masses of trees and bushes and leaves. Being in the center of the line
helped a little but not enough; the spines kept coming through and I
got a few more nice scratches. The trip took about half an hour, and
when we stopped we were in front of a cave-mouth.
The band went inside and I went with them. There was light,
battery-powered, and what seemed to be all the comforts of a small,
ill-kept town jail. But it was better than the naked jungle. I was
still porting my knapsack, and when we got into the cave I unstrapped
it and sat down and opened it. The men watched me without making any
attempt to hide the fact.
The first thing I took out was an instant-heat food can. It didn't
look like a bomb, so nobody did anything. They just kept watching
while I came up with my call-radio.
Huey said: "What the hell!" and came for me.
I stood up, spilling the knapsack, and got ready to stand him off; but
I didn't need to, not then. Three of the others piled on him, like
dogs on a bear, and held him down. Huey's friend was at my side when I
turned. "How come?" he said. "Who are you planning on calling?"
"I said I wanted to help you," I told him. "I meant it."
"Of course," he said smoothly. "Why should I believe it?"
"I know the spot you're in, and I--"
He didn't give me a chance to finish. "Now, you wait a minute," he
said. "And don't touch that box. We've got some talking to do."
"Such as how you managed to get here from Ancarta, and why," he said.
"Such as what all this talk about helping us means, and what the
radio's for. Lots of talking."
I decided it was time to show some more independence. "I don't talk to
people I don't know," I said.
He looked me up and down, taking his time about it. Huey had quieted
down some, and our conversation was the main attraction. In the end he
shrugged. "I suppose you can't do any harm, not so long as we keep an
eye on that box of yours," he said. He gave me his name as if it
didn't matter. "I'm Hollerith," he said. "General Rawlinson
* * * * *
I gave him the prepared story automatically; it rolled out but I
wasn't thinking about it. He'd given me my first real surprise; I'd
thought Hollerith had been killed at Andrew's Farm, and, as far as I
knew, so did the Government. Instead, here he was, alive and kicking,
doing a pretty good job of working with a guerrilla gang. I wondered
who Huey would turn out to be, but it didn't seem like the time to
The story, of course, was a good one. Naturally it wasn't proof of
anything, or even susceptible of proof right then and there; it wasn't
meant to be. I didn't expect them to buy it sight unseen, but I'd
planned it to give me some time until I could start the next step.
James Carson, I told Hollerith, was a reasonably big wheel around
Ancarta. He wasn't in sympathy with the Government, but he hadn'tDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>