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.'But I'm an idiot.The number's gone, but we can get it in a flash from Interplanetary' Registry.''I fear,' said Dr.Urth, 'that I must dispute at least the second part of your statement.Registry will have only the ship's original legitimate number, not the disguised coordinate to which the captain must have altered it.'The exact spot on the hull,' Davenport muttered.'And because of that chance shot the asteroid may be lost forever.What use to anybody are two coordinates without the third?''Well,' said Dr.Urth precisely, 'conceivably of very great use to a two-dimensional being.But creatures of our dimensions,' he patted his paunch, 'do require the third—which I fortunately happen to have right here.''In the T.B.I, dossier? But we just checked the list of numbers——''Your list, Inspector.The file also includes young Vernadsk's original report.And of course the serial number listed there for the Robert Q.is the carefully faked one under which she was then sailing—no point in rousing the curiosity of a repair mechanic by letting him note a discrepancy.'Davenport reached for a scratch pad and the Vernadsky list.A moment's calculation and he grinned.Dr.Urth lifted himself out of the chair with a pleased puff and trotted to the door.'It is always pleasant to see you.Inspector Davenport.Do come again.And remember the government can have the uranium, but I want the important thing: one giant silicony, alive and in good condition.' He was smiling.'And preferably,' said Davenport, 'whistling.' Which he was doing himself as he walked out.AfterwordOf course, there is a catch about writing a mystery.You are apt to concentrate so bard on the mystery itself, on occasion, as to lose sight of important peripheral values.After this story first appeared, I received quite a bit of mail expressing interest in the silicony and, in some cases, finding fault with me for allowing it to die in so coldblooded a fashion.As I reread the story now, I must admit the readers are right.I showed a lack of sensitivity to the silicony's rather pathetic death because I was concentrating on his mysterious last words.If I had to do it over again, I would certainly be warmer in my treatment of the poor thing.I apologize.This shows that even experienced writers don't always do the Right Thing, and can miss something that is bobbing up and down right at mustache level.ForewordThis next story is not, in the strictest sense of the word, a science fiction mystery, yet I include it.The reason is that science is closely and intimately involved with the mystery, and I hesitate to penalize it by non-inclusion merely because the science is of the present rather than of the future.What's in a Name ?If you think it's hard to get hold of potassium cyanide, think again.I stood there with a pound bottle in my hand.Brown glass, a nice clear label saying 'Potassium Cyanide CP' (the initials, I was told, meaning 'chemically pure') with a small skull and crossbones underneath.The fellow who owned the bottle polished his glasses and blinked at me.He was Associate Professor Helmuth Rodney of Carmody University.He was of middle height, stocky, with a soft chin, plump lips, a budding paunch, a shock of brown hair, and a look of complete indifference to the fact that I was holding in my hand enough poison to kill a regiment.I said, 'Do you mean to say this just stands on your shelf, Professor?'He said in the kind of deliberate tone he probably used in lecturing his students, 'Yes, it always has, Inspector.Along with the rest of the chemicals in alphabetic order.'I glanced about the cluttered room.Shelves lined the upper reaches of all the walls, and bottles, large and small, filled them all.This one,' I pointed out, 'is poison.''A great many of them are,' he said with composure.'Do you keep track of what you've got?''In a general way.' He rubbed his chin.'I know I have that bottle.''But suppose someone came in here and helped himself to a spoonful of this stuff.Would you be able to tell ?'Professor Rodney shook his head.'I couldn't possibly.''Well, then, who could get into this laboratory ? It is kept locked?'He said, 'It's locked when I leave in the evening, unless I forget.During the day, it isn't locked, and I'm in and out.''In other words.Professor, anyone could come in here, even someone from the street, walk off with some of the cyanide, and no one would ever know.''I'm afraid so.''Tell me [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]