The poor design of the Martian space ship auto-pilot traps Unk and Boaz deep in a cave on Mercury, where they cannot escape. The creatures of Mercury, known as Harmonium, spell out the words “It’s an intelligence test!” with their shimmering bodies.
Begin – Page 187
“The song is a slow one. Mercury will hold a single note in the song for as long as an Earthling millennium.” – Page 187
“The song their planet sings is important to them, for the creatures are nourished by vibrations.” Page 188
“They reach maturity and stay in full bloom, so to speak, for as long as Mercury cares to sing.” Page 189
“They have only two possible messages. The first is an automatic response to the second, and the second is an automatic response to the first.” Page 189
The first is, “Here I am, here I am, here I am.”
The second is, “So glad you are, so glad you are, so glad you are.” Page 189
Break 1 – Page 190 ***
“They aren’t shooting,” said Boaz. “Either the war’s over, or it ain’t begun.” Page 190 – we’ve gone back in time to when Unk’s ship first landed on Mercury and the passengers didn’t know where they were.
“It was easy to believe that the searchlights were playing over a sophisticated civilization indeed.” Page 191
“An apt image for flourishing eluded Unk.” Page 191
“When old Boaz and old Unk hits town,” he said, “everybody going to wake up and stay woke up for weeks on end!” Page 192 – Boaz believing they are amidst civilization.
“The designers of the pilot-navigator had purposely obsessed the equipment with one idea – and that idea was to seek shelter for the precious troops and materiel it was supposed to be carrying.” Page 192 – the absurdity of the ‘simple’ controls to the spaceship.
“They sensed correctly that they were being buried alive.” Page 193
“Having delivered its cargo safely from Mars to Mercury, as instructed, it had shut itself off.” Page 193 – They are 116 miles below the surface of Mercury.
“Boaz threw open both the inner and outer doors of the airlock with a grand carelessness predicated on a friendly atmosphere outside.” Page 194
“Not believing it was the thing that saved them from panic.” Page 195
“The space ship, thanks to the brilliantly-conceived sensing gear on its bottom, had sensed its way easily down and down and down, through one of the very few ways in – down adn down and down one of the very few ways out.” Page 196
“The pilot-navigator knew when it was licked.” Page 197
“I’ve never been alive that I can remember,” said Unk brokenly. “I thought I was finally going to get some living done.” – Page 198
“IT’S AN INTELLIGENCE TEST!” – Page 198