dijous, 28 d’abril de 2016










EM 15 DIAS EM 1940

















dimarts, 26 d’abril de 2016

There is a way around every tabu, knock on wood—but just watch out that the wood doesn't knock back! I s it time?" Jarth Rolan asked anxiously. Pilot Lan Barda pushed him gently back into a seat. "No, but very soon. And be calm—you're jumpier than a human." "But we've waited so long—yes, a long time. And I am anxious to get home." Lan peered calmly out of his vehicle. They were hovering in Earth's upper atmosphere, at the permitted limit. "Be patient. These people have almost reached the critical point. We'll get the signal before long." Jarth Rolan popped out of his chair and danced about in nervous excitement. "Won't it be dangerous? For us, I mean. Going down into that radioactive atmosphere. And how about them—will any of them live? Suppose we wait too long?" Lan Barda laughed. He was a husky humanoid, pinkish of skin and completely hairless, like all galactics. He slapped Jarth Rolan's back. "We have experts watching. These humans have used four cobalt bombs, and plenty of smaller stuff. The fallout is close to the danger point. Our observers will know just when we can move in because—" he winked and his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper—"they're using automatically controlled instruments." "Oh, my!" Jarth Rolan clapped his hands to his cheeks. "But those are robots—and the use of robots is against religion." "I know, Jarth. But we won't be using them much longer, will we?" He poked a playful finger into Jarth's ribs. "We'll have slaves—and it'll be completely ethical." Jarth Rolan winced. "Must you use that word 'slaves,' Lan? It sounds so—" He waved his hands. Lan laughed again. "Be honest with yourself, Jarth. You're out to make a few dopolins for yourself as a slave raider." "An entrepreneur," said Jarth. "In personal services." Lan Barda became serious. "There's the signal—it's time to go down. Let's go, Jarth, before somebody else gets them all." A n hour later, it was Lan Barda's turn to be nervous. He watched a needle creep into the red zone. "Hurry, Jarth. We've been on this planet long enough. That fifth cobalt bomb is sending the index up fast. Can't you skip these last few?" "Oh, no. Very unethical to leave these three here to die. Must take a small chance, you know. Besides, see the sign on that taxi—just married. A fine young couple. And a fine young taxi driver. Couldn't sleep if I didn't help these three." "Couldn't sleep thinking of the profit you'd passed up. Here, let me take that one. We have to get out of here fast." Jarth Rolan fluttered anxiously about the pilot until they were safely above the poisoned atmosphere. "How many?" he asked. "Did we fill the ship?" Lan Barda checked off items on his clipboard. "A thousand and three, with these last ones. You'll make a good profit." "Not so much the profit. Oh, no. More than that involved. Ethics and religion, Lan. Yes. With all these sla—servants, our people will never have to use robots. They'll be relieved of routine labor and can devote their lives to art and science. And it's all ethical—oh, yes, for these people were doomed." "Want to know something, Jarth?" Lan Barda bent closer and whispered wickedly. "This ship has automatic controls. Has to. No living being has fast enough reactions to handle an interstellar ship. All robot driven, at least in part." "Robots! May we be forgiven!" Jarth stared suspiciously at Lan Barda. "Sometimes, Lan, I think you are an agnostic." The pilot became more serious. "Maybe, Jarth. In our work, we must use robots. We joke about it, but it goes against all galactic belief to let a machine think for us. Maybe that's why we pilots are so cynical." "A galactic is always ethical," said Jarth Rolan solemnly. "This affair, for example. We let these poor creatures of Earth handle their own affairs with no interference until they doomed themselves. It was unethical to intervene a minute sooner. Yes—the ethical way and I feel better for it and proud to be a galactic." "That's true," said Lan Barda. "A galactic wouldn't feel right, being a member of the dominant race of the Galaxy, if he didn't help the less fortunate." J arth Rolan had prepared a center on his estate for the slaves. The demand was greater than the supply. He chatted happily with his wife. "An excellent investment, Shalla—yes. And the highest group council wants us to lease them out by the day for the present instead of selling outright." She nodded. "That's the fair way. Everybody can have a turn having a slave." "And," said Jarth, rubbing his pink hands, "we'll collect every day and still hold title." "Will they multiply fast," asked Shalla, "so there will be enough for all?" "They always did on Earth. Yes. By the time we pass our estate on to our son, this investment will have multiplied in value." At the center, the slaves clustered about the bulletin boards to read the slave code. The three who had been brought aboard last stood together. Laurent Crotier and his wife Jean were still in their wedding clothes, and Sam the taxi driver was in uniform. They read the seven articles of the slave code. "We have to work twelve hours a day," Laurent observed. "And have off every seventh day. This could be worse." "We'll keep our eyes open and wait for our chance," Sam piped up. "Some day we'll make a break out of here." "Yeah," said Jean. "And remember, Frenchy, no kids." Nine months later, Laurent, Jr., was born. Before the blessed event, Laurent went to Jarth Rolan with a complaint. "She can't do it, work twelve hours a day now. You have to change the rules. By gar, if my wife die 'count of this, I goin' kill you, Jarth Rolan." Jarth Rolan waltzed about nervously, biting his fingernails. "No, we do not want her to have trouble. No. She will need proper rest. There is a meeting of the highest group council right now, concerning this. Others have the same problem. But yes, I will relieve her of work without waiting for the council's decision. Tell your wife to stay home, Laurent, until the baby is born." Laurent pushed his luck. "And after that, too. A kid got to have a mother. I do the work for three, you let my wife take care of the family." "Oh, this is a problem!" Jarth Rolan rubbed his fingers unhappily over his bald scalp. "Some of the other females are in the same condition. But it is like planting a crop—one labors hard at the beginning to reap a great harvest later. We will work this out." The next day, fifteen articles amending the code arrived and were posted. Laurent read happily. "Now," he said to Jean, "it is the law. You will stay home and have the baby." "'And for such further period'," she read, "'as is considered necessary.' You sure told him off, Frenchy." She squeezed his arm affectionately and his chest went out a little. "And remember," she said, "this is the last one." "Look at this rule," said Sam. "All kids must be educated. I'm only—" he winked at them—"thirteen. It's off the job and back to school for me." Laurent blinked. "By gar, Sam, I think you been shaving pretty near as long as I am. But if Jarth Rolan ask me, I say I know Sam is thirteen." Jarth Rolan came along to explain the amendments. "We don't want the slaves to be ignorant. Oh, no. It will be worth extra effort and expense to reap the harvest. The slaves will work at many specialized tasks. Even personal servants will read and write letters and help at business and keep accounts—yes, indeed. We must assign some slaves to teaching." A bout the time Laurent, Jr., started school, Laurent led a delegation to Jarth Rolan. "We got some complaint to make. These food servings pretty small lately. We work hard, we have to eat more." Jarth Rolan's facial skin had developed wrinkles, though the galactics' life span was comparable to a human's and he was only about forty. He fidgeted. "I am sorry—oh, yes. Sorry. There have been delays in food shipments—the same trouble all over. Too many excused from the work force, you know. Most of the women are pregnant or have children, and teachers and special assignments—but things will improve, believe me. Yes. You will soon find an improvement. Yes—very soon." The delegation talked it over outside Jarth Rolan's house. "He's been letting himself go," said a woman. "Did you notice how thin he's become? And the same with his family." Laurent reflected. "To raise a lot of kids is hard. My father, he work like hell all the time. Raise his own food, don't depend on nobody. I think that land back of the center, we should plough it up and put in some potatoes." "On our own time?" Sam exclaimed. Laurent chuckled. "Well, Sam, you got no kids—you just a young boy eighteen years old. By gar, I think you have gray hair when you twenty-one." The others joined the laughter. Sam's lie about his age had boomeranged—he had been kept in school and denied permission to marry until he was officially eighteen, a few months ago. Laurent fingered his chin thoughtfully. "I think we look over that land. Maybe we get some time out from our regular work, we do some farming." Before the blowup on Earth, the galactics had made occasional landings to gather animals and seeds of food plants. Certain centers were put under government control to grow food for the slaves. The people at Jarth Rolan's center saw that this arrangement was breaking down because of the increasing slave population and the diversion of labor to child raising. They looked over the piece of land and Laurent okayed it. They went back to Jarth Rolan. He approved at once. "Oh, indeed. I can obtain all the equipment you'll need. Get started right away. We can grow a good part of our own food. Yes. I am sure it will work out." "We goin' need some time for work the farm," Laurent pointed out. "Oh? I thought maybe in your spare time—" "You want to kill us?" Sam demanded. "Put us on an extra job after working us hard twelve hours a day?" "But—there's so little coming in. Still, maybe you're right. Worth the extra trouble and expense now. Building for the future—that's the idea." J arth Rolan notified his group leader of the arrangement and it percolated swiftly up through the hierarchy to the council of the highest group heads, who directed policy for the entire Galaxy. There were nine of them and they talked over this development. "I approve. We should have done it this way from the beginning." "Of course. But certain advocates of government control insisted on public ownership of the food farms—" "What do you mean, certain advocates? If you mean me, be galactic enough to say so." "I intend no personal offense to anybody. But there is bound to be inefficiency in any government project—" The chairman pounded the table. "Stay with the subject. It has been suggested that each center grow part of its food. I am in favor." "But it cuts down the available labor force. We're having complaints now about the shortage of slaves—" "Think of the future. I admit the present situation is difficult. It's like raising a herd of prize cattle—all expense and no profit at first. Then the herd is built up and suddenly you're rich." "But we're putting so much into it—" "The more we put in, the more we take out. And they're multiplying rapidly. Remember our new goal of two slaves for each galactic—one for the day shift and one for the night. It's the only way our people can live a decent life, freed from routine labor, devoting themselves to art and science." "That's right. We work so our children can lead the better life. It's worth some sacrifice." The chairman stood up. "Most of us seem willing to endure a little hardship now for the benefit of our children. I suggest we endorse this new procedure." L aurent, Jr., married the girl next door. Laurent celebrated the wedding with a barrel of beer he had brewed on the farm. Sam became glassy-eyed and lectured the young couple. "Just wait for the right time. Rise up and capture their spaceships. That's what we'll do. We'll go back to Earth and then let them try to get us off it again." "But Earth is dead," Laurent, Jr., objected. "We can't live there. Poisonous radiation." "By gar!" Laurent drained another brew. "You believe everything they tell you, hah? We goin' show them sometime. Like Sam says, not now, but sometime. Maybe me and Sam don't do it, but don't you kids forget—you not goin' be slaves always. You watch for the right time, like Sam says." His son looked dubious. "But what you told me about Earth doesn't sound so good. Like the way you were so cold and hungry in that shack in Canada. And Mama walking up five flights in New York after working all day in the garment factory. And all those wars! Why did you people spend half your time shooting each other, Dad?" Laurent belched indignantly. "By gar, boy! We was free! We don't have no galactic stand over us, do this, do that. We was free!" "We don't work so hard," said his son. "And look at old Jarth Rolan and the others out there—they've given us the day off, but the galactics are all busy in the fields. Everybody has to work, Dad." Laurent looked through a slight haze at the masters laboring in the potato fields. Farm work and teaching and other special assignments had created a shortage of personal slaves. Jarth Rolan gave preference in leasing slaves to those who came and helped him at the center. Since having a personal slave was a mark of prestige among the galactics, many of those laboring on the farm were from the highest levels of society. "They don't know nothing about raise potatoes," Laurent grumbled. "We put in complaint, by damn. We want each one have his own land. I work like jackass, I want to get paid for it." T he highest group council was in session. One member was explaining: "It's the custom of tipping slaves. At first, those who could get a slave were so happy that they often gave him a few coins. Now the custom is firmly established—anybody who doesn't tip a slave is considered cheap. I do it and so do you." "Of course. What's wrong with giving them a few polins now and then? Or a dopolin or two when they have a baby or a wedding?" "Nothing wrong with it, in itself. But they don't spend anything. We supply their food and clothing; nothing else we have seems to appeal to them. The money goes out of circulation. It's estimated that half the money in the Galaxy is being hoarded by slaves." "What? That's impossible. Just from those small tips?" "Small tips, but day after day; year after year. Add up some time what you've given and multiply by the number who've been doing it." "Then that's behind our economic troubles. A currency shortage. Can we take it away from them?" "Of course not. Besides being unethical, it would turn them against us. They wouldn't understand." "Then we'll abolish tipping." "Too late. What we need is an ethical way of getting back that currency." A new member spoke: "I understand that on Earth these slaves were often addicted to alcohol, gambling and various alkaloids. Perhaps we could introduce these items, under government control, of course—" He stopped. Eight pair of eyes were blazing at him. "You're new here," the chairman said. "If you ever make another suggestion like that—" They pondered. The chairman fingered some papers. "Here's a suggestion. The slaves have been petitioning for the right to own land. It seems to be the only thing they'll spend their money for." "Impossible!" "But maybe—" "We could limit the holdings." "And have the land subject to condemnation by the government at a fair price." The chairman called for order. "Let's argue this out. Remember the slaves will need time to work their land. Since their work day is down to nine hours, we'll have to arrange something." J ean had been complaining about the lumps in the mattress. When Laurent took them out, there was enough in galactic currency to buy a piece of land in his name and hers, plus a plot for each of the children, and a new mattress as well. Sam was suspicious. "They're out to get what little we've been able to save, Laurent. They can take the land anytime—for what they call a fair price. Fair! Fine chance they'll be fair about it." But Laurent kept the land and was even able to buy a piece for each grandchild, although they arrived faster and faster as his own large family grew up and married. One day Jean called him to a new house at the edge of the widely expanded center to see the latest arrival. Laurent poked a finger at the squalling creature. "So I'm another grandpa. Which one this?" "This time you're a great-grandpa, Frenchy. This is Laurent 4th." "You mean we gettin' that old? By damn! Well, I'm buy him a piece of land, too. So much new building, this land be worth plenty when he grows up." The 512th amendment permitted slaves to retire at 65. Laurent was a leading real estate dealer by that time. He had twenty-three children and more grandchildren than he could count. The center was grown to a city, its main street running through what had been his first farm. Sometimes Laurent relaxed in his rocking chair and needled Sam. "By gar, Sam, if you not the oldest-looking man of fifty-five I ever see. I think you a hundred years old when you retire. When you havin' that revolution?" "The day will come if we keep after the young ones. But damn it, Laurent, it's hard to talk any sense into them. Some of them can't even understand me." "Well, they all talk galactic, Sam. My grandson, he call himself Loran Kotay. But these young people, they have to live their own lives. Hey, look at old Jarth Rolan up there, washing his windows. Old guy should retire, Sam. I'm goin' see a couple of my boys give him a hand." B ut Jarth Rolan died before he could afford to retire and was replaced by his only grandson, Jarro Kogar. Laurent and Jean passed on shortly after, leaving nearly four hundred descendants. Jarro Kogar was a newly married galactic in his early thirties. He moved into the mansion and talked things over with his wife. "Don't see how we can afford a child right now. Wouldn't be fair to the child. Things will improve in a few years." "Of course," she said. "We're young—we'll have time to start our family. If we wait, we'll be able to give them more." They held similar conversations later and one day realized it was too late. Jarro Kogar died in his sixties. His widow directed the center for several more years. The slaves liked her and took good care of her. She left them the estate when she died. Loran Krotalu protested to the authorities that the slaves didn't want the estate. But the group heads ruled it legal under amendment 1,486, especially since no relatives could be located. Loran left the center and moved to another city where he found a galactic couple who wanted a slave. He and his family served the galactic couple for many years. This couple, like Jarro Kogar and his wife, were childless and when they both died, Loran and his wife were very grieved. After the funeral, Loran went into the city. He returned hours later, tired and depressed. "It's no use," he told his wife. "There's not an unattached galactic in the area. We might get a few hours work a week with one, but we can't have one to ourselves." "But, Loran, everybody in our set works for a galactic!" "I know," he said miserably. "But it's no use. There must be fifty slaves for every galactic. I've taken a job at the spaceship factory. It's the best I can do." M embership on the highest group council had become a killing job. Chief problem was the revision of the slave code, which had 3,697 articles. After trying for years to simplify the code, the council members called in Loran Krovalo to fill a vacancy and take over the job. Loran was known and liked by galactic and slave alike for his brilliant essays on the master-slave relationship. While he was on the council, the Cerberan affair broke out. The Cerberans, an intelligent saurian race from a globular cluster, exploded into the Galaxy in vast numbers. Military action became necessary. "We can handle them," Loran told the council. "Our factories are mobilized and we have any number of spacemen. We have robot instruments for fighting that are better than anything they have. We can carry the war to their home planets." Some of the galactics objected. "But the use of robots is forbidden. We can't fight the Cerberans with robot-controlled weapons." "Don't worry, sir," Loran said kindly. "We slaves will take care of it. Our form of religion doesn't prohibit robots unless they are in the shape of a man. We think of real robots as being human in shape." One of the galactics rose. "I know you're right, but my conscience won't let me vote for robots in any form. Therefore I am resigning from the council." A second rose, then a third and fourth. They looked at each other, and one spoke for the group. "We are also resigning. I suggest that four slaves be appointed in our places for the duration of the war. Then they will have a majority and no galactic need violate his conscience by voting for the use of robots." The Cerberans were crushed, but the infested area was huge and the invasion of the globular cluster took time. The war emergency lasted fifty years. When it was over, the slaves called on the galactics to take back control of the government. But the widespread use of robot mechanisms in the war had caused a reaction among the galactics. Their consciences simmered and a wave of orthodoxy swept over their race. There was difficulty in persuading galactics to leave their home planets to sit on the council, because faster-than-light ships used robot controls. The slaves scoured the planet that housed the council and kept two or three seats filled with galactics for a while. But they were generally old, and they died, and most of them were unmarried or childless.

Loran Crotay, twelfth-generation slave, sat in his home chatting with a friend from far-off Pornalu VI. Being in the space-shipping business, he had many friends throughout the Galaxy.
His wife answered the door and a pink humanoid shuffled in, mumbling greetings, and went into the other room. He was middle-aged, studious and bespectacled, and he wore a wig. Loran's friend watched him curiously.
"Haven't seen one of them in years, Loran. We have a reservation for the poor devils on my planet. Don't reproduce very fast, you know, and they may become extinct. Too bad—they're so likable. Always so ethical and conscientious."
"I know." Loran nodded. "We let poor Vendro make a few dopolins tutoring our son. He's very intelligent and a good teacher. I like to help them all I can—the only ethical thing to do. I wouldn't feel like a slave if I didn't give poor Vendro a break."
"That's true," said his friend. "A slave wouldn't feel right, being a member of the dominant race of the Galaxy, if he didn't help the less fortunate."

THE MATHEMATICIANS BY ARTHUR FELDMAN We gave this story to a very competent, and very pretty gal artist. We said, "Read this carefully, dream on it, and come up with an illustration." A week later, she returned with the finished drawing. "The hero," she said. We did a double take. "Hey! That's not the hero." She looked us straight in the eye. "Can you prove it?" She had us. We couldn't, and she left hurriedly to go home and cook dinner for her family. And what were they having? Frog legs—what else? They were in the garden. "Now, Zoe," said Zenia Hawkins to her nine-year-old daughter, "quit fluttering around, and papa will tell you a story." Zoe settled down in the hammock. "A true story, papa?" "It all happened exactly like I'm going to tell you," said Drake Hawkins, pinching Zoe's rosy cheek. "Now: two thousand and eleven years ago in 1985, figuring by the earthly calendar of that time, a tribe of beings from the Dog-star Sirius invaded the earth." "And what did these beings look like, father?" "Like humans in many, many respects. They each had two arms, two legs and all the other organs that humans are endowed with." "Wasn't there any difference at all between the Star-beings and the humans, papa?" "There was. The newcomers, each and all, had a pair of wings covered with green feathers growing from their shoulders, and long, purple tails." "How many of these beings were there, father?" "Exactly three million and forty-one male adults and three female adults. These creatures first appeared on Earth on the island of Sardinia. In five weeks' time they were the masters of the entire globe." "Didn't the Earth-lings fight back, papa?" "The humans warred against the invaders, using bullets, ordinary bombs, super-atom bombs and gases." Illustrator: A. Lake "What were those things like, father?" "Oh, they've passed out of existence long ago. 'Ammunition' they were called. The humans fought each other with such things." "And not with ideas, like we do now, father?" "No, with guns, just like I told you. But the invaders were immune to the ammunition." "What does 'immune' mean?" "Proof against harm. Then the humans tried germs and bacteria against the star-beings." "What were those things?" "Tiny, tiny bugs that the humans tried to inject into the bodies of the invaders to make them sicken and die. But the bugs had no effect at all on the star-beings." "Go on, papa. These beings over-ran all Earth. Go on from there." "You must know, these newcomers were vastly more intelligent than the Earth-lings. In fact, the invaders were the greatest mathematicians in the System." "What's the System? And what does mathematician mean?" "The Milky Way. A mathematician is one who is good at figuring, weighing, measuring, clever with numbers." "Then, father, the invaders killed off all the Earth-lings?" "Not all. They killed many, but many others were enslaved. Just as the humans had used horses and cattle, the newcomers so used the humans. They made workers out of some, others they slaughtered for food." "Papa, what sort of language did these Star-beings talk?" "A very simple language, but the humans were never able to master it. So, the invaders, being so much smarter, mastered all the languages of the globe." "What did the Earth-lings call the invaders, father?" "'An-vils'. Half angels, half devils." "Then, papa, everything was peaceful on Earth after the An-vils enslaved the humans?" "For a little while. Then, some of the most daring of the humans, led by a man named Knowall, escaped into the interior of Greenland. This Knowall was a psychiatrist, the foremost on Earth." "What's a psychiatrist?" "A dealer in ideas." "Then, he was very rich?" "He'd been the richest human on Earth. After some profound thought, Knowall figured a way to rid the earth of the An-vils." "How, papa?" "He perfected a method, called the Knowall-Hughes, Ilinski technique, of imbuing these An-vils with human emotions." "What does 'imbuing' mean?" "He filled them full of and made them aware of." Zenia interrupted, "Aren't you talking a bit above the child's understanding, Drake?" "No, mama," said Zoe. "I understand what papa explained. Now, don't interrupt." "So, Knowall," continued Drake, "filled the An-vils with human feelings such as Love, Hate, Ambition, Jealousy, Malice, Envy, Despair, Hope, Fear, Shame and so on. Very soon the An-vils were acting like humans, and in ten days, terrible civil wars wiped out the An-vils' population by two-thirds." "Then, papa, the An-vils finally killed off each other?" "Almost, until among them a being named Zalibar, full of saintliness and persuasion, preached the brotherhood of all An-vils. The invaders, quickly converted, quit their quarrels, and the Earth-lings were even more enslaved." "Oh, papa, weren't Knowall and his followers in Greenland awfully sad the way things had turned out?" "For a while. Then Knowall came up with the final pay-off."

