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Title: Omnilingual
Author: Piper, H. Beam, 1904-1964
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Omnilingual" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                      Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from "Astounding Science Fiction," February,
1957. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.



[Illustration]



OMNILINGUAL


    _To translate writings, you need a key to the code--and
    if the last writer of Martian died forty thousand years
    before the first writer of Earth was born ... how could
    the Martian be translated...?_

BY H. BEAM PIPER

Illustrated by Freas

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]


Martha Dane paused, looking up at the purple-tinged copper sky. The wind
had shifted since noon, while she had been inside, and the dust storm
that was sweeping the high deserts to the east was now blowing out over
Syrtis. The sun, magnified by the haze, was a gorgeous magenta ball, as
large as the sun of Terra, at which she could look directly. Tonight,
some of that dust would come sifting down from the upper atmosphere to
add another film to what had been burying the city for the last fifty
thousand years.

The red loess lay over everything, covering the streets and the open
spaces of park and plaza, hiding the small houses that had been crushed
and pressed flat under it and the rubble that had come down from the
tall buildings when roofs had caved in and walls had toppled outward.
Here, where she stood, the ancient streets were a hundred to a hundred
and fifty feet below the surface; the breach they had made in the wall
of the building behind her had opened into the sixth story. She could
look down on the cluster of prefabricated huts and sheds, on the
brush-grown flat that had been the waterfront when this place had been a
seaport on the ocean that was now Syrtis Depression; already, the bright
metal was thinly coated with red dust. She thought, again, of what
clearing this city would mean, in terms of time and labor, of people and
supplies and equipment brought across fifty million miles of space.
They'd have to use machinery; there was no other way it could be done.
Bulldozers and power shovels and draglines; they were fast, but they
were rough and indiscriminate. She remembered the digs around Harappa
and Mohenjo-Daro, in the Indus Valley, and the careful, patient native
laborers--the painstaking foremen, the pickmen and spademen, the long
files of basketmen carrying away the earth. Slow and primitive as the
civilization whose ruins they were uncovering, yes, but she could count
on the fingers of one hand the times one of her pickmen had damaged a
valuable object in the ground. If it hadn't been for the underpaid and
uncomplaining native laborer, archaeology would still be back where
Wincklemann had found it. But on Mars there was no native labor; the
last Martian had died five hundred centuries ago.

Something started banging like a machine gun, four or five hundred yards
to her left. A solenoid jack-hammer; Tony Lattimer must have decided
which building he wanted to break into next. She became conscious, then,
of the awkward weight of her equipment, and began redistributing it,
shifting the straps of her oxy-tank pack, slinging the camera from one
shoulder and the board and drafting tools from the other, gathering the
notebooks and sketchbooks under her left arm. She started walking down
the road, over hillocks of buried rubble, around snags of wall jutting
up out of the loess, past buildings still standing, some of them already
breached and explored, and across the brush-grown flat to the huts.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were ten people in the main office room of Hut One when she
entered. As soon as she had disposed of her oxygen equipment, she lit a
cigarette, her first since noon, then looked from one to another of
them. Old Selim von Ohlmhorst, the Turco-German, one of her two fellow
archaeologists, sitting at the end of the long table against the farther
wall, smoking his big curved pipe and going through a looseleaf
notebook. The girl ordnance officer, Sachiko Koremitsu, between two
droplights at the other end of the table, her head bent over her work.
Colonel Hubert Penrose, the Space Force CO, and Captain Field, the
intelligence officer, listening to the report of one of the airdyne
pilots, returned from his afternoon survey flight. A couple of girl
lieutenants from Signals, going over the script of the evening telecast,
to be transmitted to the _Cyrano_, on orbit five thousand miles off
planet and relayed from thence to Terra via Lunar. Sid Chamberlain, the
Trans-Space News Service man, was with them. Like Selim and herself, he
was a civilian; he was advertising the fact with a white shirt and a
sleeveless blue sweater. And Major Lindemann, the engineer officer, and
one of his assistants, arguing over some plans on a drafting board. She
hoped, drawing a pint of hot water to wash her hands and sponge off her
face, that they were doing something about the pipeline.

She started to carry the notebooks and sketchbooks over to where Selim
von Ohlmhorst was sitting, and then, as she always did, she turned aside
and stopped to watch Sachiko. The Japanese girl was restoring what had
been a book, fifty thousand years ago; her eyes were masked by a
binocular loup, the black headband invisible against her glossy black
hair, and she was picking delicately at the crumbled page with a
hair-fine wire set in a handle of copper tubing. Finally, loosening a
particle as tiny as a snowflake, she grasped it with tweezers, placed it
on the sheet of transparent plastic on which she was reconstructing the
page, and set it with a mist of fixative from a little spraygun. It was
a sheer joy to watch her; every movement was as graceful and precise as
though done to music after being rehearsed a hundred times.

"Hello, Martha. It isn't cocktail-time yet, is it?" The girl at the
table spoke without raising her head, almost without moving her lips, as
though she were afraid that the slightest breath would disturb the flaky
stuff in front of her.

"No, it's only fifteen-thirty. I finished my work, over there. I didn't
find any more books, if that's good news for you."

Sachiko took off the loup and leaned back in her chair, her palms cupped
over her eyes.

"No, I like doing this. I call it micro-jigsaw puzzles. This book, here,
really is a mess. Selim found it lying open, with some heavy stuff on
top of it; the pages were simply crushed." She hesitated briefly. "If
only it would mean something, after I did it."

There could be a faintly critical overtone to that. As she replied,
Martha realized that she was being defensive.

"It will, some day. Look how long it took to read Egyptian
hieroglyphics, even after they had the Rosetta Stone."

Sachiko smiled. "Yes. I know. But they did have the Rosetta Stone."

"And we don't. There is no Rosetta Stone, not anywhere on Mars. A whole
race, a whole species, died while the first Crò-Magnon cave-artist was
daubing pictures of reindeer and bison, and across fifty thousand years
and fifty million miles there was no bridge of understanding.

"We'll find one. There must be something, somewhere, that will give us
the meaning of a few words, and we'll use them to pry meaning out of
more words, and so on. We may not live to learn this language, but we'll
make a start, and some day somebody will."

Sachiko took her hands from her eyes, being careful not to look toward
the unshaded light, and smiled again. This time Martha was sure that it
was not the Japanese smile of politeness, but the universally human
smile of friendship.

"I hope so, Martha: really I do. It would be wonderful for you to be the
first to do it, and it would be wonderful for all of us to be able to
read what these people wrote. It would really bring this dead city to
life again." The smile faded slowly. "But it seems so hopeless."

"You haven't found any more pictures?"

Sachiko shook her head. Not that it would have meant much if she had.
They had found hundreds of pictures with captions; they had never been
able to establish a positive relationship between any pictured object
and any printed word. Neither of them said anything more, and after a
moment Sachiko replaced the loup and bent her head forward over the
book.

       *       *       *       *       *

Selim von Ohlmhorst looked up from his notebook, taking his pipe out of
his mouth.

"Everything finished, over there?" he asked, releasing a puff of smoke.

"Such as it was." She laid the notebooks and sketches on the table.
"Captain Gicquel's started airsealing the building from the fifth floor
down, with an entrance on the sixth; he'll start putting in oxygen
generators as soon as that's done. I have everything cleared up where
he'll be working."

Colonel Penrose looked up quickly, as though making a mental note to
attend to something later. Then he returned his attention to the pilot,
who was pointing something out on a map.

Von Ohlmhorst nodded. "There wasn't much to it, at that," he agreed. "Do
you know which building Tony has decided to enter next?"

"The tall one with the conical thing like a candle extinguisher on top,
I think. I heard him drilling for the blasting shots over that way."

"Well, I hope it turns out to be one that was occupied up to the end."

The last one hadn't. It had been stripped of its contents and fittings,
a piece of this and a bit of that, haphazardly, apparently over a long
period of time, until it had been almost gutted. For centuries, as it
had died, this city had been consuming itself by a process of
auto-cannibalism. She said something to that effect.

"Yes. We always find that--except, of course, at places like Pompeii.
Have you seen any of the other Roman cities in Italy?" he asked.
"Minturnae, for instance? First the inhabitants tore down this to repair
that, and then, after they had vacated the city, other people came along
and tore down what was left, and burned the stones for lime, or crushed
them to mend roads, till there was nothing left but the foundation
traces. That's where we are fortunate; this is one of the places where
the Martian race perished, and there were no barbarians to come later
and destroy what they had left." He puffed slowly at his pipe. "Some of
these days, Martha, we are going to break into one of these buildings
and find that it was one in which the last of these people died. Then we
will learn the story of the end of this civilization."

And if we learn to read their language, we'll learn the whole story, not
just the obituary. She hesitated, not putting the thought into words.
"We'll find that, sometime, Selim," she said, then looked at her watch.
"I'm going to get some more work done on my lists, before dinner."

For an instant, the old man's face stiffened in disapproval; he started
to say something, thought better of it, and put his pipe back into his
mouth. The brief wrinkling around his mouth and the twitch of his white
mustache had been enough, however; she knew what he was thinking. She
was wasting time and effort, he believed; time and effort belonging not
to herself but to the expedition. He could be right, too, she realized.
But he had to be wrong; there had to be a way to do it. She turned from
him silently and went to her own packing-case seat, at the middle of the
table.

       *       *       *       *       *

Photographs, and photostats of restored pages of books, and transcripts
of inscriptions, were piled in front of her, and the notebooks in which
she was compiling her lists. She sat down, lighting a fresh cigarette,
and reached over to a stack of unexamined material, taking off the top
sheet. It was a photostat of what looked like the title page and
contents of some sort of a periodical. She remembered it; she had found
it herself, two days before, in a closet in the basement of the building
she had just finished examining.

She sat for a moment, looking at it. It was readable, in the sense that
she had set up a purely arbitrary but consistently pronounceable system
of phonetic values for the letters. The long vertical symbols were
vowels. There were only ten of them; not too many, allowing separate
characters for long and short sounds. There were twenty of the short
horizontal letters, which meant that sounds like -ng or -ch or -sh were
single letters. The odds were millions to one against her system being
anything like the original sound of the language, but she had listed
several thousand Martian words, and she could pronounce all of them.

