It was a silent ride back into town. Blondel a ssayed a question or two which netted him
courteous but uninformative replies. The car made a brief stop at the police station, which seemed
to be full of Monitors, with a few city cops and state troopers standing around outside looking
puffy and unhealthy next to the trim figures in yellow. Then they drove on through town and down
a bumpy dirt road to a small grass- strip airport. There was a gold heli waiting, similar to the one
Blondel had rammed earlier. Two Monitors escorted him to it, got in with him. The machine lifted,
hummed along at treetop level for a few miles, then circled and settled in on a wide lawn that
looked black in the deep twilight, except where floodlights made green pools. Blondel climbed out
and stared at the big, bright – lit gray stone house with gabled roofs, chimneys, a porte-cochere,
and long low outbuildings behind.
The Monitors escorted him up wide steps between potted arbor vitaes into a high-ceilinged hall
with polished ash flooring showing around pink and gold Persian rugs. The re were shiny, spindle-
legged tables, a big gilt-framed mirror, a painting of an old pirate in mutton chops.
There was a short wait, then a polite Monitor ushered him along to a big white- painted oak
door standing invitingly half open. He stepped through it into a library that looked half the size of
the one at Yale.
Across the room a small, fatherly- looking old gentleman, in a loose toga- like garment sat
behind a big rosewood desk beside a tier of books that was lost in shadows at the top. Through a
wide, curtained window behind him Blondel could see a stretch of flood- lit lawn. There was an
expensive odor of hand- rolled cigars and tooled bindings and the kind of furniture wax which is
applied by hand at body heat according to a formula known only to a secret guild of elves. Blondel
shifted from one foot to the other, and wondered what Maxwell was doing now.
“Tell me frankly,” the old gentleman leaned forward and gave him a look that invited
confidence, “why you felt it necessary to run away.” He had a voice like the “amen” notes on an
“Well — after all, I, ah, didn’t know who you fellows were,” Blondel extemporized.
The old man said, “Ah,” and nodded as though he had found the explanation quite
enlightening. “Of course. Well, we shall quickly set that aright. I am the Tersh Jetterax.” His tone
indicated that he had just cleared up a weighty mystery. “I have been assigned the responsibility
for the well- being of all citizens in this zone,” he added, with a smile like a good-natured professor rebuking his star pupil for missing an easy one. “Your help will make my task easier.”
“Why should I want to make your task easier?” Blondel demanded.
“Why not?” The Tersh Jetterax smiled disarmingly.
“Well — you did invade the country,” Blondel reminded him.
“Ummm. An unfortunate turn of phrase. Why don’t you just think of us as kindly visitors?”
“Kindly visitors don’t usually kick out the cops and take over,” Blondel pointed out.
“You resent our replacement of your police forces?” The Tersh looked astonished. “But they
were inefficient, inadequate, unjust — ”
“Still, they were my cops, not out- of- town slickers with gas guns that turn healthy Irish
tempers into vacant looks!”
“Your cops? Really, Mr. Blondel — how much did you, personally, actually have to do with the
administration of police regulations, the appointment of police officers, even with the formulation
of the laws they were charged to enforce?”
“Well, I had the right to vote for the legislators – – or whoever it is that decides to install parking
meters and No Left Turn signs … ”
“Ummm. The Police Commission. And who appoints them?”
“Beats me,” Blondel admitted. “But — ”
“Be candid, Mr. Blondel. Can you in conscience support a system which levies arrest quotas on
uneducated and underpaid factota who busy themselves by subjecting you to embarrassment,
inconvenience, discourtesy, detention and twenty- dollar fines for merely slowing to two miles per
hour instead of coming to a full stop when crossing a deserted intersection – – an intersection built
with your tax money – – while the theft of your bicycle or the rifling of your home by burglars goes
uncorrected, nine times out of ten?”
“Not exactly, but — ”
“We have merely r eplaced an ineffective system with a just and efficient one; an imperfect
government with one totally dedicated to your welfare,” the Tersh spelled out placidly. “Now you
can turn your attention to self- development, secure in the knowledge that your society will not
capriciously penalize you for the enrichment or aggrandizement of inept or venal bureaucrats.”
