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in the dress suit who stood in the doorway of the cabin. Automatically,
his hand dropped toward the pistol at his side, but the blond stopped
"Don't bother with that, Lors," he grinned. "I'm not about to draw."
"Who are you," Lors demanded.
"Here, I'm Cartwell, of the Secret Service. But actually I'm
Firstspacer Nesso of the 6th. Terran Command."
"You told her?" Lors asked, amazed.
The blond nodded. "I had to. I came here to check on Brice and found her
ready to call the police because first Nolan had disappeared and then
you had. I had to think of something to keep her quiet, and the only
thing I could think of was the truth. I'm a lousy agent," he added
Lors nodded and bit his lower lip. "How do things stand now?" He asked.
"Not too bad," Cartwell told him. "I've made arrangements to have the
wrecked ship hauled out of the area for study. This will be hush-hush
for awhile, then left to dissolve of itself. Everyone will forget it..."
"What about Brice?"
Cartwell pursed his lips. "That was a rough break, but unavoidable. We
can cover up by saying that he was searching the wooded area with the
rescue squads and apparently became lost. After searching and finding
nothing, we can let the people draw their own conclusions."
"Risky," Lors told him.
"It'll work, unless you have a better idea."
Lors shook his head. "You can handle things down here, Cartwell. I have
my own problems up there." He pointed at the ceiling to indicate the
starship. "And I'd better get Danson's uniform off and move."
Beth caught has arm. "Let him keep it, Lors. It won't get into the wrong
hands. I promise."
Lors looked at Cartwell, who nodded. "Let them have it," he said.
"They're on our side anyhow."
"All right." He paused. "I'll be going..."
Beth linked her arm in his. "I'd like to walk to the ship with you."
"I'd like that."
He grinned at Cartwell and led her outside into the afternoon sunlight.
They didn't speak until they reached the small clearing where the scout
ship waited for them. Then Beth pulled his head down and kissed him.
"Good-by, Lors," she whispered.
"I'll come back, Beth, I'll come back. One of these days both our people
will be friends and we'll meet again."
"I hope so."
He glanced up at the sky and saw two of the scout ships flashing about,
high above the clouds. "My escort," he told her grinning.
"You'll have trouble..."
He kissed her lightly on the mouth. "No. I'll marry the Commander's
daughter and it'll all be okay."
"Is she beautiful?"
"Yes." He caught the sudden flash of womanly hurt rise in her eyes and
smiled. "Almost as beautiful as you."
He kissed her lightly again and leaped to the cockpit of the scout ship.
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