And that was as far as it went. She could pronounce between three and
four thousand Martian words, and she couldn't assign a meaning to one of
them. Selim von Ohlmhorst believed that she never would. So did Tony
Lattimer, and he was a great deal less reticent about saying so. So, she
was sure, did Sachiko Koremitsu. There were times, now and then, when
she began to be afraid that they were right.

The letters on the page in front of her began squirming and dancing,
slender vowels with fat little consonants. They did that, now, every
night in her dreams. And there were other dreams, in which she read them
as easily as English; waking, she would try desperately and vainly to
remember. She blinked, and looked away from the photostatted page; when
she looked back, the letters were behaving themselves again. There were
three words at the top of the page, over-and-underlined, which seemed to
be the Martian method of capitalization. _Mastharnorvod Tadavas
Sornhulva_. She pronounced them mentally, leafing through her notebooks
to see if she had encountered them before, and in what contexts. All
three were listed. In addition, _masthar_ was a fairly common word, and
so was _norvod_, and so was _nor_, but _-vod_ was a suffix and nothing
but a suffix. _Davas_, was a word, too, and _ta-_ was a common prefix;
_sorn_ and _hulva_ were both common words. This language, she had long
ago decided, must be something like German; when the Martians had needed
a new word, they had just pasted a couple of existing words together. It
would probably turn out to be a grammatical horror. Well, they had
published magazines, and one of them had been called _Mastharnorvod
Tadavas Sornhulva_. She wondered if it had been something like the
_Quarterly Archaeological Review_, or something more on the order of
_Sexy Stories_.

A smaller line, under the title, was plainly the issue number and date;
enough things had been found numbered in series to enable her to
identify the numerals and determine that a decimal system of numeration
had been used. This was the one thousand and seven hundred and
fifty-fourth issue, for Doma, 14837; then Doma must be the name of one
of the Martian months. The word had turned up several times before. She
found herself puffing furiously on her cigarette as she leafed through
notebooks and piles of already examined material.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sachiko was speaking to somebody, and a chair scraped at the end of the
table. She raised her head, to see a big man with red hair and a red
face, in Space Force green, with the single star of a major on his
shoulder, sitting down. Ivan Fitzgerald, the medic. He was lifting
weights from a book similar to the one the girl ordnance officer was
restoring.

"Haven't had time, lately," he was saying, in reply to Sachiko's
question. "The Finchley girl's still down with whatever it is she has,
and it's something I haven't been able to diagnose yet. And I've been
checking on bacteria cultures, and in what spare time I have, I've been
dissecting specimens for Bill Chandler. Bill's finally found a mammal.
Looks like a lizard, and it's only four inches long, but it's a real
warm-blooded, gamogenetic, placental, viviparous mammal. Burrows, and
seems to live on what pass for insects here."

"Is there enough oxygen for anything like that?" Sachiko was asking.

"Seems to be, close to the ground." Fitzgerald got the headband of his
loup adjusted, and pulled it down over his eyes. "He found this thing in
a ravine down on the sea bottom--Ha, this page seems to be intact; now,
if I can get it out all in one piece--"

He went on talking inaudibly to himself, lifting the page a little at a
time and sliding one of the transparent plastic sheets under it, working
with minute delicacy. Not the delicacy of the Japanese girl's small
hands, moving like the paws of a cat washing her face, but like a
steam-hammer cracking a peanut. Field archaeology requires a certain
delicacy of touch, too, but Martha watched the pair of them with envious
admiration. Then she turned back to her own work, finishing the table of
contents.

The next page was the beginning of the first article listed; many of the
words were unfamiliar. She had the impression that this must be some
kind of scientific or technical journal; that could be because such
publications made up the bulk of her own periodical reading. She doubted
if it were fiction; the paragraphs had a solid, factual look.

At length, Ivan Fitzgerald gave a short, explosive grunt.

"Ha! Got it!"

She looked up. He had detached the page and was cementing another
plastic sheet onto it.

"Any pictures?" she asked.

"None on this side. Wait a moment." He turned the sheet. "None on this
side, either." He sprayed another sheet of plastic to sandwich the page,
then picked up his pipe and relighted it.

"I get fun out of this, and it's good practice for my hands, so don't
think I'm complaining," he said, "but, Martha, do you honestly think
anybody's ever going to get anything out of this?"

Sachiko held up a scrap of the silicone plastic the Martians had used
for paper with her tweezers. It was almost an inch square.

"Look; three whole words on this piece," she crowed. "Ivan, you took the
easy book."

Fitzgerald wasn't being sidetracked. "This stuff's absolutely
meaningless," he continued. "It had a meaning fifty thousand years ago,
when it was written, but it has none at all now."

She shook her head. "Meaning isn't something that evaporates with time,"
she argued. "It has just as much meaning now as it ever had. We just
haven't learned how to decipher it."

"That seems like a pretty pointless distinction," Selim von Ohlmhorst
joined the conversation. "There no longer exists a means of deciphering
it."

"We'll find one." She was speaking, she realized, more in
self-encouragement than in controversy.

"How? From pictures and captions? We've found captioned pictures, and
what have they given us? A caption is intended to explain the picture,
not the picture to explain the caption. Suppose some alien to our
culture found a picture of a man with a white beard and mustache sawing
a billet from a log. He would think the caption meant, 'Man Sawing
Wood.' How would he know that it was really 'Wilhelm II in Exile at
Doorn?'"

Sachiko had taken off her loup and was lighting a cigarette.

"I can think of pictures intended to explain their captions," she said.
"These picture language-books, the sort we use in the Service--little
line drawings, with a word or phrase under them."

"Well, of course, if we found something like that," von Ohlmhorst began.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Michael Ventris found something like that, back in the Fifties," Hubert
Penrose's voice broke in from directly behind her.

She turned her head. The colonel was standing by the archaeologists'
table; Captain Field and the airdyne pilot had gone out.

"He found a lot of Greek inventories of military stores," Penrose
continued. "They were in Cretan Linear B script, and at the head of each
list was a little picture, a sword or a helmet or a cooking tripod or a
chariot wheel. That's what gave him the key to the script."

"Colonel's getting to be quite an archaeologist," Fitzgerald commented.
"We're all learning each others' specialties, on this expedition."

"I heard about that long before this expedition was even contemplated."
Penrose was tapping a cigarette on his gold case. "I heard about that
back before the Thirty Days' War, at Intelligence School, when I was a
lieutenant. As a feat of cryptanalysis, not an archaeological
discovery."

"Yes, cryptanalysis," von Ohlmhorst pounced. "The reading of a known
language in an unknown form of writing. Ventris' lists were in the known
language, Greek. Neither he nor anybody else ever read a word of the
Cretan language until the finding of the Greek-Cretan bilingual in 1963,
because only with a bilingual text, one language already known, can an
unknown ancient language be learned. And what hope, I ask you, have we
of finding anything like that here? Martha, you've been working on these
Martian texts ever since we landed here--for the last six months. Tell
me, have you found a single word to which you can positively assign a
meaning?"

"Yes, I think I have one." She was trying hard not to sound too
exultant. "_Doma._ It's the name of one of the months of the Martian
calendar."

"Where did you find that?" von Ohlmhorst asked. "And how did you
establish--?"

"Here." She picked up the photostat and handed it along the table to
him. "I'd call this the title page of a magazine."

He was silent for a moment, looking at it. "Yes. I would say so, too.
Have you any of the rest of it?"

"I'm working on the first page of the first article, listed there. Wait
till I see; yes, here's all I found, together, here." She told him where
she had gotten it. "I just gathered it up, at the time, and gave it to
Geoffrey and Rosita to photostat; this is the first I've really examined
it."

The old man got to his feet, brushing tobacco ashes from the front of
his jacket, and came to where she was sitting, laying the title page on
the table and leafing quickly through the stack of photostats.

[Illustration]

"Yes, and here is the second article, on page eight, and here's the next
one." He finished the pile of photostats. "A couple of pages missing at
the end of the last article. This is remarkable; surprising that a thing
like a magazine would have survived so long."

"Well, this silicone stuff the Martians used for paper is pretty
durable," Hubert Penrose said. "There doesn't seem to have been any
water or any other fluid in it originally, so it wouldn't dry out with
time."

"Oh, it's not remarkable that the material would have survived. We've
found a good many books and papers in excellent condition. But only a
really vital culture, an organized culture, will publish magazines, and
this civilization had been dying for hundreds of years before the end.
It might have been a thousand years before the time they died out
completely that such activities as publishing ended."

"Well, look where I found it; in a closet in a cellar. Tossed in there
and forgotten, and then ignored when they were stripping the building.
Things like that happen."

Penrose had picked up the title page and was looking at it.

"I don't think there's any doubt about this being a magazine, at all."
He looked again at the title, his lips moving silently. "_Mastharnorvod
Tadavas Sornhulva_. Wonder what it means. But you're right about the
date--_Doma_ seems to be the name of a month. Yes, you have a word, Dr.
Dane."

Sid Chamberlain, seeing that something unusual was going on, had come
over from the table at which he was working. After examining the title
page and some of the inside pages, he began whispering into the
stenophone he had taken from his belt.

"Don't try to blow this up to anything big, Sid," she cautioned. "All we
have is the name of a month, and Lord only knows how long it'll be till
we even find out which month it was."

"Well, it's a start, isn't it?" Penrose argued. "Grotefend only had the
word for 'king' when he started reading Persian cuneiform."

"But I don't have the word for month; just the name of a month.
Everybody knew the names of the Persian kings, long before Grotefend."

"That's not the story," Chamberlain said. "What the public back on Terra
will be interested in is finding out that the Martians published
magazines, just like we do. Something familiar; make the Martians seem
more real. More human."

       *       *       *       *       *

Three men had come in, and were removing their masks and helmets and
oxy-tanks, and peeling out of their quilted coveralls. Two were Space
Force lieutenants; the third was a youngish civilian with close-cropped
blond hair, in a checked woolen shirt. Tony Lattimer and his helpers.