“If you don’t mind my asking – – why bother to convince me? You’ve caught me. What happens
“Mr. Blondel, you are the first of your fellow citizens I’ve had the pleasure of talking to, face to
face. Your apparent unwillingness to co- operate with your new government is a cause of deep
concern to me.”
“I didn’t co- operate too well with the old one. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for any
The Tersh spread his hands and showed an Honest-Bewilderment look. “My government will
conduct your affairs in accordance with the highest principles of your own ethical systems.”
“Thanks – – but the fact is, we prefer to conduct our own affairs in accordanc e with whatever
principles strike our fancies.”
“This intense loyalty you apparently feel – – to what is it actually attached, Mr. Blondel?” The old
man looked at him as though he suspected him of holding out on the secret of the Universe. “Is it
the countryside, the hills and trees? If so, rest assured we plan no major topographical
modifications. Is it the fluctuating roster of persons who comprise the national population? They
will continue to thrive and, in fact, will find their lot vastly improved. Is it the documents on which
your previous regime was nominally based? Let me put your mind at rest: Our rule will be based
on this same Constitution, more faithfully interpreted than by your own elected officials.”
“But at least they were elected,” Blondel re minded him.
“Your childlike confidence in the persons who count the votes astonishes me.” The Tersh smiled
sympathetically. “And the nominees – – they were your personal choices?”
“Maybe I wouldn’t have picked the exact candidates,” Blondel hedged, “but — ”
“Mr. Blondel, do you actually have any knowledge of how these high matters were conducted?
Did you participate, even by proxy, in the last- minute closed- door convention sessions in which
deals were made before the final ballot? Do you know what the demonstrated policies of the
participants were, their voting records, their private interests, their political indebtednesses?”
“Confidentially, politics always kind of bored me,” Blondel said.
The old gentleman gave Blondel a long sad look, and heaved a patient-sounding sigh. He may
or may not have twiddled something under the edge of the desk; the door opened behind Blondel.
Two good- looking young men in yellow came in, as crisp and snappy as something one obtained
by sending in cereal boxtops.
“Mr. Blondel,” the Tersh said, sounding a little grieved, “I would like very much for you to
participate in the short indoctrination course which I’ve set up to explain our mission here to, ah,
dissenters like yourself. I cannot, of course, insist on your co- operation — but I ask you, as one
bearer of good will to another, to grant me this request.”
“Have I got any choice?”
“Perhaps if you merely looked upon this as an opportunity to learn more about us … ”
There was a pause during which Blondel’s imagination ran through a number of potential
“Well,” he said. “As long as I’m here – – why not?”
“Excellent!” The Tersh beamed. “And we will talk again in a few days.”
Blondel rose; the Monitors closed in.
“Ah — one other thing … ” the Tersh said.
Blondel turned back.
“In view of your, ah, attitudes, Mr. Blondel – – why did you risk your life to save two of my
Blondel lifted his shoulders in a vague shrug. The Tersh was looking baffled as Blondel went out
into the hall.
Blondel’s escort led him up a wide, white- bannistered, red- carpeted staircase and along a
wallpapered hall to a big white door with a gold knob, standing ajar. Inside there were rugs, a
desk, bookcases, an easy chair, a table and lamp, a four- poster, an inner door leading to a tile
bath, and a pair of windows with airy curtains and heavy lined drapes, looking out on the lawn as
exposed as a billiard table under the lights.
The Monitors left with wishes for a nice sleep. Blondel tried to close the door. It stuck tight,
standing open an inch. The room was less private than it appeared.
He tried out the shower, used a pair of purple-and-yellow striped pajamas from the bureau
drawer, crawled in between heavy linen sheets. He went to sleep pondering the problem of what
the Tersh Jetterax hoped to accomplish by treating him like visiting royalty.
Blondel rose late the next morning. Downstairs, a dried- up little man in old-fashioned butler’s
livery and a Hotel-Splendide manner drew out a chair and offered ham and eggs Stroganoff. He
was on his second cup of handbrewed coffee when a Monitor came in and conveyed an invitation
to meet someone in the conservatory.
