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XI

  • There was darkness, then bright sun. They stood on a street corner, and
  • Summersby could read the signs as plainly as Watkins must have read them in
  • the focusing lens of the matter transmitter on the unknown planet.
  • Broadway and 42nd Street. The five of them had clicked into being on the
  • busiest corner of New York.
  • "That old crook," said Adam, gulping. "He focused us here for a gag."
  • "I look  _awful_ ," gasped Mrs. Full, and Summersby, glancing at her, agreed.
  • Like all of them, she had lost weight; her skin showed the effects of a week's
  • washing without soap; and her skirt and blouse were mussed up, to say the
  • least. All the men needed shaves. Calvin Full, recovering gradually from the
  • shock of the goad, and still supported by Villa, looked like a Bowery wino.
  • "Is he coming?" asked Adam, addressing Summersby. "Will Watkins be along too?"
  • "I don't know," said Summersby. He stared up at as much of the sky as he could
  • see beyond the block-high ads. "I hope so."
  • "My chili stand!" shouted Villa, suddenly awakening to the fact of New York
  • about him. "That no-good relief man! I've got to see what he's done to it!"
  • Pushing Calvin to Adam, who grasped him by an arm, the Mexican waved
  • hurriedly. "Come and see me," he said to all of them. "I'll give you a bowl
  • free." He hastened away into the crowd.
  • "We've got to see about our clothes at the hotel," said Mrs. Full. She sounded
  • apologetic. "I hope we'll see you again, Adam, and Mr. Summersby."
  • "I doubt it," said Summersby. He looked at Full. "Coming out of it?" he asked.
  • "Thanks," said Cal, nodding. He took his wife's hand. "Gave you my address,
  • didn't I?"
  • "I have it," said Summersby.
  • "Well, good-bye," said Mrs. Full.
  • "You did a fine job up there," said Adam Pierce. "I'm proud to have known you,
  • ma'am."
  • "Thank you, Adam. Good-bye." They were gone.
  • "I suppose you'll be going too," said Adam, somewhat wistfully.
  • "I guess so. You'll go home?"
  • "I guess so," Adam repeated. "My folks will be sore. They'll never believe
  • such a story. They'll think I ran wild or something."
  • Summersby, still looking upward, and wondering if he could be staring blindly
  • at the planet which Watkins must be trying to leave even now, put a hand on
  • his heart. "Was he right? They did fix up everyone else." He laughed. It was
  • the first time he had laughed normally in seven months. "I could get into the
  • rangers again," he said. "Adam, I've got to see a doctor. I've got to find out
  • something."
  • "Yes, sir," said Adam unhappily. Summersby looked at him. "Really worried
  • about your folks?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "I'll come home and tell them, if you like."
  • Adam said gratefully, "Mr. Summersby, you're a gentleman."
  • "No," said Summersby, "no."
  • "Yes, sir, you are. Can we wait just a minute more? Mr. Watkins might be along
  • any minute now."
  • "We'll wait."
  • After a while Adam said, "Remember that first feed we got up there, pies and
  • cookies and glass?"
  • "I remember it."
  • "They must have just aimed that machine at a bakery window here on Earth, and
  • taken glass and all."
  • "That's it."
  • "Probably it was called a smash-and-grab robbery, down here." He kicked
  • something, bent down and picked it up. It was the safe-cracker's gun. "I
  • didn't think he'd carry one," said the boy. He looked closer at it. "God!"
  • "What is it?" Summersby shifted the briefcase and held out a hand. Adam laid
  • the weapon in his big palm. "He must have won it at the park that day," Adam
  • said. "That old crook! Old faker!"
  • Summersby held it up. It looked like a small automatic of blued steel, but it
  • was plastic. He turned it over. A pencil-sharpener.
  • Summersby grunted. "A toy," he said, giving it back to Adam. "Nothing but a
  • kid's toy."