In the Beginning

In the Beginning by Robert Silverberg Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Beginning by Robert Silverberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Silverberg
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction
with its low bed. The only other things in it were the thought-converter and the rescue-beam radiator. He hefted the compact rescue-beam radiator in his hand.
    I’d better get rid of this, he thought. One of the natives might accidentally turn it on and call down the patrol.
    He walked to the stream, held the radiator reflectively for a moment, and then pitched it into the water.
    “Good riddance,” he said. His last link with Kandoris and the worlds of the galaxy was gone. They couldn’t find him unless he tipped them off by using the rescue-beam radiator, which would attract any patrol ship within a dozen light-years. And the radiator was under the flowing waters of the stream.
    When he returned to his hut he looked at the remaining piece of equipment, the thought-converter. “I’ll really be able to make this town jump once I can talk to them,” he said. “Women, food, fancy furniture—I’ll just have to ask for them, and they’ll jump. They wouldn’t want their Kejwa to be displeased.”
    The thought-converter didn’t seem to be too badly damaged. A few delicate wires had come out of their sockets, that was all. He tried to put them back, but his fingers were too thick and clumsy, and he had to give up.
    He realized he hadn’t slept in almost three days. He put the converter in his prison shirt, wrapping it carefully to protect it from the moisture of the ground, and curled up on the bed of grass. It wasn’t much better than lying on the ground, but he was too tired to notice.
    ***
    For the next three days he did nothing but sit on the stone outside the hut and toy with the thought-converter while the natives brought him food three times a day. He didn’t recognize any of the delicacies they brought—something which looked like a black apple and tasted like a red one, another something which looked like nothing he’d ever seen on Earth and tasted like a shot of bourbon filtered through a banana, and plenty of fresh, red meat, almost raw despite the perfunctory roasting they gave it.
    Crayden felt his frame expanding, and, though he had no mirror, he knew the prison-planet pallor had left his face. This planet was agreeing with him, all right. Being Kejwa was a grand life. He’d never had it so good.
    When he got tired of sitting around being worshipped, he decided to survey the area. He was curious about this world—his world—and he wanted to know all about it.
    All the huts were something like his, only smaller, and the ones near the stream seemed to belong to the more important people of the tribe. The huts were arranged in a roughly semi-circular fashion, with the community fire at the entrance to the semicircle. All around was the thick forest—Nature’s fortress.
    Crayden wandered off toward the forest, hoping to see some of the native wild-life in action, but was surprised to find himself confronted by a little ring of blue-skins.
    “Kejwa,” they murmured, pointing to the forest. “Nek nek konna je Kejwa.”
    “‘My country, ’tis of thee,’” he replied gravely, and continued to move toward the forest.
    They became more insistent. Two of the biggest stood in front of him and barred his way. “Nek nek konna je Kejwa,” they repeated more loudly.
    Obviously they didn’t want him straying. So his powers were limited after all. He frowned. “If that’s the way you want it, I’ll give in. Never argue with the boys in blue, the saying goes.” But he was angry all the same.
    ***
    Every night they danced in front of his hut, and every day they let him sit there while they came by and bowed and mumbled “Kejwa.” But Crayden was getting restless.
    They treated him as a king, or as a god, and he took full advantage of the privilege the way he did everything else—but he was required to stay in the vicinity. The constant worship was starting to bore him, and the steady diet of rich food combined with lack of exercise had put a definite bulge around his stomach. He felt like a prize

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