The Chapter Ends by Poul Anderson Page 1 of 27

THE CHAPTER ENDS

Novelet of Latter Years

by Poul Anderson


Julith clasped the star-man's arm with one hand, while her other arm gripped his waist. The generator in Jorun's skull responded to his will ... they rose quietly and went slowly seaward....

"Look around you, Jorun of Fulkhis. This is Earth. This is the old home of all mankind. You cannot go off and forget it. Man cannot do so. It is in him, in his blood and bones and soul; he will carry Earth within him forever."

"No," said the old man.

"But you don't realize what it means," said Jorun. "You don't know what you're saying."


The old man, Kormt of Huerdar, Gerlaug's son, and Speaker for Solis Township, shook his head till the long, grizzled locks swirled around his wide shoulders. "I have thought it through," he said. His voice was deep and slow and implacable. "You gave me five years to think about it. And my answer is no."

Jorun felt a weariness rise within him. It had been like this for days now, weeks, and it was like trying to knock down a mountain. You beat on its rocky flanks till your hands were bloody, and still the mountain stood there, sunlight on its high snow-fields and in the forests that rustled up its slopes, and it did not really notice you. You were a brief thin buzz between two long nights, but the mountain was forever.

"You haven't thought at all," he said with a rudeness born of exhaustion. "You've only reacted unthinkingly to a dead symbol. It's not a human reaction, even, it's a verbal reflex."



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