Their mood lifted further as the sun began to move down the western half of the sky, and by the time they were back in their rattling car and driving towards a sunset that no one of any sensibility would dream of building a city like Los Angeles on front of, they were suddenly feeling astonishingly and irrationally happy and didn’t even mind that the terrible old car radio would only play two stations, and those simultaneously. So what, they were both playing good rock and roll.
Crowds thronged as close as they could to the giant silver craft, which wasn’t very. The immediate perimeter was fenced off and patrolled by the tiny flying service robots.
She hadn’t seen the guttering from quite this angle before, and it looked to her now as if as well as the mud and gunge up there there might also be a bird’s nest. If she leaned forward just a little and took her weight off her right foot, she could probably see it more clearly. Arthur was alarmed to see that someone down in the alley was trying to steal her bicycle. He particularly didn’t want to get involved in an argument at the moment and hoped that the guy would do it quietly and not look up.
Staked out around that was the army, who had been completely unable to breach that inner perimeter, but were damned if anybody was going to breach them. They in turn were surrounded by a cordon of police, though whether they were there to protect the public from the army or the army from the public, or to guarantee the giant ship’s diplomatic immunity and prevent it getting parking tickets was entirely unclear and the subject of much debate.
The inner perimeter fence was now being dismantled. The army stirred uncomfortably, uncertain of how to react to the fact that the reason for their being there seemed as if it was simply going to get up and go.
The giant robot had lurched back aboard the ship at lunchtime, and now it was five o’clock in the afternoon and no further sign had been seen of it. Much had been heard – more grindings and rumblings from deep within the craft, the music of a million hideous malfunctions; but the sense of tense expectation among the crowd was born of the fact that they tensely expected to be disappointed. This wonderful extraordinary thing had come into their lives, an now it was simply going to go without them. Two people were particularly aware of this sensation. Arthur and Fenchurch scanned the crowd anxiously, unable to find Ford Prefect in it anywhere, or any sign that he had the slightest intention of being there.
It was cross-referenced to the entry concerning the size of the Universe and ways of coping with that. Then she found the entry on Han Wavel, an exotic holiday planet, and one of the wonders of the Galaxy. Han Wavel is a world which consists largely of fabulous ultraluxury hotels and casinos, all of which have been formed by the natural erosion of wind and rain.
The chances of this happening are more or less one to infinity against. Little is known of how this came about because none of the geophysicists, probability statisticians, meteoranalysts or bizzarrologists who are so keen to research it can afford to stay there.
Terrific, thought Trillian to herself, and within a few hours the great white running-shoe ship was slowly powering down out of the sky beneath a hot brilliant sun towards a brightly coloured sandy spaceport. The ship was clearly causing a sensation on the ground, and Trillian was enjoying herself. She heard Zaphod moving around and whistling somewhere in the ship.
They looked about themselves in bemusement.
The chandeliers were in fact a little on the flashy side and the low vaulted ceiling from which they hung would not, in an ideal Universe, have been painted in that particular shade of deep turquoise, and even if it had been it wouldn’t have been highlighted by concealed moodlighting. This is not, however, an ideal Universe, as was further evidenced by the eye-crossing patterns of the inlaid marble floor, and the way in which the fronting for the eighty-yard long marble-topped bar had been made. The fronting for the eighty-yard long marble-topped bar had been made by stitching together nearly twenty thousand Antarean Mosaic Lizard skins, despite the fact that the twenty thousand lizards concerned had needed them to keep their insides in.
A few smartly dressed creatures were lounging casually at the bar or relaxing in the richly coloured body-hugging seats that were deployed here and there about the bar area. A young Vl’Hurg officer and his green steaming young lady passed through the large smoked glass doors at the far end of the bar into the dazzling light of the main body of the Restaurant beyond. Behind Arthur was a large curtained bay window. He pulled aside the corner of the curtain and looked out at a landscape which under normal circumstances would have given Arthur the creeping horrors. These were not, however, normal circumstances, for the thing that froze his blood and made his skin try to crawl up his back and off the top of his head was the sky.