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HOW BRIGHT THE STARS

by Leigh Brackett
It was a hellish world to be wandering on, this second planet of Barnard's Star. In fact it looked almost exactly as
Jerry Baird had always pictured hell. The sun was red and angry, capable of intense heat. There were volcanoes and
fumaroles, pits of bubbling mud geysers, and great plumes of steam that smelled of sulfur. It was a restless, badtempered world, at least in these parts, and Jerry had no good feeling about it.
The PPS (Preliminary Planetary Study) team had spent more than a year encamped on this sparsely populated world,
by a Grllan village called Beautiful Water because of the incredibly clear, cool lake that was there, with fern-trees
leaning over it and green hills all around. The Grllan lived partly in brush shelters and partly in dens hollowed out
beneath the twisty roots of the trees. They were almost, or not quite, human, depending on how you looked at it, but
they were friendly, and the team had learned a lot from hem about life on Barnard II.
They learned some more on that subject when a fiercer and more predatory clan came down from the hills. Trouble
began almost at once and ended with the team camp and almost all of its equipment in ashes. The folk of Beautiful
Water had hidden the Earthmen in the deep bush until their wild cousins went away. After that, with the ever-present
danger of the predators' return, with no radio and no means of getting help, and with no prospect of continuing their
work, the team had decided to trek out.
The decision was not taken lightly. Earth Base was 500 miles away.
They had been able to save only one thing of value from the camp, and that was the small case of microtapes which
contained all the records of their research. The case was assigned to Dr. Felter, the vulcanologist, to be carried as
part of his load.
On the morning of departure, with the red sun just glaring up over the hilltops, turning the mists to fire and the lake to
blood, the Earthmen took up their makeshift packs and the clumsy water bottles made from sections of a giant joint
grass. The GrIlan, grunting and clicking mournfully were still bringing parting gifts of roots and seeds and squirming
things from the lake. Nobody was very cheerful, but nobody was crying.
Suddenly Dr. Felter threw down his pack, plucked out the case of microtapes and shoved it into the hands of
Wainwright, the xenobiologist. "You take it," Felter said He went over to a fern-tree log and sat down.
Dr. Baird, team coordinator and physician, turned to him and said, "What's wrong, James? Not well?"
Felter shook his head. "Just lazy. I don't have to walk that far to die."
Jerry saw his father's jaw tighten. But Baird spoke quietly.
"It's too soon to lose heart. We'll make it."
"If you do," said Felter, "send a flier back to get me."
"We need you," Baird said, with a note of cold iron his voice. "We need every one of us."
Felter rose and walked away into the fiery morning among the trees.
Baird looked around to see if any of the others were like minded. Nobody moved. "Share out his load," said Baird.
They did, and a few minutes later they marched out of the village. The Grllan went with them to the edge of their
green domain, howled once, and were gone.
The PPS team settled down to the longest walk of then lives.

