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´╗┐Title: Angel's Egg
Author: Pangborn, Edgar
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 "Angel's Egg" ***

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                              Angel's Egg

                           BY EDGAR PANGBORN

                      Illustrated by DAVID STONE

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                   Galaxy Science Fiction June 1951.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



             When adopting a pet, choose the species that
             is most intelligent, obedient, loyal, fun to
             play with, yet a shrewd, fearless protector.
              For the best in pets--choose a human being!


Mr. Cleveland McCarran

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

In compliance with your request, I enclose herewith a transcript of the
pertinent sections of the journal of Dr. David Bannerman, deceased.
The original document is being held at this office until proper
disposition can be determined.

Our investigation has shown no connection between Dr. Bannerman and any
organization, subversive or otherwise. So far as we can learn he was
exactly what he seemed, an inoffensive summer resident, retired, with
a small independent income--a recluse to some extent, but well spoken
of by local tradesmen and other neighbors. A connection between Dr.
Bannerman and the type of activity that concerns your Department would
seem most unlikely.

The following information is summarized from the earlier parts of Dr.
Bannerman's journal, and tallies with the results of our own limited
inquiry.

He was born in 1898 at Springfield, Massachusetts, attended public
school there, and was graduated from Harvard College in 1922, his
studies having been interrupted by two years' military service. He was
wounded in action in the Argonne, receiving a spinal injury. He earned
a doctorate in Biology, 1926. Delayed after-effects of his war injury
necessitated hospitalization, 1927-'28. From 1929 to 1948 he taught
elementary sciences in a private school in Boston. He published two
textbooks in introductory biology, 1929 and 1937. In 1948 he retired
from teaching: a pension and a modest income from textbook royalties
evidently made this possible.

Aside from the spinal injury, which caused him to walk with a stoop,
his health is said to have been fair. Autopsy findings suggested that
the spinal condition must have given him considerable pain; he is
not known to have mentioned this to anyone, not even his physician,
Dr. Lester Morse. There is no evidence whatever of drug addiction or
alcoholism.

At one point early in his journal, Dr. Bannerman describes himself
as "a naturalist of the puttering type. I would rather sit on a log
than write monographs; it pays off better." Dr. Morse, and others who
knew Dr. Bannerman personally, tell me that this conveys a hint of his
personality.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am not qualified to comment on the material of this journal,
except to say that I have no evidence to support (or to contradict)
Dr. Bannerman's statements. The journal has been studied only by my
immediate superiors, by Dr. Morse, and by myself. I take it for granted
you will hold the matter in strictest confidence.

With the journal I am also enclosing a statement by Dr. Morse, written
at my request for our records and for your information. You will
note that he says, with some qualifications, that "death was not
inconsistent with an embolism." He has signed a death certificate
on that basis. You will recall from my letter of August 5 that it
was Dr. Morse who discovered Dr. Bannerman's body. Because he was a
close personal friend of the deceased, Dr. Morse did not feel able to
perform the autopsy himself. It was done by a Dr. Stephen Clyde of this
city, and was virtually negative as regards cause of death, neither
confirming nor contradicting Dr. Morse's original tentative diagnosis.
If you wish to read the autopsy report in full, I shall be glad to
forward a copy.

Dr. Morse tells me that so far as he knows, Dr. Bannerman had no near
relatives. He never married. For the last twelve summers he occupied a
small cottage on a back road about twenty-five miles from this city,
and had few visitors. The neighbor Steele mentioned in the journal is
a farmer, age 68, of good character, who tells me he "never got really
acquainted with Dr. Bannerman."

At this office we feel that unless new information comes to light,
further active investigation is hardly justified.

Respectfully yours,

Garrison Blaine

Capt., State Police

Augusta, Me.

    Encl: Extract from Journal of David Bannerman, dec'd. Statement by
    Lester Morse, M.D.

       *       *       *       *       *

LIBRARIAN'S NOTE: The following document, originally attached as
an unofficial "rider" to the foregoing letter, was donated to this
institution in 1994 through the courtesy of Mrs. Helen McCarran, widow
of the martyred first President of the World Federation. Other personal
and state papers of President McCarran, many of them dating from the
early period when he was employed by the FBI, are accessible to public
view at the Institute of World History, Copenhagen.

       *       *       *       *       *

     EXTRACT FROM JOURNAL OF DAVID BANNERMAN JUNE 1-JULY 29, 1951

It must have been at least three weeks ago when we had that flying
saucer flurry. Observers the other side of Katahdin saw it come
down this side; observers this side saw it come down the other.
Size anywhere from six inches to sixty feet in diameter (or was it
cigar-shaped?) and speed whatever you please. Seem to recall that
witnesses agreed on a rosy-pink light. There was the inevitable
gobbledegookery of official explanation designed to leave everyone
impressed, soothed and disappointed.

I paid scant attention to the excitement and less to the
explanations--naturally, I thought it was just a flying saucer. But now
Camilla has hatched out an angel.

I have eight hens, all yearlings except Camilla; this is her third
spring. I boarded her two winters at my neighbor Steele's farm when I
closed this shack and shuffled my chilly bones off to Florida, because
even as a pullet she had a manner which overbore me. I could never have
eaten Camilla. If she had looked at the ax with that same expression of
rancid disapproval (and she would) I should have felt I was beheading
a favorite aunt. Her only concession to sentiment is the annual rush of
maternity to the brain--normal, for a case-hardened White Plymouth Rock.

This year she stole a nest successfully, in a tangle of blackberry. By
the time I located it, I estimated I was about two weeks too late. I
had to outwit her by watching from a window; she is far too acute to be
openly trailed from feeding ground to nest. When I had bled and pruned
my way to her hideout, she was sitting on nine eggs and hating my guts.
They could not be fertile, since I keep no rooster, and I was about to
rob her when I saw the ninth egg was not hers, nor any other chicken's.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a deep blue, transparent, with flecks of inner light that made
me think of the first stars in a clear evening. It was the same size as
Camilla's eggs. There was an embryo, but nothing I could recognize.

I returned the egg to Camilla's bare and fevered breastbone, and went
back to the house for a long cool drink.

That was ten days ago. I know I ought to have kept a record; I examined
the blue egg every day, watching how some nameless life grew within it,
until finally the angel chipped the shell deftly in two parts. This was
evidently done with the aid of small horny out-growths on her elbows;
these growths were sloughed off on the second day.

I wish I had seen her break the shell, but when I visited the
blackberry tangle three days ago she was already out. She poked her
exquisite head through Camilla's neck feather, smiled sleepily, and
snuggled back into darkness to finish drying off. So what could I do,
more than save the broken shell and wriggle my clumsy self out of there?

I had removed Camilla's own eggs the day before--Camilla was only
moderately annoyed. I was nervous about disposing of them even though
they were obviously Camilla's, but no harm was done. I cracked each one
to be sure. Very frankly rotten eggs and nothing more.

In the evening of that day I thought of rats and weasels, as I should
have earlier. I hastily prepared a box in the kitchen and brought the
two in, the angel quiet in my closed hand. They are there now. I think
they are comfortable.

Three days after hatching, the angel is the length of my fore-finger,
say three inches tall, with about the relative proportions of a
six-year-old girl. Except for head, hands, and probably the soles of
her feet, she is clothed in feathery down the color of ivory. What can
be seen of her skin is a glowing pink--I do mean glowing, like the
inside of certain seashells. Just above the small of her back are two
stubs which I take to be infantile wings. They do not suggest an extra
pair of specialized forelimbs. I think they are wholly differentiated
organs; perhaps they will be like the wings of an insect. Somehow I
never thought of angels buzzing. Maybe she won't. I know very little
about angels.

       *       *       *       *       *

At present the stubs are covered with some dull tissue, no doubt a
protective sheath to be discarded when the membranes (if they are
membranes) are ready to grow. Between the stubs is a not very prominent
ridge--special musculature, I suppose. Otherwise her shape is quite
human, even to a pair of minuscule mammalian pin-heads just visible
under the down.