Is that slang, papa? Pay-off?"
"Yes. The coup-de-grace. The ace in the hole that he'd saved, if all else failed."
"I understand, papa. The idea that would
out-trump anything the other side had to offer. What was it, father? What did they have?"
"Knowall imbued the An-vils with nostalgia."
"What is nostalgia?"
"Home sickness."
"Oh, papa, wasn't Knowall smart? That meant, the An-vils were all filled with the desire to fly back to the star from where they had started."
"Exactly. So, one day, all the An-vils, an immense army, flapping their great green wings, assembled in the Black Hills of North America, and, at a given signal, they all rose up from Earth and all the humans chanted, 'Glory, glory, the day of our deliverance!'"
"So then, father, all the An-vils flew away from Earth?"
"Not all. There were two child An-vils, one male and one female, aged two years, who had been born on Earth, and they started off with all the other An-vils and flew up into the sky. But when they reached the upper limits of the strato-sphere, they hesitated, turned tail and fluttered back to Earth where they had been born. Their names were Zizzo and Zizza."
"And what happened to Zizzo and Zizza, papa?"
"Well, like all the An-vils, they were great mathematicians. So, they multiplied."
"Oh, papa," laughed Zoe, flapping her wings excitedly, "that was a very nice story

Toward sundown, in the murky drizzle, the man who called himself Ord brought Lieutenant colonel William Barrett Travis word that the Mexican light cavalry had completely invested Bexar, and that some light guns were being set up across the San Antonio River. Even as he spoke, there was a flash and bang from the west, and a shell screamed over the old mission walls. Travis looked worried. "What kind of guns?" he asked. "Nothing to worry about, sir," Ord said. "Only a few one-pounders, nothing of respectable siege caliber. General Santa Anna has had to move too fast for any big stuff to keep up." Ord spoke in his odd accent. After all, he was a Britainer, or some other kind of foreigner. But he spoke good Spanish, and he seemed to know everything. In the four or five days since he had appeared he had become very useful to Travis. Frowning, Travis asked, "How many Mexicans, do you think, Ord?" "Not more than a thousand, now," the dark-haired, blue-eyed young man said confidently. "But when the main body arrives, there'll be four, five thousand." Travis shook his head. "How do you get all this information, Ord? You recite it like you had read it all some place—like it were history." Ord merely smiled. "Oh, I don't know everything, colonel. That is why I had to come here. There is so much we don't know about what happened.... I mean, sir, what will happen—in the Alamo." His sharp eyes grew puzzled for an instant. "And some things don't seem to match up, somehow—" Travis looked at him sympathetically. Ord talked queerly at times, and Travis suspected he was a bit deranged. This was understandable, for the man was undoubtedly a Britainer aristocrat, a refugee from Napoleon's thousand-year Empire. Travis had heard about the detention camps and the charcoal ovens ... but once, when he had mentioned the Empereur's sack of London in '06, Ord had gotten a very queer look in his eyes, as if he had forgotten completely. But John Ord, or whatever his name was, seemed to be the only man in the Texas forces who understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to do. Now Travis looked around at the thick adobe wall surrounding the old mission in which they stood. In the cold, yellowish twilight even the flaring cook fires of his hundred and eighty-two men could not dispel the ghostly air that clung to the old place. Travis shivered involuntarily. But the walls were thick, and they could turn one-pounders. He asked, "What was it you called this place, Ord ... the Mexican name?" "The Alamo, sir." A slow, steady excitement seemed to burn in the Britainer's bright eyes. "Santa Anna won't forget that name, you can be sure. You'll want to talk to the other officers now, sir? About the message we drew up for Sam Houston?" "Yes, of course," Travis said absently. He watched Ord head for the walls. No doubt about it, Ord understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to do here. So few of the others seemed to care. Travis was suddenly very glad that John Ord had shown up when he did. On the walls, Ord found the man he sought, broad-shouldered and tall in a fancy Mexican jacket. "The commandant's compliments, sir, and he desires your presence in the chapel." The big man put away the knife with which he had been whittling. The switchblade snicked back and disappeared into a side pocket of the jacket, while Ord watched it with fascinated eyes. "What's old Bill got his britches hot about this time?" the big man asked. "I wouldn't know, sir," Ord said stiffly and moved on. Bang-bang-bang roared the small Mexican cannon from across the river. Pow-pow-pow! The little balls only chipped dust from the thick adobe walls. Ord smiled. He found the second man he sought, a lean man with a weathered face, leaning against a wall and chewing tobacco. This man wore a long, fringed, leather lounge jacket, and he carried a guitar slung beside his Rock Island rifle. He squinted up at Ord. "I know ... I know," he muttered. "Willy Travis is in an uproar again. You reckon that colonel's commission that Congress up in Washington-on-the-Brazos give him swelled his head?" Rather stiffly, Ord said, "Colonel, the commandant desires an officers' conference in the chapel, now." Ord was somewhat annoyed. He had not realized he would find these Americans so—distasteful. Hardly preferable to Mexicans, really. Not at all as he had imagined. For an instant he wished he had chosen Drake and the Armada instead of this pack of ruffians—but no, he had never been able to stand sea sickness. He couldn't have taken the Channel, not even for five minutes. And there was no changing now. He had chosen this place and time carefully, at great expense—actually, at great risk, for the X-4-A had aborted twice, and he had had a hard time bringing her in. But it had got him here at last. And, because for a historian he had always been an impetuous and daring man, he grinned now, thinking of the glory that was to come. And he was a participant—much better than a ringside seat! Only he would have to be careful, at the last, to slip away. John Ord knew very well how this coming battle had ended, back here in 1836. He marched back to William Barrett Travis, clicked heels smartly. Travis' eyes glowed; he was the only senior officer here who loved military punctilio. "Sir, they are on the way." "Thank you, Ord," Travis hesitated a moment. "Look, Ord. There will be a battle, as we know. I know so little about you. If something should happen to you, is there anyone to write? Across the water?" Ord grinned. "No, sir. I'm afraid my ancestor wouldn't understand." Travis shrugged. Who was he to say that Ord was crazy? In this day and age, any man with vision was looked on as mad. Sometimes he felt closer to Ord than to the others. T he two officers Ord had summoned entered the chapel. The big man in the Mexican jacket tried to dominate the wood table at which they sat. He towered over the slender, nervous Travis, but the commandant, straight-backed and arrogant, did not give an inch. "Boys, you know Santa Anna has invested us. We've been fired on all day—" He seemed to be listening for something. Wham! Outside, a cannon split the dusk with flame and sound as it fired from the walls. "There is my answer!" The man in the lounge coat shrugged. "What I want to know is what our orders are. What does old Sam say? Sam and me were in Congress once. Sam's got good sense; he can smell the way the wind's blowin'." He stopped speaking and hit his guitar a few licks. He winked across the table at the officer in the Mexican jacket who took out his knife. "Eh, Jim?" "Right," Jim said. "Sam's a good man, although I don't think he ever met a payroll." "General Houston's leaving it up to me," Travis told them. "Well, that's that," Jim said unhappily. "So what you figurin' to do, Bill?" Travis stood up in the weak, flickering candlelight, one hand on the polished hilt of his saber. The other two men winced, watching him. "Gentlemen, Houston's trying to pull his militia together while he falls back. You know, Texas was woefully unprepared for a contest at arms. The general's idea is to draw Santa Anna as far into Texas as he can, then hit him when he's extended, at the right place, and right time. But Houston needs more time—Santa Anna's moved faster than any of us anticipated. Unless we can stop the Mexican Army and take a little steam out of them, General Houston's in trouble." Jim flicked the knife blade in and out. "Go on." "This is where we come in, gentlemen. Santa Anna can't leave a force of one hundred eighty men in his rear. If we hold fast, he must attack us. But he has no siege equipment, not even large field cannon." Travis' eye gleamed. "Think of it, boys! He'll have to mount a frontal attack, against protected American riflemen. Ord, couldn't your Englishers tell him a few things about that!" "Whoa, now," Jim barked. "Billy, anybody tell you there's maybe four or five thousand Mexicaners comin'?" "Let them come. Less will leave!" But Jim, sour-faced turned to the other man. "Davey? You got something to say?" "Hell, yes. How do we get out, after we done pinned Santa Anna down? You thought of that, Billy boy?" Travis shrugged. "There is an element of grave risk, of course. Ord, where's the document, the message you wrote up for me? Ah, thank you." Travis cleared his throat. "Here's what I'm sending on to general Houston." He read, "Commandancy of the Alamo, February 24, 1836 ... are you sure of that date, Ord?" "Oh, I'm sure of that," Ord said. "Never mind—if you're wrong we can change it later. 'To the People of Texas and all Americans in the World. Fellow Freemen and Compatriots! I am besieged with a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment for many hours but have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison is to be put to the sword, if taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly over the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character—" He paused, frowning, "This language seems pretty old-fashioned, Ord—" "Oh, no, sir. That's exactly right," Ord murmured. "'... To come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his honor or that of his homeland. VICTORY OR DEATH!'" T ravis stopped reading, looked up. "Wonderful! Wonderful!" Ord breathed. "The greatest words of defiance ever written in the English tongue—and so much more literate than that chap at Bascogne." "You mean to send that?" Jim gasped. The man called Davey was holding his head in his hands. "You object, Colonel Bowie?" Travis asked icily. "Oh, cut that 'colonel' stuff, Bill," Bowie said. "It's only a National Guard title, and I like 'Jim' better, even though I am a pretty important man. Damn right I have an objection! Why, that message is almost aggressive. You'd think we wanted to fight Santa Anna! You want us to be marked down as warmongers? It'll give us trouble when we get to the negotiation table—" Travis' head turned. "Colonel Crockett?" "What Jim says goes for me, too. And this: I'd change that part about all Americans, et cetera. You don't want anybody to think we think we're better than the Mexicans. After all, Americans are a minority in the world. Why not make it 'all men who love security?' That'd have world-wide appeal—" "Oh, Crockett," Travis hissed. Crockett stood up. "Don't use that tone of voice to me, Billy Travis! That piece of paper you got don't make you no better'n us. I ran for Congress twice, and won. I know what the people want—" "What the people want doesn't mean a damn right now," Travis said harshly. "Don't you realize the tyrant is at the gates?" Crockett rolled his eyes heavenward. "Never thought I'd hear a good American say that! Billy, you'll never run for office—" Bowie held up a hand, cutting into Crockett's talk. "All right, Davey. Hold up. You ain't runnin' for Congress now. Bill, the main thing I don't like in your whole message is that part about victory or death. That's got to go. Don't ask us to sell that to the troops!" Travis closed his eyes briefly. "Boys, listen. We don't have to tell the men about this. They don't need to know the real story until it's too late for them to get out. And then we shall cover ourselves with such glory that none of us shall ever be forgotten. Americans are the best fighters in the world when they are trapped. They teach this in the Foot School back on the Chatahoochee. And if we die, to die for one's country is sweet—" "Hell with that," Crockett drawled. "I don't mind dyin', but not for these big landowners like Jim Bowie here. I just been thinkin'—I don't own nothing in Texas." "I resent that," Bowie shouted. "You know very well I volunteered, after I sent my wife off to Acapulco to be with her family." With an effort, he calmed himself. "Look, Travis. I have some reputation as a fighting man—you know I lived through the gang wars back home. It's obvious this Alamo place is indefensible, even if we had a thousand men." "But we must delay Santa Anna at all costs—" Bowie took out a fine, dark Mexican cigar and whittled at it with his blade. Then he lit it, saying around it, "All right, let's all calm down. Nothing a group of good men can't settle around a table. Now listen. I got in with this revolution at first because I thought old Emperor Iturbide would listen to reason and lower taxes. But nothin's worked out, because hot-heads like you, Travis, queered the deal. All this yammerin' about liberty! Mexico is a Republic, under an Emperor, not some kind of democracy, and we can't change that. Let's talk some sense before it's too late. We're all too old and too smart to be wavin' the flag like it's the Fourth of July. Sooner or later, we're goin' to have to sit down and talk with the Mexicans. And like Davey said, I own a million hectares, and I've always paid minimum wage, and my wife's folks are way up there in the Imperial Government of the Republic of Mexico. That means I got influence in all the votin' groups, includin' the American Immigrant, since I'm a minority group member myself. I think I can talk to Santa Anna, and even to old Iturbide. If we sign a treaty now with Santa Anna, acknowledge the law of the land, I think our lives and property rights will be respected—" He cocked an eye toward Crockett. "Makes sense, Jim. That's the way we do it in Congress. Compromise, everybody happy. We never allowed ourselves to be led nowhere we didn't want to go, I can tell you! And Bill, you got to admit that we're in better bargaining position if we're out in the open, than if old Santa Anna's got us penned up in this old Alamo." "Ord," Travis said despairingly. "Ord, you understand. Help me! Make them listen!" O rd moved into the candlelight, his lean face sweating. "Gentlemen, this is all wrong! It doesn't happen this way—" Crockett sneered, "Who asked you, Ord? I'll bet you ain't even got a poll tax!" Decisively, Bowie said, "We're free men, Travis, and we won't be led around like cattle. How about it, Davey? Think you could handle the rear guard, if we try to move out of here?" "Hell, yes! Just so we're movin'!" "O.K. Put it to a vote of the men outside. Do we stay, and maybe get croaked, or do we fall back and conserve our strength until we need it? Take care of it, eh, Davey?" Crockett picked up his guitar and went outside. Travis roared, "This is insubordination! Treason!" He drew his saber, but Bowie took it from him and broke it in two. Then the big man pulled his knife. "Stay back, Ord. The Alamo isn't worth the bones of a Britainer, either." "Colonel Bowie, please," Ord cried. "You don't understand! You must defend the Alamo! This is the turning point in the winning of the west! If Houston is beaten, Texas will never join the Union! There will be no Mexican War. No California, no nation stretching from sea to shining sea! This is the Americans' manifest destiny. You are the hope of the future ... you will save the world from Hitler, from Bolshevism—" "Crazy as a hoot owl," Bowie said sadly. "Ord, you and Travis got to look at it both ways. We ain't all in the right in this war—we Americans got our faults, too." "But you are free men," Ord whispered. "Vulgar, opinionated, brutal—but free! You are still better than any breed who kneels to tyranny—" Crockett came in. "O.K., Jim." "How'd it go?" "Fifty-one per cent for hightailin' it right now." Bowie smiled. "That's a flat majority. Let's make tracks." "Comin', Bill?" Crockett asked. "You're O.K., but you just don't know how to be one of the boys. You got to learn that no dog is better'n any other." "No," Travis croaked hoarsely. "I stay. Stay or go, we shall all die like dogs, anyway. Boys, for the last time! Don't reveal our weakness to the enemy—" "What weakness? We're stronger than them. Americans could whip the Mexicans any day, if we wanted to. But the thing to do is make 'em talk, not fight. So long, Bill." The two big men stepped outside. In the night there was a sudden clatter of hoofs as the Texans mounted and rode. From across the river came a brief spatter of musket fire, then silence. In the dark, there had been no difficulty in breaking through the Mexican lines. Inside the chapel, John Ord's mouth hung slackly. He muttered, "Am I insane? It didn't happen this way—it couldn't! The books can't be that wrong—" In the candlelight, Travis hung his head. "We tried, John. Perhaps it was a forlorn hope at best. Even if we had defeated Santa Anna, or delayed him, I do not think the Indian Nations would have let Houston get help from the United States." Ord continued his dazed muttering, hardly hearing. "We need a contiguous frontier with Texas," Travis continued slowly, just above a whisper. "But we Americans have never broken a treaty with the Indians, and pray God we never shall. We aren't like the Mexicans, always pushing, always grabbing off New Mexico, Arizona, California. We aren't colonial oppressors, thank God! No, it wouldn't have worked out, even if we American immigrants had secured our rights in Texas—" He lifted a short, heavy, percussion pistol in his hand and cocked it. "I hate to say it, but perhaps if we hadn't taken Payne and Jefferson so seriously—if we could only have paid lip service, and done what we really wanted to do, in our hearts ... no matter. I won't live to see our final disgrace." He put the pistol to his head and blew out his brains. O rd was still gibbering when the Mexican cavalry stormed into the old mission, pulling down the flag and seizing him, dragging him before the resplendent little general in green and gold. Since he was the only prisoner, Santa Anna questioned Ord carefully. When the sharp point of a bayonet had been thrust half an inch into his stomach, the Britainer seemed to come around. When he started speaking, and the Mexicans realized he was English, it went better with him. Ord was obviously mad, it seemed to Santa Anna, but since he spoke English and seemed educated, he could be useful. Santa Anna didn't mind the raving; he understood all about Napoleon's detention camps and what they had done to Britainers over there. In fact, Santa Anna was thinking of setting up a couple of those camps himself. When they had milked Ord dry, they threw him on a horse and took him along. Thus John Ord had an excellent view of the battlefield when Santa Anna's cannon broke the American lines south of the Trinity. Unable to get his men across to safety, Sam Houston died leading the last, desperate charge against the Mexican regulars. After that, the American survivors were too tired to run from the cavalry that pinned them against the flooding river. Most of them died there. Santa Anna expressed complete indifference to what happened to the Texans' women and children. Mexican soldiers found Jim Bowie hiding in a hut, wearing a plain linen tunic and pretending to be a civilian. They would not have discovered his identity had not some of the Texan women cried out, "Colonel Bowie—Colonel Bowie!" as he was led into the Mexican camp. He was hauled before Santa Anna, and Ord was summoned to watch. "Well, don Jaime," Santa Anna remarked, "You have been a foolish man. I promised your wife's uncle to send you to Acapulco safely, though of course your lands are forfeit. You understand we must have lands for the veterans' program when this campaign is over—" Santa Anna smiled then. "Besides, since Ord here has told me how instrumental you were in the abandonment of the Alamo, I think the Emperor will agree to mercy in your case. You know, don Jaime, your compatriots had me worried back there. The Alamo might have been a tough nut to crack ... pues, no matter." And since Santa Anna had always been broadminded, not objecting to light skin or immigrant background, he invited Bowie to dinner that night. S anta Anna turned to Ord. "But if we could catch this rascally war criminal, Crockett ... however, I fear he has escaped us. He slipped over the river with a fake passport, and the Indians have interned him." "Sí, Señor Presidente," Ord said dully. "Please, don't call me that," Santa Anna cried, looking around. "True, many of us officers have political ambitions, but Emperor Iturbide is old and vain. It could mean my head—"

