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it not for the fact that Terran's disposition was different. He hadn't
shaved in a few days, and his black hair was tangled. Even the fatigue
uniform he wore was rumpled badly.
"Hello, Danson," Lors said, in English, and to his acute surprise, the
Terran answered in Lors' tongue.
"This mortal bids welcome to the great god, Lors," Danson said, with a
"You speak my language?" Lors asked, puzzled.
"Why not? You speak mine. When they checked my brain, they found that I
had a rather high I.Q. Besides, I've read all your reading material and
decided that you have lousy taste. So I decided to learn the language,
and try to make conversation with my watch dogs."
"You are comfortable?"
Danson nodded. "Wonderful. First rate. Now that I know the language, I'm
going to get a deck of cards and teach my jailers how to play draw
poker. Then I'm going to win this starship and take it to Washington for
"I didn't come here to jest."
Danson lit a cigarette and smiled thinly. "Why did you come here?"
"To see you. Are you well taken care of?"
"Certainly. They've hooked up my pint sized T.V. set so that I can look
at the earth. I've been to the Lunar Base ... terrific real estate. A
rock pile. Elaborate, but still a rock pile. I eat very well. I sleep
occasionally, except that I cannot get used to the total darkness, and I
have minor grievances ... like I want to get the hell out of here!" He
stood up suddenly and glared at Lors. "Am I happy! Am I content! Hell,
yes! I'm so goddam content I'm going stir crazy from it!
"I'm sick of the whole damned mess, Firstspacer Lors, plain downright
"Take it easy, Danson."
"Shut up! Shut your damned mouth because I'm not finished! Tell me, god,
have you ever been confined to a pint sized prison? You ever had your
brain picked clean by a flock of intellectual buzzards? You ever sat in
a room, with the walls closing in on you, listening to a couple of
blue-uniformed knotheads stand outside your door talking a babble of
language that sounded like Chinese, and not be able to speak to them?
Not be able to take a piss because you don't know how to find the toilet
and don't know how to ask where it is?
"Well, I have. I have and I'm up to my ears with this whole bit. I lie
here every night and dream about taking this so-called starship and
ramming it up your ass, plate by plate..."
Danson broke off suddenly, unable to continue his wild tirade. He sat
there on the edge of the bunk, his face a livid white, with the
cigarette dangling from his lips. His left eye closed against the bite
of the smoke and his jaws knotted as he stared at the wall.
"All finished," Lors demanded quietly.
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