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learned to read, he tried to find sto-

glory. But someday it will have


ries about Communists or about the
that glory back and all the world
family Han or about children with
will see that we are still the Middle
little red lights. There were none to
Kingdom. And do you know who
be found.
will bring that glory back to Chi-

na?"
His father played with him several
times a day. He grew up with his
"Who, Father?"
father's loving hands caressing him,
cuffing him playfully; he grew up
"My son, my little Master, Han
with his father's smile. His father
Tzu."
praised him whenever he learned
something; it became Tzu's endeav-
"Where did China's glory go, so I
or every day to learn something so
can bring it back?"
he could tell Father.

"China was the center of the


"You spell my name Tzu," said
world," said Father. "We invented
Tzu, "even though it's pronounced
everything. All the barbarian king-
just like the word `zi.' T-Z-U is
doms around China stole our ideas
the old way of spelling, called ...
and turned them into terrible weap-
`Wade-Giles.' The new way is
ons. We left them in peace, but they
Artwork by Jin Han
`pinyin.'"
would not leave us in peace, so they

came and broke the power of the


"Very good, my Tzu, my Little
emperors. But still the Chinese re-
Cheater Master," said Father.
sisted. Our glorious ancestor, Yuan

Shikai, was the greatest general in


by Orson Scott Card "There's another way of writing
the last age of the emperors.
even older than that, where each
Han Tzu was the bright and shin- word has its own letter. It was very
"The emperors were weak, and the
ing hope of his family. He wore a hard to learn and even harder to
revolutionaries were strong. Yuan
monitor embedded in the back of put on computer so the government
Shikai could see that weak emper-
his skull, near the top of his spine. changed all the books to pinyin."
ors could not protect China. So he
Once, when he was very little, his
took control of the government.
father held him between mirrors in "You are a brilliant little boy," said He
pretended to agree with the
the bathroom. He saw that a little Father.
revolutionaries of Sun Yat-sen, but
red light glowed there. He asked his
then destroyed them and seized the
father why he had a light on him "So now people give their children
imperial throne. He started a new
when he had never seen another names spelled the old Wade-Giles
dynasty, but then he was poisoned
child with a light. way because they don't want to by
traitors and died, just as the
let go of the lost glories of ancient
Japanese invaded.
"Because you're important," said China."
Father. "You will bring our family
"The Chinese people were punished
back to the position that was taken Father stopped smiling. "Who told
for the death of Yuan Shikai. First
from us many years ago by the you that?"
the Japanese invaded China and
Communists."
many died. Then the Communists
"It was in the book," said Tzu. He
took over the government and ruled
Tzu was not sure how a little red was worried that somehow he had as
evil emperors for a hundred
light on his neck would raise his disappointed Father.
years, growing rich from the slav-
family up. Nor did he know what
ery of the Chinese people. Oh, how
a Communist was. But he remem- "Well, it's true. China has lost its
they yearned for the day of Yuan
bered the words and when he
Shikai! Oh how they wished he had that our city of Nanyang and our
Tzu got to his feet and went around
not been slain before he could unite province of Henan are now leaders
the garden looking for things to
China against the barbarians and in Chinese manufacturing."
crush. He tried a stone, but it wasn't
the oppressors!"
crushable. He broke a twig, but
Tzu had heard of manufacturing.
when he tried to crush the pieces, it
There was a light in Father's eyes "Does she make cars?"
hurt his hand. He crushed a worm
that made Tzu a little afraid and yet
and it made his hands smeary with
also very excited. "Why would they "Your mother invented the process
ichor. The worm was dead. What
poison him if our glorious ancestor that allows almost half of the light
good was a crushed worm? What
was so good for China?" he asked. of the sun to be converted directly
was an enemy? Would it look like
to electricity. That's why the air in
this when he crushed one?
"Because they wanted China to Nanyang is always clean and our
fail," said Father. "They wanted cars sell better than any others in
He hoped his enemies were softer
China to be weak among the na- the world."
than stone. He couldn't crush
tions. They wanted China to be
stones at all. But it was messy and
ruled by America and Russia, by "Then Mama should be emperor!"
unpleasant to crush worms, too.
India and Japan. But China al- said Tzu.
It was much more fun to let them
ways swallows up the barbarians
crawl across his hand.
and rises again, triumphant over "But your father is very impor-
all. Don't you forget that." Father tant, too," said Father. "Because
Tutors began to come to the house.
tapped Tzu's temples. "The hope of I worked hard when I was young,
None of them played with him for
China is in there." and I made a lot of money, and
very long at a time, and each one
I used that money to pay for her
had his own kind of games. Some
"In my head?" research when nobody else thought
of them were fun, and Tzu was very
it would lead to anything."
good at many of them. Children
"To do what Yuan Shikai did, you
were also brought to him, boys who
must first become a great general. "Then you be emperor," said Tzu.
liked to wrestle and race, girls who
That's why you have that monitor
wanted to play with dolls and dress
on the back of your neck." "I am one of the richest men in
up in adult clothing. "I don't like to
China," said Father, "certainly the
play with girls so much," said Tzu
Tzu touched the little black box. richest in Henan province. But be-
to his father, but Father only an-
"Do great generals all have these?" ing rich is not enough to be emper-
swered, "You must know all kinds
or. Neither is being smart. Though
of people when you rule over them
"You are being watched. This from your mother and me, you will
someday. Girls will show you what
monitor will protect you and keep grow up to be both."
to care about. Boys will show you
you safe. I made sure you had the
how to win."
perfect mama to make you very, "What does it take to be emperor?"
very smart. Someday they'll give
So Tzu learned he should care
you tests. They'll see that the blood "You must crush all your enemies
about tending babies and bringing
of Yuan Shikai runs true in your and win the love and obedience of
home things for the pretend mama
veins." the people."
to cook, though his own mama nev-

