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Title: West Of The Sun
Author: Pangborn, Edgar, 1909-1976
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 "West Of The Sun" ***

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                          Transcriber's Note

       Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the
       U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


                      On earth it was 2056 A.D.
                     but on the red-green planet
                                it was

                             THE YEAR ONE

                 _There were only six human beings_--


     DR. CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT, anthropologist--he believed in man's
     basic goodness ... but could he put his trust in an alien
     race?

     PAUL MASON--he dutifully shared his wife with his best
     friend.

     DOROTHY LEEDS--Paul was her husband, but she knew there were
     some things more important than love.

     SEARS OLIPHANT--the gentle scientist who inspired love in an
     alien.

     ANN BRYAN--the youngest of them all, she had to be taught
     violence and passion.

     EDMUND SPEARMAN--the rebel who had to have his own tribe to
     rule ... even though it meant war with his Earth companions.


     _Six humans alone against the deadly forces of a strange and
     distant planet._

       *       *       *       *       *

                           WEST OF THE SUN


                            EDGAR PANGBORN

       *       *       *       *       *

To Mary C. Pangborn

       *       *       *       *       *



Contents

PART ONE
_A.D. 2056_           9

PART TWO
_The Year One_       77

PART THREE
_The Year Ten_      161

       *       *       *       *       *



Part One

A.D. 2056



1


Morning was flowing over the red-green planet. "What do we know?" The
delicate brown face of Dorothy Leeds kindled with questions.
"Summarize it."

Edmund Spearman achieved casualness. "Diameter and mass a trifle more
than Earth's, larger orbit around a larger sun. A year of 458 days,
twenty-six hours each. Moderate seasonal changes, axial tilt less than
Earth's, orbit less elliptical. See the smallness of the north polar
ice cap? The equatorial region--much too hot; the rest is subtropical
to temperate. We should go down (if we do) near the 50th
parallel--north, I'd say. Too much desert in the southern hemisphere.
Might be hot winds, sandstorms."

"The red-green _is_ vegetation?" Dr. Christopher Wright teetered on
long legs before the screen, a classroom mannerism unchanged by eleven
years in the wilderness of space. He pinched and pulled the skin on
his Adam's apple, his hawk's-beak, small-chinned head jutting forward
with an awkwardness not aggressive but intent. Paul Mason thought:
_You love him or hate him. In either case he's never quite grotesque._
Wright's too-soft voice insisted: "It _is_, of course?"

"It has to be, Doc," Spearman said, and rubbed his bluish cheeks,
looking older than his thirty-two years. Already he showed frontal
baldness, deeply bracketed mouth corners. On Spearman's big shoulders
was the burden of the ship. Watching him now, Paul Mason was troubled
by a familiar thought: _Captain Jensen should not have died_.... "It
has to be. The instruments show oxygen in Earth proportion, or
somewhat richer, plus nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The camera gives us
tree shadows in these latest photographs with the stronger lens. The
air may make us oxygen-happy--if we go down.... Well, Dorothy--two
continents, two oceans, both smaller than the Atlantic, connected
narrowly at north and south polar regions. Dozens of lakes bigger than
the Caspian. The proportion of land to water surface works out nearly
the same as on Earth. No mountains to match the Himalayas, but some
pretty high ranges. Unlimited forest, prairie, desert." He closed
bloodshot eyes, pressing the lids. Paul Mason thought: _I should never
try to paint Ed. The portrait would always come out as Hercules
Frustrated, and he wouldn't care for it...._ Spearman said, "Even most
of the tallest mountains look smooth--old. If there were glaciers it
was a long time ago."

"Geologically a quiet phase," Sears Oliphant remarked. "As Earth
looked in the Jurassic and may look again." Born fifty years ago in
Tel Aviv, brought up in London, Rio, and New York because his parents
were medical trouble shooters for the Federation, and possessed of a
doctorate in biology (more exactly, taxonomy) from Johns Hopkins,
Sears Oliphant claimed that his original Polish name could not have
been spelled with the aid of two dictionaries and a crowbar. His fat
face blinked at Dorothy with little kind eyes. "I forget, sugar--you
weren't around in the Jurassic, were you?"

"Maybe." Her slow smile was for Paul. "As a very early mammal."

Wright said, "No artifacts.... At first it looked like Venus." His
crinkled asymmetrical face probed at them with a wistful half smile
like a child's. "May we call this planet Lucifer, son of the morning?
And if we land and found a city (or am I being ridiculous?)--let it be
Jensen City, in honor of a more-than-solar myth."

Shading closed lids, Spearman said with harshness, "Myth?"

"Why, Ed, yes--like all remembered heroes who continue in the love of
others, a love that magnifies. How else would you have it?"

"But"--Ann Bryan was high-voiced, troubled--"Lucifer----"

"My dear, Lucifer was an angel. Devils and angels have a way of
turning out to be the same organism. I noticed that first when I was a
damned interne. I noticed it again when I switched to anthropology. I
even noticed it on a space ship with the five persons I love best....
No artifacts, huh?"

Dorothy said, "You haven't seen these latest pictures, Doc."

"Something?" Wright hurried over, gray eyes wide and sparkling. "I'd
quit hoping." Ann joined him, quick-motioned in her slimness, too
taut. Wright slipped an elderly arm around her. "Parallel lines, in
jungle? Ah.... Now, why none in the open ground?"

Spearman suggested: "We could take more shots. But...."

Paul Mason broke the darkening silence. "But what, Ed?"

"We're falling, some. I could move us out into a self-sustaining orbit
by using more of the reaction mass. We have none to waste. Jensen's
death eleven years ago----" Spearman shook his gaunt but heavy head.
"Thirty pre-calculated accelerations--and the rest periods they
allowed us were insufficient, I think. You remember what wrecks we
were when it was finished; that's why I tried to allow more time in
deceleration." His brassy voice slowed, fetching out words with care:
"The last acceleration, as you know, was not pre-calculated. Jensen
was already dead (must have been heart) when his hand took us out of
automatic, made another acceleration that damn near flattened us----"

"Still here though." Sears Oliphant chuckled and patted his middle.
"We made it, didn't we, boy?" It sounded a little forced.

"In deceleration I had to allow for the big step Jensen never meant;
more of the mass was used to correct a deflection. Same allowance must
be made in returning, not to mention the biggest drain of all--getting
out of gravity here, a problem not present at the spaceport. Oh, it's
planned for--she's built to do it, even from a heavier planet than
this. But after she's done it the margin for return will be--narrower
than I care to think."

Dorothy, small and soft, leaned back in Paul's arms. Her even voice
was for everyone in the control room: "Nevertheless we'll go down."

Spearman gazed across at her without apparent comprehension. He went
on, deliberate, harassed: "Here's a thing I never told you. In that
accidental acceleration the ship did not respond normally: the
deflection happened then, and it may have been due to a defect in the
building of _Argo_, a fault in the tail jets. At the time, it was all
I could do to reach Jensen before I blacked out--I still don't know
how I ever managed it. Later I tried to think there could be no
defect. The forward jets took care of us nicely in deceleration. Until
we start braking, we can't know. Indicators _say_ everything's all
right down there. Instruments can lie. Lord, they've sweated out
atomic motors since before 1960, almost a century now--and we're still
kids playing with grown-up toys."

Sears smiled into plump hands. "So I must be sure to pack my
microscope in one of the lifeboats--hey?"

"You're for landing, then."

Sears nodded. Ann Bryan thrust thin ivory fingers into her loose black
hair. "_I_ couldn't take another eleven years." She attempted a smile.
"Tell me, somebody--tell me there'll be music on Lucifer--a way to
make new strings for my violin before I forget everything...."

Dorothy said, "Land." Gently, as one might say time for lunch. And she
added: "We'll find strings, Nan."

"Land, of course," said Christopher Wright, preoccupied; his long
finger tapped on the photograph; his lips went on moving silently,
carrying through some private meditation. "Land. Give protoplasm a
chance."

"Land," Paul Mason said. _Did anyone suppose the First Interstellar
would just turn around and go home? We're here, aren't we...?_

Through hours when spoken words were few, inner words riotous, Lucifer
turned an evening face. A morning descent might have been pleasanter
in human terms, but the calculator, churning its mathematical brew,
said the time was now.

Paul Mason squirmed into his pilot's seat. It was good, he thought,
that they could at least meet the challenge of the unexplored with
adequate bodies. Wright was dryly indestructible; Ed Spearman a gaunt
monolith; the plumpness of Sears Oliphant had nothing flabby. The
women were in the warm vigor of a youth that had never known illness.
As for his own body, Paul felt for it now a twinge of amused
admiration, as if he were seeing an animated statue by an artist
better than himself: slender, tough, nothing too much, built for
endurance and speed--it would serve. Spearman was already talking in
the earphones: "Close lock. Retract shield." Paul responded from
ingrained training. Beyond the window that would give him forward
vision in the (impossible) event he had to fly the lifeboat, the
heavens opened. Withdrawal of the shield into the belly of the mother
ship _Argo_ was a dream motion within a wider dream. Dorothy and
Wright were strapped in the two seats behind him: half of _Argo's_
human treasure was here. "Go over what you do if you have to drive
off. Over."

"Lever for release. No action till wing-lock indicator is green. No
jet unless to correct position. In atmosphere handle as glider, jet
only in emergency. Over." After all, Paul considered, he had had a
thousand hours of atmospheric flying, and two years' drill on these
boats. Ed could worry less and save wind. Beautiful mechanisms in
their own right, Model L-46, lying eleven years secret but alert in
the streamlined blisters, powered by charlesite to avoid the ponderous
shielding still necessary for atomic motors--and charlesite, perfected
only thirty years ago in 2026, was obedient stuff. In space, the boats
were small rocket ships; in atmosphere, gliders or low-speed jet
planes. While _Argo_ had been in the long ordeal of building, Paul had
been shot from gleaming tubes like this into the atmosphere of Earth,
the blind depth at the spaceport, the desolate thin air of Mars.
Spearman said, "Turning in five minutes."

In the port lifeboat Ann and Sears would be waiting, but that lock
would be open, for Ed must be in the control room. If they had to
abandon ship (ridiculous!) Ed's boat would be many moments behind.

The stars moved. "Paul--check straps. Over."

Paul glanced behind him. "All set. Over."

The forward jets spoke once, and softly. Spearman said, "Out of orbit.
We start braking sooner than you think. Then we'll know...."

The depth of quiet was a depth of eternity. Time to reflect--to
marvel, if you wished. One hundred and eleven years since Hiroshima,
which the inveterate insanity of history textbooks sometimes referred
to as a great experiment. Eighty-five years since the first-manned
spaceport; seventy since the founding of stations on Luna and Mars.
But to Paul Mason a greater marvel was the responding warmth of the
woman, the brooding charity of the old man, whose lives were upheld
with him in this silent nothing, dependent on the magic bundle of
muscle and nerve that was himself. _What is love?_

The greater spaceport had been twelve years in building. Then _Argo_.
More than a century from early rocket experiments to the mile-long
factories turning out charlesite. In that century man had even added
to his morsels of self-knowledge a trifle more than he possessed in
the days of flint ax and reeking cave. "We are in atmosphere," said
the earphones.... _Time: a cerebral invention? How long is a May fly's
life to a May fly...?_ "Braking starts in forty-five seconds. Warn the
others."

Paul shoved down the mouthpiece, echoing the message. Wright said,
"Six pushed-around people. The arrogance of man! Doing fine, Paul."

Pressure--not too bad. A long roaring. But then the stars....

The stars went mad. A glare--a cruel second of the light of the star
that was now the sun and a flicker of red-green, not real. The roaring
paused. Stopped.

The earphones screamed: "Release! _Drive off!_"

"Releasing." The amused voice was Paul's own. "Good luck, Ed."

No answer. There was still such a thing as time. _Now, look: the
Federation was a grand thing, potentially, if only, as Doc insists, it
weren't for the damned cultural lag of the humanistic sciences, but
there is unfortunately no TIME to turn around and see if that little
brown cowlick is over her forehead the way it_----Meantime he said
aloud, "Doc, Dorothy, get ready for a big one." And his hand pulled
for release--nicely, as you might steer a road car for a turn. The
pressure torment....

Finished. He looked at a friendly green eye. So the retractile wings
were as good as eleven years ago--you hoped. Atmosphere--thin, said
the gauge. Never mind, thicker soon. _And down you go_----

_Too steep. Level off, if there's stuff to bite on. There is.... Thank
you, Machine Age Man, for a sweet boat. That thing gibbering in the
autonomic and voluntary nervous systems--merely fear. Overlook it...._

The ship was alien, far away. Turning, bright and deliberate, like a
mirror dropped in a well. The other lifeboat? But Ed would have to
reach it, close lock, strap in, open shield, while the ship went....

"Down"--lately an artificiality, now the plainest word in the
language. A gleaming disturbance in the air "down" yonder--something
streaking away from the dot that was a dying ship? "Ed, can you hear
me? Over."

"Yes," said the voice in the earphones.

Paul noticed himself weeping. "They made it! They made it!"

The voice said coldly, "Quiet. Your altitude? Over."

"Forty-six thousand. All under control. Over, jerk."

"I'm going to head for----_Ah!_ Can you see the ship?"

It was possible to find the silver dot of _Argo_ above an S-shaped
expanse of blue. The blue, Paul understood, was not becoming larger,
simply nearer. The dot changed to a white flower, which swelled and
hung tranquilly over the blue, a brief memorial. The radio carried a
groan, and then: "Better maybe. The lake may be shallow enough for
salvage. If it'd hit ground there'd be nothing at all. Get nearer,
Paul. Keep me in sight--not too damn' near."

Time.... Delicately Paul asked the boat for a steeper glide. The
response was even. Was it? Some peevish sound. He flattened the glide
a thousand feet above Ed's boat. The red-green below--anything real
about it? Yes, if time was real, but one had to think that over....

Mild hills of dark red-green, in the--west? Yes, because now there was
a birth of sunset beyond them. Lighter green below, alongside the
lake: that would be meadow. Not one of the great lakes--no larger
than Lake Champlain, its outlet in the south blurred by marsh; only a
portion of its northwest shore adjoined the meadow--except in that
region the lake was a blue S written on red-green dark of jungle. A
winged brown thing slipped by, teasing the edge of vision. "Bird or
something...."

In the earphones was a dazed note, like shame. "Power was out of control,
Paul--port motor. Had to be a defect in the building--something that
couldn't take the strain of what happened eleven years ago. All the
way--God!--and then to be loused up by a builder's error!" To Spearman,
Paul knew, a mechanical defect was the gravest of indecencies, beyond any
forgiveness.

True sunset here. A world. And you don't climb out of gravity on
charlesite. Paul said, "Doc--parallel lines--I think."

But the speed of the glide allowed no certainty, only a glimpse of
three dark bars, perhaps half a mile long in the jungle area northwest
of the meadow, and a hint of other groups further north. They _should_
be there, according to a map Spearman had made in orbit from the final
photographs. And some fifty miles south of here was a great network of
them thirty miles long. The glide brought them out over meadow once
more.

A thing was riding with them. A grumbling moan. Paul told himself:
_With Model L-46 it cannot happen--it cannot--Dorothy--Doc_----

Dorothy cried, "Specks--in the open ground. Moving, hundreds of 'em.
Oh, look! _Smoke_, Paul--campfires. How high are we?"

"Under seven thousand. Check your compass by the sunset, Doc. See if
we have a magnetic north."

"We do...."

Spearman's far-off voice said, "Life all right. I can't make out----"

Paul cut in with hurried precision: "Ed--vibration, port wing, bad.
I'm going to make one more circle over the woods if I can and try for
the north end of this meadow."

A startled croak: "I'll jet off--give you room." Paul saw the squirt
of green flame. Ed's boat darted westward like a squeezed apple seed.
Paul dipped and leveled off as much as he dared. "We're--all right."

He lived with it a timeless time. Knowing it would happen. They were
circling over jungle, pointed into sunset. The jet would only make
matters worse--rip the heart out. Soon the meadow would come around
again....

But the moment was now. An end of the moaning vibration. A lurch.
Paul's hand leaped stupidly for the charlesite ignition and checked
itself.

Calm, but for the reeling of sunset. _I must tell Dorothy not to fight
the straps: L-46 is solid--is solid----_

Then the smash, the tearing and grinding. Somehow no death. Sky in the
window changed to a gloom of purple and green. No death. Elastic
branches? Metal whimpered and shrieked. _Is that us?_ They built them
solid....

There was settling into silence. The pressure on Paul's cheek, he
knew, was the wonderfully living pressure of Dorothy's hand, because
it moved, it pinched his ear, it groped for his mouth. A hiss. Through
the wrenched seams the old air of Earth yielded to the stronger weight
of Lucifer's. The starboard wing parted with a squeal like amusement,
letting the boat's body rest evenly on the ground, and Christopher
Wright said, "Amen."



2


The Earphones Were Squawking: "Speak Up! Can you hear me? Can you----"

"Not hurt. Seams open, and there goes Sears' thirty-six-hour test for
air-borne bacteria. Down and safe, Ed."

"Listen." In relief, Ed Spearman was heavily didactic again. "You are
three quarters of a mile inside the jungle. I will land near the
woods. It will be dark in about an hour. Wait there until we----"

"One minute," Paul said in sudden exhaustion. "We can find you,
easier. Sears' test is important. We're already exposed to the air,
but----"

"What? Can't hear--damn it----" The voice dimmed and crackled.

"Stay sealed up!" Nothing. "Can you hear?" Nothing. "Oh, well, good,"
said Paul, discarding the headset, adding foolishly: "I'm tired."

Dorothy unfastened his straps; her kiss was warm and quick.

"Radio kaput, huh?" Wright flexed lean cautious legs. "Pity. I did
want to tell Sears one I just remembered after eleven years, about
poor lackadaisical Lou, who painted her torso bright blue, not for
love, not for money, not because it looked funny, but simply for
something to do."

"You're not hurt, Doc," Dorothy said. "Not where it counts."

"Can't kill an anthropologist. Ask my student Paul Mason. Leather
hides, pickled in a solution ten parts curiosity to one of statistics.
Doctors are mighty viable too. Ask my student Dorothy Leeds."

Paul's forehead was wet. "Dark in an hour, he reminded me."

"How close are we to the nearest of those parallel lines?"

"Three or four miles, Doc, at a loose guess."

"Remember that great mess of 'em fifty or sixty miles south of here?
Shows on Ed's map. We must be--mm--seventy miles from the smallest of
the two oceans--oh, let's call it the Atlantic, huh? And the other one
the East Atlantic? Anyway the ocean's beyond that range of hills we
saw on the way down."

"I saw campfires in the meadow," Dorothy said. "Things running."

"I thought so too.... Paul, I wonder if Sears can do any testing of
the air from the lifeboat? Some of the equipment couldn't be
transferred from _Argo_. And--how could they communicate with us?
They'll have to breathe it soon in any case."

Paul checked a shuddering yawn. "I must have been thinking in terms of
_Argo_, which is--history.... You know, I believe the artificial
gravity was stronger than we thought? I feel light, not heavy."

"High oxygen?" Dorothy suggested. "Hot, too."

"Eighty-plus. Crash suits can't do us any more good." They struggled
out of them in the cramped space, down to faded jackets and shorts.

Wright brooded on it, pinching his throat. "Only advantage in the
others' staying sealed up a while is that if we get sick, they'll get
sick a bit later. Could be some advantage. Paul--think we should try
to reach them this evening?"

"Three quarters of a mile, dark coming on--no. But so far as I'm
concerned, Doc, you're boss of this expedition. In the ship, Ed had to
be--matter of engineering knowledge. No longer applies. I wanted to
say that."

Wright turned away. "Dorothy?"

She said warmly, "Yes. You."

"I--oh, my dear, I don't know that it's--best." Fretfully he added:
"Shouldn't need a leader. Only six of us--agreement----"

Dorothy held her voice to lightness: "I can even disagree with myself.
Sears will want you to take over. Ann too, probably."

His gray head sank in his hands. "As for that," he said, "inside of me
I'm apt to be a committee of fifteen." Paul thought: _But he's not
old! Fifty-two. When did he turn gray, and we never noticing it...?_
"For now," Wright said, "let's not be official about it, huh? What if
my dreams for Lucifer are--not shared?"

"Dreams are never quite shared," Dorothy said. "I want you to lead
us."

Wright whispered with difficulty, "I will try."

Dorothy continued: "Ed may want things black and white. Not Ann, I
think--she hates discussions, being obliged to make up her mind.
You're elected, soldier.... Can you open the door, Paul?"

It jammed in the spoiled frame after opening enough for a tight exit.
Wright stared into evening. "Not the leader kind. Academic." His white
hands moved in doubtful protest. "Hate snap decisions--we'll be forced
to make a lot of them."

Paul said, "They're best made by one who hates making them."

The lean face became gentle. "Taught you that myself, didn't I,
son...? Well--inventory. What've we got, right here?"

"Thirty days' rations for three, packed eleven years ago. Two
automatic rifles, one shotgun, three automatic pistols, three hundred
rounds for each weapon. Should have transferred more from the ship,
but--we didn't. Three four-inch hunting knives, very good----"

"They at least won't give out. With care."

"Right. Two sealed cases of garden seeds--anybody's guess about them.
Six sets of overalls, shorts, and jackets. Three pairs of shoes
apiece--the Federation allowed that you and Ann might grow a little,
Dot--plasta soles and uppers, should last several years. Carpentry
tools. Ed's boat has the garden tools instead. Sears did pack his
microscope, didn't he?"

"Oh my, yes," said Dorothy, in affectionate mimicry of the fat man's
turn of speech.

"Each crash suit has first-aid kit, radion flashlight (good for two
years maybe), compass, field glasses, plus whatever else we had sense
enough to stuff in. Set of technical manuals, mostly useless without
the ship, but I think there's one on woodcraft, primitive tools and
weapons--survival stuff----"

"Oh, the books!" Wright clutched his hair, groaning. "The books----"

"Just that woodcraft----"

"No, no, no--the books on _Argo_! Everything--the library--I've only
just understood that it's gone. The whole flowering of human
thought--man's best, uncorrupted--_Odyssey_--Ann's music, the art
volumes you selected, Paul, and your own sketches and paintings----"

"No loss there----"

"Don't talk like a damn fool! Shakespeare--_Divina commedia_----"

Dorothy twisted in the narrowness to put both arms around him.
"Doc--quiet, dear--please----"

"I can remember pages of _Huck Finn_--_a few pages_!"

Dorothy was wiping his face with a loose comer of her jacket.
"Doc--subside! Please now--make it stop hurting inside yourself. Oh,
quiet...."

After a time he said lifelessly, "Go on with the inventory, Paul."

"Well--there's a duplicate of that map Ed made yesterday from orbit
photographs of this area, about a hundred miles square. We're near the
eastern edge of that square. There's the other map he made of the
whole globe. We didn't duplicate that one. I guess that's about it."

"Knives," Wright muttered. "Knives and a few tools."

"The firearms may make a difference while they last."

"Yes, perhaps. But thirty years from now----"

"Thirty years from now," said Dorothy, still sheltering his head,
"thirty years from now our children will be grown."

"Oh." Wright groped for her fingers. "You almost wanted it like this,
didn't you? I mean, to land and not return?"

"I don't know, Doc. Maybe. I'm not sure I ever quite believed in the
possibility of return. State Orphanage children like Ann and me,
growing up in a tiny world within a big one, we weren't quite human
ever, were we? Not that the big world didn't seep in plenty." She
smiled off at private shadows of memory. "We did learn things not in
the directors' curriculum. When they started grooming Ann and me for
this--Youth Volunteers! Stuffing our little heads with the best they
had--oh, it was fun too. By that time I think I had a fair idea of the
big world. The Orphanage was pleasant, you know--clean, humanitarian,
good teachers, all of them kind and more than a bit hurried. They did
try so hard never to let me hear the word 'nigger'! Ignorance is poor
insulating material, don't you think? And why, Doc, after all that's
been known and thought and argued for the last hundred years, couldn't
they select at least one Oriental for our little trip? Wouldn't have
had to come from Jenga's empire--our own states in the Federation had
plenty of 'em--scholars, technicians, anything you care to name."

Wright had calmed. He said, "I argued for it and got told. They even
said that the spaceport rights and privileges recently given to
Jenga's empire would allow the Asiatics to build their own
ship--tacitly implying that humanity should stay in two camps world
without end. Ach! You can shove the political mind just so far, then
it stalls in its own dirt Even Jensen wasn't able to budge them."

"It's history," said Dorothy, and Paul wondered: _How does she do it?
Speaking hands and voice, enough to shove away the black sorrow even
before it fairly had hold of him--and she'd try to do it for anyone,
loved or not. She was the first (and only one) who said to me there
are some things more important than love-and she herself would be
bothered to explain that in words._ "Well," Dorothy reflected, "I
believe the Orphanage slapped too much destiny of Man on the backs of
our little necks--they're just necks. Paul, why don't you sleep
awhile? You too, Doc. Let me keep watch. I'll wake you both if
anything stirs out there. Doze off, boys."

Paul tried to, his mind restless in weary flesh. No permissible margin
of error, said the twenty-first century. But _Argo_ lay at the bottom
of a lake because of an error. Not an error like the gross errors
twenty-first century man still made in dealing with his own kind and
still noisily disregarded, but an engineering error--something
twenty-first-century man viewed with a horror once reserved, in not so
ancient times, for moral evil. The cardinal sin was to drop a decimal.
If, like Wright, or Paul himself, you were concerned with the agony
and growing pains of human nature, disturbed by the paralytic
sterility of state socialism and the worse paralysis of open tyranny,
you kept your mouth shut--or even yielded, almost unknowingly, to the
pressures that reduced ethical realities to a piddling checker game
perverting the uses of semantics. They said, "There won't be any war.
If there is, look what we've got!" If you were like the majority of
Earth's three billion, you hoped to get by with as much as the traffic
would bear and never stuck your neck out. They celebrated the turn of
the third millennium with a jolly new song: "Snuggle up, Baby--Uncle
pays the bill...." But for all that, you mustn't use the wrong bolt.

Unreasonably quiet here. A jungle evening on Earth would have been
riotous with bird and insect noises.... He slept.

It was dark when Wright's finger prodded him. "A visitor."

The darkness was rose-tinged, not with sunset. There were two moons,
Paul remembered, one white and large and far away, one red and near.
Should the red moon be shining now? He gazed through the half-open
doorway, wondering why he was not afraid, seeing something pale and
vast, washed in--yes, surely in reddish moon-light. A thing swaying on
the pillars of its legs, perhaps listening, tasting the air for
strangeness. And scattered through the night, sapphires on black
velvet, were tiny dots of blue, moving, vanishing, reappearing. "Blue
fireflies," Dorothy whispered, "blue fireflies, that's all they are."
He felt her controlled breathing, forced down a foolish laugh. _We
could have done without a white elephant._

Nine or ten feet tall at the shoulder, a tapir-like snout, black tusks
bending more nearly downward than an elephant's, from milk-white
flesh. The ears were mobile, waving to study the night. There was an
oval hump near the base of the neck. The beast had been facing them;
it turned to pull down a branch, munch the leaves, casually drop the
stalk. In silence it drifted away, pausing to meditate, grumbling
juicily, but with no alarm.

Wright whispered, "The planet Lucifer did not ask for us."

"Paul--I stepped out for a minute, while you were both asleep. Firm
ground. A smell--flowers, I think--made me remember frangipani."

"I'll try it."

"Oh, but not with that thing----"

"He didn't seem to mind us. I'll stay near the door." He knew Dorothy
would come with him. Feeling earth under legs that had nearly
forgotten it, he turned to help her down; her dark eyes played diamond
games with the moon-light.

It could have been a night anywhere in the Galaxy, up there beyond
torn branches, stars, and red moon in a vagueness of cloud. Blue
fireflies....

But there was a child wailing somewhere. Far-off and weak, a dim rise
and fall of sound, grief and remoteness. A waterfall? Wind in upper
branches? But they were still, and the sound carried the timbre of
animal life. Dorothy murmured, "It's been crying that way ever since
moon-rise." She came closely into his arms.

"I can read one thing inside of you--you're not scared."

"I'm not, Paul?"

"No."

"But don't ever leave me--Adam."



3


This was dawn: vision out of the dark: ripples of music coalescent in
one forest voice moving toward a crescendo of daytime.

Paul watched a spreading of color in the leaves, a shift from black to
gray to a loveliness more green than red; the trees were massively
old, with varied bark of green or purple-brown. Phantoms in the more
distant shadows could be understood now that light was advancing: they
were thick trees with a white bark like that of the never-forgotten
birches of New Hampshire. Underfoot Paul felt a humus that might have
been a thousand years in growing; he prodded it with his knife--a
white worm curled in mimic death.

Everywhere purple-leaved vines, vastly proliferating, climbed in a
riot of greed for the sunlight of the forest ceiling. Paul sensed a
mute cruelty in them, a shoving lust of growth. It might have been
these, elastically yielding, that had saved the lifeboat from total
ruin.

Overnight the gravity of Lucifer had become natural. His close-knit
body accepted and relished it, finding a new pleasure in strength:
thirty-seven years old and very young.

One tiny voice was near, persistent. Paul walked around the boat,
where Dorothy and Wright still slept. The starboard wing, parting from
the lifeboat, had gashed a tree trunk, littering the ground with
branches. The source of the voice was a brown lump, twenty feet up,
clinging head downward, a body small as a sparrow's, wings folded like
a bat's. As he watched they spread, quivered, and relaxed. Head and
ears were mousy, the neck long, with a hump at its base. The throat
pulsed at each cry. Near Paul's foot lay a fabric like an oriole's
nest, fastened to a twig that had been torn from the tree. Three
young had tumbled out. One was not mangled but all were dead,
hairless, poignantly ugly. "Sorry, baby--our first act on Lucifer."
The parent creature made another abortive motion as Paul took up the
young.

Its high lament was not what he and Dorothy had heard in the night.
That had been continuing when he slipped out to watch for dawn, and it
had ended at some unnoticed moment--profoundly different, surely far
off....

He tried to study the dead things as Sears Oliphant would want to do.
Two were hopelessly torn; he dug a hole in the humus and dropped those
in, smoothing the surface, wondering at his need for an act which
could mean nothing to the unhappy morsel of perception on the tree
trunk. The third, and the nest, he carried around the boat where the
light was better.

All seven digits of the forelimb spread into a membranous wing; the
hind leg divided at the ankle, three toes anchoring the wing, the
other four fused into a slim foot which had suction pads. He cradled
the bit of mortality in his palm, recalling a thing Wright had said
when they entered the lifeboat. Captain Jensen, waiting for take-off
at the spaceport, trying, as he drank sherry with Christopher Wright,
to look at the venture under the aspect of eternity, had said he liked
the philosophical implications of _Argo's_ converter, into which his
own body was strangely soon to pass. What was Wright's comment eleven
years later? "All life is cannibalism, benign or not: we are still
eating the dinosaurs." There had been more, which Paul could not
remember. So, man drove eleven years through space and killed three
babies. _But there was no element of malevolence_....

Perhaps there was none in most of man's actions over the millennia.

Wright crawled out, stiff-limbed and unrested.

"'Morning, Doc. Let me introduce _Enigma Luciferensis_."

"'Luciferensis' won't do." Wright peered down. "Everything is
'Luciferensis,' including the posterity Dot mentioned. Well now,
what----"

"A nestling. Our crash broke the nest and killed the young."

Wright fingered the fabric. "Beautiful. Leaves gummed together with
some secretion." With a doctor's intentness he added: "How d'you
feel?"

"Good."

A shadow circled Paul, settled on his arm, hobbling toward his palm
and what it held. He felt the suction cups; with a careful mouth the
creature took up its dead and flew away. "I've been remembering
something you said: life eating life--without too much concern for the
second law of thermodynamics. Forgive us our trespasses.... Good
morning, lady."

"What did I miss?" Dorothy had glimpsed the departure.

"Lucifer's idea of a bat. I think that big flying thing I saw from the
lifeboat was shaped like this midget. Haven't seen any birds."

Dorothy hugged his arm. "Not even one measly robin?"

"Sorry, Whifflepuff--fresh out of robins."

Wright blinked at his compass. "Meadow that way." Paul was
inattentive, needing the warm quiet of the woman beside him. Wright
added: "First, breakfast." He broke the seal of a ration package and
snarled. "Thirty days, I b'lieve you said. Antique garbage--dehydrated
hay."

Dorothy said, "You're nicest when you're mad, Doc. We'll soon have to
try the local stuff, I suppose."

"Uh-huh. But no guinea-pig work for you or Ann."

She was startled. "Why not? I can digest boilerplate."

"Two women on Lucifer: valuable livestock." Wright smiled with his
mouth full. "I'm boss, remember? For guinea-pig work, the men draw
lots."

She was grave. "I won't argue. It so happens----" She peeked into the
nest. "Poor little fuzzies lined it with fur. Their own, I'll bet."

"It so happens what, dear?"

"Ah.... This eleven-year-old gookum claims to be coffee. Can we make a
fire? Looks like dead wood over there."

The branches burned aromatically; the morning was growing into deep
warmth, but still with freshness. Wright said, "Coffee my shirt."

Dorothy tasted it. "Brr...! I was about to say when I interrupted
myself, it so happens I'm six or seven weeks pregnant, I think."

"Six----" Wright set his aluminum cup carefully upside down. Paul
mumbled, "That's what's been on your mind."

Behind her eyes he glimpsed the primitive thing, deeper than thought,
not like a part of her but a force that sustained her, himself, all
others: the three billion of Earth, the small grieving spirit now
flown away into the trees. "Yes, Adam. I would have told you sooner,
but we all had a lot on our minds."

"Even before we got in orbit, you saw us settling--staying----"

Dorothy grinned then. "No-o, Paul. I just wanted the baby. Could have
been born on the ship. The Federation said no, but...."

Gradually Paul began to realize it. "But you said yes."

She leaned to him, no longer smiling. "I said yes...."

The forest floor hushed footsteps; some coolness lingered. Paul walked
in front, then Dorothy, and Wright marked blazes on the tree trunks.
Paul glanced backward often, to capture the receding patterns. At the
third such pause the lifeboat was no longer visible--only a sameness
of trees and sparse young life groping through shadow for the food of
the sun. In this depth of forest there was no brush; the going was
easy except for the nuisance of purple vines that sometimes looped
from tree to tree. Paul searched for any change of light ahead.

The boat held all but what they wore, the two rifles, the three
pistols holstered at their hips, the three knives, three sealed ration
packages. Damage had prevented locking the door of the boat: to rob,
an inhabitant of Lucifer would need only intelligence enough to solve
the sliding mechanism. They had seen no life but that huge nocturnal
leaf eater, the small fliers, a white worm, and now a few timid
ten-legged scuttlers on the warm ground and midge-like specks dancing
in shafts of sunlight. Too quietly, Wright said, "Stop."

Paul raised his rifle as he turned. Only untroubled forest. Wright's
warning hand lowered. "Almost saw it. Heard nothing, just felt
a--watching. Might be in my head. Let's go on. And don't hurry."

It would have been possible to hurry, even with an eye on the compass.
It would have been possible, Paul thought, to run in panic, fall
whimpering and waiting. But you wouldn't do it....

No shape in this dim region could be right or wrong; the trees
themselves were no sweetly familiar beech or pine. They halted at
sight of a new sprawling type of vine, uprooted where a break in the
forest ceiling admitted more sunshine. The earth displayed hoof-prints
like a pig's. Some scattered tuberous roots were marked by teeth;
Dorothy sniffed one. "Spud with garlic for a papa." Paul pocketed a
sample. She said, "Not that Lucifer cares, Doc, but what time is it?"

"My watch says we've been walking fifteen minutes. Take it slow."
Wright presently added: "I've had another glimpse. Not a good one.
Furry, gray and white--white face, splashes of white on a gray body
seven or eight feet tall. Human shape. We may be all right if we don't
bother him."

"Or blunder into territory where he doesn't want us."

"There is that, Paul."

"Human shape," said Dorothy evenly. "How human?"

"Very. Upright. Good-sized head.... Ah--hear that?" It was Ann's
voice, calling, from someplace where there should be sunlight. "Don't
answer just yet--no sudden noises."

Close to Paul, Dorothy whispered, "The baby--I don't want to tell the
others quite yet."

That made it real--so real that in spite of a patch of beckoning blue
Paul had to turn to her.

Behind Wright, he saw it, among the pillars of the trees, retreating
in fluid slowness till it was only a black ear, part of a white-furred
cheek, an iridescent green eye showing, like a cat's, no white. But
the blue was also real....

The edge of the forest was a mass of young growth fighting for the
gold coin of sunlight. "Shield your faces"--Wright was panting--"could
be poisonous leaves." They broke through to a red-green field, the
slim silver of the undamaged boat, the certainty of friends, an
expanse of lake no longer blue but sickly white. The boat's nose was
thrust under an overhang of branches. Ann Bryan was unsteady and wan,
but there was welcome in her gray eyes for Dorothy, who joined her at
once and whispered with her. Sears' fat affectionate face carried a
determined smile. Ed Spearman came forward, alert and commanding.
Wright asked, "How long have you been out in the air?"

"An hour." Ed was impatient. "Sealed overnight. Nothing in the boat
for a test of the air, no point in waiting. You----"

"Okay." Wright watched brown wings over the lake. "What are those?"

"Birds or some damn thing. The white on the lake is dead fish. I
suppose the ship blew under water or the impact killed them. Our
Geiger says the water isn't radioactive. We haven't gone into the
meadow--been waiting for you."

In the south the meadow reached the horizon--twenty miles of it, Paul
remembered from the air view, before jungle again took over. Near by,
threads of smoke were rising straight from the grass. "Abandoned
fires? We scared off----"

"Maybe," Spearman said. "Seen no life except those birds."

"Bat wings," Sears Oliphant remarked. "Mammalian, I think--oh my, yes.
Can't have furry birds, you know, with a taxonomist in the family,
hey?"

Spearman shrugged. "Must get organized. How much damage, Paul?"

"The boat itself. Both wings off, radio dead. Couldn't lock the
door...." It was like an Earth landscape. Tall grass carried oatlike
ruddy seed clusters on green stems. The lake was bordered by white
sand except close by, where jungle reached into water. There was
casual buzzing traffic above the grass, reminiscent of bees, wasps,
flies. Far up, something drifted on motionless wings, circling. And
ten or fifteen miles to the west there was the calm of hills--rounded,
old, more green than blue in a sleepy haze, but to paint them, Paul
thought, you would shade off into the purple. Paul went on, absently:
"We'll have the charlesite of the wrecked boat of course. That gives
this one a theoretical twenty hours of jet. We have ammunition for
long enough to learn how to use bow and arrow, I think."

Ann muttered, "Paul, don't----"

"What?" Spearman was disgusted. "Oh, you could be right at that, Paul.
Hard to realize.... Well, we must make some kind of camp."

Wright began: "Some knowledge of the life around us----"

"Oh my, yes----"

"We'll have to make a camp before we can do any exploring, Doc. Here,
out in the open. See anything in the woods?"

"Something followed. More or less human----"

"So we know the camp has to be in the open."

"Do we, Ed?" Wright watched the distant bat wings. Spearman stared.
"Can't chance a forest we don't know."

"Still, I mean to look things over a bit. Feel not so good, Ann?"

"All right," she said, glancing from Wright to Spearman, silently
begging to know: _Who is leader?_ "Slightly slap-happy, Doc."

"Mm, sure." Wright hitched his rifle. "Going to look at that nearest
smoke. You come, Paul--or you, Ed. One of you should stay here."

Spearman leaned against the lifeboat, still-faced. "Paul can go if he
wants to. I think it's a risk and a waste of time."

Paul watched him a moment, frightened not by a man whom he had never
quite been able to like, but by the withdrawal itself, the sense of a
barrier to communication. _We start with a division on this first
morning of the world...?_ Paul hugged his own rifle and followed
Wright into the long whisper of the grass.



4


Moist heat pressed down, but the air of the meadow was sweet. There
were marks of trampling as well as the swath the boat had cut--trails,
places where something might have crouched. Under his breath Wright
asked, "Feel all right, Paul?"

Truth was more needed than a show of courage. "Not perfect, Doc. Am I
flushed? You are, a little."

"Yes. Trace of fever; may wear off. Here's something----"

They had not come far. Two red bodies barely three feet tall sprawled
near each other face down in the grass. Paul noticed oval bulges
between shoulder blades modified to accommodate them, the pathos of
fingers--seven-fingered hands--holding earth in a final grasp. The
male wore a loincloth of black fabric and a quiver almost full of
arrows; the female had a grass skirt, and her hand was tight on a
stone-headed spear longer than herself. A bow of carved wood lay some
distance away; one could see how the little man had crawled in his
agony after the bow was lost. Wright turned them over gently--bald
skulls, no trace of body hair on skin of a rich copper color exciting
to a painter's vision, green eyes with no visible whites in human
faces heavily tattooed, wide-open eyes, accusing no one. The bodies
were in rigor, a shaft in the man's neck, the woman pierced by an
arrow in the side. Blood colored the grass, dry but eloquent.

"War too," said Wright, and pulled out the arrows, showing Paul the
stone heads, the intricate carving of the wood, thin-whittled wooden
vanes taking the place of feathers. "Stone Age war...."

The male pygmy was the smaller of the two, and softer, his shape not
feminine but rounded and smooth. Both seemed mature, so far as age
could be guessed at all. The woman was rugged, with a coarser skin and
the scar tissue of old wounds; her two pairs of breasts were scarcely
more prominent than the ridged muscles of her midget chest.

Wright mulled it over, kneading his wrinkled throat. "Physical
refinements of evolution as far along as our own. Straight thigh and
neck, perfect upright posture; there was no slouch or belly sag when
they were on their feet. Human jaw, big brain case. That furry giant I
saw in the woods had complete upright posture too. Oh, it's natural,
Paul. You stick fins on an ocean vertebrate, turn him into a
four-legged land animal, give him a few hundred million years. Almost
bound to free his front limbs if they've stayed unspecialized." In the
gaunt face, sadness and pity struggled with a bitter sort of mirth.
"The brain gets large, boy, and away you go, to--ach--to the
Federation versus the Asian Empire--Lincoln, Rembrandt, the state
papers of Abraham Brown. And to you and Dorothy and the baby." Wright
stood erect, brushing bony knees, calm again. "I'm almost pleased to
find it this primitive. I don't think it can have gone further
anywhere on the planet, or we'd have seen cities, farms, roads, in the
photographs. Unless----"

"Unless what, Doctor?"

"Oh--unless there might be forms with no Earth parallel. In the
forests perhaps--even underground. Thought of that? But that's
speculations, and our little soldiers here are fact. They have a
civilization--arrows say so, tattooing, garments. Rigid,
tradition-bound--or maybe not, depending on how much language they've
developed to tie 'emselves in knots with."

"Bow and arrow--why, suh, almost as advanced as not being afraid to
end a sentence with a preposition."

"Hell with you. Twenty thousand years ago, or whenever it was we
reached our present physique, if there'd been anything external to
teach men how to behave like grown-ups----. Well, we had to sweat it
out--tribal wars, bigger wars, venerated fears, errors, and
stupidities. But maybe here----"

"Are _we_ big enough?"

Wright shut his eyes. His thin cheeks were too bright; there was a
tremor in the rifle tip. "Wish I knew, Paul. We have to try."

Ed Spearman yelled, "Look out!" A rifle banged, and a pistol.

A brown darkness had come swooping from the lake. Others
followed--mud-brown, squealing. They had banked at the noise of the
shots to circle overhead. Paul fired; a near one tumbled, screeching,
thrashing a narrow wolfish head on a long neck, black teeth snapping
in the death throes--but even now it was trying to hobble forward and
get at them. The others wheeled lower until Wright's rifle spoke, and
Spearman's; there was the dry slap of Dorothy's automatic pistol.
"Back to the trees!" The wounded thing on the ground set up a bubbling
howl.

More were coming, with weaving of pointed red-eyed heads on mobile
necks. Paul ran, Wright loping beside him, hearing the crash of their
friends' weapons. Something slammed Paul's shoulder, flopped against
his leg, tripping him. He tumbled over a shape furry and violent that
smelled of fish and carrion. He fought clear of it, sobbing in animal
wrath, and reached the shelter of the trees and Dorothy's embrace.
Sweat blinded him. Wright was clutching him too, getting his jacket
off.

"Flesh wound. The hind foot got you----"

"I saw it." Ann Bryan choked. "Saw it happen. Filthy claws----"

Wright had a bottle of antiseptic. "Son, you ain't going to like this.
Hang on to the lady." But the pain was a welcome flare. Paul's eyes
cleared as Wright made him a bandage of gauze, with Dorothy's help. He
could look from the shelter of overhanging branches at a confusion of
wings. The creatures had not followed as far as the lifeboat; perhaps
its shining mass disturbed them.

