The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Planet That Time Forgot

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Title: The Planet That Time Forgot

Author: Donald A. Wollheim

Illustrator: Leo Morey

Release date: April 10, 2020 [eBook #61797]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at




Out beyond furthest Pluto, beyond pale Neptune,
roared the Stardust. Rocketing toward
the monstrous new planet that filled the heavens.
Planet "P"—the colossus that Time forgot!

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Planet Stories Fall 1940.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

She stood upon the high battlements of the palace, overlooking the land of Toom, with sunlight splashing over the beauty and radiance of her. She, Oomith, mataiya of Toom. Her eyes wandered to the road that wound, ribbon-like, far beyond her land, out into the great reaches of her world, out into Nimbor. Nimbor, whose lords even now were in session with Toom's officials, demanding the land's surrender to their superior forces. Nimbor, whose rulers offered life to the heads of Toom's commonwealth providing the mataiya mate with their prince.

She stood, trying to drink in the splendor of the land, for this might be a last time. What her answer would be as Directress of Internal Relations she well knew; what her answer, as woman, to Aald of Nimbor would be she knew even better. But now she must return to the council meeting.

Danuth, Head Center of Toom, was speaking as she re-entered. "What you demand, Aald of Nimbor, is the commonwealth's freedom, and our officers, in return for petty sinecures under your proposed regime. And the mataiya in marriage, as if it were in the power of any save she to grant that."

She did not flush as the insolent eyes of the young man across the table fell upon her, appraised, then leered approval at her. Her voice was clear and cold as she said:

"You boast loudly of your war-machine, Aald of Nimbor. You remark casually that you could crush our armies with a mere handful of men. But you say you are willing to spare our lives if we surrender without a struggle.

"In return for what do you offer us life, prince of Nimbor? Serfdom and misery for our people under Nimbor's hand; the stigma of cowardice upon us. I shall not argue with you. My answer is final: no!"

She glanced at Danuth, met the grim smile in his eyes. Was it possible that the careful building of decades would soon be wiped away? That the hopes and plans of Toom and her people lay helpless before the whims of this arrogant child with the lusts and appetites of a man? In Toom, he would still be a student, learning the responsibilities as well as the rights of citizenship. A coldness ran through her as she pictured Toom under his rule. Then Danuth's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"Even if the mataiya had not taken the initiative, my answer would still be the same. No, Aald of Nimbor, no. If you mean to enslave us, you will have to work for your victory. And, superior war-machine or not, the people of Toom will make your triumph a hardly-bought one, if indeed you can triumph against a free people."

It was hard to keep a calm face as the prince tried first to scowl, then to sneer. If only this were the comic melodrama it should have been! But, no—if Nimbor's claims were based on fact, then there would be no more laughter for Toom and her people. Aald's tones were mockingly courteous.

"You speak well, Danuth, but your words prove your incapacity to govern anyone. What were your redoubtable Lugarth and the invincible hordes from Bhuur, of which you Toomians make so much? In whose name you still deem yourself secure from conquest? They were no more than barbarians—savages armed with spears and swords. Good fighters, I grant you, but helpless before the new warfare of which I am master.

"Do you think I am lying? This is your last chance. When you see your armies burn to cinders before your eyes, see your fields and towns incinerated, then it will be too late to bargain. Then you will come to me with pleas for peace, but I shall not hear you."

His eyes fell upon her again possessively. "Then I shall not honor you with the title of princess, Oomith of Toom. Woe to the conquered.

"You forget the matter of scientific progress, Toomians. We left your stupid notions of international relations behind long ago. If you surrender now, I guarantee the land of Toom the same care as I bestow upon Nimbor; otherwise, it shall be treated as a conquered province."

He stood up glaring. "I give you your last chance. Yield now!"

She rose lightly, as did the others, meeting his gaze with eyes steady and unafraid. "Toom does not yield. Earn your victory if you can; we are ready." A chorus of assents indicated that she spoke for all.

Aald bowed with an exaggerated gesture, swept a final lecherous glance in her direction, then withdrew as Danuth rang a bell signaling attendants. Once the other had gone, he sank back into the chair, his eyes passing from one official to another. She gripped his hand.

"Do you think he can do as he claims?"

"I greatly fear so. The reports from our agents sound incredible—almost like wizardry. A projector that casts an invisible light, causing whomsoever it touches to die at once, as if boiling to death. If they be true, then Toom is lost."