er cooked. He also learned to run as


"Where's Mama?" asked Tzu, who Tzu made a fist with his hand, as
fast as he could and to wrestle hard
at that age had no idea of what tight and strong a fist as he could. "I
and cleverly and never give up.
`tests' were or why someone else's can crush bugs," he said. "I crushed
blood would be in his veins. a beetle once."
When he was five years old, he

read and did his numbers far better


"She's at the university, of course, "You're very strong," said Father.
than the average for his age, and his
doing all the smart things she does. "I'm proud of you all the time."
tutors were well-satisfied with his
Your mother is one of the reasons
progress. Each of them told him so.
Then one day he had a new tu- meaningless lists perfectly memo-
the tutor playfully. Tzu hated it
tor. This tutor seemed to be more rized. It wasn't funny after a while
when he acted playful.
important than all the others. Tzu to have the ball come out of the fish
played with him five or six times a which came out of the tree which
"Mama to be home more. She never
day, fifteen minutes at a time. And came out of the car which came out
plays with me."
the games were new ones. There of the briefcase, but he couldn't get
would be shapes. He would be it out of his memory.
"Your mama is very busy. And
given a red one that was eight small
that can't be the prize because the
blocks stuck together, and then Once he had played them often
people who give the prize aren't
from a group of pictures of blocks enough, Tzu became bored with
your mama."
he had to choose which one was the all the games. That was when he
same shape. "Not the same color -- realized that they were not games at
"That's what I want."
it can be a different color. The same all. "But you must go on," the tutor
shape," said the tutor. would say. "Your father wants you
"What if the prize was a ride in a
to."
spaceship?" said the tutor.
Soon Tzu was very good at finding
that shape no matter how the pic- "He didn't say so." "I
don't care about a ride in a
ture was turned around and twisted,
spaceship," said Tzu. "I saw the
and no matter what color it was. "He told me. That's why he brought
pictures. It's just more stars out
Then the tutor would bring out a me here. So you would become
there, the same as you see from
new shape, and they'd start over. very good at these games."
here in Nanyang. Only Earth is