Strange planets were nothing new to young Jerry Baird He had been with his father on the worlds of Alpha and
Proxima Centauri before coming here to Barnard II. Man had finally made the Big Jump outward, with the WenzBoroda FTL (faster-than-light) drive, and the exploration of the galaxy had begun. Lying at night in wild places,
looking up at the sky, Jerry was both crushed and exalted by the immensity of the adventure. The great wheeling
star-'warms of the Milky Way, rivers of light across the black deep, called to him to come and see their wonders. Men
were just on the threshold now, visiting their nearest neighbors, but Jerry was only 16, and the future burned bright,
III by the suns of outer space.
Those suns continued to burn in the sky of Barnard II, but now it was required of Jerry to crawl across the planet's
surface like a stubborn fly. It was required of him to survive.
Looking at his father, Jerry had no doubt that he would. Dr. Baird had begun his career as a medical missionary
among the last of the stone-age peoples who continued obstinately to exist side by side with atomic energy and
spaceships. He had been among the first to go starward, and he was now the foremost authority on interstellar
medicine. A superb coordinator in the field. Baird was also an expert on survival techniques. Jerry watched the tall,
rangy figure striding in the lead, and felt a great surge of love and pride.
Wainwright walked behind Dr. Baird, a bearded young giant, always cheerful and confident. In no set order followed
Harding the anthropologist, a dark man with his face pulled down in a perpetual scowl of disapproval, Thompson the
chemist, Soderman the geologist, Souter the botanist. Jerry, chief cook and bottle-washer, brought up the rear. It had
never occurred to him to feel downtrodden. He was part of the team, and it didn't matter what part as long as it was a
Baird team.
The slope of the land lay downward, with the humped volcanic cones thrusting up out of the flat. The men had
frequently to make long detours around places where the ground heaved and trembled and spat up steam. The heat
became unbearable at midday, and they rested, trying to forget how thirsty they were, watching the lacy plumes of
geysers spouting up and praying that none of the sullen little cones would let go while they were near them. When it
was cooler they moved on again, across tumbled lava beds that cut their boots to ribbons.
For days they stumbled and staggered through this landscape of hell, and Jerry felt that he was drying up like old
leather, turning black and hard all the way through. At night the furnace winds blew, and there were red gleamings
around the horizon. They tried to replenish their water supply from the hot pools, but each time Thompson the
chemist would shake his head, and they would leave the bitter-smelling stuff untouched.
"I'm beginning to think," said Harding, "that Felter was right. We must have been out of our minds."
Secretly Jerry was almost inclined to agree with him, remembering the sweet coolness of Beautiful Water. Then he
remembered the spears of the hill folk and was not so sure.
Baird unfolded a small plastic satellite map. "The river is ahead. One more day."
The calm, strong voice made Jerry ashamed.
One more day. They said you could always get through one more day. Maybe they were right. He hoped so.
Camp that night was less a camp than a potential graveyard. No one could eat; mouths and throats were too dry.
Even breathing was painful. They lay where they dropped. Some time later Jerry awoke with someone shaking him.
He thought at first it was his father, and then he realized that the whole world was shaking. There were rumblings and
roarings and a fountain of fire in the sky, and a reek of brimstone in the scorching wind. Jerry got up. He could see
the others around him as dim shapes in the fire-glow.
"Stay together," Baird said. "Let's go."
They went, finding strength where they had not believed there was any left.
A great cloud of smoke and ash swallowed up the sky and drowned the glare of the volcano. The night became

utterly black. They could no longer see each other. At Baird's order they grouped together and took eachother's
hands.
The slope of the land was still downward, and they followed it blindly in the blind night. Jerry had never been so
close to death before, and he was afraidnot so much of dying, though the prospect wasn't pleasant, but of what was
happening to him, his inner, personal self. He was weak from thirst, hunger, and exhaustion; and his body, always
healthy and strong, would not obey him. His senses, always keen, were baffled and useless. He was losing himself in
blackness and noise and choking stench. He had always accepted his youthful vitality without question. and it shook
him to his foundations to find himself as feeble as an old woman. He wanted very much to lie down and cover his
face and let the night roll over him. But nobody else was doing that, and he wouldn't be the first.
They stopped at last, in an evil dawn, behind a ridge that would deflect the lava flow that crept behind them. And as
the light grew stronger they could see the river, far ahead. with a streak of blessed green along its bank.
When they had rested they went to the river. It took them the best part of the day. And the streak of blessed green
turned out to be a marsh.
They could not cross it. They looked up and down and could not see the end of it. They scooped holes in the mud
and drank the black foul-tasting liquid that collected in them, and watched the clear water flowing by out of reach.
"We must go downstream," Baird said. "The marsh will end somewhere."
"Ten miles?" asked Souter. "Forty miles? A hundred? I can't do it." He lay back on the ground.
Harding said bitterly, "Felter was right. We ought to have stayed where we were." He seemed to blame Baird for the
whole trek, though all of them had agreed on the necessity for it.
Soderman and Thompson said nothing. They were like scarecrows with blank faces.
Baird knelt down and examined Souter. "Come "Come on, man," he said gently. "Just a little farther."
Souter rolled his head. "Can't." He seemed to slip into unconsciousness.
Wainwright said, "I'll carry him." He dropped his load and lifted Souter onto his back. He started walking, slowly. one
step at a time. Souter was a small man and Wainwright carried him like a grain sack. Baird took the microtape
from Wainwright's pack and added it to his own. He nodded to Jerry and they started after Wainwright. Soderman
and Thompson got up and followed. Harding remained where he was.
Jerry kept looking back. "Are we just going to leave him?"
"He'll come," Baird said.
After a while, he did.
They walked beside the unattainable river, with the sight and sound and smell of the water torturing them. For a
while Jerry forgot where he was. When he came to, he realized that he had been asleep on his feet out but still
moving. What had roused him were the voices. It was night, and they had come to the end of the marsh.
They splashed into the shallows. Jerry lay soaking up the life that flowed over him.
"We made it," he said.
"So far, thank God." Baird roused himself. "I must look at Souter."
But Souter wasn't there. Neither was Wainwright.

