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dozen stars that still remained in their sky dimmer than before, but not
swallowed into the star burst.
None of them were anything like the spectrograms Pal Sorricaine had so
doggedly gleaned of the stars that had flared and died all about them. The
Sorricaine-Mtiga objects were still unique.
None of the spectrograms made any sense to Viktor, either. The dead observers
had left their own speculations, but none of them was convincing. None of them
explained what it was that had stolen most of the stars out of the sky. And
they were all so very old that there was nothing at all about the fireball
that had dominated the sky for so long.
When Balit came back from school Viktor was still puzzling over the
transmission. He displayed it all over again for Balit, but repetition didn t
make it clearer. Balit didn t do any homework that night. He and Viktor ate
quickly and returned to the desk. It was the objects from
Nebo that seemed most fascinating to the boy.  But what can they be? he
asked, not for the first time, and, not for the first time, Viktor shook his
head.
 The only way to find out is to investigate them. Somebody made them, after
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all
somebody from Gold, or somewhere else, but still some person.
They can be opened up.
Balit shivered.  People did try, Viktor. More than twenty of them were
killed.
 People die for a lot less important reasons, Viktor said roughly.  Naturally
it would have to be done with a lot of precautions. Systematically. The way
people used to defuse bombs in wars.
 What are  wars, Viktor?
But Viktor refused to be sidetracked. They pored over the material until it
was late and
Balit, yawning, said,  I don t know if I understand, Viktor. Are our stars the
only ones still alive, anywhere?
 That s the way it looks, Balit.
 But stars live forever, Viktor, the boy said drowsily.
 Not forever. For a long time  Viktor stopped, remembering a joke. He laughed
as he got ready to tell it.  There used to be a story about that, Balit. A
student is asking his astronomy
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Frederik Pohi
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teacher a question:  Pardon me, professor, but when did you say the sun would
turn into a red giant and burn us all up?
 The professor says,  In about five billion years.
 So the student says,  Oh, thank God! I thought you said five million. 
But Balit didn t laugh. He was sleeping. And as Viktor carried the boy to his
bed, he wasn t laughing, either.
Viktor sought out the one of Balit s parents at home. He found Frit painting
something on a large screen.  I m sorry I kept him so late. We got to talking
about why all these things had happened 
 Where you go wrong, Viktor, Frit told him serenely,  is in always asking
why. There doesn t have to be a why. You don t have to understand things; it s
enough to feel.
Viktor looked uncomprehendingly at the designs Frit was painting on the
screen. The screen, he saw, was flimsy, it would be transferred to the wall of
the room that would some day be Ginga s. It was a wall poem. He laughed.  So I
shouldn t try to understand why you re doing that? When Ginga isn t even born,
and won t be able to read for years yet?
 No, Viktor, that is very easy to understand, Frit said indulgently.  When
Ginga learns to read I want her first words to come from her father. No, he
went on, brushing in another character in a chartreuse flourish and looking
critically at the result,  it is this obsession of yours for understanding the
sky that worries me. It upsets Balit, I m afraid. What s the use of it? The
sky is the sky, Viktor. It has nothing to do with our lives.
 But you ve written poems about the sky!
 Ah, but that is art
. I write poems about what people feel about the sky. No one can experience
the sky, Viktor; one can only look at it and see it as an object of art. He
shook his wooly head in reproof.  All these things you tell to Balit hydrogen
atoms fusing into helium, suns exploding and dying there s no feeling there.
They re just horrid mechanical things.
In spite of himself, Viktor was amused.  Aren t you even curious?
 About stars? Not at all! About the human heart, of course.
 But science  Viktor stopped, shaking his head.  I don t see how you can talk
that way, Frit. Don t you want to know things? Don t you want to have Balit
understand science? He waved an arm around the future nursery.  If it weren t
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for science, how could you and Forta have had a child?
 Ah, but that s useful science, Viktor! That s worth knowing about not like [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]