How that can make sense in an egg-laying organism is beyond my
comprehension. Just for the record, so is a Corot landscape; so is
Schubert's Unfinished; so is the flight of a hummingbird, or the
other-world of frost on a windowpane.

The down on her head has grown visibly in three days and is of
different quality from the body down. Later it may resemble human hair,
probably as a diamond resembles a chunk of granite....

A curious thing has happened. I went to Camilla's box after writing
that. Judy[1] was already lying in front of it, unexcited. The angel's
head was out from under the feathers, and I thought, with more
verbal distinctness than such thoughts commonly take, _So here I am,
a naturalist of middle years and cold sober, observing a three-inch
oviparous mammal with down and wings_.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Bannerman's dog, mentioned often earlier in the
journal, a nine-year-old English setter. According to an entry of May
15, 1951, she was then beginning to go blind--BLAINE]

The thing is--she giggled!

Now it might have been only amusement at my appearance, which to
her must be enormously gross and comic. But another thought formed
unspoken: _I am no longer lonely._ And her face, hardly bigger than
a dime, immediately changed from laughter to a brooding and friendly
thoughtfulness.

Judy and Camilla are old friends. Judy seems untroubled by the angel. I
have no worries about leaving them alone together.

       *       *       *       *       *

June 3

I made no entry last night. The angel was talking to me, and when that
was finished I drowsed off immediately on a cot which I have moved into
the kitchen to be near them.

I had never been strongly impressed by the evidence for extrasensory
perception. It is fortunate that my mind was able to accept the
novelty, since to the angel it is clearly a matter of course. Her
tiny mouth is most expressive, but moves only for that reason and for
eating--not for speech. Probably she could speak to her own kind if
she wished, but I dare say the sound would be above the range of my
hearing as well as my understanding.

Last night after I brought the cot in and was about to finish my
puttering bachelor supper, she climbed to the edge of the box and
pointed, first at herself and then at the top of the kitchen table.
Afraid to let my vast hand take hold of her, I held it out flat and she
sat in my palm. Camilla was inclined to fuss, but the angel looked over
her shoulder and Camilla subsided, watchful but no longer alarmed.

The table-top is porcelain, and the angel shivered. I folded a towel
and spread a silk handkerchief on top of that; the angel sat on this
arrangement with apparent comfort, near my face. I was not even
bewildered, without realizing why. That doesn't seem possible, does it?
But there was a good reason.

She reached me first with visual imagery. How can I make it plain that
this had nothing in common with my sleeping dreams? There was no weight
of symbolism from my littered past, no discoverable connection with
any of yesterday's commonplaces, indeed no actual involvement of my
personality at all. I saw. I was moving vision, though without eyes or
other flesh. And while my mind saw, it also knew where my flesh was,
seated at the kitchen table. If anyone had entered the kitchen, if
there had been a noise of alarm out in the henhouse, I should have
known it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a valley such as I have not seen, and never will, on Earth. I
have seen many beautiful places on this planet--some of them were even
tranquil. Once I took a slow steamer to New Zealand and had the Pacific
as a play-thing for many days. I can hardly say how I knew this was not
Earth. The grass of the valley was a familiar green. A river below me
was a blue and silver thread under sunlight. There were trees much like
pine and maple, and maybe that is what they were. But it was not Earth.
I was aware of mountains heaped to strange heights on either side of
the valley--snow, rose, amber, gold. The amber tint was unlike any
mountain color I have noticed in this world at mid-day.

Or I may have known it was not Earth, simply because her mind--dwelling
within some unimaginable brain smaller than the tip of my little
finger--told me so.

I watched two inhabitants of that world come flying, to rest in the
field of sunny grass where my bodiless vision had brought me. Adult
forms, such as my angel would surely be when she had her growth, except
that both of these were male and one of them was dark-skinned. The
latter was also old, with a thousand-wrinkled face, knowing and full of
tranquillity; the other was flushed and lively with youth. Both were
beautiful. The down of the brown-skinned old one was reddish-tawny;
the other's was ivory with hints of orange. Their wings were true
membranes, with more variety of subtle iridescence than I have seen
even in the wings of a dragonfly; I could not say that any color was
dominant, for each motion brought a ripple of change.

These two sat at their ease on the grass. I realized that they were
talking to each other, though their lips did not move in speech more
than once or twice. They would nod, smile, now and then illustrate
something with twinkling hands.

A huge rabbit lolloped past them. I knew--thanks to my own angel's
efforts, I supposed--that this animal was of the same size as our
common wild ones. Later a blue-green snake three times the size of
the angels came flowing through the grass. The old one reached out to
stroke its head carelessly, and I think he did it without interrupting
whatever he was saying.

Another creature came in leisured leaps. He was monstrous, yet I felt
no alarm in the angels or myself. Imagine a being built somewhat like
a kangaroo up to the head, about eight feet tall, and katydid-green.
Really the thick balancing tail and enormous legs were the only
kangaroolike features about him. The body above the massive thighs
was not dwarfed, but thick and square. The arms and hands were quite
humanoid, and the head was round, manlike except for its face--there
was only a single nostril and his mouth was set in the vertical. The
eyes were large and mild.

I received an impression of high intelligence and natural gentleness.

In one of his manlike hands he carried two tools, so familiar and
ordinary that I knew my body by the kitchen table had laughed in
startled recognition. But after all, a garden spade and rake are basic.
Once invented--I expect we did it ourselves in the Neolithic--there is
little reason why they should change much down the millennia.

This farmer halted by the angels, and the three conversed a while.
The big head nodded agreeably. I believe the young angel made a joke;
certainly the convulsions in the huge green face made me think of
laughter. Then this amiable monster turned up the grass in a patch a
few yards square, broke the sod and raked the surface smooth, just as
any competent gardener might do, except that he moved with the relaxed
smoothness of a being whose strength far exceeds the requirements of
his task....

       *       *       *       *       *

I was back in my kitchen with everyday eyes. My angel was exploring
the table. I had a loaf of bread there, and a dish of strawberries in
cream. She was trying a breadcrumb, seemed to like it fairly well. I
offered the strawberries. She broke off one of the seeds and nibbled
it, but didn't care so much for the pulp. I held up the great spoon
with sugary cream. She steadied it with both hands to try some. I think
she liked it.

It had been stupid of me not to realize that she would be hungry. I
brought wine from the cupboard; she watched inquiringly, so I put a
couple of drops on the handle of a spoon. The taste really pleased her.
She chuckled and patted her tiny stomach, though I'm afraid it wasn't
very good sherry. I brought some crumbs of cake, but she indicated that
she was full, came close to my face and motioned me to lower my head.

She reached up until she could press both hands against my forehead--I
felt it only enough to know her hands were there--and she stood so a
long time, trying to tell me something.

It was difficult. Pictures come through with relative ease, but now
she was transmitting an abstraction of a complex kind. My clumsy brain
suffered in the effort to receive. Something did come across, but I
have only the crudest way of passing it on. Imagine an equilateral
triangle; place the following words one at each corner--"recruiting,"
"collecting," "saving." The meaning she wanted to convey ought to be
near the center of the triangle.

I had also the sense that her message provided a partial explanation
of her errand in this lovable and damnable world.

She looked weary when she stood away from me. I put out my palm and she
climbed into it, to be carried back to the nest.

She did not talk to me tonight, nor eat, but she gave a reason, coming
out from Camilla's feathers long enough to turn her back and show me
the wing-stubs. The protective sheaths have dropped off; the wings are
rapidly growing. They are probably damp and weak. She was quite tired
and went back into the warm darkness almost at once.

Camilla must be exhausted, too. I don't think she has been off the nest
more than twice since I brought them into the house.

       *       *       *       *       *

June 4

Today she can fly.