Spearman groaned: "You _would_ go out."

Wright snapped at him. "Camp in the open--some disadvantages----"

"Granted. But you sure learned it the hard way." "Eating"--Ann
pointed, nauseated--"their own wounded--"

Wright stepped between her and the loud orgy in the meadow. "Wing
spread, fifteen feet. Well--sky's bad, woods maybe. What do you
suggest?"

"Clear underbrush," Spearman said, "so we can see into the woods. Pile
it just beyond this overhang of branches for a barrier, leave a space
so we can reach the lifeboat. We can get to the lake for water without
going much in the open."

"Good," said Wright. A peace offering. Spearman smiled neutrally.

"If the water's safe," said Sears Oliphant.

Wright grinned at the fat man. "Pal, it better be."

"Miracles?" Sears' shoulders shot up amiably. "We can hope it is, with
boiling. Gotta have it. Canteens won't last the day, in this heat."

Paul helped Ed unpack tools from the lifeboat. "One sickle," Spearman
noted. "No scythe. Garden gadgets. Pruning shears. One ax, one damned
hatchet. No scythe, no scythe----. There were two or three on the
ship."

"Maybe the lake's not so deep."

"Maybe we'll play hell trying to find out too. Those things weren't
much scared by the shooting...."

Hot, tedious work created a circle of clear shaded ground which must
be called home. A fire was boiling lake water in the few aluminum
vessels. It had a fishy, mud-bottom taste and could not be cooled, but
it eased thirst. Paul had glimpsed Ann in the lifeboat, opening her
violin case, closing it, sick-faced. He had marveled again at the
mystery of a Federation governing two-thirds of a world, which had
genially allowed a fourteen-year-old musician to carry her violin on
man's greatest venture--with enough strings to last two or three years
and no means of restringing the bow. Later Ann threw herself into the
labor of clearing brush but tired quickly from her own violence.
Sears' microscope occupied a camp table; Paul and Dorothy joined him
in a pause for rest. "Got anything for the local news-paper?"

"Unboiled lake water-assorted wrigglers." Sears mopped his cheeks.
"'Twas never meant my name should be Linnaeus. Have a look." The world
on the slide seemed not unlike what Sears had once shown him in water
from the hydroponics room of _Argo_: protoplasmic abundance no mind
could grasp. "So far, nothing basically different from what you'd find
in lake water on Earth--except for the trifle that every species is
unknown, hey? I suppose that's why they heaved a taxonomist into
space, to see what the poor cluck would do, hey? Now, those red dots
are something like algae. Notice a big ciliated schlemihl blundering
around? He could almost be old man paramecium, oh my, yes. Gi'me your
sickle, muscle man."

"Hot work, Jocko. Take it slow and easy."

"Believe me, Mistuh Mason, I will. What----"

In undergrowth beyond the clearing there was deep-throated fury, a
crashing of branches. A gray and white man shape staggered out of
concealment, wrenching at what looked like swollen black rope. But the
rope had a head, gripping the giant's forearm; a black loop circled
the giant's loins and his free arm, tearing and pounding, could not
loosen it. A saurian hind leg groped, hooking for purchase into gray
fur.

Paul's hunting knife was out; there was time only for recognition. The
gray and white being was everything human caught in a coil. Paul
forced himself through a barrier of fear, hearing Wright yell, "Don't
shoot, Ed! Put that away." There was no shot. Paul knew he was between
Spearman and the confusion of combat; someone was blundering behind
him. A black reptilian tail stretched into bushes, grasping something
for anchorage. Paul slashed at that. The mass of heaving life rolled
on the ground as the giant lost his footing, serpent teeth still
buried in his forearm. Green eyes were pleading in a universal
language.

Wright was clutching a black neck, with no strength to move it, and
Paul stabbed at scaled hide behind a triangular head, but the skin was
like metal. The forelimbs were degenerate vestiges, the hind legs
cruelly functional. At last the steel penetrated; Paul twisted it,
probing for a brain. The giant had ceased struggling; the furred face
was close. Paul could feel the difficult breath, sense a rigid
waiting.... The teeth let go. The giant leaped free, returning at once
with a stone the size of Paul's chest, to fling it down on the
slow-dying body, repeating the action till his enemy was a smear of
black and red.

Now in returning quiet a furred man eight feet tall watched them
openly. Wright said, "Ed, put away that gun. This man is a friend."

"Man!" Spearman holstered his automatic, ready for a draw. "Your
daydreams will kill us all yet."

"Smile, all of you--maybe his mouth does the same thing." Wright
stepped to the trembling monster, hands open. Ann was sobbing in
reaction, smothering the sound. Wright pointed at himself. "Man." He
touched the gray fur. "Man...."

The giant drew back, not with violence. Paul felt Dorothy's small
fingers shivering on his arm. The giant sucked his wound and spat,
turning his head away from Wright to do it. "Man--man...." Wright's
hand, small and pale as an oyster shell, spread beside the huge palm,
six fingers, long four-jointed thumb. "Paul--your first-aid kit. I
want just the gauze."

Spearman said, "Are you crazy?"

"It's a chance," Sears Oliphant said in a level, careful voice. "Doc
knows what he's doing. Ed, you should know you can't stop him."

Wright was pointing to Paul's bandaged shoulder and to the giant's
wound. The high furred forehead puckered in obvious effort. Dorothy
was choking on a word or two: "Doc--must you--"

"He knows we're friends. He's been watching a long time. He saw Paul
get hurt and then bandaged." The giant's trembling was only a
spasmodic shuddering. "Man--man...." Wright snipped off gauze. "And he
knows that thing is a weapon, Ed. Will you put it away?"

"He could break you in two. You know that, don't you?"

"But he won't. Give protoplasm a chance." Now Wright was winding gauze
lightly, firmly, hiding the already clotting blood, and the giant made
no move of rejection. "Man--man."

"Man." The giant murmured it cautiously, prolonging the vowel; he
touched his chest. "_Essa kana._" A finger ran exploringly over the
gauze.

"Essa kana--man," said Wright, and swayed on his feet.

The giant pointed at the bloody mess on the ground and rumbled:
"_Kawan_." He shuddered, and his arm swept in a loose gesture that
appeared to indicate the curving quarter mile where lake and jungle
met each other in a black-water marsh. Then he was staring out,
muttering, at the wings in the meadow, and presently he touched Paul's
bandage with fantastic lightness. "_Omasha_," he said, pointing at the
flying beasts. He indicated the rifle wobbling in Sears' arm and held
up two fingers. "Omasha."

"Yes, we killed two omasha. Sears-man. Paul-man. Wright-man."

The giant rumpled his chest fur. "Mijok."

"Mijok-man.... Mijok, why didn't I have you in Anthropology IA fifteen
years ago? We'd've cleaned up the joint." Mijok knew laughter; his
booming in response to Wright's tone and smile could mean nothing
else. But Wright staggered and was breathing hard. Dorothy whispered,
"Paul--"

It could not be pushed aside any more--the pain separate from the
smart of his shoulder, tightness in the eyeballs, chill, nausea. "The
air--"

Wright's knees buckled. Sears had dropped the rifle and was helping
him to the lifeboat, Paul watching the action in a daze of stupidity.
Wright's eyes had gone empty.... Paul was uncertain how he himself
came to be sitting on the ground. Dorothy's face was somewhere; he
touched it. Her brown cheek was fire-hot, and she was trying to speak.
"Paul--take care of you--always--"

The face of Mijok was there too--red vapor turning black.



5


Paul Mason stared into blue calm: airy motion of branches against the
sky, a mystery remembered from long ago, in a place called New
Hampshire. Those years were not dead: secretly the mind had brought
them here. _What a small journey! Less than five light-years: on a
star map you could hardly represent it with the shortest of lines...._
He was without pain, and cool. Time? Why, that amiable thud of a heart
in a firm, familiar body (his own, surely?), that was indicating time.
The boy in New Hampshire, after sprawling on his lazy back and
discovering the miracle of sky--hadn't he tried to paint it, even
then? Messed about with his uncle's palette, creating a daub that
had--oh, something, a little something. _Very well. Once upon a time
there was a painter named Paul Mason_.... Dorothy....

"You're back--oh, darling! No, Paul, don't sit up fast or your head'll
hurt. Mine did." Now she was curling into the hollow of his arm,
laughing and weeping. "You're back...."

A thin old man sat cross-legged on gray moss. Paul asked him, "How
long?"

Christopher Wright smiled, twisting and teasing the skin of his gaunt
throat, gray with a thick beard stubble. "A day and a night, the nurse
says. You know--the nurse? You were kissing her a moment ago. It's
early morning again, Paul. She was never quite unconscious, she
claims. I recovered an hour ago. No ill effects. It knocked out the
others at nightfall--predictable. They were exposed to Lucifer's air
thirteen hours later than we were." Paul saw them now, lying on beds
of the gray--moss? And where he and Dorothy clung to each other was
the same pleasant stuff--dry, spongy, with an odor like clover hay.
"Beds by courtesy of Mijok." Wright nodded toward the gray giant, who
had also brought moss for himself and now sprawled belly down,
breathing silently, the bulge between his shoulder blades lightly
rising and falling. Mijok's face was on his arm, turned away toward
the purple shadow of forest.

Dorothy whispered, "He watched over us all night."

"So you were conscious all the time? Tell me."

Dorothy kept her voice low. Paul noticed the towering slimness of the
lifeboat beyond the barrier of branches, reversed--Ed Spearman's work,
he supposed. It pointed toward the west. Turned so, the jet would
blast toward the lake, harming nothing. Its shadow held away the heat
of the sun, a gleaming artifact of twenty-first century man, the one
alien thing in this wilderness morning. The sickness, Dorothy said,
had taken her with a sudden paralysis: she could see, hear, be aware
of boiling fever, but could not move. Then even the sense of heat left
her--she was only observing eyes, ears, and a brain. She had had a
fantasy that she was dead, no longer breathing. "But I breathed." Her
small brown face crinkled with a laughter rich in more than amusement.
"It's a habit I don't mean to abandon."

"Neurotoxin," said Wright, "and a damn funny one. Back on Earth, when
I believed myself to be a doctor, I never heard of anything like it."

The condition had lasted all day, she said; at nightfall her sense of
touch had gradually returned. She could move her hands, later her feet
and head. At length she had sat up, briefly blinded by pain in the
forehead, then she had given way to an overwhelming need for sleep. "I
got a glimpse of you, Paul, and tumbled off into a set of dreams that
were--not so bad, not so bad. I woke before sunrise. Different. Don't
ask me how. Never felt healthier. Not even weak, as you should be
after a fever. But Doc--what if the illness--"

Wright looked away from the terror that had crossed her face. "If you
go on feeling all right, we can assume nothing's wrong with the baby.
Don't borrow trouble, sugarpuss--we've got enough."

"Maybe," Paul suggested, "the illness was just--oh, some of our Earth
metabolism getting burned out of us. A stiff acclimation course."
Wright grunted, pinching his long nose. Paul said, "Wish it had burned
out the yen for a cigarette that I've had for eleven years."

Sears Oliphant, the only other with some medical knowledge, had taken
charge immediately after their collapse. "He is--scared, Paul,"
Dorothy murmured. "Of Lucifer, I mean. I could feel it when I was just
a pair of eyes and ears. More physical shrinking in him than in the
rest of us, and he's fighting it back with all he's got. He's a very
big man, Paul...." Sears looked peaceful enough now, in the dark sleep
of the sickness, his moon face bristling with black beard growth but
relaxed and bland. On another couch of moss, Spearman was more
restless, powerful arms twitching as if he needed to fight the
disaster even in sleep. Ann Bryan was deeply flushed and moaned a
little now and then. "Ed was all right too. Considerate. Took all
Sears' orders without any fuss or question; I don't think he's much
scared. He feels he can bull his way through anything, and maybe he's
right." Dorothy's helpless eyes had also seen Mijok bringing moss in
great armfuls. This, she thought, had helped Ed Spearman to accept the
giant as a man and perhaps as a friend. She remembered Mijok raising
Paul and herself in one careful swing of his arms to set them down
beside each other on the moss. Later she had watched him turning the
lifeboat under direction of Spearman's blunt gestures. Its length was
thirty-four feet, its weight over three tons Earth gravity--more here.
One gray-white arm had lifted the tail and swung the boat on its
landing gear as a man might push a light automobile. "I wasn't afraid.
After dark, when I knew the sickness had got the others, I still
wasn't afraid. Believe me? I could see Mijok moving around. Once I
heard him growl--I think he was driving something off. And then while
the red moon was coming up, he sat by us--his eyes are red in the
dark, Paul, not green. He smells musky at close range, but clean. I
wasn't afraid. Now and then he'd look us over and smile with his funny
black lips and touch the furry back of his finger to our foreheads....
I could see the blue fireflies, Paul. Someday you'll make up stories
about them for the baby.... I heard that crying again--much nearer
than when we heard it that first night by the other lifeboat. Like a
group of children crying, if you can imagine that synchronized, almost
musical. Mijok growled and fretted when it began, but it came no
nearer. It had stopped when I woke."

"Some of Earth's critters sounded human--panthers, owls, frogs--"

"Ye-es. Just possibly something like tree frogs...."

Wright said, "Mijok brought us raw meat this morning before he went to
sleep, something like a deer haunch. The fire bothers him--he
evidently didn't go near it last night after the others collapsed."

"Ed tried to show him about fire," Dorothy said. "I remember. Mijok
was scared, and Sears told Ed to let it wait."

"Meat was good too." Wright smirked. "We got the fire going, and Mijok
did try some cooked and liked it. You and Dorothy can have some
tomorrow if I don't turn purple."

"Not guinea-pig," said Dorothy. "Just pig."

"Hungry?" Wright tossed Paul a ration package.

"Gah!" But he opened it. "Learned any more of Mijok's words?"

"No. He won't have many. Nouns, simple descriptives. Must have some
continuing association with his own breed, or he'd have no words at
all. A hunter--with only nature's weapons, I think. That haunch was
torn, not cut--some hoofed animal smaller than a pony, fresh-killed
and well bled. He must have got it while Dorothy slept. It may have
strayed into the camp during the night. I think Mijok lives in the
woods, maybe not even a shelter or a permanent mate. Anthropology IA."
said Wright, and bowed in mimic apology to the sleeping giant. "Those
pygmies will be something else again--Neolithic. Wish I understood
that bulge between the shoulder blades. All the creatures we've seen
have it--even that damn black reptile, I believe, though things were
too mixed up to be sure."

Mijok woke--all at once, like a cat. He stretched, extending his arms
twelve feet from wrist to wrist. He smiled down at Paul. He studied
the helpless ones, peering longest at Ann Bryan; the black-haired girl
was breathing harshly, fidgeting. Now and then her eyes flickered open
and perhaps they saw. Softly as smoke Mijok stepped into the shadow of
the trees and listened. Wright remarked, "Speaking of that reptile,
we should set up a monument to it. Nothing luckier could have happened
than that chance to lend Mijok a hand." His gray eyes fixed on Paul,
lids lowered in a speculative smile. "I'm not the only one who
remembers, Paul, that you were the first to go to his help. He hasn't
forgotten.... Dot, you're sure Ed understood that we have a friend
there?"

"He seemed to, Doc. I watched them. They got along--practically
buddies."

Paul saw the bandage was still on Mijok's arm, earth-stained and with
fragments of gray moss, but not disarranged; the bandage on his own
shoulder had been removed. The flying beast's attack had left only a
heavy scratch, which looked clean; there was no pain, only an itching.
The meadow was empty of brown wings. The dead fish were gone from the
lake. Perhaps other scavengers had been busy in the thirteen-hour
night. The water was an innocent blue, a luminous stillness under the
sun.

Mijok stole out into the grass, gazing westward along the line where
meadow met jungle. Returning, he squatted by Wright and muttered,
"_Migan_." He spread a hand three feet above the ground; two fingers
drooped and indicated the motion of walking legs. Paul suggested:
"Pygmies?"

"Could be." Mijok stared eloquently at Wright's rifle then crouched at
the barrier of branches, complaining in his throat. Taking up his own
rifle, Paul joined him. Dorothy hurried to the lifeboat and came back
with field glasses for him and Wright and herself. In spite of the
great planet's heavy pull, her body moved with even more light
easiness than it had shown in the unreal years of _Argo_. With the
glasses, vague motion a quarter mile away in the meadow leaped
shockingly into precision.

The pygmies were not approaching but heading out from the edge of the
forest, a group of nine, barely taller than the grass, bald red heads
and shoulders in single file. The rearmost had a burden: seven others
carried bows, with quivers on the right hip. "Left-handed," Paul
observed aloud. The leader was the tallest--a woman, with a long
spear. All were sending anxious glances at the sky and toward the
human shelter; their motions suggested a fear so deep it must be pain,
yet something drew them out there in spite of it. The pygmy with the
burden, a rolled-up hide, was also a woman. The leader was bald as
the others, slender, muscular, her head round, with prominent forehead
and thin nose, tattooed cheeks. The bowmen had only simple loincloths,
and belts for their arrow quivers. The women's knee-length grass
skirts were like the Melanesian, but the leader's was dyed a brilliant
blue. Her two little pairs of breasts were youthfully firm and
pointed. Dorothy murmured, "American civilization would have gone mad
about those people."

"What a girl!" Wright sighed. "I mean Dorothy--the Dope."

"Even a dope can be jealous. Do you s'pose Mrs. Mijok has--Oh! Oh,
poor darling! Not funny after all, gentlemen----"

The pygmy leader had turned full face, as the nine paused at trampled
grass. She wore a necklace of shell. These had no glitter, but their
yellow and blue made handsome splashes against the red of her skin.
Reason told Paul that she could see at most only dazzling spots where
sunlight might be touching the glasses he had thrust through wilted
leaves. It made no difference: she was staring directly into him,
making her grief a part of his life. A still-faced grief, too profound
for any tears, if she knew of tears. The green cat eyes lowered; she
stabbed her spear into the ground and lifted her arms, a giving,
yielding motion. Her lips moved--in prayer, surely, since all but one
of the men were bowed, performing ritual gestures toward whatever lay
on the ground. The one who did not bow never ceased to watch the sky.
The prayer was brief. The woman's left hand dropped meaningly, the
hide was unrolled, and its bearer raised what the grass had hidden--no
more than a skull and a few bones, a broken spear, a muddy scrap that
might have been a grass skirt. The hide was folded gently over these;
the group went on.

"Dorothy--those things you saw running when we were circling down--I
missed 'em," Wright said. "Poor eyesight, and seems to me the air was
still misty from _Argo's_ crash in the lake. They were going south,
away from here? And they could have been--people like these?"

"Yes. Hundreds or thousands of them. I suppose the crash of _Argo_
must have seemed like the heavens falling. The lifeboats too."

"I think we interrupted a war."

"These would be survivors? Live in this part of the jungle maybe?
Looking for what's left after those--those flying beasts--"

"It makes sense," Wright said. "They're more afraid of the sky than of
our setup over here. Maybe we're gods who came down to help them. If
we did help them. Look: they've found another.... Yes, now the
prayer.... Wish Mijok wasn't so afraid of them. Inevitable. To them I
suppose he's an ugly wild animal. Different species, similar enough to
be shocked at the similarity. 'Tain't good."

"Do we try for a foot in both camps?"

"Paul, I think I'll take a rain check on answering that.... Ach--if I
could go out there now--communicate--"

"No!" Dorothy gasped. "Not while the others are still sick."

"You're right of course." Wright fretted at his beard stubble. "I get
sillier all the time. As Ed would tell me if he were up and around.
It's the high oxygen...."

There were brown splashes in the sky. The pygmies saw the peril first
and darted for the woods--an orderly flight however--the woman with
the hide in front, the blue-skirted woman next, then the bowmen. Three
of the latter turned bravely and shot arrows that glittered and
whined. The brown beasts wheeled and flapped angrily upward, though
the buzzing arrows dropped far short of them. The pygmies gained the
trees; the omasha scouted the edge of the woods, squawking, three of
them drifting toward the lifeboat, weaving heads surveying the ground.
Paul gave way to unfamiliar savage enjoyment. "Do we, Doc?"

"Yes," said Wright, and took aim himself.

All three were brought down, at a cost of four irreplaceable rifle
bullets and two shots from Dorothy's automatic. Mijok bellowed with
satisfaction but recoiled as Wright dragged a dirty brown carcass into
the clearing. "A dissection is in order." Mijok grumbled and fidgeted.
"Don't fret, Mijok." Wright pegged down the wings of the dead animal
with sharp sticks and drew an incision on the leathery belly with his
hunting knife. "Good head shot, Paul--this one's yours. We'll do a
brain job from one of the others, but I think we'll let that wait for
Sears--oh my, yes...! Doesn't weigh over thirty pounds. Hollow bones
like a bird's, very likely. Hope they'll keep."

"You hope," Dorothy sniffed. "What do you do when I turn housewife and
instruct you to get that awful mess the hell off my nice clean floor?"

"Dope! And you my best and only medical student." He worked at the
cutting dubiously, inexpertly. "Conventional mammalian setup, more or
less. Small lungs, big stomach. Hah--two pairs of kidneys?" He spread
the viscera out on the wing. "Short intestine, also like a bird. And
she was preparing a blessed event multiplied by--count 'em--six."

"Too many," said Paul. "Altogether too industrious."

"What I really want to know--Oh...?" With the lungs removed, it could
be seen that the hump on the back was caused by a great enlargement of
four thoracic vertebrae, which swelled into the chest cavity as well
as outward. Wright cut away spinal cartilage. "Damn, I _wish_ Sears
was doing this. Well, it's neural tissue, nothing else--a big swelling
of the spinal cord." He sliced at the ugly head, but the hermorrhage
from a .30-caliber bullet confused the picture. "The brain looks too
simple. Could that lump in the cord be the hind brain? I hereby leave
the theories to Sears. But, son, you might slit the stomach and see
what the old lady had for breakfast."

Paul's clumsy cut on the slippery stomach bag made it plain what the
omasha had eaten--among other things, an almost complete
seven-fingered hand. Dorothy choked and walked away, saying, "I am
going to be--"

"Cheer up." Paul held her forehead. "Never mind the clean floor--"

"Go away. I mean stay very close. Sorry to be so physiological. Me a
medic student! Even blood bothers me."

"Never mind, sugar--"

"Sugar yourself, and wash your paws. We smell."

Mijok was muttering in alarm. Wright had abandoned the dissection and
gone out in the meadow, cautious but swift, to the spot where
yesterday they had found the pygmy soldiers. He took up a small skull
and arm bone, pathetically clean--perhaps there were insect scavengers
that followed after the omasha--and the discarded bow. But instead of
bringing back these relics, Wright held them high over his head,
facing westward. Tall and gray in the heavy sun, he stepped twenty
paces further toward the region where the pygmies had entered the
jungle; then he set the bones down in the grass and strode back to the
shelter, fingers twitching, lips moving in his old habit of talking
half to himself, half to the world. "The omasha," he said, "cracked
the enlarged vertebrae--favorite morsel maybe."

Mijok moaned, blinking and sighing. He stared long at the silent grace
of the lifeboat, then at Christopher Wright. He too was talking to
himself. Abruptly, something gave way in him. He was kneeling before
Wright, bending forward, taking Wright's hands and pressing them
against the gray-white fur of his face and his closed eyes. "Oh, now,"
Wright said, "now, friend--"

Paul remarked, "You're elected."

"I will not be a god."



6


Mijok released the hands of his deity and sat back on his haunches,
foggy-eyed. Wright stroked the great furry head, troubled and amazed.
"It won't do," Wright said. "We'll have no gods on this planet. Unless
human nature can make itself a little godlike. And no final
Armageddon--for that's within too, and always was. Well, he'll learn
language fast. As he does, the first thing he must discover is that
we're all one flesh." But Mijok was gazing up in adoration at the
sound of the voice, trembling, not in fear, smiling when he saw Wright
smile. "I believe he never had a god before--hadn't reached the stage
of personalizing the forces of nature. They're just forces, and
himself a bundle of perception, not even realizing that he's more
knowing and sensitive than other animals. Not arrogant yet, not
sophisticated enough to be cruel, or mean, or even ambitious...."

Dorothy pushed her fists into her cheeks, brown eyes upturned to study
the old man: a way she had, carrying Paul back eleven years to the day
he had come aboard the ship and seen her for the first time and loved
the woman who was, even then, manifest in the leggy, awkward child.
"Doc, why did you do that, out there in the meadow?"

"Why, Dorothy, we must make contact with those pygmies too. They
are--advanced. It'll be more difficult. They'll have traditions--maybe
some very ancient ones. But we must make contact."

"Mijok hates them though. If they come here--"

Wright grinned. "Temporary advantage of being little tin deities. I
think Mijok will do whatever we indicate--until we're able to teach
him independence."

Paul said, "Don't think for a minute I'm not with you. But Doc, with
the others helpless we're only three--"

"Four."

"Yes, four. There's our own survival to think of. It's a big planet.
Seems to me you're taking it on all at once."

Wright slouched, loose-limbed, at the barrier, where he could watch
the meadow, and Mijok stayed close to him. "I think we must, Paul. If
we start right perhaps we can go on right. A mistake at this point
could go on burning for a thousand years.... Why do you think he broke
out into worship when he did? Our superior achievements--lifeboat,
guns, the rescue from that reptile? The fact that I wasn't afraid of a
poor pygmy's bones? All that, sure, but something else. Ed would say I
was daydreaming--but I think Mijok's heart knows what his brain can't
yet interpret. Sears would agree, I think--his own heart's bigger than
Lucifer. Mijok hasn't the least conscious idea why I invited those
pygmies to come and get their dead. Down deeper, in the part of him
that made him bring the moss and the meat and take care of us, I think
he knows very well."

"You're proposing," Dorothy said, "to take a chance on love?"

Wright was tranquil, watching the meadow. "Whenever men put their
chips on the other thing they always lost, didn't they? Repeatedly,
for twenty or thirty thousand years? Did they ever create anything
good except in a milieu of co-operation, friendship, forbearance? One
of the oldest of commonplaces--the teachers all knew it.
Lao-tse--Buddha--or stated negatively: 'He who lives by the sword....'
And so on. Good is not the mere absence of evil, but the most positive
of human forces. The instruments of good are charity, patience,
courage, effort and self-knowledge, each unavailing without the
others; remember that. And that's all the basic ethics I know. The
rest is detail, solution of immediate problems as they arise. Even on
Earth the good tended to win out in the long run: at least it did
until the mechanical toys got out of hand. Then there was a century of
living under a question mark. There was also the Collectivist Party.
Yes, as a prime example of a part of my own philosophy totally
perverted, I give you the Collectivist Party." Wright was talking to
himself again, the bitterness of Earth's history goading him into
soft-spoken monotone, drawling and dark, on a planet nearly five
light-years distant from the ancient confusions. "The Collectivist
Party, which turns 'co-operation' into the same sort of word fetish
that 'democracy' was less than a hundred years ago--co-operation
_without_ charity, without patience, without courage and always,
always, without self-knowledge."

Dorothy still watched him with sober upturned eyes. "Ed told me once
his father was a pilot in the Collectivist Army during the Civil War."

"I know." Wright smiled at her in bashful half apology. "Some of the
old wounds still bleed too, I guess. I generally manage to keep my
political mouth shut when he's listening, if I can. Not that Ed could
be accused of still fighting the war that ended before he was born....
Relax: I think they're coming."

Paul joined Wright and the giant at the barrier, but Dorothy stayed a
moment with the sick, feeling their wrists, murmuring something close
to Ann's ear, although the girl could not respond. "Past the fever
stage, I believe," she said. "They're all breathing well. No chance
they'll be out of it before night, I suppose...."

The pygmies were still some distance away, slipping along the edge of
the woods in plain sight. There were only three--the two women and one
bowman; perhaps the others were paralleling their course inside the
forest--perhaps a hundred others were. Wright whispered, "Have we
anything that would make a respectable gift?"

Mijok was rumbling in misery and fright. Dorothy came over holding a
locket. "This--you remember, Doc--a matron at the Orphanage gave it to
me. I used to imagine it could be a portrait of my mother--"

"But my dear--"

The brown girl shook her head. "This ship-metal wedding ring Paul
hammered out for me--that's the only Earth jewelry I want to keep.
This face that might be like my mother's--Oh, Doc, I'm getting to be a
big girl now. Besides, Lucifer will have plenty of pretties for us
later on. And Doc--let me do this, will you? They've got a woman
leading 'em, so--wouldn't she be less afraid of another woman? I'll
uncover, so she--" Dorothy shrugged out of her jacket. "Please, Doc?
I'm scared, but--"

Wright glanced helplessly at Paul. "We--"

Dorothy said quickly, "_My_ decision." Holding the locket up for the
sun to gleam on it, she walked into the meadow and waited in the
brightness. Paul's hand sweated on the rifle stock. He saw Wright
patting Mijok's arm, heard his restraining murmur: "Quiet, Mijok--keep
your shirt on, Mijok, old man--man...." Mijok searched the face of his
god with a mute desperation and remained as he was.

The pygmy woman halted fifty feet away in still-faced musing. As Paul
had seen through the binoculars, she was elaborately tattooed and
young. The pause was long. Dorothy stepped nearer to the place where
Wright had left the bones, displaying the locket, her open left hand
waving down at her body to demonstrate that she carried no weapons.
For the first time Paul realized she had left her holster belt behind.

The blue-skirted woman shrilled a word; her two followers fell back.
She thrust the blunt end of her spear in the ground and came forward
steadily until she was only a few feet from the woman of the
twenty-first century; mask-faced, she met Dorothy's smile with a long
scrutiny. Now and then the green eyes shifted to study the clearing,
the lifeboat, the quiet shapes of Paul and Wright. And Mijok. Perhaps
she stared longest at Mijok, but by some heavy discipline her face
refused to tell of anything but dignity and caution.

She spoke at last. It was complex, in a tone like the piping of a tree
frog. There were pauses, studied inflections, no gestures: her
seven-fingered hands hung limp against the blue grass skirt. The
closing words seemed to have a note of questioning and of sternness;
she waited.

Dorothy's contralto was startlingly deep in contrast: "Darling, I
would like to know where you picked up that perfectly adorable
wrap-around, only I don't think it would suit me. I'm, to put it
frankly, a shade too hippy for such. In case you're wondering, I'm a
female sample of man"--she touched herself and pointed to the pygmy
lady--"man--"

"Oh!" Wright whispered. "Good girl, good--"

"--and it does seem to me us girls ought to stick together,
because"--she held out the locket--"well, just because. And anyway
look: I have only ten toes, fastened on to the ends of my feet, and if
I had more, Heaven knows (just count 'em and _see_ how each grows!)
I'd have trouble in keeping them neat. Pome. There now, sweetie pie,
please take it, huh?" And she opened the locket--Paul remembering in
lessening panic how much the unknown portrait did resemble her--and
held it face out to the woman of Lucifer. A tiny palm came up
dubiously; Dorothy placed the locket in it. "It won't bite, baby." The
pygmy woman turned it about, puzzling at the hinge. Dorothy stooped to
demonstrate the mechanism a few times. "I'm Dorothy, by the way, more
widely known as the Dope, which is a title of uncommon distinction
among my people, achieved only after long study of the art of saying
the right thing at the wrong time, burning the bacon, and preserving
at all times an air of sweet and addled dignity--Dorothy...." She
indicated herself plainly and pointed, with questioning eyebrows.

The tree-frog voice, with no sternness, but a hint of friendliness:
"Tor-o-thee...?" She imitated Dorothy's motions. "Abro Pakriaa--"

"Pakriaa."

"Abro Pakriaa." There was sternness again in that correction.

"Abro Pakriaa...."

Wright muttered, "Royalty, I believe. Don't dare do any coaching.
Trust Dot's instinct. Ah, here we go--"

The pygmy woman had taken off her shell necklace. She crushed the
dainty blue and yellow against her upper right breast; she set it for
a moment on her shining hairless skull, and then offered it. Wright
sighed, shaken, "It _had_ to work--exchange of gifts--a universal--"

When Dorothy dropped on one knee to take it, the mask relaxed for the
first time in a wintry smile. Over the proud bald head went the chain
of the locket, and Abro Pakriaa watched Dorothy put the necklace
on--fortunately it was long, even drooping a little below Dorothy's
throat. A flutter of red hands seemed to mean that Dorothy was to
stand back; another motion brought forward the woman who carried the
hide, her face a chip of red stone. The hide was unrolled, and the
bones placed on it. There was more intricate speech, with touching of
the locket and graceful, apparently kindly waving of thin arms.
Dorothy responded: "Four score and seven years ago...." She went on to
the end without mirth or hesitation, fondling the shell necklace,
giving the words the power of music that belongs to them even apart
from knowledge of their meaning. When she was silent, Abro Pakriaa
motioned the woman with the hide to go and held up her two hands
clasped together, the Chinese salutation. She waited till Dorothy had
done the same and strode away, recovering her spear without a backward
look, vanishing under the trees.

Dorothy collapsed in the shadow of the barrier. Tentatively she
groaned: "How'm I doing?"

Wright snarled; "Suppose you know that damn bowman had an arrow
trained on you the whole time?"

She glanced at him, lips quivering. "I was kind of aware of it."

"Can I," said Paul, "touch the hand that touched the hand--"

"Oh no. I ain' gonna 'sociate with no common scum no mo'."

Mijok stared in wonder at their sudden paroxysms of hysterical
laughter. He rumbled in doubt. Then the contagion caught him. Whatever
his own interpretation might be, he was bellowing, hammering his
chest, rolling over on the moss and scattering handfuls of it while he
roared.

He did not sober until he saw Wright drawing pictures on the
earth--three stylized but obvious human figures, one small, one
medium-sized, one large. Only the middle one had five fingers. Wright
gouged a circle around all three. He said, "C'm'on, Mijok--language
lesson."



7


The trail was obvious only to the pygmies, through a border region of
meadow and forest that was full of dappled light, a warm hurry of life
feeding, struggling, wandering. Aware of his own power and readiness,
able now to enjoy the shifting scents and noises of this new trail,
Paul watched Ann's quick slenderness and the swing of Spearman's solid
shoulders. They, and Sears Oliphant, had emerged unharmed from the
illness. During a week unmeasurably long in retrospect, all six of the
party had found the ease and sureness of physical acclimation. Their
bodies rejoiced in the hot clean air of day and the moist moderate
nights; the only rebel was the Earth-born brain--grudging, frightened,
trailing, making endless reservations and timid of shadows. In Sears
Oliphant it was an almost open battle between a brave and curious mind
and flesh that could not hide its wincing from pain and danger. His
"Oh my, yes" had a tremor which angered himself and oppressed his
natural garrulity.

When Ann Bryan had drifted out of the sleep of illness, Ed Spearman
was petting her hands, sponging her forehead. Paul had seen something
happen in Ann at that moment, like an innocent putting forth of leaves
when winter is not surely gone. Ann had never taken a lover. On the
ship, not so much unawakened as unwilling, she had rejected all that;
Spearman, making no secret of wanting her, had not been insistent. Nor
had he seemed outwardly much distressed, but (at a time when
Earth-harbored youth of his nature would have been in their liveliest
and most demanding prime) he had buried himself in _Argo's_ technical
library to the point of red-eyed exhaustion, a desperation of
unceasing study in the technologies that Captain Jensen would have
helped him explore if Jensen had lived. Ann had read other matters
after the violin strings were gone, read and daydreamed. If she'd wept
(and Paul thought she had) she had done it alone, in that pocket of a
room sacred to herself. To the others, she was a passionately silent
adolescent turning into a tiredly silent woman, who made too much
point of doing her own work and asking for nothing.

Yes, Ann was different now. The thin beauty of her face, vivid white
under heavy black hair, was still too quiet, but with a troubled
radiance. During this long week she had talked much with Dorothy--talk
superficially inconsequential, but Paul assumed it had a meaning below
words, as if Ann had only just realized, probably without envy, that
the brown girl was a thousand years older in heart and mind.

Beyond Ann and Spearman were the six bowmen of the escort, bodies
bright with a sour-smelling oil, grouped around Abro Pakriaa at a
deferential distance. The princess wore Dorothy's locket. "Abro," Paul
had learned, was best translated as "princess" or "queen." A flame-red
flower behind her ear caught sunlight from the early afternoon. Five
others were following Paul--women, with skirts of every tint but
Pakriaa's blue, taller than the men, carrying spears with blades of a
white stone resembling quartz. The men were unvaryingly soft, rounded
in contour, lacking the women's tough-sinewed vigor. It was plain,
merely from the manner of Abro Pakriaa and her spear bearers, that
among this people to be a woman was to be a leader and soldier, no
doubt a hunter and head of the household by virtue of size and
strength. In muscular power, a male pygmy was to a female as the
weakest of Earth's women was to the toughest male athlete. These of
the bodyguard were soldiers of a sort: the bows were small, the arrows
only big darts. The bowmen never spoke except meekly in response to
some patronizing word of the princess. Pakriaa's height topped forty
inches; none of the bowmen was quite three feet tall. Paul's fingers
itched for brush and palette. They were available in the lifeboat. The
fact that he had not even unpacked them he blamed on a preoccupation
with the daily work needed for mere survival, but there was a deeper
reason: perhaps a fear of finding his moderate ability vanished if he
should once try to hint with oil at the welling profusion of color and
line that was Lucifer. Now he found himself trying to measure the
quality of Pakriaa's rich copper against the softness of leaves that
were burnt umber, malachite green, saffron, purple, and he thought: _I
must be recovering. Wake up, ego, and look around._

Spearman was carrying rifle and automatic; Paul had preferred to leave
his rifle behind; Ann, hating firearms, had only her knife.

Abro Pakriaa had entered the camp at noon, her fourth visit in the
week. Her gloomy majesty unchanging, she had indicated that she wished
them to come to her village. But Dorothy had turned her ankle the
evening before and it still pained her. Wright, no doubt hungering
more than any of the others for a sight of Pakriaa's way of living,
had fretted and bumbled and elected to remain with Dorothy and Sears,
urging Paul needlessly to remember his anthropology. Sears, sweating
out a microsection of a water insect from Lake Argo, had flapped a fat
hand and boomed: "You be sure 'n' telephone, damn it, if you're
staying for dinner, hey?"

Remaining uneasily close to Wright, as he did whenever the pygmies
appeared, Mijok had said carefully, "Telephone?"

"Word without meaning," said Wright gently, patting the huge arm.
"Noise word for fun."

The attitude of Pakriaa's people to Mijok suggested the studious
ignoring of an indecency. They would not harm the ugly animal, their
manner said, so long as he was the property of the important sky
people....

Life was generously abundant in this thinner forest. Things buzzed and
flew; Paul noticed a few webs cunningly extended before burrows in the
humus. Ann's ocean-gray eyes glanced back, brave and uncertain. "Those
girls are too quiet. Paul, how much _do_ they know of our language?"

"Not much." He moved up to walk on her other side. "Doc and I have
made only those two efforts to swap languages. A lot of that time had
to be wasted on theirs, a dead end for us."

Spearman grunted, "Why? They've got a civilization, as Doc says."

"Our voices are wrong. Pitch effects meaning for them. You've noticed
there's no pitch difference between their male and female voices.
Their language is tied to one section of the scale; a full octave of
it is above the range of even Ann's voice. They can shape our words
though, if they're willing. Basic English may appeal to the princess
when she condescends to take it seriously."

"They could have picked up more than we suspect. They could have been
eavesdropping outside the camp."

"No, Ed. Mijok would have known and told us."

"Yeah--Fido. Can hardly speak freely in front of him now."

"Don't think anything you wouldn't want him to hear."

"Paul, I swear, sometimes you're worse than Doc." But Spearman wanted
to cancel the ill temper of the remark, and added: "You know, I
thought _I_ knew something about Basic English--we all had drill
enough in it. Beats me, the things Doc can do with it--the man's a
wizard."

Paul was silent with unappeased annoyance. It was true: Mijok appeared
to be a natural student too, already far beyond Basic English in a
week of keen listening. "Nan," Paul said, "how did you like Mijok's
humming when you were singing for us yesterday evening?"

"Good." She flashed him an almost cheerful smile. But when Ann spoke
of her singing--and in the singing itself--there was, in spite of her,
an aching wordless reminder of the violin gone silent. Her voice was
sweet but without strength or resonance, and she took no ardent
pleasure in using it. Her love was the violin--covered as well as
might be in the comparative safety of the lifeboat, waiting for a
distant day. If the day ever came (Sears had already dissected out,
dried, and oiled some long leg-tendon fibers of a deerlike animal in a
humble experiment aimed chiefly at Ann's morale)--if the day came,
there would still be no piano, no answering of other strings, no
splendid cry of brass. Crude wood winds, perhaps, sometime.... "Yes,
he was good," said Ann, smiling. "Organ point in the tonic, and right
in our own scale. Once he even upped to the dominant. Instinct, huh?
Sounded good, Paul, even with you trying to fill in the middle."

"Hell, I didn't think you heard me," Spearman snorted.

"You kind of stood out," she said, "because Mijok was much better on
pitch, my good man. It did sound hollow without something to fill in.
He was on A-flat below the bass clef and no fooling.... _Why_ haven't
we seen other giants?"

"We got something on that this morning. I guess it was while you were
in swimming. Each giant male has an inviolate hunting territory, and
they don't trespass. Definite breeding season: the month before the
rains. That was five or maybe six red-moon changes ago. Mijok wasn't
too clear on the count--doesn't like mathematics much better than I
do. The women go where they please, in small groups, with the children
who still need care, but I gather the males are expected to stay in
their own private grounds until the Red-Moon-before-the-Rains."

Spearman wondered: "Will the pygmies have a season too?"

"Doubt it. Probably like us--except that women are the bosses. The
clothes suggest a continuing sex consciousness."

The pygmy leaders halted. A murmuring explained itself as the music of
a stream. Paul consulted his memory of the map made from orbit
photographs and of his one solo exploration flight in the lifeboat.
There could be few such flights: the charlesite, even with the surplus
salvaged from the wrecked boat, must be hoarded. Ann and Ed had flown
over the lake on the day after their recovery, searching for any sign
of _Argo_. Returning, Ed's face had been a leather mask of grief, and
neither had wanted to talk of it. Later they explained: the lake was a
profundity of secret blue; a shelf of sand or possibly white stone ran
out some yards offshore, under water marvelously clear, and ended
abruptly. Beyond it, where _Argo_ must have fallen, no bottom could
even be guessed at; the lifeboat's camera confirmed the presence of an
abyss that would have thwarted the most complex twenty-first-century
machinery.

This stream, Paul knew, came from the western hills, flowing east and
slightly north until it entered the lake northeast of the clearing
called home. Another creek joined it east of the spot where they now
stood, and Pakriaa's village--if the parallel lines did represent its
location--was not far upstream from that junction.

Worn boulders rose above noisy water. The stream was twenty yards
wide, sluggish even here in the shallows. A steppingstone crossing.

Nearly all the rivers on the map passed through jungle for most of
their length; numberless smaller streams would be hidden from the sky.
There was grassland for fifteen to twenty miles on the eastern side of
every range of hills. The prevailing winds were from the west; perhaps
a dryness in the lee of the hills favored the grass. The broadest
stretch of such open land lay east of a rugged coastal range seventy
miles to the southwest; some of the mountains in that seacoast
formation were mighty enough to hold a blur of snow at their summits.
The base of the coastal range was narrow--hardly more than twenty
miles. From this the peaks shot up with incredible sheerness to great
heights of bare rock that glittered in morning sun like black and red
glass. This grandeur, like nothing known on Earth, was clearly visible
from the camp above the near hills, especially at midday, when the
mists were gone.

And ten miles offshore from that dizzy range, Paul remembered a
mountainous island. On his solo exploration two days ago, with the
lifeboat's panoramic camera and a head full of puzzled dreams, he had
soared above it, noting a peninsular strip of red sand at its southern
end, sheltered mountain valleys--one framing a jewel of lake. In the
north was a white beach where landing should be easy, and this was
protected by a low headland of red cliffs running out to the very tip
of the island. Surely a place to carry in the mind, it seemed to
invite human living as did no other near region in this continent of
Lucifer. Wright thought so: he listened to Paul's description and
named the island Adelphi....

North of the camp, the range of low western hills dwindled to rolling
land and was lost in a tremendous expanse of unbroken jungle, which
ended only at the shore of one of the great lakes four hundred miles
away--an inland sea fourteen hundred miles long. Sixty-odd miles to
the south there was that large cluster of parallel lines in jungle,
and beyond it the forest gave way to more open ground, prairie, red
desert, and bare mountains.

Abro Pakriaa dipped her spear in the water; she lifted a handful,
letting it trickle away while she spoke a rippling invocation; then
she was lithely crossing on the stones after the bowmen. The bottom
was pale sand with varicolored pebbles.