"Don't tell me Martha finally got something out of that stuff?" he
asked, approaching the table. He might have been commenting on the
antics of the village half-wit, from his tone.

"Yes; the name of one of the Martian months." Hubert Penrose went on to
explain, showing the photostat.

Tony Lattimer took it, glanced at it, and dropped it on the table.

"Sounds plausible, of course, but just an assumption. That word may not
be the name of a month, at all--could mean 'published' or 'authorized'
or 'copyrighted' or anything like that. Fact is, I don't think it's more
than a wild guess that that thing's anything like a periodical." He
dismissed the subject and turned to Penrose. "I picked out the next
building to enter; that tall one with the conical thing on top. It ought
to be in pretty good shape inside; the conical top wouldn't allow dust
to accumulate, and from the outside nothing seems to be caved in or
crushed. Ground level's higher than the other one, about the seventh
floor. I found a good place and drilled for the shots; tomorrow I'll
blast a hole in it, and if you can spare some people to help, we can
start exploring it right away."

"Yes, of course, Dr. Lattimer. I can spare about a dozen, and I suppose
you can find a few civilian volunteers," Penrose told him. "What will
you need in the way of equipment?"

"Oh, about six demolition-packets; they can all be shot together. And
the usual thing in the way of lights, and breaking and digging tools,
and climbing equipment in case we run into broken or doubtful stairways.
We'll divide into two parties. Nothing ought to be entered for the first
time without a qualified archaeologist along. Three parties, if Martha
can tear herself away from this catalogue of systematized
incomprehensibilities she's making long enough to do some real work."

She felt her chest tighten and her face become stiff. She was pressing
her lips together to lock in a furious retort when Hubert Penrose
answered for her.

"Dr. Dane's been doing as much work, and as important work, as you
have," he said brusquely. "More important work, I'd be inclined to say."

Von Ohlmhorst was visibly distressed; he glanced once toward Sid
Chamberlain, then looked hastily away from him. Afraid of a story of
dissension among archaeologists getting out.

"Working out a system of pronunciation by which the Martian language
could be transliterated was a most important contribution," he said.
"And Martha did that almost unassisted."

"Unassisted by Dr. Lattimer, anyway," Penrose added. "Captain Field and
Lieutenant Koremitsu did some work, and I helped out a little, but
nine-tenths of it she did herself."

"Purely arbitrary," Lattimer disdained. "Why, we don't even know that
the Martians could make the same kind of vocal sounds we do."

"Oh, yes, we do," Ivan Fitzgerald contradicted, safe on his own ground.
"I haven't seen any actual Martian skulls--these people seem to have
been very tidy about disposing of their dead--but from statues and busts
and pictures I've seen. I'd say that their vocal organs were identical
with our own."

"Well, grant that. And grant that it's going to be impressive to rattle
off the names of Martian notables whose statues we find, and that if
we're ever able to attribute any placenames, they'll sound a lot better
than this horse-doctors' Latin the old astronomers splashed all over the
map of Mars," Lattimer said. "What I object to is her wasting time on
this stuff, of which nobody will ever be able to read a word if she
fiddles around with those lists till there's another hundred feet of
loess on this city, when there's so much real work to be done and we're
as shorthanded as we are."

That was the first time that had come out in just so many words. She was
glad Lattimer had said it and not Selim von Ohlmhorst.

"What you mean," she retorted, "is that it doesn't have the publicity
value that digging up statues has."

For an instant, she could see that the shot had scored. Then Lattimer,
with a side glance at Chamberlain, answered:

"What I mean is that you're trying to find something that any
archaeologist, yourself included, should know doesn't exist. I don't
object to your gambling your professional reputation and making a
laughing stock of yourself; what I object to is that the blunders of one
archaeologist discredit the whole subject in the eyes of the public."

That seemed to be what worried Lattimer most. She was framing a reply
when the communication-outlet whistled shrilly, and then squawked:
"Cocktail time! One hour to dinner; cocktails in the library, Hut Four!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The library, which was also lounge, recreation room, and general
gathering-place, was already crowded; most of the crowd was at the long
table topped with sheets of glasslike plastic that had been wall panels
out of one of the ruined buildings. She poured herself what passed,
here, for a martini, and carried it over to where Selim von Ohlmhorst
was sitting alone.

For a while, they talked about the building they had just finished
exploring, then drifted into reminiscences of their work on Terra--von
Ohlmhorst's in Asia Minor, with the Hittite Empire, and hers in
Pakistan, excavating the cities of the Harappa Civilization. They
finished their drinks--the ingredients were plentiful; alcohol and
flavoring extracts synthesized from Martian vegetation--and von
Ohlmhorst took the two glasses to the table for refills.

"You know, Martha," he said, when he returned, "Tony was right about one
thing. You are gambling your professional standing and reputation. It's
against all archaeological experience that a language so completely dead
as this one could be deciphered. There was a continuity between all the
other ancient languages--by knowing Greek, Champollion learned to read
Egyptian; by knowing Egyptian, Hittite was learned. That's why you and
your colleagues have never been able to translate the Harappa
hieroglyphics; no such continuity exists there. If you insist that this
utterly dead language can be read, your reputation will suffer for it."

"I heard Colonel Penrose say, once, that an officer who's afraid to risk
his military reputation seldom makes much of a reputation. It's the same
with us. If we really want to find things out, we have to risk making
mistakes. And I'm a lot more interested in finding things out than I am
in my reputation."

She glanced across the room, to where Tony Lattimer was sitting with
Gloria Standish, talking earnestly, while Gloria sipped one of the
counterfeit martinis and listened. Gloria was the leading contender for
the title of Miss Mars, 1996, if you liked big bosomy blondes, but Tony
would have been just as attentive to her if she'd looked like the Wicked
Witch in "The Wizard of Oz." because Gloria was the Pan-Federation
Telecast System commentator with the expedition.

"I know you are," the old Turco-German was saying. "That's why, when
they asked me to name another archaeologist for this expedition, I named
you."

He hadn't named Tony Lattimer; Lattimer had been pushed onto the
expedition by his university. There'd been a lot of high-level
string-pulling to that; she wished she knew the whole story. She'd
managed to keep clear of universities and university politics; all her
digs had been sponsored by non-academic foundations or art museums.

"You have an excellent standing: much better than my own, at your age.
That's why it disturbs me to see you jeopardizing it by this insistence
that the Martian language can be translated. I can't, really, see how
you can hope to succeed."

She shrugged and drank some more of her cocktail, then lit another
cigarette. It was getting tiresome to try to verbalize something she
only felt.

"Neither do I, now, but I will. Maybe I'll find something like the
picture-books Sachiko was talking about. A child's primer, maybe; surely
they had things like that. And if I don't. I'll find something else.
We've only been here six months. I can wait the rest of my life, if I
have to, but I'll do it sometime."

"I can't wait so long," von Ohlmhorst said. "The rest of my life will
only be a few years, and when the _Schiaparelli_ orbits in, I'll be
going back to Terra on the _Cyrano_."

"I wish you wouldn't. This is a whole new world of archaeology.
Literally."

"Yes." He finished the cocktail and looked at his pipe as though
wondering whether to re-light it so soon before dinner, then put it in
his pocket. "A whole new world--but I've grown old, and it isn't for me.
I've spent my life studying the Hittites. I can speak the Hittite
language, though maybe King Muwatallis wouldn't be able to understand my
modern Turkish accent. But the things I'd have to learn here--chemistry,
physics, engineering, how to run analytic tests on steel girders and
beryllo-silver alloys and plastics and silicones. I'm more at home with
a civilization that rode in chariots and fought with swords and was just
learning how to work iron. Mars is for young people. This expedition is
a cadre of leadership--not only the Space Force people, who'll be the
commanders of the main expedition, but us scientists, too. And I'm just
an old cavalry general who can't learn to command tanks and aircraft.
You'll have time to learn about Mars. I won't."

His reputation as the dean of Hittitologists was solid and secure, too,
she added mentally. Then she felt ashamed of the thought. He wasn't to
be classed with Tony Lattimer.

"All I came for was to get the work started," he was continuing. "The
Federation Government felt that an old hand should do that. Well, it's
started, now; you and Tony and whoever come out on the _Schiaparelli_
must carry it on. You said it, yourself; you have a whole new world.
This is only one city, of the last Martian civilization. Behind this,
you have the Late Upland Culture, and the Canal Builders, and all the
civilizations and races and empires before them, clear back to the
Martian Stone Age." He hesitated for a moment. "You have no idea what
all you have to learn, Martha. This isn't the time to start specializing
too narrowly."

       *       *       *       *       *

They all got out of the truck and stretched their legs and looked up the
road to the tall building with the queer conical cap askew on its top.
The four little figures that had been busy against its wall climbed into
the jeep and started back slowly, the smallest of them, Sachiko
Koremitsu, paying out an electric cable behind. When it pulled up beside
the truck, they climbed out; Sachiko attached the free end of the cable
to a nuclear-electric battery. At once, dirty gray smoke and orange dust
puffed out from the wall of the building, and, a second later, the
multiple explosion banged.

She and Tony Lattimer and Major Lindemann climbed onto the truck,
leaving the jeep stand by the road. When they reached the building, a
satisfyingly wide breach had been blown in the wall. Lattimer had placed
his shots between two of the windows; they were both blown out along
with the wall between, and lay unbroken on the ground. Martha remembered
the first building they had entered. A Space Force officer had picked up
a stone and thrown it at one of the windows, thinking that would be all
they'd need to do. It had bounced back. He had drawn his pistol--they'd
all carried guns, then, on the principle that what they didn't know
about Mars might easily hurt them--and fired four shots. The bullets had
ricocheted, screaming thinly; there were four coppery smears of
jacket-metal on the window, and a little surface spalling. Somebody
tried a rifle; the 4000-f.s. bullet had cracked the glasslike pane
without penetrating. An oxyacetylene torch had taken an hour to cut the
window out; the lab crew, aboard the ship, were still trying to find out
just what the stuff was.

Tony Lattimer had gone forward and was sweeping his flashlight back and
forth, swearing petulantly, his voice harshened and amplified by his
helmet-speaker.

