BUSINESS for the LAWYERS
By Ralph Robin
Illustration by Sam Kweskin
[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Other Worlds March
1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.]
Bump-Arch had to complete his experiment or spend five more years as an apprentice Scientist—and if successful, his feat would provide plenty of
"Time," said the Grandmaster of the Guild.
It was the formal word, and the scientists were silent; except Proudwalk, a biologist, who laughed at something whispered in her ear by a physicist named Snubnose, her brother.
"Time," the Grandmaster repeated, and in a moment even Proudwalk was quiet, and Snubnose folded his arms.
"I do not need to tell you that today is the Day of the Candidate," said the Grandmaster, supporting himself with an air of great age on his ceremonial staff of polished copper.
"But he will tell us—in many words," Snubnose whispered now. "Next winter solstice I am going to propose we double the offering."
It was the practice in the Guild of Scientists that a grandmaster, once elected, served for life or until he voluntarily retired. Every year the body formally offered its grandmaster a lump sum to retire. Popular incumbents were offered one tilsin, an obsolete unit worth less than the smallest real coin. Others were sometimes offered large amounts.
This system did not encourage elderly grandmasters to be laconic.
Unnecessarily consulting his notes, the Grandmaster declaimed, "On this Day of the Candidate, the 155th day of the year 1712, Dynastic Reckoning Corrected—"
Snubnose muttered, "Anybody else would say DRC."
Proudwalk patted his lips. "Hush," she said.
"—we are initiating the consideration of the candidature of Bump-arch apprentice physicist in the service of Crookback, a master physicist beloved and esteemed by us all. The candidature of Bump-arch will be governed by the Principles, by the Laws of the Guild, and by Acknowledged Custom. The procedure—"
While the Grandmaster talked, Snubnose pondered the familiar procedure—and some implications the venerable bore didn't concern himself with.
To become a journeyman scientist, an apprentice had to do two things. He had to complete his term of service. And he had to perform on a Day of the Candidate a successful demonstration in his own branch of the scientific art.
The demonstration always took place on the Field of Proof before the whole body. It could be either an original experiment or a "restored experiment"—one reconstructed from fragments of ancient texts. Standards were low and almost anything was accepted, so long as the candidate accomplished what he said he would. If a conceited or, as occasionally happened, a gifted young man attempted a very complicated demonstration, and it didn't come off—well, it was just too bad.
The unfortunate candidate could either serve another five years of apprenticeship and try again, or give up all connection with the Guild. If he left the Guild of Scientists, he couldn't be admitted in any other Guild.
Which was no laughing matter.
Only journeymen and masters and kingsmen—in the general sense, both men and women—had full rights of citizens, including the right to marry by Public Law. Others might get married by Private Law, but that was a rather uncomfortable method.
Under Private Law, a man and a woman would sign a contract to marry, and if they succeeded in living together—"dwelling under the same roof as husband and wife"—for five years without being discovered by the Public Law police, they could then live together openly. They would then be as legally married as the most respectable members of the Guild of Merchants. But if the Public Law police caught