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Here’s Chet Kinsman again, about twenty years downstream from “The Lieutenant and the Folksinger,” and a few years before his appearance at the beginning of my novel about him, Millennium.

AS SOON AS HE STEPPED THROUGH the acoustical screen at the apartment doorway, the noise hit him like a physical force. Chet Kinsman stood there a moment and watched them. My battlefield, he thought.

The room was jammed with guests making cocktail-party chatter. It was an old room, big, with a high, ornately paneled ceiling.

He recognized maybe one-tenth of the people. Over at the far end of the room, tall drink in his hand, head slightly bent to catch what some wrinkled matron was saying, stood the target for tonight: Congressman Neal McGrath, swing vote on the House Appropriations Committee.

“Chet, you did come after all!”

He turned to see Mary-Ellen McGrath approaching him, her hand extended in greeting.

“I hardly recognized you without your uniform,” she said.

He smiled back at her. “I thought Air Force blue would be a little conspicuous around here.”

“Nonsense. And I wanted to see your new oak leaves. A major now.”

A captain on the Moon and a major in the Pentagon. Hazardous duty pay.

“Come on, Chet. I’ll show you where the bar is.” She took his arm and towed him through the jabbering crowd.

Mary-Ellen was almost as tall as Kinsman. She had the strong, honest face of a woman who can stand beside her husband in the face of anything from Washington cocktail parties to the tight infighting of rural Maine politics.

The bar dispenser hummed absent-mindedly to itself as it produced a heavy scotch and water. Kinsman took a stinging sip of it.

“I was worried you wouldn’t come,” Mary-Ellen said over the noise of the crowd. “You’ve been something of a hermit lately.”


“And I never expected you to show up by yourself. Chet Kinsman without a girl on his arm is . . . well, something new.”

“I’m preparing for the priesthood.”

“I’d almost believe it.” she said, straight-faced. “There’s something different about you since you’ve been on the Moon. You’re quieter.”

I’ve been grounded. Aloud, he said, “Creeping maturity. I’m a late achiever.”

But she was serious, and as stubborn as her husband. “Don’t try to kid around it. You’ve changed. You’re not playing the dashing young astronaut any more.”

“Who the hell is?”

A burly, balding man jarred into Kinsman from behind, sloshing half his drink out of its glass.

“Whoops, didn’t get it on ya, did, oh, hell, Mrs. McGrath. Looks like I’m waterin’ your rug.”

“It’s disposable,” Mary-Ellen said. “Do you two know each other? Tug Wynne, this is—”

“I’ve seen Major Kinsman on the Hill.”

Chet said, “You’re with the Allnews Syndicate, aren’t you?”

Nodding, Wynne replied, “Surprised to see you here, Major, after this morning’s committee session.”

Kinsman forced a grin. “I’m an old family friend. Mrs. McGrath and I went to college together.”

“You think the congressman’s gonna vote against the Moonbase appropriation?”

“Looks that way,” Kinsman said.

Mary-Ellen kept silent.

“He sure gave your Colonel Murdock a hard time this morning. Mrs. McGrath, you shoulda seen your husband in action.” Wynne chuckled wheezily.

Kinsman changed the subject. “Say, do you know Cy Calder . . . old guy, works for Allied News in California?”

“Only by legend,” Wynne answered. “He died a couple months ago, y’know.”

“No . . . I didn’t know.” Kinsman felt a brief pang deep inside the part of him that he kept frozen. He made himself ignore it.

“Yep. He musta been past eighty. Friend of yours?”

“Sort of. I knew him . . . well, a few years back.”

Mary-Ellen said, “I’d better get to some of the other guests. There are several old friends of yours here tonight, Chet. Mix around, you’ll find them.”

With another rasping cackle, Wynne said, “Guess we could let somebody else get next to the bar.”

Kinsman started to drift away, but Wynne followed beside him.

“Murdock send you over here to try to soften up McGrath?”

