HE waited for a moment. She nodded slightly. How silent she was! Silent and unmoving. Like the ferns.
"Well, I've been able to find out a few things from them, and one very interesting fact stands out. They keep saying that something called—called The Pipers are responsible for their condition. They say the Pipers taught them—" He stopped. A strange look had flitted across her dark, small face. "Do you know the Pipers?"
Acute satisfaction flooded over Harris. "You do? I was sure the natives would know." He stood up again. "I was sure they would, if the Pipers really existed. Then they do exist, do they?"
Harris frowned. "And they're here, in the woods?"
"I see." He ground his cigarette out impatiently. "You don't suppose there's any chance you could take me to them, do you?"
"Yes. I have this problem and I have to solve it. You see, the Base Commander on Terra has assigned this to me, this business about the Pipers. It has to be solved. And I'm the one assigned to the job. So it's important to me to find them. Do you see? Do you understand?"
"Well, will you take me to them?"
The girl was silent. For a long time she sat, staring down into the water, resting her head against her knee. Harris began to become impatient. He fidgeted back and forth, resting first on one leg and then on the other.
"Well, will you?" he said again. "It's important to the whole Garrison. What do you say?" He felt around in his pockets. "Maybe I could give you something. What do I have...." He brought out his lighter. "I could give you my lighter."
The girl stood up, rising slowly, gracefully, without motion or effort. Harris' mouth fell open. How supple she was, gliding to her feet in a single motion! He blinked. Without effort she had stood, seemingly without change. All at once she was standing instead of sitting, standing and looking calmly at him, her small face expressionless.
"Will you?" he said.
"Yes. Come along." She turned away, moving toward the row of ferns.
Harris followed quickly, stumbling across the rocks. "Fine," he said. "Thanks a lot. I'm very interested to meet these Pipers. Where are you taking me, to your village? How much time do we have before nightfall?"
The girl did not answer. She had entered the ferns already, and Harris quickened his pace to keep from losing her. How silently she glided!
"Wait," he called. "Wait for me."
The girl paused, waiting for him, slim and lovely, looking silently back.
He entered the ferns, hurrying after her.
For your throne I tread with you
Everything relating to my quadra values
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.' To escape criticism—do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.