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Darius Henning, Executive Director of the Terrestrial Aid and Development Mission on the planet Sigma, rammed a fresh charge into the stingbolt rifle, squinted at a blur moving in the gathering gloom, and squeezed the trigger.

There was a distant flash, and the high-pitched scream of an agonized Sigman. The scream faded into unconsciousness.

"Got the bastard," growled Henning.

Just to the left in the dimness, there was an indrawn feminine breath, which Henning ignored as he spoke into a little hand communicator.

"Henning speaking. Ralph, how far is that bunch from the wall?"

A faintly tinny voice replied, "No more than forty feet now. They're crawling up that narrow irrigation ditch, shoving oblong bronze shields along over their heads. The plasmoids hit the shields and ground out."

"How many of them are there?"

"Better than two dozen. Of course, we'll knock some off as they come over the wall. But they'll get in."

"You can't stop them?"

"Not a chance. Along here, it's only eight feet from the bank to the top of the wall."

"Who's in the next guard post?"

"George Hazlitt."

"You'd better both pull back to the crosswall. Once they're in, there's too much chance of spoiling the whole crop if you fire at them. And, Ralph, be sure you don't stick your neck out."

There was a sarcastic exclamation at Henning's shoulder. Henning ignored her, but Ralph's comment showed that he'd heard.

"I won't take any foolish chances, Chief. But just incidentally, if we want to get rid of that female spy, now's the time. Why not send her out to interview some Sigmen? This nearest batch has their hot sloth grease and lizard scales right with them. I can smell the stuff from here."

Henning grunted. It took something for an Earthwoman to be disliked so fast on a planet like this. But she had what it took. He spoke warningly into the phone. "Be sure you pull back in time."

"Don't worry, we will. No matter what we do, this bunch is going to get away with some groundwheat."

Henning agreed, switched off the communicator, and flipped on the nearby monitor screen. He crouched low by the parapet as the dim red outline showed him the steady approach of a chain of blobs along the dark line of the irrigation ditch. Other blobs surrounded the Aid and Development station, and were now spread out from a hundred to five hundred feet away. Henning flipped off the screen, and squinted into the darkness. Out there about a hundred feet, a deeper shadow slowly glided closer.

The shadow stopped.

Henning cautiously raised his gun.

There was a whir, a rush of air, and the thud of a padded arrow against the wall to his left.

Henning gently squeezed the trigger.

Out in the darkness, there was a brief flash.

A hideous scream told Henning he'd hit his target.

Beside him, there was a sarcastic feminine murmur, "Got the bastard."

Henning straightened, and eyed the nearby shadow. There beside him in the gloom stood a hundred and twenty-eight pounds of delightfully-curved femininity, with a face that showed beauty, character, and intelligence; and the only impulse Henning felt was an urgent desire to slap a length of adhesive plaster across her mouth.

"Oh," came her voice, in itself clear and pleasant, "you brave men! And all you have on your side, against these fierce natives, is your own courage, your bare hands, and—an interstellar technology!"

Henning turned away, peered into the darkness, and wondered why eyes had lids, and ears didn't.

An arrow whizzed past, missing him narrowly.

A quick glance at the monitor screen showed that the Sigmen were easing in closer, and forming into several loose-knit groups around the station.

The breeze, which had been shifting and veering since sundown chose this instant to blow from a new direction, carrying to Henning a trace of the fresh fragrance of the woman's perfume. The tantalizing scent left him dizzy, but the wind of the passing arrow snapped him back to reality.

It came to Henning as the arrow thudded against the wall, that something definite was going to have to be done about her, and done soon. A pretty unattached woman like this took his men's minds off their work. She took his mind off his work. She was physically desirable, but with a personality like cider turned to vinegar. To Henning, it seemed one of the worst possible combinations. First his men were attracted, then they were rebuffed, and to top it off, the woman had a string of academic degrees, and was out here as the emissary of an independent outfit that was evaluating the aid and development program. In Henning's view, she was the exact type, already mentally overstuffed with ill-digested knowledge, that found it impossible to assimilate a new idea. There was just no place to fit a new idea in. For this very reason, she was also the exact type that could turn in a ruinous report with an air of overpowering authority. That Darius Henning's superiors had foreseen this exact possibility was shown by the letter that had arrive for him on the same ship as the woman:



I don't know if you've heard of the Brumbacher Foundation, but, believe me, it has a lot of prestige. The stated purpose of this foundation is to "combine liberal social aims with conservative fiscal practices, thus to attain sound governmental policies." I won't try to guess whether this aim is wise or even possible. My worries are on a somewhat lower level.