Beyond the stream, Pakriaa followed a path a short way and pressed
into undergrowth. Spearman grumbled, "Good path for once, and we have
to--"

"Path's probably booby-trapped. She expects us to know that."

"Hell...." It was difficult passage, stooping on a trail meant for
little folk; it ended at a ditch six feet wide and five deep. The
ditch made a right angle, both lines stretching away straightly as far
as the eye could go; the inner side of the ditch was heaped with dry
sticks and bundles of grass. Pakriaa trilled orders to an old
black-skirted woman with a whip, in charge of a gang of four women and
three men, all totally naked. They were struggling to shove a movable
bridge into place across the ditch--two logs bearing a mat of vines
and bark. It was grunting work for them, and when the end of the
bridge was in reach, Pakriaa's escort made no motion to help. Spearman
started to; Paul interfered. "We'd lose face. Those are slaves. Women
tied together at the ankles--one of the men a eunuch. Look at the
brands on their cheeks. Nan, you're the dominant sex--try to look more
like the president of a women's club."

Her finely modeled face had dignity enough, he thought, if she could
keep the worry out of it.... The old woman in the black skirt bowed
arrogantly to Pakriaa; the slaves cringed, with the hating stare of
the trapped. All were scarred and young except for the eunuch, who was
wrinkled and flabby. One female had a recent chest wound; the effort
at the bridge had made it bleed, but she ignored it. Paul saw
Spearman's face settle into lines of poker blankness and thought:
_Good_. _And if, to patience and courage, he could add (I hear you,
Doc) charity and self-knowledge--Oh, be quiet, critic, be quiet._...

Trees had been felled--some time ago, for the stumps were rotted--and
the spacing was such that the tops of the trees left standing provided
a gap twenty feet wide, the entire length of the village. There would
be two other such gaps, visible from the sky as parallel lines,
admitting full midday sunlight but shutting out the omasha.
"Nan--let's try to learn something about that big settlement in the
south--the other parallel lines."

It was surprisingly easy to convey the question to Pakriaa with the
help of signs, but her response when she understood it was a shrill
snarl and shaking of her spear, a repetition of a name, "Vestoia,"
which seemed to be the place, and of another name, "Lantis," a name
that caught in her throat and made her spit. Paul said, "We make faces
at the south too, and do it fast." It seemed to appease the princess:
she even smiled.

The area bordering the ditch had been left wild, a barrier of vines,
brush, untended trees. Inside were orderly rows of plants, some
broad-leaved, resembling beets, some bushy; another type was rangy
with cosmos-shaped blooms of startling emerald green. Near the row of
trees was a path which Pakriaa followed; under the trees stood
grass-thatched structures. Paul counted thirty, well separated, before
the princess left the path, and no sound came from them. The trees
were mostly of the same species, thin-trunked towers with dark
serrated leaves, blazing with scarlet blossoms like the one Pakriaa
wore. They were the source of an odor like frangipani which filled the
village, heady and sweet but clean. It was no primitive agriculture in
this part-sunny corridor: rich darkness of earth was drawn up about
the plants; there was not a weed in sight. And there was no trace of
the strangling purple vines.

Pakriaa's male attendants had slipped away; her spearwomen accompanied
her through an opening into the next corridor, where her people were
waiting for her, the soldier women in three formal ranks. There were
about fifty in each rank, and here again were dyed skirts of every
color but the regal blue that was Abro Pakriaa's. Small faces
maintained the flat indifference of the unliving copper they
resembled.

Pakriaa's intricate oratory flowed over them. More than two thirds of
the stiff soldiers were gashed with recent wounds, ranging from
scratches to lost hands or breasts or eyes. Some had deep body wounds
so ugly it was amazing that they could stand upright, but there
seemed to be no evidence of infection and there was no wavering in the
lines while Pakriaa declaimed. Her right hand soared with spread
fingers. The lifeboat? The name Torothee occurred; when it was
repeated the women swayed with unchanging faces, murmuring it in
unison like a breath of wind. Pakriaa faced her guests. Tears were not
unknown to her; laughter might be. She clenched and relaxed her hands,
the fourteen fingers rising and falling until Paul lost count of the
motions--more than twenty. She pointed to the soldiers, repeating the
display more slowly and only ten times; then one hand rose alone with
the thumb curled under. Paul muttered, "I think she's saying only 146
are left after the war, from--maybe three hundred."

Pakriaa laid her spear at Ann's feet. Paul advised: "Give her your
knife, same way." Pakriaa took it and placed it across the spear and
stood back, motioning to Ann to do the same. When the three had
withdrawn, Pakriaa still made impatient gestures. Paul whispered, "Ed,
you and I are trifling males. We stand further back."

"We do like hell," said Spearman in his throat.

"We do, just the same. It's nothing but ceremony. Safety's off on my
.38. We can handle anything. Stand back."

Ed Spearman stood back, muttering. At a shrill summons from Pakriaa, a
shuffling procession swung out from the tree shadows. These were all
men, decrepit, ancient, dirty; some limped and two had empty eye
sockets and one, from a pathological fatness, could barely waddle.
They were striped and splotched with paint in elaborate designs,
mostly of white and yellow, and their skins, either with dirt or age,
had darkened to dull mahogany. They formed a hobbling circle around
the crossed knife and spear; each grotesque, as he passed the weapons,
spat on them and scattered on them a handful of earth until the place
became a low mound. As they did this, they muttered and howled and
squeaked, performing precise evolutions with twiddling fingers. They
carried white thigh-bones like clubs, and shell ornaments jangled on
their raddled throats and ankles. It was, on the surface, a simple
ceremony of peace and friendship, but the casual contempt of these
male witches cast a foulness over it. Their sidelong glances at the
strangers were poisonous with furtive malignancy. "Medicine men,"
said Paul under his breath. "Distant equivalent of the wise women in
some patriarchal groups. Ed, we stay on the good side of those loopy
scarecrows, or it's just too bad." And with a certain hunger he
studied the mask of the man who had never offered the relaxation of
friendship, wondering how far it was physically possible for Spearman
to accept a world in which engineering science was the dream and crude
survival the reality.

The ceremony ended in a dribble of anticlimax. The hideous old men
merely shambled away from the mound toward the shadows after a
ceremonial whoop that caused the soldiers to relax. But they did not
quite go. They huddled and squatted under the trees. They stared. They
spat and scratched and consulted together. Some of the green eyes were
close-lidded, veiled; others were wide, making no effort to conceal a
hatred compounded of jealousy and fear. The fat monster nursed his
obscene belly between scrawny knees and whispered a stream of
information into the close ear of a witch with empty eye sockets, and
the whispering dark lips wore a destroying smile.



8


Abro Pakriaa motioned her guests to be seated before a large building;
the fibers of this structure were dyed the blue of her skirt. The
soldiers stalked about in a show of nonchalance. Young men and naked
children had come timidly from the houses. The youngest children were
disproportionately tiny, large-headed but no bigger than house cats.
Perhaps childbirth for this race was no more than a passing
inconvenience. There were many pairs of obviously identical twins. The
children stayed near the protective men, all but the older girls, who
ventured somewhat closer.

It was a village without laughter. No scampering, no horseplay, no
evidence of any tenderness except between the men and the smallest
children. Curiosity burned in all of them, but its overt expression
was limited to the dead-pan stare.

Pakriaa entered her blue building alone, greeted by a flutter of
voices from within, and she was gone several minutes. When Pakriaa had
seated her guests, most of the ancient painted males had shuffled
across the clearing--even the fat horror whose walking must have been
pain--to settle in the shadows on the other side and continue their
baleful watching. Paul noticed that even the spear-carrying women
skipped clear to give them elbow-room and never looked directly at
them. The fat witch found a place to squat that gave him a clear view
of all three visitors; as he gazed he sucked toothlessly at the knob
of his thighbone club.

The houses were lightly framed of wood, with walls of interwoven fiber
two thirds of the way to the eaves, joints bound and roofs thatched
with the same material, a design similar to what Paul remembered from
a year spent in the Republic of Oceania. The modern citizens of that
many-islanded republic, Paul recollected, still preferred the
ancestral savage building pattern to stone or plastic; it suited the
climate and the friendly, unpretentious way of life. But none of the
buildings here was raised on supports: snakes and vicious insects were
evidently no problem. There were no domestic animals, apparently no
parasites nor self-evident diseases; except for wounds and the dirt of
the old men, the pygmy skins looked clear and healthy. There were not
even any bad smells except the mildly disagreeable oil the males used
to anoint their bodies.

Pakriaa returned, with her make-up on. She had flowers behind both
ears, and one tied by its stem to Dorothy's locket. Heavy white
circles were drawn about the lady's eyes and breasts and navel; blue
bracelets dangled at her wrists; her skirt had been replaced by an
innocently unconcealing fringe of shells--similar to snail shells,
Paul thought. Pakriaa's anklets of wooden beads were orange. The top
of her bald head was robin's-egg blue. Two males, with the brand marks
that must mean slavery, followed her with a seat--a block of wood,
cleverly carved with stylized animal figures. It brought her face on a
level with Ann's. Ann said politely, "Why the hell can't I be handsome
too?" And Pakriaa inclined her head. A boy without the slave brand
came with a wooden bowl; Pakriaa sipped the greenish liquid and
offered the bowl to Ann. Spearman rumbled. Paul said, "Protocol. You
gotta, Nan, but don't offer us any--we're meek males."

Ann swallowed some; her eyes watered; she repressed choking.
"Alcoholic, I do mean...."

Feasting followed--a laborious hour of it, as food arrived without
pause in the hands of branded men from the other side of the
sheltering trees. Wood smoke drifted from that direction, and a hum of
voices. All the dishes included meat cut in tiny cubes--stewed, fried,
boiled, or smothered in unknown vegetables. Only one course was
aggressively horrid, carrion swimming in peppery sauce, clearly a
favorite of Pakriaa's, for she belched wonderfully and patted her
stomach in self-applause. Ann remarked, "Another go at that and I
start looking for another planet."

In time even Pakriaa had had enough. She clapped her broad hands.
Greasy-mouthed and bulging, the soldiers formed a swaying, stamping
line. Spearman burped helplessly. "All that inside, and they can
dance?"

Ann suggested: "Maybe it helps...."

It was an hour-long narrative dance, vastly monotonous, a picture of
war. Some of those most cruelly wounded pranced into solo pantomimes
bragging of how the injuries had been received. In climax, a straw
figure of a woman was dragged to the center of the clearing: an image
carefully made, brightly painted, the face hideous, the sexual
features grossly exaggerated. Shrilling what seemed to be a name
("Lantis! Lantis!"), the soldiers swarmed on this effigy, squealing,
stabbing, defiling, tearing it into shreds, which they carried away as
treasures or mementos.

When the soldier women had finished in yawning exhaustion, a crowd of
dainty men performed another sort of dance, purely an erotic show,
indicating that the role of the male was seductive, half infantile,
submissive all the way. Occasionally a soldier pulled a dancer out of
the line, slapping his face until he stopped the squealing that was
evidently required of him, and wandered away with him; but most of the
soldiers were too tired, gorged, or wounded to be interested. Later,
some twenty soldiers formed a group, and men brought them babies to be
nursed, morsels of humanity, quite silent, far smaller in proportion
than Earth's newborn. The mothers' arms were careful and competent,
without tenderness; they held the infants two at a time, examining
them shrewdly, often exchanging them with other soldiers. There were a
few cooing demonstrations of affection by the men toward these
infants, demonstrations which the soldiers ignored. Ann whispered, "I
could spend a lot of time hating these little devils."

"Try not to."

"I know, Paul, but--"

"At least they have a civilization." Spearman was arguing with
himself. "A potential technology. That's good gardening. Good tools,
weapons."

"Nan, see if you can ask Mrs. President to show us the town."

Pakriaa caught on swiftly and was delighted....

The first of the tree-sheltered areas contained all the dwelling
houses, dulled by the splendor of Pakriaa's. Ann was invited to enter
this blue palace, Pakriaa making it clear that the men must not
follow. Ann emerged, red-faced. Later, when it would not be so patent
that she was talking of Pakriaa's house, Ann said, "Couldn't make out
much detail. Dim, and no lamps burning, though I think I saw some clay
things like old Roman lamps. Clean, funny perfume smells. I met--her
mother maybe. Incredibly old anyway, and almost black. Their skin must
change color with age."

"Dirt more likely," Spearman said.

"Not a bit of it. Very clean. Just a dry little ghost in a fancy room
of her own, with a--a male slave manicuring her toenails. We haven't
seen any old women out in the open."

"Sheltered and reverenced, maybe," Paul said. "Natural."

"Her Highness has a--I suppose you'd have to call it a harem. Ten
little husbands, or maybe eleven."

"What a girl!" said Spearman.

Ann was amused, though her cheeks were flaming. "I was offered one."

"Hope you explained the rejection implied no lack of merit."

"Tried to, Paul. I think I got over the idea that there was a taboo
involved--something like that. Her Majesty didn't insist...."

The ditch enclosed the village. One side of its square paralleled the
river, not more than thirty feet from it but making no connection. It
would have been easy to flood the ditch, but that was evidently not
the intention. When Ann conveyed curiosity, Pakriaa was astonished
that anyone could be ignorant of its function. "_Kaksma!_" she said,
and pointed west. "Kaksma...!" Convinced at last that Ann's puzzlement
was genuine, she drew a picture on the earth, with such vigorous art
that she herself feared the image and drew back. It was a profile view
of an animal larger than a rat, long-headed with a hump on the back.
She had given it a tiny eye and a forward-thrusting tooth nothing like
a rodent's; the forefoot was broad and flattened, a digger's foot.
Giving Ann only a brief time to study it, Pakriaa spat on the image
and wiped it out with a violent heel. She muttered an angry
incantation and pointed to the dry wood heaped by the ditch, while her
dancing fingers told of flames that would defend the village....

In the second tree-sheltered area were the industries. Men, not
slaves, glanced up from the shaping of earthenware vessels. They had
no potter's wheel, only their hands, but there was a kiln of baked
earth. Pakriaa called a favorite over, hugged him, and sent him back
with a pat on the rump. He was quite old, toothless, and giggling.
They passed a row of dye pots, three women braiding fiber into flat
sheets, a square of ground with part-finished spearheads, arrow
points, other devices, a rack where deerlike hides were stretched in
some curing process. "They sleep on those," Ann said, "and use 'em for
rugs. The palace was full of 'em...."

In the rear of the village was a stockade of stripped logs, guarded by
two soldier women. In the space before it, but facing away from it so
that the painted eyes brooded over the village, stood a monstrous
wooden idol, eight feet tall, raised on a low platform. Pakriaa led
her guests before the image and knelt. It was necessary to do the
same, and Ann imitated her gracefully enough. As he knelt himself,
Paul saw in a backward glance that three gangling male witches had
followed and were observing every motion with a rigid malevolence. It
was difficult to kneel with his back to them; Spearman, he hoped, had
not seen them.

The idol was exaggeratedly female, with huge carnivorous teeth
indicated in white paint. A slot representing the left hand carried a
nine-foot spear upright. The right arm, a natural branch of the log,
reached forward and spread into a rugged table; more wood had been
neatly joined to make the table five feet long, but the whole gave the
effect of a swollen accepting hand, and it was foul with bloodstains
old and new. Pakriaa's long murmured prayer repeated the name Ismar
many times. At the end she seemed satisfied; her glance at Ann was
almost a smile. Paul saw that the witches had drifted away, but the
pressure of their watching remained.

Pakriaa now took them into the stockade. It seemed to Paul that the
guards were scarcely needed....

These naked men, women, and children had no danger in them. No life.
They moved and functioned as if in life: walked, spat, scratched,
yawned; a woman nursed a baby mechanically; a man strolled to a trough
in the center of the compound and ate a handful of damp stuff like
poultry mash, then rubbed his side against the wooden edge as a pig
might. Beyond such elemental motions there was no life. A woman
followed a man for several paces; both flight and pursuit were dull,
unfinished, a fumbling response to a sluggish stimulus. They paid no
attention to Pakriaa and the strangers. The slack emptiness of their
faces denied the possibility of any thought more than a flurry in
response to physical need. They were all over-plump; some of the
females were scarred, but the wounds were old and healed. Paul could
see no anatomical differences between them and their lively free
kindred. A drug...?

Pakriaa walked among them like a farmer in a flock of chickens. She
lifted a young girl, who made no effort to escape, and showed her to
Ann with contented pride, pinching a fat thigh and middle. The child
was limp, unexcited, mumbling a mouthful of the mash. Fighting back a
retching, Ann muttered, "Paul, when can we get out of here?"

Abro Pakriaa caught the tone. She tossed the little girl away and led them
out of the stockade. She seemed hurt rather than angry--disappointed that
her important friends had shown no admiration at this thriving industry....

The soldiers had gathered again in the clearing, but now there was a
waiting, a tension with the descent of twilight, and a gloom. A long
fire had been built; Pakriaa's wave at her guests appeared to mean
that they should sit where they pleased. Ann had not been able to
convey the wish for an escort home, and Pakriaa's mind was plainly
filled with some other, graver concern, having no more time for
hospitality. Pakriaa entered her blue house. While she was gone, the
soldiers seated beyond the fire scattered handfuls of earth in
synchronized motions and the witches grouped behind them set up a
monotone of chanting. Pakriaa returned wearing a white skirt, bare of
all her paint and jewelry; she walked back and forth along the line of
the fire, praying, until daylight was wholly gone. At her call, old
men, neither painted nor grotesque, carried out burdened hides and
laid them open beside the fire: white bones, broken weapons, skirts,
loincloths, necklaces, arrows, little earthen pots and wooden bowls,
many images of clay. The soldiers threw themselves face down, their
foreheads on their arms, and wailed.

Spearman's voice was tortured with perplexity: "Eat some, mourn for
others. Murder them and love them--"

"Yes, they're human."

"Oh, shut up, Paul. What do you mean, human? These animals?"

"Human mourning, isn't it? Listen to it."

Ann spoke with held-in fury: "At least we're not cannibals. There may
still be war back on Earth, but after all--"

"Better to murder in groups of a thousand at long distance? Just
listen to it, Ann...."

It was music, becoming after a time the only thing existing under the
red moon and the delicate unceasing dance of blue fireflies. It was
the music they had heard on the first night in the jungle, a pouring
forth of lamentation, wonder, supplication, whatever the spirit may
feel in the contemplation of death and its troubling counterpart. A
music that was meant to go on unchanging as the song of tree frogs for
the thirteen hours of a night of Lucifer.... Pakriaa took no vocal
part in the ritual, but sat alone, guarding the relics of the fallen.
From time to time small man shapes carried new fuel to the fire. And
there were stern sidelong glances from the princess: she had not
forgotten her guests. Once or twice Paul caught himself dozing off,
dragged into a partial hypnosis by the endless lamentation....

"Paul?"

"Yes, Nan. I'm awake." He saw Spearman's head jerk upright.

"Doc asked me yesterday--if I would bear him a child."

Spearman's arm sought for her gently. "Why bring that up now? Can't
think with all this damn caterwauling."

"I--did get to thinking.... Everything we used to live by--it's so
far away. Paul, you're close to Doc. You understand him, I guess."

Two troubled faces were turned to Paul in the mystery of firelight. A
glance from Pakriaa conveyed annoyance at the sound of voices.
"Dorothy told me she wants Sears to be the father of her second. It
won't take her away from me. Not natural perhaps, but right under the
circumstances. Some of the most important laws and customs can't be
started by us. They'll be established by our grandchildren, if we can
have them."

"I know." But her upward look at Spearman's worried, half-angry face
said that her decision would be made by him, no other.

"He mustn't talk. The queen no like...."

It might have been an hour later that Paul saw Spearman's head sag
down on his chest. Ann leaned against him, but his arm around her had
gone slack. Paul searched for the cause of a sense of danger that
prickled his skin. Not the witches: they were grouped as before,
chanting a faint counterpoint to the soldiers' wailing. No--it was Ed
Spearman himself, and Paul came broad awake in a certainty of what
would happen. Too late. Spearman's head twitched, and his unconscious
throat let loose a resonant, uncompromising snore, a snore that had
been famous on the great ship _Argo_. Sears Oliphant had always
claimed that if only Ed could be harnessed in sleep to the reaction
chamber.... But this was not going to be funny....

Pakriaa leaped up and shrieked a raging order. The wailing ceased. The
soldiers were staggering upright, grabbing spears, forming a circle of
violence around the guests before Spearman could even rise. He gasped,
"Wha's matter?" and ten pygmy women were hauling him away by wrists
and ankles, clear of the ground.

Paul shouted. "Don't fight 'em, Ed! Keep quiet!" Two soldiers were
clinging to each of his own arms, there was a ring of shivering spears
around him, and others had dragged Ann out of sight, but she was
screaming as if they could understand: "Don't hurt him! He didn't do
anything! Let him go!"

Without twitching his hampered arms, Paul moved slowly against the
circle of spears. They had no quarrel with him, he sensed, but only
meant to restrain him: it was at least the only action worth a gamble.
The spearwomen stepped backward away from him. The whole circle moved
in slow motion, following where Spearman had been carried--through the
tree shelter, on across the next clearing, and into the space before
the looming god.

Ed had not been able to snatch his rifle; he still had his holstered
automatic. Paul could not see Ann, nor Pakriaa. He could see
Spearman's face, a concentration of craft and fighting fury. The pygmy
women lifted him and flung him on the table before the idol. He was
ready. He bounced like a great cat, gained his feet, and twitched out
the pistol, which banged once--at the huge blade of the idol's spear.
The stone blade crumbled; the crash of the little gun made his captors
wince back in shocked reaction. Then Ed Spearman stooped, grasped the
reaching wrist of the idol, and heaved upward with the whole of his
strength.

The god swayed, groaned like a thing of life, and toppled over,
squashing one of the howling witches--a blind one--like a red bug.

The village dropped into total silence. Paul could see Ann now. The
pygmies had let her go. The whiteness of her face had more than terror
in it: it had exultation, a glory of excitement and wrath. Paul's own
captors had lurched away; his automatic had slipped into his hand
without conscious effort; he searched in desperation for something
that might restore his friends to steadier sanity. "Walk," he said.
"Walk, don't run, to the nearest exit...."

The pygmies allowed it. The god had fallen. They even stood back, too
profoundly dazed for any thought or protest.... At the edge of the
village Spearman jumped in the ditch, reached for Ann, swung her up on
the other side. "Did anyone bring a flashlight?"

"Oh, I--I did," said Ann, and began to cry. "Brought
flashlight--'stead of gun...."

Paul stayed in the rear. "They won't follow, I think. Not for a
while."

The stooping passageway was hard to find. But when they won clear of
it there was the guiding sound of the stream. Paul held the
flashlight on the line of stepping stones until the others had
crossed. Ann was still weeping in reaction. "We'll never win. It's all
madness--the ship, everything. All human beings are crazy, crazy--"

"Hush, dear," Spearman said. "We got out, didn't we?"

Now, where was the trail? A madness of groping, blundering, where
there was no path, no guidance, and even their little thread of light
a mockery and confusion.

Abruptly, ahead of them, there were other lights, then voices--Mijok's
soft rumbling, Wright's clear outcry: "There they are! All three,
Mijok--"

Paul ran to him. "The others--Dorothy? Sears?"

"Right as rain, son," Wright mumbled. "Except Dot's been frantic about
you since we heard the shot. We left Sears practically sitting on
her--well, figuratively. Women are odd, you know: they don't like
shots in the night when the best boy friend is out on the tiles."

"Had a little trouble. They may come after us--don't know...."

Ann was quiet. Paul saw her white hands starfished on the gray of
Mijok's chest. She said, "Mijok, I'm tired and sick. Will you carry
me?"

Spearman groaned: "Ann, what--Use your head...."

But Mijok knelt at once to make a cradle of his arms, and Christopher
Wright said, "Why not? Why shouldn't we need each other?" Mijok went
ahead with her on the blind trail.

Paul heard Spearman choke: "I would have carried her." It was not
meant to be heard. Paul looked away, hearing also the deep precision
of the giant's voice exploring the mystery of words: "You are my
people. I will not ever be much time far from you."



Part Two

The Year One



1


"This island is Eden." Sears Oliphant spoke drowsily. Toy bat wings
flickered from the woods crowning the hillside, hovered over a pond:
_illuama_. In a scant year of Lucifer time (seventeen months of the
calendar of Earth) native names had become natural, mostly Mijok's
names.

Two red-moon changes ago, in the final jading month of the rains, the
pygmy word "kaksma" had been only a symbol. Now it woke the image of a
village desolate, bones scraped and scarred. The mind's eye winced in
pity--a sentry careless, a bridge left in place after dark; thousands
of ratty bodies rustling down from the wet hills, over open ground,
swimming swollen streams, finding the bridge before oil on the rain
water in the ditch could be ignited. Small bodies, not swift, leaping
or humping along like furry worms, sniffing, squeaking, their stabbing
teeth dark with the blood of any flesh that moved. The northernmost of
the villages allied with Pakriaa's had already returned to jungle.

But here, ten miles offshore from the coastal range, no kaksmas lived;
Sears and Paul, in two days of study on this second visit, had
established that. No wide wings lurked in the sky. The hilly island
had no large meadows where omasha could hunt. Three giants had been
flown to the island a month ago--the girl Arek, her mother Muson, and
old Rak. They said it was a place of calm. Their soft talk could be
heard up the slope, where a log building was growing. Paul stretched,
lean and comfortable, on the grass, glad to be alone for a while with
this least demanding of his friends.

Sears was fatter, but hardened, a round block of man, with a coarse
black beard, kindness of brown eyes unaltered. Christopher Wright,
waiting at the "fortress" by Lake Argo and no doubt frantic for word
of this exploration, had let his beard grow too, sandy gray. Spearman
and Paul had stayed clean-shaven, with soap made from fat and wood
ashes. "The others must come here, Paul. I suppose Chris won't consent
till Pakriaa agrees--damn, you'd think she could see it. She knows her
enemies fear the ocean as she does. Lantis' two-by-four army would
never chase after us in their lake boats."

"Wait a minute, Jocko. Lantis is no two-by-four proposition."

"Damn pint-size Napoleon with four teats and a grass skirt."

"Lookee: that settlement south of Lake Argo is thirty miles long.
Equivalent of two hundred villages, to Pakriaa's six. Say twenty
thousand warriors who got their pride hurt a year ago when the crash
of _Argo_ swamped their fleet and scared the pants off 'em. They'll
have replaced the fleet. They'll come overland too. Lantis, Queen of
the World."

"If they do"--Sears' heavy voice had the tremor that he himself
hated--"the firearms should be at least one ace in the hole."

"Ye--es. Ed's pistol helped in our one bad scrape with Pakriaa
herself. But it was his smashing the idol that stalled 'em, not the
gun."

"Poor little Abro Pakriaa!" Sears spoke with tenderness. "If ever a
lady was pulled seven ways from Sunday! Wants our way of life, doesn't
want it. Wants to grasp Chris' ethics, doesn't want to. Afraid of Ed's
strength and aggressiveness, admires 'em too, oh my, yes. Tries to
believe the god Ismar died or never lived--but can't, quite."

"And can't understand why our women are gentle--Dorothy anyway----"

"Nan's toughening up is conscious effort, Paul. Superficial. She's
made herself hunt, shoot well, act hard, because her brain tells her
she should. If we could only find something to restring her violin! I
think she's given up hope of it: nothing I've found so far has been
any good. She doesn't see that Dorothy does more for us by remaining
the person she always was.... You know, when I go alone to Pak's
village, I just set. Even the witches have got used to me, not that
they wouldn't gut me if they could."

"Jocko"--Paul looked away--"you told me once you were scared all the
time. When you go there alone--or when you tame the olifants for that
matter--are you sort of grasping the nettle? And does it work?"

"Don't ask me, friend. Because I don't exactly know. I was never a
brave man." Brown eyes misted in what was partly laughter. "Oy, the
witches! There's the big enemy in the battle for Pakriaa's mind. Chris
may claim they aren't real witch doctors, just advisers, low-grade
magicians. I'm not so sure. Priests of Ismar, and when Ed clobbered
the idol Pakriaa did consider having 'em all burned alive. Point is,
she didn't do it. They gnaw away in the dark at all we try to teach
her. That proposed bonfire, by the way, is gossip passed on to me in
confidence by Abara."

"There's a dear little man."

"Ain't he though?" Smiling into late sky, Paul envisaged the wizened
red midget riding the white monsters that Sears had tamed and insisted
on naming olifants-with-an-f. A painting might grow out of that, he
thought, squat coppery lump astride of massive white--it might, if the
desire to paint should ever wake again and be as strong as it once was
on _Argo_, when his mind's eye could remember Earth without
distortion. Abara, popeyed and potbellied, a favorite in Pakriaa's
harem, had been commissioned by her as a student and go-between at the
lakeside camp; Sears had not only adopted him as an olifant trainer,
but suspected him of furtively possessing a sense of humor. "Well--the
giants. Lantis will always have thought of them as wild animals----"

"Sears"--Paul rolled over and pressed his face in the grass--"can we
ask or even permit the giants to tangle in a pygmy war?"

"Ah.... It's tormenting Chris too, ever since Lantis sent that
ultimatum." He snarled in his beard, "Thirty fat meat slaves every two
months! There's politics for you. Dirtiest way she could answer Pak's
challenge to personal combat, and the automatic refusal makes an
excuse to come and clean up. Sounds like home.... Mijok wants to help
fight--says he does."

"It's still our responsibility." Paul sat up. His eyes kept returning
to the towering courage of the trees. Brave as any cathedral spire,
scarcely one was free from the clutch of the purple-leaf vine. "As
for moving here to the island, Pak sees it, but the idea's too new.
You just don't pull up stakes, venture on the Big Water, crossing
forbidden kaksma country."

Sears chewed a grass blade. "Anyway we've got to bring Dorothy and the
baby here, and Ann. Dorothy won't fuss, will she, son?"

"Since there _is_ Helen--no, she won't. I still dream sometimes, as I
did during her first pregnancy. Things, shapes, trying to pull her
away--or she's where I can't find her, can't push through the leaves."

"She told me. It's something else that's made you blue lately."

"No."

Sears watched him. "Yes.... Want to start back tomorrow?"

"Might as well. We've learned all we need."

"Mm.... Second thoughts about the daddy of Dorothy's second----"

"No no. We settled that. She's proud to be carrying it."

"Good genetics could be damn bad psychology."

"No, Jocko. Don't think that. She's close to me as ever."

Sears waited and spoke softly: "New York late on a rainy night, a few
car lights moving, street-lamp reflections like golden fish----"

"Orange paintbrush in New Hampshire meadows----We'd better stop."

"We better. I want boat whistles--floating city coming out of the fog.
Call it a slow-healing wound.... And look across the channel."

Paul saw it presently: a cliff formation in the coastal range made a
brow, nose, and chin. Below this, rounded rock could be a shoulder
straining in heroic effort; then, tumbled reality of mountain-fancy
must supply whatever held the figure in bondage. "Yes. He looks west.
Past us, at the sun."

"Why, no, Paul. I think he looks west of the sun...."

A red-furred girl wandered down from the woods. "I got tired." Arek
had lived twenty-two years; she was seven feet tall, not yet
adolescent but near it. In the next Red-Moon-before-the-Rains, ten
months away, she might take adult part in the frenzy of love if her
body demanded it: if not, she would go apart with the other children,
whose play also became innocently erotic at that time, and help care
for the youngest. Sears grinned as she sat down with them. "Tired or
lazy?"

"Both. You Charins are never lazy enough." The name Charin, Paul
thought, was almost natural now, a pygmy word for "halfway," intended
by Pakriaa merely to convey that Wright and his breed were halfway in
size between her people and the giants, but Wright took sardonic
satisfaction in it as a generic name. "Work and loafing are both good.
Why can Ed Spearman never sit still in the sun? Or maybe I like to
talk too much."

"Never," Sears chuckled. "Well--his best pleasure is in action. Maybe
it's the technician in him--he must always be doing something."

"Like always waking, never sleeping." She sprawled in comfort; her
broad hands plucked grass, scattered it over the furry softness of her
four breasts. "Green rain.... I want to stay on this island. Will they
come?"

"We hope so. Mijok will as soon as Doc does."

She sighed. "Mijok is a beautiful male. I think I'll take him for my
first when I'm ready.... And soon the pretty boat will be no more
good. It's sad we can't make another. Tell me again about Captain
Jensen. He was as tall as me? He had hair on his head, red like my
fur. He spoke----"

"Like storm wind," said Paul, supplying the wanted note in a favorite
fairy tale, remembering a brother on Earth who was--perhaps--not dead.

"Hear the ocean," Arek whispered. Paul could hardly separate the sound
from the mutter of the pond's outlet. This ridge of high ground ended
short of the island's northern limit. A white beach, where the
lifeboat was shaded from late sun, faced the mainland. West of the
beach a red stone cliff ran to the tip of the island, shouldering away
the sea. Wind out of the west allowed no soil to gather on it. Now and
then a rainbow flashed and died above the rock, when a wave of
uncommon grandeur spent itself in a tower of foam. "Hear what it says?
'I--will--try--aga-a-ain....' Why must the others wait to come here?"

"Pakriaa's people are not ready."

"Oh, Sears!" Arek laughed unhappily and sat up. "I think of how my
mother taught me the three terrors. She took me to the hills, beat two
stones before a burrow till one blundered out maddened, afraid of
nothing but the light. She crushed it, made me smell it. I was sick;
then we fled. I think of how she flung an _asonis_ carcass into meadow
grass, so the omasha came. She wounded one with a stone, made me watch
while the others tore it apart. Later still, when I could run
fast--ah, through night to a village of the Red Bald----"

"Please, dear--pygmies. That's a name they accept."

"I'm sorry, Sears.... Yes, we hid in the dark, waited until a sentry
moved--careless.... It was wrong. You've shown us how such things are
wrong. And memory's someone talking behind you, out of the big dark."

"The laws we've agreed on----"

"I do honor them," she said gently. "The law against murder was my
first writing lesson. But--what if Pakriaa's tribe--"

"They're slower," Sears said in distress, and the distress would be as
much a message to Arek as any words. There was no hiding the heart
from these people: green eyes and black ears missed no smallest
nuance.

"When will they know they must not dig pits, with poisoned stakes--"

"But Pakriaa's tribe don't do that now. Do they?"

Arek admitted: "I suppose not. But the six other villages----"

"Five, dear. The kaksmas. And only two months ago, Arek."

She stared at Paul with shock. "I _had_ almost forgotten. But they do
still hate us. The day before you flew us here, Paul, I met Pakriaa
and two of her soldiers in the woods. I gave them the good-day
greeting. Oh, if one of you had been there she would have answered
it.... Wouldn't the island be better without them? Some of _you_ don't
like them. Even Dorothy only tries to like them. Since the baby was
born, Paul, she--shrinks when they come to the fortress. They don't
know it, but I do."

Dimly, Paul had known it, known also that it was a thing Dorothy would
consciously reject. "Time, Arek. You'll live a hundred and fifty
years or better--more than three pygmy lifetimes. You'll see them
change."

Speaking almost like a Charin, Arek said, "They'd better."

They strolled up the hill; the other giants' labor had ceased. The
building was a sturdy oblong, intended as storehouse and temporary
communal dwelling for them all, including (Wright hoped) some of
Pakriaa's people. Rafters were not yet in place. For that, Rak needed
the strength of another like himself: chubby Muson tired easily.
Someday a road would climb from the beach, traversing the ridge which
was the backbone of the northern half of the island. Here, where
spring water filled the pond and rushed on down to carve a small
harbor below the beach, would be Jensen City, and the three races of
Lucifer would learn to live there in good will and pleasure under a
government of laws. So Wright said--peering at photographs, teasing
his gray beard, tapping thin fingers on the map drawn on the paper of
Earth, on the new maps of whitebark. Paul could see it too--sometimes;
glimpse the houses, gardens, open places. South of the pond, a wheat
field, for on Lucifer the wheat of Earth grew to four feet and bore
richly. Near the field, perhaps the house for Dorothy and himself,
with no doorway lower than ten feet.

At other times he could see only defeat--the arrogance and blind drive of
genus _Charin_, species _Semisapiens_ beating against the indifference of
nature, the resentment of other life. He could see his people destroyed, by
accident or anger, the giant friends adrift with only hints of the new life
and spoiled for the old. Then he would stop trying to foresee and would
make his mind's ear listen to Wright insisting: "_Give protoplasm a chance.
Patience is the well-spring._..."

The walls were eleven feet in height. Rak and Muson rested on the
coolness of bare ground within; Rak pointed at the top of the walls
where rafters would rest. "Slow," he said, "and good." Rak could not
be sure how old he was. When Mijok had first persuaded him to the camp
ten months ago, Rak had won his English with the grave precision of a
mason selecting fieldstone. His language had none of the flexibility
and scope that Mijok and others had achieved, but it served him.
After absorbing basic arithmetic, Rak had deliberated on the problem
of his age--squatting at the gate of the stone fortress by Lake Argo,
spreading out rows of colored pebbles to indicate years, rainy
seasons, episodes of hunting or fear or passion too keen to forget. At
last he had come up with the figure of 130 years. "But," he said,
"there are two times. In here"--he patted an ancient scar on his
belly--"and there." He pointed at the red crescent moon.

"I'll cook supper," Arek said. Muson bubbled and shadowboxed with her
daughter. Muson would laugh at anything--the flutter of a leaf, a
breath of breeze on her red-brown fur. Paul followed to help Arek trim
the carcass of an asonis killed the night before. Hornless,
short-legged, fat, the bovine animal was abundant on the island; its
one enemy here was what Arek called _usran_, a catlike carnivore the
size of a lynx, which could tackle only the young asonis or feeble
stragglers. Rak hunted in the old way. Bow, club, spear, even rifle,
had been explained to him, but the stalk, the single rush and leap,
the grasp of a muzzle and backward jerk that snapped the neck before
the prey could even struggle--these were Rak's way still. In the old
life, Rak's age would have led him eventually to a few dim years with
a band of women, who would have fed him until he chose to wander into
deep jungle, preventing any from following. When far away, he would
have sat in the shadows to wait--for starvation or the black marsh
reptiles or a great mainland cat, _uskaran_, which never attacked a
giant in the prime of strength. Rak would have taken no harm from the
young men in this weakness: his own territory would have been
inviolate, and he would have joined the women, in a taciturn farewell
to life, only when teeth and arms had failed. ("We're gentle people,"
Mijok said, puzzled at it himself. "In the Red-Moon-before-the-Rains
we only play at fighting. It's not like what we see the other
creatures do at that time. How could one 'possess' a woman? Do I
possess the wind because I like to run against the touch of it...?")

The meat hung from a makeshift tripod; Arek jumped back, startled, as
a furry thing scampered down. It was like a kinkajou except for the
hump on the back (a true hindbrain in the spine: Sears had long ago
verified that guess of Wright's). "Little rascal," Paul said. "Let's
tame it."

"What?" Arek was bewildered. "Do what?"

"Do these live on the mainland?"

"I never saw one till I came here. Too small to eat. Tame it?"

"Watch." Paul tossed a bit of meat. The visitor's chatter changed to a
whistling whine; it elongated itself, grabbed, sat back on stubby hind
legs to eat in clever paws; it washed itself with a squirrel's
pertness. Arek chuckled, examining the idea, and went on with her
work; she had become a hypercritical cook, under Dorothy's guidance.
"Jocko, biologist, stand by: I propose to name an animile. Genus
_Kink_, species _quasikinkajou_." Genus Kink did not retreat at Sears'
quiet approach, but wriggled a black nose.

Rak asked in solemn curiosity, "For what is it good?"

"To make us laugh," Paul said, "so long as we're kind to it."

"Ah?" Rak moved his fingers to aid the patient mill of his mind.

"Dance-Nose," said Muson, who already understood. She shook all over.
"Come, Funny-Nose." It would not--yet, but Muson could be patient too.

Sears whispered in his beard, "Less homesick?"

"Yes...."

After the meal Arek wanted Paul to come out on the cliffs. Though
there seemed no danger from the omasha, she carried a long stick and
Paul took his pistol. The slope leveled out to the bare rock of the
headland; the ocean voice was the humming of a thousand giants. The
way was easy, with no crevasses, no peril while the wind was mild.
Arek had often been out here alone. Yesterday Paul had seen her
standing for an hour, watching the west where unbroken water met a
sun-reddened horizon. In her earlier years there might have been dim
mention of the sea by her almost wordless people, but no true
knowledge: the mainland coast was steaming vine-choked jungle, or
tidal marsh, and shut away by the kaksma hills. Paul wondered what
member of his race could stand for an hour in contemplation like a
thinking tree, not shifting a foot nor raising an arm...?

"Paul, why did you leave Earth?" Arek patted the rock beside her.

Below the troubled water laughed, endlessly defeated and returning.
Cloud fantasies gathered below a lucid green, and the wind was a
friend. "I have doubted sometimes whether we ought to have done so."

"That wasn't my meaning. We love you. Didn't you know? But I've
wondered what sent you away from such a place. Ann says it was
beautiful."

"A--drive of restlessness. We took boundaries as a challenge. I used
to think that a great virtue. Now I call it neither good nor evil."

"I think it is good."

"Everywhere, we carry good _and_ evil."

"What you do here is good. You teach us. You do kind things."

"We can be bad. But for Doc Wright and his dreams that Ed Spearman
finds so impractical, we'd have done you harm." Helpless at her
innocence, Paul saw she did not believe him. "On Earth, we fought each
other. We hunted for lies to make ourselves feel big. We created great
institutions built on vanity--tickling lies: imperialism,
communism--most of the isms you find so puzzling when we talk of Earth
history. The anger of Charins rarely focused itself on the actual
causes of unhappiness or injustice. Instead we hunted for scapegoats,
easy solutions. We wouldn't study ourselves. Always we itched for
something external to take the blame for our own follies and crimes."

"I don't understand."

"As if you stumbled on a root, Arek, and then banged your fist on the
tree that grew it, to blame it for your own clumsiness."

"But Paul--only a very small child would act like that."

"Darling, let's watch the sunset." She felt his pain, touched his
knee, and was silent until he said, "A poor naughty child...."

"There was a thing Ed Spearman said to me--what I wanted to talk to
you about. I've never gone to Pakriaa's village. You know, even Mijok
won't go there except with one of you. I asked Ed if Pakriaa still
kept that stockade for drugging and fattening prisoners--in spite of
her agreeing to the laws. He said yes, she did. I said it was not
right. I said we made a law against slavery too. He said, 'Forget it,
baby--one thing at a time.' I am not a baby. How can the laws govern
us unless all obey them?"

"Ed--meant no harm, Arek. He only meant it does take time. The pygmies
have more to unlearn. You--started clean. And--well--with the army of
Lantis likely to come back at any time--we can't afford--"

Yet it seemed natural that this giant child, who had herself done
murder in the old days, should answer his troubled evasions not only
with reproach but with command: "If the laws are to govern us they
must be respected by everyone. I wish I had gone to that village and
torn down the stockade with my hands."

"And they would have killed you with a hundred spears and Pakriaa's
people would hate us forever, learning nothing but more hatred."

Arek cried a little, rubbing at the unfamiliar wetness. "Maybe I begin
to see, how difficult.... The sun's going." But they sat quietly in
the warm and undemanding wind until the first sapphire glint of
fireflies dotted the slope where Jensen City might one day shine. Arek
stood, reaching down an affectionate hand.



2


Paul glanced down at sunrise-tinted snow on the highest peak of the
coastal range, thirteen thousand feet above the sea. Prairie spread
for thirty miles east of its base; then came a region of forest and
small lakes fed by the outlet of Lake Argo, which was the core of the
empire of Lantis, Queen of the World.

Pakriaa's information on Lantis was a murky blend of truth and
fantasy. Lantis claimed birth from Ismar-Creator-and-Destroyer.
Pakriaa had different theories. Originally ruler of a single village,
Lantis consolidated by conquest. Instead of annihilating defeated
villages she took their populations captive, sorting out three
categories: potential followers, slave laborers, and meat. Many in the
first class became fanatically converted; those in the second provided
a year or so of work before dying of whippings and other abuse;
captives of the third class were forced to eat the green-flowered weed
that numbed the brain and were bled out at the right stage of fatness.
In fifteen years one riverside village had swollen to a city of sixty
thousand, fed by expeditions far to the east, and Lantis named her
city Vestoia--Country of Freedom and Joy. "Got anything new in the
'scope?"

Sears groaned: "There _are_ more boats above the falls."

The boats, they knew, were broad canoes roofed like sampans against
the omasha, but with no sail. "Not moving, are they?"

"No--anchored maybe." Sears mopped his round face.

Without the telescope, Paul could see brownness on the water of Lake
Argo's southern end, near the spot where the outlet tumbled over a
high falls to a smaller lake. It meant that hundreds more must have
been portaged past the falls from Vestoia during his two days on the
island....

