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´╗┐Title: Feet Of Clay
Author: Hoskins, Phillip
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 "Feet Of Clay" ***

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



   _Life is pretty strange when a god who is good and benevolent must
   prove that he has_

Feet of Clay

BY PHILLIP HOSKINS


"The problem," said Cassidy, "would seem to be simple." He thumped his
outsized knuckles against the desk. "Almost too simple."

"Why?" The other was a wearer of the black and silver uniform of
Extrasol Traders; a short man, made shorter by the beer-barrel shape of
his body and the extreme width of his shoulders. His head was capped
with close-cropped gray curls.

[Illustration: _Illustrated by Paul Orban_]

"Why?" he repeated. "I've been studying it ever since it first cropped
up, and I must admit that it's been beyond me."

"I must confess, Dillon," said Cassidy, "I wonder how you ever rose to
the managerial ranks of Extrasol. I find it hard to imagine a personnel
man stupid enough to put you in charge of even a backwater planet like
this Kash. Surely somebody in the home office must know how dumb you
are?"

"My dumbness is not the subject of this conversation," said Dillon,
grimly. "I didn't like the idea of calling in a trouble-shooter. I liked
it even less when I found out it was to be you."

Cassidy grinned. "You mean my wonderful personality hasn't made an
impression on you? I'm cut to the quick."

"I put up with you for only one reason. You know aliens, far better than
I could ever hope to. You're about the best in the field."

"Only about? Really, Dillon, if you knew of someone better than me, why
didn't you get them?"

"All right!" He shouted the words. "You're the best! But you still
haven't explained why the problem seems simple to you." He pulled out a
cigarette, and bit down savagely on the end, only to spit out the loose
tobacco amidst a sputter of curses.

"The misfortunes of being feeble-minded," sighed Cassidy. "But for your
sake, I'll take you by the hand, and try to lead you down the road of
intelligence. But first, you better go over the situation once more.

"We are on Kash," said Dillon, visibly controlling his patience. "It's
the fourth world of a G-type sun of the periphery, unnamed in the
catalogues. For that reason, we have assigned it the native name. Kash
is their term for both the star and the planet, and roughly translates
as 'home of the Gods'.

"The planet was first contacted during the great galactic expansion of
2317, when the sole native language was taped. The planet is
approximately two-thirds the size of Earth, but its density is somewhat
less, so the gravity is about half that of Earth. It is moonless, and so
far from galactic center that scarcely a hundred stars are visible in
the sky. Thus a trained observer can usually pick out the other five
planets of the system with no trouble at all." He paused, and took a
drink of water.

"Six months ago it was contacted by Unit 317 of Extrasol Traders...."

"Namely you," said Cassidy.

"Me. A month was spent mapping the planet and searching out native
villages. I then returned to base and picked up supplies necessary for
setting up an outpost. Two months ago I returned.

"And all Hell broke loose...."

       *       *       *       *       *

Night fell quickly, and with little relief on Kash, for the stars were
few and far between, and shed little light. Dillon stepped out of the
office that was doing double-duty as living quarters until separate
quarters could be set up, and started for the nearby well. He cursed as
he realized his flashlight still lay on the desk, but the light pouring
from the open door was enough to see by, and he decided against
returning.

As he walked, he breathed deeply of the tangy night air, and sighed with
satisfaction. This world was infinitely more pleasurable than the last
he had posted, and he intended to enjoy his stay.

He let his thoughts ramble as he walked and so almost ran down the
waiting alien before he saw him. The native's huge eyes gleamed softly
in the spill of light from the office, and the gray down that covered
his body and head, except for the face, seemed soft and alive.

"Tarsa, Bila," said the Earthman, using the native greeting.

"Tarsa, starman. May the Gods shine their eternal light on you."

"And on you," Dillon said, observing the ritual. "But what brings you
here at night?"

"The night is beautiful, is it not, starman? It shines with a glory all
its own. At times it would seem to outdo its brother, the day."

"Indeed," he agreed. "Your world is one of the loveliest I have yet
seen, and my travels have led me over as many stars as there are waves
on the sea. But surely you did not come to talk merely of the night and
its beauty."

"Alas, no," sighed the native. "My task is a most unhappy one, for
sorrow hangs heavy over the village. The women and children are weeping,
and the men know not what to do in the face of calamity. It seems as
though the Gods themselves have turned against my people." He wiped his
eyes with the back of his hand.

