© Copyright 1960 Clifford D.Simak
 Prepared by: Anada Sucka, August 12, 1999

     THE  INVENTORY list  was  long.  On its  many pages,  in his  small and
precise  script, he  had listed furniture, paintings,  china, silverware and
all the rest of  it - all  the personal belongings that had been accumulated
by the Barringtons through a long family history.
     And now  that he had reached the end of it, he noted down himself,  the
last item of them all:
     One domestic robot, Richard Daniel, antiquated but in good repair.
     He laid the pen  aside and  shuffled all  the inventory sheets together
and  stacked them in  good order, putting a  paper  weight upon them  -  the
little exquisitely carved ivory paper weight  that aunt Hortense had  picked
up that last visit she had made to Peking.
     And having done that, his job came to an end.
     He  shoved  back  the  chair and rose  from the desk and slowly  walked
across  the  living  room, with  all its  clutter  of possessions  from  the
family's past. There, above the mantel, hung the sword that ancient Jonathon
had  worn in the War Between the States,  and  below  it, on the mantelpiece
itself, the cup the Commodore had won with his valiant yacht, and the jar of
moon-dust  that Tony had brought back from Man's fifth landing on the  Moon,
and  the  old  chronometer  that  had  come  from  the long-scrapped  family
spacecraft that had plied the asteroids.
     And  all  around  the  room,  almost  cheek  by jowl,  hung the  family
portraits, with the old dead faces staring out into  the world that they had
helped to fashion.
     And not a one of them from the last six hundred  years, thought Richard
Daniel, staring at them one by one, that he had not known.
     There, to the right of the fireplace, old Rufus Andrew  Barrington, who
had  been  a  judge some  two hundred years  ago. And to the right of Rufus,
Johnson Joseph Barrington, who had headed up that old lost dream of mankind,
the Bureau of Paranormal Research.  There, beyond the  door that  led out to
the porch,  was the scowling pirate face of Danley Barrington, who had first
built the family fortune.
     And many  others - administrator,  adventurer,  corporation chief.  All
good men and true.
     But this was at an end. The family had run out.
     Slowly  Richard Daniel began  his last tour  of the  house - the family
room with  its  cluttered living  space, the den  with its old mementos, the
library and  its rows of ancient books, the dining hall in which the crystal
and the china shone and  sparkled, the kitchen gleaming with the  copper and
aluminum and the stainless steel, and the bedrooms on the second floor, each
of them with its landmarks  of  former occupants. And finally,  the  bedroom
where old Aunt Hortense had finally died,  at long last closing out the line
of Barringtons.
     The empty  dwelling  held  a  not-quite-haunted quality, the  aura of a
house that waited  for the old gay life to take  up once again. But it was a
false aura. All the portraits, all the china  and the silverware, everything
within the house would be sold at  public auction to satisfy the debts.  The
rooms would  be  stripped  and  the possessions would be scattered and, as a
last indignity, the house itself be sold.
     Even he, himself, Richard  Daniel  thought, for he was chattel, too. He
was there with all the rest of it, the final item on the inventory.
     Except that  what they planned to do  with  him was  worse than  simple
sale.  For he would be changed before he was  offered  up for  sale.  No one
would  be  interested  in  putting up  good money for him  as he stood. And,
besides, there was the law  - the law that said  no robot could legally have
continuation of a single life greater than a hundred years.
     And  he had  lived in a single life six  times a hundred years. He  had
gone to see a lawyer and the lawyer had been sympathetic, but had held forth
no hope.
     "Technically," he had told Richard Daniel in his short, clipped  lawyer
voice,  "you  are  at  this  moment  much in violation  of  the  statute.  I
completely fail to see how your family got away with it."
     "They liked old things," said Richard Daniel. "And, besides, I was very
seldom seen. I stayed mostly in the house. I seldom ventured out."
     "Even so," the lawyer  said,  "there are  such things as records. There
must be a file on you..."
     "The  family,"  explained  Richard   Daniel,  "in  the  past  had  many
influential friends. You must  understand, sir, that the Barringtons, before
they  fell upon hard times, were quite  prominent  in  politics and  in many
other matters."
     The lawyer grunted knowingly.
     "What I can't quite understand," he said, "is why you should object  so
bitterly. You'll not be changed entirely. You'll still be Richard Daniel."
     "I would lose my memories, would I not?'
     "Yes,  of  course you would.  But memories  are  not too important. And
you'd collect another set."
     "My memories are dear to me," Richard Daniel told him.
     "They are  all I  have. After some  six hundred years, they are my sole
worthwhile possession. Can  you  imagine, counselor, what  it means to spend
six centuries with one family?"
     "Yes, I  think I  can,"  agreed the lawyer.  "But now, with the  family
gone, isn't it just possible the memories may prove painful?"
     "They're a comfort. A sustaining comfort. They make me  feel important.
They give me perspective and a niche."
     "But don't you understand? You'll need no  comfort,  no importance once
you're reoriented. You'll be brand  new. All that you'll retain is a certain
sense of basic identity  - that they cannot take away  from you even if they
wished. There'll be nothing to regret. There'll be no  leftover  guilts,  no
frustrated aspirations, no old loyalties to hound you."
     "I  must be myself," Richard Daniel insisted stubbornly. "I've found  a
depth of  living, a background against  which my  living has some meaning. I
could not face being anybody else."
     "You'd be far  better  off,"  the lawyer  said  wearily.  "You'd have a
better body. You'd have better mental tools. You'd be more intelligent."
     Richard Daniel got up from the chair. He saw it was no use.
     "You'll not inform on me?" he asked.
     "Certainly not," the lawyer said. "So  far as I'm concerned, you aren't
even here."
     "Thank you," said Richard Daniel. "How much do I owe you?"
     "Not a thing," the  lawyer told him. "I  never  make a charge to anyone
who is older than five hundred."
     He had meant it as a joke, but Richard Daniel did not smile. He had not
felt like smiling.
     At the door he turned around.
     "Why?" he was going to ask. "Why this silly law."
     But he did not have to ask - it was not hard to see.
     Human vanity, he knew. No human being  lived much longer than a hundred
years, so neither  could a robot. But a  robot, on the  other hand,  was too
valuable simply  to be junked  at the end of a hundred  years of service, so
there was this law providing for  the periodic breakup  of the continuity of
each  robot's  life.  And thus  no  human  need  undergo  the  psychological
indignity of knowing that his faithful serving man might  manage to  outlive
him by several thousand years.
     It was illogical, but humans were illogical.
     Illogical, but kind. Kind in many different ways.
     Kind,  sometimes, as  the Barringtons  had been kind,  thought  Richard
Daniel.  Six  hundred  years of  kindness. It was  a prideful thing to think
about.  They had even given  him  a double  name. There weren't  many robots
nowadays  who  had  double  names.  It was  a special mark  of affection and
     The lawyer having failed him, Richard Daniel  had sought another source
of  help. Now, thinking back  on  it,  standing in the  room where  Hortense
Barrington had died, he was sorry that he'd done  it. For he had embarrassed
the religico almost unendurably. It had been easy for the lawyer to tell him
what he  had. Lawyers had the statutes to determine their behavior, and thus
suffered little from agonies of personal decision.
     But a man of the cloth is  kind if he is worth his salt.  And  this one
had been kind instinctively as  well as professionally, and that had made it
     "Under certain circumstances," he had said somewhat awkwardly, "I could
counsel  patience and  humility  and prayer. Those  are three great  aids to
anyone  who is  willing  to put  them to  his  use.  But with you I  am  not
     "You mean," said Richard Daniel, "because I am a robot." "Well, now..."
said the minister, considerably befuddled at this direct approach.
     "Because I have no soul?"
     "Really," said the minister miserably, "you place me at a disadvantage.
You are  asking me  a question that for centuries  has puzzled and bedeviled
the best minds in the church."
     "But one," said Richard Daniel, "that each man in his secret heart must
answer for himself."
     "I  wish I  could," cried  the  distraught  minister.  "I truly wish  I
     "If  it  is any  help,"  said  Richard  Daniel,  "I  can tell you  that
sometimes I suspect I have a soul."
     And that, he could  see, had been most upsetting for this kindly human.
It  had  been, Richard Daniel told himself,  unkind of him to say it. For it
must have been confusing, since coming from himself it was not opinion only,
but expert evidence.
     So  he had gone away from  the minister's study  and  come back to  the
empty house to get on with his inventory work.
     Now that the inventory was  all finished and the papers  stacked  where
Dancourt, the estate administrator, could find them when be showed up in the
morning, Richard Daniel had  done his final service for the  Barringtons and
now must begin doing for himself.
     He left the  bedroom and closed  the  door behind him and went  quietly
down  the stairs and  along  the hallway to the  little cubby,  back of  the
kitchen, that was his very own.
     And that, he reminded himself with a rush of pride, was of a piece with
his  double name and his six hundred years. There were  not  too many robots
who had a room, however small, that they might call their own.
     He went into  the  cubby and  turned on the  light and closed the  door
behind him.
     And now, for the first time, he faced the grim reality of what he meant
to do.
     The cloak and hat and trousers hung upon a hook and  the  galoshes were
placed precisely underneath them. His attachment  kit lay  in  one corner of
the  cubby  and the  money  was  cached  underneath  the floor board he  had
loosened many years ago to provide a hiding place.
     There was, he, told himself, no point in waiting. Every minute counted.
He  had a long way to go and  he must be  at  his destination before morning
     He knelt on the floor and pried up the loosened board, shoved in a hand
and brought out the stacks of bills, money hidden through the  years against
a day of need.
     There were three stacks of bills, neatly held together by elastic bands
-  money given  him throughout  the  years as tips  and Christmas  gifts, as
birthday presents and rewards for little jobs well done.