Baird filled a water container and started back. Jerry didn't feel like it, but he dragged himself out of the river and
went with him. The night was clear, with the usual small red flickerings in the distance and the bright stars overhead
There was light enough to see by, and in any case they had not far to go. Wainwright was sitting no more than a
hundred feet from the bank. Souter lay beside him, very still.
"I couldn't make it," Wainwright whispered. "Only a few steps, and I couldn't make it."
Baird handed him the water bottle. He waved it away as though a creature so contemptible as he had no right to
water. "Give it to Souter."
"Don't be a fool," said Baird harshly. "There's enough for both." He shoved the container into Wainwright's hands and
bent over Souter.
"Besides," he said, in a different voice, "Souter doesn't need it. He's dead."
Wainwright began to weep. How long, Jerry wondered, had he been staggering along carrying a dead man?
He helped his father straighten Souter's body, and he laid his wet shirt to cover him as decently as possible. Then
they returned to Wainwright, who was making deep dry noises, his mouth open and his chest heaving as though he
couldn't get his breath. He did not seem to hear when they spoke to him. They took hold of him. He allowed himself
to be raised up and taken to the river, where he lay in the water and would not speak to anyone.
"What's happened to him?" Jerry asked.
"He's always had enormous strength," Baird said. "He just never knew there was an end to it."
Jerry, who had come very close to the end of his, was comforted to know that even giants like Wainwright had their
human limits. And suddenly he remembered something.
"A little while back," he said, "when I was wandering along... you were holding me up, weren't you?"
"I was giving you a hand," Baird said, and smiled. "Why not? You're my son."
They slept on the bank that night. In the morning they buried Souter, in the cool shade of a grove of feathery things
that resembled tamarisks, farther along the bank. Baird brought out the little worn Book that had been with him since
his college days and read the service. The familiar words sounded strange in this strange place, under this alien sun.
Jerry said so, and Baird shook his head.
"Are you forgetting that He made the stars also? It's all one to God."
They made a camp at the other end of the grove and stayed there until they were fit to move on again. They left the
volcanic lands now, at least for the time being there was vegetation here, different kinds of grasses and flowers, and
queer small life that twittered and scurried through through the trees. They built weirs and took food from the river,
and they dragged together deadfall trees and vines to make a raft. When they felt strong enough they launched the
raft and went wallowing away downstream.
After what they had been through, this was silken luxury. The river flowed wide and unhurried, with a steady current.
They watched the changing banks glide by and fished and cooled themselves in the water. It seemed that their
troubles were over. Earth Base was no more than 20 miles from where the river emptied into the Western Sea All
they had to do was drift along.
But the mapping satellites could only show the major features of a planet's surface. They had passed over small
details such as cataracts.
It was a hot morning, with the red sun glaring down The landscape had become more tropical, with forests of gigantic