"What would you with me, Bila?" asked the Earthman. "Surely I cannot be
of any assistance?"

"As a man from the sky, surely you have met the Gods in open battle
before!" cried the alien. "And just as surely you must have defeated
them, else you would not be here this night."

"I am flattered, Bila. It is true that the Gods of the universe and I
are not total strangers. Exactly what is wrong?"

"It is Toll, the son of Kylano. He has fallen from a cliff, and the
bones of his arm are broken and need curing."

"But isn't that a job for the priest?"

"Aye. But our priest has been on a pilgrimage these past ten days, and
is to be gone another thirty or more. There is no one left with the
necessary knowledge. You will come?"

"I'll come, Bila. But first I must get a bag from the office. With it I
may be able to help the boy."

"Ah, you too have an herb basket like the priest's? Truly you are a
friend of the Gods."

"Not quite like the priest's," said Dillon, smiling. "But it serves much
the same purpose." He hurried up the path and into the shack, emerging a
moment later with the first-aid bag that was standard equipment for all
men isolated from the services of a doctor.

       *       *       *       *       *

"That's where you made your first mistake," said Cassidy. "Regulation
1287-63C, paragraph 119 states 'no man shall give medical aid to alien
races unless a team of certified specialists has checked out all such
medicines with respect to such race and certified them safe. Penalty for
breaking rule: Revocation of any licenses; restriction to home world for
three years; and/or five thousand dollars fine.' You really did things
up right. You should have left that bag in the safe where it belonged."

"Well, I didn't," said Dillon. "And it's too late now to talk of what I
should have done. At any rate...."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Where is the boy, Bila?" asked Dillon as he came up to the alien again.

"At my village, starman. Come." He slipped down the path and was soon
swallowed by the darkness. The Earthman hurried after, afraid of being
lost in the almost impenetrable night.

He had forgotten the flashlight again, and he cursed as he stumbled over
an unseen obstruction.

"Bila!" he called.

"Yes, starman?" The alien appeared as if from nowhere.

"I'm afraid that I'm not as gifted as you when it comes to traveling at
night without light. You had better let me hold onto your shoulder."

"Of course, starman. I am most sorry for causing you trouble."

"It's my own fault. I should have remembered the light. Let's get going
again." He placed his hand on the alien's shoulder, and they started off
again.

Despite his guide, he twice stumbled over obstructions, and would have
fallen but for his grip on the other's shoulder. Bila waited while he
steadied himself, and then started off again, keeping up a fast pace.

The village lay three miles from the post, and during the day, Dillon
considered it nothing more than a brisk walk. But the blindness that
came with the dark wiped out all realization of time and space, and he
soon began to think that they must have passed it by, when the alien
spoke.

"We are here, starman."

They rounded a bend, and a cluster of huts came into view, lit by the
dim light of a few scattered lamps. The alien threaded his way through
the narrow lanes between the huts, and stopped outside one of the
largest in the group. He held the hangings aside, and Dillon stooped to
enter.

The hut was already crowded with natives. The smoke from half a dozen of
the sputtering lamps hung like a shroud over the interior, and the
Earthman's eyes were soon smarting. He wondered how the natives, with
their much larger eyes, could stand it.

The injured boy lay on a pallet in the center of the hut. An animal skin
had been thrown over him, with the broken arm exposed. Dillon knelt by
him, and felt it over carefully.

"A clean break, thank God," he said, more to himself than his audience.

The boy whimpered, and he reached for the bag, and rummaged around.
Finally he pulled out an already prepared hypo, loaded with a sedative.
He swabbed the boy's good arm, and pressed the needle home.

The natives moved forward when they saw the needle, and some of them
began to mutter. But the boy quickly dropped off into an untroubled
sleep, and they settled down.

The Earthman took hold of the broken arm, and marvelled at the frailty
of it. The bones had to hold a lighter weight than those of Earthmen,
and thus were correspondingly weaker. He felt that he could snap one of
them with his hands.

He straightened the arm out, as gently as he could, and then pulled. The
broken ends slid together with a satisfying pop, and he quickly bound
them with a splint from his bag. He wrapped the bandage tight, and tied
it. Then he arose, picking up his bag.

"He should be alright now," he said. "I'll stop by in the morning, when
he's awake, and give him a going-over."

