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- The Emancipatrix - 21/21 -


For answer the lieutenant pointed her antennae straight ahead. At first Supreme could see nothing in the growing darkness; then she saw that some of the sky was blacker than the rest. Next she caught a faint glow.

"Supreme, the deadly flower has come to the hives!"

It was true! In ten minutes the city was near enough for the commandant to see it all very clearly. The fire had started on the windward side, and already had swept through half the hives!

"Quick!" the order was snapped out. "Into the remaining houses, and save the young!"

She herself led the horde. Straight into the face of the flames they flew, unquestioningly, unhesitantly. What self, compared with the Hive?

Next moment, like a mammoth billow, the smoke rolled down upon them all. And thus it came about that the villagers, making their cautious way toward the bee city, shouted for joy and danced as they had never danced before, when they saw what had happened.

Not a bee was left alive. Every egg and larva was destroyed; every queen was burned. And every last soldier and worker had lost her life in the vain attempt at rescue.

Suddenly one of the villagers, who had been helping to carry Corrus and Dulnop to the spot, pointed out something on the other side of the fire! It was Rolla!

"Hail!" she shouted, hysterical with happiness as she ran toward her people. Cunora was close upon her heels. "Hail to the flowing flower!"

She held up a torch. Down fell the villagers to their knees. Rolla strode forward and found Corrus, even as Cunora located her Dulnop.

"Hail to the flowing flower!" shouted Rolla again. "And hail to the free people of this world! A new day cometh for us all! The masters--are no more!"

The four on the earth looked at each other inquiringly. There was a heavy silence. The doctor stood it as long as he could, and then said:

"So far as I'm concerned, this ends our investigations." They stared at him uncomprehendingly; he went on: "I don't see anything to be gained by this type of study. Here we've investigated the conditions on two planets pretty thoroughly, and yet we can't agree upon what we've learned!

"Van still thinks that the upper classes should rule, despite all the misery we saw on Capellette! And Billie is still convinced that the working classes, and no others, should govern! This, in the face of what we've just--seen! Sanus is absolute proof of what must happen when one class tries to rule; conflict, bloodshed, misery--little else! Besides" --remembering something, and glancing at his watch--"besides, it's time for dinner."

He and Smith got to their feet, and in silence quit the room. Billie and Van Emmon were still fumbling with their bracelets. The two young people rose from the chairs at the same time and started across the room to put flip bracelets away. The wire which connected them trailed in between and caught on the doctor's chair. It brought the two of them up short.

Van Emmon stared at the wire. He gave it a little tug. The chair did not move. Billie gave an answering jerk, with similar lack of results. Then they glanced swiftly at one another, and each stepped back enough to permit lifting the wire over the chair.

"In other words," Van Emmon stammered, with an effort to keep his voice steady--"in other words, Billie, we both had to give in a little, in order to get past that chair!"

Then he paused slightly, his heart pounding furiously.

"Yes Van." She dropped the bracelets. "And--as for me--Van, I didn't really want to see the bees win! I only pretended to--I wanted to make you--think!"

"Billie! I'll say 'cooperate' if you will!"

"Cooperate!"

He swept her into his arms, and held her so close that she could not see what had rushed to his eyes. "Speaking of cooperation," he remarked unsteadily, "reminds me--it takes two to make a kiss!"

They proceeded to experiment.


The Emancipatrix - 21/21

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