The Languages of Pao | Chapter 11 of 26

Author: Jack Vance | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1206 Views | Add a Review

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Page 17

Bustamonte, wearing the Utter Black, maintained an expressionless face with great effort. He made the ceremonial inquiry: "What fortunate wind casts you upon our shores?"

Cormoran Benbarth, a tall young bravo with braided blond hair and magnificent blond mustaches, studied Bustamonte through eyes blue as cornflowers, wide and innocent as the Paonese sky.

"My mission is simple," he said. "I have come into possession of the North Faden Barony, which as you may or may not know is hard against the south countries of the Griffin Clan. I require funds for fortification and recruitment of followers. "

"Ah," said Bustamonte. Cormoran Benbarth tugged at the drooping blond mustache.

clear that he must swallow his pride and petition those whose offices he had once rejected: the dominies of Breakness Institute.

Assuming the identity of an itinerant engineer, Bustamonte took passage to the depot planet journal and there boarded a packet for the voyage through the outer Marklaides. Presently he arrived at Breakness.

A lighter came up to meet the packet. Bustamonte gratefully departed the cramped hull, and was conveyed down through gigantic crags to the

Institute.

At the terminus, he encountered none of the formalities which gave occupation to a numerous branch of the Paonese civil service; in fact he was given no notice whatever.

Bustamonte became vexed. He went to the portal, looked down across the city. To the left were factories and workshops, to the right the austere mass of the Institute, in between the various houses, manors and lodges, each with its appended dormitory.

A stern-faced young man--hardly more than a lad--tapped him on the arm, motioned him to the side. Bustamonte stepped back as a draft of twenty young women with hair pale as cream moved past him. They entered a scarab-shaped car, which slid away down-slope.

No other vehicle could be seen, and the terminal was now almost empty.

Bustamonte, white with anger, the knobs of muscles twitching in his cheeks, at last admitted that either he was not expected, or that no one had thought to meet him. It was intolerable! He would command attention; it was his due!

He strode to the center of the terminus, and made imperious motions.

One or two persons paused curiously, but when he commanded them in Paonese to fetch a responsible authority, they looked at him blankly and continued on their way.

Bustamonte ceased his efforts; the terminus was vacant except for himself. He recited one of the rolling Paonese curses, and went once more

lane.

Chilled to the bone, his lungs aching, he arrived at the first house. The rock-melt walls rose above him, bare of opening. He trudged along the face of the building, but could find no entrance; and so crying out in anguish and rage, he continued down the road.

The sky was dark; small pellets of sleet began to sting the back of his neck. He ran to another house, and this time found a door, but no one responded to his pounding. He turned away, shivering and shaking, feet numb, fingers aching. The gloom was now so thick he could barely distinguish the way.

Lights shone from windows of the third house; again no one responded to his pounding at the door. In fury Bustamonte seized a rock, threw it at the nearest window. The glass clanged: a satisfying noise. Bustamonte threw another rock, and at last attracted attention. The door opened;

Bustamonte fell inside stiff as a toppling tree.

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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