     He opened the storage compartment located in his chest and  stowed away
all  the bills except for half a dozen which he stuffed into a pocket in one
     He took the trousers off the hook and  it  was an awkward business, for
he'd never worn clothes before except when he'd tried on these very trousers
several days before. It was  a lucky thing, he thought, that long-dead Uncle
Michael  had been a portly man, for otherwise the trousers never would  have
     He got them on and zippered and belted into place, then forced his feet
into the overshoes. He was  a little  worried about the overshoes. No  human
went out in the summer wearing overshoes. But it was the  best that he could
do.  None of the regular shoes he'd found in the house had been nearly large
     He  hoped no one  would notice, but there was no way out of it. Somehow
or other, he had to cover up his feet, for if anyone should see them, they'd
be a giveaway.
     He put on the cloak and it was a little short. He put on the hat and it
was  slightly small, but he tugged it down  until it gripped his metal skull
and that was all to the good, he told himself; no wind could blow it off.
     He  picked  up his attachments - a  whole bag  full  of them  that he'd
almost never used. Maybe it was foolish to take them along, he thought,  but
they were a part of him and  by rights they should go with him. There was so
little that  he  really owned - just the  money  he had saved, a dollar at a
time, and this kit of his.
     With the bag of  attachments clutched underneath his arm, he closed the
cubby door and went down the hall.
     At the big  front door  he hesitated and turned back toward the  house,
but it was, at the moment, a simple darkened cave, empty of all that it once
had held. There was nothing here to stay for - nothing but the memories, and
the memories he took with him.
     He  opened the door  and  stepped out on the stoop and closed the  door
behind him.
     And now, he thought, with the door once shut behind him,  he was on his
own.  He was  running  off. He was  wearing  clothes.  He was out at  night,
without the permission of a master. And all of these were against the law.
     Any officer could stop him, or any citizen. He had  no  rights  at all.
And he had no one who  would  speak for him,  now that the Barringtons  were
     He moved quietly down the walk and opened the gate and went slowly down
the street, and it seemed to him the house was calling for him to come back.
He wanted  to go  back, his  mind said that he should go back, but  his feet
kept going on, steadily down the street.
     He was alone, he thought, and the aloneness now was real, no longer the
mere intellectual abstract he'd held  in his mind for  days. Here  he was, a
vacant hulk, that for the moment had no purpose and no beginning and no end,
but was  just an entity that stood naked  in an  endless  reach of space and
time and held no meaning in itself.
     But he  walked on and with each block that he covered he slowly fumbled
back  to the thing he was, the old robot in old clothes,  the  robot running
from a home that was a home no longer.
     He wrapped the cloak about him tightly and moved on down the street and
now he hurried, for he had to hurry.
     He met several people  and they paid  no attention  to him. A few  cars
passed, but no one bothered him.
     He came to a  shopping center that  was brightly lighted and he stopped
and looked in  terror at the wide expanse  of open, brilliant space that lay
ahead of  him. He  could detour around  it, but  it would use up time and he
stood there, undecided, trying to screw  up  his courage  to walk  into  the
     Finally he made up  his mind and strode  briskly  out, with  his  cloak
wrapped tight about him and his hat pulled low.
     Some  of the shoppers turned and looked  at him  and  he felt  agitated
spiders  running up and down  his back. The  galoshes suddenly seemed  three
times  as big as  they  really were and they made a plopping, squashy  sound
that was most embarrassing.
     He hurried on, with the end of the  shopping area not more than a block
     A  police  whistle shrilled and Richard  Daniel jumped in sudden fright
and ran. He ran in slobbering, mindless fright, with his cloak streaming out
behind him and his feet slapping on the pavement.
     He  plunged out  of the lighted strip  into the welcome  darkness  of a
residential section and he kept on running.
     Far off he heard the siren and he leaped a  hedge  and tore  across the
yard. He thundered down  the driveway and across a garden in the back  and a
dog came roaring out and engaged in noisy chase.
     Richard Daniel crashed into a picket  fence and went  through it to the
accompaniment  of snapping noises as the pickets and the rails gave way. The
dog kept on behind him and other dogs joined in.
     He  crossed another yard and gained the street  and pounded down it. He
dodged into a driveway, crossed  another yard, upset a birdbath and ran into
a clothesline, snapping it in his headlong rush.
     Behind  him lights  were snapping  on in the windows of the houses  and
screen doors were banging as people hurried out to see what the ruckus was.
     He ran on a  few  more blocks,  crossed another yard and ducked  into a
lilac thicket, stood still and listened. Some dogs were  still baying in the
distance and there was some human shouting, but there was no siren.
     He  felt a thankfulness well  up in him that  there was no siren, and a
sheepishness,  as well. For he had been panicked by himself, be knew; he had
run from shadows, he had fled from guilt.
     But  he'd thoroughly roused  the neighborhood  and  even now, he  knew,
calls must  be going out and in a  little while  the place would be swarming
with police.
     He'd raised a hornet's nest and he needed distance,  so he crept out of
the  lilac thicket and went swiftly down the street, heading for the edge of
     He  finally left the city, and  found the highway.  He  loped along its
deserted stretches. When  a car  or truck appeared,  he pulled  off  on  the
shoulder and  walked  along sedately. Then when the car or truck had passed,
he broke into his lope again.
     He saw the spaceport lights miles before he got there.
     When he reached the port, he circled off the road and came up outside a
fence and stood there in the darkness, looking.
     A gang of robots  was loading one great starship and there  were  other
ships standing darkly in their pits.
     He studied the gang that was loading the ship, lugging the cargo from a
warehouse and across the area lighted by the floods. This was just the setup
he had planned on, although he had not hoped to find it immediately - he had
been  afraid that he might have to hide out for a day or two before he found
a situation that he could put to use.  And it was a good thing that  he  had
stumbled on this opportunity, for an intensive hunt would be on by now for a
fleeing robot, dressed in human clothes.
     He  stripped  off  the  cloak  and pulled  off  the  trousers  and  the
overshoes; he threw away the hat. From his attachments  bag he  took out the
cutters, screwed off  a hand and threaded the cutters into place. He cut the
fence and  wiggled  through it, then replaced the hand  and put  the cutters
back into the kit.
     Moving  cautiously  in  the darkness, he walked  up to  the  warehouse,
keeping in its shadow.
     It would be  simple, he told himself. All he had to do was step out and
grab  a piece of cargo, clamber up the  ramp and down  into the  hold.  Once
inside, it should not be difficult to  find a  hiding  place  and stay there
until the ship had reached first planet-fall.
     He  moved to the corner of the warehouse and peered around it and there
were the toiling robots, in  what amounted to an endless chain, going up the
ramp with the packages of cargo, coming down again to get another load.
     But there were too many of  them and the line  too tight. And the  area
too well lighted. He'd never be able to break into that line.
     And it would not help if he  could, he realized despairingly -  because
he was different from those  smooth and shining creatures. Compared to them,
he   was  like   a   man   in   another   century's   dress;   he  and   his
six-hundred-year-old body would stand out like a circus freak.
     He stepped back into the shadow  of the warehouse  and he  knew that be
had lost. All his  best-laid plans,  thought out in sober, daring detail, as
he had labored at the inventory, had suddenly come to naught.
     It all came, he told himself, from never going out, from having no real
contact with the world, from not keeping up  with robot-body  fashions, from
not knowing what the score was. He'd imagined how it  would  be and he'd got
it all worked  out and when it came  down,  to  it, it  was  nothing like he
     Now he'd have to go back to the hole he'd cut in the fence and retrieve
the clothing  be had thrown away and hunt up a  hiding place  until be could
think of something else.
     Beyond the corner of  the warehouse he heard  the  harsh, dull grate of
metal, and he took another look.
     The robots had broken up  their line and were streaming back toward the
warehouse  and  a dozen or so of  them were wheeling the ramp away  from the
cargo  port. Three  humans, all dressed in uniform, were walking  toward the
ship, heading for the ladder, and one of them carried a  batch of  papers in
his hand.
     The  loading was all  done and the ship about to lift  and here he was,
not more than a thousand feet away,  and all that he could do was  stand and
see it go.
     There had  to be  a way, he told himself, to get in  that  ship. If  he
could only do it his troubles would be over  - or at least the first  of his
troubles would be over.
     Suddenly it struck him like a hand across the face.  There was a way to
do it! He'd stood here, blubbering,  when all the time there had been  a way
to do it!
     In the ship, he'd thought. And that was not necessary.
     He didn't have to be in the ship.
     He started running,  out into the darkness,  far out so he could circle
round and come upon the ship  from the other side, so that the ship would be
between  him and the flood  lights on the warehouse. He hoped that there was
     He thudded out across the port, running in  an  arc, and came up to the
ship and there was no sign as yet that it was about to leave.
     Frantically he  dug into  his  attachments bag and  found the things he
needed -  the last  things in that bag he'd ever thought he'd need. He found
the suction discs and put them on, one  for each  knee, one for  each elbow,
one for each sole and wrist.
     He strapped the kit about  his waist and clambered up one of the mighty
fins, using the  discs to pull himself  awkwardly along. It was not easy. He
had never used the discs  and there was a trick  to using them, the trick of
getting  one  clamped down  and then  working loose another so that be could
     But  he had to do it. He had no choice but to do it. He climbed the fin
and there was the vast steel body of the craft rising far  above him, like a
metal wall climbing to the sky, broken by the narrow line of a row of anchor
posts that ran lengthwise of the hull -  and all that huge extent  of  metal
painted  by the  faint, illusive  shine of starlight that glittered  in  his
     Foot by foot he  worked  his way  up the  metal  wall. Like  a  humping
caterpillar, he squirmed his  way and with each foot he gained he  was a bit
more thankful.