Pushing past a pair of arguing cigar smokers, Kinsman frowned. “I was invited to this party weeks ago. I told you, Mrs. McGrath and I are old friends,”

“How do you get along with the congressman?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Wynne let his teeth show. “Well, from what I hear, you were quite a hellraiser a few years back. How’d you and Mrs. McGrath get along in college together?”

You cruddy old bastard. “If you’re so interested in Mrs. McGrath’s college days, why don’t you ask her? Or her husband? Get off my back.”

Wynne shrugged and raised his glass in mock salute. “Yes sir, Major, sir.”

Kinsman turned and started working his way toward the other end of the room. A grandfather clock chimed off in a corner, barely audible over the human noises and clacking of ice in glassware. Eighteen hundred. Gold and Smitty ought to be halfway to Copernicus by now.

And then he heard her. He didn’t have to see her; he knew it was Diane. The same pure, haunting soprano; a voice straight out of a legend.

“Once I had a sweetheart, and now I have none.

Once I had a sweetheart, and now I have none.

He’s gone and leave me, he’s gone and leave me.

He’s gone and leave me to sorrow and mourn.”

Her voice stroked his memory and he felt all the old joys, all the old pain, as he pushed his way through the crowd.

Finally he saw her, sitting cross-legged on a sofa, guitar hiding her slim figure. The same ancient guitar: no amplifiers, no boosters. Her hair was still long and straight and black as space; her eyes even darker and deeper. The people were ringed around her, standing, sitting on the floor. They gave her the entire sofa to herself, like an altar that only the anointed could use. They watched her and listened, entranced by her voice. But she was somewhere else, living the song, seeing what it told of, until she strummed the final chord.

Then she looked straight at Kinsman. Not surprised, not even smiling, just a look that linked them as if the past five years had never been. Before either of them could say or do anything, the others broke into applause. Diane smiled and mouthed, “Thank you.”

“More, more!”

“Come on, another one”


Diane put the guitar down carefully beside her, uncoiled her long legs, and stood up. “Would later be okay?”

Kinsman grinned. He knew it would be later or nothing.

They muttered reluctant agreement and broke up the circle around her. Kinsman took the final few paces and stood before Diane.

He said, “Good to see you again.”

“Hello, Chet.” She wasn’t quite smiling.

“Here Diane, I brought you some punch.” Kinsman turned to see a fleshy-faced young man with a droopy mustache and tousled brown hair, dressed in a violet suit, carrying two plastic cups of punch.

“Thank you, Larry. This is Chet Kinsman. Chet, meet Larry Rose.”


“I knew Chet in the Bay area a few years back, when I was just getting started. You’re still in the Air Force, aren’t you, Chet?”

“Affirmative.” Play the role.

Diane turned back to Larry. “Chet’s an astronaut. He’s been on the Moon.”

“Oh. That must be where I heard the name. Weren’t you involved in some sort of rescue? One of your people got stranded or something and you—”

“Yes.” Kinsman cut him short. “It was blown up out of proportion by the news people.”

They stood there for a moment, awkwardly silent while the party pulsated around them.

Diane said, “Mary-Ellen told me you might be here tonight. You and Neal are both working on something about the space program?”

“Something like that. Organized any more peace marches?”

She laughed. “Larry, did I ever tell you about the time we tried to get Chet to come out and join one of our demonstrations? In his uniform?”

Larry shook his head.

“Do you remember what you told me, Chet?”

“No. I remember it was during the Brazilian crisis. You were planning to invade the U.C.L.A. library or something. I had flying duty that day.”

It was a perfect day for flying, breaking out of the coastal haze and standing the jet on her tailpipe and ripping through the clouds until even the distant Sierras looked like nothing more than wrinkles. Then flat out over the Pacific at Mach 5, the only sounds in your earphones from your own breathing and the faint, distant crackle of earthbound men giving orders to other men.