The latter turned out to be a cheery glassed- in porch with tanks of fish, potted plants, bird
cages, and highbacked wicker chairs in one of which a long- legged, pipesmoking individual in a
tweed jacket and a toothbrush mustache was sitting relaxed. He puffed out blue smoke with an
odor of cookies baking, and waved Blondel toward a chair next to a gray sphere like a metal
beach ball mounted on a stand.
“Good morning, Mr. Blondel,” he called, full of early- morning cheer. “Sleep well?”
“I’ve already had the opening lecture,” Blondel told him. “Maybe we could save time if you’ll
just skip ahead to the ‘consequences’?”
The man’s bushy salt – and- pepper eyebrows went up to meet his bushy salt – and- pepper
“Mr. Blondel,” his smile had stiffened a trifle, “please let your fancy rest. We are precisely what
the Tersh Jetterax has already told you – – well- wishers to you and your people. My name is
Frokinil, and I hope we’ll become good friends.”
Blondel sat down gingerly. “What do you get out of all this?”
“The satisfaction of doing our duty.”
“I mean, you, personally. What’s your payoff? The High Command going to set you up as Duke
of Brooklyn, or King of New Jersey?”
“You’re talking nonsense, Mr. Blondel.” The grin was definitely glassy now. “I’m here to oversee
the testing program for the zone, and devise appropriate skill-distributions manifolds.”
“Slave labor camps, eh?”
Frokinil tske d impatiently. “Mr. Blondel, can’t you rid your mind of these grotesque
stereotypes? Surely you’re too rational a man to be governed by mystical allegiances to symbols
that are violated daily, publicly, without so much as a blush!”
“Frankly, the sight of you fellows walking around on our real estate without a passport seems
to arouse some instincts I didn’t know I had.”
Frokinil leaned forward, preparing for a cozy intellectual discussion. “Very well. To recognize
one’s own bias is the beginning of insight. You act from an instinctive impulse to perpetuate a
regime which has the sanction of tribal tradition.” He stood briskly and motioned to the metal
globe on the stand.
“Just step here a moment, Mr. Blondel, if you will. I’d like you to consider some facts.” Blondel
“Consider your typical elementary school … ” Frokinil flicked his fingers at the machine and its
surface glazed, became milky; a dazzling glow sprang up from it. Blondel blinked and suddenly
was standing just inside the door of what was obviously an elementary school room, with cut- outs
of witches and pumpkins pasted on the windows, and rows of children with faces as bright as toy
lanterns sitting with their hands folded, chanting raggedly together:
” … one- nation-inadvisable- with- liberty-and-justice- for- all.”
“All right, you, Walter. I got my eye on you,” a lumpybodied little woman with an untidy bun of
gray hair said in a voice like a shutter on a haunted house. “You just set quiet today, or you’ll be
back down to Mr. Funder’s office quicker’n a nigger’ll steal whiskey.”
A small boy hung his head and glanced sideways, left-right.
“All right, now.” The woman thumbed a bra strap back in place and yanked down a wall map.
“Get out yer jogerfy books and turn to page nineteen.” She picked up a pointer and peered at the
big colored map of the United States; her lips moved silently. The kids thumped books, flipped
pages, fired a couple of fast paper wads. The lady turned and stabbed with the pointer.
“Lucilla, tell ’em the names of the capitals of the states.” A small girl with tight braids promptly
chirped: “Muntgum, Reefeenix, L’il Rock … ”
“This prototype of wisdom and aesthetics is placed before these impressionable young minds
and charged with the duty of drilling them in rotes.” Frokinil’s voice came out of the a by ir
Blondel’s right ear. “The only useful training being acquired here is some small skill in ballistics.”
The schoolroom faded into a misty glow that changed shape like smoke cloud and congealed
into a wide, airy stretch of green grass under big trees. Groups of half a dozen or so children were
scattered across the park, each accompanied by an adult in a toga. Some of them seemed to be
examining the bark of trees, or clumps of leaves on low branches; others were kneeling, poking in
the earth. One group was gathered around a table, fiddling with glass retorts and tubes.