The fifty red-green flowing miles became a pain of delay. Sears too
would be aching for the gray square of their "fortress" to claim the
eye in the north, touched by early sunlight, a brave structure twelve
feet high, fifty square, built of split stone by the labor of giant
friends. Outside it ran a moat twenty feet wide, ten deep, with a
drawbridge of logs, bark matting, grass-fiber ropes, the bottom
flooded with lake water. There was room within for living quarters, a
supply of smoked meat, dried vegetables.

Lantis understood scaling ladders, Pakriaa said. Lantis had patience
for a siege. There was no defense, Pakriaa said, in these measures.
The only defense was to attack, to retreat, and attack again. It had
always been so in the old wars. It was still so with this Lantis and
her Big-Village-Vestoia, this bastard begotten of a red worm and
Inkar, goddess of kaksmas. It would always be so--at least, until....
Paul remembered Dorothy, cherishing Helen at her brown breast, asking
neutrally, "Until what, Abro Pakriaa?"

Pakriaa had studied the giants' walls with contempt. "Until I shame
this worm spawn Lantis into meeting me alone. She must respect custom.
Her first answer is a--what word?--rejection, because she has fear. I
have sent a second challenge. She will meet me, or her own people will
condemn her. I will pin her belly to the ground. Her government will
be mine." There had been no mistaking it: for the first time in the
year since the idol of Ismar fell and was not restored, Pakriaa was
making vast decisions wholly her own, with only perfunctory interest
in what the Charins might think. In her wrath against the mighty
soldier ruler in the south there was natural grief at the outrages of
past years, but something else too. Her red face glaring southward
said: _She has what I desire; she is doing what I would do_. Pakriaa
had finished her answer quietly: "It is _I_ who will be Queen of the
World."

Three days ago. It could have been a mistake to leave the camp at all.
Now--a streak of sunshine on gray at the end of familiar meadow. With
fuel for only a few more flights, Paul knew he had never made a better
landing. The drawbridge was down. Dorothy ran to meet him. Sears was
shouting, "Chris! It's perfect--no kaksmas--everything Paul said it
was--"

Paul stammered, "You look like a million dollars."

"Dollars. What're those?"

"I forget. What's news?"

"Your funny mouth is tickling my ear."

"That isn't news, Dope. Helen--"

"Full of the best gurgles. Come and see." He thought: _How do I tell
her of the boats, the thirty-mile hive of savage hatreds_--but Sears
was already talking of it. Wright had no smile for Paul, only a warm
gray-eyed stare and pressure of the hand. Paul asked, "Where's Ed?
Mijok and the boys?"

Ann looked up from cutting a square of hide. She had not come to meet
them. Ann's way nowadays; one's mind insisted: _It doesn't mean
anything_. "Ed's hunting. Should have been back last night."

Dorothy added: "Mijok's off missionarying, with Elis and Surok. They
took Blondie--Lisson, I mean: moral support."

Wright was hag-ridden. "Sears, if it were only Pakriaa's
tribe--but--not fuel enough to fly all the giants over. We cannot
abandon _them_."

"Then let's get the women there and the rest of us go overland."

Ann said, "I'm going overland."

Wright muttered, "Damn it, Nancy--"

Sears patted her shoulder and ignored her speech as she ignored the
touch. "Chris, I've labored, myself, over that damn knotty little
brain of Pakriaa's. She can't see things our way. We need a hundred
years."

The conference lengthened into the morning. Sometimes it seemed to
Paul that his teacher's stubbornness degenerated into the obsession of
a man who won't leave a blazing house until the rugs are saved. Wright
longed for the island, which he had seen only in photographs. There
had always been some compelling reason why he must stay by the
fortress, if only to hoe voracious weeds out of the gardens. Yet to
Wright it was unthinkable that the island community should start
without the pygmies: he returned to it with haggard insistence. "I
know--I can't actually like Pakriaa--she's got a mind like a greased
eel; but we've made a beginning. They speak our tongue--well. A people
intelligent as they are--"

Paul thought: _It's not Lucifer that's aged him--it's us. We are not
big enough_. Aloud he suggested: "Doc, can't we make a start without
them and just keep the door open? Bring them in when we're stronger
ourselves?"

"Oh, son, if we desert Pak now, she's finished. Over-confidence.
Lantis will go over her like a tide. We might just turn that tide. If
not, we _must_ be ready to help her escape with--whatever's left....
Well, at least we agree on this: Helen and the women must go to the
island, at once."

"Tomorrow." Dorothy choked. "If the boats haven't started yet--"

"All right, dear. Tomorrow. And one man should go with them."

"You," Paul said. "You."

Wright said inexorably, "No." His stare groped at Sears Oliphant.

Sears was nakedly desperate. "Chris, I beg of you--you must not ask me
to go away from this battle." He was sweating, white. "I am--in a
sense--a religious man. The--Armageddon within, your own
phrase--please understand without my saying any more. Don't ask me to
go."

"Ed won't go.... Paul?"

_Leave him, with Sears' inner torments and Ed's arrogance?_ "No, Doc."

Ann Bryan said, "I'm staying for the show."

Dorothy lowered her cheek to the brown fuzz of Helen's head; the
baby's absurd square of palm found Paul's finger. Helen was almost
eight months old--Lucifer months. The new life in Dorothy had been
conceived in the last month of the rains. Dorothy said, "I'm going,
Nancy, with Helen. As a valuable brood mare, I can't afford heroism.
Neither can you."

The giant women crossed the bridge; they had lingered outside, knowing
the Charins needed to talk alone. Ann said, "I've heard the argument.
I'm not pregnant yet. I've learned to shoot damn' well."

Wright asked, "Will you abide by a vote when Ed gets back?"

Ann pushed her fingers into black hair, cut short as a man's. "I
suppose I must.... If no men get to the island, how do two women and a
girl child increase and multiply, or shouldn't I ask?"

Wright mumbled inadequately, "We'll reach the island."

Ann said, "Then you already see it as a retreat?"

Wright was silent. He tried to smile with confidence at the giant
women and children, who were sober with reflected unhappiness--all but
nine-year-old Dunin, who trotted to Paul and hugged him with her large
arms and announced: "I learned six words while you were gone. Hi,
listen! 'Brain': that's here and here. 'Me-di-tation': that happens in
the brain when it's quiet. Mm-mm.... 'Breast': that's these. And
'breath': that's ooph, like that. 'Breeze': that's a breath with
nobody blowing it.... I forgotten six."

Dorothy murmured. "Tem--tem--"

Dunin hopped up and down. "'Tempest!' Big _big_ breeze--"

"That's perfect," said Paul. "Perfect...."

Before the five-month rainy season had made travel on the sodden,
gasping ground too miserable, Mijok had explored a half circle of
territory forty miles in radius east of the hills, for others who
might be willing to learn new ways. It was slow work, often
discouraging. He had located two bands of free-wandering women and
children--twenty in all--and stirred their curiosity and friendliness.
But he had been able to recruit only three other males. There was Rak.
Blackfurred Elis and tawny Surok were in vigorous middle years, hard
to convince but quick to learn once the barrier was down.

Kamon was accepted leader of the women. White with age, gaunt,
flat-breasted, stooped but quick on her feet, Kamon rarely smiled, but
her good nature was profound. "Ann," she said, "you ought to go.
We--if we cannot fight off these southern pygmies, we can escape. But
you? One of us would have to carry you. And as Mashana Dorothy says,
your womb is needed." (Mashana--sweetheart, mother, hunting companion,
friend.)

Wright said, "You, Dorothy, Helen, and the giant children."

That brought murmuring. Kamon checked it: "Only four children still
need milk. You, Samis, your breasts are big: you will go." Kamon
turned with gentle deference to one authority she felt to be stronger
than her own under the laws: "Doc?" Paul found it comfortable, no
longer even amusing, that Wright should be known to the giants by his
inevitable nickname. The pygmies disliked the short sound, and initial
_D_ always bothered them. To them he was Tocwright, or more often
Tocwright-Who-Plays-with Gray-Fur-at-His-Throat.

"Yes, Kamon. Samis too. Paul, how many trips will that take?"

"Three--leaving fuel for about three more of the same length."

Wright nodded. "Ed has a notion of using the lifeboat for a weapon.
Hedgehop, scare 'em to hell. But with fuel so low--"

There was shadow at the drawbridge. Ed Spearman flung aside the
carcass he had brought. Ann's white face was still, though she clung
to him briefly when he kissed her. It had occurred to Paul that Ann's
image of love would not be given reality anywhere in the galaxies: she
wished moments to be eternities and a human self to be a mirror of
desire. _But Dorothy and I--somehow we've learned to let each other
live...._ "More news," Spearman said. "I stopped at the village. A spy
of Pakriaa's came home last night--must be a sharp article: did the
sixty-odd miles up the lake shore in nothing flat, with facts and
figures."

"Lantis is moving." Wright dropped his hands to his bony knees.

"No, Doc, but will in a day or so." Spearman sat down, holding Ann's
fingers till she pulled them away. He nodded to Sears and Paul. "Good
trip?" He had grown even more rugged in a year of Lucifer. He wore
only shorts and Earth-made shoes; months of handling a heavy bow had
made his upper arms almost as thick as the narrow part of Mijok's
forearm. His face had deepened its lines; he had never smiled easily.

"Very good," Sears said. "The island is--" He was silent.

Spearman grunted. "You're sold too? Well, here's the news. One: you
remember Pakriaa's second challenge, sent by two warriors, correct and
formal--trust Pak for that. One of those messengers is returning. The
spy ran on ahead--with part of the body of the other ambassador." He
studied the sickened faces. "Two: the spy says Lantis plans to send
four thousand on the lake boats, another six thousand overland.
Pakriaa--who is in a state of mind I don't know how to describe, not
jitters exactly--Pakriaa thinks we may feel the lake-boat drums
tomorrow. She doesn't know what they are, by the way--invention of
Lantis, I guess. From her description they must be drums, maybe hollow
logs mounted on boats. She heard them last year in the war we
interrupted. You feel them before you hear them, she says: she thinks
it was a lake devil consulting with the Queen of the World. Three: the
spy wasn't sure, but thinks Lantis has already sent six hundred east
of the lake to make a big circle, come down on the settlement from the
northeast."

"Smart," Paul said. "To drive us into the kaksma hills?"

"The kaksma hills." Spearman's gray eyes squinted in a sort of
laughter. "They're not so bad. The critters may be all they say, after
dark, but--I'd better own up: I've gone that way on my last three solo
trips. Safe enough in daylight, when they're half blind. I killed a
few today."

Sears asked quickly, "Bring back specimens?"

Spearman teased the fat man with waiting and chuckled and nodded at
the asonis carcass. "Tied to one of the hoofs. Don't look so worried,
Doc--I waded plenty of streams on the way back." He rose with heavy
grace and strolled out on the bridge. "Come a minute, some of you."
Paul joined him; Wright stayed as he was; Sears was examining the
kaksma's gray, thick-tailed body, holding back its pinkish lip. Paul
caught a repellent glimpse of the jutting upper canines; the molars
were shearing tools like a cat's. He saw the spade claws of the
forefeet. The jet eyes were like a mole's. "Look," Spearman said, "the
hills. Notice that hogback at the southern end--it's five miles long.
Riddled with burrows. They must live on small game on the meadow below
and hunt the other side of the hills too, where it's jungle." His
fingers dug at Paul's shoulder. He spoke loudly enough to be heard by
all: "Listen: the earth at the burrows is red ocher. Understand?
Hematite."

Wright let out his breath sharply. "So--"

"Yeah. Just a five-mile mountain of iron ore. Merely what I've been
looking for ever since we crashed. For a start. From iron to steel
to--ah.... And just when we've _got_ it--God! with organized pygmy
labor--" He strode back into the fortress, glancing obliquely at the
silent giant women. "The pygmies do understand work, you know. Well,
never mind it now. Of course we must get the baby and the women to
your island right away. As a temporary refuge, we must use it." He
watched Wright with unqualified sadness. "Apart from that, you know
what I think of your Island of Lotos-Eaters--"

"That's not just, Ed."

"Adelphi then. Well, the women and Helen--"

"And the giant children, with Samis to nurse the youngest."

Spearman asked evenly, "Paul, how's the charlesite?"

"After the trips Doc mentioned, enough for three more."

Ann's keen ears caught a far-off sound. "Mijok's coming back."

The music grew slowly manifest: Mijok, in an Earth song more than two
hundred years old. Long-flowing chanteys and slower spirituals suited
him. He had teased Ann to teach him all she knew, even after she lost
interest. Swift melodies and rapid syllables were beyond him--the
depth of his tone rendered them grotesque. More than a mile away, he
was wallowing in "Shenandoah"--Mijok, to whom the ocean was only a
word and a river steamboat the cloudiest of legends. Other voices,
true on pitch, followed his solo:

"_Away--we're bound away...._"

Paul asked, "How many, Nan?"

Ann shut her eyes. "Four, besides Mijok and--yes, Lisson's singing. At
least two new recruits. Ah--they can sing before they talk." She
hurried into that thatched house-within-a-house which was her comer of
privacy on Lucifer. The giant women were smiling, though Kamon's eyes
followed Ann with trouble and pity. They hummed in three-part
counterpoint. Their voices had the range of a Charin baritone; Paul
missed Muson, who could approach the tenor. Sears' bass moved in, a
well-behaved trombone teasing a crowd of bassoons. Dorothy's alto
added a warm thread of sound....

The tall children and women poured out over the bridge when Mijok and
his companions were still distant. Musical thunder in the woods pulsed
along the ground. Spearman smiled indulgently. "Just like a bunch of
kids."

"Yes," Wright said. "The pygmies are more serious. They have wars."

Sears stopped humming and mumbled, "Don't, Chris...."

Mijok brought in his triumph, beaming and warm. "And my smallest
woman?" Dorothy placed the naked morsel that was Helen in his waiting
hands. Mijok was bemused. "How can anything be so small?"

Dorothy claimed: "Seven pounds at birth--that ain't hay, Mijok."

"Growing too," Elis said. The golden-furred girl Lisson tickled
Helen's chest with the tip of a forefinger, and Mijok introduced the
newcomers. One was timid. "Just a boy," Mijok explained. "Knows some
words already, though. Danik?"

The giant boy whispered, "Good day." The other was older, black like
Elis, trying to display stern indifference, but Surok eased him into
relaxation with a few words in the old language.

For Mijok, speech had still the brilliance of newness but was wholly
flexible; he reveled in colloquialisms, acquired mainly from Sears and
Dorothy. "While the boys and I were out having a hell of a time,
what's with local industries? The island, gentlemen?"

"Good," Sears said. "Better than I dared dream."

"And those tough babies in the south--anything new?"

Sears winced. "That part ain't good."

Mijok fondled the fat man's arm with a hand mild as silk. "Now, Jock,
now. We'll give 'em hell, that's what we'll do. Hey, Paul?"



3


Abara trotted between Sears and Paul in the forest aisle, a silent
ugly man with popeyes, bulging underlip, jutting ears; thirty inches
tall. He was twenty-six. His potbellied softness had the beginning sag
of middle age. There was politics, Paul guessed, in his presence at
the camp--it was not because the queen had tired of him that he was
temporarily detached from the harem. His body was agile for all its
pokiness, his mind even more nimble; his English, when he stooped to
use it, was good. After the noon meal Abara had appeared, crossing the
drawbridge like a wisp of red smoke, ignoring the giants, reminding
Sears obliquely that it was three days since he had visited the
clearing near the camp, where the white olifants had learned to come.

Sears' love for the great leaf eaters had deepened with familiarity.
He had easily persuaded the others to guarantee their permanent
protection in the laws. He had taught the pygmies to call them
olifants, a shrewd stroke, conveying to the Neolithic mind that the
animals were of Sears' totem. Even during the long ordeal of the rains
he had gone alone for whole days and nights, following olifant trails,
sitting in patience where a broad-leaf tree they enjoyed was abundant.
Deep forest was no place for a man who moved slowly and shrank from
discomfort and danger, yet Sears held to this undertaking as
stubbornly as Wright to his dreams of a community of good will under a
government of laws. And before all except Paul and Wright, Sears was
able to preserve a manner like the face of Lake Argo on a still
morning. That calm gave him, in the eyes of the pygmies, more puzzling
divinity than they found in the others. Abara worshiped from behind a
mask of cynical blankness. Pakriaa seemed almost to love him openly.
She was not arrogant with him; when he spoke she listened. She
assigned soldiers to collect the insects, fish, small animals he
wanted for study; she brought him gifts--an earthenware vessel with
ritual painting, odd flowers, ornaments of wood and bone and clay. She
liked to sit by him when he was at the microscope and peek, mystified,
into the country of the lens.

Sears had let the olifants grow used to him. He talked to them. He
learned they like to be rubbed above the tip of the trunk and on the
vast flat tops of their heads--for this luxury they would kneel,
rumbling and sighing. Eventually he dared climb into the natural
saddle between hump and skull: they allowed it. They were never
excited nor in a hurry. The kaksmas they probably avoided by keen
scent and flight in times of danger; they kept clear of the omasha by
going into open ground only at night.

The clearing was silent except for muted trilling of illuama. The
ground was trodden; purple-leaf vines hung dead and brown, ripped out
by trunks and tusks. Sears said that once, with no notion of conveying
the idea, he had tugged peevishly at a vine under the nose of his
favorite cow. "So, she came and fetched it loose--tired of watching me
act like a damn fool."

Abara said, "I will whistle, me...." Two came, spectrally calm.
"Susie!" Sears called. "Been a good girl, hey?" The old cow let down
her many tons to have her head scratched. Another arrived on
fog-silent feet; then two bulls together, munching leaves. The five
were placid, enjoying the hot stillness and Sears' purring talk. The
largest bull stood ten feet at the shoulder, Paul estimated, as
Abara's two-feet-six approached him, seized a lowered ear, and climbed
up. Abara piped: "We walk now, Mister Johnson."

Mister Johnson's pale eyes noted Paul's bulging jacket; the boneless
finger of his trunk groped suggestively till Paul produced a
melon-like fruit. "Hoo-hee!" Abara crowed. "We thank you." They
vanished in the shadows.

"Susie, want to dig some vines?" But Sears halted in the act of
climbing her neck. Spearman had joined them, with a good hunter's
quiet.

"You really have something there." Spearman was cordial and flushed.
"Pygmies still make the best wine. Ours is no damn good, yet."

"Meant to ask how the last turned out."

"Needs ripening, like everything else."

"In fact," said Paul, "you're slightly plastered."

"But slightly." Ed grinned. "How if I climb on one of those?"

Sears was doubtful. "Have to get acquainted first. Mister Smith over
there--he shook me off the first time. Not rough--just wasn't ready."

"They pull vines at command? You can steer 'em?"

"Sure. If they like you. Knee pressure."

"Abara's good?"

"They prefer him to me. Arek is better still. I miss her."

"Mijok rides, doesn't he?"

"Mijok and Elis. Surok's a bit skittish. I guess Pak thinks it's
undignified--or else the damned witches disapprove."

"Hm.... We have, maybe, three days before Lantis hits us--"

"Lantis--I'd succeeded in forgetting her for three minutes." Sears
drooped his head against the column of Mister Smith's foreleg; eyes
closed, he cursed without humor. He dredged up almost forgotten words
from the old years of Earth, from bars, docks, dissecting rooms, at
least four major religions. He cursed Lantis root and branch, ancestry
and posterity, heart, body, and brain. Regaining a trace of mirth, he
outlined a program of correction that would have kept hell under
forced draft for a thousand years. Still with closed eyes, he asked,
"What's the point, Ed? What's the damned point?"

"How many of these critters have you tamed?"

"Five. There's another smelling around, not ready yet."

"And five riders--you ride 'em, don't you, Paul?" Paul nodded.

Abara and Mister Johnson returned in silence, under the trees behind
Spearman, who was unaware of them. Sears said, "Paul's good. Good
balance."

"So you have a rider for each mount.... Well, I talked it over with
Doc--he says it's your department. What if a bunch of those animals,
with armed riders--"

"No," said Sears. "Quite impractical."

"Why?"

"Well.... They won't go in the open--omasha."

"They will at night, you told me."

"They are not fighters."

"If they go where you order 'em--"

Sears said, "No. If Paul and I and the two strongest giants were
trying that, what's left? You, Doc, Surok, and the giant women."

Spearman snapped: "Then use only three--Abara, Mijok, Elis."

"Mijok will fight beside Chris. You know that. So will I."

Spearman turned away, noticing Abara and Mister Johnson for the first
time and ignoring them. Popeyes watched him from a mountain of white
flesh. "All right. Oh, I almost forgot: Doc wants you back at the camp
for another conference. It has just occurred to him that since we're
about to be wiped off the planet we ought to have a military
commander. For the look of the thing, you reckon? You know, I dreamed
of space travel from the time I was five. Never imagined I'd do it
with a Sunday school. Don't hurry of course. Just come when it damn
well suits you."

Paul caught up with him on the trail. "Look, Ed--"

"I'll recite it for you: mustn't lose my temper. We mustn't divide;
mustn't quarrel; Doc's word is holy at all times--"

"No one says that."

Spearman wasn't listening. "Goddamn it, why do you think I've gone
away alone so often? To explore, sure, to find things we need. By God
I've found 'em too, haven't I? Also to get away from the Sunday
school. Beating my brains out to win a little advance--you people
can't see--"

"What do _you_ think we should do? I mean right now--Lantis."

Spearman fretted in silence, striding as if speed and heavy steps
could ease his distress. "Why, we ought to have gone to live at
Pakriaa's village a year ago, after the reconciliation, while they
were still dizzy from the fall of the idol. You remember--Pak was
almost humble. Ready for big changes. We could have done anything with
her--then. Eliminated the witches. Taught and trained the best of her
followers. We'd have ironworking now. We'd have a competent army. Why,
we could take the initiative, drive south, break up anything Lantis
may have while she's on the march. Yeah--a year ago. Sure--Mijok
wouldn't approach the village, so _we_ mustn't move there. Every day
is an opportunity thrown away, wasted."

"You think we should have abandoned the giants?"

"What've they _got_?" Spearman cried. "Don't even understand
work--throw things around at a great rate, and then somebody sees a
new bug or has a funny idea or starts singing. Or asks Doc to explain
a point in philosophy. Or they decide to just sit and look at nothing
for two hours. Fight? Mijok talks a good fight. You couldn't make 'em
fight with a kick in the rear."

"Never tried it."

Spearman smiled miserably. "One doesn't, with a critter eight feet
tall.... All right, they're people. They're intelligent. If we had all
the time in the world and nothing threatening I'd like to study 'em
myself. But look at the numbers. Three on the island. Six grown women
here. Twelve flutterbrained children. Elis, Surok, Mijok, and the two
tenderfeet they brought in today. Is that an army? As for right
now--Hell, I've given up making suggestions." He tensed and stopped
short. Paul glanced behind; Sears and Abara were catching up. "Thought
I heard something."

"What?"

"Drums.... Guess I imagined it.... Lantis must have a terrific
organization. Bound to, Paul, in a community of sixty thousand. Hadn't
you thought of that at all? Communications, laws, disciplined army, a
forest agriculture at least as good as Pakriaa's. Why, from something
Pak said, I think they even have a monetary system--anyway something
more elaborate than the barter that's good enough for Pak's little
cluster of villages. Stone Age--but that's partly an accident of
ecology, isn't it? I mean, they have to avoid the hills and open
ground--wouldn't be easy to get a start in metalworking when you have
to stay in the woods. I believe they're a people under strong internal
pressure toward the next stage of civilization. With labor,
organization, a few modern ideas, there would be ways to clean the
kaksmas out of the hills. Then metals. We know the omasha breed on
rock ledges wherever the kaksmas can't climb. They could be
exterminated too. There's a whole world for the taking. Doc is right
that the new culture has to be a blend of ours and theirs. Oh, the
giants too, maybe, sometime. But it won't be done by piddling around
with the kind of pretty idealism that never worked even on Earth."

Paul groped for the unspoken thing. "You'd have us join forces with
Lantis?"

Spearman halted to stare at him. There was a flush of blood around his
eyes, the visible pain of frustration that never gave him rest. He
waited till Sears and Abara had come up. "I'm a minority. I haven't
suggested a damned thing." He was silent until they reached the camp.

Abro Pakriaa was there, with seven of her soldiers. All seven wore
purple skirts, insignia of leadership--"captains" was the nearest
word. With makeshift pigments and brittle whitebark, Paul had recently
painted such a group. The effort was for Pakriaa; she had been gravely
delighted with it, seeing how prominent in it were her own vivid blue
skirt and taller stature. To Paul's eyes the colors had sworn
horribly, and he had been glad when the princess carried the daub
away, balanced joyfully on her bald head.

Pak's seven captains made it a visit of state. Wright was soberly
intent, and Ann stood by him, regally silent; play-acting for
Pakriaa's benefit, but Ann sardonically enjoyed the pose. Pakriaa had
gradually accepted the fact of Tocwright's leadership, but her view of
the status of Charin women remained addled by contradictions; the idea
of social and mental equality between the sexes eluded her completely.
Dorothy sat watchful at the opening of the "home" room--Helen would be
sleeping inside; Dorothy's fists were pushed into her cheeks, dark
eyes upturned to Pakriaa's explanatory monologue. Abara effaced
himself. Mijok loomed with folded arms on Wright's other side. The
rest of the giants kept to the background.

"Abro Samiraa, Abro Kamisiaa, Abro Brodaa--" Pakriaa was naming the
heads of the five northern villages. A loose alliance, but those
villages had fought powerfully against Lantis a year ago and each
could provide a hundred and fifty first-line soldiers and fifty of the
skittish male bowmen. "They are with me, my sisters," Pakriaa said,
with sad gravity and not much of her natural swagger. "The wormseed
Lantis has broken custom--her own people must spit on her. For the
death of my messenger I spit on her heart and loins, I spit on her
footprints."

The arithmetic was simple, Paul thought. A scant twelve hundred
fighters against a three-sided attack from over ten thousand. Four
Charin men with rifles, automatics, scanty ammunition, heavy bows. A
handful of giants who knew nothing of war but theory and whose basic
nature would revolt at the reality. Spitting wouldn't help. He forced
himself to attend to what Wright was saying: "There must be one
commander."

"I give no orders to Abro Samiraa and her sisters, my equals."

"Would you and she and the others accept direction from one of us?"

Pakriaa murmured, "I have never seen you fight."

Spearman laughed. Wright said, "You will, Abro Pakriaa. If you will
accept one of us as commander, the army can strike as one soldier.
There would be less confusion. And Lantis will not expect it."

That brought shrewdness to the little red face. "But you can do
nothing hiding behind this pile of stones."

"A temporary shelter while we shoot. You know our fire sticks. This
building commands the upper part of the lake and this end of the
meadow. We will not be trapped here. There will be no siege. If it is
necessary to retreat, we'll know the right moment to do it."

The oldest captain, Nisana, a wiry, quiet woman, said, "Abro Kamisiaa
herself spoke of a thing like this."

Pakriaa murmured absently, "Did I give you leave to speak?" But she
was not angry; she was considering it. "This is better, Tocwright,
what you say now. I will send, learn if my sisters agree. But who will
be the leader?"

"That should be decided now," Wright said, and Paul thought: _Here it
comes, Ed--you get what you want at last._ And he remembered that
obscure thing which might not have been in Spearman's mind at all:
_desertion_--the thing was a dirty word, and the mind would not speak
it. But Wright was staring at him--at him, not at Spearman. "There's
only one of us," Wright said, "who ought to lead, in this trouble.
That is _my_ feeling, Abro Pakriaa, but I alone cannot decide it. All
of us here should vote on it."

Pakriaa understood the nature of a vote. Under her iron monarchy,
minor village matters were often decided by that method if her own
attitude happened to be neutral. Once made, and approved by herself, a
pygmy vote was binding as magic. Her gaze touched the giants with a
sour smile. She was visibly counting; then she was studying Paul with
new curiosity.

Of the giants, only the two new recruits were not in evidence. Paul
glimpsed the red-furred boy peering from the doorway of Mijok's
private room; Surok went in to soothe him. Pakriaa said, "I will
consent. After the vote I will inform my sisters as quickly as I can."

Wright's fingers were frozen in his gray beard. "Then I ask that Paul
Mason take command, his orders to be followed without question."

Paul could not speak. _How did this happen? How can I...._ He heard
Ann, imitating the formality of Wright's words, but with an undertone
of passionate protest: "I ask for the leadership of Edmund Spearman."

Spearman frowned at her, flushed, proud, perhaps amazed. He said
doubtfully, "Other nominations...? Voice vote?"

"Voice vote, as you wish," Wright said.

"M-make it voice vote," Dorothy whispered, and her face was begging:
_Is it too much? Can you stand it? Is it what I ought to do..._?

"Satisfactory," Spearman said. Paul nodded helplessly.

Dorothy said, "Paul Mason."

Wright glanced at Pakriaa. When Spearman was nominated she had
abandoned her patronizing air; she said with enthusiasm, "Spearman."

Mijok's voice rumbled in the depths: "Paul Mason."

The voting went quickly after that. Abara slipped into shadow and
shook his head before Wright could call his name. Sears voted for Paul
with a wry attempt at a grin. Surok hesitated; his tawny face smiled
at Paul with apology and he said, "Spearman." Golden Lisson voted the
same way. The other giant women and Elis voted for Paul. The children
were quiet, not needing to be told that this was grown-up business.
When one of the smallest boys started to hum, little Dunin squatted
behind him and covered his mouth.

All the pygmy captains but one had followed Pakriaa's lead, after a
pantomime of meditation, probably for the record. Now, with a vote of
10-10, this one captain was full of trouble. She understood that she
would be the last to vote and must break the tie. This was Nisana,
taciturn, with the white scar of a wound that had destroyed her lower
left breast and run jaggedly down her side; Paul had seen her often
but knew little of her. She was studying the candidates with a
manifestly honest, tormenting effort to decide, and she avoided
Pakriaa's astounded glare. The green eyes fixed themselves at last on
one candidate with a blinding innocence.

"Paul Mason."

Pakriaa started as if slapped, but recovered quickly. She said,
"Tocwright, is Abara not to vote?"

Abara shuffled a step backward, two steps forward. It brought him
nearer the bulk of Sears Oliphant. His bulging eyes tried to escape
Wright's look, and Pakriaa's; his ugly lips wobbled. He squeaked:
"Paul Mason."

"Twelve-ten," Wright said. "Abro Pakriaa, I am grateful--"

Pakriaa ignored him. She was saying with acid sweetness, "Abroshin
Nisana, perhaps you wish to remain here?"

It seemed to Paul that a mechanical force within him was taking over,
unsought, at a moment of greatest need. "That would be excellent, Abro
Pakriaa. If I am commander, I need one of you here: I am glad to
select Abroshin Nisana."

The princess faced him. Her eyelids flickered--usually a sign of pygmy
amusement more revealing than laughter, but one never knew, exactly.
The machine labored, weighing dangers and advantages. A direct order
now might win over Pakriaa or lose her completely and all the twelve
hundred. She understood and admired aggressiveness; she was also a
bundle of touchy personal pride. And--the slim spear in her hand could
strike like a cobra. Paul said, "Abro Pakriaa, you will tell the other
leaders our decision, and if they agree, have them come here at
once." There was a gray-white shadow at his left. The balance,
swinging delicately, was visible in Pakriaa's almost sleepy eyes. He
thought: _One thing quicker than a pygmy's arm--a giant's_. At least
he would not be pierced with white-stone, while Mijok stood there.

Pakriaa's arm swung--the harmless right arm, a harmless beckoning
gesture to six of her captains, who followed her out of the fortress,
leaving Abroshin Nisana staring at the ground and very much alone.

Spearman came alive. He spoke plainly, cheerfully: "Paul, count on me
for anything. Do whatever I can." His voice had full sincerity. If his
eyes were a little too steady, too candid--never mind it. It was a
pleasure to take his hand, thank him, turn to immediate needs.

"Two lifeboat trips right away, Ed, in what's left of daylight. Ann,
Samis, and the four smallest giant children on the first. All the
carpentry and garden tools. Third trip in the morning." Wright's
sudden relaxation was praise....

Ann left, with no more protest than a backward look. But at the last
moment she ran back to kiss Wright on the mouth....

And when Ed was returning from the second flight, which had carried
Dunin and four other giant children to the island--when it was night
and the red eye of the lifeboat was slipping down from above the
hills, then the drums began.



4


Paul heard the drums from within the room that was his and
Dorothy's--merely a section of the thatched lean-to inside the
fortress wall, but Dorothy had given it the reality of a living place.
There were no chairs: one sat on a rug which was a cured uskaran pelt,
a gift from Abro Brodaa, whose people had hunted down the tigerish
beast after it raided her village. The bed was only a clumsy framework
with an asonis hide stretched across it. But the shelter had become
dear with use, and Dorothy had hung a few of Paul's paintings on the
walls--a portrait of Mijok, one of Christopher Wright which had caught
something of the old man's brooding alertness. The red jungle flowers
were too cloyingly rich to be kept here, but Dorothy had found a blue
meadow shrub, and a white bloom that hid in shady ground and recalled
the scent of jonquils....

It was too dark to see her plainly; Paul knew her eyes were open on
him. Barely audible against his shoulder, she said, "I thought I'd be
insatiable. I only want to be near and not think." Nevertheless
thought goaded her. "Ten thousand--ten thousand--What can you _do_?"

All he could say was rehearsed, mechanical, and she had heard it
before. "Frontal attack first, because the pygmies couldn't be led
into anything else. But I shall turn it into an ordered retreat--to
the island. Drive south, skirt the southern end of the hills, then
straight for the coast. We'll be at the island in--oh, soon--"

"But the range--the coastal mountains opposite the island--you can't
cross them--they rise so sheer--"

"Remember the river that flows almost due west from these little
hills? It comes to the sea north of the range. We'll make rafts to get
down that, I think. There aren't any falls. At the coast we'll
contrive something--dugouts with outriggers. I've already shown old
Rak how to make one; he may be working on it now."

Dorothy pressed a hand over his mouth. She stammered, "Make this
moment last." But even during the fine sharp agony there were words:
"I shall keep--a bonfire on that beach--night and day...." and when
his hand was slack in her hair and she seemed to be hardly breathing,
Paul heard the drums.

They were far off and everywhere. Only the remembering brain insisted they
were on the lake. They were not sound at all, at first. A pressure pain in
the back of the skull, a rasping of nerve endings. Nothing but drums.
Hollow logs with a hide membrane, rubbed and pounded by tiny painted
savages. "You must go tonight after all." Dorothy could not speak. He put
Helen in her fumbling arms; he hurried out to the open space, saw the eye
of the lifeboat returning. The drums took on a rhythm, a throbbing in 5/8
time, rapid, venomous. But far away. Still not quite
sound--_Ah_-ah-ah-ah-ah, _ah_-ah-ah-ah-ah--growing no nearer, no louder,
but gaining in vicious urgency, relentless as a waterfall, a runaway
machine. _Ah_-ah-ah-ah-ah....

Paul hoped that Wright and Sears might be sleeping. It would be an
hour yet before Pakriaa could return with the other leaders, if indeed
she ever did. Elis and Abara were on sentry duty. The three giant
children still at the camp--would they be sleepless, keyed up to vivid
fantasies of the island, like Charin children before a great journey?

Kamon sat alone by the gate. A small figure drooped at the other end
of the enclosure. Since there was no immediate task for her, Paul had
told Abroshin Nisana to rest, but he knew her little bald head turned
to follow him. "Kamon--I'm going to have the third flight made
tonight. There would be room for you too in the boat. Will you go?"

Black lips and ancient white face smiled up at him. "If you wish."

"I do. Stay close to Dorothy. That will leave four of you giant women
here. I wish they could all go. Tejron's sober and wise--she'll keep
them together. You're more needed on the island. Don't let Dorothy be
much alone."

The old woman mused: "This Charin love is a strange thing. It isn't
our natures for two persons to come so close. But I see something good
in it, I think...." Paul struggled to hear her over the almost
subsonic yammer of the drums. _Ah_-ah-ah-ah-ah--it seemed not to
trouble Kamon much, though she would be hearing it even more plainly.
"I will stay with her, Paul," she said, and watched the long glide as
Spearman brought the boat in.

On the drawbridge Spearman cocked his head at the drums. "That's it."
He read Paul's thought: "The rest tonight, huh? Better, I'd think."

"Yes. Get something to eat, why don't you? Kamon is going too."

Spearman nodded, unsurprised. "Not hungry.... Wonder how long they
keep it up...."

Wright came from his room with sleepless eyes. "Till they attack,
probably. All night, maybe all tomorrow. To soften us up. Damn
them...."

Somehow Paul was walking to the boat, carrying the baby for Dorothy.
He climbed in with her, adjusted the straps. Helen waked and was
fretful till she found the breast "You bore her alone--without any--"

"Alone!" Dorothy was astonished. "I had you. Doc's a fine medical man,
whatever he says. Don't you remember how Mijok held out his arm for me
to grab when it got tough? He said, 'I am a tree.'" Now she was
holding his look with an indestructible smile until the rest came and
Paul had to back out of the cramped cabin to give them room; then had
to stand aside while the bright relic of twenty-first-century man spat
its green flame and hot gases at the lake and leaped to soaring and
slid into moonless darkness above the hills. The drums wept, raved,
obscenely whispered.

Paul did not know Sears Oliphant was with him till he heard the voice:
"I think, Paul--the drums defeat their purpose. They make me sore
instead of scared. I think you won't need to worry about me, Paul."

"I never have." He glanced at the fat man's holstered automatic,
remembered the cleanness of the rifle hanging in Sears' room. "My
father used to say most men are good watchdogs, who know they're
scared but stand guard in spite of it; only a few are rabbits and
possums." Paul turned his back on the hills. Nothing was there to
see, nothing at all. "I wish you'd known my father. He was a tall man.
Nuts about animals--always brought 'em into the talk--illustration,
example. Couldn't stand to see even a wasp beating against the glass;
you never knew when a deer mouse would climb out of his pocket and run
down his pants leg." Paul laughed. The drums fretted in 5/8,
passionate, soft, cruel.

Sears watched blue fireflies over a lake so peacefully still that the
sapphire reflections were as real as their cause. "A teacher, wasn't
he?"

"For a while, till he settled in New Hampshire. They wouldn't let him
teach nineteenth and twentieth-century history as he saw it. He saw it
in terms of ethical conflict, the man versus the state, self-reliance
versus the various dreary socialisms, enlightened altruism versus
don't-stick-your-neck-out, and he didn't give a good god-damn whether
the first atomic submersible was built in 1952 or '53. Doc would have
loved him too: he knew what was meant by a government of laws. He made
his students search out not only theory but the actual dismal
consequences of the doctrine that the end justifies the
means--Alexander, Augustus, Napoleon, Lenin, Hitler. That was regarded
as 'wilfully minimizing the significance of technological advance.' He
didn't minimize it; he just recognized that other matters were vastly
more important, and he didn't care to see the machine built up into
one more mumbo jumbo. So he sent me through college by breeding
children's riding ponies and selling hatching eggs. Not a bad life, or
so he said.... Jocko, will Pakriaa come back?"

"I believe so.... Ah, Chris--nice evening for the month of Charin."

Wright was a paleness in the dark; stern, weary, tall, watching the
lake, talking to himself: "The month we named for ourselves--end of
Year One--oh, I do call that a pardonable vanity.... Paul, I was
wholly selfish in choosing you. I've given you a burden no one should
have to carry."

"We're all carrying it."

"Thank you, son." Wright moved away to stand alone at the rim of the
lake, listening to the crawling thunder of the drums. Twice, Paul
heard him speak, with an intensity beyond pain: "No one is expendable.
No one is expendable...."

Sears exclaimed, "Look!" There were five white cloud-like shapes at
the edge of the woods. "Oh, they've never done this before. Susie!
What's the matter? There now, girl, come tell the old man--"

Paul followed him. "It's the drums--don't you think?"

The five had been complaining softly, but that ceased as Sears moved
among them, patting their legs, soothing them. "But Paul--their
grounds are mostly north of here--there now, Mister Smith, you old
bastard--so why didn't they travel away from the sound? Take it easy,
Millie, Miss Ponsonby--"

"The wild ones probably did. But these had to come to you."

"Oh.... That detachment of Lantis--the one in the northeast--"

"Don't think so, Jocko. Pakriaa's spies are all around up there--we'll
have warning. Elis is posted half a mile north of us--he'd know--smell
'em if he didn't hear 'em. However, I'll go talk with him...."

The depth of forest muted the drums--a little; they were still a
cumulative torture of anger in the inner darkness of the mind. Paul
saved the fading power of his Earth-made radion flashlight by
following his sense of the trail. He had learned to move as softly in
the jungle as any Charin could hope to do--more softly than Spearman,
softly enough to steal within spear range of the asonis. There was not
much danger here, unless it might be from the uskaran, a beast Paul
had glimpsed alive only once and then dimly, a striped thing slipping
snakily out of his vision in a sun-striped afternoon; the rug in his
and Dorothy's room could almost have been a tiger pelt. The black
reptiles were lovers of hot sun and shallow water, never going inland.
The squeak and rustle of a kaksma horde, it was said, could be heard
far off except during the rains, when all noises were smothered in the
long rush and whispering of waters. For all his silence, black Elis
was aware of him before Paul knew he had reached the sentry post.
"Paul--isn't it?" The night vision of the giants was better than the
Charins' but not like a cat's; they hunted at night only if the moon
was strong.

"Yes. Everything quiet?"

"Quieter than my heart."

Paul still could not see him. "Saving my flashlight. Where are you?"
Elis chuckled and slipped an invisible hand around Paul's. "The
olifants came to the meadow. We wondered what disturbed them."

"Drums. Nothing in the northeast yet. But a great many of the pygmies
are moving from the upper villages. I heard, and smelled the red
flowers." The people of Lantis, Pakriaa said, never wore those
flowers, and it would not be the nature of Elis to exaggerate his
powers of smell and hearing.

"I think the animals wanted Sears. Could that be, Elis?"

"Alojna--" Elis murmured the old word for them: it meant "white
cloud." "Two things nobody knows--the thoughts of Alojna and the
journeys of the red moon and the white moon when we cannot see them.
So we used to say. You give us a hint of knowledge of both things, and
more than a hint of much greater mysteries." Elis had always been
tireless in questioning Wright; more than Mijok, he was haunted by a
need to grope after intangibles, push outward the uneasy border
between known and unknown. "So there's never an end of mystery?"

"Never." The hand was warm. "What is the nature of courage?"

The giant's breathing was too quiet to be heard. "To go out, away from
a world, in a little shell--that must have needed courage."

"Perhaps only a response to a drive of uncomprehended forces. But I
think courage is a known thing, Elis, an achievement of flesh and
blood--to hear the drums in the dark and stay at the post as you are
doing, as I hope I can do myself. I must go back. Lisson will come and
relieve you soon...."

Pakriaa had returned, with her five equals. Wright had lit one of the
clay lamps. It burned pleasantly with an oil from the carcasses of the
same reptile that had once nearly destroyed Mijok, a thing which
pleased Mijok, for he liked to think that a creeping danger could also
be a source of light; and the use of this oil had been taught them by
the pygmies, who made almost monthly expeditions to marshy regions and
butchered the beasts by the dozens for the oil alone.

Pakriaa was almost meek. Her smile for Paul could have been a Charin
smile; there was a tremor in her hands, and once they flew up to cover
her ears. The drums, he thought, might be a worse pain for her than
for his own breed. There was unconscious pathos in the precision of
her English: "I did not make clear that I will obey you. I may have
been angry; for that I am sorry--it is past. My sisters have agreed."

Squat Abro Samiraa; lame, thin Abro Kamisiaa; sober Abro Brodaa--these
three Paul had met before. Abro Duriaa and Abro Tamisraa were from the
farthest villages, and shy; Duriaa was fat, with a foolish giggle;
Tamisraa had a feral furtiveness--the painted bones of her necklace
looked like human vertebrae. In Abro Samiraa Paul saw competence as
well as smoldering violence: the green of her eyes was dark jade; she
was a flat pillar of muscle from shoulder to hip. Paul guessed her to
be a devil of bravery, good in the front line and intelligent. Lame
Kamisiaa's bravery would be shrewd, vicious, and careful. In fat
Duriaa he thought he saw a politician, not a fighter; in Abro
Brodaa--there might be a thinker, even a dreamer, in Abro Brodaa.

