The watchman started, on a third cup which Alen had unostentatiously signaled for. 'It's hard to say,' he told the Herald weightily. 'For my damages, I would demand a hundred credits at least. The three other members of the watch battered by your lunatic could ask no less. The wineshop suffered easily five hundred credits' damage. The owner of it was beaten, but that doesn't matter, of course.'

'No imprisonment?'

'Oh, a flogging, of course'—Alen started before he recalled that the

'flogging' was a few half-hearted symbolic strokes on the covered shoulders with a light cane—'but no imprisonment. His Honor, Judge Krarl, does not sit on the night bench. Judge Krarl is a newfangled reformer, stranger. He professes to believe that mulcting is unjust—

that it makes it easy for the rich to commit crime and go scot-free.'

'But doesn't it?' asked Alen, drawn off-course in spite of himself. There was pitying laughter around him.

'Look you,' a dealer explained kindly. 'The good watchman suffers battery, the mad Cephean or his master is mulcted for damages, the watchman is repaid for his injuries. What kind of justice is it to the watchman if the mad Cephean is locked away in a cell unfined?'

The watchman nodded approvingly. 'Well-said,' he told the dealer.

'Luckily we have on the night bench a justice of the old school, His Honor, Judge Treel. Stern, but fair. You should hear him! 'Fifty credits!

A hundred credits and the lash! Robbed a ship, eh? Two thousand credits!' ' He returned to his own voice and said with awe: 'For a murder, he never assesses less than ten thousand credits!'

And if the murderer couldn't pay, Alen knew, he became a 'public charge,' 'responsible to the state'—that is, a slave. If he could pay, of course, he was turned loose.

'And His Honor, Judge Treel,' he pressed, 'is sitting tonight? Can we possibly appear before him, pay the fines and be off?'

'To be sure, stranger. I'd be a fool if I waited until morning, wouldn't I?'

The wine had loosened his tongue a little too far and he evidently realized it. 'Enough of this,' he said. 'Does your master honorably accept responsibility for the Cephean? If so, come along with me, the two of you, and we'll get this over with.'

'Thanks, good watchman. We are coming.'

He went to blackbeard, now alone in his corner, and said: 'It's all right.

We can pay off—about a thousand credits— and be on our way.'

The trader muttered darkly: 'Lyran jurisdiction or not, it's coming out of Elwon's pay. The bloody fool!'

They rattled through the darkening streets of the town in one of the turbine-powered wagons, the watchman sitting up front with the driver and the trader and the Herald behind.

'Something's burning,' said Alen to the trader, sniffing the air.

'This stinking buggy—' began blackbeard. 'Oops,' he said, interrupting himself and slapping at his cloak.

'Let me, trader,' said Alen. He turned back the cloak, licked his thumb, and rubbed out a crawling ring of sparks spreading across a few centimeters of the cloak's silk lining. And he looked fixedly at what had started the little fire. It was an improperly-covered slow-match protruding from a bolstered device that was unquestionably a hand weapon.

'I bought it from one of their guards while you were parleying with the policeman,' explained blackbeard embarrassedly. 'I had a time making him understand. That Garth-kint fellow helped.' He fiddled with the perforated cover of the slow-match, screwing it on more firmly.

'A pitiful excuse for a weapon,' he went on, carefully arranging his cloak over it. 'The trigger isn't a trigger and the thumb-safety isn't a safety. You pump the trigger a few times to build up pressure, and a little air squirts out to blow the match to life. Then you uncover the match and pull back the cocking-piece. This levers a dart into the barrel. Then you push the thumb-safety which puffs coaldust into the firing chamber and also swivels down the slow-match onto a touch-hole. Poof, and away goes the dart if you didn't forget any of the steps or do them in the wrong order. Luckily, I also got a knife.'

He patted the nape of his neck and said, 'That's where they carry 'em here. A little sheath between the shoulder-blades—wonderful for a fast draw-and-throw, though it exposes you a little more than I like when you reach. The knife's black glass. Splendid edge and good balance.

'And the thieving Lyrans knew they had me where it hurt. Seven thousand, five hundred credits for the knife and gun— if you can call it that—and the holsters. By rights I should dock Elwon for them, the bloody fool. Still, it's better to buy his way out and leave no hard feelings behind us, eh, Herald?'

'Incomparably better,' said Alen. 'And I am amazed that you even entertained the idea of an armed jail- delivery. What if Chief Elwon had to serve a few days in a prison? Would that be worse than forever barring yourself from the planet and blackening the names of all traders with Lyra? Trader, do not hope to put down the credits that your weapons cost you as a legitimate expense of the voyage. I will not allow it when I audit your books. It was a piece of folly on which you spent personal funds, as far as the College and Order of Heralds is concerned.'

'Look here,' protested blackboard. 'You're supposed to be spreading utilitarian civilization, aren't you? What's utilitarian about leaving one of my crewmen here?'

Alen ignored the childish argument and wrapped himself in angry silence. As to civilization, he wondered darkly whether such a trading voyage and his part in it was relevant at all. Were the slanders true? Was the College and Order simply a collection of dupes headed by cynical oldsters greedy for luxury and power?

Such thoughts hadn't crossed his mind in a long time. He'd been too busy to entertain them, cramming his head with languages, folkways, mores, customs, underlying patterns of culture, of hundreds of galactic peoples—and for what? So that this fellow could make a profit and the College and Order take a quarter of that profit. If civilization was to come to Lyra, it would have to come in the form of metal. If the Lyrans didn't want metal, make them take it.

What did Machiavelli say? 'The chief foundations of all states are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well-armed, it follows that where they are well-armed, they have good laws.' It was odd that the teachers had slurred over such a seminal idea, emphasizing instead the spiritual integrity of the weaponless College and Order—or was it?

The disenchantment he felt creeping over him was terrifying.

'The castle,' said the watchman over his shoulder, and their wagon stopped with a rattle before a large but unimpressive brick structure of five stories.

'You wait,' the trader told the driver after they got out. He handed him two of his fifty-credit bills. 'You wait, you get many, many more money.

You understand, wait?'

'I wait plenty much,' shouted the driver delightedly. 'I wait all night, all day. You wonderful master. You great, great master, I wait—'

'All right,' growled the trader, shutting him off. 'You wait.'

The watchman took them through an entrance hall lit by hissing pressure lamps and casually guarded by a few liveried men with truncheons. He threw open the door of a medium-sized, well-lit room with a score of people in it, looked in, and uttered a despairing groan.

A personage on a chair that looked like a throne said sharply, 'Are those the star-travelers? Well, don't just stand there. Bring them in!'

'Yes, your honor, Judge Krarl,' said the watchman unhappily.

'It's the wrong judge!' Alen hissed at the trader. 'This one gives out jail sentences!'

'Do what you can,' said blackbeard grimly.

The watchman guided them to the personage in the chair and indicated a couple of low stools, bowed to the chair and retired to stand at the back of the room.

'Your honor,' said Alen, 'I am Journeyman-Herald Alen, Herald for the trading voyage—'

'Speak when you're spoken to,' said the judge sharply. 'Sir, with the usual insolence of wealth you have chosen to keep us waiting. I do not take this personally; it might have happened to Judge Treel, who—to your evident dismay—I am replacing because of a sudden illness, or to any other member of the bench. But as an insult to our justice, we cannot overlook it. Sir, consider yourself reprimanded. Take your seats.

Watchman, bring in the Cephean.'

'Sit down,' Alen murmured to the trader. 'This is going to be bad.'

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