Down below, in another part of the palace, the emissaries of Nimbor prepared to depart. Aald was whispering to one. What he said was scarcely understood, but the smiles on the faces of both could be taken as indicative.

"We will be waiting at the Corian Gate," said Aald in departing. The other bowed, and beckoned to two attendants of Nimbor.

An hour passed. At the Corian Gate to the palace grounds, facing the wide smooth road that led to Nimbor, a thousand miles away, rested a black, torpedo-shaped two-wheeled vehicle, now balanced by temporary legs set out from it. Painted on the door to its single cabin was the Imperial Shield of Nimbor.

Seated within, at the controls, was a man of Nimbor's party. Occasional puffs of smoke emitted from the rocket tubes at the rear as the ship was being kept ready for instant use. Aald himself waited impatiently in the road, fretting under the watchful eyes of the commonwealth guards at the gate. Finally he caught sight of something, and addressed the guards.

"They are my companions. Open the gate, guards, and let them through." He seemed to stare a moment at the oncomers, then called. "What's the matter with Eldh? Why are you carrying him?"

One of the two men approaching answered: "He slipped on a staircase and fell, Your Highness. He is unconscious and seems to have broken his leg. We thought it best to give temporary treatment now then bring him back with us; it is why we were late, Your Highness."

The prince nodded approval, motioned them to hasten. As they went through the gates, one of the Toomian guards looked down at the face of the black-covered body and checked it off his list. The men of Nimbor entered the rocketmobile, shut the door. A terrific roar as the vehicle got under way, then it had vanished down the long road.

Inside the conveyance Aald bent over the unconscious figure, looked down at the scarred masculine features of one of the soldiers who had accompanied him. Then, with a chuckle, he put his hand on the yellow hair and pulled. The entire face seemed to fall apart. Beneath the extremely convincing mask was the face of Oomith, lying unconscious.

"It worked beautifully," he commented. "What of Eldh? Did he make his escape through the merchants' entrance as planned?"

"Yes, Highness. They suspected nothing. Nor did we have any trouble in kidnaping the mataiya. There were no guards by her room, and she had succumbed before she suspected the presence of a gas-tube. They won't know she is missing before we have arrived in the city."

Within the hour, the rocketmobile had passed the border and was in the capital of Nimbor.

It was noon on the day set for attack. Aald and the commanders of the staff awaited the emperor's coming within a small enclosure just inside the walls of Nimbor. Outside, in the road beyond the open gate, a rocket vehicle awaited in readiness to take them to the front. Oomith was there as well.

"You see," drawled Aald, "we make good our boast. Very soon you will be joined by Danuth and the other commonwealth officials as our prisoner. You really should have married me when you had the chance; it would have saved many lives."

Oomith stared at him frostily. "The people of Toom would never have yielded to such filth as you, even had we betrayed them. It would have made no difference. We of Toom have self respect and honor to a degree that I fear is outside of your understanding."

His laugh was not pleasant. "Still prattling over your little foolishness. Honor, respect—what are they to the destinies of nations and dynasties? Such delusions are hardly worthy of the Oomith I might have married."

He seized a scroll from one of the officers standing nearby, shook it before her. "Here! Here is honor and respect. Here is such a thing as makes greatness. These are the designs of our war machines; this is what will teach the Toomians respect."

Without answering, Oomith snatched the paper cylinder out of Aald's hand and darted forward. Straight toward the open gate she fled, toward the rocketmobile outside. A wild, insane scheme of seizing this and escaping to her own land in time possessed her.

Caught off guard, the men were already at a disadvantage; they knew even as they raced she could not be caught before reaching the gate. With energy born of desperation, she hurled herself forward. But, just as she was upon it, two soldiers stepped through and dashed at her.

At this point occurred what has gone down in history as the miracle that saved Toom. It is something for which no parallel in all history can be found. It caused Oomith to rise from the status of a beautiful and capable mataiya to that of a goddess.

Oomith stated later what were her feelings and experiences. She saw the two oncoming soldiers quite clearly. Her only thought then was to dash between them. Then, there came a terrible shock. An awful jolting as if she had been struck by a thunderbolt. The scene before her eyes dissolved instantaneously into a featureless gray; she felt herself seemingly detached as one might feel in the throes of delirium. For only a few seconds the strange sensation lasted. The only thing that she remembered seeing was the momentary impression of a single vision hanging before her eyes.

