Three men sat around a table which was littered with graphs, sketches of
mathematical functions, and books of tensor formulae. Beside the table
stood a Munson-Bradley integraph calculator which one of the men was
using to check some of the equations he had already derived. The results
they were getting seemed to indicate something well above and beyond
what they had expected.
And anything that surprised the team of Arcot, Wade, and Morey was
The intercom buzzed, interrupting their work.
Dr. Richard Arcot reached over and lifted the switch. "Arcot speaking."
The face that flashed on the screen was businesslike and determined.
"Dr. Arcot, Mr. Fuller is here. My orders are to check with you on all
Arcot nodded. "Send him up. But from now on, I'm not in to anyone but my
father or the Interplanetary Chairman or the elder Mr. Morey. If they
come, don't bother to call, just send 'em up. I will not receive calls
for the next ten hours. Got it?"
"You won't be bothered, Dr. Arcot."
Arcot cut the circuit and the image collapsed.
Less than two minutes later, a light flashed above the door. Arcot
touched the release, and the door slid aside. He looked at the man
entering and said, with mock coldness:
"If it isn't the late John Fuller. What did you do--take a plane? It
took you an hour to get here from Chicago."
Fuller shook his head sadly. "Most of the time was spent in getting past
your guards. Getting to the seventy-fourth floor of the Transcontinental
Airways Building is harder than stealing the Taj Mahal." Trying to
suppress a grin, Fuller bowed low. "Besides, I think it would do your
royal highness good to be kept waiting for a while. You're paid a couple
of million a year to putter around in a lab while honest people work for
a living. Then, if you happen to stub your toe over some useful gadget,
they increase your pay. They call you scientists and spend the resources
of two worlds to get you anything you want--and apologize if they don't
get it within twenty-four hours.
"No doubt about it; it will do your majesties good to wait."
With a superior smile, he seated himself at the table and shuffled
calmly through the sheets of equations before him.
Arcot and Wade were laughing, but not Robert Morey. With a sorrowful
expression, he walked to the window and looked out at the hundreds of
slim, graceful aircars that floated above the city.
"My friends," said Morey, almost tearfully, "I give you the great Dr.
Arcot. These countless machines we see have come from one idea of his.
Just an idea, mind you! And who worked it into mathematical form and
made it calculable, and therefore useful? I did!
"And who worked out the math for the interplanetary ships? I did!
Without me they would never have been built!" He turned dramatically, as
though he were playing King Lear. "And what do I get for it?" He pointed
an accusing finger at Arcot. "What do I get? _He_ is called 'Earth's
most brilliant physicist', and I, who did all the hard work, am referred
to as 'his mathematical assistant'." He shook his head solemnly. "It's a
At the table, Wade frowned, then looked at the ceiling. "If you'd make
your quotations more accurate, they'd be more trustworthy. The news said
that Arcot was the '_System's_ most brilliant physicist', and that you
were the 'brilliant mathematical assistant who showed great genius in
developing the mathematics of Dr. Arcot's new theory'." Having delivered
his speech, Wade began stoking his pipe.
Fuller tapped his fingers on the table. "Come on, you clowns, knock it
off and tell me why you called a hard-working man away from his drafting
table to come up to this play room of yours. What have you got up your
sleeve this time?"
"Oh, that's too bad," said Arcot, leaning back comfortably in his chair.
"We're sorry you're so busy. We were thinking of going out to see what
Antares, Betelguese, or Polaris looked like at close range. And, if we
don't get too bored, we might run over to the giant model nebula in
Andromeda, or one of the others. Tough about your being busy; you might
have helped us by designing the ship and earned your board and passage.
Tough." Arcot looked at Fuller sadly.