“You told me,” Diane said, “that you’d rather be flying patrol and making sure that nobody bombs us while we demonstrated for peace.”

She was grinning at him. It was funny now; it hadn’t been then.

“Yeah, I guess I did say that.”

“How amusing,” Larry said. “And what are you doing now? Protecting us from the Lithuanians? Or going to Mars?’

You overstuffed fruit, you wouldn’t even fit into a flight crewman’s seat. “I’m serving on a Pentagon assignment. My job is congressional liaison.”

“Twisting congressmen’s arms is what he means,” came Neal McGrath’s husky voice from behind him.

Kinsman turned.

“Hello, Chet, Diane . . . eh, Larry Rose, isn’t it?”

“You have a good memory for names.”

“Goes with the job.” Neal McGrath topped Kinsman’s six feet by an inch. He was red-haired and rugged-looking. His voice was soft, throaty. Somehow the natural expression of his face, in repose, was an introspective scowl. But he was smiling now. His cocktail-party smile, thought Kinsman.

“Tug Wynne tells me I was pretty rough on your boss this morning,” McGrath said to Kinsman. The smile turned a shade self-satisfied.

“Colonel Murdock lost a few pounds, and it wasn’t all from the TV lights,” Kinsman said.

“I was only trying to get him to give me a good reason for funneling money into a permanent Moonbase.”

Kinsman answered, “He gave you about fifty reasons, Neal.”

“None that hold up,” McGrath said. “Not when we’ve got to find money to reclaim every major city in this country, plus fighting these damned interminable wars.”

“And to check the population growth,” Diane added.

Here we go again. Shrugging. Kinsman said, “Look, Neal, I’m not going to argue with you. We’ve been making one-shot missions to the Moon off and on for fifty years now. There’s enough there to warrant a permanent base.”

McGrath made a sour face. “A big, expensive base on the Moon.”

“Makes sense,” Kinsman slid in. “It makes sense on a straight cost-effectiveness basis. You’ve seen the numbers. Moonbase will save you billions of dollars in the long run.”

“That’s just like Mary-Ellen saves me money at department store sales. I can’t afford to save that money. Not this year. The capital outlay is too high. To say nothing of the overruns.”

“Now wait—”

“Come on, Chet. There’s never been a big program that’s lived within its budget. No . . . Moonbase is going to have to wait, I’m afraid.”

“We’ve already waited fifty years.”

A crowd was gathering around them now, and McGrath automatically raised his voice a notch. “Our first priority has got to be for the cities. They’ve become jungles, unfit for sane human life. We’ve got to reclaim them, and save the people who’re trapped in them before they all turn into savages.”

Damn, he’s got a thick hide. “Okay, but it doesn’t have to be either/or. We can do both.”

“Not while the war’s on.”

Hold your temper; don’t fire at the flag. “The war’s an awfully convenient excuse for postponing commitments. We’ve been in hot and cold wars since before you and I were born.”

With the confident grin of a hunter who had cornered his quarry, McGrath asked, “Are you suggesting that we pull our troops out of South America? Or do you want to let our cities collapse completely?”

Do you still beat your wife? “All I’m suggesting,” Kinsman said with, deliberate calm, “is that we shouldn’t postpone building Moonbase any longer. We’ve got the technology—we know how to do it. It’s either build a permanent base on the Moon, or stop the lunar exploration program altogether. If we fail to build Moonbase, your budget-cutting friends will throttle down the whole manned space program to zero within a few years.”

Still smiling, McGrath said, “I’ve heard all that from your Colonel Murdock.”

There was a curious look in Diane’s dark eyes.

“Chet. Why do you want to have a Moonbase built?”

“Why? Because . . . I was just telling you—”

She shook her head. “No, I don’t mean the official reasons, I mean why do you dig the idea?”

“We need it. The space program needs it.”

“No,” she said patiently. “You. Why are you for it? What’s in it for you?”