     Then he heard the faint beginning  of a rumble and with the rumble came
terror. His  suction cups, he knew,  might  not  long  survive  the  booming
vibration of the wakening  rockets, certainly would  not  hold for a  moment
when the ship began to climb.
     Six  feet above  him  lay his  only hope - the final anchor post in the
long row of anchor posts.
     Savagely  he drove  himself  up  the barrel of  the  shuddering  craft,
hugging the steely surface like a desperate fly.
     The  rumble  of  the tubes built  up to blot out  all the  world and he
climbed in a haze of almost prayerful, brittle hope. He  reached that anchor
post or he  was as  good as  dead.  Should he slip and drop into that pit of
flaming gases beneath the rocket mouths and he was done for.
     Once  a cup  came loose and he  almost fell, but the others held and he
caught himself.
     With a desperate, almost careless lunge,  he hurled himself up the wall
of  metal  and caught  the rung  in his  finger-tips  and  held  on  with  a
concentration of effort that wiped out all else.
     The rumble was a screaming fury now that lanced through brain and body.
Then the  screaming  ended  and became a  throaty  roar  of  power  and  the
vibration left the  ship  entirely. From one  corner of  his eye  he saw the
lights of the spaceport swinging over gently on their side.
     Carefully,  slowly, be pulled himself  along the steel  until he  had a
better grip upon  the rung, but even with the better grip he had the feeling
that some great hand  had him in its fist and was swinging him in anger in a
hundred-mile-long arc.
     Then the tubes left off their howling and there was a  terrible silence
and the  stars were there, up above him and to either side of  him, and they
were steely stars  with no twinkle  in  them. Down below, be knew, a  lonely
Earth was swinging, but he could not see it.
     He pulled himself up against the  rung and thrust a  leg beneath it and
sat up on the hull.
     There  were  more  stars than  he'd ever seen  before,  more than  he'd
dreamed there could be. They were still and cold, like hard  points of light
against a velvet curtain; there was no glitter and no twinkle in them and it
was as if a million eyes were staring down at  him. The  Sun was  underneath
the ship and over to  one side; just  at the edge of the left-hand curvature
was the  glare of it  against the silent  metal, a sliver of reflected light
outlining  one  edge of  the ship.  The  Earth  was far  astern,  a  ghostly
blue-green ball hanging in  the  void,  ringed  by  the fleecy halo  of  its
     It was as if he were detached, a lonely, floating brain that looked out
upon a thing it could not understand nor could ever try to understand; as if
he might even be afraid of understanding it - a thing of mystery and delight
so  long  as he retained an  ignorance  of it,  but something  fearsome  and
altogether overpowering once the ignorance had gone.
     Richard Daniel  sat there, flat upon his bottom, on  the metal hull  of
the speeding ship and he felt the mystery and delight and the loneliness and
the  cold  and the great uncaring and his mind  retreated  into  a small and
huddled, compact defensive ball.
     He looked. That  was all there was  to  do. It  was  all  right now, he
thought. But how long would he have to look at it? How long would he have to
camp out here in the open - the most deadly kind of open?
     He  realized for  the first time that he had no idea where the ship was
going  or how long it might take to get there. He  knew it was  a  starship,
which meant  that it was  bound beyond the solar system, and that meant that
at some point in its flight it would enter hyperspace. He wondered, at first
academically, and then with a  twinge of fear, what hyperspace  might do  to
one  sitting   naked  to  it.   But  there  was   little  need,  he  thought
philosophically, to fret about it now, for in due  time he'd know, and there
was not a thing that he could do about it - not a single thing.
     He took the suction  cups off his body  and  stowed them in his kit and
then with one hand he  tied the kit to one of the metal rungs and dug around
in it until he  found a short length of steel  cable with a ring on  one end
and a  snap  on  the  other. He  passed the ring  end underneath a  rung and
threaded  the snap end through  it and  snapped the  snap onto a metal  loop
underneath his  armpit.  Now  he was secured;  he need  not fear  carelessly
letting go and floating off the ship.
     So here he was, he  thought, neat  as anything, going places fast, even
if he had no idea where he might be headed, and now the only thing he needed
was patience. He thought back,  without much point, to what the religico had
said in  the study  back on Earth. Patience  and humility  and  prayer, he'd
said, apparently not realizing  at the moment that a robot  has  a  world of
     It would take a lot of  time,  Richard Daniel knew, to get where he was
going.  But he had  a lot of time, a lot  more than  any human, and he could
afford to waste it. There were no urgencies, he thought - no need of food or
air,  or water, no need of sleep or rest... There  was  nothing  that  could
touch him.
     Although, come to think of it, there might be.
     There was the cold, for one. The space-hull was still fairly warm, with
one  side  of it picking up the heat  of the Sun and radiating it around the
metal skin, where it was lost on the other side, but there  would  be a time
when the  Sun would dwindle until it had no  heat and then he'd be subjected
to the utter cold of space.
     And what would  the  cold  do to him. Might it  make  his body brittle?
Might it interfere  with the  functioning of his  brain?  Might  it do other
things he could not even guess?
     He felt the fears  creep in again  and tried to shrug them off and they
drew off, but they still were there, lurking at the fringes of his mind.
     The cold, and the loneliness,  he thought  - but he was  one who  could
cope with loneliness. And if  he couldn't, if he got too lonely, if he could
no longer stand it, he could always  beat a devil's  tattoo on the hull  and
after a time of that  someone would come  out to investigate and  they would
haul him in.
     But that was the last move of desperation, he told himself. For if they
came out and found him, then he would be caught. Should he be forced to that
extremity, he'd have  lost everything -  there would then have been no point
in leaving Earth at all.
     So he settled down, living out his time, keeping the creeping  fears at
bay just beyond  the outposts of his mind, and  looking  at the universe all
spread out before him.
     The motors started up again with a pale  blue flickering in the rockets
at  the  stern and although there  was no sense of acceleration he knew that
the ship, now well off  the Earth, had settled down  to the long, hard drive
to reach the speed of light.
     Once they reached that speed  they would enter hyperspace. He tried not
to think of it, tried to tell himself there was not a thing to fear - but it
hung there just ahead of him, the great unknowable.
     The Sun shrank  until  it  was only one of many stars and  there came a
time when he could no  longer pick it out. And the cold clamped down  but it
didn't seem to bother him, although he could sense the coldness.
     Maybe, he said in answer to his fear, that would be the way it would be
with hyperspace as  well.  But he said  it unconvincingly. The ship drove on
and on with the weird blueness in the tubes.
     Then there  was  the instant  when his mind went splattering across the
     He was aware  of the ship,  but only  aware  of it in  relation  to  an
awareness of much else, and it was no anchor point, no rallying position. He
was spread and scattered; he was opened out and rolled out until he was very
thin. He was  a dozen places, perhaps a hundred places, all at  once, and it
was confusing, and his immediate reaction was  to fight back somehow against
whatever  might  have  happened to him  -  to fight back  and  pull  himself
together. The fighting did no good  at  all, but made it even  worse, for in
certain instances it seemed to drive parts of him  farther  from other parts
of him and the confusion was made greater.
     So  he quit  his  fighting  and  his  struggling  and just  lay  there,
scattered, and  let the panic ebb  away and told himself he didn't care, and
wondered if he did.
     Slow reason  returned a dribble at a time and he could think again  and
he wondered rather bleakly if this could be hyperspace and  was  pretty sure
it was. And if it were, he  knew, he'd have a long time to live like this, a
long time in which to become accustomed to  it and to orient himself, a long
time to find himself and  pull himself  together,  a long time to understand
this situation if it were, in fact, understandable.
     So he lay, not caring greatly, with no fear or wonder, just resting and
letting a fact seep into him here and there from many different points.
     He knew that,  somehow, his body - that part of  him  which  housed the
rest of him - was still chained securely to the ship, and that knowledge, in
itself, he knew,  was the first small step  towards  reorienting himself. He
had  to reorient, he knew. He had  to come to some sort  of terms, if not to
understanding, with this situation.
     He had opened up and he had scattered out - that essential part of him,
the feeling and the knowing and  the  thinking part of him,  and he lay thin
across a universe that loomed immense in unreality.
     Was this, he  wondered, the way the  universe should be, or was  it the
unchained  universe, the wild  universe beyond the limiting  disciplines  of
measured space and time.
     He started slowly reaching out, cautious as he had been in his crawling
on the surface of the ship, reaching out toward the distant  parts of him, a
little at  a  time. He did  not know  how he did it, he was  conscious of no
particular  technique, but whatever he was doing, it seemed to work,  for he
pulled  himself together, bit  by  knowing bit, until he had gathered up all
the scattered fragments of him into several different piles.
     Then he quit and lay there, wherever there might be, and tried to sneak
up on those piles of understanding that he took to be himself.
     It took a  while to get the  hang  of it, but  once be did, some of the
incomprehensibility went away, although the strangeness stayed. He tried  to
put it  into  thought and it was hard  to do. The  closest he could come was
that he  had been unchained as well as the universe  - that whatever bondage
had been  imposed upon him  by that chained  and normal world had now become
dissolved and he no longer was fenced in by either time or space.
     He could see  - and know and sense - across vast distances, if distance
were the proper term, and he  could understand certain facts that he had not
even thought about  before, could  understand instinctively, but without the
language or the skill to coalesce the facts into independent data.
     Once again  the universe was  spread  far  out before  him and it was a
different and in some ways  a better universe, a more diagrammatic universe,
and  in time,  he knew, if there were such a  thing as time, he'd  gain some
completer understanding and acceptance of it.
     He  probed and sensed and learned and there was no such  thing as time,
but a great foreverness.
     He  thought with pity  of those  others locked  inside the  ship,  safe
behind its insulating walls, never knowing all the glories of the innards of
a star  or the vast  panoramic sweep of vision and  of knowing far above the
flat galactic plane.