trees, larger than any Jerry had ever seen before and there were many more life-forms. Great curious heads broke the
surface to stare at the raft. Bright eyes peered from the banks. There were flying creatures, some large and ugly like
the archaeopteryx, some bright-colored, small and darting. None of these forms seemed inimical, and if some were
carnivorous the men saw no sign of it. There was a kind of steaming lazy peacefulness over the land. And then they
heard the river sounds ahead of them.
They grabbed the steering poles and clawed for the bank, but the current was strong now, and it held them fast. If
Wainwright had helped they might have made it, but since that night when he failed to reach the river Wainwright
had done nothing, as though he lacked the courage to try and perhaps fail again. He had simply withdrawn into
himself. Now, as they were swept into the rapids, he barely lifted his head to look.
The raft shot down a long swift slide, picking up speed.
It hit white water, flew into the air, and broke apart. Jerry III on by himself, tossing over and over. He was a strong
swimmer, but that wasn't doing him much good now. Dizzy, deafened, and battered, he dropped over a cliff, and the
whole river fell on his back. Then it was deep and quiet, and he was far down and too tired to worry about coming up
again....
Something took hold of him. Something lifted him, brought him bursting up into light and air.
He saw a face close by him, laughing. Bright drops shook out of silvery hair. Green eyes sparkled, tilted above
slanting cheekbones. The mouth, small and delicate, spoke words he did not understand, except that they were
reassuring. He thought that he had never seen such a joyous face. He smiled back, and let himself be towed to the
warm shallows of a sandbar. He scrambled out and sat trying to replace the water inside him with air, while the silverhaired folk, a dozen of them, brought his father and the other men in from the wide pool below the cataract. After that
they began diving like otters after the scattered packs that had come down with the wreckage.
They were beautiful to watch. "What... who are they?" he asked.
Baird shook his head. "I don't know. I hope they're hospitable." He was prodding at his left ankle, which was
beginning to swell. "Not broken, I think, but I've torn the ligaments. Thompson's got a concussion. We won't be
traveling for a while."
Jerry hugged his own bruises and felt very grateful to the strangers. "I wonder where they came from," he said, and
turned around. There was no sign of a village, but he saw that there were 20 or 30 of the silver-haired ones standing
along the bank and looking at them.
They were slender and graceful, man-shaped and man-high, with smooth greenish skin decorated here and there in
patterns of gold and russet and black lines. Jerry could not tell whether the patterns were natural or not, but they
were oddly attractive. Men and women alike wore garments made of leaves and flowers, and they carried no
weapons. They seemed as free and happy as the wind.
Some of the packs were smashed beyond redemption but the precious microtape case had been saved, and the rest
didn't matter. The swimmers came out of the water. Baird thanked them and they smiled, standing like sprites in the
red sunlight, all wet and shining.
Baird pointed to Thompson, who lay with his head on Soderman's lap, and then to his own injured leg. The silver tops
all nodded. Lilting voices sang back and forth from sandbar to bank. As though it were the greatest game in the world,
the folk on the bank came running out and picked up Baird and Thompson and the packs.
And now Jerry learned where the village was.
A grove of the huge trees they had been seeing for the past few days grew above the pool. The trunks were 40 to 50
feet through. Great thick branches sprang out front them, bearing sprays of coppery foliage. Swaying ladders made of
vines led up to the branches, at a fairly appalling height; and there was a whole complex of aerial walkways
connecting reed-and-sapling houses with other dwellings that were hollowed out of the trees themselves. These

people lived like bowerbirds under the sky.


They went skipping up agilely enough with their burdens. Jerry climbed a lot more slowly, as did the others, except
Wainwright. He sat down at the foot of a tree and stayed there. At the top of a ladder was a tree-branch street, and a
slender green-eyed girl all garlanded with flowers was beckoning Jerry. He followed her, thankful for the vines that
were rigged on either side like lifelines. They at least gave him the illusion that he couldn't fall.
The girl led them to a large room in the heart of a giant tree. Care had been taken to leave the vital sap-bearing outer
layers intact so that the tree did not die. The floor was covered with a soft mat of dried moss and ferns. Two round
window-holes pierced the walls, letting in the warm breeze. Baird and Thompson were already there.
Jerry went to one of the windows and looked out at the leaf world beyond. There was something heady about it
being so high up between earth and air. He could feel the room moving as the wind stirred the tree. The branches
rifled. He thought suddenly that it beat living in a dead house, a mere artificial lump on the landscape.
In a little while their hosts brought baskets and woven trays of food, and before Jerry knew it, there was a feast going
on, to the music of reed pipes and queer long-necked viols with only one string, and little flat drums played with the
fingers. The crowd became too large for the room and moved outside to a broad platform built between the trees. I
lie sun went down. The stars came out, seeming closer than they had ever been before. In the center of the platform
young girls danced sweetly as spring leaves floating on the wind.
Jerry was young and adaptable. In a few days it seemed the most natural thing in the world to live in a tree and
scamper up and down hanging ladders. There was a curious timelessness about the place. The people themselves
seemed to live with the slow swing of the seasons like the trees and the flowers. Nature was bountiful here. Food
plants grew for the gathering; and the pool was always full of fish which the people caught with their bare hands,
flashing and darting and laughing through the water. When it was too hot, the upper breezes cooled them in their airy
nests, and when it rained, the showers washed everything clean and made the breezes fragrant. Jerry had no doubt
that these were the happiest people he had ever known. Happy, innocent, untroubled, forgetting yesterday and not
looking for tomorrow. because all the days were sweet and there was no telling one from another.
Harding had begun the first night to learn the language. The people called themselves Hwyl. The sky was their father,
the trees their mother, the river was a kind of sacred brother, and they all lived together in a close family group. The
Hwyl were much interested in the Earthmen. The river brought them strange cattle once in a while, but seldom living.
They tried politely to understand about Earth and starships and exploration. Jerry didn't think that much through to
them. There were no words in their language most of the functions of a vastly more complicated culture and there
was no way to express the concepts that underlie these functions. At last the Hwyl would shake their silver heads and
laugh, and somebody would bring fruit and sow, body else would start playing the pipes, and that would the end of
the lecture.
While he waited for Thompson and his father to heal of their hurts, Jerry went with the Hwyl to gather food, and he
swam with them and tried to learn some of their songs. He slept on the moss and listened to the tree house talking
with the wind at night. He lay along cool branches and let soft rain touch him, and at other times he sat in the
sunlight, plaiting reeds to make things the way the Hwy' showed him. Imperceptibly he ceased to be anxious for the
sick to mend. There was no hurry. He felt rested and at peace. He didn't want to think about the harsh cruelty of the
outside world. He didn't want to go and face it again.
Soderman put the feeling into words. The Hwyl had helped him to weave a little house for himself, and he had moved
into it. He was sitting now in the round door-hole, his bare feet dangling, while the house rocked gently back and
forth.
"I'm getting old and tired," he said. "I don't want fight any more. This is heaven."
Harding had joined them. There had been a great change in the man. He looked 10 years younger, and all the sour
lines had left his face. He could smile; he could even laugh. "I'm with you," he said. "No more of man's in humanity to
man. I'm going to stay right here and make the Hwyl my life's work."
Jerry didn't take him seriously. He only sighed and said, "I'm going to hate leaving."