I learned it in the afternoon, when I was fiddling about in the garden
and Judy was loafing in the sunshine she loves. Something apart from
sight and sound called me to hurry back to the house. I saw my angel
through the screen door before I opened it. One of her feet had caught
in a hideous loop of loose wire at a break in the mesh. Her first tug
of alarm must have tightened the loop so that her hands were not strong
enough to force it open.

Fortunately I was able to cut the wire with a pair of shears before I
lost my head; then she could free her foot without injury. Camilla
had been frantic, rushing around fluffed up, but--here's an odd
thing--perfectly silent. None of the recognized chicken-noises of
dismay. If an ordinary chick had been in trouble, she would have raised
the roof.

       *       *       *       *       *

The angel flew to me and hovered, pressing her hands on my forehead.
The message was clear at once: "No harm done." She flew down to tell
Camilla the same thing.

Yes, in the same way. I saw Camilla standing near my feet with her
neck out and head low, and the angel put a hand on either side of
her scraggy comb. Camilla relaxed, clucked in the normal way, and
spread her wings for a shelter. The angel went under it, but only to
oblige Camilla, I think--at least, she stuck her head through the wing
feathers and winked.

She must have seen something else then, for she came out and flew back
to me and touched a finger to my cheek, looked at the finger, saw it
was wet, put it in her mouth, made a face, and laughed at me.

We went outdoors into the sun (Camilla, too) and the angel gave me an
exhibition of what flying ought to be. Not even Wagner can speak of joy
as her first free flying did. At one moment she would be hanging in
front of my eyes, radiant and delighted; the next instant she would
be a dot of color against a cloud. Try to imagine something that would
make a hummingbird seem dull and sluggish!

They do hum. Softer than a hummingbird; louder than a dragonfly.
Something like the sound of hawk-moths--_Hemaris thisbe_, for
instance, the one I used to call Hummingbird Moth when I was a child.

I was frightened, naturally. Frightened first at what might happen to
her, but that was unnecessary; I don't think she would be in danger
from any savage animal except possibly Man. I saw a Cooper's hawk slant
down the invisible toward the swirl of color where she was dancing by
herself. Presently she was drawing iridescent rings around him. Then,
while he soared in smaller circles, I could not see her, but (maybe she
felt my fright) she was again in front of me, pressing my forehead in
the now familiar way.

I knew she was amused, and caught the idea that the hawk was a "lazy
character." Not quite the way I'd describe _Accipiter Cooperi_, but
it's all in the point of view. I believe she had been riding his back,
no doubt with her telepathic hands on his predatory head.

Later I was frightened by the thought that she might not want to return
to me. Could I compete with sunlight and open sky? The passage of that
terror through me brought her swiftly back, and her hands said with
great clarity: "Don't ever be afraid of anything. It isn't necessary
for you."

Once this afternoon I was saddened by the realization that old Judy can
take little part in what goes on now. I can well remember Judy running
like the wind. The angel must have heard this thought in me, for she
stood a long time beside Judy's drowsy head, while Judy's tail thumped
cheerfully on the warm grass....

       *       *       *       *       *

In the evening the angel made a heavy meal on two or three cake crumbs
and another drop of sherry, and we had what was almost a sustained
conversation. I will write it in that form this time, rather than grope
for anything more exact.

I asked her: "How far away is your home?"

"My home is here."

"I meant the place your people came from."

"Ten light years."

"The images you showed me--that quiet valley--that is ten light years
away?"

"Yes. But that was my father talking to you, through me. He was grown
when the journey began. He is two hundred and forty years old--our
years, thirty-two days longer than each of yours."

Mainly I was conscious of a flood of relief. I had feared, on the
basis of terrestrial biology that her explosively rapid growth after
hatching must foretell a brief life. But it's all right--she can
outlive me, and by a few hundred years at that.

"Your father is here now, on this planet? Shall I see him?"

She took her hands away--listening, I believe. The answer was: "No.
He is sorry. He is ill and cannot live long. I am to see him in a few
days, when I fly a little better. He taught me for twenty years after I
was born."

"I don't understand. I thought that--"

"Later, friend. My father is grateful for your kindness to me."

I don't know what I thought about that. I felt no faintest trace of
condescension in the message.

"And he was showing me things he had seen with his own eyes, ten light
years away?"

"Yes." Then she wanted me to rest a while; I am sure she knows what a
huge effort it is for my primitive brain to function in this way. But
before she ended the conversation by humming down to her nest she gave
me this, and I received it with such clarity that I cannot be mistaken:
"He says that only fifty million years ago it was a jungle there, just
as Terra is now."

       *       *       *       *       *

June 8

When I woke four days ago, the angel was having breakfast, and little
Camilla was dead. The angel watched me rub sleep out of my eyes,
watched me discover Camilla, and then flew to me.

I received this: "Does it make you unhappy?"

"I don't know exactly." You can get fond of a hen, especially a
cantankerous and homely old one whose personality has a lot in common
with your own.

"She was old. She wanted a flock of chicks, and I couldn't stay with
her. So I--" something obscure here; probably my mind was trying too
hard to grasp it--"so I saved her life." I could make nothing else out
of it. She said "saved."

Camilla's death looked natural, except that I should have expected the
death contractions to muss the straw and that hadn't happened. Maybe
the angel had arranged the old lady's body for decorum, though I don't
see how her muscular strength would have been equal to it, Camilla
weighed at least seven pounds.

As I was burying her at the edge of the garden and the angel was
humming over my head, I recalled a thing which, when it happened, I had
dismissed as a dream. Merely a moonlight image of the angel standing in
the nest box with her hands on Camilla's head, then pressing her mouth
gently on Camilla's throat, just before the hen's head sank down out of
my line of vision. Probably I actually awoke and saw it happen. I am
somehow unconcerned--even, as I think more about it, pleased.

After the burial the angel's hands said: "Sit on the grass and we'll
talk. Question me; I'll tell you what I can. My father asks you to
write it down."

So that is what we have been doing for the last four days. I have been
going to school, a slow but willing pupil. Rather than enter anything
in this journal, for in the evenings I was exhausted, I made notes as
best I could. The angel has gone now to see her father and will not
return until morning. I shall try to make a readable version of my
notes.

Since she had invited questions, I began with something which had been
bothering me, as a would-be naturalist, exceedingly. I couldn't see how
creatures no larger than the adults I had observed could lay eggs, as
large as Camilla's. Nor could I understand why, if they were hatched
in an almost adult condition and able to eat a varied diet, she had
any use for that ridiculous, lovely and apparently functional pair of
breasts.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the angel grasped my difficulty, she exploded with laughter--her
kind, which buzzed her all over the garden and caused her to fluff my
hair on the wing and pinch my earlobe. She lit on a rhubarb leaf and
gave a delectably naughty representation of herself as a hen laying an
egg, including the cackle. She got me to bumbling helplessly--my kind
of laughter--and it was some time before we could quiet down. Then she
did her best to explain.

They are true mammals, and the young--not more than two or at most
three in a lifetime averaging two hundred and fifty years--are
delivered in very much the human way. The baby is nursed, human
fashion, until his brain begins to respond a little to their unspoken
language. That takes three to four weeks. Then he is placed in an
altogether different medium.

She could not describe that clearly, because there was very little
in my educational storehouse to help me grasp it. It is some gaseous
medium which arrests bodily growth for an almost indefinite period,
while mental growth continues. It took them, she says, about seven
thousand years to perfect this technique after they first hit on the
idea; they are never in a hurry.

The infant remains under this delicate and precise control for anywhere
from fifteen to thirty years, the period depending not only on his
mental vigor, but also on the type of lifework he tentatively elects
as soon as his brain is knowing enough to make a choice. During this
period his mind is guided with patience by teachers who--

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems those teachers know their business. This was peculiarly
difficult for me to assimilate, although the facts came through clearly
enough. In their world, the profession of teacher is more highly
honored than any other--can such a thing be possible?--and so difficult
to enter that only the strongest minds dare to attempt it.

I had to rest a while after absorbing that.

