Sir Bridgehead goes outside, taking a bioscanner "sniffer" with him to look for any life forms. He walks out towards the town, enjoying the low gravity. Chiang Ho, meanwhile, picks up a pair of binoculars and sees a person leaving the town on foot towards the ship. He then spends some time practicing with the sensors.
Sir Bridgehead meets the man coming the other way. They exchange greetings and continue on their separate ways. The man then approaches the ship. He is welcomed by the Captain and insists on coming on board. He (his name is Josh) has some trouble understanding their Galanglic -- his version is idiosyncratic, using a rather odd word order. Linus doesn't like him, and Achilles is rather wary. Eventually they convey that they have freight to deliver, and Josh promises to unload it -- "Workers I bring. Goods you deliver! Tomorrow." They then asks about water for refueling, and it seems they are free to fill up from the lake.
Chiang Ho, Helen, and Mich remain with the ship while the others go to town to find out where to deliver the freight. NoName will look after Linda Gregson on their excursion; Fostriades will take Achilles with him. They set off on the path to the village, following the same route as Josh and Sir Bridgehead.
Mich breaks out a large hose, and starts refueling the Anastasia from the small lake. It will take rather a while to fill the tanks, and of course 24 hours to refine the fuel.
Sir Bridgehead is wandering along towards the village, studying his scanner carefully on he way. He comes across a path, leading from a nearby building to the village. He comes about 2m away from the building. As he is watching his scanner carefully, an old woman pokes her head out of the door and says "Yuggablaah? Yuggalabloh?" Sir Bridgehead doesn't seem to understand, and the woman points towards the village. He thanks her profusely and walks off towards the town.
The party that left the ship has been catching up with Sir Bridgehead. Most of them are having no problem with the gravity, but Linda, on her first trip on a new planet, goes sailing over Fostriades shoulder and lands heavily on her arm. She gets up, somewhat subdued. The group carries on, and sees a small hut, or house, to their left, but doesn't want to bother them and so carries on along the path towards the village. Sir Bridgehead is now about 100 meters ahead of them, where the path turns into a road. They catch him up, pass him and ignore his attempts to talk to them -- he's looking carefully at a pile of manure in the road. The road now passes between hedges of fern-like trees. Sir Bridgehead rushes to catch up with them, but trips over a rock in the low gravity and falls on his face in the dirt -- his scanner fell in the dirt heavily, and is rather covered in muck.
The road takes a sudden turn, revealing the village. The road is surrounded by a heavy hedge of large fern-like trees, which would also seem to be the local building material. The streets seem to be laid out in a rectangular fashion, and the road goes past several houses and ends up in a central village square. There are no visible street or business signs, but there are quite a few people going about their daily business. Mostly they are wearing fairly light and voluminous clothing, sandals, a jerkin, and knee-length skirt. The locals give them funny looks. Sir Bridgehead follows them about 100m behind.
The party wonders about lunch, so heads towards the central square. Linda picks out someone to ask for directions, a woman around her age (actually about 20). She obviously doesn't understand a word, but points to the central square. Delaney joins in and makes some strange gestures. She says something unintelligible, and points to the town square.
The group reaches the square. Sir Bridgehead now catches up, and is rather irritated at being ignored. The town square is a large village square, paved (the first area they have seen that is) in some slate-like flat rock, irregular shapes fitted rather nicely; it slopes slightly down towards the center, where there is a small stone fountain bubbling up slightly. The day is fairly warm, about 80F. There are large 2-storey buildings around it, with a street leading out from the center of each side. Some of the buildings look like they could be shops, swing-down shutters propped open, with tables and people eating in some places. There is a building with a particularly large front door and ornate wood carvings that looks like it could be an administrative building. Fostriades dips some water from the fountain and lets Achilles drink from it -- he sniffs at it, but it smells a bit funny. It is warm, too, but perhaps that's understandable from the heat. Sir Bridgehead's sniffer indicates sulfurous fumes (back at the lake, the water does not seem at all sulfurous, although there are impurities -- it is not exactly soft).
They go to the official building, and walk in. It looks like an administrative building; there's one large room with a lot of desks. A person is standing beside the door at a pulpit, with a pen and a book. Delaney walks up and produces some Imperial ID and gestures at him. There is a short and difficult conversation between that man and the Captain and Fostriades, during which mostly the man says "Slowly speak!" and ponders each sentence very carefully. Delaney and Fostriades try to find out what to do with the freight -- "Workers goods for the transporting of Josh arranging." They "converse" a bit more, and work out that it is OK that Josh will come and unload everything; on the other hand, he calls for a 1000Cr fee -- Delaney questions it, but they agree to pay up in the end. They then ask him where to find a translator, and after a short problem communicating with the person who sticks their head out of the overhanging 2nd-floor window, they manage to hire a translator (200Cr for 2 days) who seems to have an excellent grasp of Galanglic as she is spoke (it seems he learned it from a scout).