Harding looked at him and then at Soderman; but they said nothing.
Soderman pointed downward through the leafy boughs. There was a glimpse of the pool. Thompson was making
circles in the water, rolling over to float from time to time. There was something about the relaxed posture of his
frame that expressed perfect contentment.
"He doesn't seem too anxious to get well, does he?" Thompson was still complaining of dizzy spells and of strength.
"You think he's pretending?" asked Jerry, surprised.
"He might be," said Harding. "One thing I know; your old man isn't."
"Yes," said Soderman. "He'll be fit enough in a few days."
That night there was a feast. No particular reason. The Hwyl did not need reasons. They held it on the platform, there
was much laughter, and presently the girls scudded out to dance with the wind and the starlight. Jerry left early. He
went to the tree house and found his father alone, standing by one of the windows and looking out at the night.
"Why do you never join the others, Dad?" he asked. "Why are you always here by yourself?"
"Because," said Baird, "I'm afraid."
Jerry was astonished. "You've never been afraid of anything." He came closer. It was dark in the room; the Hwyl
made fire but only in the cooking pits by the river, and there were no lamps in the village. He tried to see his Lather's
face by the faint light from the window. "What is there here to be afraid of?"
"Losing myself," said Baird.
"I don't understand."
"Don't you?" asked Baird gently. He looked at Jerry. "Then he said, "We'll leave here in the morning."
It was like a blow. Jerry cried, "Tomorrow? But Dad, you're not well yet, and Thompson...."
Baird said, "We've waited too long as it is."
"The boy's right," said Harding from the doorway. You'd better not go."
He came in. Soderman and Thompson followed him. Something else entered with them, a tension, an antagonism
that set Jerry's nerves prickling. His father stirred and turned to face the men, three dark shapes in the warm sweetsmelling gloom.
"You've made your decision, then."
"Yes," said Harding. "We're staying. All of us."
"What's there to go back to?" Soderman said. "Whit do we need that we haven't got here?"
"Your work," said Baird.
Harding made a derisive sound. "What did my work ever bring me? Fame? Fortune? Niggardly little men tucked it
away in pigeonholes and forgot it."
"I'm not well," said Thompson. "I need rest."
"It's different with you, Baird," Soderman said "You're a preacher Lutheran, isn't it? You have an outlook; we don't.

And we know what we want."


