The Pirates of Ersatz-Sixteen-Persuasion from the embassy

The Pirates of Ersatz-Sixteen-Persuasion from the embassy

The plainclothesman bolted. He made a breathless report by the portable communicator set up for just such use. He told what the Embassy servant had said, and the inference to be drawn from it, the suspicions to be entertained–and there he stopped short. Orders came back to him. Orders were given in all directions. Somebody was going to distinguish himself by catching Hoddan, and undercover politics worked to decide who it should be. Even the job of guard outside the Embassy became desirable. So fresh, alert plainclothesmen arrived. They were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and they took over. Weary, hungry men yielded up their posts. They went home. The man who’d gotten the infallibly certain clue went home too, disgruntled because he wasn’t allowed a share in the credit for Hoddan’s capture. But he was glad of it later.Inside the Embassy, Hoddan finished his breakfast with the ambassador.

“I’m giving you,” said the ambassador, “that letter to the character on Darth. I told you about him. He’s some sort of nobleman and has need of an electronic engineer. On Darth they’re rare to nonexistent. But his letter wasn’t too specific.”

“I remember,” agreed Hoddan. “I’ll look him up. Thanks.”

“Somehow,” said the ambassador, “I cherish unreasonable hopes of you, Hoddan. A psychologist would say that your group identification is low and your cyclothymia practically a minus quantity, while your ergic tension is pleasingly high. He’d mean that with reasonable good fortune you will raise more hell than most. I wish you that good fortune. And Hoddan–“

“Yes?”

“I don’t urge you to be vengeful,” explained the ambassador, “but I do hope you won’t be too forgiving of these characters who’d have jailed you for life. You’ve scared them badly. It’s very good for them. Anything more you can do in that line will be really a kindness, and as such will positively not be appreciated, but it’ll be well worth doing…. I say this because I like the way you plan things. And any time I can be of service–“

“Thanks,” said Hoddan, “but I’d better get going for the spaceport.” He’d write Nedda from Darth. “I’ll get set for it.”

He rose. The ambassador stood up too.

“I like the way you plan things,” he repeated appreciatively. “We’ll check over that box.”

They left the Embassy dining room together.

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