They didn't think of themselves as pioneers. They simply had a job to do. And if they had to give upmoney, or power, or love—or life itself—that was the FEE OF THE FRONTIER
ells, leaving me there with the unspoken punch line about what they were supposed to have dug up with the Martian.
Well, that build-up was wasted, I thought.
* * * * *
Quite a number of sandeaters, as time passed, seemed to drift in and out of the back room. Finally, Howlet showed up again.
"How'd you make out?" I asked when he had a drink in his hand.
"I left my usual deposit," he grinned, "but you ought to see Meadows! Is he ever plugging their pipes! He ran Mercury to Pluto, and it paid off big."
"It ought to; no one ever makes it."
"He did it twice! Plus other combinations. With him making out our daily menus, I'll never know why I'm not lucky too. Know what he's doing?"
I lifted an eyebrow.
"He's lending money to every loafer that puts the beam on him. But the guy has to show a non-transferrable ticket for passage to Earth."
"Darn few can," I grunted.
"That's why he keeps sending them out with the price of one
An old spaceman, forced to retire to Mars after too much time and radiation between planets, reminisces about three guys on a rocket crew he adopted for a night of barhopping, gambling, and womanizing in one of Mars' domed cities. He is paternal and envious of the guys, and it isn't until the ending that you learn the point of the story.
Nice characterizations, descriptions, and plotting. An imaginative construction of a colony and a way of life.