"His arm," said Bila. "It is ... fixed?"

"Yes. He's young, and he should heal fast. Three weeks from now he'll be
out with the other children, playing games and just as active as ever."

"We thank you, starman," said Bila. "We have not the words to say just
how happy we are that you have helped us."

"It's nothing," said Dillon, embarrassed by the show of gratitude. "All
Earthmen would do the same."

"Ah, your magic must be even greater than that of the priests. It is
most unfortunate that the village priest was away. But the Gods have
smiled on us, by sending you instead."

"He'll be back soon, I hope?" said Dillon. "The priest, I mean."

"Alas, not for at least thirty days, and perhaps more. He knew not where
his pilgrimage would lead him."

"But if you have more troubles like this?"

"Our misfortunes," said Bila, his face downcast. "If the Gods see fit to
abandon us to the miseries of the world, what can mere men say? If some
must die, than they shall surely die."

"No!" He regretted the word the moment it was out, but it was too late
to recall it. The milk was spilt, and crying would be foolish at this
point. "No. If you have troubles, come to me. I will do what I can,
although I am not sure that it will be much."

"Ten million thanks, starman!" His eyes glistened with joy. "Our people
shall be eternally grateful."

"You'd better save your thanks, until you're sure that I can help you.
But right now, I'd appreciate a guide back to the post, and a lamp, so I
don't fall anymore."

"Of course. It shall be done immediately." He motioned for one of the
men in the hut, who came with a lamp. Bila held the hangings aside, and
the two passed outside into the blackness again.

The trip back to the trader's shack passed without mishap and Dillon
went to sleep quite pleased.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten days passed. They were days of intensified effort for Dillon, as he
went about the task of setting up the rest of the post. The warehouse
came first, and the living quarters. The office that had been serving
double-duty reverted to its primary function.

Occasionally a few natives would drop around to gaze at the
work-in-progress, but they would soon grow bored, and drift away to
other amusements. He had twice been back to the village to look at the
boy, but so far nothing else had come up to require his meagre medical
knowledge. He was beginning to think that he might last out until the
priest returned. He had been rereading the regulations covering contact,
and the penalties were much too harsh for his liking. He began to worry
about hiding traces of his one experiment.

The noonday sun was on the wane when he finished wrestling the last of a
group of bins into the warehouse. He pulled out his kerchief, and wiped
the accumulated sweat from his eyes. The summer season was full on the
land, and the heat was as bad as any he had seen on Earth.

He brought his lunch out to the office porch, and sank down in the
rocker that he had brought from his last post. There was a slight breeze
blowing diagonally across the clearing in front of the building, and he
shifted around to receive its full benefit.

The first bite was scarcely in his mouth when Bila came into sight
around the bend of the path. He cursed silently, and put down his
sandwich. He stood up to welcome the alien.

"Tarsa, Bila," he said. "What brings you here today?"

"Sadness again wearies our people, and we know not what to do. The Gods
are indeed angered with us, and our priest is still away."

"Just what is it this time?"

"It is Kylano. He is at death's door, and the messengers of the Gods can
be heard waiting to take him beyond." Two tears broke loose and rolled
down his leathery gray cheeks.

"The boy's father?" said Dillon. The alien nodded.

"But what is wrong with him?"

"Alas, we do not know. He was swimming in the lake, when a demon
possessed one of the fishes, and bit him on the leg. When he came out of
the water, a fever lay heavily over him, and he has become unconscious."

"And you want me to save him." It was a statement, rather than a
question, and the native recognized it as such.

"If it be within your power, starman. If you do not come, he must surely
die."

"All right, Bila. I'll do whatever I can." He ducked inside the office,
and came out again with his bag. They set off down the path.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Your second major mistake," said Cassidy. "You were lucky with the boy,
but you should have come to your senses enough to leave the bag behind
on the second call. You were just stepping out into deeper water."

"But the man was sick, and I didn't know what else to do but use the
medicines. I couldn't let him die!"

"Why not?"

"Why not? I've got feelings and a conscience. That's why! I couldn't
just stand by and do nothing. Especially when the sedative worked on the
boy!"

"It would have been far better to let one man die than to have the
aliens come to regard you as higher than their own priests."

"It's easy enough for you to say what I should have done here, but I
think your own actions would have been far different if you had been in
my place."

"I doubt it. I'd never have been made trouble-shooter, if I didn't have
the brains to avoid a mess like that. I still think you're just plain
stupid."