     Yet he really did not know what he  saw or probed; he merely sensed and
felt it  and became  a part of it, and it  became a part of him - he  seemed
unable to  reduce it to  a  formal  outline of  fact or of  dimension or  of
content. It still remained a knowledge and  a power  so overwhelming that it
was nebulous. There was no fear and no wonder, for in this place, it seemed,
there was neither fear nor wonder. And he  finally knew  that it was a place
apart, a world in which  the normal space-time  knowledge and emotion had no
place at all  and a normal space-time being could have no tools or measuring
stick by which he might reduce it to a frame of reference.
     There was  no  time, no  space,  no fear,  no wonder  - and  no  actual
knowledge, either.
     Then time came once  again and  suddenly his mind was stuffed back into
its cage within his metal skull and he was  again one with his body, trapped
and chained and small and cold and naked.
     He saw that the stars were different and that he was  far from home and
just a little way ahead was a star that blazed like a molten furnace hanging
in the black.
     He  sat bereft, a small thing  once  again, and the universe reduced to
package size.
     Practically, he checked the cable that held  him to the ship and it was
intact.  His  attachments  kit  was still tied to its  rung. Everything  was
exactly as it had been before.
     He tried  to recall the glories he had  seen, tried to grasp again  the
fringe of  knowledge which he  had been so close to, but both the  glory and
the  knowledge,  if  there  had  ever  been  a  knowledge,  had  faded  into
     He felt like weeping, but he could  not weep, and he was too old to lie
down upon the ship and kick his heels in tantrum.
     So  he  sat  there, looking at the sun  that they  were approaching and
finally there was a planet that he  knew must be their  destination, and  he
found room to wonder what planet it might be and how far from Earth it was.
     He heated up a little as the ship skipped  through atmosphere as an aid
to braking speed and he had some rather  awful  moments as  it spiraled into
thick and soupy gases that certainly were a  far  cry from the atmosphere of
Earth. He hung most desperately to the rungs as the  craft came rushing down
onto a  landing field, with  the  hot gases of the  rockets curling up about
him. But  he made it safely and swiftly  clambered down and darted  off into
the smog-like atmosphere before anyone could see him.
     Safely  off, he  turned  and  looked back  at  the ship and despite its
outlines being hidden by the drifting clouds of swirling gases, he could see
it clearly, not  as an actual structure, but as a diagram. He looked  at  it
wonderingly  and  there  was something  wrong with  the  diagram,  something
vaguely wrong, some part of  it  that was out of  whack and not the  way  it
should be.
     He heard the clanking of cargo haulers coming out upon the field and he
wasted no more time, diagram or not.
     He drifted back, deeper  in the mists, and  began to circle,  keeping a
good distance from the ship. Finally he came to the spaceport's edge and the
beginning of the town.
     He  found  a street  and  walked  down  it  leisurely and  there was  a
wrongness in the town.
     He met a few hurrying robots who were in too much of a rush to pass the
time of day. But he met no humans.
     And that, he  knew quite suddenly,  was the wrongness of the place.  It
was not a human town.
     There  were no  distinctly human buildings -no stores or residences, no
churches and no restaurants. There were gaunt shelter barracks and sheds for
the storing of equipment and machines,  great sprawling warehouses and  vast
industrial plants. But  that was  all  there was.  It was  a bare and dismal
place compared to the streets that he had known on Earth.
     It was a robot  town, he  knew. And a robot  planet.  A world that  was
barred to  humans, a place where  humans could not live, but so rich in some
natural resource that  it  cried  for exploitation. And the  answer  to that
exploitation was to let the robots do it.
     Luck,  he  told  himself.  His good  luck  still  was holding.  He  had
literally  been  dumped  into  a place  where he could  live  without  human
interference. Here, on this planet, he would be with his own.
     If that was what he wanted. And he wondered if it was. He wondered just
exactly what it was  he wanted, for he'd had  no  time to think  of  what he
wanted. He had been too intent on fleeing  Earth to think too much about it.
He had known all along what he was running from, but had not considered what
he might be running to.
     He  walked  a little  further and the town came to an  end. The  Street
became a path and went wandering on into the wind-blown fogginess.
     So he turned around and went back up the street.
     There had been one barracks,  he remembered, that had a TRANSIENTS sign
hung out, and be made his way to it.
     Inside,  an  ancient   robot  sat  behind  the  desk.  His   body   was
old-fashioned and somehow familiar.  And  it was  familiar,  Richard  Daniel
knew, because it was as old and battered and as out-of-date as his.
     He  looked  at  the  body,  just a bit  aghast, and  saw that while  it
resembled  his,  there  were  little differences.  The  same ancient  model,
certainly, but a different series. Possibly a little newer,  by twenty years
or so, than his.
     "Good evening, stranger," said  the ancient robot. "You came in on  the
     Richard Daniel nodded.
     "You'll be staying till the next one?"
     "I may be  settling  down," said  Richard  Daniel. "I  may want to stay
     The ancient robot took a key from off a hook and laid it on the desk.
     "You representing someone?"
     "No," said Richard Daniel.
     "I thought maybe that you were. We get a lot of representatives. Humans
can't come here, or  don't want  to come, so  they send  robots  out here to
represent them."
     "You have a lot of visitors?"
     "Some. Mostly the  representatives I was  telling  you about. But there
are some that are on the lam. I'd take it, mister, you are on the lam."
     Richard Daniel didn't answer.
     "It's all right," the ancient  one assured him. "We don't mind at  all,
just so you behave yourself. Some  of our most prominent citizens, they came
here on the lam."
     "That  is fine," said Richard Daniel. "And how about yourself? You must
be on the lam as well."
     "You mean this  body.  Well, that's a little  different.  This  here is
     "Well, you see, I was  the foreman of the cargo  warehouse and I got to
goofing off. So they hauled me up and had a  trial and they found me guilty.
Then they stuck  me into  this old body and I have to stay in  it,  at  this
lousy job, until they get another criminal that needs punishment. They can't
punish no more than one criminal at a time because this is the only old body
that they have. Funny  thing about this body. One of  the boys  went back to
Earth on a business trip and found this old heap of metal  in a junkyard and
brought it home with  him - for a joke, I  guess. Like a  human might  buy a
skeleton for a joke, you know."
     He took a long, sly look at Richard Daniel. "It looks  to me, stranger,
as if your body..."
     But Richard Daniel didn't let him finish.
     "I take it," Richard Daniel said, "you haven't many criminals."
     "No," said the ancient  robot  sadly, "we're generally a  pretty  solid
     Richard Daniel reached  out to pick up the  key, but  the ancient robot
put out his hand and covered it.
     "Since you are on the lam," he said, "it'll be payment in advance."
     "I'll pay you for a week," said Richard Daniel, handing him some money.
     The robot gave him back his change.
     "One thing I forgot to tell you. You'll have to get plasticated."
     "That's right. Get plastic squirted  over you. To protect you  from the
atmosphere. It plays hell with metal. There's a place next door will do it."
     "Thanks. I'll get it done immediately."
     "It  wears off,"  warned the ancient  one. "You have to get a  new  job
every week or so."
     Richard Daniel  took the  key and went down the corridor until he found
his numbered cubicle. He unlocked the door and stepped inside. The  room was
small, but clean. It had a desk and chair and that was all it had.
     He  stowed his attachments bag in one corner  and sat down in the chair
and  tried  to feel  at home. But  he couldn't feel at  home, and that was a
funny thing - he'd just rented himself a home.
     He sat there, thinking back, and tried to whip up some sense of triumph
at having done so well in covering his tracks. He couldn't.
     Maybe this wasn't the place for  him, he thought. Maybe he'd be happier
on some other  planet. Perhaps  he should  go back to the ship and get on it
once again and have a look at the next planet coming up.
     If he hurried, he might make it. But he'd have to  hurry, for  the ship
wouldn't  stay longer than it took to unload the consignment for  this place
and take on new cargo.
     He got up from the chair, still only half decided.
     And suddenly he remembered how, standing in the swirling  mistiness, he
had  seen the ship as  a diagram rather than a ship, and as he thought about
it, something clicked inside his brain and he leaped toward the door.
     For now he  knew what had been wrong with the spaceship's diagram -  an
injector valve was somehow out of kilter, he  had to get  back there  before
the ship took off again.
     He went through  the door and down the corridor. He caught sight of the
ancient robot's startled  face  as he ran across  the lobby and out into the
street. Pounding steadily toward the spaceport, he tried to  get the diagram
into his mind  again, but it would not come  complete  - it came in bits and
pieces, but not all of it.
     And  even  as be fought for the entire diagram, he heard  the beginning
take-off rumble.
     "Wait!" he yelled. "Wait for me! You can't..."
     There  was  a  flash that  turned the  world  pure white and  a  mighty
invisible wave came  swishing out of nowhere and sent  him reeling  down the
street, falling as he reeled. He was skidding on the cobblestones and sparks
were flying as his  metal scraped  along the stone.  The whiteness reached a
brilliance  that almost  blinded him and then it faded swiftly and the world
was dark.
     He brought up against  a wall of some  sort, clanging as he hit, and he
lay  there, blind  from  the brilliance  of  the flash, while  his mind went
scurrying down the trail of the diagram.
     The diagram, he thought - why should he have seen a diagram of the ship
he'd  ridden through space, a  diagram  that had  shown an  injector  out of
whack?  And how could he, of all  robots, recognize an  injector, let  alone
know there was something wrong with it. It had been a joke back home,  among
the  Barringtons, that  he,  a  mechanical  thing himself,  should  have  no
aptitude at all for  mechanical contraptions. And he could have saved  those
people  and  the ship  - he could have  saved  them all if  he'd immediately
recognized  the significance  of  the  diagram.  But he'd been  too slow and
stupid and now they all were dead.