An aspirant must spend fifty years, not including the period of
infantile education, merely getting ready to begin, and the acquisition
of factual knowledge, while not understressed, takes only a small
proportion of those fifty years. Then, if he's good enough, he can
take a small part in the elementary instruction of a few babies, and
if he does well on that basis for another thirty or forty years, he is
considered a fair beginner....

Once upon a time I myself lurched around stuffy classrooms, trying
to insert a few predigested facts--I wonder how many of them _were_
facts--into the minds of bored and preoccupied adolescents, some of
whom may have liked me moderately well. I was even able to shake hands
and be nice while their terribly well-meaning parents explained to me
how they ought to be educated. So much of our human effort goes down
the drain of futility, I sometimes wonder how we ever got as far as the
Bronze Age. Somehow we did, though, and a short way beyond.

After that preliminary stage of an angel's education is finished, the
baby is transferred to more ordinary surroundings, and his bodily
growth completes itself in a very short time. Wings grow abruptly,
as I have seen, and he reaches a maximum height of six inches by our
measure. Only then does he enter on that lifetime of two hundred and
fifty years, for not until then does his body begin to age. My angel
has been a living personality for many years, but will not celebrate
her first birthday for almost a year. I like to think of that.

At about the same time that they learned the principles of
interplanetary travel, approximately twelve million years ago, these
people also learned how growth could be rearrested at any point short
of full maturity. At first the knowledge served no purpose except in
the control of illnesses which still occasionally struck them at that
time. But when the long periods of time required for space travel were
considered, the advantages became obvious.

       *       *       *       *       *

So it happens that my angel was born ten light years away. She was
trained by her father and many others in the wisdom of seventy million
years--that, she tells me, is the approximate sum of their _recorded_
history--and then she was safely sealed and cherished in what my
superamebic brain regarded as a blue egg. Education did not proceed at
that time; her mind went to sleep with the rest of her. When Camilla's
warmth made her wake and grow again, she remembered what to do with
the little horny bumps provided for her elbows. And came out into this
planet, God help her.

I wondered why her father should have chosen any combination so
unreliable as an old hen and a human being. Surely he must have had
plenty of excellent ways to bring the shell to the right temperature.
Her answer should have satisfied me immensely, but I am still compelled
to wonder about it.

"Camilla was a nice hen, and my father studied your mind while you were
asleep. It was a bad landing, and much was broken--no such landing was
ever made before after so long a journey. Only four other grown-ups
could come with my father. Three of them died en route and he is very
ill. And there were nine other children to care for."

Yes, I knew she'd said that an angel thought I was good enough to be
trusted with his daughter. If it upsets me, all I need do is look at
her and then in the mirror. As for the explanation, I can only conclude
there must be more which I am not ready to understand. I was worried
about those nine others, but she assured me they were all well, and I
sensed that I ought not to ask more about them at present.

       *       *       *       *       *

Their planet, she says, is closely similar to this, a trifle larger,
moving in a somewhat longer orbit around a sun like ours. Two
gleaming moons, smaller than ours--their orbits are such that
two-moon nights come rarely; they are "magic," and she will ask her
father to show me one, if he can. Because of a slower rotation, their
day has twenty-six of our hours. Their atmosphere is mainly nitrogen
and oxygen in the proportion familiar to us; slightly richer in some
of the rare gases. The climate is now what we should call tropical
and subtropical, but they have known glacial rigors like those in our
world's past. There are only two great continental land masses, and
many thousands of large islands.

Their total population is only five billion.

It seems my angel wants to become a student of animal life here on
Earth. I, her teacher! But bless her for the notion anyhow. We sat and
traded animals for a couple of hours last night; I found it restful,
after the mental struggle to grasp more difficult matters. Judy was
something new to her. They have several luscious monsters on that
planet, but, in her view, so have we.

She told me of a blue sea-snake fifty feet long, relatively harmless,
that bellows cowlike and comes into the tidal marshes to lay black
eggs; so I gave her a whale. She offered a bat-winged, day-flying ball
of mammalian fluff as big as my head and weighing under an ounce; I
matched her with a marmoset. She tried me with a small-size pink
brontosaur, very rare, but I was ready with the duck-billed platypus,
and that caused us to exchange some pretty funny remarks about
mammalian eggs. All trivial in a way; also the happiest evening in my
fifty-three tangled years of life.

She was a trifle hesitant to explain those kangaroolike people, until
she was sure I really wanted to know. It seems they are about the
nearest parallel to human life on that planet; not a near parallel, of
course, as she was careful to explain. Agreeable and always friendly
souls, though they weren't always so, I'm sure, and of a somewhat more
alert intelligence than we possess. Manual workers mainly, because they
prefer it nowadays, but some of them are excellent mathematicians.
The first practical spaceship was built by a group of them, with
assistance, of course.

Names offer a difficulty. Because of the nature of the angelic
language, they have scant use for them except for the purpose of
written record, and writing naturally plays little part in their daily
life--no occasion to write a letter when distance is no obstacle to the
speech of your mind. An angel's formal name is about as important to
him, as, say, my Social Security number is to me.

       *       *       *       *       *

She has not told me hers, because my mind can't grasp the phonetics on
which their written language is based. As we would speak a friend's
name, an angel will project the friend's image to his friend's
receiving mind. More pleasant and more intimate, I think, although it
was a shock to me at first to glimpse my own ugly mug in my mind's eye.

Stories are occasionally written, if there is something in them that
should be preserved precisely as it was in the first telling. But in
their world the true story-teller has a more important place than the
printer. He offers one of the best of their quieter pleasures; a good
one can hold his audience for a week and never tire them.

"What is this 'angel' in your mind when you think of me?" she asked
once.

"A being men have imagined for centuries, when they thought of
themselves as they might like to be, and not as they are."

I did not try too painfully hard to learn much about the principles
of space travel. The most my brain could take in of her explanation
was something like: "Rocket, then phototropism." Now that makes scant
sense. So far as I know, phototropism--movement toward light--is an
_organic_ phenomenon. One thinks of it as a response of protoplasm, in
some plants and animal organisms, most of them simple, to the stimulus
of light; certainly not as a force capable of moving inorganic matter.

I think that whatever may be the principle she was describing, this
word phototropism was merely the nearest thing to it in my reservoir
of language. If I did know the physical principles which brought them
here, and could write them in terms accessible to technicians, I would
not do it.

Here is a thing I am afraid no hypothetical reader of this journal
would believe:

These people, as I have written, learned their method of space travel
some twelve million years ago, yet this is the first time they have
ever used it to convey them to another planet. The heavens are rich
in worlds, she tells me; on many of them there is life, often on very
primitive levels. No external force prevented her people from going
forth, colonizing, conquering, as far as they pleased. They could have
populated a whole Galaxy. They did not, because they believed they were
not ready. More precisely--

_Not good enough!_

       *       *       *       *       *

Only fifty million years ago, by her account, did they learn, as we
may learn eventually, that intelligence without goodness is worse than
high explosive in the hands of a baboon. For beings advanced beyond the
level of Pithecanthropus, intelligence is a cheap commodity--not too
hard to develop, hellishly easy to use for unconsidered ends. Whereas
goodness is not to be achieved without unending effort of the hardest
kind, within the self, whether the self be man or angel.

It is clear even to me that the conquest of evil is only one step, not
the most important. Goodness, she tried to tell me, is an altogether
positive quality; the part of living nature that swarms with such
monstrosities as cruelty, meanness, bitterness, greed is not to be
filled by a vacuum when these horrors are eliminated.

Kindness, for only one example. Anybody who defines kindness only as
the absence of cruelty doesn't understand the nature of either.

       *       *       *       *       *

They do not aim at perfection, these angels, only at the attainable.
They passed through many millenia while advances in technology merely
worsened their condition and increased the peril of self-annihilation.
They came through that, in time. War was at length so far outgrown that
its recurrence was impossible, and the development of wholly rational
beings could begin. Then they were ready to start growing up, through
more millenia of self-searching, self-discipline, seeking to earn the
simple out of the complex, discovering how to use knowledge and not be
used by it. Even then, of course, they slipped back often enough. There
were what she refers to as eras of fatigue. In their dimmer past, they
had had many dark ages, lost civilizations, hopeful beginnings ending
in dust. Earlier still they had come out of the slime, as we did.