"I thought I was blasting into a hallway; this lets us into a room.
Careful; there's about a two-foot drop to the floor, and a lot of rubble
from the blast just inside."

He stepped down through the breach; the others began dragging equipment
out of the trucks--shovels and picks and crowbars and sledges, portable
floodlights, cameras, sketching materials, an extension ladder, even
Alpinists' ropes and crampons and pickaxes. Hubert Penrose was
shouldering something that looked like a surrealist machine gun but
which was really a nuclear-electric jack-hammer. Martha selected one of
the spike-shod mountaineer's ice axes, with which she could dig or chop
or poke or pry or help herself over rough footing.

The windows, grimed and crusted with fifty millennia of dust, filtered
in a dim twilight; even the breach in the wall, in the morning shade,
lighted only a small patch of floor. Somebody snapped on a floodlight,
aiming it at the ceiling. The big room was empty and bare; dust lay
thick on the floor and reddened the once-white walls. It could have been
a large office, but there was nothing left in it to indicate its use.

"This one's been stripped up to the seventh floor!" Lattimer exclaimed.
"Street level'll be cleaned out, completely."

"Do for living quarters and shops, then," Lindemann said. "Added to the
others, this'll take care of everybody on the _Schiaparelli_."

"Seem to have been a lot of electric or electronic apparatus over along
this wall," one of the Space Force officers commented. "Ten or twelve
electric outlets." He brushed the dusty wall with his glove, then
scraped on the floor with his foot. "I can see where things were pried
loose."

       *       *       *       *       *

The door, one of the double sliding things the Martians had used, was
closed. Selim von Ohlmhorst tried it, but it was stuck fast. The metal
latch-parts had frozen together, molecule bonding itself to molecule,
since the door had last been closed. Hubert Penrose came over with the
jack-hammer, fitting a spear-point chisel into place. He set the chisel
in the joint between the doors, braced the hammer against his hip, and
squeezed the trigger-switch. The hammer banged briefly like the weapon
it resembled, and the doors popped a few inches apart, then stuck.
Enough dust had worked into the recesses into which it was supposed to
slide to block it on both sides.

That was old stuff; they ran into that every time they had to force a
door, and they were prepared for it. Somebody went outside and brought
in a power-jack and finally one of the doors inched back to the door
jamb. That was enough to get the lights and equipment through: they all
passed from the room to the hallway beyond. About half the other doors
were open; each had a number and a single word, _Darfhulva_, over it.

[Illustration]

One of the civilian volunteers, a woman professor of natural ecology
from Penn State University, was looking up and down the hall.

"You know," she said, "I feel at home here. I think this was a college
of some sort, and these were classrooms. That word, up there; that was
the subject taught, or the department. And those electronic devices, all
where the class would face them; audio-visual teaching aids."

"A twenty-five-story university?" Lattimer scoffed. "Why, a building
like this would handle thirty thousand students."

"Maybe there were that many. This was a big city, in its prime," Martha
said, moved chiefly by a desire to oppose Lattimer.

"Yes, but think of the snafu in the halls, every time they changed
classes. It'd take half an hour to get everybody back and forth from one
floor to another." He turned to von Ohlmhorst. "I'm going up above this
floor. This place has been looted clean up to here, but there's a chance
there may be something above," he said.

"I'll stay on this floor, at present," the Turco-German replied. "There
will be much coming and going, and dragging things in and out. We should
get this completely examined and recorded first. Then Major Lindemann's
people can do their worst, here."

"Well, if nobody else wants it, I'll take the downstairs," Martha said.

"I'll go along with you," Hubert Penrose told her. "If the lower floors
have no archaeological value, we'll turn them into living quarters. I
like this building: it'll give everybody room to keep out from under
everybody else's feet." He looked down the hall. "We ought to find
escalators at the middle."

       *       *       *       *       *

The hallway, too, was thick underfoot with dust. Most of the open rooms
were empty, but a few contained furniture, including small seat-desks.
The original proponent of the university theory pointed these out as
just what might be found in classrooms. There were escalators, up and
down, on either side of the hall, and more on the intersecting passage
to the right.

"That's how they handled the students, between classes," Martha
commented. "And I'll bet there are more ahead, there."

They came to a stop where the hallway ended at a great square central
hall. There were elevators, there, on two of the sides, and four
escalators, still usable as stairways. But it was the walls, and the
paintings on them, that brought them up short and staring.

They were clouded with dirt--she was trying to imagine what they must
have looked like originally, and at the same time estimating the labor
that would be involved in cleaning them--but they were still
distinguishable, as was the word, _Darfhulva_, in golden letters above
each of the four sides. It was a moment before she realized, from the
murals, that she had at last found a meaningful Martian word. They were
a vast historical panorama, clockwise around the room. A group of
skin-clad savages squatting around a fire. Hunters with bows and spears,
carrying a carcass of an animal slightly like a pig. Nomads riding
long-legged, graceful mounts like hornless deer. Peasants sowing and
reaping; mud-walled hut villages, and cities; processions of priests and
warriors; battles with swords and bows, and with cannon and muskets;
galleys, and ships with sails, and ships without visible means of
propulsion, and aircraft. Changing costumes and weapons and machines
and styles of architecture. A richly fertile landscape, gradually
merging into barren deserts and bushlands--the time of the great
planet-wide drought. The Canal Builders--men with machines recognizable
as steam-shovels and derricks, digging and quarrying and driving across
the empty plains with aqueducts. More cities--seaports on the shrinking
oceans; dwindling, half-deserted cities; an abandoned city, with four
tiny humanoid figures and a thing like a combat-car in the middle of a
brush-grown plaza, they and their vehicle dwarfed by the huge lifeless
buildings around them. She had not the least doubt; _Darfhulva_ was
History.

"Wonderful!" von Ohlmhorst was saying. "The entire history of this race.
Why, if the painter depicted appropriate costumes and weapons and
machines for each period, and got the architecture right, we can break
the history of this planet into eras and periods and civilizations."

"You can assume they're authentic. The faculty of this university would
insist on authenticity in the _Darfhulva_--History--Department," she
said.

"Yes! _Darfhulva_--History! And your magazine was a journal of
_Sornhulva_!" Penrose exclaimed. "You have a word, Martha!" It took her
an instant to realize that he had called her by her first name, and not
Dr. Dane. She wasn't sure if that weren't a bigger triumph than learning
a word of the Martian language. Or a more auspicious start. "Alone, I
suppose that _hulva_ means something like science or knowledge, or
study; combined, it would be equivalent to our 'ology. And _darf_ would
mean something like past, or old times, or human events, or chronicles."

"That gives you three words, Martha!" Sachiko jubilated. "You did it."

"Let's don't go too fast," Lattimer said, for once not derisively. "I'll
admit that _darfhulva_ is the Martian word for history as a subject of
study; I'll admit that _hulva_ is the general word and _darf_ modifies
it and tells us which subject is meant. But as for assigning specific
meanings, we can't do that because we don't know just how the Martians
thought, scientifically or otherwise."

He stopped short, startled by the blue-white light that blazed as Sid
Chamberlain's Kliegettes went on. When the whirring of the camera
stopped, it was Chamberlain who was speaking:

"This is the biggest thing yet; the whole history of Mars, stone age to
the end, all on four walls. I'm taking this with the fast shutter, but
we'll telecast it in slow motion, from the beginning to the end. Tony, I
want you to do the voice for it--running commentary, interpretation of
each scene as it's shown. Would you do that?"

Would he do that! Martha thought. If he had a tail, he'd be wagging it
at the very thought.

"Well, there ought to be more murals on the other floors," she said.
"Who wants to come downstairs with us?"

Sachiko did; immediately. Ivan Fitzgerald volunteered. Sid decided to go
upstairs with Tony Lattimer, and Gloria Standish decided to go upstairs,
too. Most of the party would remain on the seventh floor, to help Selim
von Ohlmhorst get it finished. After poking tentatively at the escalator
with the spike of her ice axe, Martha led the way downward.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sixth floor was _Darfhulva_, too; military and technological
history, from the character of the murals. They looked around the
central hall, and went down to the fifth; it was like the floors above
except that the big quadrangle was stacked with dusty furniture and
boxes. Ivan Fitzgerald, who was carrying the floodlight, swung it slowly
around. Here the murals were of heroic-sized Martians, so human in
appearance as to seem members of her own race, each holding some
object--a book, or a test tube, or some bit of scientific apparatus, and
behind them were scenes of laboratories and factories, flame and smoke,
lightning-flashes. The word at the top of each of the four walls was one
with which she was already familiar--_Sornhulva_.

"Hey, Martha; there's that word," Ivan Fitzgerald exclaimed. "The one in
the title of your magazine." He looked at the paintings. "Chemistry, or
physics."

"Both." Hubert Penrose considered. "I don't think the Martians made any
sharp distinction between them. See, the old fellow with the scraggly
whiskers must be the inventor of the spectroscope; he has one in his
hands, and he has a rainbow behind him. And the woman in the blue smock,
beside him, worked in organic chemistry; see the diagrams of long-chain
molecules behind her. What word would convey the idea of chemistry and
physics taken as one subject?"

"_Sornhulva_," Sachiko suggested. "If _hulva's_ something like science,
"_sorn_" must mean matter, or substance, or physical object. You were
right, all along, Martha. A civilization like this would certainly leave
something like this, that would be self-explanatory."

"This'll wipe a little more of that superior grin off Tony Lattimer's
face," Fitzgerald was saying, as they went down the motionless escalator
to the floor below. "Tony wants to be a big shot. When you want to be a
big shot, you can't bear the possibility of anybody else being a bigger
big shot, and whoever makes a start on reading this language will be the
biggest big shot archaeology ever saw."

That was true. She hadn't thought of it, in that way, before, and now
she tried not to think about it. She didn't want to be a big shot. She
wanted to be able to read the Martian language, and find things out
about the Martians.

Two escalators down, they came out on a mezzanine around a wide central
hall on the street level, the floor forty feet below them and the
ceiling thirty feet above. Their lights picked out object after object
below--a huge group of sculptured figures in the middle; some kind of a
motor vehicle jacked up on trestles for repairs; things that looked like
machine-guns and auto-cannon; long tables, tops littered with a
dust-covered miscellany; machinery; boxes and crates and containers.

