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Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - - Destination: Amaltheia ("Путь на Амальтею")

Фантастика >> Russian sci-fi in English translation >> Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
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Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Destination: Amaltheia

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© Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

© Translated from Russian by Leonid Kolesnikov

SF compilation "DESTINATION: AMALTHEIA"

FOREIGN LANGUAGES PUBLISHING HOUSE MOSCOW

Original: "Няпщ лч Чкчйщпев"

OCR: http://home.freeuk.com/russica2

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     Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, authors of "Destination; Amaltheia", have already several collections of SF stories to their credit. Arkady Strugatsky (b. 1925) is a linguist and translator specialising in Japanese. Boris (b. 1933) is an astronomer and works at the computer laboratory of Pulkovo Observatory. The title story of this volume is their second novelette appearing after "The Country of the Purple Clouds" -about explorations on Venus, First Prize winner in a best SF book competition.


     Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. .. . Hydrogen phantoms, the strangest and most enigmatic objects in the solar system. Enormous masses of hydrogen and helium tinged by methane and ammonia. What is their structure? What makes them rotate at such a frantic .speed? What is their source of energy? We observe titanic changes on their surface. We see strips of clouds streak along, broken now and then by giant whirls, streamers of gases erupt into space in flaring bursts. What forces are behind these outer phenomena? Thermonuclear reactions? But these giants have sub-zero surface temperatures: -216 F on Jupiter and even lower on the others. What is then the mechanism of these primaries? Perhaps it is some physical principle we don't know yet and even do not so far dare to guess at....


     PROLOGUE


     J-STATIQN, AMALTHEIA


     The chief of J-Station enjoys the sight of rising Jupiter while the nutrition engineer bewails the shortage of canned food.


     Amaltheia makes one full rotation on its axis in about thirty-five hours. But it takes only twelve hours to complete its orbit round Jupiter. That is why the enormous shapeless hump of Jupiter rears in close view every thirteen and a half hours. And that is a spectacular sight. But to see it at all you have to take a lift to the spectrolite-domed top floor. When your eyes get accustomed to the darkness outside you begin to make out an ice-bound plain receding to the serrated mountain range on the horizon. The sky is black and studded with bright unblinking stars. These shed a faint light on the plain, the mountain range a pitch-black gap in the starry sky. But if you look long enough you will make out the jagged tops. Sometimes Ganymede's mottled crescent or Callisto's silver disc-or more rarely both-will come out and hang above the range. Then on the plain grey fingers of shade stretch from end to end across the gleaming ice. And when the Sun is a small ball of blinding fire above the horizon the plain turns blue, the shadows black and every crack or hump stands out in stark relief. Coal-black spots on the spacefield look 'like big freshly-frozen puddles and you feel like running over that thin crust of ice to hear it crunch under your magnetic boots and see it fan out in dark wrinkles.

     But that is not yet really spectacular. All that can be seen in other places besides Amaltheia. It's when Jupiter rises that the sight becomes really spectacular. And it's really spectacular only when seen from Amaltheia-especially when Jupiter rises in pursuit of the Sun. It all starts with a greenish-brown glow-Jovian exosphere- gaining in intensity behind the rugged peaks. As it grows brighter it extinguishes one by one the stars that the Sun has not been able to obscure and spreads across the black sky, slowly closing in on the Sun itself, which it suddenly engulfs. That is a moment not to miss. That is a moment when, as if at a flourish of a magic wand, the greenish-brown glow turns instantaneously blood red. You tense for it and yet it always catches you unprepared. The Sun turns red and the ice-bound plain turns red and the small dome of the radio-beacon starts sending off blood-red reflections. Even the shadow the mountaintops throw turns pink. By and by the red darkens, turns brownish and then, at last, the enormous brown hump of Jupiter rolls into view over the rugged peaks. The Sun is still visible and red, red-hot as molten metal, like a round disc against a brownish-red backdrop. For some obscure reason this brownish red is classed as an unattractive colour. People who are of this opinion must never have watched Jupiter rise in pursuit of the Sun, never have seen the brownish-red glow across half the sky with the clear-cut red disc superimposed on it. Then the disc disappears. Only Jupiter remains, huge, brown, shaggy. It has taken its time crawling over the horizon as if swelling, and now fills a full quarter of the sky. Black and green belts of ammonia cloud criss-cross the planet. That too is beautiful. Unfortunately you can seldom watch the sight till that stage. There is work to be done. When you are on observation duty you see the sight in toto, of course, but then you don't look for beauty....