“What do you mean?” Kinsman asked.

“What makes you tick, man? What turns you on? Is it a Moonbase? What moves you, Chet?”

They were all watching him, the whole crowd, their faces blank or smirking or inquisitive. Floating weightless, standing on nothing and looking at the overpowering beauty of Earth—rich, brilliant, full, shining against the black emptiness. Knowing that people down there are killing each other, teaching their children to kill, your eyes filling with tears at the beauty and sadness of it. How could they see it? How could they understand?

“What moves you, Chet?” Diane asked again.

He made himself grin. “Well, for one thing, the Pentagon cafeteria coffee.”

Everybody laughed. But she wouldn’t let him off the hook.

“No—get serious. This is important. What turns you on?”

Wouldn’t understand anyway. “You mean aside from the obvious things, like sex?”

She nodded gravely.

“Hmmm. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to answer. Flying, I guess. Getting out on your own responsibility, away from committees and chains of command.”

“There’s got to be more to it than that,” Diane insisted.

“Well . . . have you ever been out on the desert at an Israeli outpost, dancing all night by firelight because at dawn there’s going to be an attack and you don’t want to waste a minute of life?”

There was a heartbeat’s span of silence. Then one of the women asked in a near-whisper, “When . . . were you . . . ?”

Kinsman said, “Oh, I’ve never been there. But isn’t it a romantic picture?”

They all broke into laughter. That burst the bubble. The crowd began to dissolve, breaking up into smaller groups, dozens of private conversations filling the silence that had briefly held them.

“You cheated,” Diane said.

“Maybe I did.”

“Don’t you have anything except icewater in your veins?”

He shrugged. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

“Don’t talk dirty.”

He took her by the arm and headed for the big glass doors at the far end of the room. “Come on, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I’ve bought all your tapes.”

“And I’ve been watching your name on the news.”

“Don’t believe most of it.”

He pushed the door open and they stepped out onto the balcony. Shatterproof plastic enclosed the balcony and shielded them from the humid, hazy Washington air—and anything that might be thrown or shot from the street far below. The air conditioning kept the balcony pleasantly cool.

“Sunset,” Diane said, looking out toward the slice of sky that was visible between the two apartment buildings across the avenue. “Loveliest time of the day.”

“Loneliest time, too.”

She turned to him, her eyes showing genuine surprise. “Lonely? You? I didn’t know you had any weaknesses like that.”

“I’ve got a few, hidden away here and there.”

“Why do you hide them?”

“Because nobody gives a damn about them, one way or the other.” Before Diane could reply, he said, “I sound sorry for myself, don’t I?”

“Well . . .”

“Who’s this Larry character?”

“He’s a very nice guy,” she said firmly. “And a good musician. And he doesn’t go whizzing off into the wild blue yonder . . . or, space is black, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “I don’t go whizzing any more, either. I’ve been grounded.”

She blinked at him. “What does that mean?”

“Grounded,” Kinsman repeated. “Deballed. No longer qualified for flight duty. No orbital missions. No lunar missions. They won’t even let me fly a plane any more. Got some shavetail to jockey me around. I work at a desk.”

“But . . . why?”

“It’s a long dirty story. Officially, I’m too valuable to risk or something like that.”

“Chet, I’m so sorry . . . flying meant so much to you, I know.” She stepped into his arms and he kissed her.

“Let’s get out of here, Diane. Let’s go someplace safe and watch the Moon come up and I’ll tell you all the legends about your namesake.”

“Same old smooth talker.”

“No, not any more. I haven’t even touched a woman since . . . well, not for a long time.”

“I can’t leave the party, Chet. They’re expecting me to sing.”

“Screw them.”

“All of them?”

“Don’t talk dirty.”

She laughed, but shook her head. “Really, Chet. Not now.”

“Then let me take you home afterward.”

“I’m staying here tonight.”