The group heads off to eat, but from the position of the sun it seems more like afternoon tea than lunch. It is now 16:30, 2 o'clock local. They call up the ship to find out how things are going there. Chiang Ho has spent some time in communion with the computer and the sensors, and has determined that the lake will probably drop about half a meter from the refueling. Speaking of the refueling, it is progressing fine, and the Engineer (Mich) and Flight Officer (Helen) are floating on the lake (on inflated vacc suits) drinking and sunning themselves. Delaney warns that they should be very careful dealing with the natives -- particularly watch your money!
The restaurant serves frothy yeasty weakish beer in liter jugs, game stew, and large loaves of flat bread. They have taken a bench under the swing-up shop awning. The landlord brings out a large bowl of stew with a serving-spoon, and two-handled bowls for everyone. The food is not bad, really. They discuss the shopping they intend to do at a general provisions store (the translator tells them there is one close by) -- David and Joe want to shop for beans. Fostriades draws a bean plant, but it is not until he draws a bean that the translator shows any recognition -- they are called "Belhpholph" here. What is his language? Faldorean, of course. Apparently scouts and free traders pass through occasionally (a scout came about 10 years ago). Sir Bridgehead asks about local medicinal herbs, and it seems he can buy some at the provisions store. After the stew is finished, the landlord brings out a bowl of fruit (generic round fruit with a skin, flesh, and a stone in the middle). They finish eating about 18:00, 3:30 p.m. local. One credit pays for the meal, but Sir Bridgehead thanks the landlord profusely and hands him another 10Cr.
Fostriades, Linda, and NoName head back to the ship (they think they can just make it before sunset), but they get a little lost and so call the ship. Chiang Ho runs a scan with the RDF to find them -- they are now about 3 miles away. Since it is only about 10 minutes till sunset, Chiang Ho asks the Captain if it's OK for someone to leave the ship and pick them up, and so Avon takes out the GCarrier to pick up Fostriades, Gregson, and NoName. They arrive back at the ship at 18:30, 4:00pm local (just after sunset).
The others went on to the general provisions store. Delaney buys some travel food -- dried meat, bread cakes, several sorts of beans, dry biscuits, and so on. The translator points out that it would be wise to take the purchases with them, rather than trust the storekeeper to deliver them. David and Joe find some things that look like dried beans (about 2cm long black beans). Sir Bridgehead scans the beans quickly, then picks out several bags (about kg each) of dried herbs for medicinal purposes -- most of them are to made into a tea and drunk, some are for long life and health, some reduce fever, some induce sleep (according to the local) -- some do contain poisonous substances.
They decide that the GCarrier should come and pick them up. Sir Bridgehead suggests that Helen might like to come to collect them, but Chiang Ho points out that she is drunk and floating in the lake. Sir Bridgehead wants to know if she's wearing a suit, and Chiang Ho says that "You don't know, I know, he [Mich] knows, the camera knows..." Avon makes another trip with the GCarrier to pick up the group and their purchases.
Mich and Helen watch the sun go down over the lake, then walk back to the ship and in through the passenger ramp. Since everyone else is flying into the vehicle deck, they don't meet anyone on the way. Mich checks the refueling process, and sees it will take 6.5 hours altogether, so will finish at about 21:00, although of course refining will take the full 24 hours until 15:30 tomorrow.
Midnight local time is at 20:30.
At 4am local (01:00 ships) Josh and the laborers arrive with a wagon train, and spend 5 hours unloading the goods (i.e. until 3pm local, 06:00 ships).
Joe reckons that it would be worth buying some of these beans for speculation. The beans, he thinks, should be salable because of their "interesting overtones" -- from chewing one bean he's not too sure, but they could have mild mind-altering properties. Chiang Ho is interested in putting around 16kCr into this. Linus and Achilles, by the way, think the translator is OK, sort of. Chiang Ho wants the translator to find a good deal on these beans; for every credit less than what they expect to pay, they will give him 10% of the difference. They agree that they want about 5 tons or so. The translator asks for a driver to take him to somewhere he can get a good deal -- Chiang Ho will take him in the GCarrier.