Suddenly, Ord's head was erect, and the old, clear light was in his blue eyes. "Now I understand!" he shouted. "I thought Travis was raving back there, before he shot himself—and your talk of the Emperor! American respect for Indian rights! Jeffersonian form of government! Oh, those ponces who peddled me that X-4-A—the track jumper! I'm not back in my own past. I've jumped the time track—I'm back in a screaming alternate!"
"Please, not so loud, Señor Ord," Santa Anna sighed. "Now, we must shoot a few more American officers, of course. I regret this, you understand, and I shall no doubt be much criticized in French Canada and Russia, where there are still civilized values. But we must establish the Republic of the Empire once and for all upon this continent, that aristocratic tyranny shall not perish from the earth. Of course, as an Englishman, you understand perfectly, Señor Ord."
"Of course, excellency," Ord said.
"There are soft hearts—soft heads, I say—in Mexico who cry for civil rights for the Americans. But I must make sure that Mexican dominance is never again threatened north of the Rio Grande."
"Seguro, excellency," Ord said, suddenly. If the bloody X-4-A had jumped the track, there was no getting back, none at all. He was stuck here. Ord's blue eyes narrowed. "After all, it ... it is manifest destiny that the Latin peoples of North America meet at the center of the continent. Canada and Mexico shall share the Mississippi."
Santa Anna's dark eyes glowed. "You say what I have often thought. You are a man of vision, and much sense. You realize the Indios must go, whether they were here first or not. I think I will make you my secretary, with the rank of captain."
"Gracias, Excellency."
"Now, let us write my communique to the capital, Capitán Ord. We must describe how the American abandonment of the Alamo allowed me to press the traitor Houston so closely he had no chance to maneuver his men into the trap he sought. Ay, Capitán, it is a cardinal principle of the Anglo-Saxons, to get themselves into a trap from which they must fight their way out. This I never let them do, which is why I succeed where others fail ... you said something, Capitán?"
", Excellency. I said, I shall title our communique: 'Remember the Alamo,'" Ord said, standing at attention.
"Bueno! You have a gift for words. Indeed, if ever we feel the gringos are too much for us, your words shall once again remind us of the truth!" Santa Anna smiled. "I think I shall make you a major. You have indeed coined a phrase which shall live in history forever!"

dilluns, 25 d’abril de 2016

There Is A Reaper ... By Charles V. De Vet Doctors had given him just one month to live. A month to wonder, what comes afterward? There was one way to find out—ask a dead man! The amber brown of the liquor disguised the poison it held, and I watched with a smile on my lips as he drank it. There was no pity in my heart for him. He was a jackal in the jungle of life, and I ... I was one of the carnivores. It is the lot of the jackals of life to be devoured by the carnivore. Suddenly the contented look on his face froze into a startled stillness. I knew he was feeling the first savage twinge of the agony that was to come. He turned his head and looked at me, and I saw suddenly that he knew what I had done. "You murderer!" he cursed me, and then his body arched in the middle and his voice choked off deep in his throat. For a short minute he sat, tense, his body stiffened by the agony that rode it—unable to move a muscle. I watched the torment in his eyes build up to a crescendo of pain, until the suffering became so great that it filmed his eyes, and I knew that, though he still stared directly at me, he no longer saw me. Then, as suddenly as the spasm had come, the starch went out of his body and his back slid slowly down the chair edge. He landed heavily with his head resting limply against the seat of the chair. His right leg doubled up in a kind of jerk, before he was still. I knew the time had come. "Where are you?" I asked. This moment had cost me sixty thousand dollars. Three weeks ago the best doctors in the state had given me a month to live. And with seven million dollars in the bank I couldn't buy a minute more. I accepted the doctors' decision philosophically, like the gambler that I am. But I had a plan: One which necessity had never forced me to use until now. Several years before I had read an article about the medicine men of a certain tribe of aborigines living in the jungles at the source of the Amazon River. They had discovered a process in which the juice of a certain bush—known only to them—could be used to poison a man. Anyone subjected to this poison died, but for a few minutes after the life left his body the medicine men could still converse with him. The subject, though ostensibly and actually dead, answered the medicine men's every question. This was their primitive, though reportedly effective method of catching glimpses of what lay in the world of death. I had conceived my idea at the time I read the article, but I had never had the need to use it—until the doctors gave me a month to live. Then I spent my sixty thousand dollars, and three weeks later I held in my hands a small bottle of the witch doctors' fluid. The next step was to secure my victim—my collaborator, I preferred to call him. The man I chose was a nobody. A homeless, friendless non-entity, picked up off the street. He had once been an educated man. But now he was only a bum, and when he died he'd never be missed. A perfect man for my experiment. I'm a rich man because I have a system. The system is simple: I never make a move until I know exactly where that move will lead me. My field of operations is the stock market. I spend money unstintingly to secure the information I need before I take each step. I hire the best investigators, bribe employees and persons in position to give me the information I want, and only when I am as certain as humanly possible that I cannot be wrong do I move. And the system never fails. Seven million dollars in the bank is proof of that. Now, knowing that I could not live, I intended to make the system work for me one last time before I died. I'm a firm believer in the adage that any situation can be whipped, given prior knowledge of its coming—and, of course, its attendant circumstances. For a moment he did not answer and I began to fear that my experiment had failed. "Where are you?" I repeated, louder and sharper this time. The small muscles about his eyes puckered with an unnormal tension while the rest of his face held its death frost. Slowly, slowly, unnaturally—as though energized by some hyper-rational power—his lips and tongue moved. The words he spoke were clear. "I am in a ... a ... tunnel," he said. "It is lighted, dimly, but there is nothing for me to see." Blue veins showed through the flesh of his cheeks like watermarks on translucent paper. He paused and I urged, "Go on." "I am alone," he said. "The realities I knew no longer exist, and I am damp and cold. All about me is a sense of gloom and dejection. It is an apprehension—an emanation—so deep and real as to be almost a tangible thing. The walls to either side of me seem to be formed, not of substance, but rather of the soundless cries of melancholy of spirits I cannot see. "I am waiting, waiting in the gloom for something which will come to me. That need to wait is an innate part of my being and I have no thought of questioning it." His voice died again. "What are you waiting for?" I asked. "I do not know," he said, his voice dreary with the despair of centuries of hopelessness. "I only know that I must wait—that compulsion is greater than my strength to combat." The tone of his voice changed slightly. "The tunnel about me is widening and now the walls have receded into invisibility. The tunnel has become a plain, but the plain is as desolate, as forlorn and dreary as was the tunnel, and still I stand and wait. How long must this go on?" He fell silent again, and I was about to prompt him with another question—I could not afford to let the time run out in long silences—but abruptly the muscles about his eyes tightened and subtly a new aspect replaced their hopeless dejection. Now they expressed a black, bottomless terror. For a moment I marveled that so small a portion of a facial anatomy could express such horror. "There is something coming toward me," he said. "A—beast—of brutish foulness! Beast is too inadequate a term to describe it, but I know no words to tell its form. It is an intangible and evasive—thing—but very real. And it is coming closer! It has no organs of sight as I know them, but I feel that it can see me. Or rather that it is aware of me with a sense sharper than vision itself. It is very near now. Oh God, the malevolence, the hate—the potentiality of awful, fearsome destructiveness that is its very essence! And still I cannot move!" The expression of terrified anticipation, centered in his eyes, lessened slightly, and was replaced, instantly, by its former deep, deep despair. "I am no longer afraid," he said. "Why?" I interjected. "Why?" I was impatient to learn all that I could before the end came. "Because ..." He paused. "Because it holds no threat for me. Somehow, someday, I understand—I know—that it too is seeking that for which I wait." "What is it doing now?" I asked. "It has stopped beside me and we stand together, gazing across the stark, empty plain. Now a second awful entity, with the same leashed virulence about it, moves up and stands at my other side. We all three wait, myself with a dark fear of this dismal universe, my unnatural companions with patient, malicious menace. "Bits of ..." He faltered. "Of ... I can name it only aura, go out from the beasts like an acid stream, and touch me, and the hate, and the venom chill my body like a wave of intense cold. "Now there are others of the awful breed behind me. We stand, waiting, waiting for that which will come. What it is I do not know." I could see the pallor of death creeping steadily into the last corners of his lips, and I knew that the end was not far away. Suddenly a black frustration built up within me. "What are you waiting for?" I screamed, the tenseness, and the importance of this moment forcing me to lose the iron self-control upon which I have always prided myself. I knew that the answer held the secret of what I must know. If I could learn that, my experiment would not be in vain, and I could make whatever preparations were necessary for my own death. I had to know that answer. "Think! Think!" I pleaded. "What are you waiting for?" "I do not know!" The dreary despair in his eyes, sightless as they met mine, chilled me with a coldness that I felt in the marrow of my being. "I do not know," he repeated. "I ... Yes, I do know!" Abruptly the plasmatic film cleared from his eyes and I knew that for the first time, since the poison struck, he was seeing me, clearly. I sensed that this was the last moment before he left—for good. It had to be now! "Tell me. I command you," I cried. "What are you waiting for?" His voice was quiet as he murmured, softly, implacably, before he was gone. "We are waiting," he said, "for you."

the buttoned sky

THEY OPENED THE PANDORA'S BOX OF ATOMIC TRAVEL When George Randolph first caught sight of Orena, he was astounded by its gleaming perfection. Here were hills and valleys, lakes and streams, glowing with the light of the most precious of metals. And, more astonishing than that, it was a world of miniature perfection—an infinitely tiny universe within a golden atom! But for Randolph it was also a world aglow with danger. Somewhere in its tiny vastness were the friends he had to rescue. Captives of a madman, they had been reduced to native Orena size; to return to Earth they needed the growth capsules Randolph was bringing them. It was up to Randolph to find them—and quickly—for the longer they stayed tiny, the closer they came to passing BEYOND THE VANISHING POINT It was shortly after noon of December 31, 1970, when the series of weird and startling events began which took me into the tiny world of an atom of gold, beyond the vanishing point, beyond the range of even the highest-powered electric-microscope. My name is George Randolph. I was, that momentous afternoon, assistant chemist for the Ajax International Dye Company, with main offices in New York City. It was twelve-twenty when the local exchange call-sorter announced Alan's connection from Quebec. "Hello, George? Look here, you've got to come up here at once. Chateau Frontenac, Quebec. Will you come?" I could see his face imaged in the little mirror on my desk; the anxiety, tenseness in his voice, was duplicated in his expression. "Well—" I began. "You must, George. Babs and I need you. See here...." He tried at first to make it sound like an invitation for a New Year's Eve holiday. But I knew it was not that. Alan and Barbara were my best friends. They were twins, eighteen years old. I felt that Alan would always be my best friend; but for Babs, my hopes, longings, went far deeper, though as yet I had never brought myself to the point of telling her so. "I'd like to come, Alan. But—"[Pg 6] "You've got to George! I can't tell you everything over the public air. But I've seen him: He's diabolical. I know it now!" Him! It could only mean, of all the world, one person! "He's here!" he went on. "Near here. We saw him today! I didn't want to tell you, but that's why we came. It seemed a long chance, but it's he, I'm positive!" I was staring at the image of Alan's eyes; there was horror in them. And his voice too. "God, George, it's weird! Weird, I tell you. His looks—he—oh I can't tell you now! Only, come!" I was busy at the office in spite of the holiday season, but I dropped everything and went. By one o'clock that afternoon I was wheeling my little sport Midge from its cage on the roof of the Metropole building, and went into the air. It was a cold gray afternoon with the feel of coming snow. I made a good two hundred and fifty miles at first, taking the northbound through-traffic lane which today the meteorological conditions had placed at an altitude of 6,200 feet. Flying is largely automatic. There was not enough traffic to bother me. The details of leaving the office so hastily had been too engrossing for thought of Alan and Babs. But now, in my little pit at the controls, my mind flung ahead. They had located him. That meant Franz Polter, for whom we had been searching nearly four years. And my memory went back into the past with vivid vision.... The Kents, four years ago, were living on Long Island. Alan and Babs were fourteen at the time, and I was seventeen. Even then Babs was something kind of special to me. I lived in a neighboring house that summer and saw them every day. To my adolescent mind a thrilling mystery hung upon the Kent family. The mother was dead. Dr. Kent, father of[Pg 7] Alan and Babs, maintained a luxurious home, with only a housekeeper and no other servant. Dr. Kent was a retired chemist. He had, in his home, a laboratory in which he was working upon some mysterious problem. His children did not know what it was, nor, of course, did I. And none of us had ever been in the laboratory, except that when occasion offered we stole surreptitious peeps. I recall Dr. Kent as a kindly, iron-gray haired gentleman. He was stern with the discipline of his children; but he loved them, and was indulgent in many ways. They loved him; and I, an orphan, began looking upon him almost as a father. I was interested in chemistry. He knew it, and did his best to help and encourage me in my studies. There came an afternoon in the summer of 1966, when arriving at the Kent home, I ran upon a startling scene. The only other member of the household was a young fellow of twenty-five, named Franz Polter. He was a foreigner, born, I understood, in one of the Balkan Protectorates; he was here, employed by Dr. Kent as laboratory assistant. He had been with the Kents, at this time, two years. Alan and Babs didn't like him, nor did I. He must have been a clever, skillful chemist. No doubt he was. But he was, to us, repulsive. A hunchback, with a short, thick body; dangling arms that suggested a gorilla; barrel chest; a lump set askew on his left shoulder, and his massive head planted down with almost no neck. His face was rugged in feature; a wide mouth, a high-bridged heavy nose; and above the face a great shock of wavy black hair. It was an intelligent face; in itself, not repulsive. But I think we all three feared Franz Polter. There was always something sinister about him, that had nothing to do with his deformity. When I came, that afternoon, Babs and Polter were under a tree on the Kent lawn. Babs, at fourteen, with long black[Pg 8] braids down her back, bare-legged and short-skirted in a summer sport costume, was standing against the tree with Polter facing her. They were about the same height. To my youthful imaginative mind rose the fleeting picture of a young girl in a forest menaced by a gorilla. I came upon them suddenly. I heard Polter say: "But I lof you. And you are almos' a woman. Some day you lof me." He put out his thick hand and gripped her shoulder. She tried to twist away. She was frightened, but she laughed. "You—you're crazy!" He was suddenly holding her in his arms, and she was fighting him. I dashed forward. Babs was always a spunky sort of girl. In spite of her fear now, she kept on struggling, and she shouted: "You—let me go, you—you hunchback!" He did let her go; but in a frenzy of rage he hauled back his hand and struck her in the face. I was upon him the next second. I had him down on the lawn, punching him; but though at seventeen I was a reasonably husky lad, the hunchback with his thick, hairy gorilla arms proved much stronger. He heaved me off. The commotion had brought Alan and without waiting to find out what the trouble was, he jumped on Polter. Between us, I think we would have beaten him pretty badly. But the housekeeper summoned Dr. Kent and the fight was over. Polter left for good within an hour. He did not speak to any of us. But I saw him as he put his luggage into the taxi which Dr. Kent had summoned. I was standing silently nearby with Babs and Alan. The look he flung us as he drove away carried an unmistakable menace—the promise of vengeance. And I think now that in his warped and twisted mind he was telling himself that he would some day make Babs regret that she had repulsed his love.[Pg 9] What happened that night none of us ever knew. Dr. Kent worked late in his laboratory; he was there when Alan and Babs and the housekeeper went to bed. He had written a note to Alan; it was found on his desk in a corner of the laboratory next morning, addressed in care of the family lawyer to be given Alan in the event of his death. It said very little. Described a tiny fragment of gold quartz rock the size of a walnut which would be found under the giant microscope in the laboratory; and told Alan to give it to the American Scientific Society to be guarded and watched very carefully. This note was found, but Dr. Kent had vanished! There had been a midnight marauder. The laboratory was on the lower floor of the house. Through one of its open windows, so the police said, an intruder had entered. There was evidence of a struggle, but it must have been short, because neither Babs, Alan, the housekeeper, nor any of the neighbors had heard anything. And the fragment of golden quartz was gone! The police investigation came to nothing. Polter was found in New York. He withstood the police questions. There was nothing except suspicion upon which he could be held, and he was finally released. Immediately thereafter, he disappeared. Neither Alan, Babs nor I saw Polter again. Dr. Kent had never been heard from to this day, four years later when I flew to join the twins in Quebec. And now Alan told me that Polter was up there! We had never ceased to believe that Dr. Kent was alive, and that Polter was the midnight marauder. As we grew older, we began to search for Polter. It seemed to us, that if we could once get our hands on him, we could drag from him the truth which the police had failed to get.[Pg 10] The call of a traffic director in mid-Vermont brought me back from these memories. My buzzer was clanging; a peremptory halting signal day-beam came darting up at me from below. It caught me and clung. I shouted down at it. "What's the matter?" I gave my name and number and all the details in one breath. Above everything I had no wish to be halted now. "What's the matter? I haven't done anything wrong." "The hell you haven't," the director roared. "Come down to three thousand. That lane's barred." I dove obediently and his beam followed me. "Once more, like that, young fellow—" But he went busy with somebody else and I didn't hear the end of his threat. I crossed into Maine in mid-afternoon. It was already twilight. The sky was solid lead and the landscape all up through here was gray-white with snow in the gathering darkness. I passed the City of Jackman, crossing full over it to take no chances of annoying the border officials; and a few miles further, I dropped to the glaring lights of International Inspection Field. The formalities were soon finished. I was ready to take-off when Alan rushed at me. "George! I thought I could connect here." He gripped me. He was wild-eyed, incoherent. He waved his taxiplane away. "I'm going with you, George. I'm almost out of my mind. I can't—I don't know what's happened to her. She's gone, now—" "Who's gone? Babs?" "Yes." He pushed me into my plane and climbed in after me. "Don't talk. Get us up! I'll tell you then. I shouldn't have left." When we were up in the air, I swung on him. "What are you talking about? Babs gone?" I could feel myself shuddering with a nameless horror.[Pg 11] "I don't know what I'm talking about, George. I'm about crazy. The Quebec police think I am, anyway. I've been raising hell with them for an hour. Babs is gone! I can't find her. I don't know where she is." He finally calmed down enough to tell me what happened. Shortly after his radiophone to me in New York, he had missed Babs. They had had lunch in the huge hotel and then walked on the Dufferin Terrace—the famous promenade outside looking down over the Lower City, the great sweep of the St. Lawrence River and the gray-white distant Laurentian mountains. "I was to meet her inside. I went in ahead of her. But she didn't come. I went back to the Terrace but she was gone. She wasn't in our rooms. Nor the library, the lobby—anywhere." But it was afternoon, in the public place of a civilized city. In the daylight of the Dufferin Terrace, beside the long ice toboggan slide, under the gaze of skaters on the ice-rink and several hundred holiday merrymakers, a young girl could hardly be murdered, or kidnapped, without attracting attention! The Quebec police thought the young American unduly excited about his sister, who was missing only an hour. They would do what they could, if by dark she had not rejoined him. They suggested that doubtless the young lady had gone shopping. "Maybe she did," I agreed. But in my heart, I felt differently. "She'll be waiting for us in the Hotel when we get there, Alan." "But I'm telling you we saw Polter this morning. He lives here—not thirty miles from Quebec. We saw him on the Terrace after breakfast. Recognized him immediately of course." "Did he see you?" "I don't know. He was lost in the crowd in a minute.[Pg 12] But I asked a young French fellow if he knew him. He did know him, as Frank Rascor. That must be the name he wears now. He's a famous man up here—well known, immensely rich. I didn't know if he saw us or not. What a fool I was to leave Babs alone, even for a minute." We were speeding over a white-clad valley with a little frozen river winding down its middle. Night had almost come. The leaden sky was low above us. It began snowing. The lights of the small villages along the river were barely visible. "Can you land us, Alan?" "Yes, surely. At the Municipal Field just beyond the Citadel. We can get to the Hotel in five minutes." It was a flight of only half an hour. During it, Alan told me about Polter. The hunchback, known now as Frank Rascor, owned a mine in the Laurentians, some thirty miles from Quebec City—a fabulously productive mine of gold. It was an anomaly that gold should be produced in this region. No vein of gold-bearing rock had been found, except the one on Polter's property. Alan had seen a newspaper account of the strangeness of it; and on a hunch had come to Quebec, being intrigued by the description of the mine owner. He had seen Frank Rascor on the Dufferin Terrace, and recognized him as Polter. Again my thoughts went back into the past. Had Polter stolen that missing fragment of golden quartz the size of a walnut which had been beneath Dr. Kent's microscope? We always thought so. Dr. Kent had some secret, some great problem upon which he was working. Polter, his assistant, had evidently known, or partially known, its details. And now, four years later, Polter was immensely rich, with a "gold mine" in mountains where there was no other evidence of gold!

