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written by "Dongen, H. R. van"
...udibly. He flicked the switch. "Yes, Mary?" His voice rumbled out of the flabby cavern of his chest. "Mr. Mead has just filed a report on Martin Holliday, Mr. Secretary. Would you like to see it?" "Just give me a summary, Mary." Under his breath he whispered, "Summary that mummery, Mary," and a thin smile fell about his lips while he listened. "Gave him Karlshaven IV, eh?" he observed when his secretary'd finished. "O.K. Thanks, Mary." He switched off and sat thinking. Somewhere in the bowels of the Body Administrative, he knew, notations were being made and cross-filed. The addition of Karlshaven IV to the list of planets under colonization would be made, and Holliday's asking prices for land would be posted with Emigration, together with a prospectus abstracted from the General Galactic Survey. He switched the interphone on again. "Uh ... Mary? Supply me with a copy of the GenSurv on the entire Karlshaven system. Tell Mr. Mead I'll expect him in my office sometime this afternoon—you schedule it—and we'll go into it further." "Yes, Mr. Secretary. Will fifteen-fifteen be all right?" "Fifteen-fifteen's fine, uh ... Mary," Marlowe said gently. "Yes, sir," his secretary replied, abashed. "I keep forgetting about proper nomenclature." "So do I, Mary, so do I," Marlowe sighed. "Anything come up that wasn't scheduled for today?" It was a routine question, born of futile hope. There was always something to spoil the carefully planned daily schedules. "Yes and no, sir." Marlowe cocked an eyebrow at the interphone. "Well, that's a slight change, anyway. What is it?" "There's a political science observer from Dovenil—that's Moore II on our maps, sir—who's requested permission to talk to you. He's here on the usual exchange program, and he's within his privileges in asking, of course. I assume it's the ordinary thing—what's our foreign policy, how do you appl...

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