酷兔英语



The Anglers of Arz

By Roger Dee

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science

Fiction January 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence

that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: _In order to make Izaak Walton's sport complete, there must

be an angler, a fish, and some bait. All three existed on Arz but there

was a question as to which was which._]

[Illustration: _There were two pinkish, bipedal fishermen on the tiny

islet._]

The third night of the _Marco Four's_ landfall on the moonless Altarian

planet was a repetition of the two before it, a nine-hour intermission

of drowsy, pastoral peace. Navigator Arthur Farrell--it was his turn to

stand watch--was sitting at an open-side port with a magnoscanner ready;

but in spite of his vigilance he had not exposed a film when the

inevitable pre-dawn rainbow began to shimmer over the eastern ocean.

Sunrise brought him alert with a jerk, frowning at sight of two pinkish,

bipedal Arzian fishermen posted on the tiny coral islet a quarter-mile

offshore, their blank triangular faces turned stolidly toward the beach.

"They're at it again," Farrell called, and dropped to the mossy turf

outside. "Roll out on the double! I'm going to magnofilm this!"

Stryker and Gibson came out of their sleeping cubicles reluctantly,

belting on the loose shorts which all three wore in the balmy Arzian

climate. Stryker blinked and yawned as he let himself through the port,

his fringe of white hair tousled and his naked paunch sweating. He

looked, Farrell thought for the thousandth time, more like a retired

cook than like the veterancommander of a Terran Colonies expedition.

Gibson followed, stretching his powerfully-muscled body like a wrestler

to throw off the effects of sleep. Gibson was linguist-ethnologist of

the crew, a blocky man in his early thirties with thick black hair and

heavy brows that shaded a square, humorless face.

"Any sign of the squids yet?" he asked.

"They won't show up until the dragons come," Farrell said. He adjusted

the light filter of the magnoscanner and scowled at Stryker. "Lee, I

wish you'd let me break up the show this time with a dis-beam. This

butchery gets on my nerves."

Stryker shielded his eyes with his hands against the glare of sun on

water. "You know I can't do that, Arthur. These Arzians may turn out to

be Fifth Order beings or higher, and under Terran Regulations our

tampering with what may be a basic culture-pattern would amount to armed

invasion. We'll have to crack that cackle-and-grunt language of theirs

and learn something of their mores before we can interfere."

Farrell turned an irritable stare on the incurious group of Arzians

gathering, nets and fishing spears in hand, at the edge of the

sheltering bramble forest.

"What stumps me is their motivation," he said. "Why do the fools go out

to that islet every night, when they must know damned well what will

happen next morning?"

Gibson answered him with an older problem, his square face puzzled. "For

that matter, what became of the city I saw when we came in through the

stratosphere? It must be a tremendous thing, yet we've searched the

entire globe in the scouter and found nothing but water and a scattering

of little islands like this one, all covered with bramble. It wasn't a

city these pink fishers could have built, either. The architecture was

beyond them by a million years."

* * * * *

Stryker and Farrell traded baffled looks. The city had become something

of a fixation with Gibson, and his dogged insistence--coupled with an

irritating habit of being right--had worn their patience thin.

"There never was a city here, Gib," Stryker said. "You dozed off while

we were making planetfall, that's all."

Gibson stiffened resentfully, but Farrell's voice cut his protest short.

"Get set! Here they come!"

Out of the morning rainbow dropped a swarm of winged lizards, twenty

feet in length and a glistening chlorophyll green in the early light.

They stooped like hawks upon the islet offshore, burying the two Arzian

fishers instantly under their snapping, threshing bodies. Then around

the outcrop the sea boiled whitely, churned to foam by a sudden

uprushing of black, octopoid shapes.

"The squids," Stryker grunted. "Right on schedule. Two seconds too late,

as usual, to stop the slaughter."

A barrage of barbed tentacles lashed out of the foam and drove into the

melee of winged lizards. The lizards took the air at once, leaving

behind three of their number who disappeared under the surface like

harpooned seals. No trace remained of the two Arzian natives.