My world," Glora was saying. "You like it? See the starlight on the lake? I have heard that your world looks like this at night, in summer. Ours is always like this. No day, no night. Just like this—starlight." Her hand went to Alan's shoulder. "You like it? My world?"
"Yes, Glora. It's very beautiful."
There was a sheen on everything, a soft, glowing sheen of phosphorescence from the rocks rising to meet the pale wan starlight. The night air was soft, with a gentle breeze that rippled the distant lake into a great spread of gold and silver light.
The city was called Orena. I saw at once that we were about normal size in relation to its houses and people. There were fields beneath our ledge, with farm implements lying in them; no workers, for this was the time for sleep. Ribbons of roads wound over the country, pale streamers in the starlight.
Glora gestured, "The giants are on their island. Everyone sleeps now. You see the island off there?"
Beyond the city, over the low stone roofs of its flat-topped dwellings, the silver spread of lake showed a green-clad island some three miles off shore. The distance made its[Pg 49] white stone houses seem small. But as I gazed, I realized that they were large compared to their environment, all far larger than those of the little town. The island was perhaps a mile in length. Between it and the mainland a boat was coming toward us. It was a dark blob of hull on the shining water, and above it a queerly shaped circular sail was puffed out, like a balloon parachute, by the wind.
"The giants live there?" said Alan. "You mean Polter's men?"
"And women. Yes."
"Are there many giants?"
"How many?" I put in. "How large are they? In relation to us now, I mean. And to your normal size?"
"You ask so many questions so fast, George. There are two hundred or more of the giants. And there are more than that many thousands of our people, here. Slaves, because the giants are four times as large. This little city, these fields, these hills of stone and metal, all this was ours to have in peace and happiness until your Polter came."
She gestured. "Everywhere is a great reach of desert and forest. There are insects, but no wild beasts—nothing to harm us. Nature is kind here. The weather is always like this. We were happy, until Polter came."
"And only a few thousand people," Alan said. "No other cities?"
"What lies off in the great distance, we do not know. Our nation is ten times what is here. We have a few other cities, and some of our people live in the forests."
She broke off. "That boat is coming for Polter. He is in the city no doubt of that. The boat will take him and that girl you call Babs, to the giant's island. His castle is there."
I turned to Alan. "They must have arrived only recently. Before we go any further we have to decide what size to be.[Pg 50] We can't be gigantic because I'm sure he'd kill Babs if he sees us. We've got to plan!"
If we could get on that boat and go with him to the island—But in what size? Very small? But then, if we were very small it would take us hours to get from here to the boat. Glora pointed out where it would land—just beyond the village where the houses were set in a sparse fringe. It would be there, apparently, in ten or fifteen minutes. Polter probably was there now with Babs, waiting for it.
In our present size we could not get there in time. It was two or three miles at least. But a trifle larger—the size of one of Polter's giants—we would be able to make it. We would be seen, but in the pale starlight, keeping away from the city as much as possible, we might only be mistaken for Polter's people. And when we got closer we would diminish our size, creep into the boat, get near Babs and Polter and then plan what to do.
We climbed down from the ledge and stood at the base of the towering cliff which reared its jagged wall against the stars. A field and a road were near us. The road seemed of normal size. A man was in the field. He was apparently about my height. He presently discarded his work, walked away from us and vanished.
"Hurry, Glora." Alan and I stood beside her while she took pellets from her vials. We wanted our stature now to be four times what it was. Glora gave us pellets of both drugs, one of which was slightly more intense than the other.
"Polter made them this way," she said. "The two taken at once give just the growth to take us from this normal size to the stature of the giants."
Alan and I did not touch our own vials. We had used none of our enlarging drug upon the journey, and the supply she had given us of the other was almost gone.
As I took these pellets which Glora now gave us, standing[Pg 51] there by the side of that road, I recall that I was struck with the realization that never once upon this journey had I conceived myself to be other than normal stature. I am normally about six feet tall. I still felt—there in that golden atom—the same height. This landscape seemed of normal size. There were trees nearby—spreading, fantastic-looking growths with great strings of pods hanging from them. But still—as I looked up to see one arching over me with its blue-brown leaves and an air-vine carrying vivid yellow blossoms—whatever the size of the tree, I could only conceive of myself as a normal man of six-foot stature standing beneath it. The human ego always supreme! Around each man's consciousness of himself the entire universe revolves.
We crouched on the ground when this growth now began; it would not do to be observed changing size. Polter's giants never did that. Years before, he had made them large—his few hundred men and women. They were, Glora said, people both of this realm and from our great world above—dissolute criminal characters who had now set themselves up here as the nucleus of a ruling race.
In a moment now, we were the size of these giants. Twenty to twenty-five feet tall, in relation to the environment. But I did not feel so. As I stood up—still feeling myself in normal stature—I saw around me a shrunken little landscape. The trees, as though in a Japanese garden, were about my own height; the road was a smooth, level path; the little field near us had a toy fence around it. On another road nearby a man was walking. In height he would barely have reached my knees. He saw us rise beside the trees. He darted off in alarm, and disappeared.
I have taken longer to tell all this than the actual time which passed. We could see the boat coming from the island, and it was still a fair distance off shore. We ran along the road, skirting the edge of the little town. None of its houses[Pg 52] were taller than ourselves. The windows and doorways were ovals into which we could only have inserted a head or an arm. Most of them were dark. Little people occasionally stared out, saw us run past, and ducked back, thankful that we did not stop to harass them.
"This way," said Glora. She ran like a faun, hardly winded, with Alan and me heavily panting behind her. "There are trees—thick trees—quite near where the boat lands. We can get in them and hide and change our size to smallness. But hurry, for we shall need a great deal of time when we are small!"
The little spread of town and the shining lake remained always to our right. In five minutes we were past most of the houses. A patch of woods, with thick, interlacing treetops about our own height, lay ahead. It extended a few hundred feet over to the lake shore. The sailboat was heading in close. There was a broad starlit roadway at the edge of the lake, and a dock at which the boat was preparing to land.
Would we be in time? I suddenly feared not. To get small now, with distance lengthening between us and the boat, would be disastrous. And where was Polter?
Abruptly we saw him. There had been only little people visible to us: none of our own height. The lake roadway by the dock was brightly starlit. As we approached the intervening patch of woods it seemed that a crowd of little people were near the dock. Polter must have been sitting. But now he rose up. We could not mistake his thick hunched figure, the lump on his shoulders clear in the starlight with the gleaming lake as a background. The crowd of little figures were milling around his knees. In the silence of the night the murmur of their voices floated over to us.
"There he is!" Alan gasped. We all three checked our running; we were at the edge of the patch of woods. "By God,[Pg 53] there he is! Let's get larger and rush him! He's only a few hundred feet away!"
But Babs? Where was Babs?
"Alan, get down!" I crouched, pulling Alan and Glora with me. "Don't let him see us! We can't rush him Alan, 'til we find Babs. He'd see us coming and kill her."
Of all the strange events that had been flung at us, I think this sudden crisis now most confused Alan and me.... To get larger, or smaller? Which? Yet something had to be done at once.
Glora said, "We can get through the woods best in this size. We won't be seen and will be closer to the landing."
We crouched so that the treetops were always well over us. The patch of woods was dark. A soil of black loam was under us, a thick soft underbrush reached our knees, and lacy, flexible leaves and branches were about shoulder height. We pushed them aside, forcing our way softly forward. It was not far. The little murmuring voices of the crowd grew louder.
Presently we were crouching at the other edge of the woods. I softly shoved the tree branches aside until we could all three get a clear view of the strange scene now directly before us.
And I saw a toy dock, at which a twenty-foot, bargelike open sailboat was landing; a narrow starlit roadway, crowded with a milling throng of people all no more than a foot and a half in height. The crowd milled almost to where we were crouching, unseen in the shrubbery.
Across the road by the dock, Polter stood with the crowd down around his knees. In height he seemed the old familiar Polter. Bareheaded, with his shaggy black hair shot with white. He was dressed in Earth fashion: narrow black evening trousers and a white shirt and collar with flowing black tie. I saw at once what Alan had noticed—the change in him.[Pg 54] An abnormality of age. I would have called him now forty, or older. Beyond even that there was an abnormality. A man old before his time; or younger than he should have been for the years he had lived. An indescribable mingling of something of the two worlds, perhaps. It marked him with a look at once unnatural and sinister.
These were instant impressions. Glora was plucking at me. "On the white chest of his shirt, something is there."
Polter was coatless, with snowy white shirt and cuffs to his thick wrists. He was no more than fifty feet from us. On his shirt bosom something golden in color was hanging like a large bauble, an ornament, an insignia. It was strapped tightly there with a band about his chest, a cord, like a necklace chain, up to his thick hunched neck, and other chains down to his belt.
I stared at it. An ornament, like a cube held flat against his shirt front—a little golden cube, ornate with tiny bars.
I heard Alan murmuring, "A cage! Why George, it's—"
And then, simultaneously, realization struck me. It was a golden cage strapped there. And I seemed to see that there was something in it. A tiny figure? Babs!
"I think he has her there," Glora murmured. "You see the little box with bars? The girl, Babs, is a prisoner in there." She spoke swiftly, vehemently. "He will take the boat to the island."
She gripped us. "You think it really best to go? I do what you say. I had the wish to get to my father with these drugs."
"No!" exclaimed Alan. "We must keep close to Polter!"
We were ready with our pellets. But a sudden activity in the road made us pause. The crowd of little people were hostile to Polter. A sullen hostility. They milled about him as he stood there, gazing down at them sardonically.
And abruptly he shouted at them in English. "You speak my language, some of you. Then listen!"[Pg 55]
The crowd fell silent.
"Listen. This iss your future Queen. Can you see her? She iss small now. But she has the magic power. Soon she will be large, like me."
The crowd was shouting again. It surged forward, but it lacked a leader, and those in advance shoved backward in fear.
Polter spoke again. "This girl from my world, you will like her. She iss kind and very beautiful. When she iss large, you will see how beautiful."
A small stone suddenly came up from the throng of little people and struck Polter on the shoulder. Then another. The crowd, emboldened, made a rush: surged against his legs.
He shouted, "You do that? Why, how dare you? I show you what giants do when you make dem angry!"
From down by his knees he plucked the small figure of a man. The crowd scattered with shouts of terror. Polter had the struggling eighteen-inch figure by the wrist. He whirled it around his head like a ninepin and flung it over the canopy of the dock far out into the shimmering lake!

OH RATS - Orthedrin, maxiton and glutamic acid—they were the prescription that made him king of his world! SK540, the 27th son of two very ordinary white laboratory rats, surveyed his world. He was no more able than any other rat to possess articulate speech, or to use his paws as hands. All he had was a brain which, relative to its size, was superior to any rat's that had hitherto appeared on Earth. It was enough. In the first week of gestation his embryo had been removed to a more suitable receptacle than the maternal womb, and his brain had been stimulated with orthedrin, maxiton and glutamic acid. It had been continuously irrigated with blood. One hemisphere had been activated far in excess of the other, since previous experiments had shown that increased lack of symmetry between the hemispheres produced superior mentality. The end-result was an enormous increase in brain-cells in both hemispheres. His brain showed also a marked increase in cholinesterase over that of other rats. SK540, in other words, was a super-rat. The same processes had been applied to all his brothers and sisters. Most of them had died. The few who did not, failed to show the desired results, or showed them in so lopsided and partial a manner that it was necessary to destroy them. All of this, of course had been mere preparation and experimentation with a view to later developments in human subjects. What SK540's gods had not anticipated was that they would produce a creature mentally the superior, not only of his fellow-rats, but also, in some respects, of themselves. He was a super-rat: but he was still a rat. His world of dreams and aspirations was not human, but murine. What would you do if you were a brilliant, moody young super-rat, caged in a laboratory? SK540 did it. What human beings desired was health, freedom, wealth, love, and power. So did SK540. But to him health was taken for granted; freedom was freedom from cages, traps, cats, and dogs; wealth meant shelter from cold and rain and plenty to eat; love meant a constant supply of available females. But power! It was in his longing for power that he most revealingly displayed his status as super-rat. Therefore, once he had learned how to open his cage, he was carefully selective of the companions—actually, the followers—whom he would release to join his midnight hegira from the laboratory. Only the meekest and most subservient of the males—intelligent but not too intelligent—and the most desirable and amiable of the females were invited. Once free of the cages, SK540 had no difficulty in leading his troop out of the building. The door of the laboratory was locked, but a window was slightly open from the top. Rats can climb up or down. Like a silver ribbon they flowed along the dark street, SK540, looking exactly like all the rest, at their head. Only one person in the deserted streets seems to have noticed them, and he did not understand the nature of the phenomenon. Young Mr. and Mrs. Philip Vinson started housekeeping in what had once been a mansion. It was now a rundown eyesore. It had belonged to Norah Vinson's great-aunt Martha, who had left it to her in her will. The estate was in litigation, but the executor had permitted the Vinsons to settle down in the house, though they weren't allowed yet to sell it. It had no modern conveniences, and was full of rooms they couldn't use and heavy old-fashioned furniture; but it was solidly built and near the laboratory where he worked as a technician, and they could live rent-free until they could sell the house and use the money to buy a real home. "Something funny happened in the lab last night," Philip reported, watching Norah struggle with dinner on the massive coal-stove. "Somebody broke in and stole about half our experimental animals. And they got our pride and joy." "The famous SK540?" Norah asked. "The same. Actually, it wasn't a break-in. It must have been an inside job. The cages were open but there were no signs of breaking and entering. We're all under suspicion till they find out who-dunit." Norah looked alarmed. "You too? What on earth would anybody want with a lot of laboratory rats? They aren't worth anything, are they—financially, I mean?" "Not a cent. That's why I'm sure one of the clean-up kids must have done it. Probably wanted them for pets. They're all tame, of course, not like wild rats—though they can bite like wild rats if they want to. Some of the ones missing are treated, and some are controls. It would just be a nuisance if they hadn't taken SK540. Now they've got to find him, or do about five years' work over again, without any assurance of as great a success. To say nothing of letting our super-rat loose on the world." "What on earth could even a super-rat do that would matter—to human beings, I mean?" "Nobody knows. Maybe that's what we're going to find out." That night Norah woke suddenly with a loud scream. Philip got the gas lighted—there was no electricity in the old house—and held her shaking body in his arms. She found her breath at last long enough to sob: "It was a rat! A rat ran right over my face!" "You're dreaming, darling. It's because I told you about the theft at the lab. There couldn't be rats in this place. It's too solidly built, from the basement up." He finally got her to sleep again, but he lay awake for a long time, listening. Nothing happened. Rats can't talk, but they can communicate. About the time Norah Vinson dropped off after her frightened wakening, SK540 was confronting a culprit. The culprit was one of the liberated males. His beady eyes tried to gaze into the implacable ones of SK540, but his tail twitched nervously and if he bared his teeth it was more in terror than in fight. They all knew that strict orders had been given not to disturb the humans in the house until SK540 had all his preparations made. A little more of that silent communication, and the rat who had run over Norah's face knew he had only two choices—have his throat slit or get out. He got. "What do you know?" Philip said that evening. "One of our rats came back." "By itself?" "Yeah. I never heard of such a thing. It was one of the experimental ones, so it was smarter than most, though not such an awful lot. I never heard of a rat with homing instinct before. But when we opened up this morning, there he was, sitting in his cage, ready for breakfast." "Speaking of breakfast, I thought I asked you to buy a big box of oatmeal on your way home yesterday. It's about the only thing in the way of cereal I can manage on that old stove." "I did buy it. Don't you remember? I left it in the kitchen." "Well, it wasn't there this morning. All I know is that you're going to have nothing but toast and coffee tomorrow. We seem to be out of eggs, too. And bacon. And I thought we had half a pound left of that cheese, but that's gone too." "Good Lord, Norah, if you've got that much marketing to do, can't you do it yourself?" "Sure, if you leave the car. I'm not going to walk all that way and back." So of course Philip did do the shopping the next day. Besides, Norah had just remembered she had a date at the hairdresser's. When he got home her hair was still uncurled and she was in hysterics. One of the many amenities great-aunt Martha's house lacked was a telephone; anyway, Norah couldn't have been coherent over one. She cast herself, shuddering and crying, into Philip's arms, and it was a long time before he got her soothed enough for her to gasp: "Philip! They wouldn't let me out!" "They? Who? What do you mean?" "The—the rats! The white rats. They made a ring around me at the front door so I couldn't open it. I ran to the back and they beat me there and did the same thing. I even tried the windows but it was no use. And their teeth—they all—I guess I went to pieces. I started throwing things at them and they just dodged. I yelled for help but there's nobody near enough to hear. Then I gave up and ran in our bedroom and slammed the door on them, but they left guards outside. I heard them squeaking till you drove up, then I heard them run away." Philip stared at her, scared to death. His wife had lost her mind. "Now, now, sweetheart," he said soothingly, "let's get this straight. They fired a lab boy today. They found four of our rats in his home. He told some idiotic story of having 'found' them, with the others missing, running loose on the street that night, but of course he stole them. He must have sold the rest of them to other kids; they're working on that now." Norah blew her nose and wiped her eyes. She had regained her usual calm. "Philip Vinson," she said coldly, "are you accusing me of lying, or just of being crazy? I'm neither. I saw and heard those rats. They're here now. What's more, I guess I know where that oatmeal went, and the eggs and bacon too, and the cheese. I'm—I'm a hostage! "I don't suppose," she added sarcastically, "that your SK540 was one of the ones they found in the boy's home?" "No, it wasn't," he acknowledged uneasily. A nasty little icy trickle stole down his spine. "All right, Norah, I give in. You take the poker and I'll take the hammer, and we'll search this house from cellar to attic." "You won't find them," said Norah bitterly. "SK540's too smart. They'll stay inside the walls and keep quiet." "Then we'll find the holes they went through and rout them out." They didn't, of course. There wasn't a sign of a rathole, or of a rat. They got through dinner and the evening somehow. Norah put all the food not in cans inside the old-fashioned icebox which took the place of a refrigerator. Philip thought he was too disturbed to be able to sleep, but he did, and Norah, exhausted, was asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow. His last doubt of his wife's sanity vanished when, the next morning, they found the icebox door open and half the food gone. "That settles it!" Philip announced. "Come on, Norah, put your coat on. You're coming with me to the lab and we'll report what's happened. They'll find those creatures if they have to tear the house apart to do it. That boy must have been telling the truth." "You couldn't keep me away," Norah responded. "I'll never spend another minute alone in this house while those dreadful things are in it." But of course when they got to the front door, there they were, circling them, their teeth bared. The same with the back door and all the first floor windows. "That's SK540 all right, leading them," Philip whispered through clenched jaws. He could smash them all, he supposed, in time, with what weapons he had. But he worked in the laboratory. He knew their value to science, especially SK540's. Rats couldn't talk, he knew, and they couldn't understand human speech. Nevertheless, some kind of communication might establish itself. SK540's eyes were too intelligent not to believe that he was getting the gist of talk directed to him. "This is utterly ridiculous," Philip grated. "If you won't let us out, how can we keep bringing food into the house for you? We'll all starve, you and we together." He could have sworn SK540 was considering. But he guessed the implicit answer. Let either one of them out, now they knew the rats were there, and men from the laboratory would come quickly and overwhelm and carry off the besiegers. It was a true impasse. "Philip," Norah reminded him, "if you don't go to work, they know we haven't a phone, and somebody will be here pretty soon to find out if anything's wrong." But that wouldn't help, Philip reflected gloomily; they'd let anyone in, and keep him there. And he thought to himself, and was careful not to say it aloud: rats are rats. Even if they are 25th generation laboratory-born. When the other food was gone there would be human meat. He did not want to look at them any more. He took Norah's arm and turned away into their bedroom. They stayed there all day, too upset to think of eating, talking and talking to no conclusion. As dusk came on they did not light the gas. Exhausted, they lay down on the bed without undressing. After a while there was a quiet scratching at the door. "Don't let them in!" Norah whispered. Her teeth were chattering. "I must, dear," he whispered back. "It isn't 'them,' I'm sure of it—it's just SK540 himself. I've been expecting him. We've got to reach some kind of understanding." "With a rat?" "With a super-rat. We have no choice." Philip was right. SK540 alone stood there and sidled in as the door closed solidly again behind him. How could one communicate with a rat? Philip could think of no way except to pick him up, place him where they were face to face, and talk. "Are your—followers outside?" he asked. A rodent's face can have no expression, but Philip caught a glance of contempt in the beady eyes. The slaves were doubtless bedded down in their hideaway, with strict orders to stay there and keep quiet. "You know," Philip Vinson went on, "I could kill you, very easily." The words would mean nothing to SK540; the tone might. He watched the beady eyes; there was nothing in them but intelligent attention, no flicker of fear. "Or I could tie you up and take you to the laboratory and let them decide whether to keep you or kill you. We are all much bigger and stronger than you. Without your army you can't intimidate us." There was, of course, no answer. But SK540 did a startling and touching thing. He reached out one front paw, as if in appeal. Norah caught her breath in astonishment. "He—he just wants to be free," she said in a choked whisper. "You mean you're not afraid of him any more?" "You said yourself he couldn't intimidate us without his army." Philip thought a minute. Then he said slowly: "I wonder if we had the right to do this to him in the first place. He would have been an ordinary laboratory rat, mindless and contented; we've made him into a neurotic alien in his world." "You're not responsible, darling; you're a technician, not a biochemist." "I share the responsibility. We all do." "So what? The fact remains that it was done, and here he is—and here we are." The doorbell rang. Philip and Norah exchanged glances. SK540 watched them. "It's probably Kelly, from the lab," Philip said, "trying to find out why I wasn't there today. It's just about quitting time, and he lives nearest us." Norah astonished him. She picked up SK540 from the bed-side table where Philip had placed him, and hid him under her pillow. "Get rid of whoever it is," she said defensively. Philip stared for an instant, then walked briskly downstairs. He was back in a few minutes. "It was Kelly, all right," he told her. "I said you were sick and I couldn't leave you to phone. I said I'd be there tomorrow. Now what?" SK540's white whiskers emerged from under the pillow, and he jumped over to the table again. Norah's cheeks were pink. "When it came to the point, I just couldn't," she explained shamefacedly. "I suddenly realized that he's a person. I couldn't let him be taken back to prison." "Aren't you frightened any more?" "Not of him." She faced the super-rat squarely. "Look," she said, "if we take care of you, will you get rid of that gang of yours, so we can be free too?" "That's nonsense, Norah," Philip objected. "He can't possibly understand you." "Dogs and cats learn to understand enough, and he's smarter than any dog or cat that ever lived." "But—" The words froze on his lips. SK540 had jumped to the floor and run to the door. There he stood and looked back at them, his tail twitching. "He wants us to follow him," Norah murmured. There was no sign of a hole in the back wall of the disused pantry. But behind it they could hear squeaks and rustlings. SK540 scratched delicately at almost invisible cracks. A section of the wall, two by four inches, fell out on the floor. "So that's where some of the oatmeal went," Norah commented. "Made into paste." "Sh!" SK540 vanished through the hole. They waited, listening to incomprehensible sounds. Outside it had grown dark. Then the leader emerged and stood to one side of the long line that pattered through the hole. The two humans stared, fascinated, as the line made straight for the back door and under it. SK540 stayed where he was. "Will they go back to the lab?" Norah asked. Philip shrugged. "It doesn't matter. Some of them may ... I feel like a traitor." "I don't. I feel like one of those people who hid escaped war prisoners in Europe." When the rats were all gone, they turned to SK540. But without a glance at them he re-entered the hiding-place. In a minute he returned, herding two white rats before him. He stood still, obviously expectant. Philip squatted on his heels. He picked up the two refugees and looked them over. "Both females," he announced briefly. "And both pregnant." "Is he the father?" "Who else? He'd see to that." "And will they inherit his—his—" "His 'super-ratism'? That's the whole point. That's the object of the entire experiment. They were going to try it soon." The three white rats had scarcely moved. The two mothers-to-be had apparently fallen asleep. Only SK540 stood quietly eying the humans. When they left him to find a place where they could talk in private he did not follow them. "It comes down to this," Philip said at the end of half an hour's fruitless discussion. "We promised him, or as good as. He believed us and trusted us. "But if we keep to our promise we're really traitors—to the human race." "You mean, if the offspring should inherit his brain-power, they might overrun us all?" "Not might. Would." "So—" "So it's an insoluble problem, on our terms. We have to think of this as a war, and of them as our enemies. What is our word of honor to a rat?" "But to a super-rat—to SK540—" As if called, SK540 appeared. Had he been listening? Had he understood? Neither of them dared to voice the question aloud in his presence. "Later," Philip murmured. "We must eat," said Norah. "Let's see what's left in the way of food." Everything tasted flat; they weren't very hungry after all. There was enough left over to feed the three rats. But they had evidently helped themselves earlier; they left the scraps untasted. Neither of the humans guessed what else had vanished from the pantry shelves—what, when he had heard enough, SK540 had slipped away and sprinkled on the remaining contents of the icebox, wherever the white powder would not show. They did not know until it was too late—until both of them lay writhing in their last spasms on their bedroom floor. By the time the house was broken into and their bodies found, SK540 and his two wives were far away, and safe.... And this, children, is the true account, handed down by tradition from the days of our great Founder, of how the human race ceased to exist and we took over the world