What she saw was a man. She does not recollect how he was clad. He seemed to be sitting on a bench. Behind him she saw distinctly a blue wall, in nature, metallic. In the wall was an open door through which only grayness could be seen. The face of the man was held close to hers; he seemed to be staring at her. It was the face of a middle-aged man, of one powerful. Two clear brown eyes looked into hers; a mass of wavy chestnut hair surmounted the godlike brow. And the figure was smiling.

For only the minutest fraction of a second this lasted, then the grayness returned. Yet, in a few seconds, it, too, had cleared away. The terrible blankness and queer feeling vanished abruptly as it had come. She could again see about her.

The castle of Aald and the men of Nimbor apparently had dissolved. Above her rose the sides of the palace of the Directors of Toom. And about her were the men of Toom. For a moment, Oomith and the men stared at one another, each mutually startled and disbelieving what they saw. Finally one of them recovered sufficiently to speak.

"Mataiya Oomith! We thought you were being held captive in Nimbor; what do you here? How did you get here?"

She could only reply hesitatingly: "I don't know. I was at Nimbor, trying to escape. Then everything went dark, and I found myself standing here." She started to put a hand to her forehead, then saw she was holding something. The scroll! Her eyes flashed.

"Quick! Summon the council. I have here the plans for the death machine of Nimbor. Bid them hurry. We have no time to lose!"

Joris, military director of Toom, pounded the table with his fist. "Damn! We know everything the enemy knows, now. We have the plans so that we can meet them on their own terms. But they're on their way to attack us now, and we haven't even a working model. It's all here—but only on paper.

"We can save Toom, yes—but we cannot prevent the devastation of our fields and towns, nor the slaughter of our helpless non-combatants. We can only exact a vengeance and prevent a final triumph on the part of the enemy!"

Before Danuth could speak, a man burst into the chamber, hair disheveled, gasping for breath. On his face was an expression of amazement and joy commingled. Twice he tried to speak and could emit only gasps for breath. He clasped the shoulders of Joris, turned to the others. At length speech returned to him, and he spoke slowly, deliberately.

"The weapons of Nimbor are ours. They are here, within the walls of the palace. I cannot tell you how they came, nor can any of the guards. But we have all seen them, have examined their workings. We do not yet understand their principles—"

At this point, another man burst in, equally distrait and out of breath. "Directors!" he cried. "Toom is saved!" He fell to rapid, heavy breathing while his eyes sought first one, then another of those assembled. He waved his hand reassuringly as Danuth started to speak.

"No, Directors, I speak truly. I am one of the prison guards. We suddenly heard noises from one of the unoccupied cells. Naturally, we hurried over and looked in. Inside, we saw Aald and the Emperor of Nimbor, with his entire staff. They don't know how they got there—I presumed that you would not want us to release them immediately."

A roar of laughter from Joris greeted the speaker. He smote the guard on the back with the palm of his huge hand, so that the fellow staggered against the table.

"No, not immediately! We have other things to do first. But we're not too busy to vote you the order of the commonwealth. And see if there isn't a better position for you to fill than that of prison guard."

He turned to the others. "The enemy will be completely disorganized and demoralized by this. I propose we move at once upon Nimbor, attack strategic points and refrain as much as possible from such destruction as will make miserable the lot of the Nimborian people, who are not responsible for their degenerate rulers. I propose we make contacts with the Nimborian commoners and urge them immediately to revolt against what is left of the Aald-Rhankur regime, strike for their own freedom."

(And now, we must go back in time, must travel to another part of space. We must leave Planet P, where lie Nimbor and Toom, for a return to Earth-time. Only thus can we have a logical understanding of the events related above.)


At an angle above the plane of the ecliptic over the orbits of the asteroids was a long metal craft, resembling somewhat a cross between a towerless submarine and an all-metal zeppelin. In the forward cabin, six men were gathered. They comprised the entire crew and command of the vessel. Although an official meeting, there was about it none of the stiffness that marks such an event in military circles on Earth: on an interplanetary vessel every man's life is in the hands of every other man. The captain is obeyed, not because of his rank, primarily, but because the lives of all depend upon explicit conformation to discipline. But in this vital discipline, there is no place for the sham of stiff-necked formality; thus, captain, officer, or member of the crew spoke to each other with frankness and mutual respect.