“Under the new order,” Frokinil said, “teachers who have devoted their lives to training for the
practice of this vital profession work to instill an understanding of the realities of nature and art as
the basis for true wisdom … ”
“Sounds tougher than the three R’s,” Blondel contributed. “But will it pay union scale?”
” … Of course,” Frokinil was ploughing on, “not all human minds are fully functional. There will be many tasks for which mental defectives are suited … ”
The sunny lawn whiffed out of sight, and Blondel was blinking at a long bare room where a row
of slackfaced youngsters in loose white garments like flour- bag nightgowns sat on stools bleating
and flapping their arms at a camera. A flashbulb washed the walls with bluewhite; one of the
inmates fell off his stool. A grim- looking old woman in stiff grays yanked him up and jerked him
back in line.
“Your institutions for these unfortunates are little more than zoos,” Frokinil stated. “Those few
capable of absorbing the skills of table waiting or fruit picking are released on society to make
their own way, to breed freely, reinfecting the stock with their defective genes. Under the new
system, they will receive appropriate training, and will live carefully- controlled and supervised
lives – – without the opportunity of propagating their tragedies.”
“Kind of tough on the free idiots of the world,” Blondel noted.
“Consider the care given the indigent normal under the old system,” Frokinil bored on. The
gloomy institutional scene faded and they were standing by a long desk under a sign that said
ADMISSIONS. A thin little woman with a caved- in face and a paper corsage was shaking her head
at a big, stolid- looking fellow with swarthy skin and an acne- scarred face. He was supporting a
barrel- shaped woman with one arm. Her head lolled against his shoulder. A clock on the wall
showed two A.M.
” … owe the hospital for the last confinement, Mr. Orosco,” the sharp- faced woman was saying.
“If you can’t make advance payment, you’ll have to take her elsewhere.”
“You goddam crazy, woman!” the man yelled. “Rachel’s gonna have the baby right now, maybe
in one minute! Where’s a doctor?” He slammed a fist down on the counter- top. “I gotta have a
doctor for Rachel, I got to have him now, son of a bitch … where’s a doctor!”
The little woman whirled to a side door back of the counter and met a husky young attendant
“He’s cursing me, Timmy! The damn wetback — ”
The swarthy man was moving toward a door marked NO ADMITTANCE, dragging the woman
with him. He was swearing loudly in Spanish. The attendant ran to intercept him. They grappled,
and the woman fell. The man stooped to her, and the attendant set himself and hit him a terrific
blow back of the ear. He went to his hands and knees – –
Blondel took a step and a hand caught his arm. The scene faded and dissolved into bright mist.
“Calmly, Mr. Blondel,” Frokinil chided. “This is merely a recording, you know.”
“You’re nuts,” Blondel said. “Nothing like that happens in our hospitals. Doctors take an oath —
“This scene, or variations of it, takes place hundreds of times every day in virtually every
hospital on the continent. Not only are the sick and injured turned away if they fail to show
adequate financial resources, but malpractice — and I use the term within the context of your own
present- day medical knowledge – – accounts for approximately thirty deaths per day, while
hospital- acquired infections account for a further — ”
“OK, the hospitals are overloaded; but we’re building more.”
“Not as rapidly as the population is increasing. Few public facilities are keeping pace with
births. And yet no control whatever is exercised over the latter.”
“There’ll be legislation on that in a few more years – – ”
“You don’t have a few more years, Mr. Blondel. And it would have been a very long time before
a fully effective program would have been initiated. Meanwhile, your slums were proliferating … ”
Blondel grabbed for support; he seemed to be floating in m air, looking down on a narrow,
grimy street festooned with fire escapes and clotheslines. ” … your courts’ backlogs increase … ”
The slum street dissolved into an old- fashioned, high-ceilinged room packed with spectators,
lawyers, bailiffs, cops, bondsmen, defendants, and relatives. A querulous-looking judge perched on the bench, shuffling papers; his mouth twitched as though he was needing a drink bad.
“Remanded to custody,” he barked. “I’m setting the hearing for … ” he shuffled more papers.