little and far away. I don't want to


He was also given logic questions "I am very good at them." be
far away."
that made him think for a long time,
but soon he learned to find the clas- "But we want you to be the best."
"Don't worry," said the tutor. "The
sifications that were being used. All
prize will make you very happy
dogs have four legs. This animal "Who is better? You?"
and it will make your father very
has four legs. Is it a dog? Maybe.
proud."
Only mammals have fur. This "I'm an adult."
animal has fur. Is it a mammal?
"If I win," said Tzu. He thought of
Yes. All dogs have four legs. This "How can I be best if nobody is
the times that other children beat
animal has three legs. Is it a dog? It worst?"
him in races and wrestling. He usu-
might be an injured dog -- some in-
ally won but not always. He tried
jured dogs have only three legs. But "We want you to be one of the best to
think how they would turn these
I said all dogs have four legs. And I of all the five-year-old children in
games into a contest. Would he
said some dogs have only three legs the world."
have to make shapes for the other
because they're broken but they're
child to guess, and the child would
still dogs! And the tutor smiled and "Why?"
make shapes for him? He tried to
agreed with him.
think up logic questions and lists to
The tutor paused, considering. Tzu
memorize. Lists that you couldn't
Then there were the memoriza- knew that this meant he would
put inside each other or stack
tion tests. He learned to memorize probably tell a lie. "There are
up. Except that he could always
longer and longer lists of things by people who go around playing these
imagine something going inside
putting them inside a toy cupboard games with children, and they give
something else. He could imagine
the tutor told him to create in his a prize to the best ones."
anything. He just ended up with
mind, or by mentally stacking them
more stupid lists he couldn't forget.
on top of each other, or putting "What's the prize?" asked Tzu
them inside each other. This was suspiciously.
Life was getting dull. He wanted to
fun for a while, though pretty soon go
outside of the garden walls and
he got sick of having all kinds of "What do you want it to be?" asked
walk around the noisy streets. He
could hear cars and people and bi- Was she really this stupid? Tzu ran "I
don't want to be the best child,"
cycles on the other side of the gate, to Mu-ren and said, "Wei Dun-nuan
said Tzu. "I want to see what's out-
and when he stuck his eye right needs a key to the gate."
side the gate."
up against the crack in the gate
he could see them whiz by on the "She does?" said Mu-ren. "What-
"After you take the tests," said
street. Most of the pedestrians were ever for."
Father, laughing. "Plenty of time.
talking Chinese, like the servants,
You're still very very young. Your
instead of Common, like Father and "So we can go outside and read."
life isn't over yet."
the tutors, but he understood both
languages very well, and Father By then Mu-ren had caught up with The
tests. He had to take the tests
was proud of that, too. "Chinese is him. She shook her head at Mu-
first. He had to be best child before
the language of Emperors," said Fa- ren. Mu-ren squatted in front of he
could go out of the garden.
ther, "but Common is the language Tzu. "Little master," she said, "you
that the rest of the world under- don't need to go outside. Your papa So
he worked hard at his games
stands. You will be fluent in both." doesn't want you out on the street."
with the tutors, trying to get bet-
ter
and better so he could win the
But even though Tzu knew Chi- That was when Tzu realized he was
tests and go outside. Meanwhile,
nese, he could hardly understand a prisoner. he
also studied all the walls of the
what was said by the passersby.
garden to see if there was a way to
They spoke so quickly and their They come here and teach me what get
through or under or over them
voices rose and fell in pitch, so it Father wants me to learn. I'm sup-
without waiting.
was hard to hear, and they were posed to become the best child.
talking about things he didn't un- Even the children that come here
Once he thought he found a place
derstand. There was a whole world are the ones they pick for me. How
where he could squeeze under a
he knew nothing about and he do I know if I'm the best, when I
fence, but he no sooner had his arm
never got to see it because he was never get to find children on my
through than one of the tutors found
always inside the garden playing own? And what does it matter if him
and dragged him back in. The
with tutors. I'm best at boring games? Why
next time that place had tight metal
can't I ever leave this house and
mesh between the bottom of the
"Let's go outside the walls today," garden?
fence and the ground.
he said to his Common tutor.
"To keep you safe," Father ex-
Another time he tried to climb a
"But I'm here for us to read togeth- plained that evening. Mu-ren or the box
set on top of a bin, and when
er," she said. tutor must have told him about the he
got to the top he could see the
key. "You're a very important little
street, and it was glorious, hundreds
"Let's go outside the walls and read boy. I don't want you to be hurt." of
people moving in all directions
today," said Tzu. but
almost never bumping into each
"I won't be hurt."
other, the bicycles zipping along
"I can't," she said. "I don't have the and
not falling over, and the silent
key." "That's because you won't go
cars crawling through as people
out there until you're ready," said
moved out of the way for them.
"Mu-ren has a key," said Tzu. He Father. "Right now you have more
Everyone wore bright colors and
had seen the cook go out of the gate important things to do. Our garden
looked happy or at least interested.
to shop for food in the market and is very large. You can explore any-
Every single person had more free-
come back with a cart. "Pei-Tian where you want." dom
than Tzu did.
has a key, too." That was Father's
driver, who brought the car in and "I've looked at all of it."
What kind of emperor will I be if
out through the gate. I
let people keep me inside a cage
"Look again," said Father. "There's
like a pet bird?
"But I don't have a key." always more to find."
So he tried to swing his leg up onto "No," said Guo-rong. "You must
Tzu turned and looked at them.
the top of the wall, but once again, always wait for the question to be
