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A Thought For Tomorrow   By: (1924-1993)

A Thought For Tomorrow by Robert E. Gilbert

First Page:

A Thought for Tomorrow

By ROBERT E. GILBERT

Illustrated by DAVID STONE

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction November 1952. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Any intolerable problem has a way out the more impossible, the likelier it is sometimes! ]

Lord Potts frowned at the rusty guard of his saber, and the metal immediately became gold plated. Potts reined his capricious black stallion closer to the first sergeant.

"Report!" the first sergeant bellowed.

"Fourth Hussars, all present!"

"Eighth Hussars, all present!"

"Eleventh Hussars, all present!"

"Thirteenth Hussars, all present!"

"Seventeenth Lancers, all present!"

The first sergeant's arm flashed in a vibrating salute. "Sir," he said, "the brigade is formed."

Potts concentrated on the sergeant; but, aside from blue eyes, a black mustache, and luminous chevrons, the man's appearance remained vague. His uniform had no definite color, except for moments when it blushed a brilliant red, and his headgear expanded and contracted so rapidly that Potts could not be certain whether he wore a shako or a tam.

"Take your post," Potts said. "Men!" he shouted. "We're going to charge at those guns!"

"Oh, Oi say!" wailed a small private with scarcely any features but a mouth. "Them Russians'll murder us!"

"Yours not to reason why," Potts said. "Draw sabers! Charge!"

The ground quaked under the beat of twenty four hundred hoofs. As the first puffs of smoke billowed from the entrenchments half a league away, Potts remembered that he had forgotten to give orders to the lancers. Should he tell them to couch lances, or lower lances, or aim lances, or

"P. T. boys, let's go. Out to the door," a bored voice called.

Potts opened his eyes. He sighed. Again he had failed. The dayroom had hardly changed. The chairs were all pushed together in the center of the floor, and two patients with brooms swept little ridges of dirt and cigarette butts toward the door. Potts sat slouched in one of the chairs and raised his feet as the sweepers passed.

"Orville Potts, out to the door," the bored voice said.

Potts gave Wilhart a killing look when the big attendant, immaculate in white duck trousers and short sleeved linen shirt, passed through to the porch. Potts wondered why so many of the attendants resembled clean shaven gorillas.

He arose leisurely from the chair, shuffled around the sweepers, and entered the hall. A pair of huge, gray, faded cotton pants draped his spindling legs in wrinkled folds, and an equally faded khaki shirt hung from his stooped shoulders. Potts had not combed his hair in three days. He pushed the tangled brown mass out of his eyes and threaded between the groups of men that jammed the hall, smoking and waiting to go to the shoe shop, or the paint detail, or psychodrama, or merely waiting.

At the locked door to the stairs, Potts stopped and glared at the six patients already assembled.

"Hello, Orville Potts," said another long armed, barrel chested attendant. This one wore a black necktie, and, so far as Potts knew, had no name but Joe. Potts ignored Joe.

The attendant pulled a ring of keys attached to a long heavy chain from his pocket and unlocked the door, when Wilhart brought the rest of the P. T. boys.

"Downstairs, when I call your name," Joe said, and read from the charts attached to his clip board.

When his name was called, Potts stepped through to the landing and descended the top stairs. Joe locked the door.

Potts looked up at Danny Harris, who stood motionless on the landing. While Joe weaved down the crowded steps, Wilhart took Harris by the arm and pushed him.

"Let's go," he said. "Here, Orville Potts, take Danny Harris downstairs with you... Continue reading book >>




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