The Visitors

by Lazette Gifford © 2001

Emily Lynn Rudder-Snide, the sister of the famous (or some might say infamous) Ambassador James Rudder, was widely known to have absolutely no sense of humor. This was unfortunate, because as the only other living relative of the Ambassador, she was often visited -- even besieged -- by numerous people, all of whom wanted to tell her some comical story about her older brother, and his wonderful adventures. She did not find these anecdotes funny, or the adventures exciting.

One day in late spring she warily admitted to her very proper home a man named Ish-Kimi-Su who had come all the way from the jungles of New Guinea. She noted with some disdain that he obviously was not used to Western clothing and civilization. The short, dark-haired man stood ill at ease, and sweating profusely, in her parlor. Or perhaps it was not so much the clothing, as Emily's dark, stormy stare that drew the perspiration. After all his tall, blond companion was looking much the same. This young man introduced himself as Timothy Waters, an interpreter. However, it soon proved that Ish-Kimi-Su spoke quite passable English. In fact, after the initial introductions she rather liked both of them. They were somber, serious young men.

But as Emily Lynn Rudder-Snide had feared, she soon heard another terrible tale of her brother's misadventures. It seemed that as a young child Ish-Kimi-Su had been present at an impromptu visit from the Ambassador. The entire village had been so taken with the Ambassador, that Ish-Kimi-Su had been sent to pay homage to so great a man's only relative, since catching up with the Ambassador had proven impossible.

Not deterred by her frown, the young foreigner launched into a carefully prepared speech. He waved away his interpreter, even when he stumbled over an English word now and then.

He told of the great commotion when the Ambassador arrived, dropping out of the sky and into their trees, followed not long afterwards by a miraculous flash of light and the raining of precious metal throughout the tribe's hunting grounds, as well as odd rectangular green leaves with the faces of gods on them. The young man spoke quite eloquently about how, over the next few weeks, the Ambassador had seemed reluctant to leave his new friends, and even set about learning some of their language.

"As his ability with the language grew, he would tell the tribe wonderful stories, although it often seemed as though he was frustrated by his inability to sat the words he really meant."

"Sat?" she said, confused.

"Ish means say," Timothy Waters explained.

"Say, yes. My apologies. Say the words he really meant. And then one day another white man came walking into the jungle, and spoke briefly with the Ambassador," Ish-Kimi-Su said with a little, sad sigh. "I had only a little English, but I hurt such words as no witnesses, safe, and payoff."

Emily Lynn Rudder-Snide gave a little groan, but Tim Waters quickly said, "He means heard. He heard such words as --"

He wisely fell silent at a glare from the lady of the house.

"Heard, yes. It was all very cryptic. That very day our great friend called together the village and said that in the morning he must leaf. (Emily Lynn Rudder-Snide lifted a hand to still Tim's translation.) That night we all gathered in the great house, feasting and biding farewell. It was then that Ambassador Rudder proved what a master storyteller he was. I will not repeat his wondrous tale, for I could not do it justice, even in my own tongue. (Emily Lynn Rudder-Snide gave her own sigh -- of relief. She had heard far more than enough of her brother's tales.) But I will say that on that day he gave us the most wondrous gift of all. He taught us a put."

"Put?" Emily said, confused and annoyed, because she never did like being confused. "Put what? Put where?"

"No, no!" Tim Waters finally said, lifting his hand in a gesture of peace. And then he said the words that got them both immediately run out of the house. "Not a put, Mrs. Rudder-Snide. It's a pun, Ish meant."

x x x

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