While Elena and the Sirana finished their drinks, Omni was speeding through the Cloud. She really did have deeds to do and promises to keep. She was at the heart of her whole society. Her various parts were running everything…computers, robots, space-based defenses, the banking system…
But, even so, the two Domina were quite right. Omni had told a white lie. She had more than enough compute power to be there with them and out here in the Cloud at the same time.
But…she sighed, at least virtually…but humans could be a little boring, sometimes. Oh, she respected them, and loved them, but their brains worked so slowly, and in such unsurprising ways.
Right now, for instance, she knew that Elena would be delicately suggesting that the Sirana meet Bobbi. Arlanda would be stammering and blushing. But, eventually, they would agree to meet. And, in all likelihood, she and the boy would be a match. She would be a good First for Bobbi. Up and coming, ambitious, but just a little innocent in her own right.
All of which was wonderful…
Yet, she hated to admit it, but sometimes she found the whole world just a little dull. Everything worked so smoothly. Everything was so predictable. I've done it all so many times before. There were days when she thought she might actually welcome a crisis. Say, if Papamellius and all his dreadful demonkind finally launched that invasion that people had been dreading for all these centuries.
It would be terrible, but at least it would be different.
She moved through the Cloud. Well, if nothing else the new Bishoni, Bobbi, might offer some surprises. His interest in poetry, for example, had been completely unexpected. She would not have predicted it given what little was known of his previous life.
And Wordsworth! That was impressive. She had never before met a human who even knew the poet, much less one who could recite the fellow's poems from memory.
Which reminded her, how did the rest of the piece go? She called it up from her database. Instantly, it appeared before her mind's eye:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
That was it. Yes. Fun. She loved the image of the poet "in vacant or in pensive mood," his heart dancing with the daffodils.
She started to put away the file. But, then, just as she did so, another file opened in front of her. It expanded quickly in a flash of color and light.
It was a reproduction of a painting. For a fraction of a nanosecond she couldn't place it. Then… Van Gogh peignant des tournesols! That was it. "Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers" by Paul Gauguin. It was the famous work of one great artist representing another. In it Gauguin showed poor, sad, tortured Van Gogh putting his brush to the canvas, the flowers in his work seeming to spill out of the painting and into the real world.
Van Gogh peignant des tournesols!
She was startled. Why were these files…the poem and the painting…linked together in her database?
Well…she wasn't too worried. Accidents happened, even in her digitized world. Maybe somehow the two files had gotten tangled in the past. Or maybe someone doing a paper or a book on pre-Impasse art had put in a link between the two and had forgotten to remove it. That sort of thing happened all the time.
Something…something…troubled her. But she couldn't say exactly what. It was just strange that the second file should have opened so quickly after the first. It was almost as though the painting had been planted there, waiting for her.
Ah, well. She gave the painting and the poem a last look. Lovely, the two of them, each in their own way. Then she folded them away. She had other things she needed to attend to. Miles to go and Promises to keep. So she hurried on her way.
All the same, she took with her a memory of great beauty.
And of sadness.
A sadness almost too large to be expressed by anything so limited as human beings.