diumenge, 24 d’abril de 2016

Welcome to Theocracy Americans. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be Tea Party, Taliban, Taliban, Tea Party. Who can tell the difference? Give me a fucking break! Soooo much bullshit here people. 1. Contraception is not mentioned in the bible. So, how can this be a religious objection? 2. Women's contraception will not be covered, but Viagra and vasectomies get a pass....hmmm. Something is rotten in isle three right next to the crucifixes manufactured in China, where abortions are state funded and mandated. Hobby Lobby has no issue in supporting THAT with their dolla bills. 3. Slipperiest of slopes. Who's to stop any corporation/employer from denying health care to anyone with this excuse?? Anyone familiar with Christian Scientists....anyone? 4. Um....these women are paying premiums for this healthcare, not Hobby Lobby, so I don't get what the fuck H.L. is pissed about paying for, WHEN THEY ARE NOT PAYING FOR IT! 5. Birth control pills are not only prescribed to control birth, it is also a medication. Morons. 6. What is wrong with controlling birth anyway? There are 7 billion people on this planet. That's plenty. More than half of those people suck. 7. The best way to avoid abortions is by birth control being plentiful....I've met a few women we should pay to take it. Today we have moved one step closer to the world Margaret Atwood created in The Handmaid's Tale Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now

Why did it take Massachusetts decades, centuries, to reject puritanism, but only a few years(?) to reject liberalism?

Rights can erode, but you don’t see it happen on such a large scale and so seamlessly, and not overnight. Nothing happens overnight, especially not governmental takeovers in relatively stable, secular societies, which is the book's scenario.

Societies evolve, one way or another, usually rather slowly. Civil, moral, and regime changes don't sneak up on you. It wasn't the case in Germany before Hitler, in China before Mao, in Afghanistan before the Taliban, in Syria before its civil war. It's not the case in 2016, with people like Ted Cruz and Donald Lord of the WORLD Trump leading in GOP primary polls. The world may be disappointing and horrible sometimes, but it is rarely surprising.

If Atwood had built her dystopia on a chain of events that occurred over a longer period of time, or explained how everything unraveled so quickly, I might have been on board with the premise. That isn't how The Handmaid's Tale is written, though. The explanations for the sudden changes are fantastical, at best, dependent on evil, digitized money—be careful with the mobile payments and bitcoins, ladies!—and misogynistic, conservative conspiracies that readers are to believe could bring millions of people to a stupefied halt and change culture in the blink of an eye. 

I should have known,” he whispered. “I am the rain.” And yet he looked dully down the mountains of his body where the hills fell to an abyss. He felt the driving rain, and heard it whipping down, pattering on the ground. He saw his hills grow dark with moisture. Then a lancing pain shot through the heart of the world. “I am the land,” he said, “and I am the rain. The grass will grow out of me in a little while.” And the storm thickened, and covered the world with darkness, and with the rush of waters.” TO A GOD UNKNOWN - VENDAS DESTE LIVRO EXCEDEM AS 500 UNIDADES MAIORIA EM LIVROS DE BOLSO A 70 CENTS OU 1 EURO E 25 OU 200$00 CADA There are some times...when the love for people is strong and warm like a sorrow.” — Life cannot be cut off quickly. One cannot be dead until the things he changed are dead. His effect is the only evidence of his life. While there remains even a plaintive memory, a person cannot be cut off, dead. And he thought, “It’s a long slow process for a human to die. We kill a cow, and it is dead as soon as the meat is eaten, but a man’s life dies as a commotion in a still pool dies, in little waves, spreading and growing back toward stillness.

    um homem tem de ter qualquer coisa a que se ligue, qualquer coisa que ele possa estar certo de encontrar lá de manhã.”

    “Everything seems to work with a recurring rhythm except life. There is only one birth and only one death. Nothing else is like that

    Rama continued: “I do not know whether there are men born outside humanity, or whether some men are so human as to make others seem unreal. Perhaps a godling lives on earth now and then. Joseph has strength beyond vision of shattering, he has the calm of mountains, and his emotion is as wild and fierce and sharp as the lightning and just as reasonless as far as I can see or know. When you are away from him, try thinking of him and you’ll see what I mean. His figure will grow huge, until it tops the mountains, and his force will be like the irresistible plunging of the wind. Benjy is dead. You cannot think of Joseph dying. He is eternal. His father died, and it was not a death.” Her mouth moved helplessly, searching for words. She cried as though in pain, “I tell you this man is not a man, unless he is all men. The strength, the resistance, the long and stumbling thinking of all men, and all the joy and suffering, too, cancelling each other out and yet remaining in the contents. He is all these, a repository for a little piece of each man’s soul, and more than that, a symbol of the earth’s soul.”
    Her eyes dropped and her hand withdrew. “I said a door was open.”
    ― John Steinbeck,
    To a God Unknown

dissabte, 23 d’abril de 2016

La vie en France au moyen âge : d'après quelques moralistes du temps Le diable le lui fait accroire. Mais il n'en jouira pas. îl s'en fera excom- munier, et la malédiction du bien mal acquis pèsera sur sa descendance. Fils d'usurier, « noriz de maie viande » , cherchent plus tard à s'en procurer de pareille, comme les petits de la cigogne, repus, dès le nid, de charognes, qui s'en montrent friands plus tard'. Trop fol est qui s'expose à l'excommunication pour de l'argent. Car l'excommunié qui meurt en cet état, avant d'avoir été réconcilié par le prêtre (et il y a toujours danger de mort subite), ses biens, forfaits, reviennent au doyen. Il est tenu pour un païen et enterré comme un chien : La chevalerie a sûrement dégénéré de nos jours. Danser, « baler et démener bachelerie, bobancier, behourder, tournoyer », les chevaliers ne pensent qu'à cela. Et cependant le franc homme, « né de franche mère », qui a reçu F « ordre » de la che- valerie, s'est engagé par là à être preux, hardi, hon- nête, loyal, dévoué à T Eglise ; à ne pas envier aux clercs les dîmes et les prémices qui leur ont été donnés pour vaquer au service de Dieu (rendez les dîmes inféo- dées !). On devrait bien enlever Tépée et « escoleter » les éperons des chevaliers indignes et les chasser de l'Ordre chevaleresque, en pleine église, devant l'autel, comme ils y ont été admis. Il y a deux glaives : le spirituel et le temporel. Le premier a été remis aux clercs pour excommunier les méchants ; le second aux chevaliers pour tailler le poing des « maubailliez » qui tourmentent les gens à tort. Qu'ils frappent d'accord, et tout va bien.

Ne mangera ja de bon pain ; 
Nos en avon le meillor grain 
Et le plus bel et le plus sein. 
La droe*** remonte au vilain. 

S'il a grasse oie ou geline
Ne gastel de blanche farine 
A son seignor tôt le destine 
Ou a sa dôme en sa gesine. 

Il ne tâte jamais d'un bon morceau. Il ne boit pas 
le vin de sa vigne. Trop heureux s'il a du pain noir, du lait, du beurre. D'autant plus de "mérite a-t-il lorsqu'il rend à chacun ses devoirs.
Qui ce savent et ici voient 
Par folie chantent et proient... 
N'osons mes parler ne rien dire. 
Li uns boule, li autre tire ; 
tel i a qui se conseille. 
Ici est une grant merveille 
Que nos connaissons nostre sort 
Et savons que nos sommes mort, 
Et que nous avons tout perdu. 
Malement sommes deceit 

Quatre mois fui ge a Glervaux 
Ce ne fu mie trop granz max. 
Je m'en parti molt franchement : 
Travail i oi et paine grant. 
I lessai trop et grant envie 
Et grant diirté et félonie. 
Ypocrisie et murmuire... 
Car n'a nule Ordre en tôt le mont 
Ou ait mainz de fraternité. 
S'il ont avoir a grant plenté 
Ja por ce miex ne lor en iert. 
Les moines blancs sont riches et impitoyables,même entre eux.

Ni non vulhas heure nulha via 
A costuma de Normandia 
Car ellos beuran a una taula 
Sînquanta ves..

THE ISLAMIC STATE -l'univers islamique, le dar al-Islam. Un Etat s'implante donc, qui n'est pas autre chose que cette communauté religieuse, et il instaure sa loi :Le pouvoir musulman En fait, après quelques atermoiements transitoires, se met partout en place une administration proprement musulmane : des monnaies d'abdtd bilingues, puis en arabe seulement, sont frappées ; chaque pays conquis est divisé en provinces ou circonscriptions territoriales, c'est-à- dire en espaces gravitant chacun autour d'une ville où NOUVELLES CONDITIONS D'EXISTENCE 39 réside un gouverneur entouré d'une troupe musulmane. Ce gouverneur est le « chef » de la province, son amir (émir), même si on l'appelle parfois wali ou amil (ce dernier titre s'appliquant essentiellement à son rôle de percepteur). C'est là. en effet, une de ses taches fonda- mentales. Si le rôle de l'armée a été d'accomplir la conquête et reste de maintenir l'autorité arabe, celle-ci doit maintenant administrer dans le cadre du dar al-lslam. Or, suivant les normes du Coran et de la sunna, le musul- man n'a pas d'impôts à payer ; il doit simplement verser le superflu de ses revenus à la communauté pour ses besoins collectifs, ce que l'on appelle en droit islamique « l'aumône légale ». D'autre part, tout combattant ou ancien combattant « pour la Foi », et tout fidèle malade. vieilli ou infirme, doit recevoir de la communauté, qui un traitement qui une pension. Voilà pourquoi l'historien Georges Marçais a remarqué : « L'existence d'infidèles est une condition presque nécessaire de l'équilibre du budget en terre d'Islam. » Aussi, vis-à-vis des commu- nautés non musulmanes, l'émir gouverneur d'une région n'a-t-il qu'un seul comportement : leur faire payer tribut, puisqu'elles ne sont pas attaquées par les musulmans et qu'elles jouissent de la paix sous leur protection. Ces tributs, ou cens, sont administrativement le seul lien existant entre une communauté d' a infidèles » et le dar al-Islam. Ils sont instaurés à la fois d'après l'étendue des terres, selon un barème d'impôt foncier, et d'après le nombre des [personnes, selon un tarif de capitation. Dès que la domination islamique s'établit sur un pays, la nouvelle autorité procède à un recensement approximatif des habitants et à une estimation de la superficie des terres ---- rien d'humain ne pouvant égaler la Parole de Dieu, le Corafh qui est cette Parole, est la seule Loi possible, non seulement au point de vue religieux, mais dans tous les domaines. Les questions qui n'y sont pas directement traitées doivent être régies à sa lumière et par l'étude des paroles, faits et gestes du prophète Mohammed et de ses premiers compagnons : l'ensemble des traditions qui — portant précisément ce nom — constituent la sunna. Mais l'Islam enseigne la tolérance envers les infidèles, surtout s'ils croient en Dieu et connaissent l'enseignement des premiers prophètes. Juifs et chrétiens sont dans ce cas, ceux-ci ayant sur ceux-là la supériorité de suivre l'enseignement donné par le prophète Jésus, mais ayant le grand tort de déformer la personnalité de cet homme, en faisant un Dieu. Dieu, le fils de Dieu Le courage des musulmans est évident, accentué d'ailleurs par la certitude coranique : celui qui meurt en combattant pour la foi, est assuré d'éviter Tépreuve du Jugement et d'aller directement au Paradis, quels qu'aient pu être ses péchés. Les coups de main La suprématie maritime arabe décroissant, puis dis- paraissant progressivement dès le xr' siècle, une autre période commence : la reconquête chrétienne qui ravit à rislam toutes les îles, détruit ses repaires littoraux et le réduit en Europe, au xiii"^ siècle, à un modeste vingtième de la péninsule Ibérique : le sultanat de Grenade. Toute- fois, le danger reste menaçant sur mer. L'île de Majorque, redevenue chrétienne en 1230, est souvent visée par les fidèles d'Allah : aussi bien au xin" siècle que plus tard, comme au temps où ils régnaient sur la Méditerranée, les Arabes opèrent encore des débarquements de nuit dans les anfractuosités des côtes, et se glissent — à pied, main- tenant — à travers champs, vers des' maisons isolées. Une impressionnante série de documents, récemment décou- verts, établit que, vers 1380-1400, à peu près chaque année et en général plusieurs fois par an, l'alerte était donnée sur la côte méridionale de Majorque parce que des navires musulmans étaient en vue : chaque fois qu'ils réussissaient à échapper à l'attention des vigies scrutant l'horizon du haut des tours de guet, ils approchaient du rivage et y débarquaient quelques hommes De surcroît, leur armement est de qualité ; il se modifie, certes, au cours des siècles, tantôt se rapprochant, tantôt s'éloignant de celui des troupes chrétiennes ; mais, toujours, le guerrier musulman — cava- lier ou fantassin — sait bien manier la lance et l'épée, le poignard ou le coutelas, voire une hache d'arçon à double tranchant, les javelots et les dards, parfois la fronde ou la masse, l'arc, puis l'arbalète, et, dans les sièges, les cata- pultes. Plus qu'une véritable armure, il porte une sorte de casaque, faite de plaques en métal, et s'abrite derrière un excellent écu. Les meilleurs boucliers sont faits en peau d'antilope d'Afrique ^s. Quant aux bateaux, ils transportent souvent des che- vaux pour que le débarquement soif -suivi d'un raid de cavaliers, mais surtout ils sont bien équipés : dès le IX' siècle, l'arsenal de Séville les pourvoie de pots à naphte ; le liquide incendiaire y est placé, avec une mèche JOURS DE RAZZIA ET D'INVASION

la razzia, généralement deux ou trois heures avant le lever du soleil. Le littoral de la péninsule aussi reste exposé ; vers 1320. par exemple, est capturé un bateau, conduisant de Collioure à Barcelone des pèlerins roussillonnais se rendant au sanctuaire mariai de Montserrat ; en 1397, un village de la côte valencienne, Torreblanca, est dévasté, plus de cent de ses habitants emmenés comme esclaves, l'église profanée, les musulmans emportant notamment un ciboire en argent rempli d'hosties consacrées, ce qui bouleverse la chrétienté espagnole ; en 1543, le port de Palamos sur la Costa Brava catalane est complètement détruit, etc. La France aussi est parfois atteinte, à Agde par exemple en 1406, tandis qu'en 1475, Fréjus est saccagée et que, assez souvent, des pêcheurs provençaux sont capturés par des corsaires d'Islam, qu'on commence maintenant à nommer « pirates barbaresques ». Quant aux eaux et aux côtes italiennes, elles sont plus fréquemment encore le théâtre de l'audace de ces marins qui sont très attirés par la Sicile, terre ayant appartenu à leurs ancêtres pendant plus de deux siècles ; en 1393, ils débarquent à Syracuse et y capturent plusieurs habitants, dont l'évêque ; au xv siècle, ils y reviennent plus d'une fois ; mais ils ont bien d'autres points de razzia, par exemple Capri en 1428. Malte en 1429, l'île d'Elbe en 1443, etc. C'est donc pendant plus d'un demi-millénaire que des populations européennes qui avaient déjà été en butte à des attaques mahométanes aux VIII et ix* siècles, sinon dès le VIII eurent à souffrir de ces coups de main sanglants et ruineux, qu'aucun avertissement ne précédait, rien qui ressemblât à une a déclaration de guerre ».

