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´╗┐Title: Song in a Minor Key
Author: Moore, C. L. (Catherine Lucile), 1911-1987
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 "Song in a Minor Key" ***

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    _Northwest Smith is one of the great adventurers of Science Fiction,
    one of that group of cool, gray-eyed men who roam the spaceways and
    provide much of the inspiration for the legends that are a part of
    the folklore of space. Here is Northwest Smith, in a rare moment of
    peace, in a remarkable vignette, published here by permission of the
    author._


  song
    in
     a
 minor
   key

 _by ... C. L. MOORE_


 He had been promising himself this moment for how
 many lonely months and years on alien worlds?


Beneath him the clovered hill-slope was warm in the sun. Northwest Smith
moved his shoulders against the earth and closed his eyes, breathing so
deeply that the gun holstered upon his chest drew tight against its
strap as he drank the fragrance of Earth and clover warm in the sun.
Here in the hollow of the hills, willow-shaded, pillowed upon clover and
the lap of Earth, he let his breath run out in a long sigh and drew one
palm across the grass in a caress like a lover's.

He had been promising himself this moment for how long--how many months
and years on alien worlds? He would not think of it now. He would not
remember the dark spaceways or the red slag of Martian drylands or the
pearl-gray days on Venus when he had dreamed of the Earth that had
outlawed him. So he lay, with his eyes closed and the sunlight drenching
him through, no sound in his ears but the passage of a breeze through
the grass and a creaking of some insect nearby--the violent,
blood-smelling years behind him might never have been. Except for the
gun pressed into his ribs between his chest and the clovered earth, he
might be a boy again, years upon years ago, long before he had broken
his first law or killed his first man.

No one else alive now knew who that boy had been. Not even the all
knowing Patrol. Not even Venusian Yarol, who had been his closest friend
for so many riotous years. No one would ever know--now. Not his name
(which had not always been Smith) or his native land or the home that
had bred him, or the first violent deed that had sent him down the
devious paths which led here--here to the clover hollow in the hills of
an Earth that had forbidden him ever to set foot again upon her soil.

He unclasped the hands behind his head and rolled over to lay a scarred
cheek on his arm, smiling to himself. Well, here was Earth beneath him.
No longer a green star high in alien skies, but warm soil, new clover so
near his face he could see all the little stems and trefoil leaves,
moist earth granular at their roots. An ant ran by with waving antennae
close beside his cheek. He closed his eyes and drew another deep breath.
Better not even look; better to lie here like an animal, absorbing the
sun and the feel of Earth blindly, wordlessly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now he was not Northwest Smith, scarred outlaw of the spaceways. Now he
was a boy again with all his life before him. There would be a
white-columned house just over the hill, with shaded porches and white
curtains blowing in the breeze and the sound of sweet, familiar voices
indoors. There would be a girl with hair like poured honey hesitating
just inside the door, lifting her eyes to him. Tears in the eyes. He lay
very still, remembering.

Curious how vividly it all came back, though the house had been ashes
for nearly twenty years, and the girl--the girl ...

He rolled over violently, opening his eyes. No use remembering her.
There had been that fatal flaw in him from the very first, he knew now.
If he were the boy again knowing all he knew today, still the flaw would
be there and sooner or later the same thing must have happened that had
happened twenty years ago. He had been born for a wilder age, when men
took what they wanted and held what they could without respect for law.
Obedience was not in him, and so--

As vividly as on that day it happened he felt the same old surge of
anger and despair twenty years old now, felt the ray-gun bucking hard
against his unaccustomed fist, heard the hiss of its deadly charge
ravening into a face he hated. He could not be sorry, even now, for that
first man he had killed. But in the smoke of that killing had gone up
the columned house and the future he might have had, the boy
himself--lost as Atlantis now--and the girl with the honey-colored hair
and much, much else besides. It had to happen, he knew. He being the boy
he was, it had to happen. Even if he could go back and start all over,
the tale would be the same.

And it was all long past now, anyhow; and nobody remembered any more at
all, except himself. A man would be a fool to lie here thinking about it
any longer.

Smith grunted and sat up, shrugging the gun into place against his ribs.



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Fantastic Universe_ January 1957.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.





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