     The darkness  had receded from his eyes and he could see  again  and he
got slowly to  his feet,  feeling himself all over  to  see how badly he was
hurt. Except for a dent or two, he seemed to be all right.
     There were robots running  in  the  street, heading for  the spaceport,
where  a dozen fires were burning and where  sheds and other structures  had
been flattened by the blast.
     Someone tugged at his elbow and he  turned  around. It was the  ancient
     "You're the lucky one," the ancient robot said. "You got off it just in
     Richard Daniel nodded dumbly and had a terrible thought:
     What if they should think he did it? He had gotten off the ship; he had
admitted that he was on the  lam; he had rushed  out  suddenly, just  a  few
seconds before the ship exploded. It would be easy to put it  all together -
that he  had sabotaged the ship, then at  the last  instant had  rushed out,
remorseful, to  undo what  he  had  done. On the face  of it, it was damning
     But it  was all  right as yet,  Richard Daniel  told himself.  For  the
ancient robot was the only one that knew -  he was the  only one he'd talked
to, the only one who even knew that he was in town.
     There was a way, Richard Daniel  thought  - there  was  an easy way. He
pushed the thought away, but it came back. You are on your own, it said. You
are already beyond  the law. In  rejecting human law, you  made  yourself an
outlaw.  You  have become  fair  prey. There  is just one law for you - self
     But  there  are robot laws,  Richard Daniel  argued. There are laws and
courts in this community. There is a place for justice.
     Community law, said  the leech clinging  in his  brain, provincial law,
little more than tribal law - and the stranger's always wrong.
     Richard Daniel felt the coldness of the fear closing down  upon him and
he knew, without half thinking, that the leech was right.
     He  turned  around  and  started  down  the  street,  heading  for  the
transients  barracks. Something unseen in  the street caught his foot and he
stumbled  and went down. He scrabbled to his  knees, hunting in the darkness
on the  cobblestones for the thing  that tripped him. It was a  heavy bar of
steel, some part of the wreckage that had  been  hurled this far. He gripped
it by one end and arose.
     "Sorry," said the ancient robot. "You have to watch your step."
     And there  was a faint  implication in his word - a  hint of  something
more  than the  words had said, a  hint  of  secret  gloating  in  a  secret
     You have broken other laws,  said  the leech in Richard Daniel's brain.
What of breaking just one more? Why, if necessary, not break a hundred more.
It is  all or nothing. Having come this far, you  can't afford to fail.  You
can allow no one to stand in your way now.
     The ancient robot half turned away and Richard Daniel lifted up the bar
of steel,  and  suddenly  the ancient robot  no longer was  a  robot,  but a
diagram. There,  with all the details of a  blueprint, were  all the working
parts, all the mechanism of the  robot that walked in the street before him.
And if one detached that single bit of wire, if one burned out that coil, if
- Even as he thought it,  the diagram went  away and there was the robot,  a
stumbling, failing robot that clanged on the cobblestones.
     Richard Daniel swung around in terror, looking up the street, but there
was no one near.
     He  turned back  to the fallen  robot and  quietly knelt beside him. He
gently put the bar of steel down into the street. And he felt a thankfulness
- for, almost miraculously, he had not killed.
     The robot on  the  cobblestones  was motionless.  When  Richard  Daniel
lifted him, he dangled. And  yet he  was all  right. All anyone had to do to
bring him back to life was to repair whatever damage had been done his body.
And that served the purpose, Richard Daniel told himself, as well as killing
would have done.
     He stood with  the robot in his arms, looking for a place  to hide him.
He spied an  alley between two buildings  and  darted  into it.  One  of the
buildings, he saw, was set upon stone blocks sunk into the ground, leaving a
clearance of  a foot  or so.  He  knelt  and shoved the robot underneath the
building. Then he stood up and brushed the dirt and dust from his body.
     Back at the barracks and in his cubicle,  he found a rag and cleaned up
the dirt that he had missed. And, he thought hard.
     He'd seen the ship as a  diagram and, not knowing what it meant, hadn't
done a thing. Just now he'd seen the ancient robot as a diagram and had most
decisively and neatly used that  diagram to save himself from murder  - from
the murder that he was fully ready to commit.
     But how had  he done it? And the answer seemed to be that be really had
done nothing. He'd simply thought that one should detach a single wire, burn
out a single coil - he'd thought it and it was done.
     Perhaps he'd  seen no diagram at all. Perhaps the diagram  was  no more
than  some  sort of psychic  rationalization to mask whatever he had seen or
sensed. Seeing the ship and  robot with the surfaces stripped away from them
and  their  purpose and their  function revealed fully to  his view,  he had
sought some explanation of his  strange  ability,  and his subconscious mind
had devised an explanation, an  analogy that, for the moment,  had served to
satisfy him.
     Like  when he'd been  in  hyperspace, he  thought.  He'd seen  a lot of
things  out there  he  had not understood. And that was it,  of  course,  he
thought excitedly.  Something had happened to him out in hyperspace. Perhaps
there'd  been  something that had stretched his mind. Perhaps he'd picked up
some sort of new dimension-seeing, some new twist to his mind.
     He remembered how, back on the ship again, with his mind wiped clean of
all  the glory and the  knowledge, he had felt like weeping. But now he knew
that it had been much too soon for weeping. For although the  glory and  the
knowledge  (if  there'd been  a knowledge) had been lost to him, be had  not
lost everything. He'd gained a new perceptive device and the ability  to use
it somewhat  fumblingly - and it didn't really matter that he still was at a
loss  as to what  he did to use  it. The basic fact that he possessed it and
could use it was enough to start with.
     Somewhere out in  front there  was someone  calling - someone,  he  now
realized, who had been calling for some little time....
     "Hubert, where are you? Hubert, are you around? Hubert..."
     Could Hubert be the ancient robot? Could they have missed him already?
     Richard Daniel jumped to his feet for an undecided moment, listening to
the calling voice.  And then sat down again. Let them call, he told himself.
Let them go out and hunt.
     He was safe in this cubicle. He had rented it and for the moment it was
home and there was no one who would dare break in upon him.
     But it wasn't home. No matter how hard he tried to tell himself it was,
it wasn't. There wasn't any home.
     Earth  was home, he thought. And not  all of Earth, but just a  certain
street and that one part of it was barred to him forever. It had been barred
to him by the dying of a sweet  old  lady who had outlived  her time; it had
been barred to him by his running from it.
     He did not belong on this  planet, he admitted to  himself, nor  on any
other  planet.  He belonged on  Earth,  with  the  Barringtons,  and  it was
impossible for him to be there.
     Perhaps, he thought, he should have stayed and  let them reorient  him.
He  remembered what the  lawyer had said about memories that could  become a
burden  and a torment. After all,  it  might have been wiser to have started
over once again.
     For  what kind of future  did he have, with his old outdated  body, his
old outdated  brain?  The  kind of body that they  put a robot into  on this
planet by way  of punishment. And  the  kind  of  brain - but  the brain was
different, for he had something now that made up for any lack of more modern
mental tools.
     He sat and listened, and he heard the  house - calling all  across  the
light years of space for him  to come back to it again. And he saw the faded
living room with all its vanished glory that made a record of  the years. He
remembered, with a  twinge of hurt, the little room back of the kitchen that
had been his very own.
     He arose and  paced up and down the cubicle - three steps and turn, and
then three more steps and turn for another three.
     The  sights  and sounds  and  smells of  home  grew  close and  wrapped
themselves about him and he wondered wildly if he might not have  the power,
a power accorded  him by the universe of hyperspace, to will himself to that
familiar street again.
     He shuddered at the thought of it, afraid of another power, afraid that
it might happen. Afraid  of himself,  perhaps, of the  snarled  and  tangled
being he was - no  longer the faithful, shining  servant, but a sort of  mad
thing that rode outside a  spaceship, that  was ready to kill another being,
that could face up to the appalling sweep  of hyperspace, yet cowered before
the impact of a memory.
     What he needed was a walk, he thought. Look over the town  and maybe go
out  into the country.  Besides, he remembered, trying to  become practical,
he'd need to get that plastication job he had been warned to get.
     He  went  out  into  the  corridor and strode  briskly down it  and was
crossing the lobby when someone spoke to him.
     "Hubert," said the voice, "just where have you been? I've been  waiting
hours for you."
     Richard  Daniel spun around and a robot sat behind the desk.  There was
another robot leaning in a corner and there was a naked robot brain lying on
the desk.
     "You are Hubert, aren't you", asked the one behind the desk.
     Richard Daniel opened up his  mouth to speak,  but the words refused to
     "I thought so," said the  robot. "You may not recognize me, but my name
is  Andy. The regular  man was busy, so the judge sent me. He thought it was
only fair we  make the switch as quickly as possible. He said you'd served a
longer term than  you  really  should. Figures you'd be glad to know  they'd
convicted someone else."
     Richard Daniel stared in horror at the naked brain lying on the desk.
     The robot gestured at the metal body propped into the corner.
     "Better  than  when  we  took you  out of  it," he said with  a throaty
chuckle. "Fixed  it up and  polished  it  and got out  all the  dents.  Even
modernized it some. Brought it strictly up to  date. You'll  have  a  better
body than you had when they stuck you into that monstrosity."
     "I don't know what to say,"  said Richard Daniel, stammering. "You see,
I'm not..."
     "Oh, that's all right," said the other happily. "No need for gratitude.
Your sentence worked out longer than the judge expected.  This just makes up
for it."
     "I thank you, then," said Richard Daniel. "I thank you very much."
     And was astounded at himself, astonished at the ease with which he said
it, confounded at his sly duplicity.
     But if they forced it on him,  why  should he refuse? There was nothing
that he needed more than a modern body!
     It was still working out, he  told himself. He  was still riding  luck.
For this was the last thing that he needed to cover up his tracks.