Captain Wanderman looked around, mentally checking to see if all were present: Lieutenant Alfred Rokesmith; Weber, the scientist; Opp, explorer and cook extraordinary; Mullins, skilled mechanical specialist; Barth, doctor and general overseer of vital supplies.

Wanderman smiled. "I guess you're all eager to find out whither we're heading, eh?"

"We sure would," spoke up Opp.

"Especially after that terrifically long period of acceleration," added Weber. "Three days of it ... beats all my experience."

"It was necessary to achieve our speed. We're going a long way ... have to make the trip as short as possible. We'll be putting on still more acceleration once the asteroids are behind us."

"Neptune?" asked Barth. "Pluto?"

"Farther than either."

"You don't mean Planet P, do you?" spoke up Mullins. "The one that was discovered last year, that hasn't been given a name yet?"


"I never did get quite clear on the subject of Planet P," drawled Rokesmith. "Just how was it discovered?"

Captain Wanderman cleared his throat. "Few people are; even the experts don't know much about it.

"Its existence was first surmised and calculated in 1931—about a hundred years ago—by Professor William H. Pickering of Jamaica. He observed that the planet Uranus was being displaced from its proper orbit. Of course, this perturbation could be due only to the influence of another planet, he thought. But there was no other body known at that time which could account for the drag. Thus, the Professor computed mathematically the existance, approximate size, and position of an unknown body which would account for the odd behavior of Uranus. This he calculated to be a giant planet of a diameter of approximately 44,000 miles, in mass the third greatest in the solar system. He puts its distance to range in an eliptical orbit of from 5,000 million miles to 9,000 million miles from the sun. This, of course, made it extra-Plutonian in position. Its year would be in length about 656 Earthly years. He gave it the temporary name of Planet P.

"Planet P's existence was further indicated by the orbits of some sixteen comets, also affected by a drag which the theoretical planet made perfectly accountable. Last year the planet Neptune had finally arrived in the position where it, too, would be affected by this body. You understand: the astronomers, calculating both known and theoretical factors, determined that, if this Planet P existed, an irregularity in Neptune's behavior would be discovered at this particular time. The predicted irregularity arrived on time; thus, due to this added information, our astronomers were able to find out precisely where the new planet should be sought. And they found it. It is indeed an immense thing, shows a perceptible disc even at its great distance from Earth. We may anticipate something different when we arrive."

Days went by. Endless days marked only by the chronometer in the unchanging blackness of the celestial void. The tiny pinpoints of myriad stars glowed unchangingly. Behind them, a few planets grew more and more minute, each in turn finally being blotted out by the corona of the sun. Jupiter's orbit was left behind; they saw the great ringed planet loom up to one side and fade away as all the others had done. But this was not with the flashing speed of objects and cities passing the rocket-vehicle on Earth. It was a matter of days before each change could be realized, weeks before a planet filled the entire spaceports.

Onward and outward. Celebrations when at last Uranus was passed, the hitherto outpost of interplanetary exploration. Eventually pale Neptune, mysterious planet, passed under them, directly in their path, its great misty, frigid sphere glowing eerily in the twilight of outer worlds.

Outward. Tiny Pluto was too far off to be seen, but its orbit was passed. For a hundred years, the outpost of the solar system. Now dethroned by the enormous newcomer, its passing was still a solemn moment. Then, one day Barth observed a tiny light where no light should be. Celebration again rang through the vessel: Planet P was sighted!

Days of deceleration followed. The rockets flamed, but no longer from the stern of the vessel. Days of a continual blasting from the vessel's prow until at last the unbelievable acceleration was neutralized. Now the planet had grown, until, even with their greatly decreased speed, it filled the view. Still more blasting until the ship was virtually drifting along, caught only by the gravity of the monstrous new world.

A great disk glowing dimly in the light of the stars, especially in the light of one particularly brilliant star that was the Earthmen's sun. The vaguest hints of geological features could be seen. Planet P.

The rockets flared again in an intricate pattern. Balanced on the pattern, the ship was lowered, slowly, into the atmosphere of the strange world. About it flamed a red glow as proof of atmosphere. An atmosphere, doubtless, of some unknown gases that would not congeal in the awful cold. And, finally, a shrill whistling penetrating the triple-thick walls, a dull thud, and a silence as she came to rest.

