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Thy Rocks and Rills   By: (1924-1993)

Thy Rocks and Rills by Robert E. Gilbert

First Page:


By Robert Ernest Gilbert

Illustrated by Tom Beecham

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from If Worlds of Science Fiction September 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: They were out of place in the Manly Age Stonecypher, a man who loved animals; Moe, a bull who hated men. Together, they marched to inevitably similar destinies.... ]


M. Stonecypher lifted his reed sun hat with the square brim, and used a red handkerchief to absorb the perspiration streaking his forehead. He said, "The pup'll make a good guard, 'especially for thrill parties."

L. Dan's golden curls flickered in July 1 sunlight. The puppy growled when Dan extended a gloved hand. "I don't want a guard," the hobbyist said. "I want him for a dogfight."

A startling bellow rattled the windows of the dog house and spilled in deafening waves across the yard. Dan whirled, clutching his staff. Light glinted on his plastic cuirass and danced on his red nylon tights. His flabby face turned white. "What " he panted.

Stonecypher concealed a smile behind a long corded hand and said, "Just the bull. Serenades us sometimes."

Dan circled the dog house. Stonecypher followed with a forefinger pressed to thin lips. In the paddock, the bull's head moved up and down. It might or might not have been a nod.

The crest of long red and blue black hairs on the bull's neck and shoulders created an illusion of purple, but the rest of the animal matched the black of a duelmaster's tam. Behind large eyes encircled by a white band, his skull bulged in a swelling dome, making the distance between his short horns seem much too great.

"He's purple!" Dan gasped. "Why in the Government don't you put him in the ring?"

Stonecypher gestured toward the choppy surface of Kings Lake, nine hundred feet below. He said, "Coincidence. I make out the ringmaster's barge just leavin' Highland Pier."

"You're selling him?"

"Yeah. If they take 'im. I'd like to see 'im in the ring on Dependence Day."

Glancing at the watch embedded in the left pectoral of his half armor, Dan said, "That would be a show! I'll take the dog and fly. I've a duel in Highland Park at 11:46."

"The pup's not for sale."

"Not for sale!" Dan yelled. "You told "

"Thought you wanted a guard. I don't sell for dogfights."

A sound like "Goood!" came from the paddocked bull.

Dan opened his mouth wide. Whatever he intended to say died without vocalization, for Catriona came driving the mule team up through the apple orchard. The almost identical mules had sorrel noses, gray necks, buckskin flanks, and black and white pinto backs and haunches. "Great Government!" Dan swore. "This place is worse than a museum!"

"Appaloosa mules," Stonecypher said.

Catriona jumped from the seat of the mowing machine. Dan stared. Compared to the standard woman of the Manly Age who, by dieting, posturing, and exercise from childhood, transformed herself into a small, thin, dominated creature, Catriona constituted a separate species. She was taller than Dan, slightly plump, and her hair could have been classed as either red or blonde. Green overalls became her better than they did Stonecypher. With no trace of a smile on face or in voice, Stonecypher said, "L. Dan, meet Catriona."

Like a hypnopath's victim, Dan walked to Catriona. He looked up at her and whispered, but too loudly. Stonecypher heard. His hands clamped on the hobbyist's neck and jerked. Dan smashed in the grass with sufficient force to loosen the snaps of his armor. He rolled to his feet and swung his staff.

Stonecypher's left hand snatched the staff. His right fist collided with Dan's square jaw. Glaring down at the hobbyist, Stonecypher gripped the staff and rotated thick wrists outward... Continue reading book >>

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