THE WEAPONS SHOP
A. E. VAN VOGT
THE VILLAGE at night made a curiously timeless picture. Fara walked contentedly
beside his wife along the street. The air was like wine; and he was thinking
dimly of the artist who had come up from Imperial City, and made what the
telestats called—he remembered the phrase vividly—” a symbolic painting
reminiscent of a scene in the electrical age of seven thousand years ago.”
Fara believed that utterly. The street before him with its weedless,
automatically tended gardens, its shops set well back among the flowers, its
perpetual hard, grassy sidewalks, and its street lamps that glowed from every
pore of their structure—this was a restful paradise where time had stood still.
And it was like being a part of life that the great artist’s picture of
this quiet, peaceful scene before him was now in the collection of the empress
herself. She had praised it, and naturally the thrice-blest artist had
immediately and humbly begged her to accept it.
What a joy it must be to be able to offer personal homage to the glorious,
the divine, the serenely gracious and lovely Innelda Isher, one thousand one
hundred eightieth of her line.
As they walked, Fara half turned to his wife, In the dim light of the
nearest street lamp, her kindly, still youthful face was almost lost in shadow.
He murmured softly, instinctively muting his voice to harmonize with the pastel
shades of night:
“She said—our empress said—that our little village of Clay seemed to her
to have in it all the wholesomeness, the gentleness, that constitutes the finest
qualities of her people. Wasn’t that a wonderful thought, Creel? She must be a
marvelously understanding woman.
He stopped. They had come to a side street, and there was something about a
hundred and fifty feet along it that— “Look!” Fara said hoarsely.
He pointed with rigid arm and finger at a sign that glowed in the night, a
sign that read: