There was another long speech from Gurgurk, with the nobles behind him murmuring antiphonal agreement standard procedure, for which there was a standard pun, geek chorus and a speech of response from Sid Harrington. Standing stiffly through the whole rigamarole, von Schlichten waited for it to end, as, finally, it did.

"Welcome, Gurgurk," Harrington gibbered through his false palate. "The Company is honored by this visit." "I come in the name of my royal master, His Sublime and Ineffable Majesty, Jaikark the Seventeenth, King of Konkrook and of all the lands of the Konk Isthmus," Gurgurk squeaked and clicked.

Then Gurgurk cleared his throat with a series of barking sounds. "My royal master, His Sublime and Ineffable Majesty, is prostrated with grief," he stated solemnly. "Were his sorrow not so overwhelming, he would have come in His Own Sacred Person to express the pain and shame which he feels that people of the Company should be set upon and endangered in the streets of the royal city."

Gurgurk, they reported had fled to Keegark by air the night before, which explained the incident of the unaccountable aircar and lorry. The Channel Battery stopped firing, and, with the exception of an occasional spatter of small-arms fire, the city fell silent. At 1600, von Schlichten visited the headquarters Pickering had set up in the office building at the power-plant.

Gurgurk came up and halted a couple of paces behind and to the left of the spear, and most of the other nobles drew up in two curved lines some ten paces to the rear; the ambassador and another noble came up and planted themselves beside Gurgurk. The Governor-General rose slowly and descended from the dais, advancing to within ten paces of the Spear, von Schlichten and Blount accompanying him.

"Governor," a voice replied out of it, "there's a geek procession just landed from a water-barge in front, coming up the roadway to Company House. A platoon of Jaikark's Household Guards with a royal litter, Spear of State, gift-litter, nobles and such." "Gurgurk with indemnity for the riot, eh? Let them in, give them an honor guard of Kragans, but keep their own gun-toters outside.

"And I know positively that the order for the poisoning of Sid Harrington came from the Keegarkan Embassy, here, and was passed down through Gurgurk and Keeluk to this geek here who actually put the poison in the whiskey." "Yes. I agree that Keegark should be wiped out, and I'd like to have an immediate estimate on the time it'll take to build a nuclear bomb to do the job.

"You haven't any proof of that," the governor protested. Blount shrugged, his face looking grim. Von Schlichten knew how he felt. They couldn't prove it, but both knew that Rakkeed had been getting funds from the hands of Gurgurk. The prophet had been stepping up his crusade against the Terrans, and Gurgurk wasn't the only one backing him.

Gurgurk spoke at length, expressing himself as delighted, on behalf of his royal master, at hearing such high praise from so distinguished a soldier. Eric Blount contributed a short speech, beseeching the gods that the deep and beautiful friendship existing between the Chartered Ullr Company and His Sublime etcetera would continue unimpaired.

Gurgurk then announced that so enormous a crime against the friends of His Sublime etcetera had not been allowed to go unpunished, signalling behind him with one of his lower hands for the box to be brought forward. The slaves carried it to the front, set it down, and opened it, taking from it a rug which they spread on the floor.