"My thoughts of you are better left unsaid. At any rate, when we got to
the village...."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the same hut, and a crowd that may or may not have been present
the earlier night. The numbers were the same. The only change was the
lack of the overhanging pall of smoke from the lamps.

The man occupied the same pallet as the boy, and the crowd made way for
Dillon as he moved to his side. It was readily apparent that he was very
ill, and Dillon uttered a silent prayer that he had something in the kit
to help him.

The leg wound was nasty and crusted over. He swabbed it clean, blanching
when he saw its depth. Steadying himself, he bound it tightly, and sat
back on his heels to ponder his next move.

The bandage would prevent any further infection, but the Earthman was
afraid the damage had already been done. The fever lay heavily on the
native, and he tossed and turned in his coma. The drugs in the bag were
all intended for use by Terrans only, and an attempt to aid the slight
alien might only result in death. Whereas if he were left alone to ride
out the fever, he just might come through all right.

Kylano let out a muted sob, and struck out wildly, nearly hitting Dillon
in the face. He cursed, and turned to his bag, selecting the most
catholic antibiotic it contained. He looked up at the watching crowd,
but they just stared back impassively. He cursed again, and swabbed a
spot on the native's arm, and thrust home the needle.

He threw the empty hypo back in the bag, and shut it savagely. Then he
stood up, and looked around for Bila.

"A drink of water, please," he said, catching the other's eye.

"Certainly, starman," he replied, handing over a gourd.

Dillon drank deeply, then wiped his mouth. He handed back the gourd and
picked up his bag. As he pushed his way through the crowd, Bila
followed.

"Kylano will be well now?" said the alien.

"I don't know. I just don't know. I hope so."

"Is there anything more you can do?"

"Perhaps. If I knew just what he was sick with, and I had the right
drugs to treat it, I could do a lot. As it is...." He left the sentence
hanging.

"If the Gods will it, he will live."

"Pray that they will it. In the meantime, you might bathe his forehead
every now and then. It'll help to make him more comfortable."

"In any event, we thank you, starman. With our priest gone...."

"Why did your priest leave on such a long journey, Bila? I should think
he would be more concerned with the care of his flock."

"The ways of the priesthood are beyond the comprehension of ordinary
men. When the Gods speak to them, they obey, no matter how onerous the
orders may be. If men must suffer during their absence, it is
unfortunate. But it must be."

"Then I'd think that your priests would see to it that someone in the
village would know what to do in case of emergency."

"Oh, no!" He seemed horrified at the thought. "Knowledge is for the Gods
to give to the chosen ones. Common men would not be worthy of it, for it
is certain that they do not have the intelligence to deal with it
properly. Only the priests are wise enough to be so honored. Priests and
men from the stars," he added, as an afterthought.

"Well, in any event, I hope you don't need me any more...."

       *       *       *       *       *

"But they did need you," said Cassidy.

"Unfortunately, yes. Four more times in the twenty days before the
return of the priest."

"What were the troubles?"

"Once, it was to aid in childbirth--my first adventure as a midwife," he
said, remembering the event and his shame at his ignorance in the
matter. He had had to take directions from the woman. "Once, a hunter
had fallen in an animal trap, and broken both his legs," he continued.
"And twice, it was for sickness."

"The same one as this Kylano?"

"I don't know. I couldn't hope to diagnose it, so I just shot them full
of antibiotics, and prayed for a miracle."

"You should have prayed for brains instead. But all of your sick ones
recovered?"

"Yes. I couldn't seem to do anything wrong, and it wasn't long before
the natives were beginning to look on me as the personal representative
of their Gods. It was embarrassing, the way they fawned over me."

"Tell me," said Cassidy. "You said you read the regs over. Why in the
name of all that's holy didn't you have the sense to follow them?"

"I couldn't stand by and watch them die! I had to help them, Cassidy.
Damn it, I _had_ to!"

"Yeah, sure. But go on."

"Well, to shorten matters, the local priest finally got back from his
pilgrimage, and took up his old duties. All went well for about a week,
and then another alien became ill. The priest heard about it, naturally,
and went to his aid. But it seems my percentage of recoveries was better
than his at its very best. They wouldn't let him even near the sick
one. Instead, they sent for me."

"You went?"

"Of course. I didn't know the priest was back, and what else could I
do?"