He didn't know the test was from
before he could even get his body completely finished before you
soldiers. But now it became clear to
weight onto the top, along came answer."
him. Father wanted him to become
a tutor, all in a dither, to drag him a
great general like Yuan Shikai.
down and scold him. And when "Why?"
The beginning of that would be to
he came back to the place, the bin
enter the military. Not the Chinese
was no longer near the wall. Noth- "That's the rule of the game," he
Army, but the fleet of the whole
ing was ever near the garden walls said. "If you answer any question
world.
again. too fast, then the whole game is
over and you lose."
But he didn't want to go into space.
Hurry up with the tests, then,
He just wanted to go out on the
thought Tzu. I want to be out there That was a stupid rule, but Tzu
street.
with all the people. There were obeyed it. "This is boring," he said.
children out there, some of them
He knew Father would not want
holding onto their mothers' hands, "The test will be soon," said Guo-
him to ask about this, however.
but some of them not holding onto rong. "And you'll be completely
So he smiled at the man and the
anybody. Just ... loose. I want to be ready for it. But don't tell the
woman and bowed to each in turn.
loose. testers about any of your practice
They bowed back, smiling also.
with me."
Then one day the newest tutor,
Soon Tzu was alone in his play-
Shen Guo-rong, the one with the "Why not?"
room with the two of them. No
logic games and lists, stood outside
tutors, no servants, no Father.
Tzu's room and talked with his fa- "It will look better for you if they
ther in a low voice for a long time. don't know about me, that's all."
The woman spread out some papers
He came in with a paper, which he
and brought out shapes, just like the
looked at long and hard. That was the first time that Tzu
ones he had practiced with.
realized that there might be some-
"What's on that paper?" thing wrong with the way he was
"Have you seen these before?" she
being prepared for the tests. But
asked.
"A note from your father." he had little time to think about it,
because the very next day, a strange
He nodded.
"Can I read it?" asked Tzu. woman and a strange man came to
the house. They had no folds over
"Where?"
"It's not a note to you, it's a note to their eyes and had strange ruddy
me," said Guo-rong. skin, and they wore uniforms he
Then he remembered he wasn't
recognized from the vids. They
supposed to talk about Guo-Rong,
But when he set it down, it wasn't were with the I.F., the International
so he just shrugged.
a note at all. It was covered with Fleet.
diagrams and words. And that day,
"You don't remember?"
all their games were chosen by "He's fluent in Common?" the man
Guo-rong after consulting with the said.
He shrugged again.
paper.
"Yes," said Father -- Father was
She explained the game to him -- it
It went like that for days. Always home! Tzu ran into the room and
was just like the one Guo-Rong
the same answers, until Tzu knew hugged his father. "This is a special
had played. And when she held up
them all in order and could start day," Father told him as he hugged a
shape, it was the very one they
reciting them before the questions him back. "These people are going
had practiced with, and he instantly
were asked. to play some games with you. A
recognized it from the choices on
kind of test."
the paper. He pointed.
"Good," she said. So the next question he got wrong. and
Tzu at the main table. Father
was
laughing and happy. Tzu could
And so it went with the next two And the next. not
help but smile at all the smiling
shapes. They were exactly the ones
people. But he knew that he had an-
Guo-rong had shown him, and the And all the others.
swered all but the first three ques-
answer was exactly the one that had
tions wrong, and Father would not
been on the note from Father. Even though he knew the answer to be
happy when he found that out.
every single one, before they even
Suddenly Tzu understood it all. Fa- finished the question, he got every
When dinner was over, Tzu asked,
ther had cheated. Father had found one of them wrong.
"Can I go outside the gate now?"
out the answers to the test and had
given them to Guo-rong so that Tzu The woman and man from the
"Tomorrow," said Father. "In day-
would know all the answers to all International Fleet showed no sign
light."
the questions. of whether they liked his answers
or not. They smiled cheerfully all
"The sun is still up," said Tzu.
It took only a moment to make the the time, and when they were done,
"Take me now, Father."
next leap. In a way, it was a logic they thanked him and left.
problem. The best child is the one
"Why not?" said Father. He rose to
who scores the best on this test. He Afterword, Father and Guo-rong his
feet and took Tzu by the hand
wants me to be best child. So I must came into the room where Tzu and
they walked, not to the gate
score the best on this test. waited for them. "How did it go?"
where the car came in and out, but
asked Father. to
the front door of the house. It let
But if I score the best because I was out
onto another garden, and for
given the answers in advance and "Did you know the answers?" a
moment Tzu thought his father
trained to memorize them, then this asked Guo-rong. was
going to try to fool him into
test won't prove I'm the best child,
thinking this was the outside when
it will only prove that I can memo- "Yes," said Tzu. it
was really more garden. But
rize answers.
soon the path led to a metal gate
"All of them?" asked Father.
which opened at Father's touch,
If Father believed I was best child, and
beyond the gate was a wide
then he would not need to get these "Yes," said Tzu.
road with many cars on it -- more
answers in advance. But he did get
cars than people. It was a different
the answers. Therefore he must "Did you answer all the questions?"
world from what Tzu had seen over
believe that I would not have won asked Guo-rong. the
back fence. It was so quiet. The
the test without having special help.
cars glided silently by, their tires
Therefore Father does not believe I "Yes," said Tzu.
hissing on the pavement, though
am best child, he just wants to fool
there were some that had no tires
other people into believing that I "Then you did very well," said and
merely hovered over the con-
am. Father. "I'm proud of you."
crete of the road.