     The head of J-Station looked at his watch. The Jupiter-rise today promised to be as spectacular as ever but it was time he went below to his office to do some hard thinking. In the shadow of the cliffs the trellis-work skeleton of the Big Antenna stirred and began unfolding. The radio astronomers were about to start observations. The hungry radio astronomers.

     The chief threw a final glance at the brownish-red brumous dome of Jupiter swelling over the range and thought he would like some day to catch all the four big satellites above the horizon with Jupiter in the first quarter, half orange, half brownish red. Then it occurred to him he had never seen Jupiter setting. That must be quite a sight too-the exospheric glow dying out and the stars flickering up one after another in the darkening sky like diamond needles against black velvet. But usually Jupiter-set is the peak of the working day.

     The chief entered the lift and dropped down to the bottom floor. The station was fairly big and occupied several tiers hacked through the solid ice and encased in plastic metal. Fifty-three people manned it. Fifty-three hungry men and women.

     The chief glanced into the recreation rooms as he went along but found them empty save for the spherical swimming pool where someone was splashing about, the room echoing to the sound. The chief went on stepping unhurriedly in his heavy magnetic boots. There was next to no gravity on Amaltheia and that was highly inconvenient. People got accustomed to it, of course, but at first they all felt hydrogen-filled and any moment likely to burst out of their magnetic footgear. Sleeping in particular had cost them all a lot of getting accustomed to.

     Two astrophysicists, hair wet after a shower, overtook him, said hullo and passed on to the lifts. Something was wrong with the magnetic soles of one of them, for he was dancing and swaying awkwardly as he tried to keep pace with the other. The chief turned into the canteen, where about fifteen people were still having their breakfast.

     Uncle Hoak, the station's nutrition engineer, was himself serving the breakfasts on a trolley. He was gloomy. Not that he was of a sunny disposition ordinarily. But today he was definitely gloomy. As a matter of fact so had he been the day before and the day before that-indeed ever since that unfortunate day when the radio message about the food disaster came from Callisto. J-Station's foodstores on Callisto had been invaded by a fungus. That had happened before, but this time the stores were destroyed completely, to the last biscuit, and so were the chlorella plantations.

     Life was hard on Callisto, for no means of keeping the fungus out of the quarters had yet been found. It was a remarkable fungus. It penetrated any wall and demolished any kind of food. It just gobbled up chlorella. Sometimes it attacked men but it was not dangerous. At first people were afraid of it and the bravest flinched discovering on their hands the characteristic grey-coloured slimy film. But there was no pain or after-effects. Some even claimed the fungus was a good tonic.

     "Hey, Uncle Hoak," somebody shouted. "Are we going to have biscuits for dinner as well?"

     The chief did not notice who it was, for everyone in the canteen immediately turned their faces to Uncle Hoak and stopped eating. Nice young faces, deeply tanned almost all of them. And already drawn a little. Or was he imagining things?

     "You will have soup for dinner," said Uncle Hoak.

     "Ripping," somebody said, and again the chief didn't notice who.

     He sat down at the nearest table. Hoak wheeled up the trolley and deposited a breakfast on the table-two biscuits on a plate, half a bar of chocolate and a squeeze bottle of tea. He did it in his usual smart way but the thick white biscuits jumped up all the same and hung above the table. The bottle stood firm however, held in place by a magnetic rim round the bottom. The chief caught one of the biscuits, took a bite and touched the bottle. The tea was cold.

     "Soup," said Hoak. He was speaking in a low voice-just for the chief. "You can imagine what kind of soup. And they think I'm going to serve them chicken broth." He pushed the trolley away and sat down at 'the table. He watched the trolley run down the aisle slower and slower. "Incidentally they're still enjoying chicken broth on Callisto."

     "I don't think so," the chief said absent-mindedly.

     "But they are," said Hoak. "I gave them one hundred and seventy cans-more than half of our iron rations."

     "And we've finished what was left?" "Yes, of course."

     "Well, they must have finished theirs too," the chief said, munching his biscuit. "They've got twice as many people as we have."

     I don't believe you. Uncle Hoak, he thought. I know you, nutrition engineer. You surely have another two dozen or so cans tucked away somewhere for the sick and just in case.

