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Wizard   By: (1933-2002)

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[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Astounding Science Fiction May 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.]


By Larry M. Harris

Although the Masquerade itself, as a necessary protection against non telepaths, was not fully formulated until the late years of the Seventeenth Century, groups of telepaths in hiding existed long before that date. Whether such groups were the results of natural mutations, or whether they came into being due to some other cause, has not yet been fully determined, but that a group did exist in the district of Offenburg, in what is now Prussia, we are quite sure. The activities of the group appear to have begun, approximately, in the year 1594, but it was not until eleven years after that date that they achieved a signal triumph, the first and perhaps the last of its kind until the dissolution of the Masquerade in 2103.

Excerpt from "A Short History of the Masquerade," by A. Milge, Crystal 704 54 368, Produced 2440.

Jonas came over the hill whistling as if he had not a care in the world which was not even approximately true, he reflected happily. The state of complete and utter quiet was both foreign and slightly repugnant to him; he was never more pleased than when he had a job in hand, a job that involved a slight and unavoidable risk.

This time, of course, the risk was more than slight. Why, he thought happily, it was even possible for him to get killed, and most painfully, too! With a great deal of pleasure, he stood for a second at the crest of the hill, his hands on his hips, looking down at the town of Speyer as it baked in the May afternoon sunlight.


"Behold the Tortoise: He maketh no progress unless he sticketh out his neck." But he maketh very little progress unless he pick the right time and place to "sticketh out his neck" which can be quite a sticky problem for a man in a medieval culture!

Illustrated by Schoenherr

Jonas did not, in spite of his pose, look like the typical hero of folk tale or scribe's tome; he was not seven feet tall, for instance, nor did he have a handsome, lovesome face with flashing blue eyes, or a broad shouldered, narrow waisted marvel of a figure. He was, instead, somewhat shorter than the average of men in Europe in 1605 and for some time thereafter. He had small, almost hidden eyes that seemed to see a great deal, but failed completely to make a fuss about the fact. And while his figure was just a trifle dumpy, his face completed the rhyme by being extraordinarily lumpy. The nose, as a matter of strict truth, was hard to distinguish from the other contusions, swellings and marks that covered the head.

Nor, of course, did he carry the sword of a great hero, or a noble. Jonas had no von to stick on his name, and he had never thought it worth his while to claim one and accept the tiny risk of disclosure. After all, a noble was only a man like other men.

And, besides, Jonas knew perfectly well that he had no need of a sword.

His adventures, too, were a little out of the common run of tales. Jonas had, he thought regretfully, few duels to look forward to, and he had even fewer to look back on. And, as a maid is won by face, figure and daring, and a wife by riches, position or prospects, there was a notable paucity of lissome ladies in Jonas' career.

All in all, he thought sadly, he was not a usual hero.

But he refused to let the thought spoil his enjoyment. After all, he was a hero, though of his own unique kind; there was no denying that. And, in his own way, he had his reward. He took one hand off his hip to scratch at the top of his head, wondering briefly if he had managed to pick up lice in the last town he had visited, and he took another look at the city... Continue reading book >>

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