"A neat example of dog eat dog," Farrell said, snapping off the

magnoscanner. "Do any of those beauties look like city-builders, Gib?"

Chattering pink natives straggled past from the shelter of the thorn

forest, ignoring the Earthmen, and lined the casting ledges along the

beach to begin their day's fishing.

"Nothing we've seen yet could have built that city," Gibson said

stubbornly. "But it's here somewhere, and I'm going to find it. Will

either of you be using the scouter today?"

Stryker threw up his hands. "I've a mountain of data to collate, and

Arthur is off duty after standing watch last night. Help yourself, but

you won't find anything."

* * * * *

The scouter was a speeding dot on the horizon when Farrell crawled into

his sleeping cubicle a short time later, leaving Stryker to mutter over

his litter of notes. Sleep did not come to him at once; a vague sense of

something overlooked prodded irritatingly at the back of his

consciousness, but it was not until drowsiness had finally overtaken him

that the discrepancy assumed definite form.

He recalled then that on the first day of the _Marco's_ planetfall one

of the pink fishers had fallen from a casting ledge into the water, and

had all but drowned before his fellows pulled him out with extended

spear-shafts. Which meant that the fishers could not swim, else some

would surely have gone in after him.

And the Marco's crew had explored Arz exhaustively without finding any

slightest trace of boats or of boat landings. The train of association

completed itself with automatic logic, almost rousing Farrell out of his

doze.

"I'll be damned," he muttered. "No boats, and they don't swim. _Then how

the devil do they get out to that islet?_"

He fell asleep with the paradox unresolved.

* * * * *

Stryker was still humped over his records when Farrell came out of his

cubicle and broke a packaged meal from the food locker. The visicom over

the control board hummed softly, its screen blank on open channel.

"Gibson found his lost city yet?" Farrell asked, and grinned when

Stryker snorted.

"He's scouring the daylight side now," Stryker said. "Arthur, I'm going

to ground Gib tomorrow, much as I dislike giving him a direct order.

He's got that phantom city on the brain, and he lacks the imagination to

understand how dangerous to our assignment an obsession of that sort can

be."

Farrell shrugged. "I'd agree with you offhand if it weren't for Gib's

bullheaded habit of being right. I hope he finds it soon, if it's here.

I'll probably be standing his watch until he's satisfied."

Stryker looked relieved. "Would you mind taking it tonight? I'm

completely bushed after today's logging."

Farrell waved a hand and took up his magnoscanner. It was dark outside

already, the close, soft night of a moonless tropical world whose moist

atmosphere absorbed even starlight. He dragged a chair to the open port

and packed his pipe, settling himself comfortably while Stryker mixed a

nightcap before turning in.

Later he remembered that Stryker dissolved a tablet in his glass, but at

the moment it meant nothing. In a matter of minutes the older man's

snoring drifted to him, a sound faintly irritating against the velvety

hush outside.

Farrell lit his pipe and turned to the inconsistencies he had uncovered.

The Arzians did not swim, and without boats....

It occurred to him then that there had been two of the pink fishers on

the islet each morning, and the coincidence made him sit up suddenly,

startled. Why two? Why not three or four, or only one?

He stepped out through the open lock and paced restlessly up and down on

the springy turf, feeling the ocean breeze soft on his face. Three days

of dull routine logwork had built up a need for physical action that

chafed his temper; he was intrigued and at the same time annoyed by the

enigmatic relation that linked the Arzian fishers to the dragons and

squids, and his desire to understand that relation was aggravated by the

knowledge that Arz could be a perfect world for Terran colonization.

That is, he thought wryly, if Terran colonists could stomach the weird

custom pursued by its natives of committing suicide in pairs.

He went over again the improbable drama of the past three mornings, and

found it not too unnatural until he came to the motivation and the means

of transportation that placed the Arzians in pairs on the islet, when

his whole fabric of speculation fell into a tangled snarl of

inconsistencies. He gave it up finally; how could any Earthman

rationalize the outlandish compulsions that actuated so alien a race?

