Almost anything, if it goes on long enough, can be reduced to, first a Routine, and then, to a Tradition. And at the point it is, obviously, Necessary.
Two lines of troops, surfacely differing in uniforms and in weapons, but basically so very the same, so evenly matched, came to attention. A thousand hands slapped a thousand submachine gun stocks.
Marshal Vladimir Ignatov strode stiff-kneed down the long march, the stride of a man for years used to cavalry boots. He was flanked by frozen visaged subordinates, but none so cold of face as he himself.
At the entrance to the conference hall he stopped, turned and waited.
At the end of the corridor of troops a car stopped and several figures emerged, most of them in civilian dress, several bearing brief cases. They in their turn ran the gantlet.
At their fore walked James Warren Donlevy, spritely, his eyes darting here, there, politician-like. A half smile on his face, as though afraid he might forget to greet a voter he knew, or was supposed to know.
His hand was out before that of Vladimir Ignatov's.
"Your Excellency," he said.
At times this story is amusing and makes valid social comments. Even today. The leader of the Communist bloc and the president of the western democracy come together for their annual meeting to agree to and uneasy peace. The two are old friends and drinking buddies. The final three or four paragraphs turn it into a science fiction story.
The two leaders are good characters; the plot is kind of rambling and humorous.