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´╗┐Title: Reluctant Genius
Author: Slesar, Henry, 1927-2002
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 "Reluctant Genius" ***

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[Illustration]


RELUCTANT GENIUS

By O. H. LESLIE


    _It is said that Life crawled up from the slime of the sea-bottoms
    and became Man because of inherent greatness bred into him before
    the dawn of time. But perhaps this urge was not as formless as we
    think._


Buos was chastising Laloi as they sped through the ionosphere of the
green planet. But like the airy creature she was, Laloi ignored the
criticism and rippled zephyr-like through a clump of daffodils when they
completed their descent.

"So pretty," she sighed. She flung her incorporeal substance around each
flower, absorbing their unified beauty of scent, sight, and feel. Buos
shrilled himself into a column of wind to express his displeasure at her
attitude.

"Stupid, silly, shallow thing!" he said. "If the others only knew how
you behaved--"

"And you'll be glad to tell them, of course," she said, extending her
fingers of air into the roots of the wind-bent grass. She rolled across
the hill ecstatically, and Buos followed in grumbling billows of energy.

"I don't carry tales," he replied, somewhat mortified. "But we're here
as observers, and you insist upon making this world a plaything ..."

"I love it," she said happily. "It's so warm and green."

Buos whipped in front of her angrily. "This is an assignment," he
snapped, his emotion crackling the air about him. "We have a purpose
here."

"Purpose!" she groaned, settling over a patch of crowded clover. "How
many centuries will this assignment last?"

"This world is young," said Buos. "It will take time."

"But how long?" she asked mournfully. "Our world will be shrivelled and
dead before these people have the knowledge to rescue us. Why can't we
spend our lives here ..."

"And leave the others behind?" said Buos stiffly. "Selfish being," he
said sadly. "This world cannot support one-fourth our number."

"Oh, I know, I know," Laloi said. "I do not mean to say such things. I
am twisted by my sorrow ..." As if to express her self-abnegation, she
corkscrewed out of the clover and into a thin spiral of
near-nothingness.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Settle down, foolish one," said Buos, not unkindly. "I know your
feelings. Do you think I am not tormented as well, by the slow pace of
these Earth-things? Crude, barbaric beings, like children with the
building blocks of science. They have such a long way to go ..."

"And so few _know_," said Laloi despairingly. "A handful of seeing
minds, tens of millions of ignorant ones. Not even first
principles--they're stupid, stupid!"

"But they will learn," Buos said stubbornly. "That is historical fact.
Someday, they will know the true meanings of matter and light and
energy. Slowly, yes, slowly. But in terms of their growth, it will seem
like great speed to them ..."

"And in terms of our world," said Laloi, spinning sadly over the ground,
"they may be far too late ..."

"No!" In his excitement, Buos forgot himself and entwined with the
flowing form of the she-creature, and the result was a rending of the
air that cracked like heat lightning over the field. "No," he repeated
again. "They must not be too late. They must learn. They must build from
the very ground, and then they must fly. And then their eyes must be
lifted to the stars, and desire must extend them to all the universe ..."

"It seems so hopeless--"

"It cannot be! Our destiny is not extinction. They must come to us, in
fleets of silver, and replant our soil, and send towers of green
shooting into our sky, breathing out air."

"Yes, yes!" Laloi cried pitifully. "It will be that way, Buos. It will
be that way! That man-creature, we will begin with him ..."

Buos floated earthward disconsolately. "He is a dreamer," he said
cheerlessly. "His mind is good; he thinks of tomorrow; he is one of the
knowing ones. But he cannot be moved, Laloi. His thoughts may fester and
die in the prison of his brain ..."

"No, they will not! We have watched him. He understands much. He will
help us!"

"I have seen his like before," said Buos hopelessly. "He thinks and he
works, and his conclusions will die stillborn, for lack of a moving
force ..."

"Then let us provide it, Buos. Let us move him!"

"With what?" said the other disdainfully. "Arms of nothing? Hands of
vacuum? A breeze against his cheek? A rustle of leaves? A meaningless
whistle in his ear?"

"Let us try. Let us try! This empty watchfulness is destroying us. Let
us move him, Buos. Come!"

Faster than the sky-sweeping clouds they flew, over the gently swelling
hills, over the yearning branches of the trees, over the calm blue
waters of the lakes. Swifter than the flight of birds they came,
searching for a thinking mind ...

They found him at last.

"He knows, he knows," said Laloi. "Only now to say 'this is so because'
and 'this must happen when'! Only to think--to understand--"

They hovered over his head, in a pandemonium of helplessness. They
whirled, and tumbled, and shrilly circled. And then to Laloi the
inspiration came.

The apple, caught by a sudden gust of wind, twisted from the tenuous
hold of the tree and fell to the ground.

The man, startled, picked it up.

He gazed at it, deep in thought.


THE END



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Amazing Stories_ 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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