You have doubtless long since received our notification that one P. L. Forsythe, B.A., B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Ph.D. (Intem.), Soc.D. (Sr.), F.S.I.S., F.T.S.S., F.C.I.A.S., is on the way to carry out for the Brumbacher Foundation an analysis of our practices on Sigma. What we did not care to put into the communications record is the fact that the Appropriations Committee looks on a Brumbacher Report as the next thing to Gospel Truth. This could be awkward, to put it mildly.

As you know, long and painful experience has shown the field men of the Terrestrial Aid and Development Administration that doing good and extending a helping hand is not quite as easy and simple as it looks. Even when the inhabitants of a planet are to all intents and purposes human, little complications can tie our beneficent intentions in knots. It can be an expensive proposition to cram culture down the throats of several hundred million violently-resisting savages. When we try it, our ideas remain our ideas, not theirs. To get them to act as we want, we are, therefore, reduced either to bribing them or to sticking guns in their ribs. The cooperation we get by either method lacks enthusiasm. We end up putting props under a stooge government with no local support, and wind up with a burdensome liability instead of an asset.

Past experience shows that if we should try, for instance, to introduce groundwheat on Sigma by the obvious method of handing out free seed plants, it would be a matter of centuries before we get the groundwheat established. The Sigmen are primitive but intelligent. Their chiefs are bound to suspect such generosity, since their past experience shows that there must be an ulterior motive. The only way to get the groundwheat established fast would seem to be to throw out the chiefs and put in people chosen by us.

But, if we do that, for that very reason they will lack local support. There will still be no enthusiasm for the groundwheat. The idea of planting it will remain ours, not theirs. Operating on a limited budget, with limited time to get results, we can't use such backward methods. What we want is for these planets to be well-disposed to us, and to have something to trade when our frontiers are advanced far enough so that we are ready to trade with them.

In order to accomplish this, we have to use methods that will work. What this boils down to is that the ideas for progress have to end up as theirs. That is the only known practical way to get them to put their full force behind the work.

This is a very simple fact, but I am afraid that P. L. Forsythe, Soc.D. (Sr.) will not get it. Her liberal aims will lead her to think we should hand the inhabitants the means of progress on a platter; her conservative economics will tell her it would be cheaper to do it that way. She lacks the experience to see that this simple-minded method would cost us a hundred times as much in the end, and still wouldn't work. When a man wants a woman, the obvious, simple, straightforward way to get her is: Grab her. Several hundred thousand years of experience have taught the human race that there are less obvious ways that work better.

If our emissary from the Brumbacher Foundation liked a man, I am reasonably sure she wouldn't just strip to show him how desirable she was, and thereby prove that he should embrace her at once. But that is just the level the conventional aid and development approach operates on: "Here is something obviously great. You've got to want it—even you can see that. And we'll help you get it, out of the kindness of our hearts. All right, now. Here it is. Want it. Embrace it!"

Well, now, back to our specific problem. I won't presume to tell you how to handle this woman. As a matter of fact I wouldn't know what to say. I see from her identification photo that she is not at all bad-looking, and the accompanying medical height-weight et cetera, will bear that out, so at least she may prove to be decorative. But with her lack of first-hand knowledge of how we operate and why, she could unintentionally do a great deal of damage.

Dar, this woman and her Brumbacher Report could set human aid-and-development procedures back several hundred years.

I am relying on you to find some way to stop her.

Count on me to back you up.



Henning had read this letter half-a-dozen times. "Bill" was William S. Able, Chief of Bureau. Able had the reputation of being as good as his word. But before Able could back up Henning, Henning had to figure out what to do.

From down the wall in the gloom came the weird blast of an alien hunting horn. That signaled the arrival of the raiding party.