They head out to a place about 30km away, and drop him about 8km miles off and wait for him to bring the goods there. The GCarrier will carry 2 tons of cargo, so it will take three trips to carry it back. The translator arrives back with a wagon and five tons of beans, for which he paid 200Cr total (40Cr per ton!). (The "beans" are, of course, actually fern seeds.)
Midnight local time is at 09:00.
During this day, Sir Bridgehead rehires the translator (at 250Cr for the day), and Helen takes him off in an air/raft to visit a local healer, who he was told yesterday (by the administrator) lives 2 days ride away. First he goes over the computer analysis of the materials he bought at the provisions store. Most are green herbs to be made into teas. They do the following: reduce fever, an aspirin analogue, induce sleep, create hallucinations (poisonous in overdose), several stimulants (one of which is very strong and poisonous in stronger doses), two others actually contain substances which boost the immune system, there's another which will induce fever (but not at all fatal), and some standard things, such as simple herbal teas and simple muscle relaxants. Most of this stuff is fairly well known -- some of the hallucinogens are different, and their effect is obviously not quantified; the fever reducer is also not in the standard drugs; the immune system booster is superfluous given the medical facilities at hand on this ship. Many of the herbs are harmless, with no real effect except relaxation a little and a pleasant flavor. The strong stimulant is impure and the herbs contain poisonous substances, so would need a great deal of purification. The hallucinogens seem to be fern leaves.
He then heads off at 3 a.m. local, chauffeured by Helen in an air/raft, and goes the 30 km to the town of the healer. (The translator will later acquire a supply of the particular herbs he is interested in, for a nice kickback.) The town is similar to the one they have come from, with a central square in which they land. They start at a restaurant with bread and beer for breakfast while the translator finds out the location of the healer. This town is not as big as Darrowby, but is otherwise similar.
The healer is about 1km from the center of the town, and the translator suggests walking rather than taking the air/raft. The door is open to the single-story hut-like building (better than the shack he saw on his walk--it has multiple rooms). The healer is a young lady, about 25 years old. He introduces himself as a healer, and suggests a share of information and materials. She seems very cooperative, but says she has some special secrets and techniques that she will pass on only to her children -- she is, however, willing to share some other secrets that are not well known in the world. She has something that one rubs into wounds, and gives him the jar for 5 Cr (it's a powerful antiseptic that also aids in blood clotting-- perhaps rather more effective than the current stuff on the ship, but obviously he will be able to set up the field hospital to synthesize the stuff he wants). He asks where he can buy more, but she says that one must collect it when the other planet Skaril comes close.
She says that if he gives her a son, she will give him a secret herb -- he agrees (apparently the offspring of two healers is rare and honored -- healers are rare). First, though, he gives her some things (better drugs than the herbs available here), and she gives him some more things in turn. She hands him a small bottle of black powder, of which a small pinch will stop all pain; she gives him some shredded roots that will relax the patient and the patient will do whatever the doctor wishes (everything one says) so the patient can be treated better; a small jar of powdered seeds that helps internal wounds heal after operations. She tells him that some of these things cannot be bought at any price.
Sir Bridgehead does his agreed duty (it is rather fun), and gives her a son. She gives him a small jar of ointment that will counteract any poisonous bites absolutely and completely, with a small amount rubbed on the wound -- even if they have been dead recently from a bite, it will restore them if their arms and legs are rubbed to start the circulation -- this is a great secret that has been passed down. It is gathered -- one takes rocks from the great mountains of the equator, and there's a particular peak (the diamond peak that shines in the sun) where one gathers the rock, crushes it, and bakes it on a hot fire for several hours, and then it is crushed completely and made into a paste with water.
Sir Bridgehead tells her he would like to see her again if he comes back to the planet, and suggests there might be a market for some of these drugs in the Imperium, and it might be lucrative. She does not know of any mind-reading medication, and no healer has ever even claimed that.
Sir Bridgehead buys various supplies (in that town) of various herbs that he wants, about 5kl of various things, then buys more in Darrowby (he pays 2Cr for the herbs, and 100 Cr to the translator as a kickback).
The air/raft returns, and the goods are moved into the medical supplies with a full computer record of everything. Sir Bridgehead suggests a tea-tasting during the next jump. Reactions are mixed. Captain Delaney requests a computer analysis of everything that might be used in such a tasting. Sir Bridgehead suddenly recalls that Helen was there when he "did his duty," but as, as Avon says, nothing seems to faze her.
Midday local time is 15:00, and the ship finishes fuel processing at
15:30, whereupon the Anastasia promptly lifts off (after Mich checks
the drives again). She jumps at 18:57 for Iderati/Five Sisters.