     Hoak sighed and said, "Your tea's gone cold? Let me refill...."

     "No, thank you."

     "Chlorella's still not taking on Callisto," Hoak said and again sighed. "They've radioed again, asking for another twenty pounds of culture. Sent a rocket for it, they said."

     "Well, we must give it to them."

     "That's all right," said Hoak. "But who will give us any? As if I had a hundred tons... it takes time to grow. But I'm spoiling your appetite."

     "Never mind," said the chief. He had no appetite anyway.

     "Enough of this!" someone said. The chief looked up and saw the embarrassed face of Zoya Ivanova. Next to her sat the nuclear physicist Kozlov. They always sat together.

     "Enough, d'you hear!" Kozlov said hotly.

     Zoya flushed and lowered her head. She was visibly disconcerted to find herself the centre of general attention.

     "You slipped your biscuit on to my plate yesterday," said Kozlov. "Today you're up to it again."

     Zoya was silent and on the verge of tears.

     "Don't yell at her, you baboon!" Potapov bawled from the far end of the canteen. "Zoya dear, why d'you have to feed that brute? You'd do much better giving it to me. I'd eat it. And I wouldn't yell at you."

     "No, really," Kozlov said in a calmer voice. "She needs more than a healthy fellow like me."

     "Stop it, Valya," Zoya said without raising her head.

     "Can I have some more tea, Uncle Hoak?" somebody asked.

     Hoak got up. Potapov bawled out again:

     "Hey, Gregor, care for a game after the knock-off?"

     "I don't mind."

     "You'll get licked again, Vadim," a voice said.

     "The theory of probability's on my side!"

     Potapov bawled.

     There was general laughter. "The law of high magnitudes is on mine!" A face crumpled with sleep looked in through the door.

     "Potapov here? Vadim, there's a storm on Jupe!"

     "You don't say so," Potapov said, jumping up.

     The face disappeared, then popped into view again:

     "Get my biscuits for me, will you."

     "Hoak won't give us them," Potapov answered the retreating figure and glanced at Uncle Hoak.

     "Why not?" said Hoak. "Konstantin Stetsenko, half a pound of biscuits and two ounces of chocolate. He's entitled to it."

     The chief rose, wiping his mouth with a paper serviette. Kozlov said:

     "Comrade chief, any news of the Tahmasib?"

     All present fell silent and turned their faces to the chief. Deeply-tanned young faces, already drawn a little. The chief replied:

     "No news."

     He walked slowly down the aisle and to his office. The trouble was that the "fungus invasion" that had struck Callisto was highly inopportune. It wasn't starvation yet. But if Bykov did not arrive with the food.... Bykov was somewhere not far away, in fact he had already been located but had ceased reporting since and had not been heard for sixty hours now. We must cut the rations again, thought the chief. Anything could happen and their base on Mars was a long way off. Anything could happen here. Spaceships from Earth and from Mars had disappeared before. It doesn't happen often, not oftener than the fungus invasions. But it's bad enough that it does happen at all. It's a nuisance.


     CHAPTER ONE


     THE CARGO PHOTON ROCKET "TAHMASIB"


     1. The spaceship approaches Jupiter while her captain has a row with the navigator and takes sporamin.


     Alexei Petrovich Bykov, captain of the cargo photon rocket Tahmasib, emerged from his cabin and carefully closed the door behind him. His hair was wet and well brushed. The captain had just had his shower. As a matter of fact he'd had two showers-one of water and one of ions-but he still wanted to sleep so badly that his eyes would not stay open. Over the last three days and nights he had not slept for more than five hours in all. The flight was not proving easy.

     The gangway was bare and light. Bykov headed for the control room, making an effort not to shuffle, shaking off the stupor of a short nap he'd just had. His way lay through the mess. Its door stood open and through it Bykov thought he heard quarrelsome voices. They belonged to the planetologists Dauge and Yurkovsky and sounded strained and unusually muffled. Up to something again, those two, thought Bykov. No peace from them. It's not easy for me to give them a ticking off either. After all, they're my friends and jolly glad to be all together on this flight, It's not go often we get the chance.

     Bykov stepped into the mess room and stopped dead, his foot on the coaming. The bookcase was open, the books lying in an untidy heap on the floor. The table-cloth was awry. Sticking from under the sofa were Yurkovsky's long legs sheathed in grey drainpipes. The legs were jerking excitedly.

