Marie and Karel ate lunch together the next Monday, and others of their friends joined them, too.
A woman I'll call Pixie brought up the dating game culture.
"Karel, can you tell me why women have to try so hard to please the guys?"
Karel smiled at the thought that the woman who had asked this apparently considered him far enough out of her range that she would be willing to ask his opinion on the subject. "I don't actually think it's a good idea."
"What do you mean?"
"A person who is using his or her talents to help others and serve God is attractive."
Another woman, whom we shall call Water Sprite, asked, "If that's so, why don't all of us win the beauty contests?"
"Good question. Why do you think?"
Pixie said, "I think you're just telling us not to bother, 'cause we're ugly."
"Well, I've noticed that beauty contests are often promoted to the parents as a way to teach their daughters self-confidence."
Marie was listening rather attentively.
"If they have another way to learn self-confidence, why should they bother?"
"'Cause we're ugly, right?" Pixie retorted.
"I've never seen a person with real self-confidence who was ugly."
"There's a point in that," Marie spoke up. "When you're playing a beautiful person on stage, you tend to become beautiful."
Water Sprite said, "Well, you're beautiful anyway, so how would you know?"
Karel looked at Marie and raised his eyebrows.
She stood up. "I'll be right back."
The conversation went around in circles for a few minutes until she returned. As she sat down, the conversation stopped.
Pixie blurted out, "What happened to your face?"
"What you seem to have seen as a beautiful face was a product of makeup and, well, the confidence that I have in the makeup job."
"But, ...," Water Sprite hesitated, "... well, you aren't ugly without the makeup. Just different."
Karel concurred. "Definitely not ugly. There's a different beauty that shines through without the makeup to cover it up."
It was Marie's turn to be surprised. She demurred.
A male student whom we shall refer to as Thor said, "Well, I'm not going to say you're beautiful, but I think you're attractive."
Marie said, "Thank you. I can accept that as honest."
Karel couldn't resist generalizing, "It's a kind of a negative way to say it, but anyone who thinks you are ugly just doesn't count. You really shouldn't care what they think."
While the others sat and thought about that, Water Sprite added two and two and got three. "So, if you think a girl is beautiful, that's the girl you should marry?"
Marie laughed. "That sounds so, one-way."
Thor came closer to the truth. "Then, if I think a girl is beautiful and she thinks I'm, uhm, good looking, we should get married."
Everybody in the small group laughed.
"Okay, I guess there's more to it than that."
"It could be a good place to start." Karel grinned. "But I don't think I'd ask every good looking girl for a date."
Thor grinned, too. "Too many good-looking girls around. I'd never have time to study."
Laughs, snorts, and jeers greeted that.
Marie suppressed her laughter. "Being able to study and work with a person is also important."
Everyone ate silently for a moment.
Pixie asked, "Do these kinds of things get talked about in your country?"
"Of course. Even though most marriages are arranged, we are still interested in whether or not we will like the person that we marry."
Water Sprite asked, "You said you had an arranged marriage waiting when you go back."
"Yes, I do."
"Can't you just refuse?"
"That would bring shame on my family."
"Isn't an unhappy marriage a matter of shame, too?"
Karel thought they might not know something. "In her country, family relationships are based on principles of chattelry. The master of the house effectively owns all the members of the household."
"My father is not a bad man. He doesn't treat me and my siblings as slaves. He does what he thinks is best for us."
Karel asked with his eyes whether he could voice a question about her feelings, and she said no, he shouldn't, with hers.
"What if you don't go back?" asked Pixie.
Marie just smiled an unconvincing smile, tilted her head, and didn't answer.
On Tuesday, it was just the two of them, and Marie decided to ask about the study group.
"Are you sure it's okay if I sit in on your study group?"
"Of course. Everybody's friendly. If we explain that you want to listen to everyone's natural conversations to study the language, some of them will be claim to be shy. But I'm sure no one will mind."
"What time do you start?"
"Some of my friends and I usually get there early, but the study group starts gathering around six thirty."
"Are you sure they won't mind?"
"It's the library. How could they object to your being there?"
But Marie was worried about whether she would be accepted, and decided she should watch the group for a little while before actually joining it. She would go early and find a place in the stacks to unobtrusively observe the group.
She didn't mention her plan to Karel.
Marie arrived at the study area about five to six and found a place in the stacks where she could stand and read, and watch through the gaps between books.
Bobbie and Kristie came in about six, talking and laughing. When Marie saw them, she suddenly felt shy about her own looks, and wondered whether they were part of Karel's study group.
Karel came in a few minutes later.
"Hey, yourself. What have you got on the questions about IQ measurement?"
"Found a study that basically turns the whole question on its edge. The researcher found a field in which the students with high measured IQs all performed poorly."
