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Do Unto Others   By: (1906-1963)

Do Unto Others by Mark Clifton

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction June 1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.



Illustrated by Ed Emsh


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.... And the natives of Capella IV, philosophers at heart, were not ones to ignore the Golden Rule....

My Aunt Mattie, Matthewa H. Tombs, is President of the Daughters of Terra. I am her nephew, the one who didn't turn out well. Christened Hapland Graves, after Earth President Hapland, a cousin by marriage, the fellows at school naturally called me Happy Graves.

"Haphazard Graves, it should be," Aunt Mattie commented acidly the first time she heard it. It was her not very subtle way of reminding me of the way I lived my life and did things, or didn't do them. She shuddered at anything disorderly, which of course included me, and it was her beholden duty to right anything which to her appeared wrong.

"There won't be any evil to march on after you get through, Aunt Mattie," I once said when I was a child. I like now to think that even at the age of six I must have mastered the straight face, but I'm afraid I was so awed by her that I was sincere.

"That will do, Hapland!" she said sternly. But I think she knew I meant it then and I think that was the day I became her favorite nephew. For some reason, never quite clear to me, she was my favorite aunt. I think she liked me most because I was the cross she had to bear. I liked her most, I'm sure, because it was such a comfortable ride.

A few billions spent around the house can make things quite comfortable.

She had need of her billions to carry out her hobbies, or, as she called it, her "life's work." Aunt Mattie always spoke in clich├ęs because people could understand what you meant. One of these hobbies was her collection of flora of the universe. It was begun by her maternal grandfather, one of the wealthier Plots, and increased as the family fortunes were increased by her father, one of the more ruthless Tombs, but it was under Aunt Mattie's supervision that it came, so to speak, into full flower.

"Love," she would say, "means more to a flower than all the scientific knowledge in the world." Apparently she felt that the small army of gardeners, each a graduate specialist in duplicating the right planetary conditions, hardly mattered.

The collection covered some two hundred acres in our grounds at the west side of the house. Small, perhaps, as some of the more vulgar displays by others go, but very, very choice.

The other hobby, which she combines with the first, is equally expensive. She and her club members, the Daughters of Terra (D.T.s for short), often find it necessary to take junkets on the family space yacht out to some distant planet to straighten out reprehensible conditions which have come to her attention. I usually went along to take care of symbolically, at least the bags and (their) baggage.

My psychiatrist would say that expressing it in this way shows I have never outgrown my juvenile attitudes. He says I am simply a case of arrested development, mental, caused through too much over shadowing by the rest of the family. He says that, like the rest of them, I have inherited the family compulsion to make the universe over to my own liking so I can pass it on to posterity with a clear conscience, and my negative attitude toward this is simply a defense mechanism because I haven't had a chance to do it. He says I really hate my aunt's flora collection because I see it as a rival for her affection. I tell him if I have any resentments toward it at all it is for the long hours spent in getting the latinized names of things drilled into me... Continue reading book >>

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