The princesses had brought news. A scout from Brodaa's village had
succeeded in locating the northeastern detachment of Lantis' army; it
was camped twelve miles to the northeast, on the far side of a deep
but narrow stream. The scout had shown the kind of nerve the pygmies
took for granted: she had crossed the creek to listen in the reeds and
had drifted downstream the entire length of the encampment. The
Vestoians were careless, overconfident, their dialect enough like her
own so that she could grasp the essentials; their unit was six hundred
strong, with no bowmen. The scout had heard discontented soldiers'
talk: the spearwomen missed their subject males, who were camp
followers as well as second-line fighters. Returning, the scout had
located and stalked a Vestoian sentry, stunned and gagged her, and
brought her to Brodaa's camp, where she was made to talk. Brodaa had
been about to describe this when Pakriaa glanced at Sears and
interrupted: "They plan to cross the stream before daylight, move
straight west, and try to push us down into the open ground, where the
rest of the army will roll over us."

_The sentry is probably dead. I don't want to know, not now...._ The
machine in Paul took charge of the council of war, rejecting
compassion, rejecting everything beyond immediate need. "Abro
Samiraa--take the soldiers of your village and of Abro Duriaa's. Abro
Duriaa, you will be in command of your own people, but accept Abro
Samiraa's orders as if they were mine." Pakriaa intervened to
translate for the fat woman, who showed no hostility but rather
relief, and placed her hands formally under the spread fingers of Abro
Samiraa in token of subordination. "Abro Samiraa, take those three
hundred and the bowmen to the stream as quickly as you can with
silence, and attack. The important thing is to scatter them before
they are ready to move. If they retreat, follow them only enough to
confuse them and then return here at once. If you can take prisoners,
bring them here, unharmed. But do not be drawn into any long pursuit.
There are still eleven hours of darkness. I hope to see you return
long before sunrise."

"Good!" Pakriaa exclaimed, and Samiraa grunted with pleasure. Brodaa
said, "Take my scout, sister. I have given her the purple skirt; she
is Abroshin now, and my friend." Duriaa waddled behind, and Paul sent
Abroshin Nisana to relieve Abara from sentry duty. Nisana was glad to
go, for Pakriaa still sent her sour glances, remembering the election.

Sears was fretting: "My pets. Damn it, Paul, I dunno--they're huddled
out there in the meadow--just get in the way, get hurt."

"Would they follow Abara?"

"I think so...." Abara slipped in and puffed with pride when he
learned what was wanted. "Certainly they will follow Mister Johnson,
and Mister Johnson will follow me."

Pakriaa laughed. She caught him by a prominent ear and hugged him to
her leanness, grinning at Brodaa over his head. "So ugly!" Pakriaa
nibbled his neck. "And he leads olifants! Don't be afraid, little
husband--I was never angry with you. Look at him!" She spun him
around for the lewd admiration of the other royalty. "I couldn't do
without him. When the war is over I'll have him back in my bed. But
now he leads olifants. Hurry, Abara--and don't hurt yourself." And she
sent him off with a pinch.

"Keep them in the woods," Paul told him. "And stay with them."

"Good." Pakriaa sobered. "He could do nothing. He never learned the
bow.... Ah, look!" The red dot of the lifeboat had caught her eye.
"Look, Abro Tamisraa--you never saw it fly at night." It moved with
apparent slowness, like a mad star, not toward them but toward the
lake, perhaps ten miles away; it was still high when the searchlight
beam stabbed down, probing from northeast to southwest, and vanished.
"It's all right," Paul said, "I suggested he scout the lake on the way
back...." The red eye silently tumbled; Wright gasped. "Still all
right," said Paul. "A dive. He can make it talk." But the moment
dragged out into an ugliness of waiting.

Then orange fury glared against the underside of clouds and the clamor
of drums abruptly ceased. Paul said loudly, mechanically, "I think he
gave 'em the jet--set a few boats afire. I didn't order it, Doc. And
wouldn't try it myself...." Now the red dot was shooting upward,
disappearing as the boat circled once, then growing larger. Briefly
the searchlight illuminated the meadow, and Spearman came in,
overshooting slightly, driving almost to the moat before he checked.
He swaggered in, satisfied. "See it?"

"Uh-huh. What did you learn?"

"Those were drum boats. Why, my God, they opened out like little
orange flowers...! Well--the main fleet is 'way behind them, say
thirty miles down the lake, coming slow. Couldn't spot the land
army--no campfires."

"All right. Sit in on this, Ed...." And the plan was drawn up, so far
as there could be a plan when the odds were ten to one in a world that
never asked for them.

Paul, with Mijok and Pakriaa, would lead three hundred spearwomen and
a hundred bowmen south before daylight, in the hope of disorganizing
the advance with surprise and gunfire, but unless the Vestoians were
demoralized beyond expectation, this could be only a skirmish. They
would fall back, try to avoid losses. The remainder of the army would
stay at the edge of the woods until Lantis was in sight: Wright at the
fortress with the giant women, now only four, who could handle rifles;
Abro Kamisiaa and Abro Brodaa in the center; Sears and Abro Tamisraa
on the right flank in the west, with Elis and Surok. Spearman in the
lifeboat would follow the advance party at first-light. Paul said
nothing of the second drive, to the southeast, the retreat that would
seem like attack. When the time came for that, he must have in one
unit all that remained after the first wrath had spent itself--and
even then the pygmies would have to believe that they were attacking
single-heartedly, or they could not reach the southern end of the
range, but would probably be driven into the trap of the kaksma hills.

The drums began again. They began after the council was ended and
Sears had gone to take charge of his command on the right flank, with
Elis and Surok and shifty Tamisraa. The other small red sovereigns had
gone too, and Wright had stalked into his room--to sleep, he said--and
Paul had followed Spearman out to the boat, where Spearman would sleep
until it was time to go. Spearman tapped his elbow. "You're surprising
me, boy. Better than I could have done, I think. We'll knock 'em
over." And the drums began.

Spearman stared off at the lake; after a while he grinned, and the
lamp burning in the fortress caught the grimace. "Yeah," he sighed,
"well, I knew I only singed 'em." He climbed into the boat and glanced
down with a half salute, which Paul answered mechanically. But as Paul
walked away the thought stirred: _That was like goodbye...._

Paul went along the path at the edge of the woods. It was wide and
easy, broadened during the Year One by much travel between the camp
and Pakriaa's village. There were occasional small-voiced greetings
from the woods: these were Kamisiaa's and Brodaa's people, who knew
him. Brodaa cherished a painting he had made of the singing waterfall
above her village in return for that uskaran pelt. Many of these
soldiers would be chosen by Pakriaa to bring up the number of the
advance party to four hundred.

There was no red moon tonight. The white moon was half the size of the
planet Earth, so far away that its glow was scarcely more than that of
a star, but Paul knew that by what light it gave the pygmies could see
him smile in response to their greetings. They would be studying him,
trying to weigh the tone of his answer. _One of them might save my
life tomorrow; certainly I shall have to see some of them die. They
are people._

There were two visible planets to follow the wandering of the no
longer alien star that was the sun. One was hidden tonight; the other,
red like Mars, hung over the eastern jungle in tranquillity. A little
shape detached itself from the trees to meet him. Abro Pakriaa. "Will
you not sleep tonight, Paul, before we go?" It was a human question,
sweetly spoken and meant kindly.

"Later, I think." He stood by her awhile; in the blackness from which
she had come there was a steady mumbling, and Paul knew what it was:
the witches also had their part to play in these heavy hours, although
long before battle was joined they would be cowering in the villages.
Somewhere in the tree shadows they were squatting, muttering the
antique prayers. He wondered whether to go on and visit with Sears
awhile. _No: Elis is a rock, better company than I would be at the
moment...._ There was much, he thought, that would be good to talk
about with Pakriaa tonight; there ought to be words that would reach
her. Perhaps on this night a glimpse of Wright's vision would meet
with something better than amusement and distrust. But in the end he
only said, "We'll always be good friends, you and I."

He thought she might take hold of his hand in the Charin gesture. She
did not--undignified perhaps. But she said, "Tocwright says we are all
one flesh." She said it thoughtfully, without contempt.

"Yes. We are all one flesh." And lest he become a true Charin and
spoil a moment of truth with unnecessary words, Paul turned back to
the camp, seeing that she remained there in the open, looking south,
the grumbling witches behind her, before her the long night of drums
and no red moon.

Mijok was not asleep. He sat cross-legged by the lamp. "I wanted to
thank you. Doc's gone to sleep at last, and before I could find the
words I wanted. It will be difficult to talk in the morning."

Paul sat by him, puzzled. "To thank me?"

"Because I've learned so much. And had so much pleasure in the
learning." Mijok yawned amiably, stretching his arms. "To thank you
for that, in case you or I should be dead tomorrow."

It would have been easy to say: "Oh, we'll be all right--" Something
like that. Paul buried the words unspoken, knowing their triviality
would be a discourtesy, a dismissal of the insight and patience which
made it possible for Mijok to speak so casually. Mijok loved to be
alive; there was no moment of day or night that he did not relish, if
only for its newness and from his sense that every gift of time is a
true gift. "I thank you for being with us." Mijok accepted the words
without embarrassment or second thought.

"Why, you know," he said, "in the old days I never even knew that
plants were alive. But look at this--" He lifted one of Dorothy's
white flowers from his knee. "It was in your room, Paul. She put it
beside that painting you made of me, before she left." He peered into
the white mouth of the flower, touched the fat stamens, and stroked
the slim stalk. "Everything it needs. Like ourselves. But I never knew
that. We are all one flesh."

Paul glanced over his shoulder. The red planet like Mars was still
high over the jungle. He thought: _When that is hidden, it will be
time to go._



5


All night Paul heard the distant barbarous thunder of the drums. In
the hour before first-light his advance company formed; a furious
serpent, it stole two miles south through grassland following the
pallor of the beach. Near first-light, Paul knew, they would see a
thread of new moon. In this present darkness the Vestoians might be
slipping north on the lake; there would be no betraying sound above
the passion of the drums. As for the land army, that could be miles to
the south or over the next rise of ground.

His mind fought a pressure of alternatives. Better to have kept the
army in one unit? To wait in the forest for news of Abro Samiraa's
thrust in the northeast? _Never mind: no time now._ At least his body
was meeting the challenge without rebellion. His wiry legs carried him
in silence; his senses were whetted to fineness. Rifle, pistol, field
glasses, hunting knife made a light load. Ahead of him Mijok loomed
against a division of two shadows, sky and earth. Not first-light:
only a sign that five thousand miles away on the eastern shore of this
continent there might be the shining of a star now called the sun.
Mijok carried a shield of doubled asonis hide; his only weapon was a
seven-foot club, since his smallest finger was too large to pass the
trigger guard of a rifle. Though keeping watch with Paul, Mijok had
spoken little during the night--brooding perhaps, trying (Paul
imagined) to see a new world in the matrix of the old. But there was
no guessing a giant's thoughts. Lacking the stale burden of human
guilt and compromise, they had the strength as well as the weakness of
innocence; the country of their minds must wait on the explorations of
centuries.

Abro Pakriaa, close to Paul's right, moved like a breeze in the
grass. She and her small soldiers despised the use of shields,
despised the arrows of their own bowmen as fit only for timid males.
They never threw their spears but kept them for close quarters; their
only other weapon was a white-stone dagger.... The army groped through
the meadow in three ranks, widely spaced at Paul's order; beyond the
right flank the archers were concentrated. Four hundred fighters
altogether--against six thousand.

A wooded knoll grew into silhouette fifty yards from the beach, ten
feet above the level of the meadow. "We meet them here," Paul said. By
prearrangement Pakriaa halted a hundred of her spearwomen between the
knoll and the beach, the other two hundred on the west side, the
hundred bowmen out beyond. Paul and Mijok penetrated the blackness of
the knoll, pushing through to its southern side, where Pakriaa joined
them. Even in that short passage the heaviness of dark had altered
with a promise. There were few clouds. The day (if it ever came) would
be hot, windless, and beautiful. No more blue fireflies were
wandering. The planet Lucifer had become three gray enigmas of lake
and meadow and sky, but in this blind hush when morning was still the
supposition of a dream, the shapes of the trees were attaining a
separate reality; in the west Paul could find a hint of the low hills
standing between him and the West Atlantic.

Seventy or eighty miles over yonder Dorothy's brown eyes would be
watching for first-light on the sea, watching for it not on the great
sea, he knew, but on the channel that shut her away from the mainland,
from himself. With his child at her breast, another unknown life in
the womb. Ann Bryan too, her troubled secret mind still full of
protest at the contradictions and unfulfilled promises which made up
the climate of life on Lucifer as well as elsewhere; and the ancient
giantess Kamon, and Rak and Muson, Samis, Arek, and those giant
children perennially puzzling and lovable.... _No time._ Mijok was
peering out on the west side of the knoll. "Nicely hidden. Your
soldiers are very good, Abro Pakriaa," said the giant, whose knowledge
of war was almost as dim a product of theory as his knowledge of the
planet Earth, where his Charin friends had been born.

The pygmy princess did not answer. Paul thought with held-in anger:
_Can't she understand even now that Mijok is one of us, the best of
us...?_ But Pakriaa was staring south; she might not have heard. She
pointed.

Thus, after a year of waiting, wonder, rumor; a year when Lantis of
Vestoia, Queen of the World, had been a half-mythical terror, symbol
of tyranny and danger but not a person; a year that Ed Spearman spoke
of as "lost to the piddlings of philosophy"--Paul saw them at last.

Saw rather a waving of the grass, a cluster of dots shifting, bobbing,
advancing. Pakriaa's tree-frog voice was calm: "They come fast. They
want to reach our forest before the light makes the omasha fly. Your
plan is good, Paul: we hold them in the open, the omasha have good
meat."

A man could dourly accept it, somehow. Bred to gentleness,
undestructive labor, study, contemplation, Paul could tell himself
that a certain spot (even as it bloomed like a nodding flower in the
telescopic sights) was not flesh and blood and nerve, only a target.
_Would it be so if I were fighting only for myself...?_ He held the
spot in focus; he said, "Your soldiers are prepared for the fire
stick? They know they must not charge till they have the order from
you?"

Her voice had warmth: "And they know you are my commander."

Paul squeezed the trigger.

_Too soon--and too damned quiet._ The clever makers of
twenty-first-century firearms on Earth had cut down the shout of a .30
caliber to a trivial snap. The savage eyes out there might not even
have caught the flash at the muzzle. There ought to have been the
glare and circumstance of a rocket. How could they be panicked by a
silly pop and a spark? Even though--well, one of the dots had
vanished, true enough. Maybe he had killed his first human being.

He glanced westward, wondering how soon the gray must change to
saffron and crimson. The new red moon--there it was. A bloody sliver
of a sword above the far shore of the lake.

And he saw the boats.

They were half a mile out. No others were visible north of them, but
that meant nothing: these might or might not be the lead canoes of
the fleet. The noise of drum boats in the south was constant: those
would stay anchored in hiding, letting their wrath appear to come from
all parts of the world.

The leading boat jumped to clarity in the sights. Forward the bark
roofing reached the gunwale; aft, the sides were open to leave space
for two paddlers. Paul saw the tight mouth of the one on the port
side: she could have been Pakriaa's blood sister. Now it was necessary
to think of Abro Pakriaa's ambassador torn in quarters, head and arms
sent back as a message from the Queen of the World--until the mind of
the student of Christopher Wright rebelled: _Vengeance was one of the
ape's first discoveries._ It became more necessary to think: _Make it
a good head shot--she won't feel it...._

It was not a very good shot. The scream came weakly across the water.
The paddler tumbled, an arm dangling. The starboard paddler seemed not
to understand and labored stupidly, making the canoe lurch to port.
The prow of a following boat rammed it, tore away the matting,
revealed the huddled soldiers who became splashing legs and arms in a
sudden foam. While the land army came on....

Dots that were bald red heads, white specks that were spear blades. A
simple arithmetic: less than a hundred rounds for the rifle; four
hundred soldiers; a heart divided but angry, and the devotion of an
eight-foot giant with a big stick. Against six thousand in the land
army alone. "Pakriaa, it's a single column--the fools! Send your
bowmen out west, catch them on the flank." Pakriaa ran down the knoll.

Paul shot twice at the head of the column. A flurry. No halt. Some of
the boats were no longer sliding north, but driving down on the beach,
forty or fifty, like hornets from a torn nest. _Another mistake--no,
not if it diverts them from the camp._ Pakriaa's hundred on this side
of the knoll were holding firm for an order. Paul's wave was enough:
they spread out in the grass at the edge of the beach, quivering like
waiting cats. The light was changing their bodies from vagueness to
familiar copper, black skirts, white body paint.... Mijok tore a
half-buried rock from the ground and hurled it out to splinter the
nearest boat. But the soldiers would merely swim ashore. "Mijok! Stay
with me!"

The head of that column was less than two hundred yards away. Paul
fired mechanically, seeing life tumble backward and lie still. "Let
them see us now, Pakriaa, Mijok----"

They strode down the south slope of the knoll in plain sight under the
beginning of morning as the bowmen in the meadow released a harsh
flight. The beach on the left became a seething of yells, snarling,
trampling, clash of white stone. _First-light--first-light--and where
in damnation is Ed Spearman with the lifeboat...?_

The column was confused by the many pressing up from behind. A few
dozen spearwomen streamed out toward Pakriaa's archers; a second and
third flight downed most of them--the little men had skill. No
Vestoian bowmen had appeared. "Now, Pakriaa----"

Her one cry brought the spearwomen out of the grass west of the knoll,
skimming forward like red bullets, spears low in the left hand until
they crashed into the column; then weapons rose and plunged and rose.

The Vestoians wore no white paint. Their leaders had caps of green.
Their grass skirts were mere fringes. They died easily. They killed
easily.

Some distance down the column--for it was still a column, still a
rolling machine that could not halt--a tall structure was swaying,
hard to assess in this tortured twilight. A litter? Lantis of Vestoia,
the Queen of the World herself? Paul checked his own running advance
to send two shots at it. Then he and Mijok were surrounded by a
writhing of arms, white-stone, and blood, Mijok raging but bewildered.
Paul saw Pakriaa's spear drive down below naked ribs and withdraw from
what sprawled on the ground. She was untouched. Her lean little body
dripped with sweat, her teeth gleamed in a devil's grin. Two
purple-skirted captains joined her; the three smashed into a cluster
of shrieking souls who only began to understand what was happening.

Arithmetic still ruled. This column might be only one of many pushing
up between lake and hills, bent on reaching Pakriaa's forest before
the omasha soared in from those hills to feed on living and dead.

Mijok brushed through the fighters with his shield and down the line
till he was clear of Pakriaa's white-painted demons. His stick swung,
destroying everything in a half circle before him. He was not confused
now, not even shouting, but saving breath. He worked stolidly, like a
man beating at a swarm of rats.... Pakriaa jumped on a fallen thing to
point at that clumsy framework down the line. "Lantis! That is
Lantis----"

The litter wobbled toward the center of confusion on the shoulders of
six women. Paul fired twice again at it. He had a glimpse of a scrawny
figure with a high green headdress leaping down, snatching a spear,
vanishing in an improvised protective phalanx. He shot into that,
dropping one of the outer soldiers. Mijok saw; he changed the course
of his attack, a bulldozer aiming at a new clump of brush. Pakriaa
screamed in frenzy, without meaning. Her spear was still a part of
her. She was bleeding from a thigh wound; her bright blue skirt had
been torn away; she glittered with sweat and paint and blood, a
dancing devil mindlessly happy. Then she was down once more in the
press, squirming toward the phalanx, and Paul could not shoot.

But it was the toiling giant, Paul thought, who made Lantis break.
Again he saw the snarling face of the Queen of the World and heard her
squeal an order. Before Mijok could cut his way to her the phalanx was
running, sheltered by the mere mass of soldiers. It was necessary to
call Mijok back.

The whole Vestoian army was running. "Pakriaa!" Paul plunged after
her, caught her shoulder. "No pursuit!" Her eyes glazed in mad
rejection; he thought she would bite his wrist. "Turn your soldiers!
Bring them down on the Vestoians from the boats--_the boats_!"

She could understand that. Her order was the shriek of a rusty nail on
glass, and it turned them. It brought them howling down to the beach
to aid what was left of the first hundred. The water was a jumble of
abandoned boats--even the paddlers had struggled ashore to kill and
die.

Mijok ploughed in a second time.... That ended it. Some of the
Vestoians might have glimpsed what he did to the land soldiers. A few
forgot all custom and threw their spears, which Mijok's shield
carelessly turned; then they stared with sickness at their empty
hands and waited for the club. Meanwhile the strengthened crowd of
pygmies worked on till the sand was redder than the sky and there was
no more to be done. "Back!"

Pakriaa screamed "No!" and pointed south. Paul stumbled on something
slippery. He stooped to her, yelling, _"Omasha!_ The sky will be full
of them. Let them fight Lantis. We've lost a hundred already----"

Her face became sane and blank in agony. "My people--my people----"

"Yes! And other boats are still going north. Your soldiers must pick
up the hurt and run for it."

There were not many living wounded in this sudden quiet. A spear has
scant mercy. And the lifeboat had not come.... Mijok was holding out
his shield on both arms; he had tossed his stick aside. "Put them on
this. I can carry six--seven." When the shield could hold no more he
lifted it, his face contorted and changed. "Paul--I told myself I was
back in the old life, when we always killed them if we could. But the
new laws--oh, Paul, _the laws_----"

"War perverts all laws. But the laws are true. It is--climbing a
mountain, Mijok: we slip, fall back, try again. Nothing good in war,
only necessity, choice of evils. Now make the best speed you can,
friend--don't wait for us." Mijok ran with his vast strides, holding
the shield out in front so that the motion of his body would not
jounce it.

Pakriaa would not move till the last of the survivors had stumbled
past her. They were disciplined. Already some of the soft bowmen had
taken out arrows of the whining, glittering type that sometimes
frightened off the omasha. They were ready. Paul tried to count, gave
it up. Less than three hundred. The archers had not suffered much.
Paul said, "Your leg is hurt, Abro Pakriaa. I'll carry you."

She was indifferent. "I thank you." He slung his rifle and caught her
up, naked and slippery with blood and acrid-smelling paint. Her weight
was less than forty pounds. Her head lolled back; she whispered to the
sky, "No one should call me Abro. I am Pakriaa the child, weak as a
male, a fool. I could have followed. I could have brought her to the
ground. I let her go. I am a red worm. I blame you for it, Paul-Mason.
You and your friends. All of you--except Sears, who is a god with a
window on another world."

"Hush! The world Sears shows you in the microscope is this world,
Pakriaa. He tells you so himself. And I tell you there'll be a new
way----"

She was not listening. Still he saw no threat of brown wings, and no
lifeboat. But time was a deception; dawn on Lucifer was abrupt on
cloudless mornings. The battle which had seemed long as heart-break
had been a skirmish, a brush of advance parties lasting perhaps ten
minutes from his first shot to the retreat. Pakriaa's head twitched
from side to side; her eyes were dry. "I have betrayed Ismar,
Creator-and-Destroyer-Who-Speaks-Thunder-in-the-Rains----"

"Pakriaa----"

"My people are to burn me in the pit for the kaksmas with lamp oil. I
will order it. I would have been Queen of the World." Making no effort
to escape from his arms, she burst into rage at him; a rage pitiable,
not dangerous: "Why have you come, you sky people, you speakers of new
words? We had our life, no need of you. We were brave--you weaken us
with words, with words. Your friendship is the green-flower weed that
kills the self. You make children of us. You break our beautiful image
of the god and tell us she never lived. You say that now?" She slashed
her fingers down her side, drawing blood.

Firing? Firing at the camp?

She clung to him, wailing: "And now you carry me. I cannot even hate
you. You steal our strength. The priests were right--the
priests----Ismar, help me! _Ismar!_"

Paul forced himself into a run. It was firing, rapid and sharp,
pistols and rifles. The ammunition would melt fast at that rate. He
could hear yelling. Catching up with the running soldiers, leaving
them behind, he could see Mijok, far ahead, swerve to the left.

And the lifeboat was in action.

It curved grandly from near the surface of the lake, which was dim
with smoke. It circled over jungle, descended in another swoop at the
canoes. Red bodies tumbled overside; the silver nose tilted as if in
disdain; the jet spoke for one second, blasting the near canoes into
nothing, sending up the further ones in yellow fire, driving the
lifeboat into its seeming-careless leap. But there was still firing
from the gray stone fortress, a human tangle on the beach before it, a
high long screaming.

Forward detachments of the lake fleet must have passed in the dark.
Paul ran on, only his arms remembering Pakriaa. She slipped down,
grabbed a spear as her soldiers caught up with her, and ran straight
for the beach.

That part of the agony was almost done. No more boats were coming
in--Ed Spearman's sky weapon had seen to that. There were more canoes,
many more, but they were holding off, grouping clumsily at a distance.
Paul waited for the lifeboat to slip over him and waved to the south.
Spearman altered the course of the glide, dropping after one more
group of panicked boats but heading south. A longer burst of the jet,
and Spearman's weapon lifted, straightened, shot out of sight across
the meadow.

Paul could picture the big man's intent and mirthless grin, the cold
gray eye alert on the fuel gauge. And when this fuel was gone--no
more. It might stand for a while, somewhere, a decaying artifact....

Those left alive on the beach were bringing in casualties. The boats
were still withdrawing. Christopher Wright was in the fortress with
the wounded, his narrow face tight in the misery of a doctor who can
do almost nothing. "Doc--how many have we lost here?"

"You! I had almost--Oh, Mijok, what've you got there...? Paul, they
jumped us at first-light. No time even to remind Ed to go after
you----"

"No, he did right. More needed here. We've stalled the land army, but
they'll come on. They have to." In the sky the brown dots had appeared
at last, pouring from their foul rock ledges in the hills. All of them
were flying south. "Pakriaa, look! Lantis has two wars now."

She stood naked and stiff, watching, her underlip thrust out, despair
giving way to a glare of satisfaction at the far-off wings, the beasts
who ate everything, feared nothing. The southwestern sky was heavy
with them. Paul had been right; he sickened at his own cleverness.
"How many, Doc?"

"Forty or worse. This defense on the beach was by Kamisiaa's people
and our giant girls--who can shoot." Paul saw the golden-furred girl
Lisson smile uneasily at him; there was a sober stare from brown
Tejron. The other two giant women, old Karison and young Elron, seemed
more deeply disturbed, Elron studying her rifle as if it were a living
thing. Wright said, "With Abro Brodaa's help I made the others stay in
the woods where you posted 'em. Surok ran over from the right flank--I
had him run back and tell Sears and the rest to sit tight....
Pakriaa"--Wright strode out to her--"let me bind that up--you're
bleeding." She permitted it....

The boats were clustering a quarter mile away. Paul fumbled for his
field glasses; they were lost. Little Abroshin Nisana, whom he had
ordered to remain at the fortress, spoke beside him, slowly and
carefully because her English was not good: "Commander, Abro Samiraa
is return. The plan--good. She crossed the stream, catch them in
blackness. A few escape. We lose twenty. One was Abro Duriaa--I am not
know how she is killed." She scuffed her little seven-toed foot in the
dust; there was nothing alien in her smile. "Those who return
Tocwright is send west." She was puzzled, not disapproving. "Why are
we most strong in the west? The Vestoians follow lake shore."

He said, not quite honestly, "Their straightest approach to Abro
Pakriaa's village--your village--is in the west. Were there
prisoners?"

"Abro Samiraa is not like to take prisoners. We took not any on the
beach. Wrong?"

He smothered a sigh of exhaustion. "It may not matter." With Mijok,
the stout giantess Tejron was moving among the wounded. Paul noticed a
heap of torn cloth, all that remained of Earth-made shorts and jackets
and overalls, ripped for bandages. Wright's idea, no doubt, and good:
the pygmies' pounded-bark fabric was a poor second best. _After the
war we can go naked--fair enough...._ He saw a pygmy woman shrink from
Tejron's approach; she might be from one of the northern villages, her
stoicism unequal to accepting the touch of the huge beings she would
always have regarded as wild animals. Paul knelt, hoping to reassure
her, as Tejron eased a bandage around a pierced abdomen. There would
be internal bleeding. "You are from the north?"

She looked hurt that he did not know her face. "I am of Abro Brodaa's
village." Then in spite of her shrinking her question was directed at
Tejron: "Abro Brodaa has say to us--we are all one flesh.
That--that----"

Tejron was able to say, "That is true." And while Paul searched for
other words that might affirm, comfort, explain, the soldier died.

The only omasha now visible were soaring stragglers. The swarm would
have found the army of Lantis--which must and would continue to
advance. There was a limit to the gorging of the bat-winged beasts;
they too could die on the spears. Meantime the lifeboat was gone, the
boats were landing, in a moment of darkly sweet quiet which was the
eye of the storm.

Paul checked the giant girl Lisson from firing at the landing party.
"Save ammunition." He indicated a tall blue-flowered shrub a hundred
yards out in the meadow. "We wait at the edge of the woods until they
pass that bush, then charge them. If they break us down here, everyone
is to fight west, away from the lake--_west_. Now run down the line,
pass on these two orders." Lisson sped away, her golden fur bright and
unstained. "Doc--get the wounded together, have the other women and
Mijok take them west, beyond Sears' group, well back in the woods. Try
to find out where Abara's got to with the olifants but send a runner
back (if there's time)--don't come back yourself. And keep Mijok with
you. I don't want him to do any more fighting if we can help it--it's
tearing him up inside."

"I----" Wright checked himself, nodded, hurried back into the
fortress.

"Pakriaa, Abro Kamisiaa, get your soldiers at the edge of the woods."

They vanished. The meadow was empty of life; the many open eyes on the
beach would not see what was to come. Wright's party left the
enclosure, Mijok carrying the shield. Wright could not look back nor
wave, for his own arms were full, his head bent in some consoling
speech. Paul was striding for the woods when Pakriaa met him and
murmured in contempt, "We hide too, Commander?"

He answered out of a moment of black indifference. (_Probably we all
die and everything I have done is a mistake._) "Pakriaa, they may
break easier if they don't see us till we charge." She shrugged,
following him into the obscurity, pointedly ignoring Nisana, who came
to his other side, perhaps still hating the little captain for her
independence of yesterday, when Paul was chosen commander of this
grotesque army.

The Vestoians from the boats were rising out of the grass and coming
forward. Steadily now, with no more apparent haste than the first
breakers leading a destroying wave. It was possible to think with
amazing leisure of the high meadows and wooded roads of New Hampshire.
Paul's brother had always been a little too fat and fond of ice cream.
There was a bookstore in Brattleboro. And the waves of the South China
Sea were moving mountains with snowcaps of foam as they came in on
Lingayen. Why, there was a war there once, more than a hundred years
ago, when the Republic of Oceania was hardly even a thought. Yes: they
called it a Second World War....

The Vestoians passed the blue shrub. The breaker was red, with a foam
of white-tipped spears.

Paul was swept into the open, not only by the howling drive of his own
pygmy army, but by the machine within, relentless again, briefly free
from the compromise of thought. He was firing with precision in the
scant time available before the white-painted bodies crashed into the
unpainted and churned up a froth of battle.

He had time to wonder why Nisana was here with him a few yards back of
the hand-to-hand frenzy. She was not afraid; her spear was balanced. A
break in the line of fighters let through a Vestoian soldier, dark
mouth squared in a yell. Nisana's spear widened the mouth to a death
mask and withdrew. Paul stepped into the breach and sent a few shots
toward a trio of green-capped leaders. Something slapped and gouged at
his chest--_nothing serious_. But his own fighters to the left of him
were going down, outnumbered. He shouted at a brief gleam of Pakriaa's
face, "West! Fight _west!_"

Golden Lisson was running back from her errand, her rifle waving, her
lips straining in wild laughter. She passed him, trying to bring her
rifle into use as she ran; it did not fire. A Vestoian was forcing
Nisana away from Paul and beating down her spear. "Why, damn you!" The
Vestoian face dissolved in pulp and strangeness under his rifle butt,
and Paul reeled back, believing for an unbounded second that ghosts
from a place only a few light-years away had swirled across this
stinking battlefield to shriek at him: "_Yes! Your people always
fought that way--the ape picked up a stone...._" But Nisana was alive;
Nisana was unhurt and alive. He could look up again and see the girl
Lisson also using her rifle as a flail.

She was between him and the beach. Three pygmies had caught the butt,
and now she swung them absurdly high; she had almost shaken them off
when a spear pierced her arm and hung there. The rifle dropped. She
was down, under the leaping spears and red bodies. She did not even
cry out again; the golden fur was reddened and defiled. Paul beat his
way toward her, scarcely seeing what his swinging rifle hit, knowing
it was too late, forgetting his own order to drive west. Aware too of
another tawny shape flashing toward him.

Surok, who had loved Lisson, who would have been her playmate in the
next Red-Moon-before-the Rains. Paul tried to stop him--but if any
sound came out of his own throat it would have been lost against
Surok's mindless crying. The giant tore into the press around Lisson's
body and fell almost at once, crushing a few as he rolled....

"_West!_ Stay behind my rifle, Nisana---"

It had become a methodical insanity like Mijok's, a cutting of red hay
that spouted blood. He noticed blood on his right hand too--nothing:
front sights of the rifle gouging him. The Vestoians in this direction
were thinning out and giving way. He caught up with a white-splashed
back and bandaged thigh--Pakriaa, ploughing her way west. Abro Samiraa
drove across his path in the wrong direction, chasing an isolated
group of three; squat and heavy-faced, she looked happy and more than
life-size in the moment of her death, as she took a spear thrust over
her heart and lay down with the enemy to grin at the sky and cease
hating.

A rifle barked ahead of him. That could only be Sears Oliphant: Wright
would surely follow orders and keep Mijok and the giant women with him
to protect the wounded.... Abro Brodaa was fighting through to aid
Pakriaa, not yelling, not excited, keeping somehow an air of dreamy
contemplation, as if the arms driving her spear and dagger were not
quite hers. Nisana cried out, "They are not following! They go
back----"

It was true. Partly true. Here in this patch of bloody meadow there
was not much left to fight. The defenders had functioned like a single
organism, forming a new semicircular line. Behind it was a quiet,
where Pakriaa was gasping, pounding her foot into a body that felt
nothing.

And this dear monster, this fat naked grotesque, panting and smeared
with red--this must be Sears Oliphant, late of John Hopkins
University. The monster smiled in a black beard. "Few got by, oh my,
yes. Tamisraa's girls fixed 'em--had to club m' rifle--dirty cave
man--no fear, Paul--_no fear!_ Muscle man with an empty head. They
had--couple bowmen with 'em--no harm done." No harm? Was he unaware of
the broken arrow shaft below his ribs, deeply bedded, with dark blood
oozing around the wood? "They quit, Paul?"

"They haven't quit." He looked south, seeing why they wouldn't quit.

"Tamisraa got a bad one--throat." Sears coughed painfully. "I sent her
to Doc--he's just back of those trees. And my pets, Paul, my olifants,
why, they're standing fast, boy. With Abara, bless him--'bout half
mile north. You can't beat 'em. We must figure some way to ferry 'em
over to the island--must--they're people, those olifants----"

"You go to Doc yourself, Jocko, and fast. That----"

"Oh, that, that. Mere prac'l dem'stration nobody loves fat man----"

The Vestoians would not quit because of what was coming half a mile
away in the south under a cloud of brown wings, coming fast. The horde
would be ignoring the omasha, striking them aside, spearing them when
there was time, granting them the necessary toll for passage, and
coming fast. Oh, they would be less than six thousand now--somewhat
less. Meanwhile the remnant from the boats was waiting, regrouping,
drawing breath, readying itself for the climax of massacre, maybe
deliberately postponing it until Lantis of Vestoia, Queen of the
World, could arrive to enjoy it. Paul tried again to count his people
in the sturdy half circle. Black Elis was striding among them, a
great stick in each hand, rumbling comfort and encouragement, and none
of them shrank away from him.

It looked like less than seven hundred. A hundred lost at the knoll;
forty, Wright said, in the first skirmish at the camp; twenty in
Samiraa's night expedition. Perhaps three hundred in this last wave of
the battle. And Samiraa herself; Duriaa; Tamisraa wounded, Pakriaa
insane with grief; Lisson and Surok dead. Lame Kamisiaa--Paul could
not find her. Abro Brodaa--still calm, unhurt, competent. Very
well--seven hundred against somewhat less than six thousand of the
land army, somewhat less than four thousand from the boats.

_How I dreamed!_ There would be no southward drive to the island. The
omasha alone made it an absurdity. He had been idiotic to imagine it.

Pakriaa broke her spear across her knee. She walked out into the
meadow toward the advancing swarm. She looked back stupidly at Paul's
shout, and Nisana ran to her, crying out in the old language. Pakriaa,
with no change of expression, lunged at the captain, striking
flat-handed across her face, forcing her back until Paul reached them
to interfere and Sears caught Pakriaa's wrist, mumbling, "Come
now--come with me, princess."

"I am no princess."

"I call you so," Sears said clearly, and speaking with sternness for
possibly the first time in his life. "Now come with me."

Paul stammered, "Have Doc get that damned arrow out of you. Then he's
to start north with the wounded--at once."

"North." Sears nodded.

"There are no gods," said Pakriaa.

"Yes, north. We'll catch up with you."

"I thought of you as a god."

"Think of me as a friend who loves you. It is better." She went with
him, stumbling as Paul had never seen her do, and when the leaves
closed behind them it seemed to Paul that there was surely the cloud
of another world. She might have been a small girl going for a walk in
the woods with her grandfather....

There was no lifeboat above that rolling swarm. Ed Spearman must
have----_No time to think about it_.

But he had to, a little. Spearman was forced down by lack of fuel and
killed. Or forced down, isolated somewhere, miles away. Or he had kept
good watch of the fuel gauge until there was just enough for another
trip to the island and had gone--right, reasonable, what he ought to
have done, what Paul would have ordered him to do if he could have....
Paul turned to Brodaa. "Your sister Kamisiaa--I don't see her----"

"My lame sister is dead." Her eyes were shrewd, counting. "We have
more than seven hundred. Two hundred of them bowmen."

"Bring them all to the woods. Spread the bowmen at the edge: they will
meet the first charge with arrows, nothing else, and then join our
retreat. Send a hundred spearwomen to guard and help Tocwright's
group: they will go straight north. Send another hundred through the
villages to save what they can--the children, the old--and take them
west and north to join the others. All the rest will stay with you and
me and Elis to fight in the rear--delay and confuse--fighting retreat,
Brodaa. I see nothing else."

"Nothing else," she said evenly. "As you say...."

Elis was with him, waiting under the trees, and Nisana, who said, "No
gods? There must be other gods. Not Ismar...."

Elis watched the meadow over the crouching bowmen. "Within you,
Captain. The god within you made you save the life of my friend. I saw
that. I even think I begin to understand. But that might be vanity."



6


A sorry day moved into evening, and when evening became an approach to
moonless dark, this day of retreat was in Paul's mind a passage of
distorted images, true or false.

True that he was now limping through forest stillness between Nisana
and a skinny ghost who was Christopher Wright and Wright carried
Pakriaa, who moaned at times like a child with a nightmare, and up
ahead were five white drifting mountains, one of them ridden by a man
who was silent in pain, Sears Oliphant. It might or might not be true
that at some time during the day Paul had thrashed on the ground with
a broken head in front of some squalling danger until black arms swept
him up away from--whatever it was.

Tejron and the two other giant women Karison and Elron, and Mijok,
still lived. Elis was walking behind Paul, unhurt; therefore the mind
of Elis would still be probing at the borderland of known and unknown,
searching and incorruptible. All true. Apparently true that the gash
in Paul's side had stiffened, his right leg was knotting itself in
some unimportant distress, and his bandaged forehead no longer
throbbed.

The first contact with the Vestoian land army had been a swift
skirmish and ordered withdrawal. Abro Brodaa's archers had crumpled
the first enemy charge. After that the Vestoians had crashed into the
woods with no caution, driven by the horror of brown wings that still
pursued them. Paul had had a final glimpse of the green headdress of
Lantis, Queen of the World; his two shots before the rifle jammed had
not touched her. Once, under cover of the trees, the Vestoians had
paused to reorganize, giving Paul's retreating force a little time
and distance and the help of forest obscurity.

The spearwomen sent ahead to clear the villages had poured through
Pakriaa's settlement and Brodaa's, rounding up old people, children,
and the chattering pack of male witches, sending them west to join
Wright's group of wounded--if they could find it. But at the third
village upstream--it had been Abro Samiraa's--there was delay. Perhaps
the people had refused to go where there were giants. Paul's rear
guard had halted south of the village to protect the evacuation; here
the Vestoians caught up with them.

They had fought it out for two hours in the misery of bush and brier
and purple vine outside the village ditch, while the jungle world
steamed in the growth of mid-morning. Paul's horizon had narrowed to
the knot of fighters who stayed with him--Nisana, Brodaa, Elis, an
unknown black-skirted soldier who fell at his feet with a bleeding
mouth. Somewhere in that hell he had lost his rifle. It was Brodaa
(this must be true, for it was Elis who told him of it)--Brodaa who
had guided them out of the trap, regrouped the remnant of the rear
guard north of Samiraa's village while the Vestoians paused to set
that village afire and rejoice over its dying.

Paul could remember that regrouping: black Elis had set him on his
feet, supporting him till he could walk. There were many twittering,
mad-eyed bowmen among the survivors. Brodaa had sent runners to give
the other three villages a final warning; she herself decided against
trying to reach them with this fragment of an army numbering less than
three hundred. The only way to save anything at all was to flee north,
join Wright's group, hope that the remaining villages would delay the
conquerors and that at least some of their non-combatants could
scatter before Lantis, Queen of the World, took them for slaves, meat,
and sacrifice.

The rest of the day had been a running, a harsh drive into country
unknown even to Elis. There had been, for Paul and Elis at least, a
breath of second wind when they found the tracks of the olifants. They
had caught up with Wright's refugees in the early afternoon, but there
could be no pause, even though it was quiet here at the edge of
forest and western meadow and the sound of screaming in the villages
was an hour behind them....

Paul noticed that he was naked except for ammunition belt and an empty
holster. Perhaps his present clarity of mind was the true madness, the
earlier fog of pain and anger the mind's more natural climate. But one
might as well reason and take stock. He remembered the map. Was it
saved? No matter: a copy had been flown to the island with Dorothy and
the baby.

_I have a woman who loves me; I have a daughter. I have my life._

On his left, just visible in twilight beyond a meadow turning
brilliant with blue fireflies, there were the low western hills, the
hills rotten with the burrows of kaksmas, and they were nearer, much
nearer than he had ever seen them except from the lifeboat. (_But Ed
Spearman went there; he walked in the hills alone and found iron ore,
and now he is----Never mind where he is. If the charlesite was giving
out he did right to fly to the island and abandon us. What else could
he do?_) Well, it was right too that the hills should be nearer: the
edge of the forest slanted northwest, narrowing the meadow. And this
far north the hills were smaller, more broken up. Yet it would not do
to approach them closely: even the least of the hills (so pygmy and
giant tradition said) could be the dwelling place of day-blind ratlike
killers numerous enough to destroy this entire party and still be
hungry. The retreat must struggle north until the hills were well
behind, shut away by level jungle--where the kaksmas still might come,
to be sure, but only to the distance of half a night's journey from
their burrows. "Doc--can you estimate what distance we've made since
we caught up with you?"

"Maybe twenty miles," the old man said. "In more time than _Argo_ once
needed to travel twenty million miles. What is man?"

"Man? A mathematical absurdity.... Aren't you tired? I could carry
Pakriaa a while."

"No, I'm not tired, son. I like to have her...."

Rifles--in the beginning there had been only five, and one shotgun.
The shotgun had been taken to the island. Dorothy and Ann had their
pistols there, too. Paul's rifle was lost. Lisson's had been lost when
she died. That should leave three. Wright had one slung at his back.
Peering up ahead, Paul saw another in the red-brown hand of the young
giantess Elron. Sears must have lost his. So two at least remained.
And one automatic--Wright's. "Those two new recruits Mijok
brought----I'm in a fog--I only just remembered----"

"Lost," said Wright, staring ahead. "The boy didn't understand. He ran
into the mess on the beach like a horse running into a fire. That was
before you got back from the south. The other had more sense. Saw the
pygmies spilling out of the boats and ran for the woods. Naturally we
didn't try to hold him. Perhaps he's reached his home territory. I
hope so."

Behind him Elis spoke softly: "It was not very far, Doc. When we reach
the island and start the new settlement----"

"Oh, Elis----"

"When that has been done I'll come back and find him, give him the
words--him and many others. I promise you that. Let me believe it."

"Believe it, Elis. But the boy Danik is dead. He was bright, curious.
He should have lived 150 years."

"We overtake mystery," Elis said, "and leave it behind."

"Men have never overtaken the mystery of untimely death."

"There is chaos," said Elis. "Chance. Mystery is great jungle around a
small clearing. I accept that. We make a wider clearing."

