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How many of the other things that Man had thought of in the past and would think of in the future would also become
the truth?
The idea scared him.
That "going of far places." The reaching out of the imagination. The influence of the written word, the thought and
power behind it. It was deadlier than a battleship, he'd said, How everlastingly right he had been.
He got up and walked across the room and stood in front of the yarner. It leered at him. He stuck out his tongue at it.
"That for you," he said,
Behind him he heard a rustle and hastily whirled about.
The blanket had somehow managed to ooze out of the desk drawer and it was heading for the door, reared upon the
nether folds of its flimsy body. It was slithering along in a jerky fashion like a wounded seal.
"Hey, you!" yelled Hart and made a grab at it. But he was too late. A being - there was no other word for it - stood in
the doorway and the blanket reached it and slithered swiftly up its body and plastered itself upon its back.
The thing in the doorway hissed at Hart: "I lose it. You are so kind to keep it. I am very grateful."
Hart stood transfixed.
The creature _was_ a sight. Just like the one which Angela had seen guarding Doc, only possibly a little uglier. It
had webbed feet that were three times too big for it, so that it seemed to be wearing snowshoes, and it had a tail that
curved ungracefully halfway up its back.
It had a melon-shaped head with a triangular face, and six horns and there were rotating eyes on the top of each and
every horn.
The monstrosity dipped into a pouch that seemed to be part of its body, and took out a roll of bills.
"So small a reward," it piped and tossed the bills to Hart.
Hart put out a hand and caught them absentmindedly.
"We go now," said the being. "We think kind thoughts of you."
It had started to turn around, but at Hart's bellow of protest it swiveled back.
"Yes, good sir?"
"This - blanket - this thing I found. What about it?"
"We make it."
"But it's alive and - "
The thing grinned a murderous grin. "You so clever people. You think it up. Many times ago."
"That story!"
"Quite so. We read of it. We make it. Very good idea."
"You can't mean you actually - "
"We biologist. What you call them - biologic engineers."
It turned about and started down the hall.
Hart howled after it. "Just a minute! Hold up there! Just a min - "
But it was going fast and it didn't stop. Hart thundered after it. When he reached the head of the stairs and glanced
down it was out of sight. But he raced after it, taking the stairs three at a time in defiance of all the laws of safety.
He didn't catch it. In the street outside he pulled to a halt and looked in all directions but there was no sign of it. It
had completely disappeared.
He reached into his pocket and felt the roll of bills he had caught on the fly. He pulled the roll out and it was bigger
than he remembered it. He snapped off the rubber band, and examined a few of the bills separately. The denomination
on the top bill, in galactic credits, was so big it staggered him. He riffled through the entire sheaf of bills and all the
denominations seemed to be the same.
He gasped at the thought of it, and riffled through them once again. He had been right the first time - all the
denominations _were_ the same. He did a bit of rapid calculation and it was strictly unbelievable. In credits, too - and a
credit was convertible, roughly, into five Earth dollars.
He had seen credits before, but never actually held one in his hand. They were the currency of galactic trade and
were widely used in interstellar banking circles, but seldom drifted down into general circulation. He held them in his
hand and took a good look at them and they sure were beautiful.
The being must have immeasurably prized that blanket, he thought - to give him such a fabulous sum simply for
taking care of it. Although, when you came to think of it, it wasn't necessarily so. Standards of wealth differed greatly
from one planet to another and the fortune he held in his hands might have been little more than pocket money to the
blanket's owner.
He was surprised to find that he wasn't too thrilled or happy, as he should have been. All he seemed to be able to
think about was that he'd lost the blanket. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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