It was all he could do to keep from You're not proud of me, thought
"Where are all the people and bici-
crying. But even though his eyes Tzu as his father hugged him. You
cyles?" asked Tzu.
burned and he felt a sob gathering didn't believe I'd pass the test on
behind his nose and in his throat, my own. You didn't think I was
"Behind the house is a back road,"
he kept his face calm. He would not best child. Even now, you're not
said Father. "Where poor people
let the people know that his father proud of me, you're proud of your- go
about their business. This is the
had given him the answers. But he self for getting all the answers.
main road. It connects to the high-
would also not pretend to be best
way. These cars could be going
child when he really wasn't. There was a special dinner that
anywhere. Xiangfan. Zhengzhou.
night. All the tutors ate with Father
Kaifeng. Even Wunan or Beijing
or Shanghai. Great cities, where through the gate and walked up the of
the buildings. Starting and stop-
powerful people live. Millions of street.
ping, buying and selling, calling
them. In the richest and greatest of out
and keeping still, laughing and
all nations." Then Father picked Tzu wasn't interested in this road.
serious-faced, talking on phones
Tzu up and held him on his hip so There were no people here, except and
gesturing, or listening to music
their faces were close. "But you are in cars, and they went by too fast and
dancing as they walked.
the best child in all those cities." for Tzu to hear them. There were
no children. So when they came to "Is
this China, Father?" asked Tzu.
"No I'm not," said Tzu. a side street, Tzu began to pull his
father that direction. "This way," he "A
very small part of it. There
"Of course you are," said Father. said. "Here's all the people!" are
hundreds of cities, and lots of
open
country, too. Farmland and
"You know that I'm not," said Tzu. "That's why it isn't safe," said
mountains, forest and beaches.
Father. But then he laughed and let
Seaports and manufacturing centers
"What makes you say that?" Tzu lead him on into the crowds. and
highways and deserts and rice
After a while it was so jammed
paddies and wheatfields and mil-
"If you thought I was best child, with people and bicycles that Fa-
lions and millions and millions of
you wouldn't have given Guo-rong ther picked him up. That was much
people."
all the answers." better. Tzu could see the people's
faces. He could hear their conversa-
"Thank you," said Tzu.
Father just looked at him for a mo- tions. Some of them looked at Tzu,
ment. "I was just making sure. You being held up by his father, and "For
what?"
didn't need them." smiled at them both. Tzu smiled
and waved back. "For
letting me see China before I
"Then why did you have him teach go
off into space."
them to me?" said Tzu. Father walked slowly alongside a
high fence, which Tzu realized was
"What are you talking about?"
"To be sure." the back fence around their garden.
Eventually came to a gate, which "The
man and woman with the test,
"So you weren't sure." Tzu knew was the gate to their gar- they
were from the International
den. "Don't go in yet," said Tzu.
Fleet."
"Of course I was," said Father.
"What?" "Who
told you that?"
But Tzu had been studying logic.
"If you were sure I would know "This is our gate, but don't go in."
"They wore the uniforms," said
the answers on my own, then you Tzu
impatiently. But then he real-
wouldn't have to make it sure by "How did you know it was our
ized: He hadn't passed the test. He
getting the answers. But you got the gate? You've never been on this
answered the questions wrong. He
answers. So you weren't sure." side of it before."
wouldn't be going to space after all.