There were several things he wanted to say, but he checked himself.

“Chet, please don’t rush me. It’s been a long time.” It sure as hell has.

They went back into the party and separated. Kinsman drifted through the crowd, making meaningless chatter with strangers and old friends alike, drink in one hand, occasionally nibbling on a canapé about the size and consistency of spacecraft food. But his mind was replaying, over and over again, the last time he had seen Diane.

Five years ago.

Soaring across the California countryside, riding the updrafts along the hillsides and playing hide-and-seek with the friendly chaste-white cumuli, the only sound the rush of air across the glass bubble an inch over your head, your guts held tight as you sweep and bank and then soar up, up past the clouds and then you bank way over so you’re hanging by the shoulder harness and looking straight down into the green citrus groves below. Diane sitting in the front seat, so all you can see of her is the back of her plastic safety helmet. But you can hear her gasp.

“Like it?”

“It’s wild . . . gorgeous!”

And then back on the ground. Back in reality.

“Chet, I’ve got to go to this meeting. Can’t you come along with me?”

“No. Got to report for duty.”

Just like that. An hour of sharing his world, and then gone. The last he had seen of her. Until tonight.

The crowd had thinned out considerably. People were leaving. McGrath was at the hallway door, making the customary noises of farewell. Kinsman spotted Diane sitting alone on the sofa, tucked against a corner of it, as if for protection.

He went over and sat down beside her. “I’ve got news for you.”

“Oh? What?”

“An answer to your question. About what turns me on. I’ve been thinking about it all through the party and I’ve formed a definite opinion.”

She turned to face him, leaning an arm on the sofa’s back. “So what is it?”

“You do. You turn me on.”

She didn’t look surprised. “Do I?”

Nodding. “Yep. After five years, you still do.”

Diane said, “Chet, haven’t you learned anything? We’re in two entirely different worlds. You want to go adventuring.”

“And you want to join demonstrations and sing to the kids about how lousy the world is.”

“I’m trying to make the world better!” Her face looked so damned intent.

“And I’m trying to start a new world.”

She shook her head. “We never did see eye to eye on anything.”

“Except in bed.”

That stopped her, but only for a moment. “That’s not enough. Not for me. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.”

He didn’t answer.

“Chet . . . why’d they ground you? What’s it all about?”

A hot spark of electricity flashed through his gut. Careful! “I told you. it’s a long story. I’m a valuable public relations tool for Colonel Murdock. You know, a veteran of lunar exploration. Heroic rescuer of an injured teammate. All that crap. So my address is the Pentagon. Level three, ring D, corridor F, room—”

“Whether you like it or not.”


“Why don’t you quit?”

“And do what? To dig I am not able, to beg I am too proud.”

Diane looked at him quizzically. They had both run out of stock answers.

“So there it is,” Kinsman said, getting up from the sofa. “Right where we left it five years ago.”

Mary-Ellen came over to them. “Don’t leave, Chet. We’re getting rid of the last of the guests, then we’re going to have a little supper. Stay around. Neal wants to talk with you”

“Okay. Fine.” That’s what I’m here for.

“Can I fix you another drink?” Mary-Ellen asked.

“Let me fix you one.”

“No, no more for me, thanks.”

He looked down at Diane. “Still hooked on tigers?”

She smiled. “I haven’t had one in years . . . .Yes, I’d like a tiger.”

By the time he came back from the bar with the two smoke-yellow drinks in his hands, the big living room was empty of guests. Diane and Mary-Ellen were sitting on the sofa together. Only when they were this close could you see that they really were sisters. Kinsman heard McGrath out in the hallway, laughingly bidding someone good night.

“Like a family reunion,” Kinsman said as he sat on a plush chair facing the sofa.

“You’re still here, Chet,” McGrath called from the hail archway. “Good. I’ve got a bone to pick with you, old buddy.”

