Chapter XXXII

Ben tells Jubal that the hospitality of the Nest-members comforted him the first night he was there, but he soon became uneasy again. The narration then shifts to third person presentation of Ben's tale.

Ben wakes up after having spent the night in bed with Dawn. He leaves the bedroom and bumps into Duke making breakfast. Duke implores Ben to stay, and tells Ben that it had taken him a month to get up the courage to leave Jubal's employ and come to the temple. Duke explains about the manner by which people advance into higher circles in the church; those who, like Ben, became Mike's water-brothers without learning Martian are known as the "First-Called." Duke tells Ben that living with all of his water-brothers is like a marriage, but much more enriching and delightful than his actual former marriage was. A woman named Ruth, who with her husband Sam is in the ninth circle, tells Ben about how the church has rejuvenated her; she points out to Ben that their bathrooms are free of medicine, as no one in the church gets sick.

Ben goes to see Jill. She tells him that had wanted to spend the previous night with him, but she could sense jealousy in him, and had decided to quell it by having him sleep with Dawn. Jill demonstrates that she has learned some telekinetic powers. Mike enters and is thrilled to see Ben. Mike jokes around and tells Ben how hectic his schedule has become. Mike and Jill hang on each other and Ben finds himself embarrassed. Mike tells Ben that humans have a great gift that Martians do not: the bipolarity of the sexes.

Mike can grok that Ben is still jealous, and decides to delay the water-sharing ceremony that the ninth circle have been planning to hold in Ben's honor that night. Jill does not want to let Ben leave without experiencing the ceremony. She implores Ben to stop worrying—she initiates a kiss. Mike has his arm around Ben, and he grips tighter. Jill cries out for Ben and Mike to share water, and Ben sees that Mike has vanished his own clothing.

Chapter XXXIII

Ben tells Jubal that, terrified that Jill and Mike were trying to engage him in group sex, he had grabbed his clothes and run out of the temple. Jubal suggests that Ben was rude to reject the rules and boundaries of Mike's temple while he was a guest there. Jubal chides Ben for not at least being polite about extracting himself from the situation. Ben concedes to Jubal that he was overwhelmed, and claims that it was his love for Jill that made him unable to be levelheaded. Jubal insists that it was not love but jealousy that overwhelmed Ben. Jubal suggests that Mike and Jill's non-monogamous practices are only possible to maintain because they have a perfect inner morality which Ben and Jubal lack.

Jubal does not suggest that he himself would have the stomach to accept Mike's sexual mores as his own, but he lauds Mike for having the courage to challenge the prevailing Judeo-Christian ethic. Jubal tells Ben that he would join Mike's church himself if he were younger. Ben tells Jubal that Mike claims that the truths he teaches are derived from the Martian Old Ones. Jubal does not necessarily believe in the Old Ones but he still finds Mike's religion to be as valid and potentially accurate as any. Jubal points out that many religions in history have endorsed odd sexual practices.