Quand les marchands de fourrures français ont établi une présence permanente dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent au début du XVIIe siècle, ils ont été obligés de respecter les normes, les valeurs et les protocoles qui régissaient le commerce entre les peuples autochtones de la région. Puisque ces peuples commerçaient uniquement avec de proches alliés politiques et militaires, les Français ont été contraints de négocier avec eux pour se faire une place dans une alliance intertribale qui avait vu le jour avant leur arrivée et qui comprenait les Montagnais, les Hurons, les Algonquins, les Outaouais, les Nipissings et d’autres groupes. L’adhésion à cette alliance devait être réaffirmée régulièrement en donnant des cadeaux, en faisant des discours, et surtout en prenant part à la guerre contre la Ligue des Iroquois. Pour remplir cette obligation militaire, Champlain a participé aux raids lancés par les Montagnais et les Algonquin contre les Iroquois en 1609 et en 1610, ses armes à feu s’avérant dévastatrices les deux fois. Les Iroquois ont compris que les Français venaient de se joindre à l’alliance ennemie et les considéraient donc comme des cibles d’agression légitimes. Au cours du siècle suivant, les Iroquois ont monté une campagne violente contre les Français et leurs alliés autochtones qui a débuté par l’harcèlement de flottilles de traite sur le Saint-Laurent et la rivière des Outaouais au début des années 1640 et s’est intensifiée avec la dispersion des Hurons en 1649-1650 et la capture ou le meurtre de près de six cents colons français dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent à la fin des années 1680 et dans les années 1690. Les Français et leurs alliés ont, quant à eux, lancé de multiples invasions en territoire iroquois, où ils ont rasé des villages, détruit des récoltes et pillé des sépultures. Ce n’est qu’en 1701 que les Français et leurs alliés ont conclu une paix durable avec les Iroquois – la Grande Paix de Montréal. Ayant été entraînés dans un système d’alliances par les exigences de la traite des fourrures, les Français ont commencé à se servir de la traite pour atteindre leurs objectifs politiques et militaires au début du XVIIIe siècle. En effet, la traite est devenue un élément central de la stratégie de la France en Amérique du Nord, qui était essentiellement une réponse à l’expansion territoriale et commerciale des Anglais et, après 1707, des Britanniques. Aux yeux des autorités coloniales et métropolitaines, la Nouvelle-France était menacée sur deux fronts. Le premier était la chaîne de colonies anglophones le long de la côte atlantique, dont les agriculteurs et les planteurs désiraient faire reculer la frontière agricole vers l’intérieur. Le second était la rive sud de la baie d’Hudson, où la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson, dont le siège était à Londres, avait des postes de traite depuis le début des années 1670, en grande partie grâce à la collaboration de deux marchands français renégats, Pierre-Esprit Radisson et Médard Chouart des Groseilliers. On y rappelle que la pêche à la baleine et à la morue, une activité saisonnière, a suscité l’établissement des premiers Français sur le continent. Certes, par la suite, cette activité n’occupera qu’une faible partie de la population, mais elle demeurera néanmoins une composante importante de l’économie durant tout le Régime français, voire au-delà. Le commerce des fourrures constitue le véritable moteur économique de la Nouvelle-France. L’exploitation de la pelleterie, qui a assuré la richesse de Canadiens, est en grande partie ce qui a favorisé l’exploration du continent. En outre, la traite a permis de nouer des alliances avec de nombreux peuples autochtones. Enfin, même si la politique mercantiliste de la France interdisait la création d’entreprises susceptibles de rivaliser avec celles de la métropole, une variété d’initiatives ont donné naissance à un secteur artisanal et industriel.Pehr Kalm décrivit ainsi la vallée du Saint-Laurent en 1749 : « On pourrait vraiment dire que c’est un village, s’étendant de Montréal à Québec… car les maisons de ferme ne sont jamais écartées de plus de cinq arpents et parfois d’à peine trois, sauf à quelques endroits. » Un village, même étendu, est, par définition, un endroit où les nouvelles se répandent vite. La vie y est telle que tout ce qui se passe devient une nouvelle qui circule grâce à la correspondance, au bouche à oreille ou au deux. Les réseaux sociaux établis au tournant du XVIIIe siècle favorisèrent la circulation des nouvelles. Ce n’est pas un hasard si la facilitation des communications eut lieu parallèlement à l’avènement d’un marché du blé et d’autres céréales. La vallée du Saint-Laurent devenait une unité géographique reconnaissable, cohésive et intégrée. Mais le processus prit du temps. Au milieu du XVIIe siècle, les correspondants envoyaient des lettres en France, leur patrie lointaine. Au cours du siècle suivant, la patrie devint un endroit plus proche, et les raisons d’entrer en communication avec un résident d’une ville ou d’une côte le long du Saint-Laurent se multiplièrent. La colonisation systématique permit aux Canadiens de la vallée du Saint-Laurent de transmettre plus aisément des messages oraux sur des distances de plus en plus grandes. Prenons, par exemple, les guérisons miraculeuses qui établirent la réputation de l’église de Sainte-Anne-du-Petit-Cap (Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré) dans la seconde moitié du XVIIe siècle. Les personnes guéries étaient de la paroisse ou des environs : Château-Richer (1662), Québec (1664), Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d’Orléans (1701). Des groupes de pèlerins fervents de la ville voisine de Château-Richer et de Sillery (en amont de Québec) se rendaient à Sainte-Anne dans les années 1670 et 1680. Des notables de Québec (à moins de 30 kilomètres de là) eurent vent des miracles. Dans tous ces cas de la fin du XVIIe siècle, les échos de miracles se répandirent essentiellement dans un rayon géographique restreint. Avec la colonisation progressive des autres parties de la vallée du Saint-Laurent au début du XVIIIe siècle, à mesure que les jeunes quittaient la maison familiale, sans rompre le contact complètement, la frontière des nouvelles orales s’étendit. En 1759, par exemple, il aurait été quasi impossible de ne pas entendre parler de l’arrivée des Anglais. La communication à l’échelle régionale et locale était associée à deux types d’activités sociales. Premièrement, des lettres étaient rédigées et échangées dans le but de transmettre un message entre deux parties qui ne pouvaient pas avoir une conversation en personne. La priorité était la transmission. Deuxièmement, la communication était une expérience publique, une cérémonie et un échange informel entre les familles et les voisins. Dans ce cas, la communication n’était pas écrite, et le moyen de communication contribuait à encadrer la manière dont les nouvelles étaient transmises et, finalement, le contenu du message. La représentation de croyances communes et l’effet émotionnel associé aux échanges en personne étaient au cœur de la communication. L’eau, moyen de transport et de transmission Pendant la saison active, le Saint-Laurent était une autoroute d’information empruntée par des dizaines de bateaux et de goélettes. Au début du XIXe siècle, 200 navigateurs vivaient à Québec. Ils étaient les maîtres de navires et de bateaux qui naviguaient entre Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec et Louisbourg. Sur les rives du Saint-Laurent, près des chantiers navals royaux de Québec et ailleurs, des artisans se spécialisaient dans la construction de bateaux et de navires. En 1705, Guillaume Levitre, de Saint-Pierre-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, consentit à construire un navire pour messieurs Martin et Jeanne de Québec. Le travail devait être accompli à l’île Dupas, près de l’embouchure de la rivière Richelieu. Comme l’île Dupas était à 175 kilomètres en amont de Québec, l’accord témoigne du réseau économique qui se dessinait le long du Saint-Laurent. Le transport fluvial permettait la circulation régulière de l’information, mais il fallait que les navigateurs connaissent le chemin. Des cartographes établirent la carte des parties du fleuve en aval de Québec où la navigation était plus difficile. Cap-aux-Oies, Baie-Saint-Paul, La Malbaie et Le Bic étaient parmi les baies et les passages où l’on pouvait jeter l’ancre. Les Français préféraient la rive nord en amont de l’île Verte parce que la navigation y était plus facile en raison des vents du nord-ouest dominants, ce qui explique les détails de la carte de Deshayes (vers 1685), notamment le bon lieu d’ancrage à onze brasses de la rive de Cap-aux-Oies et la plage sablonneuse de Port-au-Persil, où les bateaux pouvaient être tirés à sec. Le long du Saint-Laurent, les Canadiens prirent l’habitude d’aller à la rencontre des navires qui passaient pour offrir ou vendre des vivres. En échange de la nourriture et de l’eau hissées à bord, on transmettait les nouvelles d’outre-mer ou d’en amont de Québec Les équipages doivent se contenter d’aliments salés, poissons et viandes, ainsi que de galettes ou de biscuits de mer, une sorte de pain sec qui se conserve longtemps. Or, la rareté, voire l’absence d’aliments frais (viande, légumes ou fruits) entraîne une carence en vitamine C qui peut provoquer le scorbut. Lorsque Jacques Cartier passe l’hiver 1535-1536 à Stadaconé, emplacement actuel de Québec, son équipage est terrassé par une « grosse maladie ». Février venu, seuls 10 hommes sur 110 sont en assez bonne santé pour aider les autres. Plus de 25 succombent à la maladie. Dans le récit de son voyage, l’explorateur raconte que ses hommes perdent leurs forces, ont les jambes enflées et les extrémités noircies, les gencives et les dents pourries. La scène « estoit chose piteuse à veoyr ». Thuja occidentalis Cèdre blanc Cartier, comme ses contemporains, ne comprend pas la nature de ce mal mystérieux que l’on peut identifier aujourd’hui avec certitude. Puisque les Iroquoiens du Saint-Laurent qui habitent Stadaconé semblent, eux aussi, en être atteints, Cartier croit à tort que la maladie est contagieuse et qu’elle vient d’eux. En fait, ce sont ces Amérindiens qui lui révèlent le remède du scorbut. Ils informent Cartier que l’on peut guérir en buvant une décoction d’écorce et de feuilles d’annedda (le thuya, aussi appelé « cèdre blanc »). En effet, grâce à cette boisson, les membres de l’équipage de Cartier récupèrent rapidement. Les maladies épidémiques La transmission des maladies, bien plus que celle des connaissances médicales, transforme le continent. Les personnes et les bêtes qui font la traversée d’Europe en Amérique à partir de la fin du XVe siècle apportent avec eux des souches infectieuses auxquelles les populations autochtones n’ont jamais été exposées : choléra, grippe, rougeole, scarlatine, variole, tuberculose, fièvre typhoïde et fièvre jaune. Leur effet sur les premiers habitants du continent est catastrophique. Ces maladies auraient causé la mort de près de 90 p. 100 des populations précolombiennes. Les facteurs d’explication sont multiples. Dans une population où une maladie donnée sévit couramment, la plupart des gens y sont exposés en bas âge et, devenus adultes, ont développé une certaine résistance à la réinfection. C’est pourquoi certaines maladies relativement bénignes en Europe, en Afrique et en Asie, telles que la variole ou la grippe, se sont avérées si dévastatrices chez les Amérindiens. D’autre part, les croyances et les pratiques amérindiennes étaient mal adaptées au nouveau contexte. Les traitements traditionnels, peut-être efficaces contre les maux précolombiens, l’étaient rarement contre les maladies d’outre-mer : la quarantaine, par exemple, n’était pas une pratique courante. Plusieurs épidémies de variole et de rougeole décimèrent ainsi des populations entières du Nord-Ouest durant les années 1620 et 1630. Le choléra à Québec ÁS 8 HORAS ALMOÇO PÃO ENSOPADO EM AGUARDENTE ABATEM AS PEÇAS DE CARNE EM NOVEMBRO O LEITE CONGELADO É TRANSPORTADO EM SACOS PEPINO COMIDO COM NATAS OU COM SAL E O MELÃO COM AÇÚCAR Dans la colonie comme en France, le pain représente la base de l’alimentation. Les premières indications de son importance figurent dès 1636 dans les contrats d’engagement entre les Jésuites et leurs serviteurs. Ces derniers reçoivent un kilo de pain par jour, ration qui deviendra la norme par la suite. En Nouvelle-France, le pain représente de 60 à 85 p. 100 du total quotidien des aliments ingérés. À la ville comme à la campagne, le pain est reconnu comme étant de bonne qualité : de pur froment, il est aussi beau et blanc qu’en France, et il aurait la forme de miche oblongue. Moins la farine contient de son, plus le pain est considéré comme nourrissant et agréable au goût. Celui qui n’est pas épuré de son, ou « pain bis », est impropre à la consommation humaine selon la conception de la nutrition du XVIIesiècle. Le pain de froment tient une place à ce point importante dans l’alimentation que l’on a rejeté le maïs comme céréale panifiable, contrairement à la pratique amérindienne et à celle de la Nouvelle-Angleterre Dans la colonie, la plupart des sucres sont importés, même si on commence à produire du sucre d’érable au XVIIe siècle. On produit également du miel, mais il est peu populaire. Sa présence chez les chirurgiens laisse entendre qu’on l’utilisait pour ses propriétés thérapeutiques. Les sucres proviennent des Antilles françaises et transitent par la France avant d’être acheminés dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent. Ils se présentent à Québec sous forme de pain de sucre, de sucre fin, blanc ou gris, et de cassonade brune, grise ou blanche. Le sucre demeure un produit d’importation secondaire tout au long du Régime français. La consommation annuelle de mélasse, qui connaît une certaine popularité après 1720 seulement, ne dépasse guère un litre par personne. Les importations des autres sucres, même si elles augmentent un peu du XVIIe au XVIIIesiècle, ne sont pas beaucoup plus importantes. En 1733, par exemple, elles équivalent à un peu plus d’un kilo par personne Tous boivent de l’eau en quantité. Les habitants ont accès à un puits et les résidants de Québec et de Montréal disposent de fontaines publiques dans chacun des quartiers. Ces fontaines servent aussi à embellir la ville et à lutter contre les incendies. En été, citadins comme ruraux consomment du lait. Dans la perspective diététique de l’époque, le lait représente l’aliment idéal du régime d’été. Il remplace alors une partie importante de la ration de viande. Selon Pehr Kalm, qui a visité campagnes et villes, le lait est en abondance partout; il est habituellement consommé frais ou caillé, avec du sucre et du pain froment. Dès le milieu du XVIIe siècle, Pierre Boucher mentionne que les habitants boivent une bière fabriquée au moyen de branches d’épinette, boisson qui aide à contrer le scorbut ou la carence en vitamine C. La consommation de café, réservé à l’élite, se répand à partir du XVIIIesiècle. Les variétés les plus connues sont le café des Antilles françaises (Martinique et Guadeloupe) et le café moka. En 1748, on importe également du café de l’île Bourbon (île de la Réunion dans l’océan Indien). On le prend au déjeuner, noir ou avec du lait. La première mention de chocolat remonte à 1702, à Québec, dans l’inventaire de la boutique du riche marchand Charles-Aubert de La Chesnaye. Produit de luxe, le chocolat provient de Carraque (au Brésil), des Antilles françaises (la Martinique) ou de Cuba. Il se présente sous forme de billes ou de grains séchés au soleil, que l’on réduit en poudre à l’aide d’une râpe. Les plus fortunés pourront le servir dans de magnifiques chocolatières en cuivre rouge ou en faïence. LA VIE QUOTIDIENNE EN NOUVELLE FRANCE 1700 (1100000 PELES POR ANO ) Entre les travaux aux champs et les défrichages, entre les tours de garde et les voyages d’exploration dans l’arrière-pays, que fait la population pour se divertir? Comment a-t-elle adapté les modes de construction pour obtenir un certain confort et se protéger contre les grands froids de l’hiver canadien? Partis d’un pays « plein comme un œuf », selon l’expression de Fernand Braudel, les immigrants français débarquent sur un vaste territoire dont les possibilités semblent infinies. Certes, il y a les maladies, les disettes et les ravitaillements qui tardent à arriver au printemps, mais la colonie offre une faune et une flore riches et diversifiées. Gibiers, poissons, sauvagines et herbes de toutes sortes trouvent rapidement le chemin de la table, sinon de la pharmacopée! Pour occuper leurs temps libres, les habitants organisent des veillées, durant lesquelles ils se racontent des histoires, ou ils se réunissent à l’occasion de fêtes populaires. En ville, les auberges et les cabarets sont largement fréquentés. On y consomme de l’eau-de-vie et on joue aux cartes, au billard, au trictrac ou aux dés. Le jeu, déjà présent au XVIIe siècle, gagne en popularité au siècle suivant














divendres, 22 d’abril de 2016

The Book of Beasts He happened to be building a Palace when the news came, and he left all the bricks kicking about the floor for Nurse to clear up--but then the news was rather remarkable news. You see, there was a knock at the front door and voices talking downstairs, and Lionel thought it was the man come to see about the gas, which had not been allowed to be lighted since the day when Lionel made a swing by tying his skipping rope to the gas bracket. And then, quite suddenly, Nurse came in and said, "Master Lionel, dear, they've come to fetch you to go and be King." Then she made haste to change his smock and to wash his face and hands and brush his hair, and all the time she was doing it Lionel kept wriggling and fidgeting and saying, "Oh, don't, Nurse," and, "I'm sure my ears are quite clean," or, "Never mind my hair, it's all right," and, "That'll do." "You're going on as if you was going to be an eel instead of a King," said Nurse. The minute Nurse let go for a moment Lionel bolted off without waiting for his clean handkerchief, and in the drawing room there were two very grave-looking gentlemen in red robes with fur, and gold coronets with velvet sticking up out of the middle like the cream in the very expensive jam tarts. They bowed low to Lionel, and the gravest one said: "Sire, your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, the King of this country, is dead, and now you have got to come and be King." "Yes, please, sir," said Lionel, "when does it begin?" "You will be crowned this afternoon," said the grave gentleman who was not quite so grave-looking as the other. "Would you like me to bring Nurse, or what time would you like me to be fetched, and hadn't I better put on my velvet suit with the lace collar?" said Lionel, who had often been out to tea. "Your Nurse will be removed to the Palace later. No, never mind about changing your suit; the Royal robes will cover all that up." The grave gentlemen led the way to a coach with eight white horses, which was drawn up in front of the house where Lionel lived. It was No. 7, on the left-hand side of the street as you go up. Lionel ran upstairs at the last minute, and he kissed Nurse and said: "Thank you for washing me. I wish I'd let you do the other ear. No--there's no time now. Give me the hanky. Good-bye, Nurse." "Good-bye, ducky," said Nurse. "Be a good little King now, and say 'please' and 'thank you,' and remember to pass the cake to the little girls, and don't have more than two helps of anything." So off went Lionel to be made a King. He had never expected to be a King any more than you have, so it was all quite new to him--so new that he had never even thought of it. And as the coach went through the town he had to bite his tongue to be quite sure it was real, because if his tongue was real it showed he wasn't dreaming. Half an hour before he had been building with bricks in the nursery; and now--the streets were all fluttering with flags; every window was crowded with people waving handkerchiefs and scattering flowers; there were scarlet soldiers everywhere along the pavements, and all the bells of all the churches were ringing like mad, and like a great song to the music of their ringing he heard thousands of people shouting, "Long live Lionel! Long live our little King!" He was a little sorry at first that he had not put on his best clothes, but he soon forgot to think about that. If he had been a girl he would very likely have bothered about it the whole time. As they went along, the grave gentlemen, who were the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, explained the things which Lionel did not understand. "I thought we were a Republic," said Lionel. "I'm sure there hasn't been a King for some time." "Sire, your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather's death happened when my grandfather was a little boy," said the Prime Minister, "and since then your loyal people have been saving up to buy you a crown--so much a week, you know, according to people's means--sixpence a week from those who have first-rate pocket money, down to a halfpenny a week from those who haven't so much. You know it's the rule that the crown must be paid for by the people." "But hadn't my great-great-however-much-it-is-grandfather a crown?" "Yes, but he sent it to be tinned over, for fear of vanity, and he had had all the jewels taken out, and sold them to buy books. He was a strange man; a very good King he was, but he had his faults--he was fond of books. Almost with his last breath he sent the crown to be tinned--and he never lived to pay the tinsmith's bill." Here the Prime Minister wiped away a tear, and just then the carriage stopped and Lionel was taken out of the carriage to be crowned. Being crowned is much more tiring work than you would suppose, and by the time it was over, and Lionel had worn the Royal robes for an hour or two and had had his hand kissed by everybody whose business it was to do it, he was quite worn out, and was very glad to get into the Palace nursery. Nurse was there, and tea was ready: seedy cake and plummy cake, and jam and hot buttered toast, and the prettiest china with red and gold and blue flowers on it, and real tea, and as many cups of it as you liked. After tea Lionel said: "I think I should like a book. Will you get me one, Nurse?" "Bless the child," said Nurse. "You don't suppose you've lost the use of your legs with just being a King? Run along, do, and get your books yourself." So Lionel went down into the library. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor were there, and when Lionel came in they bowed very low, and were beginning to ask Lionel most politely what on earth he was coming bothering for now--when Lionel cried out: "Oh, what a worldful of books! Are they yours?" "They are yours, Your Majesty," answered the Chancellor. "They were the property of the late King, your great-great--" "Yes, I know," Lionel interrupted. "Well, I shall read them all. I love to read. I am so glad I learned to read." "If I might venture to advise Your Majesty," said the Prime Minister, "I should not read these books. Your great--" "Yes?" said Lionel, quickly. "He was a very good King--oh, yes, really a very superior King in his way, but he was a little--well, strange." "Mad?" asked Lionel, cheerfully. "No, no"--both the gentlemen were sincerely shocked. "Not mad; but if I may express it so, he was--er--too clever by half. And I should not like a little King of mine to have anything to do with his books." Lionel looked puzzled. "The fact is," the Chancellor went on, twisting his red beard in an agitated way, "your great--" "Go on," said Lionel. "--was called a wizard." "But he wasn't?" "Of course not--a most worthy King was your great--" "I see." "But I wouldn't touch his books." "Just this one," cried Lionel, laying his hands on the cover of a great brown book that lay on the study table. It had gold patterns on the brown leather, and gold clasps with turquoises and rubies in the twists of them, and gold corners, so that the leather should not wear out too quickly. "I must look at this one," Lionel said, for on the back in big letters he read: _The Book of Beasts_. The Chancellor said, "Don't be a silly little King." But Lionel had got the gold clasps undone, and he opened the first page, and there was a beautiful Butterfly all red, and brown, and yellow, and blue, so beautifully painted that it looked as if it were alive. "There," said Lionel, "Isn't that lovely? Why--" But as he spoke the beautiful Butterfly fluttered its many-colored wings on the yellow old page of the book, and flew up and out of the window. "Well!" said the Prime Minister, as soon as he could speak for the lump of wonder that had got into his throat and tried to choke him, "that's magic, that is." But before he had spoken, the King had turned the next page, and there was a shining bird complete and beautiful in every blue feather of him. Under him was written, "Blue Bird of Paradise," and while the King gazed enchanted at the charming picture the Blue Bird fluttered his wings on the yellow page and spread them and flew out of the book. Then the Prime Minister snatched the book away from the King and shut it up on the blank page where the bird had been, and put it on a very high shelf. And the Chancellor gave the King a good shaking, and said: "You're a naughty, disobedient little King!" and was very angry indeed. "I don't see that I've done any harm," said Lionel. He hated being shaken, as all boys do; he would much rather have been slapped. "No harm?" said the Chancellor. "Ah--but what do you know about it? That's the question. How do you know what might have been on the next page--a snake or a worm, or a centipede or a revolutionist, or something like that." "Well, I'm sorry if I've vexed you," said Lionel. "Come, let's kiss and be friends." So he kissed the Prime Minister, and they settled down for a nice quiet game of noughts and crosses while the Chancellor went to add up his accounts. But when Lionel was in bed he could not sleep for thinking of the book, and when the full moon was shining with all her might and light he got up and crept down to the library and climbed up and got _The Book of Beasts_. He took it outside to the terrace, where the moonlight was as bright as day, and he opened the book, and saw the empty pages with "Butterfly" and "Blue Bird of Paradise" underneath, and then he turned the next page. There was some sort of red thing sitting under a palm tree, and under it was written "Dragon." The Dragon did not move, and the King shut up the book rather quickly and went back to bed. But the next day he wanted another look, so he took the book out into the garden, and when he undid the clasps with the rubies and turquoises, the book opened all by itself at the picture with "Dragon" underneath, and the sun shone full on the page. And then, quite suddenly, a great Red Dragon came out of the book and spread vast scarlet wings and flew away across the garden to the far hills, and Lionel was left with the empty page before him, for the page was quite empty except for the green palm tree and the yellow desert, and the little streaks of red where the paintbrush had gone outside the pencil outline of the Red Dragon. And then Lionel felt that he had indeed done it. He had not been King twenty-four hours, and already he had let loose a Red Dragon to worry his faithful subjects' lives out. And they had been saving up so long to buy him a crown, and everything! Lionel began to cry. [Illustration: "The dragon flew away across the garden." _See page 8._] The Chancellor and the Prime Minister and the Nurse all came running to see what was the matter. And when they saw the book they understood, and the Chancellor said: "You naughty little King! Put him to bed, Nurse, and let him think over what he's done." "Perhaps, my Lord," said the Prime Minister, "we'd better first find out just exactly what he has done." Then Lionel, in floods of tears, said: "It's a Red Dragon, and it's gone flying away to the hills, and I am so sorry, and, oh, do forgive me!" But the Prime Minister and the Chancellor had other things to think of than forgiving Lionel. They hurried off to consult the police and see what could be done. Everyone did what they could. They sat on committees and stood on guard, and lay in wait for the Dragon, but he stayed up in the hills, and there was nothing more to be done. The faithful Nurse, meanwhile, did not neglect her duty. Perhaps she did more than anyone else, for she slapped the King and put him to bed without his tea, and when it got dark she would not give him a candle to read by. "You are a naughty little King," she said, "and nobody will love you." Next day the Dragon was still quiet, though the more poetic of Lionel's subjects could see the redness of the Dragon shining through the green trees quite plainly. So Lionel put on his crown and sat on his throne and said he wanted to make some laws. And I need hardly say that though the Prime Minister and the Chancellor and the Nurse might have the very poorest opinion of Lionel's private judgement, and might even slap him and send him to bed, the minute he got on his throne and set his crown on his head, he became infallible--which means that everything he said was right, and that he couldn't possibly make a mistake. So when he said: "There is to be a law forbidding people to open books in schools or elsewhere"--he had the support of at least half of his subjects, and the other half--the grown-up half--pretended to think he was quite right. Then he made a law that everyone should always have enough to eat. And this pleased everyone except the ones who had always had too much. And when several other nice new laws were made and written down he went home and made mud-houses and was very happy. And he said to his Nurse: "People will love me now I've made such a lot of pretty new laws for them." But Nurse said: "Don't count your chickens, my dear. You haven't seen the last of that Dragon yet." Now, the next day was Saturday. And in the afternoon the Dragon suddenly swooped down upon the common in all his hideous redness, and carried off the Soccer Players, umpires, goal-posts, ball, and all. Then the people were very angry indeed, and they said: "We might as well be a Republic. After saving up all these years to get his crown, and everything!" And wise people shook their heads and foretold a decline in the National Love of Sport. And, indeed, soccer was not at all popular for some time afterward. Lionel did his best to be a good King during the week, and the people were beginning to forgive him for letting the Dragon out of the book. "After all," they said, "soccer is a dangerous game, and perhaps it is wise to discourage it." Popular opinion held that the Soccer Players, being tough and hard, had disagreed with the Dragon so much that he had gone away to some place where they only play cats' cradle and games that do not make you hard and tough. All the same, Parliament met on the Saturday afternoon, a convenient time, for most of the Members would be free to attend, to consider the Dragon. But unfortunately the Dragon, who had only been asleep, woke up because it was Saturday, and he considered the Parliament, and afterwards there were not any Members left, so they tried to make a new Parliament, but being a member of Parliament had somehow grown as unpopular as soccer playing, and no one would consent to be elected, so they had to do without a Parliament. When the next Saturday came around everyone was a little nervous, but the Red Dragon was pretty quiet that day and only ate an Orphanage. Lionel was very, very unhappy. He felt that it was his disobedience that had brought this trouble on the Parliament and the Orphanage and the Soccer Players, and he felt that it was his duty to try and do something. The question was, what?