As the congressman crossed to the bar, Mary-Ellen said, “Maybe Diane and I ought to hide out in the kitchen. We can see to supper.”

“Not me,” Diane said, “I want to be in on this.”

Kinsman grinned at her.

McGrath came up and sat beside his wife. The three of them—husband, wife, sister—faced Kinsman. Like the beginning of a shotgun wedding.

“Listen, Chet,” McGrath began, his voice huskier than usual from too much drinking and smoking. “I don’t like the idea of Murdock sending you over here to try to soften me up. Just because you’re an old friend doesn’t give you—”

“Hold on,” Kinsman said. “I was invited here two weeks ago. And I came because I wanted to.”

“Murdock knew these hearings were coming up this week and next. Don’t deny it.”

“I’m not denying a damned thing. Murdock can do what he wants. I came here because I wanted to. If it fits Murdock’s grand scheme, so what?”

McGrath reached into his jacket pocket for a cigarette. “I just don’t like having space cadets from the Pentagon spouting Air Force propaganda at my parties. Especially when they’re old friends. I don’t like it.”

“What if the old friend happens to believe that the propaganda is right and you’re wrong?”

“Oh, come on now, Chet . . .”

“Look, Neal, on this Moonbase business, you’re wrong. Moonbase is essential, no matter what you think of it.”

“It’s another boondoggle—”

“The hell it is! We either build Moonbase or we stop exploring the Moon altogether. It’s one or the other.”

McGrath took a deep, calming drag on his cigarette. Patiently, he said, “There’s too much to do here on Earth for me to vote for a nickel on Moonbase. Let alone the billions of dollars—”

“The money is chickenfeed. We spend ten times that amount on new cars each year. A penny tax on cigarettes will pay for Moonbase.”

McGrath involuntarily glanced at the joint in his hand. Scowling, he answered, “We need all the money we can raise to rebuild the cities. We’re going under, the cities are sinking into jungles.”

“Who’s spouting the party line now?” Kinsman shot back. “Everybody knows about the poor and the cities. And the population overload. And the whole damned social structure. That’s a damned safe hobbyhorse to ride in Congress. What we need is somebody with guts enough to stand up for spending two percent of all that money on the future.”

“Are you accusing me—”

“I’m saying you’re hiding in the crowd, Neal. I don’t disagree with the crowd; they’re right about the cities and the poor. But there’s a helluva lot more to life than that.”

Diane cut in. “Chet, what about Moonbase? What good is it? Who will it help? Will it make jobs for the city kids? Will it build schools?”

He stared at her for a long moment. “No,” he said at last. “It won’t do any of those things. But it won’t prevent them from being done, either.”

“Then why should we do it?” Diane asked. “For your entertainment? To earn your Colonel Murdock a promotion or something? Why? What’s in it for us?”

Standing on the rim of a giant crater, looking down at the tiered terraces of rock worn smooth by five eons of meteoric erosion. The flat pitted plain at the base of the slope. The horizon, sharp and clear, close enough to make you think. And the stars beyond. The silence and the emptiness. The freedom. The peace.

“There’s probably nothing in it for you. Maybe for your kids. Maybe for those kids in the cities. I don’t know. But there’s something in it for me. The only way I’ll ever get to the Moon again is to push Moonbase through Congress. Otherwise I’m permanently grounded.”


Diane said, “Your man Murdock won’t let you—”

Kinsman waved them quiet. “Officially, I’m grounded. Officially, there are medical and emotional reasons. That’s on the record and there’s no way to take it off. Unless there’s a permanent base on the Moon, a place where a non-pilot passenger can go, then the only people on the Moon will be flight-rated astronauts. So I need Moonbase; I need it. Myself. For purely personal, selfish reasons.”

“Being on the Moon means that much to you?” Diane asked.

Kinsman nodded.

“I don’t get it,” McGrath said. “What’s so damned attractive about the Moon?”