But their period of deepest uncertainty and sternest self-appraisal
did not come until twelve million years ago, when they knew a Universe
could be theirs for the taking, and knew they were not yet good enough.

They are in no more hurry than the stars. She tried to convey
something, tentatively, at this point, which was really beyond both of
us. It had to do with time (not as I understand time) being perhaps the
most essential attribute of God (not as I was ever able to understand
that word). Seeing my mental exhaustion, she gave up the effort, and
later told me that the conception was extremely difficult for her,
too--not only, I gathered, because of her youth and relative ignorance.
There was also a hint that her father might not have wished her to
bring my brain up to a hurdle like that one....

Of course they explored. Their little spaceships were roaming the ether
before there was anything like man on Earth--roaming and listening,
observing, recording; never entering nor taking part in the life of any
home but their own. For five million years they even forbade themselves
to go beyond their own solar system, though it would have been easy to
do so. And in the following seven million years, although they traveled
to incredible distances, the same stern restraint was held in force.

It was altogether unrelated to what we should call fear. That, I think,
is as extinct in them as hate. There was so much to do at home! I wish
I could imagine it. They mapped the heavens, and played in their own
sunlight.

Naturally I cannot tell you what goodness is. I know only, moderately
well, what it seems to mean to us human beings. It appears that the
best of us can, often with enormous difficulty, however, achieve a
manner of life in which goodness somewhat overbalances our aggressive,
hostile tendencies for the greater part of the time. We are, in other
words, a fraction alive; the rest is in the dark. Dante was a bitter
masochist; Beethoven a frantic and miserable snob, Shakespeare wrote
potboilers. And Christ said: "My Father, if it be possible, let this
cup pass from me."

But give us fifty million years--I am no pessimist. After all, I've
watched one-celled organisms on the slide, and listened to Brahms'
Fourth. Night before last I said to the angel: "In spite of everything,
you and I are kindred."

She granted me agreement.

       *       *       *       *       *

June 9

She was lying on my pillow this morning so that I could see her when I
awoke.

Her father has died, and she was with him when it happened. There was
again that thought-impression which I could interpret only to mean that
his life had been "saved." I was still sleep-bound when my mind asked:
"What will you do?"

"Stay with you, if you wish it, for the rest of your life." The last
part of the message was clouded, but I am familiar with that now. It
seems to mean there is some further element which eludes me. I could
not be mistaken about the part I did receive. It gives me amazing
speculations. Being only fifty-three, I might live another thirty or
forty years.

She was preoccupied this morning, but whatever she felt about her
father's death that might be paralleled by sadness in a human being was
hidden from me. She did say her father was sorry he had not been able
to show me a two-moon night.

One adult, then, remains in this world. Except to say that he is two
hundred years old and full of knowledge, and that he endured the long
journey without serious ill effects, she has told me little about him.
And there are ten children including herself.

Something was sparkling at her throat. When she was aware of my
interest in it, she took it off and I fetched a magnifying glass. A
necklace; under the glass, much like our finest human workmanship,
if your imagination can reduce it to the proper scale. The stones
appeared similar to the jewels we know; diamonds, sapphires, rubies,
emeralds, the diamonds snapping out every color under heaven; but there
were two or three very dark purple stones unlike anything I know--not
amethysts, I am sure. The necklace was strung on something more slender
than cobweb, and the design of the joining clasp was too delicate for
my glass to help me. The necklace had been her mother's, she told me.
As she put it back around her throat, I thought I saw the same shy
pride that any human girl might feel in displaying a new pretty.

She wanted to show me other things she had brought, and flew to
the table where she had left a sort of satchel an inch and a half
long--quite a load for her to fly with, but the translucent substance
is so light that when she rested the satchel on my finger I scarcely
felt it. She arranged a few articles eagerly for my inspection, and I
put the glass to work again.

One was a jeweled comb; she ran it through the down on her chest and
legs to show me its use. There was a set of tools too small for the
glass to interpret them; I learned later they were a sewing kit. A
book, and some writing instrument much like a metal pencil. The book, I
understand, is a blank record for her to use as needed.

And finally, when I was fully awake and dressed and we had finished
breakfast, she reached in the bottom of the satchel for a parcel that
was heavy for her and made me understand it was a gift for me. "My
father made it for you, but I put in the stone myself, last night." She
unwrapped it. A ring, precisely the size for my little finger.

       *       *       *       *       *

I broke down somewhat. She understood that, and sat on my shoulder
patting my earlobe till I had command of myself.

I have no idea what the jewel is. It shifts with the light from purple
to jade green to amber. The metal resembles platinum in appearance,
except for a tinge of rose at certain angles of light. When I stare
into the stone, I think I see--never mind that now. I am not ready to
write it down, and perhaps never will be, unless I am sure.

We improved our housekeeping, later in the morning. I showed her over
the house. It isn't much--Cape Codder, two rooms up and two down. Every
corner interested her, and when she found a shoebox in the bedroom
closet, she asked for it. At her direction, I have arranged it on a
chest near my bed and the window which shall be always open. She says
the mosquitoes will not bother me, and I don't doubt her.

I unearthed a white silk scarf for the bottom of the box. After asking
my permission--as if I could want to refuse her anything!--she got her
sewing kit and snipped off a piece of the scarf several inches square,
folded it on itself several times, and sewed it into a narrow pillow an
inch long. So now she has a proper bed and a room of her own. I wish I
had something less coarse than silk, but she insists she's pleased with
it.

We have not talked very much today. In the afternoon she flew out for
an hour's play in the cloud-country. When she returned, she let me know
that she needed a long sleep. She is still sleeping, I think. I am
writing this downstairs, fearing the light might disturb her.

Is it possible I can have thirty or forty years in her company? I
wonder how teachable my mind still is. I seem to be able to assimilate
new facts as well as I ever could; this ungainly carcass should be
durable, with reasonable care. Of course, facts without a synthesizing
imagination are no better than scattered bricks, but perhaps my
imagination--

I don't know.

Judy wants out. I shall turn in when she comes back. I wonder if poor
Judy's life could be--the word is certainly "saved." I must ask.

       *       *       *       *       *

June 10

Last night when I stopped writing I did go to bed, but I was restless,
refusing sleep. At some time in the small hours--there was light from a
single moon--she flew over to me. The tensions dissolved away like an
illness and my mind was able to respond with a certain calm.

I made plain that I would never willingly part company with her,
which I am sure she already knew, and she gave me to understand that
there are two alternatives for the remainder of my life. The choice,
she says, is altogether mine, and I must take time to be sure of my
decision.

I can live out my natural span, whatever it proves to be, and she will
not leave me for long at any time. She will be there to advise, teach,
help me in anything good I care to undertake. She says she would enjoy
this; for some reason she is, as we'd say in our language, fond of me.

Lord, the books I could write! I fumble for words now, in the usual
human way. Whatever I put on paper is a miserable fraction, of the
potential; the words themselves are rarely the right ones. But under
her guidance--

I could take a fair part in shaking the world. With words alone. I
could preach to my own people. Before long, I would be heard.

I could study and explore. What small nibblings we have made at the sum
of available knowledge! Suppose I brought in one leaf from outdoors, or
one common little bug--in a few hours of studying it with her, I'd know
more of my own specialty than a flood of the best textbooks could tell
me.

She has also let me know that when she and those who came with her
have learned a little more about humanity, it should be possible to
improve my health greatly, and probably my life expectancy. I don't
imagine my back could ever straighten, but she thinks the pain might be
cleared away, entirely without drugs. I could have a clearer mind, in a
body that would neither fail nor torment me.

Then there is the other alternative.