Paul felt Nisana's finger hook over his. Pakriaa groaned, perhaps in
sleep. The darkness had blotted away the hills; even the small shape
of Nisana was growing too dim. Elis said, "You're limping, Paul.
Abroshin Nisana is tired. There are still three of the animals without
riders. You and Doc----"

"Yes," Wright said. "We might make better time." Nisana trilled an
order to Abara, who rode the colossal bulk of Mister Johnson at the
head of the line. The animals halted without sound. "We must go on all
night, Paul--right? What became of your--prisoner?"

"My----" the mental clarity must be a fraud, Paul thought, if new
memories could flash into it so abruptly. At some time--it must have
been after Elis had carried him clear of the nightmare at Samiraa's
village--he had stumbled on a Vestoian soldier unconscious from a head
wound and loss of blood but not dead. He had still been carrying her
when they caught up with Wright. With this, the memory of that reunion
became whole--the wordless suffering on the shield that Mijok carried,
the improvised stretchers, the bewilderment and exhaustion in the red
faces, the very smell of defeat--with this also a picture of the
horribly fat witch from Pakriaa's village carried on a litter by two
spearwomen, and one other witch, a lank skeleton with white and purple
lines emphasizing the prominence of his ribs, striding beside his
colleague and shooting glances of wrath from left to right and back.
Someone had gently taken the unconscious soldier. "She's safe, Doc.
Tejron took her--still has her, I'm sure."

"Good." Wright added with a harshness canceling humor: "Now if only
friend Lantis will initial a copy of the Geneva Convention...." He was
fumbling in the twilight before one of the white beasts, uncertain
what to do.

The old cow olifant Susie, carrying Sears, fretted at the delay,
sampling the air and rumbling. Paul petted her trunk to soothe her;
Sears' voice came down to him: "Paul? Take this, will you?" He was
reaching down the case that held his microscope, safe somehow out of
the inferno of the day. "My grip's not too good, got nothing to tie it
to--bare's a baby's bottom, like you. We look like the last days of a
Turkish bath, hey?"

"How d'you feel?" Nisana tore shreds from what remained of her purple
skirt; she looped them about the case, fastened it to Paul's
ammunition belt.

"Feel good," Sears said. Each word was a thick struggle for normal
speech. "Arrowhead came off; Chris got it out. Manicure scissors for
forceps; you may slice me cross-ways and call me ham and eggs if it
ain't so. Right, Chris? You there?"

"I'm here, Jocko," Wright said, and under his breath to Paul: "Medical
kit lost. I don't think the spleen is injured, but----" Aloud he said,
"Of course, with your gut what I needed was a hook and line. Paul, how
do you make one of these ten-foot roller coasters kneel down?"

"Let me--that's Miss Ponsonby--she knows me." At Paul's order, tons of
gentleness knelt on the earth; Paul held Pakriaa while Wright
struggled into the hollow between hump and head, and Pakriaa was
either asleep or not caring.... "Abro Brodaa?"

"Here, Commander."

"Form your people in three lines with linked hands. The giant women
Karison and Elron, and Elis, will guide them at the head, because
their night vision is better than yours and mine. Mijok and Tejron
will walk beside us. We must travel all night. I think the Vestoians
will not."

"They will not," the princess Brodaa said. He wished he could see
truly what was happening in her little face. "They will not because
they have no giants or Charins to help them." It carried no hint of
the obsequious.

"Thank you, Abro Brodaa. Wait here a moment." He patted Millie's
trunk--she was a young beast, nervous but fond of him--and made her
kneel. "Help Nisana climb up to me.... Abro Brodaa--the people of your
village----"

"Most of them lost." It might have been the oncoming night itself
speaking temperately. "These remaining are a few from all the
villages. I think they will follow me. And I will go with you...."

In the rest of the night--a silence and a drifting, on the surge and
thrust of the great animal under him--it was possible to reach a kind
of sleep, knowing his body would not relax enough to fall or to weaken
his hold on Nisana, who trusted him. She was deeply asleep in the
first part of the night, occasionally snoring, a comic noise like a
puppy's whine. All day she had never been out of his sight; she had
fought like a hellcat, but singlemindedly, saving her strength to deal
with those who threatened him.

It would have been possible to abandon these people; at one time, Paul
remembered, he had almost favored it himself, and Ed Spearman had very
nearly hinted that it might be better to join forces with the tyranny
in the south.... Life seemed cheap to Pakriaa's tribe--others' life.
Devil-worshipping cannibals, capable of every cruelty, committed for
thousands of years to all the superstitions that ever crippled
intelligence. You had to look beyond that, said Christopher Wright the
theorist, the doctor, the anthropologist, the impractical daydreamer.
_Anyway I saved a Vestoian--if she lives. One balanced against how
many that I destroyed...? No answer.... Unless you can see a world
where the ways of destruction become obsolete under a government of
laws. With the devils of human nature--the vanities, the greeds, the
follies and needless resentments, the fear of self-knowledge, dread of
the unfamiliar, the power lust of the morally blind, the passion for
easy solutions, scapegoats, panaceas--how do you see such a world...?
You say, Christopher Wright, that no one is expendable. I believe you.
But--when I must choose between the life of myself or my friends and
the life of the one whom the stream of history has tossed against me
as my enemy----_

_When I do that, I only discover once more that I am caught in the
same net with the rest of my kind and cannot escape until all of them
escape--escape into a region of living where men do not set traps for
each other and the blind do not lead._

_Therefore----_

"Are you awake, Nisana?" Her even breathing quickened. It seemed to
Paul that there was faint color in his glimpses of sky; he remembered
the silver moon that had appeared over the jungle with first-light so
long ago--yesterday morning. The passage of the red moon around
Lucifer was swift: tonight it would be rising two hours before
first-light and would be something broader than the gory scimitar he
had seen from the knoll.

"I am awake."

"I think the red moon has come back."

"Yes." She pointed over his shoulder; he glimpsed it through a gap in
the leaves. "A good moon. Begins the Moon of Little Rains. The small
rains make no harm, make the ground sweet. Is better than the moon
past--that we call the Moon of Beginnings." She moved restlessly
against him. "This country--all forest? How long have I sleep?"

"Most of the night. We're past the open land."

She whispered, "No one has ever come here. We have think always there
are bad--what word?--tev--tevils in the north."

"Tomorrow--rather, today--we turn west and then south on the other
side of the hills, to the island."

"Ah, the island.... I cannot see this island."

"You'll like it, Nisana. You'll be happy there."

"Happy?" And he remembered that the old pygmy language had no word for
happiness.

Wright's voice came thinly in the dark: "Abara, stop them! Sears----"

Millie halted and knelt without an order: Nisana jumped down. Paul saw
the shapes of Elis and Sears suddenly bright under Wright's
flashlight--the only radion light left. "Easy," Elis said. "I have
you." And he lowered the man's bulk to the ground as Susie moaned and
shifted her feet. Sears had said nothing, but he was smiling, his face
red and vague above the disorder of the black beard.

"Paul, hold the light for me." Wright removed the stained bandage.
There was a wide area of inflammation; the lips of the arrow wound
were purple. "Pakriaa! You said once you never heard of poison on the
arrows----"

Pakriaa gaped, rubbing her eyes. It was Brodaa who answered: "Our
people never had it on the arrows. But in the war with Lantis last
year some of our soldiers had wounds like this."

"And what happened?"

"Ismar--" Pakriaa stumbled forward. "Ismar took----"

"My sister," said Brodaa, "be quiet, my sister."

"Elis," Paul whispered, "have Tejron and the other women keep
watch--we must stay here a while. Where is Mijok?"

"Here." Mijok spoke behind him. "I have put my shield--over there."
His voice became a whisper for Paul: "There are only three on it now.
One little man, two women. They might live. Paul--is it happening,
Paul?"

"I can't say it. I don't know...." Sears was talking, ramblingly, very
far from this patch of earth. One could only listen till he was
silent. Then Paul said, "I think so, Mijok. He needs to speak; we need
to remember."

"What is this--Tel Aviv----"

"The place on the other planet where he was born."

"And there were the vineyards, oh my, yes--the little white and tan
goats----" Sears could see it, Paul thought, that small country, a
quiet corner of the Federation, where every grain of sand might
remember blood spilled in the follies of hatred, where a teacher of
mercy had been crucified. But now for Sears it was not a place of
history: he saw gardens defying wasteland, the homes and farms,
centers of music and learning where he moved, thoroughly at home,
discovering the country of his own science, himself a citizen of no
one place except the universe. Later he was recalling the hot white
streets of Rio, the genial clutter of London, Baltimore, the majestic
contradictions of New York.

"Why, yes, Doctor," he said--and he did not mean Christopher Wright,
but some friend or instructor whose image might be standing in front
of the shadows of Lucifer, "yes, Doctor, you could say I've traveled a
great deal, in my sort of blundering fashion. And I would not exactly
say that people are the same everywhere, but you'll have noticed
yourself--the many common denominators are much more interesting than
the seeming-great differences, aren't they, hey...? What? Sorry,
Doctor, I've got no damned use for your abstraction Man, and why?
Because he doesn't exist, except as a device in a brain that wants to
prove something--which may or may not be useful. In any case it's not
my dish. There are only men and women. They get born and love and
suffer and work and grow old and die; or sometimes, Doctor, they die
young. Men and women I can love and touch; sometimes I can even teach
them the few things I know. You may take Man to the library; feed him
back into your electronic brain and don't bother me with the results
so long as I'm alive to see a child discovering his own body--or for
that matter a bird coming out of the egg, a minnow in a spot of
sunlight, a blade of grass."

Pakriaa wailed: "What is he saying? He is not here." She squirmed past
Wright, dropped to the ground, her cheek pressed on Sears' tangled
hair, her free arm wandering over his face and shoulder as if she
wanted to cover him like a shield. "He talked to me once. Sears, you
said--you said----"

He was back among them, gazing around in sane bewilderment. "I should
be riding.... Pakriaa--why Pak, I'm all right." Paul moved the torch
here and there to pick out his own face, Wright's, Mijok's, the white
bulk of Susie looming close by, the pouting ugly mask of Abara, who
had stolen up close, his underlip wobbling in an effort to speak. "I
fell asleep--took a tumble?"

"Almost," Wright muttered. "Just lucky chance I saw you tottering. You
need to rest a bit."

"Oh no." Sears frowned. "Can't stop." He smiled at Pakriaa, who had
lifted herself to watch him pleadingly. "What's the matter, Pakriaa?
What's the time?"

"First-light before long," Paul said. "We made good distance, Jocko.
The Vestoians won't have traveled in the dark. Plenty of time and we
all need rest. Take it easy a while."

But Pakriaa could not hide her knowledge that he was dying; Sears
touched her cheek with a curious wandering finger. "You liked looking
in the microscope, didn't you?" She nodded. "Remember--must be sure
you've got the best focus you can before you make up your mind about
anything. But this is more serious, Pak--because I think you love me
and you have trouble. I tell you again, you must go to the island with
the others. You must live. Now I expect to go there too, but--"

Abara moved away. Paul glimpsed him striding back and forth, striking
the air with little fists. When he returned, Paul made way for him.

"--for a teaching is a gift, Pakriaa, not to be thrown away--"

Abara stammered. "You have talk to me too, Sears--"

"Why, to all of you. Certainly to you, Abara.... What's the profit of
any effort if the result is thrown away in a time of weakness? You
discard only if what you have is proven false. We haven't much--we
never have much. Some things appear to be empirically certain. Not
many.... You know, I believe I've given a few people--call it a
wakening of curiosity. I think that's good. Curiosity and patience.
Good as far as it goes. I'm not ashamed." He was trying to see
Wright's gaunt face. "You picked a tougher subject, didn't you, Chris?
Don't worry--give you an A for something more than effort.... Now
look, this hanging around here won't do." He caught Paul's hand and
heaved himself upright. "I remember--map--damn it. Need another whole
day before we pass the hills. Susie--down, Susie--"

But Susie, fumbling at him with her trunk, would not kneel. Paul heard
Mijok's agonized whisper: "She knows."

Sears laughed. "All right, make the old man climb." And before anyone
could stop him he had tottered a few steps and burned out the last of
his strength in a heaving jump toward her neck, which barely lifted
him from the ground and dropped him at Paul's feet. Groping for him,
Paul saw that he was dead, saw also, above the arching of the trees, a
lucid cruelty of morning.



7


Twice that day Elis dropped far behind to listen and reported there
was no pursuit. It was hard to judge their distance from the foothills
of the western range, for now there was no open ground--only Wright's
compass, the memory of the map, and treetop surveys that Mijok made
from time to time. Abara rode Mister Johnson in the lead, making the
beasts travel slowly since the pygmies were faint with weariness.
Susie trailed forlornly; she had not been willing to abandon the grave
till the others went on without her.

The pygmies carried only half a dozen makeshift stretchers; the number
of unwounded had diminished too. "They slip away," Brodaa said to
Paul. He saw three men carrying children too small to walk; no old
women. The fat witch rode his litter, unconcerned at the fatigue of
its bearers; the other old man, smeared with white and purple paint,
stalked beside him. Brodaa said, "My sister Tamisraa ended life with
the white-stone dagger. While Elis and Mijok made the--what
word?--grave. We left her body looking north to help the spirit
journey. There are many lost who will have no prayers--bad--they may
follow us. What is this--burial, Paul-Mason?"

"A Charin custom. Most of us believe the spirit dies with the body:
different parts of the same thing."

"Ah?" She did not seem shocked. "Maybe true for your people."

"We live in others," Paul said. "Sears lives so long as we remember
him. That will be always...." It seemed to Paul there were scarcely a
hundred in this worn line. "We mustn't try to hold them if they want
to go. If you, Brodaa, or any others want to leave us, you know you
are free."

Her answer was firm and considered: "I will not leave you...."

Wright had not spoken since the burial, nor had Pakriaa. They kept
together; Paul was with them sometimes. Behind them Mijok carried his
shield. It was Elis who heard the bleat of asonis and stole off to
bring back meat for an afternoon meal. It was Elis, before that, who
said, "We have done what we could, Paul. We could not have made these
people retreat in time to save themselves. If we had abandoned them
Lantis would have left no more than a fire leaves in the
Red-Moon-of-Dry-Days. Pakriaa is too sick to understand that, yet. She
carries a grief like a little one swelling in the womb: it must grow
greater before she is delivered of it."

In the afternoon halt, it was Elis who tried to make Wright eat
something and sleep, but Wright could do neither.

The giant women Elron and Karison also refused the meat. They sat
apart with stout brown Tejron. She was eating, keeping close to her
the still unconscious Vestoian, whom the pygmies had given no more
than disgusted glares. Tejron might be listening to Karison's
undertone--it was in the monosyllables of the old language. The girl
Elron held her eyes downcast, fondling the rifle. She and Karison had
been much together in a peculiar loneliness since the children were
flown to the island: Karison was old, her children grown and gone away
before the Charins came; Elron was too young to have given birth.
Three of the children at the island were Tejron's; the others were
children of Muson and Samis and of a mother who had died in the old
life. Tejron wiped her lips and grunted impatiently; she took up her
charge in careful arms and left the two. Paul sensed what was to come
when Elron set her cherished rifle at his feet. Karison approached
Wright, humble but determined: "We must leave you."

Before Wright could speak, Mijok answered her with a sullen anger Paul
had never heard from him: "I brought you from the jungle with empty
heads. We gave you the words, the beginning of the laws we must make
together. You lived like the uskaran, furtive and cruel--"

"No," Wright said. "Mijok, no...."

Karison had winced, but she repeated: "We must go. The old way--we
need it."

"Then you must go," Wright said, his spread fingers white-nailed on
the ground. "And remember always that you go with our good will."

"That is so." She was torn two ways. "But the old life--"

Elis rumbled: "Elron, come here." The girl would not. "I hoped that in
the next Red-Moon-before-the-Rains--"

She muttered, "When the change comes you will return to us--"

Elis laughed, roaring at her, "You're a fool, a child!" The harshness,
Paul knew, was calculated, in the hope of changing her mind by shaming
her. "You think the old life was a freedom. Freedom to live like an
animal without an animal's peace, Elron, because of the thing in you
that struggles for knowledge--oh yes, in spite of yourself, and
always. Freedom to hunt all day or else sleep on an empty stomach,
jump with fear at every creaking branch. Freedom to cram yourself with
moss root and slugs from the streams--never enough--in the bad moons
when the asonis go north. Freedom to kill the pygmies and be hunted by
them, never an end to it--that's your freedom without the laws,
without the words. No, so long as you're a fool I don't want you." She
turned away, speechless; he shouted after her in a different voice,
"He said you go with our good will. That is true. You can't forget us,
Elron. You're not the wild thing Mijok brought out of the woods.
You'll feel us pulling you back--you feel it now--and you will come
back." But she was gone in the shadows, Karison following her, and
Elis rubbed his broad forehead on his arms.

Wright whispered, "If they wanted it--it had to be so."

Elis waited for his angry breathing to calm. "Mijok, do you remember?
In the old days I couldn't even have been your friend. Remember how
angry _I_ was--only a year ago? You stepping over the border of my
territory, telling me--I've wondered how you did it with our few
stumbling words--telling me every being should be free to go as he
pleased anywhere in the world? You were in danger, Mijok. I am older,
bigger, heavier--I nearly went for your throat. Long ago. So--don't be
angry with these two."

Tejron sat by Wright, holding the Vestoian like a nursing baby.
"Maybe," she said, "maybe they will take some of what you teach us to
others. Maybe it will be like the thing you showed us, how a little
seed no bigger than the eye of illuama can become a tree...."

Pakriaa had watched indifferently; Paul hoped he was right, that her
face was not quite so tightly set in lines of rejection and despair.
Wright came stiffly to his feet, a hand on Tejron's shoulder, the
other wandering into his gray beard. "Abro Brodaa, interpret for
me--some of them have no English. Tell them we turn west soon, then
south through bad country--swamp, heat, uskaran, marsh reptiles maybe,
maybe the kaksmas swarm on the west side of the hills. Tell them we go
through that. When we reach a river we have seen from the air--it has
no falls and flows southwest--we shall make boats."

Brodaa put it into the high music of the pygmy tongue. Paul could see
no change in the saddened faces; by rumor, most of them would already
know this much. But the thin witch was muttering to his gross
colleague, and some soldier faces turned to overhear that instead of
attending to Brodaa.

"Tell them, Brodaa, this river will take us to Big-Water. We go south
along the coast, to the island where our friends are, where we believe
Spearman has gone in the winged boat. Tell them, on this island there
are no kaksmas, the omasha never come, nor the lake boats of Lantis.
There is game, good ground, room for all. Tell them--No, wait.... Oh,
Brodaa, tell them in your own way that we hope to live there in
peace."

The lean witch interrupted Brodaa's translation with a wailing
diatribe, twitching his twigs of arms, lashing the battered soldiers
with his oratory. Brodaa turned to Wright in misery: "He says--he saw
Ismar change Spearman back to a marsh lizard and the boat to an
omasha."

Mijok laughed savagely. "When did he see that? Ask him."

Brodaa did, on a thin shout. The scarecrow flashed her a glare of
resentment and a snapping answer.... "He says he saw it in sleep
picture."

Paul snarled, "Yes, a dream's as near as he came to a battlefield."

Brodaa was shocked, but Nisana laughed. The fat witch on the litter was
fuming. Coming from Pakriaa's village, he probably had enough English to
understand it; he leaned forward, embracing his hideous belly, croaking at
the soldiers. Nisana translated in swift whispers: "Says--you Charins all
marsh lizards, changed by Inkar-Goddess-of-Kaksmas.... Says we lose to
Vestoians because image was broke; Ismar punishes.... Will I kill him,
Paul-Mason?"

Brodaa choked: "You cannot touch Amisura. Your spear will turn--"

"My spear is lost," said Nisana, loudly enough for all to hear. "But
Aksona, Amana, two other men of magic--those I saw killed at Abro
Samiraa's village. Vestoian spears was not turn in the hand--I saw."
She stepped forward, fingering her white-stone knife, and the fat
Amisura cringed, squeaking.

Wright cried, "I forbid it, Nisana. Let them go. Brodaa!"

Brodaa said quickly, "He asks sacrifice--you, Paul, Pakriaa--"

Nisana laughed again. She dropped her white-stone dagger on the ground
and slapped the thin witch in the face. The crowd gasped and shrank
back. Such a man, Paul knew, was altogether holy, never to be touched;
one must not even look him in the eye. But Nisana slapped him again
and shoved him sprawling. She caught a pole of Amisura's litter,
heaved at it, and he tumbled like a red melon. "_Now_ let them
choose!" She came back to Paul with grin and swagger, patting her
scarred chest. "I am little Spearman. I break images too."

And the pygmies were choosing, not as she or the witches had
hoped--choosing headlong retreat from this sacrilege, dissolving away
into the forest with sick-eyed backward looks. Paul saw Amisura
weeping, humping pitiably back to his litter on all fours, and heard
Pakriaa laugh. The two soldiers who had carried Amisura brought the
litter nearer, not daring to touch him; when he flopped on it they
bore him away. The other witch had run blindly, covering his insulted
face, and Wright said like a machine, "Let them go--let them--"

Sardonically, Pakriaa had watched the whole incident without rising;
now she seemed to want to catch Wright's eye, lifting a skinny
shoulder as if to say: "What can you do with fools?"

When the panic was over, thirty followers remained....

In the early evening Mijok reported, after another treetop survey,
that the last of the kaksma hills was about three miles southwest.
West of them the jungle was level; it was time to turn. Elis had
slipped away and returned with two heavy carcasses like wild boars.
Sears had named these stodgy animals pigmors. The _mor_ suffix, he had
insisted, was an intensely scientific shorthand for "more or less,
damn it." The meat was high-flavored and coarse but safe.... Hearing
Mijok's news, Brodaa sighed, thinking perhaps of the long history of
her people, the groping for a narrow path of survival among endless
perils. "We say the great uskaran hears a leaf fall to earth from a
thousand paces away but the kaksma hears the leaf divide the air as it
falls. Oh--three of your Charin miles, that is great length. Maybe
enough."

The tremendous sheer spires of the coastal range, Mijok said, were
visible in the southwest though nearly a hundred miles off; it would
be a clear sweet night, he thought, with no clouds and many stars.
They should go at least fifteen miles due west; then the course would
be southwest rather than south, to miss the hills....

In the crowding darkness Mister Johnson's leading was again a thing of
wisdom; his lifted trunk and sensitive eyes avoided dense growth and
drooping vines that could endanger the riders. From each necessary
detour he came back willingly to the course, under guidance of Abara's
sense of compass direction, and the other four followed him as the arm
follows the hand. Tonight Paul rode old Susie--she seemed to feel
happier for it--carrying Nisana again; Wright was on Miss Ponsonby,
with Pakriaa. Tejron, unfamiliar with the beasts but ready to learn,
had climbed on Millie's back and kept her balance without trouble,
holding the wounded Vestoian, who stirred and whimpered but was not
truly conscious. Behind Paul was the more nervous bull Mister Smith
without a rider, and Elis and Mijok walked beside him, Mijok with his
shield, Elis holding Brodaa's hand. The thirty who had dared to choose
the forbidden unknown trailed behind Brodaa with linked fingers, nine
bowmen among them; there were few weapons, no wounded except on
Mijok's shield, and this held only two, for one of the women had died.
The wounded archer was yellow-faced with loss of blood from a hip
injury, but that was clean and closed; he was free from the signs of
fear, almost cheerful. The woman was a sturdy black-skirted soldier of
the ranks, gashed in the face and with a leg torn from knee to ankle.

Another night of silence and of drifting--for a while. Wright's voice
floated back: "I am thinking of Dorothy and Ann, and your daughter."

"And not of Ed Spearman?"

"Oh.... The fuel must have been getting low, Paul. Nothing the boat
could do for us after we were back in the woods. He must be at the
island."

Paul could only say, "I hope so." The thing Spearman had almost said
when his anger and disappointment were high, the hint at joining
forces with Lantis in abandonment of everything thus far
achieved--nothing could be gained by speaking of that now. But some of
Spearman's words murmured on in darkness: "_Lantis--terrific
organization ... monetary system ... whole world for the taking ...
pretty idealism that never worked even on Earth...._"

There had always been strain and mutual exasperation in argument with
Ed Spearman--long ago, on the ship _Argo_. The Collectivist Party,
surviving as an innocuous political group after the horrors of the
Civil War of 2010-13, lived strongly in Spearman's mind, not only
because his father had fought for it. Lacking the frenzied dogmatism
of the antique communism it resembled, it was nevertheless communism's
natural heir, a party of iron doctrines simplified for minds that
resented analysis and magnified Man out of a dislike for men. Like
communism, it needed to imagine a class war and felt that it had a
tight vested monopoly of the underdog. The C.P., said one of its late
twentieth-century prophets as humorless as his predecessors, "believed
in Man." You could always fluster a collectivist by asking for a
logical breakdown of that--and make an enemy: they were usually good
haters and made a virtue of it. The years following the Civil War had
been troubled though materially prosperous, darkened by the build-up
of yet another monolithic state under Jenga the Mongol, who had
inherited the desolation of the Russo-Chinese war of 1970-76; in those
years the Collectivist Party in the Federation, unsupported by any
conveniently foreign deity, had become not much more than a
serio-comic decayed socialism with a dash of bitters. But it was
alive; at the time _Argo_ left the spaceport it had had ten senators
and a larger handful of delegates in the Federation Congress. It was
respectable, no longer subversive, and owned a small hard core of the
aggressively sincere.... Not Wright nor Sears nor anyone had ever been
able to convince Edmund Spearman that evil means breed a further evil,
which swallows up any good that may have been imagined in the
beginning. Spearman could admit that (himself in no way an evil man)
he would not do evil--if he could help it. But in the region of theory
Spearman held quite simply that you can't make an omelette without
breaking eggs, and that settled it....

"They should be safe," Wright said. "You and Jocko saw the island."

"It's beautiful. I know they're all right."

"Yes.... Would you say it was a place where Ann might--oh, how shall I
say it?--might attain tranquillity? Not cry too much for the moon?"

"If there is any such place in the Galaxy."

"Time," Elis said. "Little Black-Hair needs time. She is like grass I
have seen growing in too much shade. She is not like our Mashana
Dorothy who will make sunshine if the other sun is clouded."

"Listen!" Brodaa's voice. "Listen...."

Paul heard nothing, at first. Up ahead Abara sputtered: "Mister
Johnson--hoo-hee--be quiet. Is nothing--be quiet--"

Nisana came broad awake in Paul's arms. Wright's mount halted, as did
Susie, but Susie was trembling, raising and swinging her head in a way
to make balance difficult; Paul saw the white writhing of her trunk
lifted to explore for a scent.... He heard it then: a long rustling,
like a repeated tearing of paper behind a closed door; nothing
else.... A wet howl from Mister Johnson sent a spasm through Susie's
mass; her muscles bunched; Abara's voice wailed back: "Mister Joh--I
cannot hold him--_kaksmas_!"

Transition from realization to stampede was a flash like the pain of a
blow. Paul heard Mijok: "My shield--it will hold more." Elis cried
something to Brodaa. Then Susie had plunged ahead, uncontrollable;
Paul could only bend low above the clinging of Nisana, hold on with
hands and knees, hope that no trailing vine or branch would sweep them
off into death. Mister Johnson could make no careful choice of a trail
now--he would be parting the jungle like a six-ton bullet. "Don't be
afraid, Nisana--we can outrun them--"

"My people--"

"Elis and Mijok can outrun them too. They'll carry all they can." In
spite of the agony of mere hanging on, mere straining to stay alive,
he had to think: _They were loyal and we got them into this...._
Branches slashed across his back, stinging and scraping. Once Susie
stumbled and recovered as the group went splattering across some
invisible mud, and Paul wondered if Mister Johnson in his terror would
run them into quicksand or marsh.

That ended; there was more thick jungle whipping his back for--five
minutes?--an hour...? This too ended.

Crazed or purposeful, the beasts charged out into open land through a
soft roaring of torn grass. Paul could twist his head to glance upward
at a field of stars. He could not win a backward look for Elis and
Mijok: his neck and arm muscles were stiffened in his grasp of Susie's
ears, and he dared not risk disturbing Nisana's clutch of him. But to
left and right he could make out other shapes under starlight and hear
a frantic thudding of hoofs--fleeing asonis, other innocent woodland
cattle with a hunger to live. Once he glimpsed a long-bodied thing
pass off to the left in wild leaps lifting it above the grass tops:
uskaran, he thought, the huge tiger cat, no enemy but a brother in
panic.

The open ground ended at water; here at last the olifants slowed to a
halt, unlike the lesser desperate brutes, for Mister Johnson was still
wise, considering the stream, aware of his leadership. Paul could
shout to the others now, and they all answered. But his backward
staring found only the stars, the white mass of Mister Smith, the
disturbed darkness that must be meadow. "Elis! Mijok!"

No answer could have reached him above the bleating and thunder of
terrorized harmless things crossing the field and hurtling blindly
into the river. Mister Johnson was wading in deliberately. There was
splashing at first, then silence, as cool water came up around Paul's
knees and Susie's motion changed to a smooth throbbing and heaving; he
saw small foam where the curve of her lifted trunk cut the water. He
whispered to Nisana, "We're safe, dear. Big river. Kaksmas won't cross
it...." Mister Johnson was leading them in an upstream slant, bearing
well to the right while the bobbing frantic heads of other creatures
let the moderate current press them away to the left. This
way--whether by Mister Johnson's wisdom or Abara's guidance--they
might be able to come ashore clear of the dangerous passage of the
stampede.

"My people cannot go through the water. We never--"

"Elis and Mijok can swim. They'll get them across somehow. Maybe the
shield will float, Nisana."

The madness behind them dwindled into the faraway. In growing quiet,
Wright's voice came back, not loudly: "I am a murderer."

Paul wondered what insight made him call out words not his own:
"'What's the profit of any effort if the result is thrown away in a
time of weakness?'"

The even motion became a clumsiness of wading in mud. Then there was
solid ground. Paul said, "Halt them here if you can, Abara." Mister
Johnson must have shared the sense of safety; they all calmed, heads
drooping, shaken breathing slowing to sighs. "Down, Susie...." All but
Abara descended. This was still open grassland, but there was a black
velvet curtain of jungle not far off. "Doc--still got your
flashlight?"

"Eh? No--lost somewhere." The old man spoke vacantly; he stumbled to the
edge of the water, sat with his head on his knees. "Mijok-Mijok...."

Tejron still had her Vestoian, but now the pygmy woman was panting,
fully conscious in Tejron's arms and witless with fear. Tejron said,
"She's trying to break away. Can't someone talk to her?"

"Pakriaa!" Paul searched for the princess. "Here--please."

Nisana whispered, "I will talk to the Vestoian--yes?"

"Not yet. If Pakriaa--"

Pakriaa said thickly, "I am here. What to say? She is nothing."

"She is nothing to you, Pakriaa? Then Sears chose a poor student.
Brodaa would have spoken to her. I ask you to tell her the war is over
and she is among friends."

"Friends? She is Vestoian." Pakriaa approached Wright, who did not
look up. "Tocwright--I must speak to the Vestoian kaksma? I owe you my
life--will obey you."

He groaned: "I do not want you to obey me. If there is nothing inside
to tell you what you should do, then I have nothing to say to you."

Pakriaa flung up her arm across her eyes as if struck. Tejron
muttered, "I can't restrain her much longer without hurting her." It
was Nisana who gave the Vestoian the message in the pygmy tongue, a
ripple of sound that must have conveyed some reassurance, for the
struggling ceased.

"Look!" Paul dug his fingers in Wright's shoulder. "Over there--"

The dark spot under starlight was surely the floating shield; behind
it, another purposeful splashing, rise and fall of a driving arm.

"Mijok!" Wright was on his feet. "This way! A little upstream--"

Both giants were bleeding from small double stab wounds of the kaksma
teeth. There were four pygmies on Mijok's shield. Elis had carried
Brodaa and another in his arms and one on his back; they had clung to
his fur as he swam the river. Mijok plucked a sodden thing from his
thigh; its jaws had clenched in flesh when he smashed its body. He
flipped the ratty thing into the water and remarked like a Charin,
"Damned if I could ever care for 'em."

"The others--"

"We tried to help them into the trees," said Elis. "Could be some
safety in that if the swarm passes by. But most of them ran blindly,
so--beyond that, Doc, don't ever ask us. We must forget some things.
We've all done what we could, so--let's rest a while and go on."

"Oh, we go on," Wright said. "Chaos, or maybe a little bit of light
from time to time. What--sixteen of us now...? Which way was the swarm
going?"

"North. Our flight was west. I think this place is safe."

Abara called down: "Mister Johnson says it is safe."

Paul said, "No more travel tonight. Wait here for daylight. This is
not the river we wanted, but we know it reaches the sea somehow. Let's
think about that in the morning. And--if you will, Doc--I'd like to
make that my last order. Let Elis be our commander till we reach the
island."

"I!" Elis was shocked. "But Paul.... I am a big baby, I wonder and
wonder and never find the answer to anything."

Wright laughed; it sounded like laughter. At any rate when his voice
found words it was warm, relieved, more like his own than it had been
at any time since the drums sounded on Lake Argo. "That doesn't
matter, Elis. Paul has done all anyone could, done it well, and
leadership's a wearing thing. But you can carry it."

Paul wished he could see the black face in the dark; he might learn
from it, he thought, so far as a Charin was capable of learning. Elis
said dazedly, "If you all wish it--"

"I wish it," said Abro Brodaa.

"Yes," Mijok said. "Let's not trouble to vote. We know you, Elis."

"I'll do my best...."

Most of the pygmies collapsed in sleep. The bites the giants had
received were not numerous enough to be a danger, but both were in
some pain, and wakeful; Abara also said he would prefer to watch out
the night and not sleep. Paul stretched on the damp grass, aware of
Nisana, sitting near him. He tried to make a mental refuge of Dorothy
and the island; for a time it was possible, but twice, as he thought
he was drifting into true healing sleep, the present pulled at him and
the thought was not of Dorothy, but of Pakriaa, throwing up her arm
across her eyes as if Wright's words had been a deeper wound than any
she had received in these days of calamity and defeat.

He woke while it was still night. The red moon had risen, changing the
river to deep purple; the stampede was all ended, and stillness was
everywhere, underlying the low voices of Wright and Elis. He saw the
small silhouette of Nisana beside him; he could make out none of the
others, but he heard the soft breathing of the olifants, and at least
some of them must have gone to the jungle and returned, for there was
a steady munching of coarse leaves. He thought: _Sears' pets--one of
his ten thousand gifts we can never live long enough to assess. His
laughter was another...._

Wright was talking placidly: "We suppose it must have been a similar
story on this planet, Elis. The major patterns are the same. The small
and simple forms must have grown to greater complexity through their
millions of years, undoubtedly in the seas, the good saline medium for
our kind. Then other millions of years, while the first creatures to
try the land were clumsy amphibians, still needing the sea but
developing ways to carry it with them, venture a little further.
There's no hurry in history."

"And before the beginning of life?"

"Difficult, Elis. We think (there are other theories) that each star
with planets was once two--a binary, our astronomers called it--"

Someone thin and small came near to Paul, speaking delicately, in an
extremity of pain, and not to him. "Nisana," Pakriaa said. "Nisana--"

Nisana was looking up, a little afraid, uncertain. "Princess?"

"Only Pakriaa.... Nisana--I saw how you spoke to the Vestoian, how she
was quiet. If you will bring her--and Tejron too? And we go and
listen--Tocwright is talking about the stars--the world--I think,
maybe, we tell her what he says? Will you come with me, Nisana?"



Part Three

The Year Ten



1


_Argo IV_ answered Dunin's brown hand at the tiller, sliding south
under a following breeze. Her chief designer Paul Mason liked to call
her a sloop, admitting that on no planet would any sloop have cared to
be found dead with a pair of twelve-foot oars amidships. She was
thirty-six feet fore and aft. Without a sawmill, shaping boards for
her strakes had been harder than trimming and placing the single tree
trunk that was her keel. Much of her joining was with wooden pegs;
there was iron in her too, from the single deposit of ore on the
island of Adelphi. Her building had started seventeen months ago in
the Year Nine. One month ago Paul's daughter Helen had cracked across
her bow an earthen flask of wine brought to maturity by Nisana and
_Argo IV_ had slipped out of the mouth of the Whitebeach River for a
maiden voyage--a forty-mile circuit of the island, including the
passage of a strait where a current from open ocean ran formidably
between Adelphi and a small nameless island in the south. Since then
she had journeyed short distances up and down the coast, learning her
own fussy ways and teaching them to her makers.

_Argo II_ had been a clumsy oared raft of heroic history. Nine Lucifer
years ago, roughly the equivalent of twelve Earth years, _Argo II_ had
not only brought fifteen survivors of a war to the island, she had
also, broadened and repaired, returned to the mainland over the
ten-mile channel to pick up a sixteenth survivor, Abara, and the
gentle white beasts he had refused to abandon. He had guided them
south, through seventy miles of unknown terrors, and ten miles further
along the beach, until it came to an end at sheer cliffs; here _Argo
II_ found him. One by one--probably no one but Abara could have
coaxed them aboard--_Argo II_ had ferried all five of the olifants
across. During the rains that came for a dark ending of Year Two, the
swollen Whitebeach River had torn _Argo II_ from her moorings and she
had been swept away down the channel. Now she would be driftwood
scattered over the infinity of the unexplored; she was remembered.

_Argo III_, still in existence and more often called Betsy, was only a
boxed platform with outriggers and two pairs of oars. With four giants
at the oars and a favorable current she could approximate three miles
an hour and carry several tons. She had been built in the Year Four
and was still busily bringing slabs of building stone from the base of
the coastal range. The stone was red and black or sometimes purple,
heavy, already smoother than marble without polishing; unlike any
common stone of Earth, it was so hard that wind and sun and water over
the centuries had done little with it. Wright believed that was why
the coastal range could rise to such heights from a narrow base. While
the years in their millions had turned other mountains to level
ground, the glassy rock remained: it could be broken for use but
defied erosion like a diamond.

_Argo IV_ was unequivocally a ship; after her trial Paul had carved
for her bow a figurehead with the dreaming face of Pakriaa.

"Maybe," Dunin said, "with a few more like this the first explorations
could be around the coast instead of overland? If we had two or three
more ships when Kris-Mijok is old enough to go?"

Paul knew Dorothy had winced, though her face was turned to the
evening-reddened field of water. "If he still wants it, when he's old
enough to go...."

Kris-Mijok Wright, her third-born child and only son, had been born in
the Year Three; in Earth years he was only nine. His hunger for the
long journeying might be mainly a reflection of his devotion to Dunin,
herself full of visions and not yet a woman. A tentative half joke, a
means of channeling a child's fantasy into patience, had somehow
become a sober adult plan: that the first major explorations would
begin when Kris-Mijok would have a man's strength to take part in
them.

"We might have such ships by then." Paul tried to sound judicial. "Say
the Year Eighteen or Nineteen. Yes, a coastal exploration might be
better than trying to cross the continent. Not a circumnavigation
though, at first."

Dunin's big face blossomed in a grin. "Only about thirty-six thousand
miles by the old map made from the air. Open water at north and south
poles, plenty of it. Could do it in less than a year."

"More like fifty thousand, allowing for deflections, tacking, pull of
currents we don't know. Storms, flat calms, contrary winds, repairs,
expeditions ashore for provisions. You pull your horns in just a bit,
my girl. Do you remember a desert plateau the map shows in the
southern hemisphere? Solid cliff rising out of the sea for over seven
hundred miles, and on top of it roasting sand all the way across the
continent--and that plateau is only a small part of the coastal
desolation down there. From the equator to the 30th parallel I don't
think you'd have a chance to go ashore--and nothing to help you if you
did."

Dunin still grinned. "Just sail past it."

"Yes--well out to sea, with the equatorial sun at work on you. Very
few islands in that region, some of them bare rock." And he thought:
_If I might go myself...! I am fifty now, in Earth years, a young
fifty...._

He knew also that Dorothy would not prevent him. She would not go
herself: she would remain at Adelphi, faithful to the daily things,
undramatic labors and loyalties that make civilization something more
than a vision. She was a young thirty-eight, though she had already
borne five children. If he went away, she would mind the watch fires
on the beaches, as she had done nine years ago; she would work in the
school, the house, the gardens, stand by Christopher Wright during the
depressions that sometimes overcame him. She would grow old waiting.
Therefore, Paul knew, he would never leave her. "The explorations will
come in good time, Dunin," he said. "You'll have 150 years to watch
and take part. I think you'll live to see the other continent too, and
the great islands in the southwest. In the meantime--there's so much
exploring to be done right here!" He watched the water too, aware of
Dorothy's face turned to him, sober and appraising. "You know,
Dunin--that island we visited today--that could hold a community of a
thousand between its two little hills. And I'm remembering the one
forty miles north of us. _Argo II_ was swept ashore there: get Doc to
tell you that story sometime. I was sick for a week and laid up in one
of the limestone caves while the others repaired the raft. A round
island less than five miles across. We might sail there next trip."

"The other continent," Dunin murmured, and she watched the rising
blue-green mound of Adelphi in the south. "The islands of the
southwest...."

Dorothy leaned against the hand-hewn rail, looking northeast, saying
lightly, "There he is...." The stone figure in the coastal range grew
visible as the channel current pressed them a little too far eastward.
The vast features were not clear; one could find the line of shoulder.
"And Sears said, 'He looks west of the sun.' Was it long ago you told
me that, Paul?"

"In a way it was.... Penny for 'em, Dorothy?"

"Oh----" Her brown face crinkled in the way he hoped for. "I was
climbing down off philosophy with my usual bump--wondering what hell
the twins have been raising while we're away. Brodaa's patience with
them passes belief. With her own three sets of twins she's had
practice. I wish Pak could have had children. Twenty-nine--late middle
age for her people.... Helen's going to make a better med student than
ever I was--don't you think, Paul? Seems like more than just a kid's
enthusiasm."

"I think so." And Sears' plump daughter Teddy (Theodora-Pakriaa) would
no doubt find herself too, sometime: there was no hurry. Even
Christopher Wright no longer seemed to feel that time was hounding
him, though his years by the Earth calendar were sixty-five, his hair
and beard were white, his wiry thinness moved deliberately to save the
strength he had once been able to spend like unconsidered gold....
"Look!"

Dorothy said carefully, "But that is impossible." A column of smoke on
the flank of the coastal range, above one of the beaches where
building stone was found. Blue-gray against the red and black, it rose
straight in untroubled air. "They weren't taking Betsy out till we got
back."

"Too high anyway," Dunin said. "No need to climb so high for the
stone."

Dorothy whispered, "I have _never_ quite believed that Ed and Ann----"

"Oh, Dorothy! Well, we----"

"Yes, I saw the lifeboat go down on the channel. It didn't sink." She
shut her eyes. "It was a misty evening, lover, more ways than one.
Remember, Dunin?"

"I'll always remember."

"Paul, I know that when the open-sea current below the island took the
lifeboat it must have been smashed against the cliffs--oh, of
course--and for nine years the sea spiders will have used the pieces
of it for their little castles and hideaways. All the same--Ed and Ann
could have managed to swim ashore. Cross the range somehow or go
around it."

"Nothing to eat. Barren rock straight up from the beaches, where there
are any beaches, for ninety miles south of the only place where they
could have landed and for twenty miles north of it."

"But no kaksmas in the coast range either; no omasha, this side. There
_are_ beaches here and there. They might have found--shellfish--blue
seaweed."

"Nine years----"

"It _is_ smoke. Our people wouldn't be up there...."

"You've never wanted to talk much about that day."

"No, I--haven't. I didn't behave too well myself. Yes, there are
things I've never told.... Paul, Ed Spearman was like somebody I
didn't know. He did say in so many words that he planned to go to
Vestoia, not to--to throw himself on the mercy of Lantis, but to 'give
her civilization'--he said. We tried, Ann and I, tried to reason with
him against that. I think he had some alternative plan--maybe flying
south of Vestoia as far as the fuel would take him and starting a
community of his own--with Ann and me, you know, and himself the old
man of the tribe."

"And without us," said Dunin mildly.

"Yes, dear, I recall that. He put that in words...." In a way, Paul
did not want her to go on, living it over again, but she had a need to
speak of it. "I suppose his plans made a kind of sense if you accepted
the premise. As I couldn't, of course. When he said you were all
lost, I believed (I had to believe) that he was--not lying perhaps,
but telling something he hadn't truly seen. I know that was where I
let go--I raged and screamed, and when he grabbed my arm (probably
just wanting to quiet me down)--well, if he's living he'll have two or
three white scars down his cheek. Uh-huh: the Dope comes clean. I ever
think I was trying to get hold of my pistol when Arek took it away,
and took his away too. After that she forced him to give a precise
account of everything that had happened, every detail. She made him
tell it five or six times, watching for contradictions. She
was--justice embodied. I was afraid of her myself even while I loved
her for it. I knew what he told us then was the truth: the fuel was
low, he'd come direct to the island with no real knowledge of what had
happened to you. He was saner after the telling. He lost a--a certain
look of exalted listening, as if somebody behind Arek's shoulder were
telling him what to do. Arek never gave back his pistol. We were on
the beach. The giants had been bringing wood all day for a beacon
fire. I remember the exact shape of a big shell at my feet, the look
of a bit of driftwood tossed in by the channel breakers...."

