The Complete Stories (Page 198)
back to Earth in all that time. I was going to stay on Earth for six months. The Kloros instead captured us and would have kept us interned indefinitely. But I couldn’t-I couldn ‘t let them stop me from traveling to Earth. No matter what the risk, I had to prevent their interference. It wasn’t love of woman, or fear, or hate, or idealism of any sort. It was stronger than any of those."
He stopped, and stretched out a hand as though to caress the map on the wall.
"Mr. Stuart," Mullen asked quietly, "haven’t you ever been homesick?"
"In a Good Cause-"
In the Great Court, which stands as a patch of untouched peace among the fifty busy square miles devoted to the towering buildings that are the pulse beat of the United Worlds of the Galaxy, stands a statue.
It stands where it can look at the stars at night. There are other statues ringing the court, but this one stands in the center and alone.
It is not a very good statue. The face is too noble and lacks the lines of living. The brow is a shade too high, the nose a shade too symmetrical, the clothing a shade too carefully disposed. The whole bearing is by far too saintly to be true. One can suppose that the man in real life might have frowned at times, or hiccuped, but the statue seemed to insist that such imperfections were impossible.
All this, of course, is understandable overcompensation. The man had no statues raised to him while alive, and succeeding generations, with the advantage of hindsight, felt guilty.
The name on the pedestal reads "Richard Sayama Altmayer." Underneath it is a short phrase and, vertically arranged, three dates. The phrase is: "In a good cause, there are no failures."The three dates are June 17, 2755; September 5, 2788; December 32, 2800;-the years being counted in the usual manner of the period, that is, from the date of the first atomic explosion in 1945 of the ancient era.
None of those dates represents either his birth or death. They mark neither a date of marriage or of the accomplishment of some great deed or, indeed, of anything that the inhabitants of the United Worlds can remember with pleasure and pride. Rather, they are the final expression of the feeling of guilt.
Quite simply and plainly, they are the three dates upon which Richard Sayama Altmayer was sent to prison for his opinions.
1-lune 17, 2755
At the age of twenty-two, certainly, Dick Altmayer was fully capable of feeling fury. His hair was as yet dark brown and he had not grown the mustache which, in later years, would be so characteristic of him. His nose was, of course, thin and high-bridged, but the contours of his face were youthful. It would only be later that the growing gauntness of his cheeks would convert that nose into the prominent kndmark that it now is in the minds of trillions of school children.
Geoffrey Stock was standing in the doorway, viewing the results of his friend’s fury. His round face and cold, steady eyes were there, but he had yet to put on the first of the military uniforms in which he was to spend the rest of his life. "
He said, "Great Galaxy!"
Altmayer looked up. "Hello, Jeff."
"What’s been happening, Dick? I thought your principles, pal, forbid destruction of any kind. Here’s a book-viewer that looks somewhat destroyed." He picked up the pieces.
Altmayer said, "I was holding the viewer when my wave-receiver came through with an official message. You know which one, too."
"I know. It happened to me, too. Where is it?"
"On the floor. I tore it off the spool as soon as it belched out at me. Wait, let’s dump it down the atom chute."
"Hey, hold on. You can’t-"
"Because you won’t accomplish anything. You’ll have to report."
"And just why?"
"Don’t be an ass, Dick."
"This is a matter of principle, by Space."
"Oh, nuts! You can’t fight the whole planet."
"I don’t intend to fight the whole planet; just the few who get us into wars."
Stock shrugged. "That means the whole planet. That guff of yours of leaders tricking poor innocent people into fighting is just so much space-dust. Do you think that if a vote were taken the people wouldn’t be overwhelmingly in favor of fighting this fight?"
"That means nothing, Jeff. The government has control of-"
"The organs of propaganda. Yes, I know. I’ve listened to you often enough. But why not report, anyway?"
Altmayer turned away.
Stock said, "In the first place, you might not pass the physical examination."
"I’d pass. I’ve been in Space."
"That doesn’t mean anything. If the doctors let you hop a liner, that only means you don’t have a heart murmur or an aneurysm. For military duty aboard ship in Space you need much more than just that. How do you know you qualify?"
"That’s a side issue, Jeff, and an insulting one. It’s not that I’m afraid to fight."
"Do you think you can stop the war this way?"
"I wish I could," Altrnayer’s voice almost shook as he spoke. "It’s this idea I have that all mankind should be a single unit. There shouldn’t be wars or space-fleets armed only for destruction. The Galaxy stands ready to be opened to the united efforts of the human race. Instead, we have been factioned for nearly two thousand years, and we throw away all the Galaxy."
Stock laughed, "We’re doing all right. There are more than eighty independent planetary systems."
"And are we the only intelligences in the Galaxy?"
"Oh, the Diaboli, your particular devils," and Stock put his fists to his temples and extended the two forefingers, waggling them.
"And yours, too, and everybody’s. They have a single government extending over more planets than all those occupied by our precious eighty independents."