by Charles A. Stearns
By CHARLES A. STEARNS
Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS
[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science
Fiction February 1959. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence
that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
[Sidenote: No wonder Stefanik meant to fight to the lasthe wasn't
going to turn his kids over to an old goat like Glinka!]
The seaplane cast its silhouette from aloft upon the blue Arabian
Sea, left its white wake across the shallows, and taxied alongside the
ancient stone jetty, clawing into the sandy bottom with its small fore
and after anchors.
Colonel Glinka stepped out upon the wing, carefully measured the
distance to the jetty, and sprang for it, wetting himself up to the
seat of his voluminous khaki shorts.
This lonely sandspit, these barren slopes and frowning, ocher
cliffs, the oceanic silence around him, broken by the plaintive cries
of wheeling Caspian terns that were badly in need of laundering, were
not, he thought as he clambered ashore, exactly as one pictures a
And it helped the desolation of his mood not at all that upon these
same arid ridges scores of silent, burnoosed figures watched him as he
stood there, allowing the water to drain from his perforated white
oxfords and all unaware that his vast pith helmet, curiously heavy
malacca cane and formidable fundament cast a centaur's shadow upon the
rocks in the later afternoon sun.
Colonel Glinka took a pair of green sun goggles from his pocket and
put them on, resolutely hitched up his shorts, assumed the stern yet
conciliatory expression of a hedgehog in mating season, and set off up
the rocky path.
Ahead of him, the burnoosed ones scrambled nimbly up the slope,
looking over their shoulders, intent upon not missing a thing, yet
endeavoring to keep their distance. But two there had been who either
had not seen him arrive, or did not give a damn, for they suddenly
appeared upon the rise before him, racing down toward the sea with very
little regard for life or limb.
* * * * *
In the lead, a brown young man in flying green turban and white duck
trousers appeared to be losing steadily to his pursuer, who, though
swathed from head to food in that featureless native garb of the
others, might yet be identified by subtle conformations as a female.
Both of them stopped at once upon sighting Colonel Glinka in the
pathway, the female hurriedly retreating to what might be deemed a
safer distance, the young man standing as if petrified, with one foot
upraised and a sun-snarl upon his mottled face, quivering at point.
Oh, Effendi, he cried at last, if you are looking for Aden, then
you are lost, for Aden is five hundred miles that way. And if you are
looking for Cairo
I am hardly ever lost, Colonel Glinka said, and, eying the young
female, added, Tell me, what is the name of that rather tasteless game
that you are playing?
No game, Effendi, the brown young man said. That one chases me
every time I go outside. They are worse than Tuaregs, these people.
Are you not a native, then?
I? The young man placed a hand of scorn upon his breast. Hadji
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar? I am Saudi, and a Hadj besides. Say, Joe,
have you got an American cigarette?
A great deal better than that, Colonel Glinka said, proffering an
ornate golden cigarette case. Try one of these, my boy.
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar took two, sniffing them suspiciously. They
are very brown, he said.
Less critically, Colonel Glinka lighted one for himself. You know,
he said, I was rather hoping that you might direct me to the house of
a very old friend of mine.
I cannot tell you what name he is presently affecting, but he is a
small, crooked man with a heavy black beardor, at any rate, he once
had such a beard. I know that he is somewhere on this island; therefore
it will be useless for you to lie to me.
Ah, that is the Sidi Doctor Stephens, Abdul said, puffing not too
happily upon his cigarette. His is the only house upon this island;
also, I am his flunky and so I ought to know.
'Stephens' will do, said Colonel Glinka, thwacking him smartly
with the Malacca cane. Lead on. And you may dispense with the gutter
American dialect. I am not American, and besides I speak Arabic
But I not so well, Abdul said, for I was raised in the Kuwait
By whom? A camel breeder?
Socony Vacuum, Abdul said.
They toiled up the face of the cliff. At once, half a dozen of the
white-robed gallery fell in behind them. When Colonel Glinka stopped
and looked back, they stopped. When he continued upon his way, they
Have they no homes to which to go? he complained. Have they
nothing to do?
They are a very backward people, who live in the open, Abdul said.
They do not work.
How, then, do the wretches live? Wall Street charity, I presume.
Oh, no, when they are not able to forage, the Sidi Doctor Stephens
The reactionary old fool! But you may be sure that they knew how to
work in the old days, before he came.
I do not think so.
And why, in your ageless wisdom, not?
Because the Sidi Doctor made them, Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar said.
* * * * *
Colonel Glinka did not reply, for they had reached the summit of the
path by this time and were looking down upon a small, white villa that
nestled in a green microcosm between the naked chines of the dark,
interior hills. A miniature Eden indeed, thought Colonel Glinka, of
figs and cinnamons, of date palms and patchouli, all enclosed within a
high wire fence.