"And Ann--"

"Oh, Ann! Tom two or three ways as usual. She was very much in love
with him, you know, from our first days on Lucifer. But her mind was a
battleground with no armistice. I think Ed always knew that. When he
pleaded with her--reasonably too--she couldn't think, she could only
cry and say: 'I won't go with you--I won't go.' He stopped
trying--suddenly, as if he'd knowingly turned off a light inside
himself--unsteady light and the only one he had, I reckon. He said,
'So much for the human race: but I'll see what one man can do here
before I'm dead without issue.' And he walked off to the lifeboat,
while Arek let his pistol dangle from her finger--and, Paul, I shall
always think he knew Ann would run after him. I saw her tugging,
trying to pull him out of the boat--but she was pulled in and it was
gone."

"And I remember," said Dunin, "what you did after we lost sight of
it."

"What I did...? What was that, Dunin? I'm blank there."

"You went to the beacon fire and put on more wood."

"Well," she said vaguely, "of course. We all did.... That _is_ smoke,
Paul. Lantis' pygmies or the wild giants couldn't be there on the
cliffs."

Dunin said, "Oh, there are no giants in that country, Dorothy. Those
low hills I remember west of the first camp--those kaksma hills were
an impassable boundary in the old days. The country west of
them--nobody went there, ever. And south of them--Vestoia. My wild
kindred are all very far north of here...."

_Argo IV_ eased up to the wharf, where Elis and Arek handled her like
a toy, making her fast with ropes of a fabric as good as linen. Wright
was there with them, and Tejron, and Pakriaa and Nisana, who were
inseparable. "Too far," said Wright, and handed Paul the field
glasses. "Just smoke."

Elis grumbled, "What's up there to burn? No vegetation. Rock."

The smoke seemed to be thinning. "How long since our last trip over?"

"Eight days, Paul," Tejron recalled. "My impatient eldest wanted to
see if he could handle Betsy's oars, remember?"

"He could, too." Paul remembered. "Sears-Danik pulled his weight, my
lady. Yes, that was the last time. And we saw nothing unusual."

Only Nisana thought to ask, "Good voyage today, Paul?"

"Fine, darling. You should have come."

Wright was carefully calm. "I'll go over, with Paul, Elis--and--"

"And me," said Dorothy, not smiling.

"Well.... Okay, Dope."

Pakriaa's thin wrinkled face turned to him. "Nisana and I?
Miniaan--she would remember the Vestoian dialect--but she is at the
city. It would need an hour to send for her, and then it would be
getting dark."

"Yes, come with us...."

The site of Jensen City was not where Wright and Paul had originally
dreamed of it but two miles south, where the radiance of Sears Lake
hung in the hills. A gap in the west admitted ocean winds; the outlet
of the lake ran for a mile to the edge of a red stone cliff and
tumbled over in a waterfall five hundred feet high. There would one
day be houses along that mile of river. Already, near the waterfall,
there was a temple of red and black stone devoted to quiet without
ritual, thought of sometimes as a memorial to Sears and to the other
dead, more often simply as a place to go for the satisfactions of
silence. It had no name; Paul hoped it would never have one.

Miniaan of Vestoia was an eager citizen. The old wound had left one
side of her head cruelly scarred; from the other side she was
beautiful, by Charin as well as pygmy standards. Younger than Pakriaa,
she was the mother of four, by Kajana--the archer whom Mijok had once
carried on his shield, who would never walk again nor live a day
without pain, and who was more cheerful as a permanent habit of mind
than any of the other pygmy survivors of that war. The fifty-four
pygmy children of Jensen City were all fathered by Abara and Kajana--a
fact which caused old Abara to draw dead-pan comparisons between
himself and Mister Johnson and to grow darkly desperate when Kajana
wistfully asked him to explain why it was a joke....

Elis shipped the oars; Paul let down the anchor, a heavy block of
stone, in two fathoms of blackening water; Elis lifted the dugout over
the side and held it for them. He himself swam the short distance to
the beach and eased the canoe through the shallows. Even now at low
tide there was barely a quarter mile of gray sand between water and
cliffs. Chipping away of building stone had created a fair path a
hundred feet up; beyond, natural irregularities made it possible to
climb another two hundred to the first setback of the great sea
wall--a ledge which ran only as far as the next patch of beach, five
miles south. Sunset had been ending when _Argo IV_ came home; here
there was a depth of evening quiet, no sign of smoke or life, no sound
but the long hiss and moaning of small waves. "We might make a fire
here," Wright said. "But there's enough light. They--they?--must have
seen _Argo_."

"There," Dorothy said, and ran up the sand.

The others watched in frozen helplessness as the woman came down the
crude cliff path, gaunt, seeming tall only because of the
gauntness--flaring ribs, thighs fallen in, every arm bone visible. Her
hair was black disorder to her waist, her body a battleground of
bruises, dirt, scars old and new, and she winced away from Dorothy
with protesting hands. "You mustn't touch me because I'm very dirty,
but I know who you are. Besides, I had to burn the last of my clothes.
My baby died. I know who you are. You see, my milk stopped. You're
Dorothy Leeds. I left him on the cliff. Matron would not approve. You
see----"

"Ann--Ann----"

"I have two other sons, but this one died. On the cliff. I used to
know a man who called me Miss Sarasate, but that was just his way of
talking--I don't happen to be in practice." Still trying to fend off
Dorothy's arms, Ann fell on her face....

Pakriaa was speaking softly, in the room where Ann was
sleeping--Wright's room. "She will be healed," Pakriaa said. "I can
remember--and you remember it too, Paul--how my own mind refused to be
my servant for a while." Since Ann had been brought to Jensen City,
Pakriaa and Nisana had never left her: the little women, both now far
from youth, took on the duties of nursing with a fierce
protectiveness, so that there was little for even Dorothy to do. Ann
had slept heavily all night and morning. At noon the stone-walled
house remained cool; mild air entered at the screenless window
openings, stirring the wall map of Adelphi and the three of Paul's
paintings which were the only decorations Wright allowed in this
ascetic shelter. There was glass-making now, but in such a climate,
with no serious insect pests, it seemed a waste of effort to make
windows; a long overhang of the eaves was sufficient against the
rains. The house was large, U-shaped around a garden courtyard open
toward Sears Lake; the walls were of black stone, the roof of a
material indistinguishable from slate, carried by hardwood timbers.
Wright shared this house with Mijok and Arek, Pakriaa, Nisana,
Miniaan, and their children and Arek's. There were five other such
communal houses overlooking the lake; a seventh was building. The
children were everywhere: it was, and would be for many years, a city
of the young. Rak had died in the Year Four, a matter of falling
asleep without waking, but Kamon lived, sharing a house with Tejron,
Paul and Dorothy, Brodaa and Kajana. Lately Sears' daughter had taken
over the task of caring for Kajana in his helplessness, lifting him to
and from a wheel chair that Paul and Mijok had contrived or carrying
him to a hammock slung near the waterfall, where he could watch the
ocean and its changes. In middle age, Kajana had taught himself to
write, and kept a journal of the colony with a sober passion for
detail.

Ann had not waked when Dorothy and Nisana washed her and clipped the
dreadful tangle of her hair. "She will be healed," Pakriaa insisted.
"Maybe in the next waking." And when Ann's gray eyes came open an hour
later, they did show a measuring sanity, recognizing Dorothy and Paul,
but wincing away when Nisana smiled and touched her.

"Do not be afraid of us," Pakriaa whispered. "We are still proud. But
our pride now is that no one is afraid of us.... You came to my house
in the old old days, remember? My blue house, and I thinking I would
be Queen of the World? I laugh at that now. Do not look at what I was,
Ann."

"Pakriaa.... Paul, you haven't changed much."

"One of our other friends is about to bring a man-sized meal----"

"Why, Paul, you must be----"

"Fifty, Earth calendar----"

Dorothy said, "We measure it in Lucifer years, pretty please."

"Nicer," Paul admitted. "That way I'm around thirty-seven. Ann,
you--let's see: one Earth year, one point three eight--damn mental
arithmetic--let's call you half past twenty-seven."

"Imagine that." Ann achieved a smile. "And--Pakriaa?"

"Twenty-nine. See--already I am an old woman and ugly."

"Don't be absurd, Pak," Dorothy said. "And this lady----"

"You would not remember me," said Nisana.

"Oh, but I do, I do. You--voted for Paul----"

Pakriaa chuckled with unforced gaiety. "Politics," Nisana chirped.
"P.S., I got the job." Paul pinched her tiny ear lobe and stepped out
to the kitchen, where he found Wright with Arek. The children were at
school, with Brodaa, Mijok, and Miniaan: ordinarily Wright would have
been there too. When the youngest of this house were through with
lessons they would go wandering in the hills with Mijok and Muson, so
that Ann might have quiet, with only distant sounds of the laughter
and playing in sunlight. "She's awake," Paul said, and Wright hurried
to the bedroom, but Arek lingered, filling a tray.

Arek had grown almost to Mijok's height, filling out, a red mother
goddess still bemused by inner discoveries. Her fine soft-furred
fingers fussed at the earthen dishes on the wooden tray. "No ambition,
no achievement--nothing, I think, could be worth the price of what's
happened to her. Whether she recovers completely or not. There's human
right and wrong. I think sometimes, Paul, it's not necessary to do
much wondering. You can look straight at a thing and say: 'This ought
not to be.'"

"Granted," Paul said, watching the garden through the broad kitchen
window. His eldest, Helen, must have elected to do a little work after
school instead of strolling away with the others. She was weeding, her
brown head sheltered from the sun by an improvised hat of leaves; but
for that she was prettily naked as the day she was born, and though
she was humming to herself, she restrained the sound so that Paul
could hardly hear it. She saw him in the window and grinned and waved.
She had most of Dorothy's warm coloring, with Paul's long-legged
slimness.

Arek saw her too and smiled. "What Ann should have had too.... Paul, I
told you once, we love you. All the good new things we have--your
work. All the same there's a devil in--some of you. As in us too, of
course. Need of the laws is obvious. If Spearman is responsible--the
Vestoians too, maybe?--then I think we live in too much seclusion
here." She took up the tray. "Too easy to live all the time in
Paradise and--leave things undone."

"Yes. Vestoia is big, Arek--or was, when it almost destroyed us."

"True. But you tell me that over there on the beach she said, 'I have
two other sons.' Living, did she mean? We must find them, and Spearman
too."

"I believe she can tell us about it soon."

"Understood that I go with you when you find them."

"Yes. Yes, Arek...."

In the bedroom Arek's manner was altogether changed. "Observe: this is
asonis _rôti à la mode Versailles_, whatever that means. All I did was
roast it. These are (Paul says) lima beans Munchausen, and here we
have could-be asparagus. And by the way, the cheese tastes better'n it
smells."

"Cheese----"

"Asonis milk," said Wright. "They moo, too."

"Oh, you've tamed them." Pain fought with interest in the haggard
face. "Yes, Ed wanted to do that, but we--somehow we never----"

"If you're good," Arek said, "and eat all that, there's cake."

"You found something for sugar?"

"Can't tell it from terrestrial," Dorothy chattered, "only it's pink.
From a tree fruit sort of like a plum. We have a plantation of 'em
across the lake. You boil it down to nothing and the sugar
crystallizes out. We make another kind from sap, not as good as maple.
Flour--that's from the same old wheat that came from Earth.
Miniaan--oh, you don't know her yet--Miniaan and Paul have
experimented around with the local grass grains--nothing yet that
measures up to wheat." Ann picked at the food, crying weakly at the
first mouthful. "Ah, don't do that," said Dorothy, looking away. "You
came home, that's all."

Later she ate ravenously. "I want to tell you----"

It took a long time in telling. Once she fell asleep but woke an hour
later, obsessed with a need to continue....

The lifeboat drifted south, its last remnant of fuel gone in a mad
effort to leap the coastal range. Water sneaked in at the seal of the
floor window, damaged in an earlier landing, and Ed Spearman talked to
himself. "Fugitives from a Sunday school--we'll live." Like a hurt boy
he said, "We'll show 'em...." When the current beyond the island swept
them toward the cliffs, he opened the door and pulled Ann into the
water, dragging her, forgetting that she was herself a strong swimmer.
Later, on the beach, he was tender, trying to comfort and reassure her
with a vision of the future abundantly real to him. They had no food,
no way to light a fire of driftwood. They would go to Vestoia, he
said, convince Lantis that they were friends, with something to offer
her empire; they would "bring her civilization."

From this beach there seemed to be no passage north. They could have
found one by climbing high into the range--Ann did so, nine years
later. But Spearman found a ledge of sorts running south: it might
take them the eighty-odd miles to the lower end of the range or give
out at any point, trapping them. It did give out twice; both times,
rather than clamber higher on the cliffs, Spearman hurled his famished
body through the breakers and swam south, aided by the current until
it was possible to continue along the rocks. Ann followed, not quite
wishing for the death the ocean could have given easily. They kept
alive with shellfish and seaweed washed ashore and small crustaceans
that hid in the tide lines and in crannies of wet rock; there were
pools of rain water and violent small streams plunging down the range.
It took them fifty days to cover the eighty miles. ("I think I spent a
hundred coming back," Ann said. "Couldn't swim, with the baby. It
would have been against the current anyway. Climbed--sometimes went
back miles from a dead end to try again.") In the afternoons the sun
pressed on them with total fury; then they could only crawl into what
shadow the rocks gave and wait for the torture to cease.

But at last there were trees. Level ground. In a few miles, a rapid
friendly river. ("Are there rivers here? I've forgotten. Nothing
prettier in the world. I let that one close over me. Ed pulled me
out--we had to go on.")

There were five more of those bright leaping coastal streams in a
journey of another fifty miles southeast through good country, where
the great range thinned out into rolling jungle and meadowland. There
were asonis and small game. Spearman made himself weapons. Ann could
remember these days almost with pleasure. They had, she said,
something the flavor of a delayed childhood, a glimpse of Eden.
Spearman was for a time simply a strong and intelligent man measuring
himself against nature for survival, master of a simple environment
with none to question his decisions and no social complexities to warp
them. ("I wished we could settle in that country, the two of us. I
even begged for it. He had to go on.")

From the remembered map, Spearman knew there was an obscure pygmy
settlement south of the end of the range, some fifty miles below
Vestoia: merely a cluster of parallel lines that had appeared in the
photographs, it might or might not be a part of the empire of Lantis.
It was near the headwaters of a seventh river, which flowed, not to
the coast, but eastward, into the deep, wide, violent outlet of Lake
Argo. ("He never told me why he was following that river so
cautiously, until we reached the villages. And history repeated
itself.")

The villages were a furtive, chronically frightened community. They
knew of Vestoia but believed, correctly, that the groping tentacles of
empire had not yet found them. Lantis' drive was mainly to the east,
where the country was easier and pygmy settlements were numerous; even
her war against Pakriaa's people had been a diversion, more a matter
of hurt pride than gainful conquest. Between these hidden villages and
Vestoia there were meadows, dangerous with omasha, and some swampland;
below the two small Vestoian lakes the current of the river Argo was
too fierce for the flimsy boats of Lantis. So the villages of the
seventh river, under a sly but feeble queen, waited like a rabbit in a
hedge. With sharply calculated drama--but smiling this time, Ann said,
like a pleased teacher at a blackboard--Ed Spearman overturned another
idol and became a god.

At the end of two years, when Spearman's goddess had borne him twin sons,
there was industry in the villages. There was an army of a thousand spears,
bladed with iron from certain small hills in the north between Vestoia and
Spearman City. These hills were dangerous with burrows, but workers of a
particular kind could be made to go there. The soldiers overcame their
distaste for the bow when they had watched the course of arrows properly
vaned and tipped with iron or bronze. They did not need to be taught how to
hate Vestoia--nevertheless they relished it when Spearman decided that
political realities demanded he should tell them an epic tale, the tale of
a war he and companion gods had waged against that place. Vengeance, divine
or human, was a thing the pygmies had understood from the first biting and
scratching of infancy.

Ann had been bewildered by that first gust of oratory against Vestoia.
Spearman had neglected to prepare her for it during the long two years
spent in teaching the pygmies a limited English and the beginnings of
industry: it might not have been clear to himself that such a move
would be necessary in order to hold his people's enthusiasm and
devotion. Ann wondered. "You had thought once of going to Vestoia----"
Spearman turned on her with an anger partly cynical humor: "They hurt
us, didn't they? Oh, I might have toyed with the idea as a choice of
evils before we found our real friends. They killed Doc, didn't they?
And Paul and Sears and those milky giant friends of ours."

"But you didn't see----"

"_What?_"

Spearman believed now that he had seen the full end of that war. Ann
got it through her head after a while. When he said that Vestoia must
be punished for past wrongs, there was a smiling half admission of
disingenuous policy. "It'll work," he said. "We can get away with it."
But the death of all the others except Dorothy had become for him
something like an article of faith, not to be examined. At this
moment, Ann said, she had begun to think of a northward journey, but
the odds were darkly against it. The twins were still nursing and
sickly; the demands of mere daily living are heavy on a goddess who
must also supervise housekeeping. There was, for instance, the endless
squabbling treachery of the household slaves. At that time also, Ann
hoped to soften or divert some changes that seemed to be taking place
in Spearman himself. ("I wonder if they were really changes....")

Spearman detested slavery, he said. But in a primitive economy how
else could you get the work done? Even in daylight, when the kaksmas
were half helpless, only the bravest soldiers would go into those
hills--not to work, but only as guards for the chained lines of
laborers, guards who could run fast if the kaksmas came out for a
day-blind attack and leave the slaves to be consumed. Bad: Spearman
was sorry such things had to be. Still, the slaves were poor or
sometimes dangerous material at best; besides that, they hated
responsibility and were therefore really happier in slavery and
received better care than they could otherwise have had. So you had to
see it as almost a eugenic, even a humanitarian measure as well as an
unavoidable transitional phase, and in any case you can't make an
omelette without breaking eggs. At the use of meat slaves for the
palace household, Spearman had to draw the line, and he instituted
laws against the custom for the rest of his little kingdom, but they
were difficult to enforce without compromising matters of greater
political importance. "Transitional" became a somewhat sacred word for
Spearman over the years, a sustaining conception when things went
badly and when his ingrained sensitivities brought from Earth were
violated by the brisk egg-breaking of a Neolithic culture.

Even the first war against Vestoia, in the third year of Spearman's
deification, was part of a transitional phase, although Spearman did
not feel that his pygmies were advanced enough to be troubled with
fine distinctions. It is better for a god to resist pressures for
explanation.

That first war was well planned, with limited objective. Six hundred
spearwomen and archers crossed the Argo below Vestoia and fell on the
city from the east, so that there was no clue to their southern
origin; they set afire a mile of the lake settlement, took three
hundred captives, and vanished--again eastward, leaving a few crippled
defenders to convey the message that they would come again. It had the
desired effect: the armies of Lantis foamed eastward like crazed
hornets, while Spearman's force slipped home across the Argo without a
trace. In the following year they struck again, again from the east,
but with a larger force, laying waste nearly a third of that part of
the city on the eastern shores of the Vestoian lakes. The palace of
Lantis, nerve center of empire, was on the west shore. Probably the
queen knew nothing of what had happened until she saw the far shore
buried in smoke, and by the time she crossed over, she would have
learned only that Spearman's army had promised to come a third time
and take Lantis herself and assume command of the empire.

They did, just six years after that lonely journey along the rocks.
Ann's twin sons were five years old, five Lucifer years. In the first
two campaigns, Spearman had not shown himself in person to the
Vestoians. In this third battle he was at the head of his army,
massive and tall; with a cold, unhappy precision, he was using a long
hardwood stick with a razor-edge semicircular blade. And this time his
legion had driven in out of the west, directly against the palace and
the temples and sacred places of the Queen of the World.

Lantis was aging then, and sick, and bewildered; she probably never
understood that it was merely a question of her own methods being used
against her. Even when her city was in flames around her and her
people were scattering into forest and swamp and lake, she could
neither yield nor destroy herself; thus it was her misfortune to be
taken alive.

A week later Ann and the children were brought by litter from Spearman
City; Spearman recognized the political advantage, almost necessity,
of their presence at the triumph. Lantis was ceremonially dragged
through the still-smoldering and stinking streets and forced to drink
an infusion of the green-flower weed that destroyed the self: this was
pygmy custom, which Spearman watched in regretful disgust, anxious
that his small sons should preserve the impassive dignity proper to
gods. "They're far from human, you know--they don't feel things as we
do...." The boys were puzzled and curious.

So far as Ann knew, however, Lantis was not eaten at the festival. "He
told me she was mercifully put away after the excitement died down,
and another meat slave was sacrificed, made up to look like
Lantis--not deception, but ritual substitution; Ed felt he'd achieved
quite a step in progress there. It showed, he said, they were
beginning to accept ritual for reality under the influence of----Oh,
the devil with it.... He moved his capital to Vestoia. The palace was
restored--modernized. I lived there--two and a half years. That's
where I bore him another son. I'll never know how I came to allow
it--a kind of madness, hate close to love--something.... He didn't
want me any more, you know. He had some ideas about--ascetic
discipline--purity--I don't know what exactly--and he didn't try to
explain it to me. I'd hated him with all my mind for years--before the
Vestoian wars--but I'm not a good hater. I even still imagined I
could influence him a little--until the baby was born and he was in
black despair because it wasn't a daughter. I had to escape. I could
feel my mind, my self, rotting away--dissolving, as the Vestoian
empire was dissolving, for that matter. He couldn't hold them. It
began to fall apart right away. They were terrified of him and of his
Spearman City bodyguards--weasels.... They simply drifted away into
the woods and didn't come back. I doubt if they've organized anywhere
else. Lantis must have had a rare sort of skill--the city was all
hers: she built it out of Stone Age villagers, and it died with her.
Ed tried everything to keep them--bribes, threats, endless spying and
public executions by his guard. Bread and circuses, meaningless
offices for favorites with fancy clothes and no duties. It didn't
work. At the time I escaped, the population was down to--he'd never
tell me, but my guess is under ten thousand for the whole city. There
was an epidemic--rather like flu. I used that as a reason to take the
baby back to Spearman City, knowing Ed would need to stay and go on
trying to hold things together. I thought he would let me take the
twins--John--David----"

"Rest awhile," said Arek. "We're going to bring them home too." Ann
could not speak. "How would you like to bathe again in our lake? I'll
hold you up. Water's warm with the sun--best part of the day----"

"I'd like it. It's so pretty. What do you call it?"

"Sears Lake."

"Sears.... What am I made of? I haven't thought or asked----"

"It was a Vestoian arrow," Wright said. "At the end he enjoyed
remembering Earth."



2


"The city is a desolation." Miniaan slipped out of shadow into the
clearing, where the others waited for her without a fire; she was shaken,
short of breath. No longer young, she had hurried on the ten-mile return
journey from Vestoia through high-noon heat of jungle. "I could not even
find the house where I was born. Oh, Pakriaa--Paul--of every ten houses,
seven are empty. The streets are dirt and rubbish. No one knew me. Well,
that's not strange. Those I met supposed I was a stranger, probably from
the east. But the ones who were suspicious did not challenge me--they
slipped into their sorry houses and stared at me through the cracks." She
sat down in weariness, wiping sweat from her scarred head and shoulder.
"Word of what I said will travel quickly. But not one followed me here. I
made sure of that."

Arek asked, "Have you had anything to eat?"

"No, I--only walked through the streets.... Doc, some had English
words--a few, badly spoken. No one could pronounce _d_ at the
beginning of a word, and they had absurd turns of speech I don't
understand. One woman said to me, 'One fella goddamn skirt belong you
what name?' I thought she was asking about this skirt I made in the
old fashion, but then we spoke in the old tongue: I found she only
wanted to know who I was and where I came from. It seems that now,
under Spearman-abron-Ismar, they indicate--what word do I
want?--social--social levels----"

"Castes?"

"Castes, that is it, Paul--they indicate castes by the color of a skirt. In
the old days there were only two castes--soldiers and voluntary laborers,
not considering the family of Lantis or the slaves at the bottom. Now
there are--oh, ten, twenty, I don't know. Those who work at the dye pots
must never do anything else, and they can look down on the workers in
hides; this woman was a maker of arrowheads and despised both.... I told
her (and some others) that I was a stranger from a distant village, and I
said I had heard by rumor of other gods and giants, who would come one day
soon to talk with Spearman-abron-Ismar--yes, they call him that,
Spearman-male-issue-of-Ismar. It frightened her: she made excuses and ran
away. I told it to another, an old woman, who broke out cursing and
weeping. She said, Oh, no more of them! No more----' And sat down in the
street and scattered dust on her head."

"Did you see--him?"

"No, Paul. I saw the palace--changed, with new tall doors. There were
soldiers at the entrance, so I did not dare go near. They wore a
headdress--it was the old bark fabric, I think, but a shape I never
saw. I saw the great stockade--always the biggest thing on the shore
of North Lake--still in repair; there was the same sluice, to wash
away the blood of the meat slaves. There is still a ferry near it,
where the crossing is narrow at the lake's inlet; I could see
across--streets and tree-sheltered houses. And outside the city I saw
a mound, very foul. Once the city was clean. There was a boy playing
near it--ran when he saw me, but I caught him and asked him about that
mound. I could hardly understand his gabble. It seems that nowadays in
Vestoia children have reason to be afraid of grown women. When we
could talk he told me the mound was the grave of the False Empress,
the Wicked One--everyone who passes is required to defile it. A law."

Pakriaa laced her wrinkled hands at her throat, smiling at Christopher
Wright, quoting a few of his own words: "'The laws are living things:
let men guard them against crippling and disease.'"

Nisana asked, "What is next to do?"

"We sleep on it," Wright said. "Long journey. We're tired. We'll go
there in the morning. With our weapons of course, but...."

Mijok said softly, "First-light is a good time."

"I think there won't be any fighting," Miniaan said, and she relaxed
and leaned happily against Muson's plump knee and ate the meal Arek
had ready for her in fastidious birdlike bites. "If they're troubled
by the rumors I scattered they'll slip away and hide, not fight.
They're weary, bewildered, disillusioned people--at least that is the
temper of the city as I felt it."

Nisana murmured, "With Spearman's bodyguard it could be different."

"Why," said Wright, "he'd never turn them against us. Not if he's the
man I used to know, or anything like that man. He came a long way with
us once." But Paul had to wonder: _Was he ever with us?_

There were six giants in the party: Mijok, Arek, Muson, Elis,
Sears-Danik, Dunin. Elis was the year's Governor at Adelphi, but
Dorothy had held that position the year before and would assume its
simple duties in his absence. Nisana's eldest twin daughters had
wanted to come, but Nisana had not allowed it, requiring them to stay
in school under Brodaa's temperate discipline; the only pygmies here
were herself, Pakriaa, and Miniaan. The group had come 120 miles
overland, after _Argo IV_ set them on a beach north of the coastal
range: this had seemed better than taking the sloop south, where
harbor would be uncertain and the winds and currents unknown. The
first twenty miles ashore had been a retracing of Abara's long-ago
journey with the olifants, through swampy and treacherous jungle.
After rounding the range they could follow the eastern edge of the
grassland that spread on its lee side, traveling in the open only at
night, to avoid omasha. For all of one day they were bedeviled by a
swarm of biting flies, and since there were brown wings circling they
could not escape into full sunlight, where the flies would not follow.
Eventually Pakriaa found an evil-smelling plant and remembered its use
from old times. The juice of the root was a protection; the smell was
almost as distressing as the bites but less dangerous. Miniaan of
Vestoia had never heard of the plant's use: perhaps that explained why
Vestoia had never exploited the otherwise pleasant region due west of
Lake Argo.

There was fitful sleep in the daylight following Miniaan's return, and
then an evening meal. Arek and Muson and the two young giants seemed
untroubled by tomorrow, full of speculative curiosity. Mijok was
uneasy, though he would not put it in words; Elis, too, would be
remembering. Wright said again, "He came a long way with us.... Jensen
chose him--remember that: chose him from among seven hundred other
physically fine youths who had the same training, the same kind of
courage, who wanted the--privilege, as he did."

"I can always wonder what Jensen himself would have made of Lucifer."

Wright said, almost with reproach, "Jensen was a great engineer, Paul,
but he was also a student of history. Compared with what his
leadership would have been, mine has been weak, vacillating,
academic--it was bound to be. I take credit for some achievements.
I've said give protoplasm a chance. We have done that. We've
established the climate of liberty under law (for our very small
group) and proved that a human mind can by-pass twenty thousand years
of blundering, with no other help than a flexible language and the few
basic rules of civilized action--as the so-called savages of Earth
always proved it whenever they had a chance to secure a genuine
education and fair treatment. But--in our material development there
must have been a thousand lost opportunities--things Jensen (and
probably Ed Spearman) would have seen at once."

Paul laughed. "Ed could have designed a better sloop."

Wright dismissed that with a chuckle. "Ach--she floats, boy. She
sails.... When I get angry or impatient or discouraged--when I stick
too tight to a plan of my own and fail to hear the opposing
argument--then I remember that Jensen had a charity, a patience, a
kindliness, almost as great as Sears had--"

"Tocwright," said Pakriaa, half amused, "why do you search yourself?
Must you always be sitting in judgment on your own mind?"

"Why, yes, dear, I must." His fingers played in his white beard.
"Cod-and-baked-beans origin.... Remember my fussy little _History of
the Americas_, the first book Dorothy and Nisana copied out for me
when we found how to make good paper from the marsh grass...? But
self-searching is a vice-and-virtue not limited to the Charin tribe,
Pakriaa--ask yourself. And ask Elis." The black giant smiled.
"So--I'll go on with it just a little. Paul, is it weakness in me to
ask that when we find Ed Spearman, you do most of the talking? I want
to be--merely friendly if I can, not say much. At least until we know
what sort of man he's become. Nine years ago, I don't think he ever
had much resentment against you. You hear both sides--usually the
surest way to make an extremist hate you bitterly, but somehow people
don't. You're a--kindly listener; I only try to be, pushing down a big
part of my natural temperament to do it.... Why, I think I never even
appreciated the full nastiness of sarcasm until one time (it's not
such a small matter)--one time on the space ship, when Sears
reproached me for it: something that went against his own nature, by
the way, because he was always too afraid of finding fault with
others."

"I'll talk with him first, Doc, if you want me to. But I wonder what I
can say. I keep seeing Ann. The things she told us--he things Miniaan
has told us today."

"A city that never was," said Miniaan sleepily, "never was even in the
old times. Maybe I dreamed it. If you are quiet, maybe I will allow us
to wake up in a moment on the island of Adelphi...."

"Ann is not changed," Muson reflected, "even though the baby died."

Mijok said, "I'm not sure. I think she is. In what way I can't define.
But she's not the same sad little thing I watched when she was
sleeping in that fever. Well now, that was truly long ago. She puzzled
me more than the rest of you, and you were all a great mystery--and I
with a dozen words and the old terrors crawling on my skin like lice.
Maybe it was her seeming weakness, her secret look of listening--which
I thought I began to understand when she taught me the Earth music,
but I don't suppose I ever did understand it." Mijok laughed and
looked away. "Doc, it was very difficult for me to grasp that you were
not begotten out of the west wind by a thunderbolt. You'll never know
how difficult, because you were never a savage. You were born to be
articulate. Those twenty thousand years of blundering--bad I don't
doubt they were, but they gave you something. I am as if the forest
had generated me, with no past."

Miniaan murmured and rolled over on her back to look up into the
leaves. "I too. I was never born. Someone with no father nor mother
looked at that filthy mound they say is the grave of the Queen of the
World. The mind of a white-furred Charin is my father and my mother."

Elis suggested: "Ann has come neater to the immediate present."

"Why, Elis--" Pakriaa was surprised. "She said something like that to
me herself, a short while before we came away. She said, 'My
yesterdays became tomorrows before I lived them. I want to find today,
Pakriaa. Where is today?'"

Miniann pursued the dark stream of her own thought, which now seemed
to be giving her pleasure and not pain: "This morning I found how
yesterday can bury itself with only the smallest scattering of years.
There will be other cities. Never again Vestoia."

Wright asked gently, "But you can remember good and pleasant things of
the old city, the way it was when you were young there?"

"Oh, I can, I can. But I'll have today, too. I think I found it first
when I bore my little sons, at Adelphi." She sat up, leaning on
Pakriaa's shoulder. "I've had good todays at Adelphi. I don't
understand how it could have been abandoned by this Spearman I've
never seen."

"In a way," Paul said, "you did see him. You were one of those who
came on the canoes up Lake Argo. You saw the boat set your fleet
afire."

"Yes. That was war.... And before I was wounded I killed, I think,
seven of your people, Pakriaa. One with a blue skirt. I wounded her in
the throat, and I have heard she died in the forest, looking north."

"Yes, Tamisraa. My sister Tamisraa was a bitter woman," Pakriaa said,
"and quite brave. Miniaan, all that was over long ago, in a forgotten
country. Now we pull weeds in the same garden."

Night came tranquilly. Elis, who kept the last quarter of the watch,
waked them before first-light. There was the help of a full red moon,
and they followed the sound of a swift river which flowed into North
Lake through the palace district of Vestoia.

For more than a mile outside the city the jungle was like a park,
undergrowth removed, vines cut away. But the vines were coming back.
Greedy purple fingers curled to recapture and reclaim....

In the outskirts no one halted or questioned them. They saw no armed
women; here and there a man crouched in a weedy doorway with staring
children half hidden behind him. Mijok, Elis, Sears-Danik and Arek
walked on the outside, with shields upheld against a possible arrow or
thrown spear. Rifles and pistols were now history, all ammunition
spent; they lay in a closet off Wright's room at Adelphi which he
called the Terrestrial Museum. Paul, Wright, and Elis had Earth-made
hunting knives, still keen. Miniaan, leading them, held a spear, but
there was a blue-flower garland below its blade, symbol of peace.
Pakriaa and Nisana preferred to carry no weapons; Muson and young
Dunin had never handled one in their lives. Miniaan said over her
shoulder, "There is the old stockade. Here we turn right, toward the
palace."

There was scurrying and disturbance now. Beyond Mijok's shield Paul saw a
few lean women running; one of them halted at Miniaan's call and approached
uneasily. There were questions, dubious replies. At the far end of the
shaded avenue was a growing cluster of red bodies before a thatched
building with one tall doorway. Miniaan explained: "I told her that we come
peacefully and want to talk with Spearman-abron-Ismar. And she says she
thinks he would be asleep at this hour."

"So?" Wright frowned and fretted. "But the word you left yesterday
would certainly have reached him." The Vestoian twittered a last word
or two and ran away down the street; Paul saw her elbowing through the
crowd in front of the palace. "We might go forward a little...."

Most of the group melted away; some forty armed women remained, in a
ragged formation blocking the entrance. They made no threatening or
even warning gestures, but their staring was heavy and cold. The
volunteer messenger returned, pushing through them to speak again with
Miniaan; once or twice a halting gabble of something like pidgin
English made Miniaan wave her hand impatiently. She turned to Paul.
"It seems Spearman told her to say that he is under the--the climate?
The weather? Is this meaningful?"

Wright said, "Tell him his third-born son is dead and the doorway of
his palace is too narrow for our friends. Wait.... He asked nothing
about Ann?"

"She does not say so."

"I can send him no message. You see what I meant, Paul?
Paul--you--send whatever word you think best."

"Well.... Miniaan, ask her to tell him that--Ann could not come with
us. That we want to talk with him and, as Doc said, that his door is
too narrow for some of us."

The soldiers seemed to catch a glimmering of it; they made way for the
messenger, and it might be there was less suspicion in them, more
curiosity. Sears-Danik, Tejron's dreamy eldest boy, whispered to Paul,
"I am trying to remember him. Not much hair on his head--it was brown.
I was only seven when he flew us to Adelphi. His voice--heavy."

"Yes. His hair may be gray now, Danny, as mine is. His face will look
older--it never had a young look. His body will not have changed
much."

Dunin asked, "He is older than you?"

"No, dear, a little younger."

But Spearman seemed older by far, appearing abruptly in the doorway,
arms spread against its frame, face thrust intently forward and eyes
squinting as if they troubled him. He wore a black loincloth of bark
fabric, nothing else. His sparse hair was wholly gray with streaks of
white at the temples, his cheeks, leathery, deeply grooved, and
flushed. "I didn't believe her," he said. Seeing him, the guards held
their spears as if they were Earth-born soldiers presenting arms, then
grounded the butts; they remained rigidly at attention when Spearman
paid them no heed. "I didn't suppose...." Spearman hiccuped; he rubbed
both hands across his face.

Seeing tormented uncertainty in Christopher Wright, Paul stepped
forward. "Sears died, long ago. Doc and I got through, with--some of
our friends." He paused, short of the guards, and held out his hand,
and Spearman stared at it, communing somehow with himself, approaching
at last, clumsily, to take hold of it in the old Earth gesture. There
was alcohol on his breath; his bloodshot eyes fought an open struggle
with bewilderment; his handclasp was damp, unsteady, quickly
withdrawn.

"Sorry," he said, "not well. Hard to get it through my head.
Well--Christ, I'm a bit drunk. Not strange, is it...? Mijok." His
glance traveled over Pakriaa and Nisana without recognition; it
lingered at Arek, but he did not speak her name. There was the
beginning of a stiff smile, unreadable, as his eyes fixed on
Christopher Wright.

"Ann--reached us," Wright said, hardly audible. "She--"

"Why don't you speak up, man?"

"She came along the coast," Wright said, not much more clearly. "The
baby died--a little while before she reached us."

Spearman blinked, glanced at his hands, let them drop. He noticed the
tight soldiers; in the antique military manner of Earth he said, "At
ease...." The spearwomen relaxed part way, eyes front. "Maybe,"
Spearman said, "maybe you came too soon."

"What do you mean?" Paul asked. "We had to come as soon as we knew you
were alive.... Are your other children well, Ed? Are they here?"

"Oh...? Yes, I see.... You came too soon. I still have a little town
of seven or eight thousand and some very loyal followers."

Wright struck his fist into his palm. "We are not your enemies. We
never were. There was a place for you at Adelphi. There is now."

"Oh...? I can imagine it. So--Ann--"

"Ann came back to us. It took her a hundred days, she says. She
was--is--skin and bone--"

Paul said, "She'll recover, Ed. Only needs rest and food. She wants
John and David--naturally. They're her children too, Ed."

Spearman said almost absently, "Are they?"

"What!"

"I don't exactly believe your story, you know.... You must have
been--watching--for a long time."

Behind him Paul heard Nisana's miserable whisper: "What is it? What is
it?" And Wright's muffled answer: "A sickness."

"There's no truth in that, Ed," Paul said. "Five days ago we still
supposed that you and Ann were lost when the lifeboat went down in the
channel."

Spearman shrugged. "Yes--I think you've come too soon. You should
have worked longer in the dark. We had an epidemic here. Many died.
And another trouble--mental--well, you've kept track of that, of
course: the way they've fallen away from me, gone back to the forest
and the old life, when I could have given them a golden age. A prophet
without honor." He coughed and straightened heavy shoulders. "My God,
I can't blame the poor fools--now that I know how it was done." His
voice did not rise. "Without the conspiracy and interference, I could
soon have started them in building a ship that--Never mind that now. I
have the designs, of course. That what you came for?"

Mijok broke in, utterly bewildered: "What are you saying?"

Spearman dismissed the giant with a stare and a voice of cold
politeness: "I don't blame you either. I remember you well. I suppose
you had to do whatever your god ordered, without question...."

The twin boys had appeared in the doorway, dressed like their father
in bark fabric: slim, well-knit children, thin-faced like Ann, nine
Earth years old. They halted uncertainly, perhaps driven by curiosity
to violate an order of their father's. Paul tried to smile at them,
and one responded but then blushed and looked worriedly away with a
hand over his mouth; the other stared like a pygmy without expression.
Spearman did not appear to notice them, though Paul's smile must have
told him of their presence. Elis broke the silence: "Mijok and the
others of my people do not create gods. We live by our own light so
far as it reaches, without fear of the mysteries beyond it." His
voice, so seldom loud in anything but laughter, boomed and echoed back
from the thatched walls. "At Adelphi, orders derive from the laws,
which are made by all of us and understood by all of us."

"Yes," Spearman nodded, upper lip drawn in, as one who saw his saddest
predictions verified. "Yes, he would teach you to say that."

Arek said disgustedly, "There's no conversation here. He listens to
his own mind, no other's. As it was on the beach, years ago--I
remember--"

Spearman said sharply, "Wright, be careful! You've brought your
bullies here, but I ought to warn you, this is the country where I
still rule. There are some left who love me and understand me."

Dunin muttered to Paul, "Bullies--what word is that?" Paul squeezed
her wrist, a warning to be silent.

Speaking with care and difficulty, Wright said, "Ed, your boys are
about nine, Earth time. Would you say that is old enough to make
certain decisions? Would you be willing, Ed, to ask them whether they
want to go to Adelphi and see their mother again?"

Spearman glanced back at them. He would be seeing, Paul knew, how the
boy who had smiled was staring at Wright with his mouth fallen open,
how the other's blank look had crumpled into a grimace foretelling
tears. "Now I really understand it!" Spearman said softly. "So it was
a kidnaping--a real kidnaping. I simply would not believe it when my
messengers came from Spearman City--but I should have known, I should
have known. You stole Ann in order to get my children too, for your--"

There was a murmuring among the guard and in the crowd of pygmy
spectators who had gathered at a safe distance. Uncomprehendingly,
Paul saw a few wildly pointing arms, saw one of the guards throw away
her spear and run blindly down the street. Others were doing the same.
The swelling murmur was broken by thin screams. Those of the guard who
remained were staring into the northeast quarter of the sky, where a
break in the trees permitted a view of it, and they were
transfixed--the guard and Spearman's boys and now Spearman himself,
glaring at that blue patch of morning heaven with total unbelief. But
then Spearman did believe it, was perhaps the first to believe it,
tears starting from his gray eyes and running unregarded down the hard
channels of his face. "From home! Home--oh, my God, so long a
time...!"

The spot seemed small and slow in its descent, riding on a cushion of
flame brighter than sunlight....

The Vestoian pygmies were all running now. Not into their houses, nor
the palace, but away down the tree-sheltered streets, a mindless
stampede, weapons tossed away with an agonized crying of tiny voices.

Paul's eyes found it, held it, saw the white flame change to a vast
outpouring of brilliant green like the burning of copper.
"Charlesite!" Spearman cried. "They've found how to use charlesite for
braking! No radioactivity."

The ship must be aiming for the open ground twenty miles away. They
could hear the roaring now, almost gentle with distance.

Arek's red arm became a warmth over Paul's shoulders. She said, "I'm
afraid."



3


The gap in the leaves was blank, the green flame gone. Edmund Spearman
gazed at the spot where the descending ship had been, unaware of his
sons, unaware that his pygmy followers had been scattered by fear as
swallows are scattered by a storm; unaware, Paul guessed, of the two
men who had been friends and now were strangers--but these he
presently saw again. His gray eyes measured Paul and Wright, the
unspeaking giants, the small shaken figures of Pakriaa and Nisana and
Miniaan, as if they were rocks or tree stumps and his only problem how
to step around them. Addressing Wright and Arek, whose big arm was
still warm around his shoulders, Paul said carefully, "It will come
down on the meadow ground about twenty miles from here. They must have
seen Vestoia from the air; they probably made sure there was no
settlement in the open land."

Wright whispered, "It may not even have been from Earth."

"Oh!" Mijok's black lips smiled. "It is, Doc. I forget our eyes are
better at distance. You didn't see the letters? Black on silver,
reaching halfway up the body of the ship. J-E-N-S-E-N."

"So?" In Wright's face was a sudden blaze of belief.

Spearman stared. He said, "Quite an imagination. Glad it was you who
made it up, and not one of the men who knew the real Jensen--a name
that ought not to be taken in vain."

"I have good eyes," said Mijok gently. "I made up nothing."

Spearman's eyebrows lifted, a fury of mimic politeness. He stepped
around the group as if they were not rocks but dangerous animals. He
passed down the street in long strides, not looking back even for his
sons. Paul stupidly watched him go, saw him reach the turning by the
meat-slave stockade and break into a loping run. Stout Muson muttered,
"So changed! What sickness could make such a change?"