"Never mind," he said. "I'm stay-


Father looked a little bit upset. "Father," said Tzo impatiently, "I'm
ing."
very smart. I know this is our gate.
"I'm sorry, Father, but it's how we What else could it be? We've just
Father laughed and held him close.
play the logic game. Maybe you made a circle. Let me see more
"Sometimes I have no idea what
need to play it more." before we go in."
you're talking about, Little Master."

"I am sure that you're the best So they walked past the gate, Tzu
wondered if he should tell
child," said Father. "Don't you and on into one of the streets that him
that he answered the questions
ever doubt it." He set Tzu down seemed to go on forever, more and
wrong, but he decided against it.
and took his hand again. They went more people, flowing into and out
Father was so happy. Tzu didn't
want to make him angry tonight. Tzu slapped his hand and said to
doesn't matter whether you used
him fiercely, "Don't touch me!"
them or not. What matters is that he
The next morning, Tzu was eat- Then he jogged on down the hall-
obtained them."
ing breakfast in the kitchen with way to Father's room, the soldier
Mu-ren when someone came to the right behind him.
"I'm sorry," said Father. "But if my
door. The visitor did not wait for
son did not answer the questions
old Iron-head, as Mu-Ren and Tzu The door opened just before Tzu
correctly, how can you prove that
secretly called him, to fetch Father. got to it, and there was the man
any cheating took place?"
Instead, many feet began walking from the test yesterday. "Appar-
briskly through the house. ently someone already decided,"
"For one thing, we've been record-
said the man. He ushered Tzu into
ing this entire interview," said the
The kitchen door was flung open. the room.
man from the fleet. "The fact that
A soldier with a weapon in his he
knew he had been given the right
hand stepped in and looked around. Father's hands were bound together
answers and chose to answer incor-
"Is Han Pei-mu here?" he asked behind his back, but now one of
rectly does not change the fact that
sternly. the soldiers loosed them and he
you trained him to take the test."
reached out to Tzu. Tzu ran to him
Mu-ren shook her head. and hugged him. "Are you under
"Maybe what you need is a little
arrest?" asked Tzu. He had seen ar-
better security with the answers,"
"What about Shen Guo-rong?" rests on the vids.
said Father angrily.

Again, the head shake. "Yes," said Father.