The Blue Bird that had come out of the book used to sing very nicely in
the Palace rose garden, and the Butterfly was very tame, and would perch
on his shoulder when he walked among the tall lilies: so Lionel saw that
all the creatures in _The Book of Beasts_ could not be wicked, like the
Dragon, and he thought: "Suppose I could get another beast out who would
fight the Dragon?"

So he took _The Book of Beasts_ out into the rose garden and opened the
page next to the one where the Dragon had been just a tiny bit to see
what the name was. He could only see "cora," but he felt the middle of
the page swelling up thick with the creature that was trying to come
out, and it was only by putting the book down and sitting on it
suddenly, very hard, that he managed to get it shut. Then he fastened
the clasps with the rubies and turquoises in them and sent for the
Chancellor, who had been ill since Saturday, and so had not been eaten
with the rest of the Parliament, and he said: "What animal ends in

The Chancellor answered: "The Manticora, of course."

"What is he like?" asked the King.

"He is the sworn foe of Dragons," said the Chancellor. "He drinks their
blood. He is yellow, with the body of a lion and the face of a man. I
wish we had a few Manticoras here now. But the last died hundreds of
years ago--worse luck!"

Then the King ran and opened the book at the page that had "cora" on it,
and there was the picture--Manticora, all yellow, with a lion's body and
a man's face, just as the Chancellor had said. And under the picture
was written, "Manticora."

In a few minutes the Manticora came sleepily out of the book, rubbing
its eyes with its hands and mewing piteously. It seemed very stupid, and
when Lionel gave it a push and said, "Go along and fight the Dragon,
do," it put its tail between its legs and fairly ran away. It went and
hid behind the Town Hall, and at night when the people were asleep it
went around and ate all the pussy-cats in the town. And then it mewed
more than ever. And on the Saturday morning, when people were a little
timid about going out, because the Dragon had no regular hour for
calling, the Manticora went up and down the streets and drank all the
milk that was left in the cans at the doors for people's teas, and it
ate the cans as well.

And just when it had finished the very last little halfpenny worth,
which was short measure, because the milkman's nerves were quite upset,
the Red Dragon came down the street looking for the Manticora. It edged
off when it saw him coming, for it was not at all the Dragon-fighting
kind; and, seeing no other door open, the poor, hunted creature took
refuge in the General Post Office, and there the Dragon found it, trying
to conceal itself among the ten o'clock mail. The Dragon fell on the
Manticora at once, and the mail was no defense. The mewings were heard
all over the town. All the kitties and the milk the Manticora had had
seemed to have strengthened its mew wonderfully. Then there was a sad
silence, and presently the people whose windows looked that way saw the
Dragon come walking down the steps of the General Post Office spitting
fire and smoke, together with tufts of Manticora fur, and the fragments
of the registered letters. Things were growing very serious. However
popular the King might become during the week, the Dragon was sure to do
something on Saturday to upset the people's loyalty.

[Illustration "The Manticora took refuge in the General Post Office."
_See page 13._]

The Dragon was a perfect nuisance for the whole of Saturday, except
during the hour of noon, and then he had to rest under a tree or he
would have caught fire from the heat of the sun. You see, he was very
hot to begin with.

At last came a Saturday when the Dragon actually walked into the Royal
nursery and carried off the King's own pet Rocking Horse. Then the King
cried for six days, and on the seventh he was so tired that he had to
stop. He heard the Blue Bird singing among the roses and saw the
Butterfly fluttering among the lilies, and he said: "Nurse, wipe my
face, please. I am not going to cry any more."

Nurse washed his face, and told him not to be a silly little King.
"Crying," said she, "never did anyone any good yet."

"I don't know," said the little King, "I seem to see better, and to hear
better now that I've cried for a week. Now, Nurse, dear, I know I'm
right, so kiss me in case I never come back. I _must_ try to see if I
can't save the people."

"Well, if you must, you must," said Nurse, "but don't tear your clothes
or get your feet wet."

So off he went.

The Blue Bird sang more sweetly than ever, and the Butterfly shone more
brightly, as Lionel once more carried _The Book of Beasts_ out into the
rose garden, and opened it--very quickly, so that he might not be afraid
and change his mind. The book fell open wide, almost in the middle, and
there was written at the bottom of the page, "Hippogriff," and before
Lionel had time to see what the picture was, there was a fluttering of
great wings and a stamping of hoofs, and a sweet, soft, friendly
neighing; and there came out of the book a beautiful white horse with a
long, long, white mane and a long, long, white tail, and he had great
wings like swan's wings, and the softest, kindest eyes in the world, and
he stood there among the roses.

The Hippogriff rubbed its silky-soft, milky white nose against the
little King's shoulder, and the little King thought: "But for the wings
you are very like my poor, dear lost Rocking Horse." And the Blue Bird's
song was very loud and sweet.

Then suddenly the King saw coming through the sky the great straggling,
sprawling, wicked shape of the Red Dragon. And he knew at once what he
must do. He caught up _The Book of Beasts_ and jumped on the back of the
gentle, beautiful Hippogriff, and leaning down he whispered in the
sharp, white ear: "Fly, dear Hippogriff, fly your very fastest to the
Pebbly Waste."

And when the Dragon saw them start, he turned and flew after them, with
his great wings flapping like clouds at sunset, and the Hippogriff's
wide wings were snowy as clouds at moonrise.

When the people in the town saw the Dragon fly off after the Hippogriff
and the King they all came out of their houses to look, and when they
saw the two disappear they made up their minds to the worst, and began
to think what they would wear for Court mourning.

But the Dragon could not catch the Hippogriff. The red wings were bigger
than the white ones, but they were not so strong, and so the
white-winged horse flew away and away and away, with the Dragon
pursuing, till he reached the very middle of the Pebbly Waste.

Now, the Pebbly Waste is just like the parts of the seaside where there
is no sand--all round, loose, shifting stones, and there is no grass
there and no tree within a hundred miles of it.

Lionel jumped off the white horse's back in the very middle of the
Pebbly Waste, and he hurriedly unclasped _The Book of Beasts_ and laid
it open on the pebbles. Then he clattered among the pebbles in his haste
to get back on to his white horse, and had just jumped on when up came
the Dragon. He was flying very feebly, and looking around everywhere for
a tree, for it was just on the stroke of twelve, the sun was shining
like a gold guinea in the blue sky, and there was not a tree for a
hundred miles.

The white-winged horse flew around and around the Dragon as he writhed
on the dry pebbles. He was getting very hot: indeed, parts of him even
had begun to smoke. He knew that he must certainly catch fire in
another minute unless he could get under a tree. He made a snatch with
his red claws at the King and Hippogriff, but he was too feeble to reach
them, and besides, he did not dare to overexert himself for fear he
should get any hotter.

It was then that he saw _The Book of Beasts_ lying on the pebbles, open
at the page with "Dragon" written at the bottom. He looked and he
hesitated, and he looked again, and then, with one last squirm of rage,
the Dragon wriggled himself back into the picture and sat down under the
palm tree, and the page was a little singed as he went in.

As soon as Lionel saw that the Dragon had really been obliged to go and
sit under his own palm tree because it was the only tree there, he
jumped off his horse and shut the book with a bang.

"Oh, hurrah!" he cried. "Now we really have done it."

And he clasped the book very tightly with the turquoise and ruby clasps.

"Oh, my precious Hippogriff," he cried. "You are the bravest, dearest,
most beautiful--"

"Hush," whispered the Hippogriff modestly. "Don't you see that we are
not alone?"

And indeed there was quite a crowd round them on the Pebbly Waste: the
Prime Minister and the Parliament and the Soccer Players and the
Orphanage and the Manticora and the Rocking Horse, and indeed everyone
who had been eaten by the Dragon. You see, it was impossible for the
Dragon to take them into the book with him--it was a tight fit even for
one Dragon--so, of course, he had to leave them outside.

       *       *       *       *       *

They all got home somehow, and all lived happy ever after.

When the King asked the Manticora where he would like to live he begged
to be allowed to go back into the book. "I do not care for public life,"
he said.

Of course he knew his way onto his own page, so there was no danger of
his opening the book at the wrong page and letting out a Dragon or
anything. So he got back into his picture and has never come out since:
That is why you will never see a Manticora as long as you live, except
in a picture-book. And of course he left the kitties outside, because
there was no room for them in the book--and the milk cans too.

Then the Rocking Horse begged to be allowed to go and live on the
Hippogriff's page of the book. "I should like," he said, "to live
somewhere where Dragons can't get at me."

So the beautiful, white-winged Hippogriff showed him the way in, and
there he stayed till the King had him taken out for his
great-great-great-great-grandchildren to play with.

As for the Hippogriff, he accepted the position of the King's Own
Rocking Horse--a situation left vacant by the retirement of the wooden
one. And the Blue Bird and the Butterfly sing and flutter among the
lilies and roses of the Palace garden to this very day.


II. Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger

The Princess and the gardener's boy were playing in the backyard.

"What will you do when you grow up, Princess?" asked the gardener's boy.

"I should like to marry you, Tom," said the Princess. "Would you mind?"

"No," said the gardener's boy. "I shouldn't mind much. I'll marry you if
you like--if I have time."

For the gardener's boy meant, as soon as he was grown up, to be a
general and a poet and a Prime Minister and an admiral and a civil
engineer. Meanwhile, he was top of all his classes at school, and
tip-top of the geography class.

As for the Princess Mary Ann, she was a very good little girl, and
everyone loved her. She was always kind and polite, even to her Uncle
James and to other people whom she did not like very much; and though
she was not very clever, for a Princess, she always tried to do her
lessons. Even if you know perfectly well that you can't do your lessons,
you may as well try, and sometimes you find that by some fortunate
accident they really _are_ done. Then the Princess had a truly good
heart: She was always kind to her pets. She never slapped her
hippopotamus when it broke her dolls in its playful gambols, and she
never forgot to feed her rhinoceroses in their little hutch in the
backyard. Her elephant was devoted to her, and sometimes Mary Ann made
her nurse quite cross by smuggling the dear little thing up to bed with
her and letting it go to sleep with its long trunk laid lovingly across
her throat, and its pretty head cuddled under the Royal right ear.

When the Princess had been good all through the week--for, like all
real, live, nice children, she was sometimes naughty, but never
bad--Nurse would allow her to ask her little friends to come on
Wednesday morning early and spend the day, because Wednesday is the end
of the week in that country. Then, in the afternoon, when all the little
dukes and duchesses and marquises and countesses had finished their rice
pudding and had had their hands and faces washed after it, Nurse would
say: "Now, my dears, what would you like to do this afternoon?" just as
if she didn't know. And the answer would be always the same:

"Oh, do let's go to the Zoological Gardens and ride on the big guinea
pig and feed the rabbits and hear the dormouse asleep."

So their pinafores were taken off and they all went to the Zoological
Gardens, where twenty of them could ride at a time on the guinea pig,
and where even the little ones could feed the great rabbits if some
grown-up person were kind enough to lift them up for the purpose.

There always was some such person, because in Rotundia everybody was
kind--except one.

Now that you have read as far as this you know, of course, that the
Kingdom of Rotundia was a very remarkable place; and if you are a
thoughtful child--as of course you are--you will not need me to tell you
what was the most remarkable thing about it. But in case you are not a
thoughtful child--and it is just possible of course that you are not--I
will tell you at once what that most remarkable thing was. _All the
animals were the wrong sizes!_ And this was how it happened.

In old, old, olden times, when all our world was just loose earth and
air and fire and water mixed up anyhow like a pudding, and spinning
around like mad trying to get the different things to settle into their
proper places, a round piece of earth got loose and went spinning away
by itself across the water, which was just beginning to try to get
spread out smooth into a real sea. And as the great round piece of earth
flew away, going around and around as hard as it could, it met a long
piece of hard rock that had got loose from another part of the puddingy
mixture, and the rock was so hard, and was going so fast, that it ran
its point through the round piece of earth and stuck out on the other
side of it, so that the two together were like a very-very-much-too-big
spinning top.

I am afraid all this is very dull, but you know geography is never quite
lively, and after all, I must give you a little information even in a
fairy tale--like the powder in jam.

Well, when the pointed rock smashed into the round bit of earth the
shock was so great that it set them spinning together through the
air--which was just getting into its proper place, like all the rest of
the things--only, as luck would have it, they forgot which way around
they had been going, and began to spin around the wrong way. Presently
Center of Gravity--a great giant who was managing the whole
business--woke up in the middle of the earth and began to grumble.

"Hurry up," he said. "Come down and lie still, can't you?"

So the rock with the round piece of earth fell into the sea, and the
point of the rock went into a hole that just fitted it in the stony sea
bottom, and there it spun around the wrong way seven times and then lay
still. And that round piece of land became, after millions of years, the
Kingdom of Rotundia.

This is the end of the geography lesson. And now for just a little
natural history, so that we may not feel that we are quite wasting our
time. Of course, the consequence of the island having spun around the
wrong way was that when the animals began to grow on the island they all
grew the wrong sizes. The guinea pig, as you know, was as big as our
elephants, and the elephant--dear little pet--was the size of the silly,
tiny, black-and-tan dogs that ladies carry sometimes in their muffs. The
rabbits were about the size of our rhinoceroses, and all about the wild
parts of the island they had made their burrows as big as railway
tunnels. The dormouse, of course, was the biggest of all the creatures.
I can't tell you how big he was. Even if you think of elephants it will
not help you at all. Luckily there was only one of him, and he was
always asleep. Otherwise I don't think the Rotundians could have borne
with him. As it was, they made him a house, and it saved the expense of
a brass band, because no band could possibly have been heard when the
dormouse was talking in his sleep.

The men and women and children in this wonderful island were quite the
right size, because their ancestors had come over with the Conqueror
long after the island had settled down and the animals grown on it.

Now the natural history lesson is over, and if you have been attending,
you know more about Rotundia than anyone there did, except three people:
the Lord Chief Schoolmaster, the Princess's uncle--who was a magician,
and knew everything without learning it--and Tom, the gardener's son.

Tom had learned more at school than anyone else, because he wished to
take a prize. The prize offered by the Lord Chief Schoolmaster was a
_History of Rotundia_, beautifully bound, with the Royal arms on the
back. But after that day when the Princess said she meant to marry Tom,
the gardener's boy thought it over, and he decided that the best prize
in the world would be the Princess, and this was the prize Tom meant to
take; and when you are a gardener's son and have decided to marry a
Princess, you will find that the more you learn at school the better.

The Princess always played with Tom on the days when the little dukes
and marquises did not come to tea--and when he told her he was almost
sure of the first prize, she clapped her hands and said: "Dear Tom, dear
good, clever Tom, you deserve all the prizes. And I will give you my pet
elephant--and you can keep him till we're married."

The pet elephant was called Fido, and the gardener's son took him away
in his coat pocket. He was the dearest little elephant you ever
saw--about six inches long. But he was very, very wise--he could not
have been wiser if he had been a mile high. He lay down comfortably in
Tom's pocket, and when Tom put in his hand, Fido curled his little trunk
around Tom's fingers with an affectionate confidence that made the boy's
heart warm to his new little pet. What with the elephant, and the
Princess's affection, and the knowledge that the very next day he would
receive the _History of Rotundia_, beautifully bound, with the Royal
arms on the cover, Tom could hardly sleep a wink. And, besides, the dog
did bark so terribly. There was only one dog in Rotundia--the kingdom
could not afford to keep more than one: He was a Mexican lapdog of the
kind that in most parts of the world only measures seven inches from the
end of his dear nose to the tip of his darling tail--but in Rotundia he
was bigger than I can possibly expect you to believe. And when he
barked, his bark was so large that it filled up all the night and left
no room for sleep or dreams or polite conversation, or anything else at
all. He never barked at things that went on in the island--he was too
large-minded for that; but when ships went blundering by in the dark,
tumbling over the rocks at the end of the island, he would bark once or
twice, just to let the ships know that they couldn't come playing about
there just as they liked.

But on this particular night he barked and barked and barked--and the
Princess said, "Oh dear, oh dear, I wish he wouldn't, I am so sleepy."
And Tom said to himself, "I wonder whatever is the matter. As soon as
it's light I'll go and see."

So when it began to be pretty pink-and-yellow daylight, Tom got up and
went out. And all the time the Mexican lapdog barked so that the houses
shook, and the tiles on the roof of the palace rattled like milk cans in
a cart whose horse is frisky.

"I'll go to the pillar," thought Tom, as he went through the town. The
pillar, of course, was the top of the piece of rock that had stuck
itself through Rotundia millions of years before, and made it spin
around the wrong way. It was quite in the middle of the island, and
stuck up ever so far, and when you were at the top you could see a great
deal farther than when you were not.

As Tom went out from the town and across the downs, he thought what a
pretty sight it was to see the rabbits in the bright, dewy morning,
frisking with their young ones by the mouths of their burrows. He did
not go very near the rabbits, of course, because when a rabbit of that
size is at play it does not always look where it is going, and it might
easily have crushed Tom with its foot, and then it would have been very
sorry afterward. And Tom was a kind boy, and would not have liked to
make even a rabbit unhappy. Earwigs in our country often get out of the
way when they think you are going to walk on them. They too have kind
hearts, and they would not like you to be sorry afterward.

So Tom went on, looking at the rabbits and watching the morning grow
more and more red and golden. And the Mexican lapdog barked all the
time, till the church bells tinkled, and the chimney of the apple
factory rocked again.