Immediately the rest of the Sigmen, facing the station on all sides, let out a hideous yell. The thud of padded arrows, and worse yet, the heavy thunk of dull-pointed javelins, gave warning of the covering attack that might or might not be driven home. Henning stepped back behind a high masonry shield, and yanked the whistle that hung on a cord around his neck, gripped it between his teeth, and blew a long blast.

To Henning's left front, a dim shadow moved.

With a shock, he realized that the woman was still by the parapet, exposed to the arrows, javelins, and hooked wooden burrs that were flying through the night. Angrily, he shouted, "Get down!"

The dim shadow turned, to say in a sweet voice: "I do hope you survive this dreadful attack. You must be heroic to face up to these pathetic children and their toy weapons."

It dawned on Henning that the fool thought anything primitive must be ineffectual.

He let the whistle drop on its cord, and moving in a crouch, so as to stay as much as possible behind the protecting parapet, he quickly pinned her knees with one arm, swung her off her feet, caught her upper body with his other arm, and dropped her flat.

There was a whoosh as a spear passed overhead, a jarring thud as it hit the shield, then a clatter and rattle as it dropped to the stone floor.

Then, in delayed response to his whistle, the lights dimly lit up.

The glow briefly showed Henning a vision of perfect femininity. She was apparently dazed, one arm raised as if to shield herself, and, for a change, her mouth was shut.

He reached out and jerked the spear across the floor. The shaft was of rough, heavy dark wood, the end wrapped in a pad the size of a baseball, covered with hide drawn tight around the shaft by shrunken rawhide thongs.

Her eyes followed his movement. She stared at the heavy spear.

"If you'd been standing," he said, "this would have hit you. It would have knocked you off your feet. Very possibly your head would have slammed into the floor or the shield, and cracked like an eggshell. Now either stay low, and close to the parapet, or else get back behind the shield."

He twisted away, crawled behind the shield, found his loophole, and began picking off the sprinting figures as they came racing through the dim glow toward the station.

From somewhere came the second blast of the Sigmen's horn, signaling their success in getting over the wall. The attackers faded back into the darkness.

Henning gave a blast on his whistle.

The lights faded, saving the feeble reserve power of the batteries. Somewhere, a bang-bang started up as the pathetic low-compression piston-engine got started, and began to turn over the pitiful generator.

"What a place," muttered Henning.

Stooping low to avoid getting flattened by a stray arrow or javelin, he snapped on the monitor screen. The Sigmen were retreating to a safe distance. Since there was no longer any need to cover the raiding party, they were now being very sparing of their weapons. Even without points, and left completely rough, the things took time and labor to make.

The woman's voice murmured, "Is it over?"

"Not yet. This is like the eye of a storm. The raiding party will take as many of the groundwheat plants as they can stuff into their leather bags. Then they'll give a blast on the horn and go over the wall. The ones on the outside will fling in spears and arrows to cover the withdrawal. We'll pick off a few of them. The majority will get away. Then it will probably be over. You can't be sure, but that's the usual pattern."

"But it's so silly. You were sent here to distribute the groundwheat plants. Instead, you're fighting to keep the natives from getting them. It's . . ."

While she sought for a word to describe the situation, Henning raised the whistle, and stepped back behind the masonry shield. The Sigmen usually worked fast, and it was almost time.

Sure enough, the blast of a horn cut through the quiet.

"Stay down," he warned. He put the whistle between his teeth and blew hard.

A dim glow lit the shrubs and rolling grassy fields below. A single warrior was running in to launch a spear, but the rest were now content to keep farther back and use their bows.

A storm of arrows streaked through the pale light. A heavy spear rose toward him, and Henning took a shot at the solitary bold figure that had launched it. He narrowly missed, and didn't fire again till the warrior had sprinted nearly back to safety. Then he sent a sizzling bolt close behind him. A yell and a roar of laughter told him that he had gauged the shot to a nicety.

From the distance came a fresh blast on the horn, and a few victorious yells, silenced quickly by low gruff voices, and Henning again blew his whistle.

The already dim light faded out entirely. The generator labored on.

The woman said, "It's over?"

"Except for taking slaves."


"That's right," said Henning. "These tribes aren't rich. They generally live a little above subsistence. They're intelligent, but technologically backward."