       *       *       *       *       *

They made their way down and walked among the clutter, missing a hundred
things for every one they saw, until they found an escalator to the
basement. There were three basements, one under another, until at last
they stood at the bottom of the last escalator, on a bare concrete
floor, swinging the portable floodlight over stacks of boxes and barrels
and drums, and heaps of powdery dust. The boxes were plastic--nobody had
ever found anything made of wood in the city--and the barrels and drums
were of metal or glass or some glasslike substance. They were outwardly
intact. The powdery heaps might have been anything organic, or anything
containing fluid. Down here, where wind and dust could not reach,
evaporation had been the only force of destruction after the minute life
that caused putrefaction had vanished.

They found refrigeration rooms, too, and using Martha's ice axe and the
pistollike vibratool Sachiko carried on her belt, they pounded and pried
one open, to find dessicated piles of what had been vegetables, and
leathery chunks of meat. Samples of that stuff, rocketed up to the ship,
would give a reliable estimate, by radio-carbon dating, of how long ago
this building had been occupied. The refrigeration unit, radically
different from anything their own culture had produced, had been
electrically powered. Sachiko and Penrose, poking into it, found the
switches still on; the machine had only ceased to function when the
power-source, whatever that had been, had failed.

The middle basement had also been used, at least toward the end, for
storage; it was cut in half by a partition pierced by but one door. They
took half an hour to force this, and were on the point of sending above
for heavy equipment when it yielded enough for them to squeeze through.
Fitzgerald, in the lead with the light, stopped short, looked around,
and then gave a groan that came through his helmet-speaker like a
foghorn.

"Oh, no! _No!_"

"What's the matter, Ivan?" Sachiko, entering behind him, asked
anxiously.

He stepped aside. "Look at it, Sachi! Are we going to have to do all
that?"

Martha crowded through behind her friend and looked around, then stood
motionless, dizzy with excitement. Books. Case on case of books, half an
acre of cases, fifteen feet to the ceiling. Fitzgerald, and Penrose, who
had pushed in behind her, were talking in rapid excitement; she only
heard the sound of their voices, not their words. This must be the main
stacks of the university library--the entire literature of the vanished
race of Mars. In the center, down an aisle between the cases, she could
see the hollow square of the librarians' desk, and stairs and a
dumb-waiter to the floor above.

She realized that she was walking forward, with the others, toward this.
Sachiko was saying: "I'm the lightest; let me go first." She must be
talking about the spidery metal stairs.

"I'd say they were safe," Penrose answered. "The trouble we've had with
doors around here shows that the metal hasn't deteriorated."

In the end, the Japanese girl led the way, more catlike than ever in her
caution. The stairs were quite sound, in spite of their fragile
appearance, and they all followed her. The floor above was a duplicate
of the room they had entered, and seemed to contain about as many books.
Rather than waste time forcing the door here, they returned to the
middle basement and came up by the escalator down which they had
originally descended.

The upper basement contained kitchens--electric stoves, some with pots
and pans still on them--and a big room that must have been, originally,
the students' dining room, though when last used it had been a workshop.
As they expected, the library reading room was on the street-level
floor, directly above the stacks. It seemed to have been converted into
a sort of common living room for the building's last occupants. An
adjoining auditorium had been made into a chemical works; there were
vats and distillation apparatus, and a metal fractionating tower that
extended through a hole knocked in the ceiling seventy feet above. A
good deal of plastic furniture of the sort they had been finding
everywhere in the city was stacked about, some of it broken up,
apparently for reprocessing. The other rooms on the street floor seemed
also to have been devoted to manufacturing and repair work; a
considerable industry, along a number of lines, must have been carried
on here for a long time after the university had ceased to function as
such.

On the second floor, they found a museum; many of the exhibits remained,
tantalizingly half-visible in grimed glass cases. There had been
administrative offices there, too. The doors of most of them were
closed, and they did not waste time trying to force them, but those that
were open had been turned into living quarters. They made notes, and
rough floor plans, to guide them in future more thorough examination; it
was almost noon before they had worked their way back to the seventh
floor.

Selim von Ohlmhorst was in a room on the north side of the building,
sketching the position of things before examining them and collecting
them for removal. He had the floor checkerboarded with a grid of chalked
lines, each numbered.

"We have everything on this floor photographed," he said. "I have three
gangs--all the floodlights I have--sketching and making measurements. At
the rate we're going, with time out for lunch, we'll be finished by the
middle of the afternoon."

"You've been working fast. Evidently you aren't being high-church about
a 'qualified archaeologist' entering rooms first," Penrose commented.

"Ach, childishness!" the old man exclaimed impatiently. "These officers
of yours aren't fools. All of them have been to Intelligence School and
Criminal Investigation School. Some of the most careful amateur
archaeologists I ever knew were retired soldiers or policemen. But there
isn't much work to be done. Most of the rooms are either empty or like
this one--a few bits of furniture and broken trash and scraps of paper.
Did you find anything down on the lower floors?"

"Well, yes," Penrose said, a hint of mirth in his voice. "What would you
say, Martha?"

She started to tell Selim. The others, unable to restrain their
excitement, broke in with interruptions. Von Ohlmhorst was staring in
incredulous amazement.

"But this floor was looted almost clean, and the buildings we've entered
before were all looted from the street level up," he said, at length.

"The people who looted this one lived here," Penrose replied. "They had
electric power to the last; we found refrigerators full of food, and
stoves with the dinner still on them. They must have used the elevators
to haul things down from the upper floor. The whole first floor was
converted into workshops and laboratories. I think that this place must
have been something like a monastery in the Dark Ages in Europe, or what
such a monastery would have been like if the Dark Ages had followed the
fall of a highly developed scientific civilization. For one thing, we
found a lot of machine guns and light auto-cannon on the street level,
and all the doors were barricaded. The people here were trying to keep a
civilization running after the rest of the planet had gone back to
barbarism; I suppose they'd have to fight off raids by the barbarians
now and then."

"You're not going to insist on making this building into expedition
quarters, I hope, colonel?" von Ohlmhorst asked anxiously.

"Oh, no! This place is an archaeological treasure-house. More than that;
from what I saw, our technicians can learn a lot, here. But you'd better
get this floor cleaned up as soon as you can, though. I'll have the
subsurface part, from the sixth floor down, airsealed. Then we'll put
in oxygen generators and power units, and get a couple of elevators into
service. For the floors above, we can use temporary airsealing floor by
floor, and portable equipment; when we have things atmosphered and
lighted and heated, you and Martha and Tony Lattimer can go to work
systematically and in comfort, and I'll give you all the help I can
spare from the other work. This is one of the biggest things we've found
yet."

Tony Lattimer and his companions came down to the seventh floor a little
later.

"I don't get this, at all," he began, as soon as he joined them. "This
building wasn't stripped the way the others were. Always, the procedure
seems to have been to strip from the bottom up, but they seem to have
stripped the top floors first, here. All but the very top. I found out
what that conical thing is, by the way. It's a wind-rotor, and under it
there's an electric generator. This building generated its own power."

"What sort of condition are the generators in?" Penrose asked.

"Well, everything's full of dust that blew in under the rotor, of
course, but it looks to be in pretty good shape. Hey, I'll bet that's
it! They had power, so they used the elevators to haul stuff down.
That's just what they did. Some of the floors above here don't seem to
have been touched, though." He paused momentarily; back of his oxy-mask,
he seemed to be grinning. "I don't know that I ought to mention this in
front of Martha, but two floors above--we hit a room--it must have been
the reference library for one of the departments--that had close to five
hundred books in it."

The noise that interrupted him, like the squawking of a Brobdingnagian
parrot, was only Ivan Fitzgerald laughing through his helmet-speaker.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lunch at the huts was a hasty meal, with a gabble of full-mouthed and
excited talking. Hubert Penrose and his chief subordinates snatched
their food in a huddled consultation at one end of the table; in the
afternoon, work was suspended on everything else and the fifty-odd men
and women of the expedition concentrated their efforts on the
University. By the middle of the afternoon, the seventh floor had been
completely examined, photographed and sketched, and the murals in the
square central hall covered with protective tarpaulins, and Laurent
Gicquel and his airsealing crew had moved in and were at work. It had
been decided to seal the central hall at the entrances. It took the
French-Canadian engineer most of the afternoon to find all the
ventilation-ducts and plug them. An elevator-shaft on the north side was
found reaching clear to the twenty-fifth floor; this would give access
to the top of the building; another shaft, from the center, would take
care of the floors below. Nobody seemed willing to trust the ancient
elevators, themselves; it was the next evening before a couple of cars
and the necessary machinery could be fabricated in the machine shops
aboard the ship and sent down by landing-rocket. By that time, the
airsealing was finished, the nuclear-electric energy-converters were in
place, and the oxygen generators set up.

[Illustration]

Martha was in the lower basement, an hour or so before lunch the day
after, when a couple of Space Force officers came out of the elevator,
bringing extra lights with them. She was still using oxygen-equipment;
it was a moment before she realized that the newcomers had no masks, and
that one of them was smoking. She took off her own helmet-speaker,
throat-mike and mask and unslung her tank-pack, breathing cautiously.
The air was chilly, and musty-acrid with the odor of antiquity--the
first Martian odor she had smelled--but when she lit a cigarette, the
lighter flamed clear and steady and the tobacco caught and burned
evenly.

The archaeologists, many of the other civilian scientists, a few of the
Space Force officers and the two news-correspondents, Sid Chamberlain
and Gloria Standish, moved in that evening, setting up cots in vacant
rooms. They installed electric stoves and a refrigerator in the old
Library Reading Room, and put in a bar and lunch counter. For a few
days, the place was full of noise and activity, then, gradually, the
Space Force people and all but a few of the civilians returned to their
own work. There was still the business of airsealing the more habitable
of the buildings already explored, and fitting them up in readiness for
the arrival, in a year and a half, of the five hundred members of the
main expedition. There was work to be done enlarging the landing field
for the ship's rocket craft, and building new chemical-fuel tanks.

