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Out Around Rigel   By:

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Transcriber's notes are indicated in the text by [TN ].

[Illustration: I caught his hand and pulled him to safety. ]

Out Around Rigel

By Robert H. Wilson

[Note: An astounding chronicle of two Lunarians' conquest of time and interstellar space.]

The sun had dropped behind the Grimaldi plateau, although for a day twilight would linger over the Oceanus Procellarum. The sky was a hazy blue, and out over the deeper tinted waves the full Earth swung. All the long half month it had hung there above the horizon, its light dimmed by the sunshine, growing from a thin crescent to its full disk three times as broad as that of the sun at setting. Now in the dusk it was a great silver lamp hanging over Nardos, the Beautiful, the City Built on the Water. The light glimmered over the tall white towers, over the white ten mile long adamantine bridge running from Nardos to the shore, and lit up the beach where we were standing, with a brightness that seemed almost that of day.

"Once more, Garth," I said. "I'll get that trick yet."

The skin of my bare chest still smarted from the blow of his wooden fencing sword. If it had been the real two handed Lunarian dueling sword, with its terrible mass behind a curved razor edge, the blow would have produced a cut deep into the bone. It was always the same, ever since Garth and I had fenced as boys with crooked laths. Back to back, we could beat the whole school, but I never had a chance against him. Perhaps one time in ten

"On guard!"

The silvered swords whirled in the Earth light. I nicked him on one wrist, and had to duck to escape his wild swing at my head. The wooden blades were now locked by the hilts above our heads. When he stepped back to get free, I lunged and twisted his weapon. In a beautiful parabola, Garth's sword sailed out into the water, and he dropped to the sand to nurse his right wrist.

"Confound your wrestling, Dunal. If you've broken my arm on the eve of my flight "

"It's not even a sprain. Your wrists are weak. And I supposed you've always been considerate of me? Three broken ribs!"

"For half a cent "

He was on his feet, and then Kelvar came up and laid her hand on his shoulder. Until a few minutes before she had been swimming in the surf, watching us. The Earth light shimmered over her white skin, still faintly moist, and blazed out in blue sparkles from the jewels of the breastplates and trunks she had put on.

When she touched Garth, and he smiled, I wanted to smash in his dark face and then take the beating I would deserve. Yet, if she preferred him [TN 1]And the two of us had been friends before she was born. I put out my hand.

"Whatever happens, Garth, we'll still be friends?"

"Whatever happens."

We clasped hands.

"Garth," Kelvar said, "it's getting dark. Show us your ship before you go."

"All right." He had always been like that one minute in a black rage, the next perfectly agreeable. He now led the way up to a cliff hanging over the sea.

"There," said Garth, "is the Comet . Our greatest step in conquering distance. After I've tried it out, we can go in a year to the end of the universe. But, for a starter, how about a thousand light years around Rigel in six months?" His eyes were afire. Then he calmed down. "Anything I can show you?"

[Note: Editor's Note: The manuscript, of which a translation is here presented, was discovered by the rocket ship expedition to the moon three years ago. It was found in its box by the last crumbling ruins of the great bridge mentioned in the narrative. Its final translation is a tribute at once to the philological skill of the Earth and to the marvelous dictionary provided by Dunal, the Lunarian. Stars and lunar localities will be given their traditional Earth names; and measures of time, weight, and distance have been reduced, in round numbers, to terrestrial equivalents. Of the space ship described, the Comet , no trace has been found. It must be buried under the rim of one of the hundreds of nearby Lunar craters the result, as some astronomers have long suspected and as Dunal's story verifies, of a great swarm of meteors striking the unprotected, airless moon... Continue reading book >>




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