"I shudder to think. What happened?"

"The native got well, and the tribe practically pitched the priest out
on his ear. He went running to his superiors, and they called a council
of war. They banned the natives from the post, and threatened to cut off
any who were seen with me from all priestly privileges.

"The tribe made an almighty stink. They called their own council, and
there was practically civil war. That's when I called you. Or, rather,
the nearest trouble-shooter."

"Ah, me. Why is it that I, Cassius Cassidy, get saddled with all of the
real stinkers in the galaxy? I don't mind shooting other people's
troubles for them, but I do resent the fact that the messiest ones get
dumped in my lap. Sometimes I feel like resigning."

"Cassidy, one of these days...."

"Oh, simmer down. I said there was a simple solution to your problem,
and I knew what I was talking about. The natives have been so taken in
by your ridiculously lucky flukes that they think you're the next thing
to a God. Right?"

"Right." Each looked as though the other were something unmentionable,
left over from the last cleaning of the cesspool.

"So we just...." He leaned forward and outlined his plan.

       *       *       *       *       *

Five days passed, peaceably. The natives gave the post a wide margin;
not even Bila showed his face. Dillon began to think that maybe there
was a chance things would go back to normal by themselves; and that
Cassidy's plan would not be necessary.

The first four days were merely a continuation of the heat. The two
Earthmen sat around the office, speaking only when it was absolutely
unavoidable, and then only in snarls. Dillon sent out a rush request for
air conditioning equipment, omitted, by some mistake, from the supplies.

The fifth day was as sunny as ever, but a stiff west wind sprang up, and
the temperature was bearable. Cassidy smiled for the first time in days,
and Dillon tried to be pleasant to him.

The sixth day broke with an unceasing torrent of rain, and the men
returned to their surly grumbling.

"I hope the post isn't washed away," said Cassidy. "This storm begins to
assume the aspects of the Biblical flood."

"We're safe enough," said Dillon. "Only...."

"Only what?"

"Nothing. Just a hunch."

"Good or bad?"

"Bad. All bad. I've got a feeling we're due for a visit."

As if on cue, a knock came on the office door. Dillon opened it, and
stood aside for the thoroughly bedraggled alien waiting outside. Bila
was a sorry caricature of himself, with his down plastered to his body.
Water dripped from him in a steady stream.

"Tarsa, starman," he said.

"Tarsa, Bila," replied Dillon. "I've been expecting you."

"Oh? Do you then have the powers of foreseeing the future, too?"

"No," he said, laughing. "It's just that it's been several days since
you were last here. You were overdue for a visit."

Cassidy cleared his throat, and Dillon turned to him.

"This is Cassidy, Bila," he said. "He is my brother from the stars, and
has come to visit me for a short while."

"Tarsa, Cassidy," the native said, gravely.

"Tarsa, Bila. I have been hoping to meet a member of your people."

"Oh? Has the fame of Kash spread far through the universe then?"

"Indeed, all of the civilized worlds talk of Kash and its gentle folk.
It is a common ambition to be able to come here and see you in person.
It is hoped that soon such travel will be most frequent, to the reward
of both of our peoples."

"Indeed," said Bila. "I thank you in the name of my people. Will you
yourself be here long?"

"Unfortunately, no. But when I go I will take fond memories as
souvenirs."

"What is so important that it brought you out in this storm, Bila?"
asked Dillon, breaking into the conversation. "Your troubles must be
pressing."

"Indeed, they are. The Gods frown heavily on our village this day, and I
have come once more to seek your intercession."

"What is the matter?" asked Cassidy.

"Alas, the trouble is in my own household. My wife lies at the door to
death, and I fear she is fast slipping beyond."

"Haven't you had the priest in?" asked Dillon.

"Against your great and wondrous magic, Dillon, what is the priest? He
is like a lost little boy, unable to tell North from East, and helpless
in the face of death. Only you have the power to bring her back to the
world of the living, as you did with Kylano and the others."

"I thank you for your trust," said Dillon. "I only hope it is not
misplaced."

"You will come?"

"Of course. As soon as I dress for the storm, and get my bag." He turned
to do so, then was struck by an afterthought. "By the way, do you mind
if Cassidy comes with us? He would appreciate the chance to see your
village."

"It will be an honor."

"Good. Get into your togs, Cass."