It seems they have developed a technique by means of which any
unresisting living subject, whose brain is capable of memory at all,
can experience _total recall_. It is a by-product, I understand, of
their silent speech, and a very recent one. They have practiced it
for only a few thousand years, and since their own understanding
of the phenomenon is very incomplete, they classify it among their
experimental techniques.

In a general way, it may somewhat resemble that reliving of the past
which psychoanalysis can sometimes bring about in a limited way
for therapeutic purposes. But you must imagine that sort of thing
tremendously magnified and clarified, capable of including every detail
which has ever registered on the subject's brain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The purpose is not therapeutic, as we would understand it; quite the
opposite. The end result is--death.

Whatever is recalled, by this process is transmitted to the receiving
mind, which can retain it, and record any or all of it, if such a
record is desired; but to the subject who recalls, it is a flowing
away, without return. Thus it is not a true "remembering," but a
giving. The mind is swept clear, naked of all its past, and, along with
memory, life withdraws also. Very quietly.

At the end, I suppose it must be like standing without resistance in
the engulfment of a flood tide, until finally the waters close over.

That, it seems, is how Camilla's life was "saved." When I finally
grasped that, I laughed, and the angel of course caught the reason. I
was thinking about my neighbor Steele, who boarded Camilla for me in
his henhouse for a couple of winters.

Somewhere safe in the angelic records there must be a hen's-eye image
of the patch in the seat of Steele's pants. And naturally Camilla's
view of me too; not too unkind, I hope. She couldn't help the
expression on her rigid little face, and I don't believe it ever meant
anything.

At the other end of the scale is the saved life of my angel's father.
Recall can be a long process, she says, depending on the intricacy
and richness of the mind recalling; and in all but the last stages it
can be halted at will. Her father's recall was begun when they were
still far out in space and he knew that he could not long survive the
journey.

When that journey ended, the recall had progressed so far that very
little actual memory remained to him of his life on that other planet.
He had what must be called a deductive memory--from the material of the
years not yet given away, he could reconstruct what must have been, and
I assume the other adult who survived the passage must have been able
to shelter him from errors that loss of memory might involve. This, I
infer, is why he could not show me a two-moon night.

I forgot to ask her whether the images he did send me were from actual
or deductive memory. Deductive, I think, for there was a certain
dimness about them not present when my angel gives me a picture of
something seen with her own eyes.

Jade-green eyes, by the way. Were you wondering?

In the same fashion, my own life could be saved. Every aspect of
existence that I ever touched, that ever touched me, could be
transmitted to some perfect record--the nature of the written record
is beyond me, but I have no doubt of its relative perfection. Nothing
important, good or bad, would be lost. And they need a knowledge of
humanity, if they are to carry out whatever it is they have in mind.

It would be difficult, she tells me, and sometimes painful. Most of
the effort would be hers, but some of it would have to be mine. In her
period of infantile education, she elected what we should call zoology
as her life work; for that reason she was given intensive theoretical
training in this technique. Right now I guess she knows more than
anyone else on this planet not only about what makes a hen tick, but
how it feels to be a hen.

Though a beginner, she is in all essentials already an expert. She can
help me, she thinks, if I choose this alternative. At any rate, she
could ease me over the toughest spots, keep my courage from flagging.

For it seems that this process of recall is painful to an advanced
intellect--without condescension, she calls us very advanced--because,
while all pretense and self-delusion are stripped away, there remains
conscience, still functioning by whatever standards of good and bad the
individual has developed in his lifetime. Our present knowledge of our
own motives is such a pathetically small beginning! Hardly stronger
than an infant's first effort to focus his eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am merely wondering how much of my life, if I choose this way, will
seem to me altogether hideous. Certainly plenty of the "good deeds"
which I still cherish in memory like so many well-behaved cherubs will
turn up with the leering aspect of greed or petty vanity or worse.

Not that I am a bad man, in any reasonable sense of the term. I respect
myself; no occasion to grovel and beat my chest. I'm not ashamed to
stand comparison with any other fair sample of the species. But there
you are: I _am_ human, and under the aspect of eternity so far, plus
this afternoon's newspaper, that is a rather serious thing.

Without real knowledge, I think of this total recall as something like
a passage down a corridor of a myriad images, now dark, now brilliant,
now pleasant, now horrible--guided by no certainty except an awareness
of the open blind door at the end of it. It could have its pleasing
moments and its consolations. I don't see how it could ever approximate
the delight and satisfaction of living a few more years in this world
with the angel lighting on my shoulder when she wishes, and talking to
me.

I had to ask her how great a value such a record would be to them.
Obvious enough--they can be of little use to us, by their standards,
until they understand us, and they came here to be of use to us as
well as to themselves. And understanding us, to them, means knowing us
inside out with a completeness such as our most dedicated and laborious
scholars could never imagine. I remember, about those twelve million
years: they will not touch us until they are certain no harm will come
of it.

On our tortured planet, however, there is a time factor. They know
that well enough, of course....

Recall cannot begin unless the subject is willing or unresisting; to
them, that has to mean willing, for any being with intellect enough to
make a considered choice. Now, I wonder how many they could find who
would be honestly willing to make that uneasy journey into death, for
no reward except an assurance that they were serving their own kind and
the angels.

More to the point, I wonder if I would be able to achieve such
willingness myself, even with her help.

When this had been explained to me, she urged me again to make no hasty
decision. And she pointed out to me what my thoughts were already
groping at--why not both alternatives, within a reasonable limit of
time? Why couldn't I have ten or fifteen years or more with her, and
then undertake the total recall, perhaps not until my physical powers
had started toward senility? I thought that over.

This morning I had almost decided to choose that most welcome and
comfortable solution. Then my daily paper was delivered. Not that I
needed any such reminder.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon I asked her if she knew whether, in the present state
of human technology, it would be possible for our folly to actually
destroy this planet. She did not know, for certain. Three of the other
children have gone away to different parts of the world, to learn
what they can about that. But she had to tell me that such a thing
has happened before, elsewhere in the Universe. I guess I won't write
a letter to the papers advancing an explanation for the occasional
appearance of a nova among the stars. Doubtless others have hit on the
same hypothesis without the aid of angels.

And that is not all I must consider. I could die by accident or sudden
disease before I had begun to give my life.

Only now, at this very late moment, rubbing my sweaty forehead and
gazing into the lights of that wonderful ring, have I been able to put
together some obvious facts in the required synthesis.

I don't know, of course, what forms their assistance to us will take.
I suspect human beings won't see or hear much of the angels for a long
time to come. Now and then disastrous decisions may be altered, and
those who believe themselves wholly responsible won't realize why their
minds worked that way. Here and there, maybe an influential mind will
be rather strangely nudged into a better course. Something like that.
There may be new discoveries and inventions of kinds that will tend to
neutralize the menace of our nastiest playthings.

But whatever the angels decide to do, the record and analysis of my
fairly typical life will be an aid. It could even be the small weight
deciding the balance between triumph and failure. That is Fact One.

Two: my angel and her brothers and sisters, for all their amazing
level of advancement, are also of perishable protoplasm. Therefore, if
this ball of mud becomes a ball of flame, they also will be destroyed.
Even if they have the means to use their spaceship again or to build
another, it might easily happen that they would not learn their danger
in time to escape. And for all I know, this could be tomorrow. Or
tonight.

So there can no longer be any doubt as to my choice, and I will tell
her when she wakes.

       *       *       *       *       *

July 9

Tonight[2] there is no recall; I am to rest a while. I see it is almost
a month since I last wrote in this journal. My total recall began three
weeks ago, and already the first twenty-eight years of my life have
been saved.

[Footnote 2: At this point Dr. Bannerman's handwriting alters
curiously. From here on he used a soft pencil instead of a pen, and the
script shows signs of haste. In spite of this, however, it is actually
much clearer, steadier and easier to read than the earlier entries in
his normal hand.--BLAINE]

It was a week after I told the angel my decision before she was
prepared to start the recall. During that week she searched my present
mind more closely than I should have imagined was possible: she had to
be sure.