There was the work of getting the city's ancient reservoirs cleared of
silt before the next spring thaw brought more water down the underground
aqueducts everybody called canals in mistranslation of Schiaparelli's
Italian word, though this was proving considerably easier than
anticipated. The ancient Canal-Builders must have anticipated a time
when their descendants would no longer be capable of maintenance work,
and had prepared against it. By the day after the University had been
made completely habitable, the actual work there was being done by
Selim, Tony Lattimer and herself, with half a dozen Space Force
officers, mostly girls, and four or five civilians, helping.

       *       *       *       *       *

They worked up from the bottom, dividing the floor-surfaces into
numbered squares, measuring and listing and sketching and photographing.
They packaged samples of organic matter and sent them up to the ship for
Carbon-14 dating and analysis; they opened cans and jars and bottles,
and found that everything fluid in them had evaporated, through the
porosity of glass and metal and plastic if there were no other way.
Wherever they looked, they found evidence of activity suddenly suspended
and never resumed. A vise with a bar of metal in it, half cut through
and the hacksaw beside it. Pots and pans with hardened remains of food
in them; a leathery cut of meat on a table, with the knife ready at
hand. Toilet articles on washstands; unmade beds, the bedding ready to
crumble at a touch but still retaining the impress of the sleeper's
body; papers and writing materials on desks, as though the writer had
gotten up, meaning to return and finish in a fifty-thousand-year-ago
moment.

It worried her. Irrationally, she began to feel that the Martians had
never left this place; that they were still around her, watching
disapprovingly every time she picked up something they had laid down.
They haunted her dreams, now, instead of their enigmatic writing. At
first, everybody who had moved into the University had taken a separate
room, happy to escape the crowding and lack of privacy of the huts.
After a few nights, she was glad when Gloria Standish moved in with her,
and accepted the newswoman's excuse that she felt lonely without
somebody to talk to before falling asleep. Sachiko Koremitsu joined them
the next evening, and before going to bed, the girl officer cleaned and
oiled her pistol, remarking that she was afraid some rust may have
gotten into it.

The others felt it, too. Selim von Ohlmhorst developed the habit of
turning quickly and looking behind him, as though trying to surprise
somebody or something that was stalking him. Tony Lattimer, having a
drink at the bar that had been improvised from the librarian's desk in
the Reading Room, set down his glass and swore.

"You know what this place is? It's an archaeological _Marie Celeste_!"
he declared. "It was occupied right up to the end--we've all seen the
shifts these people used to keep a civilization going here--but what was
the end? What happened to them? Where did they go?"

"You didn't expect them to be waiting out front, with a red carpet and a
big banner, _Welcome Terrans_, did you, Tony?" Gloria Standish asked.

"No, of course not; they've all been dead for fifty thousand years. But
if they were the last of the Martians, why haven't we found their bones,
at least? Who buried them, after they were dead?" He looked at the
glass, a bubble-thin goblet, found, with hundreds of others like it, in
a closet above, as though debating with himself whether to have another
drink. Then he voted in the affirmative and reached for the cocktail
pitcher. "And every door on the old ground level is either barred or
barricaded from the inside. How did they get out? And why did they
leave?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day, at lunch, Sachiko Koremitsu had the answer to the second
question. Four or five electrical engineers had come down by rocket from
the ship, and she had been spending the morning with them, in oxy-masks,
at the top of the building.

"Tony, I thought you said those generators were in good shape," she
began, catching sight of Lattimer. "They aren't. They're in the most
unholy mess I ever saw. What happened, up there, was that the supports
of the wind-rotor gave way, and weight snapped the main shaft, and
smashed everything under it."

"Well, after fifty thousand years, you can expect something like that,"
Lattimer retorted. "When an archaeologist says something's in good
shape, he doesn't necessarily mean it'll start as soon as you shove a
switch in."

"You didn't notice that it happened when the power was on, did you," one
of the engineers asked, nettled at Lattimer's tone. "Well, it was.
Everything's burned out or shorted or fused together; I saw one busbar
eight inches across melted clean in two. It's a pity we didn't find
things in good shape, even archaeologically speaking. I saw a lot of
interesting things, things in advance of what we're using now. But it'll
take a couple of years to get everything sorted out and figure what it
looked like originally."

"Did it look as though anybody'd made any attempt to fix it?" Martha
asked.

Sachiko shook her head. "They must have taken one look at it and given
up. I don't believe there would have been any possible way to repair
anything."

"Well, that explains why they left. They needed electricity for
lighting, and heating, and all their industrial equipment was
electrical. They had a good life, here, with power; without it, this
place wouldn't have been habitable."

"Then why did they barricade everything from the inside, and how did
they get out?" Lattimer wanted to know.

"To keep other people from breaking in and looting. Last man out
probably barred the last door and slid down a rope from upstairs," von
Ohlmhorst suggested. "This Houdini-trick doesn't worry me too much.
We'll find out eventually."

"Yes, about the time Martha starts reading Martian," Lattimer scoffed.

"That may be just when we'll find out," von Ohlmhorst replied seriously.
"It wouldn't surprise me if they left something in writing when they
evacuated this place."

"Are you really beginning to treat this pipe dream of hers as a serious
possibility, Selim?" Lattimer demanded. "I know, it would be a wonderful
thing, but wonderful things don't happen just because they're wonderful.
Only because they're possible, and this isn't. Let me quote that
distinguished Hittitologist, Johannes Friedrich: 'Nothing can be
translated out of nothing.' Or that later but not less distinguished
Hittitologist, Selim von Ohlmhorst: 'Where are you going to get your
bilingual?'"

"Friedrich lived to see the Hittite language deciphered and read," von
Ohlmhorst reminded him.

"Yes, when they found Hittite-Assyrian bilinguals." Lattimer measured a
spoonful of coffee-powder into his cup and added hot water. "Martha, you
ought to know, better than anybody, how little chance you have. You've
been working for years in the Indus Valley; how many words of Harappa
have you or anybody else ever been able to read?"

"We never found a university, with a half-million-volume library, at
Harappa or Mohenjo-Daro."

"And, the first day we entered this building, we established meanings
for several words," Selim von Ohlmhorst added.

"And you've never found another meaningful word since," Lattimer added.
"And you're only sure of general meaning, not specific meaning of
word-elements, and you have a dozen different interpretations for each
word."

"We made a start," von Ohlmhorst maintained. "We have Grotefend's word
for 'king.' But I'm going to be able to read some of those books, over
there, if it takes me the rest of my life here. It probably will,
anyhow."

"You mean you've changed your mind about going home on the _Cyrano_?"
Martha asked. "You'll stay on here?"

The old man nodded. "I can't leave this. There's too much to discover.
The old dog will have to learn a lot of new tricks, but this is where my
work will be, from now on."

Lattimer was shocked. "You're nuts!" he cried. "You mean you're going
to throw away everything you've accomplished in Hittitology and start
all over again here on Mars? Martha, if you've talked him into this
crazy decision, you're a criminal!"

"Nobody talked me into anything," von Ohlmhorst said roughly. "And as
for throwing away what I've accomplished in Hittitology, I don't know
what the devil you're talking about. Everything I know about the Hittite
Empire is published and available to anybody. Hittitology's like
Egyptology; it's stopped being research and archaeology and become
scholarship and history. And I'm not a scholar or a historian; I'm a
pick-and-shovel field archaeologist--a highly skilled and specialized
grave-robber and junk-picker--and there's more pick-and-shovel work on
this planet than I could do in a hundred lifetimes. This is something
new; I was a fool to think I could turn my back on it and go back to
scribbling footnotes about Hittite kings."

"You could have anything you wanted, in Hittitology. There are a dozen
universities that'd sooner have you than a winning football team. But
no! You have to be the top man in Martiology, too. You can't leave that
for anybody else--" Lattimer shoved his chair back and got to his feet,
leaving the table with an oath that was almost a sob of exasperation.

Maybe his feelings were too much for him. Maybe he realized, as Martha
did, what he had betrayed. She sat, avoiding the eyes of the others,
looking at the ceiling, as embarrassed as though Lattimer had flung
something dirty on the table in front of them. Tony Lattimer had,
desperately, wanted Selim to go home on the _Cyrano_. Martiology was a
new field; if Selim entered it, he would bring with him the reputation
he had already built in Hittitology, automatically stepping into the
leading role that Lattimer had coveted for himself. Ivan Fitzgerald's
words echoed back to her--when you want to be a big shot, you can't bear
the possibility of anybody else being a bigger big shot. His derision of
her own efforts became comprehensible, too. It wasn't that he was
convinced that she would never learn to read the Martian language. He
had been afraid that she would.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ivan Fitzgerald finally isolated the germ that had caused the Finchley
girl's undiagnosed illness. Shortly afterward, the malady turned into a
mild fever, from which she recovered. Nobody else seemed to have caught
it. Fitzgerald was still trying to find out how the germ had been
transmitted.

They found a globe of Mars, made when the city had been a seaport. They
located the city, and learned that its name had been Kukan--or something
with a similar vowel-consonant ratio. Immediately, Sid Chamberlain and
Gloria Standish began giving their telecasts a Kukan dateline, and
Hubert Penrose used the name in his official reports. They also found a
Martian calendar; the year had been divided into ten more or less equal
months, and one of them had been Doma. Another month was Nor, and that
was a part of the name of the scientific journal Martha had found.

Bill Chandler, the zoologist, had been going deeper and deeper into the
old sea bottom of Syrtis. Four hundred miles from Kukan, and at fifteen
thousand feet lower altitude, he shot a bird. At least, it was a
something with wings and what were almost but not quite feathers, though
it was more reptilian than avian in general characteristics. He and Ivan
Fitzgerald skinned and mounted it, and then dissected the carcass almost
tissue by tissue. About seven-eighths of its body capacity was lungs; it
certainly breathed air containing at least half enough oxygen to support
human life, or five times as much as the air around Kukan.

That took the center of interest away from archaeology, and started a
new burst of activity. All the expedition's aircraft--four jetticopters
and three wingless airdyne reconnaissance fighters--were thrown into
intensified exploration of the lower sea bottoms, and the bio-science
boys and girls were wild with excitement and making new discoveries on
each flight.