"I know that. But what does that have to do with slavery?"

Henning squinted at her in the dimness. Very patiently, he said, "Where a race is technologically backward, the typical labor-saving devices are domesticated animals and slaves. Slaves are valuable."

"Oh." She sounded relieved. "You mean they, the natives, will take slaves."

"No," he growled, "not if I can help it. We will take the slaves." He listened in disgust to her horrified indrawing of breath, and added, "Obviously, we have to, because they value slaves, and believe in the system."

She sat up in a sudden angry motion, but Henning noticed that she stayed behind the parapet, "It's all so confusing! After all, I was sent out here to evaluate the methods and results on this planet. I find that in a little under twelve years, a hostile, very backward people, ruled by diehard ultraconservative chieftains, has made unprecedented progress. Agriculture has been introduced, schools opened, rudimentary commercial relations established—despite the fact that by and large, the same chiefs retain power. But the method! Here you are, actually putting walls around the very things you want to give them! And not only that, you fight them off!"

Henning's hand communicator buzzed. A quiet voice said, "Chief, there's a party of three Sigmen creeping up on a little knot of unconscious warriors, down here near the setback by the gate. Bill, Mike, and I can sneak out the sally port and get them from behind when they start back, loaded down with their wounded. What do you say?"

"Let me get Arnold and Joe to cover you first. Those 'unconscious warriors' could be part of a trap." Henning got the other two men in position, then murmured into the communicator. "O.K. Whenever you're ready."

The woman now said dully, "Are you really planning to take those poor people slaves?"

"Sure," said Henning defiantly.

"That's . . ."

"We need purchasing power," said Henning. "Slaves are valuable on this planet. These people also have very sharp eyes. We never force them to tend the plants. We rarely allow them to. But they sneak every minute off that they can manage in order to steal a look at how we do it. And they remember what they see. Believe me, their minds are concentrated, and they learn."

From somewhere down below came a murmur of voices, a sudden bloodchilling yell, startled shouts, then the crack of two stingbolt rifles, followed by screams and silence.

Henning spoke into his hand communicator, and learned that it had been a trap. The "unconscious warriors" had thrown short padded clubs at the technicians.

"That," he said "was close. We almost lost three technicians. If we'd lost them, they'd have been spirited away and forced to tend plants, train Sigmen to make machines, and on threat of torture compelled to yield up all sorts of secrets. Almost certainly, to keep the captives reasonably content, and to tie them down, the crafty chiefs would have forced them to marry pretty tribal maidens. They're so much like us, you know, that such a marriage would produce offspring."

"Of course," she said. "After all, there's a theory that Sigma was originally populated by the crew and passengers of a crashed Terran spaceship."

Henning laughed.

She said angrily, "Now what have I done?"

"Oh, nothing," he said. "Here we have a race with copper-colored skin, blond hair, and gray eyes, that speaks a tongue no one ever heard of, and that gave two 6122 linguistic computers irreversible breakdowns, and this race of gray-eyed, copper-skinned blonds, speaking this unheard-of-tongue, has a complete set of bronze-age and stone-age type tribes, scattered widely over the surface of the planet, and some scholar doing research out of a library light-years away deduces that we put them here ourselves in a spaceship maybe a hundred years ago. Excuse me for laughing. Maybe I'm wrong. After all, I missed the important point, didn't I?"

He paused, grinning sarcastically in the darkness.

She waited a moment, then said curiously, "What's the important point?"

"Did he," said Henning, leaning forward, "have his doctorate?"

She jerked back as if she'd been slapped.

Henning grinned, then heard the distant order, spoken so emphatically in the Sigman tongue that it carried in the still night air. There was no time to warn her. They were both standing comparatively exposed behind the parapet. Henning dropped low, snapped her off her feet for the second time, and said urgently, "Keep down!"

This time, she struggled. And she struggled with an urgency that told him that somehow she had totally misinterpreted the situation. It was a relief to Henning when the thud and rattle of primitive missile weapons unmistakably explained his motives, and abruptly she lay still.

For a few minutes, he was busy with his communicator, then he heard her draw a deep breath.

"I'm sorry."

"For protecting yourself?"