Books were spread out, and from where she watched Marie recognized that there was something more than just friendship between the three. She caught her breath, and Bobbie heard a sigh and caught sight of her hair disappearing behind books. She whispered something to Kristie and Karel in between comments on their studies.
Karel thought a moment and whispered back. And Bobbie nodded. And their conversation continued.
I suppose I should mention, here, that polygamous marriage in the world of this novel had not been banned by the government as it has been in our world. That is, the Supreme Court of the Union of Independent States had ruled that the Constitution reserved family welfare to the ken of the States, and that attempts to unilaterally impose national laws regulating family welfare on territories with their own established governments would impinge on the Constitutional authority of said territory when the territory applied for statehood. What the Constitution denied the national government relative to states, it must also must deny relative to territories.
Well, the ruling was a bit more detailed, but that was the effect.
So polygamy was a part of the history of the E-P movement. But the first E-P prophet delivered many sermons about abuses in marriages and in family relationships before he was martyred. He specifically directed E-P-ist spouses and parents not to play favorites, if they wanted the blessings of heaven in their homes. He also directed the Church to give women full status with men in their communities, and worked to change the laws of the communities in which Church members lived, to give women the right to vote and hold property independently of men.
The second E-P prophet repeated the warnings, and made sure that women had full status before the law with men in the State of Beehive when it was admitted to the Union.
The third prophet told the members of the Church that there had been too many abuses which seemed to be made worse by polygamy, and directed them to seek better solutions to their social problems. With his support, marriage laws for the State of Beehive were changed. In monogamous marriage, the man and wife shared legal responsibility and authority for the family equally, but when a man took a second wife, his authority under law over each family would be limited. And he would still be fully responsible for the welfare of each family.
(I'm leaving out the details of how that worked. The laws appear counter-intuitive at first, and it would take several pages to explain why. I want to get back to the story.)
That made polygamy less attractive to men, but more attractive to women.
Finally, the fourth prophet received a revelation and transmitted it to the Church, that false traditions about polygamy were destroying the Church from within. No more polygamous marriages would be performed or recognized by the Church without express permission from the prophet himself, and he listed all the usual reasons for polygamous marriages as being insufficient.
This prophet urged the individual stakes and wards to develop programs to support women who needed to leave abusive husbands. He was also able to encourage the members of the state legislature of Beehive to strengthen the legal framework under which women could support themselves and their children independently. And he re-emphasized in his sermons the idea that a monogamous man who properly supported his one family had far more glory in heaven than a polygamous man who abused his spouses and children or failed to provide for them properly.
That mostly put a stop to polygamy within the mainstream Church, but there were a few members who left the Church over the issue, and a few others who secretly continued the practice.
Which long aside might help to explain why Marie was suspicious when she saw how well Karel, Bobbie, and Kristie got along.
For the next five minutes, she listened and snuck peeks through the stacks, and what she saw and heard seemed only to add to her concerns. The ease with which they joked and discussed things, the complete lack of deference which the two women displayed, the intuition which was more an ideal in her home country than a reality but seemed quite real here, and the lack of real heat when the intuition failed were all so far beyond her experience that she could not believe that they could be just friends.
(I don't repeat the conversations she overheard here. Words do nothing to communicate what she was seeing.)
When Dan arrived, Bobbie noticed that she didn't seem to be there any more, and Karel stood and looked around the stacks to find her. But she was gone.
"Do you think it was your new friend from the dorms?"
"Maybe. I hope it wasn't. Maybe she'll come later. I think she'd enjoy our study group.
"Speaking of new friends, Karel, you are officially invited to our ward dance Saturday."
"Kelly's roommate and fellow club member, Cherise, says she'd be glad to have someone to help her help keep the rhythm going."
On Friday, after the dance class, Piers met Bobbie at their apartment and they went to the International Cinema. The movie was interesting, and about half way through, Piers put his arm around Bobbie's shoulders. She stiffened at first, but after a few minutes, relaxed.
Nothing further happened of interest. Bobbie's shift would start soon, so they talked about the movie as they walked back to the womens' apartment. Bobbie found the conversation agreeable, and agreed to go out with him again.
As Bobbie prepared for her shift at the hospital, Kristie, Michelle, and Jennifer prepared for the ward dance. Joel and some of his roommates came, and they left for the dance at the same time Bobbie left for work.
At the dance, Joel's and Kristie's roommates enjoyed themselves. Joel and Kristie also enjoyed teaching each other new dance steps, and some of the members of the ward tried to copy them. Then they split up to teach others how to do the steps for a dance or two, and then they got back together again.
Both Kristie's roommates and Joel's left early, so Joel walked Kristie home. On the way, Kristie thought he seemed a little down, and thought she should probe a little. "Well, I had fun," she said.
"Yeah. Me too. Thanks for letting me monopolize your time."
"Not at all. You didn't really, and I enjoyed it, anyway."