They descended, and Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar, with a flourish,
produced a great bronze key and unlocked the iron gate. The Sidi
Doctor, he said, will doubtless be in his conservatory, making
A godlike pastime, said Colonel Glinka with heavy irony. And
where may this hotbed of new life be found?
Over there, Abdul said, pointing toward a narrow, screened,
quonsetlike annex which protruded from the rear of the villa. Come
with me and I will show you.
You will not, Colonel Glinka said, smiting him upon the thigh once
again with the heavy cane. You will remain here and keep silent.
Ouchdammit! Abdul exclaimed. You be careful with that thing, Joe,
You be careful, my boy, Colonel Glinka said and marched
swiftly around the corner of the house, opened the screen door of the
conservatory, and entered.
Here, amid long, terraced rows of tropical plants, a bearded dwarf
in a green coat crouched before an earthen tray of lilies of the
valley, tranquilly puffing up a massive, tobacco-stained meerschaum. He
did not look up at the sound of the intruder, for he was engaged in a
delicate business, the transfer of pollen from corolla to corolla with
So you are, after all, only a minor god, Colonel Glinka said.
I heard your plane and I watched you come up the path, the black
bearded little man said. Glinka, is it not?
You remembered me! Colonel Glinka, quite affectedly, removed his
goggles and dabbed at his eye with a perfumed handkerchief. A humble
policeman, a fat little nobody, to be remembered by the great Dr.
Stefanik who was once our greatest scientistyes, our most brilliant
geneticistdo not shake your head. Let me see, was it Ankara where
last we met? Yes, eight years ago in Ankara. You got away from me in
Ankara. I was so ashamed, Comrade, that I cried.
Nine years, the other corrected. For one remembers a mad dog. And
do not call me 'comrade,' Comrade. You know that I was never anything
other than a simple Cossack.
And, as such, invariably troublesome to us, Colonel Glinka said.
Yet you were our white hope, Comrade Stefanik. We might have led the
world, I am told, in organics as we now lead in physics. I have read
all of your books upon the fascinating subject of chromosomic change
and the morphology of rats. It was required reading for those of us who
were assigned to you. Most interesting, though I confess I did not
understand all of it.
* * * * *
Dr. Stefanik got slowly to his feet. His back was now revealed to be
so cruelly deformed that his black beard curled against his smock, and
he walked with a shuffling, crablike motion as he limped over to pick
up a small rubber irrigation hose.
Why did you leave us, Comrade Stefanik? asked Colonel Glinka. Why
shame us, discredit your government, by running away?
I did not like it there, Dr. Stefanik said.
We knew, of course, that you were on the verge of some great
discovery, some new process, perhaps, of controlling human development.
A genetical means, our biologists tell me, which might have made us all
supermen, tall and brilliant, and immune to disease. A race of Pavlovs
and Stakhanovs. Do you deny this?
Dr. Stefanik merely sucked upon his pipe calmly, twisted a valve
half hidden in the greenery. A spray of brilliant green liquid emerged
from the nozzle of the hose, bathing the plants in a gentle emerald
It is true, he said at last, that I had experimented in those
days with a new process of alloploidy.
And what is that?
Alloploidy is the manipulation of chromosomic patterns which allows
us to superimpose the character of our most perfect specimens upon
those of less fortunate hereditary traits within the species.
I see, said Colonel Glinka, who had not really quite seen.
Exactly. A super-race, to rule the world. Imagine, Comrade!
Only super-rats and the like, Dr. Stefanik told him calmly, for
you may go home and tell them that I have never seen fit to experiment
with human beings, Glinka, and I never will.
I tell them that? Colonel Glinka cried. Would I
dare? Oh, no, you must tell them yourself. That is why you will have to
return with me.
Colonel Glinka sighed prodigiously. I am afraid that our country is
going to be dogs-in-the-manger in this matter, he said. You see, we
are a jealous people by nature, and if we cannot have you, no one
shall. And, deliberately, he laid the Malacca cane across his left
arm, so that its tip was pointed squarely at Dr. Stefanik and the
sinister round hole there clearly revealed to him.
How melodramatic that is, Dr. Stefanik said.
I know it, said Colonel Glinka, but you must remember that the
customs officials in this part of the world are exceedingly tiresome
about firearms. This little gem, now, is quite discreet, and very
accurate, and it will shoot you three times before you can say 'Never.'
Will you not change your mind?
I did so want to become tall and brilliant, Colonel Glinka
said regretfully, and he started to press the handle of the cane.
We are as tall as we stand, said Dr. Stefanik, and, swiftly
focusing the nozzle of the irrigation hose to a thin stream, squirted
the stinging green fluid in Colonel Glinka's right and left eye.
* * * * *
I know that you are in here somewhere! Colonel Glinka yelped. Be
assured that I shall find you, Comrade, and when I do, it will not be
pleasant for you! Oh, myno, indeed!