Wright said, "It is not likely to pass. In the old days of Earth they
sometimes ruled nations. Or they were put away in institutions,
usually after others had been injured. Or they were fanatics of one
sort and another, ridden by the devil of one idea. My profession
learned a little about them--never enough. The law met them more often
and learned less." He watched Paul, perhaps needing contact with a
Charin mind, since the innocence of the others gave them no frame of
reference. "I dare say Ed is paranoid only on the one point,
technically: all his troubles are caused by me and my--what did he
say?--conspiracy. A means to help him believe that only he is right
and virtuous and the universe wrong.... It is not so much a sickness,
Muson, as the sum of years of mental bad habits. Vanity and dislike of
one's own kind make most of the seed, and this is the fruit."

Elis said, "We can overtake him. Six of us giants--we can carry you,
overtake him in a walk, if you think best."

"Yes." Wright watched the empty street and Spearman's palace that
already seemed haunted and forlorn. "I believe there's no need for
haste. Twenty miles...." The Vestoian pygmies were not returning; the
street was a desolation of rubbish and loneliness with the dull smell
of neglect. One of Spearman's boys was whimpering; the other watched
the place where his father had disappeared, a tension in his small
face, without forgiveness. Wright said, "Who's John and who's David?"

The crying one muttered, "I'm John."

David spoke as if the words had been shaken out: "He said she wouldn't
ever come back. Where is she?"

"At our island," Paul told him. "She's all right, David, and we're
going to take you to her. You want that, don't you?"

"Is _he_ going there?"

"We don't know, David. You want to go with us, don't you?"

"He hit her face. When she said it was his fault that they were all
giving up the city. He always had the guards. Six sat around his bed
every night. John and me, we tried. We made a grass picture like the
priest Kona told us to do, and did things with it and burned it. It
was no good."

Arek said, "Let's forget that for now. We're going to the new ship and
then the island. Shall I carry you? I've got two boys your age."

"Who're you? I never saw anybody like you."

She dropped on one knee, not too close to him. "I'm like you, David.
Just big and furry, that's all."

"Your mother, David"--said Wright, and swallowed--"your mother is
living in my house now. She was our friend long before you were born,
you know. She came from Earth with us.... You're with us, aren't you?"

The boy scuffed his bare feet in the dust. John was still crying.
David slapped him savagely. "You stop yakking, y'son of a bitch." The
words could have no meaning for him, Paul thought, beyond the
generalized stink of profanity. John stopped and rubbed his cheek
without apparent anger, gulping and then nodding. When Arek reached,
David let her pick him up, and he relaxed and buried his face in her
fur....

The giants made little of the miles. Mijok had Pakriaa and Nisana in
his arms and Miniaan perched on his shoulder. They had traveled often
that way on the troublesome journey to Vestoia. Elis carried Wright's
trifling 140 pounds, and Muson had John, her slow voice establishing
cautious friendship. Paul preferred to walk on his own feet, but
before long Sears-Danik stole up behind and swept him into a living
cradle. "Slow legs. Don't mind, do you, Pop?"

"Pop, huh? No, I don't mind, Danny. I was getting fifty-year-old
cramps and too dumb to admit it."

Dunin chuckled. "That's Danny: knows all, sees all, says nuf'n'. I'd
live with him awhile when he grows up if only he wasn't so lazy."

"What's wrong with being lazy?"

"Not a thing, rockhead. Only if you're going to explore, the way I am,
you can't be lazy, the way you are." She twisted a branch into a leaf
crown and walked backward before them, trying the crown on the boy's
head at different angles. "Ah, wonderful! Charging asonis--whuff
whuff--and now you look just like the kink that chewed up my diary to
make a nest."

"Which was your fault for leaving it on a shelf and not writing in it.
Explorers have to keep diaries. Doc said so--didn't he, Paul?"

"I'm strictly neutral, to avoid bouncing."

"So anyway, Dunin, when you trip over a root and smack your fanny, I'm
going to laugh."

She did. He did....

It was an hour before they overtook Spearman, who glanced back without
expression, without halting his powerful strides, his tanned body
gleaming with sweat and effort. Dunin sobered; she caught Paul's eyes.
She said, "May I carry you, Spearman? Then we can all reach the ship
at the same time."

Spearman gave no sign of hearing her. He drew up at the side of the
trail, staring at the ground, arms folded. David's face was hidden
again at Arek's breast; John seemed to be asleep. Dunin said, "Please?
Why should we leave you behind?"

Remote and desolate, Spearman watched the ground. Dunin moved on,
reluctantly, no more laughter in her. "What _is_ he thinking?"

Wright said, "At this moment he's probably thinking it's brutally
unfair that we should go on ahead of him."

"But I asked--"

"You did. What's more he hasn't anything against you. All the same,
that's about what he'll be thinking. Don't try too hard to understand
it, Dunin--I'm not sure it's worth it. Let's think about the ship.
Paul, is it possible, what he said about charlesite?"

"I reckon so, Doc. The flame certainly did change to green. I think I
remember, long ago, hearing some engineers discuss the possibility of
stepping up charlesite enough so it could be used in braking a big
ship for descent, instead of keeping the atomics on all the way down.
It would char everything over a wide area, but at least it wouldn't
make radioactive desert...."

"I can't feel it," Wright mumbled. "Mirage...."

It was no mirage. The ship _Jensen_ stood high above blackened ground
half a mile away; even here at the edge of forest there was a
lingering smell, anciently familiar. Paul felt himself grinning
stupidly. "Plain carbon tet or something like it. Must have shot it
out to kill any grass fires. No mirage."

Towering silver-white above a hundred-foot tripod, it flaunted the
letters of a great name, and David Spearman rubbed his eyes at it,
leaning against Arek's knee, accepting the protective touch of her
hand. Arek said, "What--Oh Paul, what will they be like?"

Wright shook his head, plainly feeling it now--the thought, the
memories, the pleasure, and something far from pleasure. Paul
answered, "They will--look like us, Arek."

Pakriaa pointed up. "There! That we remember. Oh, the beautiful--"

"A boat out already?" Paul searched and found the silver flight.

Wright chattered: "Have we anything, anything white? No--you and I out
in the open, Paul--rest of you keep back. They need to recognize what
we are--" He was shaking, and Paul embraced his shoulders to steady
him as they moved into the open ground. Wright giggled hysterically.
"Damn white flag myself--my whiskers--"

The boat swooped, swelling from a dot to keen familiar lines; it
circled above them twice and came to earth in a perfect landing a
hundred feet away. A blank pallor in the pilot's window would be a
human face; there would be a human brain shocked into new wonder. It
was still necessary for Paul to help his teacher through the grass,
for Wright was swaying and stumbling. Paul reminded him: "They'll be
sealed up, afraid of the air."

"Ah, yes. I say they needn't be--we have good air on Lucifer...."

Paul was aware of his own struggle for sanity, for clarity in the
beginning of this impossible joy which was not pure joy. He heard
himself shout at the top of his strong lungs: "'Ahoy the _Jensen_!'
No, they won't hear it. Yes--they did, they did."

The door slid open for a meeting of two worlds. A square little bald
man, a tall gray-haired woman who fussed at her ears, troubled by the
change in atmospheric pressure. Faded overalls, the human look,
incredulous stares changing to belief. The bald man gulped and
stumbled; he grinned and held out his hand. "Dr. Christopher Wright, I
presume?"

Wright could neither speak nor let go the hand. The woman said, "You
must be--well, who could forget the photographs?--you're Paul Mason."

"Yes, We never--for years we haven't even thought--" "Mark Slade,"
said the bald man, "Captain Slade. This is Dr. Nora Stern.... Sir,
I--you are well? You look well--"

"We are well," said Wright.

"I'm afraid to ask--the others? Dr. Oliphant? Captain Jensen? The--the
little girls? And there was a young engineer--Edmund Spearman...."

Paul managed to say, "Both little girls are mothers. Dr. Oliphant and
Captain Jensen died--Jensen on the ship, in the last acceleration.
Spearman is--will be here before long, I think. You may find him
somewhat changed--" Wright said, "We must let Ed speak for himself,
Paul." In spite of the shock, the newness, Dr. Stern was sensitive to
nuances. She said too loudly, "Beautiful country." She pressed both
hands to her ears and took them away and spoke in a normal voice:
"There...! Oh, what strange steep hills...!"

"N-not like any rock of Earth," Paul stammered. "Defies erosion." _And
I am speaking with the pride of a home lover...._ "The open ground is
a little dangerous--flying carnivores. Come and meet our friends."

Captain Slade had already seen the giants and pygmies at the edge of
the woods; his small monkey face was ablaze with friendly curiosity
and the startled amusement that will wake at anything new, but he
said, "In just a moment. Let me take this in. If I can.... We've done
it, Nora." He filled his lungs deeply, blinking at a few tears of
pleasure. "A world like ours--a new world. Oh, Nora, it'll be a long
time before we can believe this, you and I.... High oxygen, we
noticed--feels like it. Sir, your ship--"

"Lost," said Wright, tranquilly now, no longer shaking from head to
foot. "Out of control in descent, fell in a lake"--he motioned over
his shoulder--"a few miles over there. We call it Lake Argo. Too deep
even to think of salvage. One of the lifeboats cracked up; we used the
other for about a year. Our friends, Captain--you'll like our
friends--"

Slade murmured, "Speculation on parallel evolution seems to have been
sound--here anyway. Humanoid, I see. Two species?"

"Human," said Wright. "Their English, by the way, is better than mine.
They are close to us, Captain--very dear to us."

"I--see," said Captain Slade kindly. Paul thought: _He can't see--it's
too new. But maybe he will try to see_.

"How many in your party, Captain?"

Slade grinned. "Only four, Mr. Mason." _Heavens! Mister? That's me._
"A smaller crew, bigger ship. Federation thought best. We left
thirteen years after you. Twelve years on the journey. Of course we've
had to double in brass considerably. The other two are a young
couple--Jimmy Mukerji; he's from Calcutta--Oh, and by the way, Dr.
Wright, his mother was Sigrid Hoch, anthropologist, one of your
students."

"Sigrid--" Wright groped in the past. "Of course. I remember." But
Paul guessed that he did not.

"Jimmy's a botanist _and_ engineer _and_--oh, general technician, good
anywhere. Sally Marino--another good technician. Frankly I didn't want
specialists--wanted kids who could turn a hand to anything, and I got
'em." Slade's friendly face saddened; he and Dr. Stern were walking
clumsily to the woods, feeling the change in gravity. "Ours was to be
the last interstellar ship, Dr. Wright, until either you or we came
home. There'll be no building going on now. A Federation
decision--matter of public opinion as well as economics. Well, the old
lady over there did cost twice as much as your _Argo_, upped the
Federation poll tax three per cent just to pay for her on paper. Could
have got around that, maybe, but there was a beginning of public
hysteria, protest--resentment at the idea of throwing lives and
billions into space with nothing to show for it for many years.
Fanatics on both sides, and both noisy, plus the war scare of course.
Short-term thinking. Human."

"You can't blame them," said Nora Stern.

"I do blame them, Nora, now that we know it can be done...."

Elis had tried to be ready with a little speech of welcome, but
shyness made him stiff with dignity, and it was evident that Dunin
would break loose in nervous giggling. Elis said only, "You're very
welcome. We hope you'll enjoy it here." Pakriaa might have been back
in the days of tribal grandeur, but her control too was only a result
of shyness and wonder as she echoed the Governor's words. It was
unfairly difficult for the newcomers, Paul could see--the giants'
furry nakedness and majesty, the pygmies' tininess and wrinkled
baldness; even the Charin-like beauty of Miniaan's features might be
invisible to new Charin eyes. But Slade and Dr. Stern behaved well,
with a natural friendliness. "Why," said Slade, "these boys--"

"John and David Spearman," Paul explained. "Ann's boys. Spearman--we
think he'll be here shortly."

Arek asked evenly, "You've come to stay, I hope?"

"To--stay?" Slade shot a startled glance at Wright, who avoided it,
giving him no help.

Paul said quickly, "Captain, we ought to have warned you, but neither
Doc nor I could get our wits together until you'd opened the door.
About thirteen or fourteen hours from now you'll have a fever and a
period of unconsciousness. Not too much discomfort and, so far as we
know, no danger--anyhow all of us recovered in fine shape and we've
had excellent health ever since. We decided it's just a part of
acclimation to--we call this planet Lucifer. But if you think the two
others should stay in the ship till you recover--"

Dr. Stern was measuring him shrewdly. "You look very healthy, both of
you, and I know we can take your word for anything. Jimmy and Sally
are pretty rugged. They'll be wild to join us. Sally will be at the
intercom right now, tearing her pretty hair out in handfuls. They
might as well chance it with us.... Where do you people live? We saw
a--settlement? Over there south of the lake."

Wright glanced at Paul with vague entreaty. It was Miniaan who spoke,
the small silver of her voice a music in the sun-streaked shadow:
"The settlement below the lake is a thing of the past, an empire that
died. We live on a warm island over yonder, the other side of those
mountains, the island Adelphi. We are returning there now, after
a--journey with some trouble in it."

"Adelphi," said Dr. Stern, savoring the name. "Mark--our two boats
could fly them all there with us, couldn't they? Take out the
emergency stuff to make room."

"It would be wise," said Paul. "We could take better care of you
during the illness, at Adelphi. We have houses there. Here it's not
very safe--biting flies and some dangerous animals."

Slade was doubtful. "Anything here that could interfere with the ship
if we leave it unguarded?"

Miniaan laughed. "Certainly the people of Vestoia will not go near
it."

"Nothing could harm it," said Wright. "Too big. How in hell do you get
down out of it?"

Slade chuckled and made up his mind. "Electronic lock. Can work it
from a transmitter in the lifeboat; only other way's from inside. Lets
down a ladder. Automatic derricks in the side blisters to hoist the
lifeboats if, as, and when. They thought of--_nearly_ everything." He
hugged the gray-haired woman. "Even briefing on how to get along with
each other for ten-plus years."

"Learning love can be difficult," said Pakriaa. Dr. Stern stared at
the tiny woman with new intentness. Pakriaa's seamed face had taken on
its dreamy look. "You must see our island. Last year Mashana Dorothy
was Governor of our island. This year it is this man." She touched
Elis' knee.

"A sinecure," Elis chuckled. "A sinecure, ladies'n' gentlemen."

Captain Slade laughed, standing five feet five, peering up at the
Governor's eight feet seven--half a head more than Mijok's height.
Paul thought he saw there the raw materials of friendship. Dr. Stern
said, "And you call this planet Lucifer?"

"Light-bringer," said Nisana; there was grief in her face not evident
in any of the others. "Son of the morning," Paul moved toward her,
wondering.

Slade had missed the overtone, and cocked a dark eyebrow.
"Industries?"

Wright shrugged. "A few, sir. All we seem to need at present in such a
small community."

"Oh." Slade touched the old man's jacket. "This is fine fabric. I
couldn't tell it from linen. Is it?"

"Very similar." Wright took Nisana's hand on his palm. "This lady is
our best weaver because her hands are so small and sure. Our loom is
clumsy because, of course, our metalworking is not far advanced. But
it does good work for Nisana."

"I like to weave," Nisana whispered, looking here and there and not at
Paul. "I like to make new things."

Paul glimpsed the twitch of Mijok's ears, the beckoning curve of a
gray finger; Mijok whispered, "He's coming, Paul. A few hundred yards
away in the woods, breathing hard and limping. Is there nothing we can
do for him?"

"I don't know, Mijok. I'm afraid whatever is done he must do for
himself, and it's late for that, very late." He saw that Mijok was
trying to understand and could not. "His mind is--living in another
country...."

But outwardly at least, Edmund Spearman was changed. He even searched
out Dunin's worried face and apologized. "Should have accepted your
offer--stupid of me." He smiled. "Wanted to show what a walker I was,
I guess." John and David slipped behind Muson's back, tense and cold.
Spearman shook Slade's hand, and Dr. Stern's. "My God, it doesn't seem
possible. I can't take it in. Slade, you said? And Dr. Stern. We've
wondered, dreamed, prayed for it. I can't tell you--I don't know what
to say.... Good trip?"

"Excellent." Slade hugged himself. "Excellent beyond description. Ah,
all the Federation needed was proof. They've got it now! Rather, they
will have it in twelve years. Lordy! I'll be fifty-one." He pounded
Paul on the back, and Spearman, giving way to a bubbling overflow of
good nature. "There'll be a new President, whole new Council I
guess--and they won't be looking for us either, man." He danced a few
steps and jabbed Paul in the ribs. "Think of it! Why, it's a Tom
Sawyer job. You know? You remember? When you and I walk up the middle
aisle in the Federation Hall--oh, man, man...."

Paul had to find Nisana's face again, and the devastation of sorrow in
it, before he understood. He stooped quickly to whisper, "I am not
going back to Earth." The radiance in the aging red face was like a
Charin girl's.

And he heard Dr. Stern remark dryly, "Mark, I believe we've got some
nearer bridges to cross."



4


One of the soft lizard-oil lamps gleamed in Kajana's room, though it
was late and the house was hushed. Paul had not been able to find
sleep; Dorothy would be watching at the bedsides of the four
unconscious newcomers from Earth for another hour, until Tejron
relieved her. Paul tapped at Kajana's never-closed doorway. "May I
come in?"

"Yes, please do." The little man smiled up from his pillows: they were
filled with a stuff like dandelion down, almost as good as feathers.
"Will you lift me a little?" Paul fussed over him, glad of something
to do. "I was not sleepy. I finished transcribing from the shorthand,
but my thought remains with it."

"Shorthand--"

"The talk of this afternoon. You didn't know I was recording it. You
were all speaking somewhat beyond yourselves, in a way I wanted to
preserve. I wish we had better pencils. These last are not bad, blue
clay mixed with the graphite, but they still crumble too easily and
the wood is big for my hand. I used the brown ink for the
transcription." He shuffled the gray marsh-reed pages together. "You
might like to look at it."

"Yes. Tonight, I think. Doc did say some things worth remembering."

Kajana smiled. "So did you."

"Did I...? Pencils are one thing they must have had on the ship in
abundance. The library too. Poor Doc, he'd have given anything for the
books--so would I...."

Kajana patted his hand. "Maybe it doesn't matter too much, Paul? We
have our own books to make.... Besides--don't you think Spearman may
have unloaded some things for us before he took off?"

"Not a chance. His mind wouldn't work that way."

"No? Well, you knew him better. Still, he had time, Paul. He knew we
couldn't go after him: you told me he drained the fuel out of one
lifeboat before he stole the other. And it was three hours, after you
found he was gone, before you saw the big ship go up over the range."

"And down," Paul said, still physically shaken with the memory, the
sound, the sight of it. "Down into the sea forever."

"What happened, do you think?"

"We'll never know. It was a new type of ship. His knowledge of such
things was ten years old, Lucifer years. Likely the take-off was too
complex for one man to handle it. After we saw it climb past the
range, we stayed there--Doc and Dorothy and Miniaan and I--near the
temple, just stayed there mind-sick and wondering. We saw it
reappear--a dot, then a flame. He never quit trying. He had the
atomics blazing all the way down. Sometimes they'd lift the ship a
little, and we--I suppose we weren't breathing--we'd think yes--no,
yes--no. I even thought: is he going to crash it _here_? But he was
really many miles to the west, only seemed near, so bright in that
darkness. A meteor--yes, call him a meteor--burned out and lost. Up to
the very end, until we saw it strike the water near the western
horizon, he was still trying, a mad insect heaving against the web of
gravity. And we'll never know what he really wanted, either. I have an
idea he may not have meant to go back to Earth. I think perhaps he
wanted another star--one that never was."

And Paul wondered: _Should I tell Kajana what Doc said when it was all
over? No, not now--not till I understand it myself._ ("I consider
myself to blame." "What do you mean?" "Remember when Arek noticed he
was gone? I saw him slip away ten minutes before she spoke. He looked
at me, too. I think I may have known what he meant to do: I said
nothing. Earth is a very distant place, Paul. The Federation is
building no more interstellar ships, for a while--for a while." "But
you--" "I may therefore be to blame. I look within and am confused, as
so often. But all the same, here in our world I have helped to
establish a few practical certainties." During that murmured
interchange by the temple, Dorothy had been quite silent, as if she
needed no question and answer, and Miniaan had ended it, saying,
"Let's go back, and tell the others that something has ended.")

Kajana's old mind was roving after other matters, to him more
important than Spearman or the beautiful lost ship from Earth.
"Teddy," he said, "do you know, Paul, when the two silver boats came
slipping down out of the sky Teddy only glanced at them once, and came
running to carry me outdoors so that I could see them too. It was her
first thought. Her father and mother in her, and what a new self
too...!" Kajana was having pain, from the old hip-joint injury that
would never heal. "That transcription, Paul--it's quite verbatim, even
to a little hemming and hawing."

"Good." Paul studied the wizened red face, regretful that his
painter's power could never record what was really Kajana--too much
that must escape, even if the portrait were faithful to the small
patient hands, the groove in the left fingers caused by years of
effort with makeshift writing materials. Sears--and Paul could think
it now without too much distress--Sears could have understood Kajana
better. "Can I get you anything?"

"No, thank you, Paul. I'm very well tonight." But some other thought
stirred in him, and Paul lingered, knowing what it was: a need for a
particular reassurance, Kajana's only outward concession to his
frailty. "Paul, what do you really think? When the time comes, will it
be something like a sleep?"

"I believe so, Kajana. But not soon. We need you."

The mild face showed gratitude, then calm; it glanced beyond him.
"Why, Abara--you should be snoring."

Abara followed his comfortable potbelly into the room; his fluty voice
was indignant: "I never snore." He sank cross-legged by the bed,
rocking lightly with a foot in each hand.

"I've heard you, old man."

"Lizard-fur!" said Abara. "Hear yourself snoring, of course."

Paul stretched. "You gentlemen settle down to a good soothing quarrel.
I'll take off." Abara's left eyelid lowered and lifted gravely. "Good
night." "Good night," said the little voices. Leaving the room, Paul
heard Abara murmur, "Do you remember...."

Paul carried a taper from the permanent fire in the common room to
relight the lamp in his and Dorothy's bedroom. It was late indeed,
near to the time of the rising of the red moon, seen only the night
before from the jungle west of Vestoia--what had been Vestoia. Here in
the long room there was still a friendly disorder from the impromptu
banquet of the evening. Because of the disturbance when Spearman's
flight was discovered and preoccupation with the illness of the
newcomers, the common room had received only a few housekeeping
flurries. Mats were still scattered in the center of the floor;
earthen wine cups stood about. Carrying the taper, Paul saw by his
foot a graded series of round faces drawn on the earth with a twig.
Helen was apt to do that when most of her mind was elsewhere: the
faces were made of neat circles, even nose and mouth. Subject to a
pinch on the bottom from her half-sister, Helen called them teddies.
Paul smiled sleepily and stepped around.

Kajana took pride in the sharp printlike quality of his writing; under
lamplight, the brown ink shifted into gold. Kajana had not recorded
the casual beginning of the banquet: the idea had evidently come to
him after some remark of Kamon's. Paul could not remember it clearly,
but the old giantess had been roused to it by a thing the rather
sad-faced, brown-haired girl Sally Marino had mentioned: the prospect
of war on the planet Earth. Kajana had taken down what followed as
direct dialogue; riffling through the gray pages, Paul noticed that
Kajana had inserted no comment of his own at all. The phonetic
shorthand, Paul knew, was Kajana's invention--ideal for his own use,
but he had not been able to teach it even to Nisana. Too intricate,
she said, needing the hyperacute ear which was a gift Kajana could not
share.

     SLADE: There seems never to be a single cause of war, only a
     group of causes coming to a particular focus in time. Our
     world, madam--

     WRIGHT: Just Kamon. Somehow we've never formed the habit of
     courtesy titles, Captain. Names, nicknames, and a few titles
     of function--as for instance, if Elis were conducting one
     of our meetings, we'd address him as Governor.

     SLADE: Oh. Pleasant, I should think. Our world, Kamon, is
     still divided in two parts. An ideological division. There
     is the Asian Empire of Jenga. Let me show you--the map--

     DUNIN: Here. I grabbed it. And what a map! If only we could
     make such things!

     DOROTHY: In time, sugar. Takes mighty complex machinery to
     make such a map.

     SLADE: One of the things that must come on the next trip
     from Earth. Well--here is the Asian Empire. You can see the
     vastness of it, one land mass, almost all of a continent--

     MUKERJI: Except my country.

     NORA STERN: Well, naturally, Jimmy--

     MUKERJI: I tend to be sensitive on the point since we joined
     the Federation somewhat belatedly.

     SLADE: That's the Asian Empire. And there they believe, and
     have long believed, that individual man is nothing--an ant
     in a colony--the state is everything, a sole reason for
     existence. The state--

     WRIGHT: Which exists only in the minds of individual men.

     SLADE: Ye-es.... For them the state takes the place of God,
     of reason, of ethics, of--Oh, it's be-all and end-all, so
     far as an individualist like myself can understand their
     doctrine. A hundred years ago this empire was two great
     states; they had the same doctrine then but called it by a
     less honest name, communism, derived from certain naïve
     social theories of about a hundred years earlier--

     SPEARMAN: Naïve?

     SLADE: Before I went in for engineering, sir, I majored in
     history at McGill. With the help of a great deal of coffee,
     I even read _Das Kapital_. It is not logical even from its
     own dogmatic premises. Incidentally I think it can still be
     found in secondhand bookstores.

     SPEARMAN: As a matter of fact, when I left Earth, it was
     quite readily available in up-to-date editions from the
     Collectivist Press.

     SLADE: Oh. Yes, I dare say it was.... Well, Kamon, about a
     hundred years ago those two Asian states, still paying lip
     service to the--debatable doctrine of communism
     (satisfactory, Mr. Spearman?)--attacked each other in a long
     war, making use of recently discovered atomic weapons as
     well as man-made pestilence and other devices. It was not
     actually a doctrinal war, but simply a power struggle
     between two tyrannies. It was hideous, incredibly
     destructive, and the only saving thing about it was that it
     prevented them from visiting the same disaster on the rest
     of the world. Neither side won, of course; a few decades
     later a new dictator--a little one-eyed zealot from
     Mongolia--inherited the desolation and built on the ruins a
     new monolithic state, which still exists.

     AREK: But what actually was this theory--this communism?

     SLADE: Oh, the theory. Originally an appeal to the
     dispossessed. In the nineteenth century and earlier there
     were masses of poor, widespread suffering and injustice, too
     much economic and political power in the hands of a few, who
     abused their power with stupidity and cruelty. Marx and
     other theorists imagined, or said they imagined, that the
     situation could be remedied by reversal--give power to the
     dispossessed (the proletariat, as they called them) and
     injustice would right itself. Why they imagined that the
     proletariat was any more fitted to rule than its
     oppressors--why they supposed it would not abuse power quite
     as viciously--they never bothered to explain. Naturally the
     realists among them weren't concerned with any Utopian
     outcome: they simply saw the doctrine as a means to personal
     power for themselves and used it accordingly. The first
     important one of these was a furious little man named Lenin.
     He may have believed his own theories for a while--there
     seems to have been some short-lived experimentation with the
     contradictions of actual communism when he first won power
     in Russia--but absolute power corrupts absolutely, as
     somebody said. The foundations of an old-new despotism were
     well established before he died--and was unofficially
     deified and kept in a glass case for the consolation of the
     atheist faithful. Matter of fact, Arek, a good many things
     in Earth history would make a cat laugh.... The actual cure
     for the ugly situation that existed turned out to be a
     gradual economic leveling combined with the (very slow and
     difficult) growth of representative government--so that
     there would be no swollen fortunes, no severe poverty, and
     no heavy concentrations of unchecked political power. But
     that was most undramatic procedure: it needed the work of
     centuries. No bloody revolution could ever achieve such an
     end, nor could any other evil means ever bring it any
     nearer. In the Federation we begin to have--an approximation
     of it. The Asian Empire is merely despotism, old and stale,
     old as the Pharaohs, committed to the policy of violence and
     carrying the burden of slavery under modern names: the
     natural product of fanatic doctrine after the power-hungry
     have taken it over and made use of it.

     SPEARMAN: Jenga's empire is not collectivism. It is a
     perversion of it.

     ANN: If you'll excuse me--

     DOROTHY: Honey, of course! I think you got up too soon. The
     boys are in bed. Come on--let me tuck you in and fuss at
     you....

     STERN: She's been ill?

     WRIGHT: Yes. For a long time. But now I think she--

     SPEARMAN: What--

     AREK: Captain, tell us about the other part of Earth, the
     part you come from.

     SLADE: Canada? Oh, you mean the Federation itself. It's very
     great, miss--I mean, Arek. Let's have the map again, my
     dear. All of North America--here--parts of South America,
     the United States of Europe, Union of Islam, Japan, India,
     parts of Africa outside of Islam--then over here there's
     Australia and New Zealand, and here's the Republic of
     Oceania. Almost all the rest of the world, you see. Here's
     Federal City. Find it? Follow my finger east of
     Winnipeg--lake country, and very lovely: I was born near
     there. The city was planned and built new in 1985; seems
     long ago, isn't really. And then, Arek, there are some small
     countries which have preferred to keep their national unity
     outside of the Federation instead of inside it, although
     they're affiliated with us and there aren't any barriers to
     travel and other intercourse. A somewhat technical
     distinction, since local sovereignties are well enough
     preserved within the Federation.

     WRIGHT: Not entirely a technicality. At the time we left
     Earth, there were some tendencies in the Federation that
     could lead to overcentralization, even with the recognition
     of limited powers. And too much emphasis on the admitted
     glories of machine civilization. I think it's an excellent
     thing that some parts of the world should be a little
     insulated from the enthusiasms of material progress. The
     Federation itself will be the better for it.

     SLADE: Perhaps. I think I know what you mean, Doctor. I was
     always a small-government man, myself. Still, under the
     threat of Jenga--

     STERN: I can't see it as much of a threat.

     SALLY MARINO: I don't know....

     STERN: The empire will break down sooner or later, of its
     own rigidity.

     SLADE: But while we wait for that, the Federation has to be
     strong, in the military as well as other senses.

     MUKERJI: If we do just wait for it.

     STERN: Preventive war is an absurdity, Jimmy.

     MUKERJI: Yes, but--

     STERN: Gradualist methods. The Federation can afford to
     wait. The same gradualist methods that made the Union of
     Islam possible, so long ago.

     PAUL: I don't think the leadership of Turkey was gradualist
     exactly, Dr. Stem. It took thirty years after 1960, but
     considering the problem, that was great speed. Only a people
     with immense moral courage and good sense would have dared
     to undertake it at all. They weren't fanatics; they weren't
     ridden by the devil of one idea; they had to work with
     intelligent compromise, temperate adjustments, yielding here
     and sternness there and patience all the time--but once they
     took up the task they didn't rest or let go, and by 1990
     there was a healthy union ready for full membership in the
     Federation.

     SLADE: Yes, that was speed. I expect you've given your
     friends here a pretty good account of Earth history?

     PAUL: We've tried. I don't know if we can allow ourselves
     more than a B-plus. The subject is too enormous, and all we
     had were imperfect memories. In the midst of our own work
     for Lucifer, which is--paramount.

     WRIGHT: Not even books. Captain, when you showed us over the
     ship, it was very difficult for my fingers not to steal a
     lens and a pocketful of those microtexts....

     SLADE: My dear friend! Why didn't you say so? All you want.
     That's for your friends here, entirely. No need to take any
     of our library back to Earth if they can use it.

     WRIGHT: I--excuse me--I don't know what to say.

     SLADE: And by the way, Doctor, before I forget again to
     mention it: after you left--I think it was in 2060--they
     perfected a new drug which actually makes the accelerations
     quite bearable. I don't know too much about it. Muscular
     relaxation is a factor, and Nora can tell you more about it.
     But I understand that even for persons past the--optimum
     age--

     WRIGHT: A moment, please.... I cannot go back to Earth,
     Captain Slade. You mean it with the greatest kindness but it
     is impossible.

     SLADE: Why, forgive me, I supposed--I took it for granted--

     WRIGHT: My place is here. This is my work. These are my
     people.

     TEJRON: I knew--I knew--

     WRIGHT: What, my dear? I don't understand.

     TEJRON: Oh, I should keep silent: this is for you to decide.
     But you've said it. You won't leave us.

     WRIGHT: No. No, I won't ever leave you. This is my home.

     SLADE: But--

     SPEARMAN: Can't argue with the passion of an expatriate. The
     grass is always greener--

     PAUL: It could be no other way, Captain, at least for Dr.
     Wright and me, and I'm certain my wife will say the same
     when she comes back.

     WRIGHT: In some ways, Captain, the distance between Earth
     and Lucifer is greater than the simple light years between
     our two stars.

     SLADE: I'm--sorry. Wasn't expecting it, that's all. Let me
     get used to the idea a little.

     SPEARMAN: You can consider me neutral, Captain Slade. I have
     no place on Lucifer. One more utopia. Idealism running
     contrary to obvious facts. It will break up--fine-spun
     intellectual quarrels--no central control.

     PAUL: Until, sometime, a strong man takes over and makes an
     empire out of it...?

     WRIGHT: Please--

     SPEARMAN: No comment....

     STERN: If I might differ with you, Mr. Spearman, it seems to
     me--after being shown over this lovely island--the
     domesticated cattle and those wonderful white beasts--the
     plantations and the houses--the perfect English and adult
     thinking of our new friends--above all, the school--it seems
     to me that Dr. Wright and his colleagues are realists of the
     first water. Of course I'm strongly prejudiced in their
     favor, because--well, during the twelve years of our journey
     I dreamed constantly of some such achievement as this
     myself. So it's like coming home. I'm a doctor, Mr.
     Spearman; before I was chosen for the journey, I ran a
     clinic. As an intern, I had a lot of ambulance and emergency
     service at one of the big hospitals in Melbourne; I saw a
     superabundance of--let's call them obvious facts. Now I
     think the sunny quiet here, the good health and intelligence
     of the children, the gardens, the devotion of these people
     to each other and to their work, the searching thought
     they've given to their laws and their future--I fancy those
     are obvious facts too...?

     WRIGHT: Man is neither good nor bad, but both. But he can
     swing the balance.

     STERN: Too right. I think I understand you, Doctor--why you
     want to stay here. I think I understand it very well.

     SLADE: I wouldn't urge you. It's only that I--took something
     else for granted. Foolishly. Let me be just a listener.

     ELIS: And let me fill your cup. You're behind us, Captain.

     MINIAAN: The big jug is empty. How'd'at happen?

     MUSON: Portrait of a fat woman going away with another big
     jug.

     PAUL: Bless you, lady.

     MUSON: It was you that finished emptying it. I think.

     NISANA: Couldn't have been me....

     STERN: Are there any important physiological differences?

     WRIGHT: Nothing of first importance. Minor differences in
     blood chemistry, shape of hands and feet. Our friends have
     the hind brain in the spinal column, which may be the
     reason for their better muscular co-ordination and--you
     know, Doctor, I have often wished that the human race of
     Earth, which we call Charin, had more room in its head for
     the expansion of the frontal lobes.

     ELIS: I have a very high opinion of your frontal lobes,
     Christopher Wright. I have noticed that sometimes a large
     skull merely rattles.

     STERN: Just the same the point is well taken.

     PAUL: Might call it the miracle of the lobes and wishes.

     PAKRIAA: Why don't you wait till Muson comes back...?

     SALLY MARINO: Don't you--now, maybe this is a foolish
     question--don't you have to work awfully hard--I mean, with
     so few technical aids? The--oh, oil lamps, the necessarily
     primitive--of course, you've done miracles to have as much
     as you do have, starting from almost nothing. What I'm
     trying to say, doesn't mere survival take up so much time
     and effort that it--well, wears you down?

     PAUL: We have shelter, clothing, enough to eat--

     MINIAAN: And drink.

     PAUL: What we call a family, Sally, is made up of members of
     all three races. Such a unit may have seven or eight adults
     or more. Shelter, food--the basic needs are supplied by each
     family working for itself; the large family unit distributes
     the labor pretty well; and, if any family was stricken with
     misfortune (none has been so far) the others would all help
     as a matter of course. Now, we do have the germs of
     beginning industries in textiles, sugar--

     MINIAAN: Wine making.

     ABARA: The lady is pied.

     MINIAAN: The lady is not pied. Only very happy, and Vestoia
     is a dead city, and the little illuama will be making their
     nests where--Oh, Abara, you venerable ruin, I love you, I
     love you....

     ABARA: Well, not right here in front of all these nice
     people....

     MUKERJI: Beautiful way of life. Oh, here's Muson. Have we
     drunk to everybody? Seems as though we must have overlooked
     somebody, earlier.

     NISANA: I don't think so. Yes, we have. Let's drink to the
     olifants.

     WRIGHT: And their seven calves....

     PAUL: In textiles, for instance--Nisana does no housework
     because her worktime is at the loom; each household sends
     somebody over to work in the fiber and sugar plantations
     across the lake. The system works, Sally, in this very tiny
     community where everyone knows and respects everyone else,
     where all the laws and customs encourage the ironing out of
     differences before they become serious. And so far, work has
     never become oppressive. Most of it we enjoy; the boring,
     unpleasing jobs are shared because we know they have to be
     done and we don't want anyone to have to carry too much of
     their weight. And so far, we don't hunger for the complex
     and fascinating possessions we knew on Earth. Such hungers
     will come. Communities will grow. The best laws will fail
     sometimes; there will be disputes, mistakes, injustices. But
     we are forewarned by memories of Earth. Doc, I'm trying to
     say things you could say better--

     WRIGHT: No. Go on.

     PAUL: Well.... We plan, tentatively, a hundred family units
     here at Jensen City, a population of maybe a thousand
     adults, no larger. When that point is reached (several years
     away) then we must plan and build another town, probably
     here on the island. At that point we add new problems and
     perplexities. We may not need a monetary system until there
     are several towns; when we do, it will not develop
     haphazardly, but with the aid of all past knowledge we
     possess, for safeguard and guidance.

     SLADE: And when there are fifteen or twenty such
     communities?

     PAUL: They will want an over-all government; a miniature of
     a federal system, we suppose. A republic, with fully
     functional representative procedures, checked and
     safeguarded against every abuse of power. Because in all our
     study and memories of history, we've found no other type of
     government that can operate with fairness to majorities and
     minorities alike and leave men as free as any social animal
     can ever be free. For that matter, Captain, we sometimes
     glance ahead to a time when there will be hundreds or
     thousands of towns: a time when our great-grandchildren of
     all three races may want to experiment with large cities,
     elaborate industries. Such things will bring their own heavy
     difficulties, but we have reason to hope that our
     great-grandchildren will have the patience and courage to
     solve them as they arise. Brodaa, tell them about the
     school.

     BRODAA: I am not good in exposition, Paul.... We
     are--strict, Captain, that the children should learn all the
     tested factual knowledge we can give them. They must read,
     speak, write--clearly, precisely, honestly. We do not allow
     them to leave a method half learned, a task half done. If
     there is a question, they must search for an answer; if
     there is no sufficient answer known, they must learn to test
     the insufficient answers and wait judgment. My own language
     has flaws--I am an old woman--I still go to school, to Paul,
     Mashana Dorothy, Dr. Wright, to learn more for my own sake
     and for the little ones I teach. They must learn the
     fundamental methods and facts as soon as they can start to
     think at all. We are never afraid of teaching any child too
     much or too soon--we respect them. Oh, Mashana, I was
     wishing you would return.

     DOROTHY: Need has arisen for the Dope? What goes on more or
     less?

     ELIS: Education.

     PAUL: How is--

     SPEARMAN: How is she?

     DOROTHY: She is asleep, Ed. Nothing to worry about.

     PAKRIAA: She will be healed.

     MIJOK: Education on Lucifer. Pakriaa and I have the
     pleasantest part of the teaching, I think. We show them the
     ways of the forest and the open ground, the plants and other
     living things, how to hunt without cruelty or waste, how to
     be safe and happy alone in the woods at night, when to fear
     and not to fear. As Samis shows them the care of the tame
     beasts, and the work in the plantations....

     WRIGHT: I'll add a little too, though Brodaa could do it
     better--

     MUKERJI: Come here, kink.

     DOROTHY: Why, he loves you! That one won't usually go to
     anybody but Muson. His wife is due to have kittens and he's
     blue about it.

     MUKERJI: Kittens--kinkens--

     DOROTHY: Just kittens. Seven at one whack. Oof--shet ma
     mouf.

     HELEN: Mother, if you looked at seven kittens now they'd be
     fourteen.

     DOROTHY: Such comment, from a lady allowed to sit up late.
     Such, I might add, perfectly accurate comment. Sleepy, baby?

     HELEN: Not a bit.

     DOROTHY: You are too. You snuggle like a kitten half full of
     milk. Half an hour, huh?

     HELEN: Mm.

     WRIGHT: We see to it, Captain, that our children are not
     stuffed with inflated words, equivocal words. When you talk
     with them, they won't be chattering to you about freedom,
     democracy, truth, justice. They learn these words closely;
     we see to it that they learn them with caution. When they
     use them we say--define, define. Democracy by what means,
     within what limits, toward what end? Freedom from what, for
     what? For what's the profit if I rattle on about freedom in
     a semantic vacuum? I am free to speak, not free to kill and
     wound; I must be free from slavery to the whims of others. I
     can never be free from the bonds of a hundred duties,
     responsibilities, loyalties to persons I love and principles
     I cherish. Words without definition are sheer noise, and
     noise never drummed any race into Paradise. Oh, the thing's
     obvious as a child's building blocks--but I recall how on
     Earth men tended to forget it twenty-four hours a day, and
     here on Lucifer we forget it often enough--myself included.
     But we do not forget it when we teach our children.... One
     other thing--before this wine takes me back to second
     childhood--as soon, Captain, as their minds are old enough--

     AREK: Where did Spearman go?

     WRIGHT: Oh, he--he just stepped out, I think. Stretch his
     legs or something. As soon as their minds are old enough to
     think with some independence and explore, we insist that
     they start the lifetime struggle with man's primary
     dilemma--

     ELIS: I hoped you would speak of that, my brother.

     WRIGHT: That he is an individual, his self-hood precious and
     inviolate, yet he must live in harmony with other
     individuals whose right to life and welfare is as certain as
     his own. Approach the study of society from any direction
     you will, that problem is at the heart of it, and must be a
     thousand generations from now, because it must be met anew
     with every infant born. We think, here, that the most
     rewarding answer is in the old virtues of self-knowledge,
     charity, honesty, forbearance, patience. Now, those are all
     words that demand definition and multiple definition; on
     that basis we have our children study them, search the depth
     and height of them, in the not so simple problems of
     childhood through the tougher ones of adolescence and
     maturity. We make them understand that lip service will not
     do: if one is to make himself honest he must eat honesty
     with breakfast, sweat with it in the sun, laugh and play and
     suffer with it and lie down with it at night until it's near
     as the oxygen in his blood. Yes, we aim high. Cruelly high,
     would you say? We don't think so. Perfection is a cold spot
     on top of a mountain, and nobody ever climbed there. We have
     trouble and fun and arguments; sometimes the garden weeds
     grow until tomorrow or the day after, but we sleep well.

     DOROTHY: Speaking of perfection and goodness and things and
     stuff--I know it was Paul who put those violin strings by
     Nan's bed, but which one of you supplied them?

     SLADE: Well, he told me--

     DOROTHY: Will it be all right if I reach over this daughter
     of mine and kiss you?

     SLADE: They did brief us, back on Earth, that we must
     respect local customs--

     MIJOK: And perhaps even another drink could do him no harm.

     PAKRIAA: He's pied.

     ELIS: I would not say that. Speaking as Governor, I say that
     the local wine industry deserves every encouragement it can
     get--and has, ever since Samis' favorite kink had kittens in
     the bottom of the vest bat.

     SAMIS: Correction.

     MIJOK: Best vat. Speaking as Lieutenant Governor. Just
     elected--did it myself.

     MUSON: The toastmistress has been quiet lately.

     NISANA: Who, me?

     PAUL: By acclamation, yes.

     NISANA: Le'me think. We did drink to the children--those in
     bed and those who ought to be--

     HELEN: 'Ception.

     DOROTHY: Great big woman. You weigh a ton, sweet stuff, 'n'
     so do your eyelids, they do.

     NISANA: And we drank to the olifants. No no--I am too
     happy--my mind is a lake without a breeze. You propose the
     toast, Pakriaa.

     SALLY: Matter of fact I'm already sort of whooliollicky--I
     think--

     DOROTHY: Hey--maybe it's not just the wine. Paul--Doc--it
     must be almost thirteen hours--

     PAUL: Yes--yes, almost. Maybe you'd better--

     SALLY: No, let's have one more toast. At least one more,
     Pakriaa?

     WRIGHT: I'll drink with you, Pakriaa.

     PAKRIAA: Oh--let us be happy. Friends, I give you the wine
     itself and the earth that made it. I give you birth and
     death and the journey of our days and nights between them,
     the shining of green fields, the patience of the forest, the
     little stars, the great stars, the love and the thought, the
     labor and the laughter, the good morning sky.

       *       *       *       *       *





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