During that week, of hard questions, I dare say she learned more about
my kind than has ever gone on record even in a physician's office; I
hope she did. To any psychiatrist who might question that, I offer a
naturalist's suggestion. It is easy to imagine, after some laborious
time, that we have noticed everything a given patch of ground can show
us. But alter the view-point only a little--dig down a foot with a
spade, say, or climb a tree-branch and look downward--it's a whole new
world.

When the angel was not exploring me in this fashion, she took pains to
make me glimpse the satisfactions and million rewarding experiences I
might have if I chose the other way. I see how necessary that was; at
the time it seemed almost cruel. She had to do it, for my own sake, and
I am glad that I was somehow able to stand fast to my original choice.
So was she, in the end; she has even said she loves me for it. What
that troubling word means to her is not within my mind. I am satisfied
to take it in the human sense.

Since I no longer require normal sleep, the recall begins at night, as
soon as the lights begin to go out in the village and there is little
danger of interruption. Daytimes, I putter about in my usual fashion.
I have sold Steele my hens, and Judy's life was saved a week ago. That
practically winds up my affairs, except that I went to write a codicil
to my will. I might as well do that now, right here in this journal,
instead of bothering my lawyer. It should be legal.

    To Whom It May Concern: I hereby bequeath to my friend Lester
    Morse, M.D., of Augusta, Maine, the ring which will be found at my
    death on the fifth finger of my left hand. I would urge Dr. Morse
    to retain this ring in his private possession at all times, and to
    make provision for its disposal, in the event of his own death, to
    some person in whose character he places the utmost faith.

    (Signed) David Bannerman[3]

[Footnote 3: In spite of superficial changes in the handwriting, this
signature has been certified genuine by an expert graphologist.--BLAINE]

Tonight she has gone away for a while, and I am to rest and do as I
please till she returns. I shall spend the time filling in some blanks
in this record, but I am afraid it will be a spotty job, because there
is so much I no longer care about.

       *       *       *       *       *

Except for the lack of desire for sleep, and a bodily weariness which
is not at all unpleasant, I notice no physical effects thus far. I have
no faintest recollection of anything that happened earlier than my
twenty-eighth birthday. My deductive memory seems rather efficient, and
I am sure I could reconstruct most of the story if it were worth the
bother. This afternoon I grubbed around among some old letters of that
period, but they weren't very interesting.

My knowledge of English is unaffected; I can still read scientific
German and some French, because I had occasion to use those languages
fairly often after I was twenty-eight. The scraps of Latin dating
from high school are gone. So are algebra and all but the simplest
proposition of high school geometry: I never needed them.

       *       *       *       *       *

I can remember thinking of my mother after twenty-eight, but I do not
know whether the image this provides really resembles her. My father
died when I was thirty-one, so I remember him as a sick old man. I
believe I had a younger brother, but he must have died in childhood.[4]

[Footnote 4: Dr. Bannerman's mother died in 1918 of influenza.
His brother (three years older, not younger) died of pneumonia,
1906.--BLAINE]

Judy's passing was tranquil--pleasant for her, I think. It took the
better part of a day. We went out to an abandoned field I know, and she
lay blinking in the sunshine with the angel sitting by her, while I dug
a grave and then rambled off after wild raspberries. Toward evening the
angel came and told me I could bury Judy--it was finished. And most
interesting, she said. I don't see how there can have been anything
distressing about it for Judy. After all, what hurts us worst is to
have our favorite self-deceptions stripped away, and I don't think Judy
had any.

I have not found the recall painful, at least not in retrospect. There
must have been sharp moments, mercifully forgotten along with their
causes, as if the process had gone on under anesthesia. Certainly there
were plenty of incidents in my first twenty-eight years which I should
not care to offer to the understanding of any but the angels. Quite
often I must have been mean, selfish, base in any number of ways, if
only to judge by the record since twenty-eight. Those old letters touch
on a few of these things. To me, they now matter only as material for a
record which is safely out of my hands.

However, to any person I may have harmed, I wish to say this: you were
hurt by aspects of my humanity which may not, in a few million years,
be quite so common among us. Against these darker elements I struggled,
in my human fashion, as you do yourselves. The effort is not wasted.

One evening--I think it was June 12--Lester dropped around for sherry
and chess. Hadn't seen him in quite a while, and haven't since. There
is a moderate polio scare this summer and it keeps him on the jump.

The angel retired behind some books on an upper shelf--I'm afraid it
was dusty--and had fun with our chess. She had a fair view of your
bald spot, Lester. Later she remarked that she liked your looks,
but can't you do something about that weight? She suggested an odd
expedient, which I believe has occurred to your medical self from time
to time--eating less.

Maybe she shouldn't have done what she did with those chess games.
Nothing more than my usual blundering happened until after my first ten
moves; by that time I suppose she had absorbed the principles, and she
took over. I was not fully aware of it until I saw you looking like a
boiled duck. I had imagined my astonishing moves were the result of my
own damn cleverness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Seriously, Lester, think back to that evening. You've played in stiff
amateur tournaments; you know your own abilities and you know mine. Ask
yourself whether I could have done anything like that without help. I
tell you again I didn't study the game in the interval when you weren't
here. I've never even had a chess book in the library, and if I had, no
amount of study would take me into your class. I haven't that sort of
mentality; just your humble sparring partner, and I've enjoyed it on
that basis, as you might enjoy watching a prima donna surgeon pull off
some miracle you wouldn't dream of attempting yourself. Even if your
game had been away below par that evening, and I don't think it was,
I could never have pinned your ears back three times running, without
help. That evening you were a long way out of _your_ class, that's all.

I couldn't tell you anything about it at the time--she was clear on
that point--so I could only bumble and preen myself and leave you
mystified. But she wants me to write anything I choose in this journal,
and somehow, Lester, I think you may find the next few decades pretty
interesting. You're still young, some ten years younger than I. I think
you'll see many things that I wish I might see come to pass--or I would
so wish if I were not convinced that my choice was the right one.

Most of those new events will not be spectacular, I'd guess. Many of
the turns to a better way will hardly be recognized at the time for
what they are, by you or anyone else. Obviously, our nature being what
it is, we shall not change overnight. To hope for that would be as
absurd as it is to imagine that any formula, ideology, theory of social
pattern can bring us into Utopia. As I see it, Lester--and I think your
consulting room would have told you the same even if your own intuition
were not enough--there is only one battle of importance: Armageddon.
And Armageddon field is within each individual.

At the moment I believe I am the happiest man who ever lived.

       *       *       *       *       *

July 20

All but the last ten years are now given away. The physical fatigue,
though still pleasant, is quite overwhelming. I am not troubled by the
weeds in my garden patch--merely a different sort of flowers where I
had planned something else. An hour ago she brought me the seed of a
blown dandelion, to show me how lovely it was. I don't suppose I had
ever noticed. I hope whoever takes over this place will bring it back
to farming; they say the ten acres below the house used to be good
potato land, nice early ground.

It is delightful to sit in the sun, as if I were old.

After thumbing over earlier entries in this journal, I see I have often
felt quite bitter toward my own kind. I deduce that I must have been
a lonely man, with much of the loneliness self-imposed. A great part
of my bitterness must have been no more than one ugly by-product of a
life spent too much apart. Some of it doubtless came from objective
causes, yet I don't believe I ever had more cause than any moderately
intelligent man who would like to see his world a pleasanter place than
it has been. My angel tells me that the scar on my back is due to an
injury received in some early stage of the war that still goes on. That
could have soured me, perhaps. It's all right; it's in the record.

She is racing with a hummingbird--holding back, I think, to give the
swift little green fluff a break.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another note for you, Lester. I have already indicated my ring is
to be yours. I don't want to tell you what I have discovered of its
properties, for fear it might not give you the same pleasure and
interest that it has given me. Of course, like any spot of shifting
light and color, it is an aid to self-hypnosis. It is more, much more
than that, but--find out for yourself, at some time when you are a
little protected from everyday distractions.