"For—" She stopped, then went on angrily, "For thinking I had to protect myself."

"Stay close to the base of that parapet. I don't want you smashed up after I've spent all this time trying to educate you."

She made a low angry sound, but she moved closer to the parapet.

Henning took a look at the monitor screen, then blew a blast on his whistle and crawled behind the masonry shield.

The next few minutes were the hottest he'd experienced in some time.

The trouble seemed to be that the Sigman chief now had half-a-dozen of his own unconscious men, plus three valuable outlander potential slaves, at stake. He couldn't give them up without a fight. Henning in turn had three of his carefully-trained technicians, plus six valuable Sigmen slaves, at stake. He couldn't give them up without a fight. The thing ended with the Sigmen getting away with four of their own men and, at first, two technicians; while Hanning managed to get half-a-dozen Sigmen, including one that was lugging off one of the technicians. It was an expensive evening for everyone, and meanwhile, around on the other side of the station, the raiding party had quietly made its getaway with the precious groundwheat plants. Those, plus the one valuable technician he got completely away with, enabled the chief to show a profit for the transaction. Henning himself was bound to win, one way or the other, since practically everything that happened in such a raid could be turned to advantage; but he was angry over the loss of the technician, and swore savagely into the phone. For a moment, he considered leading a raiding force out himself; but that was suicide. The Sigmen's advantage in numbers was too great. Snarling angrily, Henning gave it up. He'd just have to make the best of it.

"But," said the woman exasperatedly, "won't the captured technician actually be doing what he volunteered to do anyway? I mean, he'll be teaching them to plant, training them in how to care for the plants—even the intermarriage has its advantages in allying the races, and spreading our customs. True, it's very difficult for him, but he did volunteer, knowing the risk, so—"

"You don't get it," said Henning shortly. "He wanted to get captured."

There was a blank silence, then she said, "What?"

"These technicians," said Henning irritatedly, "are a long way from home. The indescribable cretins back on Earth figure everything on the basis of strength, qualifications, weight-distance allowance and shipping charges. Every extra ounce has to be carried light-years. About the only time we get a woman out here is when it happens to fit advantageously into the shipping schedule. If there were enough accredited female technicians, no doubt they'd send them, in preference to men, till there were all women here, with no men—because, you see," he said savagely, "women technicians weigh less than the corresponding men technicians. That, incidentally, is probably why the foundation sent you here instead of a male Ph.D. with the same specialty. Right now, the big trouble here is, there aren't enough female technicians, so what happens? At least half of these birds, and maybe all of them, are secretly anxious to go over the hill and get pampered by the Sigmen for doing the same job I have them do—with a beautiful woman thrown in free! The only catch is, they've first got to somehow get themselves captured fighting hard in honest battle. The Sigmen despise traitors and weaklings. If one of our men surrenders, the Sigmen start out by plastering him with hot sloth grease and lizard scales, and then they work up from there. You see what I mean?"

"But," she stammered, "if . . . I mean—" She pressed both hands to her head. "Everything is backwards!"

"Sure," he snapped, "according to theory. But in actual fact, this is the way it works! You can do things strictly on the basis of general principles, and get things more or less done. But you get things done a lot better when you figure out the actual specific detailed properties of the things you're working with. What we're working with here are people."

"But surely, the proper way to raise the standard of living of these unfortunate people—"

Henning laughed.

Furiously, she said, "Now what is it?"

"In the first place, I'm not interested in raising their standard of living."

"But that's your job!"

His voice grated, "You are telling me my job?"

"But it's so obvious!"

"And if we raise the standard of living of these people, and train and educate them, and lead them up to a level of material culture comparable to ours, then we've succeeded?"

"Why, of course!"

"And if the benevolent social servants we've set up as leaders—because they'd follow us—get slammed out of their jobs by dictatorial types with dreams of vengeance, then what?"

"Why, they must be carefully guided so that that couldn't happen."

Henning looked at her dim shape in the gloom. In a low cold voice, he said, "Do you know how long you'd last if you came onto the planet with a hundred thousand like-minded followers, armed with every modern device of offense and defense? You'd wind up stripped of power and inside some chief's harem before the third year was out. You no more understand the reality of this planet than a raw recruit knows war after two weeks practice with a broomstick."