He went inside again, and the sound of Stryker's muffled snoring fanned

his restlessness. He made his decision abruptly, laying aside the

magnoscanner for a hand-flash and a pocket-sized audicom unit which he

clipped to the belt of his shorts.

He did not choose a weapon because he saw no need for one. The torch

would show him how the natives reached the outcrop, and if he should

need help the audicom would summon Stryker. Investigating without

Stryker's sanction was, strictly speaking, a breach of Terran

Regulations, but--

"Damn Terran Regulations," he muttered. "I've got to _know_."

Farrell snapped on the torch at the edge of the thorn forest and entered

briskly, eager for action now that he had begun. Just inside the edge of

the bramble he came upon a pair of Arzians curled up together on the

mossy ground, sleeping soundly, their triangular faces wholly blank and

unrevealing.

He worked deeper into the underbrush and found other sleeping couples,

but nothing else. There were no humming insects, no twittering

night-birds or scurrying rodents. He had worked his way close to the

center of the island without further discovery and was on the point of

turning back, disgusted, when something bulky and powerful seized him

from behind.

A sharp sting burned his shoulder, wasp-like, and a sudden overwhelming

lassitude swept him into a darkness deeper than the Arzian night. His

last conscious thought was not of his own danger, but of Stryker--asleep

and unprotected behind the _Marco's_ open port....

* * * * *

He was standing erect when he woke, his back to the open sea and a

prismatic glimmer of early-dawn rainbow shining on the water before him.

For a moment he was totally disoriented; then from the corner of an eye

he caught the pinkish blur of an Arzian fisherstanding beside him, and

cried out hoarsely in sudden panic when he tried to turn his head and

could not.

He was on the coral outcropping offshore, and except for the involuntary

muscles of balance and respiration his body was paralyzed.

The first red glow of sunrise blurred the reflected rainbow at his feet,

but for some seconds his shuttling mind was too busy to consider the

danger of predicament. _Whatever brought me here anesthetized me first_,

he thought. _That sting in my shoulder was like a hypo needle._

Panic seized him again when he remembered the green flying-lizards; more

seconds passed before he gained control of himself, sweating with the

effort. He had to get help. If he could switch on the audicom at his

belt and call Stryker....

He bent every ounce of his will toward raising his right hand, and

failed.

His arm was like a limb of lead, its inertia too great to budge. He

relaxed the effort with a groan, sweating again when he saw a fiery

half-disk of sun on the water, edges blurred and distorted by tiny

surface ripples.

On shore he could see the _Marco Four_ resting between thorn forest and

beach, its silvered sides glistening with dew. The port was still open,

and the empty carrier rack in the bow told him that Gibson had not yet

returned with the scouter.

He grew aware then that sensation was returning to him slowly, that the

cold surface of the audicom unit at his hip--unfelt before--was pressing

against the inner curve of his elbow. He bent his will again toward

motion; this time the arm tensed a little, enough to send hope flaring

through him. If he could put pressure enough against the stud....

The tiny click of its engaging sent him faint with relief.

"Stryker!" he yelled. "Lee, roll out--_Stryker_!"

The audicom hummed gently, without answer.

He gathered himself for another shout, and recalled with a chill of

horror the tablet Stryker had mixed into his nightcap the night before.

Worn out by his work, Stryker had made certain that he would not be

easily disturbed.

The flattened sun-disk on the water brightened and grew rounder. Above

its reflected glare he caught a flicker of movement, a restless

suggestion of flapping wings.

* * * * *

He tried again. "Stryker, help me! I'm on the islet!"

The audicom crackled. The voice that answered was not Stryker's, but

Gibson's.

"Farrell! What the devil are you doing on that butcher's block?"

Farrell fought down an insane desire to laugh. "Never mind that--get

here fast, Gib! The flying-lizards--"

He broke off, seeing for the first time the octopods that ringed the

outcrop just under the surface of the water, waiting with barbed

tentacles spread and yellow eyes studying him glassily. He heard the

unmistakable flapping of wings behind and above him then, and thought

with shock-born lucidity: _I wanted a backstage look at this show, and

now I'm one of the cast_.