     "All newly plasticated and everything," said Andy. "Hans did  an  extra
special job."
     'Well, then," said Richard Daniel, "let's get on with it."
     The other robot  grinned. "I don't blame you for being  anxious to  get
out of there. It  must be  pretty terrible  to live in  a pile  of junk like
     He came around from behind the desk and advanced on Richard Danie1.
     "Over in the corner," he said, "and kind of prop yourself. I don't want
you tipping over when I disconnect you. One good fall  and that  body'd come
     "All right,"  said  Richard  Daniel. He went into the corner and leaned
back against it and planted his feet solid so that he was propped.
     He had a rather awful moment when Andy disconnected the optic nerve and
he lost his eyes  and there was considerable queasiness in  having his skull
lifted  off  his  shoulders  and  he  was   in   sheer  funk  as  the  final
disconnections were being swiftly made.
     Then he  was a blob of greyness without a body or  a  head  or eyes  or
anything at all. He was no more than a bundle of thoughts all wrapped around
themselves like a pail of worms and this pail of worms was suspended in pure
     Fear came  to him, a taunting, terrible fear.  What if this were just a
sort of  ghastly gag? What if they'd found out who  he  really  was and what
he'd  done  to  Hubert? What  if they took  his brain  and  tucked  it  away
somewhere for a year or two - or for  a hundred years?  It might be, he told
himself, nothing more than their simple way of justice.
     He  hung  onto himself and  tried to fight the  fear away, but the fear
ebbed back and forth like a restless tide.
     Time  stretched out and  out  - far too long a time, far more time than
one would need to switch a brain from one body to another. Although, he told
himself, that  might  not be true at all. For in his present state he had no
way  in which to measure time. He had no external reference  points by which
to determine time.
     Then suddenly he had eyes.
     And he knew everything was all right.
     One  by one  his senses were  restored to him and  he was back inside a
body and he felt awkward in the body, for he was unaccustomed to it.
     The first thing that  he saw was his old and battered body propped into
its corner and he felt a  sharp regret at  the  sight of it and it seemed to
him that  he had played a dirty trick upon it. It deserved, he told himself,
a better fate than this - a better fate than being left behind to serve as a
shabby jailhouse on  this outlandish planet.  It had served him well for six
hundred years and he should not be deserting it. But he was deserting it. He
was, he told himself in  contempt, becoming very expert at deserting his old
friends. First the house back home and now his faithful body.
     Then he remembered something else - all that money in the body!
     "What's the matter, Hubert?" Andy asked.
     He  couldn't leave it there, Richard Daniel told himself, for he needed
it. And besides, if he left it there, someone would surely find it later and
it would be a give-away. He couldn't leave it there and it might not be safe
to  forthrightly  claim  it. If he did, this other  robot, this  Andy, would
think he'd been stealing on the job or running some  side  racket. He  might
try to  bribe the other, but one could never tell how a move like that might
go.  Andy might be full of  righteousness and then there'd be  hell  to pay.
And, besides, he didn't want to part with any of the money.
     All at once he had it - he knew just what to do. And even as he thought
it, he made Andy into a diagram.
     That connection there, thought Richard Daniel,  reaching out his arm to
catch the falling diagram that turned into a robot. He eased it to the floor
and sprang  across the  room to the side of his old body. In  seconds he had
the chest  safe open and  the money safely  out of it and locked inside  his
present body.
     Then he made the robot on the floor  become a diagram again and got the
connection back the way that it should be.
     Andy rose shakily  off the floor.  He looked  at Richard Daniel in some
     "What happened to me?"  he  asked in a frightened voice. Richard Daniel
sadly shook his head. "I don't know. You just keeled over. I started for the
door to yell for help, then I heard you stirring and you were all right."
     Andy  was  plainly  puzzled.  "Nothing  like  this  ever happened to me
before," he said.
     "If I  were  you," counseled Richard  Daniel, "I'd have  myself checked
over. You must have a faulty relay or a loose connection."
     "I guess I will," the other one agreed. "It's downright dangerous."
     He walked slowly to  the  desk and picked up  the other brain,  started
with it toward the battered body leaning in the corner.
     Then he stopped and said:  "Look, I forgot. I was supposed to tell you.
You better get up to the warehouse.  Another ship is on its  way. It will be
coming in any minute now."
     "Another one so soon?"
     "You know how it goes," Andy said,  disgusted. "They don't even  try to
keep a schedule here.  We won't see  one for months and then there'll be two
or three at once."
     "Well,  thanks,"  said Richard  Daniel,  going  out  the  door. He went
swinging down  the  street with a newborn confidence. And  he had  a feeling
that there was nothing that could lick him, nothing that could stop him.
     For he was a lucky robot!
     Could all that luck,  he wondered, have been  gotten out in hyperspace,
as  his  diagram  ability, or  whatever  one  might call it,  had  come from
hyperspace?  Somehow hyperspace had taken him and  twisted him  and  changed
him, had molded  him  anew, had made him into  a different robot than he had
been before.
     Although, so  far as luck was  concerned, he had  been  lucky  all  his
entire life. He'd had good luck with his human  family and had gained  a lot
of favors and a  high position and had been  allowed to live for six hundred
years. And that was a  thing that never  should have happened. No matter how
powerful or influential  the Barringtons had  been, that six  hundred  years
must be due in part to nothing but sheer 1uck.
     In any  case, the luck and the diagram  ability gave  him  a solid edge
over all the  other robots  he might meet. Could it, he asked himself,  give
him an edge on Man as well?
     No  - that was a thought  he should  not think, for it was blasphemous.
There never was a robot that would be the equal of a man.
     But the thought kept on  intruding and he felt  not nearly  so contrite
over this leaning toward bad taste, or poor judgment, whichever it might be,
as it seemed to him he should feel.
     As he neared the spaceport, he began meeting  other robots  and some of
them saluted him and called him by the name of Hubert and others stopped and
shook him by the hand and told him they were glad that he was out of pokey.
     This friendliness shook his confidence.  He began to wonder if his luck
would  hold, for  some of the robots,  he was certain, thought it rather odd
that  he  did  not speak to  them by  name, and there had been  a  couple of
remarks that  he had some  trouble fielding.  He  had a feeling that when he
reached the  warehouse he  might be sunk without  a trace, for he would know
none of the robots there and he had not the least idea what his duties might
include. And, come to think of  it, he  didn't even know where the warehouse
     He  felt  the  panic building in him and  took a quick involuntary look
around, seeking  some method of escape. For it became quite  apparent to him
that he must never reach the warehouse.
     He was trapped, he knew, and he couldn't keep on  floating, trusting to
his luck. In the next few minutes he'd have to figure something.
     He started to swing over into a side street, not knowing  what he meant
to do, but knowing he must do something, when he  heard the mutter far above
him and glanced  up quickly to see the crimson glow of belching rocket tubes
shimmering through the clouds.
     He  swung around  again and  sprinted desperately for the spaceport and
reached it  as the ship came chugging down  to a  steady landing. It was, he
saw, an old ship. It had no burnish  to it and it  was blunt  and  squat and
wore a hangdog look.
     A tramp, he told himself, that knocked about from port to port, picking
up whatever cargo it  could,  with perhaps now and  then a  paying passenger
headed for some backwater planet where there was no scheduled service.
     He waited as the cargo port  came open and the  ramp came down and then
marched purposefully out onto the field, ahead of the straggling cargo crew,
trudging toward  the ship. He had to act,  he knew, as if  he had a  perfect
right to walk into the ship as if he knew exactly what he might be doing. If
there were a challenge he would pretend he didn't hear it and simply keep on
     He walked swiftly up  the ramp, holding back from  running, and plunged
through the accordion curtain that served as an atmosphere control. His feet
rang across the metal plating of the cargo hold until he reached the catwalk
and plunged down it to another cargo level.
     At the bottom of  the  catwalk he stopped and stood  tense,  listening.
Above  him he  heard the  clang of a  metal door  and the sound of footsteps
coming  down the walk to  the level just above him. That would be the purser
or the first mate, he told himself, or perhaps  the captain,  coming down to
arrange for the discharge of the cargo.
     Quietly he  moved away  and  found a  corner where he could crouch  and
     Above his head he heard the cargo gang at work, talking back and forth,
then the screech of crating and  the  thump of bales and boxes being  hauled
out to the ramp.
     Hours passed, or  they seemed like hours, as he huddled there. He heard
the cargo gang  bringing something down  from one of the upper levels and he
made a sort of prayer that they'd not come down to this lower level - and he
hoped no one would remember seeing him come in ahead of them, or if they did
remember, that they would assume that he'd gone out again.
     Finally it was over, with the footsteps gone. Then came the pounding of
the ramp as it shipped itself and the banging of the port.
     He waited  for long  minutes, waiting for  the roar that, when it came,
set his head to ringing,  waiting for the monstrous vibration that shook and
lifted up the ship and flung it off the planet
     Then quiet came and  he knew the  ship  was out of atmosphere  and once
more on its way.
     And knew he had it made.
     For now he was no more than a simple stowaway. He was no longer Richard
Daniel, runaway from Earth. He'd dodged all the  traps of Man, he'd  covered
all his tracks, and he was on his way.
     But far down underneath he had a jumpy feeling, for it all had gone too
smoothly, more smoothly than it should.
     He  tried to analyze himself, tried to pull himself in  focus, tried to
assess himself for what he bad become.
     He  had abilities  that  Man  had  never won  or developed or achieved,
whichever it might be. He was a certain step ahead of not only other robots,
but of Man as well.  He had  a thing, or the beginning of a thing, that  Man
had sought and studied and had tried to grasp for centuries and had failed.
     A solemn and a deadly  thought: was it possible that it was the robots,
after all,  for  whom  this great heritage  had been  meant? Would it be the
robots who would achieve the paranormal powers that Man had  sought so long,
while  Man,  perforce,  must  remain content with the materialistic  and the
merely scientific? Was  he, Richard Daniel, perhaps, only the first of many?
