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By Poul Anderson

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Below, land rolled steeply upward, cresting in a thousand-meter peak where snow and ice flushed in the early light. That burden spilled down the slopes and across the hills, broken here and there by a crag, a boulder, a tawny patch of uncovered nullfire, a tree--brightcrown or saw-frond--which the cold had slain. A flyer hovered aloft, wings dark against a squat mass of clouds. Yewwl didn't recognize its kind. Strange things from beyond the Guardian Range were moving in with the freeze. Ungn, her infant, stirred and mewed in her pouch.

In between adventures and enjoyments, an Intelligence officer--a spy--must needs do a vast amount of grubby foundation-laying. He sought the fancier office and keyed for information on Edwin Cairncross, Grand Duke of Hermes. That meant a historical and social review of the planet itself. The sun, Maia (not to be confused with giant 20 Tauri), was in Sector Antares. Its attendants included a terrestroid globe which had been colonized early on, largely by northern Europeans. Basic conditions, including biology, were homelike enough that the settlement did well.

Yet others would, and her mission was difficult enough without her being at a psychological disadvantage. Therefore she sallied forth on the morning after she arrived at the Runebergs' town house, and didn't come back, her tasks completed, till sundown. "You must be exhausted, fairling," said her host. " Fairling--The mild Hermetian endearment had taken on a special meaning for the two of them, when he was in charge of industrial operations at Ramnu and they had been lovers whenever they could steal time together.

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