     "She's not here, I tell you," said Dauge. He himself was not in sight.

     "You go on looking for her," Yurkovsky's muffled voice was heard. "No backing out now."

     "What's going on here?" Bykov enquired sternly.

     "Ah, here he is," Dauge said, crawling out from under the table. His face was pleasurably animated, his jacket and the collar of his shirt unbuttoned. Yurkovsky backed on all fours from under the sofa.

     ''"What's the matter?" said Bykov.

     "Where's my Varya?" Yurkovsky asked, getting up. He was angry.

     "The monster!" Dauge exclaimed.

     "You loafers," said Bykov.

     "It's him," Dauge said in a tragic voice. "Just look at his face, Vladimir! The butcher!"

     "I'm quite serious, Alexei," said Yurkovsky. "Where's my Varya?"

     "I'll tell you what, planetologists," said Bykov. "Enough of your monkey tricks."

     He thrust his jaw at them and strode across to the control room. Dauge said after him:

     "He's burnt Varya in the reactor."

     Bykov banged the hatch shut behind him.

     It was quiet in the control room. In his usual place at the computer sat the navigator, Mikhail Antonovich Krutikov, his double chin propped on his plump fist. The computer was clicking faintly, staring away with its neon pilot lamps. Mikhail Antonovich raised his kind little eyes to the captain and asked:

     "Had a good sleep, Alexei old chap?"

     "Yes," said Bykov.

     "I've received bearing signals from Amaltheia," said Mikhail Antonovich. "They're waiting for us. Oh, how they're waiting for us," and he shook his head. "They're on rations: half a pound of biscuits and two ounces of chocolate. Just imagine. And a plate of chlorella broth. That's another three-quarters of a pound. And such unpalatable stuff...."

     You should be there, fatty, thought Bykov. You'd slim down fast. He threw a stern glance at the navigator but couldn't keep it up and grinned. Mikhail Antonovich, his thick lips pouted worriedly, was examining a chart traced on light-blue paper.

     "Here, Alexei," he said. "I've compiled the finish-programme. Please check it."

     There was no point usually in checking course programmes drawn up by Mikhail Antonovich. He was still the fattest and most experienced navigator in the space fleet.

     "I'll check it later," said Bykov. He yawned drowsily, cupping his mouth with a hand. "Feed it into the cyber-navigator, will you."

     "I have," Mikhail Antonovich said guiltily.

     "Oh," said Bykov. "Good. Where're we now?"

     "In an hour's time we begin the finish part of it," said Mikhail Antonovich. "We'll pass over Jupiter's north pole," he pronounced the word "Jupiter" with visible relish, "at a distance of two diameters, about one hundred and eighty thousand miles. Then for the last spiral. We may consider we're already there, old chap."

     "You calculated the distance from Jupiter's centre?"

     "Yes."

     "When we begin the finish, report the distance from the exosphere every quarter of an hour."

     "O.K."

     Bykov yawned again, rubbed his sore, sleepy eyes vexedly and passed on to the alarm system panel. Everything was in order there. The propulsion plant operated normally, the plasma was injected as required, the tuning of the magnetic traps was kept very tight. The magnetic traps were the responsibility of Engineer Ivan Zhilin. Good for you, Zhilin, thought Bykov. First-class tuning for a raw hand.

     Bykov halted and tried, by slightly changing the course, to break the tuning. It held. The white spot behind the translucent plastic would not even waver. Good for you, Zhilin, Bykov thought again. He went round the bulging bulkhead-the photon reactor casing. At the reflector control combine stood Zhilin, his pencil between his teeth. He was leaning over the control panel, his hands on its edge, tap-dancing almost imperceptibly, his powerful shoulder-blades moving on his bent back.

     "Hello, Vanya," said Bykov.

     "Hello, Alexei Petrovich," Zhilin said, whirling round. The pencil slipped from his teeth and he caught it smartly in mid air. Zhilin was twenty-three years old, just out of the High School of Cosmogation.

     "How's the reflector?" asked Bykov.

     "The reflector's in order," said Zhilin, but Bykov leaned over the control panel all the same and pulled at the hard, blue tape of the recorder.

