Northwest Smith is one of the great adventurers of Science Fiction, one of that group of cool, gray-eyed men who roam the spaceways and provide much of the inspiration for the legends that are a part of the folklore of space. Here is Northwest Smith, in a rare moment of peace, in a remarkable vignette, published here by permission of the author.
He had been promising himself this moment for how many lonely months and years on alien worlds?
and years on alien worlds?
Beneath him the clovered hill-slope was warm in the sun. Northwest Smith moved his shoulders against the earth and closed his eyes, breathing so deeply that the gun holstered upon his chest drew tight against its strap as he drank the fragrance of Earth and clover warm in the sun. Here in the hollow of the hills, willow-shaded, pillowed upon clover and the lap of Earth, he let his breath run out in a long sigh and drew one palm across the grass in a caress like a lover's.
He had been promising himself this moment for how long--how many months and years on alien worlds? He would not think of it now. He would not remember the dark spaceways or the red slag of Martian drylands or the pearl-gray days on Venus when he had dreamed of the Earth that had outlawed him. So he lay, with his eyes closed and the sunlight drenching him through, no sound in his ears but the passage of a breeze through the grass and a creaking of some insect nearby--the violent, blood-smelling years behind