The University was left to Selim and Martha and Tony Lattimer, the
latter keeping to himself while she and the old Turco-German worked
together. The civilian specialists in other fields, and the Space Force
people who had been holding tape lines and making sketches and snapping
cameras, were all flying to lower Syrtis to find out how much oxygen
there was and what kind of life it supported.

Sometimes Sachiko dropped in; most of the time she was busy helping Ivan
Fitzgerald dissect specimens. They had four or five species of what
might loosely be called birds, and something that could easily be
classed as a reptile, and a carnivorous mammal the size of a cat with
birdlike claws, and a herbivore almost identical with the piglike thing
in the big _Darfhulva_ mural, and another like a gazelle with a single
horn in the middle of its forehead.

The high point came when one party, at thirty thousand feet below the
level of Kukan, found breathable air. One of them had a mild attack of
_sorroche_ and had to be flown back for treatment in a hurry, but the
others showed no ill effects.

The daily newscasts from Terra showed a corresponding shift in interest
at home. The discovery of the University had focused attention on the
dead past of Mars; now the public was interested in Mars as a possible
home for humanity. It was Tony Lattimer who brought archaeology back
into the activities of the expedition and the news at home.

Martha and Selim were working in the museum on the second floor,
scrubbing the grime from the glass cases, noting contents, and
grease-penciling numbers; Lattimer and a couple of Space Force officers
were going through what had been the administrative offices on the other
side. It was one of these, a young second lieutenant, who came hurrying
in from the mezzanine, almost bursting with excitement.

"Hey, Martha! Dr. von Ohlmhorst!" he was shouting. "Where are you?
Tony's found the Martians!"

Selim dropped his rag back in the bucket; she laid her clipboard on top
of the case beside her.

"Where?" they asked together.

"Over on the north side." The lieutenant took hold of himself and spoke
more deliberately. "Little room, back of one of the old faculty
offices--conference room. It was locked from the inside, and we had to
burn it down with a torch. That's where they are. Eighteen of them,
around a long table--"

Gloria Standish, who had dropped in for lunch, was on the mezzanine,
fairly screaming into a radiophone extension:

" ... Dozen and a half of them! Well, of course they're dead. What a
question! They look like skeletons covered with leather. No, I do not
know what they died of. Well, forget it; I don't care if Bill Chandler's
found a three-headed hippopotamus. Sid, don't you get it? We've found
the _Martians_!"

She slammed the phone back on its hook, rushing away ahead of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Martha remembered the closed door; on the first survey, they hadn't
attempted opening it. Now it was burned away at both sides and lay,
still hot along the edges, on the floor of the big office room in front.
A floodlight was on in the room inside, and Lattimer was going around
looking at things while a Space Force officer stood by the door. The
center of the room was filled by a long table; in armchairs around it
sat the eighteen men and women who had occupied the room for the last
fifty millennia. There were bottles and glasses on the table in front of
them, and, had she seen them in a dimmer light, she would have thought
that they were merely dozing over their drinks. One had a knee hooked
over his chair-arm and was curled in foetuslike sleep. Another had
fallen forward onto the table, arms extended, the emerald set of a ring
twinkling dully on one finger. Skeletons covered with leather, Gloria
Standish had called them, and so they were--faces like skulls, arms and
legs like sticks, the flesh shrunken onto the bones under it.

"Isn't this something!" Lattimer was exulting. "Mass suicide, that's
what it was. Notice what's in the corners?"

Braziers, made of perforated two-gallon-odd metal cans, the white walls
smudged with smoke above them. Von Ohlmhorst had noticed them at once,
and was poking into one of them with his flashlight.

"Yes; charcoal. I noticed a quantity of it around a couple of
hand-forges in the shop on the first floor. That's why you had so much
trouble breaking in; they'd sealed the room on the inside." He
straightened and went around the room, until he found a ventilator, and
peered into it. "Stuffed with rags. They must have been all that were
left, here. Their power was gone, and they were old and tired, and all
around them their world was dying. So they just came in here and lit the
charcoal, and sat drinking together till they all fell asleep. Well, we
know what became of them, now, anyhow."

Sid and Gloria made the most of it. The Terran public wanted to hear
about Martians, and if live Martians couldn't be found, a room full of
dead ones was the next best thing. Maybe an even better thing; it had
been only sixty-odd years since the Orson Welles invasion-scare. Tony
Lattimer, the discoverer, was beginning to cash in on his attentions to
Gloria and his ingratiation with Sid; he was always either making
voice-and-image talks for telecast or listening to the news from the
home planet. Without question, he had become, overnight, the most widely
known archaeologist in history.

"Not that I'm interested in all this, for myself," he disclaimed, after
listening to the telecast from Terra two days after his discovery. "But
this is going to be a big thing for Martian archaeology. Bring it to the
public attention; dramatize it. Selim, can you remember when Lord
Carnarvon and Howard Carter found the tomb of Tutankhamen?"

"In 1923? I was two years old, then," von Ohlmhorst chuckled. "I really
don't know how much that publicity ever did for Egyptology. Oh, the
museums did devote more space to Egyptian exhibits, and after a museum
department head gets a few extra showcases, you know how hard it is to
make him give them up. And, for a while, it was easier to get financial
support for new excavations. But I don't know how much good all this
public excitement really does, in the long run."

"Well, I think one of us should go back on the _Cyrano_, when the
_Schiaparelli_ orbits in," Lattimer said. "I'd hoped it would be you;
your voice would carry the most weight. But I think it's important that
one of us go back, to present the story of our work, and what we have
accomplished and what we hope to accomplish, to the public and to the
universities and the learned societies, and to the Federation
Government. There will be a great deal of work that will have to be
done. We must not allow the other scientific fields and the so-called
practical interests to monopolize public and academic support. So, I
believe I shall go back at least for a while, and see what I can do--"

Lectures. The organization of a Society of Martian Archaeology, with
Anthony Lattimer, Ph.D., the logical candidate for the chair. Degrees,
honors; the deference of the learned, and the adulation of the lay
public. Positions, with impressive titles and salaries. Sweet are the
uses of publicity.

She crushed out her cigarette and got to her feet. "Well, I still have
the final lists of what we found in _Halvhulva_--Biology--department to
check over. I'm starting on Sornhulva tomorrow, and I want that stuff in
shape for expert evaluation."

That was the sort of thing Tony Lattimer wanted to get away from, the
detail-work and the drudgery. Let the infantry do the slogging through
the mud; the brass-hats got the medals.

       *       *       *       *       *

She was halfway through the fifth floor, a week later, and was having
midday lunch in the reading room on the first floor when Hubert Penrose
came over and sat down beside her, asking her what she was doing. She
told him.

"I wonder if you could find me a couple of men, for an hour or so," she
added. "I'm stopped by a couple of jammed doors at the central hall.
Lecture room and library, if the layout of that floor's anything like
the ones below it."

"Yes. I'm a pretty fair door-buster, myself." He looked around the room.
"There's Jeff Miles; he isn't doing much of anything. And we'll put Sid
Chamberlain to work, for a change, too. The four of us ought to get your
doors open." He called to Chamberlain, who was carrying his tray over to
the dish washer. "Oh, Sid; you doing anything for the next hour or so?"

"I was going up to the fourth floor, to see what Tony's doing."

"Forget it. Tony's bagged his season limit of Martians. I'm going to
help Martha bust in a couple of doors; we'll probably find a whole
cemetery full of Martians."

Chamberlain shrugged. "Why not. A jammed door can have anything back of
it, and I know what Tony's doing--just routine stuff."

Jeff Miles, the Space Force captain, came over, accompanied by one of
the lab-crew from the ship who had come down on the rocket the day
before.

"This ought to be up your alley, Mort," he was saying to his companion.
"Chemistry and physics department. Want to come along?"

The lab man, Mort Tranter, was willing. Seeing the sights was what he'd
come down from the ship for. She finished her coffee and cigarette, and
they went out into the hall together, gathered equipment and rode the
elevator to the fifth floor.

The lecture hall door was the nearest; they attacked it first. With
proper equipment and help, it was no problem and in ten minutes they had
it open wide enough to squeeze through with the floodlights. The room
inside was quite empty, and, like most of the rooms behind closed doors,
comparatively free from dust. The students, it appeared, had sat with
their backs to the door, facing a low platform, but their seats and the
lecturer's table and equipment had been removed. The two side walls bore
inscriptions: on the right, a pattern of concentric circles which she
recognized as a diagram of atomic structure, and on the left a
complicated table of numbers and words, in two columns. Tranter was
pointing at the diagram on the right.

[Illustration]

"They got as far as the Bohr atom, anyhow," he said. "Well, not quite.
They knew about electron shells, but they have the nucleus pictured as a
solid mass. No indication of proton-and-neutron structure. I'll bet,
when you come to translate their scientific books, you'll find that they
taught that the atom was the ultimate and indivisible particle. That
explains why you people never found any evidence that the Martians used
nuclear energy."

"That's a uranium atom," Captain Miles mentioned.

"It is?" Sid Chamberlain asked, excitedly. "Then they did know about
atomic energy. Just because we haven't found any pictures of A-bomb
mushrooms doesn't mean--"

She turned to look at the other wall. Sid's signal reactions were
setting away from him again; uranium meant nuclear power to him, and the
two words were interchangeable. As she studied the arrangement of the
numbers and words, she could hear Tranter saying:

"Nuts, Sid. We knew about uranium a long time before anybody found out
what could be done with it. Uranium was discovered on Terra in 1789, by
Klaproth."

There was something familiar about the table on the left wall. She tried
to remember what she had been taught in school about physics, and what
she had picked up by accident afterward. The second column was a
continuation of the first: there were forty-six items in each, each item
numbered consecutively--

"Probably used uranium because it's the largest of the natural atoms,"
Penrose was saying. "The fact that there's nothing beyond it there shows
that they hadn't created any of the transuranics. A student could go to
that thing and point out the outer electron of any of the ninety-two
elements."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ninety-two! That was it; there were ninety-two items in the table on the
left wall! Hydrogen was Number One, she knew; One, _Sarfaldsorn_. Helium
was Two; that was _Tirfaldsorn_. She couldn't remember which element
came next, but in Martian it was _Sarfalddavas_. _Sorn_ must mean
matter, or substance, then. And _davas_; she was trying to think of what
it could be. She turned quickly to the others, catching hold of Hubert
Penrose's arm with one hand and waving her clipboard with the other.