"Dan and Karel deliberately stayed away."
"Weren't you sad they weren't there?"
"It's not like we're going steady or anything."
"But you guys really mesh. It's hard to imagine that you aren't."
"We've only known each other for a month or so."
"Do you think it takes time?"
"To build a real relationship? Yes. Of course."
"How many years do you think it takes?"
"Years? Well, maybe not necessarily years. It depends."
"I've got a friend I've known since we were children. We never went out before my mission, but we worked together on a lot of the committees, and we'd dance at the dances. Now she's my regular partner in the folk dance club. I want to ask her out, but the club rules say we can't."
"The club is semi-professional, and if members of the club date each other it can cause problems during performance. And it's easy to forget that dance isn't all there is to life, and assume that, since you dance well together, you could live together well."
"Have you ever let her know how you feel about her?"
"She would never let me close. She thinks she isn't very attractive."
"Very few women can admit to themselves that they are attractive, but that doesn't really tell us anything."
After walking a few minutes in silence, Kristie said, "Well, I suggest you consider sacrificing the club to tell her your feelings.
"I couldn't. She'd insist on being the one to leave."
"Then you need to be patient, and try to find a way to build her confidence until she can agree to let you leave so you can date."
"But what if she doesn't want to date me?"
They were at the door of Kristie and Bobbie's apartment. Kristie stopped and looked at him. "That's a risk you're going to have to take if you want to every know how she feels. Do you have any sisters?"
"Do you miss them?"
"No!" Joel looked a little sheepish. "Well, maybe, just a little."
"I'll be your sister at school, okay?"
Joel had to think for a moment, then he said. "Thanks. I think I need someone to talk to."
Karel didn't see Marie again that week, and when he went to watch her play practice on Saturday afternoon, he was intercepted by one of the actors.
"Marie asked us to inform you that you are not welcome here."
Karel thought for a moment, then asked, "Could you tell her I just thought we could be friends?"
"I don't think she cares what you think."
Karel nodded apologetically, said a quiet, "Okay," and left.
That evening, Karel crashed Dan's ward's dance. Of course, since he was invited, he wasn't really crashing. He and Dan met the two women at the women's apartment and walked them to the dance.
Any time the dance flagged, the four of them would get out on the dance floor and start a snowball, and the dance was a success.
On the way back to Kelly and Cherise's apartment, Kelly opened up about her worries.
"Dan, I know it's not fair to ask, but am I pretty?"
Cherise held her piece.
Dan stopped and looked her up and down and gave her a wolf whistle.
Kelly giggled. "Stop that."
And all four laughed.
Cherise asked, "How is it you can do that whistle so well, Dan?"
"Ask Karel. I used to hang around with a wild crowd."
"He did. And if he says you're cute, you're cute."
"See?" Cherise said. "I'm not lying to you."
"Why do guys tease me about my looks?"
"Guys are stupid." Cherise replied.
Dan and Karel both said, "Yep."
Then Dan said, "Karel would tell you that some of the very guys that tease you most about your looks are the very ones that secretly like you."
Karel laughed. "And you never did that, did you?"
Dan mugged a look of fake innocence. "Never!"
Both Kelly and Cherise laughed.
Cherise asked, "Why do guys do that?"
Dan sighed. "Self-doubt. Scared that somebody we like doesn't like us."
Kelly was apparently only half listening, or maybe she just couldn't accept what Dan said. "Why doesn't he like me?"
"Who is this 'he'?" Dan asked.
Kelly looked at Cherise and then looked down at the ground.
Cherise shook her head. "Her dance partner is a friend from home that she has been in love with for years. But she's never had the courage to tell him. I think he likes her, too, but she won't believe me."
"In love?" Karel asked absently.
"Well, considering their history, I'd say it's more than a crush."
"Dance partner. I can see why she would not want to mess that up with questions about who likes whom." Karel was still speaking in the abstract.
Dan reached around and boffed the back of his head.
"Beauty is as beauty does, right Karel?"
"Yeah. But I was talking with someone about that recently, and apparently offended her, so maybe I should keep quiet. Why don't people see the truth about beauty?"
"You're not keeping quiet."
"Anyway, Kelly," Dan continued, "you should trust yourself. This is too important to throw away. Remember the parable about the talents?"
"Love is an important trust from God, too." Karel said.
Cherise stopped and gave the two of them a good look over. "Where do they hide guys like you?"
Dan mumbled. "Don't assume too much. Neither of us is particularly perfect."
As they arrived at the two women's apartment, Cherise said, "Look, Kelly, I'll try to fix it with the club members if you want to ask Joel."
Dan and Karel looked at each other and agreed, without talking, to refrain from asking which Joel.
[This part is not yet backed up.]
[Chapter 3 part 6 is original to the second draft, and is not found in the first draft.]