His eyes were red and streaming. He wiped them with the
lavender-scented handkerchief, got down upon his hands and knees and
started to crawl along the terraced rows of tropical plants, looking
under each bench as he came to it. When he had reached the end, he
turned and crawled up the other side.
At the far end of the conservatory, he stood up with a baffled
grunt. I know that you are in here, he said.
Something tickled the back of his neck. He whirled like a Dervish,
but found only a drooping, blood-red plant like nothing ever created by
nature confronting him.
I am getting jumpy, Colonel Glinka growled. A little jumpy in my
business is good, but too much is bad for the health. And he went,
straightway, and closed the back door of the conservatory and dragged a
heavy rack of trailing orchids in front of it, humming a furious little
march from The Guardsman as he worked.
You must know, he said loudly, that I do not altogether believe
you, Stefanik, when you imply that you have abandoned this research.
Nor will they. For who, then, are these degenerate wretches who stand
upon the hills and gawk at us, and why must you feed them? I know that
they were not created by you, but it is possible that they are paid to
be your guinea pigs. Perhaps you are all in the pay of the British. Am
He listened. There was no answer.
Completing his examination of the conservatory, he entered the main
villa and searched it thoroughly, as he had been trained to do, looking
in every cupboard and closet and under the beds.
When he had exhausted these hiding places, he left by the front door
and closed it after him, with a narrow, jamming wedge that he had made
of half a lead pencil.
There were many places to hide in the garden, but Colonel Glinka
took them one by one, glancing behind him from time to time in order to
make certain that he was not being followed around and around the house
in a grim sort of Maypole dance.
I know that you are out here, Comrade, he said.
Presently he had arrived back where he had started, sweating
profusely, and was about to retrace the entire circuit when he caught a
glimpse of something moving in the undergrowth of patchouli near the
gate. He aimed the Malacca cane and pressed a part of its handle with
his thumb. A bullet whined off the steel gatepost.
Stop there, my friend! he commanded.
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar slowly rose from the bushes with his hands
high above his head.
You got me, Joe, he said.
* * * * *
The gate was wide open; Stefanik's route of escape now painfully
Colonel Glinka stared thoughtfully up at the darkening ridges where
the sun set in that sanguinary glory observable only in these
latitudes, and the dusk crept swiftly up from the seaward-reaching
So, Colonel Glinka said. That is where he has gone, thinking to
elude me forever. But you he waggled the cane at Abdul, who was
already shaking his head in the negativewill lead me to him. You
know his habits, and, what is more, you are almost certainly familiar
with every hiding place on this island, since it is your whim to be
chased all over it by the females.
Too dark, Effendi, Abdul said. If we go out now, they will not
only chase us; they will catch us, for they are able to see very well
in the dark.
Who will catch us?
These people. They are worse than Tuaregs. For all I know, they may
be descended from the Tuaregs, and everyone knows that a Tuareg would
as soon cut a man's throat as kiss the hem of his burnoose.
So now they are Tuaregs. Colonel Glinka nodded, with a slow,
ferocious smile. Yet you have hinted that they are the spawn of
Comrade Stefanik's genius, the children of genetical science, stamped
with 'Made in the Seychelles' upon their bottoms. Perhaps they were
grown in the conservatory, from Tuareg seed.
Abdul grimaced. I do not remember saying that, though sometimes I
say things that I don't remember later. Perhaps they are not Tuaregs,
then. To tell the truth, they were already living here when I came to
work for the Sidi Doctor Stephens, and so naturally I thought that he
had made them, for there were no people upon this island in the old
days. Only the seabirds and a few wild goats, perhaps.
Colonel Glinka clasped his hand to his forehead. Stop, stop, or I
shall go mad!
Abdul Hakkim obediently sat down and crossed his legs, starting to
light the second of the very bad cigarettes that he had cadged.
What are you doing? Colonel Glinka said softly.
Get up! Get up and get moving, my boy, or make your peace with
Allah! Did you suppose for one moment that I had forgotten what we were
* * * * *
It was quite dark by the time they had reached the summit of the
ridge, but Colonel Glinka still marched along behind Abdul, high good
humor restored, prodding him from time to time with the Malacca cane
and lecturing him upon social equalities and other Party doctrine.
Are we nearly there? he would interrupt himself to ask from time
I do not know.
Call out, then.
I am afraid.
A savage poke with the cane, a war whoop from Abdul Hakkim ben
Salazar. No answer.
We'll get him, Colonel Glinka would say. Oh, my, yes.
But an hour had passed and still they had encountered no living
thing upon the path.
At last Abdul stopped abruptly. They were in a little, narrow
ravine, high above the sea, with looming red cliffs all about them, and
the booming of the surf upon the distant, windward shore of the island
Why have we stopped here? Colonel Glinka said, bumping into him.
