
The city was deserted. There were a few cars in the streets, but they were wrecks, and some showed signs of fire. Several buildings had collapsed, filling the Street with mountains of rubble. A moving mass of black chittered at him and moved away in a swarm, away and into dark holes in a slope of broken masonry, until there were none left.
Horvath's skin crawled. When an alien hand touched his elbow he jumped and gasped.
"What's the matter, Doctor? Surely you have animals evolved for cities."
"No," said Horvath.
"Rats," said Sally Fowler. "And there's a breed of lice that lives only on human beings. But I think that's all."
"We have a good many," said Horvath's Motie. "Perhaps we can show you a few...though they're shy."
At a distance the small black beasts were indistinguishable from rats. Hardy snapped a picture of a swarm that was scrambling for cover. He hoped to develop a blowup later. There was a large, flattish beast, almost invisible until they were right in front of it. It was the color and pattern of the brick it was clinging to.
"Like a chameleon," Sally said. Then she had to explain chameleons.
"There's another," Sally's Motie said. She pointed out a concrete-colored animal clinging to a gray wall. "Don't try to disturb it. It has teeth."
"Where do they get their food?"
"Roof gardens. Though they can eat meat. And there's an insectivore..." She led them to a "rooftop" two meters above street level. There were grain and fruit trees gone riot, and a small, armless biped that fired a coiled tongue over a meter long. It looked as if it had a mouthful of walnuts.
Bitter cold met them on the sixth floor. The sky was leaden gray. Snow blew in flurries across an infinity of icy tundra. Hardy wanted to stay, for there wag considerable life in that cold hell; bushes and tiny trees growing through the ice, a large, placid thing that ignored them, a furry, hopping snowshoe rabbit with dish-shaped ears and no front legs. They almost had to use force to get Hardy out; but he would have frozen in there.

Dinner was waiting for them at the Castle: ship's stores, and slices of a flat green Motie cactus 75 cm across and 3 thick. The red jelly inside tasted almost meaty. Renner liked it, but the others couldn't eat it at all. The rest they ate like starved men, talking animatedly between mouthfuls. It must have been the extra-long day that made them so hungry.
Rennet's Motie said, "We have some idea what a tourist wants to see in a strange city, at least we know what you show in your travel films. Museums. The place of government. Monuments. Unique architecture. Perhaps the shops and night clubs. Above all, the way of life of the native." She gestured deprecatingly. "We've had to omit some of this. We don't have any night clubs. Too little alcohol doesn't do anything to us. Too much kills. You'll get a chance to hear our music, but frankly, you won't like it."
"Government is Mediators meeting to talk. It might be anywhere. The decision makers live where they like, and they generally consider themselves bound by the agreements of their Mediators. You'll see some of our monuments. As for our way of life, you've been studying that for some time."
"What about the way of life of a White?" Hardy asked. Then his mouth opened in a bone-cracking yawn.
"He's right," Hardy's Motie broke in. "We should be able to see a giver of orders' family residence at work. It may be that we can get permission -- " The alien broke into a high gabble.
The Moties considered. Sally's Motie said, "It should be possible. We'll see. In the meantime, let's call it a day."
For the time change had caught the humans. Doctors Horvath and Hardy yawned, blinked, looked surprised, made their excuses, and departed. Bury was still going strong. Renner wondered what rotation his planet had. He himself had had enough space going training to adapt to any schedule.
But the party was breaking up. Sally said her good nights and went upstairs, swaying noticeably. Renner suggested folk singing, got no response, and quit.
A spiral stair ran up the tower. Renner turned off into a corridor, following his curiosity. When he reached an air lock he realized that it must lead to the balcony, the flat ring that circled the tower. He did not care to try the Mote Prime air. He wondered if the balcony was meant to be used at all...and then thought of a ring encircling a slender tower, and wondered if the Moties were playing games with Freudian symbolism.
Probably they were. He continued to his room.

Renner thought at first he was in the wrong room. The color scheme was striking: orange and black, quite different from the muted pale browns of this morning. But the pressure suit on the wall was his, his design and rank markings on the chest. He looked about him, trying to decide whether he liked the change.
It was the only change-no, the room was warmer. It had been too cold last night. On a hunch, he crossed the room and checked the Moties' sleeping alcove. Yes, it was chilly in there.
Renner's Motie leaned against the doorjamb, watching him with the usual slight smile. Renner grinned shamefacedly. Then he continued his inspection.
The bathroom-the toilet was different. Just as he had sketched it. Wrong; there wasn't any water in it. And no flush.
What the hell, there was only one way to test a toilet.
When he looked, the bowl was sparkling clean. He poured a glass of water into it and watched it run away without leaving a drop. The bowl was a frictionless surface.
Have to mention this to Bury, he thought. There were bases on airless moons, and worlds where water, or energy for recycling it, was scarce. Tomorrow. He was too sleepy now.