The voyage was over. Man had reached the outermost limits of the solar system, had arrived safely at the mysterious outer world, Planet P.

The men gathered in space suits. "Each man will take searchlights and emergency rations. You will obey Lieutenant Rokesmith and myself implicitly; only on pledges of such obedience from all of you can I permit a planet-party to land."

Each member of the crew spoke his agreement.

"Mullins, take a coil of rope; Weber, the barometer and compass; Barth, the camera and flash. Are you sure your gravity controls are adjusted to decrease your weight to Earth normal? Make sure, everyone—that goes for me, too."


Rokesmith turned the lever and swung the thick outer port open. Wanderman stepped out onto the ground; the others followed.

Above them was a deep blue sky strewn with stars, though lacking in the abundant distribution of the outer void. Beneath their feet lay a clay-like expanse. They looked about them.

There was something dark looming up in the starlight a distance away. The captain started off in that direction, beckoned the others to follow. All felt that strange sensation that comes for everyone when he stands on the terrain of an alien planet. It makes no difference how often this experience has been undergone previously; the sensation cannot be shaken off.

"It looks like a wall," sang out Opp as they reached the looming thing.

Rokesmith turned the beam of his flashlight on it. "It is a wall!"

Unmistakably, it was a structure made of many square blocks of stone fitted together to form a section rising into the air from a foundation. Weber flashed his light around. "It ends here."

The men hesitated to go around. What could this enigmatic wall be doing on this frigid world? The instruments showed the temperature to be many hundred degrees below zero Fahrenheit. What beings could have built this great wall? What could it mean?

But at last they did go around the edifice, flashing their lights before them. And nearly collapsed from the shock of what they saw: a broad paved street on which bordered many stone houses whose glass windows reflected the dim glow of the stars above. The tiny sun cast a faint illumination on it all.

"People!" gasped Mullins.

There were. Standing on the streets and in the doors of the houses were the dim figures of men. Unmistakably human in form.

"They're not alive," observed Rokesmith.

"At least, they are not moving," replied Barth quickly.

"Come on, then. Why are we waiting? Are you afraid of a lot of statues?" Captain Wanderman suited action to his words as he strode forward, stopping directly before the first of the standing figures. He cast his beam over it from head to foot.

Unmistakably, it was a man. Clad in clothes and undeniably human. Its features were perfectly normal, bore the flush of life. The feet and entire body were set in attitude as if in the act of taking a step. But it was motionless.

"Some statue!" breathed Opp. "I would swear it was a real man."

"It is a real man," said Barth, softly. He bent close to the face. "It has the pores and tiny hairs that can only be on a true body."

"Then he must have been alive once," murmured Weber. "What do you suppose happened to him? Is he petrified or only frozen solid?"

"Frozen, I think," said Barth. "Yet, it is very strange. His flesh is still soft and resilient; it is not natural."

"A land of frozen people!" Captain Wanderman's words struck a chilling note in all of them. Quickly they investigated the other figures. Some men, some women, some old, some young. All kinds and types; all apparently had been frozen solid in the middle of their normal activities. None showed any sign of being aware that death had struck. When the terrible freezing occurred it must have happened so swiftly, instantaneously, as to have caught all unaware.

They moved on, saying little. There was that same eerie atmosphere that one finds in a wax museum while passing about among the realistic but silent and motionless figures of apparently ordinary people. Add to that the grim knowledge that the figures they now saw had been alive, that in effect the explorers were in a monstrous, planet-wide graveyard.

They went on, coming to wide roads down which lines of marching men stood silently in attitudes startlingly like some paintings of men marching to war. Undoubtedly they were soldiers. Once or twice along the line, the Earthmen saw huge projector-like instruments mounted on wheels, being taken along with the marchers.

"Say, look at this scene!" called out Rokesmith.

He was standing before an open gate, staring in at the courtyard of a large, pretentious stone building. Before the gate stood two guards who evidently had been frozen just as they were turning about to stare in through the entrance. On their faces was a look of aroused inquiry. Inside the courtyard was a dramatic tableau.

A young woman of great beauty was fixed in the posture of running. Her foot was lifted from the ground, her body thrust forward, her face strained, hair flowing backwards as if the wind were brushing it back. In one hand, tightly grasped, was a scroll.