Or  was  it all explained by  no more than the fact  that he  alone had been
exposed to hyperspace? Could this ability of his  belong to anyone who would
subject himself  to  the full,  uninsulated mysteries  of that  mad universe
unconstrained by  time? Could Man  have this,  and  more,  if he  too should
expose himself to the utter randomness of unreality?
     He huddled in his corner, with the thought  and speculation stirring in
his mind and he sought the answers, but there was no solid answer.
     His mind went reaching out, almost on its own,  and there was a diagram
inside his brain,  a portion of a blueprint,  and bit by bit was added to it
until it  all was there, until  the entire ship on which he rode was  there,
laid out for him to see.
     He took his time and  went over the diagram resting in his brain and he
found little things -  a fitting that was working loose and he tightened it,
a  printed  circuit  that  was  breaking  down  and  getting  mushy  and  be
strengthened it and  sharpened it  and made  it almost new, a pump that  was
leaking just a bit and he stopped its leaking.
     Some hundreds of hours later one of the crewmen  found him and took him
to the captain.
     The captain glowered at him.
     "Who are you?" he asked.
     "A stowaway," Richard Daniel told him.
     "Your name," said the captain, drawing  a sheet of paper before him and
picking up a pencil, "your planet of residence and owner."
     "I refuse to answer you," said Richard Daniel sharply and knew that the
answer  wasn't right,  for it  was not right and  proper that a robot should
refuse a human a direct command.
     But  the  captain  did not  seem to mind. He laid down the  pencil  and
stroked his black beard slyly.
     "In that case,"  he said,  "I  can't exactly see how  I can  force  the
information from  you.  Although there might be some who'd try. You are very
lucky  that you stowed  away  on a ship whose captain is a most kind-hearted
     He didn't look  kind-hearted. He  did  look foxy. Richard  Daniel stood
there, saying nothing.
     "Of course," the captain said, "there's a  serial  number somewhere  on
your body and another on your brain. But I suppose  that you'd resist  if we
tried to look for them."
     "I am afraid I would."
     "In  that case," said the captain, "I don't think for the moment  we'll
concern ourselves with them."
     Richard Daniel  still  said nothing, for he realized  that there was no
need  to. This crafty captain had  it all worked out  and he'd let  it go at
     "For  a  long  time,"  said  the  captain,  "my  crew  and  I have been
considering  the acquiring of a  robot, but it seems we never got around  to
it. For one thing, robots are expensive and our profits are not large."
     He  sighed and got up from his  chair and looked Richard  Daniel up and
     "A splendid specimen," he said. "We welcome you aboard.  You'll find us
     "I  am  sure I  will,"  said  Richard  Daniel.  "I thank  you for  your
     "And now," the captain said, "you'll go up on the  bridge and report to
Mr.  Duncan.  I'll  let  him  know you're coming. He'll find  some light and
pleasant duty for you."
     Richard Daniel did not move as swiftly as he might,  as sharply as  the
occasion  might have  called for, for all at  once the captain had become  a
complex diagram. Not like the diagrams of ships or  robots, but a diagram of
strange symbols, some  of  which  Richard Daniel knew were frankly chemical,
but others which were not.
     "You heard me!" snapped the captain. "Move!"
     "Yes, sir,"  said Richard Daniel, willing the  diagram away, making the
captain come back again into his solid flesh.
     Richard  Daniel  found the  first mate on  the bridge,  a  horse-faced,
somber man with  a streak of cruelty ill-hidden, and slumped in a  chair  to
one  side  of  the console  was  another  of  the crew,  a  sodden, terrible
     The sodden creature cackled. "Well, well, Duncan,  the first  non-human
member of the Rambler's crew."
     Duncan paid him no attention. He said to Richard Daniel: "I presume you
are industrious and ambitious and would like to get along."
     "Oh,  yes,"  said  Richard  Daniel, and  was  surprised  to find a  new
sensation - laughter - rising in himself.
     "Well, then," said Duncan, "report to the engine  room. They  have work
for you. When you have finished there, I'll find something else."
     "Yes, sir," said Richard Daniel, turning on his heel.
     "A  minute,"  said  the  mate.  "I must introduce  you  to  our  ship's
physician, Dr. Abram Wells. You can  be truly thankful you'll never stand in
need of his services."
     "Good day, Doctor," said Richard Daniel, most respectfully.
     "I welcome you," said  the doctor, pulling a bottle from his pocket. "I
don't suppose you'll have a drink with me. Well, then, I'll drink to you."
     Richard Daniel  turned around and left. He went down to the engine room
and was put  to  work at polishing and  scrubbing and generally cleaning up.
The place was in  need of it. It had  been years,  apparently, since  it had
been cleaned or polished and it was about as dirty as an engine room can get
- which is  terribly dirty. After the engine room was done  there were other
places to be cleaned and furbished up and he spent endless hours at cleaning
and in painting and shinning up the  ship. The work was of the dullest kind,
but he  didn't  mind. It  gave him  time to  think  and  wonder, time to get
himself sorted  out  and to  become acquainted with  himself, to try to plan
     He  was surprised at  some of the things he found in himself. Contempt,
for one - contempt for  the humans on this ship. It took a long time for him
to  become satisfied that  it was  contempt,  for he'd never held a human in
contempt before.
     But these were different humans, not the kind he'd known.
     These were no Barringtons. Although  it might be, he realized,  that he
felt contempt for them because he knew them thoroughly. Never before had  he
known a human as he knew these humans. For he saw them not so much as living
animals as intricate patternings of symbols. He knew what they  were made of
and the inner urgings that served as motivations, for the patterning was not
of their bodies only, but of their minds  as well. He had  a  little trouble
with the symbology of their minds, for it was  so twisted and so interlocked
and  so utterly confusing that it was  hard at first to read. But he finally
got it figured out and there were times he wished he hadn't.
     The  ship stopped at  many ports and  Richard Daniel took charge of the
loading and unloading, and he saw the planets, but was unimpressed.  One was
a nightmare  of fiendish  cold, with the very  atmosphere turned to drifting
snow. Another  was a dripping, noisome jungle world, and still another was a
bare expanse of broken, tumbled rock without a trace of life beyond the crew
of humans and  their robots  who manned the huddled station  in this howling
     It  was  after  this planet that Jenks, the cook, went screaming to his
bunk, twisted up with pain - the victim  of a suddenly  inflammed  vermiform
     Dr. Wells came tottering  in  to look at him, with a half-filled bottle
sagging  the pocket  of  his  jacket.  And later stood before  the  captain,
holding out two hands that trembled, and with terror in his eyes.
     "But  I  cannot  operate," he blubbered.  "I cannot take the chance.  I
would kill the man!"
     He did not need to operate. Jenks suddenly improved. The pain went away
and  he got up from his bunk and went back  to the galley  and Dr. Wells sat
huddled in his chair, bottle gripped between his hands, crying like a baby.
     Down in  the cargo hold, Richard Daniel sat likewise huddled and aghast
that he had dared to do  it - not that he had been able to, but  that he had
dared,  that  he,  a  robot,  should  have  taken  on   himself  an  act  of
interference, however merciful, with the body of a human.
     Actually, the  performance  had  not  been too difficult. It  was, in a
certain way,  no  more  difficult  than  the repairing of  an engine or  the
untangling of a faulty circuit. No more difficult - just a little different.
And he wondered what  he'd done and how he'd' gone about it,  for he did not
know.  He  held  the  technique  in  his  mind,  of  that  there  was  ample
demonstration, but he could in no way isolate or pinpoint the pure mechanics
of it. It was  like an instinct,  he  thought - unexplainable, but  entirely
     But  a robot had no  instinct. In that much  he was  different from the
human and  the  other animals. Might not, he  asked  himself,  this  strange
ability of his be a  sort  of compensating factor given to the robot for his
very lack  of instinct? Might that  be  why the human race had failed in its
search for paranormal powers? Might the instincts of the  body be at certain
odds with the instincts of the mind?
     For  he  had  the  feeling that this ability  of his  was  just a  mere
beginning, that it was the first emergence of a vast body of abilities which
some  day  would be rounded out  by  robots. And  what would that spell,  he
wondered, in that distant day when the robots held and used the full body of
that  knowledge? An adjunct to the glory of the human race, or equals of the
human race, or superior to the human race - or, perhaps, a race apart?
     And what  was his role, he wondered. Was it meant that he should go out
as a missionary, a messiah, to carry to  robots  throughout the universe the
message that he held? There must be some reason  for his having learned this
truth. It could not be meant that he  would hold it as a personal belonging,
as an asset all his own.
     He got up from where he sat and moved slowly back to the ship's forward
area, which now gleamed spotlessly  from  the work he'd done on  it, and  he
felt a certain pride.
     He  wondered  why  he had  felt that  it  might be  wrong, blasphemous,
somehow, to announce his abilities  to  the world? Why had he not told those
here in the ship that it had been he  who had healed the cook,  or mentioned
the many other little  things  he'd  done to  maintain the  ship in  perfect
running order?
     Was it because he did not need respect, as a human did so urgently? Did
glory  have  no basic meaning for a  robot? Or  was it  because he  held the
humans  in this ship in such utter contempt  that their respect had no value
to him?
     "And this contempt - was it because these  men  were meaner than  other
humans he had known, or  was it because  he  now was greater  than any human
being? Would he ever again be  able  to  look on any human as  he had looked
upon the Barringtons?
     He had a feeling that if this were true, he would be the poorer for it.
Too suddenly,  the whole universe was home and he was alone in it and as yet
he'd struck no bargain with it or himself.
