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Garth and the Visitor   By:

Garth and the Visitor by Joseph Wesley

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This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction April 1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

Garth and the Visitor


If you could ask them, you might be greatly surprised some tabus very urgently want to be broken!

Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS

Although as brash as any other ace newspaper reporter for a high school weekly and there is no one brasher Garth was scared. His head crest lifted spasmodically and the rudimentary webbing between his fingers twitched. To answer a dare, Garth was about to attempt something that had never been dared before: a newspaper interview with The Visitor. There had been questions enough asked and answered during the thousands of years The Visitor had sat in his egg shaped palace on the mountaintop, but no interviews. It was shocking even to think about something like requesting a gossippy chat with God.

Of course, nobody believed the fable any longer that The Visitor would vanish if he was ever asked a personal question and that he would first destroy the man who asked. It was known, or at least suspected, that the Palace was merely a mile long spaceship.

Garth, as tradition required, climbed the seven mile long rock hewn path to the Palace on foot. He paused for a moment on the broad platform at the top of the pyramid to catch his breath and let the beating of his heart slow to normal after his long climb before he entered The Palace. He sighed deeply. The sufferings a reporter was willing to go through to get a story or take a dare!

"Well, come in if you're going to," said an impatient voice. "Don't just stand there and pant."

"Yes, my Lord Visitor," Garth managed to say.

He climbed the short ladder, passed through the two sets of doors and entered a small room to kneel, with downcast eyes, before the ancient figure huddled in the wheelchair.

The Visitor looked at the kneeling figure for a moment without speaking. The boy looked very much like a human, in spite of such superficial differences as crest and tail. In fact, as a smooth skinned thinking biped, with a well developed moral sense, he fit The Visitor's definition of a human. It wasn't just the loneliness of seven thousand years of isolation, either. When he had first analyzed these people, just after that disastrous forced landing so long ago, he had classified them as human. Not homo sapiens , of course, but human all the same.

"Okay," he said, somewhat querulously. "Get up, get up. You've got some questions for me, I hope? I don't get many people up here asking questions any more. Mostly I'm all alone except for the ceremonial visits." He paused. "Well, speak up, young man. Have you got something to ask me?"

Garth scrambled to his feet "Yes, my Lord Visitor," he said. "I have several questions."

The Visitor chuckled reedily. "You may find the answers just a little bit hard to understand."

Garth smiled, some of his fear vanishing. The Visitor sounded a little like his senile grandfather, back home. "That is why you are asked so few questions these days, my Lord," he said. "Our scientists have about as much trouble figuring out what your answers mean as they do in solving the problems without consulting you at all."

"Of course." The head of The Visitor bobbed affirmatively several times as he propelled his wheelchair a few inches forward. "If I gave you the answers to all your problems for you, so you could figure them out too easily, you'd never be developing your own thinking powers. But I've never failed to answer any questions you asked. Now have I? And accurately, too." The thin voice rang with pride. "You've never stumped me yet, and you never will."


"No, my Lord," answered Garth. "So perhaps you'll answer my questions, too, even though they're a little different from the kind you're accustomed to. I'm a newspaper reporter, and I want to verify some of our traditions about you... Continue reading book >>

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