Directly behind her stood a young man with a look of astonishment and anger on a face that was cruel and evil. His hand was still held outstretched as if to grasp after the scroll that the woman was fleeing with. All about, in similar positions of astonishment and anxiety, were other men, some of whom had started forward as if about to commence a pursuit.

"Some scene, eh?" murmured Barth. "Looks real dramatic. I wish we could know what it was all about."

"That's an idea!" burst from Wanderman. "Why didn't I think of it sooner? Barth! We can use the mentascope on these frozen people—with the attachments that are used to read the minds of the newly dead, can't we?"

"I think we can, Captain. These people are perfectly preserved; there's no reason why we can't shoot a current through their brains and get the information stored there."

They turned, commenced to retrace their steps to the ship. It took them about ten minutes to reach the street by which they had entered the city and come to the vessel. Once inside, they hastened to unpack the mentascope and its attendant apparatus. When at last they were ready, they left the airlock and started back; the return to the ship had taken them about twenty minutes.

They entered the street of the city they had first chanced upon. As they passed the first figure, Weber suddenly whirled around and stared at it.

"Look! Stop and look at this man!"

The others gathered around.

"Does he look the same to you? It seems to me that it was his other leg which was being put forward when last we saw him. I'm sure his arms were in a different position."

They stared amazedly. The figure certainly was not in the identical posture as before. Weber's observations had been correct.

"All the rest of them seem to be planted in slightly different postures, too."

Captain Wanderman bent down, studied the arm of the man carefully. He remained silent for some time, then he stood up. There was a tone of awe and bewilderment in his voice when he spoke.

"It has moved, and what is more, it is still moving. I saw that hand pass a given point on the body of the person in a few minutes. It's like watching the hands of a clock. At first, they do not seem to move at all, but if you watch closely enough for a time, you can observe the motion."

"Do you mean this fellow is still alive?"

"It would seem so."

"But why the slow motion?" asked Opp.

"I think," said the captain slowly, "that the mentascope can help us answer the whole business."

They came to the courtyard of the running woman. The tableau had changed; it seemed as if a few seconds had passed since they left. Now the figure of the woman was closer to the gate; the two guards from outside had passed through and were going forward to seize her, while the men behind were in full running appearance, as if, having recovered from a surprise move, they were taking to pursuit.

"All right men: set down the apparatus."

Two men set down a small battery, attached it to wires leading from a large metal helmet which another was placing over the head of the still woman-figure. Other wires were attached to the space-suit helmet worn by Captain Wanderman. Through the glassite panes it could be seen that he was wearing a somewhat similar helmet himself, having donned this while back on the ship.

A current of electrical energy was passed from an electrode pressed against one particular part of the woman's head through to another leading out. In passing through the brain of the woman, this current picked up the last and deepest occurrences in the life of the person subjected to it. It activated the cells on which these events were recorded in a form much like that of a charged body. Passing out of the brain, it carried these impressions with it and brought them to the mind of the operator as distinct thoughts. Since basic thoughts are not expressed in any language save impressions and pictures, the operator finds that he has suddenly acquired the knowledge of the other.

Thus, in a brief time, Wanderman told the men of the story concerning Nimbor and Toom, of the mataiya's part in the drama. The men stood in wonder, staring at the figures; Opp calmly walked over to Aald and tweaked his nose. The Nimborian's expression did not change.

"I still can't grasp why these people are all like frozen statues," exclaimed Barth. "How can they live and act like everyday terrestrials when this planet is so lacking in heat and light?"

"I think I can explain," said Wanderman. "It sounds fantastic, but it is not impossible. And it would account for all the factors. I'll tell you when we get back to the ship: right now we have work to do."

"What work?"

"We can't stand around and do nothing while this woman is captured. And I, for one, do not care to see these sneering degenerates win this war.

"So I think we'll take over events on this planet for a while and fix things to suit ourselves. We can easily move these figures if we adjust our gravity belt to take care of the extra weight. Every man grab one person; I'll take Oomith. Rokesmith, you take Aald; Weber, grab the emperor, and you others pick out those who look important, who appear like staff officers. And don't forget the mentascope."