The rotation period of Levant was 28 hours, 40.2 minutes. Bury had adjusted well enough to MacArthur's standard day, but it is always easier to adjust to a longer day than to a shorter.
He waited while his Fyunch(click) sent their Brown for coffee. It made him miss Nabil...and wonder if the Brown had more of Nabil's skills. He had already seriously underestimated the power of the Brown-and-whites. Apparently his Motie could commandeer any vehicle on Mote Prime, whether or not it had been built yet; even so, he was an agent for someone Bury had never seen. The situation was complex.
The Brown returned with coffee and another pot, something that poured pale brown and did not steam. "Poisonous? Very likely," his Fyunch(click) said. "The pollutants might harm you, or the bacteria. It's water, from outside."
It was not Bury's habit to come too quickly to business.
An overeager businessman, he felt, was easily gulled. He was not aware of the thousands of years of tradition behind his opinion. Accordingly he and his Mode liaison talked of many things..."'Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings,'" he quoted, and he identified all of these, to his Motie's evident interest. The Motie was particularly interested in the various forms of human government.
"But I don't think I should read this Lewis Carroll," he said, "until I know considerably more of human culture."
Eventually Bury raised the subject of luxuries again.
"Luxuries. Yes, I agree, in principle," said Bury's Motie. "If a luxury travels well, it can pay for itself merely in diminished fuel costs. That must be true even with your Crazy Eddie Drive. But in practice there are restrictions between us."
Bury had already thought of a few. He said, "Tell me of them."
"Coffee. Teas. Wines. I presume you deal in wines also?"
"Wine is forbidden to my religion." Bury dealt indirectly in the transfer of wines from world to world, but he could not believe the Moties would want to deal in wines.
"It doesn't matter. We could not tolerate alcohol, and we do not like the taste of coffee. The same would probably apply to your other luxury foods, though they may be worth a try."
"And you do not yourselves deal in luxuries?"
"No. In power over others, in safety, in durability of customs and dynasties...as usual, I speak for the givers of orders. We deal in these, for their benefit, but we also deal in diplomacy. We trade durable goods and necessities, skills- What do you think of our works of art?"
"They would sell at good prices, until they became common. But I think our trade will be more in ideas, and designs."
"The frictionless toilet, and the principle behind it. Various superconductors, which you fabricate more efficiently than we. We found a sample in an asteroid. Can you duplicate it?"
"I'm sure the Browns will find a way." The Motie waved a languid hand. "There will be no problem here. You certainly have much to offer. Land for instance. We will want to buy land for our embassies."
Probably that would be offered gratis, Bury thought. But to this race land would be literally priceless; without the humans they could never have more than they had at the moment. And they would want land for settlements. This world was crowded. Bury had seen the city lights from orbit, a field of light around dark oceans. "Land," he agreed, "and grain. There are grains that grow beneath suns like yours. We know that you can eat some of them. Might they grow here more efficiently than yours? Bulk food would never be shipped at a profit, but seeds may be."
"You may also have ideas to sell us."
"I wonder, your inventiveness is enormous and admirable."
The Motie waved a hand. "I thank you. But we have not made everything there is to make. We have our own Crazy Eddie Drive, for example, but the force field generator that protects -- "
"If I should be shot, you would lose the only merchant in this system."
"Allah's- I mean to say, are your authorities really so determined to guard their secrets?"
"Perhaps they will change their minds when they know you better. Besides, I'm not a physicist," Bury said blandly.
"Ah. Bury, we have -not exhausted the subject of art. Our artists have a free hand and ready access to materials, and very little supervision. In principle the exchange of art between Mote and Empire would facilitate communication. We have never yet tried to aim our art at an alien mind."
"Dr. Hardy's books and education tapes contain many such works of art."
"We must study them." Bury's Motie sipped contemplatively at his dirty water, "We spoke of coffees and wines. My associates have noticed-how shall I put it?-a strong cultural set toward wines, among your scientists and Navy officers."
"Yes. Place of origin, dates, labels, ability to travel in free fall, what wines go with what foods." Bury grimaced. "I have listened, but I know nothing of this. I find it annoying and expensive that some of my ships must move under constant acceleration merely to protect a wine bottle from its own sediments. Why can they not simply be centrifuged on arrival?"
"And coffees? They all drink coffee. Coffee varies according to its genetics, soil, climate, method of roasting. I know this is so. I have seen your stores."
"I have much greater variety aboard MacArthur. Yes and there is variety among coffee drinkers. Cultural differences. On an American-descended world like Tabletop they would not touch the oily brew preferred in New Paris, and they find the brew of Levant much too sweet and strong."

"Have you heard of Jamaica Blue Mountain? It grows on Earth itself, on a large island; the island was never bombed, and the mutations were weeded out in the centuries following the collapse of the CoDominium. It cannot be bought. Navy ships carry it to the Imperial Palace on Sparta."
"How does it taste?"
"As I told you, it is reserved for the Royal -- " Bury hesitated. "Very well. You know me that well. I would not pay such a price again, but I do not regret it."
"The Navy misjudges your worth because you lack knowledge of wines." Bury's Motie did not seem to be smiling. Its bland expression was a Trader's: it matched Bury's own. "Quite foolish of them, of course. If they knew how much there was to learn about coffee -- "
"What are you suggesting?"
"You have stores aboard. Teach them about coffee. Use your own stores for the purpose."
"My stores would not last a week among the officers of a battle cruiser!"
"You would show them a similarity between your culture and theirs. Or do you dislike that idea? No, Bury, I am not reading your mind. You dislike the Navy; you tend to exaggerate the differences between them and you. Perhaps they think the same way?"
"I am not reading your mind." Bury suppressed the fury building in him-and at that moment he saw it. He knew why the alien kept repeating that phrase. It was to keep him off balance. In a trading situation.
Bury smiled broadly. "A week's worth of good will. Well, I will try your suggestion when we are back in orbit and I dine aboard MacArthur. Allah knows they have much to learn about coffee. Perhaps I can even teach them how to use their percolators correctly."