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Blessed Are the Meek   By: (1922-1995)

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Transcriber's Note: This e text was produced from Astounding, September, 1955. Extensive research did not reveal any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.



Every strength is a weakness, and every weakness is a strength. And when the Strong start smashing each other's strength ... the Weak may turn out to be, instead, the Wise.


Illustrated by Freas

The strangers landed just before dawn, incinerating a good li of bottom land in the process. Their machines were already busily digging up the topsoil. The Old One watched, squinting into the morning sun. He sighed, hitched up his saffron robes and started walking down toward the strangers.

Griffin turned, not trying to conceal his excitement. "You're the linguist, see what you can get out of him."

"I might," Kung Su ventured sourly, "if you'd go weed the air machine or something. This is going to be hard enough without a lot of kibitzers cramping my style and scaring Old Pruneface here half to death."

"I see your point," Griffin answered. He turned and started back toward the diggings. "Let me know it you make any progress with the local language." He stopped whistling and strove to control the jauntiness of his gait. Must be the lower gravity and extra oxygen , he thought. I haven't bounced along like this for thirty years. Nice place to settle down if some promoter doesn't turn it into an old folks home. He sighed and glanced over the diggings. The rammed earth walls were nearly obliterated by now. Nothing lost , he reflected. It's all on tape and they're no different from a thousand others at any rate.

Griffin opened a door in the transparent bubble from which Albañez was operating the diggers. "Anything?" he inquired.

"Nothing so far," Albañez reported. "What's the score on this job? I missed the briefing."

"How'd you make out on III, by the way?"

"Same old stuff, pottery shards and the usual junk. See it once and you've seen it all."

"Well," Griffin began, "it looks like the same thing here again. We've pretty well covered this system and you know how it is. Rammed earth walls here and there, pottery shards, flint, bronze and iron artifacts and that's it. They got to the iron age on every planet and then blooey."

"Artifacts all made for humanoid hands I suppose. I wonder if they were close enough to have crossbred with humans."

"I couldn't say," Griffin observed dryly. "From the looks of Old Pruneface I doubt if we'll ever find a human female with sufficiently detached attitude to find out."

"Who's Pruneface?"

"He came ambling down out of the hills this morning and walked into camp."

"You mean you've actually found a live humanoid?"

"There's got to be a first time for everything." Griffin opened the door and started climbing the hill toward Kung Su and Pruneface.

"Well, have you gotten beyond the 'me, Charlie' stage yet?" Griffin inquired at breakfast two days later.

Kung Su gave an inscrutable East Los Angeles smile. "As a matter of fact, I'm a little farther along. Joe is amazingly coöperative."


"Spell it Chou if you want to be exotic. It's still pronounced Joe and that's his name. The language is monosyllabic and tonal. I happen to know a similar language."

"You mean this humanoid speaks Chinese?" Griffin was never sure whether Kung was ribbing him or not.

"Not Chinese. The vocabulary is different but the syntax and phonemes are nearly identical. I'll speak it perfectly in a week. It's just a question of memorizing two or three thousand new words. Incidentally, Joe wants to know why you're digging up his bottom land. He was all set to flood it today."

"Don't tell me he plants rice!" Griffin exclaimed... Continue reading book >>

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