Sometimes the queerly shaped Venusian trees seemed to talk
to him, but their voices were soft. They were loyal people.
There were four men in the lifeboat that came down from the
space-cruiser. Three of them were still in the uniform of the Galactic
The fourth sat in the prow of the small craft looking down at their
goal, hunched and silent, bundled up in a greatcoat against the coolness
of space--a greatcoat which he would never need again after this
morning. The brim of his hat was pulled down far over his forehead, and
he studied the nearing shore through dark-lensed glasses. Bandages, as
though for a broken jaw, covered most of the lower part of his face.
He realized suddenly that the dark glasses, now that they had left the
cruiser, were unnecessary. He slipped them off. After the
cinematographic grays his eyes had seen through these lenses for so
long, the brilliance of the color below him was almost like a blow. He
blinked, and looked again.
They were rapidly settling toward a shoreline, a beach. The sand was a
dazzling, unbelievable white such as had never been on his home planet.
Blue the sky and water, and green the edge of the fantastic jungle.
There was a flash of red in the green, as they came still closer, and he
realized suddenly that it must be a _marigee_, the semi-intelligent
Venusian parrot once so popular as pets throughout the solar system.
Throughout the system blood and steel had fallen from the sky and
ravished the planets, but now it fell no more.
And now this. Here in this forgotten portion of an almost completely
destroyed world it had not fallen at all.
Only in some place like this, alone, was safety for him.
Elsewhere--anywhere--imprisonment or, more likely, death. There was
danger, even here. Three of the crew of the space-cruiser knew. Perhaps,
someday, one of them would talk. Then they would come for him, even