“What was attractive about the great American desert?” Kinsman shot back. “Or the poles? Or the Marianas Deep? How the hell should I know? But a while ago you were all asking what turns me on. This does. Being out there, on your own, away from all the sickness and bullshit of this world—that’s what I want. That’s what I need.”

Mary-Ellen shook her head. “But it’s so desolate out there . . . forsaken . . .”

“Have you been there? Have you watched the Earth rise? Or planted footprints where no man has ever been before? Have you ever been anywhere in your life where you really challenged nature? Where you were really on your own?”

“And you still want to go back?” McGrath had a slight grin on his face.

“Damned right. Sitting around here is like being in jail. Know what they call us at the Pentagon? Luniks. Most of the brass think we’re nuts. But they use us, just like Murdock is using me. Maybe we are crazy. But I’m going to get back there if I have to build a mountain, starting at my desk, and climb up hand over hand.”

“But why, Chet?” Diane asked, suddenly intent. “Why is it so important to you? Is it the adventure of it?”

“I told you—it’s the freedom. There are no rule books up there; you’re on your own. You work with people on the basis of their abilities, not their rank. It’s—it’s just so completely different up there that I can’t really describe it. I know we live in a canned environment, physically. If an air hose splits or a pump malfunctions, you could die in seconds. But in spite of that—maybe because of that—you’re free emotionally. It’s you against the universe, you and your friends, your brothers. There’s nothing like it here on Earth.”

“Freedom,” Diane echoed.

“On the Moon,” McGrath said flatly.

Kinsman nodded.

Staring straight at him, Diane said slowly. “What you’re saying, Chet, is that a new society can be built on the Moon, a society completely different from anything here on Earth.”

Kinsman blinked. “Did I say that?”

“Yes, you did.”

He shrugged. “Well, if we establish a permanent settlement, I guess we’ll have to work out some sort of social structure.”

“Would you take the responsibility for setting up that social structure?” Diane asked. “Would you shoulder the job of making certain that all the nonsense of Earth is left behind? Would you do the job right?”

For a moment, Kinsman didn’t know what to answer. Then he said, “I would try.”

“You’d take that responsibility?” Diane asked again.

Nodding. “Damned right.”

Mary-Ellen looked totally unconvinced. “But who would be willing to live on the Moon? Who would want to?”

“I would,” Diane said.

They all turned to look at her. Mary-Ellen shocked, McGrath curious.

“Would you?” Kinsman asked. “Really?”

Very seriously, she replied, “If you’re going to build a new world, how could I stay away?”

Kinsman felt himself relax for the first time all evening. “Well, I’ll be damned! You can see it!” He started to laugh.

“What’s funny?” McGrath asked.

“I’ve won a convert, Neal. If Diane can see what it’s all about, then we’ve got it made. The idea of a Moonbase, of a permanent settlement on the Moon—if it gets across to Diane, then the kids will see it, too.”

“There are no kids in Congress.”

Kinsman shrugged. “That’s okay. Congress’ll come around sooner or later. Maybe not this year, maybe not until after Murdock retires. But we’ll get it. There’s going to be a permanent settlement on the Moon. In time for me to get there.”

“Chet,” Diane said, “it won’t be fun. It’s going to be a lot of work.”

“I know. But it’ll be worth the work.”

They sat there, eye to eye, grinning at each other.

McGrath slouched back in the sofa. “I guess I’m simply too old to appreciate all this. I don’t see how—”

“Neal,” Kinsman said, “someday the history books will devote a chapter to the creation of man’s first extraterrestrial society. Your name will be in there as one of the men who opposed it—or one of the leaders who helped create it. Which do you want to be put down beside your name?”

“You’re a cunning bastard,” McGrath mumbled.

“And don’t you forget it.” Kinsman stood up, stretched, then reached a hand out for Diane. “Come on, lunik, let’s take a walk. There’s a full Moon out tonight. In a couple years I’ll show you what a full Earth looks like.”

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