Baird sighed. "It doesn't matter what I am. Listen won't talk to you about your souls because you don't believe in
them, but what about your minds? They make you what you are. Do you want to throw them away? You're not Hwyl,
neither am I. Perhaps I wish we were, but w lost our innocence too long ago. If we try to go back, we die."
He picked up something and held it out. Jerry saw that it was the box of microtapes.
"A year's work," Baird said. "Seven men, one of them dead now. Do you want to throw this away?"
Harding said, "I used to think that knowledge was everything; now I think I don't need it."
"Very well, then." Baird set the box down. "The boy and I will go on alone."
"No," said Harding. "I know your zealous soul. You' send people back to rescue us. You stay right here, Doctor." In
the heavy silence Jerry could hear the leaves rustling outside. The tree creaked softly as it moved.
Baird said, "You'll prevent me?"
"We will," said Harding, "so don't make us." He laughed. "Relax that puritan spirit, Baird. You may even find you like
it."
They left, but they didn't go far.
Baird leaned on the smooth bark of the window opening... head was bowed, and his voice sounded very tired. "And
you, Jerry. Whose side are you on?"
Jerry had never been able to lie to his father even when he wanted to. "I don't know," he said. "I'm happy here. Is that
so wrong?"
"You'll have to answer that question yourself," said Harding. He brought Jerry to the window and pointed upward.
through the high branches Jerry could see the stars, glowering like lamps in the sky.
"You always wanted to go out there," Baird said. "If stay here, you never will."
He turned abruptly. "Get out now, Jerry. Find some other place to sleep."
Jerry went without saying a word. He knew how deeply his father was hurt. He also knew that now he was on his
own. Whatever decision he made would be made as an adult, and whatever the consequences, they would be his
alone to deal with.
Harding and the others glanced at him curiously as he passed. They didn't speak, and they didn't try to stop him.
Probably they reckoned he was no threat. He slid down the ladder and walked out past the cooking pits to the
sandbar. He sat there alone in the night, trying to think. But the stars watched him with brilliant implacable eyes. He
didn't want them watching him. He got up and went back under the trees.
Sounds of music and laughter floated down to him. He thought of returning to the feast. He even started up the
ladder. Then he came down again. He was not in the mood, not tonight. This was the special night, his night, the rite
of passage. He didn't know what he was going to make of it.
Wainwright still sat at the base of the tree. The Hwyl had made a shelter for him and they brought him food. His hair
and beard had grown long. He was gaunt and not very clean. Jerry could hear him breathing, and the shelter was
uncannily like a shrine.
"Wainwright," he said, "I need help."

"There is no help," said Wainwright. "Man is weak. The universe is too large for him. He can only wait for death."
Jerry said angrily, "That's just you talking, because you couldn't stand one single kick under the jaw.' He shouted.
"You're a coward, Wainwright. You make me sick."
He strode away. The river sang to him, and he followed it down below the sandbar, where there was slack water. The
remains of the raft were here. In the first days, he and the others had begun to patch together what was left and to
add to it from the fallen branches of the great trees. They had become less and less vigorous about it and finally, by
tacit consent, the work had stopped altogether. There was half a raft tied up there, soggy and forgotten. It could take
one boy down the river to within walking distance of Earth Base. All he had to do was cut the moorings.
He didn't. He continued to wander about until he was too tired to wander any more. Then he curled up and went to
sleep.
The morning was like any other morning, except that it was not.
The Hwyl dived and splashed in the pool, fishing. Jerry watched them. He could see his whole life stretching ahead of
him in a beautiful red-gold haze all without pain of problems or the threat of failure.
Wasn't that what everybody wanted? Hadn't he been blessed with extraordinary good fortune: to find what most
people looked for all their lives and never found?
He thought of his father, and then he thought, No, this is not my father's life, it's mine, and I must decide for my self
how I want to live it. Without fear, without favor.
He made his decision.
He stayed away from his father. For three days he swam with the Hwyl, gathered food, joined in the feasting, and
laughed and sang. And every night the stars came out and looked at him. They hounded him. He couldn't get away
from them.
On the third night he understood that he had not made his decision at all. He had only been putting off making it.
When the village was asleep, he filled a basket with food from the cooking pits and went below the sandbar and cut
away the vines that held the raft. The river took him-broad and peaceful now that the travail of the cataract was over.
A week later, hungry and footsore, he limped into Earth Base. Next day he was in a helicopter, heading upriver to get
his father. He knew that he could see the Hwyl again without regret. As for Harding and the others. they could do as
they wished. Jerry knew what he wanted.
He wanted the stars.
END

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