"Sir," said the man from the fleet,

"we always allow people to buy the


"Guo-rong doesn't come till later," "Is it because of the answers?"
test if they try to get it. Then we
said Tzu. asked Tzu. It was the only thing he
watch and see what they do with it.
could think of that his father had A
child as bright as this one could
"You two stay right here in the ever done wrong.
not possibly have answered every
kitchen, please," said the soldier.
question wrong unless he absolute-
He continued to stand in the door- "Yes," said Father. ly
had the entire test down cold."
way. "Keep eating, please."
Tzu pulled away from him and "I
got the first three right," said
Tzu continued eating, trying to faced the man from the tests. "But
Tzu.
think what the soldiers were there it was all right," said Tzu. "I didn't
for. Mu-ren's hands were shaking. use those answers."
"Yes, all but three were wrong,"
"Are you cold?" asked Tzu. "Or are
said the man from the fleet. "Even
you scared?" "I know you didn't," said the man.
children of very limited intellect

get some of them right by random


Mu-ren only shook her head and "What?" said Father.
chance."
kept eating.
Tzu turned around to face him. "I
Father's demeanor changed again.
After a while he could hear his didn't like it that you were only
"The blame is entirely mine," he
father shouting. "Let me at least going to pretend I was best child.
said. "The boy's mother had no idea
explain to the boy!" he was saying. So I didn't use any of the answers. I
was doing this."
"Let me see my son!" I didn't want to be called best child
if I wasn't really." He turned back
"We're quite aware of that. She will
Tzu got up from his mat on the to the man from the fleet. "Why are
not be bothered, except of course
floor and jogged toward the kitchen you arresting him when I didn't use to
inform her. The penalty is not
door. The soldier put his hand on the answers?"
severe, sir, but you will certainly
his shoulder to stop him. be
convicted and serve the days in
The man smiled confidently. "It
prison. The fleet makes no excep-
tions for anyone. We need to make "But he'll be ashamed," said Tzu. "I
didn't try to count them," said
a public example of those who try Tzu.
"They were going all differ-
to cheat." "For a man with so much pride in ent
directions and in and out of
his family," said the woman, "that
buildings and up and down the side
"Why, if you let them cheat when- is the harshest penalty."
streets. I stopped after three thou-
ever they want?" said Father bit-
sand."
terly. "I should have answered most of
the questions right," said Tzu. "It's "You
counted three thousand?"
"If we didn't let people buy the my fault."
answers, they might figure out "I'm
always counting," said Tzu. "I
much cleverer ways to cheat the "It's not your fault," said the mean
my counter is."
test. Ways we wouldn't necessarily woman. "You're only a child."
catch."
"Your counter?"
"I'm almost six," said Tzu.
"Aren't you smart." "In
my head. It counts everything
"Besides," said the woman, "we and
tells me the number when I
Father was being sarcastic, but Tzu watched Guo-rong coaching you. need
it."
thought they were smart. He wished Teaching you the test."
he had thought of that.
"Ah," she said. She took his hand.
"How?" asked Tzu.
"Let's go back to your room and
"Father," said Tzu. "I'm sorry about take
another test."
Yuan Shikai." She tapped the little monitor on the
back of his neck.
"Why?"
Father glanced furtively toward the
soldiers. "Don't worry about that," "Father said that was just to keep
"This test you don't know the an-
he said. me safe. To make sure my heart
swers to."
was beating and I didn't get lost."
"But I was thinking. It's been so "I
bet I do," said Tzu. "I bet I figure
many hundred years since Yuan "Everything your eyes see," said them
out."
Shikai lived that he must have hun- the woman, "we see. Everything
dreds of descendants now. Maybe you hear, we hear."
"Ah," said the woman. "A different
thousands. It doesn't have to be me, kind
of pride."
does it? It could be one of them." "You lied, then," said Tzu. "You
cheated too." Tzu
sat down and waited for her to
"Only you," said Father softly. He set
up the test.
kissed him good-bye. They bound "Yes," said the woman. "But we're
his wrists behind his back and led fighting a war. We're allowed to."
him out of the house.
"It must have been boring, watch-
The woman from the test stayed ing everything I see. I never get to
with Tzu and kept him from follow- see anything."
ing to watch them take Father away.
"Where will they take him?" asked "Until last night," she said.
Tzu.
He nodded.
____________________________________
from
InterGalactic Medicine Show Issue 1
"Not far," said the woman. "He

story �Orson Scott Card


won't be imprisoned for very long, "So many people on the streets,"

artwork �Jin Han


and he'll be quite comfortable she said. "More than you can
there." count."
www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com

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