Pablo had just finished the telephone conversation with Joshua about Theodore, and set the receiver back in its cradle, when it jangled at him. On its third ring, he picked it up. “Padeyevsky,” he said into it.
“You win this time, too,” said the voice on the other end of the line. The New York people have to do it your way. Unless some accident befalls you.”
“I’d be very careful about threats, if I were you,” said Pablo. “Of course, I’m sure you didn’t mean that as a threat.”
“Take it any way you want,” said the voice. “We don’t have room to deal in threats, do we? You win.”
“Well, just look at it this way.” Padeyevsky grinned into the telephone. “Money is the root of all evil. I’ve just cleared a broad path to your reform.”
The voice at the other end shook slightly. “Look, Padeyevsky, don’t give me that. Just tell me what you’re going to do, that’s all. What are you going to do? You know you can’t let this go on.”
“Yes, I can,” said Pablo, cheerfully, “and I have. The whole thing is finished now. You’re through. Be a good sport about it. Look at the advantages of financial disaster: no more wearing conferences, no more late nights, no more …
The voice cut in, hard and tight with rage. “I’ll get you Padeyevsky. If it’s the last thing I ever do, I’ll personally get you for this. Do you hear me?”
Padeyevsky smiled very coldly into the receiver. “The moving finger writes,” he said, “and, having writ, moves on.” Very slowly, he lowered the receiver to its cradle. There he sat, his mind moving with satisfaction over the recent conversation, one small hand to his chin, his portly body relaxed. Perhaps he’d better make a trip to New York soon, just to be sure. His small black eyes wandered blankly over the familiar hall, narrowing in their creases as he saw Esmerelda for the first time, standing by the door from the back of the house, hands pressed together, body somehow huddled in on itself.
“Esmerelda! You startled me.”
She said nothing, only continued looking at him.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked. “Something happen to Theodore, or …”
“Oh, Pablo,” she said softly, trying not to cry. “Oh, Uncle Pablo, your aura. What is it, Pablo? While you were on the telephone, it was full of such darkness.” She gave up and started to cry into her clenched hands, walking towards him. In spurts, she said, “I don’t understand it. It changed, and then it changed back, so fast, when you saw me. It’s all right now, the way it always is. Oh, Pablo! How could you let it get to you?”
She was close now, and Pablo stood up and held her against him awkwardly, letting her cry against his vest, eyes no longer creased but as soft as their blackness would ever get, with his love for his niece. “My dear, there is much in this world both of good and of bad, and each of us has a little of each. You have discovered this in me and I am sorry. But this is the world we live in, and you have to face both sides of it. I am very, very sorry that you saw this, for I have kept many ugly things from you for a long time, and this ugliness is the one closest to you. But your good old Pablo is still here too, still real.”
Esmerelda cried on into his shoulder, and Pablo stopped speaking, aware now that there would be some waiting, while she got cried out. Women, he thought to himself with affection. He patted on in silence, while his vest got quite saturated across the front, and his arm went to sleep. Finally, Esmerelda raised her pink face from his shoulder.
“All right, so it’s there, all this negativity,” she said, not quite steadily, “and my own Uncle, the safest man in the world, has it too, but no matter how long I face it I won’t get used to it. You can make me face the darkness, but you can’t make me turn from the light just Because the darkness exists. I’m as tough as it is, Pablo. I can face it, and understand it, and see it for what it is.”
“And what is that?”
“Separation,” said Esmerelda. “Times when somebody has forgotten the one who is all, and has begun making up his own universe and his own reasons. Times when a person hides from Being kind, and makes up rules that hurt people. Times when people are scared, and run away from the creation. You can make me look at it, and make me see it in you, but it still looks like separation from the light to me. And I stand with the light.”
Pablo’s voice was gentle. “And why do you stress the separation, nay child? The light and the darkness are one thing. Two faces of the same creation, only subtly different. You think the chasm is so wide between the two, my child, and yet only your intellect can find the difference great, and your intellect is of no use. It only makes you put the bogeyman from you, so you won’t have to think about it. But evil is as respectable as good, my dear. Don’t be shallow. For evil is all around you, more evil by far than good, and you shouldn’t discount it.”
He looked at her then, and saw the expression, and stopped his lecture in the middle. “Oh, Esmerelda, please forgive me. I’m sorry. I only wanted to make you see that everything that is positive can be negative too. That there is only the smallest difference between the two. My child, can you forgive me that?”
She looked at him, confusion and repugnance melting into quieter emotion. The Santy Clause smile, as she had so often called it, was there again, and his aura was gentle and clear, as she had seen it for years. And yet, a few minutes ago he had been a rude and ugly affront to her consciousness, his aura dark and evil. It was going to take considerable meditation to compass this in understanding.
Pablo was still waiting for her to say something. She cast her mind back and found the thread of the talking. “It’s all right, Uncle Pablo. I am only here to learn. I only wish that I had met this a long time ago, so I could have begun trying to become one with it. How could you let me be so sure of myself, when you knew I had so much to learn?”
She didn’t sound angry, or even irritated. Pablo looked at her closely. She shook her head. “No, I’m not getting ready to cry again. That’s done. But talk to me. What draws you to this negativity? That must be what really confuses me. I just don’t feel any pull to it at all.”
“There is much confusion to be cleared away, my child. By you, by me, by us all. What makes you think I am consciously drawn to negativity? Perhaps it simply finds a channel in me. You have named it evil, and yet is it not simply a pole, in a dually polarized universe? Why should one pole be better than the other? You have recoiled against my duality. And yet, in a dual universe, why not be dual?”
“All right, Pablo. I’ll understand in time, and meanwhile you’re still Uncle Pablo, and I cherish you. Nothing could change that. But this has all been very sudden. I thought you were one thing, and now you have me thinking you are two, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was sure, and now I’m not sure at all. I thought you and Joshua had taught me everything. Now I know differently.”
“My child, my child,” said Pablo, standing in the dim hall wishing he had never begun this lesson, and anxious to have it done, now it was begun. “I have taught you nothing. For I know nothing.”
“Then, Pablo, where are we going?”
Pablo stepped the one step that separated them and took her head again to him. “Put your feet back on solid ground, my child. We aren’t going anywhere. There is much for us all to learn. You will learn this, and when you know it, you will be where you were before: at one with wisdom, yet knowing nothing. For we can know nothing. This is not an environment that allows wisdom. We must simply act. Am I not right?” He smiled at her, feeling abashed at his uncharacteristic bluntness towards his niece.
“I suppose so, Uncle Pablo.” Esmerelda smiled back at him, her face clear again. “And, speaking of action, we’re due at Josh’s, aren’t we? Ted’s ready. I’m ready.”
“I’m ready too,” said the Doctor. “Shall we?”
She took his arm, and they walked out to Theodore, waiting for them beside the Mercedes.