Her head jerked as if he had slapped her.

"How can you dare—" she began furiously, stepping toward him with partly-raised hand.

"Because," he said, his voice still low, and colder than ever, "if I so choose, you will accidentally fall over this parapet, and if you're lucky enough to land right, and foolish enough to yell, the Sigmen will have you in a flash. Female Terrans are a valuable curiosity on this planet."

She stood still, and her hand slowly dropped to her side. In a wondering voice, she said, "You mean that." There was a little silence, and then she said dazedly, "Why, you must be psychotic."

"Sure," said Henning dryly, "and I'll do you the courtesy of saying that I think you have just barely brains enough to eventually override your own indoctrination, and dimly see the reality here."

"Thanks," she said.

"It's not that I think you're stupid," said Henning. "And it's not just that you're ignorant, although you are. The main trouble is that you're ignorant and don't know it, which is just as bad as stupidity, and even worse in a way. A really stupid person couldn't have got into your position, and hence couldn't do the damage you can do."

In a toneless voice, she said, "You really must have decided, actually, to turn me over to the natives."


"Otherwise, you would never dare to be so—brutally frank."

Henning snorted. "Wrong again. Somewhere in your extensive education, you doubtless learned that everyone acts for strictly selfish purposes, his real reasons, if necessary, being deeply buried in his subconscious. Hence you know that all I'm really interested in is my own advancement—to get higher up in the hierarchy. Right?"

She said stiffly, "My report certainly won't help you reach that goal."

Henning laughed. "Then some good may come out of this mess."

There was a silence, and then she said in a small voice, "Well, I guess I was wrong again. But that seems perfectly natural here. Everything I say or do is wrong."

"Which is very irritating," he said quietly, "when you know you are so well qualified."

There was an even longer silence, and then she said, "There must be sarcasm in that. You mean I'm not well qualified?"

"Who wrote the texts you studied to acquire your 'qualifications'? Who is it that says you're qualified? Is a blacksmith qualified because a qualified blacksmith says he's qualified, or is he qualified because he can work in iron? And if he can't work in iron, what is his qualification worth, and what is the qualification of the person who qualified him worth? There are two forms of qualification, you know. One is the license to practice. The other is the ability to do the job. One qualification is granted by authority. The other qualification is acquired by thought and work. How closely these two qualifications correspond generally depends on how well the constituted authorities understand the actual conditions. There are many cases where the authorities don't understand. You tell me, now that you've seen a little of the situation here, are you qualified?"

She let her breath out slowly. Finally, in a low voice, she said, "No. I'm not qualified."

Henning felt a great weight of antagonism dissipate into the thin air. "O.K.," he said. "Now we can talk."

She said wearily, "I've still got a report to write. Maybe I should just send in my resignation."

"No," he said. "You've got the license to practice. Don't throw that away. Now what you need is the ability to do the job. Or, at least, to understand the job. If you resign, they may send us some jackass who won't see he's wrong even when he's faced with the facts. Don't quit on us. We need you. That Brumbacher Report carries a lot of weight."

She said wonderingly, "Now we're on the same side?"

"Of course."

"But, I thought you despised me. You said as much."

Henning studied the screen. The natives had pulled so far back into the forest that the screen no longer showed them.

"No," said Henning puzzledly, "I never said that."

"You've certainly been antagonistic. You said I'm stupid, not qualified—"

"Ignorant," Henning corrected.

"Ignorant. All right. And that you'd throw me over the wall and let the savages take me."

The wind changed, and brought Henning the fresh fragrance of her perfume.

Stubbornly, he said, defying the perfume. "I would have. You threatened my work."

There was a lengthy silence, and Henning said, "As a Soc.D. (Sr.), you ought to know that, to a strictly objective observer, women react over strongly to any threat to their children, while men react over strongly to any threat to their work."

"Oh," she said, surprised. "I suppose I knew it, but . . . but it was theoretical." She paused. "That's been the whole trouble, hasn't it?"

Henning nodded. "The aim, you know, is to get an aid and development program that works, not one that satisfies theoretical requirements. The aim is to get it to work in actual fact."

