These points led her to pester Nole for half an hour,
until in sheer desperation he allowed her what she
wanted: to see Bracy Dyge, in private.
When she opened the door of his room, the fisherboy
cowered back like a frightened animal, doubtless having
taken the shaving of his headpart of the treatment
necessitated by his exposure to an overdose of radia-
tionas a prelude to some terrible punishment for his
temerity last night.
It took all Maddalena’s experience as a diplomat
among primitive peoples to bring him to the point where
he would listen to her without trembling. Time was
wasting; she had to seize her hard-won advantage.
“Bracy,” she coaxed, “didn’t you say when you first
came here that you had always dreamed of working for
The boy’s answer was inaudible; she had to wheedle
for minutes to get him to speak his mind honestly. Then
what he had to say was hardly promising. She damned
Nole for the sarcastic reception he must have given the
boy’s reluctant plea; it had closed him up tighter than a
She was forced to make wild promises and offer wild-
er bribesnot to him: for his family, which was more
honourablebefore she got the assurance of his help.
Langenschmidt wouldn’t like this, but then he might
well not like any of it.
The door of the room slid aside, and there he was.
“Beat me to it again, did you?” he muttered.
Maddalena was bewildered for a moment, and then she
started to laugh. “You mean you thought of it too?”
“Of course I did!” Langenschmidt rapped. “Did you
expect me to lie down under the edict of this damned
idiot Quist? Nole told me you were down here, and I
immediately saw why I’d had that boat of Dyge’s on my
mind all day, in spite of the swarm of Cyclopean officials
crawling over the base like bedbugs.”
“Well, it’s no good to you, is it?” Maddalena coun-
tered. “Your chance of staying behind on Cyclops is
“I could swing it so that”
“Could you, hell! The protocol of the evacuation of a
Corps base traces all the way back to the abandonment
of a sea-going ship on Earth. I’m closer to my Corps
training than you are, by a long way. You’ve probably
forgotten the irrelevancies you pick up in traininglike
that onebut there’s the regulation if you care to check:
the commandant is the last to leave the base, and the per-
son responsible for handing over control to the successor
Langenschmidt gave a groan. “They planned this to
drive me out of my mind with frustration! But what
good is the boat to you?”
“If you’ll let me finish what I was saying to young
Bracy here, you’ll see soon enough.” And, turning to the
fisherboy, who had listened with blank incomprehension
to this exchange, she resumed, “Now if you had good
maps, and perhaps a radio, you wouldn’t mind sailing
half around the planet, would you?”
“I’d sail to the stars if I had a ship,” Bracy declared
with a sudden fit of braggadocio.
“I believe you. You’re a brave boy man. Anyone
could tell that after hearing how you killed the giant
wolfshark. Now here’s your chance to prove it still fur-
ther, and to do the kind of job which will interest the
Corps in you, as well as earning you that new set of so-
lar sails, and a new set of reactors, and a radio for your
ship.” Maddalena eyed Langenschmidt as she spoke, and
received a shrug to indicate that if the Corps was leaving
behind much of its mat6riel here at the base it could af-
ford to give Bracy a few such odds and ends.
The coaxing went on, the flattery, the cajolement.
Langenschmidt’s mind, greatly preoccupied, went dart-
ing away. If only they had waited till this business of
Maddalena’s “undiscovered ZRP” had been cleared
up … Was it coincidence or not? Oh, surely it must
be! True, Rimerley was in the space parts trade up to his
neckmust be, as the surgeon who performed the graft
on Kolbbut surely he couldn’t have a hold over Quist