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A Gift from Earth

3rd October 2017

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“What do you mean?”

“Yours is the last business on Zur to be taken over by us. We have bought you out.”

“Our government….”

“Your governments belong to us, too,” said Broderick. “When they could not pay for the roads, the telegraphs, the civic improvements, we took them over, just as we are taking you over.”

“You mean,” exclaimed Zotul, aghast, “that you Earthmen own everything on Zur?”

“Even your armies.”

“But why?”

Broderick clasped his hands behind back, went to the window and stared down moodily into the street.

“You don’t know what an overcrowded world is like,” he said. “A street like this, with so few people and vehicles on it, would be impossible on Earth.”

“But it’s mobbed,” protested Zotul. “It gave me a headache.”

“And to us it’s almost empty. The pressure of population on Earth has made us range the Galaxy for places to put our extra people. The only habitable planets, unfortunately, are populated ones. We take the least populous worlds and—well, buy them out and move in.”

“And after that?”

Broderick smiled gently. “Zur will grow. Our people will intermarry with yours. The future population of Zur will be neither true Zurians nor true Earthmen, but a mixture of both.”

Zotul sat in silent thought. “But you did not have to buy us out. You had the power to conquer us, even to destroy us. The whole planet could have been yours alone.” He stopped in alarm. “Or am I suggesting an idea that didn’t occur to you?”

“No,” said Broderick, his usually smiling face almost pained with memory. “We know the history of conquest all too well. Our method causes more distress than we like to inflict, but it’s better—and more sure—than war and invasion by force. Now that the unpleasant job is finished, we can repair the dislocations.”

“At last I understand what you said about the tortoise.”

“Slow but sure.” Broderick beamed again and clapped Zotul on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. You’ll have your job back, the same as always, but you’ll be working for us … until the children of Earth and Zur are equal in knowledge and therefore equal partners. That’s why we had to break down your caste system.”

Zotul’s eyes widened. “And that is why my brothers did not beat me when I failed!”

“Of course. Are you ready now to take the assignment papers for you and your brothers to sign?”

“Yes,” said Zotul. “I am ready.”


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