Prior Coeur de Laine stepped off the luxury spacecraft Dromedary and surveyed the multitudes greeting the ship's arrival from the lofty platform on which debarking space travelers were received. They did not seem much interested in the travelers, himself included. But among them were people whose business it was to receive him.
In good order, Laine stepped into an elevator and was taken to the ground, where he stepped forth most properly and officially into the bright but not unpleasant sunlight of Rigel Major.
"I am an Earthman," he told the assemblage who were meeting him. It was an important statement. The assembly did not fully know who he was or what he wanted. He had caused considerable consternation by his presence in this part of this galaxy---he seemed to be up to something big, and have a lot of backing as well as a lot of ability to deal with such matters as he had been stirring up. Everywhere he had been, there was a lot of reaction, and a lot of new activity not resembling what had been there before. Now he was on Rigel's fifth planet and its most intergalactically concerned and active. What could he have to say here?
"I am an Earthman," he repeated. The men present, who had been inclined to give him a difficult time, had fallen into order as he spoke, and now chose deference as their attitude, as it was what he seemed to expect, although Earth was here considered a lowlier planet.
"Your business here?" someone inquired, after his statement had been given its time, and a lot of it had been required. The inquirer hoped to get a direct answer by asking a direct question at this opportune moment.
"I have come from the planet Earth, third planet of the star Sol," Laine said. "Having stated this I have said it all. My business is hereby known."
There was a certain amount of objection to this. "It's no more known than Peter" could be heard from afar. But Laine was bound for his reception. The people had to stand aside and allow him to pass, escorted by diplomats.
In times following his arrival, he was given a tour of the spaceport city. This being accomplished, he was taken to a nearby area which dealt with the planet, and discussed with them how the planet was, and then they discussed all of the other planets in the Rigellian system, as exercise, and went into the significance the system had in the cosmos. It was grand. He was asked somewhat jokingly if he intended to become a Rigellian.
"I am an Earthman," he said. He gave the question no further attention.
When asked questions about Earth, he would not answer them. "Earth is," he said. "That is all that need be said about it." He moved around, letting them look at an Earthman from various perspectives. "When it is said that a man is an Earthman, that has said it all," he said.
He let them think it all over, how there was Earth and how he was from it. "Earth is to be contemplated, not known," he said. "Consider that there is Earth." He would not let them form any conclusions about these considerations. They contemplated the existence of Earth as long as they were able. When they had finished, he let them know again, "Earth is." And it seemed to them all that he had accomplished a part of his business. They waited for him to go on to the next phase of it.
He continued to tour the planet, viewing its many aspects. Finally he got ready to leave again. As he boarded the spaceship, they asked him if he had anything else to say. "I have been an Earthman," he told them, "and I still am. I am returning to Earth."
They watched him depart. It was a long trip back there, but he would be happy on it. He knew that he was an Earthman and that Earth still was. He had told them what he had come to say. Already as he travelled he was partly back on Earth, being an Earthman, and soon he would be there.
The Rigellians had heard Earth's message.
Copyright © 2002 by John Thiel