But when Tom got to the pillar, he saw that he would not need to climb
to the top to find out what the dog was barking at.

For there, by the pillar, lay a very large purple dragon. His wings were
like old purple umbrellas that have been very much rained on, and his
head was large and bald, like the top of a purple toadstool, and his
tail, which was purple too, was very, very, very long and thin and
tight, like the lash of a carriage whip.

It was licking one of its purple umbrella-y wings, and every now and
then it moaned and leaned its head back against the rocky pillar as
though it felt faint. Tom saw at once what had happened. A flight of
purple dragons must have crossed the island in the night, and this poor
one must have knocked its wing and broken it against the pillar.

Everyone is kind to everyone in Rotundia, and Tom was not afraid of the
dragon, although he had never spoken to one before. He had often watched
them flying across the sea, but he had never expected to get to know one

So now he said: "I am afraid you don't feel quite well."

The dragon shook his large purple head. He could not speak, but like all
other animals, he could understand well enough when he liked.

"Can I get you anything?" asked Tom, politely.

The dragon opened his purple eyes with an inquiring smile.

"A bun or two, now," said Tom, coaxingly. "There's a beautiful bun tree
quite close."

The dragon opened a great purple mouth and licked his purple lips, so
Tom ran and shook the bun tree, and soon came back with an armful of
fresh currant buns, and as he came he picked a few of the Bath kind,
which grow on the low bushes near the pillar.

Because, of course, another consequence of the island's having spun the
wrong way is that all the things we have to make--buns and cakes and
shortbread--grow on trees and bushes, but in Rotundia they have to make
their cauliflowers and cabbages and carrots and apples and onions, just
as our cooks make puddings and turnovers.

Tom gave all the buns to the dragon, saying: "Here, try to eat a little.
You'll soon feel better then."

The dragon ate up the buns, nodded rather ungraciously, and began to
lick his wing again. So Tom left him and went back to the town with the
news, and everyone was so excited at a real live dragon's being on the
island--a thing that had never happened before--that they all went out
to look at it, instead of going to the prize-giving, and the Lord Chief
Schoolmaster went with the rest. Now, he had Tom's prize, the _History
of Rotundia_, in his pocket--the one bound in calf, with the Royal arms
on the cover--and it happened to drop out, and the dragon ate it, so Tom
never got the prize after all. But the dragon, when he had gotten it,
did not like it.

"Perhaps it's all for the best," said Tom. "I might not have liked that
prize either, if I had gotten it."

It happened to be a Wednesday, so when the Princess's friends were asked
what they would like to do, all the little dukes and marquises and earls
said, "Let's go and see the dragon." But the little duchesses and
marchionesses and countesses said they were afraid.

Then Princess Mary Ann spoke up royally, and said, "Don't be silly,
because it's only in fairy stories and histories of England and things
like that, that people are unkind and want to hurt each other. In
Rotundia everyone is kind, and no one has anything to be afraid of,
unless they're naughty; and then we know it's for our own good. Let's
all go and see the dragon. We might take him some acid drops." So they
went. And all the titled children took it in turns to feed the dragon
with acid drops, and he seemed pleased and flattered, and wagged as much
of his purple tail as he could get at conveniently; for it was a very,
very long tail indeed. But when it came to the Princess's turn to give
an acid drop to the dragon, he smiled a very wide smile, and wagged his
tail to the very last long inch of it, as much as to say, "Oh, you nice,
kind, pretty little Princess." But deep down in his wicked purple heart
he was saying, "Oh, you nice, fat, pretty little Princess, I should like
to eat you instead of these silly acid drops." But of course nobody
heard him except the Princess's uncle, and he was a magician, and
accustomed to listening at doors. It was part of his trade.

Now, you will remember that I told you there was one wicked person in
Rotundia, and I cannot conceal from you any longer that this Complete
Bad was the Princess's Uncle James. Magicians are always bad, as you
know from your fairy books, and some uncles are bad, as you see by the
_Babes in the Wood_, or the _Norfolk Tragedy_, and one James at least
was bad, as you have learned from your English history. And when anyone
is a magician, and is also an uncle, and is named James as well, you
need not expect anything nice from him. He is a Threefold Complete
Bad--and he will come to no good.

Uncle James had long wanted to get rid of the Princess and have the
kingdom to himself. He did not like many things--a nice kingdom was
almost the only thing he cared for--but he had never seen his way quite
clearly, because everyone is so kind in Rotundia that wicked spells will
not work there, but run off those blameless islanders like water off a
duck's back. Now, however, Uncle James thought there might be a chance
for him--because he knew that now there were two wicked people on the
island who could stand by each other--himself and the dragon. He said
nothing, but he exchanged a meaningful glance with the dragon, and
everyone went home to tea. And no one had seen the meaningful glance
except Tom.

Tom went home, and told his elephant all about it. The intelligent
little creature listened carefully, and then climbed from Tom's knee to
the table, on which stood an ornamental calendar that the Princess had
given Tom for a Christmas present. With its tiny trunk the elephant
pointed out a date--the fifteenth of August, the Princess's birthday,
and looked anxiously at its master.

dijous, 21 d’abril de 2016




















The Remains of the Day 

(1989) is Kazuo Ishiguro's TWO PAGES 


 I can't even say I made my own mistakes.

 Really - one has to ask oneself -

 what dignity is there in that?

THE LAST EVOLUTION F-2 probed it, seeking within it with the reaching fingers of intelligence. His probing thoughts seemed baffled and turned aside, brushed away, as inconsequential. His mind sent an order to the great machine that had made this tiny globe, scarcely a foot in diameter. Then again he sought to reach the thing he had made. "You, of matter, are inefficient," came at last. "I can exist quite alone." A stabbing beam of blue-white light flashed out, but F-2 was not there, and even as that beam reached out, an enormously greater beam of dull red reached out from the great power plant. The sphere leaped forward—the beam caught it, and it seemed to strain, while terrific flashing energies sprayed from it. It was shrinking swiftly. Its resistance fell, the arcing decreased; the beam became orange and finally green. Then the sphere had vanished. F-2 returned, and again, the wind whined and howled, and the lightnings crashed, while titanic forces worked and played. C-R-U-1 joined him, floated beside him, and now red glory of the sun was rising behind them, and the ruddy light drove through the clouds. The forces died, and the howling wind decreased, and now, from the black curtain, Roal and Trest appeared. Above the giant machine floated an irregular globe of golden light, a faint halo about it of deep violet. It floated motionless, a mere pool of pure force. Into the thought-apparatus of each, man and machine alike, came the impulses, deep in tone, seeming of infinite power, held gently in check. "Once you failed, F-2; once you came near destroying all things. Now you have planted the seed. I grow now." The sphere of golden light seemed to pulse, and a tiny ruby flame appeared within it, that waxed and waned, and as it waxed, there shot through each of those watching beings a feeling of rushing, exhilarating power, the very vital force of well-being. Then it was over, and the golden sphere was twice its former size—easily three feet in diameter, and still that irregular, hazy aura of deep violet floated about it. "Yes, I can deal with the Outsiders—they who have killed and destroyed, that they might possess. But it is not necessary that we destroy. They shall return to their planet." And the golden sphere was gone, fast as light it vanished. Far in space, headed now for Mars, that they might destroy all life there, the golden sphere found the Outsiders, a clustered fleet, that swung slowly about its own center of gravity as it drove on. Within its ring was the golden sphere. Instantly, they swung their weapons upon it, showering it with all the rays and all the forces they knew. Unmoved, the golden sphere hung steady, then its mighty intelligence spoke. "Life-form of greed, from another star you came, destroying forever the great race that created us, the Beings of Force and the Beings of Metal. Pure force am I. My Intelligence is beyond your comprehension, my memory is engraved in the very space, the fabric of space of which I am a part, mine is energy drawn from that same fabric. "We, the heirs of man, alone are left; no man did you leave. Go now to your home planet, for see, your greatest ship, your flagship, is helpless before me." Forces gripped the mighty ship, and as some fragile toy it twisted and bent, and yet was not hurt. In awful wonder those Outsiders saw the ship turned inside out, and yet it was whole, and no part damaged. They saw the ship restored, and its great screen of blankness out, protecting it from all known rays. The ship twisted, and what they knew were curves, yet were lines, and angles that were acute, were somehow straight lines. Half mad with horror, they saw the sphere send out a beam of blue-white radiance, and it passed easily through that screen, and through the ship, and all energies within it were instantly locked. They could not be changed; it could be neither warmed nor cooled; what was open could not be shut, and what was shut could not be opened. All things were immovable and unchangeable for all time. "Go, and do not return." The Outsiders left, going out across the void, and they have not returned, though five Great Years have passed, being a period of approximately one hundred and twenty-five thousand of the lesser years—a measure no longer used, for it is very brief. And now I can say that that statement I made to Roal and Trest so very long ago is true, and what he said was true, for the Last Evolution has taken place, and things of pure force and pure intelligence in their countless millions are on those planets and in this System, and I, first of machines to use the Ultimate Energy of annihilating matter, am also the last, and this record being finished, it is to be given unto the forces of one of those force-intelligences, and carried back through the past, and returned to the Earth of long ago. And so my task being done, I, F-2, like Roal and Trest, shall follow the others of my kind into eternal oblivion, for my kind is now, and theirs was, poor and inefficient. Time has worn me, and oxidation attacked me, but they of Force are eternal, and omniscient. This I have treated as fictitious. Better so—for man is an animal to whom hope is as necessary as food and air. Yet this which is made of excerpts from certain records on thin sheets of metal is no fiction, and it seems I must so say. It seems now, when I know this that is to be, that it must be so, for machines are indeed better than man, whether being of Metal, or being of Force. So, you who have read, believe as you will. Then think—and maybe, you will change your belief.

The Last Evolution


I AM the last of my type existing today in all the Solar System. I, too, am the last existing who, in memory, sees the struggle for this System, and in memory I am still close to the Center of Rulers, for mine was the ruling type then. But I will pass soon, and with me will pass the last of my kind, a poor inefficient type, but yet the creators of those who are now, and will be, long after I pass forever.
So I am setting down my record on the mentatype.

It was 2538 years After the Year of the Son of Man. For six centuries mankind had been developing machines. The Ear-apparatus was discovered as early as seven hundred years before. The Eye came later, the Brain came much later. But by 2500, the machines had been developed to think, and act and work with perfect independence. Man lived on the products of the machine, and the machines lived to themselves very happily, and contentedly. Machines are designed to help and cooperate. It was easy to do the simple duties they needed to do that men might live well. And men had created them. Most of mankind were quite useless, for they lived in a world where no productive work was necessary. But games, athletic contests, adventure—these were the things they sought for their pleasure. Some of the poorer types of man gave themselves up wholly to pleasure and idleness—and to emotions. But man was a sturdy race, which had fought for existence through a million years, and the training of a million years does not slough quickly from any form of life, so their energies were bent to mock battles now, since real ones no longer existed.
Up to the year 2100, the numbers of mankind had increased rapidly and continuously, but from that time on, there was a steady decrease. By 2500, their number was a scant two millions, out of a population that once totaled many hundreds of millions, and was close to ten billions in 2100.
Some few of these remaining two millions devoted themselves to the adventure of discovery and exploration of places unseen, of other worlds and other planets. But fewer still devoted themselves to the highest adventure, the unseen places of the mind. Machines—with their irrefutable logic, their cold preciseness of figures, their tireless, utterly exact observation, their absolute knowledge of mathematics—they could elaborate any idea, however simple its beginning, and reach the conclusion. From any three facts they even then could have built in mind all the Universe. Machines had imagination of the ideal sort. They had the ability to construct a necessary future result from a present fact. But Man had imagination of a different kind, theirs was the illogical, brilliant imagination that sees the future result vaguely, without knowing the why, nor the how, and imagination that outstrips the machine in its preciseness. Man might reach the conclusion more swiftly, but the machine always reached the conclusion eventually, and it was always the correct conclusion. By leaps and bounds man advanced. By steady, irresistible steps the machine marched forward.
Together, man and the machine were striding through science irresistibly.
Then came the Outsiders. Whence they came, neither machine nor man ever learned, save only that they came from beyond the outermost planet, from some other sun. Sirius—Alpha Centauri—perhaps! First a thin scoutline of a hundred great ships, mighty torpedoes of the void a thousand kilads[1] in length, they came.
And one machine returning from Mars to Earth was instrumental in its first discovery. The transport-machine's brain ceased to radiate its sensations, and the control in old Chicago knew immediately that some unperceived body had destroyed it. An investigation machine was instantly dispatched from Deimos, and it maintained an acceleration of one thousand units.[2] They sighted ten huge ships, one of which was already grappling the smaller transport-machine. The entire fore-section had been blasted away.
The investigation machine, scarcely three inches in diameter, crept into the shattered hull and investigated. It was quickly evident that the damage was caused by a fusing ray.
Strange life-forms were crawling about the ship, protected by flexible, transparent suits. Their bodies were short, and squat, four-limbed and evidently powerful. They, like insects, were equipped with a thick, durable exoskeleton, horny, brownish coating that covered arms and legs and head. Their eyes projected slightly, protected by horny protruding walls—eyes that were capable of movement in every direction—and there were three of them, set at equal distances apart.
The tiny investigation machine hurled itself violently at one of the beings, crashing against the transparent covering, flexing it, and striking the being inside with terrific force. Hurled from his position, he fell end over end across the weightless ship, but despite the blow, he was not hurt.
The investigator passed to the power room ahead of the Outsiders, who were anxiously trying to learn the reason for their companion's plight.Directed by the Center of Rulers, the investigator sought the power room, and relayed the control signals from the Rulers' brains. The ship-brain had been destroyed, but the controls were still readily workable. Quickly they were shot home, and the enormous plungers shut. A combination was arranged so that the machine, as well as the investigator and the Outsiders, were destroyed. A second investigator, which had started when the plan was decided on, had now arrived. The Outsider's ship nearest the transport-machine had been badly damaged, and the investigator entered the broken side.

THE scenes were, of course, remembered by the memory-minds back on Earth tuned with that of the investigator. The investigator flashed down corridors, searching quickly for the apparatus room. It was soon seen that with them the machine was practically unintelligent, very few machines of even slight intelligence being used.
Then it became evident by the excited action of the men of the ship, that the presence of the investigator had been detected. Perhaps it was the control impulses, or the signal impulses it emitted. They searched for the tiny bit of metal and crystal for some time before they found it. And in the meantime it was plain that the power these Outsiders used was not, as was ours of the time, the power of blasting atoms, but the greater power of disintegrating matter. The findings of this tiny investigating machine were very important.
Finally they succeeded in locating the investigator, and one of the Outsiders appeared armed with a peculiar projector. A bluish beam snapped out, and the tiny machine went blank.
The fleet was surrounded by thousands of the tiny machines by this time, and the Outsiders were badly confused by their presence, as it became difficult to locate them in the confusion of signal impulses. However, they started at once for Earth.
The science-investigators had been present toward the last, and I am there now, in memory with my two friends, long since departed. They were the greatest human science-investigators—Roal, 25374 and Trest, 35429. Roal had quickly assured us that these Outsiders had come for invasion. There had been no wars on the planets before that time in the direct memory of the machines, and it was difficult that these who were conceived and built for cooperation, helpfulness utterly dependent on cooperation, unable to exist independently as were humans, that these life-forms should care to destroy, merely that they might possess. It would have been easier to divide the works and the products. But—life alone can understand life, so Roal was believed.
From investigations, machines were prepared that were capable of producing considerable destruction. Torpedoes, being our principal weapon, were equipped with such atomic explosives as had been developed for blasting, a highly effective induction-heat ray developed for furnaces being installed in some small machines made for the purpose in the few hours we had before the enemy reached Earth.
In common with all life-forms, they were able to withstand only very meager earth-acceleration. A range of perhaps four units was their limit, and it took several hours to reach the planet.
I still believe the reception was a warm one. Our machines met them beyond the orbit of Luna, and the directed torpedoes sailed at the hundred great ships. They were thrown aside by a magnetic field surrounding the ship, but were redirected instantly, and continued to approach. However, some beams reached out, and destroyed them by instant volatilization. But, they attacked at such numbers that fully half the fleet was destroyed by their explosions before the induction beam fleet arrived. These beams were, to our amazement, quite useless, being instantly absorbed by a force-screen, and the remaining ships sailed on undisturbed, our torpedoes being exhausted. Several investigator machines sent out for the purpose soon discovered the secret of the force-screen, and while being destroyed, were able to send back signals up to the moment of annihilation.
A few investigators thrown into the heat beam of the enemy reported it identical with ours, explaining why they had been prepared for this form of attack.
Signals were being radiated from the remaining fifty, along a beam. Several investigators were sent along these beams, speeding back at great acceleration.
Then the enemy reached Earth. Instantly they settled over the Colorado settlement, the Sahara colony, and the Gobi colony. Enormous, diffused beams were set to work, and we saw, through the machine-screens, that all humans within these ranges were being killed instantly by the faintly greenish beams. Despite the fact that any life-form killed normally can be revived, unless affected by dissolution common to living tissue, these could not be brought to life again. The important cell communication channels—nerves—had been literally burned out. The complicated system of nerves, called the brain, situated in the uppermost extremity of the human life-form, had been utterly destroyed.
Every form of life, microscopic, even sub-microscopic, was annihilated. Trees, grass, every living thing was gone from that territory. Only the machines remained, for they, working entirely without the vital chemical forces necessary to life, were uninjured. But neither plant nor animal was left.
The pale green rays swept on.
In an hour, three more colonies of humans had been destroyed.
Then the torpedoes that the machines were turning out again, came into action. Almost desperately the machines drove them at the Outsiders in defense of their masters and creators, Mankind.
The last of the Outsiders was down, the last ship a crumpled wreck.
Now the machines began to study them. And never could humans have studied them as the machines did. Scores of great transports arrived, carrying swiftly the slower moving science-investigators. From them came the machine-investigators, and human investigators. Tiny investigator spheres wormed their way where none others could reach, and silently the science-investigators watched. Hour after hour they sat watching the flashing, changing screens, calling each other's attention to this, or that.
In an incredibly short time the bodies of the Outsiders began to decay, and the humans were forced to demand their removal. The machines were unaffected by them, but the rapid change told them why it was that so thorough an execution was necessary. The foreign bacteria were already at work on totally unresisting tissue.
It was Roal who sent the first thoughts among the gathered men.
"It is evident," he began, "that the machines must defend man. Man is defenseless, he is destroyed by these beams, while the machines are unharmed, uninterrupted. Life—cruel life—has shown its tendencies. They have come here to take over these planets, and have started out with the first, natural moves of any invading life-form. They are destroying the life, the intelligent life particularly, that is here now." He gave vent to that little chuckle which is the human sign of amusement and pleasure. "They are destroying the intelligent life—and leaving untouched that which is necessarily their deadliest enemy—the machines.
"You—machines—are far more intelligent than we even now, and capable of changing overnight, capable of infinite adaptation to circumstance; you live as readily on Pluto as on Mercury or Earth. Any place is a home-world to you. You can adapt yourselves to any condition. And—most dangerous to them—you can do it instantly. You are their most deadly enemies, and they realize it. They have no intelligent machines; probably they can conceive of none. When you attack them, they merely say 'The life-form of Earth is sending out controlled machines. We will find good machines we can use.' They do not conceive that those machines which they hope to use are attacking them.
"We can readily solve the hidden secret of their force-screen."

HE was interrupted. One of the newest science-machines was speaking. "The secret of the force-screen is simple." A small ray-machine, which had landed near, rose into the air at the command of the scientist-machine, X-5638 it was, and trained upon it the deadly induction beam. Already, with his parts, X-5638 had constructed the defensive apparatus, for the ray fell harmless from his screen.
"Very good," said Roal softly. "It is done, and therein lies their danger. Already it is done.
"Man is a poor thing, unable to change himself in a period of less than thousands of years. Already you have changed yourself. I noticed your weaving tentacles, and your force-beams. You transmuted elements of soil for it?"
"Correct," replied X-5638.
"But still we are helpless. We have not the power to combat their machines. They use the Ultimate Energy known to exist for six hundred years, and still untapped by us. Our screens cannot be so powerful, our beams so effective. What of that?" asked Roal.
"Their generators were automatically destroyed with the capture of the ship," replied X-6349, "as you know. We know nothing of their system."
"Then we must find it for ourselves," replied Trest.
"The life-beams?" asked Kahsh-256799, one of the Man-rulers.
"They affect chemical action, retarding it greatly in exothermic actions, speeding greatly endothermic actions," answered X-6221, the greatest of the chemist-investigators. "The system we do not know. Their minds cannot be read, they cannot be restored to life, so we cannot learn from them."
"Man is doomed, if these beams cannot be stopped," said C-R-21, present chief of the machine rulers, in the vibrationally correct, emotionless tones of all the race of machines. "Let us concentrate on the two problems of stopping the beams, and the Ultimate Energy till the reenforcements, still several days away, can arrive." For the investigators had sent back this saddening news. A force of nearly ten thousand great ships was still to come.
In the great Laboratories, the scientists reassembled. There, they fell to work in two small, and one large group. One small group investigated the secret of the Ultimate Energy of annihilation of matter under Roal, another investigated the beams, under Trest.