The scouter roared in from the west across the thorn forest, flashing so

close above his head that he felt the wind of its passage. Almost

instantly he heard the shrilling blast of its emergency bow jets as

Gibson met the lizard swarm head on.

Gibson's voice came tinnily from the audicom. "Scattered them for the

moment, Arthur--blinded the whole crew with the exhaust, I think. Stand

fast, now. I'm going to pick you up."

The scouter settled on the outcrop beside Farrell, so close that the hot

wash of its exhaust gases scorched his bare legs. Gibson put out thick

brown arms and hauled him inside like a straw man, ignoring the native.

The scouter darted for shore with Farrell lying across Gibson's knees in

the cockpit, his head hanging half overside.

Farrell had a last dizzy glimpse of the islet against the rush of green

water below, and felt his shaky laugh of relief stick in his throat. Two

of the octopods were swimming strongly for shore, holding the rigid

Arzian native carefully above water between them.

"Gib," Farrell croaked. "Gib, can you risk a look back? I think I've

gone mad."


生词表:
  • extensive [ik´stensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广阔的;大量的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • sleeping [´sli:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.睡着(的)   (初中英语单词)
  • commander [kə´mɑ:ndə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.指挥员,司令员   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • tremendous [tri´mendəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可怕的;巨大的   (初中英语单词)
  • patience [´peiʃəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.忍耐(力);耐心;坚韧   (初中英语单词)
  • winged [´wiŋd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有翼的   (初中英语单词)
  • instantly [´instəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.立即,立刻   (初中英语单词)
  • standing [´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.持续 a.直立的   (初中英语单词)
  • horizon [hə´raizən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地平线;范围;视野   (初中英语单词)
  • mutter [´mʌtə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.咕哝;嘀咕   (初中英语单词)
  • definite [´definit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.确定的,明确的   (初中英语单词)
  • softly [´sɔftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.软化地;柔和地   (初中英语单词)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • daylight [´deilait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光;黎明   (初中英语单词)
  • dislike [dis´laik] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.&n.不喜爱,厌恶   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • breeze [bri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.微风;不费力的事   (初中英语单词)
  • physical [´fizikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.物质的;有形的   (初中英语单词)
  • temper [´tempə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.韧度 v.锻炼;调和   (初中英语单词)
  • stomach [´stʌmək] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胃;胃口,食欲   (初中英语单词)
  • transportation [,trænspɔ:´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.运输;运送;运费   (初中英语单词)
  • fabric [´fæbrik] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.织物;结构;组织   (初中英语单词)
  • abruptly [ə´brʌptli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.突然地;粗鲁地   (初中英语单词)
  • weapon [´wepən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.武器;斗争手段   (初中英语单词)
  • wholly [´həul-li] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.完全,十足;统统   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • inertia [i´nə:ʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.懒惰;迟钝   (初中英语单词)
  • sensation [sen´seiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.感觉;轰动;轰动一时   (初中英语单词)
  • pressure [´preʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.压榨 vt.对…施压力   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • movement [´mu:vmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活动;运动;动作   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • exhaust [ig´zɔ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.用尽,使精疲力尽   (初中英语单词)
  • glimpse [glimps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.瞥见   (初中英语单词)
  • relief [ri´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.救济;援救;减轻   (初中英语单词)
  • throat [θrəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.咽喉;嗓子;出入口   (初中英语单词)
  • strongly [´strɔŋli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.强烈地;强有力地   (初中英语单词)
  • uncover [ʌn´kʌvə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭开(盖子);揭露   (高中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • repetition [,repi´tiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.重复;背诵;复制品   (高中英语单词)
  • drowsy [´drauzi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.困倦的;催眠的   (高中英语单词)
  • rainbow [´reinbəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.彩虹   (高中英语单词)
  • fringe [´frindʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.穗;边缘;刘海   (高中英语单词)
  • veteran [´vetərən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.老兵 a.老练的   (高中英语单词)