"Look at this thing, over here," she was clamoring excitedly. "Tell me
what you think it is. Could it be a table of the elements?"

They all turned to look. Mort Tranter stared at it for a moment.

"Could be. If I only knew what those squiggles meant--"

That was right; he'd spent his time aboard the ship.

"If you could read the numbers, would that help?" she asked, beginning
to set down the Arabic digits and their Martian equivalents. "It's
decimal system, the same as we use."

"Sure. If that's a table of elements, all I'd need would be the numbers.
Thanks," he added as she tore off the sheet and gave it to him.

Penrose knew the numbers, and was ahead of him. "Ninety-two items,
numbered consecutively. The first number would be the atomic number.
Then a single word, the name of the element. Then the atomic weight--"

She began reading off the names of the elements. "I know hydrogen and
helium; what's _tirfalddavas_, the third one?"

"Lithium," Tranter said. "The atomic weights aren't run out past the
decimal point. Hydrogen's one plus, if that double-hook dingus is a plus
sign; Helium's four-plus, that's right. And lithium's given as seven,
that isn't right. It's six-point nine-four-oh. Or is that thing a
Martian minus sign?"

"Of course! Look! A plus sign is a hook, to hang things together; a
minus sign is a knife, to cut something off from something--see, the
little loop is the handle and the long pointed loop is the blade.
Stylized, of course, but that's what it is. And the fourth element,
kiradavas; what's that?"

"Beryllium. Atomic weight given as nine-and-a-hook; actually it's
nine-point-oh-two."

Sid Chamberlain had been disgruntled because he couldn't get a story
about the Martians having developed atomic energy. It took him a few
minutes to understand the newest development, but finally it dawned on
him.

"Hey! You're reading that!" he cried. "You're reading Martian!"

"That's right," Penrose told him. "Just reading it right off. I don't
get the two items after the atomic weight, though. They look like months
of the Martian calendar. What ought they to be, Mort?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Tranter hesitated. "Well, the next information after the atomic weight
ought to be the period and group numbers. But those are words."

"What would the numbers be for the first one, hydrogen?"

"Period One, Group One. One electron shell, one electron in the outer
shell," Tranter told her. "Helium's period one, too, but it has the
outer--only--electron shell full, so it's in the group of inert
elements."

"_Trav, Trav._ _Trav's_ the first month of the year. And helium's _Trav,
Yenth_; _Yenth_ is the eighth month."

"The inert elements could be called Group Eight, yes. And the third
element, lithium, is Period Two, Group One. That check?"

"It certainly does. _Sanv, Trav_; _Sanv's_ the second month. What's the
first element in Period Three?"

"Sodium. Number Eleven."

That's right; it's _Krav, Trav_. Why, the names of the months are simply
numbers, one to ten, spelled out.

"_Doma_'s the fifth month. That was your first Martian word, Martha,"
Penrose told her. "The word for five. And if _davas_ is the word for
metal, and _sornhulva_ is chemistry and / or physics, I'll bet Tadavas
Sornhulva is literally translated as: Of-Metal Matter-Knowledge.
Metallurgy, in other words. I wonder what Mastharnorvod means." It
surprised her that, after so long and with so much happening in the
meantime, he could remember that. "Something like 'Journal,' or
'Review,' or maybe 'Quarterly.'"

"We'll work that out, too," she said confidently. After this, nothing
seemed impossible. "Maybe we can find--" Then she stopped short. "You
said 'Quarterly.' I think it was 'Monthly,' instead. It was dated for a
specific month, the fifth one. And if _nor_ is ten, Mastharnorvod could
be 'Year-Tenth.' And I'll bet we'll find that _masthar_ is the word for
year." She looked at the table on the wall again. "Well, let's get all
these words down, with translations for as many as we can."

"Let's take a break for a minute," Penrose suggested, getting out his
cigarettes. "And then, let's do this in comfort. Jeff, suppose you and
Sid go across the hall and see what you find in the other room in the
way of a desk or something like that, and a few chairs. There'll be a
lot of work to do on this."

Sid Chamberlain had been squirming as though he were afflicted with
ants, trying to contain himself. Now he let go with an excited jabber.

"This is really it! _The_ it, not just it-of-the-week, like finding the
reservoirs or those statues or this building, or even the animals and
the dead Martians! Wait till Selim and Tony see this! Wait till Tony
sees it; I want to see his face! And when I get this on telecast, all
Terra's going to go nuts about it!" He turned to Captain Miles. "Jeff,
suppose you take a look at that other door, while I find somebody to
send to tell Selim and Tony. And Gloria; wait till she sees this--"

"Take it easy, Sid," Martha cautioned. "You'd better let me have a look
at your script, before you go too far overboard on the telecast. This is
just a beginning; it'll take years and years before we're able to read
any of those books downstairs."

"It'll go faster than you think, Martha," Hubert Penrose told her.
"We'll all work on it, and we'll teleprint material to Terra, and people
there will work on it. We'll send them everything we can ... everything
we work out, and copies of books, and copies of your word-lists--"

And there would be other tables--astronomical tables, tables in physics
and mechanics, for instance--in which words and numbers were equivalent.
The library stacks, below, would be full of them. Transliterate them
into Roman alphabet spellings and Arabic numerals, and somewhere,
somebody would spot each numerical significance, as Hubert Penrose and
Mort Tranter and she had done with the table of elements. And pick out
all the chemistry textbooks in the Library; new words would take on
meaning from contexts in which the names of elements appeared. She'd
have to start studying chemistry and physics, herself--

       *       *       *       *       *

Sachiko Koremitsu peeped in through the door, then stepped inside.

"Is there anything I can do--?" she began. "What's happened? Something
important?"

"Important?" Sid Chamberlain exploded. "Look at that, Sachi! We're
reading it! Martha's found out how to read Martian!" He grabbed Captain
Miles by the arm. "Come on, Jeff; let's go. I want to call the others--"
He was still babbling as he hurried from the room.

Sachi looked at the inscription. "Is it true?" she asked, and then,
before Martha could more than begin to explain, flung her arms around
her. "Oh, it really is! You are reading it! I'm so happy!"

She had to start explaining again when Selim von Ohlmhorst entered. This
time, she was able to finish.

"But, Martha, can you be really sure? You know, by now, that learning to
read this language is as important to me as it is to you, but how can
you be so sure that those words really mean things like hydrogen and
helium and boron and oxygen? How do you know that their table of
elements was anything like ours?"

Tranter and Penrose and Sachiko all looked at him in amazement.

"That isn't just the Martian table of elements; that's _the_ table of
elements. It's the only one there is." Mort Tranter almost exploded.
"Look, hydrogen has one proton and one electron. If it had more of
either, it wouldn't be hydrogen, it'd be something else. And the same
with all the rest of the elements. And hydrogen on Mars is the same as
hydrogen on Terra, or on Alpha Centauri, or in the next galaxy--"

"You just set up those numbers, in that order, and any first-year
chemistry student could tell you what elements they represented."
Penrose said. "Could if he expected to make a passing grade, that is."

The old man shook his head slowly, smiling. "I'm afraid I wouldn't make
a passing grade. I didn't know, or at least didn't realize, that. One of
the things I'm going to place an order for, to be brought on the
_Schiaparelli_, will be a set of primers in chemistry and physics, of
the sort intended for a bright child of ten or twelve. It seems that a
Martiologist has to learn a lot of things the Hittites and the Assyrians
never heard about."

Tony Lattimer, coming in, caught the last part of the explanation. He
looked quickly at the walls and, having found out just what had
happened, advanced and caught Martha by the hand.

"You really did it, Martha! You found your bilingual! I never believed
that it would be possible; let me congratulate you!"

He probably expected that to erase all the jibes and sneers of the past.
If he did, he could have it that way. His friendship would mean as
little to her as his derision--except that his friends had to watch
their backs and his knife. But he was going home on the _Cyrano_, to be
a big shot. Or had this changed his mind for him again?

"This is something we can show the world, to justify any expenditure of
time and money on Martian archaeological work. When I get back to Terra,
I'll see that you're given full credit for this achievement--"

On Terra, her back and his knife would be out of her watchfulness.

"We won't need to wait that long," Hubert Penrose told him dryly. "I'm
sending off an official report, tomorrow; you can be sure Dr. Dane will
be given full credit, not only for this but for her previous work,
which made it possible to exploit this discovery."

"And you might add, work done in spite of the doubts and discouragements
of her colleagues," Selim von Ohlmhorst said. "To which I am ashamed to
have to confess my own share."

"You said we had to find a bilingual," she said. "You were right, too."

"This is better than a bilingual, Martha," Hubert Penrose said.
"Physical science expresses universal facts; necessarily it is a
universal language. Heretofore archaeologists have dealt only with
pre-scientific cultures."


THE END


[Transcriber's Note: The following errors in the original have been
corrected in this version.

Page 11: fixitive to fixative
crushed. to crushed."

Page 13: photostated to photostatted

Page 21: jeapordizing to jeopardizing

Page 22: ricochetted to ricocheted

Page 26: aquaducts to aqueducts

Page 27: testtube to test tube

Page 28: evaportation to evaporation

Page 33: aquaducts to aqueducts

Page 35: And you've never to "And you've never

Page 36: Finchly to Finchley

Page 37: eights to eighths

Page 39: Egyptiology to Egyptology

Page 42: There's an uncorrected error here: the third element is
"Sarfalddavas" above but "tirfalddavas" below. This wasn't changed in
later versions of the text, so it's not clear which is correct. The
capitalized one would be consistent with the other names, and the "Sar-"
implies a relationship with the first element, which _is_ in the same
group. Or maybe the character misspoke, in her excitement?

Page 45: big-shot to big shot

Page 46: archeologists to archaeologists

]





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