“I’ll set the date later, Harry,” he said to a shifty-eyed fellow in a chalk-stripe, who nodded. A
lanky man with a hangdog look grabbed his arm.
“Hey, I got a job to hold down … ” The sharpie shook him off. The judge banged his gavel. The
defendant was still talking as the guard hustled him away.
” … and so long as your legal profession was designed primarily to generate legal fees the
trend would never have been reversed,” Frokinil was saying blandly. “The situation is no better
with regard to higher education, care of orphans, treatment of unwed mothers, the aged and the
infirm, minority groups, criminals – – ” Grim scenes formed and faded like documentary D.T’s. “Do
you mean me to believe, Mr. Blondel,” Frokinil concluded in a gently reproving tone, “that all
these abuses meet with your full approval?”
“Why don’t you stick to invading the country and skip the complaints?” Blondel proposed. “If
you don’t like it you can go back where you came from and let us handle it our own way.”
“What is your own way? Do you ever question the programs you read of in your favorite
picture- magazine, or even gain a true understanding of what they entail? Have you any personal
knowledge of the laws relating to the insane, divorce, rape, insurance, marriage, suicide, pure
food, bankruptcy, misleading advertising, fraud, citizen arrest, kidnapping, assault and battery,
sodomy, witchcraft — ”
“What do you mean — witchcraft? We haven’t believed in that since the 1600’s!”
“You’re wrong, Mr. Blondel. Witchcraft is a punishable offense in parts of this zone today. What
about the laws governing use of liquor and narcotics, smuggling, bearing arms – – ”
“I’ve got you on that one,” Blondel cut him off. “It says right in the Constitution that the right
to bear arms shall not be abridged.”
“Your right to bear arms has been sharply abridged, Mr. Blondel, and not without reason. There
are also a number of curious laws dealing with vagr ancy, loitering, trespass, zoning, et cetera; all
affecting your personal liberty, with which every citizen would do well to familiarize himself – – but
the complexity of the codes makes that impossible, of course, even if the desire were there, which
it isn’t. We have changed all that. The new laws are rational, enforceable and just, and will apply
with absolute impartiality to every citizen. There will be no more bribes, graft, lobby pressure … ”
Frokinil swam into view as the fog dissipated to reveal the fish-tanks and potted plants of the
conservatory, and the little gray sphere that had projected the pictures.
“You don’t get the idea,” Blondel told him. “We Americans aren’t a bunch of Pavlov’s pet
poodles, standing around waiting for a signal to get hungry. In this country – – ”
” – – your opinions are moulded by an irresponsible press which feeds on advertising accounts
and state department handouts designed to whitewash the latter. You travel as you like – –
provided you’ve paid the appropriate taxes, passed the required inspections, have adequate
funds, and have no personal enemies on the police forces. You eat whatever suits your tastes — if
you can pay for it; you spend your time as you wish – – with the permission of your employer – – ”
“I’m a free-lance pilot. If I don’t like my job, I can move on.”
“You’re fortunate. But still — you need some job. And when your unregulated economy
produces another depression, you might find your keen sense of personal determination yielding
to the need for food and a warm bed.”
“OK, maybe it isn’t Utopia – – but we like doing it our own way … without any help from a
blimp- load of foreigners!”
“Mr. Blondel … ” Frokinil put a perfectly groomed hand on Blondel’s arm. “Think of the welfare
of your children – – of future generations! Your petty nationalisms of today will mean no more to
them than Queen Boadicea does to you!”
“My ancestors were on the other side.”
“You’re simply adopting a stance.” Frokinil was beginning to look exasperated. “You’re not opening your mind to what we’re trying to show you! We offer you, at last, what you’ve always
dreamed of but never expected — perfect government, and you reject it because it did not spring,
miraculously, from those same imperfect functionaries who have victimized you over the years!”
“I had the same chance as anyone else to be headman,” Blondel pointed out. “I just never
went in for politics.”
“Politics — by which you mean a semiformalized system for determining who will exploit the
substratum; a closed in- group of the initiated making a business of looting the common wealth – –
“That Socialist jargon gives me the sleepies, Mr. Frokinil,” Blondel advised him.