  • damned [dæmd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.该死的 ad.非常,极   (高中英语单词)
  • architecture [´ɑ:kitektʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建筑术;建筑学   (高中英语单词)
  • schedule [´ʃedju:l] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.目录;清单;一览表   (高中英语单词)
  • litter [´litə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.杂乱 v.乱丢   (高中英语单词)
  • finding [´faindiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发现物;判断;结果   (高中英语单词)
  • automatic [,ɔ:tə´mætik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.自动的 n.自动装置   (高中英语单词)
  • tropical [´trɔpikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.热带地区的   (高中英语单词)
  • comfortably [´kʌmfətəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.舒适地   (高中英语单词)
  • tablet [´tæblit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.碑;牌;匾额   (高中英语单词)
  • faintly [´feintli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.微弱地,软弱无力的   (高中英语单词)
  • routine [ru:´ti:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日常工作 a.日常的   (高中英语单词)
  • suicide [´su:isaid, ´sju:-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.自杀(者)(的)   (高中英语单词)
  • speculation [,spekju´leiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.思索,推测;投机   (高中英语单词)
  • summon [´sʌmən] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.召集;号召   (高中英语单词)
  • sanction [´sæŋkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.批准;认可   (高中英语单词)
  • strictly [´striktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.严格地   (高中英语单词)
  • breach [bri:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.破坏;违犯   (高中英语单词)
  • sunrise [´sʌnraiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日出,黎明   (高中英语单词)
  • switch [switʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开关 v.转换   (高中英语单词)
  • carrier [´kæriə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.搬运工人;托架   (高中英语单词)
  • flicker [´flikə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.闪烁;忽隐忽现   (高中英语单词)
  • insane [in´sein] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.患神经病的;疯狂的   (高中英语单词)
  • seeing [si:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  see的现在分词 n.视觉   (高中英语单词)
  • emergency [i´mə:dʒənsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.事变;紧急关头   (高中英语单词)
  • hanging [´hæŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的   (高中英语单词)
  • copyright [´kɔpirait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版权;著作权   (英语四级单词)
  • pastoral [´pɑ:stərəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.牧(羊)人的 n.田园诗   (英语四级单词)
  • navigator [´nævigeitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.航行者;航海员   (英语四级单词)
  • filter [´filtə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.滤器 v.过滤,渗入   (英语四级单词)
  • fishing [´fiʃiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钓鱼;捕鱼;渔业   (英语四级单词)
  • coincidence [kəu´insidəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.巧合;符合;一致   (英语四级单词)
  • unnatural [,ʌn´nætʃərəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不自然的   (英语四级单词)
  • underbrush [´ʌndəbrʌʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.矮树丛   (英语四级单词)
  • glimmer [´glimə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.闪光   (英语四级单词)
  • totally [´təutəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.统统,完全   (英语四级单词)
  • fisher [´fiʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.捕鱼人(船);鱼貂   (英语四级单词)
  • lizard [´lizəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蜥   (英语四级单词)
  • vigilance [´vidʒiləns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.警惕,警戒   (英语六级单词)
  • shimmer [´ʃimə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.闪烁;微微发光   (英语六级单词)
  • triangular [trai´æŋgjulə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.三角(形)的   (英语六级单词)
  • irritable [´iritəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.急躁的;过敏的   (英语六级单词)
  • bramble [´bræmbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荆棘   (英语六级单词)
  • phantom [´fæntəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幽灵;幻影 a.幻想的   (英语六级单词)
  • assignment [ə´sainmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.分配;分派;任务   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • starlight [´stɑ:lait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.星光   (英语六级单词)
  • restlessly [´restlisli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不安定地;烦躁地   (英语六级单词)
  • improbable [im´prɔbəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.未必有的   (英语六级单词)
  • speaking [´spi:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说话 a.发言的   (英语六级单词)
  • hoarsely [´hɔ:sli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.嘶哑地   (英语六级单词)
  • respiration [,respə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸(作用)   (英语六级单词)
  • ringed [riŋd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.带环的;戴戒指的   (英语六级单词)
  • holding [´həuldiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保持,固定,存储   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:59:06
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