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A Stone In Heaven by Poul Anderson

By Poul Anderson

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Meanwhile, his wife and several others knew about it all. There was no way, under these conditions, to arrange an abduction or assassination. Anything untoward would be too damnably suspicious, in a period when a degree of suspicion was already aimed at Cairncross. Well, I've made my own contingency plans. I didn't foresee this turn of events exactly, but-- Decision crystallized. Yes, I'll go to Terra myself. My speedster can outrun her by days. Cairncross made a fighting grin. Whatever came next should at least be interesting!

Only one of her few affairs had been a matter of real love, but none had been casual. Thus she found herself more alone, more daunted among a million people and a thousand towers, than ever in a wildwood or the barrenness of a moon. Maybe those numbers, million, thousand, were wrong. It felt as if she could see that many from the groundside terminal, but she was dazed. She did know that they went on beyond sight, multiplied over and over around the curve of the planet. Archopolis was merely a nexus; no matter if the globe had blue oceans and green open spaces--some huge, being property of nobility--it was a single city.

Her tone softened. "I don't want to quarrel, Sten. You mean well, I know. " "I care about you, my very dear friend," he said. And it hurt you from the start to learn what I'd lost, she did not answer aloud. My marriage--Already established in the profession when he took a fresh graduate from the Galactic Academy for his bride, Feodor Sumarokov had seen their appointments to Ramnu as a steppingstone to higher positions; when he left after three years, she would not. My true love--She had never wedded Jason Kamunya, because they wanted to do that back on Dayan where her parents were, and somehow they never found a time when so long an absence wouldn't harmfully interrupt their research, and meanwhile they could live and work together ...

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