     The bargain  would come later. He need only bide his time and work  out
his plans and his would be a name  that would be  spoken when his  brain was
scaling flakes  of  rust. For  he was  the emancipator, the  messiah of  the
robots; he was the one who had been called to lead them from the wilderness.
     "You!" a voice cried.
     Richard Daniel wheeled around and saw it was the captain.
     "What do  you mean, walking past me as if you didn't see me?" asked the
captain fiercely.
     "I am sorry," Richard Daniel told him.
     "You snubbed me!" raged the captain.
     "I was thinking," Richard Daniel said.
     "I'll  give  you something  to think about," the captain  yelled. "I'll
work you  till  your tail drags. I'll  teach the  likes of you to get uppity
with me!"
     "As you wish," said Richard Daniel.
     For it  didn't matter. It made  no  difference  to him  at all what the
captain  did  or  thought. And he wondered why  the respect  even of a robot
should mean so  much  to a  human like the captain, why  he should guard his
small position with so much zealousness.
     "In another twenty hours," the captain said, "we hit another port."
     "I know," said Richard Daniel. "Sleepy Hollow  on Arcadia." "All right,
then," said the captain, "since you know so much, get down into the hold and
get the cargo ready to unload. We  been spending too  much time in all these
lousy ports loading and unloading. You been dogging it."
     "Yes, sir," said Richard Daniel, turning back and heading for the hold.
     He wondered faintly  if he were still robot - or was he something else?
Could a  machine  evolve,  he wondered,  as Man  himself  evolved?  And if a
machine evolved, whatever would  it  be? Not  Man,  of course,  for it never
could be that, but could it be machine?
     He hauled  out the  cargo consigned to Sleepy Hollow and  there was not
too much of it. So little of it, perhaps, that none of the  regular carriers
would even consider its delivery, but dumped it off at the nearest terminal,
leaving it for a roving tramp,  like the Rambler, to carry eventually to its
     When they reached  Arcadia,  he waited  until  the thunder died and the
ship was still. Then  he shoved  the lever that opened up the  port and slid
out the ramp.
     The port came  open ponderously and he saw blue skies  and the green of
trees and the far-off swirl of chimney smoke mounting in the sky.
     He walked  slowly forward until  he stood  upon  the ramp and there lay
Sleepy Hollow, a tiny, huddled village planted at the river's edge, with the
forest  as  a background.  The  forest  ran  on every side to  a horizon  of
climbing  folded hills. Fields  lay near the  village, yellow  with maturing
crops, and he could see a dog sleeping in the sun outside a cabin door.
     A man was climbing up the ramp toward him and there were others running
from the village.
     "You have cargo for us?" asked the man.
     "A small consignment," Richard Daniel told him. "You have something  to
put on?'
     The  man had a weatherbeaten  look and he'd missed several haircuts and
he had not shaved for days. His clothes were rough and sweat-stained and his
hands were strong and awkward with hard work.
     "A small  shipment," said the man. "You'll have to wait until  we bring
it up. We had no warning you were coming. Our radio is broken."
     "You go and get it," said Richard Daniel. "I'll start unloading."
     He had the cargo half unloaded when the captain came storming down into
the hold. What was going on, he yelled. How long  would they have  to  wait?
"God knows we're losing money as it is even stopping at this place."
     "That  may be true," Richard Daniel agreed, "but you knew that when you
took the cargo on. There'll be other cargoes and goodwill is something -"
     "Goodwill be damned!" the captain roared. "How do I know I'll ever  see
this place again?"
     Richard Daniel continued unloading cargo.
     "You," the captain shouted, "go down to that village and tell them I'll
wait no longer than an hour..."
     "But this cargo, sir?"
     "I'll get the crew at it. Now, jump!"
     So Richard Daniel left the cargo and went down into the village.
     He went  across  the  meadow that  lay between  the spaceport  and  the
village, following the rutted wagon  tracks, and it was a pleasant walk.  He
realized  with  surprise  that  this was the first time  he'd been  on solid
ground since  he'd left the robot  planet. He wondered briefly what the name
of that  planet might have  been, for  he  had  never  known.  Nor what  its
importance  was, why  the robots might be there or what they might be doing.
And he wondered, too, with a twinge of guilt, if they'd found Hubert yet.
     And where might Earth be now? he asked himself. In  what direction  did
it lie  and how far away?  Although it didn't really matter, for he was done
with Earth.
     He  had fled  from Earth and gained something  in  his fleeing.  He had
escaped all the traps of Earth and all the snares of  Man. What he  held was
his, to do with as he pleased, for he was no  man's robot, despite what  the
captain thought.
     He walked across the meadow and saw that this planet was very much like
Earth. It had the same soft feel  about it,  the same simplicity. It had far
distances and there was a sense of freedom.
     He came into  the  village  and heard  the muted gurgle  of  the  river
running and the distant shouts  of children at their play and in one of  the
cabins a sick child was crying with lost helplessness.
     He passed the  cabin where the  dog was  sleeping and it came awake and
stalked  growling  to  the  gate.  When he  passed  it  followed him,  still
growling, at a distance that was safe and sensible.
     An autumnal calm lay  upon the  village, a sense of  gold and lavender,
and tranquillity hung in the silences between the crying of the baby and the
shouting of the children.
     There were women at the  windows looking out at  him and  others at the
doors and the  dog  still  followed, but his growls  had stilled and now  he
trotted with prick-eared curiosity.
     Richard Daniel stopped in the street and looked around him and  the dog
sat down and watched him and it was almost as if time itself had stilled and
the  little  village  lay  divorced  from  all  the  universe,  an  arrested
microsecond,  an encapsulated acreage that  stood sharp in all its truth and
     Standing there, he sensed  the village and  the people in it, almost as
if he had summoned up a diagram of it, although if there were  a diagram, he
was not aware of it.
     It seemed almost as if the village were the Earth, a transplanted Earth
with the old primeval problems and hopes of Earth - a family of peoples that
faced existence with a readiness and confidence and inner strength.
     From  down the street he heard the creak of  wagons and saw them coming
around the bend, three wagons piled high and heading for the ship.
     He stood and  waited for  them and as  he waited the dog edged a little
closer and sat regarding him with a not-quite-friendliness.
     The wagons came up to him and stopped.
     "Pharmaceutical materials, mostly," said the man who sat atop the first
load, "It is the only thing we have that is worth the shipping."
     "You seem to have a lot of it," Richard Daniel told  him. The man shook
his  head.  "It's not so much. It's almost three years  since a ship's  been
here.  We'll have to wait another  three, or  more  perhaps, before  we  see
     He spat down on the ground.
     "Sometimes it seems," he said, "that we're  at the tail-end of nowhere.
There are times we wonder if there is a soul that remembers we are here."
     From the  direction  of  the  ship,  Richard  Daniel  heard  the faint,
strained violence of the captain's roaring.
     "You'd  better get  on up there and  unload,"  he told  the  man.  "The
captain is just sore enough he might not wait for you."
     The man chuckled thinly. "I guess that's up to him," he said.
     He flapped the reins and clucked good-naturedly at the horses.
     "Hop up here with  me," he said to Richard Daniel. "Or would you rather
     "I'm not going with you," Richard Daniel said. "I am staying  here. You
can tell the captain."
     For there  was a baby sick and  crying. There was a radio to fix. There
was a culture to be planned and  guided. There was a lot of work to do. This
place, of all the places he had seen, had actual need of him.
     The man chuckled once again. "The captain will not like it."
     "Then tell him," said Richard Daniel, "to  come down and talk to me.  I
am my own robot. I owe the captain nothing. I have more than paid any debt I
owe him."
     The wagon wheels began to turn and the man flapped the reins again.
     "Make yourself at home," he said. "We're glad to have you stay."
     "Thank you, sir," said Richard Daniel. "I'm pleased you want me."
     He stood aside and watched the wagons lumber past, their wheels lifting
and dropping thin  films of  powdered  earth that floated in  the air as  an
acrid dust.
     Make yourself at home, the man had said before he'd driven off. And the
words had a full round ring to them and a feel of warmth. It had been a long
time, Richard Daniel thought, since he'd had a home.
     A chance for resting  and for knowing  - that was what he needed. And a
chance  to  serve, for  now he knew that was the purpose  in  him. That was,
perhaps, the real reason he was staying - because these people needed him...
and he needed, queer as  it might seem, this very  need of  theirs. Here  on
this Earth-like planet, through the  generations,  a new  Earth would arise.
And perhaps, given only time, he could transfer to the  people of the planet
all the powers and understanding he would find inside himself.
     And stood astounded at  the thought, for  he'd not believed that he had
it in him, this willing, almost eager, sacrifice. No messiah now, no robotic
liberator, but a simple teacher of the human race.
     Perhaps  that had been the reason for  it all from the first beginning.
Perhaps all that had happened had been no more than the working out of human
destiny. If the human race could not attain directly the paranormal power he
held, this instinct of the mind, then they would gain  it indirectly through
the agency of  one  of their creations. Perhaps this, after all, unknown  to
Man himself, had been the prime purpose of the robots.
     He turned and walked slowly down the length of village street, his back
turned to  the ship  and the roaring of the captain, walked contentedly into
this  new world he'd found,  into this  world  that he would  make - not for
himself, nor for robotic glory, but for a better Mankind and a happier.
     Less than an hour before he'd congratulated himself on escaping all the
traps of Earth, all the snares of Man. Not knowing that the greatest trap of
all, the final and the fatal trap, lay on this present planet.
     But  that  was wrong, he told himself.  The trap  had not been on  this
world at all, nor any other world. It had been inside himself.
     He  walked serenely down  the wagon-rutted  track  in the soft,  golden
afternoon of a matchless autumn day, with the dog trotting at his heels.
     Somewhere, just down the street, the sick baby lay crying in its crib.

Популярность: 10, Last-modified: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 03:21:45 GMT