"But I can't see why this does work. It isn't logical."

Henning said exasperatedly, "Of course it isn't logical. It deals with people, doesn't it? Are all people logical? You can't ignore the properties of the material you're working with! These Sigmen are tough, hardy, brave, primitive, intelligent, combative, and honorable. If they were soft, weak, cowardly, degenerate, crafty, and dishonorable, do you suppose we could treat them the same way and get anywhere? We'd have to adapt our method."

She said reflectively, "But there's a basic principle in your method, and I haven't been able to find it."

The wind shifted capriciously, and Henning breathed deeply of the tantalizing fragrance of her perfume. The world seemed to reel around him. Deprived of the protection of the woman's detestable unfounded air of superiority, which he had smashed, Henning was now vulnerable to her.

"I seem to see it," she was saying, "but I can't . . . can't formulate it. Won't you help me? I have to have something definite, something that can be put in my report. I can't simply say—" she paused, as if vaguely aware of some new quality in the darkness. "I can't just say the program has to be—suited to the planet." She paused again, began to speak, and stopped.

Henning moved around, trying to get a breath of air free of perfume. The breeze, however, capriciously followed him around, so that he practically drowned in perfume. Then, abruptly, a new thought penetrated to his consciousness: What was he running from?

Now that he had beaten the conceit out of her, what was left was a beautiful woman.

True, she had a Soc.D. (Sr.), but he had seen that she could overcome that.

She was a beautiful woman, who could think.

The entire situation abruptly changed.

She said, hesitantly, "The . . . There is some general principle, isn't there?"

"Yes," he said finally, "there is. And you can express it in various ways."

There was a brief silence, then Henning said, "For instance, 'easy come, easy go.' If we casually toss our hard-earned methods to people, they won't value them. 'A man truly appreciates only what he has worked to acquire.' The people here have to work to acquire our methods. Having put so much effort into it—having invested their own time and thought—the knowledge and skill are theirs."

She drew her breath in sharply. "Yes, yes. I see it! But don't they suspect? Won't they feel they've been deceived—"

Henning snorted. "Why do you suppose they use padded spears and arrows? Why do they leave off the metal tips of their javelins? Why do they capture our technicians instead of killing them? Do you think they could see our ships come down out of the sky in a blaze of light and not suspect that we have weapons and equipment more powerful than we use? Don't you realize that humans operate on several levels at once, and are readily caught up in play-acting? Why is a man in mental agony over the loss of a game of chess? Why is he cheerful over a well-fought win or draw? Why are sporting contests so heavily attended and the source of so much gloom or delight?"

In the darkness, she caught her breath. She turned to face him.

"You mean . . . It's all . . ." She seemed to strangle on the words.

"It's a game," he said. "It's a delightful manly game, and the rewards are real."

She seemed to sway, dangerously near the parapet, and Henning caught her.

She struggled, but not nearly so hard as she had struggled earlier.

Henning drew her close, but with not nearly as much force as he had used to get her out of the line of fire.

She whispered. "Aren't you going to throw me over the wall?"

"Not yet."

"First, you want my signature on the report?"


She murmured something that Henning didn't hear.

He drew her closer.


She whispered in his ear, "Games. People play games."

Henning nodded, and looked past her at the horizon slowly lighting up as the moon began to rise. In just a few minutes it was going to as private here as on the stage of a theater.

Casually, he said, "Have you ever examined the walls?"

She looked puzzled. "No."

"There's a place here, partly hidden by a screen of foliage, that we use as a listening post. From a mathematical point of view, the curve of the walls might interest you. If you'll be quiet—"

She looked at him, first with disappointment, then with suspicion.

"All right," she said finally, and let him take her hand and lead the way.

Beyond the wall, the moon was rising, lighting up the alien planet, to show forest and grassland gleaming with dew.

Suddenly it came to her, as actual knowledge, why the people of this planet, in whatever guise, knowingly or unknowingly, followed Henning's lead.

They trusted him.

And why did they trust him?

His actions showed sympathetic insight into their real nature.

And what textbook or course of study taught insight, or even recognized its existence?

She thought back over reams of authoritative date. All beside the point.

She shook her head.

What a lot there was to unlearn!


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