     The reflector, or the sail, as it is also called, is the principal and most fragile part of a photon rocket. It is a gigantic parabolic mirror, coated with five layers of superhard mesosubstance. Every second thousands of portions of the deuterium-cum-tritium plasma explode at the focus of the parabola and are transformed into radiation. The pallid lilac flame hits the surface of the reflector and creates thrust. As this goes on the mesosubstance is subjected to tremendous changes in temperature and gradually burns away, layer by layer. Besides, the reflector is eaten away by meteoric corrosion. And if, when the propulsion unit was on, the reflector were to collapse at the base where it is joined by the thick tube of the photon reactor, the ship would go in one silent flash. To avoid this the reflectors of photon ships are replaced after every hundred astronomical units of flight. And this also is why a control system is constantly checking on the working layer all over the reflector's surface.

     "Well," Bykov said, examining the tape. "The first layer's burnt away."

     Zhilin didn't say anything.

     "Mikhail," Bykov called out to the navigator. "Did you know the first layer was burnt out?"

     "Yes," the navigator said. "It can't be helped. We're doing on oversun, aren't we."

     An "oversun", or a "leap over the Sun", is resorted to rarely, in cases of emergency like this, when the J-Stations were struck by hunger. In an oversun the Sun is between the start-planet and the finish-planet-which is highly unadvantageous from the point of view of "direct cosmogation". In an oversun the photon propulsion unit operates at extreme conditions, the ship's speed is of the order of four thousand miles per second and the instrumentation starts showing the effects of non-classic mechanics, which we still do not know enough about. The crew has to make do with very little sleep, plasma and reflector consumption is enormous and on top of it all the ship as a rule approaches the finish-planet from one of the poles, which makes landing tricky.

     "Yes," said Bykov. "An oversun, that's just it."

     He went back to where the navigator sat and looked at the plasma consumption dial.

     "Give me a copy of the finish-programme, Misha," he said.

     "Just a second," said the navigator.

     He was having a busy time of it. Sheets of light-blue paper were scattered on the desk in front of him, a semi-automatic computer attachment was whirring in an undertone. Bykov sank down in a chair and half-shut his eyes. Vaguely he saw Mikhail Antonovich reach a hand out to the panel without taking his eyes off his notes and quickly run his fingers along the keys. His hand looked like a large white spider. The computer gave a louder whirr, then switched off with a flicker of the stop lamp.

     "What was it you wanted?" the navigator asked, still deep in his notes.

     "The finish-programme," Bykov said, opening his eyes with an effort.

     A tabulator tracing snaked out of the output device and Mikhail Antonovich snatched at it with both hands.

     "Half a sec," he said hurriedly. Bykov's ears rang and yellow lights danced in front of his eyes. His head sank on to his chest.

     "Alexei," said the navigator. He reached across his desk and tapped Bykov on the shoulder. "Here's the programme."

     Bykov started, jerked up his head and looked around. Then he took the sheets of figures.

     "Hm, hm," he said, the skin moving in waves on his forehead. "Well. A theta-algorithm again..." and he stared sleepily at the notes.

     "Why don't you take some sporamin?" said the navigator.

     "Wait," said Bykov. "Wait. What's this? Are you crazy, navigator?"

     Mikhail Antonovich jumped up, ran round the desk and leaned over Bykov's shoulder.

     "Where, where?" he asked.

     "Where do you think you're going anyway?" Bykov enquired bitingly. "D'you think you're going to the Seventh Testing Grounds?"

     "But what's the matter?" the navigator asked.

     "Or do you think they've built a tritium generator for your private use on Amaltheia?"

     "If you mean the propellent," said Mikhail Antonovich, "there's enough of it for three such programmes. ..."

     Bykov was wide awake now.

     "I'm touching down on Amaltheia," he said. "Then I'm making a round trip with the planetologists inside the exosphere. And then I go back to Earth. Which means another oversun!"

     "Wait," said Mikhail Antonovich. "Just a moment...."

     "And here you're drawing up a crazy programme: for me as though there were stores of propellent waiting for us."

     The door was pushed ajar. Bykov turned to look. Dauge's head was squeezed into the crack. The eyes swept round the control room and his voice implored:

     "I say, boys, isn't Varya here?"

     "Get out!" Bykov snarled.

     The head vanished. The door was closed carefully.

     "The loafers," said Bykov. "Listen here, navigator. I'll get the propellent for the return oversun by melting down your gammon." ,

     "Don't shout," Mikhail Antonovich said indignantly. He thought a moment and added, red-faced, "Damn it."