“Can’t I make you see it?” Frokinil frowned.
“Maybe I’m just too dumb to make a down payment on a bargain in gold bricks,” Blondel
suggested. Frokinil flapped his arms.
“Here are you, a native of a world wealthy enough to fulfill your every material requirement,
member of a race biologically advanced enough to provide every intellectual and aesthetic
satisfaction. Yet you live in uncertainty, emotional impoverishment, even physical need, your own
potentialities unexplored and unfulfilled.” Frokinil waved a hand in an expansive gesture. “What
we offer you is the inheritance due you, your innate right as a man to enjoy the best fruits of
“I’ve already got more rights than I know what to do with,” Blondel protested. “Just turn me
loose and I’ll get on with what I was doing. As it happens, I’ve got a lead on a job in Ecuador – – ”
“Poof! – – I’m not referring to rewarding indolence with official doles or the legislation of artificial
social states. I’m speaking of making use of your potentialities!”
“Can you walk a tightrope, Mr. Blondel?”
“No – – but — ”
“Can you play the piano, the violin, the oboe? Can you fence, juggle, carry out a qualitative
analysis, identify birdcalls, practice judo, medicine, or law? Can you type, ride a unicycle, deal
from the bottom of a deck, paint, sculpt, apply a proper finish to wood? Have you knowledge of
ceramics, bookbinding, pole vaulting, mountain climbing — ”
“No, but I can fly that airplane,” Blondel got in.
Frokinil nodded, smiling his saddest smile. “So you can, Mr. Blondel, so you can.” For some
reason, that seemed to end the conversation.
Later that afternoon, in a small classroom fitted with elaborate visual aids, Blondel dozed
fitfully as Frokinil lectured persuasively on the beauties of the new regime:
“It’s what you’ve always wanted: wise, honest government,” the invader concluded. “So won’t
you join in now, and help rather than hinder the Liberation?”
“Howzzat?” Blondel came to with a start. “Oh, are you still here?”
“Mr. Blondel!” Frokinil wailed. “I don’t think you’re really trying to be fair!”
Blondel rose and stretched. “You just don’t get the idea, Frocky,” he said. “Look at it this way
… ” He went to the blackboard, chalked two dots a foot apart.
“This is you Monitors,” he indicated one dot. “This is me, over here.” He pointed to the other.
“You can wipe me out.” He erased his dot with a swipe of his hand. “But you can’t move me over
to your dot.” He scribed a circle around the latter. “That’s your dot, and you’re in it all alone … ”
He broke off at the look on Frokinil’s face. The instructor was gripping the back of a chair; his
eyes were squeezed shut.
“Take … take it away,” he said in a choked voice.
Blondel looked around. “Take what away?”
“That … that diagram. Erase it — please — quickly!”
Puzzled, Blondel complied.
“OK, it’s gone. You can come out now.”
Frokinil opened one eye. He sighed hugely and almost fell into a chair.
“What was that all about?”
“Just … a momentary dizziness.”
“Dizziness my left patella! What was there about a few lines on a blackboard that would make a
smoothie like you stage a flipout?”
“Well, as a matter of fact — it was the … the circle around the symbolic representation of … of
“A small eccentricity.” Frokinil managed a pale smile. “Just as you, perhaps, have an irrational
fear of heights, so we suffer from what our scientists term ‘fear of closure’; it has its roots in our
early evolutionary history when we were small, burrowing animals.”
“I never knew you Bolsheviks considered yourselves supermoles,” Blondel said. “I suppose
that’s Lysenko’s latest noncapitalist theory.”
“I’ve told you repeatedly – – but never mind.” Frokinil stood, still pale. “I’d appreciate it if you’d
keep this little incident confidential. Rather embarrassing, you know – – ”
“And that’s why more of the doors in this fancy jail don’t close,” Blondel said.
“Please – – let’s just leave this our little secret,” Frokinil appealed. “Just consider it evidence
that, after all, we too have our little, er, human failings.”
“It’s evidence of something,” Blondel agreed. “I’m not sure what.”