When you've had your ears pinned back in a bowknot, it's sometimes hard to remember that an intelligent people has no respect for a whipped enemy... but does for a fairly beaten enemy.
. The Jeks had been giving us light machinery lately--probably we'd get two or three more loads, and then they'd begin giving us something else.
But I found that this trip wasn't quite the same. I found myself looking at the factor's post, and I realized for the first time that the Lud hadn't built it. It was a leftover from the old colonial human government. And the city on the horizon--men had built it; the touch of our architecture was on every building. I wondered why it had never occurred to me that this was so. It made the landfall different from all the others, somehow. It gave a new face to the entire planet.
* * * * *
Mac and I and some of the other crewmen went down on the field to handle the unloading. Jeks on self-propelled cargo lifts jockeyed among us, scooping up the loads as we unhooked the slings, bringing cases of machinery from their own ship. They sat atop their vehicles, lean and aloof, dashing in, whirling, shooting across the field to their ship and back like wild h
Good story by Budrys. After an interstellar war (which Earth lost), contact with other stars is limited to trade. When a commercial freighter finds out what their new engine room mechanic used to be, they expect trouble with their old enemies. They get something else.
Nice characterizations all around, interesting plot twist.
An elegant little story from a modern master.