     A silence descended. Mikhail Antonovich returned to his place and they sat glowering at each other across the desk.

     "The leap into the exosphere is calculated. The return oversun is nearly finished," he placed a pudgy hand on the heap of papers on the desk. "But if you've got cold feet we can easily refuel on Antimars...."

     That was the cosmogators' name for an artificial planet that moved almost in the Martian orbit on the other side of the Sun. It was just a huge store of propellent, a fully automated refuelling station.

     "And I don't see why you should bawl at me," said Mikhail Antonovich. The word "bawl" he said in a whisper. Mikhail Antonovich was cooling down. So was Bykov.

     "All right," he said. "Sorry, Misha." Mikhail Antonovich smiled readily. "I shouldn't have gone off the deep end 'like that," said Bykov.

     "Oh, it's all right, old fellow," Mikhail Antonovich was saying hurriedly. "Nothing to bother about. ... Just look what a perfect spiral it will make. From the vertical," his hands followed his thoughts, "into the plane of Amaltheia's orbit just above the exosphere and then a free-coasting path to the rendezvous. At the rendezvous the relative velocity will be a mere thirteen feet per second. The maximum G-load will be only twenty-two per cent and weightlessness will only last thirty to forty minutes. And there should only be a slight margin of error."

     "It should be slight because it's a theta-algorithm," said Bykov. He wanted to say something pleasant to the navigator: it was Mikhail Antonovich who had first developed and used the theta-algorithm.

     Mikhail Antonovich uttered a vague sound. He was pleasantly embarrassed. Bykov finished looking through the programme, nodded several times and, putting the sheets aside, rubbed his eyes with his huge freckled fists.

     "Tell you frankly," he said, "I've had a rotten sleep."

     "Take some sporamin, Alexei," Mikhail Antonovich said persuasively. "Look at me-I take a tablet every two hours and don't feel like sleep at all. So does Vanya. Why should you torture yourself?"

     "Hate the stuff," said Bykov. He grunted, jumped up and paced the room. "Look here, Misha," he said. "What's happening on board my ship anyway?"

     "What do you mean?" the navigator asked.

     "Those planetologists," Bykov explained.

     From behind the casing Zhilin said:

     "Varya's disappeared."

     "You don't say so," Bykov said. "Good riddance." He paced the room again. "The loafers," he said. "Middle-aged kids."

     "Don't be too hard on them, old chap," said the navigator.

     "You know," Bykov said as he sank back into his chair, "you know the worst that can happen to you in flight is passengers. And the worst passengers are your old friends. I guess I'll have some of that sporamin after all, Misha."

     Hastily, Mikhail Antonovich pulled a small box out of his trouser pocket. Bykov watched him do it with sleepy eyes. .

     "Give me two tablets," said he.


     2. The planetologists look for Varya while the radio astronomer finds what a hippo is.


     "He told me to get out," Dauge said, returning to Yurkovsky's cabin. His host was standing on a chair in the middle of the cabin, feeling with his hands the soft mat ceiling. The remains of a squashed sugar cake were scattered on the floor. "It means he's got her," said Yurkovsky. He jumped off the chair, brushed white crumbs off his knees and called out plaintively:

     "Varya, my love, where're you?" "Have you tried sitting on a chair all of a sudden?" asked Dauge. He went up to the sofa and let himself drop on it rod-like, his arms pressed to his sides.

     "You'll kill her!" Yurkovsky cried. . "She's not here," Dauge informed him and settled more comfortably,.. hoisting his feet on to the back of the sofa. "This is .just what you must do to all the sofas and chairs in the place. Varya likes them soft."

     Yurkovsky dragged his chair nearer to the wall.

     "No," he said. "When flying she likes to climb on ceilings and walls. I ought to make a round of the ship and try all the ceilings."

     "Good Lord," Dauge sighed. "What won't enter a browned-off planetologist's head." He sat up, glanced at Yurkovsky out of the tail of his eye and whispered ominously: "I'm certain it's Alexei. He's always hated her."

     Yurkovsky looked at Dauge closely.

     "Yes," Dauge went on. "He always has. And you know it. What did she do to him? She was always so nice and quiet...."

     "You're a booby, Grigory," said Yurkovsky. "You're being funny, but I'll be really sorry if she's gone."

    

... ... ...
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