Look there, Effendi! Abdul whispered, gesturing toward a ledge not
ten yards above their heads, where a burnoosed figure stood looking
down upon them.
And thereand thereand there! Abdul pointed at other little
ledges where similar ghostly sentries stood, barely visible in the
Colonel Glinka looked behind him and saw that there were others that
they had passed within a very few feet of, standing upon every shelf
and ledge that afforded a foot-hold above the trail. Dozens and dozens
Maybe we had better scram out of here, Joe, Abdul suggested.
I perceive that you are trying to frighten me, Colonel Glinka
said. It won't work.
A stone rattled behind them.
What was that? Colonel Glinka demanded, turning around quickly.
* * * * *
Something moved in the shadows, edging into the deeper shadows of
the rocks. It was the pursuing female of earlier that afternoon.
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar, in deep, abdominal disgust, groaned.
Come here, you! Colonel Glinka commanded. Come on over here.
Don't be afraid, my little oneI won't hurt you.
She advanced ever so little, a shapeless white wraith attracted by
the syrup in his voice. He took one step forward. Carefully she
retreated a step.
Come now, Colonel Glinka said. Surely it is time that we met. For
you may as well know that I am now the master of this island. Now and
forevermore, so far as you are concerned, my child. Perhaps I may let
you help me clear up a little of its mystery.
She kept a maddening five or six feet between them, somehow. He
could not lessen the distance without alarming her. And so he balanced
himself upon the balls of his feet and lunged.
She gave a little cry, stumbled and fell, rolling over and over into
a dark little depression beside the path as he clutched at her robe.
The garment, still in his hand, unwound easily, peeling her very much
like an apple.
I beg your pardon, Colonel Glinka said, scrambling after her upon
his hands and knees, groping for her with outstretched arms. I beg
His hand touched something which might have been her ankle. He seized
it, held it for a moment, and then, shuddering, let it go, drawing back
his hand as if it had been stabbed. By now the night was quite dark.
Colonel Glinka scrambled to his feet, half instinctively raised the
deadly Malacca cane.
Don't do it, Joe! cried Abdul, coming up from behind him and
shoving him hard.
The shot went wild, but the sound of it, echoing up and down the
ravine, started an ominous, new sound, the growing, staccato murmur of
many voices, a rattling of stones, a hundred different movements in the
Colonel Glinka fired the last bullet more wildly still, hurled the
Malacca cane at them, and ran.
* * * * *
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar, who had been many leaps ahead of him,
arrived breathless at the front gate of the villa, opened it, dived
through, locked it behind him, and threw himself upon the grass to
catch his breath.
There was a cheerful glow in the darkness. The slight, grotesque
figure of Dr. Stefanik and his pipe emerged from the shadows.
Ah, Abdul breathed, where were you, Sidi, when I was out there
dying for you?
Hiding up the tallest cinnamon tree, like a monkey, Dr. Stefanik
They sat there upon the grass for a long while in companionable
silence, heeding the sounds of the night, which was balmy and
There came a high-pitched, long-drawn-out scream from somewhere on
They got him, Abdul said.
And now they will pluck him, I suppose, said Dr. Stefanik. There,
by the way, is a thing that even I have never completely
understood about them. Their insatiable curiosity, of course, is a
vestigial trait that will pass, but this other drive, I fear, this
rather alarming passion that they have shown for the up-breeding of the
species may be some universal of life itself that no man may touch or
Down the path from the ridge, a small, white-robed figure came
running, far ahead of the others, bent upon her own schemes of
Abdul crouched lower in the shadows. That one makes even the heart
of a man swell within his breast, he whispered, for she does not ever
That no man may touch, Dr. Stefanik repeated, and nodded his
shaggy head wisely. As an idealist, I may have given them shoes and
enlightenment, but I did not give them this, and so they are not
altogether mine. His kind still professes to believe in the
common denominator and the common level, seeking to drag down the few
from their gilt palaces and haul up the masses from the muck. Tell me,
as a Hadj who is, at the same time, undoubtedly vermin-ridden, do
you believe in the equality of menor can you honestly wish it?
All of us to be Effendis?
Something like that.
Abdul Hakkim ben Salazar thought about it for a time with furrowed
brow. No, Sidi, he said at last, for then there would be no one to
The female stopped, knelt in the path.
What is she doing now? Dr. Stefanik asked.
She is taking off her shoes, in order to run faster than me.
'... And cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth
upon the earth after his kind'! And yet you told Glinka I made
Ah, but not out of what, Sidi, Abdul said.
The female, with a hopeful little bleat, arose and tucked her shoes
under her arm, for youth is hope and kids will be kids, and off she
went, clip-clop, clip-clop, down the rocky path to the sea.