I know it can't harm you, because I know its source.

By the way, I wish you would convey to my publishers my request that
they either discontinue printing my _Introductory Biology_ or else
bring out a new edition revised in accordance with some notes you will
find in the top left drawer of my library desk. I glanced through that
book after my angel assured me that I wrote it, and I was amazed.
However, I'm afraid my notes are messy--I call them mine by a poetic
license--and they may be too advanced for the present day, though the
revision is mainly a matter of leaving out certain generalities that
aren't so. Use your best judgment. It's a very minor textbook, and the
thing isn't too important.

A last wriggle of my vanishing personal vanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

July 27

I have seen a two-moon night. It was given to me by that remaining
grown-up, at the end of a wonderful visit, when he and six of those
nine other children came to see me. It was last night, I think--yes,
must have been. First there was a murmur of wings above the house;
my angel flew in laughing. Then they were here, all about me, full
of gaiety and colored fire, showing off in every way they knew would
please me. Each one had something graceful and friendly to say to me.
One brought me a moving image of the St. Lawrence seen at morning
from half a mile up--clouds, eagles--now how could he know that would
delight me so much?

And each one thanked me for what I had done.

But it's been so easy!

And at the end the old one--his skin is quite black, and his down is
white and gray--gave the remembered image of a two-moon night. He saw
it some sixty years ago.

I have not even considered making an effort to describe it. My fingers
will not hold this pencil much longer tonight. Oh, soaring buildings
of white and amber, untroubled countryside, silver on curling rivers,
a glimpse of open sea. A moon rising in clarity, another setting in a
wreath of cloud, between them a wide wandering of unfamiliar stars.
Here and there the angels, worthy after fifty million years to live in
such night.

No, I cannot describe anything like that. But you human kindred of
mine, I can do something better. I can tell you that this two-moon
night, glorious as it was, was no more beautiful than a night under a
single moon on this ancient and familiar Earth might be--if you will
imagine that human evil has been cleared away, and that our own people
have started at last on the greatest of all explorations, themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

July 29

Nothing now remains to give away but the memory of the time that has
passed since the angel came. I am to rest as long as I wish, write
whatever I want. Then I shall get myself over to the bed and lie down
as if for sleep. She tells me that I can keep my eyes open; she will
close them for me when I no longer see her.

I remain convinced that our human case is hopeful. I feel sure that in
only a few thousand years we may be able to perform some of the simpler
preparatory tasks, such as casting out evil and loving our neighbors.
And if that should prove to be so, who can doubt that in another few
million years, or even less, we might be only a little lower than the
angels?

       *       *       *       *       *

LIBRARIAN'S NOTE: As is generally known, the original of the
_Bannerman Journal_ is said to have been in the possession of Dr.
Lester Morse at the time of the latter's disappearance in 1964, and
that disappearance has remained an unsolved mystery to the present day.
McCarran is known to have visited Capt. Garrison Blaine in October,
1951, but no record remains of that visit. Capt. Blaine appears to
have been a bachelor who lived alone. He was killed in line of duty,
December, 1951. McCarran is believed not to have written about nor
discussed the Bannerman affair with anyone else. It is almost certain
that he himself removed the extract and related papers from the
files--unofficially, it would seem--when he severed his connection with
the FBI in 1957. At any rate, they were found among his effects after
his assassination, and were released to the public, considerably later,
by Mrs. McCarran.

The following memorandum was originally attached to the extract from
the _Bannerman Journal_. It carries the McCarran initialing.

    Aug. 11, 1951

    The original letter of complaint written by Stephen Clyde, M.D.,
    and mentioned in the accompanying letter of Captain Blaine, has
    unfortunately been lost, owing perhaps to an error in filing.

    Personnel presumed responsible have been instructed not to allow
    such error to be repeated except if, as and/or when necessary.

    C.McC.

On the margin of this memorandum there was a penciled notation, later
erased. Iodine vapor has been used to bring out the unmistakable
McCarran script. The notation read in part as follows: _Far be it
from a McC. to lose his job except if, as and or_--the rest is
undecipherable, except for a terminal word which is regrettably
unparliamentary.

       *       *       *       *       *

STATEMENT BY

LESTER MORSE, M.D.

DATED AUGUST 9, 1951

On the afternoon of July 30, 1951, acting on what I am obliged to
describe as an unexpected impulse, I drove out to the country for the
purpose of calling on my friend Dr. David Bannerman. I had not seen him
nor had word from him since the evening of June 12 of this year, 1951.

       *       *       *       *       *

After knocking, calling to him and hearing no response, I went upstairs
to his bedroom and found him dead. From superficial indications I
judged that death must have taken place during the previous night. He
was lying on his bed on his left side, comfortably disposed as if for
sleep, but fully dressed, with a fresh shirt and clean summer slacks.
His eyes and mouth were closed, and there was no trace of the disorder
to be expected at even the easiest death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Because of these signs I assumed, soon as I had determined the absence
of breath and heartbeat and noted the chill of the body, that some
neighbor must have already found him, performed these simple rites
of respect for him, and probably notified a local physician or other
responsible person. I therefore waited, Dr. Bannerman had no telephone,
expecting that someone would soon call.

Dr. Bannerman's journal was on a table near his bed, open to that page
on which he had written a codicil to his will. I read that part. Later,
while I was waiting for others to come, I read the remainder of the
journal, as he apparently wished me to do. The ring he mentions was on
the fifth finger of his left hand, and it is now in my possession.

When writing that codicil, Dr. Bannerman must have overlooked
or forgotten the fact that in his formal will, written some
months earlier, he had appointed me executor. If there are legal
technicalities involved, I shall be pleased to co-operate fully with
the proper authorities.

The ring, however, will remain in my keeping, since that was Dr.
Bannerman's expressed wish, and I am not prepared to offer it for
examination or discussion under any circumstances.

The notes for a revision of one of his textbooks were in his desk, as
indicated in the journal. They are by no means "messy," nor are they
particularly revolutionary except in so far as he wished to re-phrase,
as theory or hypothesis, certain statements which I would have
regarded as axiomatic. This is not my field, and I am not competent to
judge. I shall take up the matter with his publishers at the earliest
opportunity.[5]

[Footnote 5: LIBRARIAN'S NOTE: But it seems he never did. No new
edition of "Introductory Biology" was ever brought out, and the
textbook has been out of print since 1952.]

So far as I can determine, and bearing in mind the results of the
autopsy performed by Stephen Clyde, M.D., the death of Dr. David
Bannerman was not inconsistent with the presence of an embolism of
some type not distinguishable on post mortem. I have so stated on the
certificate of death. I am compelled to add one other item of medical
opinion for what it may be worth:

I am not a psychiatrist, but, owing to the demands of general practise,
I have found it advisable to keep as up to date as possible with
current findings and opinion in this branch of medicine. Dr. Bannerman
possessed, in my opinion, emotional and intellectual stability to a
higher degree than anyone else of comparable intelligence in the entire
field of my acquaintance, personal and professional.

       *       *       *       *       *

If it is suggested that he was suffering from a hallucinatory
psychosis, I can only say that it must have been of a type quite
outside my experience and not described, so far as I know, anywhere in
the literature of psychopathology.

Dr. Bannerman's house, on the afternoon of July 30, was in good order.
Near the open, unscreened window of his bedroom there was a coverless
shoebox with a folded silk scarf in the bottom. I found no pillow such
as Dr. Bannerman describes in the journal, but observed that a small
section had been cut from the scarf. In this box, and near it, there
was a peculiar fragrance, faint, aromatic, very sweet, such as I have
never encountered before and therefore cannot describe.

It may or may not have any bearing on the case that, while I remained
in his house that afternoon, I felt no sense of grief or personal
loss, although Dr. Bannerman had been a loved and honored friend for a
number of years. I merely had, and have, a conviction that after the
completion of some very great undertaking, he had found peace.

The ring he bequeathed to me has confirmed that.





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