In a moment each man was burdened with a native of Planet P swinging over his shoulder. Thus burdened they marched through the center of Nimbor, through the columns of the motionless army, back to the spaceship. Several times they would have to halt and rest because of the irrepressible laughter that broke out, among them. Imagine earthly problems being solved like this!

In the ship, they dumped the Nimborians in a spare storehouse, while the mataiya was propped up on a seat in one of the cabins. The ship's course was set for the general direction of Toom.

"You men understand what is meant by time?" began Wanderman as the crew gathered around. "It is the flow of events. It is the way we conceive things happening. We place an arbitrary measurement of time by using the period it takes our planet to rotate once on its axis. That is a day. Dividing the day into sections, we get hours, minutes, and seconds. To us, a second is a very short space of time.

"We move and live at a certain rate of speed: our heart pumps about 72 beats per minute. Our senses perceive a thing in a certain space of time. Small as it may appear, it actually requires time for your eye to see an object or for your hearing to function. Also for an impression of feeling to travel from the skin to the brain and to be recognized.

"To these people of Planet P, their world appears as one delightful to live in. For them a bright warm sun shines in a blue sky. For them life moves at as quick a pace as it does for us on Earth. Their day is approximately 24 hours also. To us, it may appear to be as long as 656 Earth days, since their world requires 656 Earth days to complete one of its days, and I am figuring in proportion. To them, a day is no longer than to us. Ten and four-fifths hours to us is only one of their minutes.

"That is why they live so slowly; they are living at a different time-rate than ours. Time moves for them exactly 656 times more slowly than it does for us.

"They could not possibly live at our pace. For, to us, Planet P is terribly cold; the sun is but little more than a bright star. But when they see the sun, it takes 656 times longer before they observe it. Thus, they actually get a time exposure. You know that if you want to take a picture at night you must leave the lens open for a long time; the longer it is open, the brighter the picture appears. Thus with them: they see the sun as a brilliant ball; they see objects as highly illuminated because their eyes are absorbing so much more light than are ours.

"Thus their bodies are not cold and frozen: of a makeup to conform with the time-rate on this planet, their bodies absorb and hold the heat radiated by the sun until it appears to be hot. If you examine any of these bodies now without your gloves, you will notice that they are as warm as ours.

"These people seem to be motionless, or at least moving extremely slowly. To them, they are moving at a normal pace. Here is where the size of this planet comes in: under the huge gravity of this world, they could not move fast. Their bodies must normally weigh a terrific amount. That was another factor working in their evolution toward the strange rate of time-flow."

Wanderman left the room. He went back to where he had placed Oomith seated upright in a cabin. Seating himself directly before her eyes, he stared into them. He fixed himself motionless as possible, remained unmoving until the ship was ready to come to a halt at its destination. Before he left, he had the satisfaction of noticing the mataiya's pupils had finally focused on his; he felt certain that some impression would be carried back with her.

Landing at Toom, they placed Oomith where she was later to regain control of her senses. They carried Aald and the others down to the dungeons, imprisoning them there. Then they returned to the ship.

One more task remained: the war machines of Nimbor. Cruising over the enemy lines, they dropped cables whenever they saw a projector and attached them. Then they swung them up into the air, letting them hang below until all had been thus captured. Once more they returned to Toom, this time to place the projectors where they would be found quickly.

The nature of the "burning death" of Nimbor they found to be simple. It was nothing more or less than electric heaters, such as are sold in winter on Earth. A polished reflector sent a beam of heat from the wire coil in the center. To a terrestial, of course, this was nothing more than a pleasantly warm current; but to a native of Planet P, with their slower perceptions and great absorption of tiny amounts of heat, it was a ray of pure destruction.

Thus, for a brief instant in the history of the cosmos, two similar races and life forms met, the one greatly altering the course of development the other would take. Although a few well-guarded expeditions to Planet P have been made since, the Terrestial Council is slow to permit these, inasmuch as the gross difference in time-rate cannot permit fair intercourse with its people. It is felt in scientific circles that for them to learn of the existence of a race such as ours would be a crushing psychological blow to them; to interfere, however well-meaningly, in their development would condemn them to superstition, for they could arrive at no logical, scientific explanation of such interference.

Planet P is not needed for the comfort or well-being of Earth. The Patrol is there watching, ready to step in in cases of natural cosmic emergency, but at other times gives the world a wide berth.

And Captain Wanderman will always remember the tableau in the courtyard, and a beautiful woman running.