For All Nails
Those women will fret, those women will fuss,
They spend five hours before their glass!
The devil take all, I'll have no money at all,
Always stay single, keep Bachelors' Hall.
Stay, stay close to my door.
--Traditional, "Bachelors' Hall"
Major-General Sir Joseph, Earl St. Laurent, Commandant of the RCNAAF
Academy, Marlborough City. Letter to Dr. Abramowicz, CNA Deputy
Minister of Science, December 6, 1970
...You know full well why I have been posted here. Trying to soothe
me by kicking me upstairs to the academy will do me no good. This
whole business of sending our daughters up to the sky in airmobiles
will come to no good. Placing me in close proximity to said females
will not change my mind that it will cause more problems than it is
worth the Confederation. The only reason it has not failed yet is
that the right sorts of families are letting their daughters be
co-opted by the project. Time will tell if they have the fibre to
handle the duty; I am willing to let myself be convinced of the
possibility that a few of them may be able to perform.
Cadet Gilmore--soon to be Cornet Gilmore[FN1]--is rather a fine
example of what you would need to make this program a success; good
breeding, of course. But there is only one of her, just as there was
only one Horace Gilmore, and I daresay she is too good to waste in a
program designed to shoot young ladies into Outer Space. But you will
get her if you wish because of Who You Know and your modernist friends
in the Royal Engineers. I have been too long in the armed forces to
know better. We all know how they like to cozy up to the scientists
Besides her and a few others, I have convinced myself the rest are
bound to failure once they graduate. And they will graduate whether I
like it or not. My druthers went down the collective Burgoyne drain
years ago. The Stapleton girl is a prime example of what I mean. A
bad seed, and a hayseed [FN2], to boot. Manitoban accent you could
slice with a knife. You know the history of the Manitobans, the
unnatural doctrines of the Turnerites. Her father's not one, but I'm
sure he's had some in the family. It's everywhere you go in that
confederation, with their towns with pretentious names like Heartbeat
City or New Harmony or Charityville. I'm rather surprised she's from
such an uninterestingly named city as Fort Benton. But I digress. I
am permitted to do so at my age.
I'm sure you've read about her in the papers, or rather her homicidal
and rather late father, Mark, the ex-Peace and Justice man. I will
see what I can do to rectify this situation without much noise, for
the good of the Confederation--and yes, the good of your precious
program. I know full well that these girls in the eyes of the Space
Service, and all the supporters of putting these girls in military
aircraft, can do no evil.
It would be futile for me to think otherwise, for your friends in high
places would have my head the moment I laid--quite figuratively, I can
assure you--hands on any one of your women in uniform. You have
checkmated me, Abramowicz. I hope you are satisfied, for there is not
much more you can to do humiliate me further.
[FN1]. When we were first introduced to Alex Stapleton and Ev Gilmore,
the rank they would receive at graduation was listed as "Ensign."
This is inaccurate, as further research on our part, thanks to Mr.
Kiertzner, reveals that the ranks of the RCNAAF are based on those of
cavalry units as many of the original airmobile troops were commanded
by transferred cavalry officers.
[FN2]. General St. Laurent's uncharitable references to the Manitobans
indicate the somewhat hostile relationship between the inhabitants of
Marlborough City and the surrounding confederation and the tony,
high-class officer candidates at the Academy. His absentminded
reference to "that confederation" later on in the letter also
indicates he has yet to reconcile himself to the fact he is now posted
there. One imagines his daughter, Cadet Louisa St. Laurent has
similar feelings, which may explain why she help beat up a certain
female hayseed fellow student.