They were soon ready. Dillon grabbed up his bag, and he followed the
native out into the storm. The rain blew straight toward them, and they
bent forward, into the wind. The trip to the village was a fight all the
way.

The village itself had become isolated; an island in the midst of a
shallow lake. They waded across, to the hut that was Bila's. He held the
hangings aside, and the Earthmen stepped into the stink of the alien
crowd.

The omnipresent lamps were lit, and the smoke hung heavy. Both of the
Earthmen were soon wishing they had protection for their smarting eyes.

The natives stopped their keening, and made room for the two men. They
both moved forward, and bent over the woman. Dillon could see that she
was as sick as the others, but whether or not it was the same disease,
he could not say. For the eighth such time, he wished he had taken
medical training as a youth, in deference to his family's wishes.

"It's hot in here," said Cassidy. Sweat beaded out on his forehead, and
he wiped it away with a shaking hand.

"Small wonder," said Dillon, "with all these people here. They must up
the temperature by twenty degrees." He opened his bag, and dug out a
swab. After cleaning a spot on her arm, he dug out a needle, and filled
it from an ampoule.

"Dillon!"

He whirled around. "Cass! What's the matter?"

"I ... don't know. Woozy. I feel woozy." He staggered, and fell forward,
unconscious.

"Cass!" He bent over the man, and turned him over. Cassidy's face was
white, and the sweat rolled off in rivulets. Dillon felt for a pulse,
and then pulled out a stethoscope. Baring the other's chest, he listened
for a beat.

"What is it, Dillon?" asked Bila. "What is wrong?"

"I don't know. He's sick." He looked worried.

"Sick?" The natives stared at each other, unbelieving.

"Yes, sick! Earthmen get sick too, you know!" He bared Cassidy's arm,
and swabbed it clean. Then he pressed home the needle he had prepared
for the woman.

"He will get well?" asked Bila.

"I don't know." Dillon felt for a pulse again. Disbelief washed over his
face, and he sank back on his heels.

"What is it?"

"He's dead."

"Dead?" Amazement took hold of them.

"Dead." The Earthman stood up, shaking his head. "But your wife, Bila. I
must attend to her."

"No." The native stepped between the man and woman, and held out his
arms.

"No? Why not?"

"The Gods have frowned on you, starman. It is obvious that they are
dissatisfied with you, for they took your brother."

"But just because Cassidy died doesn't mean your wife will." He stared
at the lesser being, dumfounded. "But she might, if not treated."

"We shall get the priest. We cannot run the risk of offending the Gods
by permitting you to touch her."

The Earthman stared from face to face, but the same message was written
on all. Hopelessness took the place of question, and he turned, and
stumbled from the hut, and into the storm.

"Take the man to the post," said Bila. Several of the men hurried to do
his bidding. They carried Cassidy out into the night, without looking
back.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Simple," said Cassidy. "Just like I said." He was hunched over his
coffee, his ham-like hands soaking up the warmth from the cup.

"Simple," said Dillon. "I don't get it. Just why did they stop me from
treating the woman?"

"We come from the stars, which the natives associate with the home of
the Gods. We don't look quite like their legends say Gods should, but
they figured we must be close to them, so they credited us with
omnipotent powers. The priests claimed the cures they affected were done
with the grace of the almighty, and the natives figured your cures came
from the same source."

"I can't figure why they wouldn't even let me touch her," said Dillon.
"It doesn't make sense."

"Actually, if you had given her the shot without me on the scene, and
she had died, they probably would have accepted it as the will of the
Gods. The priests fail once in awhile, and they just claim that the Gods
have wanted that particular person to die. But when you were unable to
save me, another man from the stars, and therefore presumably a close
acquaintance of the Almighty, they could come to only one conclusion:
The Gods withdrew their blessings from you. After that they wouldn't
have let you touch a sick pig--if they have pigs here." He drained his
cup.

A roar sounded down from the sky, building up into a wail that scraped
the spines of the hearers. It rose to a crescendo, and then came a
jarring shock that shuddered the whole building.

"My chauffeur," said Cassidy. "Hot-rodding, as usual." He rose, and
picked up his baggage.

"You know, Dillon," he said, "You're a jerk. I'll tell my grandchildren
about you. You're a perfect example of what not to do." He shook his
head. "A horrible example."

[Illustration]


END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction February 1958.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
on this publication was renewed.

       *       *       *       *       *





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